So much has happened since I last wrote, so I'll do my best to condense it into nice bite sized pieces, let's start at the beginning. (Ok, so not as bite sized as I'd hoped, but you'll cope!)
Paula & Ray's wedding:
One word, truly epic. OK, well that's two. I'll set the scene, Kilronan Castle in Co. Roscommon, Sat 1st June-Monday 3rd June. A group of 5 close girls heading up to see their mate get married. One self catering house, 1 amazeballs castle for the wedding and a fuck loads of fun and randomness.
I've known Paula for just over 5 years. She's one of the close group of friends I have here in Dublin and she's fabulous. As crazy as the rest of that friend circle and after a fabulous hen weekend, I knew (as did the others) that the wedding would be an event to remember.
We knew it was going to be a big wedding, the bride is one of 8, the groom one of 10, you do the math re family numbers alone. Plus, this was an Irish country wedding, and for those of you that don't understand the intricacies of that, it essentially means more people. Irish country villages/towns are very close knit and I don't mean that to sound patronising or disrespectful, but it's true. A Dublin city wedding might not deem it necessary to invite your mother's next door neighbour's aunts cousins wife. And although that wasn't the case here, it was a big wedding!
The venue itself was amazing, set in the middle of nowhere, very close to the Roscommon, Leitrim, Sligo border, on the edge of Lough Meelagh (lough pronounced loch, as in the Scottish lochs). Close to a 3 hour drive for us girls from Dublin on the Saturday morning, arriving in time to check in to our self catering house within the castle grounds, crack open the Bucks Fizz, get our glad rags on and head to the church in the nearby village for the ceremony. In true Irish style it was raining as we entered the church but the sun shone as the ceremony ended and we headed back to the castle for drinks and canapes in the sunshine, overlooking the lough.
As we were called for dinner, we looked through the list of 26 tables and headed to ours, table 21. There's always a slight worry at weddings as to who you'll be sat with, will they be nice, will you get on etc. Us 5 girls were on the one table, obviously, but we didn't recognise any of the names on our table as people from the hen do, so it was anybody's guess as to who our dinner companions would be. Add to the fact that us as a group of 5 aren't exactly quiet. We make our own fun, and although we're friendly as hell to anyone we meet we can be quite intimidating as a group because we just don't give a damn and will do what we want in the name of having a laugh.
But, any worries we had were dispelled within minutes of sitting down. We were sat with 5 lovely people, who'd known the groom for years. They were from a family who'd run a pub in his village so were old friends. We had Sandra, Damien and his girlfriend Danielle, Karol (pronounced Karl) and his wife Melanie. Sandra, Melanie and Danielle were sisters. We started chatting immediately amongst ourselves and it soon became clear that we were going to have fun with them. I think it was Melanie who warned us quite early on that Karol was a bit of a mad 'un, and I'm fairly sure our reaction was to laugh and comment that he'd fit in well with us. The drink flowed, the laughs ensued and we had a great time. Add to that some lovely, and moving speeches (I always cry at wedding speeches!), fabulous food, a great band (The Bentley Boys), the bride and bridesmaids doing a Christina Aquilera Candyman dance for the groom and the grooms brothers doing a Riverdance routine and you have one hell of a wedding. Got to sleep around 6.30am!
|The bride and her Dublin girlies!|
We headed up the castle about 4.30pm to find inflatable games in progress (sumo wrestling, football and a bouncy castle). But, unfortunately the rain arrived and we had to go inside, cutting the games short. It's fair to say we were all a little worse for wear that afternoon and after eating we all hit a wall. We'd met up with Karol and Mel again and were having a laugh, and as the drink flowed our energy returned, buoyed by the arrival of the trad band, The Blaggards, from The Stags Head pub in Dublin, a wedding present from the groom's workmates.
A fair few of us migrated outside and the randomness really started. There was a 'Haka Off', between the lads and the lasses, the lasses led by the bride. As trusty photographer I was watching this from the lads perspective, and they all admitted the lasses won...partly to do with a breast stroking action half way through!
