Dad’s Diary

It’s springtime and “adventure” is the watchword in our house. We no longer walk to the playground, we “go on an adventure” to the playground, taking obscure and unnecessary paths through the woods, clambering over fallen trees and exploring hidden glades. We are already, under duress, planning summer camping trips to faraway adventure-filled lands such as Kerry and Donegal. Seán even has an adventurer’s hat.

The gates to nature have been thrown open by the recent fine weather, and we adults are more than happy to encourage this new obsession with adventure, which is a boon in terms of exercise. Yet while an “adventure” in the park is well and good, the kids know well that real adventures involve travelling to mysterious, faraway places and then climbing craggy peaks.

Gazing into the far distance, as the kids proposed yet another adventure to the moon, or similar, my eye came to rest upon Bray Head, shimmering in the strangely sultry April heat. Well, you can’t get much more mysterious or faraway than Bray… at least not on the Dart line. That’s our quarry, I said to myself. I turned to the kids and said, “Do you see that huge mountain by the sea all the way away in Wicklow? Do you think you could climb that?” They looked for a moment unsure, for to them it might as well be Everest, but they stoically agreed to try their best.

The next morning, we packed our rucksacks. Even baby Emilia was coming along, packed into a rucksack-like sling on her mother’s back. We soon were aboard the train to Bray, clattering along the rim of Dublin bay in the sunshine. This was going to be the biggest adventure ever, the kids agreed.

As we walking – or rather, hiked – along the promenade in Bray, the famous headland loomed high above us. The kids looked slightly daunted, but they were not as daunted as me, for I was the one who would most likely end up carrying them, mewling and whinging, to the top.

However, I had packed motivational lollipops to spur them along to greater heights. We took our first lollipop break in the woods, a couple of hundred feet up. The e-numbers alone would send them scrambling up another couple of hundred feet, I reasoned. Yet amazingly, as we steadily worked our way up the steep incline, the kids showed no signs of flagging. Fit from walking to school daily and playing sport, they were amazingly able climbers, for four- and five-year-olds.

As we came out above the trees, the most amazing panorama unfolded before us – we could see the entire Dublin coastline, to Skerries and beyond, while inland the Wicklow mountains rolled away into the distance.

Tall cross

The peak, marked by a tall cross, was only a couple of hundred feet above us now.

As we reached the pinnacle, Seán led the way, excitedly saying, “I can’t believe I’m doing this. I can’t believe it,” before going on to list the people he was going to tell – who also wouldn’t be able to believe it – such as granddad, his teacher, his school friends and so on.

Upon reaching the top it was high-fives all round before another round of lollipops was broken out.

As we gazed across the blue Irish Sea at the ships passing below, Rose said: “It’s like being in an airplane.”

After a good rest, we trekked bravely back down, only occasionally falling. Celebratory ice-creams were had on the sea front, before the weary adventurers returned home triumphantly on the Dart from distant and mysterious Bray.