Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Wishing for some Maine weather.

Well we finally got some sun yesterday and today. It's not hot like Maine, but when it's 101 plus humidity, I'm ok with that. Maybe August will be better for us here. In face the last two days have been great, so things are looking up.

It was a quiet week with the in-laws still off for vacation. We didn't go anywhere or do anything not much to tell. I did do a girls night out on Saturday night and that was fun. It would have been better if we could have found a decent place to dance, but everywhere was dead due to a music festival going on in a nearby town. The most excitement  we saw were about 5 bar fights. Reminded me of the Old Port on a bad night.

Anyways, I'm just going to post some pictures of our adventures in Cork and some of last week of O.

This is a store chain that sells the traditional Irish sweaters. This one looked like no one had been in it in years and smelled like smoke. 

Local pub.

The main bridge leading to inside the Ballingeary.

O getting ready for her boat ride.

The Cork cousins and family.

The first large house built in the area. It was built for the parish priest.

O just being a ham.

This was us last week going to pick raspberries on the lane.

Mommy's little helper.

I'm sure you can guess that we didn't bring many home. Word to the wise: Don't let your baby eat too many raspberries or your in for one dirty nappy.

oíche mhaith

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The week of the 12th

It's been a holiday week over here in Northern Ireland. The 12th of July is a big holiday over here. Not so much for celebration, but just that everyone has the 12th off and a few people will get the day after. It is also my father-in-laws mother's, Great Granny F, birthday, so we had a big BBQ with the FIL side of the family.

What is so special about the 12th you ask? I like to think of it as the Protestant "St. Patrick's Day." It's actually the Protestant celebration of the Battle of the Boyne. The Protestant William of Orange and his troops beat Catholic James II and his supporters. If you want more information about the holiday, wikipedia has a short synopsis on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelfth They also call it parade season because the Protestant side of NI has a few other events they like to remind people about. This time of year used to be the most violent time because the parade marchers would deliberately march through heavily Catholic areas just to rub it in, like a big middle finger to the losers of the battle.  Bonfires are also a huge deal. They're made of old pallets and get up to 3 stories high. Those represent the old signal fires that used to be in the heavily Protestant areas. Granny F likes to leave the city at this time of year for that very reason, since there is a huge one right behind her house. Every year the districts of the Orange Order choose a town to have their big do for the 12th, next year it's here. I'm hoping to be in America next year to miss all the hoopla. It's usually a really long parade of bands and Order members and then speeches all day. The local band did come back to Tobermore around 5 and we got to see the end of the parade. O seemed to like it.

Such fierce pride in their history is something that is still foreign to me. They remind me of Confederate men not willing to admit that they lost the war. I haven't even seen many Americans with such burning passion for their Protestant history. I have my personal opinions on this, but I'm going to keep them to myself.  Now not all the Protestant's celebrate this holiday, in fact it was very quiet this year except for a smaller riot in West Belfast. Overall it's just a day off. I'm sure I'm not making sense, but I have a few pictures from my phone of the bonfire in Tobermore and the flute band.

Headed to Belfast tonight for a party and some Harry Potter tomorrow! Have a great week all.

A roaring bonfire.

The Tobermore flute band

oíche mhaith

Monday, 11 July 2011

Cork: Day 2

Yesterday was our final day in Cork before the long drive home. I have to say, that coming home felt much shorter than going there, but maybe that's because I slept from Newry to Belfast.

Sunday morning we all got up and went to Mass in Ballingeary. The church was small and had a medieval feel. However the service was in Gaelic and I had to try and keep Olivia quiet the whole time so it really didn't feel like a church service, but it was fun and different.

After mass we had a BBQ and then the whole family went on a boat cruise around the lake. The captain of the boat was a neighbor to the family down there. He had built most of the boat himself with the help of local tradesmen in the area. Ballingeary is near a bunch of tourist stops so he's hoping he can get then to stop at his boat. In fact there was a huge bus full of tourist that drove through town just as mass left out and I had to laugh to myself thinking they were taking pictures of me, an American.... Ok, not that funny, but kind of ironic, don't you think?

The boat ride was about half an hour and Jerry, the captain, gave us some insight on the local history. After the boat ride, R and I did a short kayak trip on the edge of the lake. The water was nice, but very weedy and the air was too cold to even attempt a swim. Some distance cousins of my MIL came over and we ended up taking until about midnight. Then it was up early this morning and straight onto the road. No stops this time and a lot less traffic. It's nice to be back "home." It was a great time in Cork. I wish we could have had one more day, I had wanted to try the local pub and also a nice sunny day would have been nice. It never rained, but it wasn't warm enough to go swimming in the lake or suntan. Maybe next time.

