We Are On The Treadmill Again!

We’re “almost” recovered from the trip, but Becky called to say that some people got sick after the ceremony, and two had COVID. I had a chest cough, so we worried I might have caught it. We believe that alcohol kills bugs, so we weren’t too concerned, but I still took a COVID test just to be sure. It came back negative, so we were relieved and could move on from the scare.

We toiled in the garden until it was time for our first big event – a date with the doctor. Can you believe it? We had appointments with Dr. Tong, the acupuncture magician. He’s the only one who can turn our garden-weary backs into iron rods and my sciatica into a distant memory.

We had tickets with Vicky and Jim to see Funny Girl at the Segerstrom, so we decided not to go home. We went to South Coast Plaza and met up with them at the Silver Trumpet.

It had wonderful food and excellent service!

The Silver Trumpet is within walking distance of the theater, so we zipped over to the Segerstrom, where we saw Funny Girl.  The story is about the life of the 1930s comedienne Fannie Brice, from her early days in the Jewish slums of New York to the height of her career with the Ziegfeld Follies.

The performance was terrific.

After the show, we walked back to the restaurant, met up with Vicky, and then drove directly home. It was almost 11:00 p.m.

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It Be Monday, A New Week And 205 Days Until Christmas!

It’s Monday morning, so it’s time to listen to one of my favorite songs from the 1950s. Today’s pick is  Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White by Perez Prado, released in 1955.

In 1955 I was in the sixth grade becoming a very fart smeller, oops, smart feller!  Junior High School was right around the corner meaning I was soon to be smarter that Mom and Dad (or I thought so back then).  Now the older I get the smarter they were.

Mary and I strolled through the garden after waking up, getting ready for the day’s adventures in the enchanting world of the garden.

The apple tree is growing vigorously, and I estimate that we are about two to three weeks away from harvesting.

We can see apple pie in the near future.

As we walked among the planters, you could see how large the tomato plants have grown this year. Mary will be using our portable ladder to harvest them.  Most of them tower over her.

The tomatoes are higher than an elephants eye!

The berry planter is in the early stages of maturation, and we can already spot a few black berries nestled within the foliage. These berries are currently unripe and will likely take approximately two to three weeks to reach full ripeness. Once they do, we can expect a plentiful harvest throughout the summer months.

Did we say berries?

The Sweet Peas continue to be abundant and will probably last another month until we have to pull them out.

We have flowers galore!

After our Irish vacation, my poor little body somehow attracted six pounds of blubber, which had to go away before our Caribbean adventure. Mary claimed she lost weight, but when she was on the bathroom scale, she was holding onto the towel rack!

We are off to Peak Performance, our personal training group.  As was waddled in, they pointed and giggled.  We knew we were in for trouble.  These people are first class, they know their stuff and even through we feel like a dish rag when we leave we feel better every day!

We only use the most updated equipment!

We went to Ralph’s market to get a quart of milk, but $350 later, we rolled out with seventeen bags of goodies. Next time, we’ll make sure to have breakfast before going to the market.

Breakfast! Yeah!!

We spent a good hour putting everything away because we prefer to label the dates that are often hidden on the packaging. After that, we had lunch, which included ten California rolls from Ralph’s, a local specialty containing a good number of quality ingredients.

At 1:30 pm we headed to see Dr. Rose to see about surgery on Paul’s hand to get rid of the arthritis pain. A trapeziectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the trapezium, a small cube-shaped bone in the wrist that connects the thumb to the wrist joint, to treat thumb arthritis. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthetic and can take 60–90 minutes.

Returning home, we visited Jeff and brought him some of Mary’s stuffed squash. We stayed about thirty minutes and finished off a glass of wine that we had just picked up from Trader Joe’s on the way home from the doctor.

We are still recovering so we crashed around 9:00 pm!  Tomorrow we should be back to “normal!”

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The Recovery Process Begins!

My mind has yet to leave Ireland!

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

We woke up bright and early, driven by an unknown force, almost on autopilot. After sharing a cup of coffee with Robin, she headed out around 9:00 AM.

While Mary stayed inside to do the laundry, I decided to spend some time in the garden. I carefully made my way through the garden beds, removing plants that had gone to seed and those past their prime. The sunlight filtered through the leaves as I worked, and I could hear nature’s gentle sounds. It was a peaceful and rewarding experience.

I got the berries and the first planter ready to go. Four more planters to go, plus the back forty!

We both emptied our suitcases, and Mary did at least four loads of washing. I assisted Mary when she needed heavy things to be moved. As the day progressed, the suitcases were moved to their original homes upstairs in the ballroom.

I am impressed by how effortlessly she manages to look absolutely stunning within just a few minutes. It’s amazing to see her transform into a picture of beauty and elegance  even when planning to work around the house!

Bright eyed and bushy tailed; ready to go work today!

Ready to rock and roll!

We strolled through the garden today and were amazed at the growth of the spaghetti and regular squash. The tomato plants are loaded with green tomatoes, indicating that we’ll harvest them in about a month!

