Our last morning in Roscrea arrived chilly but sunny and after breakfast I went out for a final fling with the camera. The coach back to the airport didn’t leave until 11am and the castle wasn’t too far from the house so I had time to go and have a quick look round. The main part of the castle – what there was of it – was closed but the courtyard and gardens were open; with no summer flowering plants between the well-trimmed low hedges the place was rather devoid of colour but it was still worth taking a few shots. While I was wandering round I came across a couple of cats; they were very shy and ran away as I got close to them but I managed to get a snap of each of them before they both disappeared.
Back at the house Michael and I packed our bags then Nellie made us a final brew before going up to town, saying she would meet us up at the bus stop. Trixie took advantage of Nellie’s absence and hopped up onto Michael’s dad’s bed; Nellie doesn’t really like her being up there and normally I wouldn’t encourage it but Michael’s dad likes dogs and she’s company for him. While I’d been out Mari and Paul had arrived so I knew when we left he would be in safe hands but neither of us wanted to leave him. He was far more frail than he had been a month ago and it was hard to say goodbye knowing that his life is slowly and surely ebbing away and there’s nothing anyone can do.
When we got to the bus stop there was no sign of Nellie; if the coach came we would have to get on it and probably miss saying goodbye to her but she arrived a few minutes later clutching a wrapped chicken salad baguette in each hand – she’d got them for us so we didn’t have to buy expensive airport food while we waited for our flight. The coach was actually twenty minutes late but it didn’t matter, our flight wasn’t until 4pm so we had plenty of time in hand.
The two-hour journey to the airport seemed to pass fairly quickly; I managed to get a shot of some of the countryside as we sped along the motorway but as we got further north the clouds crept in so I abandoned the camera and spent the rest of the time reading. Dublin turned out to be just as dull as it was when we arrived two days previously so the few photos I got while going through the city centre were deleted not long after I took them.
The clouds gradually started to clear while we waited for our flight and by the time we boarded the plane a very late afternoon sun was starting to come through. The take-off was smooth and as the plane turned to head east the sun cast an orange glow on the wings; above the clouds it was like being in another world completely though the sun soon went down and by the time we were over the English mainland again it was almost dark.
With no luggage to collect it didn’t take us long to get through the airport at Manchester, although once we got outside the terminal building it was a ten-minute walk to the station. Luckily when we got there we found a train on the point leaving so at least we didn’t have to wait for one and we were back home soon after 6pm.
As I settled down in my own bed later that night my thoughts went back over the last couple of days – it had been good to see Michael’s dad again and I know he appreciated us going even though he couldn’t speak much. No-one knows how long he has left but even though it’s such a desperately sad situation I’m happy knowing that he’s being cared for round the clock by his family and an army of friends and neighbours – neither I nor Michael could ask for any more than that.