2024 Ireland Adventure: Introduction

 How the trip came into being

If my memory serves correctly (and events around that time are admittedly a little fuzzy), just before Robert's passing I was texting with a couple of my sisters when we concocted the idea of going somewhere. One of my sisters mentioned Hawaii and I said, "What about Ireland?" And there we were. My Cooper SIL had a tour reserved with Vagabond and Driftwood Tours of Ireland in 2023 but had to cancel so she had credit she needed to use before August 2024. I suggested Driftwood to my sisters, we picked a date and started planning. I decided to stay another week after our 6-day Great Southern Tour so my SIL made plans to meet me and go on another tour with me. 

Decisions, Decisions

We had decisions to make, the first one being which Driftwood Tour to take. The one we wanted was full for the date we wanted so we chose the Great Southern Tour. Robert & I visited some of the places but I was definitely okay with revisiting, and there were plenty of places we didn't see.

I've said that if you go to Ireland, you shouldn't take a tour, but...Y'ALL! This was definitely the way to go! They only do small group tours and go places "off the beaten path". There were a couple of places I didn't think I could have found or would have known anything about. Plus the convenience of just showing up at the front of the hotel with our suitcase at the designated time was incredible. We didn't have to worry about anything

Back to decisions...

I went with 2 of my sisters' airline preferences...Delta. I wasn't thrilled about it, but it turned out to be great. Since 1 sister doesn't live where we do, we met up at the Atlanta airport. 
The 3 of them were in the middle row, I was right next to them...with an empty seat between me and the window seat person. Plenty of room to not worry if my blanket or pillow (or anything else) was getting in someone's way. 

Once in Dublin, we easily found Border Control. (Following other people helps a bunch) I think our plane was the only one in line so it was amazingly quick. Then we found the taxi queue and we were off to the hotel. Our taxi driver was wonderful. He talked about things we were seeing and told us they have a special name for dandelions: Pee the Beds. (although he didn't say "pee"!) They were told as children that if they picked a dandelion they would pee the bed that night. A quick Google search tells me that the French word for dandelion is pissenlit, which means (you guessed it)...pee the bed.


Only 1 of us slept on the plane and it wasn't me. I felt so bad after a couple of hours in Dublin, but I didn't feel "tired", just "bad". Our first stop was the Long Hall Pub but I forgot to take pictures (again). It was around lunch time and they didn't serve food so the barman sent us to The Hairy Lemon. This was the place that had the horrendous Irish Coffee last trip. It was interesting to be there again; I knew it as soon as I spotted it and remembered exactly where we sat and where the restrooms were. The last time, it was evening and was crowded so we didn't look around the place. I was amazed at how much space was in that building. I still wasn't impressed with the food, but maybe because I just wasn't hungry. Nah, their french fries weren't good at all. 
We walked over to Trinity College, which was close by. It took us forever to figure out how to get in. There's a lot of construction going on and my thought was that they had entrances blocked off to keep people from cutting through the grounds. So, we walked around a bit and found the opening. 1 of my sisters ended up going into the Book of Kells; I really wanted my sisters to see the Long Hall Library but you couldn't do 1 without the other and it was pretty pricy to get in. The sister that went in said that they are getting ready to close the library for 2 years for major renovations and most of the books had already been taken out. So, I was glad we didn't fork out the money to be disappointed.

At that point, we decided to go back to the hotel. 1 of my sisters & I crashed for a couple of hours and I think the other 2 went to the bar. We enjoyed watching Leinster play Leicester in Rugby on the tv. The hotel is on the same road as the stadium so there were a lot of fans stopping in for food and drink on their way to the match. We got to experience "flirty Irishmen" right off the bat: there was a man selling Leinster hats & scarves and he cozied up to one of my sisters.
Dinner at the hotel was amazing: Guiness Beef Stew with Pints. 1 of my sisters commented on how good the Guiness was, but I told her to just wait...that wasn't the best one she'd have!
The Ireland Adventure was off to a "grand" start! Check back for more posts, and check out Flyin' the Coop for more detailed, travel-related posts on this trip.

Friday Fotos 2024 #7

Friday Fotos is a post where I can dump some photos from the previous week. The goal is to make me more aware of the beauty and fun in my everyday life. 