The spaghetti squash is doing just fine.

I picked beets and Swiss chard for dinner tonight, brought them inside, and washed them for Mary.  The chard looks especially green.  After two weeks in Ireland, we know our greens!

Swiss chard before it goes into the pot.

We have over fifty beets, but these are pretty large and will take about three to four hours to bake. I wrapped them in foil and put them in the oven at 400 degrees. Once baking is complete, we can chop them up and use them in a salad or put them in a small bowl and add goat cheese as an appetizer.

Four hundred degrees for 4 hours ought to do the trick!

We love cold beet soup. This Polish cold beetroot soup is traditionally served with hard-boiled eggs. You can also enjoy it on its own or with hearty rye or pumpernickel bread. This soup makes a great starter and is perfect for a summer party.

The soup is very refreshing and is certainly an eye catcher!

Dog-A-Puss, aka Scout aka Luigi,  came out to help but once he saw my efforts involved WORK, he mosied back to his bed on the patio and went to sleep.

Scout checks out all the noise I was making!

I ceased gardening around 4:00 pm as my old bones were creaking fiercely. As I walked to the back door, the noise sounded like firecrackers going off! Poor Scout ran under the bed and hid!

Indeed!!

Upon returning from the garden, I joined Mary in the kitchen to help her prepare dinner. My assigned task was to carefully half the squash and skillfully removed the seeds.  Meanwhile,  Mary expertly crafted the stuffing from scratch. She meticulously blended in cheese, beans, corn, and other ingredients she had gathered from the refrigerator.

Mary made stuffed squash this evening.

We had a delightful dinner and topped it off with a glass of champagne!

Following our evening meal, we indulged in a relaxing soak in the hot tub. We completed two cycles, spending a total of about 30 blissful minutes in the warm, bubbling water. I anticipate that we will have a restful night’s sleep as a result of this tranquil experience.

Tomorrow morning, we have to head to the gym at 8:15 am.  We can already feel the pain and suffering but it is well deserved after spending two weeks in Ireland.  During the trip, I gained six pounds due to reduced exercise and an abundance of food and spirits.

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Day 12 – We Fly Away!

Our Irish Holiday: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12 

It’s been a wonderful week plus in Ireland meeting great people and seeing exciting things but all things must come to an end.  We hit the sack around 11:00 pm here in the land of green and made sure we would get up at 4:30 am by setting three alarms , having the front desk call, and we asked Colleen to call at 8:30 pm her time (in New Hampshire).

We woke up early this morning in Dublin. The alarm clock went off at 4:30 am, and all the other alarms started going off at once. It was a cacophony of sounds that could have woken up the dead. I looked out the window and saw that it was already light outside. The sunrise is at 5:00 am in Dublin, and sunset was at 11:00 pm the night before. No wonder we were  tired!

We had to repack our bags and wait for the hotel to bring a baggage trolley to take our bags to the waiting taxi. Unfortunately, the hotel couldn’t find their baggage trolley, so three men came up and carried our bags to the waiting taxi.

It was an interesting ride to the airport.

After driving in Ireland, the taxi drivers efforts were not scary.

My bride looks so beautiful in the morning and she gets better all day long.

We arrived at the Dublin airport and had to wait in line for an hour because we were traveling internationally.  The airplanewas out on the runway so we have to take a buss to get to the boarding area.  After the bus rider we had to walk eleven minutes to the shuttle gate to board the plane. The plane was a Ford Trimotor, which was quite an adventure!

We finally got to a small terminal and were getting ready to board.

Awaiting at the gate.

We boarded the plane at the gate. There was no moveable gate or walkway, so we had to walk to the plane. The flight to London was nice and only took 90 minutes.

That’s our ride.

We had to go from Terminal One to Terminal Five at London, and it was an adventure in and of itself. We rode another bus and then took a ten-minute subway ride that went under the runways and popped up at Terminal Five.

The airport was huge and required a lot of walking!

We had to take a bus to the terminal where the A380 was waiting. The bus ride took 11 minutes. But before we could board the A380, we had to take an elevator to the upper level.

Heathrow was a nightmare for the unfamiliar!

We had never been on am A380 before. The Airbus A380 is a wide-body, double-deck, full-length passenger aircraft that’s considered the world’s largest and most spacious. It has a typical seating capacity of 525 passengers, but can be certified for up to 853. The upper deck of the A380-800 model typically has first class, business class, and premium economy seating.

The experience was amazing! Business or First, the only way to go!

Mary and I were sitting next to each other on the plane, facing opposite directions. Right after we got seated, we each had a glass of wine.

Mama is in her seat and ready to go!

We were in Row 15 and had room to lay down and sleep. Plus, we had internet and an entire AV experience.

The A380 is quite an engineering marvel.

Mary yelled, “Get this sucker moving, we wanna go home!”

Ready for takeoff.

There were an endless number of airliners at Heathrow.

