A Funky little Monkey.

img_8496I wrote this post last week – just haven’t had a moment to scratch, to finish it up and edit it.  Needless to say, this will be the first, of what I’m sure is many blog posts about being a mum here in Northern Ireland, facilities available for kids and other such things.

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As I look out over this magnificent vista… wait.  Wrong show.

img_8467As I sit here, on this hard plastic throne and listen to the screams of a hugely disgruntled child as his grandmother attempts to drag him from whatever life changing toy he was playing with, as I watch the two poles of ‘human experience’ unfold before my eyes and am impatiently wait for my chicken goujon lunch to appear, I thought, perhaps, that it was high time I wrote my first ‘mumsy’ post from sunny Costa del Larne.

For the record, by ‘human experience’, I mean both the best and the worst.

I’ve just witnessed an older girl, completely unprovoked, grab an older boy by his head and smash his head into the floor of the play area, while he was howling in pain, I, simultaneously, watched a little girl – who had previously been doing some epically good round kicks on those punch bag looking things – take my sons hands over top of an obstacle he was trying to scale, and attempt to help (gently) pull him across.

img_8483While it didn’t work, and I sat for a good eight or nine more minutes, patiently watching him try to figure out how to get his little self, up and over this foam blockade (you can just about make out his wee head over top of the blue foam thing in the picture), he figured it out himself and I gave him a quick thumbs up, before heading over to thank the mother of the little girl, for not raising a face-smashing little wench, but a caring and helpful little girl, a stranger to my son, who tried to help him when she saw him struggling.  I imagined her heart leapt when she saw someone coming over asking if that little girl was her little girl, but instead I got a ‘yeah, she told me’ and a ‘what the hell are you doing over here talking to me, lady’, kinda look.  Screw you.  Ugh.

img_8479While living in the US, we had a few indoor play areas that we loved, nine bucks (ish), unlimited play time, typically an in house café – with varying successes in food provided – and a very happy, exhausted and sweaty toddler at the end of it all.

Coming back to Northern Ireland, I quickly became aware that we weren’t in Texas any more Toto.  The going rate for indoor play here, is around five pounds, which, in ‘real money’ is about $8 before the pound tanked.  Sounds on par, right? Well.  When that $8 only covers 90 minutes, you see, friends, we have a problem.

The problem here is, friends, that I have a boisterous and energetic little boy.  I have a little boy, who could easily burn through three hours in an indoor play area, doing the same thing over and over, and over again, to his little hearts content.  Who would cry, and scream, and protest were I to try and remove him from his fortress of fun.

And then I read about Funky Monkey’s membership.

  • $12 per month (that’s pounds, but I’m on an American computer and can’t figure out where in the name of all things, the GBP sign is).
  • UNLIMITED entry to the center, 7 days a week.
  • UNLIMITED access to activity programmes
  • 10% off birthday parties
  • 10% off at their café

img_8476Not only that? But you can use this membership in ANY of their locations around the north, there’s one in Larne, Newtonabbey, Banbridge, Dondonald…I’m not sure where else.  All I know is that the ‘city pass’ as I’d call it in a Houston context, means that I can use any of their branches under my monthly membership.

Sunday, we took Lewis to the one in Dundonald.  We had Halloween activities planned, but the weather didn’t comply, so we opted to cross the car park from the place we had breakfast and throw him in to Funky Monkey’s for a while.

img_8500I’ve been sick since Sunday, til yesterday (Thursday) and today, we’re back, here at the one in Larne, where we have already made friends with one of the girls who work here, Megan – which, brings up another point, the staff in Funtastics were verging on being rude, even, not just standoffish.  I’ve not found the funky monkey’s crew to be like that at all.  They’re friendly, kind and helpful.

So, my advice to the mums of Northern Ireland? Grab a membership to Funky Monkeys – it’s worth it.  You cover your monthly membership, with less than one trip to indoor play a week.  And, if you happen to see your local blogger sitting trying to wrestle her hot chocolate out of the hands of her toddler? Come say hi.

img_8502But for now? I’m going to enjoy the dregs of this mug, that he graciously left me until it’s time to convince this child that a quick trip to Asda is more fun than those swinging punch bags – when all this Krav mama *really* wants to do, is go throw some combos! 😉

Many miles around Manchester…

From the Emerald Isle, we took an overnight ferry from Belfast to Birkenhead (after a nice dinner in Nando’s with Phil).  We disembarked, headed to Stonehouse for a few days where I lived in the dark ages, with no internet, while Col went to the office.

