Friday, July 19, 2019

Quick Takes #279: Some of our Summer Days

  1. Hot, but fun would be how I'd describe the summer thus far ~ with camp going well and everyone enjoying the pool. Caitlin is showing herself to be quite the fish. Teaching herself to swim underwater and having a decent dog-paddle I'm now looking for an instructor to help her learn strokes.
  2. Before too much time has passed I do want to finish recording my wonderful trip at the end of June.  That Friday morning we did a bit of shopping before packing up and heading to the airport for a our flight to England, specifically Birmingham.  All of the flight stuff went very smoothly; unfortunately an accident on the highway made getting from the airport to our hotel a long process.  Knowing that Saturday was going to be a very full day we opted for dinner at the hotel restaurant and ice cream (very yummy btw) in our room.
  3. Saturday morning after we set-up my sister's table at the book event we headed out to a explore a bit and find breakfast.  We found and paid our respects to the famous Bull at the Bullring and grabbed a quick breakfast at a nearby coffee shop.  The rest of the day was spent at the Four Brits Book Fest where I had the great pleasure of serving as my sister's assistant. This is only the second book signing of her's I've been able to attend, and so I had so much fun meeting her readers and fans, and other independent authors.   
  4. Afterwards we walked to the city's amazing canal area and enjoyed wonderful dinner at a french restaurant which overlooked a canal.  Later walking back to the hotel we came upon an amazing street performance of an acrobatic troupe ahead of an anniversary gala for a local theater.  The trip home went smoothly aside from a bumpy descent into Philadelphia and a VERY long wait for our luggage which was so frustrating when I knew I was so close to hugging my people again.
  5. Camp-wise the older kids decided on a bit of a swap.  Lisbeth chose to do a week of soccer camp which she really enjoyed aside from getting slightly sunburned shoulders, and Liam is currently enjoying art camp which started this week and runs the next couple of weeks.
  6. And finally in the milestones of childhood category: In the last week Caitlin has lost three teeth including on her 'two front teeth'; which makes for a very cute smile at the moment ~ and a slightly poor tooth fairy.
  7. Picture time! Have a wonderful weekend!

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Quick Lit ~ July '19

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy, and sharing what I've been reading ~ many of which complete categories in the MMD reading challenge.

The Gown by Jennifer Robson; which I chose for the cover (category) and to ease my impatience while I wait for the next season of the Crown.   While the story did not contain much of the lives of the Windsor's; it was a wonderful story of post WW2 England when rationing was still in effect and Londoners were dealing with survivor guilt and beginning look forward.  Primarily it tells the story of two of the embroiderers while they worked on Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown and how their grandchildren learn of this fascinating past.  I appreciated the stories of female friendship and the ease with which the author moved from the past, to present day and back again.

The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer is the story of Brigade-Major Harry Smith and his newlywed Juana. They met and fell instantly in love in Portugal while Major Smith was serving during the Peninsular War.  While I've been reading and enjoying Heyer's Regency 'comedy of manners' books for years this was my first 'historical', and found the balance she found between the details of battles and troop movements and the daily challenges faced by the couple and their friends excellent.  I learned a lot about the war (at least from the British perspective) but didn't feel like the human element was lost.

The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart is part memoir of Stewart's family's adventure as they down-sized dramatically and moved to a farm in TX for her husband's work; and part primer on how to live intentionally so that your choices fit your values even if they differ from those around you.  Stewart does a wonderful job of sharing what worked for her family while still being open to how those choices might not work in other situations.  She also manages to write beautifully about her value system and how she and her family have chosen to live according to them without coming across judgmental about other approaches to home and family.

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick is the story of William Marshall, a knight and tournament  champion during the time of the Plantagenet Kings.  Fictionalized but based on extensive research of the actual man; Chadwick tells an amazing story of a liege knight who must navigate loyalty and politics as his liege lord shifts from King Henry II, to his eldest son Henry the Young King, back to King Henry and by the end of the book King Richard.  This is the third book of Chadwick's I've read, and continue to really enjoy her attention to detail and character development.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What I saw on my Irish vacation ~ Part 2