There were some superbly random videos taken chronicling the perils of 'wetchin' and 'moist thigh'...you had to be there. And, in the wee hours of the morning there was an incident with a statue, a pineapple and some climbing, swiftly followed by a crawling race back across the dew soaked lawn, before being ejected from the residents bar at 4am. Last ones standing!!
Bank Holiday Monday saw a drive back to Dublin for us, before taking root on the sofa and contemplating how we were all going to get through work the next day. Over the course of the weekend I was down a nights sleep, but it was sure as hell worth it.
|One of the statue incidents...|
I mentioned previously that it was my eldest sisters 40th in June and I'd agreed to look after her 3 whilst she went away with her partner. I should actually say that I volunteered for this, I know how difficult it is for Sarah and N to get time away alone and I've looked after the kids before so was more than happy to do it again. It was her 40th and she deserved the time away. However, it was bad planning on my part in the fact that I was wrecked tired after Paula's wedding and had 2 days recovery before heading to be the best aunt ever. I'd spoken to Sarah a good few times before heading over as I wouldn't see her until she returned from her trip. She'd given me a run down of the routine for the 4 days I'd have the kids, and it really was a routine. The kids were at school for 2 of the days, and they all had various extra curricular activities to be factored in. I think Sarah was a bit worried as to how I'd react/cope with the sheer amount of stuff to be done, despite my efforts to reassure her I'd be fine. I arrived late on the Weds night after the kids were in bed. Sarah and N had already flown to Spain and N's sister had looked after the kids in the evening until I arrived. I was tired from the flight but took time to sit down and read the 3 page routine that Sarah had left for me. It sounds laughable but these 3 pages of A4 were my bible for those 4 days. Every activity and time for things was chronicled and it made my life so much easier. I wasn't particularly worried about the next 4 days, the kids are great kids, I'm close to them all and they're all self sufficient enough to know what's done when so could help me out in some ways.
I'd set an alarm on the Thurs morning anyway, but the eldest (12) came into my room just after 7am to check I was awake, bless him! I woke the younger two up (6 and 8) at just before 7.30am, took some doing believe me, but when they woke up fully they first thing they did was give me a big smile, a hug and a kiss. From that point on I knew it'd all be ok. And it was. They were brilliant for me and we had loads of fun. I'd arranged with N that I'd get the kids to make cards and a banner for Sarah's birthday, and that we'd bake a cake.
|The banner made by the kids|
|The kids and I|
So the above two events happened on sequential weekends. And after a mad week at work I was looking forward to doing naff all this weekend. No going out, just a trip to the gym, catching up on washing, and thinking about what to pack for my trip to Spain next week. Yeah, well, that didn't quite work out as planned.
Back in February Robbie Williams announced that he was kicking off his Take The Crown tour in Dublin on June 14th. I'm a huge Robbie fan and have seen him 4 times previously. However, none of my mates here are really fans, so this, combined with the fact that the time they went on sale I didn't know whether my epic babysitting weekend would be the weekend of the 8th or 15th June, I didn't book tickets. As time went on I made my peace with this. I won't be missing anything I told myself, I don't know the new album well anyway. Until a few weeks ago when I really got into the new album and had the whole back catalogue playing on my iPod constantly. People kept mentioning the concert and I felt more and more gutted I wasn't going. But, I had no one to go with, so it wasn't an option. Until midday Friday when my mate Shane texted to say he had a spare standing ticket if I was interested. The text came at a particularly shit point in my working day and what he was offering me didn't quite sink in. But, I knew I'd be mad to turn it down, so responded to say I'd take it and that I'd see him later. Excitement built, but so did the rain outside. I'd left home that morning with no plans to go out after work, and wasn't dressed for a rainy concert. Luckily I had flat shoes at work that I could stick in my bag if my heels annoyed me, and my waterproof option came in the form of a giant plastic bag. At about 3pm we got a mail in work reminding us that the 'Desk cleanup' exercise was ongoing and the plastic bags for recycling were available. These bags were on a desk beside me, were bright yellow, the size of bin liners and made of thick durable plastic. So, under the guidance of Tim, I cut a hole for my head and arms and hey presto, a home made waterproof that would fold up easily into my bag and cover 90% of my body from the rain.
