When I left you after the last instalment of How We Got Here, we were all conked out on the plane from Singapore to Frankfurt. Pro tip for travelling with children: keep them up for 20 hours before long plane flights, preferably spending half of that at a kick-ass theme park, and Bob will be your uncle. Between the food and the sleep and the personal movie screens the time just flew by. There was a brief kerfuffle when Daniel bit into an apple and a tooth that had been a bit wiggly suddenly reached the point where it’s neither fully in nor fully out and until it makes up its mind you just have to sit there bleeding and not talking/eating/closing your mouth. I passed him everyone’s serviettes and he battled manfully until it was fully out by which time there was quite a wad of blood-covered tissue on his tray table and the passing flight attendant was prepared to go into full-on ‘this is the moment I did all that training for’ mode. But it was all good and the tooth fairy even managed to scrape up some local currency (because the little extras like that are just what you need when you’re sleep-deprived and disoriented and travelling across the world alone with children).
Frankfurt hove into sight early in the morning and we stumbled into the airport for a longer-than-necessary stopover. You know – four or six hours or something (it’s faded into blankness) which isn’t long enough to leave the airport but is just long enough to drag on for days. We could see all the interesting things – the cafés, the shops, a playground thing – on the floor below us but for the life of us we couldn’t work out how to get there. Twice we ended up on the street outside before giving up and heading along to our gate with about five flights still to leave before ours. They have these kind of deck-chair arrangements in the hallways which are clearly designed for sleeping so we stopped off there and Cassia and Noah immediately conked out again. The rest of us floated around like zombies with occasional bursts of energy to kick the vending machines because they wouldn’t accept my credit card.
Later we wandered on a bit further and found some eating places so we sampled the biggest pretzels we’d ever seen (the authentic ones, I imagine) and found them to our liking. Then we were allowed onto the next plane where the kids were given colouring books, decks of cards and little bags of lollies, and we were whisked away to the Emerald Isle.
It was lovely and cold (New Zealand and Singapore had just about been the death of me) and grey and drizzly just like Ireland should be. We arrived on a Thursday and Josh had Thursday and Friday off work to welcome us. It was just as well because by that time I’d almost lost my reason with tiredness and responsibility and I celebrated our arrival by getting a cold and staying in bed for two days while he caught up on some quality time with four jet-lagged children.
I will say this about the children: they were troopers. They were helpful and responsible and sensible and they endured some incredibly long and physically demanding days with a fortitude that amazed me, because at times I felt like all I was capable of was curling up in a little ball and being overwhelmed entirely and I’m the grown-up. Cassia’s little legs, and Noah’s, covered so much ground and kept going for so long and there was occasional moaning, of course there was, but for the most part they all just dug in and got on with it. It’s amazing what they can pull out of the hat when they have to, you know?
When we arrived their resilience came to the fore. While I spent most of the next few days falling asleep and barely moving while I was awake, the kids had a good night’s sleep and were pretty much operating on all cylinders again immediately. We did have to go out to the lounge at 4:30 a.m. for the first couple of mornings to break the news that no matter what their bodies were telling them it was not daytime yet, and after the second or third day we had to get tough and forbid people from going to bed at 4:30 p.m., but it all fell into place a lot more smoothly than I was expecting. We were staying in a corporate apartment (with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, thank goodness) right in the centre of Dublin and they were all happy to just have a place to call home. It was warm and had a t.v. and that was enough for a while. There was a variety of food shops and cafès very close by and the one they all fell in love with was the Fresh market. The Fresh market was a deli or small supermarket type thing with pastries and interesting drinks and pick ‘n’ mix Lindt chocolates. It met our needs very nicely and became the favoured daily outing. Noah still asks to go there whenever we’re in town; it sort of became his spiritual home in Dublin, the first place he formed an attachment to in our new country.
We lived there for about two weeks. During that time we chose the house we would eventually live in but we could not move in straight away. We also visited the Wax Museum – another enduring favourite – and a few other central city landmarks. Mostly, though, we relaxed and regrouped.
Daniel really loved the Wax Museum. They all did, but it’s Daniel who asks to go back again and again. You never know what they’ll fixate on.
I loved Dublin last time I was here and I was so glad to be back in the ancient city. I could wander the streets of central Dublin daily for months – years, possibly – and not get sick of it. There’s always something different, something unexpected or quirky or historical around every corner. There are statues and sculptures and bridges and castles and gardens and many, many wonderful places to eat. The hospital where I gave birth to my first baby is there, and the Mothercare shop where I bought everything she needed. The first park we took her to. The gift shop where I found all the presents I took home last time. I was wandering down Grafton Street, the main pedestrian shopping street, and I noticed a little cheese shop down an alley. I remembered going in there once fourteen years ago and was glad that it’s still there. That’s one of the nice things about a city so old: when a shop’s been in the same place since Queen Anne was on the throne, you can pretty much rely on it staying around for you.