Category Archives: Travelogues

Kerry, Day Nine

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.

The view. Photo by BW

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.

And now we wait for the book. Comment by Laura/Photo by j a-b
The sweep of land. Photo by j a-b
Yes, BW is really that tall. Comment by Laura/ Photo by j a-b

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.

Flow. Photo by BW

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.

See Nana? See? Photo by Kat

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.

Bending to the river. Photo by j a-b

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.

Happy, happy travelers. Photo by Kat

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 stone dance and faerie trees. Photo by j a-b

The place makes my skin hum—and Griffin is an instant fan.

The stones are humming, Mom. Photo by Kat

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.

Now that I have your attention Grandda, let me show you what to do. Photo by Kat

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.

Bedtime.

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.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness: Be Ware


Bonus Griffin photo:

I’m still a cowboy, Dad! Photo by Kat

Kerry, Day Eight

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.

Smart boy!

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.

Perfect timing.

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 red sauce. Photo by Nora.

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.

Prep. Photo by j a-b

Smells good in here!

A break from walking for some under-table time (and spaghetti). Photo by j a-b

Kat’s back, painting finished. It’s wonderful—of course!

Baby’s hungry, and lets us know it.

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.

My toy matches my food! Photo by Griffin’s Nana

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!

Nora


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

Kerry, Day Seven

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.

Carriganass Castle. Photo by BW

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.

It does glower, doesn’t it? Photo by j a-b.

Can’t blame him.

We walk about, take pictures, Griffin enjoys the grass and likes feeling the old stone walls. 

Stones! Photo by Kat

Me, too!

Family shot. Photo by Kat

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. 

Rose hips. Photo by Nora

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.

I’m a cowboy, Nana. Photo by Kat

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. 

Cowboys need their sustenance, Nana. Photo by Kat

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.

Home Pano. Photo by j a-b

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.

Nora



In today’s #randomkatness

Was the mason lazy and wanted to fill a gap quickly?? Photo by Kat

The saga of Griffin and the grass, in photos by his mother and Grandda.

This looks delicious, I’m off!
OK, maybe not the best idea. Photo by BW

Kerry, Day Six

A little treasure of a day as it decides to brighten up and warm up. Kay, Jason, Griffin and I take advantage by heading into Kenmare to knock more shopping out. BW opts to stay back, walk about, take some pictures.

Kat’s got driving in Ireland down—and Jason serves as navigator.

In town. Photo by j a-b

I have a mission for specific people and the sort of gifts I’m after. I have much success as we walk around, browse through shops, check out pub menus for dinner later.

Shopping with Nana. Photo by Kat

Kat’s mission also goes well, and we’re loaded up enough Jason hauls bags back to the car. Arms free!

I bag myself a wonderfully soft cashmere sweater I’m sure I’ll wear before we leave.

Then it’s off to the art store to check out the pregnant Bird Goddess. Yes, I want her!

I ask the clerk if they ship, and the question seems to throw her off. She’s flustered—and I admit I’m surprised. Unless you’re local there are many, many things in the shop too large, too fragile to haul away yourself.

She has to check with the owners, who say they’ll ship—but she warns it’ll cost me. Okay, still better than risking breaking her. Though she really tries to convince me just to haul this weighty girl away myself.

No.

Well then, she’ll need all my information. No problem.

I’m a little surprised she writes this down on a piece of paper, not a form like every other shop I’ve shipped from does, but okay.

Then she can’t find her card machine.

Griffin needs a nap—he’s been so patient—so I tell her just hold it, and I’ll come back tomorrow to do the sale. Fine, she says, but she’ll need a deposit.

I remind her she can’t find the card machine.

Right.

We head out, and she runs out. Found the machine! So I go back, do the business.

Off we go down to the next corner where a bearded man and a beautiful boy have set up strange (creepy) animatronic musician dolls. The boy’s playing the drum, and there’s a sweet dog leashed up to greet people.

Hmmmm. Comment by Laura, photo by Jason.

As we watch, the clerk rushes down. She forgot to get my email. I remind her I gave her my email, but apparently she needs it again. So there’s that.

We’re off to the car and the drive home where BW is just back from his photo walk—he found one of our neighbors, took a portrait. I didn’t see the little horses in the field, but will walk over and get acquainted later.

Out and about. Photo by BW
Out and about. Photo by BW
Out and about. Photo by BW

I take a walk about myself as Griffin gets his nap. It’s just gorgeous out.

