Quick finishes

20170829_135439.jpgI’ve blocked the face cloth since the photo and am in the car on the 12 hour ride to deliver it now.  Woot!


Mitzi is asleep on my lap because she refuses to stay in the backseat.

Before leaving, I also threw together a pair of pants for a piggy plush I’m making.  Joule tried stealing them and was unhappy when I took them back.




Since I’m finally done posting about the adventures in Scotland and the Irelands, I can return to mundane life again!

…which has been anything but boring lately.

The dogs caught a baby bunny last night and injured it.  It escaped by the time L pulled the big dog off and alerted me, so I can only hope its okay.

The wax seal on the toilet in L’s bathroom sprung a leak…and that is the bathroom we haven’t remodeled yet, so it was still carpeted.  …meaning the already gross carpet was now soaked with dirty toilet water.  It had to come up.

The cutoff valve for the toilet was also broke, so I replaced that and exchanged the flushing mechanism with a duo flush low flow variety while the toilet was off the drain.

After the dirty work, I made a stuffy for L’s niece to be.  He wanted me to make her a penguin for Christmas.  He chose the colors and pattern.  I’m still not a fan of this designer.  Her patterns are adorable but the execution is poor.  I had to alter a few pieces, add seam allowances even though she says they’re included, and completely change construction at some points.  I wish I had tossed the instructions altogether, then I would have ended with stuffing via a ladder stitch up the back instead of cursing while trying to sew a stuffed head to a stuffed torso and leaving it a weaker joint.  I may remake this one later if I care enough.


I also got in a bit of stitching.  This whole project has been slow as molasses.


Finally, I decided to make Grandmother a facecloth to go with the Scottish soap I brought her.  It’s a bit of a joke, really,  as we didn’t see a single washcloth the entire trip.  It was really frustrating, actually.

I wanted to do a bit of cabling, so chose this pattern: Woven Lattice Washcloth with Crocheted Edge

I started it in a variegated blue yesterday but the pattern wasn’t showing well enough for my tastes,  so switched to a pretty, solid mint.


I just have two more repeats and the crocheted edge to finish.  It’s nice having a quick project for a change!

Vacation Days 10 & 11: Ireland

I’m going to go ahead and lump the final two days of our vacation together since we stayed in the same location and did the same thing — visited Dublin both days.

We actually had a relatively early flight the second day and the airport there has a pre-entry screening now for U.S. entries.  I’m not sure if that’s common in other international airports.  It didn’t add much time to our processing, just 3 questions and a photo at a kiosk, one extra luggage scan, and a 5 minute chat with a customs officer, then we didn’t have to go through customs AT ALL when coming back into the States.  It was awesome!!!

On our big touristy day in Dublin, our first stop was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral since it’s the national cathedral of Ireland.  L has also never visited a cathedral other than the St. Patrick’s in NYC and it was under construction at the time — he likes seeing old things, so I think a church founded in 1191 fits that bill.

I’ve always found old architecture fascinating, in religious establishments especially, since they scrimped on nothing.

…but the best part?  Jonathan Swift was buried there!  Maybe I’m morbid, but death masks and skull castings are awesome.  It was right up there with seeing some saint’s heart in another cathedral when I was little.

The whole time we had been in Ireland, we’d been on a quest to find fresh seafood.  Mike’s a big fan.  We found it everywhere in Scotland, but it was proving a real pain in Ireland.  Lots of fish and chips, not so much fresh.  We finally had our seafood in Dublin at a cozy little place called Catch-22.

I’d looked up food guides and everywhere had been raving about their open-faced prawn sandwich, so that’s what Mom ordered.  She was very, very pleased.

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I remember I ordered a lunch special that had a really tasty prawn sandwich that came with avocado on it and a side of soup that had every fish under the sun under it.  L really wanted my soup, so traded me it for half of his calamari appetizer…then he ate all of the calamari anyway because I’m a slow eater.  =/  He’s a real jerk sometimes.

On the way to our next destination, I had to stop in the street and laugh…and laugh…and then feel incredibly sorry for the person who had to work what had to be a miserable job.

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Is that not the most ridiculously small ice cream truck you’ve ever seen?!  It was just cruising up and down the sidewalks, music blaring.  The music, by the way, was much less annoying than ours play here.

Since Mom had picked the tourist attractions for the day, our next stop was at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.

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She spent a good part of my school age years as a librarian, so it makes sense that she’d want to see them.  I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but the illustrations were stunning and it was a really fascinating exhibit.

I WAS able to get photos of the library though!  I could live in a library like that!!!

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Afterwards, we went to the Temple Bar district — Mike and L found THE Temple Bar on their quest for dinner and Mom and I shopped around a bit.  We were on quests and it was really busy, so I didn’t take many photos then.  I managed to pick up some Irish yarn and L got some gifts for his family as well.

We then retired to the resort for the night to stuff ourselves on dinner and sleep.  We were all pretty exhausted.

As I mentioned before, the next day was the airport and that was always fun in and of itself.

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Bye, Ireland!

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Vacation Day 9: Northern Ireland & Ireland

Morning dawned early, as it always did.  Not as early as in Scotland, of course, but earlier than I was used to.

I stuffed myself with currant jam at breakfast — I’m normally not a jam person but exceptions must be made when currants are available — and we were off to visit Carrickfergus.

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Carrickfergus itself means “the rock of Fergus” and is named for King Fergus.  Legend tells of his sailing there looking for a cure for leprosy in the healing waters of the well in the rock.

If I recall correctly, it started as a castle or keep then kept expanding until it became a walled town.  It was one of L’s favorite things on the entire trip and was really a lot of fun to explore.

