This month we were lucky enough to spend time at my grandmother’s house in Cornwall, England. And beforehand the boys and I stopped in Ireland for a few days, just the three of us (Alex had to work) as I used to go there as a little girl. Here are a few 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 picturesque town next to a national park. We wanted to explore but were sleepy from the flight so we took one drive with a charming redhead named Damien. We rode over bridges, walked through the woods and saw a castle; and when the wind blew he gave us woolen blankets.
When planning trips, I’m usually a research geek who LOVES to make painstakingly slow decisions about hotels and Airbnbs. But! The boys and I had fallen over this YouTube video of Killarney Park Hotel staff singing the Beauty and the Beast song “Be Our Guest”. We were immediately sold.
We even met a few of the staff from the video! Starstruck!!!
Then we went to Dingle, a small fishing town in the south-west of Ireland. The brightly colored shops were so charming and everyone was more than friendly. Above are the boys who make our daily stops for Murphy’s ice creamwhich is handmade in Dingle with milk from local grass-fed cows.
We stayed at a family-run bed and breakfast called Greenmount House. As Ireland is so northern, the summer days last forever – here’s the view from our room at 21!
My friend Sharon once noted that every tour has a “tour toy” – a cheap trinket that you pick up and play with on repeat. 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 Dingle Peninsula. It is one of the most scenic drives in the world, although the narrow road often winds along cliff edges – not for the faint of heart.
How beautiful is this view? Can you see the house with the red door?
After two nights in Dingle we drove a few hours north to County Clare. On Instagram I had connected with a local reader named Peggy, and she invited us to lunch! We ate sliced steak, potatoes and salad with her lovely family. “My husband is not a regular Instagram user, so you can imagine my explanation of who’s coming to lunch,” she wrote to me before we arrived. “Luckily, he’s used to me, and we very much have an open door policy.”
Our last night we were lucky enough to stay at Dromoland Castlewhich has welcomed guests since the 16th century.
The interior felt straight out of Downton Abbey. Before arriving I wondered if we would be tiptoeing around but the staff were fun and warm. We swam in the indoor pool and rode go-karts on the tennis court.
We kept expecting his head to move.
One last thing I love about Ireland is how nice everyone is to children. When traveling I sometimes feel the need to shut my kids up in public or tell them to settle down, but in Ireland adults are fawned over them. In restaurants, when Toby and Anton ask for a dish, the waiters say, “Good man, good man”; and store clerks often sneakily slipped them candy or ruffled their hair. It felt so relaxing not to worry if your kids were bothering people – it was clear they never were!
Our day traveling from Ireland to England had a few hiccups (as all trips do!) but we finally made it to…
…my grandmother’s house in Cornwall! Home Sweet Home!!!
Not pictured: loudly squawking seagulls and the scent of seaweed and roses.
It felt so good to hug my aunt Luluwho lives with my grandmother and welcomes us all with such joy and generosity.
We reunited with Alex (yay!) and were just in time drinks at. (Can you spot the two preteens in this picture?)
Toby and his English cousin Bo are the same age and grew up together – here they are one, four, six, eight and nine. But, holy smokes, at the age of 12 they suddenly became twins!!! How eerie is that resemblance?
One day we decided to get off the boat.
My grandma joined us which was a treat. She loved pointing at birds and drinking tea. And she absolutely went bananas for Anton’s yoyo. She kept saying, “Well, aren’t you a clever fellow? Lulu, you must come and see him, he is quite extraordinary.”
The water was freezing but everyone was very brave!
Did you also know that Cornwall has tons of jellyfish? They leave you alone, but it’s wild swimming next to them all. Toby and I talked 24 on the sandy beach one afternoon.
We ended each day with ice cream. I now think Lulu should find a lipstick that is the exact shade of blackcurrant.
On the last night we tried to soak up every sensation – the uplifting wind, the salty smell, the taste of marmalade, the creaking boats, the sea view.
Milly, a mother of six, with four of her eight great-grandchildren
When we got home to New York this week, our neighbor asked how our trip was and I started to cry. “It was a trip of a lifetime,” I told her, tears streaming down my face. I was embarrassed, but also deeply grateful. These days our trips to Cornwall feel bittersweet because I’m not sure how long it will all last, but it was such a great and wild trip. Lots of love and thanks for reading. xoxo
(First Slea Head Drive image by PER Images/Stocksy.)