It’s gorgeous here today. We’ve had two days of warm, sunny weather and I write this while sitting outside on the grass in front of our house. David is reading Jungle Book to the boys. We spent the morning in Sligo, a city about 90 minutes from here. Dan and Misha had been visiting since Thursday and proposed a day trip to Sligo; they will spend the night there tonight and then head towards Dublin and their flight home from there.
Sligo felt like other favorite European cities, in that it had a bustling, hip edge to it, but also had kept its sense of history. The city center was a cluster of winding streets, many of them only open to pedestrians. Pubs and shops lined the crooked streets . People were dressed smartly, shoes and glasses cooler than what are worn in the States – definitely besting what’s worn most days in Maine. We wandered around, window shopping, scoping out lunch places. While Dan, Finn, Corin and I played by the river, Misha and David sussed out a great restaurant for lunch. Down a jig-jog alley, the patisserie had tall windows that let in the day’s brilliant sunshine, cases filled with tartlets and croissants, and a menu that made us all – kids, vegetarians, foodies – happy. The boys had thin, crepe-like pancakes covered with powdered sugar and lemon juice. Also on the table were a chicken, emmenthaler and tomato chutney grilled wrap, eggs florentine served on a grilled baguette, a chunky tomato soup, a mushroom and aged cheddar tartlet, a roasted veggie and goat cheese wrap, and various cups and glasses of coffee, juice, smoothies and cocoa. There was not a scrap or a sip left on that table by the end of the meal. We wandered more after lunch, a brief stop at an art museum (David was hoping to see some of Jack Yeats’ drawings but the museum was being renovated and the temp space only had contemporary work on display) and then an hour at Sligo Abbey, a ruin that was once the home of the local Dominican brothers from 1250s – 1780s. It turns out that centuries-old ruins are the ideal places to take kids on sunny days. Having survived fires, ransacking, and the pressures of the Church of England, the old stone walls were indestructible in the hands of a 2 year old and 5 year old. The entire time we were in Sligo I felt a shifting sense of place: at times it felt like we were in Paris; at other times it felt like we were in Edinburgh.
I’m sure there’s more that I can say about Sligo but right now I am distracted by the show David is watching in TV. “Glas Vegas” is a variety show a la American Idol (but with more step dancing) but it’s in Irish (with English subtitles) and it’s a testament to the kindness (and perhaps blarney) of the Irish that the judges don’t find fault with anyone, no matter how awful they are (and there are some doozies).