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Hardly anybody else was there, which also made visiting really special.  I don’t like fighting with crowds.

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One of L’s favorite things was an example menu of what would have been served at a feast.  I think he was jealous.

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Also, being a history buff, he was blown away to see the waters were John Paul Jones fought and won his famous naval battle in the Revolutionary War.  I guess it had never really occurred to any of us just how far away from home that particular war raged.

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After a morning spent playing in Carrickfergus, we ventured down into the capital of Northern Ireland.  Belfast!

I’m really not sure why we always ended up driving on crazy streets, but L was happy driving in cities, though I was always sure we were going to die.

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Seeing that the city life was not for me, we drove out toward the coast and stopped in a really cute town called Bangor for lunch.

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Seriously, how cute is it?!

We all wanted fish, so stopped in at a chippers called Cafe Cod.  The reviews were mixed on online sites, but most seemed to say that the dine in side was good and the take out was not, so we gave the sit in a try.  We all really liked it.  Mike and L had the scampi (which are not shrimp) and Mom and I had the cod bites.  Those things in front of me are BITES.  I’d hate to see the full sized cod!  Mom had been hesitant to try the scampi the whole trip but finally did and loved them.  Also, don’t judge my black currant “Sukie”.  😛

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After we refueled our tummies, we set off on what can only be described as a video game quest.  It was a most excellent adventure!

We wanted to go visit Brú na Bóinne but the tours were sold out for the day.  So, I snagged a photo of it from a distance and said “Oh, well!”.  It was a last minute decision anyway.  L had picked up a brochure for it that morning at the B&B.  I’m not the biggest fan of tours or crowds or paying for anything but food.  I’ll always pay money for a good food experience.

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L was disappointed, of course, he really wanted to see some really old passage tombs.  I had something much more fun up my sleeve planned anyway.

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I had L follow some shabby looking signs to the middle of nowhere.  Literally it was the middle of nowhere.  He likes adventure, so he was enjoying this.  When we got to the place, there was just a small pull off, just big enough for two cars.  Across the road, some steps.

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L still has no clue what on earth we’re doing here, so we go up the awesome little steps and find this sign:

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Now we’re REALLY in for some fun!!!

His interest is piqued.  We’re on an official quest now!  We can’t back out.  I spy our purpose in the distance, but I don’t let on yet.

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We head down the road and get hopeless lost, so stop to ask a guy leading a horse down the dirt road where to go.  We’re close and he tells us which house to stop at.

L runs in and asks for the key.

Alas!  Somebody else was just there and got the key.  We missed it by 10 minutes, but if we hurry, we might be able to catch them!

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We hurry back to the site and see that they’re parked where we were just at not long ago (and seriously, isn’t it gorgeous?!).  We scurry down the gravel track and run into the nice French family that is already there.  They graciously agree to let us look at Fourknocks with them.

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Now L gets to be SUPER excited.  He can explore a Passage tomb, with inscriptions dating back to the Neolithic period, as long as he wants…and touch everything…without a tour guide or group to hurry him.  He’s the type that can spend hours at a museum reading everything; this type of thing is perfect for him.

After he’s had his fill of ancient tombs, we head down to our accomodations for the rest of the trip.  We’re done with B&Bs and are now staying at the 5 Star Druids Glen Resort.  It’s just south of Dublin and almost too fancy for us…but who’s complaining?!

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One of the staff reminded us all of my uncle soooo much that we started calling him Irish Vince.  I wish I’d gotten a photo of him, they even looked identical.  It was almost creepy.

All of us were so tired that we didn’t feel like going back out for dinner.  Mom and Mike were the champions of luxury and ordered room service.  They were amazed that their full order arrived in something like 10 minutes.

L and I had brought a change of fancy clothing and decided to take advantage of the opportunity and went to the formal restaurant on site, Hugo’s.  Expensive?  Sure….but not as bad as I feared and as I said, I’m always willing to pay for good food and good service.  I’m definitely a buy an experience kind of person.

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L started with some scallops with all sorts of fancy foams and creams and mousses and (of course) white truffles.

The waiter said he wouldn’t let L eat in front of me, so he brought me a free and fancy little sample of strawberry gazpacho.  I’m normally not a fan of cold soup but I was won over by this one.

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Then onto our entrees!

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L, of course, picked the seafood option (even the mushrooms were oyster mushrooms — har, har).  Me, being me, went with tasty, tasty meat.  Bacon wrapped tenderloin.

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I actually chose it because of sauces.  Sauces are what win me over at fancy restaurants…that and the tenderloin was actually tender.  It was fantastic.

Since portions were reasonable for the first time on the trip, we actually had room for dessert.  Huzzah!

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L picked a honey and apple type of thing with a sorbet.  It was really sweet, even the apple.

…and speaking of sweet, why not just order ice cream in a hard chocolate ball, sitting in sweet creamy foam, and then have molten chocolate poured on top of it until it all melts open?


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Experience, people, experience!

It was so rich and chocolately that I couldn’t eat most of it (L definitely polished off what I couldn’t).  I just had to order it, though.

As an added bonus, a table in the back was having a birthday party.  The restaurant did these huge, flaming sparklers as part of their celebration when they brought out dessert. One of the sparklers misfired and shot out a 4-foot burst of flames.  I almost saw a table of women get their hair-sprayed bouffants set on fire…but they all screamed and fell away like dominoes in their fancy dresses.

I guess it was dinner with a free show?

Worth it!  😀

Vacation Day 8: Northern Ireland

We live in the suburbs and I’m still not used to it.  Admittedly, it’s better than the few years of city life, but I’ll always be a rural girl at heart.

