The world’s full of drama outside the windows. Wild wicked wind that howls as it whips the trees and sends the fountain water spewing sideways.
It whistles, sings, with thunder occasionally rumbling to add some fierce. BW spots a woman walking one of the paths who holds her umbrella horizontally toward the water.
I think, however she aims it, it’ll not do much good out there.
From inside, cozy, dry and warm, it’s a terrific show.
Our plan for the day is to burrow inside.
I pay a visit to JK&G’s room to see the progress on Kat’s painting. She’s adding falcons!
I don’t know if my snap of the progress shows the beginnings of them—in white on the sky—but her greenery’s taking shape.
This is going to be fabulous when finished, as it already is.
Kat, Griffin and I go up to the boutique. Stairs! Joy for the boy.
Inside the lovely little shop, he makes friends with some ladies. And I spot a scarf boasting one of those gorgeous falcons. How can I walk away from that?
Why not have a nice, leisurely lunch while the rain lashes at the windows?
We have a table right by those windows, so have our show while we eat.
Griffin and I share an enormous toasted ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette. He is a serious fan, sits on my lap and chows down on the bites I break off for him. Even with his help—and he gave me plenty—I couldn’t finish it.
Nap time for the boy after a bit of a walk around. BW has his book, and I decide to take a couple of these stormy hours to write. I hit the point I wanted to hit, start to pack it up, and here comes Griffin, fresh from his nap. And with him, the sun.
We won’t waste it.
We gear up, and all head out to the walled garden. Griffin meets young Rory and Shane on the way, makes more pals. The air’s daisy fresh now, the wind quiet. The storm blew in some warm, so it’s a lovely walk to a lovely spot.
Kat and Jason scout around—the boy wants some gravel and dirt—and they set up our traditional pano.
It works, first take! Great fun for us.
We take the long way home in the warm and fresh, the quiet light. See Cullen as we go by the falconry school. They’re about to fly one of their ladies so she can hunt for her supper.
Fortunately we don’t have to hunt for our own. When our walk’s done, we head down for dinner. The fish I choose is as fresh as the evening.
BW and cap off the evening streaming The Quiet Man.
Soft and quiet to start the morning. Misty and calm, all grays and greens. With my workout done, the boy having his post-breakfast nap—after a quick visit to climb our stairs—the wind kicks up again.
We plan to go out, see more of the area, but we’ll wait for Griffin to rouse, and hopefully, the day to settle down a bit.
Since the weather’s changeable my walk-abouts are short-lived. The misty rain breaks now and then, comes back harder, fades off to some sunshine.
With all those changes in light, in mood, you can see a thousand shades of green, muted shifts in the blue/gray tone of the water. How vivid the splashes of color from the flowers.
Kat texts that the fabric shop she drove out to hit the spot.
Time for lunch for the rest of us, and we get a generous booth in the handsome bar. I watch the bartender mixing chocolate martinis—not my sort of drink, but fun to watch, and so pretty.
Griffin arrives with Daddy, and he’s had a solid nap, is ready to see what’s what. He likes watching the bartender, too, but wants a bit of a walk. And there’s a table nearby with kids, so he needs to say hello.
We order him a little dish of avocado, always a favorite, and a small bowl of chicken soup, which he very much likes. I get a salad and share some of my goat cheese which also meets his approval.
It’s a cozy lunch, a fire in the hearth, a cheerful, hungry boy.
Kat should be back any time as we girls have a special treat lined up.
Aisling, who follows the blog, and runs a Paint Club here, saw that we often book these paint nights and have fun with them. She generously offered to gift us a session. Kat and I jumped right on that!
On Sunday, at the event, she and Kat chose a scene, worked out some details. I see the scene we’re to paint with admiration, and personal amusement. This beauty of this piece of Ashford—the stone tower, the walls, the sky, the river, the trees—is absolutely lovely—and I’m completely positive is so far out of my less than meager skills the gap can’t be measured.
Aisling, however, assures me I’ll do fine, and she’s good at what she does.
I’ve no doubt she is, but I also know I can’t draw a straight line.
But I’m game. Kat, I know, will create something beautiful—and I’ll have fun.
The castle’s provided us a room as the weather’s on and off rain. Aisling’s already worked up a painting for us to follow—beautiful! And will do another along with us, taking us step by step.
We start with sky. Okay, I can do sky (don’t know about clouds that won’t look like Griffin painted them). We have colors on our palettes, brushes, wipes, and she demonstrates how and what to mix.
She shows me a technique with a sponge for the clouds, and they come out pretty good. Not Kat level, but well above-average Nora.
Then there’s the river, and how to form it so the colors blend, so there are highlights, the illusion of ripples.
The tower—the grays and browns, touches of yellow mixed. And Aisling concedes I can’t draw a straight line and helps me there. Highlights again, it’s fascinating.
Kat’s slower as she’s doing some fine details. I honestly didn’t believe I could paint a stone tower that didn’t look like a blob, but Aisling IS good at what she does, and guides me through.
There’s the wall, the road, and how form them so they don’t look like those blobs. Trees, bushes, touches of color, more dimension.