Out and about, Nora edition. Photo by Nora

The nap’s short so Jason brings Griffin out for some sit in the grass time—a favorite activity.

Perfect posture. Photo by j a-b

We’re soon off again to hit a pub for dinner. We find one with the bonus of live music—a mandolin, harmonica and Irish accordion. We’re all pleased, especially the boy who needs to walk over a number of times to watch up close.

Aw. Photo by Kat

The food’s great and plentiful, the music lively, the pub filled with people and lots of families. Griffin makes several friends on his cheery walks.

The sky’s still bright and gorgeous as we leave, though it’s cooled off enough I’m glad I wore a warmer jacket. 

Sunset. Photo by j a-b

Just a pretty, pretty day, start to finish.

Another bright one today, and we’ll do some touring about, show Griffin a castle.

Workout done—and Griffin joined in toward the end. Then strongly requested Shaun T’s mash-ups. 

Following along. Photo by Nora

Time to pull ourselves together and get going. The day’s too lovely to miss.

Nora

Kerry, Day five

On a cool, misty day, we head out with Kat at the wheel.

Brave, brave Sir Kat!

She handles it while BW navigates and Jason and I share the back seat with Griffin. And handles is so well I can relax and enjoy the view on the short trip into Kenmare.

Narrow, shop-lined streets, streams of cars and people, vivid flowers hanging in lush baskets. Minutes after we park the car, I spot what I want for the first stop. Kat’s on a mission for wool yarn, and I’m on the hunt for Christmas gifts. We hit a bonanza of both!

In town. Photo by BW

Gorgeous yarn, saturated colors, soft colors, vivid, neutral, whatever you could want if you’re the crafty sort. And I find another chunk of gifts to cross off my list. The shop will ship free if you spend a hundred Euro. This turns out to be no problem at all. 

Kat and I both find everything we wanted, and more. And can walk out without passing a load of bags onto the men.

Lunch!

We find our place, and another pretty waitress for Griffin to flirt with. Fish and chips, Cajun chicken, big salad, and we don’t forget the chips. 

A little post-lunch wandering—I’m still hunting gifts, and Kat’s hunting something (can’t remember the name) for spinning wool. Yes, Kat has an actual spinning wheel.

But our men are bored—all three—and Kat and I will come back at some point. I do spot a sculpture I fall for, but the shop’s closed at the moment. We need a few supplies for the cottage, so head to the super market.

There are three to choose from, all basically within steps of each other.

I love that the carts offer infant seats, and other carts have double toddler seats. The Irish love their children, and find ways to make things easier on parents. [See note.]

No need for a cart – I have Dad. Photo by Kat

People smile and talk to Griffin everywhere.

We buy gorgeous bread, some Irish cheese, some crisps and so on for those snacking urges. 

Fish still life. Photo by BW

There’s a craft shop inside the market—and they have what Kat wants. She wants to come back, take a better look before buying it.

Griffin spies another baby in a cart—and said baby spies him. They launch into an excited conversation. 

Back home for some to nap. I take a walk around with my tablet to visit the flowers, take some pictures. The air’s damp and cool, but the rain’s holding off. The river’s steel gray, the mountains muted behind the gauzy curtain of gray. When the wind blows, it surges through the trees like a high surf. I walk over thick, spongy with wet green grass.

Pops of color. Photo by Nora
Fascinating river. Photo by Nora
Home. Photo by Nora

We have a reservation in the main restaurant for dinner. Griffin seriously suits up, and breaks the cute meter.

It decides to pour, but we have an umbrella, rain gear—and the car.

The pretty restaurant sets up a high chair. Griffin’s stance is, until there’s food on the tray, don’t even think about putting me in there.

Hard to blame him.

But there’s a pianist, and since the boy loves music, Kat takes him over to watch. Everyone takes turns walking him around when he needs it.

Doing a lap with Nana. Photo by Kat
Selfie with son. Photo by Kat.

I go for the bass and new potatoes—and it’s perfect. 

After his meal, Griffin wants to do some crawling, introduce himself to some of the other diners. They’re lovely about it, even encourage him to come say hello.

We head back in the rain so Mama and Daddy can put Griffin to bed.

It doesn’t take long before I decide that sounds like a fine idea.

Spots of rain, bits of blue sky and sun go back and forth this morning.

Workout’s done—some laundry comes next. 

And Griffin will help. Photo by his Nana

Kat and I may head back to Kenmare, or the whole gang may want to go somewhere else.

No set plans today, and that’s nice. We’ll just see when we see.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness

Goddess? Nora’s sculpture? I can’t decide. Photo by Kat.