Waking up to the harpy shrieking of a mama peahen at dawn did my heart good.

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She was trying to keep something like 8 little peachicks in line (we never did see the peacock) and L thought she sounded like an incredibly pissed off cat at 4 in the morning.

Birdie made us a hearty breakfast and we set off to explore Castle Caldwell Forest.

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Forever ago, one of our ancestors was a merchant and purchased a castle in the area to inhabit.  The family kept it for several generations but it’s nothing but ruins now.  The Old Bastard Master (he chose that struck-through name, not me — he seemed quite giggly about being called that and brought it up multiple times) from the previous night had regaled us with many stories of the family and how the tenants would basically screw them over because they were supposedly good people.

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Either way, the forest was nice and dark and there was a slight rain, so it was the perfect day for exploring it.

The castle ruins were roped off with barbed wire but that certainly didn’t stop me!

We also walked through a lovely meadow.

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…and we stopped by the lake.

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On the way out we even found the small church where some of our family had supposedly been buried, but most of the graves were in massive disrepair, so we couldn’t identify anything.  It was still eerie and beautiful, though.

The next stop on our journey was more for L’s family!  We took a jaunt around the Ulster American Folk Park.

They had a really fantastic and informative museum as well as an entire outdoors park with replica buildings from different eras in history.

L had to pose with a Grandfather clock because every.single.time. he played Oregon Trail as a kid, he’d be a rich doctor and load up his wagon with nothing but as many clocks as would fit and would inevitably die at the first river crossing.

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We were there on a fantastic day with lots of live demonstrations and actors/employees.  Most of the site was focused on the Mellon family since they seemed to finance the park and it included the home where Thomas Mellon was born, as well as other replicas of what he would have lived in after he immigrated to America.  Everybody kept talking about the “famous Mellon bank” and we all had no clue what on earth they were talking about.  It went defunct in 2007.  Oops?

The blacksmithing demonstration was really neat, as they almost always are.  He was making fire pokers that day.

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I think, perhaps, my favorite part of the Park was where they harvested their turf for the fires.  I grew up near coal country and in a heavily forested area, so the thought of just going out and digging up a chunk of grass to burn still fascinates me a bit.

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After the park, we loaded back up and headed up to the coast.  Along the way, L insisted on stopping to scope out a wind farm.  He looooves wind farms.

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The day finally got a little bit less dark and dreary as we got closer to the shore, but it was still raining.  At least we could see the patchwork landscape.

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We were headed to see one of the neatest geological formations I’ve seen thusfar:  Giant’s Causeway!

After exploring the hexagonal rocks, we (of course) got back in the car and drove yet some more.  This time we stopped at the Dark Hedges.  We parked the car and L and I got to out to walk among the beech trees before driving through it.

Then we checked into our B&B for the night: Caldhame Lodge in Crumlin.

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The rooms were very nice and spacious, and the host was very nice as well.  The only drawback — which was also nice for finding the place — was that it was right off of a major roadway, so there was quite a lot of road noise.

She gave us excellent directions to the nearest town (not far at all) for dinner.  We chose The Fiddler’s Inn.

We were all absolutely blown away by their service.  We went in and it was a Wednesday night, which is a popular night for live music, so the place was slammed.  The waiter asked some locals that were just drinking to move so we could have a table to sit at THEN when he found out we wanted dinner, he asked others to move so we could have a better place to sit, as a band was going to be setting up later.

The food was also super tasty.  I finally got my bangers and mash!  I always order them when we go out to a pub here at home….they’re never, ever this good.

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Pork and leek sausages over champ (mashed potatoes with scallions) with tobacco onions and gravy.  L had to plead for a bite, I didn’t want to give any up.  I finally did, though, but only in exchange for some of his garlic chips.  I’m going to have to make those at home — they were amazing.  He just ordered the pie of the day and loved it.

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It was also nice getting to sit right next to some live music and watch a lady dance around for a bit.  Normally I’m not a fan of live music while I’m out to dinner, but for some reason it was different here — I think it’s because it was local and it just seemed like everybody was there for a good time, instead of out to harass you for tips.

Vacation Day 7: Ireland & Northern Ireland

We had a lively breakfast with Jerry, the owner of the B&B, telling stories and showing off photos.  The other guests were also very friendly and some were locals on vacation to see the town and museum, so were full of suggestions of things we go to see while we were in the country.

Mike has seen The Quiet Man so many times that he said he could give us his own tour so we drove around and he told us where different scenes had been filmed as he recognized them.  The fields in the area were one of the big reason the area was chosen — the stone fencing really did look like a throwback to a bygone era.

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My photos from the car weren’t as nice in Ireland because the hedges blocked everything…but driving through hedges on super narrow roads meant to accommodate traffic flowing two ways was a bit of an adventure.

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Our only planned stop for the day was Downpatrick Head.  It was one of the things I really wanted to see.

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Why?  I have no clue.  I just did…and since I was planning the trip, guess where we went!

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Okay, so I wanted to see Dun Briste, the Broken Fort, because of the geological and mythological importance.  It has some neat history!

The St. Patrick ties were also interesting but I didn’t know those before going (guess I should have known based on the name and given that he’s the patron saint of Ireland…).

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In the end, it was one of my favorite stops of the entire trip….but for a totally unexpected reason.  I love getting out and stretching my legs when I’m on a vacation.  But the ground here was something else.  Everybody else was just shuffling around.

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L ran around the cliffs so I could get another “epic” (read: small) photo of him.

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…but I was like a baby goat playing on whatever the turf was.  I was also probably entirely too close to the cliff’s edge while doing stuff, but the ground was INCREDIBLY fun.

