Little Citizens of the World


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Cobh, Ireland

Cobh is pronounced ‘cove’.  It was once known as Queenstown, in honour of Queen Victoria.  It was the last place many Irish left from when they came to America in the 1800’s.  It was also the last stop Titanic made when it set off on it’s maiden voyage.  2,206 people were onboard Titanic when she left the docks.  1,517 would never reach New York.

I was up at 4am to see if I could get my first sight of Ireland.  We were just coming up to the mouth of the harbour and you could clearly see the light at Roches Point.

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When I whispered to the kids that I could see Ireland, they actually jumped up out of bed and ran out onto the balcony with me, they were so excited!  I was so glad they were as excited as me, but also surprised as I figured I’d be trying to drag them out of bed in time to meet customs at the designated 6:40am time slot!

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The village of Cobh coming into view.

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By the time we were through customs, had some breakfast and got our luggage lined up in our room, it was about time that our friends were to be meeting us at the train station, literally right in front of the ship.  We went up onto the top decks and saw the 8:24 train just pulling in, and we could actually see the blue coat of the girls little friend, Sula (Soo-la), sitting in the window!

When they got to the gate, we shouted down to them, and they looked around but didn’t look up at the ship. So we counted to three and altogether yelled “SULA!!” and they saw us!  We all waved like crazy, then hurried down to get our bags and disembark.  It took 15 minutes for someone to come get our luggage, which felt like forever.  The girls were so bulked up with their fleece and down coats, etc that they waited on the balcony.  Finally, we were off the ship and it was hugs all around.  Ahhh, welcome home!

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“You can go to Heaven if you want, I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” ~Mark Twain

Our first, and only, stop on this cruise is to Bermuda.  We’ve never been there before, so we were very excited about it.  I had gone on Google Maps to find out what the terminal looked like, and it was a gorgeous spot for photos of the girls.  I had it all planned out, the walking trail around the town and then back on the ship for late lunch.  The night before we arrived, I got the program for the next day in our door slot and realised I’d been googling Grand Bahama!!

Even though I was a bit disappointed by the difference in port (the port on Grand Bahama is picture perfect), it still was very lovely.  It was a little overcast and there was a tiny breeze, but it was perfect for pants and a tshirt.  I had, however, planned on getting good Christmas pictures while there so, unfortunately, every photo I took has the girls faces front and center.  Really, there wasn’t that much to photograph unless we had taken the bus out of the port area and into the town, so you’re not missing much.

We didn’t do any shore excursions, we just spent a few hours walking around the town.  The port area is pretty small and the Clocktower Mall is really the only place to visit.  We went in there and bought a few little souvenirs, then walked back to the ship along a different path.  It was a nice day out and a cute little port town.

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Map on the wharf

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Walking back to the ship past the Clocktower Mall.  You can still see the line in Sparrows hair from when I dyed it blue, when they went to see DanTDM last month!

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Beautiful Pandanus Palm

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This is the only place I was able to get a photo of the whole ship!

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Ready to sail away.  Goodbye Bermuda!


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March Madness

It’s been crazy around here lately!  We’re getting ready for our cruise back to Ireland, getting our house completely packed up so we can rent it, trying to get a rental in Ireland, and preparing for a feis (an Irish dance competition. pronounced – fesh).

I’m pretty OCD about everything, so I’ve been non stop for the last 3 months.  I’m exhausted!

There was a slight problem, when the cruise consultant noticed the girls passports would expire before the ship left.  I knew it was 2017, but that seemed so far away!  So I had to rush both applications because we were requesting special permission from customs to get off the ship in Ireland, rather than complete the cruise and disembark in another country.  We were approved, that was a huge relief.  The cruise terminal is directly across from the Cobh Heritage Center, and only about 20 minutes from Cork City, where we’ll be staying.  It would have been so stressful (and extremely expensive) if we had to disembark elsewhere and travel across other countries to get back to where we had been only days earlier!

As for our house, I had always planned on using it as a summer rental, fully furnished and ready to go.  After thinking about it and going over and over it, I decided it would be too much to monitor from outside the US.  Although I would have used a property manager, who’s to say things wouldn’t be missed or broken and then what do you do?  Especially when the turnover is weekly.  It was too much for me to think about.  So I’ve decided to rent out on a yearly basis, which will be less money, but a lot easier on my nerves.

