17 July 2009

Summer

Summer 2009 is flying by at a never before seen pace! I can't believe July is already half gone.It seems like just yesterday we headed down to Newport with the family for a great Barbecue cookout, and Margarita tasting session! We love it that Art's sis is a QC and Development person for a juice company and we get to "help" taste sometimes ;) I made some Dulce de Pina Tamales that we tasted on our trip to Mexico in May. It was great fun and we had a blast with the family as always :-)
We had yet another commercial property deal fall through in May also. But one of the others we had originally looked at (and bid) on went into receivership so we made an offer to the foreclosing bank. After much back and forth it was accepted and we once again started down the hell-path that is purchasing commercial property.Buying a house is so much easier! No lawyers, no environmental surveys, site plan and planning board approval, town approval, water protection district surveys, septic design and approvals, meetings with town planner, fire department chief, building inspector, abutters, the inspections, the dickering back and forth, the paperwork (and the lawyers...) In June we did a final series of planning board meetings and got approval for our site plan review. So after the thirty day waiting period is up we get to finally close on our new location Monday.
In June we also took a quick trip down to New York City to see our wonderful resident niece/tour guide and to go to the Fancy Food Show. We spent one day running around Central Park, and doing a bit of a pub crawl going to the oldest, and one renowned bar that didn't allow women until the 1970's. The next day we spent snacking and tasting our way through the Javits Center at the Fancy Food Show with Art's sister.
We started with coffee sampling and pastries although it wasn't too long before Art found a Tequila booth... The Mexican coffee next door hit the spot for me :-)> Loved all the chocolate with a special love for cold hot chocolate. I can't remember tasting so many yummy chocolates! Other standouts included Margarita in a bag (just add booze and freeze). It was like a big capri sun bag with a twist cap on it. I got a theme flavored lip balm at the Baconnaise booth. Everything's better with bacon! Sparkling teas were everywhere, and in the Far East section they had a jellied aloe drink that was surprisingly tasty. I had the best proscuitto I have ever had and breads, cheeses... There were a lot of rose flavored or hibiscus flavored drinks and wines. Not really for me... kind of like munching on flowers from the garden. Hot sauces, puddings, mousses, coffee, wine, juices... The hint mint people had a new flavor to introduce but no samples. Weird. The jelly belly booth had a Harry Potter's selection of weird flavors like pencil shavings, and skunk flavored beans. I didn't try those.
We topped it off by meeting up with everyone at Rockefeller Center for drinks, then off to Grand Central to home.
It rained every day with a sparse four partially dry days in June. Our pellet stove popped on July 1 it was so cold and damp. So we thought we may as well try to plan a "sunny" vaca, holiday if you will, in Ireland. We had two weeks to wait through the appeals period to close on the land and the store is quiet. It is July after all... So off we went. I patched on a couple of days in London so we flew in there before heading off to Ireland.


London was great. We did the typical tourist double decker red bus tour in the morning. We stopped at the Tower of London for a tour in the afternoon. We were staying just a couple of blocks from the Gloucester tube station, Kensington Palace, and Hyde Park. We ate fish and chips, had a Ploughman's Sharer, and lots of pints. The tube is an awesome way to get around London although we did take the notorious black cab to our hotel the first night. Wicked expensive, but quite an experience. We took the tube or walked the rest of our time there. The second day we walked through Hyde Park and over to Buckingham Palace. I had dreamed of seeing the changing of the guard since I was a little girl. I was shocked at how large the palace was, and how many people were gathering. I almost wondered if the Queen would make an appearance there were so many there. Not this time, but the changing of the guard was wonderful. Like having a parade every day! It was a bit cheezy when they played Yesterday and the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It was great. Then we headed over to the National Museum. Despite it's many bins requesting pounds for donation every ten steps it is a Free museum. It was like walking through my Art History class in college. Dream come true. Unbelievable really. The museum even housed my all time favorite painting by Jan Van Eyck, the Arnolfini Portrait. Often called Arnolfini's Wedding although it isn't truly a wedding picture, but a portrait of Arnolfini and his wife. Then off to Harrod's for a wild and frantic experience. Man that place is huge and packed, and huge! We had a great last dinner at a local pub before hopping the tube back to Heathrow.