Kat doesn’t get to the greenery as she’s perfecting the rest. She has her own supplies at home, and will finish it there—or here with the supplies she brought with her.
I look at what she’s done, and am just blown away.
But I’m pretty impressed with my own bad self!
I won’t be quitting my day job, but I may approach our next paint night with a little more ambition.
We are very happy girls, all three of us. It must be rewarding to coach someone through creativity this way. And let me say, it’s just lots of fun.
No matter how pitiful your skills, you’ll not only enjoy the experience, but very likely surprise yourself. Because I did both, I’m giving Aisling a plug here in the blog. Go to www.paintclub.ie and book yourself a treat. Better yet get some pals and make it a party.
Thank you, Aisling! Every time I look at my Ashford painting, I’ll think of you and a really enjoyable afternoon.
I can’t wait to see Kat’s when it’s finished because it’s going to be amazing.
From there, it’s straight to The Dungeon for dinner. BW and Jason are suitably wowed by our paintings.
We walk back to our wing a different way after dinner. Letting Griffin climbs stairs (a current favorite thing). He laughs and laughs as he climbs, comes to play in Nana’s room for a bit then off to bed.
Sometime during the night I woke to what I thought was singing, something high and sweet in the distance. I drifted off again to it, woke again later to the same sound.
And realized it was the wind singing at the windows.
It’s a blustery, rainy day—and still the gray of it is so soft, almost tender out the windows while I workout. The big tree I see is shivering and swaying, and little splotches of brightness over the river tease—will I, or won’t I?
Now the wind’s whistling rather than singing that sweet song.
Griffin’s come for his morning visit. He’s got another tooth coming in, and had a rough night. But he’s happy this morning. Then seriously pissed off because neither his daddy nor I will let him have the fire in the hearth.
He settles for a climb up the short stairs leading to our bedroom, and his mood goes bright again.
He’s off to nap—and I expect his tired parents will do the same. BW’s settled in with a book. I may set up to work an hour or two, or grab a book to read myself.
With the whistling wind and the rain, it looks like a day at home.
Sometimes the universe offers a perfect day just to see what you do with it. I think we did pretty well.
For myself, those blue skies call me out. Kat intends to take Griffin for a stroller walk, but the boy goes down for a long, hard nap. I think being a social, active, cheerful baby, he needed recovery time from all the socializing, activity and happy.
While his batteries recharge, I head out to the walled garden. It’s a favorite spot among many favorites for me here. It’s a lovely walk even before I get there with a kicky little breeze, happy skies.
I go through the stone tunnel that open up to magic. Another tunnel, this of vines, and lovely, lush gardens spreading, climbing, dancing a bit in the breeze. It’s quiet as a church but for birdsong with all those colors, textures, thick blooms. White benches sit here and there, an invitation I accept so I can just bask in company of the flowers and butterflies with the clouds above sailing along the blue, silent as ghosts.
For most of my visit, it’s mine alone. Others wander in now and again, to stroll along and snap pictures as I do. But for most of the interlude, it’s just me, birdsong, butterflies and busy bees.
There are vegetables and herbs, too. I see dill taller than BW. Cabbage and kale and leek along with the Black-Eyed Susan (a reminder of my own garden at home), astilbe, coneflowers, the fuzzy spread of lamb’s ear.
I know the work that goes on here to make this enchantment—I dig in the dirt, sweat and weed plenty. But it looks as if it just grows wild and wonderfully on its own.
There’s nothing like a garden for brightening the heart, body and spirit.
I want to take Griffin next time.
More strolling until a light drizzle falls (light and brief). Back out, as the boy (and now his dad) sleeps still. I walk over to Mrs. Tea’s gift shop to scout. I’m after two more gifts, and think I see them. But I want Kat’s opinion.
So back I walk in this gift of a day to find BW. After some discussion, we decide to have lunch back at Cullen’s and eat outside to take full advantage of this special day.
It’s warm, actually warm and sunny and blue. Kat joins us—so do some bees, and one gets a little too intimate with Kat, stings her hand.
Some vinegar for that.
She helps me decide on my gifts—a very satisfying purchase—and our boys finally surface to have some lunch with us on Cullen’s pretty patio.
We take our time with it all before going back to suit up for our much-anticipated Hawk Walk.
For this I want a jacket as we’ll walk through shady woods, and it’ll chill no doubt as the sun lowers.
Kat straps Griffin in the backpack—though I guess it’s a front pack. The birds, we’ve been warned, are terrified of strollers. We wouldn’t try maneuvering one through the woods, but just in case.
Griffin’s well rested, well fed and ready for an adventure.
Cullen at the Falconry School prepares to give us one.
I always love this part of our Ashford’s visit. Everyone at the school is so knowledgeable about the raptors, and their deep (and mutual) affection shows. BW generally stands as photographer on the walks, but this time Kat and Jason take that job so BW can have a chance to experience. He has Wilde, and I Mia.
Griffin is delighted with the birds, but behaves himself very well, studying them, watching them as we walk. I fall for Mia very quickly, and thrill to have a hawk on my arm again. Off they soar, just magnificent, to perch on branches and wait until our gloves are baited and raised.