Year round rentals are unfurnished, so I’ve been furiously trying to get everything packed back up.  We’ve been here less than a year, and  I can’t believe how much crap I have!  Where did it all come from?  I’ve purchased some industrial shelving for the basement, and lots of storage totes.  In fact, I placed an order for what I thought was a reasonable amount of totes back in January.  Then I placed another order for the same amount.  Then another!  Finally, I went to the store and bought 3 times what I had been ordering.  I think I’ll have enough smaller sized totes, but I’m probably going to need at least 5 or 6 more 50 gallon totes for bedding and towels.  We love pillows in our family, so yeah, we’re gonna need more totes!

We’ve just, in the last few days, not only been accepted for a rental house in Ireland, but it’s in the neighbourhood of my dreams!   I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find something in this area.  Openings are very, very rare.  When I was speaking with the letting agent, he mentioned he had spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard, and when he heard it was my home town, he said he wanted to help me out if he could.  Everyone had been so kind to him when he was there, he wanted to give back.  Serendipity.

Sky and Sparrow, who have been Irish dancing for a few years now, are dancing several times a week this month as we celebrate our Irishness with the insanity that is March Madness.  It’s like St. Patrick’s Day every weekend around here!  Lots of pubs, hotels, etc are having celebrations and what’s an Irish party without Irish dancers!

They also had their final American feis this month.  They did great, there were medals all around and I’m so proud of their hard work.  From now on, they’ll be feisin’ in Ireland!

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Third time’s the charm, right?

We are headed back to Ireland in April!  Our plan has always been to stay long term, but little glitches here and there have kept us from realizing our dream.  This time, however, I am hopeful that with a little extra paper work and several international phone calls we will be successful in our wild pursuit of Irish living.

We will be cruising, as always, but on a new line this time.  This time, we will be taking a Princess cruise.  As you may have read in my past posts, we absolutely LOVE Holland America Line, but they don’t get us close enough to the British Isles.  We have taken Queen Mary in the past and experienced the worst cruising possible, as you may also have read.  So although they are the most convenient to us, it’s not going to happen.

I am really excited to see what Princess cruising is like, but also apprehensive, as  I like to know what to expect ahead of time.  (Seriously, I Google Street Map my way through a new area before I go there, so I feel more familiar with it when I get there!)   I think I’m just a little wary due to our problems with Queen Mary II.

We’ll be staying in Cork City, our favourite place in the world, and we’re already planning all the places we’ll be visiting as soon as we get there.  The kids want to go to Fitzgerald Park and the city library, I can’t wait to go to the The Natural Foods Bakery (oh my gosh, their spelt hummous sandwiches!!) and Waterstones bookstore. And of course, we are desperate to see all of our friends again!

The previous two times we’ve been to Ireland, we’ve arrived in late summer/early autumn, and been back in the States by Christmas.  This time we get to spend spring and summer there!  I’m really looking forward to being there in different seasons, although the temperature in spring and summer is not much different than that of autumn!!

So we are planning and planning, I know it’s still 8 months away, but we have so much to do to get our house ready for rental season next summer.  Because we just bought our house, there are a lot of things we have to do immediately, rather than as needed, like we would do if we were staying in our home long term.  We’ve had to spend quite a bit at the garden center, so the yard will look nice come next spring.  I also have to consider having irrigation put in.  That’s not an expense I was anticipating.  Right now, we are going through a heat wave and everything is so dry.  Most of my neighbours have given up on watering their yards, which are now as brown and crunchy as overdone chocolate chip cookies.  Because I’ve got new plantings, I have to water everyday, early in the morning and after the sun goes down.  My sprinkler is on close to 8 hours a day.  I don’t want to know what my water bill is going to look like.

We have the last of our furniture being delivered early next week and, hopefully, that will be the end of big purchases for a while.  I’m hoping to spend most of September and October going through boxes in the basement, many of them have been packed up since before our Australia trip in 2012!

So that’s what’s happening in our lives right now, it’s all go as usual!

If any of you have taken a Princess cruise, I’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment, or a link to your blog post!  In the meantime, enjoy some photos from the garden today!

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The Butterfly Weed for the Monarchs is forming tall seed pods.

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Bees are incredibly difficult to photograph, they’re all over the place.  Busy bees indeed!

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I love my wild roses

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One of three resident bunnies that have been feasting on our new plantings.

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The Holly berries are starting to turn!!!

 

 

 

 


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Seal Release!