Editor note from the Cranky Publicist: Before you comment, Nora doesn’t do the grocery shopping when home in the US so this is a definite revelation. I know there are stores here that offer similar carts. And I envy the upper body strength of the parents who push food and kids through the store. ~Laura

Edinburgh to Kerry, Day four

Short workout, pack it all up—and we have a LOT of bags with the five of us. We drive out of Edinburgh in a steady rain. The forecast says we’ll land in the same.

A short flight, but a long process at the airport. Apparently this airport’s particularly finicky so we’re an hour delayed in take off.

Griffin’s thrilled to see his plane girlfriend. He loads on the charm and flirty smiles. I expect, with the weather, the flight will be pretty rough. I’m prepared to use the full power of my mind to keep us up.

And am more than pleasantly surprised when the hour’s flight proves pretty damn smooth.

I risk a glance out the window on our descent—I don’t like to remind myself I’m way up in the air—and there it is! Those stunning shades of green spread in patchwork fields, rich browns tossed in.

Editor note: Kat doesn’t mind looking out the windows.

Vibrant green patchwork. Photo by Kat
Cows in the center of the patchwork

Another surprise is the sun. It’s breezy, warm and bright in our part of Kerry, so we’ll take that gift.

The air smells gorgeous.

We rent a car, eventually pile in. And off we go for about an hour’s drive to our home for a week.

It’s a lovely drive, shining green under stacked clouds where the sun burns through here, then there. Hills rolling and rising, brown cows, white sheep.

Neat, pretty houses of creams and rose and pale yellows with flowers in the dooryards.

I’ve missed this.

We’re met on arrival, so welcoming, and our mountain of luggage taken care of while we all go out to the hotel’s patio, overlooking the river, for a light lunch.

Flowing river. Photo by j a-b

It’s perfectly beautiful day, and the tea colored fall of water makes its music. Griffin’s fascinated with the little falls, and absolutely cheerful.

He travels better than his nana!

He still wants to fly. Photo by Kat

We have a spacious, thatched-roofed cottage here with a river view—and if we get more fine weather, our own patio where we can sit and enjoy.

It feels good to fully unpack, though I need to do a little organizing—but that can wait. 

Let’s have some fun exploring the cottage—there’s a bedroom on the ground level where I can set up to work when the mood strikes. A pretty little kitchen should Kat and I have an urge to cook. Lots of room for Griffin to crawl around safely.

And outside the wide river, the green, green trees, the splashes of flowers.

Kat starts some laundry. 

The baby takes a late nap—he earned it—but his mama has to get him up for dinner (and so he doesn’t wake at ten and decide it’s party time!)

We have a relaxed, casual meal with Jason and Kat taking turns walking Griffin around and about before the meal comes. He wants to sit with Nana again, and she’s fine with that. He eats like a champ, veggies, chicken, mashed potatoes.

I swear he ate more than I did.

Back home to put Griffin to bed, and the rest of us aren’t far behind him.

Woke to rain. Looks like a damp, breezy day. I’ll likely gear up and go out to walk a bit at some point. We’re thinking of going into Kenmare for shopping and lunch, so we’ll see.

Workout’s done. Kat, BW and Griffin are at breakfast. 

Time to clean myself up, do some of that organizing.

It’s good, more than good, to be back in Ireland.

Nora


Meanwhile, back in the states an Unsupervised Cranky Publicist kidnapped Flat Nora from Turn the Page Bookstore and took her out on the town.

To shop at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro…
to shop some more at Josie’s on Main…
eat some Vesta pizza…
and to meet the delighted guests at Inn BoonsBoro.

I obviously have time on my hands. ~L

Edinburgh, Day 3

Lazy, late start today as we have some tired people, and a baby who wanted a morning nap. No problem because, hey, we’re on vacation.

Turns out to be a perfect summer day here, warm—bordering on hot!—blue, blue skies with puffy white clouds.

When we got out (Kat stayed back to catch up on sleep) we cabbed as close to Edinburgh castle as we could—lots of roads closed during the Festival. A nice walk, so nice, I took off my light jacket. 

The perfect day and those blue skies obviously brought out the hordes. The sidewalks are jammed with pedestrians. And in my short time here I’ve learned about what I think of as the Lost Tourist Zombie Walk. They’ll walk, in clumps, at less than a snail’s pace. Pretty much impossible to get around or through the clogs of tourist who obviously don’t know where they’re going, stop dead—in groups—to discuss, and routinely block everyone else from just moving on.

