This time, having had half an hour to spare this afternoon before we pack and so on, I did some research into 'things to do in Kilkenny'. There are abbeys, monasteries, caves, the castle, glass-makers, wool-weavers, waterfalls, parks, art galleries, ancient dwellings and jails, riding centres, and a farm with a small town inside it. It may be possible for us to get to see some of the ones we haven't visited so far. It would be great to take Alex out to somewhere with animals to look at and pet. Mares and foals are a possibility.
I have my usual pre-departure panic: what to pack (hand luggage only), getting all my admin tasks done in advance, trying to reduce my stuff to the bare minimum. I usually end up taking too many clothes - and then find I never wear them. The thinking is, we MIGHT go out to dinner. It may be EXTRA hot, cold, wet, windy, etc etc which would mean I need a change of clothes.... But, really how many shoes do I need? This time we're also taking some things for Alex: a spinning top, some clothes which cannot be bought in the Republic (giving the mother a bit of cachet, I hope, at the mother-and-baby meetings).
My thinking is also distorted by today's remarkable event, namely the memorial service in Canterbury Cathedral for Sir John Swire, whose charitable foundation has been extraordinarily generous to the Faversham Creek Trust. The cathedral was pretty well packed. We had the full theatrical show, with a long procession of various clergy including the Dean, the choristers, the organist and deputy organist looking after the music, and a marvellous eulogy from Sir John's cousin Michael Todhunter. He explained, as part of a very moving and inspiring address, how Sir John met Moira, now Lady Swire. She was a passenger on one the Swire family cargo ships in the orient, but had a really unfortunate experience which propelled her - later - to complain at the highest possible level about what happened to her. That was, that a water-buffalo entered her cabin and the only way to get rid of it was to cut its head off ('decapitate'). It scarcely bears thinking about. No wonder she wanted to talk to the man at the top.
Anyway, blessed sunlight streamed into the nave. The congregation was thoughtful and responsive. The music was wonderful. The prayers were simple and eloquent. The eulogy was fascinating. The whole thing was - pretty well perfect. As Mr Todhunter said, 'He was a good man'.
So these thoughts are in my mind while I consider emptying out the fridge and getting keys to the right people. I shall go and have a glass of white wine and make some supper. The packing will be more stripped down than I have managed in the past. We're only away for a few days. I am really looking forward to stony dark historic Kilkenny, with its river and castle, and our little grandson with his watchful eyes and determinations. I wonder how he'll get on with the spinning top.