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I mean, just look at it.  How could you not want to jump from thing to thing of it?

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It also didn’t hurt that it was incredibly soft and springy and looked like a giant, green brain.

Seriously, what on earth kind of…earth…is that?  I loved it.

After that, we were off to find some sort of food.  I ended up not liking lunch — it was bizarre.  We went to some sort of carvery thing and I just went with a basic fish option but they ended up serving Thanksgiving style stuffing with it and a ton of different sides that I didn’t think went with fried fish at all.  Everybody else was just hungry, so they ate it.

We then drove over to Northern Ireland.  We were there just days after July 12 — I decided to delay going north first to avoid the big Orangemen marches, actually, and you could still see a few signs of contention about, especially close to the border (which everybody in the car but me was super surprised that there wasn’t a marked border).

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We stopped by the Belleek Pottery center on our way through and, while I didn’t take any photos there, L spent his fair share of money.  He was absolutely fascinated by the porcelain baskets they’re famous for so had to have one.  Belleek was founded by a Caldwell (a cousin several generations back) and we were there looking into my Caldwell family members…so that’s why we were in the area, after all!

Our accommodations that night were at the Dulrush Fishing Lodge.

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The B&B site we booked through (not airbnb) had an epic glitch and said we had canceled our rooms and since it was a weekend, the place was booked up fast.  The owner thought it seemed unusual, though, so did call to check with the site and us, and made sure we had a place to sleep.  She didn’t have separate rooms because of the glitch, but gave us a HUGE family suite with more beds than we had people.

Glitch aside, this was my favorite place to stay in both Ireland and Northern Ireland and it came entirely down to the host, Birdie.  She was AMAZING.

Her house was lovely and they also run a farm and have fishing on site, so I had lots of things to look at.  But, not only that, she also owns a pub in the nearby town and volunteered to drive us down to the pub so we could have dinner/drinks and bring us back so we wouldn’t have to bother with it ourselves.  Talk about service!

L was super happy, he got to indulge in several varieties of Irish coffees without having to worry about driving back to the Lodge.

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The pub also provided us with one of our most memorable experiences of the trip.  Our host had once been a teacher and the former school master there was an expert on our Caldwell family — he’s even the guy that has written the book on them.  I’m still not sure if she called him to come visit or if it was pure happenstance, but lo and behold, she ended up plopping John Cunningham down at our table with us after dinner.

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Let’s just say he was an unfiltered and absolutely hilarious wealth of knowledge.

Vacation Day 6: Ireland

Our first breakfast in Ireland was unremarkable, other than the fact that the B&B owner gave us a menu to chose from then told me “No.” when I gave her my choice from her own menu.   Sorry, but if you don’t have an option, don’t offer it to your guests…or at least don’t be hateful about it?

Like I said in my last post, the whole experience put us off on a bad foot with Ireland and it was NOT typical at all.  One of our party didn’t even go to breakfast but chose to just leave and wait in the car.  It wasn’t the best way to start the morning.

On our way out, we did see a rather amusing gas station:

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Apparently our former President had familial roots in the area and visited several years prior.  The whole thing is almost a tourist trap with little Obama gifts and cardboard stands you can have your photo taken with…it’s pretty amusing to find in the middle of nowhere.  I also saw “Donald Trump Kebabs” in one of the cities but wasn’t fast enough to snap a picture of it as L sped by.  I’m not sure what the story behind those were. >_>;

Our first real stop in Ireland was Burren National Park.

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The parking is slim, so we were able to ride a free transport bus, with a very friendly driver, which was a nice change of pace…especially for L.  The Burren was very lovely and we all enjoyed a short little hike around (even Mom, who was very sick of hiking at this point).

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Mike said he wished we’d even been able to stay longer and brought a picnic lunch.  There was so much biodiversity and the geography was really lovely and interesting.

As we were waiting for the bus back, L couldn’t resist the chance to have an “epic” photo by climbing a (very) small escarpment.

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Everybody gathered to watch his antics had a good laugh at him.  Not only did he look ridiculous, he also ripped the back of his pants open.  XD

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He assures me it was much scarier climbing down than up because those green things are the tops of trees, so he was quite high.

On the way back to the town where we’d left our car, we asked the driver for lunch recommendations and not only did he suggest a tasty little place, Bofey Quinns, he dropped us off right at the door!  We were very encouraged by his attitude compared to where we had slept the night before.  Luckily, his was the prevailing attitude we encountered throughout the rest of the trip.

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Since our first night in Ireland was actually a bust, we happily tucked into our first -real- Irish meals.

What did I learn in Ireland?  Meat and potatoes are all you need to survive.  I could grow used to that philosophy as well.  I had beef and Guinness, Mom was Mom and hilariously chose a pizza, Mike had a lamb stew, and L had some sort of Corofin fish pie.

The food was all really tasty but the best part of the restaurant was the fireplace in the back.  I have no clue what they were going for with this thing, but I seem to love weird animal statues and figures.

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On the way back to pick up our car, we passed by a church and L was worried Voldemort was growing out of the side.

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The rest of the church was really beautiful and they had a very interesting and old cemetery.  I’m not sure what the story with the floating alien-esque head was or is.  Nobody seemed to know.

Next we drove over to the Cliffs of Moher.  Thinking of Voldemort wasn’t a coincidence afterall!  We were going to see where Harry and Dumbledore went searching for one of the Horcruxes!

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…Mom and Mike had no idea what we were talking about.  >_>;

It was raining and super windy but still worth it.

Before the trip, I agreed to let L have three photos of me on the trip.  He chose to get one in each country.  In Scotland, he chose to take one of Mom and I in front of the Muirhead Inn.  In Ireland, he wanted one of us together here.  It turned out spectacular.  I couldn’t have asked for a better photo! XD The wind did me a solid and gusted in at the perfect moment.