So you shuffle behind the wide knots of them until you see an opening, then go for it.

We eventually get to the castle, which is massive and stunning, and full of people. There are views from that high perspective of the city, the firth beyond, the wide green spaces. 

A boy, a castle and his minions. Photo by BW

The roads are steep and cobbled. It must have been a hard climb for those hauling supplies, and harder still in winter. Defensively, it’s a brilliant position.

We can’t wait over an hour in a queue to see the Crown Jewels, especially with a baby in tow, but wander here, climb there, into the Scottish Memorial Building with its lovely stained glass windows that fascinate our boy.

Along to the Grand Hall, more stained glass, incredible wood work, and weaponry. Seeing some of those swords up close you have to admire the sheer strength needed to wield them.

Griffin likes the armor, and so do I.

Griffin size? Photo by BW

We walk through the prison, and it’s a forbidding sort of place still. The air’s dank, the light’s dim.

Out again into the sunshine for the walk back—crowds of people coming and going, and more still when we hit The Mile.

There the energy’s much different, so festive. Crowds circling musicians, lots of LTZ walkers, and we’re in search of a late lunch.

Local color. Photo by BW

We find our spot in a bustling place where we can spread out in a booth. They have pulled pork! I’m sold. But as I see no actual veg, and the boy should have something approximating it, I ask if we can have a little dish of guacamole—which he loves.

He doesn’t want the high chair—he’s tired and hungry. So he sits with Nana, eats his guacamole, and some pork—and fries while Nana has a very nice margarita. He’s happy; we’re happy. The food is more than fine, the waitress delightful, and as we finish, Griffin falls into a post-lunch coma. 

More, please. Photo by j a-b

His daddy has to cart him back—with a stop to buy tickets for BW and Jason to see a show tonight. BW queues up, and we continue on. More LTZ walkers. 

They’re everywhere.

Griffin pops awake in the elevator. We think because we got on with a room service guy—and French fries. He eyes the fries, and I suggest the room service guy run for his life.

Back, and Jason takes a nap. Kat’s going to run some errands for all of us now that she’s fully rested, so Grandda and I play with the boy.

He’s happy, as he almost always is so we have a fun time. Grandda plays some Cajun accordion, and Griffin starts doing a little dance. Kid’s got rhythm already.

I have a light dinner with Kat, and Griffin gets some nice veggies and salmon. I don’t know where he puts it!

And for dessert, a tasty new brogue. Photo by Kat

He stayed happy all day, such an easy kid, and I hear him laughing as his mama gets him ready for bed.

Last night view. Photo by j a-b

The guys are back—the shows are short—baby’s sleeping. I’m pretty well organized as I write this right before I settle in for the night.

We’re leaving for Ireland—a week in Kerry to start—in the morning after a whirlwind couple of days in Scotland. A short flight—I’m grateful for that. Wet weather forecast, but oh well. I’ll be glad to really settle in, glad to spend time in the countryside.

Nora


In today’s #randomkatness

View of the city penciled in.


Edinburgh, Day 2

Walking’s the word of the day. We do a lot of it.

Head out first to get cold meds for BW, then he and Jason peel off for a bit to check out the park while Kat and I hit a couple of shops.

View from a walk: Scott Monument. Photo by BW
View from a walk: Edinburgh Castle. Photo by BW

Griffin needs some clothes for his next size up. But we find his current size in a ridiculously cute plaid vest and pants—and bow tie. And tam. Irresistible.

Then there’s clan ties for the big guys. Fun stuff.

Into Marks and Spenser for Griffin clothes. The low level there has a kid department, and flower shop (gorgeous!) and grocery store. Fascinating.

We load up, and he’ll be a fashionable boy this winter.

The guys not only checked out the park, but rode the Ferris Wheel, so they were entertained.

More walking, with clouds rolling in. So back to the hotel to drop off the bags and get rain gear. 

How about lunch? How about pizza?

We find a place right off the Royal Mile. Pizza, pasta, and a very generously poured glass of red for me.

While we wait for our order Griffin invents a new game. Kat offers him her wallet to fiddle with, and he sweeps it off the table to Daddy. Daddy slaps it back on the table.

Slap the wallet!

Griffin finds this hysterical, so the game begins. Maniacal laughter, sweep, slap. The waitress says: What a happy boy, when she brings the food.

Yes, he is. And more so when he spots pizza.

Good food, good wine, and a nice rest for the walking feet.

Right call on the rain gear as it drizzles again as we start to walk The Mile. Such energy, such movement. Music playing.