If you're an Outlander fan, you should get this license plate I saw.
I did some "Cemetery Sightseeing" on Saturday. I read about this monument in a cemetery in Knoxville to the Sultana, a steamboat that was hired to carry Civil War POWs from Vicksburg, MS to the northern states. The passenger capacity of the steamboat was 376 but there were over 2000 prisoners on board. Long story short(er), there was a problem with a leak in one of the boilers and instead of having it properly repaired, the owner opted for a quick bandaid to save time (and money). Just north of Memphis, 2 of the boilers exploded. It is believed that 1176 people died, either directly from the explosion or from hypothermia and burns. Why wasn't the largest US maritime disaster (to this date) publicized? It happened the day after John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin, was killed.
These mushrooms look like a chocolate s'more!
This guy has been making an appearance on the porch. The dogs haven't caught sight of him so he's safe for now.
Speaking of my porch, I finally stopped looking at a gazillion different set-ups and sets and just broke down and ordered one. I've spent almost the whole time I'm home out on my porch since it was delivered. MS put it together in no time at all and helped me arrange everything.
I'm so glad that I went through with having this done. I used to wonder how my daddy could just sit on his porch for hours and now I get it. His wasn't screened in, but I completely understand how and why he did it.
One more upgrade in the front. I think I'm done with the front yard (unless I think of something else to do!)

A closer view of the light. They look like little torches, an idea I got from one of my sisters and my FIL.

Until next time...

A Wordy Hodgepodge

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

1. What are you currently juggling in your life? 

A routine that makes me feel like I'm productive with not being motivated!

2. How often do you buy new clothes? What was the last piece of clothing you purchased? 

I usually go a long time without buying clothes; I'm not a big "clothes shopper". When I retired last year, 1 of the first things I did was get rid of my work clothes. I should have waited a while...I really need some of those blouses I threw away! I'm looking at dressier pants and shirts that I can use for traveling, made out of quick dry material so I can wash them in the sink, hang them in the bathroom, and make sure they'll be dry the next day. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

3. What food festival would you most like to attend?

Joyce gave some international and national suggestions, but there are a couple close to home that I've missed out on in the past and would like to go to:

National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN (near Chattanooga)
ChocolateFest-Knoxville, TN OR Chocolate Fest-Jonesborough, TN

International Food Festival? Since Bruges, Belgium is on my list of places I want to visit, there's this one: Choco-Late Chocolate Festival

4. May is the 5th month of the year. Tell us something you remember about your 5th grade year. 

Uhhhhh...nothing. I have no memory of that year whatsoever. That was back when there were "junior highs" so I can't even say I remember being one of the "top dogs" at school. That may have been the year I picked the flute as my instrument...or maybe that was 4th grade. I have no idea.

5. What are your favorite five words right now? 


6. Insert your own random thought here. 

The first Ireland installation has been posted on Flyin' the Coop. I'm doing "Lost Mary" posts instead of changing the name of the blog. My goal is to also post on this blog, but change the post a little bit. I started writing a post on how I lived out of a carry-on suitcase for 2 weeks, so look for that as a "Lost Mary" post on Flyin' the Coop as well. 

Friday Fotos 2024 #6

 Friday Fotos is a post where I can dump some photos from the previous week. The goal is to make me more aware of the beauty and fun in my everyday life. I guess I took a bit of an unplanned and then planned hiatus since the last of these posts on April 5th, but I'm back...at least for this week!

The magnolias are blooming! This is from a big magnolia in the park next to my house.
I had a nice quiet evening on my back porch, sipping some Northern Irish Whiskey and listening to '70's music.
The "baby magnolia" in the park is just starting to bloom.
The landscapers did a great job repositioning my daddy's amaryllis...I thought I only had 2 and this is the best they've looked in years.
I don't know why I didn't think of this before. I haven't found anything that will grow in this area on my front porch. Last night the thought came to me to get beach rocks & put them in there. It ties in the dry creek bed that the landscapers put in my front yard. (see picture below)

This isn't from this week, but this is the dry creek bed that the landscapers put in to help with drainage in the front yard.
Until next time...

Impressive Wednesday Hodgepodge

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond.

 1. What impresses you? 

Genuine kindness and thoughfulness.

2.  Where are you in your family birth order? Do you fit the stereotype of that particular slot? In what way?

I'm #8 out of 10 and the youngest girl. It's funny, but I told one of my sisters once that for some reason people just take care of me. I'm definitely one of the bratty younger siblings, but oddly enough, my 2 younger brothers are not. Maybe it's just being the youngest girl. 🙅

3. What motivates you more-a reward or a consequence? Elaborate. 

Definitely a reward. Even if it's just verbal praise, I'm all in.

4. May 14th is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. Who thinks biscuits deserve their own day? Do you like biscuits? Make your own? Grab one for breakfast at a drive-through now and then? Which drive-through makes the one you like best? What do you like to put on a biscuit? What's your favorite food or dish that calls for buttermilk? 

Sometimes there's nothing like a good sausage biscuit from Burger King. Or a chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A. And you can't beat a good sausage & gravy biscuit.

