Monday, 28 June 2010

The hugs I have been waiting for!!

The hug says it all! Ash arrived safely in London this morning in much need of a hug. Ben arrived a little later after the problems they had with ticketing and hence the separate flights...both of them are very tired, but thankfully safe and sound. It is so, so good to have them both here!

Both Ash and I were very teary to see each other. Both tired after big weekends for very different reasons. Me because I had been to probably THE best concert I have ever seen. It is very obvious when you see him perform why Paul McCartney is one of the legends of the music industry. He was brilliant and performed for about two and three quarter hours. He played some of his and some of The Beatles classics. Brilliant!!!

I will post more soon.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

It's Father's Day here......

.... so how else could I start this entry other than with a photo of my beautiful Dad. This photo was taken on my niece's wedding day in March 2003 and was one of the last that I have of this wonderful man.

Dad passed away on April Fool's Day 2003 and I still miss him with every fibre of my being.... and yes he was late for his own bloody funeral! I was reading another blog this morning where the blogger wrote an amazing tribute to her had me in tears. A lot of things she said that were memories of her Dad were the same as the memories I have of mine. She talked of walking down the street with him quite regularly and then one day realising that he always walked between her and the road. I remember the same thing and I remember asking my Dad the same question and getting the same answer. 'Dad, why do you do that?'.....'because if we are hit by a car, my love, it will get me first' was the reply we both received.

One of the most beautiful memories of Dad was telling both him and Mum I was pregnant with my son. I was living 4000km from them and told them I was about 4 weeks pregnant and my then husband was heading off for four weeks away with the army. Two days later I arrived home to find my Dad in my kitchen. He had jumped in the car the day after I gave them my news as he 'was not having' me 'all that way away on my own and pregnant'. For the next few weeks I came home every lunchtime to a restaurant like choice of menu of very healthy food! He cooked cleaned and did everything so I could 'get all the rest you need sweetheart!' He stayed with me for the four weeks and then Mum joined us for another two! That was a part of my life I will never forget.

I remember arriving at Mum and Dad's when they would look after my kids while I went to Uni to find 'Potsie' running around the house with a water pistol chasing two squealing children and poor Mum having the hard time of trying to work out who was the bigger kid! I remember my Dad building me a bookcase, but more importantly building cars, trucks and planes to the precise designs of a much loved four year old grandson. I remember the cradle he built for my daughter and the doll's house that was my sisters' and mine that he 'renovated' for her.

I remember watching my Mum and Dad walking along hand in hand, (even in their eighties after nearly sixty years of marriage) and finally understanding where my ideas about how a relationship should be, came from. I know the sadness of meeting the love of my life almost a year after Dad's death and knowing my Dad will never meet him. I am sure Dad would have approved! I think about the pride my Dad felt as he watched me graduate and I hope that he would still feel the same pride if he could watch me now lead a life with meaning.

I know for my Dad his kids, grandkids and great grandkids were the meaning of his life. I know there is not one of us who does not crave just one more magical Potsie bear hug....Ok so now the tears are streaming. Does that emptiness ever leave?

I know, not the usual upbeat me but this all just needed to be said.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Our Weekend

Yesterday we decided to head up to Cambridge for the day. We had both had a pretty full on week and were feeling a bit out of sorts so decided we needed a day out. We had the choice to drive up but decided to catch the train from Kings Cross Station. Kings Cross is less than half an hour from home and the trip to Cambridge on the train was about 45 minutes so we decided that it sounded by far the best option. No traffic and we could both sit back and relax!

Cambridge is such a beautiful old town. It is mainly the various colleges of the University. Many very old sandstone and very fancy buildings. Probably the most famous is Kings College (seen below with the chapel -where the Christmas Carols come from - on the right).

We arrived in Cambridge about 12:30, went and had some lunch in a lovely cafe and then wandered around town. I bought a few new CDs - the new Jack Johnson, one by a woman called Laura Izibor (she sounds a bit like Joss Stone) and the third from a couple of people we heard busking who are part of a band called 'Fernando's Kitchen' - guitar, and beat box - almost Spanish sounding. I also got into some great book shops and bought books for work and an art book that I will use for work, but it is a keeper.

After our shopping we went for a wander and ended up at an area called 'The Backs' on the River Cam. It is apparently called 'The Backs' because it is at the back of all the colleges. Yesterday was a beautiful day. Quite warm so there were many people out doing the very 'Cambridge' thing of punting on the river and picnicking on the river banks.