A drummer (from NJ, it turns out) has drawn a big crowd. He’s got a fun routine we all (esp Griffin) enjoy before moving on. 

To someone who mentioned it in the last blog (Editor note: a comment by Sue Towery on Facebook), we did slip into Thistle Do Nicely. Who can resist a clever pun? Not me.

There’s a group—three women and a guy, all in pink suits—just setting up. Performers can promo their show for about ten minutes on the mile. 

They’re the Sushi Tap Show.

 I can no more resist a tap routine than a clever pun. They’re fun, fast talented feet, crowd engaging. They draw a young girl from the audience, hand her a bell—like a front desk bell. The guy is miming conducting, and his partners do their thing on cue, and the girl hits the bell—right on the money, time and again. It’s petty damn adorable.

Raining a little harder now when Kat spots some stall tents. We can’t resist those either. Fortuitous, as it turns out, because the first one we check out has terrific gifts (can’t say what) for many of my girl pals for Christmas. 

We hit a jackpot!

Kat helps me pick out which for who—and that’s a BIG help to me. We’re having a great time, and while the lovely woman—who’s giving us much information on the gifts—bags them up, an heroic clap of thunder blasts. 

And the downpour follows.

We’re undercover—lucky for us. People are scrambling for their own, lots suddenly finding religion and rushing for the gorgeous cathedral right across from our stall. Some people crowd in with us, and are welcome. 

It’s a big one—lighting, thunder, torrential rain. But doesn’t last but ten minutes or so. 

It slows, allows us to start back. BW, Kat and Griffin head back first. Jason and I get about half way back when the rain gets heavier. A shout out here to my Azita for putting the lovely rain jacket in my sight line at Kat’s spree at Saks. It’s not only really pretty, it’s light and easy to pack. And it seriously works.

I stay dry except for below the knees.

We duck into a souvenir shop as I have things I want to get for my other grandkids—and I have a Sherpa in Jason.

He’s pretty well soaked when we get back. Heads to a hot shower. I head for the champagne!

…and a banana for Griffin

A busy, entertaining day, with all kinds of weather. We’re tired enough to stay in for dinner.

It’s Edinburgh Castle today.

My workout’s done, BW, Kat and Griffin are down at breakfast. Jason’s catching some extra ZZZs. Hey, up now. Good morning!

We’ll head out in a couple hours.

The sky looks promising, but yeah, it did yesterday, too. Good thing I love my new rain jacket!

Nora


Introducing #randomkatness #momedition

You’re interesting. I am suspicious. (Photo by Kat)
What the heck Mom? Photo by Kat

Edinburgh, Day 1

BW, Kat, Griffin and I flew out Monday evening to meet Jason, who’s been in Edinburgh for several days. Boonsboro High School’s Theater troupe got an invite to the Fringe Festival here. This is a very big deal, a terrific honor and opportunity. Jason came as one of the chaperones, and as he works in theater, a tech advisor.

Before I get into us, I have to say I’ve been following the kids on FB, and what an amazing experience they’ve had. A couple days touring London, then the long bus ride here. Four performances of their chosen play, Almost, Maine.

Just huge congrats to everyone, all the kids, all the parents and families who got behind them, the community of Boonsboro, and to Mr. Bair, the guy who works with and inspires these kids (as he did withJason) every day. (See note below.)

Our flight was smooth. I say that as someone who hates to fly. Have I mentioned that before? It bears repeating. I hate to fly. In this case, the flight was so smooth I got a solid three hours sleep, only woke once to some turbulence over the wide Atlantic where I had to use the power of my mind to keep the plane in the air.

Best of all Griffin does NOT hate to fly. He’s a traveling boy with some experience under his belt already. He loved it, crawled up and down the aisle, flirted outrageously with our flight attendant, who flirted right back.

And he conked out for a good four hours.

We landed in a drizzle, packed a van, went through Customs, did the whole round. Lots of traffic on the drive in. Jason tells me that Edinburgh is a city of about 500,000, but during August, during Fringe, that swells to 1.5 million.

A lot.

Gorgeous old buildings, dour gray and brown stone majestic in the gloom—just as it should be. Mountains and hills in the not so much distance. Sheep in the fields.

And in town buses, tons of double deckers, streets lined with those gorgeous buildings, and the grand spread of the castle on the hill.

Flowers, flowers, flowers, and green.

The main part of our suite is ready, and we’re so weary and grateful for that. We have expansive views of the city, big windows we can open enough for fresh air.