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I was sad that there weren’t any Puffins obvious on Goat Island when we were there.  I really wanted to see one.  Alas, some day!

L did run around to the other side, mainly because he wanted to stand on the edge of a cliff, next to an electric fence, and feel the wind knife through the hole in his pants.  He was terrified and loved it.

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Then we loaded back up in the car for our best kept secret of the trip, our destination for the night.

But first, I’d like to address our GPS and the road situation.

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I referred to this thing as Harold and the Purple Crayon for the entirety of the trip.  The big purple squiggle covered the entire road and every road around it.

The second issue is LOOK at how curvy that particular road was…and the speed limit was 100 kmh….L was going 16 and still thought that was too fast.  We read somewhere that Ireland supposedly had some of the worst drivers in Europe.  We think we know why. 😛

So what was our big secret for the night?

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Okay, so that doesn’t give away much, does it?

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One of Mike’s favorite movies is “The Quiet Man” and he’s a pretty big movie buff.  We’d managed managed to get rooms at Michaeleen’s Manor in Cong, where they filmed the movie, for the night.  All of the rooms were themed and much of the town and surrounding area were still the same as they were when the film was made.  L finally got to see the film and enjoyed it himself.

I think the best part of it was the host — he was a hoot.

We were going to eat dinner at Pat Cohan’s bar (from the movie) but it was slammed.

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Instead, we ended up going to Ballinrobe and had dinner at Flannery’s.

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The place doesn’t look like much from the outside, but if you’re in the area; Go.

Mom doesn’t like beef and rarely eats red meat in general.  This was her favorite meal of the trip, so that speaks volumes.

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Luckily, she ordered the same thing as me, so I had an amazing meal too!  We all did.  It also came with a side of vegetables and THREE more types of potatoes other than what is pictured.  I think Mike says his huge sirloin was his favorite as well.  L was drinking the gravy that came with my steak by the end of the meal.  It was that ridiculously good.

None of us could finish all of the food that was brought to the table or order desserts, even though the sweets the people around us were ordering looked amazing.

Happily stuffed, it was really easily to sleep that night.  It was actually the first night I slept until the alarm went off.  I don’t know if I should blame the food or laughing at the signs above the bed — quotes from The Quiet Man movie.

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Vacation Day 5: Scotland & Ireland

Breakfast at Culcreuch was, of course fancy with a full waitstaff.

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L was convinced that the organ in the dining room was fake and just for show, though I’m not sure why.   Especially not considering the lounging area right next to it was also super fancy, just like every other room in the entire castle, except the one we slept in.

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It was our last day in Scotland, but our flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon so we had a bit of time to waste.  We started off the morning right by chatting up the “maids” at the castle.  They were a delight of inappropriate banter — not at all stiff and formal like the rest of the staff.  They all recommended we visit certain bars, entertainment districts, and other fun places instead of typical tourist sites.

One was really confused that we wanted to visit a little town called Muirhead.  “Why the hell would you want to visit Muirhead?!”

The old family connection.  My Scottish roots hail from Lanarkshire, on the outskirts of Glasgow.  The castle and estate are no longer standing but at least there’s a town still named for them!

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As always, the drive was beautiful and L wasn’t stopping for anything.

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As we approached Edinburgh, he did at least let us get out of the car and wander around because he wanted to look for a kilt.

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He was a man on a mission.  He ultimately didn’t find anything he liked but was okay with that in the end.  The town he stopped in, though, had a great view of the famous Forth Bridge.

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We also got a passing glance of the Kelpies as we zoomed by on the way to the airport.

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After we booked in with Aer Lingus — seriously, fly small.  The flight was painless and awesome.  Booking in was quick.  Edinburgh airport security was amazing; we were in and out in minutes.  I loved the whole process and I’m usually quite nervous through the whole proceeding.

We found a beautiful Krispy Kreme!   …so split a box of donuts in flavors we’ve never seen on this side.  Oddly enough, my favorite was one they declared was a NY Cheesecake.  Why have I never seen that one over here?!  :O

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There are also some strawberry something or others (didn’t try that one), nutella ones that were so rich they made me sick, and some kind of lotus and ginger flavored one.

After our short flight to Dublin, with a very sweet flight attendant, we picked up a much more comfortable car from Dan Dooley rentals.

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Thankfully we were -not- the first person to beat this one up and it had a lot more leg and head room for all of us!  I’d never heard of a Skoda before, so live and learn.

We landed late, so immediately off to our B&B for the night, Ardmore House in Kinnitty.

The instructions to get to the house were horrible and the GPS didn’t work as well as the one in Scotland, so we ended up turned around a dozen times.  L called the lady and asked for specific instructions and she basically treated him like a moron for not magically knowing where it was, despite having never been to Ireland, much less having no clue what any of her reference points where.  We didn’t even know the difference in the types of roads at that point.

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The house itself was lovely and it was really interesting…but it was a bit of a rough start.  I had really been looking forward to this particular stay and it fell short.  The host was really brusque and downright rude in some instances.  She also flat out lied to us and said her local pub, where she was going that night to play music, didn’t serve food when we inquired about dinner.  She sent us 30 minutes down the road to a bizarre little place — you can see their enthusiasm…and the pizza was by far the best part.

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When we popped in to listen to music later at the local pub (unannounced) were, needless to say, surprised to see a very bustling kitchen at the pub and quite a few waiters running around with food.  It wasn’t a good way to start off our stay in Ireland, despite the sign on her front door. 😛

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So, lovely house, but steer clear of that one.  We unanimously agreed that it was the worst stay overall because of the owner’s attitude.