Tomorrow starts the festivities of the 12th. I'll be giving you all a history lesson about that this week. There will be parades and bonfires, maybe even some fireworks, who knows. We already missed the family BBQ in the local park, but I'm sure we'll still find something to do. I hope you all had a great weekend.

Boarding the boat

Looking out on the lake from the dock. The house we were staying in is just around the corner at the far right of the picture.

Can we say "booze cruise?"

More lake. This shot is looking away from the house toward the mouth of the Paudeen river that we swam in yesterday.  
oíche mhaith

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Cork: Day 1

Greetings from county Cork!

We arrived at my husband's aunts house in Ballygeary or as it is written on the signs, Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh. It's about an hour west of Cork in an area they call, geeltach. It means that it's a predominately Gaelic speaking community. In fact R's cousins go to a school where they only speak Irish and there is an Irish college in the town that people from all over come to learn Gaelic. Makes the town a little hard to find if you don't know how to read Gaelic.

Anyways, the car journey was about 6 hours, but travel time was about 9. We stopped in Belfast for a shop stop and then got through Dublin and had lunch at Brown's Bar. It was an old stable converted into a restaurant/bar. Very cool. Than it was straight to Cork from there. Being in a backseat with a grumpy infant and no room makes for a very long journey. The house here is over looking a lovely lake. (I'll have more pictures when we get back to Tobermore more of course).

Today was a lovely day. R and I took a 12 mile bike ride around the whole lake. Through Ballygeary and then to the next village of Inchigeela. Both villages were so quiet and peaceful today. They roads were also pretty empty so we had a nice leisurely bike ride. The roads were the kind of roads you picture when you think of back country Ireland. No cars, no lines, no signs, just cows, sheep and fields. With a few cottages for good measure. However, because I hadn't been on a bike since who knows when, my bum is very sore and there were a few hills I walked up, but overall a very easy ride.  Miss O went with the grandparents for a 2 hour walk around the mountains.

After the bike ride, there was a nap and than I went with the 3 cousins and Uncle L up to the river Paudeen. It's a small river just past their house. To get to the swimming spot, you go under two electric fences and through a cow pasture. It's the perfect swimming hole. A nice current to keep the water clear and deep enough that you can actually swim. However, when we were getting the ready, the "locals" as I'll call the cousin were all dressing up in wetsuits, that doesn't sit well when all you've got is a small swimsuit.  I am proud to say though that I did dive in and it wasn't too bad, if only the air was warmer it would have been perfect. I'm proud to say that I'm made of stronger stuff. (The water was a hair bit warmer than the Maine ocean water).

Tomorrow we're probably going on a boat ride around the lake, more swimming and a BBQ. I might also go to mass tomorrow if the service is going to be Gaelic. Very interested to hear the difference.  Here's a few pictures taken from my phone of the swimming hole. 
Looking up the river. On the left

Looking down the river towards the bridge

The locals looking for small fish.

oíche mhaith

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A wonderful weekend

They don't celebrate the 4th of July here at all, except for a few mentions on the news and radio, but this weekend had all the elements excluding the fireworks. We had sun, family, BBQ and beach. It was perfect.

The Dublin TT's came up. Cousin A is almost 3 and R is almost 6 so they're perfect playmates for O. They chased and played away all weekend. O was a very happy baby running after her bigger cousins. The best part of the weekend was how sunny and warm it was.  This hasn't happened since before we left. Friday we had a BBQ, Saturday we did the same and Sunday we were outside all day playing baseball and just enjoying the heat. Yesterday my husband and I had the house to ourselves with the baby and it was still nice so we decided to go up to the beach after O's nap. It was a little overcast, but still relatively warm. We went to PortStewart, which is about 40 minutes north of here. It's probably the closest beach. You can drive up on the sand, park your car and enjoy the water and sand. However I will say one thing, the beach yesterday was scattered with trash. Now I don't know if this is a normal occurrence, but was kind of gross. O enjoyed the sand and a little bit of the water. I thought Maine's water was cold. Nope. The only thing that would have made this the best 4th of July weekend ever would be if I had my friends from Maine here with us.

The summer is turning out to be busy, which is great because I am starting to get a little stir crazy. This weekend we're headed down to Cork to see Aunt M and her family. It used to be about a 9 hour drive, but with these new modern highways, it takes about 6 hours. We have to drive down to Dublin and then cut across to Cork. It will be the in-laws and the three of us. Hopefully I survive the drive.

I hope all of you had a great holiday weekend. I've been thinking about many of you as you've traveled home to Maine for the holidays. I'm hoping to be back in Maine for July. (fingers-crossed). Here are some pictures of the weekend.

I just love this picture.

Look down the beach toward the end. It was he end of the day, so it was getting quieter and more and more people were leaving.

Looking up the beach toward the town of PortStewart.

Posing and getting me covered in sand

The babe and her daddy.

oíche mhaith