In the space of 24 hours, a month’s worth of rain has fallen. There is flooding on certain streets but we are all fine. Yesterday, sitting in some areas of the house where the skylights are above us, I felt like we were on a ship, or in an aquarium. When G woke up from his nap I sang, “Rain, rain,” and he responded, “Go away.”
I am experimenting with the format here and am not sure if WordPress will allow me to both embed images and do a separate gallery, or if it will pull all the photos into the gallery that are uploaded in connection with this post. I’ll just give it a go and see what happens. Click on any of the the thumbnail gallery photos to view them larger.
On our first weekend without any visitors, and after dealing with our garbage problem, we decided to take the DART train up the coast to Malahide. I know it sounds like no big deal, but for us to take a day trip when we have children who nap smack in the middle of the day, it was a risk. Would they sleep enough in the stroller or on the train? Would they dissolve into screaming toddler-puddles (when they are exhausted and mad, they seem to lose muscle tone and collapse on the floor)? I know some parenting philosophies are more laissez faire, but when you have multiples, routines are the way to go.
I had some vague sense of the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train running frequently, so after the half-hour walk to the station, imagine our dismay when it said the next train to Malahide was in 63 minutes. Sixty-three idle minutes in toddler time is an eternity: an invitation to a nervous breakdown, a begging of why one thought it was a good idea in the first place, all while trying to keep your bored and due-for-a-nap children out of the trash bins and off the tracks, because what else is there to play with on a DART platform?
We decided to board the next train and hope at some point we could switch. The boys loved the train (“choo choo” they call it), but wanted out of the stroller immediately. G heard the “noy” (noise) as we left the station. I told him it was the wheels on the tracks, to which he started making “round and round” motions with his arms. C enjoyed being a commuter and told us he wanted to “hole” (hold) the bar.
At another junction, it still said the next train was almost an hour away. We discussed whether we should try to find some kind of cab, but at this point, we definitely weren’t in Dublin anymore and I think we had more chance of going by horseback than by cab.
Some kind souls called out to us from across a platform.
“Are you going to Malahide?” they said.
“Hurry. You can take the train that’s coming in on this side!”
A mad dash into a 4ftx4ft lift that stunk of urine so badly it stung our eyes. We are each carrying a boy and trying to drag the stroller along with us. We have to run across a walkway above the platforms and take another lift down. Sascha tells me to run ahead with G down the stairs while he waits for the lift with the stroller. At the bottom, the train is pulling in.
“Where is he?” says a bald guy in a track suit. “He’s coming down in the lift!” I say, and as I’m wondering how long I can stall the train, S rounds the corner and our generous stranger, friend-for-a-moment, helps S lift the stroller into the train.
When we arrive at Malahide, we are hungry. We leave the station and I am immediately smitten. It is somewhat to Dublin what New Canaan or Maplewood is to NYC: a posh suburb, filled with young parents, offering a “Main Street” kind of quaintness and charm. Flower shops, cafes, restaurants and book stores line several streets around the station, and one of the streets slopes gently down to the waterfront. It is ridiculously adorable. I make mental notes to look up real estate later on. (My lack of permanent home has created a bizarre real estate obsession, wherein I look up and decide on houses to buy in places I will likely never actually live.)
First, we stop at the Scotch Bonnet, which is by far the best restaurant for dining with young children we have been to. (For most places, we forgive them a lack of ambiance, for being personality-less chains, and for mediocre food in exchange for some crayons and a bathroom with a changing table.) Scotch Bonnet felt like an old inn, with a brick hearth and low couches in one room, surrounded by toys and books for kids to play with. The children, in other words, didn’t have to be confined to high chairs because you felt like you were in a living room. Why aren’t more family-friendly restaurants like this?
Malahide Castle is set about a 20 minute walk in from the main streets in the town and the DART station, beyond a long path that snakes through woods. Inside the woods, it is several degrees cooler because the tall tree canopy is blocking much of the sun. This is what we have come to Ireland seeking: the magical forest and castles. We have brought our own elves.
Though rumor has it that the Castle has several ghosts, in addition to a collection of National Portraiture, we declined the official tour and instead enjoyed the expansive grounds. The boys squeal with delightful freedom, running across an almost endless green lawn with us chasing them. The day is brisk; blue skies and enormous cottony clouds pile up behind the castle. Being north of city centre, we are closer to the airport and seeing the “airpanes” flying by is an extra treat.
Playground In Malahide in Ireland
There was a sand pit with pulleys and shoots, a tricycle “carousel.” For older children, they had their own castle and even a zip line. I thought of that summertime New York Times article questioning whether playgrounds were too safe. I remember in elementary school people flipped off the monkey bars. Collar bones were broken. I broke my own arm in my front yard and learned why there are spring floors in gymnastic events. Some of you know that Sascha alone is likely responsible for the rubbery turf below the playscapes in NYC. He fell off one in his early school years, and the accident pushed back his two front teeth into the roof of his mouth, requiring dental surgery. Soon after, that spongy ground found its way to schoolyards.
It’s hard to know where to draw the line between risk and safety, especially because taking risks is how we learn. The playscapes at Malahide were potentially bone-breakers, but oh how fun they looked! These playgrounds are why so many young families live here. There were also these hilarious exercise-scapes in the grounds. I’ll upload a video here later.
As for our own risk, it paid off, but had some consequences. We stayed out the whole day. If we got home too soon before bedtime, it would only mean tantrums for us. Out and about, they stayed pretty distracted. It was only the next day that the crankiness from being overtired really came out.
Enjoy this gallery of our visit. Here comes the sun.