At the weekend, our pals Aldo and F were over from the Big Island, because why not, right? In the past, this is the kind of weekend I've always slightly dreaded. What the hell do you do with people who come over the for the weekend? Where do you bring them, how do you entertain them?
It turns out what you do, especially if your friends are staying in the Mespil, is go to Birchalls in Ranelagh on the Friday night. Then, if you are us, you get back into town way too early for your bus and go to the Gresham for a cocktail while you wait (at €5.15 for a pint of booze drink, it's far too expensive, but is at least comfy and warm and not full of wankers at 10.30 on a Friday, which is a big deal). Then you leave them to their own devices on the Saturday, and have them come out to your house on Sunday morning on the excellent Matthews coach service.
At 9.40, we met them off the bus and went down the beach with the dogs, who were their usual stand-offish selves. We had a stroll around in the freezing cold, then came back to the house and had happy breakfast, before piling into the car and setting off to Newgrange. Aldo and F got on a tour immediately, and we hung about the centre. We found a comfy bench in the sun and out of the wind to sit on, and we watched the Boyne go by and smiled at the tourists and generally had a cheery morning. The tea is terrible in the visitors' centre, but the cake is lovely. If you're bringing visitors and not planning to go to Newgrange yourself, though, I'm not sure you really need to see the exhibition. Certainly we paid it little attention as we walked round it, because Aldo and F go to this kind of monument all the time, so they were able to tell us things that weren't written on the posters.
After that, we paid a visit to Mellifont Abbey, where some guys in their twenties, pissed off that our arrival meant they couldn't freely throw stones at each other any more, left. We wandered around there and saw the stones and drank in the quiet and examined an early wasp before getting back in the car to go to Monasterboice to look at the round tower and the high crosses. Monasterboice is great, because the graveyard is still in use, so there's a feeling of it being a proper centre of the community, despite the fact that there are very few houses around the place. The tower and the crosses and the rookery are all atmospheric and creepy and olde worlde and the view of the countryside around is relatively unobstructed by Southfork-style ranch houses. By then, though, it was absolutely freezing, so it was home for a bit of vegetable soup and more coffee and a bit of a sit round in the warm before putting the others on the bus again.
Not a very exciting story, you might think. But it's interesting to me, as someone who has, almost all her life, lived in an area that people come to visit, to have places I can bring people. It gives me more confidence when I say "you should come and visit us", because I know there is stuff on offer that you will like. Of course it helps if, like the Aldos, you are fun and happy to go along with whatever entertainments are presented to you, and you like both dogs and cats.
So, you should come and visit us.
Edited to add: Excitingly, Aldo has come up with a real product that Mister Monkey can put up on the Slard website: chocolate-covered bacon.