And the sensation, the sight of having that gorgeous creature fly back to you, land so perfectly on your arm is indescribable.
We learn quickly that Wilde is clever. If BW inadvertently raises his glove arm a bit between flights, back he comes—and Cullen has to feed him as that’s how it works. Cullen explains Wilde is training BW.
He’s also not one to let a bit of dropped chicken go to waste. He’ll jump down to get it, gobble it right up.
Into the magical woods we go, and those amazing birds wing through the trees, find their perch, wait to be called. Sometimes we leave them behind a bit, so Cullen’s whistle and the raised arms call them to longer, lovely, acrobatic flights.
Along the path, through the woods toward the lake as Cullen’s tells us of the birds’ personalities—ours and the others. He know them well, and they obviously know him, too. A few times Wilde chooses my arm, beating Mia, and once they nearly land together before she hops to BW’s glove.
At one point it seems they spot some sort of prey in the bushes and brambles, so in Cullen goes with a big stick to try to flush it for them. No luck, but the birds seemed entertained.
Then we cross to the pier by the beautiful lake, with the birds on the opposite shore. We’re to keep our arms down, the bait hidden in our fists, then call them so we can watch their flight over the water.
They fly back, perch, soar across the water again. That wingspan! The grace, and agility as they skim over the water.
It’s truly a soul-stirring sight.
A boat comes by, someone Cullen knows. We wave, then move on.
Through the woods again, enjoying every moment and back to the main path where Wilde and Mia are rewarded with bigger pieces of chicken for a job well done.
The birds decide Cullen’s taking too long to produce their reward and make impatient noises, almost growls. Hurry up, man!
But oh-oh! As we approach the school a family—with a baby in a stroller round the corner.
Both birds freak—they weren’t kidding about the fear. Luckily, Cullen had tied the jesseys before the sighting, so the birds flap, flap, try to fly away, but have to stay put.
I can actual see the alarm in their eyes.
To complicate things, the family is French, with little to no English. They’re understandably baffled about why Cullen seems to want them to go back. I can’t pull out the French for stroller (could maybe have used pram) or bird, but Kat uses pantomime very effectively flapping her arms like wings, making a scared face, pointing to the stroller.
Cullen tells us if the birds had been able to fly off, they probably wouldn’t have gotten them back until the next day. The fear’s real.
We’re given an extra treat when we get back to the school. A chance to fly Dingle—the gorgeous owl we met on our first trip here—maybe a dozen years ago.
He is so beautiful, so regal. About 20 now, he strikes me as the king of his castle.
Here Griffin is stunned into love. He really likes owls and to see one, a real one, so close brings out happy noises. Dingle gives a wary eye to this creature—who would appear to have two heads and four arms as the boy’s strapped to Kat.
Dingle has an indoor flight area, so we try it.
I can hardly believe I have this amazing creature on my arm, that I’m looking right into those stunning amber eyes.
He takes his flight—oh what a beauty—but decides: Hey, this beam looks good, and perches there. He’s not hungry, Cullen explains, so isn’t much interested in flying back to me for a snack. Still we try once more, same result, but it’s a thrill to have that spectacular bird on my arm, to watch his flight.
And Griffin gets a chance for closer look as Kat dons the glove—and Dingle consents to pose on her arm for a photo. (Laura’s note: This says owl, but I have no photographic evidence of such.)
Ashford sends us ice cream! Still one more treat we enjoy as we talk about the birds. There’s a kestrel, just a little guy—who the school took in after a farmer saved it from crows trying to have some lunch.
So sweet, and what a good home it has before it’s released into the wild again.
It’s been perfect, start to finish. Thank you, Cullen, again and again.
Wee head into Cong for dinner. Before it comes, Griffin, passes out, so naps on the bench between Nana and Mama.
He wakes to eat a bit, and we take the rest of his meal with us.
Revived, he finishes it at home, has some play time.
Then it’s time for bed after a wonderful day at and around the castle.
Soft and gray this morning, mists over the water, lacy and thin, quiet light, and some drips of rain while I work out.
Griffin came to visit while I did cardio, and I promised him a Shaun T session later. Off to breakfast, and now napping. Kat’s driving somewhere in Galway for the wool she covets.
I’m going to clean up, then hope the weather allows me to steal the boy from his daddy—or share him for a walk down to the walled garden.
A phoner with Australia starts things off, then it’s off to the lobby to meet with the team from Little Brown. And Ashford’s huge and gorgeous Irish Wolfhounds. They’re just magnificent, sweet, friendly, perfectly behaved. (The dogs, though the team qualifies, too!) I wish Griffin had been with me as he’d have been thrilled.
Clara, Laura and Gina are here from England to run the show today, and I think it bodes most excellently for the day when they have a Diet Coke waiting for me!
A couple quick photos, then an interview on site for The Guardian to run next February—at the launch of In Death’s 50th book.
Allison (the reporter) and I have a mutual love and admiration for Mary Stewart’s works. More boding well as we both, obviously, have great taste in books.
It’s an easy half hour or so before we shoot some videos for my UK publisher.
Jason and Kat have put the scripts on Jason’s laptop, and this works really well. The vid guy has everything set up, and we get it done in good time.
