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I am sitting on a rock looking out to sea, contemplating Mermaids.

‘Do you think you may have been a mermaid in a previous life’ ? I ask myself ‘Would you like to be a mermaid ‘?

As yet I am only pondering these questions. I am in no rush to come up with any immediate answers

But last weekend I found myself heading west with my sister and a friend in search of a suitable seaworthy abode for a mermaid.

Did I say ‘mermaid’ I meant ‘mermaids’.

Probably 8 in total.

It all began with a photo!

Of a tiny kitchen in a small green tent.

It must have been the colours that caught the eye of a few Online friends. Or maybe it was the book on connemara or even the shiney coffee pot.

It certainly looked like a inviting nest where one could crawl out of the small space and stand in the morning sun, stretch and greet the day, admire the view and plan a swim or a walk or a cycle.

But what the photo failed to show was the northwesterly storm blowing outside, causing that small tent to dance and tug on its guy ropes, whipping up the waves and sending the diving terns skew ways.

Yes! the photo which should have been a blur caused by the movement of flapping canvas which in turn led to shaking table as the wind pushed the side of the tent inwards was taken with a modern camera which had the ability of catching a frame and freezing all motion.

I crawled out to check the guy ropes were keeping us attached firmly to the ground and righted the yellow bicycle which had blown over on it’s side (another dent to it’s already rusty battered frame), this was a place of rock.

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Back inside I made some order to my tiny kitchen, put on a pot of coffee, found my book (Tim Robinson’s ‘Connemara’) and settled myself comfortably upon my blow up bed and silk cushions to wait out the storm, hoping it wouldn’t take a turn for the worse, taking me and my accoutrements out to sea.

In the midst of reading and sipping and waiting out the storm, I took the photo.

And from that kitchen on that stormy day came the mermaid project.

Whether it will flourish or flounder (pardon the pun) remains to be seen.

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I am a woman of enthusiasm.

And spontaneity.

I open my mouth before I think things through. I even speak my thoughts out loud without realising it.

This was all very well when I was young and had the energy to carry out my impetuous ideas.

They usually worked.

I had a good gut instinct for the impromptu schemes that I knew I would be able to accomplish. (Cycling the the wild atlantic way two years running, cycling belgium and the netherlands, cycling the towpaths of Ireland. Cycling across france after my treatment for cancer, to name but a few.) I was able to convince myself that because I had accomplished these ventures, my impetuosity was a good thing

But I am older now and NOT wiser and even though my head is full with idea’s it doesn’t seem able to convince my brain that my body has slowed down.

So I try to reign myself in a bit and strive to meditate.

I feel it (meditation) will help me become one of those calm women who smile serenely and pause before replying. Who sensibly say ‘ I will think about it’ before committing themselves.

But……..

‘Lets meet here next year’ I typed with gusto on my trusty laptop to all those who gave positive feedback on my photo. ‘Lets camp and chat and play music and swim and of course cycle’.

(It was, after all through love of bicycles that we had originally met).

‘Yes yes yes!’ my mermaid friends typed back with equal enthusiasm. ‘Lets do all those things’!

I was slightly taken aback ….and a bit scared by the exuberance and speed of their replies.

I realised these mermaid ladies meant business.

Now every irish person knows when someone says yes they mean no and vice versa.

‘Would you like a cup of tea’?

‘Ah no’ Is the expected reply

‘ah you will!’

‘ No, no!’

‘Ah go on’.

‘Alright so!’

(it’s acceptable to accept the third offer)

‘But just a cup in the hand’ (The irish way of saying, without cake or biscuit or other accompaniments)

Oh how you have been DYING for that cup of tea.

It took marriage to a dutch man to learn that the above only pertained to Ireland and I learnt it the hard way!

During my first visit to my new sister in law I politely said no to a lovely cup of freshly brewed coffee (we were still drinking instant in ireland in the home. You had to go to Bewleys or Roberts if you wanted fresh coffee and that was only in Dublin) and sat sadly while everyone sipped merrily at there’s.

‘I thought you loved coffee’ my new dutch husband exclaimed later as we drove home. ‘

‘I do’ I cried ‘but I was waiting to be asked a second time’.

‘A second time?’ He looked at me perplexed ‘Why do you need to be asked twice? If you didn’t want it the first time why would you want it when asked a second time?’.

He was genuinely puzzled and I tried to explain how it was seen as polite in Ireland if you refused the first time. He thought that was stupid as well as confusing and even downright lying. You want something yet you say you don’t want it, just so you can appear polite.

I tried to explain it was deeper than that. Irish people are extremely hospitable and would give you their last crumb. It is a sort of unspoken code that the guest understands that the host may actually be too poor to have extra food or drink in the house to offer. 

But back to the mermaids.

I now hoped that the enthusiasm everyone was showing would, just like the northwest gale blowing around my tent the day of the photo, die down.

But it didn’t and so in a panic I went to visit my very practical sister and get some advice.

‘I feel responsible’ I wailed ‘ for the enthusiasm of these mermaids. They are making quite a journey to get here. They think from my photo that they are in for a weeks camping in glorious weather. What if it rains the whole time and they are stuck wet and miserable inside small tents. What if it blows a gale for the entire week?’

My very practical sister sat for a moment looking out to sea, the wind whipping her hair about her rosy cheeks.

She thought awhile before turning back to me.

‘We will rent a castle’ She announced stoutly.

‘A castle on the sea. After All, If a castle can withstand northwesterly gales for over two hundred years, it will continue to withstand them, at least until the end of next june’.

‘No mermaid in this day and age needs to be wet and miserable!’ She continued ‘Now lets get off this rock and go and find one.’

And that is how my very practical sister got entangled in the mermaid’s Tale too.

To be continued

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The weather, mermaids are unlikely to get for their week’s camping.

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