A Walk in the Wicklow Hills.

Last weekend, Brendan and I were visiting my daughter, husband and family in Wicklow. They were glad to see us. She had a welcome meal ready for us after a long journey. The children were reminiscing with their grandad and remembering the video he made showing them dive off the pier. They are already looking forward to next year’s summer camp at Granddad’s house.

Shann was sorting out school clothes and putting away items the children had grown out of. The cuffs of the girls’ school jumpers were a bit frayed. A few stitches will repair them. Thread and needle were searched out and granny used her skills to make all things new.

The washing machine churned out sheets, socks, jumpers and tights. Clothes were brought in from the washing line and left in a pile on the kitchen table to be sorted later. More clothes were hung out to dry. I watched my daughter doing her washing from the comfort of the cosy chair Shann had purchased for me. I remembered back to when my children were young. The end of holidays was a frenzied time getting everyone one ready for school again.

Shann coaxed Brendan and I to go for a walk. They live in a beautiful area in the hills of Wicklow. I had to leave my cosy chair. I enjoyed the stunning views and the banter with the children. Two of the children brought their bicycles with them. They are like me, not too keen on walking.

We rested at the end of the lane. Wild fushia and heather were in bloom. Bees were buzzing collecting pollen. Trees that were planted by the forestry a few years back are now growing tall, replacing the trees that had been harvested. A new generation of trees.

Our grandchildren are now growing tall. I’m not quite ready to be chopped down. I asked my Maggie, my granddaughter who had her bicycle if I could borrow it to save my legs on the journey back to the house. She agreed. I sailed down the brae but gave it back when I came to a steep incline.

I joined the others to walk the last part of the lane. After a while we noticed Maggie had gone on ahead and she hadn’t waited for us. There was an inviting part of the lane up ahead. It was just perfect for me to sale down. But Maggie and her bicycle were nowhere to be found.
She must have been frightened that granny may have been too heavy for her precious bicycle.

When I returned home North I resolved to do some exercise to get these dry bones working again. I got out my own bicycle. Despite the pain and aches I will overcome and get fit. As I said I’m not ready to be chopped down or sit in the corner doing needle work. I have a lot of living to do yet. I am staying alive to proclaim the works of the Lord and to see more of my children’s children.

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Family Friday. We Needed a Van for our Big Family

Brendan and I were having coffee in a country farm house built in 1871 outside Vancouver, Canada.  We were having a late St Valentine’s treat.  It had a wooden veranda the kind you see in cowboy movies.  There was a big chestnut tree in the garden and underneath was a long wooden carriage.  We were enjoying the first of the spring sunshine sitting outside on the veranda, just as the original family would had done all those years ago.

I noticed a photo of the family who lived here on the wall inside.  There was a note below telling us the history.  A family with twelve children lived here.

The carriage has sat dormant through the years of change.  Modern city dwellings are all around this old house.  Modern four by fours speed past on the highway nearby.  The city has overtaken the country.  I imagined the family of the house going into town or going to church in that old vehicle.  It would have been their version of a four by four one hundred years ago.

As our family grew so did the size of our vehicles.   When Brendan and I had two children we lived in town and didn’t need a car.   We travelled by bus or train. The only four by four I had then was a pram.  We had a big Pedigree pram.  There was space to put the groceries underneath and two children sleeping, head to toe.  We had bicycles for each of us and the two children.  Then our family became six.  We had a child seat on each of the adult bicycles.  We went for bike rides along the river, where we lived.  Two more children arrived.  There was no time for bike rides.

Brendan invested in his first car.  It was a white Hillman Hunter.  We called it Nimrod.  That is the name of a character in the bible.  He was a mighty hunter.  Our children were very happy with the up grade.  We felt so proud of ourselves with our first car.  Back then wearing seat belts was not necessary.  My six children packed into the back seats.  We didn’t have to use a baby seat either.  One of the older children nursed the youngest child.

Brendan had the opportunity to buy a Peugeot 505.  It had three rows of seats with space for seven children.  Number seven child arrived soon after to fill the extra space.  I remember going on holiday with the Peugeot packed to the gills with children and goods.  We thought we would be pulled in by the Garda as we crossed the border to the south of Ireland for being overloaded.  Some of the children hid as we crossed.  What a relief we weren’t stopped.

When number eight child arrived Brendan bought a Volkwagon van.  We took out a loan to buy it.  Our young children became teenagers and needed more space.  We needed  a van.  Also seat belts for passengers became the law.  It was our biggest outlay.  I learned to drive in our new vehicle.  I often took my children and their friends to the park and to the beach after school.  It is surprising that not many children from the town get to go on holiday or go to the beach.

Unfortunately the power steering went on our beloved van.  It was going to cost too much to repair.  A friend bought it, but we still had to pay off the loan.  We learned from the pain of losing our Volkwagon.  Any vehicle we bought after that was older and we paid for it in cash.  We would pray and ask God to guide us.  One Ford van was an ex Police van.  It had special protection underneath, so a bomb would not attach itself.  That van lasted a long time.  Another van had been used as a school bus and was in pristeen condition.

And so on it went.  After the Volkwagon we got a Ford van which can carry fifteen people.  We have our seventh Ford van at the moment.  Even though our children have  left home we still have a Ford van.  The good thing about the Ford model is that the seats can be removed.  We use it to help people move house, move furniture, take lawn mowers to get fixed, collect fire logs, take the dog for a walk and trips when my grandchildren come to visit.

A friend of my daughter called us the “Minibus” family.  She envied us going off on holiday with everything but the kitchen sink packed.  So we progressed over the years from having a pram to having a minibus.  I think we will continue to have a van even though we are pensioners.  We will remain “The Minibus Family.”

I said to Brendan,  “That would have been the family van back in the nineteen hundreds”.  We finished our coffee.