Griffin joins us now and steals the show in his tartan outfit from Edinburgh. Honestly, that level of cute might be illegal in some jurisdictions.
We have a break now, so Jason, Kat and I take His Cuteness for a walk to admire the fabulous trees, take in those blue skies, and down to the stables.
The horses bring on the squeals and delight—and they’re also sweet and well-behaved as we give them some strokes.
We watch a stable girl try to lure a horse in the pasture, holding the rope behind her back. He’s like: Excuse me, do I look like a git? I know what you’ve got there. He runs, dodges, pauses, trots away again—I think he laughs a few times. And defeats her.
We walk back to get some food into the boy before the event.
Down to The Lodge we go where the publishing and Ashford teams have everything set. I meet the delightful Kate Kerrigan, who’ll hold the conversation with me. My Laura’s already told me about the small world aspect. Laura’s Mayo cousin and Kate are pals.
We have time to sit outside in the gorgeous and chat before it’s time to begin.
Griffin meets young Leo, and the two boys hit it off. I’m told they play in the gravel with Griffin set on moving said gravel to the path, and Leo patiently putting it back again.
Inside, readers have refreshments before taking their seats. We have a full house, and that’s just lovely. Lovelier yet, everyone’s so happy and cheerful. I hope we give them a good experience, because it’s certainly one for me to be here, to have this chance to meet so many readers who’ve come from far and near.
Kate makes it a genuine conversation—I like that it’s not just a question, an answer, next question. We talk, and that’s nice, nicer we have considerable in common.
There’s good energy to the day, the room, which makes it all fun for me.
We open it up for questions from the readers, and maybe it’s the Irish vibe, but that’s conversation, too. Easy, enjoyable—and I hope informative when it was meant to be.
I’m delighted and astonished to learn a young woman moved to Ireland after reading Born In Ice. She met her husband here, and found her place. Another woman moved here from Arizona.
Another woman, originally from Poland now lives in Edinburgh, and in the next small world department, works in the Starbucks where Jason and Kat got coffee several times.
I love the way paths cross.
We end with a signing, and everyone is so patient. (Note from Laura: books provided by Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop) This gives me time to have bits of conversation one-on-one. Or two-or-so-to-one as we have a lot of Mums and Daughters, lots of sisters, lots of friends who’ve come together.
It’s wonderful, beyond satisfying for me to feel like part of their relationships through my books.
My Laura has given the UK team the basic set up, as we use at Turn The Page for signings. So they’ve got post-it notes with names on the books, and Jason’s beside me to keep the flow going while Clara takes photos.
It’s not only smooth from my standpoint, but fascinating to hear where everyone’s come in from. Dublin and France, the UK, The Netherlands, County Kerry (very near where we stayed) Clare, not far from our land there, Limerick and Cork and on and on.
I meet some ladies who’ve stayed at Inn BoonsBoro in this lovely small world.
At some point during the signing, the skies open to rain, then it clears again so the green shimmers and the boats in the Corrib ride on blue.
An altogether wonderful day, and so many thanks for it to Clara, Gina, Laura (my Laura, too!) to Kate, to Ashford, The Lodge staff, and most especially to the readers who traveled to join the day and made it so warm and welcoming to me and my family.
I loved every minute.
We have to say our goodbyes—hope everyone traveled well and safe. A break before we have dinner at Cullen’s. Good food, good wine, good service. A glass front rotisserie oven where chicken turns and fascinates Griffin. A walk outside where a boy and his dad ride bikes and cause more happy for our boy.
He’s been a jewel all day.
A walk back through the pretty air, and it’s not long before bed.
Workout done, and I had blue skies once more. A man shaping the pretty shrubs in the sunlight, a fire simmering and the window open to let in the fresh.
Kat tells me Griffin slept till seven—uncharted territory as she put it. A lot of socializing and being adorable wore him out. He’s as cheerful as ever this morning—though displeased I’m writing this blog instead of putting Shaun T on for his entertainment.
He’s going for a walk, and I may clean up and join him to grab more of the blue and the green. Kat and I plan to shop here at the castle later.
And later this afternoon, our Hawk Walk!
In today’s #randomkatness — the ladies’ warming spot of old restored to it’s historic look.
A note from Laura: If you were at the event yesterday and have photos, make sure you tag them on social media: for Instagram: @norarobertsauthor @jdrobbauthor #thelodgeatashfordcastle for Facebook: @noraroberts @jdrobbauthor @norarobertsjdrobb
Or email them to me at LMReeth@gmail.com and I’ll disperse accordingly.
Gorgeous, gorgeous day. Breezy, brisk and blue. BW and I take a nice long walk around, through the forest, down the paths, around the gardens. The trees here are beyond magnificent, huge and fantastically shaped, some with branches I couldn’t span with both arms.
We head back to see the horses, and one’s by his lonesome in the stall. He watches us come as if to say: Come keep me company for a bit.
So we do.
Across from the stables spreads an island of rusty red hydrangea. I’ve never seen them this color—not pink, not rose, but red. I think they came out pinkish in my photo, but they’re red.
I want some for my own!
A mare and a gelding—a white, a bay—munch, munch, munch grass in the pasture. Very focused on it. The bay stops only to scratch his back against a pole.
