Thursday, March 31, 2011


Apart from the Saint Patrick's Day Parade, there were a lot of other things to love about Dublin, whatever James Joyce may say about it.  It is not only beautifully historical, but it is literary. (sigh)  I actually posted about all of the literary merits of the city on my book blog, Fingers & Prose, so I won't go into all that here.  I'll spend this space to talk about all of the other things we saw and enjoyed.
Our driver's name was Jimmy.
I always wanted a driver named James.
It was a dream come true.
Yes, I'm weird like that.
Our first day of sightseeing took us to Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library (with many ancient religious texts--very cool to see) and more of the River Liffey and Temple Bar Area.
Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral
Dublin Castle, taken from the Chester Beatty Library.
The River Liffey, taken from our hotel room.
Our other days in Dublin were filled with other explorations: St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Writer's Museum, the Garden of Remembrance, Trinity College, St. Stephen's Green.
We stumbled upon some French Jazz type street music--lovely!
Ha'Penny Bridge
The Powerscourt Townhouse is now a lovely
little shopping center.
Garden of Remembrance
Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Saint Stephen's Green
And one little bonus picture...the only sign I happened to see of the Curley surname in Ireland.  Look closely. You may have to get out your magnifying glass.  (or I'll just tell you...that is simply a realtor's sign whose surname is Curley.  made me happy.)

After our 4 days in Dublin, we got our rental car and began the drive up to Northern Ireland.  Stay tuned for that installment!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin

The Paddy's Day Parade in Dublin is no joke. This is no small thing...tons of people crowd in to see the amazing creativity on display.  We arrived Tuesday night (March 15th) and the difference in crowds between that night and the following nights was incredible.  During this week especially, Dublin is an international city.  We actually got to the point where we were wondering where all the Irish people were--everyone seemed to be from somewhere else.  And everyone was wearing something green.  From a simple green scarf or shirt to the fully costumed leprechauns, there was a sea of green.

First thing in the morning was apparently a rowing race (is there a proper name for those things?) on the Liffey, directly outside our room.  This was accompanied by bicyclists and tour buses cheering them on.  Good morning! Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Go Team!  As we were soon to find out, that was only the prelude.  When we ventured out of the hotel for some breakfast, the city was already filled.

(my attempt to capture the crowd)

When the parade finally started (at 12 noon) we had been walking and standing and waiting and crowding in for hours.  Everyone was ready to start celebrating.

Apart from the marching bands, people waving, and bagpipes, there were some monstrous horses (pictured here for the sake of my horsie-loving 6 year-old) that these pictures don't do justice.  They were intimidating.

There were also some of the most unusual costumes and floats (if one could call them that) that I've seen.  I certainly wasn't expecting them!  I wish I knew the significance, but alas I've not had time to research.  They were extremely creative, however.  I forgot to take pictures of many of them simply because I was busy trying to figure them out!

A mechanical marionette-type feature.

Another marionette-type thing.  This
was amazing! So realistic!

One of the costumes--don't ask what they
are, because I've not the faintest idea.


A mobile platform for drumming.  But of course.

Yep, no idea.

And there you have it--snippets of the Paddy's Day Parade in Dublin.  After the parade ended I was ready for a nap, but I think that everyone else was ready for a stroll and a pint.  After a quick cappucino, it was back to the hotel for us.  We were still close enough to listen to the crowds of people as they continued to celebrate.  Saint Patrick's Day in Dublin may not have been what I was expecting, but it certainly didn't let me down!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Forced Family Fun in February

It has been a month since I've posted here.  A month!  Believe me when I say that I'm entirely guilt-ridden about it (which, as horrible as being guilt-ridden may sound, it isn't quite as terrible as being flea-ridden--which I'm not.  So it isn't all bad.)  The problem wasn't that February lacked things to talk about, it just lacked interesting, social type things to talk about.  There was plenty of the "Oh! So many things to do!" and "I just can't get ahead!" type conversations flying around here, but those are not inspiring-blog-worthy diversions.  At least it looks as if the February doldrums are finally gone, and we can now get on with life.

Which is exactly what we did last weekend.  We were kind enough to warn the kiddos ahead of time that we'd be spending Saturday OUT of the house and AS a family (we don't always warn them...sometimes it's just nice to limit the amount of time they have to complain).  This announcement elicited cheers from the girls, groans from the boys, no surprise there.

First on the agenda was a hockey game.  Now, let me explain something.  We are not a sports family. (Sorry, dad!)  We tried baseball and soccer when the boys were little, and still haven't come to terms with the fact that we were expected to be up and raring to go at 7am on a Saturday.  [shudder]  I should probably be apologizing to all the families that had to deal with our uncomprehending ennui during all of those weekends, but I'm just not there yet.  Maybe someday.

Right, so we aren't a sports family.  This means it wasn't entirely outrageous that all of our kids were wondering why on earth they were required to go to a hockey game.  The answer was that we were gifted some box seats to watch the LA Kings at the Staples Center, and it was a perfect excuse for some of that infamous Family Time.  Turns out, they kind of enjoyed themselves.  They actually apologized afterwards for complaining--they didn't know what to expect, and it was actually rather fun, they said.  Of course, those apologies came after we all got free McFlurry coupons on our way out--they had their ice cream goggles on and the gratefulness was being poured out freely.

Yeah, back-of-the-head pictures is all I've got.  Sorry.

They may not look excited here, but
they are, believe me.  Or they would
be if they knew about the ice cream.

As if one major outing in a day weren't enough, we jumped right  in to another family event.  We had bought Medieval Times tickets as a reward for studying the Middle Ages to death (to quote Melinda, "No more minstrels, PLEASE!")  After reading The Minstrel in the Tower, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, Castle Diary, Saint George and the Dragon, Ethelred the Unready, Tales of Robin Hood, The Door in the Wall, and Adam of the Road, not to mention our regular history reading, they'd had enough.  Or so they thought.  Until Medieval Times.

(Actually at first, when we were heading in and there were some people dressed up and ready to take our photograph, Timothy was dreadfully humiliated.  As we walked in further, however, I pointed out to him that there were quite a few adults there (young and unaccompanied by children) and he seemed to adjust fine.  Especially when food was slapped on the plates and the sword-fighting and games began.  What boy can resist a good sword fight when the sparks are flying and people are yelling and you have a plate full of food?)

We had front row seats and the girls were honored to receive gifts from our knight (a flower for Melinda, a special sash for Audrey).  Not just honored, but flattered and overjoyed.  At one point I saw Audrey wiping away a tear.  When I asked her if she was okay, she said "I'm just crying for joy."  Before it was even over, they were begging to go back.

A Full Day of all six of us together, and you'd (I'd?) expect them to be more than done with the close quarters.  But we came home peaceful.  Not only that, but the kids all wanted to go out together again the next day.  So last Sunday we took our farewell trip to the Borders down the street and then ventured in to McDonalds (a place I haven't been inside since...???...2004?) where they apparently play classical music nowadays.  (It's that high-fallutin' coffe-shop image they want to adopt, I guess?)  It was a weekend of experiences, of family, and yes--of fun.  And now you know that which was worth knowing during the month of February.