Dublin at night

When I moved to Dublin in July I was amazed by how long the days seemed. The sun was up well before I even contemplated getting out of bed and stayed until close to my bedtime.

Now, I’m equally fascinated by the long nights. Luckily it hasn’t been too cold or rainy and I’ve been able to catch some of the holiday lights and festive spirit.

Before I go, I’m off on holiday this week and just in case I don’t get my act together in time, I want to wish all of you a happy holiday.

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A place to visit in Dublin

One of my favorite places in Dublin to explore is St Stephen’s Green. The park has been officially open to the public since the late 1800s. During the Easter Rising of 1916, some insurgents were stationed in the park. According to one of the signs, there was a halt to gunfire to allow the groundsman to feed the birds. Stephen’s Green is near Grafton street, a major shopping area. If you ever have the chance, I recommend taking a stroll.

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A long overdue hello

Hello!

It’s been ages since I last posted and a lot has happened. The biggest news is I moved to Dublin.

Before moving to The Emerald Isle, everyone who I had told about the upcoming move mentioned one  specific thing: The Irish are so friendly. I mean everyone claimed this. And I’m happy to report that this isn’t an exaggeration. Not only are they friendly, but they are extremely helpful. Once, while I  was waiting to cross the road, a woman pulled over in her car and asked if I was lost. I wasn’t, but was tired from exploring the city on foot. Luckily I wasn’t far from home.

Recently, we took a week off. Initially our goal was to do some serious sightseeing. However, leading up to our time off, we both came down with nasty colds that lingered. Instead of getting out and about too much, we spent the days leisurely strolling through Phoenix Park and finding pubs. Most days, we were back at the flat before 4 p.m. and we spent the evenings either reading or watching movies. It was a fantastic break.

Phoenix Park, established in 1662, is one of the largest enclosed urban parks in Europe. It’s south of the Liffey and is home a herd of Fallow Deer. Within the park are the residences for the President of Ireland and the ambassador of the United States.

Our favorite pub find was The Hole in the Wall, next to Phoenix Park. The name originates from a tradition of serving drinks through, you guessed it, a hole in the wall. It’s the longest pub in Dublin. When we popped in for a late lunch on a chilly day, there was a fire going. Both of us love pubs with a cozy fire, good beer, and tasty food. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend this one.

Well that’s enough about me. How have you been?

 

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Shaun the Sheep, Better Late Than Never

Last week I included a couple of photos of statues of Shaun the Sheep and I mentioned in the comments that I had snapped photos of many of them when they were on display in London. Several asked to see the rest. Before we get to the photos, here’s a bit of background information. During the spring in London, there were 50 of these statues, which was organized by Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s FoundationCurrently, there are 70 sculptures in Bristol. All 120 Shauns will return to London September 24-27 and will be displayed in Covent Garden. On October 8th, they’ll go on auction. Proceeds from the London sculptures will benefit Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Charity supporting children’s hospitals and hospices throughout the UK. For more information, click here. Here are the photos. Please note, these were very popular and it was hard to get a shot without people posing with Shaun. I don’t know any of the people in the photos below and I hope they don’t mind. 

 

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An Amazing Experience at the Tower of London

Recently we had a chance to attend the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. We had reservations for weeks and to be honest, I completely forgot about it. Thank goodness The Better Half didn’t.

The key ceremony has taken place since the 14th century and it happens every night without fail. Only once, during an air raid in World War II, the Tower doors were locked late. The Officer of the Guard felt so bad about it, he wrote a letter to King George VI apologizing. The King said the officer shouldn’t be punished sine the delay was caused by enemy action.

So what happens during the ceremony? Every night, at 9:53 pm, the Chief Yeoman Warder meets the military escort to secure the main gates of the Tower. The group secures the main gates and when they return down Water Lane, they are halted by the sentry and are ordered to identify themselves:

Sentry: “Halt! Who comes there?”

Chief Warder: “The keys.”

Sentry: “Whose keys?”

Chief Warder: “Queen Elizabeth’s keys.”

Sentry: “Pass Queen Elizabeth’s Keys. All is well.”

After this, the group heads towards the Bloody Tower Archway into the fortress, where they stop at the bottom of the Broadwalk Steps. At the top of the stairs, the Tower Guard present arms and the Chief Warder raises his hat, shouting:

Chief Warder: “God preserve Queen Elizabeth.”

Sentry: “Amen!”

