I got home from London on the Monday, and went in to work on the Tuesday. Tuesday night Lara and I caught up with Allegra, my friend from Ulster University. We had bubbles and wine, and ate pasta at around 11:30pm; it was rather a late one.
On Wednesday we got out of work at 11:30am, because there was a bonfire built in the middle of the only road in to work! I have pictures to post - it was quite substantial.
I caught the midday bus to Dublin, and changed there for one to Tipp. I felt grand to start with but ended up having to get the second bus to stop so I could vomit (sometimes I'm not a brilliant traveller, and this was a 7½ hour bus journey). Unfortunately when I got off I was far too embarrassed to throw up! I finally arrived in Tipp at half seven, feeling a little under the weather; but Liam (my cousin getting married in Perth) and Ella (his fiancée) met me at the train station, and we went straight to the pub (that lifted my spirits to start with - obviously seeing Liam for the first time in ages did too). No-one was there, so we went to McD's for some food (I got a bottle of water, and threw up in their bathroom; finally - I have found a point for them!), and went back. A pint of Smithwick's, and I was all better; totally up for a big night, in fact... We met Liam's two Irish best men in the pub, Finn and Colm. We played a bunch of (bad) pool, and drunk a bunch of beer. Finn and I chose some music on the jukebox together. That was a bit of a mission, because he doesn't really do decisions either (what were we thinking?), and when you first meet someone what music you listen to is quite important. I've been listening almost exclusively to Snow Patrol and Aslan (with a bit of Portishead) recently, and wasn't sure that everyone else would want to listen to them. So we started with Scissor Sisters, and moved on to Bob Marley. Fortunately €2 only gives you four choices! Eventually they threw us out and we decided to go back to Cloneen to the Thatch (Ella was driving, because she was crook from the night before). The Thatch (if you follow the link, you need to scroll nearly to the bottom of the page, but there is a pic of it!) is one of my all time favourite pubs ever. It's small and dark, and a bit smelly, and doesn't have any electricity. It's fantastic!! Unbelieveably, when we arrived, there was a 20 minute queue for beer! How dare they? I love the Thatch; it's not supposed to be like that. We went to the one next door which is slightly more civilised. Being a little merry I made a bit of an entrance. Mick (first cousin once removed, Liam's Dad) was standing in a really obvious place when I walked in. I was so pleased to see him I shouted at him from the door, then rocked on up and gave him a big hug. He went bright red, but (I think) he was pleased. Sian (Liam's youngest sister) and Davey (her lad) were there too, and Sarah (their mother). Many rounds were bought and drunk, and more pool was played, but there was no lock in. I loved the fact that it was a Wednesday night and the whole village was out. When it closed we moved back home, where there were provisions for the engagement bbq on Friday. Finn and Colm were supposed to be going to work the next morning - Liam had offered to take them in at some ungodly hour; but Finn was still there on Thursday morning when I crawled out of bed.
The weather was stunning - warm and really sunny. Sian, Davey, Finn and I went into Carrick to pick up the family's engagement present (a really beautiful flat crystal bowl). We were very sensible and picked up the present first, then found a nice pub that served food; we were starving because we hadn't had breakfast. After that we dropped Finn home so he could go to work (heheh) the next morning and went back to Cloneen (the civilised pub), where we sat outside in the sun and had some more pints. It was such a nice day. I think the combination of lack of sleep and the beer and the sun knocked me out though, because I was wrecked. The rest of the day passed in a warm fuzzy blur. It definitely involved me sleeping throughout the night though!
On Friday Sarah, Liam and Ella went into town for last minute shopping, and I got up to see if I could be helpful, wandered around cleaning up a bit, went back to bed and watched several episodes of Family Guy. I had a massive long shower. It's so nice since Sarah's done up the bathroom. The shower used to take about five minutes to wet your hair (it was a gravity one), and rinsing out conditioner was a nightmare on wheels; but now it's brilliant. Unfortunately the weather had turned really nasty - it was absolutely bucketing down. Typical. But by the time people started turning up around 7pm, it had lightened up a bit, so we could sit outside under the umbrellas and big canopy thing, where Liam cooked the steak. Grace (one of Mick's sisters) and Wonder Woman (her daughter, so my 2nd cousin) turned up, which was all good, and Wonder Woman brought Holly, her golden retriever, with her because she'd just been to the vet. All the dogs were so excited to see such a cute blonde woman, and she really played it up. Thank god she's spayed! Liam and Ella had brought SingStar over with them from Australia. Very scary with a bunch of drunk people. They had no chance of getting me near it; it was bad enough just being in the same room with them! The party went on very late, with Liam, Finn and I staying up well past breakfast, taking democratic turns to go on the beer run to the kitchen.
On Saturday there was a bit of a clean up mission, which turned into a very nice dinner party in the dining room. Glo (Liam's sister) and her lad came out for it. They dropped by Finn's house on the way to pick him up, but his mother said he was sleeping ("He's been out too many nights recently." Glo: "Yeah, I know, he's been with us." Mother: evil glare. "He's asleep, and I'm not waking him up." Or that's how I understand the conversation went.) The hurling was on just before dinner (and slightly during)! I was so excited to see Tipp beat Cork in the semis (I think it was). I miss hurling, and it was a great match. We all settled down for a quiet evening in front of the tv, but then John (who is, randomly, a relative of Glo's bloke, although this is Ireland, so we shouldn't have been surprised) turned up, and people started to wake up about the time Sarah went to bed. This involved us lounging around the sitting room with Ong Bak on, and arguing about whose turn it was to fetch the beer. I accidentally stayed up all night (again), this time in the kitchen (closer to the beer fridge), drinking and talking nonsense (and it really was!) to John. I stayed up, and helped tidy the kitchen a bit (probably more hindrance than help though) on Sunday morning. I had spent so much time in the three days hassling Liam about not having an invite to the wedding, that he presented me with one in the morning! So, I'm now going to Perth in March, which was really not part of my plan. Ah well, that's the joy of travelling. I discovered that there wasn't enough room for me in the car with Liam and Ella, and the parents and all their stuff, and that Glo would give me a lift to the bus, so I went to bed for a bit of a kip. Glo cooked me breakfast when I got up (sausages, bacon, eggs, toast, it was fantastic), then took me in to the train station. We sat in the car waiting for the bus, until she said "That one's going to Cork..." Eeep. I leapt out, just in time to flag down the one to Dublin which was accelerating away from the station, hidden behind the other one. All good, even if the driver did give me a dirty look!
Made it back to Belfast around half nine that evening, and the weather was lovely. I wandered home feeling at one with the world, and smiling at the people walking their dogs.