Ireland is in the middle of spring. A wet, damp, blustery spring with a tease of sunshine that the daffodils, tulips and bluebells in my garden are absolutely loving and waving around excitedly for. It’s not that it’s lashing rain, it’s just endless diagonals of driven drizzle. And while my lush garden is loving it, my family has cabin fever roaming around the house, waiting for the sun to pop out. I’ve often wondered why Irish people have not evolved to adapt to the rain, the way Middle Eastern and African peoples have skin adapted to the sun.
Everywhere I look I see identical advice on FIRE blogs – save lots, spend little, invest in low cost index funds and enjoy free pursuits such as hiking.
Check, check, uncheck, uncheck.
If I read one more article on a FIRE blog about going hiking, I’m going to put on my wellies and stamp the frustration out in the muddy puddles à la Peppa Pig. Actually, I don’t even own wellies. What kind of Irish person doesn’t own wellies?!
I could dig out my sad old hiking boots that I bought when I was younger, fitter and dreamt of freedom on the top of mountains. They don’t have much wear and tear.
Nowadays it would be next to impossible for us to go hiking. With 2 young kids (one of whom still uses a buggy) the physical, logistical and to be frank – the psychological effort of going hiking with youngsters is more the stuff of nightmares than dreams. I can just imagine it now, us grimly smiling at each other while the wheels of the buggy jolt over rocks and stones and baby Kitty screams angrily, us trying to convince each other that this mess was worth it for the breeze in our hair and the view of yet more green fields that you can see perfectly fine from the motorway while wondering whose idea this was. I’m sure there are some zealots out there who would shout me down with calls for slings, or structured baby carriers but it’s just not us.
So, free pursuits are somewhat limited in our location. There are playgrounds and parks which we like to avail of (when dry), but that gets very repetitive very quickly, especially since Kitty Junior (the pre-schooler) doesn’t like long car journeys to find the same thing just an hour away.
That’s why Ireland’s shopping centres are crammed packed on rainy days. There isn’t much else to do. Swimming pools, playcentres and shopping centres comprise most of our indoor activities for rainy days. While the costs are definitely controlled in pools and playcentres, shopping centres result in the worst financial hit. Lunch, coffees, bargains, kids clothes and that stuff for those random home DIY jobs that you always forget to buy. We could easily drop €150 on an afternoon at a shopping centre. Let’s be honest, strolling around one but giving yourself no money to spend is like only ordering water at a gourmet restaurant.
How I long for the summer days when parks, picnics, castle grounds and estates, walks on beaches and promenades, forest trails and festivals open up a world of free family fun.
For now though, it’s back to Snap!, hide and seek, Ludo and dollhouses in the house while the wind howls outside.