Did you know more than 70 million passengers pass through Heathrow airport every year? That is almost 6 million more than the total population of the UK. And the number of employees at the nation’s busiest airport is nearly equal or more than the population of many towns or cities in Great Britain! Every 45 seconds a flight lands or takes off from Heathrow and the airport’s 6th terminal is reserved only for royals and a few celebrities.

There were a load of British Airways airplanes at Heathrow.

Up, up, and away! Mary wondered about the slipstream going over the wing. The air over the wing is at lower pressure than the rest of the air around the plane, and this drop in air pressure also causes a drop in temperature. This, in turn, reduces the amount of water vapor that the air can hold. If the temperature reaches the dew point, excess water vapor will begin to condense, forming a visible cloud.

During takeoff the wing produced slip-stream was fascinating.

We were tired after our twelve-hour flight.   Robin picked us up at LAX and we headed home. We were supposed to stop at Vicky’s, but the plane had suitcase unloading issues and we didn’t leave LAX until after 7:00 p.m., so we went straight home. We had a glass of wine and talked to Robin about our adventures. We also spoke to Dianne to let her know we were safe.

Robin is going to South America after the first of the year, and we may join her for a two-week cruise around the bottom of South America.   That reminded me of my South American project from 1955, so I went to the library and found it.

They got a kick out of reading it, and remember, the report is seventy years old and I was in the 6th grade (for the second time).

Robin told is of her upcoming cruise to South America.

Mu very talented mother and I did the front of the report which was done in copper and attached to a plywood front and back page.

I suddenly remembered a school project I did back in 1955.

They read every word and proceeded to point, laugh, and giggle at my early attempt at writing. They had a good time and I was happy to share my work with them.

My spelling has improved since then (not by much)

By 10:30 pm, we were dead, so we got ready to crash.

Time for bed!

 

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Day 11 – Ms. Toad’s Wild Ride To Dublin

Our Irish Holiday: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12 

We both slept in this morning, all the way until 7:30 am, when there was a sound at the door.  I jumped up and headed to the door, soon realizing that 1) I was in my birthday suit and 2) Mary was about to swing the door open.

Not wanting to terrify the help, I jumped into bed head first and threw the covers over my gloriously naked body.  Dang, that was a close one.

We had a delightful breakfast and proceeded to pack up our belongings.

We called for our car, but the chap did not believe we had a Rolls Royce, so we settled for the Pew-Got.

We made it in about one hour and forty minutes.

We headed out of the Mount Juliet Estate at 11:00 am, and using the iPhone GPS, we were fine, except the roundabouts were complex.

Leaving the estate was sad; we wanted more.

The first ten miles were on narrow country roads (more narrow than the one below).  I did not take pictures as both hands were on the grab handles, my eyes were closed, and I was saying my prayers.

Did we say narrow?

As we departed, Becky texted us. She and Dan took the remaining wedding flowers, which were beautiful, and placed them in the local cemetery. They were very thoughtful.

Please pay it forward.

Before entering the motorway (their equivalent of our freeways), we saw a sign and had to stop!

Clever, these Irishmen.

It is definitely The Emerald Isle.

Greenery and flowers everywhere.

Mary’s driving was amazing. She swerved in and out of the silly Irishmen going the speed limit. She went through two red lights, and unfortunately, they were on top of police cars.

This is the before picture.

We got out of the car as soon as the steam stopped exiting what was the front of the vehicle.   Exiting was easy since the tires were all flat and the car was lower to the ground.  I have never seen anyone drive on two rims after the rubber tires fell off.  We looked like the Beverly Hillbillys coming into Beverly Hills.

After (the tow truck just departed)

SERIOUS NOTE:  Mary was a superb driver, and I had no worries, but I will have to see the hand doctor to get my fingers uncrossed.

We dropped off what was left of our car at the airport and picked up a cab.  We had him go to the midtown Hilton to pick up Mary’s coat, which I had left last week.

Our cabby loved Elvis!

We drove for an hour and a half and saw a lot of the city. Our cabby/tour guide was excellent.

The waterway into Dublin.

We were hungry, so we went to the Hilton restaurant. It was nothing to yell about, but it served its purpose.

Sometimes, my ordering skills need work.

Mary did the soup and I went for a Ceasar salad.  We had reservations in about two hours to dine again and have our one last Irish coffee.

Dessert before we hit the sack!

Returning to our room, we examined our suitcases.  The dirty clothes are certainly stacking up.

We looked for a laundry, but no luck.

We went downstairs to have a pizza before going to bed.  Mary found the ladies lounge and took a picture of the potty.  Now we have to get one at home.

Mary wants one of these at home.

We finally returned to our room at 8:00 p.m. and set up all the “wireless” wiring, which meant charging everything for tomorrow’s trip. He said there were a total of eight HDMI circuits in use.

We must be up and moving at 4:30 am to catch the bus at 6:00 am to get to the airport.  The first flight is 90 minutes from Dublin to Heathrow, and then the twelve-hour leg from Heathrow to LAX.

 

 

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Day 10 – Exploring And The BBQ

Our Irish Holiday: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12 

Later in the day, we’re going to 1757 for a farewell BBQ, so we lounged around this morning and did a bit of packing.

