Irish leftovers

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Last week’s blog post covered highlights from our Irish adventure. So what’s left?

Odds and ends.

Like the moment of gastronomic nirvana, when I stumbled on a cheesemonger peddling his wares in Kenmare.


Time out: It’s possible that the term cheesemonger, and fishmonger and other mongers have gone the way of the Dodo bird. But this might be my only opportunity to ever use cheesemonger, so I’m running with it. Okay, time in.

Cheese is my one, true Kryptonite, my Achilles’ heel. I am powerless around cheese. If you apply the litmus test of questions that define addiction, I fit the profile.

“Do you eat cheese alone?” Sure. “Do you eat it in excess?” Absolutely. “Do you eat cheese to forget your problems?” Doesn’t everyone?

Decisions, decisions. I spent several minutes drooling over options. The cheesemonger was very kind; he offered samples to taste, even a smidge of his top-tier products. I bought several wedges and a 1/2 wheel — at a fraction of the price typically charged at home. One cheese choice was quite pungent. I stashed my stuff in the trunk, but within an hour, my haul had stunk-up the entire car.

Aside from the delectable cheese display above, I should also point out my constant travel companion: Ugly Backpack — that dingy, gray sack strapped over my shoulders. Ugly Backpack is a story in itself, and probably warrants a separate post. But suffice to say, it is proof-positive that Ralph Lauren’s Polo line includes some hideous looking merchandise. That said, Ugly Backpack is practical as hell; it has logged more airline miles than all of you readers, combined. The 4 of you.

Seriously, Ugly Backpack has visited 5 continents, and countless countries.

Here it is on a trip to Paris, 12 years ago:


And before that, in Romania:

Romania and Budpest 039

Its travel log predates digital photography. (And based on these photos, that purple polar fleece is a real globe-trotter as well.)

Now I’m totally off-topic. Forget the cheese and Ugly Backpack. On to Kilkenny, which should have just been an overnight stay. But we were awarded a bonus day, thanks to Frog — shorthand for frozen fog — which hit London, and grounded hundreds of flights, including ours from Dublin. We couldn’t rebook until the next day, so we kicked around Kilkenny. And checked out Kilkenny Castle.


We toured the place, both inside and out.


As everywhere else, simply brimming with tourists…

Our hotel was a stone’s throw away from the castle. (Hadley, don’t touch my laptop.)


Admittedly, our fabulous trip wasn’t all sunshine and roses.

In our travels, several items were lost, including Cayden’s retainer. We searched every pocket of every bag, and contacted the hotels where we’d stayed, to no avail. Retainer replacement adds a big line-item to our vacation budget.

The missing mouth wear was a touchy subject until Martin broke the ice on our journey home. While we gained a spare vacation day, with it, came a 5-hour layover at Heathrow. We killed time wandering the concourse, eating, shopping, eating some more, shopping some more, until finally, we slumped in a row of airport seats and gazed at the digital departure board.

The kids didn’t want to slump and sit; they wanted to explore. But Martin and I were too tired to shlep our bulging carry-on bags and plod in pursuit. So we let them go. Alone. In Heathrow. One of the busiest airports in the world.

Cayden and Brynn were first to venture out, and as they slipped among the moving mass of bodies and luggage, Martin shouted, “Hey! Don’t lose your sister like you lost your retainer!”

That was worth a laugh, even as the kids were swallowed by a stream of travelers — some striding purposely to their gates, other wandering aimlessly between stores, parents dragging resistant, wailing toddlers, and solitary souls sprinting desperately to distant gates.

I got a little anxious when boarding time approached and we were still two kids down. But they turned up. (So did the retainer, according to hotel staff, but the news came when were home… after we’d ordered a new one.)

But hey, we left the States with 3 kids and we returned with 3 kids. And a bit of laundry.

Not too bad!

The questions is: Will there be another trip next year? An Irish five-peat? Are plans in the works for Sheepfest 2018?

As President Trump has taught me, anything is possible.


Backsides in Ireland


I didn’t intend to snap so many rear shots, but when you loiter with a camera, it’s bound to happen.

Here are a few photos from the day:


Soaking up the view & braving the wind–



Dog walking done–




Rush hour in Connemara–


More Irish updates amárach…

That’s “tomorrow.”

Contraband Jam


When I was in Ireland, specifically on Inchydoney Island in West Cork, my friend Karen urged me to buy some preserves.

“You have to,” she said. “It’s the best raspberry jam ever.”

She was right. It was criminally good. The smell? Rich and pure raspberry. It tasted heavenly sweet.

Apparently, berries thrive in locales with cool temperatures and lots of light, and Ireland has that in spades in summer. (Similar conditions exist elsewhere. Years ago I ate the best strawberries ever on the island of Askøy, Norway. But I digress.)

In February I left Ireland with a jar of Inchydoney jam in my suitcase. But foolishly, I stowed it in my carry-on, and airport security spied it through x-ray. “Sorry, miss,” the security officer said. Like a surgeon extracting an organ, he reached into the belly of my bag and plucked out the jar.

Damn, I thought. Well, at least he called me miss, not ma’am.

Never mind. Karen successfully mailed me another jar, buffered by clothing. I cherished it, eating the jam sparingly. When it was all gone, I kept the jar in the fridge.

And sniffed it periodically. Like an exotic perfume.

Karen thought my jar-sniffing was weird, so on her next trip to West Cork, she bought me two more jars. This time, she mailed them wrapped in a dish towel. Later, she mentioned that the postman told her she was crazy — the postal service camera would catch the jam and confiscate the whole package.

But he was wrong. The contraband jam slipped the system. Two pristine jars of goodness.

So I’m back to eating — not sniffing — for now.