Part 1

    Having made it back to Dublin and enjoyed a good night sleep; the next morning had us up and ready for the day's adventure. Starting at Trinity College we took some time to wander around the main Quad before queuing up (as the locals would say) to see The Book of Kells.  Two of the four gospels are displayed at a time; at this time the Gospels of Luke and John are on display.  In addition to the books the exhibit includes a very good history of the books and illuminated manuscripts in general. We then headed upstairs to tour the old library and learn more about Trinity College; Ireland's oldest and still largest university.
   Our tour guide then led us towards Dublin Castle pointing out landmarks along the way.  We began our tour of the castle grounds in Duhb Linn Gardens just outside the castle; duhb linn means dark pool from where the water would gather from the two local rivers and where the city takes its name.  The castle originally a wooden Viking structure was fortified with stone in the thirteenth century at the order of  King John (his father King Henry II being the original Norman invader of Ireland) was in continuous use until 1922 and is still the site of the inauguration of President of Ireland and other ceremonial events.

Dublin Castle; painted portion shows where the original castle was damaged and repaired.

    That afternoon we headed north of the city to the Castle Malahide; a castle held by the same family (Talbot) from the 13th century till the 1970's when the last owner turned it over to the Irish Trust.  An amazing place to explore with the different rooms furnished as they would be during different points in history. We began the tour in a sitting room with paneling from the 14th century before moving to another sitting room with the colorful paint color and elaborate moldings of the 18th,  The castle grounds also contain beautiful and extensive gardens which unfortunately there was not time to explore before again boarding the tour bus.  We then drove along the coast line looking across the Irish Sea where apparently on a good day you can see Wales.  I didn't but we did pass an island where one of the three families living there brought a couple of wallabies back from Australia years ago and there are now about 30 wallabies living on the island.  Stopped off for a bit in the fishing village of Howth before heading back to Dublin for a fish & chips dinner and a Guiness.

Banquet Hall circa 1690's

Friday, July 5, 2019

Quick Takes #278; I've been to Ireland and what did I see

  1. Happy July! Hope you all had a wonderful July 4th! With your indulgence I'm going to take you back to June and tell you all about my last week of June which thanks to my wonderful sister C. I spent in Ireland and England.  
  2. Dublin was our first destination and 'home base'. Dublin is a wonderful city which really reminded me of Philadelphia where buildings of past centuries live side-by-side with more modern ~ though in Dublin that means buildings go back to the twelfth century. A very walkable city with different neighborhoods to explore.
  3. Arriving early in the morning we left our luggage at the hotel (Yay!)  and began exploring and trying to stay awake until our first official time point of the day.  We found and crossed the Ha'Penny bridge, paid our respects to Molly Malone, and then found a bench along the River Liffey to take in the moment.  The Vintage Tea Tour was our first tour of the trip and it was perfect and not just because we were very tired ~ being driven through and around Dublin enjoying a lovely tea of sandwiches, cakes & scones while a tour guide gave us the stories of Dublin is a memory I will always cherish.  
  4. After a quick nap at the hotel we were headed to the Brazen Head Pub, one of Dublin's oldest pubs, for a Folklore and Fairies Dinner.   Another great find of my sister; the storyteller was funny and knowledgeable, the food very good, and the Celtic music while we ate our main course a lovely touch to a wonderful evening.  Heading back to the hotel at dusk across the river we declared our first day in Dublin a success.
  5. The next morning started early as we boarded a tour bus for the western coast of Ireland with the Cliffs of Moher as our first destination.  The weather smiled on us and the tour guide was excellent pointing out many sights as we traveled. The Cliffs did not disappoint; being that wonderful combination of everything you expected and then much more in their amazing height and grandeur.  After a couple of hours at the Cliffs we boarded the bus and headed for Galway with a surprise stop along the way at The Burrens; an amazing landscape of limestone astronaut Neil Armstrong once compared to the surface of the moon. Unfortunately it was only a fifteen minute stop so much of the landscape was left to be explored another time. 
  6. After driving past a few thatched roofed cottages and castle ruins we arrived in Galway where we enjoyed a short walking tour and then were set free to explore and find lunch before heading back to Dublin.
  7. More to come but for now the photo dump!!!
Ha'Penny Bridge; because it used to cost a half penny to cross the river.

Statue in honor of Molly Malone

Cliffs of Moher looking northward.
Cliffs of Moher

The Burrens

The Burrens

In Galway
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