When my children were babies I dreamed of a day, many years in the future, when I would enjoy a weekend away without them. I watched others with older children and imagined their easier lives. My ultimate dream was to one day enjoy the sights and sounds of Allihies… alone. Those years have flown past, some harder than others, but the day I dreamed of has arrived. I am away for the weekend in Allihies, child free.
As the sun sets on a perfect day I know I must turn back. My other half is enjoying his own bit of heaven, watching a very important rugby match on TV (yawn). I had left two hours previously to walk over the hills, to enjoy the magnificent views and to get my head around the fact I was here child free.
I should have known as I drove the few miles to begin my walk, that I had been foolish to believe I was alone.
Passing the little beach that is Garnish, I stopped the car for a moment to gaze at the white sand and still water. Opening the window to hear the lap of the sea, I clearly say my little ones, over many years, casting off clothes, indifferent to the cold, running into the sea. My eyes strayed to the rocks on the beach, where one morning I sat with my youngest child and watched the sun come up, as she slept in her back pack, having woken at 5.30am.
I parked at the small pier to begin my climb, but not before remembering the hours spent finding flat stones to play skip skap with, or turning over large rocks in search of crabs. Smiling I heard their screams of delight when they saw one, and fear when they thought I was bringing it too close.
Away from the shore I looked at the climb ahead, it seemed smaller without little ones. Climbing my first ladder I head towards the ‘trolls bridge’ which we had always approached in silence, for fear we would wake him and he might grab a child.
I walked quickly upwards towards the incredible blue sky, pausing occasionally to enjoy the stunning views.
On the way I passed a cluster of rocks, and remembered taking my eldest on this climb when she was nine, just the two of us.There had been a brief shower and we had sheltered in a ‘cave’ there. Hard to believe my eldest baby is almost fully grown, and in her final year of college.
Climbing on wards I begin to relax and enjoy the many voices from the past drifting over the hills.
“I’m the winner”, my daughter as she raced ahead.
“Is is time for a picnic?” said by each child on many occasions.
“Ow”, said by all, but mostly my son, as he placed his hand on prickly gorse.
“Take it easy”, my husbands shout as they began to descend running.
Reaching the top I realise the climb did not take the many hours it used to, with small children stopping for many picnics. I sit for awhile before journeying down stopping regularly, hoping I will never forget this day, the weather and the stunning views.
All the while I am climbing there is not another soul around. I feel alone, a part of the hills.
I think of the world I will return to, a fast changing one of modern technology, and progress, and I look around me at a world which has not changed in hundreds of years.
It is this world I wish my children to know and be a part of. In years to come I hope the echoes I heard through the hills today, will be heard one day by my own children, and who knows, maybe many years from now, other generations will hear them too.
For this is a place I hope to be a part of forever.