We circle around back and spot a hawk walk group. The two falcons soar right over us, one low enough to just brush BW’s hat. They’re magnificent. We’ll be having our time with them Monday.
Jason’s got a night cough that’s kept him awake, and Griffin finally hit the I’m-really-tired wall. So while they take a serious morning nap, BW and I have a drink in the tea room. I order a mimosa.
It’s, hands down, the most amazing mimosa in the history of mimosas. Orange juice so fresh it deserves a good slap.
I enjoy every leisurely drop and wonder how I’ll ever drink another now that I know what I know.
Since the boys are still down and out, BW and I head to Cong. It’s such a pretty village, so proud of its The Quiet Man heritage. Steep, steep, narrow sidewalks take us up and up, and around to where a shop I loved sat. But it’s there no more. I’m so sorry about this as they had lovely things, interesting art, wonderful crafts.
But around we go again, and Kat texts they’re on their way. So it’s lunch, and we let them know where—at a very fine bar on the main road.
By the time they join us we’re ready to dig in. A high chair for the baby—Jason had said he didn’t think they’d have one because bar. I said, Ireland—and a colorful high chair is provided for the hungry boy.
A fine lunch, then a little shopping—and I spot ice cream. The boy and I will have some.
Up the steep, narrow sidewalk we go with Griffin sharing my ice cream and his mama wiping his mouth.
Then it’s back up the pretty, road, by the water—where we stop for Griffin to have his water fix. Happy! And on and up with those wonderful trees lining the road, past the curve and the stone church, and up and the land opens for the castle view.
What a sight it makes.
On by the gates and in. The boy wants another nap. He’s had a busy couple of weeks.
So a lazy hour or so until he wakes ready to play.
We have a fire in the parlor which interests him—so I have him sit with me for safety. He can watch it from my lap, and since I solved the Beach Body issue, enjoy some mash ups.
We’ve decided on room service—give the boy an at home dinner.
We have it in K&J’s room as they have a bigger table. The waitstaff proves wonderful, cheerful as they manage to set up a dinner for five, entertaining Griffin.
A nice easy—delicious meal—quickly and efficiently cleared.
Griffin and I must have our nightly game of tickle and chase.
I decide to turn in early as today’s a big day. Slept like a rock for nearly eight hours. That’s seriously sleeping for me.
Hope my bigger boy got a solid night, too.
Up and about ready for the Little Brown team, and the tea. So looking forward to meeting the readers who’ll be there.
Looks bright and breezy out again. So happy with the weather.
We start out right on time and in wet weather. Wet or not, it’s a pretty drive. Griffin takes a ten minute bat nap, then enjoys the ride. Into Cork and in and out of rain and brightening skies.
Lovely green hills dotted with sheep and cows and horses, divided by lines of clumpy green shrubs. Windy roads. Ooh, a big hay lorry, but Kat’s doing just fine.
We stop for diesel, and find a friendly orange tabby sleeping on the roof of a car for let. She wakes to greet us—thrill the boy, and ribbon through my legs for a pet and stroke.
Fueled up, and off we go. Now Griffin sings himself into a solid 50 minute nap while we weave our way into Clare. We’re heading for Tulla—Jason with navigation on his phone, BW with a map. Rising, rising, rolling hills, lovely farms and wide stretches of pasture.
I adore Clare. It’s the first place I visited in Ireland so long ago, and it woke that sense memory instantly. Ah yes, of course, this is one of my places. I know the light, the air.
BW and I have been in this area often, but not on this particular route. We recognize the names of towns, remember time spent in them. It’s brighter now, that sweet luminous light.
The boy wakes as we come into Tulla, and with Jason Googling find a stop for lunch at a place called Flapper’s.
It’s just right.
Irish veg soup and chips for me with a glass of house white that’s very nice indeed. We eat very well, stretch our legs a bit, and grab a few provisions from the market next door.
We made this detour to go by the land we bought years back—and Jason’s nav takes us right down the skinny road between the high hedgerows and bright orange flowers to the gate.
We have about five acres of green here on a lovely lake we lease to a farmer for pasture. It’s great to see it again, to show Griffin, and remember closing the deal with a handshake on the side of the road.
Then we’re back in the car—another nap for Griffin, and into Galway.
Softer here, I always think, pastoral and peaceful, with those fields divided by gorgeous stone walls. It’s definitely brighter with blue pushing into the sky here and there, and actual sunlight burning through.
And now Mayo, and signs for Cong at last.
Griffin wakes in time for the stop at the gate at Ashford and the drive through the deep forest. The castle stretches and rises up ahead, facing the water with its little green humps of islands.
And we’re home.
If I have any stress in me, it always fades off at Ashford.
It’s beautiful, the staff wonderful and warm.
We’re taken straight to our rooms, and though we don’t have that family cottage here, we have a pair of suites that basically adjoin, so our own little enclave.
There’s champagne on ice—and thank you more than words for that!—gorgeous flowers from the Little Brown team.
Unpacking to do. I’ve bunged up my wrist—likely lifting a certain young man—so that’s mostly on BW. Better today with some pampering, and that’s a relief.
