We’d booked a campsite right on the beach front – Mossiscastle Strand. First impressions (after coming from the natural beauty and ‘right up our street’ style campsite that was Poppit Sands) of this site were.. a bit of a culture shock! Nothing exactly ‘wrong’ with the site but we were not over enamoured with it – it seemed to be lacking charisma perhaps – The regimented / allotted space for each of the hundreds of caravans and motor homes had the feel of a fiberglass suburbia. The rules and regulations, the high volume of branded sports goods and English football tops just didn’t sum up the true character of the Emerald Isle for us. Our first plot was right next to a water point – mistake! The drains were backed up and it stank. An infestation of mating flying ant type things wasn’t too pleasant either.
We’d not stocked up the van a huge amount and the shops were a mile or so away.I’d read that the shop was “fully stocked with food”. I wouldn’t quite say ‘fully’ stocked – fully stocked with a few tins, and a chiller with sausages and/or bacon and frozen ready meals and frozen pizza. It would have been nice to have some fresh veg – even I, the perpetual carnivore was craving a bit of salad. I popped into the take away around the back of the shop (pizzas and deep fried fayre) and asked if they could do me a salad box. They looked at me as if I’d just asked for a pianoforte. Flat nose, no salad. There was however,one culinary highlight – fresh croissants available every morning.
We moved to a new spot after the first night though and things started looking up. Our new plot had a much nicer feel to it and was right next to the play park – A simple but safe park – a nice hang out for the hoards of kids including ours.
The showers were 1 Euro for 8 minuites. This irked me. I didn’t clock this fact on any literature or the website. I understand why they do it I guess – to conserve energy and water (and make a bob or two) but we paid fee for the site then found we had to pay extra for the showers. If I could have been bothered, I’m sure there’s some kind of Trading Standards argument. Every cloud has a silver lining though.. The Yorkshire man in me decided that Eirene’s whimsical purchase of a solar shower perhaps wasn’t so silly (as my initial assessment had concluded) after all. I rigged up a shower cubical out of some high windbreaks and brought the shower down from the roof of the van. Perfect! It was so nice! The odd bit was the kids walking past looking at me like I was a freak. (How close to the truth I hear you cry)
The beach was a saving grace – a blue flag beach backed by sand dunes and only less that 100m from our van. Gorgeous sand and fairly quiet on the ‘campsite stretch’. We really enjoyed playing in the sea, sitting around and reading or just watching the world go by. We’d been looking out over the same sea but from the other side of the pond earlier in the week. Sunrise instead of sunset over the sea.
We had some great success at crab fishing one evening at a tidal swamp creek just north of the campsite. We bagged 26. Jay 13 (winner), me 11 and Sophie and Eirene one each. We did the crab race thing – where you wet a runway of ground back to the water and tipped our bucket out and watched them break for the border. Much fun. Realised a few days later that we were getting eaten alive by some bugglies biting our feet and anckles – lashings of Avon Skin So Soft. Avon Skin So Soft? the beauty product that has great anti midge qualities – according to the Royal Marines, who still use this curious lotion.
After Wexford, we trucked up through the Wicklow Mountains to Powerscourt Waterfall – fed by the river Dargle. (I just wanted to use that fabulous word. Dargle Dargle Dargle. ) It’s the highest waterfall in the British Isles. Cracking play park for the kids there – one of the best I’ve seen. Nice ice creams which we sampled and Eirene and I knocked back a couple of very passable espresso’s. Good cup of Joe. Pretty little short circular walk through the surrounding woods – mixture of Oak and Fir mainly was sampled and we were also there on a day when they were filming a TV show called Camelot. The best bit of that was watching the climber de rigging the protection for a recent stunt that we just missed. There were some really impressive pop side trailers as well. It felt quite cool as they let Clover park with the big vans.
We trundled over the Wicklow mountains – the scenic route and dropped into Dublin around tea time and got to Eirene’s dad’s house (Hello sir! hope you’re doing good!) . Lovely to see him. Lovely to be in a real house with a real fridge (fully stocked) and drinks press (fully stocked!) and a cooker. And electric things. And literally all the home comforts. It’s a lovely neighbourhood. Nice bunch of bright kids knocking around. Very safe double cul-de-sac type arrangement with a huge playing field at one end. I dragged the stumps and a couple of cricket bats out of the van and introduced the Irish lads to a game of cricket. We played a short kwick cricket style game (minus five runs instead of out, if your caught, bowled etc.).
Cooked a lovely bit of Irish Rib Joint on the Sunday to set us up for the early start on Monday. Stroke of top luck on the ferry – we had paid for Club Class (you get to sit in a much more chilled out lounge, and it has ‘free’ cheese, biscuits, fruit, salmon on bread, bits and bobs, teas and coffee and wines) but the ferry was really busy – Manchester Utd’s first game of the season and the she was full to bursting with Irish Man U shirts so they opened up the club lounge to all. My name was called over the tannoy. Uh Oh thought I. When I arrived at the desk, they apologised profusely and gave us 5 meal tickets (full British fry up with all the trimmings, thanks very much) and keys to a private suite. The James Joyce Suite it was called – second biggest (after the Presidential suite) on the whole ship. Lovely it was too! We made full use of the sitting room, kettle, bathroom and then had a refreshing kip on the super comfortable beds.
From there on in there was a bit of a chug from Holyhead to home but we’d had such a lovely restful, fulfilling holiday that we didn’t mind it. Such a nice adventure. Super strong family bonding.