Anything for a distraction

My annual doctor appointment is today.  I only have one that is on an annual basis and I hate, hate, hate it.  So, I panic.  I’ve been panicking for days.  It hasn’t been pretty.  No yays for panic.

In an effort to calm down, I’m doing everything I can to distract myself.  I’m going to go pretend I’m a walrus in a bit and sit in the tub for a few…hours…and read.  After our electric was upgraded this week, they turned off all the switches to the boiler and the last time I tried marinating in the tub to relax, I hopped in to realize it was ice cold because they’d forgotten to flip everything back on.  I haven’t been brave enough to take that ice plunge again. =/

Sooo, in an effort to distract, this “survey” thing popped up on my Facebook.  I used to love actually filling these out when I was teenager back in the MySpace and Xanga days, so figured I might as well give ‘er a go.  Yay for distractions!


Tired of all of those surveys made up by high school kids?! Have you ever kissed someone? Missed someone? Told someone you loved them?😂😂😂

Here’s 35 questions for grownups…

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?

College loans.  I only have one left and it’s almost gone, but it feels like such an epic rip-off.  Sooo much time and money (and I didn’t take out much in loans, especially compared to others) down the drain for a B.S. Biology that I’ve never used.  Following that, Time Warner Cable’s internet bill and Verizon Wireless — both are outrageously expensive for the services they provide.  Everything else, I feel they’re generally justified in charging what they do.  I actually like paying the other bills, it makes me feel useful and like an adult.

2. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?

We’re not “romantic” dinner people.  Maybe “Hugo’s Restaurant” in the Druids Glen Hotel?  I don’t know if that counts as romantic since we were just hungry in Ireland and went there to eat.  It was moderately fancy and we ate alone for a change — normally when we eat at fancy places, we’re with other people.  I almost saw a table full of ladies get their hair set on fire with a birthday sparkler gone wrong.  I call that dinner and a show, not romantic.

3. What do you really want to be doing right now?

Anything but thinking about going to the doctor.  Seriously, anything…except maybe actually -being- at the doctor.  I’ll probably sew some after I try drowning my misery in the tub.

4.How many colleges did you attend?

Three.  I took classes at a community college when I was in high school and sometimes during the summers for additional credits.  When I graduated high school at 17 (barely, graduation was a week after I turned 17), I went to a private college in South Carolina for a year and didn’t like it, at all…so I transferred to a public university in Virginia to finish my degree.

5. Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?

Because it’s my nightgown shirt and I won’t bother to put on day clothes until after I splash around for a while.

6. What are your thoughts on gas prices?

I actually have no clue what they are currently.  We have one car currently and L drives it almost exclusively, even though it’s technically mine….and it’s a Prius, so we fill up once a month on average unless we’re on a trip.  😛  I just looked at my financial logs and our last gas purchase was $21.47, so I guess that’s average?  I mean, even when it got to be nearly $4 a tank here, it didn’t hurt that badly because our car is an older generation, it also has some weird type of fuel bladder, so we never can get the full 11.9 gallon capacity.  Usually we only fill up to 9 gallons, when we’re bone dry with fuel warnings blaring.  We also get a discount at the gas station from our grocery store and those can really add up…so I really have no clue what the current prices are.

7. First thought when the alarm went off this morning​?

I didn’t even hear the alarm.  I’m sleep deprived — thanks, anxiety and people thinking it’s appropriate to send group texts all night long! — and just remember growling at L that he needed to wake up when he tried getting back into bed almost an hour after he was supposed to have woken up for work.

8. Last thought before going to sleep last night?

I need to find a longer cord for my phone charger so L doesn’t step on my phone some morning.  (He didn’t.)

9. Do you miss being a child?

In some ways, sure.  I certainly miss the people that I was around when I was a child and there’s no way I can ever be around them again.  Do I miss school and having to be completely dependent on other people?  Hell no.

10. What errand/chore do you despise?

Mopping and/or vacuuming.  We have two dogs and three cats.  No matter how often you mop or vacuum, it’s never done.  One of the animals has deposited fur or tracked something.  It is literally the chore that will never end.

11. Get up early or sleep in?

I actually prefer to get up early.  Most people like sleeping in, so the world is quieter in the morning and you don’t have to deal with as much nonsense.  It feels awesome getting all of your out-and-about errands done before most people roll out of bed.  Sometimes it’s nice to sleep in, though, that’s impossible to deny.

12. Have you found real love?

I’m married and we put up with each other, even after ten years of being together and five years of marriage.  We put up with each other’s annoying habits and generally support each other.  He likes to say we’re both dysfunctional but together we make a single, functional adult.  I guess that qualifies?  I’m not mushy, so I’m probably not the best person to ask this question.  He cries if I say something nice.  =/

13. Favorite lunch meat?

Who am I kidding, we all know it’s bologna.  Pickle loaf, if I can find it.  Now, if I could find venison sausages or something like that around here, then we’d have a different contender.

14. What do you get every time you go to Wal-Mart?

Usually cat litter or dog food/treats.  I don’t go to Wal-Mart a whole lot.  It’s a chaotic madhouse and sets my teeth on edge.  There are so many other stores where I live now, that I’m almost gleeful that I can avoid it.   …but they generally do have better prices on pet supplies and are one of the few places that stock the stuff my critters use.

15. Beach or Lake?

Beach.  I love the sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean.

16. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

I guess not since I’m married.  Tax break!   I’m pretty sure L asked me to marry him so I’d get on his health insurance and go to a doctor.  >_>  I think getting married for the -sake- of getting married is outdated and dumb, though.  I also think it’s nonsense to require marriage in health-care and financial decisions.  Marriage isn’t required for a family, or to have children.  If that’s what a person wants — go for it.   …but people shouldn’t be judged because of their decisions.  There’s nothing wrong with cohabitation or living a life independently.

17. What famous person(s) would you like to have dinner with?

Sirs Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, as a pair.  They’re utterly adorable as friends and everything I’ve seen them in, social media, film, and on Broadway, has been delightful.  I think I would actually enjoy a dinner with them.  I really enjoy being around old men. >_>  On that note, probably Peter S. Beagle as well.  Maybe I wouldn’t fangirl if I saw him at a dinner and could actually talk to him…and if not, I’d happily just listen to him talk again.  He’s fascinating.

18. Have you ever crashed your car?

Yes, but I was deemed not at fault.  My front wheel sheered off and passed me on the interstate.  I didn’t hit anybody but steered the car out of the morning commute traffic and into the guard rail.  No damage to anything but the car.

19. Ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended use?

No, but there are a few instances that I probably should have…including L’s penchant for grease fires.

20. Strangest place you have ever brushed your teeth?

In a creek while camping?  I was using water we’d purified, but I guess that would seem strange to some.

21. Somewhere you have never been and would like to go?

Iceland or New Zealand.

22. At this point in your life would you rather start a new career or a new relationship?

Neither.  Both sound like work.  I guess I’d pick the career, though, since I technically don’t have one of those right now other than my tinkering at home quilting and crafting thing.

23. How old are you?

I’m 31.

24. Do you have a go to person?

I guess L?  He’s really the only person I see day-to-day.  Kind of sad, isn’t it?  I do have a few people I talk to daily but they’re all far away, so it’s all online.  I guess maybe some of those would count.

25. Are you where you want to be in life?

Not really.  Getting there, but not quite.  Drop me off in some deep, dark woods with nobody around for miles and we’d be there.  I like my solitude a bit too much.

26. Growing up, what was your favorite cartoon?

I’m a pure 80’s kid.  Carebears or Gummi Bears….with a dash of My Little Pony.  I probably liked Carebears more at the time, but watching them now, I like Gummi Bears more.

27. What about you do you think has changed?

Since I was a kid?  My height and weight for one.  😛  I think a 5’10” baby would be terrifying, especially for the mother during labor.  Honestly, I don’t know if much has changed.  I was shy and cynical, even as a kid.  I did like being outside more as a kid, but a lot of that had to do with the location — I grew up in a rural area, without many neighbors (just grandparents as neighbors) and there wasn’t a huge tick population waiting to give you lyme disease outside.  So, I’m a lot more pale and pasty now than I was as a kid, and less physically active.

28. Looking back at high school, were they the best years of your life?

Are you kidding me?  Does anybody say yes to this question?  If they do, I can promise they’re not the type of person I’d ever want to associate with because they’re the ones that made life for everybody else miserable.  I hated high school.  Sure, you get to see your friends every day — which is awesome — but you also have to deal with the people that bully you…all day, every day.   …and when you’re a kid, time seems to move a lot slower, so it never seems like it’s going to end.  Remember how slowly the year creeped by from start of school until Christmas as a kid?  Now it’s gone in a blink.  There’s a reason that teen suicide from bullying is such a problem; school is a bubble and even though we can look back on it now and breathe a sigh of relief that we escaped it, when you’re trapped in that bubble, sometimes it’s almost impossible to see that there will be a way up for air when that bubble collapses.  If you don’t like your job now, you can transfer.  If you hate where you live, you can move.  Is it a pain? Sure.  …but if you’re a kid, unless your parents take what is happening to you seriously enough and have the ability to take action, you’re stuck in your situation for 13 years.  Thirteen years when kids are going through some of the most unsure times of their lives — developmentally and emotionally….because they’re kids.   …and other kids are downright mean.  Now that social media is so prevalent, there is no escaping it.  Internet was just becoming a “thing” when I was in high school, so the bullying followed us home then too.  Thankfully, it’s not as bad then as it is now.  I really feel sorry for kids now.  😦  When I have nightmares, they’re almost always that I’m back in high school.  Not that I’m naked or didn’t do my homework, just that I’m back in high school and having to deal with the same assholes I went to school with…

29. Are there times you still feel like a kid?

Only when I don’t want to go to the doctor.  😀   …or when somebody else is throwing a fit and telling me I need to “grow up” because I have an opinion of my own and don’t bend to their every whim and will.  I was bullied enough as a kid, thank you, I don’t put up with it as an adult…but it still throws me back to childhood and dealing with that nonsense.

30. Did you have a pager?

Nope.  I didn’t know anybody that did, either.

31. Where was the hang out spot when you were a teenager?

I don’t really know.  I wasn’t one of those types of kids.  It was a rural area, so there weren’t many areas to go.  Some of the less savory pursuits happened at the fairgrounds barn and other kids went to watch sporting events if they weren’t participating. My friends and I tended to hang out at the library, when we hung out.  We were usually too involved with extra-curricular activities to do other things, though, so we were almost always still at school…even in summer.  Where are my nerd glasses at?  That’s right, still on my face. 😀

32. Were you the type of kid you would want your children to hang out with?

Sure, I was pretty harmless.  I was in almost every club my school had —  Spanish, Upward Bound, Talent Search, Beta, 4-H and 4-H All-Stars, an Academic Competition Conference (on the science team), Band (marching and concert), Forensics (the speech/debate kind, not the let’s find the killer kind), and attended Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science, and Technology — and I participated in a few sports (youth basketball, plus tennis and cheerleading throughout high school).  I generally didn’t get into trouble unless somebody else tried stirring it up for me, so it was never anything serious.  Usually I would get fussed at for reading too much or playing in the rain.  Real wild child, here. 😛