The Chief Warder than takes the keys to the Queen’s house while the Last Post is played by a bugler.

Just in case you are curious, there’s a small side door you have to squeeze through to get out. After all the guests are outside, this door is locked.

Pictures are not allowed during the ceremony unless you want to stay in the Tower permanently. I’m not sure how serious they are about this rule, but I decided to play it safe. I’m sure after the first hour the charm of being a prisoner in such a historic place wears off.

I did snap some photos outside of the Tower while we waited. The Shaun the Sheep statues were part of the promotion for the movie. I think they have been removed, which is a shame since I loved spotting them in London.

I would like to wish a happy Fourth of July to the folks back home. And I hope everyone has a splendid weekend!

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Horses, boats, pubs, and a royal baby

Last weekend we had three days off. It was wonderful, but I do have to admit, I’ve been scrambling this week to make up for the day off. Not only did we have three days off, but the days were filled with random events. First, we met a buddy for an early lunch. And we stumbled upon these horses. The kid looks completely befuddled.

After lunch, we headed to Little Venice. I had heard they had some type of festival going on and I was curious to see what was happening. As it turned out, they had a ton of boats. More than I have ever seen there. There were food stalls, some rides for the kids, and some stalls for shoppers. We didn’t stay too long since it was quite crowded and the space is a bit limited. But it was fun to see the boats.

After Little Venice we popped into a pub Miles and I wandered by a few months ago. I had been meaning to take the Better Half there when the weather improved. The weather wasn’t great last weekend, but good enough for a longer stroll for a pub visit. The pub was okay. Not the cleanest, but the staff was friendly and I enjoyed my half pint.

Next, a buddy texted wondering if we were in the area. He wanted to meet at a different pub. I know what you’re thinking. Three pubs in one day. But we couldn’t let a buddy drink alone, so we went. We chatted with our friend for almost two hours. He left, and we stayed a little longer to finish our drinks. Turned out to be a good thing. The pub had the news on, and in case you haven’t heard, last Saturday, a princess was born. Almost everyone in the pub was watching the news of William, Catherine, and Charlotte leaving the hospital. (By the way, check out the stairs to the toilet. After a couple of drinks, it gets tricky.)

 

One of the gentlemen at the bar, who hadn’t said a word the entire time we were there, turned to me when everyone in the pub, including the bartenders rushed outside. He said, “Surely they won’t drive by here.” Then he cocked his head. “But the hospital is just down the road.” He got up. We followed and sure enough, the Royal Baby went by. The photos aren’t great and it happened so fast. We didn’t actually see the baby and it was difficult to see, but William was driving. I think it’s funny that the cop is pointing which direction William needs to turn.

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On Monday, the weather was pretty decent so I decided to go for a long walk. After three hours of wandering the city, I made my way home through Hyde Park. They had much of it blocked off for a gun salute. I pondered staying, but it was time for me to take Miles out. However, I did see this.

 

I never know what’s going to happen in London.

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I’m back, sorta

The last time I posted I was on my way to Edinburgh. Well, we returned to London, and I came back with a nasty cold. Then The Better Half got it. Next I was hit with the flu. Now The Better Half is coming down with yet another cold. The last few weeks haven’t been great. At least the weather is improving and Miles and Att have been happy campers, sunning themselves every chance they get.

Our trip to Edinburgh wasn’t a complete bust. We had a fabulous time. Not only is the city breathtaking, but we discovered so many wonderful pubs. I’ll do my best to share more about the trip, but for now, here are some pictures.

 

I hope all of you have been well. Have a marvelous weekend folks!

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It’s that time

For a holiday! It feels like I haven’t had a break in years, when it’s only been a few months. Tomorrow we’re heading to Scotland. Edinburgh to be exact. I’ve never been and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the sights.

And maybe enjoying one of these

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And some of these

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Not everyone is happy.

Miles has to stay home.

Miles has to stay home.

Att is hardly ever happy. Actually that’s not true. He just looks perpetually unhappy, like a serial killer cat.

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See ya all when I get back and if I don’t have too many beers and shots, I may have some photos to share. Can’t promise though. We are celebrating a friend’s 40th and the bash is supposed to last several days.

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Sometimes You Just Need A Break

And beer. The Better Half and I have been working long hours. So far, 2015, has been all work and not much fun. That was until last week. TBH had a chance to leave the office early and called to ask if I could play hooky. I jumped at the chance.