From there, we went to visit our favourite gang in Manchester.  We went…you guessed it… bowling! LOL! And, I even won! (no joke!)

Jenni, Tommy, Col, Becky and Matt

Also while in town, we went to one of Col’s favourite restaurants, Wagamama’s and enjoyed a delicious dinner.  If you’ve never been, it’s a Japanese restaurant, it’s quirky, it’s cool and it’s most definitely tasty grub.  I whole heartedly recommend the grilled chicken Katsu curry, Col normally has the yaki soba and we tend to preceed that with some tori kari age and we tried the negima yakitori this time too – it’s all nom-tastic!

The boys (Col’s in that blasted shirt, again!)

Boobs and I! <3

After our few days in Mancs, we headed further South, to London, Gatwick actually – where Col worked in another of his offices for a few days.  Here, at least, I had internet, which was a step-up from Stonehouse, and after spending the afternoon in a cubicle in the SLB office, we headed on our merry way back Northward, to a place called Stevenage for the night.

Once we checked in and dumped off our bags, we headed in to a local town to have dinner with a long-term pen-pal of mine, Laura.  We’ve been pen-pals for around eight years or so now, and it was FAB to finally meet her and we had a yummy dinner in Frankie and Benny’s.

Laura and I

She’s every bit as awesome as I expected her to be, and it’ll definitely not be another eight years until we see each other again, that’s for sure!

From Stevenage, it was back up to Manchester for a one night pit-stop to hang out with Becky and Matt, at their Eurovision party.  Everyone came as a country (Col was Italy and I was Ireland) and there was most definitely a drinking game!

Here commenceth your nightmares!

If your country got 8 points, you had to do a shot, 10 points, 2 shots, 12 points and you had to take 3 shots.  Needless to say, some of us got very drunk, some of us didn’t have any shots at all (*cough* Norway *cough* Bex).

Becky broke out the Prosecco!

And I am thrilled to have met the lovely Twitter-legend Jenni on our trip to the UK as well.  We’ve been chatting for a while (as per the recommendation of Bex) and we hit it off just as well in person as we did on Twitter.  She makes me LAWL.  As you can see, she went all out for the dress-up portion of the night!

Jenni and I

Bowling, St Georges Market and a jolly jaunt to Ballymena!

In all the hubbub of being on the ‘main land’ I fell behind on my keeping y’all up to date on the happenings here at home in sunny Norn Iron.  Normally I say that, dripping with sarcasm, however over the last seven weeks, the weather here has been fantastic – as the weather here goes!

Before we hit the mainland, we were all over the place, I’ve not been keeping very detailed records of what we did, but I most certainly have pictures!

Samson and Goliath, the H&W cranes – when I see these guys, I know I’m home! So much so, that I dragged Col and Rowan out of the car to have our picture taken in front of them.  It made me feel a bit better, that the person who took our picture, was also a home-grown Norn Irish lad!

Rowan, Col and I at the cranes (you can’t see the shivering!)

Bowling has been a big part of our trip home this time.  Col and I rarely, if ever, bowl as I’ve said before.  However, it’s been our go-to event while we have been home here, we’ve been a number of times, this time, was with our hockey friend Kath and Rowan.

Col and Rowan – sporting their new glasses!

Col and I – in his Charlie Sheen shirt!

My ‘baby’ brother!

Kathy and I!

Something I’ve wanted to do for the longest time, but never got round to it, was to go to St George’s market up in Belfast.  The market goes on for three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week.  I talked Nicky in to coming with me, dragged the boys and got up nice and early on Saturday morning to go for a wee dander.

“The City Food & Garden Market takes place in St George’s every Saturday from 9.00am to 3.00pm. Enjoy the best food tastes and smells brought by local producers, including beef from Armagh, award winning Irish Farmhouse Cheeses, free range eggs from Limavady, venison, pheasant in season and local organic vegetables from Culdrum Farm and Millbrook Farm.

