We’re gifted with a perfectly beautiful day. Bold blue skies, light breeze, low 70s. There’s another bush between the lilacs, and I think—maybe—white lilac. Not sure, and the blooms are too high and on the other side of the fence so I can’t do the sniff test.
Lots of play time outside for the boy, in the tent, out of the tent with bubbles and his love of pouring water and dropping rocks into the tub. Pour more water from tub to tub, pick out rocks to drop in new tub. He can work this experiment for a very long time.
I can sit on the porch steps on a pretty day and watch him for a long time.
When it clouds up, as predicted, and you can all but feel the rain coming, there’s some intense puzzle time. Kayla’s deeply into this and makes serious progress.
Some wavering by me about heading to the Chuck Wagon Dinner event. If it’s raining and chilly, I can toss a frozen pizza in the toaster oven and all good.
But, delightfully, skies clear, temp creeps up again.
Time to put the cowboy on.
In the shuttle Griffin does his car riding thing. He calls out K!!!!! We like to think that’s his name for Kayla and not just the letter. Then COWS! He has a steady interest in the cattle—from a distance. We all join in.
This event is by the river and a stunning spot. You travel there through woods and hills all sparkling and shadowy at once in the sunlight. The river’s running fast, the smokers are smoking—smells good—-and the bar’s set up.
We grab a picnic table under a pergola—in case the rain comes back, and while Griffin takes off with his parents giving chase, the rest of us settle in.
Live music, a beautiful spot on a beautiful evening.
Apparently our boy wanted to run in the road—and the fact he was denied this activity ruined his life for about ten minutes.
The feast’s on. I’m really grateful the resort has so many veggie options, and Kayla doesn’t go hungry here. She, of course, passes on the Tomahawk steak. I do not, and it’s delicious.
We all pass on the invitation to take part in a hatchet throw.
Kayla makes herself a s‘more, then it’s time for the ride home.
It’s past a certain someone’s bedtime, but he strongly objects. Mama won’t be denied, and—as mama’s do—wins the battle. But it’s fiercely fought.
Kayla and I are at the puzzle, and Kat comes to join in. But after the battle decides she’s earned a mimosa. Kat is a rare drinker, and a serious lightweight. Kayla decides she’d like to try one. When she samples, she says, it just tastes like oj. Kat is amazed! But it tastes so strong to me. (Lightweight! LOL.)
I suspect Kat put maybe a scant teaspoon of champagne in the nearly 8 oz of oj. I add a little more to Kayla’s. Okay, she says, it tastes like sparkling oj.
There you go.
So I have my first adult drink (no oj in mine, thanks) with my granddaughter.
We puzzle on until bedtime.
Another gorgeous day, and a morning warmer than the last few. Workout done, a load of laundry in. I’ll work a little in a little.
We hope to have our Paint Day. Rain coming late afternoon, but sunny and low 70s before. It should be a great day to play artists outside.
Note from the Travelogue Editorial Desk: I wake up to a trove of photos. Some I know will fit copy. Some are there for the memory. And for some, I create stories of my own. These didn’t fit copy, but I thought you’d like a glimpse of the power of the Griffin.
We have our class near Spa Town with those incredible views through glass walls.
We start off making little lotion bars—custom as we choose our own scents or blend of scents.
Measure, mix, melt. Sniff, sniff to decide how we want them to smell. I’m in love with the Huckleberry so easy choice for me. Kayla goes for a lavender peach combo, and Kat huckleberry lemon.
Oh, the way everything smells!
We can add bits of rose, lavender or chamomile. Who can resist?
When we’re all done, we pour into little molds. Kayla and I both choose stars, and Kat a star and a couple seashells. So cute!!!!
While those are in the fridge to harden we tackle lip balm. For this, it’s lavender peach for mine because it smells so yummy. A similar process of measuring and mixing, and into the little tubes.
Polish it off with bath scrub. I’m all about the huckleberry and lemon—with some dried rose crushed up in it. We get blue jars, mix it all up. It’s so creamy and fragrant.
