Romance in nature's lap

by Linda Knight

This story is part of our 'Romantic Travel Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Qbik.

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If anyone had told me that the most romantic holiday I'd ever have would be under canvas, I'd have laughed. They'd have been right though.

The car was loaded. Jam-packed, in fact. If we were camping, I wanted every imaginable luxury to get through the week. Airbed. Duvet. Pillows. By the time we left for the ferry the rear windscreen was barely visible.

"I don't know why we can't stay in hotels," I'd moaned.

"It'll be fun. Anyway, we can't afford hotels." End of conversation. I'm not averse to a bit of 'back to basics' now and again but Ireland is hardly known for its congenial climate. The idea of a muddy campsite didn't appeal.

With this rather negative attitude colouring my mood we stood on deck.

"Look!" he shouted.

A pod of dolphins had joined us, playing alongside our hull. As a faint glimmer of a smile passed over my face I began to realise that this holiday would be what we made it.

First stop, Kinsale, with its rich maritime history and a reputation for gourmet cuisine. No gourmet dining for us though. Our meagre budget allowed for fish and chips only. Perched on a wall at Kinsale harbour, looking out over colourful yachts, we ate and soaked up the last of the sun's warmth. Cormorants and shags skimmed across the gentle waters. We may soon be heading for our Lilliputian sized tent but at this moment I knew that this was what really mattered. Who wanted to sit in a busy restaurant, crowded with tourists, when this was all ours?

When my parents married, in 1957, they spent their honeymoon in the small village of Glengarriff, on Ireland's south west coast. I'd heard their stories, especially my mother's memories. A rough ferry crossing, hitchhiking in torrential rain, how they fell in love with this place and subsequently named the family home after it. Glengarriff, (roughly translated as The Rugged Glen), nestling between the Caha Mountains and Bantry Bay, is an oasis of lush greenery. Fuchsia filled hedgerows lined the route as we approached this unique area. Its peculiarly gentle climate enticed the Victorians to the beneficial effects of its mild atmosphere. A short, steep climb took us to Lady Bantry's Lookout, an outcrop of rock jutting above the surrounding forest. Stunning vistas of Glengarriff and West Cork stretched out before us while harbour seals rested on the rocks below. Surveying this magical tableau I understood why my parents had loved this place so much.

"Think they have phones in heaven?" I mused. "My dad would smile to know where I am right now."

"I think maybe he knows," he replied.

Bright, sunny days gave way to chilly evenings with clear skies. Countless stars dotted the blackened heavens as we headed for our temporary home. Snuggled under our duvet, I contemplated the past few days. No swish hotel, no candlelit dinners. But there was a richness. A richness found only in life's simplicities and experiencing those simplicities with the one you love.


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