Hi folks. I'm back. I hope you've made a cup of tea, (poured a glass of wine etc) before you tackle this post. Warning it is very photo heavy. I have come home with hundreds of photos and it was so difficult to chose which ones to post here. So indulge me please and share a few happy moments from my holiday.
I have a sister who lives in Arizona, and a few weeks ago she posted this shop awning on Facebook. It seemed like the perfect heading for my post today.
And that is what last week was all about.
But first a brief visit to Bournemouth to stay with my sister Jean for a coupe of days. The reason for my visit was to attend one of my brother-in-law's funeral, which was, of course, a sad occasion. But taking into account that he had lived a full and happy life well into his nineties, plus the fact that the day was an opportunity to spend time with all my sisters, and many other family members, some of whom I have not met for several years, it was also a happy time, and I think we gave Bob a good send off.
The next day Jean and I managed to fit in some shopping, and as the sun was shining when we got home, we did our usual walk around the Bourne Valley Heath, which has one entrance right across the road from her house. After our brown and parched land, it was wonderful to see all the bright green, and especially all the colours of Autumn that we just don't get as there are few if any deciduous trees in our part of Spain to turn colour. So here are a few photos that I took of anything that caught my eye on our walk. It was a good opportunity to try out my new camera which arrived the day I came away. No captions needed I think.
So moving on to the next week:- Sunday found me on a train to Birmingham to meet my husband as he flew in from Spain, and our son Ben collected us as we were spending a few hours at his house before an early morning flight o Dublin. For those who haven't read my previous posts, the reason for this visit was to celebrate Chris' 70th birthday in Clonakilty, the place where his mother was born and lived as a child, and which he visited each summer as a boy to spend a holiday with his Grandma. We had rented a large house there and all five of our sons and their partners were joining us whenever they could get away. So Tom, who had flown in from Denmark on the Saturday, met us at Dublin and drove us down to Clonakilty, a small town, on the South coast - roughly below Cork. We managed to find the house, in a lovely spot on the Ring harbour road.
Later that day, Ben and Dave arrived and brought Jim and Jo with them. The other two couldn't get away until Wednesday.
This is the house we had, (the middle one slightly behind and above the others), followed by the beautiful, peaceful view from our bedroom.
It was spacious and comfortable, with plenty of equipment in the kitchen and elsewhere, so we were very comfortable there. Tom was delighted to find there was an open fire so he took charge of lighting that whenever we had an evening at home.
This picture tickled me not only because of the range of our footwear, from Jo's rather splendid boots, to my comfy slippers, but it reminded me of when the three younger boys were in their teens, and they tended to come home with a gang of friends who usually ended up sleeping over. So in the morning I gauged how many breakfasts/dinners I might be making by how many shoes were piled at the front door! There are not ten pairs here, so someone must have gone walkabout.
The last two pictures in this section were taken on the first evening when Jo and I noticed a pale pink light over the water. They were taken from the garden of our house, just before night-fall. They are the only sky photos this week.
On our first evening out we took the boys to see De Barra's bar, which has a quite bizarre display of masks on the wall. Some were quite attractive and interesting while others were grotesque. Jo found them quite disturbing and sat with her back to them.
I even spotted a very old yarn-bombed guitar. The bass guitarist Noel Redding from the Jimmy Hendrix Experience, retired to Clnakilty in 1972, and the walls of De Barra's carry several of his platinum discs and other memorabilia of his time in music.
We all enjoyed our first glass of stout as we chatted. Most of the men chose Guiness, though someone had Murphys, and I found I preferred Beamish so that was my tipple of choice for the week. (Forget the sugar and think about all the iron. It must have done me some good!).
It is only a tiny bar, but we sat and listened to a local group playing, and joined in with some of the songs.
For our first trip out we took the boys to Shannonvale, the area of Clonakilty where Chris' Gran lived. We saw her house, and did a quick round of the village sign, the tiny pub/shop, and the standing stones, before piling into our cars and heading towards the coast.
The beach is called Inchydoney Bay and it is approached by a single road that runs around Muckross Strand, an area that is just mud flats and teems with sea birds at low tide, but when the tide turns the water rushes in and fills it very quickly. There are many fishing boats moored there, and it is very pretty when the water is up.
Inchydoney itself is a big wide bay of sand, with strong currents and rolling waves that are loved by the surfers. At it's edge is a rocky promontory called St Mary's Point, and beyond that is a further smaller bay. Of course I had to put my feet in the water, and although it was cold, it wasn't bone-chillingly cold, and I paddled around for a while.
Meanwhile Ben, who some eighteen years ago was a county gymnast, had to prove that he still has what it takes!
We walked out along the rocks, and then found a wall to sit on for the first group photo.
Back at the house there was a big stretch of grass for the front garden, where Tom and Ben had a kick around with a soft rugby ball.
One day this little leprechaun turned up, and he managed to photo-bomb quite a few of our pictures!
When Jonathan arrived with his fiance Ella, and our second son Mike, we again went to the bay and we had a long walk all around the bay so we could see Ring Harbour from the other side, with our house a little yellow spot in the distance.
