Monday, December 5, 2011

Thanksgiving with an Irish Twist

Ashford Castle, County Mayo
The greenest place we've ever seen. We flew out of Gatwick on Thanksgiving morning to Shannon, Ireland.  Our destination was The Ashford Castle and we were all really looking forward to this trip...even Nick...he wanted to find a mischievous leprechaun.  We stayed two nights here and it was incredible.  The castle was built in the 1200s and the views were spectacular.  We all tried "falconry" and learned a lot about it's history.  We walked through trails with two falcons, all the while they flew on and off our arms.  Definitely a first for all of us, but really had fun.  The kids were fascinated.

Ireland's Falconry School



Next, we left County Mayo and drove three hours to Ireland's
capital city, Dublin.  The ride consisted of long, narrow, windy roads where we saw plenty of sheep, stones, Gaelic signs, and the
greenest pastures ever.  A truly picturesque ride to say the
least.  Upon our arrival in Dublin, we headed straight to the "Home of Guinness".   We had scheduled a tour and Kyle wanted to taste Guinness at it's birthplace.  We were taught all the beer ingredients, the art of pouring, and of course enjoyed the taste testing.  The top floor of the plant, "Gravity Bar", is where we saw 360 degree views of Dublin.  It was there that we poured, drank, and enjoyed our perfect pint...Slainte! (Slaan-cheh...which is the Irish toast to "good health"...and as you can imagine, it is said often here! 
Dublin was a busier city than I expected.  I guess the most well known street we visited was Temple Street.  Lots of Irish music and pints poured here.  So many pubs...all in a row...and all busy!  We basically did a walk through, but the kids were able to see & listen to Ireland's customary traditions.  Kyle conveniently had to use the restroom when we happened to be standing in front of "The Temple Bar" we all went in to check things's known to be the "friendliest watering hole" in Dublin.  I can still hear the Irish band playing and those Irish accents :)...
We were running short on time and had to move on.  We walked to Trinity College Library where we saw the Book of Kells, a 9th century gospel manuscript famous throughout the world.  We continued our walk around the city (...and Nick's quest to find his lucky leprechaun.)  Such a fun place and nice people.
Although, we were only in Ireland for four days, we certainly saw a lot of new sights.  We wished we had a few more days to explore other areas, but unfortunately work and school await.  It was a cold week, but the bonus was all the holiday decor and lights.  A memory made as it was definitely a unique Thanksgiving for our family.  We'll have our pie when we return to the States!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Georgia Friends and Holiday Fun

Diana & Dodi Memorial at Harrod's Dept Store

Southern Girls take on London

Visitors arrive from our hometown.  Robin and Amy came for the week of Thanksgiving and we were so happy they took us up on our offer!  These ladies were up & out every morning and toured the entire city by day and by night!  They were quick to learn the train and tubes, and set off to see the sights.  They definitely got their exercise, along with a few new purchases and souvenirs to take home...these ladies do love boots! 

Midweek, Kyle & I brought the kids to Hyde Park to visit London's "Winter Wonderland". I later hopped a taxi to meet Robin and Amy at Harrod's...a department store where every woman needs to spend plenty of time and money, especially at Christmastime.  Thanks for all the shopping & the fun night out girls!
Glad y'all had fun visiting London and the pleasure was ours.  We'll see you both soon.

November Update

Wow!  Time is flying.  On November 5th, we learned about an English tradition -"Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night".  It was basically a plot, by Guy Fawkes, to blow up the English Parliment, which later failed.  Every year, the English celebrate this with fireworks and parties...very similar to our Fourth of July festivites.  We were a caught by surprise seeing all the crowds, bonfires, and fireworks.  It didn't take us long to figure things out & join in the fun...after all, we did miss celebrating the Fourth of July over the summer.

Next, all three kids were playing soccer (football to the UKers), but the season has come to an end.  All was the boys' first time playing and they had a LOT of fun.  The important part was they met new friends and jumped into something new.  And now basketball is right around the corner. 
Kate's arm still hasn't healed completely, so she'll continue to be out for awhile...  

Kyle and I met a friend, Everett Fernald, from Rhode Island in London for dinner.  He was returning from visiting his daughter in Turkey, also doing an expat thing.  It was a nice night out and fantastic to see him again. Happy we had the chance to catch up, although we missed you tons SueB!

Lastly, a big thanks to the Simpson Family for sending Jack a very cool "War Eagles" t-shirt.  Jack was so happy to receive it....his old team just finished up a terrific season.  It was a tough one for him to miss, so you can imagine the smile on his face when he received it.  He immediately put it on and slept in it.  Very kind guys, thanks.  The candy didn't hurt either...:)