Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wild Rhododendrons

When we lived in California, two of our favorite bushes were Azaleas and Rhododendrons, we had them in our yards all of our married lives. You can imagine how disappointed we were when we moved to Colorado, only to find out that they didn't do well here. I'm sure there might be areas of Colorado where they grow, just not in our area. Bummer! We'll we had previously seen photos of Wild Rhododendrons growing on the walls or side of the road in Ireland. It took us days of driving, going on adventures before we finally spotted some. OH, they were glorious. Many were the shade of purple that we had in Sonoma County and we also saw Azaleas. Be still my heart.

It was quite surprising then when we were on the Horse and Cart ride at Muckross House that the fellow told us they are taking over hillsides and trees and killing some of the landscape.  Really?  We saw hillsides that had a purple tint and it was from the Rhododendrons.  I really didn't realize they could be so invasive and destroy other trees and plants.  I guess many things in life are like that-it might be something good occasionally, but too much of it isn't.   I  still love these plants and the beauty. 
It's like the Oregano that was growing in my flower bed-a good thing if you use it for cooking, but it totally took over the bed.  Then this weekend when we were gardening, I sat pulling it up from the area between each piece of flagstone-it was a pain. 
Well, I'm off to walk Hunter and then to join my girls at the pool for swim lessons, lunch and more swimming.  I hope you have a fantastic Tuesday.
Joy to you.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Little More Of Ireland

Good Morning to you!  I hope you had a great weekend, filled with relaxation and enjoyment in some of your favorite activities.  Our weekend was production~we got the new plants put in the garden, cleaned up the patio, cleandc up our upper deck plus a little R&R.  Hubby and I actually hit the pool Saturday afternoon, alone, which is pretty unusual for us.  I always prefer to go with the grands. There were some fun things we saw in Ireland that I thought I'd share.  Love this sign, especially it being in the colors of the flag.
 Got to love this one!

 I didn't get to enjoy any of these treats, but had enough desserts to last a lifetime or maybe just a month.  I'd love to say I didn't gain any weight, but I gained a couple of pounds-which just means that I have to get out and exercise it off.
 Love these door signs.

 This was in a pub-loved that it was authentic.
 Such an incredible salad; can't remember where I had this, but I think I could live on this salad for a week or two.  One of the best salads I had while there; in fact, once I ordered a Caesar and it was mixed greens, cucumber and Parmesan cheese with no dressing. 
Some of the funny expressions were Pancake=Popcake.  Amach=exit, Traffic Calming=reduced speed, Slip Road=Expressway.  A typical Irish breakfast included Scrambled Eggs(sometimes fried eggs), Bacon-but there bacon would be our ham slices, hash brown potatoes, sauasage, broiled tomatoes, mushrooms, plus an assortment of pancakes/breads as well as yogurt and an assortment of fruits. I found that if I asked many of the hotels had gluten free bread; in southern Ireland they referred to anything gluten free as Celiac, but in northern Ireland/Belfast it was simply Gluten Free.
  One cute business we saw, but I couldn't get a photo from the car was
Paws Tea Room-a pet friendly tea room.
Well, that's about it for today.  I'm off to walk with Kam and then to meet my girls and grands at swim lessons. It is supposed to get up to 90 today, so maybe I'll be at the pool this afternoon.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What A Summer Storm