I find a gift from the Little Brown team, and am simply thrilled. I have a beautiful bespoke scarf made just for me. I adore scarves, and this one’s stunning and soft, and will be worn often, treasured always.
We settle in, orient ourselves and change for dinner in The Dungeon.
I have to say I’m amazed with Griffin. I’ve never traveled like this with such a young one, and he’s so easy, so cheerful. I have to think he must wonder now and then: Where the hell are we now? But he rolls with it.
And finds, naturally, another pretty waitress to flirt with, other diners to charm. He still manages to eat hearty. As do we all.
There’s live music tonight, and BW’s up for it. I’m simply not, so I turn in as he goes off to listen.
He’s full of the band this morning, so it was time well spent for him. As the eight hours sleep was for me.
Workout done, though I had to dig into my vid library and my Beach Body app won’t let me in today. We’ll deal with that later.
It’s a blue sky, sunny day. The water’s blue in response, and I watched landscapers planting more flowers early.
Going to clean up, walk around, hopefully down to Cong.
After some energetic play, JK&G head into town. We plan to go in for dinner later, and I want to get that laundry and packing started.
Kat calls in the midst of it to let us know there’s a huge fair in town—mostly Travelers from the looks of it. The town’s packed with people, and there’s no parking as stalls now spread through the car parks.
Change of plans. The gang will now pick up what we need to expand our leftovers into dinner at home.
So I get a good start on packing and gathering and organizing, and enjoy the view.
When they get back, Griffin’s already out for the count, so it’s nap time. I see what I can do about making meatballs for the left-over spaghetti.
I do not like this stove! It’s a complicated PITA, and I need Jason to get the oven on for me. Kat got a lot of meat! So we’ll have a whole bunch of meatballs.
Griffin’s up, and while Kat makes a cheese and broccoli soup, I take him out for a walk in the stroller.
He sings to himself as we walk down our quiet road. No jacket required on this balmy evening. There are three cottages on this stretch, and the one at the far end isn’t occupied.
So we explore, go around the path—spot an orange tabby that streaks away—and around to the patio.
We stroll back, but since we’re both having a good time, do the circuit again.
There’s a fountain formed by a huge ball, and he very much enjoys. There are bits of a river view, but mostly it’s gorgeous stretches of land, green and green, and the rise of hills.
The air’s so sweet, the light so soft, and the baby’s singing quietly to himself.
Back in for about a half hour of chaos putting the meal together. Stupid stove!
But it all turns out just fine. We have meatballs and some spaghetti with marinara. Some pasta with olive oil and herbs, the soup, salad, garlic bread.
Nobody goes hungry, and we’ve made a heroic mess of the kitchen.
Jason bought pastries in town, but I have something Griffin and I will like more. An ice cream bar. He sucks that down.
He plays with Daddy while Mama attacks the massive kitchen clean up. But wait—he spies my tablet, and lets it be known he hasn’t had his daily dose of Shaun T.
The minute it comes on he grins. We watch every one, with him mesmerized and often keeping time with one hand. He’s not done, so I switch to Brazilian Butt Lift. Hey, pretty girls.
He’s satisfied with this, but wants daddy to hold him and watch, too. The boy’s tired. He’ll flop his head on Jason’s chest or shoulder, then jerk back, waving his hand as if to say: No, I’m still partying! Flop, jerk, wave.
Until a flop involves eyes closing.
That seems to be it, so up I go finish packing.
It’s not long before I hear Jason, and those little running feet. Revived, Griffin’s ready for the nightly game of run into Nana’s room, get a tickle attack, squeal outrageously, run, run back, repeat.
Our boy ends his day as happily as he started it.
Packing’s about done.
Gray clouds are streaming across the sky, and the wind’s stirring up. Likely rain coming in.
We’ll miss our views out our cottage windows, and the long hallways up and down for Griffin to run. But it’s onto Mayo in the morning, and lots to see on the drive through Clare and Galway.
Jason’s finishing up laundry as they’ve about got Griffin down for the night. It’s all quiet now, inside and out.
I’m writing the blog now so I’m not rushed tomorrow. We’ll take our time on the drive, enjoy the journey.
Time to venture out, and to one of my favorite spots. Since the road to Torc Waterfall is especially windy, BW and I switch positions—so I avoid car sickness.
Both Kat and I suffer from it, so she’s behind the wheel, and I’m front seat passenger.
It’s a gorgeous drive. Some rain, some sun as we wind along with Magillicuddy Reeks rising and spreading, the land below vivid green, dotted with sheep—and goats.
The hills go rockier and rougher for a wonderfully wild view, and at a view—Ladies View—we pull off for a look.
What a look, there’s miles and miles of green and rises, the spread of steel blue water below clumped with green knuckles of tiny islands. It’s all windswept, managing to be dramatic and pastoral at once.
What catches me is a huge old tree with big, curved branches spreading low, dipping over the ground and the rocks it grows out of. Or the rocks grow out of it, that’s the beauty.
I know immediately this will find its way into the next trilogy I’m mulling. We take pictures as the boy sleeps in the car with Jason and Kat taking turns sitting with him.
