A long time ago I grew up in a small market town, with a disco, a youth club, a cinema, a coffee shop, a recording studio and a few shops. Like most teenagers I thought that there was "nothing to do", so we did it all. And doing it all meant going to all the local events: The boat race, the town carnival and even the county agricultural show. Those were more innocent days, before car parking charges and burly bouncers who confiscate your plastic bottles of water.
But times change.
Whenever a new event, or worse, an 'experience' was launched in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years, the next day's talk radio shows would hum with the sound of disappointment and righteous anger, over rip-off prices, long queues and poor exhibits. You wouldn't catch me going to anything like that. Oh no!
That was then.
Now that we can no longer hop in the car and head for the gorgeous countryside and beaches of County Wexford, I have to organise things closer to home. Especially when the kids are off school and there are hours to fill. Last weekend that meant Bloom 2012, a show with flowers plus.
Normally I'd run a mile. I'd rather see flowers dancing in the breeze in a meadow on a sunny day or clinging to a cliff side, or trees in a wood standing knee deep in bluebells. None of these are wheelchair friendly though.
So it was with low expectations and some trepidation that I headed for Bloom last Saturday as an outing for Smiley. The skies were milky grey as we drove away from the house, and before long I could hear the plinkety plink of raindrops on the windscreen. I sighed as we crawled the last mile.
But then we arrived and everything changed. Disabled parking was provided right at the entrance. No hauling the wheelchair through ruts and puddles. In we went and it was not as I had imagined - sweating and queuing and apologising. We missed the early morning sunshine, but the only thing the drizzle spoilt was my hair. Yes there were crowds, but we could move around, despite Smiley's chair being the size of a small tank, and she lapped up the activity and the crowds and the excitement. She wasn't that impressed with the flowers, but I think she liked everything else. She ate chocolate muffins in the rain, and giggled - loudly - at the crowds hiding from the weather in the tents, and 'talked' to the animals.
I wasn't really looking for plants so after a couple of enjoyable hours meandering around the exhibits I left with a free paper, a yoghurt and a packet of sunflower seeds. Other people did buy stuff.
It wasn't nirvana. But it wasn't bad either.
Do you enjoy events like these?
Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post or a review, I just felt like writing it.