Happy Friday to you. Here in Colorado, we get summer storms and for the most part every afternoon we have thunder and a bit of rain. Seven years ago, we had the tornado that destroyed much of our town and since then hubby and I always seem to be away been there has been a bad storm with hail etc. However, last night we were home and wow is all we can say. The thunder and lightning started in the afternoon and followed its typical pattern. We went to bed and were awakened by my cell phone receiving emergency alerts about the electrical storm. Now I am not one that is undone by lightning and thunder, unless it is followed by large hail. There has been a few tornado sightings and touchdowns here in Colorado this week, so I always watch for large pieces of hail. We had so much lightning last night-it was crazy! Our girl and I were texting and she had a lightning strike on their street. Of course, we had rain and hail too, but it wasn't too big. The storm lasted probably 1-1.5 hrs. I wasn't sure what to expect this morning when I went out to investigate; of course yesterday was my morning that I ran to the nursery and got plants. Before I went out, I figured they were toast. You can imagine how thankful I was when I saw that they were no worse for wear. I figured my rain gauge would be toast with the hail, but was pleased that it wasn't. Will you look at how much rain we got in a short time. Of course, I know many areas of the country are having storms that make this look like a shower.
Our Dogwood bush is normally upright and tall, not this morning.
The same with our tree-the limbs never reach the grass.
 My new Hosta and Hydrangea weren't impacted at all.
I did notice that the mosquitoes are really bad this morning, so I've already sprayed myself before taking Hunter for his walk.  Hubby and I get our eyes checked this morning and then the rest of the day will be misc. jobs. 
I hope you have a fantastic weekend!
Joy to you~
Noreen & Hunter

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Good Morning to you!  I pray that your week has been blessed and filled with love and joy.  There are so many things to give thanks for each day and it is often so easy to just let our gratitude slide.  So here's my list:
I am thankful that we are back home after an incredible trip.
I am so thankful that hubby gave us this trip; it was such an incredible adventure, once in a lifetime.
I am thankful that I was able to see the land where my grandparents, great grandparents, ....up the line, lived and dwelled.
I am thankful for the protection, though unseen, around us while we traveled.
I am thankful to be able to come home to loved ones and a pup that makes our life so much fun.
I am thankful for the beauty of our area.
I am thankful for grace poured out on me.
I am thankful for life!

Today I again woke up at 3:00 a.m. and was up at 5:30.  I'm hoping that my body rhythm gets back into sinc soon.  I am heading to the garden store today to get some bedding flowers and a few plants.  I could not believe how much all of our plants have grown while we were away-probably the combo of rain and heat.  While I was gone, my daughter texted me that we had blueberry bushes-I thought "what?", but apparently there are also blueberry trees-and if she is correct, we have three in our back yard.  It would be so fun to have the berries, make some jam or just use them in salads etc.
I don't remember them being blue last year, but we were gone for a week in August and it might just have missed my attention. 
So, I keep trying to get around to everyone, but life gets in the way-know I'll get there soon though. I'm off to walk Hunter now.
Consider yourself hugged.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Belfast Titanic and Botanical Gardens

Good Morning to you; we are back home and it feels so good! We loved our adventure, but this girl was ready to get back to our Rocky Mountains. Our time in Belfast was hectic to say the least; it was very crowded and there was a huge bike race going on. We headed to the Titanic Museum, only to find that the routes were closed and we needed to get there a different way. Also, one thing we didn't realize or think of was that the parking lot would only take Pounds, not Euros or credit cards. Thankfully, we had chatted with one of the first bikers to finish and he told us that it was free parking-great, until another fellow told us the police had told him no, they would still ticket cars. We had no Pounds, so hubby ran back to the biker, to see if we could trade him Euros for some change and he did the nicest thing-just gave us the money for the parking meter. The museum was very nice, most of the info we already knew, but it was fun to see where the Titanic was built and hear the history of Belfast during that time.  A drawing of the liner and each section.
A photo of the structure around the building of the liner.
This is actually where the liner was, you could see the size of it it on the concrete.
A photo of the actual liner.
The museum has a very unusual shape-it was fun.  Let me tell you though that the traffic leaving was horrid.  I was pretty stressed as we tried to get out and it took us 1 hr to go about a mile.
Belfast's Bontanical Garden-so nice.

