This month we had the chance to spend some time my grandmother’s house in Cornwall, England. And before, the boys and I stopped for a few days in Ireland, the three of us alone (Alex had to work), since I was going there as a little girl. Here are some pictures, if you want to see…
The boys and I flew direct from New York to Shannon, Ireland. Our first day we stayed in Killarney, a quaint town next to a national park. We wanted to explore but we were sleepy from the flight so we took a carriage ride with a charming redhead named Damien. We crossed bridges, walked through the forest and saw a castle; and when the wind picked up, he gave us woolen blankets.
When planning trips, I’m usually a research nerd who LOVES to make painstakingly slow decisions about hotels and Airbnbs. But! The boys and I had come across this youtube video Killarney Park Hotel staff singing the song ‘Be Our Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast. We were immediately sold.
We even met some of the staff from the video! Starstruck!!!
Then we headed to Dingle, a small fishing town in the southwest of Ireland. The brightly colored shops were so lovely and everyone was beyond friendly. Above, the boys make our daily stop for Murphy’s Ice Creamwhich is handmade in Dingle with milk from local grass-fed cows.
We stayed in a family bed and breakfast called Greenmount House. With Ireland being so northern, the summer days last forever — here’s the view from our room at 9pm!
My friend Sharon once noted that every trip has a “travel toy” – an inexpensive piece of jewelry that you pick up and play with repeatedly. For us, it was this yoyo. Anton practiced it at our hotel, walking down the street, on the playground, in the car, literally everywhere.
One wild afternoon we drove the Slea Head Drive, a 46 kilometer loop around the Dingle Peninsula. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the world, although the narrow road often meanders along the cliffs – not for the faint of heart.
How beautiful is this view? Can you spot the house with the red door?
After two nights in Dingle, we drove a few hours north to County Clare. On Instagram, I had logged in with a local player named Peggy, and she invited us to lunch! We ate sliced steak, potatoes and salad with his lovely family. “My husband is not a regular Instagram user so you can imagine my explanation as to who is coming to lunch,” she wrote to me before we arrived. “Luckily he’s used to me and we really have an open door policy.”
Our last night we were lucky enough to stay at Dromoland Castlewhich has been welcoming guests since the 16th century.
The interiors looked straight out of Downton Abbey. Before arriving, I wondered if we would be tiptoeing, but the staff were pleasant and warm. We swam in the indoor pool and biked on the tennis court.
We expected his head to move.
One last thing I love about Ireland is how kind everyone is to children. When traveling I sometimes feel like I have to silence my children in public or tell them to calm down, but in Ireland the adults adored above them. In the restaurant, every time Toby and Anton asked for a dish, the waiters would say, “Good man, good man”; and store clerks often slipped them sneaky candies or ruffled their hair. It was so relaxing not to worry if your kids were bothering people – it was clear they never were!
Our day trip from Ireland to England had a few hiccups (like all trips!), but we finally managed to…
…my grandmother’s house in Cornwall! The sweetness of the home!!!
Absent from the photo: the screaming seagulls and the smell of seaweed and roses.
It felt so good to squeeze my aunt Luluwho lives with my grandmother and welcomes us all with such joy and generosity.
We found Alex (yay!) and were right on time to drink time. (Can you spot the two tweens in this photo?)
Toby and his English cousin Bo are the same age and grew up together — here they are a, four, six, eight and new. But, holy fags, at 12, they suddenly turned into twins!!! How disturbing is this resemblance?
One day we decided to take the boat out.
My grandmother joined us, which was a treat. She loved showing birds and drinking tea. And she went absolutely crazy for Anton’s yoyo. She kept saying, “Well, aren’t you a smart guy? Lulu, you have to come and see him, he’s quite extraordinary.
The water was freezing, but everyone was very brave!
Also, did you know that Cornwall has tons of jellyfish? They leave you alone, but it’s wild swimming next to them all. Toby and I counted 24 on the sandy beach one afternoon.
We ended each day with ice cream. I now think Lulu should find a lipstick in the exact shade of blackcurrant.
On the last evening, we tried to soak up all the sensations – the invigorating wind, the salty smell, the taste of marmalade, the creaking of boats, the view of the ocean.
Milly, mother of six, with four of her eight great-grandchildren
When we got back to New York this week, our neighbor asked how our trip went and I started crying. “It was the trip of a lifetime,” I told her, tears streaming down my face. I was embarrassed but also deeply grateful. Traveling in Cornwall these days is bittersweet because I don’t know how long this is all going to last, but it was such a great and crazy time. Lots of love and thank you so much for reading. XOXO
(First photo of Slea Head Drive by PER Images/Stocksy.)