We had breakfast in the main dining room (Lady Helen), and it was pretty good.

Mary had the famous Irish Boxty Potatoes and said they were excellent.  We both had tea, you know, when in Paris….

Did You Know? Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake. The dish is mostly associated with the north midlands, north Connacht, and southern Ulster, in particular the counties of Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Fermanagh, Longford, and Cavan. There are many recipes, but all contain finely grated, raw potatoes and are served fried.

An old Irish rhyme is: “Boxty on the griddle; boxty on the pan. If you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man!”

I chose the traditional kippers with eggs.

Smoked kipper brunch with scrambled egg and tomatoes

Did You Know? A kipper is a whole herring, a small, oily fish that has been split in a butterfly fashion from tail to head along the dorsal ridge, gutted, salted, or pickled, and cold-smoked over smoldering wood chips.

We then went for a wee walk, looking for the wee people.  After two cups of coffee and two glasses of orange juice, I had to wee-wee.  We followed the wee signs.  They write pretty big for the creators, who are so wee.

The Wee Folk of Ireland came about when the Milesians attacked and won a war against the Tuatha de Danann, eventually driving them underground. The Tuatha de Danann used their innate magic to become the Sidhe (pronounced Shee) – today is known as the “fairies,” “little people,” or the “wee folk.”

This way!

The thistles were in full blossom. In Celtic countries, the associations are positive, and the flower symbolizes resilience, strength, determination, protection, and pride. The flower’s purple and pink colors represent royalty. In Victorian England, the thistle signified pain, aggression, and intrusion.

The wildflowers were most beautiful.

The Queen Anne’s Lace grew wild all over the country, especially by the side of the roads.

Queen Anne’s Lace was all about.

The lacey white umbel of a Queen Anne’s lace flower usually has a dark purple spot in the center, purportedly representing the drop of blood that fell when the queen, an accomplished lace-maker, pricked her finger!

We found the village.

With humans coming to Ireland, these magical beings retreated underground to another realm, residing in mounds and fairy forts around the island. They wished to keep to themselves and watch over the land and animals.

But they are also well known for playing tricks on humans who cross their path for fun, sport, or even to show their superiority.

Who lives there?

The fairies were sleeping, and we let them rest.  There is no use asking for trouble.

Friendly little folks

The grounds are divided into areas separated by walls, and then there is a wall; there has to be a gate.

The gate guards kept the place lit at night.

We saw this gate from the wedding tent yesterday.  Becky walked through it to get to the tent.

Mary’s version of mooning.

We had yet to learn how Becky got through the gate carrying flowers and wearing a long dress, but she did it.

The Moon Wall, we meet again.

It was a good adventure so now we will go back to the hotel and rest for the BBQ this afternoon.

After our walk we went to the room and rested.  The stairway had a magnificent sitting area half way up.  The flowers are real!

Back to the hotel to rest before the BBQ.

We got dressed a little early and headed downstairs to Club 1757 where we had a greyhound using grapefruit soda instead of regular grapefruit.  It worked out just fine.

The recently refurbished, 1757 bar is located in the original cellar of Manor House. We enjoyed the sense of history as we relaxed amongst the vaulted ceilings, thick stone walls and atmospheric black and white photographs. The elegant 1757 bar, located down one level,  enjoys a private terrace overlooking the River Nore and Ballylinch Stud.

The patio was covered in white roses and the weather held.  The people gathered both inside and outside as the breeze began to get stronger around 5:00 pm.  Many people opted to dine inside due to the cold.

The wedding flowers decorated the patio.

After dinner we visited outside until the wind came up.  Mary got to see the family and old friends she had known since they went to school with Becky.

It was beginning to get cold.

Since we have to pack tonight, we selected weak greyhounds and an occasional wine.  There was a nice fireplace to warm us up.

Mary visits with Geoff.

We found the nearest fireplace to othe bar and stayed close warming ourselves up.

Fireplaces existed in almost every room in the manor.

The 1757 Lounge was a long facility complete with a small theater, a fishing room, and several nicely padded dining areas.  Either end of the hallway opens onto a great patio with a river view.

The BBQ was at the end of this passage.

The flags were flapping in the stiff breeze.

We loved seeing the American  flag flying.

The grandkids were so cute, we enjoyed visiting with them.

Katy and the grandsons.

The BBQ and had many delicious choices but Mary and I, being traditionalists, went for the hamburder along with a huge baked potato.  The head chef was serving and we commented on how delicious the food was during is last several days.  He also noticed by themed shirt.

Enjoying the BBQ.

I allowed myself to rest me eyes and Mary accused me of napping.

Notice I was dressed for the occasion?

We could see rain clouds coming our direction and within five minutes it was pouring.  There is no wonder why they call it the Emerald Isle as it rains quite often and this is the dry season.

The weather was great until 6:00 pm when it rained.

The boys performed on the grass just for us.

We see show business in their future.