Back on the road and we pass another spot that grabbed me years back and became The Valley Of Silence in my Circle Trilogy. That wide, deep dive of land, the spears and tables of rock inside it, the majesty and grumbling desolation of it still grabs.
And on we go. The road narrows, narrows until it’s as skinny and sinuous as a snake. In and out of tunnels carved into the rocky cliffs—and the drop on my side is pretty forbidding.
I’m amazed how Kat manages it, skimming the low rock walls on the right, slipping by with a breath between the cars, coaches, lorries coming on the left.
We agree it’s like Mario Cart.
There’s heather and gorse pushing out of rocky hillsides, and tall, tall, thin pines thickening into forests.
When we get to Torc inside Killarney State Park, the lot’s packed.
The stalwart Kat weaves through, circles around, creeps and maneuvers, and we find a spot where someone handily just left.
Time for rain gear as it’s drizzling a bit.
Inside the magic of the forest where the faeries live, the light’s a quiet, luminous green. Those tall, wind-sculpted trees are coated with moss, and the whiskey-colored river runs fast.
Here, Griffin decides Nana should carry him, so I haul the boy while he laughs, babbles, points. We discuss the faeries on the way through and to the falls until my arm gives out, and I do a pass off.
The waterfall rushes down the rock cliff, full of sound and hurry as it spills white into the river. Little falls leap along and create small pools where I’m sure the faeries swim.
The boy is thrilled, can’t say enough about the water, the sound, the river. He must share his thoughts with Nana whose arm’s recovered enough to hold him again.
Note: I do no upper body lifting other than Griffin these couple weeks!
It’s a beautiful spot, well worth the snaking drive.
Back through the forest where a tree reclines over the river. Griffin walks, delighted to do so, holding Mama’s hands.
We go through a tunnel, watch a few jaunty carts with their pretty horses, say hello to a big friendly dog.
Into the car to drive back to Kenmare for a late lunch. We’re behind a little white car packed with people for a bit—a car that started out driving on the wrong side, made its shaky way back to the left. We’re concerned about them as the driver’s obviously new at this, and likely terrified.
When we turn off, I hope they get where they’re going without incident.
There’s a street fair in Kenmare—and apparently it’s also Donut Truck Day. We wander by the white canopied stalls. I buy two very nice wooden spoons. I can’t resist a good wooden spoon.
Lunch time where the boy goes starry-eyed over our waitress. She’s sweet with him as he flirts—and he offers her his prize squid or octopus—we’re not altogether sure. When he offers her the second squid, I tell her I think they’re engaged now.
He eats heartily, as do we all, and pauses once when he spots his current love way down the other side of the restaurant.
He wants to walk off the meal, so I’m happy to walk him around the place, outside, back, and to a table of teenage girls having a lively time of it. They give a communal AWWW!
He talks and flirts and charms, but his heart is taken by our waitress.
After lunch we walk the short distance to a stone dance. It’s every kind of wonderful, with two faerie trees for hanging wishes.
The place makes my skin hum—and Griffin is an instant fan.
Home again. A nap for the boy. I catch up on emails, do a little work.
I think to take a walk as the evening’s pretty gorgeous. A light drizzle, but that’s no problem, not when the air’s so fresh, the flowers so pretty.
I don’t get a quarter mile before the drizzle turns to actual rain.
So back I go.
More play time with a happy boy who’s so easily amused and entertained. Mama feeds him, Nana walks him.
I show his parents how you can hold one of his hands, reach your other out in front of him. He’ll take several steps forward.
Another pretty morning. BW joins me for the last thirty minutes of cardio, and a ten minute core session. Good for him!
Some packing up to do today, maybe some laundry. And maybe I’ll get that walk in before we head to Mayo tomorrow.
With the weather undecided, I take an at-home day. Some play time for Griffin where he shows his brainy skills stacking cups. His mom and I are duly impressed—with applause—when he discovers he can also insert them into each other.
Of course earlier he manages to find a tiny piece of gravel just inside the door and gets a good taste of it before he’s caught.
He goes into town with Mom and Dad to get some supplies, check on my goddess (all good!) and have a car nap.
Though some tempting blue sky peeks through, I set up my little office and write. Housekeeping’s here, BW’s settles down with a book. I get in a good three hours, just as I hoped, hit the point I want to hit.
As I reward myself with a glass of champagne, housekeeping finishes up, BW emerges and the little family returns.
We plan a spaghetti dinner.
Griffin spies my tablet and insists on a mash-up session.
Then he plays with Daddy while Kat does some laundry, and I get the red sauce on.
The stove requires a group effort to fully figure. I show BW a bush of rosemary out the kitchen window, send him out to get some.
Red sauce simmering. Kat goes off to finish a painting she’s working on.
Griffin must walk, walk up and down, in and out, check on the laundry. Busy, busy boy.
I plan to make some garlic/butter paste for the lovely round of bread Kat and Jason brought back. Jason takes on that duty, and we toss a salad together.
So we eat—and yum. The perfect cozy, comforting meal for an at-home day. There’s dessert for those who want it—I just can’t—but the pastries K&J picked up in Kenmare are well appreciated.
