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Round Ireland with a chick

September 3, 2012

Yes you read that correctly … of course you never expected Hope’s first ‘foreign’ adventure to be a normal one?! I’ve finally found the time to write about it … rubbish me, not as if I’ve got anything else to do!!

After the revolting Ryanair experience we were a little frazzled when we arrived at Knock International Airport in the outer reaches of the far west of Ireland. I did, yet again feel absurdly over excited that Hope was overseas and wanted to cavort around in an over excited manner, but a tired Granby and an understated brother calmed me down (yes I did get most of the ‘Oh Wow’ in my family, he got the common sense and the gentle calm nature).

Lacken strand and the secret beach

We met up with all of his sons, Hope is blessed with multiple boy cousins, two of their cousins, and his wife and spent a very happy few days on the west coast of Ireland … IN THE SUNSHINE … we went to the beach, wandered around the harbour looking at boats, sat on a blanket in the garden, drove past hedges of fuchsia and banks of monbretia flowers, gazed at wide open vistas, walked on huge beaches and fed horses it was just glorious…

feeding the horses

a cooler day on the beach

then the rain came and we moved indoors and the boys (and two of their cousins) put on a ‘performance’ and we grow’d ups applauded wildly.

happy on the beach

Two things of note:

1 – the bed that had been promised for Hope failed to materialise so my brother produced a laundry basked which we filled with pillows and then with the help of two long bike straps (the kind that attach bikes to the back of the car) and a sheet we turned it into a lovely bed… she slept beautifully and enjoyed sitting up in it during the day time playing with her toys and reading her scrunchy newspaper book. I slept on a long velvet sofa beside her and we two had a very happy time at night … and Hope looked just right (in manner of baby bear from Goldilocks and the 3 bears) in her basket.

Hope in her laundry basket

2 – the chick. Before we arrived, the boys had won 4 goldfish and 2 chicks at the Bonniconlon Show (think biggest carrot, deepest furrow, best ‘sod’ etc). Sadly one of the chicks, Snowy, died much to the angst of the youngest cousin, but the other one, Icicle, known as Peep Peep survived and was thriving. It lived at night in a box in the kitchen near the Aga and in the day time managed to dodge the 6 children, one baby and 4 adults and nipped around the kitchen picking up crumbs and Peep Peeping (and poop pooping) … before long it grew in confidence and headed up the stairs, or up your leg onto your lap during meals and even watched the boys ‘performance’ on my brother’s wife’s lap.

Peep Peep the chick

It pottered around inside and out and became a part of the family.

a quiet morning with a chick

Hope paddled in the sea … she loved it, she even acquired a sun kissed sort of gentle sun tan that made her look even more beautiful than usual. There are huge beaches in County Mayo and the tide goes out miles so they are great for paddling and this year the water was warm … I held Hope and she dangled her feet in the water and kicked and waved happily and then sat on the sand picking it up and gleefully burying her own feet. She was extremely happy. We fended off questions from her boy cousins, “can Hope make a sand castle”, “can Hope dig a hole”, “does Hope like apples”, “What is Hope’s favourite colour”, “Does Hope like cake?” … and also put up with / enjoyed their fascination with the fact that I am still breast feeding Hope, “Has she sucked milk from you today?”, “Does she like milk?”, “What does it taste like?” “Did Hope come out of your tummy?”, “Does she like chocolate?”, “Why does water go differently down the plug hole here?”. and so on … collectively they pretty much ignored her but individually they all sought us out and sat fascinated by her tiny hands and interesting noises. It was wonderful to spend time together … my brother and I promised each other years ago we’d have lots of children as we always felt deprived in the cousin department … he’s fulfilled his side of the deal, I haven’t, but I have had Hope … the only girl and I’m delighted she has such wonderful big boy cousins to grow up and get to know over the years to come.

the perfect girl cousin

Then, we had to head over to County Cavan for a family gathering of my brothers’ in law’s side of the family … his wife and the boy cousins headed off first thing to pave the way, and my brother, my mother, Hope and I bundled into the car to drive across Ireland the more picturesque route … with the large cardboard box containing Peep Peep.

Peep Peep’s box

It was a cheerful journey, Hope chatting and the chick making its excited Peep Peep noises in the back. It was a very hot day, so we had to shade not just Hope in the back but also Peep Peep’s box so we didn’t end up with roast chicken, and every time his noises stopped I peered into the box and let some day light and air in! We stopped off to look at cliffs in the distance and enjoy some Guinness and fresh fish and gave the chick some fresh sea air, and then in Carrick on Shannon we opened the box and gave it food and water and let the box stand in the shade outside, much to the confusion of passer’s by who looked bemused to hear the box cheeping! Hope also had her first ice cream … well a bit of mine, she’d been asleep and woke up with sore gums and saw me eating an ice cream cone and strained to reach it … so I let her and she licked and sucked the ice cream from around the side of the cone and then gnawed at the top of the cone before emerging covered in ice cream and grinning from ear to ear.

Hope’s stolen ice cream moment

The whole ice cream moment only lasted some 30 seconds but the slurping and beaming will stay with me for ever. Then we headed off to see a wonderful horse statue (the Gaelic Chieftain) and various other glorious spots all the time accompanied by the peeping cheeping sound of Icicle in the back.

It was a very hot day and we fretted about the temperature affecting the chick in its box … windows were opened and air con put on and off!

We then spent a very ‘Irish’ couple of days with my brother’s wonderful inlaws (lots and lots and lots of them) which was huge fun if a little overwhelming for small Hope whose curl was admired and big eyes coo’ed over by women, children and priests with much warmth and affection. Hope’s cousin Ben was delighted when Hope shouted out something that sounded very like. “Ben” when he was playing with her one afternoon, and one of his cousins played happily with her pretending to be a dog and letting Hope pull her round by the hair … it was lovely to think of Hope having so much fun and such a large extended family to grow up with.

happy families playing together

The chick had its freedom curtailed somewhat due to dogs and a cat, but it was brought to visit at regular intervals and meet various family members and also one of the local priests who didn’t seem entirely taken with the idea of having a chick on his lap. Little Icicle is a ‘silky’ breed, white with black bits and feathery feet … and it was hoped that it would be happy in one of the Aunt’s chicken coops … but that wasn’t to be, the other hens didn’t like the incomer and tried to peck it … so … a new coop was acquired after we left and 2 new chicks and I heard today (a week or so later) that all three are thriving and peep peeping happily together…

part of the family now

The last day Hope’s poor gums really started to hurt her and she and I also developed a bit of a cold, in protest she shouted all the way to Dublin airport (2 painful hours), I think my brother will have been glad to wave us off and have a rare peaceful moment to himself! She slept for most of the flight back and has now long since recovered from the cold, but still has the golden glow … nobody expected us to return from Ireland with a sun-kissed girl, her tuft now a definite curl… but we did! I also have to say how much I loved seeing my little chicken in a basket … and knowing that the chick won’t  end up in one makes it all the better!

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