We headed upstairs around 6:30 pm and began packing as we are heading to Dublin at 11:00 am tomorrow.  We heard noise from the window and the kids were running around having a ball.  The pathway had dried and the Sun was trying to peak out.

They are bundles of energy!

Oh Dear!

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Day 9 – The Day Was Magnificent

Our Irish Holiday: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12 

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It was a beautiful Irish morning with the sun shining and not a rain cloud in the sky.  We had breakfast in our room and then got ready about an hour ahead of schedule.  We wanted just to sit and watch the cows graze in the fields.

We are ready!

We decided to add some color to our surroundings.

Color us in love!

Mary watches the doggy reels on Facebook, and I can tell when she comes across a good reel—the whole room lights up!

Someone has the giggles.

See what I mean!  Her laughter was contagious, so the whole room was giggling with her.

Her Facebook Dashounds had Mary in stitches.

The view is very soothing to the soul. It makes you want to wander the field with the cows.

Did you hear about the cow that tried to jump a barbwire fence? It was an udder disaster.

Enjoying a glass of wine and watching the pasture.

At 2:00 pm, Mary went upstairs to assist Becky in getting ready.  They visited for a while, and then Mary returned to the lounge, where we met up with Geoff.

We polished off one more drink before heading to the bus that will take us to the wedding site.

Mom helped Becky get ready at 2:00 pm

We met Dan’s folks, who turned out to be delightful and funny!  Patty and I took a load of pictures on our way to the bus.

Patty, the groom’s mother, was a kick in the pants!

At 2:20 pm, we were all bussed out to the lawn where the Moon Gate is located.  It was a short ride and that made sure everyone was in place and ready for the ceremony to begin!

Last minute coordination was underway!  Dan’s son did the officiating which was a nice touch!

Dan, his two sons Liam and Connor, and the wedding coordinator are in serious discussions.

Becky made her way to her intended via the Moon Gate.  The gate was designed to frame the setting sun, giving it a magical appearance, ever changing as the seasons progress.

It was a stunning entrance.

As the bagpipes played in the background, Becky came to the front of the tent where Dan and his son were waiting.

We were bussed to the wedding site.

The wedding party requested no pictures during the ceremony (a good idea) so we honored their request and put the iPhones away!

When they exchanged their vows, there was not a dry eye in the house!

After the ceremony and short bus ride to the Manor House, we had champagne in the front lawn and awaited the arrival of the bride and groom (who were taking some photo ops).

Geoff and David, Mary’s two sons.

The happy couple arrives to a thunderous applause.

The bride and groom arrive.

The picture of happiness.

Looking good.

The wedding was a black-tie event, and everyone was dressed to the nines.

May you both live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

A more handsome group you will not find.

Dan’s children were out in full force.

Dan’s children were there.  Liam, Emma, and Connor.

The moms were partying heartily!

The moms were also celebrating.

As everyone enjoyed their dinner, the newlyweds were beaming at the front of the hall, basking in the joy of the moment.

Dinner room.was served in the Lady Helen dining.

The moms discovered Becky right before the dancing commenced.

Ladies!

This afternoon, Dan’s family was absolutely ecstatic!

Dan’s parents.

After our delightful dinner, we made our way into the adjacent room where lively dance music filled the air. We couldn’t resist the temptation and decided to join in for a couple of dances. However, we soon realized that the music was so loud that it almost overwhelmed our hearing aids, making it quite a challenge to fully enjoy the experience.

Dancing got underway right after dinner.

We went to the 1757 Lounge and joined a group of older individuals who wanted the noise level reduced. After having a couple of drinks, we went upstairs around midnight.

We escaped into the relative quiet of the 1757 patio.

May you two always be as as happy as us!

Posted in Adventures, Dancing, Dining Out, Family, Friends, Memories | 2 Comments

Day 8 – Let The Celebrations Begin

Our Irish Holiday: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12 

After last night’s celebration, we started moving at 10:00 am.  At 11:00 am, the phone rang, and it was Amy and Lar who were downstairs and wanted to have some tea and say goodbye.

We threw on our cleanest, dirty clothes and headed to the Manor House front lawn, where we had tea, laughed, and giggled some more. We sat there for an hour, and at the end, the two guys from last night came looking for a jacket they had left last night.  We wondered how we got that jacket this morning.

Tea is served!

Returning to our room, we cleaned up because a get-together of the participants was planned at the local pub. The departure is scheduled at 4:45 p.m., so I had to get something to eat or celebrate on an empty stomach; it’s not a great idea.

Oh My! After the eighty-four-year-old lady finished her annual physical examination, Doc Murphy said to her, “You are in fine shape for your age, Mrs. Sullivan, but tell me, do you still have intercourse?” “Just a minute, I’ll have to ask my husband.” Mrs. Sullivan stepped out into the crowded waiting room and yelled out loud, “Sean dear, do we still have intercourse?” Suddenly, there was a hush in the waiting room. It was literally so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Sean answered impatiently, “If I have told you once, Kathleen, I have told you a hundred times. What we have is Blue Cross!”