Our plan was to visit some pubs. First up was The Butchers Hook and Cleaver (love the name) . This is a massive pub. The staff was friendly and we split some fries and onion rings that were quite tasty. It’s not a cozy place, but it would be great for a work function.

Next up was the Fox and Anchor pub. This is more like the pubs I’m used to: dark, quiet, and quaint. Again the staff was friendly and since it was a cold afternoon, I appreciated how warm it was inside. Both of us commented right away that it felt nice to be warm.

And finally we ended up at The Smithfield Tavern . Now this is the type of place that both of us like. The leather couches were inviting. The staff was so laid back I hardly noticed them. And the beer was tasty. I can’t remember the name of the beer I sampled since the photo didn’t turn out. Anyone know?

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The only problem was the temperature. I don’t think they had the heat on and the front door didn’t close properly. Halfway through my beer I gave TBH the look, the one that says, “We need to go.” And we did. Maybe I’ll go back when it’s warmer outside since I did like the feel, but I had zero desire to sit inside and freeze my but off.

Afterwards we went to sushi for dinner. All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon out and it was so nice to have some time together.

I wanted to post this last week, but my laptop decided to crash. It was a scary day since being an idiot, I didn’t have all of my files backed up, including two novels I’m working on. Luckily I was able to coax the laptop back to life and I saved everything I needed. I’m not sure how much longer my laptop will last since it’s dying a slow and painful death. My hope is that it lasts till late spring. If you don’t hear from me, that may be the reason. Or I may be at the pub.

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Is it really almost February?

Holy cannoli! January is almost over and I haven’t wished all of you a Happy New Year yet. So here it goes and my apologies if you’re tired of hearing it: Happy New Year!

Whew! That’s done. I don’t have to feel like a schmuck anymore. Now I can move onto other things. Many of you know that last year was a stressful year for me. I have my fingers crossed that this year won’t be so challenging.

This year will be about dealing with everything that happened last year. For one thing, I need to fix some of the damage all the stress did. You see, when stressed, I eat. A lot.

I started off 2015 weighing the most I’ve ever weighed. I’m not overly concerned about the extra pounds, but I am angry with myself for not keeping up with exercising. In 2013 I trained for my Mount Kinabalu adventure. Since then, I slipped back into my lazy mode.

Well that’s over. My goal for 2015 is to get healthy and to stay healthy. On January 2 I started a juice cleansing diet to reboot my system.

A snapped a photo after one of our shopping excursions for the cleanse.

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I did this for eleven days and I have to admit that afterwards I felt much more energized. During the juice diet I was exhausted, but I expected that.

I'm fairly certain Mark Twain would be disappointed I used his pint glass for juice.

I’m fairly certain Mark Twain would be disappointed I used his pint glass for juice.

Since completing the challenge, I’ve noticed some positives. I don’t crave junk food. Lately my snacks have been fruit of veg. I was able to kick my tea addiction. Before I was drinking seven to eight cups of black tea a day. That’s a lot of caffeine and sugar that I didn’t need. Now instead of drinking black tea I’m having herbal tea. I’m allowing myself one cup of black tea with sugar on Saturdays and Sundays since The Better Half and I enjoy having a cuppa together. I still want to enjoy the good aspects of life, just be more sensible.

And I did drop some pounds. Now the goal is to maintain my weight through healthy eating and regular exercise. This past year has been a challenge fitting in exercise. Before, Miles loved going for long walks. Now that he’s older (yikes he’s almost 13!), he still likes being outside for the same amount of time, but we cover a much shorter distance. He really likes to sit by trees now and I find it relaxing. I need to figure out how to give Miles enough outdoor time and still fit in my daily walk. This will be difficult, but I like a challenge. Once the daylight sticks around longer, this will hopefully get easier.

As for this blog, I do have some goals this year. I didn’t read nearly as many books as I wanted to from my 1001 list in 2014. I hope to complete at least 20 before the year is out.

Setting a goal for travel isn’t easy since there are too many variables that can change quickly. Time and money are the biggest issues. But, I do want to travel when I can, no matter where. We are planning a trip to Edinburgh this March and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been in England since 2011 and I still haven’t ventured to Scotland. Shame on me.

Hopefully I’ll have more time to blog this year. I’ve missed staying in touch with all of you.

Before I go, here are the remaining photos of the Paddington Bears I snapped last year. I didn’t manage to track down all 50 of them, but I managed to see more than half. Have a great week everyone!

Posted in Healthy Living, Life | Tagged , , | 50 Comments