Monday, 27 June 2016


                                      Al Fresco dining: our European neighbours have this nailed.

SOMEBODY is drilling right beneath my window as I wake, ridiculously early, on Saturday morning.

Which couldn't be right. It's a Saturday, after all. And this is suburbia. A quiet, little village by the sea, no less.

I revise my thoughts. I was out last night. How could I have done this to myself? No more sparkling water for me. Ever.

So, not that either. I stumble from the bed and over to the window. The noise is coming from next door: our neighbour is strimming. It doesn't go on for long. Within half an hour, everything that can be, has been strimmed, and he has moved on to mowing. I throw the covers over my head and count daisies as I drift...

Give us a bit of sustained sun and we lose the run of ourselves

It's only to be expected, of course. Give us a bit of sustained sun on this island, and we lose the run of ourselves. A bit like offering limitless sweets to a child.   

Because we never know when we'll see the next bit of sun. So it doesn't matter that it's 8 0'clock on a Saturday morning. If those hedges need strimming, by God they'll be strimmed. It could rain in an hour! And even if the sun pops out again later, you know you'll only have half an hour to barbeque.

It's only when we've had about a week of tee-shirt weather, that we start getting notions. We've seen enough Italians scoffing their spaghetti and Spaniards polishing off their paella, al-fresco, to crave posh outdoor living too.

Never mind that there isn't actually any room on our pavements to bring our cafes and restaurants outdoors. If the French can do it, why not us?

What we forget, is that when our European neighbours take to the streets, it's all very ordered. As you sip your cafĂ© au lait on a Parisian boulevard, the most you'll ever have to do, is tuck your Louboutin-clad feet out of the way for Madame de Vichy and her petit poodle.

Cappuccino with extra marshmallows

But try quaffing your cappuccino with extra marshmallows in Dublin, and you'll find yourself at the wrong end of an irate mother with a double buggy, an older child hanging on to one side, and their Labrador tied to the other.

Pubs are a different matter entirely. Even in Winter, special occasions like matches demand that we stand outside, pint glass in hand, saluting passers by. On a sunny evening in our village, it's quite normal to see locals cooling off outside the pub, stools pulled up to old fashioned oak barrels. Lobster coloured limbs.

It's not the only difference. No matter how hot the weather gets in France, you won't see French kids ditch their Dior to jump into the Seine.

Whereas every time the temperatures hit the teens on this island, Irish children the length and breadth of the country strip off and terrify the local wildlife, as they cool down in the local rivers and canals.

Garden parties also take on a whole new meaning. Forget croquet, boules or strawberries and cream. The only garden parties I've been well, party to this year, have involved Larry the clown and his audience of twenty shrieking nine year old girls.

And the all-day barbeque where every song that U2 ever recorded, was played. All day long.

Neighbours - sharing the music and laughter and even the shouting

I wasn't at either of them. But in a way, we all were. All the neighbours, sharing the music and the laughter and even the shouting.

Mow daisies while the sun shines. Slap a bit of sunscreen on that pale skin. Buy some ice cream. Play some music.

Bain taitneamh as an Samhradh.* Vive la difference.


*Irish for: Enjoy the Summer.

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