‘Could we exchange husbands?’

We are now under a strict lockdown here in Ireland but I can still remember two things from the small break we undertook between the lockdowns.

One is the laughter and joie de vivre of the host of the bed and breakfast where we stayed at, and the other is the sea – the vast swatches of the scintillating brilliant blue that seemed to flutter like a school-girl’s ribbon, sometimes to our left, and sometimes to our right – as we wound up and down the Connemara region.

The bed and breakfast at Doorus, near Kinvara was owned by a famer and his artist wife. I enjoyed the many conversations I had with both, and the wife particularly, as we would chat up about the American series Sister Wives, how she and her husband met (at the village pub), the various guests she had hosted over the years from different countries, marriage, men…

And while my husband blushed, I had a good laugh when she said, “Your husband is a good looking man, and maybe we could exchange husbands?”

Their cottage was right on the sea and every day as I sat down for breakfast, and the sea appeared like a lady at the window, I thought about the good fortune of people who lived like this – with the sea at their doorstep.

As I dug into my cereal , and tea and toast, I looked longingly at the window, and really tried to befriend the sea. How beautiful you are, I would say in my mind, how pretty, how mysterious. And how lucky is this couple to have you wait patiently for them at their window, every day, come rain or shine.

Every day the sea comes and waits at the window
The cottage by the sea

We mostly drove on this holiday. To the Burren region. To Connemara. Delighting in the way the sea first came to us to our right and then to our left as we took the short drive at Flaggy shore. We were supposed to walk around Flaggy shore (only a five km walk), but we were too cold, and we settled for a drive instead after buying teacakes and postcards at the Russell Gallery situated right on the shore.

We also took in a sunset at Traught Beach which was less than a 10 minute’s drive from the cottage, and whilst there, marvelled at how the locals went for a swim in the cold waters, embracing them just as they would the waters of a tropical beach. While on the way to the Cliffs of Moher, we stopped at Fanore Beach for an impromptu break, and were so fortunate to have the rain stop so that we could take a leisurely stroll. The waves swept in and out of the shore like the notes of a musical instrument; the beach deserted for all but a few of us there.

We took in the bogs and the mountains on our drives. The reflections of mountains, trees, and a monastery in the waters – appearing at once like magic and at others like a watercolour painting.

Near the Kylemore Abbey

We hardly saw other people. Sometimes it felt like having the sea to ourselves, the tar roads and the beautiful swatches of water and mountains just our own. The car seemed to roll on the roads like a blob of molten butter on bread, unhindered by any traffic.

We marvelled at a fjord. Parked the car and stood by the viewing point, awestruck by its magnificence, speechless like two teenagers out on a first date.

The Killary Fjord

It felt like being on our honeymoon. Just the two of us. We even fought. And almost did not make up. But we are now eight years old. No longer young, no longer in the first thrushes of our romance. Life has pecked at us, and you can see where the beak has left its marks. Though not rugged yet, our edges are no longer smooth like gossamer.

So when our lovely host said in jest, let us exchange husbands, I thought in my head, and almost said, well, why not? But we are still together, still where we belong. My host with her farmer husband and us, back in our apartment in Dublin. The sea meanwhile continues to wait at their window.

The drive through the Connemara region
Catching the sun go down at Traught beach

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