Something unusual happened last weekend: it was a sunny day. A hot sunny day, to be precise. A hot sunny day in Ireland that wasn’t during the 1st weekend of June. Seriously freaky, dude.
So, we went out to buy some fish. As one does. Nice fresh fish for the barbecue, to be marinaded with olive oil, rock salt and herbs from our garden and served with roasted new potatoes. Yes, that’s right, my life-long ambition is to live in a Jamie Oliver programme. Or an M&S advert. Mmmm, food porn…
Anyhoo, fish shopping we went, out to the lovely harbour of Howth, ironically one of the only places on this island where you can get decent fish. And the best fish and chips ever. No, seriously, EVER. Beshoff’s Bros. was unusually quiet when we got there, although we must have just happened across a quiet moment, because the lawns, wall and benches outside were all covered with people digging eagerly into their fried delicacies from their elegant white cardboard boxes. So we ordered our haddock and scampi meals and head out into the sunshine to eat them on the nearest available wall.
The food was as scrumptious as usual, and with our bellies well filled, we decided to take a stroll along the harbour wall to the lighthouse to walk it off. As we wandered along, a hand-made sign caught our eye, advertising ferry trips to the island just outside Howth Harbour, Ireland’s Eye. We’ve often gazed out at the island from the harbour wall, and it looks very spectacular with its craggy rock formations and its Martello tower, so we went to find out more about the ferry. The little orange boat, called Little Flower, was tied up inside the harbour, and while we asked a couple of basic questions (how much is it and when do you leave?) an older lady came up to the ferry guys and began asking a whole list of questions about insurance, the number of life jackets, how old the boat was and how many people it could take. Man did she make us feel like careless rebels!
“You’ll have to look out for the steps over at the island”, said the besunglassed boat guy, fiddling with his impossibly cool hair, “it’s low tide so they’ll be a bit steep and slippery. If you don’t think you can manage them, just shout and we’ll bring you back.” Hah, slippery steps, I fear no slippery steps, young man! Except of course, once we got there, rounding the western point and pulling up just below the Martello tower, we realised that they were indeed slippery, but by no stretch of the imagination could they be called steps! The first couple of feet were pretty much a jumble of rocks, seaweed and half a broken breezeblock. But everyone else seemed to be able to climb up easily, so what the hell, up I scrambled, getting covered in slime and embarassment on the way.
We wandered round the Martello tower as far as we could go until it fell away into sheer cliff, then we doubled back and got attacked by a gull. It took us a few seconds to realise that we had very nearly stumbled onto her nest, and she was understandably annoyed about this. So we backed off and were immediately yelled at by another angry gull. Seriously, what a dumb idea, when you’ve got wings and you can go anywhere you want, why the hell would you nest on big flat expanses of grass where you can get trampled on by any idiotic bumbling lifeform that may come that way?
Also, the ground was incredibly springy, it was like walking around on a spring matress, but without knowing what was underneath it and whether you would go straight through if you took just one more step. So after a while, we gave up trying to get to the top of the hill, especially when we realised that we had gone completely the wrong way, and headed back to the landing place.
We waited for half the population of the indian sub-continent to disembark from the tiny boat, carrying thermos flasks, shopping bags and one actual suitcase. It was like watching the old gag of the clown car, you’d think the boat could only take so many people, but they just kept coming and coming! So once they had finished coming, down we climbed (and slid) to the boat and after yet another graceful performance on my part, we set off back to Howth.
Then we bought the fish, went home and had a nice barbecue.