Winter is definitely coming. The weather is finally starting to get cold, the evenings are getting darker and there are leaves all over the ground in gorgeous reddish/orange shades. Living in Cork, this also means getting into the mindset of dealing with even more rain, but for the moment, I am cherishing the days without, where it is cold and crisp, and I’m able to head out walking with my boy. We’ve recently moved further out of the city than I’ve ever lived before since my move down here in 2009, and so have started exploring a whole other area which I’d not really paid too much attention to before. Through a curious wander the other day, I discovered a trail that went through Ballybrack Woods, behind the playground, and resolved to go back as a three so we could enjoy a nice family wander into nature.
Ballybrack Woods, also known as the Mangala, isn’t the biggest place in the world – the walking trail, in recent years reclaimed by a community group and made into something really lovely, is only just over a kilometre, but as anyone who has ever gone for a walk with toddlers who have tiny legs that has involved an incline will know, a kilometre is enough to tire them out! Never mind Mama hauling the buggy up the hill and praying to not get stuck in some mud – Peppa Pig herself would have loved the muddy puddles we saw, courtesy of a rain shower yesterday.
I grew up in rural Ireland – my childhood home is surrounded by trees, fields and agriculture – far from the apartment blocks and main roads that are making up most of E’s first memories. We played in the back garden, walked country roads and picked blackberries off the briars around this time of year. Generally with E, we’ve stuck to playgrounds and parks, so this was really a wonderful break from the norm – him just taking in the trees, the leaves, the sounds of the water gurgling down the brook. It was really lovely to be able to be immersed into nature, despite knowing we were so close to “civilisation”. It’s the kind of thing I rebelled against in my childhood and teen years, the absolute isolation of rural living, I vowed to never be one of those people who would willingly live in a place like that – and while I’m not exactly defecting to the back of beyonds again any time soon, I am finding myself understanding the charm of escaping the traffic, the fear of children mixing with cars, being able to run through the grass and hear that gorgeous sound of leaves crunching underfoot.
It was really nice to be able to share this discovery as a three – E seemed to really love being out walking, catching us by the hand and leading us over to different things like ferns and branches, random “Wow!” noises coming from him as he spotted something he found interesting. It’s the little things that we wouldn’t look twice at because we’re used to them, those are a novelty to him, amazing him by simply being the world around him. When it came time to start heading back, it was a tough argument, our little man liked being out running around nature (holding Dada’s hand for the high bits – not a place to be messing!) and didn’t really want to leave. For me, it was nice to step out of the rush that is living in a busy city and just take a minute to listen to the sounds and take in the sights of Autumn as seen by a child.
We will definitely be back, it is being added to our “family walks” list for sure. It’s a list we’re always looking to improve on – suggestions will definitely be appreciated – what are your favourite spots around Cork, if you know the area, or what is it that you look for in a “family wandering place”? Let me know in the comments below!