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Summer came to Ireland.  Sadly, I think it left already, but by golly it was here.  At least 3 – THREE – glorious weeks of SUN!  There were shorts, there were bathing suits, there was swimming.  People smiled, they joked, they were in fantastic form.  Ireland with a bit of sun is a country you want to live in!  No matter that it’s raining and chilly now…. there were THREE weeks of SUN!

And since we got our sun at home, no need to hop abroad for the rays.  Instead, we are visiting London for a week.  We leave Friday, and boy am I looking forward to exploring the city. I’ve never been to London proper.  In the past, I’ve only used its airport as a springboard to other destinations.  But now I get five days to sample what the famous city has to offer!

Chelsea

The Globe

Big Ben

House of Parliament

Hyde Park

Markets, food, drinks, music…….

[youtube http://youtu.be/EfK-WX2pa8c]

 

 

 

Which way to Enfield?  Left.  No….it’s Right.  Left, I say.  No….It’s Right!

Visitor Tip: If you are visiting Ireland, make sure you have a map: a real, old-fashioned map, and know how to use it!  Signs are not always accurate, and GPS (no matter how smart) doesn’t know all the roads (especially boreens).

Co. Kildare : road signs

Co. Kildare : road signs

 

We have decided to move.  The man of the house has struggled out here in the countryside almost from day one.  He is a townie, and this was his first foray into country living.  The house, which he admits is gorgeous, artistic, and utterly charming, is that little bit too far from amenities to suit him.  I grew-up in the country, so am well use to the distance and isolation.  In fact, this is the first time I’ve been able to live in the country again for years and I have loved every minute of it!

But, as I seem fated for movement, never settling in one place for long, I eventually consented.  He began house hunting while I was home for Christmas.  When I got back we drove out to the look at the one he found, and liked, in Crosshaven.

Crosshaven is a coastal town.  Situated about 20 minutes SE of Cork city, the village sits at the mouth of the Owenabue river and Cork harbour.  It’s a picturesque area, with a forested headland across the river. The village is also home to the Royal Cork Yacht Club, supposedly the oldest yacht club in the country, which means the sheltered coast is full of marinas and sail boats: very pretty to look at!

The house he found  (and we decided on) is a period mid-terrace townhouse right across from the water, on the main road.  Like most Irish rental properties it is “furnished”. What this means varies from place to place.  For instance, the place we are now was stylishly furnished, with tasteful decorations, and included cooking utensils and glassware   The new place is rather more typical — spartan and cold.  This is both bad and good.  Bad, because it will cost money to make it feel homey and comfortable; good, because I get to be a CONSUMER!

This afternoon we drove over to the estate agent (realtor) to sign the lease and pay the rent and deposit.  Just like back home, you typically pay first months rent and a deposit equal to a months rent.  In addition to the lease, we had to complete a form for the Private Residential Tenancies Board.  The PRTB is an organisation set up by the government to provide dispute resolution service for landlords and tenants.  All landlords are required to register their properties with the service.

We will start moving things over next weekend.  I’m sad to leave my little Irish cottage, but also looking forward to a new adventure.  Here’s a teaser of the view from our new front bedroom:

Image

Yesterday we drove into Cork for a little treat. Every Sunday from 6-8pm Bar Pigalle on Barrack Street has a group of string musicians playing. Last night there was a cello and two violins. They played a mixture of modern music with a couple of classics tossed in. From the back garden is a gorgeous view of St Finbarr’s Cathedral and the interior is classy and cozy. Definitely worth a visit!

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I am a woefully negligent blogger.  This little cyber space was carved out so I could share the myriad new experiences, from the banal to the novel, that I expected would be mine when moving to another country.  Indeed, I have had and continue to have such experiences.  Regretfully, I also find that I get caught up in the task of living those experiences, so much so that I forget to write about them! To be honest, I also know that many of my Irish friends and acquaintances now read this blog, which gives a little introvert like me pause… particularly before I dish about any Irish gossip or generally slag the country!

One rather novel experience of late was learning that, colloquially, the Irish call Fox babies “cubs”, even though the proper term here, as elsewhere, is “kits”.  I also learned, some time ago, that baby pigs are called “bonnies”!  Isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever heard?  Apparently, the fox cubs are out and about now.  I haven’t seen any on our lane but someone posted a picture of one on the Irish Wildlife site.  It’s adorable!  When we were driving into Midleton for the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I did see an adult fox trotting across a field with a rabbit in its mouth.  Perhaps she was a pretty little Vixen going to feed her little Kits.

On the rather routine note, said tongue in cheek, I had visitors recently.  Two of my friends from the US were here for a short visit en route to Paris.  Naturally, it was raining and cold while they were here.  I’m thankful the weather gods got my request and gave them very typical Irish weather.  Since it was windy, cold and pissing rain, I simply HAD to get them out in it, and what can better provide a true Irish experience than traipsing to stone circles!

Our first visit was Inchydoney beach near Conakilty.   It’s a great beach!  There is plenty of parking, a nice long stretch of sandy, walkable beach and the surrounding scenery is lovely.  I bet it’s a busy little spot in the summer.  Next, we meandered over to one of my favorite circles: Drombeg.  This compact and powerful circle is aligned to the winter solstice sunset.  There are two outlying stone buildings, one erroneously marked as containing a fulacht fiadh – if you assign cooking as the purpose of these pits.  I don’t, though. I see these pits as being used for ritual purification baths or healing soaks.  It could also be a purification sauna.  Either way, the site was for isolated ritual purpose and those Ancient Irish took their ritual making seriously.  No way were they cooking a spot of meat….maybe cooking a human sacrifice!  🙂

After this breathtaking excursion, we snaked our way to Bantry and then over to KealKill stone circle.  This spot was new to me….and Oh My!! I am in love! It is majestic, expansive, and a celebration.  We spent a good deal of time here and I engaged a bit in one of my favorite past-times…. stone hugging.  I am recently fascinated with the theory that the stones used in these circles are carved to depict topographical maps of the surrounding countryside.  Indeed, when we studied the stones at both these circles we could clearly identify significant features in the immediate landscape.

In due time, we merrily trotted down the way to Carraganass Castle, where immense silliness ensued.  First, we needed to sing about the severed quivering limbs.

You see, legend has it that the occupant of the castle,  Donal Cam, lost his wife to foul play!  He vowed, or someone vowed, that he would avenge her murder and the following curse ensued:

No food, no rest shall Donal know
Until he lays they murderer low
Until each severed quivering limb
In its own lustful blood shall swim

After this bit of merriment, we traipsed around the other side and attempted, in true contortionist fashion, to take a photo with all of us in it and the castle in the background, on my iPhone (which is not known for its screen size).  We inhibited traffic only a bit, laughed outrageously to excess, and left happier than when we arrived.  After this, we almost ran off a cliff, but I won’t go into that in the event Himself reads this.  (ssshhh, don’t tell him either because I may have fried his clutch)  When the smell of burning clutch settled…I mean, we stopped laughing hysterically, we turned toward Kenmare in search of a bullaun stone.  Unfortunately, there was a diversion in Glengarrif so we called it a day and stopped in for a meal and a pint.  This entire area is stunning (no surprise, Beara is spectacular!) and I purpose to get back there before the summer is out!

I can not say enough about the benefits of getting lost in Ireland.  Get yourself an OS map of the area you are visiting and then take random turns.  I promise, you will not regret it! There are adventures around every corner, but you will not find them unless you let go of the preconceived and just say, …… YES!

 

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