We arrived late in Dublin and caught the last bus into town. We taxied from there to our hotel by Dublin Castle. We decided to hit it in the morning. We saw St. Patrick's Cathedral first then headed off to Dublin Castle for a tour. Tiny compared to the Tower of London, but still spectacular. We were surprised to learn that it is still used as a government center and has never been out of commission. We even got to go down into the belly and see an old Viking wall from the year 900 or so... Then off to walk, shop, and pub crawl.
The next day we walked by the Guinness plant which hubby loves but I do not, so we bypassed the 20 Euro per person tour and headed off to Jameson. We both like Jameson and the tour was much more affordable at only seven Euro a person. We did a Jameson sampling while waiting. I liked the plain old Jameson the best, and hubby liked the special 12 year old blend the best. During the tour I was also selected to partake in a tasting panel. After the tour we tasted a Scotch (Johnny Walker), a Bourbon (Jack), and Whisky- Jameson, of course. I truly did like the Jameson best. I gave the Scotch to Art. I do not like that 'I just licked a fireplace floor' aftertaste. Then we got free samples and tottered off for a great Italian dinner.
The next day it was raining and it was also the day to pick up our rental car or as they say hire a car. We got a little Hyundai foru banger with standard shift. We zipped out of Dublin heading for Waterford driving on the left hand side of the road, hubby flicking the windshield wipers on each time he meant to signal and having a grand time! We didn't mind that it was raining but we did get off our scheduled path an had a great detour through the countryside. Going 80 km/hr on the wrong side of the road on tiny little lanes that are frequently edged by ten feet tall shubberies that have been cut back making them look like walls was quite an experience. We did decide that Green was indeed the best way to describe Ireland if you had only one word.
Waterford on a Sunday was a bust. Everything was closed. We stopped by the tourist information then headed down to bump along the Copper Coast. Beautiful drive with green pastures, sheep, cliffs, castles, and quaint little towns.
The next day we went to the Waterford Crystal plant before heading out of dodge. We headed up to Graigeunamanagh and the Cushendale Woollen Mills. I thought it would be easy to find woollen yarns and sweaters but it was shockingly difficult. It seems that they mostly import their yarn from England now, and knitting has gone by the wayside. We did pick up many skeins of yarn for what will someday be a sweater for Art, a woollen blanket, some gloves, and a sweater for me.
The prices in Ireland were an eye opener. Our cabbie in Lonon warned us that it was extremely expensive there. A pint in England being on average 4 pound, and in Ireland often twice that. It didn't take long to find that to be true. Still not sure why??
We continued on to Kilkenny. I think this was my favorite Irish destination this trip. We were a block from Kilkenny castle and right downtown. We toured the castle and walked the grounds a couple of times. They have even renovated parts of it, and still retain some of the Ormonde family art which was displayed in a spectacular hall.
We walked, shopped, an pub crawled some more. I could sit for hours an watch the ducks swim against the current and play on the Noor River that runs through town.
At some point Art wrenched his knee so we spent the second night here sipping Jameson and playing Cribbage in the room.
We headed back to Dublin for the last night. There was a convention or gathering of priests and nuns at the hotel we were staying at. I got the biggest kick when a priest and another guy walked into the bar. The guy ordered a 7 Up and the priest asked for Jameson on the rocks.
We headed back the next morning. British Midland Airways has taken the title of world's worst airline from ATA and that was no small feat. They were awful from start to finish, and the snark was unbelievable! Luckily, we were on Virgin from Heathrow back to Boston. They were amazing. They helped me check in and went to Art since he was sitting down for his knee issue. The inflight entertainment made the seven hour flight pass very quickly. The wine and lunch helped a bit too.
I am happy to be home now. I opted out of the trip to Ponte Vedra Florida next week which we were supposed to go to the Pellet Fuels Institute annual meeting. Our partner and maybe Art will go instead. Then we just have one more trip in front of us before we hunker down for stove season.
I will put pictures up and stop by your blogs soon! Hope your summer is going well :-)

1 comment:

jan said...

Wow, non stop activity. I envy your trip and look forward to pictures.