Back home on a warmer and happily sunny day.
BW’s been out with his drone taking aerial shots. Jason has tried and failed to get Griffin down for a nap.
Pretty day to walk around outside—then the puzzle calls me for a session.
It’s coming along!
We have dinner—The Big Sky Bash—at the equestrian center. Kayla gets her cowgirl on with her hat—and a jacket and boots from Nana’s closet. It’s just gorgeous when we leave, but I also wear a jacket because I know how it goes here!
We shuttle off to the bash, and it’s gorgeous there, too. There’s a pretty pond, and people out in canoes. That wide, wide spread of sky, the mountains and hills rising and rolling under it, cattle in the fields, lots of picnic table set and another live band.
Fun stuff. Along with a pony ride for kids.
Griffin makes a bee-line for the lake. That kid loves water. He has some running around time, and his Mom suggests a pony ride. But when she takes him over, sets him in the saddle, the answer is: Absolutely not!
A shame (though pretty funny) as Cookie the pony is pretty and sweet and patient. Kayla makes friends with her.
Lots of food—and the roasted corn on the cob’s a big hit. Also fresh tortillas—mmmm.
Then the sun disappears behind clouds, the wind kicks up. Cold!!!! I hold out hope the sun will find its way back, but no. Just no. Still we had a fun time, good eats, and sunny and pleasant for most of our adventure.
Back home for us. A Daddy Bedtime Dance. Not even halfway through that ritual, Griffin’s asleep on Jason’s shoulder. And still, mouth slack, eyes closed, he sings blearily: Wobba Wobba.
Up to bed for our sleepy boy.
More puzzle time! Hang and puzzle with Kat and Kayla for awhile after Griffin’s settled (and Daddy with him). By ten we’re all tired, so an early night in the west.
I get eight straight, always a happy. Work out—good morning, Griffin. This is Daddy’s shift, their routine, and it goes along well. Some warmer, so parts of that routine means Griffin goes to the door. Time to go outside!
Finish my workout shortly before the shift change and BW, Kayla and Jason head out for breakfast.
I need to rewrite the bulk of a chapter. I’ve worked out in my head the how and the why but because it’s more intense work than editing, I take myself up to the quiet of the bedroom.
It takes a couple hours—and will need at least a couple more to make it all smooth. But it’s done. I think, while I’m up there how some idiot posted on the internet just yesterday or today—forget—how I don’t write all my own books because. There’s always a because in this type’s mind. And I think bite me, asshole, as I finally shut down after a couple of sweaty hours during my damn vacation!
Because I do write all my own books.
Come down to learn Griffin’s not feeling altogether well. When a toddler wants a nap and doesn’t want a cookie, he’s feeling off. But he has The Daddy Shoulder Of Comfort—doesn’t want Mom who is—unquestionably—his most favorite person of all people.
Seems a little better now, and is outside with Mom while Daddy’s getting a well-earned massage at spa town.
BW’s just back from taking pictures of our neighbors just up the road. Buffalo!
I’m going to get some outside time myself.
We have—hope it’s not too cold—The Chuck Wagon Dinner tonight. Always a good, fun time.
Note from Travelogue Central Editorial Desk:
Because one download staring at me wasn’t enough, Kat decided to get a fuller photo of the eyes, thus earning the first #RandomKatness since 2019. To top that off, she took a snap of Griffin communing with the eyes. ~Laura
November, how can that be? I mean, I know HOW it can be, but still am stunned there are 61 days left to this year.
Before 2020, Fall into the Story was full of bright, interesting travel, family and life updates from Nora along with lively book discussions. This year, while the book chats continue to bring up differing points of view and some charged opinions, the life section has simmered down to monthly updates with varying degrees of Groundhog’s Day (the Bill Murray movie, not the weird shadow day. Though I admit to preferring Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow for a movie about a day without end.)
