Wednesday Wanderings: Ireland, Part 4

Saturday, September 9 – Sunday, September 10

We pretty much laid low at our niece’s home for the weekend. The weather was pretty blustery and the grand-nieces had swimming lessons and gymnastics and various 2017-10-06_22-44-17_840activities, so David followed them around while I relaxed, read, and rested at the house.

It was a sweet little respite after a busy few days and still lying awake from 2-4 am every night. David spent some time walking the land and seeing how the family farm has evolved over the last century, and how our nephew is still working the land.

Their home is lovely and I enjoyed the amazing views, as well as the cozy fire, and my book. Of course, I brought2017-09-09_14-15-47_169 my Kindle so I wouldn’t be toting books all over Ireland and the UK. I did bring paperback travel guides, but I left them behind in hotel rooms in each country. I also left two pairs of pants, some toiletries, and whatever else I felt didn’t need to come home with me. I was lightening my suitcases so I could fit in the souvenirs and gifts we would buy. And it worked out. We had no problems with overweight luggage. Mostly. That’s a story for the end.

Our way home from our first outing, to the Museum of Country Life, we crossed paths with Patrick, our nephew-in-law, and followed him to a pharmacy and the grocery store. We got to meet his brother’s fiancee, who works at the pharmacy. As we were chatting another man walked up to Patrick and they greeted each other. Patrick introduced us to Matt Molloy, a flautist with The Chieftains. Mr. Molloy has a local pub in Westport. On one of the outings when I stayed home, David and Patrick stopped at the pub. That’s pictured above.

We finished the weekend with dinner at a Westport hotel, the same place Cory and I went for our after concert drink Friday night. Patrick’s brother and his fiancee joined us. I’m still incredulous that I didn’t get a picture of all of us that night, and I didn’t get a picture of Colin and Tara. They were delightful and we had such a great time that evening getting to know them. We love them and love that they love our Cory. It was a special time.

All in all, we had a wonderful weekend and it was a great way to wind down our time in Ireland.

Next week: Our last full day and the Cliffs of Moher!



After a summer and fall foray into Happily Inc. Susan Mallery now returns us to Mischief Bay. Harper and her sister Stacey couldn’t be more different. Harper was a full time wife and mother, happily making home a haven for her family. Until her husband decided he SLUwanted a divorce. Harper wasn’t educated or trained to be anything other than a wife and mom and she had to scramble to put food on the table for her daughter. She opened a business as a virtual assistant and is now overworked and underpaid. Just like most personal assistants, 😉
Stacey is a brainiac nerd, who’s more comfortable in her medical research lab than with most real people. She’s pregnant with her first child and is terrified. She’s scared she won’t bond with the baby, that she won’t know what to do, that her husband will love the baby more than he loves her.
Harper and Stacey are opposites, but they stand together against their overbearing mother. Harper’s teenage daughter, Becca, is also a viewpoint character.
The three women navigate life and change in their own ways.

I loved this one! The characters are archetypes in some ways. Harper is the perfect homemaker, Stacey is the nerd, Becca is the temperamental teenager. But in Mallery’s world, they’re also real people I feel like I know. Harper knows she’s on a hamster wheel of perfection, but she can’t see how to climb off. I’ve been on that wheel a time or two myself.

There are some familiar characters who return from the previous Mischief Bay books. Lucas, the guy we’ve gotten to know for his penchant for dating twenty-year-olds, is back and even showing signs of maturing. Lulu, Pam’s Chinese Crested dog, has a cameo appearance.

Sisters Like Us is both new and familiar. In the best way. I highly recommend it!

I received a free copy of the book in return for a honest review. We both kept our side of the bargain.

Wednesday Wanderings: Westport House

Friday, September 8

After our visit to Kylemore Abbey, we arrived back at our lovely host/niece’s home. I wasn’t quite over the time change so I took a nap. But then it was time to party. My pictures didn’t turn out very good, but I’ll post them here.

Cory, our niece, and I drove to Westport House for a concert. It was the first event of the annual Westport Festival of Chamber Music.

Taken from the Westport House website. This is a much better picture than mine of the room the concert was in. 

The program:

Beethoven: Piano Trio in D major Op.70 No.1 ‘Ghost’
Leon McCawley, Jack Liebeck, Guy Johnston

Penderecki: Cadenza for solo viola 
Jennifer Stumm

Schubert: String Quintet in C major D. 956
Navarra Quartet, Guy Johnston

The Beethoven and Schubert selections were my favorite. The violist was excellent, but the music was a bit too … strident for my taste. Although I enjoyed the whole evening immensely.


Before the concert and during the break we were able to walk around Westport House, which is a local historic home and is now an event center with many attractions. The house itself is full of art, sculpture, and memorabilia from the original family and the community.

The house was built on the foundations of one of Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley‘s 16th century castles.

