My dad came over early so leaving the children in his capable hands, we caught the train to Dublin, buying coffees and bacon rolls to sustain us. Ah the innocent times before we knew that dioxins had also entered the food chain in Northern Ireland pork.
Dublin is a place I always enjoy visiting. The day was cold, the sky was blue and the streets around Grafton St near where we stayed, were full of folk wrapped up like Inuit. Having determined that this was to be a time to relax and unwind, I was in no mood to tramp for miles around the streets like we usually do on city breaks. This time we took taxis wherever we wanted to go, and I wore boots with silly heels, not my usual trainers.
We dropped our bags at the hotel and dandered about, stopping for lunch at Wagamamas, as recommended by Mark. After a few hours of strenuous chilling out, we decided to go see a film. I wasn't in the mood for anything heavy or depressing, so we opted for the Coen brothers' "Burn After Reading." I didn't like it much, too wry, too much stupidness and characters doing random stuff that made no sense. But there were a few chortles to be had and it fulfilled the purpose of passing time in an effortless manner.
The next task was to have dinner. We decided to heed the advice of big brother Trevor and went to The Cedar Tree Lebanese restaurant, ordered a set of mezes and a bottle of red wine and went to work, and indeed, it was good. Now either the Lebanese wine was particularly potent or I'm a light-weight, but I was good for nothing after and despite our good intentions to prop up a bar somewhere for a while, we headed back to the room and watched the last 10 minutes of Wallander.
A favourite part of spending the night away from my children, is the ritual of a hotel breakfast: the fruit juice, the fresh fruit, then the huge plate of pig meat in various configurations accompanied by some chicken embryos. But the dioxin contamination meant we were denied this pleasure so he had an omelette and I had waffles with maple syrup, not as good as the real thing.
Thus fortified we had time for another dander around. Since Gordon was the birthday boy, I was happier than I usually am to spend time in music shops where he ogled bass guitars and in HMV as he browsed CDs and DVDs. We went around the department store Brown Thomas for a bit, wondering just how anyone can bring themselves to buy that sort of stuff at those sort of prices.
Another chilled out train journey north, then leaving Gordon in Belfast as he had to go into work for the afternoon, I headed home to relieve Dad from child care duties. He told me that the children had been absolutely no trouble at all. Isn't that just what you want to hear from your baby sitter?
After about 32 hours away from home, I felt like we'd had a week off. Just a little bit of adult time goes a long way. Thanks Dad for letting us have it.