In the hunt for a another parade, I asked on Facebook and the lovely Wholesome Ireland suggested Balbriggan, which sounded great, especially as it would give me another excuse for a walk by the beach. Then an unexpected email arrived from the wonderful Snowflakes Autism Support with an invitation to march in the Swords Parade with them. Obviously it was aimed at my son, but I cheekily asked if I could bring Smiley instead, and of course they said yes.
Meet us at the school, they said, so I thought I'd be clever and park in the retail park on the other side of the dual carriage way. That is until I saw the big "we will clamp you" sign. So I sighed and drove off towards Swords. The nice people at the barriers let me through and I pulled up outside the school and tried to turn in, until a worried looking official tapped on my window and informed me that this was just a dropping off point. Who was I going to drop off? Smiley? On her own? Obviously not, so I pulled away and drove on. And found myself on the parade route, following a police buggy, with NO WAY OFF. Yes my mortification was complete as we cruised the entire length of the Swords Parade. We even got a few waves. Obviously I had planned this outing very badly indeed.
I dumped the car in a housing estate and there followed a very sweaty jog pushing Smiley in her buggy (remember she's over 8 stone) which nearly came to a faltering halt when I got stuck on the central reservation. Our adventure might have ended there, but for a kind samaritan who obviously spotted that my reserves were depleting rapidly and stood in front of the cars so we could cross. This really happened!
And yes, people, we made it! With five minutes to go, and wow it was absolutely one hundred per cent worth it and really the only reason to be cheerful that I need this week. My daughter laughed and giggled and smiled the whole way down the parade route. I think she thought that everyone was there to see her. It really was one of the best days of her life.