Well, you’d think that after my summit meeting with Mac in Belfast last week, I’d get a little down time, but no, last Thursday I was unceremoniously placed in the car and we were off again.
I had no idea this time where we were going, but when we arrived at The Old Barracks in Birdhill, I knew I could cross Galway off the list of possible destinations.
The weather was a bit iffy but we managed to have a nice, relaxing dogguccino before heading off again.
Caffeine doesn’t seem to affect me at all so it wasn’t long before I was asleep again in my comfy bed and I only awoke when the roads got bumpy and I knew it was BrookLodge we were driving towards. I was a bit sad, to be honest, as even though I’d get to meet my friends, George and Lewis, my boyfriend Niall would no longer be behind the bar, having left to change careers. Who would give me treats and make my dogtails now? I was seriously worried.
It was getting late when we arrived, so it was a relaxed evening in the room for us all with a nice pizza for dinner. Of course not a sniff of pizza was offered to me. I was expected to eat my own food. Sometimes it’s just so unfair being a dog.
The next morning was nice enough to have our breakfast on the terrace and I kept a vigilant eye out for any hens trying to steal my melon and yoghurt. Claws off, you hens, it’s all mine.
After breakfast, we were off to the Wexford Lavender Farm, just outside Gorey, so that I could be photographed among the flowers in my AG Dog Fashion dresses. I never object to being photographed and in fact, I’m often doorstepped by the pawparazzi.
We spent an enjoyable hour meandering around the lavender fields and finishing off with another dogguccino. Of course, the flowers attracted loads of bees, and I like bees, but they also attracted wasps and they’re nasty things, always buzzing around angrily. As fast as we shooed them away, they were back again and really made pests of themselves all through the weekend.
We had half a mind to walk around Gorey but when we arrived, the heavens opened so instead, we drove on to Avoca, where we discovered that Avoca Handweavers had reopened their café, which was very good to see. We had a lovely chicken sandwich in the garden and we even found more lavender for me to pose in front of. I’m always ready for a quick snap or two as long as the hoomans only take my good side.
I was tired after our long day but after a good sleep I was refreshed and ready for whatever the following day would bring. It was just as well because who did I meet at breakfast only Lewis, the resident BrookLodge dog. We had a nice chat and caught each other up on our news before he had to head off on his rounds to check that all was well throughout the hotel. He really takes his duties seriously.
In Arklow another surprise reunion awaited me when the car door opened and in stepped Niall. I was so excited to see him. He’s settled nicely into his new job and seems really happy. As happy as I was to see him.
We decided on a walk around Avondale Forest Park, where there’s a huge choice of paths to take. Even though the rain fell in bursts, we were happy just to wander around with no particular destination in mind. The rain got heavier and we were about to turn for home when we met a nice woman with her dog who told us if we walked by the river, we’d be sheltered from the worst of the rain. We took her advice and although we got a wee bit lost at one point, it was a lovely morning’s walk.
Herself then had the bright idea of going on to Red Cross for lunch. Mickey Finn’s Gastro Pub is there and right beside it, Wicklow Brewery. Himself did the tour of the brewery a while back and their sandwiches were delicious.
When we arrived, the rain started again so we were lucky to grab one of the few covered seats outside. The wind was howling too, but we were grand under our canopy as the hoomans enjoyed prawns and baked brie for starters, followed by salad and burgers. It all smelled delicious and I had to be bribed with some of my normal food to keep me quiet. I’ve discovered that every time I bark, I get a piece of food, which is a very useful thing to know. I don’t think the hoomans have twigged to it yet.
Instead of having dessert at the pub, we moved down the road to The Latin Quarter, a quirky mix of café, antique shop, pizzeria and creperie. They seem to have all bases covered but we just had lovely dogguccini and cake. It’s a place that’s well worth visiting and we’ll be back.
That night, we went down to the bar at the hotel. I wasn’t as enthusiastic walking down the corridor as I knew Niall wouldn’t be there but we had a nice time anyway before turning in for the night after another full day.
The next day, it was time to pack up and go home but we managed a quick walk around the grounds after breakfast before the rain really started and never really stopped for the rest of the day.
We drove home by Carlow, passing Swan’s Sunflower Farm on the way to check progress on the sunflowers. I know they’ve been planted but there seems to be no sign of them coming up yet. I suppose they actually need sun, which has been in short supply all month.
It was far too wet to stop in Carlow so we continued on to The Buttery, in Limerick, one of my favourite eateries and the perfect way to draw the weekend to a close.
Maybe this weekend I’ll get to snooze.
Motoring editor - The Clare Champion
Former Chairman and voting member of Irish Motoring Writers' Association