We left Cambridge on the 5:15 train and came home after a lovely day.

Today I have spent most of the day working ...preparing for next week at work! While I was sitting in my lounge I looked out the back door to see this baby fox playing in amongst the plants.

I have seen him a few times now (once with a dead rat in his mouth - well done baby fox!) and get very excited when I spot him. I have also seen an adult a couple of times. It is really interesting that when I see foxes in Australia I am wanting to get rid of them I am really thrilled!! I know that given recent events in London with the twins perhaps I shouldn't be, but just look at this face (double click on the photo to have a closer look)....

Those two photos are not the greatest because they were taken with the little point and shoot camera through the back window. If I had tried to open the back door he would have been off. As it was he saw the flash when I took the photo above and was out of there!

Coralie, in answer to your question about holidays we have three terms here each with a half term break of one week. My first term was six weeks, one week half term break then another six weeks. This term (the last term of the school year) was six weeks, one week half term break and then this half term is seven weeks long. I then have six weeks holidays before starting the next school year in September. That term I have seven weeks, one week half term and then another 7 week half term. That's supposed to add up to about 39 weeks in total. Also the photo of the Rock of Cashel was taken with a wide angle and wasn't straightened in Photoshop so that is part of the perspective problem too!

Hope you all have a great week. Lots of love from us both.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

More musical journeys..

So now to the update on yesterday! We started the day in Killarney and had decided to tour around the Ring of Kerry going via Kenmare first. Firstly we went past these beautiful lakes (I think they are the Killarney Lakes).

We made our way to a town called Kenmare with a stop over at Ladies View for this magnificent view of the Lakes.

We arrived in Kenmare to find that it was local market day. A quick wander through the markets led to nothing more enticing than a few cheap second hand books. I grabbed those and we then decided to go for a quick wander through the town itself. As we wandered along the main street we came across a little music shop specialising in traditional instruments! Well I decided the bodhran I had already picked up was not big enough and that I needed to buy a full size one! Then the tin whistle in Eb spoke to me...after all I will be able to use my saxophone music for tunes!! So after less than a week in Ireland I now have two bodhrans and two whistles!! Just couldn't help myself. I think that poor Richard thinks I have lost the plot!!

OK retail therapy done we headed off to do the Ring of Kerry. Other than the first part of the road being closed due to road works and us needing to make a slight detour because of that, the day was gorgeous. The weather was the best we have seen so far (including today) and made for a lovely journey along the fabulous coast line and through the twisty mountainous areas. The views were spectacular (even Harvey thought so as can be clearly seen by the look on his face in this photo!)

...and here is another example of the beauty of it all. As you can see it was still a bit hazy so the photos do not do it justice. It is simply stunning.

Once again we stopped at a small pub for lunch and just had a really relaxing day overall. It is a wonderful way to have a very, very laid back.

Today we made our way to the Rock of Cashel. This is the place where St Patrick made some King or another a King and in the process stabbed him in the foot. St Pat was supposed to have laid his hands on the wound and healed it instantly and hence his beatification as a Saint! The Rock has an incredible history firstly as a political site, then a religious one and finally (currently) as a tourist location. A king about to be deposed by a rival family gave it to the church to foil the opposition family's claims to the sovereignty of the land (no official kingship site meant they couldn't claim the kingship of the land). The church used it as the cathedral for many centuries but as maintenance became too costly they built a new cathedral in the town of Cashel. The use of the site can be dated back to the 4th century!

The Rock of Cashel from the road.

An 11th Century tower from the old cathedral

Some of the oldest frescoes in Ireland

There was a little more we saw today but I am almost out of battery and I am in the pub doing this. Will need to do more when we get home Saturday. XXXX

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A musical journey

A view of Kilkenny

Our first full day in Ireland on Sunday started very quietly. We drove to Kilkenny and found much of it closed for Sunday. There were some touristy places open so we decided to visit one that sold woollen goods, linen, crystal, jewellery and tourist stuff. Some of the jewellery was lovely but a bit too expensive so that stayed on the shelf. The Irish linen was stunning, but not Richard's cup of tea so that stayed put. The woollen goods were beautiful, but I can knit them myself so no joy there! Next was the crystal...gorgeous, but getting it back to Aus in one piece.....

