Sunday, November 18, 2012

Experiencing Ireland

Continuing on with our adventure over the summer in Ireland...

Wednesday/Thursday, June 27-28, 2012

On Wednesday morning, Steven, Nicole, David and I left the kids and Brenda and Dewey at the Cliffhouse in order to drive to the train station in Galway for an overnight in Dublin!  It was an early morning, so we were all pretty tired on the trainride into the city.  But four hours later, we had arrived!  I have to admit, I wasn't as excited about going to Dublin as I had been to see the parts of Ireland that we were staying near.  Friends that I had talked to had told me that it really isn't that much different than any other big city over here, and we had been to plenty of those.  But I couldn't imagine being in Ireland for a week and not going to Dublin, and I am so glad we did! Guinness, anyone???

After a long walk to the hotel to drop off our bags, we started our day with a pub lunch in the city centre.  We were originally going to take a walking tour, but we were all pretty tired from all the cycling on Tuesday and the early morning, so we decided to take an open top bus tour of the city, instead.  We listened to the live guide as he told us about Dublin, and got to do a drive-by of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Castle, the Jameson Distillery, and of course, the Guinness Storehouse.

That night, we went on The Gravedigger Ghost Bus Tour.  Anyone who knows me should know well enough that this isn't the type of thing I would normally choose to do.  I am not a fan of scary stuff, things jumping out at you, etc etc.  But the tour was so much fun and our guide was hilarious.  It is basically just like going to a show or comedy night.  The double decker bus with the blackened windows and smoke machine took us around town, and our guide told us about "his" time living in Dublin during the Plague.  We stopped at several spots around the city where he and the other actor on board told stories of strange occurrences and creepy tales throughout the city.  Then we made one last stop at John Kavanagh's Gravedigger pub.  What a fun experience!
On Thursday, we ate breakfast at the hotel and again boarded the city tour bus (thank you two day passes!) to take us to the Guinness Storehouse.  David has been to several breweries before, but I have never been, so I was excited to learn about how they make the perfect Guinness!  We learned about how important the water is that is used to make the stout.  Guinness is available pretty much everywhere now, and is brewed in many different countries.  But depending on the site where the water for it originates, the flavor and taste can be altered.  Only Guinness brewed in Ireland with water from the Wicklow Mountains is exactly how Guinness is meant to taste!

In college, when we used to go to Molly's to "Ride the Rail," I always used to trade my Guinness for the cider.  :o)  I always hated it!  But we got a tip:  Guinness is not meant to be sipped.  You should take a nice long drink of it, to get the true flavor.  And let me tell you, it worked!  Our self-guided tour ended with a pint up at the top of the Storehouse, overlooking all of Dublin.  I drank the whole thing, and half of another!!!
On Friday and Saturday our little family of four broke away for some alone time. First, David and I took the kids on a tour of one of the caves around Doolin, Aillwee Cave.  We walked down into the ground and got to experience what real darkness is!  No natural light, no artificial light.  Our guide even made sure everyone put their cameras and phones away.  It was really spooky.  The cave was only discovered in the 1940s by a farmer who followed his dog, who had been chasing a rabbit!  The farmer didn't tell anyone else about his discovery until the 1970s, and even as recently as the early 1990s were areas of the vast cave still being explored for the first time.  But even with its "newness," the cave is still probably the most famous of all the thousands of caves throughout the Burren.  Inside there was an underground river, a waterfall, and lots of stalactites and stalagmites.  (Do you know the difference???)

After the cave we went to the Burren Birds of Prey center, and got to learn about owls, hawks and other birds of prey.  David and I even volunteered to go up during the talk to have a hawk land on our arms!

Saturday morning we left early and took the kids back to the beach near where we went on Monday.  There was an aquatic centre there, so even though it was super cold and rainy outside, we got in some swimming practice indoors on our holiday.  After swimming, we went horseback riding.  All week, Darian had been saying that she wanted to ride a horse, and Maxwell very adamantly said that he did not.  But when we finally got to the pony rides, Darian was too scared to go, and it just ended up being an adventure for Maxwell and Mommy.  It was really fun, and he did great!  My horse was not a good listener.  He kept stopping along the path to eat a snack, and each time he bent down to get a bite to eat, I thought I was going to fall right off!

Maxwell and his guide
Me and my hungry, hungry horsey

We met back up with the rest of the family for one last pub dinner before heading back to England.  And although we left Ireland behind, David has still been drinking Guinness often when we go out!
Last night in Ireland

For the full (out of order) album from this leg of our trip, go here.

Éirinn go Brách!

A few years ago, David and I wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise.  We sent out emails to friends to see if anyone would want to go with us.  At the time, Brenda said that she and Dewey wanted to take us all on a trip for their 40th wedding anniversary, so she asked if we would wait until 2012 to take the cruise.  Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought that we would be living abroad in 2012!

I was pumped at the prospect of a Mediterranean cruise instead, but then in early 2012 before we started making our plans, the Costa Concordia cruise liner sank off the coast of Italy.  After that, I knew there was no way we were going to get Brenda on a cruise!

Luckily for us, there are so many beautiful and amazing countries right around the corner, just waiting for the Ingham Family to explore!  David did his usual research, and we all decided on Ireland!  Éirinn go Brách!

