Saturday, May 28, 2016

The End/Beginning

One of the best things about going away is the gift of coming home. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: we are SO BLESSED to have a home that we love to come back to. I know it's not a mistake that we love our little Langy, and home; we put lots of energy into making it a home we feel cozy in. It's partly the ease of familiarity, sinking back into an environment that we know inside and out, where the kitchen knives are sharp and the toys & books are plentiful. It was especially wonderful for me to come home to a seriously thriving garden (thanks to our caring and wonderful friend who offered to help out!)

So much lettuce! 
The journey home was long, and I'm not going to down-play the wretchedness of jetlag with kids! But it was worth it! 
The last leg of our journey, to Bushmills in Northern Ireland and back down to Dublin, was great. I can definitely and wholeheartedly recommend road tripping in Ireland. The Giant's Causeway was stunning. Our energy had started to flag by that point so we were slowing down in our excursions. Fortunately the house that we'd booked in Portballintrae (County Antrim) was beautiful and stocked with lego & toddler toys! It gave us the luxury of a few slow start days. I now have a much better idea of what makes a great airbnb (or VRBO/holiday home). 

It was very interesting to see & feel the difference between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. There's no border, but the motorway changes names, and directional signs in NI are in English only, whereas the signs in the Republic are all in Irish & English. We really didn't dig into local sentiment & politics, but there are perceptible differences from a traveler's perspective (beyond the staggering Pound Sterling to Canadian exchange rate). I imagine that the building code & development policy is pretty different, though I don't have facts to back that up. I found the Northern Irish small town to be less attractive, and I couldn't put my finger on it really...we heard that a few towns on the coast are almost entirely holiday towns, one such was devoted to amusement games - kind of like the Reno of indoor amusement halls. We drove into Portrush & Portstewart on a Sunday afternoon to look for a pub for a pint (probably first mistake, Sunday). What we did find was the Sunday outting crowd. Cars parked every which way along the oceanside promenade, filled with families of all ages. Just sitting on the promenade, watching the world go by. I remember my Nana & Grandpa going for Sunday drives, seems like a tradition that's alive and well. It was pretty chilly and windy as we walked along the street, though that didn't stop the ice cream shops from turning a good business! 


Deluce Castle in the mid-distance

Giant's Causeway

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The trip on the whole was marvelous. Really an easy trip with the two boys, made easier with the help & love of the fam. No drive was longer than 5 hours, and the boys were welcome everywhere. 

Some things we miss already: 

OH MY GOODNESS the dairy: I took "pouring cream" with my coffee, thinking at first that that was the normal cream, but no. It is thick, heavy and delicious cream. Upon coming home we picked up some whipping cream to see if it compares, but it doesn't. The cheese was also so tasty and affordable. 

Dramatic and shifting coastline. Incomparable. 

The food! So much local produce/meat/dairy available and accessible. And the red ale & stout that were sold only at the brewpub in Lisdoonvarna. (Seriously, Irish Red Ale is delicious). 

Lisdoonvarna Roadside Tavern. Lisdoonvarna is also the host of a month-long matchmaking festival.
The people & the welcome. Though we didn't meet as many people as we might have, or have in the past, maybe because we were mostly self-catering and staying in homes without present hosts. The folks that we did cross paths with were rich with stories & offerings. 

The quiet slow time that we found around every corner. 

Yeats' The Lake Isle of Innisfree really does capture it most beautifully: 

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 
And evening full of the linnet's wings. 

What a gift. I'll close this holiday here and begin our summer-at-home - which we're already loving. Until next time!

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