Donegal, Tues 23 October

Got a good night’s sleep last night, slept soundly. Still woke at 6.30 though. Sounded windy and wild outside, but when I surfaced at 8.45 all was calm. Might even see the sun today.We heard a weather forecast on the radio yesterday, in Irish Gaelic. Broon was confident the girl was saying it would be a nice day today. Perhaps her grasp of Gaelic is better than I thought…
Since we’re on holiday, we’re all trying to do things differently from how we might at home.

I, for example, am drinking tea with no sugar, which admittedly only happened initially because Broon was detailed to bring the sugar and she didn’t arrive until Sunday night. But have persisted, more or less.

It’s bizarre how we’re all waking early. Broon wakened at 5.15 this morning and felt ready to get up. No-one has so far been able to sleep much beyond 9. This is in stark contrast to my normal experience in Ireland. When I returned home to my parents during my university days, after a day or two I could happily sleep until midday no trouble. I put it down to the country air. However, the air doesn’t get more country than it is here, and it’s not working…

This morning the sun duly shone and we all trooped down to the beach for a game of cricket. Wiseman found a good bit of swing from the Golf Course End, and induced an edge from Broon, but she refused to walk. Outrageous. The game ended once Wiseman started taking a liking to my bowling and despatched me into the soft sand at deep extra cover, twice. Off came the shoes and socks, and we braved the arctic water temperature for a paddle. Once numbness had set in we dumped Broon in the sea, accidentally, although this appeared to be cold comfort for her, and came back for some lunch.

Driving in Donegal can be a challenging experience. To begin with, there are the aforementioned road surfaces. On leaving a village, a sign will optimistically inform you that you can now drive at 80km/h. Not if you value your shock absorbers, you won’t.

Then there are the road junctions, which appear out of nowhere frequently without any form of road markings to indicate whether or not you have the right of way. You have to work out if your road is wider than their road and behave accordingly. If you are on the narrow road, then plough on, and those on the really narrow road will just have to wait.

The signs at junctions are just hilarious. Frequently they will be pointing in a direction which neatly bisects the two roads they may be referring to. As a result, often you have to drive past the junction before you can read the sign you’re interested in. Also, certain regions of Donegal are An Gaeltacht – that is, Gaelic is officially recognised as being the first language there.

When this is the case the signs switch from being in English with an Irish translation, to just simply Irish. None of us are particularly fluent in Irish, Broon’s weather forecasting notwithstanding.

This afternoon we went on a road trip. At least Shazza, Broon and I did. Wiseman stayed back at the cottage to “write”. He’s “a writer” you see.

Shazza and Broon, being farmers’ daughters, have been largely unimpressed with the tractors we have come across on the holiday thus far. There’s been a lot of quantity, but not much quality, apparently. Plenty of Massey Fergusons (“wouldn’t pull the hat off your head”). We saw a couple of John Deeres today, which got them a whole lot more excited.

We took in the Atlantic Drive, which took us through Downings, where I spent a great weekend in the company of a schoolfriend and his family, near enough 20 years ago. Then headed along the coast stopping off at various points en route to the Bloody Foreland. Stopped in Dunfanaghy to buy Broon a shillelagh, since she didn’t know what a shillelagh was. Oh, the shame. Now she still doesn’t know what it is, but at least she knows what it looks like.

We came home to find that Wiseman had been busy in the kitchen, and had rustled up a pot of chilli big enough for a platoon of Mexican soldiers.

After dinner we played 3 games of Articulate, boys v girls. They got hockeyed.

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