We wandered down to the dining area and picked a seat near the window. Mary ordered soup, and I ordered a pastrami sandwich. Of course, we had a glass of wine to wash it down.

A fantastic view of the grounds.

We studied the map so in case we missed the bus, we could get to O’Grady’s pub.

I just read an article about the dangers of drinking, and it really scared me. I decided right then and there, that’s it, no more reading!

We ate a bite, and we did not want to drink on an empty tummy.

While we ate, the sky went from bright to rainy grey and back to glowing.

The view from the Manor House dining area.

Mary asked, “Paul, why don’t you give up the drinking?” I replied, “It’s much too late for me.” The virtuous Mary assured me, “It’s never too late.” I smiled and said, “Well, there’s no rush then.”

We hopped on the bus and took a short ride to the pub. It’s not just a pub; it is a family affair.

Did you happen to know? Dating back to 1789, the Malzard’s -O’Gradys Pub has been in the family of its current owner- Fred Malzard- for over five generations and 200 plus years. Initially, the business was started by James (“The Boss”) O’Grady on the main street of Stonyford Village, County Kilkenny, to service a population that had risen locally due to the opening of a large woolen mill. In 1894, Fred’s great-grandmother married a Malzard from the Channel Islands.

When Fred’s grandfather- Alfie Malzard- returned to Stonyford to manage the pub, the Malzard name was added to the pub front. Intriguing history aside, this pub is all about family and community. To this day, Fred’s parents live behind the pub, while Fred’s family (including his wife and three daughters) live on the same street, just a few doors away.

Passionately proud of his local village, Fred grew up on this street, went to school locally, played hurling (an ancient Gaelic game) in the local fields, and counted his neighbors as his friends. At the heart of this village is the Malzard-O’Gradys Pub, and at the heart of this pub is Fred Malzard, a man who knows how to bring together a local community in a lively celebration of storytellers, musicians, hurling enthusiasts (young and old), and experienced pint pullers.

In an atmosphere of pure fun—and in the presence of local people who happen to pop in for a chat and a drink—visitors are treated to an experience that compels them to become true Stonyford locals as they learn how to puck a hurl, pull a pint, sing-along, and dance with sheer delight and abandonment!

As we walked in, the pub was ready for us. Twenty-five pints of Guinness and a table full of appetizers waited for us.

rook and the O'Grady

The bus took us the two miles to Stoneybrook and the O’Grady Pub!

Mary met up with her two sons and two grandsons.  The little fellas (grandsons) are as cute as can be. Her sons David and Geoff watched all the goings on. It was great fun.

Mary visits the grandkids.

The drink of the day was posted.  Mary tried one, and I took a sip or two.

It was a lot of fun having Mary’s kids together at once. Now we can really call her Shorty!

David, Becky, Mary, and Geoff together again.

Dan and Becky were getting warmed up for the forthcoming sing-a-long.

The party is underway!

When in a new pub, you must try something new. Green Spot whiskey.

Did You Know? Green Spot is a single-pot still Irish whiskey produced specifically for Mitchell & Son of Dublin by Irish Distillers at the Midleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland. Green Spot is among the few remaining bonded Irish whiskeys, along with Mitchell’s three older offerings, Yellow Spot, Red Spot, and Blue Spot. It is one of only four whiskeys specifically produced for and sold by an independent wine merchant in Ireland.

Whiskey is required.

Two sips, and she was hammered!

Silly Mommy!

Adam is doing a great job of filling the beer glasses.

They are starting young.

I gave Dan some sage advice, seeing how I outnumber him by thirty years!  The advice came from a book I had just finished.

STANDBY – The music now begins, and we all sing.  Warning: ear protection might be necessary.

It is nice to be together with family.

Lots of visiting going on.

Mom and Daughter time is always special.

Becky and Mom

We left the pub around 9:00 p.m. and headed to 1757 for cocktails. About half the group joined us, and we finally hit the sack around midnight.

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Day 7 – The Manor House, We Have Arrived!

Our Irish Holiday: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12 

Bright and early, we awoke to a beautiful Irish morning.  It was so pretty the birds flew backward to see where they had been!  Today, we moved from the Hunter’s Lodge to the Manor House.  We packed up and called the bellman who lugged all the suitcases and clothes down the street to the Manor House.

Somerset Butler, 1st Earl of Carrick, constructed the Mount Juliet Estate between 1768 and 71 and named it after his wife, Juliet.  The Georgian house sits on a hill overlooking the River Nore, surrounded by over 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) of land.

The five-minute walk turned out to be ten; the Irish have longer legs than us Americans.

The directions were well-marked.

Our suite was ready, and we learned the house had no lift (i.e., elevator), so we planned well ahead to avoid making multiple trips up and down.   The weather changes every few minutes from slight rain to bright sunshine.

The manor house was magnificent.

The view from our room was indeed a “river view.”  Although hard to see, horses and cows were in the pastures.

Too bad I didn’t bring the fishing pole!