Loved this Coleus tree-haven't see the deep red before and it was stunning.
The rose garden, taking in honor of our girls and granddaughters.
Yesterday was a long day, as you can imagine. Both of United's planes were delayed.  The flights went well and even though the pilot on the flight from Chicago warned us that it would be bumpy, we felt the one from Dublin to Chicago was much rougher.  We saw both families for a short time last night and went to bed at our normal time. Our sil, who travels to Denmark on a regular basis, warned us that we would wake up at 3:00 a.m.; I wasn't sure until we both work up promptly at 3:00 am.  We both went back to sleep and I got up around 5:40, started coffee for hubby, laundry and organizing before he got up.  We've been on a walk and now have to go get groceries.  It is raining lightly and there is a warm wind blowing-reminds me of the Islands.  I'm ready to stay put, until we drive out to Ca. later in the summer.  I am hoping to get back into my routine and start visiting you all more. 
Sending love your way!
Noreen and Hunter, who's happy to be home.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Leaving On A Jet Plane

All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go...this must be the all time number one travel song, at least for those of us who sang it in the 60's. I didn't realize until I watched a music documentary recently that this song has special significance for the young men leaving to fight in Vietnam. At the time, all I knew is that we sang it whenever we(my best friend and I)had a public forum-be it open mike at a coffee house each week or any other little function we played in. By little, I mean little; many times it was a high school talent show or evening providing "entertainment" at the opening of a new library. Aletha always was a much better singer than I was, she not only played guitar but also banjo. We once made a tape recording of it and when we listened to it decades later, just giggled and shook our heads, that I was that bad. Ok, so this morning we were supposed to get up at 5:30, but you know how it goes when you're traveling-you toss and turn all night. So hubby got up and I thought he was getting up; I couldn't understands my alarm didn't go off. I turned on the lights and jumped up. I got dressed quickly and even started putting on my makeup. It was about 30 minutes later that I checked my phone and it was only 5:00 a.m.  No wonder hubby crawled back into bed. Silly me! I will say that the last three days have been tiring-two nights in hotels where our sleep was disturbed. The first one being from young people who were loud in the hall ways til 4:00 a.m. I've learned that as beautiful as grand old hotels can be, there isn't any insulation from noise. Then Sunday night in Belfast, the hotel had wonderful insulation and one of the most comfy beds ever; I was in a deep sleep when the fire alarm went off day at 2:00. You would not believe how disoriented and panicked I was, even though just that morning hubby and I had discussed this scenario. There was no fire or evacuation, but it took me ha good hour to get back to sleep. Then you add in a full day of driving yesterday and I'm pretty tire today. It's hard to believe that we  leave here at 9:50 a.m. and arrive in Denver at 4:45 p.m. I'm glad I brought jet lag homeopathic pills.
We've had an incredible adventure, but I'm so ready to be home. Ireland I've fallen in love with your land and your people.
If the Gaeluc book we got for the grands wasn't packed, I'd find out how to say goodbye. All I know is that I'm going to sleep in the plane!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Belleek Pottery Factory and the Giant's Causeway

Greetings from Northern Ireland; we have ventured into the UK, it was so different and also had so many similarities. One of our first stops was the famous Belleek Pottery Factory. Four years ago, the sister of my heart, gave both my daughters and myself a piece of Belleek pottery; I'm sure I had heard about it before then, but it started an appreciation for the pieces produced. Having been a potter in high school and college, it was so special seeing this.

The stamp of Belleek-this proves a piece is authentic.  Let me tell you that Belleek isn't cheap, but hubby and I had fun buying.  What's nice is that our purchases are being shipped home and we didn't need to pay taxes on it.   The next photos were taken on the way to the Giant's Causeway; love the country.
These Wind Turbines were not made by the company our sil works for.
Love this scene!
The following photos were taken at the Giant's Causeway World Heritage Site. It was an incredible day and the walking was good exercise. I loved hearing the surf; made us think of our trips to the Islands. I will say that after having seen this site on shows, I was expecting them to be larger. It reminded us of when we went to Niagara Falls, it wasn't as grand as it seemed on t.v.
In the above photo, you will notice a brown cut out mid way up-we actually hiked all the way up there.  So breath taking! I am not saying we didn't appreciate the grandeur, just had expectations from shows on Ireland that we've seen.
Love this man to pieces!
I have always been drawn to country homes and scenes; you'd think I'd get tired of them, but no.  I may have to have this enlarged and framed. Every time I see a field of sheep next to a home, I want to stop and take a photo.
Our next stop will be Belfast; we will see the Titanic Museum.  I'm sure we'll spend most of the day there.  We have a few stops on our way back to Dublin and then we will head home.  If I don't post any photos until Wednesday or Thursday, you will know that I'm adjusting to the time difference.
I hope you've enjoyed the trip; probably not as much as we have, but hope you've seen some new sights.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Clifden and Oughterard