I volunteered to take November. For those who love Nora’s own voice, I know she’ll be back with an update around the holidays. Today you’ve got the Cranky Publicist.
In Nora’s world, she and BW celebrated her birthday in the 2020 way — lots of virtual love and gifts by mail. Plus a visit from the ever entertaining Griffin and his parents.
Writing-wise, Nora’s immersed in the second book set in the world you’ll meet in The Awakening (out November 24). It’s hard sweaty work to build a world, but I sense it’s also daily respite from the stress of the world where it’s 2020.
Last weekend, Griffin turned 2! (Ok, if I can’t believe it’s November, I’m really having issues with Griffin and two.) He celebrated in fine style with his Nana and Grandda (and those necessary chauffeur parents). Word is he wanted everyone’s cake — especially Mom’s — instead of his own piece.
Time for the first #randomkatness in a very long time! I know long-term readers have asked occasionally about the blanket Kat was knitting for Griffin. I have proof she finished it before the 2nd birthday:
In the Cranky Publicist world — outside of Nora responsibilities — my very first solo photo show opened at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro yesterday. When we planned it in January, the opening coincided with TTP’s Halloween signing. While events at TTP are canceled (the store remains open), the talented team at Gifts continues to forge ahead with in-person and virtual exhibits of interesting art from creatives all over the Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania area.
Including, it seems. Me.
As some of you know, I tend to take photos as I go on my daily walks. The pieces I chose for this show feature walks from 2018 until last month. I framed 12 pieces, then made cards and a calendar.
And all will be on display/online until the end of November. You can see my pieces here.
I’ll close in the best way possible: a sweet little boy on a tree stump. I KNOW you don’t find that every day.
The rain’s steady but gauzy thin when we set out. Our boy laughs, delighted with the way the wind blows the wet into his face.
It’s all cool and fresh as daisies.
BW’s done some research, and there’s a ruin nearby we’ve never been to. Kat handles the ribbon of road as if she’d been born to it.
The world’s misty and wind’s kicking up. And that’s as lovely in its way as sunshine. We change from our ribbon of a road to a thread of one, passing cattle and sheep, then a gaggle of geese we pause to let cross the road.
We come to a gate with a sign reminding us to close it behind us, and now the thread becomes a cow path, winding and climbing with the hedgerows close enough to brush.
Inishmaine Abbey sits on a rise above Lough Mask, a beautiful situation in the green fields where black-faced sheep watch us warily as we walk.
The lake’s gorgeous and wide, steely-colored under the layered sky. With the tide low, you see rich brown silt at the edge.
In we go to wander about, to wonder at the stone niches, the carvings. The boy prefers to sit and play in the gravel.
And the flock of sheep all turn to face us as if posing.
Kat says this is the Ireland she remembers, all misty rain, spreading wet green, gray stone ruins.
I see the geese gliding over the water, a little boat doing the same, and hills rising into the troubled sky. It’s all a painting come to life.
Across the field to the next building, and—carefully—up the curving stone steps. The view is breathless, and even with the gloom, you can see for what seems miles and miles.
We enjoy every minute before we walk back to the car.
On the way out, there’s a herd of cows right by that cow path, reclining. Kat wants a picture, and as BW obliges her, the big cow close to the car gets to her feet.
Kat says: Close enough! And drives on.
Into Ballinrobe for lunch at Flannery’s. It’s just right, warm and dry and welcoming. I’m going to share the barbecued beef bap with the boy as I know I can’t eat it all, and want a taste. We couldn’t finish it between us, but both enjoyed what we could manage. [Ed. Note: in the first edition of the post I had nap from Nora’s copy and it was too early to figure out what that meant. Mystery solved! Spell check struck again. A bap is a lbread roll sandwich. Thanks all! ~Laura]
We take a wander around town, end up at Divine Bakery. And it is, no question, divine. The scents alone are swoon-worthy. We get a couple of pastries to divide up later.
And we note Divine is right next door to the town dentist.
It seems apt.
