Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Bird Watching In Blennerville

Fred and I are just in from bird watching. There is a spot not far from home, next to the Blennerville Windmill which is ideal. In the car park is a grassy bank, where we climbed and took up our positions. We had a pair of my father’s binoculars which did the job perfectly. It took Fred a few tries but eventually he figured where to look and his excitement of seeing a bird on the wing was great. In my pocket I had a book of birds but luckily I was able to identify the ones we saw from sight alone. Beautiful Brent geese, an egret, a heron, some Terns and a lot of crows. During the week I’d seen starlings doing their air display but none of that today.

After about a quarter of an hour Fred got the confusion so we packed up and headed home. I’d forgotten the magnet, which was silly of me in the circumstances. Back home I gave Fred a few swipes and he was as right as rain in no time.

“I’ll just have a lie down and watch The Cat in the Hat,” he said, pulling a blanket over himself.

Ten minutes into the movie and we got a call from the girls to come and collect them. Before going bird-watching Fred and I had dropped them at the gym, now they were finished. Off we drove and picked them up. All the way there and back Fred was talking of his trip to New York. Yesterday evening he overheard Lisa and Ruby talking about a fantasy holiday to the Big Apple. Now he has it in his head that we are going but the deal is that we have to wait until he gets better. That and winning the Lotto. It’s tough on him and the family that we can’t do such trips but yet one day we will. A big decision made was that we were going on the plane rather than a boat and we were going to stay in a big hotel for a long time. All ok with me.

The week has been a good one for Fred. On Monday he started a new routine. Instead of me walking him into to school he now wants me to wait at the car while he goes on his own. I was happy with this, a sign of his independence and growing confidence. Once he reached the gate he turned to wave and then Denise walked out to him. She saw me waiting and gave me the thumbs-up, she had him, all was ok.

At lunchtime Denise told me of the consternation Fred had caused with his new routine. Apparently some of the kids came running into her shouting:

“Freddie’s walking in, on his own!”

She too was delighted with the new move and now it’s our daily routine, me waving and the thumbs-up from Denise.

On Thursday though I knew Fred wasn’t himself. This time he wanted me to walk him in and hold his hand. A step backwards I thought. After school I was waiting outside when I saw Ms O’Connor come out and look around. Not a good sign. When I got out of the car she just gave me the nod. That knowing nod. Fred had been waiting to go home, sitting in his chair with his bag on his lap when a seizure struck. No panic though. We made him comfortable, waited for all the kids to leave and when the chaos had cleared I drove the car into the yard. Fred walked out, got in and we went home.

It wasn’t a bad cluster, the rest of the day was clear, Fred even woke for dinner. The next afternoon he had a couple more, nothing serious and today it feels like nothing happened.

Fred has this lovely practice of lying in bed with his eyes closed and asking me questions before drifting off to sleep. Sometimes it’s about what I did as a boy or it might be about when Christmas will be here.  On Tuesday night he lay there, and I actually thought he was asleep, when he came out with...



“Was your Daddy on the moon?”


“Was your Daddy an astronaut?”

“What?” I was confused on this one, wondering where he’d developed the line of thought.

“Was your Daddy an astronaut when you were a kid?”

“No, why?”

“Oh, nothing, night Dad,” he said rolling over on his pillow.

Where he got that one I’ll never know.

That’s the beauty of our Fred.


Posted by John Verling

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