Happy Weekend to you. It seems that somehow I've gotten a day behind here-I think it was working out posting at the proper time. I schedule my posts for around midnight, so they will be up in the morning back home. On Thursday, we went to Clifden by the Sea and then on to Oughterard. Clifden is a beautiful seaside town, very quaint with lots of shops and pubs. On the drive out, we enjoyed the different topography(it was extremely rocky) and beautiful flowers. At one point we pulled over(miraculously there was a pull out, they are very few here) and sheep were walking up the hill to see the tourists. I imagine that they were actually hoping for hand-outs. In this area, there were big horn sheep; I ask one gal in a shop what they were used for-wool or meat and she said both, but to be honest we don't think she knew.

We walked around several blocks in town before choosing a place called Guys for lunch.  Hubby had a great BLT and I had a wonderful salad with warm Brie, roasted vegetables, greens and mango pieces. It was delicious.  While walking through town we saw a little old Westie running loose.  I hoped to see an owner about, but he was on his own.  Apparently, he is used to doing this whenever he wants. We circled the block and once again I saw him running into a driveway.  Glad he made it home safely.  I well remember the old days, in a small town when we let our dogs out to run.  It seems unbelievable to me now.  Below is the entrance to a artsy area-jewelry and pottery are sold inside. We met a wonderful gal in her pottery studio, she was kind enough to let us use her facilities.
The tide was out and we happened to see this boat.
A clock tower in Clifton.

The most exciting part of the day, for me, was finding my first quilt store, called Rags for Linda, here in Ireland.  Apparently, quilting is not a huge interest here(probably because textiles are).  As we pulled up to Linda's house, I asked if she was closed and was so pleased that she said no.  They had just run to the post, but would be happy to open up for us.  It was a small space and she was so delightful.  We talked about quilting and all of her fabrics come from Denmark, UK and the U.S.  Most of her patterns were ones I could find back home.  She was going to be teaching a class near Dublin today.  I did buy a small 1/2 meter of fabric, but I simply don't have the room in my suitcase for anything more.
We had a good dinner last night and enjoyed a Banana Pannecata.  I'll be back on Monday with more photos as our trip begins to wind down.
May your day be filled with sunshine and joy!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bunratty Castle

Greetings from Ireland. We are still having a wonderful time and it's hard to believe that we've passed the half way mark. We so enjoyed Bunratty; we stayed in a hotel across the street from the Castle. It was an easy walk; I will say though that we were glad this wasn't our first castle, because it was in poor shape compared to the rest. I'm not sure we would have continued on going to castles if this had been our first.
We loved seeing castles, but after so many you begin to feel that you've seen them all.
This was put in out of order and is a little restaurant across the road from the castle. It was so cute.
One of four cannons; we knew our grandsons would love this.
We didn't get a lot of photos inside, but the hike up the stairs was intense.

We really had to hold on to the hand rail, the steps were steep and angled.

We loved the Thatched roof cottages we've seen. What a lot of work though.  We wondered if they are cheaper or more expensive to have done than slate roofs.
The hotel was very nice; we had a large room and enjoyed our time there.
Our pace continues to be fast, but we are trying to squeeze every possible site in.  I think we will not be stopping for more castles or ruins; though they are wonderful, we are ready for some new sights.
I hope your week has gone quickly.
Sending love your way!