Brynn

Irish Recap 2016

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As mentioned in my last post, for the 3rd consecutive year, I dashed off to visit my friend, Karen, in Ireland. This time I took all three kids with me.

And guess what? I bought all three home, too.

Today, I’m posting some photos from our trip. (Pixs from previous Irish travels are here and here.)

Three kids meant three dog walkers… which was good, since Karen has 6 dogs.

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Included in the pack are two Greyhounds. On Friday night, we got to watch them race on a track near Cork.

Here they are earlier in the week, exercising at home:

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Valerie won her Friday-night race by 10 lengths.

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And here’s Karen horsing around with one of the lurchers.

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Speaking of horsing around, Brynn attempted to train one of the ponies to be “kid-friendly.” He looked the part:

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But looks can be deceiving.

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For the third year we returned to Inchydoney, a hotel/resort along the south-western coast.

Inchy is a popular destination for Irish vacationers, but it’s not well-known to Americans. So we stood out. And everywhere we went, strangers stopped us to talk American politics. Specifically, about Donald Trump. Sometimes, about Hillary. But always about Trump.

One day in Galway, I fielded Trump questions more than a dozen times. At Inchydoney, Brynn was grilled by a parent in the children’s playroom. On city sidewalks, people would hear our accent in passing, and simply yell out after us: “Hey, hey there! Donald Trump!

It was bizarre.

Here’s Cayden, getting shelled with campaign questions:

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Over 8 days, we logged 1,200 kilometers in our rental car. I’m fairly familiar with the roads but on a few occasions, I found myself hopelessly lost. Why? Two reasons:

1. In small towns, villages and along rural routes, the Irish don’t believe in posting signs that provide street names.

2. And when they do post the rare arrowed signs indicating the direction of a town, locals love rotating these signposts 180 degrees. Just for kicks.

Here’s just one example: Tynagh’s actually the other way.

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Fortunately, the country has a thriving pedestrian population and folks are happy to dole out directions… in Irish fashion: “Where you going? Oh yes, you’re headed the wrong way. Turn around, go up the road a ways. Then turn right. Keep going, and when you pass a stone wall at the bend, turn left, and at the next road, go right. There will be a hump in the road. At the second hump, bear right. Go by a stone cottage and then go some more and you’ll see the road you want. Can’t miss it.

“Thanks,” I’d say. “You’ve been very helpful.”

And then they’d lean in to ask, “You’re American, are ya? What about this Donald Trump?

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At the end of our trip, the big kids declared their intentions to swim in the ocean. Cayden and Had picked a nice windy afternoon — with temperatures around 40 degrees — to don swimsuits. They bolted across the long stretch of sand to the water, where the waves barely splashed their shins before they beat a hasty retreat.

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So there you have it: our vacation slideshow.

Here’s hoping for an Irish four-peat in 2017.

Hodophilia

 

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If “hodophobia” is the is the fear of traveling, then I suffer from “hodophilia” — a strong desire to hit the road.

Really, it’s a disorder and I blame my parents (always good to blame them for everything). They planted the seed, by dragging me on their jaunts through Eastern Bloc countries in 1970s. We’d fly on a dodgy, patched-up plane, owned by a now-defunct charter company, and that thing would cough and sputter across the Atlantic, before depositing us in a Western European city. Then my parents would rent a tin can on wheels, and we’d wade into various Communist countries where vacationing Americans were a rare species.

I took the hook. Now I’m afflicted with traveler’s itch: I believe that passports shouldn’t nest in drawers. They should be cracked open and stamped violently by a passport control officer who barks, “reason for your visit!?”

Which isn’t how they behave in Ireland.

My passport was supposed to ride the pine for a year. But I caved 3 weeks ago and Martin caught me in the act… making a call to an airline customer service agent. I tried to disguise the conversation with airport code — “Yes, I’m calling about EWR to SNN, for 4, departure Feb 19…”

Martin wasn’t amused but he knows my track record. I’ve bolted twice to Ireland in February. It’s just this time, I was sneaky and last-minute. I hastily stocked-up on provisions (this year’s requests from overseas: tuna fish, Heinz relish and bras). And I crammed a couple of suitcases full of clothes, collected the kids’ freshly minted passports and off we went.

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So here we are in Eire, letting me get my travel fix — to smell Ireland, taste it, and see it again. And all the while, I’m planting the seed for the next generation of hodophiles.

They are already on their way.

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The Great White Blight… In Pictures

 

 

If you’re on Facebook, or if you peruse the local papers, then you’ve gorged on snow photos.

Well, I’m sorry to subject you to more. I promise, this’ll be quick and painless. And then we can move on:

With all the white hype, last Friday, Martin tried to resuscitate our tractor, which was suffering from starter problems.

With assistance, Martin kicked the tractor into gear, but it blew a hydraulic hose, which rendered the bucket inoperable. (The bucket was a lead actor in this performance.)

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While Martin gave the tractor mouth-to-mouth, I went grocery shopping. The choices were slim pickings.

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Snow started falling and accumulating on Friday night. By Saturday morning we were snowed in: the drifts sealed the mudroom door shut.

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Snow permeated every crevice. In the mudroom, snow billowed through a wisp of a crack in the dog door. By morning, an inch of snow filled all of our shoes.

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Much like the storm of 2010, the drifts piled up along the fencelines… and 18 inches really meant 3 or 4 feet.

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The drifts proved too much for Maisie.

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On Sunday — tractorless — we began to dig out. The horses were the first to be liberated.

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The path to the sheep was ponderous.

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Eventually we dug a trench to the sheep shed and — crawling and slogging — I ferried hay and water to them on a sled.

The sheep were utterly ungrateful.

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All the while, the kids rode out the storm at my cousins’ house (where the risk of a power outage was minimal.)

It was a struggle over there:

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Without an operable tractor, we were paralyzed. So we called for backup; Andy and his Cat plowed us out.

But first things first: we had to mark the drive, so Andy knew where to plow.

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Andy removed the snow like a peel from an orange…

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… and in the process, he created a mountain of snow… a sledding hill from what was once a plateau.

The kids built a luge run and an igloo.

It is part of the landscape until melting overcomes everything.

And life returns to normal.

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