Sunday, June 24, 2012
    Happy Anniversary!  
Brenda and Dewey:  40 years!!
After an early morning wakeup call, a bouncy bus ride, a quick trip up and down in Aer Lingus, a car rental debacle, an hour car ride, and a quick grocery run...we were finally at the house!  The Cliffhouse in Doolin, Ireland.  It was gorgeous and it was a wonderful way to spend the week on the island.  After getting settled, we drove back into town to have a pub dinner.  The first place was way too busy; it was so much fun to see firsthand all the fun, energetic (rowdy?) Irish men and women, drinking their Guinness and having a ball.  Just another Sunday night in good ol' Ireland!   When we walked into the pub where we ended up eating, there were musicians playing traditional music.  It was awesome!  We had a yummy dinner while we watched some football (soccer) and then headed home to get settled into the house.

Remember when I saved Maxwell's life on the bobsled in Prague?  Well, apparently that is now a theme during our travels.  Let me back track a bit...

On  Monday morning we all left the house and took a scenic drive to the Cliffs of Moher.  We all hiked up the hill to see the amazing view of the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean.  If only my eyes were strong enough to see thousands of miles across the sea, we could have waved to Terri and Randy in Rhode Island!!  :o)
Atop the cliffs, there is a tower called O'Brien's Tower.  The tower is more than 175 years old, and from the top you can  look out and see the Aran Islands (where we traveled to on Tuesday).
After the initial hike up and then back down, Dewey went to rest and the rest of us hiked up even farther on the other side of the cliffs.  We came to this sign...
...but we are rebels and we kept going.  (Hey, everyone else was doing it, too!)  We walked quite far up the clifs, and there was no fence or gate between us and the side.  Scary!  When we got to a point where we thought we had seen enough of the view, we all stopped and were about to turn around.  Nicole was carrying a sleeping Darian in the ergo, and her newly potty trained little body couldn't wake up to tell us she had to pee.  Poor Nicole! Poor, wet, pee stained Nicole!!!  Maxwell told me he had to pee, too, so rather than have three wet pee stained bodies on our hands, I grabbed his hand and went to take him behind some rocks to pee.  Unfortunately, there was also an electric fence between the rocks and the green space!  Maxwell grabbed the fence to steady himself, and we both received a bolt!!  He cried (rightly so), and I was totally scared!  It felt like someone had punched me in the chest; as if my heart had stopped for a second and then threw itself inside me to start back up again.  My whole body felt tingly, especially my hand where I had been holding onto Maxwell's.  And it was hard to breathe for a few minutes.  CRAZY!!!  I can't even imagine what his little body felt, knowing what I experienced just from holding his hand.  He seemed fine, and I convinced myself that the jolt went through him and I got the most of it.  Let me believe that, okay?  The alternative sucks!

Originally Dave, Steve, Nicole and I were going to take an hour long surfing lesson.  But the weather was gloomy and cold, so S, N and I ganged up on David and convinced him it wasn't a good idea. :o)  Instead, we went to the beach and had lunch and played on the nearby playground with the kids.

We had an early start on Tuesday, in order to get to the port where we would take a short boat ride (over choppy waters, I might add) to the Aran Islands.  Once we arrived in Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands, Brenda and Dewey set themselves up with a bus tour of the island, and the rest of us went to rent bikes.  I figured that I get enough of toting the kids around in the trailer on a regular basis, so this time David got the pleasure of hauling that load!  It was a misty, cloudy, cool day, but the view was spectacular. Limestone rock fences, grazing horses and cattle, and the  North Atlantic, stretching out as far as the eye could see.  It was a hilly climb, and occasionally we had to stop and rest and/or walk our bikes up the path, but it was well worth it to travel that way.  

Nicole had since moved away from
the potential spit bombs
We reached our destination, Dun Aengus, and parked our bikes to hike up to the fort.  After all the cycling, those steps were not my favorite part of the day!  The prehistoric site is one of the most famous forts, with a breathtaking view.  I parked the kids well away from the edge of the cliffs while the rest of us took in the sights.  It was incredibly windy, and quite scary on the edge!!  Steven, Nicole, and David decided to lie down on their bellies to look over the edge, and David tested the wind by spitting over the edge, only to have "it" come back up and nearly hit Nicole in the face!
About as close as I wanted to get!

The bike ride back to the boat was SO MUCH FUN!!!  As hard as it had been to cycle up the hills to get us to Dun Aengus, the hills going down made it totally worth it!  The kid in me came alive as I let go of the handle bars, put my arms out, and screamed a mighty, "Woooo hooooo!" as we glided down to the bottom of the hill.

To see the full album of pictures from this part of our trip, go here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer Fun

The summer of 2012 will certainly go down as a busy, adventure packed time in our lives.  All the tails in this house were busy, busy!  Although, it seems like that is the nature of this entire living abroad adventure!

We all logged lots of miles in the car, in the air, across the sea, along train tracks...I believe there was even a horse or two involved in our travel over the past several months!  But the best part was, we got to have in person hugs and kisses from some of our favorite people.  We had visits from Gaga Brenda, Papa Dewey, Uncle Steve, Aunt Nicole, and Nana Paulette!

And as you can imagine, there are TONS of tales as all those tails made their way across Europe, and more photos and videos than I can even contemplate at the moment.  So...

The littlest tail is back to preschool this week and is already thriving in her new but familiar environment.  She understood that her big brother was going to big school, but she was still sad to be walking through the nursery door alone.  Big brother will be scooting his little tail off to Reception next week!!  Kids start Reception, or Foundation Stage, the September after they turn four here.  It is the equivalent of Kindergarten.    His teacher came by the house yesterday for a visit to prepare him (and us!) with what to expect on Monday, and he is super excited!!

All that being said, when those little tails are both off to school next week, Mommy is going to bust HER tail to get those pictures downloaded and write some Travel Blogs from Summer 2012!  So keeping watching back to read about our adventures!!