I left work and headed to meet Shane, his sister Lorna and their cousin Gillian in the pub. Instantly gelled with the girls and we were laughing together in minutes. I'd been with them less than an hour when Gillian said she had a spare ticket for the Bon Jovi convert in Slane Castle for the following day if I was interested, I could head back to Drogheda with them that night and go to the Bon Jovi concert the next evening. For those of you whose Irish geography isn't up to scratch, Drogheda is in Co. Louth, north of Dublin, about an hours drive. Slane is about another 15km beyond Drogheda, in Co. Meath. As someone who doesn't drive, I had no option to get to Slane on my own so if I was to take the ticket, the only option I had was to head back to Drogheda after Robbie with the guys and somehow get home from Slane after the concert on Sat night. Managed to get hold of a mate who was also going to Bon Jovi who said she'd be more than happy to give me a lift home after the concert. Bingo. I accepted the ticket offer from Gillian and knew my quiet weekend had just gone out of the window. I only had the clothes I was stood in, with a spare pair of shows in my bag and a can of deodorant. But, i figured "Fuck it, I can get a shower, I don't care about make up, i'd be mad not to do this"
|Before Robbie..in the nice dry pub!|
|Rocking my homemade poncho!|
The next day saw us all convening at Shane's dads house for a lift to Slane, me kitted out in Gillian's wellies ready for what promised to be a great day. The sun was shining and well, it was Bon Jovi for crying out loud! Now, it has to be said that I've not been to a proper outdoor concert since Knebworth in 2005, and I'd forgotten the intricacies of parking et all, and sheer numbers. Which led to me panicking slightly that there was no way I'd be able to find Darren and Aisling after the concert for my lift home. I had visions of me being lost in a sea of 80,000 people and wandering the streets alone as I missed my lift home! But we arranged a meeting place in the village and I calmed down.
As we weren't allowed to bring any alcohol into the village itself we stopped for a drink in a beer garden and had a mini pre concert party. Dancing in the rain, and subsequent sunshine was great fun. Including some random girls wanting a pic with me because I was still wearing a t-shirt with the caption "Boys are eejits" emblazoned across my chest! For that minute, I felt like a celebrity...yes, I'm easily pleased!
The concert itself was truly amazing. I've never seen Bon Jovi live before but oh my word, he was fantastic! The sun shone for the most part, he played for just over 3 hours, and we had a great view and space to dance...which we did, lots of. I sang my heart out and am genuinely surprised I have a voice today! Hearing Living on a Prayer live has to be one of the best experiences I've ever had. Nigh on 80,000 people singing in unison, bouncing like mad things and Bon Jovi grinning at us as we carry the song to the end. A number of times during the concert I stopped to look around and take in where I was. People as far as the eye could see, there for one person, pretty much slaves to his every word and command. And he deserved it, he rocked Slane and it goes up there as one of the best concerts I've ever been to. I didn't know all the songs but it didn't matter, I could still dance and have fun.
Afterwards we trudged out and I parted company with Shane, Lorna and Gillian, thanking them all for a truly wonderful weekend. Met Aisling and Dar and we drove back to Dublin with random conversations ensuing as is our norm! Arriving home at just gone 1am I literally fell into bed and slept solidly for 9 hours.
So, my quiet weekend resulted in my seeing what may potentially be the two biggest gigs in Ireland this summer!
There you have it boys and girls, if you're still with me, thank you. Although you probably understand why I'm so knackered at this point in time. But, I can't complain too much. I'm flying to Spain on Friday morning for ten days...BRING. IT. ON!
So, again, thank you for staying with me through this, the longest post I've ever written, but you can appreciate its length given its content (fnar fnar!)
Until next time lovely people, much love and take care.