Andrea Mara

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The Accidental Tourists: An Unscheduled Trip to Wells House

Bank holiday Monday morning. I checked the weather on my phone. Cloudy, rainy, and real-feel 5 degrees. I checked the weather through my window. Bright, sunny, and the illusion of warmth. Window trumps phone. Day-trip weather.

I suggested Glendalough, everyone agreed. We’d need to be quick though. The last time we tried to go there, traffic was so bad the police were turning people back, and we ended up in Djouce Woods instead. So we cobbled together a picnic, threw some breakfast into the kids, and got on the road by 11 – a fair achievement for people not wonderful at getting out of the house.

“How long will it take?” the kids wanted to know.

“Around 45 minutes,” I said. This news was greeted with sighs and requests for snacks so I suggested they play their current favourite game – spotting cars from their respective birth years. For some reason, this also involves punching competitors in the arm (“only lightly mum”) and as always, it soon ended in tears and as always, I banned them from playing. Then the eight-year-old suggested playing “I confess”.

“You say something someone might have done, and whoever has done it has to put up their hand and get a point. Whoever has the most points loses.” This sounded like something you’d do with shots of Sambuca and not with your kids, but I was curious to see where it would go. It was my turn first.

“I confess, I’ve taken sweets from the press and eaten them without asking, and put the wrappers in the blue vase in the sitting room.”

Three sheepish hands went up.

Then it was my husband’s turn. “I confess, I’ve been sticking my fingers in the Communion cake since last week and eating lumps out of it.

The same three sheepish hands went up (while I kept mine resolutely down).

The kids took their turns, but couldn’t quite figure out how get their revenge on the grown-ups, then it was back to me.

“I confess, I once left a TV remote control in a taxi,” I said.

“Huh?” the kids said, with no idea how or why that would happen. My husband raised his hand.

His turn. “I confess I recently searched all over the house for my  phone while speaking on the phone.” The kids scoffed. I raised my hand.

The game was saved from a potentially dangerous downward spiral when we spotted a sign saying Gorey was 20km away. That didn’t sound right for people driving from Dun Laoghaire to Glendalough. We’d missed the turn. And then some.

A muttered conversation in the front followed, as we wondered whether to go back or keep going and try somewhere else. Backtracking felt like a fail, so we continued south, heading for Wells House and Gardens. The rain showers that had kept us company for most of the journey faded away as we drove through Ballycanew, and blue sky stretched out ahead. A good omen.

Wells House - Office Mum
In we go…

We’d been to Wells House once before, and it was one of our favourite trips, so we knew what we were getting (and also that entrance for the whole family is just €8 all in – you can’t lose at that price). We headed straight through the restaurant area and out the gardens, where the kids spent twenty minutes admiring flowers and climbing trees. I took 56 photos – I couldn’t help it – here are just a few:

Tulips - Wells House - Office Mum

Pink Blossoms - Office Mum

Gardens Wells House - Office mum

Then we started the Lady Frances’ Walk. Although we did it last year, the kids were as excited as ever with each fairy door they found. There’s something so infectious about the magic and their belief in the magic – they even saw real fairies, who fluttered out of the way before the grownups arrived – because the fairies are shy of parents. They saw the Gruffalo, the Gruffalo’s child, the fox, the owl, and the snake. They made wishes at the wishing well. They ran up and back, and for once, there was no need to tell them to stop or come back or slow down or speed up. The sun shone and the fairies flew. And I took 44 more photos. Here are just a few:

Mogue Walk Wells House - Office Mum

Fairy Palace - Wells House - office mum

Fairy clothesline - Office Mum
Fairies need to dry clothes too

Next stop was the picnic tables for our cobbled-together lunch but of course, everything tastes good in the sun. And anyway, the playground was beckoning, as was the archery, which all three of them loved, helped by exceptionally kind and patient staff.

After that, we checked out the pet farm (“Look at the elephant mum!” said the four-year-old, pointing at a horse) and the reptile zoo, then on to the row of pretty craft shops, where we invested in three “faery doors” to take home (€5 each!).



After some more running around (kids) and sitting on the grass in the sun (grownups) we called it a day.

On the way home, we detoured by Courtown beach for a ten minute run around, where I took another 17 photos. Here are just a few:

Courtown beach - Office Mum

skimming stones courtown beach - office mum

courtown beach - office mum

Back in the car, the eight-year-old suggested playing I Confess again. She offered to go first.

“I confess, I missed a turn today and brought us to the wrong county,” she said. Ha. Or as perfect days go; the right county. As for Glendalough, perhaps it’ll be third time lucky.







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