A very Edinburgh view. Photo by BW

Griffin’s happy to explore.

Some lunch in the room—I have amazing tomato and basil soup. BW and Kat get fish and chips. The fish is enormous—and enjoyed. Griffin also approves there.

Fish & chips still life. Photo by BW

Naps come next.

I get about an hour down—that’s how I like to do it.

Jason arrives—his wife and son are asleep on the couch, so we catch up.

Sensibly sleeping. Photo by Griffin’s Nana

When they wake, Griffin’s so happy to see his daddy he wants no one else. Joy.

BW and Kat are going to BHS’s last performance. I would love to see it, too, but I know with my bleary brain if I sat down in a theater, I’d wake up again at curtain call.

Ticket and program. Photo by Kat
Festival programs for the taking. Photo by BW

So they go off, and Jason, Griffin and I walk around the city. A light drizzle, busy streets. Then The Mile—shops, restaurants that becomes, as Jason puts it, a kind of temporary Times Square during the festival.

He’s not wrong.

I see some actors still in costume and makeup, lots of tourists, lots of performers buxting. We climb steep streets and steps, head down steep alleyways.

We head to BHS’s venue to meet up with BW and Kat, wait in the little lobby. We can hear some of the performance, and Jason explains the scene to me. We can also hear an enthusiastic house, and that’s gratifying.

Cheers and applause at the end for these talented kids who are now international players.

The BHS actors, plus a small special guest.

I’m ridiculously proud.

Jason peels off—he’s staying with the troupe one more night, and they’re all going to The Tattoo—the big show at the castle.

We head back, taking the most amazing (and endless) marble stairs. The Scottish Stairs have a different color of marble on each tread, each landing. Kat’s carrying Griffin, BW and I take the stroller.

Street level view. Photo by Kat

I got my workout in, for certain.

Another nap for the boy, and as Kat went out and found a wine store, some much appreciated champagne for me. A relaxed evening in, room service, early to bed.

Sustenance — by the glass, not the small spoon. Photo by Nora

Before I turn in, I hear fireworks, and look out to see the castle lit up for The Tattoo.

And sleep a solid eight.

Kat and Griffin join me in the morning right before my workout. He is a huge infusion of cuteness in his little jacket and cap.

They’d off to get batteries for one of his toys, some breakfast.

I have the bulk of my workout done when they get back, and as BW’s fighting a head cold, Kat wonders if she should go down and bring him breakfast. On his birthday, too!

We end up ordering room service again as BW rises, and Griffin does part of the workout with me.

I entertain him with the Mash-Ups on Shaun-T’s Cize program. He loves these, and laughs, snuggles, begins to fade.

A quick nap for him while we eat.

Stretches for Nana, and here’s Jason.

Griffin wakes thrilled to see Daddy.

Ready to take on the world.

We’re going to walk around, do some shopping on this marvelously sunny day. You have to take the sun when you get in here, so we will.

And we’ll see what we can see.

Nora


Editor’s note: You can read more about the BHS trip on Facebook or their You Tube Channel The energy is amazing. ~Laura

GO WEST YOUNG MAN

This summer’s grandkid trip features Logan at fifteen, and–by his choice–Montana.

He and his posse–BW, Jason, Kat, Griffin and me–head off to Paws Up for five packed days. When a boy’s never been west, you can’t have a much better intro than Montana.

The flight out’s smooth–thank all the gods–and the weather when we land a LOT cooler than Maryland. First stop, a bite to eat which includes Griffin’s favorite treat, french fries.

His Nana’s grandson.

Then it’s time to fulfill Logan’s first request. The boy needs a hat and boots. This offers a nice walk–stretch those plane legs–and a chance to see some of the horses in the paddock before BW checks Logan in for his first activity.

A guy can’t go west without testing his skills on the rifle range.

I plop Griffin on the grass. He is very entertained grabbing it, yanking it, talking to it.

He’s also thrilled to gut laughs by the tether ball play.

Kitted out.
Sunny afternoon with Nana + grass!
The spellbinding tetherball.
Can’t look at the camera right now because: HORSE!

Grandda takes Logan to the range, and the rest of us head to our cabin to unpack, settle in. It turns out Logan has a keen eye and steady hand with a .22. Those endless hours of video games likely help there. Montana Logan shoots the crap out of the targets for a solid 90 minutes.

Call him DeadEye.

Logan has the loft room in the cabin, so I join Kat and Griffin to show him his space. As he’s well pleased we leave him to unpack then clean up before his first western barbecue.

