When the weather is as unrelentingly wet as the British summer has been this year, it can be hard to remember that we are meant to be in the brightest and most glorious of the seasons.
The downpours and humidity can be a dampener on my mood and things can be a real drag, leaving me feeling downright exhausted and out of sorts. On those days, flicking through previous holiday pictures of warm, balmy technicolour days is an antidote to my general malaise and reminds me that there are moments of bliss to be gained from even the smallest of pleasures.
At the beginning of June my husband and I were lucky to be in Ireland during a sunny Irish bank holiday weekend. My husband is a Dubliner who moved to England over ten years ago, and misses his home so much. We don’t go as often as he would like, so on this trip he wanted to show me one of the most beautiful places near Dublin.
One of his favourite childhood traditions was to go for long walks through the Rhododendron Gardens of Howth Castle and so that is what we did. These Gardens date back to the middle of the 19th century, and are spread across rocky cliffs that overlook the sea. May and June are the best months to see the hills burst into flame with pink and purple rhododendrons.
Donning a pair of good walking boots, we set off from the Deer Park Hotel and Golf Course, following the steep woody paths and steadily ascending the hills to the summit. At every turn, I was faced with vibrant rhododendrons in shades of mauve, pink, purple, red and white.
The summit was my moment of bliss, facing the spectacular view of the golf course and the sea, with a cool breeze and the blue skies and sunshine up above. It was the perfect time for quiet contemplation and mindfulness, away from the over-stimulation of the outside world. I even found it joyful to stumble across an abandoned pair of sunglasses on top of the rocks and see the world reflected from its electric blue lenses!
After sunning ourselves at the summit, we continued down into mysterious green woodland, strewn with bluebells. It felt very much like a journey in a fairy-tale world, trekking along soft ground twisted by old tree roots and dappled by sunshine. Even though we were not far from the city, we felt shielded from the urban rush in this lush forest.
We made it full circle back to the golf course, feeling totally energised. One of the consequences of this little trip is that I’ve resolved to try to go on more walks in the country, to enjoy seeing the beauty in all things great and small and to take time out from the rush to be mindful.
PS: Here are some of the other moments of bliss from this trip, down and around Howth Pier!