Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let Sleeping Babes Lie

I think Henry has just gotten out of a growth spurt.  He's bumped up a size in clothing to prove it.  He was also keeping strange hours.  His normal afternoon nap usually occurs around 1:30.  For a while though, he would fall asleep at like 11:30 and sleep right through lunch.  On one such day, he fell asleep on my bed.  I can't remember if I was folding laundry or some other kind of busy work, but I turned around, and Henry was fast asleep. 

I can't believe how fast time is going.  As fast as it felt with Claire, it feels even faster with Henry.

He still feels like my baby.  Look...he still has the dimples in his hands and the chunky rings around his wrists.

But he is decidedly NOT a baby any more. 

No matter that he's growing up.  Those smoochy cheeks are still there, and I plan on taking advantage of them as long as possible.  Even if I can only do it when he's asleep.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Giant's Causeway, Bushmills, and Our Last Night in Dublin

After visiting Dunluce Castle, we headed to the Giant's Causeway.  What's that behind us, you ask (other than the beautiful view)?  

A red telephone booth!  I hoped and prayed that if I picked up the phone, it would transport me to the Ministry of Magic, but sadly, it was a no-go.

There were some interesting rocks here.  Do you see the camel?

Of course, there is a legend tied to the Giant's Causeway - how else would it get such a name?  The legend goes that there was a giant warrior named Finn MacCool.  He knew of a rival giant that lived in Scotland.  He built a stone walkway/bridge to Scotland to spy on his rival, but saw that the Scottish giant was much bigger than he was.  Finn discovers that the Scottish giant is coming to fight him, so he asks his wife to dress him up as a baby.  When the Scottish giant arrives, he sees the "baby" in the cradle, and thinks that if the baby of the Irish giant was this big, he was no match for his father.  The Scottish giant then runs back across the causeway to Scotland, destroying it along the way so that Finn cannot follow him.  There are identical columns in a sea cave on an island off the coast of Scotland.

It is said that if there is smoke coming out of the chimney, Finn MacCool is home.

Some of the columns are quite large.

And others are small.

Regardless of the size, it was amazing how perfect the edges were...it was as if they had been machined.

Adam found the chair to take a rest.

This is called the Giant's Chair.

It was remarkably comfortable.

Adam thought he would be a daredevil and go out to the farthest point.  I was praying he wouldn't get washed away.

And just a moment after he got off the rocks, the waves crashed over it.

For the most part, we had a beautiful day filled with sunny skies.  And sheep.  Lots of sheep.

On our way back to Dublin, we stopped in Bushmills to find a post office.  Hey look!  It's Finn MacCool!

It had a number of houses with waterwheels on them.  They were pretty cool.

The post boxes are about as cool as their phone booths.

This is someone's driveway.

There were just lots of cool old houses.

After we got back to Dublin, we headed out with one more goal for our last night in Ireland:  we wanted to hear some traditional Irish music.  I thought that if we went to the oldest pub in Dublin, we would be successful.  So Adam obliged, and we headed to the Brazen Head.  It was crowded, there was no place to sit, and we got there just in time to miss the food (pretty much every place in Dublin, except for fast food, stops serving food at 9:30 pm).  But since the band was setting up, and the crowd was building, we were pretty confident that we would get our traditional music.  

Well, the band, though good, began it's set with Bob Dylan.  They followed with Crosby, Stills and Nash, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and some original blues music.  The last bus of the evening to the airport (we were in an airport hotel) left at 11:30, so we couldn't stay for the whole performance.  We stayed as long as we could, but to no avail.  The traditional Irish music eluded us.  

With heavy hearts (at least on my part), we headed to our bus stop, passing the Ha'Penny Bridge, Christchurch Cathedral, and other sights in central Dublin.  It was just as cool at night as it was during the day.  Though excited to go home and see my babies, I was sad to be leaving too.  It's a place I would definitely go back to visit again!

Side note:  Melaleuca is in Ireland too!  This was at our airport hotel.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ulster Fry, Scones, and a Castle

We began our last full day in Ireland with an Ulster Fry - a traditional breakfast consisting of bacon rashers (closer to Canadian bacon than the kind we have in the US), sausage, fried tomato, poached eggs, and a slice of potato bread and soda bread.  Throw it down with a little HP sauce (brown sauce, made with vinegar, tomato, date, tamarind, etc.  "Red sauce" was also offered), and it was pretty tasty.  

As we sat eating breakfast, we made small talk with a couple from England who sat next to us.  They asked what we were doing for the day, and we mentioned that our first stop would be at Dunluce Castle, followed by the Giant's Causeway.  They informed us that they had driven by the castle but hadn't stopped, and that we'd want to spend all our time at the Causeway anyway.  That means that this is the view of the castle that they got:

And if they didn't get out of the car, this is probably all they would've seen...the visitor center.

But that British couple missed out on some really pretty views.

They also missed out on this.  Maybe they see ruined castles all the time and didn't think it worthwhile to stop.  Given the time I spent on the road in Ireland on my day trip and all the ruined castles and abbeys that I saw simply while driving down the road, that could very well be the case.

Yeah, well, we don't have this stuff in the States.  

The castle dates back to around 1500.  Its history involves feuding families with names of the likes of MacDonnell, O'Cahan, O'Donnell, and MacQuillian.  It involves disputes with the English Crown - Queen Elizabeth I, no less, and later King James and Cromwell, Irish rebellions, and schemes to increase land holdings and power.  Sounds pretty standard as far as Elizabethan history is concerned. 

The bay windows are reconstructed for structural reasons, but it gives a good idea of what the original windows would have looked like.  

The castle had some pretty stunning views.

You can still see the imprints of the wicker work on the ceilings that was used during construction.

I loved that you could still see the places where the ceiling beams were located...

as well as where the second floor would have been.

The castle even had its own secret access to the sea through a cave.

Looking up at the castle from the cave access.

After wandering around the castle and the grounds, we decided to pop into the tea room that shared the castle parking lot.  We were really just looking for a postcard, but the owner convinced us to stay a bit longer when she mentioned that she had just pulled some homemade scones out of the oven.

Oh. My. Gosh.  These were pretty much the best thing ever.  They were light and fluffy.  Mildly sweet - really it was just an aftertaste of sweetness at the end.  With the strawberry jam and the cream?  To die for.  I have been checking out British cookbooks from the library since we've been home so I can find a scone recipe similar to it.  They were heavenly.

Harper Turns 3!

We sure love this little girl, and we were excited to wish her a happy birthday.  But, of course, this little sassafrass decided to have so...