One of the bad things about not having a car is the lack of ease and convenience of getting around. When you rely on public transport, there is a lot of checking on bus routes or train lines and if something requires transferring…? Well, just forget about that! I’ve four kids to tow around.
After living in our new house for a week, I decided to enroll the kids in an art camp up the road from our house. It was within walking distance, and my kids love art! Besides, it gave me five hours a day (10am – 3pm) of life with just one kid. I thought that maybe the older kids might meet some local kids and potentially some kids from school. While that did not happen, and my kids do in fact love art, but hate crafting (which this camp really was), it didn’t work out great for my kids and I won’t be repeating that expensive experiment. However, the week while they were in school, one of my neighbors offered to take me and Lulu Belle out to Sandycove beach for a nice afternoon.
Not one to say no to things like this – we packed up Lulu Belle and jetted of for an impromtu afternoon of Irish summer. Turns out Irish summer is sort of like Seattle summer – sunny but definitely not warm enough to swim in frigid waters. Nonetheless, Lulu Belle loved the little sandy beach and playing in the sand. Conveniently, they had a little ice cream truck parked next to the beach and I promised that we would return on the weekend with the rest of the family to enjoy some ice cream and beach fun.
As promised, when the weekend arrived, I packed up all the kids in their swim wear, the one mangy towel we’d found abandoned in a wardrobe in the house when we moved in, and a small picnic to enjoy on the sand. For this amazing trek that only takes about 20 minutes by car, we took the Luas (light rail) into the city center, walked a mile over to Pearse Station, took the Dart (commuter train) down the coast of Dublin to the Sandycove station. Then, we walked through various streets until we reached the shoreline and then walked along the water southward until we arrived in the little cove that is Sandycove beach. Time elapsed? 1.5 hours.
Luckily, the kids were feeling adventurous and we made it to the cove fairly early and were able to mark out a meager rectangle of space with the abandoned white towel from the house. The children threw off their shirts and leapt into the clear water only to come running back out as the icy liquid touched their toes!
So, the afternoon was spent people watching while the children played in the sand. A couple of them ventured waist deep into that frigid water, but it was enough to watch the Irish young people leap from the wall in to the cold water. We were interested to watch the Irish families slather on sun cream onto their children and each other as the sun beat down upon us from above, warming the air to a sweltering 70 degrees F. The strength of the Irish sun? Or the paleness of the Irish skin? Who knows? But they were well protected while my half-Asian children balked at any form of sun cream touching their skin, their pale Irish American father slathered on some cream in ethnic solidarity.
After a couple of hours of sand castle building, the tide seemed to be coming in as our beach shrank into a sliver and we were climbing up the walls. Before we left, J and I each took turns walking up the hill to explore the area behind the cove. It turns out to be a famous bathing area called the Forty Foot, a bit of land jutting out of the Irish sea that people used for hundreds of years to dive into the dark waters beneath.
Wikipedia tells me that “In former times it was exclusively a gentlemen’s bathing place and the gentlemen’s swimming club was established to help conserve the area. Owing to its relative isolation and gender-specific nature it became a popular spot for nudists, but in the 1970s, during the women’s liberation movement, a group of female equal-rights activists plunged into the waters and now it is also open to women and children. The gentlemen’s swimming club still exists and is open to both genders, it expects voluntary contributions to the upkeep of the area. Many people believe that swimming in the extremely cold water is healthy.”
That is all well and good, but I grew up on the coast of Western Michigan and spent many a summer swimming in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan. So, I had enough of polar bear swims and preferred the bath like waters of Florida or the Carolinas. Of course, there were people of all ages climbing the rock and jumping down into the water below. I snapped a few photos and returned to the cove where the family were packing up and the children stood shivering under their towels. We took a walk up along the water where earlier the boys and J had climbed along the rocks towards Dun Laoghaire. I had promised the children an ice cream and we found the famous Teddy’s ice cream and ordered four 99 Flakes. Sadly, Lulu Belle passed out during the walk up and didn’t get to enjoy this ice cream. But it’s a giant soft serve ice cream with a Cadbury Flake (stick?) stuck into the side. It was delicious and satisfied the children while we walked along the Dun Laoghaire Bay promenade.
After a long walk down and observing a bit of Zumba on the promenade and lots of other people enjoying the summer day, we felt that the children had spent enough time clambering up the walls of the promenade like mini parkour fiends. We headed back towards the train station. A young man offered a flier advertising for the Blackrock Market and we decided we’d check it out as it was only 3pm.
A couple of stops later, we arrived in Blackrock and after walking back and forth in the village several times, we located the entrance to the market with the help of another pedestrian. The market had some interesting stalls selling antique spoons and coins and other bits and bobs. A young lady offered the children a bag of popcorn and some free face painting which they couldn’t say no to.
While they were occupied doing that, I walked all the way down to the end of the meandering market and found a stall full of Indian/Asian dried spices and dried goods. I was so excited! I purchased some star anise and noodles hoping to make some pho soon.
After we finished exploring the market, we headed home. The kids were dead tired and exhausted from the day out and we still had a 30 minute train ride home, a 1-mile walk to the Luas station, and a 20-minute train ride home. They were exhausted! I’m not sure we will do that again, but it’s good to know there’s an Asian market in Blackrock and that there is a beach in the city to visit.