Feel the love in Offaly, go green in Dublin or set up camp in Spain and Scotland
Love in Offaly
I had a French friend who pronounced Tullamore like all love. He was absolutely right, there’s a lot to love about Offaly. First, the new Tullamore Dew Distillery has opened, with tours, tastings and a chance to mix your own; although how your own blend can beat nearly 200 years of whiskey experience is beyond me (35 € at tullamoredew.com). Then stroll to Lough Boora Discovery Park, 20 minutes away, where artists have filled this magical place with all kinds of amazing works of art (Admission fee, Ioughboora.com). Complete it and stay at atmospheric Kinnitty Castle at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, with other great walks on your doorstep (Bed and breakfast from €150, kinnittycastlehotel.com).
Rus in urbe
With sustainability and the future of food in mind, treat yourself to an eco-friendly trip to Dublin where you can see farming in a whole new light at the RHA’s brilliant A Growing Inquiry exhibition, including reflections from Laura Fitzgerald on the love life of tractors and Jane Locke’s plans to farm yours after the apocalypse. It’s good, and beautiful fun, with a serious side too (until April 24, rhagallery.ie). Then sleep at the Wren Urban Nest on nearby St Andrew’s Lane, where you can rest assured that everything is sustainable, biodegradable, upcycled and recycled, and if it should rain why even that is collected while you sleep soundly. It’s also beautifully chic in a Scandi style (rooms from 159€ for two, wrenhotel.ie).
Camping has had some obsessions lately, as tents push against walls and caravans lose their wheels. For example, check out Tamarit on Spain’s Costa Dorada where the new bungalows have just the right vaguely temporary vibe to make you feel like you’re still a bit roughing it while still having a good time. Less than an hour from Barcelona, a T3 costs from €595 per week in June. With 250 bungalows and 365 campsites, it’s a big resort, so there’s tons of activities for kids and great things for adults too. tamarit.com
Did we say ponies?
Hike Scotland’s Cairngorms with a wilderness experience as Scot Mountain Holidays takes you on a wilderness adventure, including a guided hike, a warm Nordic teepee to relax in, comfy mattresses and duvets in your own tents , as well as lodge accommodation at each end. And the clincher? You’ll hike with adorable Highland ponies, Goldie and Foxy, who carry the packs. A three-day trek costs from £635 (€762), and they’ll pick you up from Inverness or Aviemore train station, which have direct train links to Edinburgh, adding to the adventure. Dates from April 10, while bespoke trips can be arranged for groups of four or more. scotmountainholidays.com