Being reasonably intelligent, we called a taxi instead of driving, and after walking in Kilkenny, we decided it was a wise choice. Kilkenny is a small town of about 27,000 people, and the streets were designed for horse traffic only.  They are one-way and difficult to navigate.

We had to go to Kilkenny because a) I forgot my tuxedo shirt and b) we left Mary’s jackets at the Hilton in Dublin. We went to David Hughes Formal Wear on Johns Street, thanks to the Internet.

I was measured for a shirt by the owner, who was very kind. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a shirt in my neck size of 19″. However, he did sell me one of his rental shirts, which happened to be the right size. So, we’ve made some progress.

Our cabby dropped us off right in front of the establishment.

The proprietor gave us directions to Dunn’s, which had ladies’ wear.   We walked over the bridge and around the corner and made our purchase.   Mary now has a new waterproof coat, which was perfect as it was raining when we departed the store.

Kilkenny Castle overlooks the town of Kilkenny and the River Nore.

The Kilkenny Castle is on the water’s edge.

When you gaze upstream, you’ll see charming residences nestled along the riverbank. On the opposite side, there’s a bustling shopping plaza.

We walked back to Johns Street and then decided to visit the castle.

Our visit was short, as the castle closes at 5:00 p.m., so we had about an hour—plus, we were getting hungry!

FYI: Ireland’s highest officially recognized air temperature, 33.3 °C (91.9 °F), was measured at Kilkenny Castle on 26 June 1887

It was an imposing edifice.

Kilkenny Castle is a castle in Kilkenny, Ireland, built in 1260 to control a fording point of the River Nore and the junction of several waterways.

It was a symbol of the Norman occupation.   In its original 13th-century condition, it would have formed an essential element of the town’s defenses with four large circular corner towers and a massive ditch, part of which can still be seen today on the Parade.

In 1967, Arthur Butler, 6th Marquess of Ormonde, sold the castle for £50 to the Castle Restoration Committee for the people of Kilkenny. The Office of Public Works now manages the castle and grounds, and the gardens and parkland are open to the public. Parade Tower is a conference venue.

We did the self-guided tour, which was quite interesting.

We first had to climb the Grand Staircase. Most of the wood imported came from the Jamaican Plantations, which were cleared to plant sugar cane and cotton.

We were absolutely exhausted when we finally made it to the summit!

The castle was surrounded by impeccably maintained grounds.

Thanks to the constant rain, everything was green.

Upon seeing the formal dining room, we attempted to make dinner reservations, but our request needed to be approved. We have to settle for Italian across the street from the castle.

The furniture dates back to the early 1800s.

Up two flights of stairs was “The Blue Hall.”  The name was entirely appropriate.   This hallway provided access to the many bedrooms and a grand sitting area.

We headed downstairs to see a recent addition to the castle.

Of course, a drawing room was necessary as they enjoyed entertaining and afternoon tea.

The Drawing Room is typically the room in a house where guests and visitors are entertained.
Drawing rooms were previously known as ‘withdrawing rooms’ or ‘withdrawing chambers,’ which originated in the sixteenth century.

The Picture Gallery was added to the castle during the American Civil War.   The occupants wanted to show off their art collection.

The roof allowed the room to have perfect lighting for viewing the portraits.

The last room we visited was the kitchen, which reminded us we had yet to eat today!

Can you imagine cooking on this thing?   The stove weighed in at 2000 pounds and was a wood burner.

Two burgers, please!

Our tuxedo shirt purchase also included recommendations for dining.   As we departed the store, the owner told us that Ristorante Rinuccini was directly across from the castle entrance.   Having an Italian restaurant this close must have been handly for the castle owners to go to dinner 900 years ago!

The castle was about one block away!

Ristorante Rinuccini is a refined Italian choice.   In a formal dining room, tuxedoed waiters serve homemade pasta.   The menu was exciting, with a selection of prime beef and seafood.   We opted to share a plate so we could fit into our wedding clothes.

We lucked out as they had one table remaining!

The restaurant was beautiful on the inside.   As we sat, a busload of gardeners showed up, and they went into another private dining area.

Our waiter was also a wine specialist!

We had a magnificent meal and topped it off with a most interesting Irish whiskey. We could have made a dinner from the appetizer.

We ate too fast, so the pasta dishes disappeared before the camera could come out.

The taxi stand was a few doors down the street, and thirty minutes later, we were at the Manor House and visiting friends at 1757.

Amy and Lar came over from the Hunter’s Lodge and joined us. I invited the other two guys to join us, too. We laughed and giggled until well after midnight.

We drank Guinness and whiskey for a couple of hours.

Amy and Lar ensured we got to our room safely, as we had a couple of drinks and two flights of stairs to navigate.

We celebrated by drinking a fine whiskey. The first and only whiskey of its kind, The Taoscán is the world’s first Port and chestnut-finished whiskey, a unique blend of barrels brought together in perfect harmony.

After we celebrated, I discovered the whiskey sells for $2189 / 750ml.

Yummy!

Amen!

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Day 6 – Happy Birthday Mary; To Waterford!

