17 July 2015
Summer tries to break through
the afternoon showers in Bray
When you were a child or a teenager, did you enjoy the dodgems and ghost trains and candy floss on the seafront in Bray?
I must have been about 12 or 13 when I first discovered the joys of Bray. My parents had lived in Bray briefly after they were married at the end of World War II, and an aunt ran an hotel there for many years
But I always had the feeling that my parents did not like me going to Bray in the early 1960s. Perhaps it had more to do with an innate snobbery about those innocent seafront enterprises rather than some actual dislike of the place. I was hardly going to fritter away a future inheritance.
Now many of those “amusement centres” have gone from the seafront in Bray, and they have been replaced by bars and cafés.
Bray is one of the places I visit frequently for walks on the beach and late lunches, and I also enjoy the architecture of the elegant Victorian and Edwardian houses in the streets behind the seafront. But the memory of those summer days in the early or mid-1960s returned this afternoon during a visit late in the day for lunch and a walk on the beach.
I had a ticket for this afternoon’s international cricket match between Ireland and Hong Kong. There is never enough time for cricket in any one summer. But rain was threatening all day, the winds were off, and I decided to call off trying to use public transport for a 1½ -hour journey north to what, eventually, turned out to have been a disappointing game.
Instead, while the rain was still coming down, two of us drove south to Bray, through the long snarls of Friday afternoon traffic that always indicates an exodus from Dublin in the home of summer sunshine on the Wexford coast.
And those 1960s memories returned because the seafront on Bray was packed with funfairs and families as Bray begins a weekend of entertainment and, as it seems, many Muslim families were celebrating Eid and the end of Ramadan.
How Ireland has been transformed beautifully over the course of half a century.
But the rain was still coming and going in snatches and patches. And instead of walking along the seafront we first had a late lunch in Carpe Diem which has become one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Ireland, and an imaginative place to explore Italian wines.
Lunch was accompanied by a glass of Vermentino. This is made from a light-skinned wine grape that is planted in Sardinia, in Liguria under the name Pigato, to some extent in Corsica, in Piedmont under the name Favorita, and in increasing amounts in Languedoc-Roussillon.
But I think this afternoon’s glass was from Sardinia. It was followed by double espressos, and when we ventured back out onto the seafront the sun was shining, the sky and the sea were blue … and the funfairs on the promenade were still full of life.
We walked along the promenade for a while, enjoying the sight as stalls were going through the last stages of being set up for Bray Summer Fest this weekend, including the Food and Craft Market tomorrow and Sunday, and the Bray Air Display on Sunday afternoon. The funfair continues until 3 August.
Fluttering high was a collection of flags from EU member states. Greece and Germany were separated by just one tricolour. What could bring them together?