Cold, wind-blown, makeup-free, and a ten minute drive from the heart of Dublin city centre!
WHEN I tell people that I live in Dublin, just a ten minute drive, or train journey, from the heart of the city centre, I get mixed reactions.
'Dublin is fine during the week,' they say, 'but it's nice to get away from all that noise and congestion.'
This is usually from people who spend two hours commuting to work. And I know that sounds smug. It's my attempt to fight condescension with passive-aggression.
For a start, Dublin is actually very small. The city centre, that is. You can walk around it in a day. And I often did. You try be the mother of a daughter with staggeringly narrow feet, and see how easy it is to get shoes. When she was little, I could give you the inside track on every shoe shop, within a five mile radius of O'Connell Street.
Secondly, I live right on the coast. In five minutes, I can be down at the beach, getting my salon blow-dry, extra blow-dried. Or, I can be striding along the nature reserve, where height allows for staggering views of the coastline all the way out to Bray Head, in County Wicklow.
That said, the East coast wasn't the place to be during this Spring. None of us will forget The Beast from the East and Storm Emma, in a hurry. In our house, the pipes froze. We had no hot water. Or any water upstairs, for that matter. The snow meant we couldn't get a plumber. Try to imagine three women in the one house who couldn't wash their hair. It wasn't pretty.
But when our coast is not being battered by arctic winds and freezing temperatures, I walk that nature reserve. It's me and the dogs. Not my dogs, you understand. Other people's dogs. I live in a village where they almost outnumber people.
Which is fine, once you manage to avoid tripping over their leads, stepping in their poo (not everyone pooper-scoops, folks!!) or being jumped on by something roughly the same size as a small horse.
They're not the only animals on the reserve. But being on the coast, it's mainly sea birds and um, coastal-loving trees and plants. I never claimed to be an expert. Unlike a friend of mine. I love walking with her. She brings her dog (a gentle, slightly nervous chap, of whom I'm genuinely fond) and her knowledge.
She grew up in the real countryside and knows all about species of heron and storks, and the Latin names for wild flowers. It's impressive.
Dogs and birds aside, the natural world has decided in recent years, that our little village is The Place To Be. In particular, our garden.
As somebody who doesn't actually keep pets (for lots of practical reasons) I can understand why, in the past, squirrels and hedgehogs felt free to roam our little patch of suburban green, happy in the knowledge that they'd be left alone.
Then the fox arrived. I notice him for the first time when our garden is under inches of snow. He's quite a respectable-looking chap: shiny of coat and plump of belly. Which makes me think that somebody (or quite a few somebodies) is feeding him.
It certainly isn't me. I'm distinctly uncomfortable with a wild animal sniffing around the patio door, or settling down in the middle of the flower beds for a good scratch and an afternoon snooze.
But a few short weeks ago, we discover that our fox is actually a vixen. And overnight, she has given birth to six cubs. The whole family are living under our garden shed.
At first, we wait, enthralled, as the proud parents (it's not an immaculate conception) play with their tiny offspring, just yards away from our kitchen door. Dinner time resembles Wildlife on One, and The Husband starts to sound like David Attenborough.
But as the cubs grow, I see a dystopian future. I might leave the kitchen door open for air, and suddenly find myself over-run by wild animals. The cubs will grow up and return en-masse to breed next summer under our shed. Soon, there will be a community of foxes living in our garden.
I phone the council. "Ah we don't deal with foxes, love. Not in people's gardens. Try the DSPCA."*
I phone the DSPCA. There is a stunned silence as I explain the problem. "We protect animals. We don't kill them," says the woman. I tell her I don't want them killed. I just wondered if they could take them away. Maybe release them in the countryside. Y'know, where they're actually supposed to live.
"No, I'm afraid we don't do that. You could wait until the cubs are reared, and they all move on. Then you could put chicken wire around your shed. Oh, and if you want to feed them, they like dog food."
I thank her and hang up.
To date, I'm still on fox watch. The weather hasn't been brilliant, so I haven't really been out in the garden, although The Husband has planted this year's tomato plants on the patio.
Summer time is different. Some years ago, my middle-class, suburban conscience, tricked the lazy side of my personality into believing that my garden should be a haven for birds and butterflies, and especially bees. Simply put: I let all the wild things grow.
So our family of foxes had better decide to move on. And leave me and my ahem, well-planted garden to its notions.
Meanwhile, I can safely report that mother and babies are thriving.
*Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
#May #Wildlife #Dublin #Foxes
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