It’s a friendly town with locals smiling and saying hello as we pass.
We’re heading next to Glebe Stone Circle, and the boy drifts off to sleep.
It’s sign posted, but you can’t drive to it. Kat finds a safe spot to pull off the road, and opts to sit in the car with Griffin as he naps while the rest of us walk—carefully again—up the surprisingly busy little road to where you cross into the field.
More carefully as a lot of sheep and cattle have been here. Watch your step!
The little dance is on the highest point of the field—and fenced off, I think to keep the livestock out. A huge limb has come down from a big tree, and has fallen right between two stones, then against the fence and out. It still has leaves and prickly little fruit on its upper branches.
As with the abbey it seems this is the kind of day to see these sites, the the air damp and misty, the gray and the green soft and velvety.
I admire the stone fences dividing the fields—my people who came from Ireland and Scotland were farmers, and stone masons. As a boy my own father worked with his building stone walls in D.C. that still stand. So it’s sentiment along with admiration for me.
Back to the car where the boy still sleeps, and home again.
He wakes a short time later, and Kat, hoping to finish her painting, asks if I can watch him for a bit.
As it happens I’d been about to go for a walk, and now I’ll have Griffin for company.
The rain’s stopped, though the air’s still rich and damp.
I walk with him through one of the stone arches and into the magical woods. It’s deep and green and quiet. But after a bit, all the boy wants is to sit on the damp dirt path, play with the dirt and the leaves on the ground—and admire his filthy hands.
Since he makes no move to eat any this time, we can play this game awhile.
I take him back to the grass, and this is another happy time for him. Back we walk to cap our adventure with a round of mash-ups.
We had a fine little time. And Kat finished her painting.
Time to clean up. The castle’s offered to drop us off at Lydon’s in Cong where we’ll have dinner. Our driver tells us to order the chocolate brownie promising we won’t be disappointed.
The place is busy and bustling for a reason. Good food, good wine, happy service. Kat walks Griffin around outside, down to the river, out in the quiet sunlight that’s broken through the day while we wait for our meal.
The boy’s sharing my sea bass, and likes the mushroom and artichoke risotto. A lot.
I’m not a fan myself, so didn’t taste it first. He’s eating mushrooms like candy.
And all at once, without a sound or complaint he begins to expel streams of risotto. I’m quick enough to catch most in my hand—which occurs to me later is such a mom reflex. Here, let me catch your puke, baby, so it doesn’t get all over you.
He’s not the least bit upset, but Mom and Dad take him off to wash up and change. My hand didn’t catch it all.
BW samples the risotto, which he deems delish—but very rich. Too rich for our boy, apparently.
He comes back, cheerful as ever, and has a little chicken and some chips which work far better.
And we order the chocolate brownie, which is, seriously, an orgasm on a spoon. No chocolate for the boy tonight, but a taste of vanilla ice cream.
We walk home, walk off the meal, and take the path along the river, into the woods in all that gorgeous softening light. We pass a fisherman with his evening catch, and see more still casting their line in the River Cong.
It’s more beautiful than ever now, hints of gold flickering on the water, the sky moving to twilight, the woods deepening toward night—full of secrets, no doubt—and the path soft from the day’s rain.
And ahead, the castle’s lit, amber glows in windows, its silhouette regal against the night sky, the lake glimmering, just a bit.
A lovely day in Ireland, just as it should be.
The wind’s fiercely vocal when I workout, and I see the sky’s layered again. But where it thins, blue peeks out, and bits of sun push through. Before I’m done, the light’s brightening at the horizon, and begins to bleed its way up.
I see three people standing and talking, and wonder did they travel together, or have they just met and share conversation on a pretty morning.
The boy comes to visit before his morning nap and gets a thrill as I’m actually doing a mash-up. Kat warns he might now expect me to get up and dance whenever I play them for him.
We’re going to head out again—sun’s out some—when he wakes so we can pack more into our last day in Ireland.
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.
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.
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