Holding off reality for a while longer


A DAD'S LIFE:These are the moments we’ll remember

THE MISSUS knew I was despondent at the summer ending. No, miserable is more accurate, mainly because summer had never started. She knew, and she played to my weakness. She figured I’d be vulnerable and she was right. Anything to halt the onset of reality, the return to school runs, packing lunches in a semi-conscious state and getting behind the wheel bleary eyed, occasionally still in a bathrobe that’s seen better years. And proper work stuff again. I needed something to distract from what lies ahead.

“It’s not really camping,” she said, “It’s a yurt. It has a bed, a cooker and a stove.”

Mmm. Does it have a bathroom? No. Is it made of brick or wood? No. Does it flap in the wind? Yeah, probably, but isn’t that kind of exciting?

Only if you’re in the SAS or hanging out with Ranulph Fiennes. If it smells like a tent and tastes like a tent, it’s probably a tent. I hate camping.

She promises me I’ll love it. As has happened so often in the past 20 years, I ignore my lifetime of experience and defer to her better judgment. We go for the yurt.

Cape Clear is accessed from Baltimore, eight miles off the coast of west Cork. The ferry trip takes less than an hour but even on a clear enough day can challenge the hardiest of stomachs. Our outward journey was performed mainly at an angle of 45 degrees one way or the other, which the kids loved but had some green-faced tourists hanging from the back end. The aft, right? I did my best Captain Bligh impression, standing proud up top, in my own head thinking I resembled a hardy auld sea dog, master of all he surveyed. In reality, I was staying stationary to avoid slipping like a drunken baby deer around the deck and joining the group of retchers adding to maritime pollution.

Worth it though. The skipper eventually swings a left and in a heartbeat the waves recede and we’re in an enclosed harbour, flat as a midlands accent. The last time I’d taken a ferry to an island was 15 years earlier in the Gulf of Thailand, in another life, where my only ambition was a good time. The ambition hasn’t really changed but contributing factors have.

Those factors were by now itching to get onshore and scrabbling to explore what they had decided to dub their “tropical paradise”.

Maybe you don’t have hordes of twentysomething gap year travellers flocking here to sip cool cervezas and hammock in the blazing sun for months at a time, but the leap of imagination from Pacific island to Irish island is not that huge.

I’m gobsmacked that this sort of amenity is on my doorstep and we haven’t got off our behinds sooner to explore.

You can get lazy in Ireland, presuming everywhere is a blurred carbon copy of the small part of the country you occupy and so not bothering to traipse much further. I have fallen foul of this particular trap anyway, and so each time I shake off my jadedness and explore a little further I am surprised.

In the half mile from the pier to our yurt, the kids have hailed half the population, had a whooping swim, made dates to milk goats later in the day, befriended a pair of fattened pigs (who already have the unmistakable tang of a quality BLT to them) and considered the possibility of emigrating to this place. The elder is trying to sell me on the idea. “You could farm, Dad. But we’d have to keep the pigs as pets.” Deluded and impractical. I sense a big future for that girl.

And strangely enough, the missus is right, it isn’t like camping. We have a cooker, a sleigh bed and a stove in our yurt. It’s still a small, canvas-covered space so I’m holding my anti-tent ground, but again, in my own inner world, am quite content that I can lie in a bed and survey the Atlantic crashing on rocks at my feet. This is not bad at all.

All right, it’s true, we are desperately clutching at straws, holding off reality for a while longer. Already the paths around our house are clogged with fallen leaves, uniforms and new lunchboxes are back in use, and clients are trying to avoid paying what they owe.

The world is back in spin, the regular grind goes on. Taking these moments is important because this is what we’ll remember. Not the moaning at each other on a Wednesday morning or the frustration of cooking dinner when a deadline looms. This. Now. Here. On Koh Cape Clear.