Out and About

Daring to go Against the Grain

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Christmas Day at the Clayton Hotel, Dublin

This Christmas, my daughter and I did something very different; we visited Ireland and climbed a mountain! Okay, so I later discovered it’s actually officially a hill, but since the height, rough terrain and steep gradients proved such a magnificent challenge, I am happy to remain blissfully ignorant. We conquered Mount Bray!

Let’s rewind. Last Christmas I made a promise to myself that we would not have another simply ‘just okay’ Christmas. You know the one that looks like:

Wake-up – open presents – watch boring TV – consume copious amounts of food – watch more TV – play games with the family – sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having fun with my family, but we do that at other times throughout the year. So, this year was about breaking that tradition, ending Groundhog Day and daring to be different. We sure did that!

National Famine Way, Dublin. Statues depicting the journey many took in 1847 in a bid to avoid the national famine. Unfortunately one third didn’t make it.

Our visit to Dublin was initially was designed for us to spend time chilling out in the comfort of a beautiful hotel, in a nearby country. That did happen, we stayed in The Clayton Hotel, Cardiff Lane, Dublin and it was fabulous. The food, the people, the facilities, were all on point. However, the trip was phenomenal and incredibly eye-opening for so many other reasons. I realise how ignorant I have been about Ireland as a whole. My primary knowledge of this island to the left of the UK mainland is of the conflict throughout the years between the Protestants and Catholics and of the IRA and actually that is all centred around Northern Ireland. So it’s pretty fair to say, I knew very little about Ireland. Okay, so I knew a tiny bit about the awful Potato Famine, but my modern-day knowledge was very poor. Admittedly, I thought the country would be quite dull and mundane (I apologise to the Irish). What I found was quite the opposite. I could write essays on the four-day trip, but instead I will tell you about our trip in ten photos and captions.

I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take a photo on the writer Samuel Beckett’s bridge, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. This is right by the hotel and it adorned with a magnificent light display at night.

The message I want to leave you with is to not be afraid to go against the grain. There is much to be discovered by allowing yourself to do something completely different to the norm. For my daughter and I, this trip was soul-nourishing, character building, fun, awe-inspiring and wholesome. My heart has been singing since our first day. I have learned that we both love outdoor adventures as they are thrilling and daunting; we thrive on excitement and challenge. So, look through the photos. I hope they inspire you to get out of the box (not just the Christmas one) and do something wonderfully alternative to the norm. I dare you.

Custom House Dublin (a local government building), lit up in all its glory.
My friend Helen kindly took us on a mini tour around Dublin and we discovered this little beauty in the village of Howth.
We were so honoured to be asked to be guests at the Gibson household. We truly felt the kindness and warmth of this Irish/Anglo family.
…and so began our two hour walk in the wrong direction around Bray Cliffs. I wrongly thought the cliff walk would eventually lead us to the top but after realising we were not getting much higher, I asked passerby who delivered the unfortunate news. However, we were compensated with glorious views.
Once we found the correct route, we embarked on this arduous climb. I am so in awe of my daughter because I work out 5 times a week boot camp style and I found it difficult. She just kept going and going.
We made it! The views and feeling of achievement was so very worth it! What a Merry Christmas it has been!

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