Kat, Griffin and I decide to walk over to the Village, and while the road–pitted, horse poop, rough–is a challenge for the stroller, we manage just fine. You can smell the burgers and dogs and brats before you get there, and hear the music from the live band on the outdoor stage.

Griffin likes the music, and shows his own keen eye every time a pretty girl walks by. The men join us for the feast, the view, the music. You don’t go hungry at Paw’s Up. And, oh, that sky.

Dinner al fresco.
Full plate.

But our body clocks are still on East Coast time, and we unanimously agree to call it an early night.

We (except Griffin and me) have a hot air balloon ride booked for the morning. But the weather up there looks iffy, so that’s called off.

I head up to the living area of the loft for my workout while Logan catches more zzzs in his bedroom. I hear Jason and Griffin down below, go to the rail to say good morning. It’s rewarding to hear Griffin’s happy babble when he sees me. Jason brings him up, puts him in the pack and play. He’s well entertained watching his Nana jump around for her cardio section before the rest of the crew stir and all but Nana head out for breakfast.

Since they won’t be gliding up in the clouds, we vote to hike down to the obstacle course. The Grizzly Man isn’t for wimps. I have to give Kat major kudos for hiking it with an extra twenty pounds of Griffin strapped to her in the pack.

The trail’s steep. I’m talking feel those quads sing steep. Logan handles the obstacles like an American Ninja champ. Nothing stops him. And he instantly becomes Griffin’s favorite cousin, bringing on gut laughs as he climbs, swings on ropes, jumps and balances.

Logan the Magnificent.
Hidden high above the course.
The conqueror

I’m in pretty good shape considering, but I’m winded more than once on the climb. That’s okay because I can take time to admire the wildflowers. We’ve never been here this early in the season, so I haven’t seen the bitter cress or wild lupine in bloom. Makes me happy when I catch my breath.

And I only had to wince and close my eyes a couple of times while Logan performed.

Lunch!

Well earned and much appreciated.

The gang–which does not, again, include Griffin and me–have a river float booked. After Daddy entertains his boy with tosses and rubbing his belly on Daddy’s head, Griffin and I are happy to wave them off. We have some play time, then a nice rock on the porch when he gives Nana those I’m Tired tells. I’ll take rocking a cuddly baby on the porch with a fabulous view any day over riding the rapids.

The crew.

Team Logan returns, wet, cold, triumphant.

Logan’s favorite cousin status is only more solidly cemented.

The whole river gang hits the hot tub.

Time for dinner.

We thought to play a game or two after, but the energetic day’s taken its toll all around. So goodnight!

Workout for me in the morning, then breakfast for the gang. And we’re off for a guided tour of Garnet Ghost Town.

Our guides point out the beargrass along the way. Fascinating starry white puffs on stalks. Each plant only blooms every three to five years. The woods and hills around Garnet are loaded with them.

Beargrass
Up close
Ghost town pose.

We do our tour on a gorgeous morning walking around and through the old log buildings of the once thriving mining community. Daddy hauls the baby, Mama hauls the baby, everybody eventually hauls the baby who loves looking at everything and every one.

And before you know it, lunch!

My two boys really pack it in. No fussy eaters here.

Logan, Jason and Kat are off to ride ATVs. Time for another porch rock, and some down time while the baby naps.

ATV adventurers

Our adventurers come back coated with dust and success.

Clean up time before our Chuck Wagon Dinner experience.

We now have two cowboys as Kat and Jason scored a bandanna and boots for Griffin! He is seriously dressed for Chuck Wagon time.

Serious cowboy

They shuttle us over to yet another gorgeous area of the resort by the Blackfoot. Food’s more than plentiful, but first Montana Logan heads to the river. I watch him and Kat skipping stones.

Kat wins this one, hands down.

Pretty, pretty evening, lots of kids running around, some cowboy poetry. And more grass for Griffin. I swear he’d sit for hours in the grass.

OOOOH! Grass. Thanks Nana.

But there’s horseshoes, and I spot Logan taking on Grandda. We have to go watch this. Kat, Jason and I play pass-the-baby. The score stays close, but it looks like experience will triumph over youth.

But then, Logan, steely-eyed, lofts his shoe. It’s a Ringer!

I wish I’d had my camera out to capture that look of surprised delight on his face. I did get the aftermath. And he takes BW by a point.

Good form.
The ringer.

Back home. And some Reverse Charades.

This again has the baby in squealing with joy. Look at all those crazy people!

Logan thrashes us.

Night!