Our Irish Holiday: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12 

We were up at the crack of noon!  We must have been tired because my eyes did not open until 8:00 am.  Perhaps I have discovered the secret: whiskey sours make you sleep!

We opened the curtains and saw a magnificent Irish morning.

What is a huge Irish spider called? Paddy long legs.

It was a wonderful day with spots of rain here and there.

We got ready, and I thoroughly enjoyed the shower with the overhead rain fixture and the heated tile floors. We then had the hotel’s complimentary breakfast and headed downstairs to the Hound at 9:15 am. We need our strength for Mr. Road’s Wild Ride Part III.

Just like at Disneyland, we were off in a cloud of dust.

Waterford was about 30 miles from the estate.  The House of Waterford is in Waterford, Ireland, a Viking city built in 914 AD.  This esteemed factory is the beating heart of the world’s luxury crystal manufacture and is where our most intricate, authentic, and masterful crystal pieces come to life.

Thirty-three minutes as the crow flies, 90 minutes as we drive!

Before going on the road, we had breakfast at the Hound.

Breakfast at the Hound.

We hit the road at 10:00 am with an 11:00 am appointment at Waterford.  We got the GPS to work with the car, so it was easy to get there.

On the road again.

Mary was an excellent driver, although I had to notify her when the speedometer exceeded the indicated speed limit.

Mary was serious for 33 minutes and had a death grip on the steering wheel.

We rolled into Waterford with  15 minutes to spare.  Some friendly folks pointed us to the parking lot, and we checked in at 10:58, right on time.  We had a private tour with our docent, who I kept in stitches during the tour.

The first stop was an all-crystal grandfather clock.

We took a VIP tour with our docent.

We passed through two sets of security doors and entered the manufacturing area. The crystal had just come out of the oven at 2000 degrees.

The molds are made from local beechwood. The insides of the molds are burnt where the hot glass touches them. The wood is soaked in water between uses and lasts just a few days before it has to be replaced with a new mold.

The crystal is formed using beechwood molds held by the glassblower.  The glass is shaped and then expanded by blowing into the pipe.  After that, the glass is reshaped and reheated.  This entire process takes almost 30 minutes.  The glassblower must undergo five years of training and pass a strict test.

The molds last about five days before they are tossed.

The crystal is prepared for the glass cutter.

The artwork is hand-ground.

The glass cutter also has to have at least five years of training.  Many of these workers have been with the company for 30-50 years!  The glass is cut by hand, and the cutters must know about fifty types of cutes.

The cutting machine has embedded diamonds.

For Robin, we asked for the price and decided we would go for a plastic one instead.

For Robin.

Some examples were available to examine. By the way, each real Waterford piece has the name WATERFORD engraved somewhere on it.

The work gets pretty detailed.

We scoured the gift shop because it was Miss Mary’s birthday, and she found what she wanted. We bought two and had them shipped back home; no suitcases for these puppies!

Mary got her birthday present: Irish coffee mugs.

As part of the VIP tour, we had tea.  This was our lunch, and we munched our way through it while sipping tea and watching people on the street.

We had tea in the adjoining tea room.

Hey, why not try a new shot?  I was outside looking for Mary to come out of the Loo and decided the reflection in the glass was interesting (the buildings, not me).

Mary used the facilities, and I experimented.

We crossed the street and went to the Medieval Museum.   It was quite well done.  Below is an actual room circa 1200s.  The stonework is pretty impressive, considering it is a thousand years old.  Note: the lighting is new!

In the basement of the Medieval Museum, it was dark and dank.

They recreated the clothes of the medieval folks and had an extensive collection of vestments used by the clergy.

Regular clothes of the 12th century.

We like to dress for any occasion.

We dressed for the occasion.

We only had time to visit one of the five museums, but we could have stayed there all day.

There were five museums in the complex; we went to one.

Heading home, we traveled M9, a freeway like those we have at home.  Once we leave the freeway, the roads narrow, and we slow down to a crawl when anyone comes in the other direction.

It rained on the way home, and some streets were narrow.

Paul needed a drink (or two) back at the estate after we had the car valet parked.  Mary inspected the left-hand side of the car, and it was OK, even though a lot of Saint Anne’s Lace was trimmed along the way.

We are entering the estate.

Being in-country required us to become more Irish, so we transformed ourselves with some help from AI.

Mary got into this Irish thing.

I loved the leatherwork as it was warm and waterproof.  I traded my cane for a sword, ran into the pub, and hoisted a pint of brew.

Sir Paul is here to slay the dragon.

The Dragon Lady went to freshen up after the harrowing experience of driving.  She returned with her evening finery.

We dressed for dinner.

We stayed at the Hound from 4:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., partaking in various libations and having dinner with new friends Amy and Larry. They are from Northern Ireland and are on holiday.

Amy and Mary are new friends.

Larry and I joked all evening long and kept the ladies in stitches.  We even had the barkeep make us a Greyhound!  He found some grapefruit soda in the back room, and it worked.

Amy and Lar were a fun couple, and we had dinner with them at the Hound.

You know what they say:

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