We went to Scusset Beach in Sagamore this evening to see 3 seals released.  The release was part of the National Marine Life Center of Buzzards Bay’s rehab program.   It was fantastic!  We went a few hours early so the kids could play and at around 7pm, the seals were carried down to the shore in large dog crates.  A huge crowd gathered around as close to the taped off line as possible, and everyone stood frozen with anticipation as the 3 staff members each opened the crates simultaneously.  Everyone held their breath, expecting the seals to take off towards the water, but they didn’t.  They sort of came out slowly, had a look around, gave each other a sniff, looked around some more, then tried to head back up to the beach.  The staff members held  boards to block them from the crowds and beach and, eventually, they wandered casually into the surf.  They goofed off for a bit a few feet offshore, then decided they wanted to come in again.  So the staff again got their boards out and tried to keep the crowd (that had thinned by now) back and let the seals explore.  We were there watching for about 2 hours after the release, and because the seals didn’t go far from shore, the staff had to stay until it was quite dark, just to make sure none of the spectators got too close.  I spoke with one of the staffers, and she said they will probably come up onto the beach for the night, and maybe go through the Cape Cod Canal towards Chatham.  It was a great experience, the kids really enjoyed it, and learned quite a bit.

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Ready for the release!

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Hundreds of spectators turned out.

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After a quick swim, they decided it was time to come back on shore.


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House buying

So, as soon as I wrote the title, I thought I’d better change it to ‘Home buying’, because it not only sounds better, it’s what people actually say.  It sounds more natural, more personal.  I left it the way I wrote it originally because, for me, this is just a means to an end and, subconsciously, I don’t think I’m feeling the attachment.  Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY happy to be buying a house for my family, and feel truly grateful to be able to do that, but my greatest desire is to get back to Ireland as soon as financially possible.

We have had most of our life in storage since 2012, when we went to Australia, and it will be wonderful to see all of those goodies again.  I’m sure most of it will go to donations as there will be tons of clothes that are years too small and toys that will also be long outgrown.  But it will be lovely to see our things again.  I’m not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination.  I want, as Maureen O’Hara says in the film The Quiet Man, “my own things about me”.  I can’t wait to get all of those boxes out of storage and go through them, finding places to put them, it will be fantastic.

However, the house we are putting an offer in, is small at 1300 sqft.  That may not be small to some, but it is for someone who has, about 11,000 sqft of stuff!  I can’t wait to get settled and just take a huge deep breath.  It won’t last long though, I want to get it ready to be rented out by summer of 2017, so we can get back to Ireland.  Why did I buy a house on Cape Cod just to leave it for Ireland?  Because although my heart belongs to Ireland, my family live on Martha’s Vineyard, and this will give us the security of knowing there will always be a place for us close to home, if we need it.

 

 

 


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Cobh

Cobh (pronounced cove) is a short train ride from Cork City.  We went for the day to visit the Titanic museum, go to Lord Goulsley’s Manor (a Halloween special event) and to walk around the town where some of my ancestors left Ireland for Prince Edward Island, Canada way back in the 1800’s.

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Lovely waterfront area

There was a very cold, and consistent wind coming off the ocean and I hadn’t brought Sky’s fleece, (always wear a fleece under your raincoat in Ireland) so I gave her my raincoat to keep out the wind and I tried not to shiver too much in front of her.

The Titanic museum looks like a very small building, but it’s huge inside (like the Tardis).  Cobh was the last stop the Titanic made before heading off to America on it’s first and final voyage.  The museum has lots of neat things in it, photos, luggage, short videos, a Morse code machine where kids can type out the last message sent by Titanic.  The kids really liked that the entry ticket has the name of a passenger that they can find details on as they walk through the museum.  There is also information on Lusitania that is very interesting.

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The Morse code machine

We had a great time at Ghoulsley’s Manor, the kids had a blast, it was very well done.  I don’t have pictures because, I notice a lot that Irish people don’t take pictures of everything like American’s do.  They are almost never seen on a smart phone, they are just in the moment.  So I felt like taking pictures would have ruined the vibe, especially as I would have needed to use my flash.  It was fantastically done though, and if we’re here for Halloween again, I would definitely go back.  Lord Ghoulsley’s Manor

Afterwards, we took a taxi back into town and stopped for fish and chips before getting back on the train and heading home.  It was a wonderful day out and I’d definitely recommend visiting this little seaside village.

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Beautiful colours

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St Coleman’s Cathedral