We had a blast dressing up and going out, just us big girls, for a night on the town.


After the concert, we went to a local hotel’s pub for some more live music and a nightcap. We heard a duo, maybe brothers, who played an eclectic mix of folk, contemporary, and 20th century pop music.

It was a satisfying, if contextually confusing, end to a great day.

Next week: More random pictures and thoughts about Ireland, the sights, the people, and our farewell dinner.


Wednesday Wanderings: Ireland, Day 3

Our amazing niece procured some vouchers for us to use while we were in Ireland. Today we headed to Kylemore Abbey.


Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful castle built by an Irishman, Henry Mitchell, who lived in Manchester, England.  He had inherited a fortune from his cotton merchant father and built the home for his wife and family and it included amazing Victorian gardens.

In World War I, it became the home of a Belgian order of Benedictine nuns. The gardens were neglected and fell into ruin. The nuns ran a boarding school until 2010. We met a woman in England whose sister-in-law had attended the school as a local day student. They had a long and honorable history of educating young students.

In 1995, a restoration project began in the gardens. They aren’t quite to their full Victorian glory, but they are gorgeous and you can certainly get a taste of what they were like.

After buying our tickets with our vouchers, we walked about .75 mile to the gardens. In the garden’s prime, there were 21 glass greenhouses. Only one has been restored, but you can see where the others sat. The gardeners grew bananas and other tropical fruit and flowers for the family.

As we finished our tour of the gardens, the heavens opened and it poured! There was a tea house nearby, so we hurried in, but we weren’t the only ones with that idea. It was too crowded and too loud, so we walked a short distance and caught a shuttle that returned us to the main entrance.

The rain had pretty much stopped by then so we walked on to the Abbey itself. It’s a beautiful castle, with displays about the family who built it, Irish history, and the Benedictine nuns who lived there.

Mrs. Mitchell died unexpectedly from dysentery while on a Christmas trip to Egypt in 1874. She was 45 years old and left behind her husband and nine children. Mr. Mitchell built a neo-Gothic cathedral in her honor and a mausoleum nearby where they are both interred.

We left Kylemore Abbey and headed back to Westport. But we were hungry. We stopped in Leenaun, a village on our way, and had lunch at Hamilton’s Pub. It was a true local pub. An old timer at the bar was drinking coffee. Another couple soon joined him with a dog who settled at their feet. We shared fish and chips which were good. I started to wonder if I really like fish and chips or if I just eat the fish in order to eat the chips. We each had a diet Coke. An 8 oz. can of Diet Coke was 2.75 Euro. That’s about $3.37 at today’s exchange rate. Yes. We paid over $6 for two sodas. Yes, we’re crazy and yes, we were thirsty.

We headed back to our niece’s home where I took a nap and then she and I went out for the evening.

More about that next week!

Wednesday Wanderings: Ireland and the UK

We took a big trip last year. We had big reasons. A niece who lives in Ireland we wanted to visit. A 40th anniversary to celebrate. History to learn about.

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In front of the manor house at the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Village, near Castlebar, Ireland. Sept. 7.

We didn’t go without some serious planning and talking. Stud Muffin, being former law enforcement, was concerned about terrorist activity abroad. I understood, but thought it was a small risk in proportion to the potential payoff.

We checked our budget, contacted the fantastic Cheryl at Hey Wanna Go, and renewed out passports. We left our home September 4, visited family on the way to LA, and flew out September 6. Stud Muffin had traveled overseas before, but this was my first time. I was unsure how I’d handle the long flight, but it wasn’t too bad. It helped that we had a layover in Chicago, so what could be a twelve-hour flight was divided up into a five-hour and an eight-hour. Not bad at all. We won’t mention the layover was supposed to be about 90 minutes but ended up at four hours. So we were tired when we boarded the second flight. And tired when we arrived in Ireland.

A quote from a display inside the museum.

I’ll be blogging some about the trip, posting pictures, and sharing memories for the next few months. This will help me get my thoughts and memories in order so I can compile our scrapbook.

A better view of the manor house.

Book Talk Tuesday: NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT by Kristan Higgins

I’m a huge Kristan Higgins fan. I love her romance novels and her women’s fiction novels have been even better.

Higgins.NTYMINow That You Mention It is about Nora, an ugly duckling from a small Maine island who has turned into an amazing swan/doctor/aunt/human being. After getting hit by a truck and waking in the ER to hear her boyfriend flirting with a nurse, she decides it’s time for some changes and moves back to her island to recuperate with her mother and niece.

Nora’s backstory about what brought her to this place in her life is carefully dribbled out, a little at a time. There have been some awful things happen to her. But she not only survived, she learned to thrive.

I loved this book. The characters feel like people I’d hang out with. As Nora heals and as spring turns to summer, she learns a lot about herself as well as her hometown and her family.

I highly recommend this one!