33. Was there a teacher or authority figure that stood out to you?

Several, and not all for good reasons.  If we’re looking for a positive teacher, I’d go with my first grade teacher. I was generally the teacher’s pet because I was quiet and a high performer, but that wasn’t the case with Mrs. Miller.  Throughout all of elementary school, I didn’t get my name on the “bad board” except twice that I remember (I had lots of good check-marks removed for shenanigans, especially in Kindergarten, though…)…and both of those were in first grade.  Once, I turned off the water while we were washing hands before lunch and the second time I stayed in the coat closet talking to a boy too long.  Horrible of me on both accounts, right?  😛  The teacher had been out for the entire beginning of the year with an illness and she came in like a battering ram.  She was older and stern and very strict with high expectations. I loved her class because she was tough as nails and expected everybody to perform well, regardless of who they were — she had no favorites, even if I did usually end up as Queen of the Castle every week. ;P  I still send her a Christmas card every year and our families even went on vacation with each other about a decade ago.  🙂

34. Do you tell stories that start with “when I was your age…”?

Not yet, but only because I don’t interact with many kids.  I’d like to tell those stories though and make it sound like it was the dark ages.  Because when I was your age, we had stand in the kitchen, where everybody could see us and hear us, then pick up the phone and call our friends, hoping that they’d answer their house phone and not their annoying siblings or parents…or when I was your age, our annoying sibling would pick up the phone while we were online just to kill our internet connection JUST as we were finishing downloading that song that had taken us three weeks to download.  Truly, it was the dark ages.

35. Were you in love as a teenager?

Teenagers are young and dumb, so yah, I fancied me a boy or two.  I don’t think I was ever emotionally dependent on anybody or obsessed like most teenage girls get, but I did enjoy the company of certain males and vice versa (so they said) once I was introduced to a world of men that weren’t related or bumpkins from my hometown.

Vacation Day 4: Scotland

Another morning of bright and early.  You’d think by now that I would have grown accustomed to the sun, but nope.  I wouldn’t.

At least the view from the B&B was lovely.

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Our first mission of the day was to escape Skye.  There are really only two ways on and off the island.  We took the bridge on, so we chose the ride the ferry off.

On the way, we saw this really neat flat-topped mountain.  I wish I knew more about it, but I thought it was really fascinating.  My camera’s GPS says we were near Sconser.

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L also wanted me to say that he was driving on the left hand side very well at this point.  We were no longer screaming in horror.

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The weather was so unbelievably -me- the entire time we were in Scotland.  It was chilly and slightly cloudy.  I was happy as a lark.  Just look how pretty it was!  We’d pulled over on the side of the road so I could stretch out a foot cramp.  This wasn’t even anything special, it’s just typical Skye.

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We got to the ferry just in time to see it leave.  Just our luck.

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It’s okay, though, because there were lots of neat little shops and a pub within walking distance.  I ended up buying my yarn at a little yarn shop while we waited for the next boat, so it all worked out in the end for me. 😀

…this seagull was up to no good, I’m sure of it.

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Bye, bye, Skye!

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Hello, Mallaig!

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Then we crammed ourselves back into the car and zoomed off for lunch at the Glenfinnan House.

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Of course I had some venison sausage and a side of leek and potato soup.

Then we walked over to see the famous viaduct.  Parking was a madhouse at the small lot, so I’m really glad I was devious and we arranged to park at the house.  It was a nice walk after lunch and it allowed us for perfect timing to see the train cross twice!

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Let’s go to Hogwarts, guys!!! ❤

Afterwards, we headed to back to the car to make our way towards our accomodations for the night, Culcreuch Castle.

As always, it was a lovely drive.

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We were narrowing in on Glasgow, which is where my Mom’s family is from, so she was excited to see some true moorland — where her surname originates.

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We finally got to the Castle!  Hooray!

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…then L and I found out we were sleeping in the servant’s quarters.  Boo.

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It wasn’t too bad, except they had a horrible air freshener that gave me a miserable migraine.  Our toilet also didn’t flush.  That wasn’t too fun either.  L put the air freshener outside of the door and that made life a bit nicer.  I think they were trying to cover a mildew/mold smell.  We didn’t spend too much time in the room — we pretty much dumped our stuff there and headed back to the castle to stay with Mom and Mike.

First things first, dinner in the dungeon!

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My head was super angry from the air freshener.  I remember having chocolate ice cream, though.  I remember that much.  The food photos are what Mom and L ate.  They were both very pleased with their meals.  Mom had some sort of chicken and Logan had a crab cake….then Mom had the white chocolate dessert thing that she was yumming over and Logan had the cheese plate.  I ate his grapes because he was too full and I won’t let tasty fruit go to waste.  🙂  He ended up putting the stinky blue cheese in his pocket and carrying it around ’cause he was too full to eat it and I won’t touch the stuff.

After dinner, Mike introduced L to the world of Scotch.  L now likes that world quite a lot.  I snuck upstairs in the castle and wallowed around in Mom’s tub until most of my headache went away.

I really felt like a whale.  My shoulders hit the wall and the glass side of the tub.  It was not entertaining or relaxing….but at least their toilet flushed.

The castle was pretty and interesting, but my least favorite of our accommodations in Scotland, especially considering it was the most expensive.  The experience was entertaining but I wouldn’t visit it again.

Except, perhaps, to see the mustachioed cats.  They were the best part (other than the cleaning ladies who we weren’t supposed to interact with but I found hilarious)…

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