BW to read, me to sleep, and apparently the rest to hang out awhile. During that time, Logan’s favorite cousin status reaches new heights–as they demonstrated for me in the morning.

Logan meows. Griffin: Hysterical!

Logan shakes his hair. Griffin: Gut-busting!

Logan makes a face. Griffin: I think I cracked a rib!

Kat, being one smart mama, now enlists Logan every time she needs to change Griffin if he’s fussy. All Logan has to do with shake his hair or make noises, and Griffin’s squealing with joy.

I love, seriously, how engaged and patient Logan is with him. He’ll get down on the floor with him, or take his hands for Griffin’s favorite walking practice. And the little guy will walk endlessly if you can keep up. They’ve bonded hard over these days to the point Griffin just has to see him to break out in grins and excitement.

Morning time. Breakfast for them, workout for me. Then BW and I have massages booked.

Ahhh. A trip to Spa Town’s just what the doctor ordered. Blissed out we return for Logan’s Aerial Adventure Course. I’ve seen him take on those types of courses before–he’s like a monkey. But this one is bigger and more complex.

He handles it like freaking Spider-Man. And again has Griffin lost in hero worship. He swings, he climbs, he balances, he walks the tightrope, he belays down from–I don’t know how high a platform–then climbs up to the second part of the course.

We find grass for Griffin. Logan finishes the 90 minute course with 20 to spare, and is invited to do any part of it he likes again. But he’s satisfied. And hungry.

I like grass that’s THIS high.

Lunch is welcome, followed by a little down time. We have a jigsaw puzzle we’re working on. Progress made.

It’s Griffin and me and the rocking chair. And the rest off for a trail ride.

When the gang returns I learn they had the kind of excitement you’d rather not. Jason says he noticed his mount seemed a little testy, kept putting his ears back. Then about ten minutes away from home, he spooked. Turned straight into Kat’s horse, spooking that one. Had Logan’s horse shying.

Logan got his under control, Kat managed to pull hers up from the gallop he’d launched into. But as Jason pulled back, his horse turned again, and tossed him.

Before.
Just about to head out.

Fortunately–as best as you can be fortunate–he took the brunt of the fall on his hip and shoulder. The wrangler was quick, and they called out the EMTs just to be sure. The group’s a little shaken, and Jason plenty sore on top of it.

He’s got ice, has a long hot shower, some Advil. He’s moving slow, but okay. Still we opt out of that night’s BBQ. The rest head off–and they’ll bring us food back. I’ve pretty much hit a wall activity-wise and take a solid nap. That with a minor break, turns into 10 solid hours of sleep.

Human enough in the am for my workout. Jason’s better, but his main deal now seems like a pulled inner thigh muscle. Some stretching, some ice, a spin in the hot tub. Improvement.

Better yet, he and Kat and Logan have massages later in the day. Perfect timing for Jason. Kat and Griffin go rappelling. Jason’s in no shape for that! But Kat rediscovers her love for it, and Logan has a great time.

Another day, another rope.

They head down after lunch for a good rub while Griffin and I have that floor and porch time.

Logan, Grandda and Kat head to the go-cart course. Though he’s doing better, Jason opts out. The report is, once again, Logan wins the day.

Logan and and his Granda.

We’d planned to have dinner and a movie in the cabin for our last night. Our timing is perfect. As we wait for our food delivery, a storm–a whopper–rolls in. It’s dramatic and fabulous–especially since we’re all cozy indoors. (Logan’s become our official fire starter.)

The wind blows, the rain slashes, and the hail shoots like bbs. I have drama, wine and a fire. It’s pretty great.

It blows out again while we eat.

Up to the loft for movie time. How about some Captain Marvel? Griffin doesn’t make it through, but sleeps peacefully on Kat’s lap.

It’s a nice, relaxing end to our many adventures.

Miscellaneous photos from the trip:

Quick morning workout, pack it up. Breakfast, happy Griffin who watches Logan with adoration all the way down the loft stairs.

Back to the airport on a–thankfully–clear day for the flight home.

Have to say goodbye to Jason and Kat–who remain the best traveling companions ever–and the happiest baby in the world of babies.

We’ll see them again soon as we have our full-on family spa week coming up in no time.

Drop Logan off at his mom’s, and his two siblings actually come outside to see him. Absence makes the heart grow, after all.

Home to the dogs, to unpack, to just chill.

Those cowboys wore me out!

The boys.

But nothing makes a nana’s heart smile more than having her teenage grandson tell her this was his best vacation ever.

Happy trails!

Nora