Many of us value having a place where we can escape both physically and mentally. For us Dubliners it can be a place down the country. It can be a caravan in Brittas Bay, County Wicklow, A golf lodge in Rosslare, County Wexford or a lakeside apartment or boat on the Shannon.
We used to own a caravan (sorry, 'mobile home.'.) in Tara Glen ,County Wexford. As the barrier rose and I entered the camp site my heart rose. I left my worries at the gate. I put on my shorts and runners and didn't think of distant Dublin until the barrier opened to allow me leave some days later. Sadly we grew out of the mobile home. The children got older and developed their own friends and interests in Dublin. We sold it with great regret some years ago and left a little bit of our heart and a section of our life buried there.
We then bought a small apartment in Tenerife that overlooks the pool and the sea - as you can see. Tenerife has become our new bolt hole. Unfortunately it is more than an hour down the M11 motorway. It takes four hours to fly to Tenerife and another four hours getting to and from airports. It does however have the advantage of meaning that when you are gone, you are gone.
Tenerife has become our second home and where eventually we will spend the winters. The cost of living is 50% less than in Ireland and we often wonder if everything goes pear shaped financially would we we better to move out permanently.
The greatest thing about Tenerife is not necessarily when we are there but the knowledge that at the cost of 100 euro and a four hour flight we can indeed be there. It's like having insurance. You don't need to claim on it every day. Similar to almost everything in life, anticipation is greater than consummation, as the actress explained to the Bishop.
Tenerife allows us to do some things better than we do at home - to be better and more considerate neighbours, to spend less time in front of the telly and more time walking, chatting and swimming. We can escape some of the social straight jackets we insist on wearing at home. We can make friends without pressures of family or finance.
Paradise gained can also be Paradise lost. Many are the stories of couples who retire to Spain or France to find that life follows them with a vengeance - but that is a blog for another day.
But where else would you be today?, except in Ireland - the sun is shining, the white sailed boats scud along Dublin Bay. I will probably walk from Bray to Greystones in the afternoon and drop into Dalkey for the Dalkey book festival this evening. Last night I attended a hugely enjoyable talk in the Heritage Centre, listening to the excellent Bernard Farrell reflect on his good friend Hugh Leonard. It was a unique experience, sitting in the hall looking through the floor to ceiling windows out to St Begnets Church dating back over one thousand years. It was a backdrop the Abbey Theatre (no pun intended) could only dream of. Dalkey buzzed. Clients of the Queens Bar sitting out on the terrace lapped up the late evening sunshine. The Borza Cafe filled the main street with the powerful aroma of salt and vinegar, fish and chips. Now you don't get that in Tenerife!