KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
Dear Wineport Lodge, We’re back now. In fact, we didn’t even go to you in the end – though I will concede that we did consider it. See, what happened was this: I suddenly, belatedly, realized that The Sister’s imminent departure for Australia – where she is to spend a whole, giant, yawning year – would mean that we would have nobody to mind the kids overnight until, well, this time next year ( by which time, oh happy day, they will be just old enough to mind themselves overnight). And so, with indecent haste, I set about booking an emergency, end-of-summer night away for myself and himself, and yes – on the recommendation of the same sister, as it happens – I found myself on your website, looking lustily at Athlone in a way I never imagined Athlone could be looked at.
But on the only night that The Sister was available (Australian wakes being many and varied), you were booked out. If it’s any consolation, so were most places I tried. In the end, we found room at Dunbrody House – Kevin Dundon’s place – and you’ll be relieved to hear that it didn’t disappoint and that, at the risk of damning a charming, welcoming place with faint praise, their sole meunière was the best I’ve ever tasted anywhere. In the morning, after a wonderful breakfast, we meandered our way back to Dublin, dropping into Kilmore Quay, where we haven’t been in years, for a bracing walk to banish the last of the Pinot Grigio. We had a lovely time.
But the thing is, we’ve kind of moved on now. The children are back in school, the cal- endar is covered in hieroglyphics about Merchant of Venice rehearsals, grinds and football training, and for the second year running, I am in the process of being thoroughly fleeced for somebody else’s Debs. It’s September. To be honest, I can’t see myself unwinding at the Wine Lodge any time soon, if indeed, ever.
Still, thanks for keeping in touch. In an odd way, your pop-up ads that appear every time I approach the internet remind me of those last, lazy summer days when we went somewhere else. Some days, when I am trying to wade
I quite like your ‘I know what you
didn’t do last summer’ approach, reminding me of cancelled concerts
through emails, your little reminders that you’re still out there, beckoning, present themselves like a little virtual holiday in themselves. It’s a bit like those moments on Bullseye when the winning contestant had just won a knife block, and chirpy Jim Bowen would remind them ‘here’s what you could have won’ as a bunch of burly men shouldered a shiny new car onto the set.
I appreciate that other people might be annoyed by the sheer ubiquity of your messages. I can understand if people get exasperated that clicking on a website once can be the foundation for a life-long, though entirely unrequited relationship. I can imagine that if you put in a Google search for green high heeled shoes to complement a Debs dress and your message still comes up in the margin, that it might be a little annoying.
But I want you to know that I welcome the distraction. I quite like your ‘I know what you didn’t do last summer’ approach to online marketing – it reminds me of cancelled Garth Brooks concerts and all the barbecues we couldn’t have been bothered having. The rather excellent comedian Michael Redmond once had a line about Chubby Checker – ‘let’s twist again, like we did last summer… what Chubby failed to realise was that people just want to get on with their lives.’ Well, when those lives seem to involve lurching from rehearsal to training session and peeling off fifty euro notes at all points in between, then there are days I thank God for Wineport Lodge. Maybe not every day, but still.
I look forward now to your Christmas menu, and after that, your Valentine’s specials. If you are still in touch this time next year – and right now, I don’t doubt your tenacity – then we might even manage to check out your pampering package for ourselves. In fairness, The Sister says that your spa is absolutely gorgeous and your outdoor hot tubs are to die for. In fact, to remind myself of just how lovely the whole place is, I’ve just visited your website again and – oh.
I remain, yours. Forever, apparently.