My favorite food that calls for buttermilk is Irish Brown Bread. 

5. Are there any weddings on your summer calendar? What's your favorite part of a wedding/wedding reception? 

I was verbally invited to a wedding on May 18th by the bride. I told her that was a great day for a wedding...that is our anniversary. Other than that, nothing on the calendar.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

As I mentioned, the 18th would have been our 40th anniversary. I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to do; I think I  need to at least take a drive up to the mountains for the day. We were never big on celebrating on that day; we took some camping trips around that time of year but would usually just go to a local restaurant. I'll just have to see what plans unfold that day.

Drinking up the Hodgepodge

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond. 

1. Did you watch the Kentucky Derby this past weekend? Have you ever been to a horse race? Ever ridden a horse? Did you enjoy it? Have you ever been to Kentucky? Do you like Bourbon? 

I have no interest in the Derby if I'm perfectly honest. I've never been to a horse race but have been to the dog race once. I've ridden a horse; it was okay; not my favorite activity. I live in a state bordering Ky, so yes, I've been there & I do like bourbon. If you've never tried bourbon cream, it's worth a try. It's even better than Irish Cream. My bourbon balls are always a hit at Christmas, especially since I believe in making sure people know there's bourbon in it. 

2.  What's something you wish you'd placed in a time capsule fifteen years ago? 

I'm drawing a total blank on this one.

3. Are you adventurous? Elaborate. 

I didn't think I was but looking back over the past several years I guess in a way I am. I think I've always had a travel bug but never thought I'd be able to act on it. I'm not so adventurous to hike the Appalachian Trail or even go out into the woods and camp on my own, but I'm working up the confidence to travel alone.

4. Something you want to make this year? It can be a new recipe, craft, diy project, a milestone you've set for yourself...anything at all. 

I want to make plans to go back to Ireland and spend time on my own there.

5. Cinco de Mayo was also celebrated this past weekend...do you like Mexican food? If so what's your favorite dish? Have you ever been to Mexico?  Margarita-yes or no?

I do like Mexican food, for sure. Sometimes just a big plate of nachos & a bottle of Dos Equis is all I need. I've never been to Mexico and actually have no desire to go. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Last week I did something I hadn't done since we moved into this house...I mowed the yard. We have a zero-turn mower and I kept telling CH that he needed to teach me how to use it. But, he liked mowing the yard and didn't want me to do it so I never learned. I had MS give me a quick lesson and I mowed the yard myself. He mowed a small hill in the backyard because he was afraid I'd tip over, but other than that, I did it. It's funny how little things like mowing the yard can boost my confidence!

Calling on the Mayday Hodgepodge

Joyce asks the questions, and we provide the answers. See how others answered at From This Side of the Pond. 

1. Mayday! Mayday!...when was the last time (or a recent time) you literally or figuratively needed to call for help? Elaborate. 

Somewhere in Ireland, I had to text my sister to find out what room we were in. During the 6-day tour, there were only 2 nights that we stayed in the same hotel. I didn't pay much attention to the room numbers because my sisters always take care of me! That night, though, I stopped by the restaurant to get some dessert to go so I was on my own. 

2. May Day...when was the last time you danced? Do you have a lot of baskets? What's something you keep in a basket? What's your favorite purple flower? 

I can't remember the last time I danced in public. I'm not a dancer, for sure. I don't have a lot of baskets, in fact, I think I only have a couple. One of them is a small one that I use for a bread basket during the holidays. My favorite purple flower is lavender.

3. What's something you may do this month? 

I may get around to painting my bedroom and hanging curtains. I may not, though.

4. Do you like eggplant? Quick topic changes lol? If you said yes in answer to the eggplant question how do you like yours prepared? Of the following purple foods, which one is your favorite...plums, purple carrots, purple asparagus, eggplant, acai berries, blackberries, purple cauliflower, elderberries, purple potatoes, or passion fruit? 

I enjoy a good eggplant parm. I have a super easy recipe for it; it only takes 30 minutes and it is delicious. My favorite purple food would be plums. I didn't even know there were purple carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, or potatoes.

5. The calendar turns on Hodgepodge Day...

"Then you have to remember to be thankful; but in May one simply can't help being thankful that they are alive, if for nothing else."-L.M. Montgomery

Tell us one thing you're thankful for today. 

I'm thankful for my siblings. I wouldn't have been able to get through the past year without them.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I've been busy getting things done around the house that have been neglected. It's keeping me really busy and I think I have one more project to do before I can take a breath. We've had drainage issues, as in water draining into the basement when it rains. Hopefully, that's taken care of through some landscaping and a drain in the driveway. I'm really pleased with how the front yard looks...they did an incredible job. 

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