Kat handles the dishes, Griffin works off the meal with his running walks and Daddy swings. He seems tired so we try a bottle. But no, he clearly lets us know we’re very mistaken, he’s not a bit tired. He catches his second (or it might be twelfth) wind, has a laugh fest, lots of running.
It’s suddenly the best game to run down the second floor hallway gripping Daddy’s fingers, into Nana’s room so she can jump out and tickle his belly. Squeals echo as he drags Jason back and forth, in and out.
Daddy definitely runs out of steam first.
I’m hoping the evening activity tires him out so his parents get some sleep.
During my morning workout I watch the sky and water change again and again. Everything flat and gray so the water’s as still and flat as a plate under a thin mist.
The mist rises, spreads up like smoke, and the sun sneaks in adding glinting light. The water goes blue as bits of sky clear, and it ripples in the wind.
Back to gray again, quiet and pale as the wind dies.
It’s a show that keeps me entertained as I work out.
I top that off with some yoga. And ahhhh.
Haven’t yet heard a peep from JK&G, so I think all that running, laughing, squealing knocked them out.
We’ll venture out later if everyone’s up for that. If not, I’ll take myself a long walk. Left-overs for lunch or dinner depending.
I have the bedroom door—the outside one—open as I write this. It’s currently dry, with a light, fresh breeze. BW’s must be making some breakfast because I smell bacon!
In today’s Not-so #randomkatness, the finished painting.
Production notes: All videos in the post courtesy of Kat. I didn’t like the way the captions looked. ~L
The morning’s beautiful and bright, and off we go. With Kat at the wheel, Jason running GPS through his phone, and BW making sure Kat doesn’t get too close to walls or hedgerows on the right, Griffin and I get to sit back and enjoy the ride.
All those narrow, windy roads with the hills rolling up, the fields spreading out. Mountains of hydrangeas in gardens of tidy houses. Horses, cows, sheep enjoying the sunshine.
We climb up and up into those hills with their outcroppings of gray rock and steep folds of land, and all in dozens of shades of green. And into Cork.
We’re heading toward Corriganess Castle—an old stronghold set above the river. We wind and climb our way there, hitting a couple little pockets of rain, then sun again.
It’s a glowering old keep with spreads of green fields and lovely flowers.
We walk to the river first, with its energetic little falls that has Griffin squealing in delight. The boy loves water.
Around the road and over the bridge to the keep where a trio of workers sit at a table having their lunch while we explore. Apparently during some attack a few hundreds years ago, the invader killed the castle holder’s wife. He retaliated by tossing the guy off the parapet and into the river.
Can’t blame him.
We walk about, take pictures, Griffin enjoys the grass and likes feeling the old stone walls.
Around and out again, and BW asks one of the workers what this large crab appley looking thing is. Rose hips. I’ve never seen such enormous rose hips.
And it’s off to Killarney—and the weather begins to change. Clouds roll in, the rain falls. None of us brought rain gear—except Griffin! Clouds blur the hills, turning everything soft.
Now and again the sun peeps through giving everything that luminous pearly light.
Kat navigates the very big and busy town of Killarney, finds a car park. And as the rain’s heavy now, we out to sit in the car a bit.
Jason checks his weather app which claims there’s no chance of rain. Well, that’s what we thought, too.
When it slows enough we head out. We want some lunch, had thought to take in another site.
We hit a couple stores, more for shelter as the rain’s come back than shopping.
And find the Wild West (American style) for lunch. It’s a fun place, decorated cowboy style, wanted posters, a big cowboy, a big Native American, a saddle. And an expansive menu that’s going to hit the spot for all.
Nachos for the table—guacamole for Griffin. And enough food after that to satisfy.
Griffin wants to walk, and since it’s there, Nana puts him on the saddle. He must’ve been a rodeo rider in another life because he knows just what to do.
There’s another little boy, so we have to go say hello. They have quite a conversation, and the mama says she’d love to know what they’re saying to each other.
Another break in the rain when we leave—and hit the shop with Irish gelato and enormous donuts. Griffin and I go for the gelato, and leave the donuts to the rest.
Since I’ve had experience with Griffin and ice cream, I get two scoops.
More rain, so it’s back to the car. We’ll see more sights another day.
We drive right out of the rain into the sun. The afternoon towards home’s as gorgeous as the morning had been. We have the time and weather to play outside a bit, take one of our traditional panoramic shots.
Griffin and I walk around after he plays in the grass. He’s very interested in the gravel, plops down to play in it, decides to taste it.
That’s a no, says Nana.
Walk a few steps, plop, play, attempt to taste. No. Repeat but instead of tasting, hand Nana some gravel to distract her while you try to taste the next.
Nana’s not so easily fooled.
After a full day we opt to stay in, cook some pizza, warm up leftovers, and just chill out.
Rainy this morning, but that’s already passed. Workout’s done, and Griffin has his morning dose of mash-ups.
Kat’s heading into Kenmare later. I may hole up and work a couple hours. No set plans yet.
If the weather looks promising, we may drive out. Or it may be a day for Griffin to try out the indoor pool.
Plenty of time to decide.
In today’s #randomkatness
The saga of Griffin and the grass, in photos by his mother and Grandda.