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1st week

For the first week of our holiday we were staying in Clifden, county Galway. The first day was warm and sunny so we all headed off to the beach. We stayed there all day. The sea was clear, warm and turquoise blue. John and Jess went fishing in the Canadian but there were no fish in the area. Quigley followed them in a sit on top. They visited a small, offshore island where John collected some winkles to eat. It could have been coincidence but people were ill for the next few days.

The next day it rained. We went to explore the town of Clifden, everyone stocking up on food. The rain stopped later in the day so we headed off to another beach where some people found some offshore surf. Tom got smashed on the rocks. Molly, Emma and Beth played on the beach.

The next day we drove for miles and miles across slow, windy roads in search of white water. We got to Spiddle. After finding no more than a stream going under a bridge, but with good views of the Arran islands, we retraced some of our steps to find a coral beach. Very painful on the feet, but bathed in bright sunshine. A fantastic afternoon wash had by all. Nearly everyone went in the sea. No fish were caught – another failed fishing trip. We returned to the sight for a curry supper.

John decided we would go looking further north, in leenaune, for whitewater. The river was narrow and with little water. There were also rocks sticking out at head height. The Quigleys split off to visit friends in the area and we all met up for lunch next to a silage store. We headed to a beach where the afternoon was spent swimming and getting covered in sand.

The next day some of the group went pony trekking along the beach near ballyconneely. Annika and Andy set off early to get there by bike. We headed to the beach where some swam in the sea and some went to find rocks and surf. We had views of the mweel rea mountains. We had smoked fish for tea – mackerel and salmon, made in Quigleys new toy.

On Friday we were all rudely awakened to notice the Plants collapsible awning had lived up to its name. Everyone noticed, except Andy, who was still asleep. All hands on deck and the awning was quickly dismantled. While the weather was fine, the Quigleys awning was taken down in a coordinated, controlled fashion. The party walked into Clifden in search of food and Guinness. We failed to find acceptably priced fast food so all went to a restaurant. Annika sung puff the magic dragon. Quigley spent the rest evening wondering why his midge net would not stay away from his face.

2nd week

We spent the second week staying in Rathdrum, county Wicklow. We all arrived in the afternoon to a packed, muddy and puddle-filled campsite. We went on an evening paddle down the Avonmore, which we could access from the campsite. It was a grade 2/3 section of the river. Quigley swam trying to surf a cushion wave.

The next day we got up at seven and ran a different section of the Avonmore, down to the campsite. We were driven to the get in at Clara bridge by Annika. Quigley forgot his helmet and had to go back for it. Or was he just trying to get out of paddling? It was similar to the section we did the night before. After the paddle, the Plants packed up and drove off home. We went to Arklow where we found a fantastic shopping centre. It was enjoyed by all except Annika and John. Even Quigley found some poor quality grouting to amuse himself with.

On Monday we drove around until we decided to run yet another section of the Avonmore. There were lots of rocks. We got down to a hideous section called Jackson rapids. Everyone was suddenly very quiet. Fortunately, a group of locals came round the corner and covered safety giving most of the group the opportunity to have a go at running the drop. Quigley swam.

On Tuesday the Quigleys got dragged off to the worlds naffest day out. The Stopfords ran a river….

The next day we went to Wicklow and found the world famous Black Rock Castle. Typical Irish castle – not many walls and cannons on the outside.

On Thursday we drove around looking at rivers but eventually settled for the Avonmore, this time starting slightly higher up and portaging Jackson rapids. Quigley swam.

The day after we all went up to Bray, stayed there for a bit then drove back. Some messed about in the river. In the evening we all went for a meal out down at the meeting of the waters.

The next day we took the ferry back to England.

John Stopford