It was a lovely day. We were so lucky and we didn't have any rain until late on our last afternoon.
We walked back to St Mary's point and now everyone was present, we took the photo of Chris with his boys, (or menfolk as they all are now, though they will always be boys to me).
That evening we all went to the local bar, Kitty Macs, just a short walk from the house.
There was a small games room next to the bar so the boys enjoyed a game of pool, but none of them showed any prowess when it came to throwing darts!
Back in the bar we soon made friends with the barman. I think we really made his night as otherwise it would have been very quiet in there. Some of the boys impressed him by tasting 'the hottest pepper sauce made', and coping better than his usual victims! Mike decided to get himself framed. It was very dark walking home, but we all made it safely.
The next day the boys gave dad a belated birthday present that they had bought together.
It was an Ireland rugby shirt and they had put his nick-name and number 70 on the back. As you can see, he was delighted with it. Here he is posing with his new Irish passport, all ready to sign up with the team! It was a good fit too.
Here is another memory invoking moment. When our three youngest were around 3-5 years old, our daughter-in-law was just getting to know our crazy family, and one day she bought the boys their first popping candy. We have an old video of them trying it. So when we went into the old sweet shop in Clonakilty she decided to buy it for them again. Here is Jonathan tasting his, and trying to keep a straight face.
That afternoon, Jonathan and Ella, Mike and Tom wanted to go surfing. They paid for the hire of wet-suits and boards for a two hour session, and I agreed to go along to take the photos. Here are just a few with minimal captions.
A few last minute instructions and warning about the tide.
It was recommended that they jog along the beach first to warm up.
It was a long way out to the surf. The water was rougher than it looks here too.
Mike and Tom only made it onto their stomachs.
Ella managed to get on her knees.
Only Jonathan stood right up. He was very chuffed I caught him on camera.
They absolutely loved it, though they were all a bit stiff and bruised the next day.
Another family tradition. We spent the evening sitting around the fire pit.
Of course we toasted marshmallows. They only taste right if you set them on fire. Some made 'shmores' by sandwiching them between digestive biscuits, but I like eating mine straight from the stick.
Chris and most of the boys, support Arsenal football club, so on Saturday they set off to the 'only sports bar in Clonakilty' to watch the match, while Jim and Jo, Tom and I went to the model village. It was really well laid out and cared for, and showed Clonakilty and surrounding villages as they were many years ago.
Then we joined the others at the bar, and two cousins and their mum joined us for a drink. We met up with them when Chris and I went over there back in 2012, so it was nice to see them all again, and introduce the family to some relatives they had never met before.
Then we set off for the birthday celebration meal. We went to a place recommended by Cousin Joe, and it was a superb meal, with such a lovely lady serving us. We couldn't have asked for better.
Then for our last night out, we went to a tiny bar that someone had told us about called An Teach Beag, where we had heard there might be some live music.
We wanted to sit near the musicians so we arrived just as they were opening. It was lovely inside, with low lamps and fairy lights all around.
Jo and Dave were entwined by a vine growing up the inside of the wall!
We all kept changing places and chatting to one another; as they say..."and the craic was good".
Then a guitarist and a lady with a mandolin played Irish songs and sang really well, so we enjoyed that. When they wanted to take a break they asked for any singers who wanted to do a turn, so Ben borrowed his guitar and did a couple of numbers which were well received.
Sunday was our last day, but five of us had to leave to drive up to Dublin at 4.00 on Monday morning, so we spent the morning collecting and sorting everyone's stuff, and getting the packing done.
I made us all lunch from everything left in the cupboards, and then we drove up to a little cove on the other side of the hill behind us. We stopped on a cliff top to see the view, and I had my obligatory photos of me and my boys! I don't know whether they are still growing or I am shrinking - I have a feeling it might be the latter - but they all seem to dwarf me now.
These days, times when we all manage to be in the same place at the same time, are few and far between, but they are so special when they do happen!
Next we drove on to the cove. It was getting very grey and rain was threatening, but I love watching an angry sea when it breaks on the rocks, and every now and then the sun broke through again briefly.
Of course, where there are rocks, boys will climb, and they all had a good time clambering over them, and sliding down again.
Then just as we were ready to go home, Tom and Mike had a mad moment and decided to swim. It must have been freezing but they insisted it wasn't.
They seemed to enjoy it anyway.
So that was the week that was.
On a piece of tourist tat in one of the shops, we spotted this message.
I think we did!
So well done and big thank you to anyone who has stayed with me. I hope I have entertained you a little. There are no specific 'things to be grateful for' this week, just one big heart full of gratitude for the chance to have such a lovely week with the family.
The house we were in had no internet so I didn't get around to do much visiting. We were all trying to share someone's hotspot, and making the most of bars with wi-fi for essential messages. But I hope to better this week.
Be warned. I still have photos of sea-birds and other bits and pieces that I spotted, but I am saving those for next week.
Look who's just popped in to day Good- bye!
I almost forgot, I just need to link this up before I go:
Rocking Your World, at Celtic House.
Annie's Friday Smiles at A Stitch in Time.