Ok we wandered into the part that at first I thought was the tourist tat! Oh but joy of joys they had musical instruments!! I bought a small bodhran, and a tin whistle in the key of D.... and a book of Irish pub songs and a book on how to play the Bodhran!! Watch out Harry we will have more to add to Grandma's magical music box when we are back home with you!! Now I just need to learn to play them!!....oh and yes there is more to add to this story but you will need to wait til I get up to telling you about today's events ...aah how can you stand the suspense!!!

On Sunday we also managed to visit an old church in a place called Gowran. Half of it is a 19th century church (St Mary's) and is still in use.

The other half was a 13th century 'house of worship for clerics living in a loose community' and looks like this....

We also visited a little town called Carrick-on-Suir and looked at an old Castle called Ormond Castle ... again partially run down and partially restored, but still very beautiful.The view from the front....

...and the view from the back!

We made our way down to near a little coastal village called Dungarvan where we stayed for the night.

Ok to Monday....

On Monday we drove up through Cork (seems like a nice place) to Killarney where we have been for the past few days. On the way to Killarney we did a bit of a diversion through Macroom and then around the Beara Peninsula. We didn't do the whole peninsula (not enough time) but cut across through the Caha Mountains. In some ways it is quite similar to Yorkshire! It was gloomy, rainy and very clouded over so no photos! At times in the mountains we came to lookouts where we could see nothing but cloud!!

Ok to Tuesday...yesterday! We went around the Dingle Peninsula and thankfully it was a much better day though still not brilliant for the photography of scenery! We did however manage some pretty good photos with the macro!

Dew drops on a spider's web

It's his web!

We did manage to visit a display about the potato famine's effect in the Dingle Bay area...they talked about a family called the Kavanagh's a lot....I wonder if they are ancestors of Bernie? This was part of the display area.

The coastline around the Dingle Peninsula was stunning, but as the day was a bit hazy the photos do not do it justice....but here is one for you anyway!

It is now after 11 so I will leave you on a cliff hanger about today! Catch you all soon.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

To be sure, to be sure...

... I know a somewhat naffy title but I had to do it. Richard and I are on holidays...yet again! We are in beautiful south western Ireland.

We left home at about 6:00 am on Saturday morning and drove across to a little town on the Welsh coast called Fishguard. We left ourselves plenty of time for the journey across England and Wales as it was the beginning of a bank holiday weekend and we were concerned that the traffic may have been was however a straight run through and we arrived with plenty of time to spare. We decided to have an early lunch in a little pub and to our great joy (well at least my great joy) there was a folk festival on in the town that weekend with the pub hosting some of the events. When we walked through the pub door there were people in costumes and their faces painted black - some playing music some dancing. They were more or less the same as the English Morris Dancers, but said they were called something else...I missed the name!

They do the same sort of dancing to reel music. The bells on their legs jangle the whole time and the is much banging of sticks in the process. It is very entertaining in a very daggy way!!

After watching these guys for a short time we moved to the back of the pub to have lunch. There were a group of people sitting around the table (started with an old guy on a violin and couple of others and gradually increased). They were playing very traditional folk music (I would call it Irish!) and sounded great. The photo below was taken a bit later. I think they called themselves 'The Vagabonds'.

Next we moved out to a marquee out the back to listen to a guy play some bizarre mouth piece just something like bellows under one arm and the bag under the other. The long piece on his lap was changed to make different sounds and the pipe for the fingering of notes was held upright...I have never seen anything like it!!

Unfortunately we did have to leave after about an hour so that we would make it to our ferry for the trip to Rosslare.

The ferry took a few hours. We had a big group of women having a hen's party nearby...they got drunker as we crossed, started singing (very off key) and making beelines to the loos to vomit!! Yuck!! We were glad to finally get to Ireland and get away from them.

Our first night was spent near a little town called Camolin. We went to the pub for a toasted sandwich and a pint (me cider and Richard Guiness) and to watch the hurling and heaven forbid the Eurovision Song Contest. We did get chatting to one of the locals and have followed his recommendations about where to visit! A very enjoyable evening!!

Sunday morning we left Camolin and headed west. You realise just how Catholic Ireland is when you find all (except the pubs of course!!) closed for Sunday in most places!!

I'll publish this now as my connection is not too great and add some more later.

Take care and top of the mornin' to you all!!