In addition to these local delicacies, there is also a fusion of tempting continental and speciality foods from around the world. Included are such delights as wild boar, cured meats, venison, Spanish tapas, Caribbean foods, Mexican and Slavonic foods, continental coffees and teas, Italian olive oils with traditional French Crepes and extraordinary French pastries to mention just a few. Added to this plethora of tempting foods the Saturday market also encompasses flower stalls ensuring this Saturday market is a kaleidoscope of colour.

St. Georges City Food & Garden Market is more than just a shopping experience. Customers can sample the produce, relax with a coffee and a newspaper against a backdrop of live jazz or flamenco music. This market is a real Saturday treat and a great outing for all the family.”

One of the many, many cupcake stalls!

For the most part, the market is food, food and more food.  Which is mostly difficult when you’re trying to eat ‘good’.

However, Hot Lips curry lady, Jenny, makes this a little easier on you, by throwing together some syn-free stew and curries for you to enjoy while you’re strolling around the market.  She even puts out a weekly code on her twitter, which gives a free curry to the first person who quotes the code to her (the codes never cease to make me giggle!)

Tayto packet pencil cases

There are a few homemade craft stalls, selling wares, yarn, gifts etc.  In case you’re surprised, I came away with a few balls of yarn.

But, the biggest draw, would most definitely have to be the food – and I succumbed to the temptation…

The only kind of bap!

Breakfast!

I had potato bread with sausages and it was DELICIOUS, the boys had breakfast baps and they really are big enough to sink the Titanic!

Nom nom nom!!!

When we’d finished with the market and all it’s yummy treats, we bundled in to the car and headed up to Ballymena for an afternoon of shopping in Fairhill, followed by a wee visit to our friends Ann and Mahaa and their lovely family, for dinner and an afternoon of fun.

Me with the three Monkeys

Me with Nicky, Mahaa and Ann – The ladies!

The men-folk

The abridged version!

Instead of doing a day to day of our time here at home – because we’re going to be here for another month or so at least and y’all would get rather tired of a ‘we did this’ and ‘we did that’ – I decided that I’d just do a smattering of few highlights of the previous week or so, of our trip.

Rowan and I in Thunderdome

Col and I (with my Blue Lagoon)

Rowan wanted to watch a football game (spot the least football inclined person around), so we took him to Thunderdome for dessert and a beer while we hung out and watched the game.

We took Rowan to get his first pair of glasses 🙂

(March 25th) We’d booked in for 5pm, but Rowan and I went in a little earlier – because it normally takes me FOREVER to find glasses.  As soon as we walked in, our sales advisor approached us, and helped us try on glasses, give opinions on glasses, we didn’t have to wait long for our sight tests and before long, we were leaving having ordered five pairs of glasses between us!  Our sales advisor, Roseanne, I think she was called, was ACE!

Maggie Mays

(March 26th) Wednesday’s adventure, brought me back to my old nemesis-haunt, Queens University.  I had a somewhat chequered relationship with my University experience, however, one part of it was always worth the hassle and that was my friendship with my good friend Karen.  We had a delicious lunch in the ‘new’ Maggie Mays, the food was delicious, the ambiance (aside from the seriously loud blender) is good and it’s cheap!

Rowan, Col and I

(March 27th)  Rowan invited us oldies to tag along with him and his friends on a night out at Cobbles, Thursday night Karaoke.  I was a bit reticent, I didn’t want to cramp his style, (and, lemme tell ye, he’s got plenty of it!) but we decided what the hell, and off we went!

Rowan and I

Rowan, Stephen and Chan

As a venue, Cobbles was pretty good.  The night started off pretty empty, but it filled up as the night went on.  Strawberry daquiris are 3 for £12 and the karaoke isn’t bad, the DJ has all of the right artists, but, for me, all of the wrong songs, which was disappointing cause I normally love singing at those things!

Rowan and I

(March 28th) Rowan, Col, my sister’s other half James, Rowans friends Chan and Marty and I decided to go bowling in the Sheepbridge, just outside of Newry.  Col and I hadn’t been bowling in at least a year, maybe two even.  I tend to forget how much I enjoy it – in spite of my bowling fatigue.  My arms get tired pretty quickly.

As far as bowling goes, the Sheepbridge is all Newry has to offer, so I don’t have much to compare it to.  Glass bottled drinks make me feel like I’m being robbed when all I want is a glass of fizzy juice!

Col and I

As you can see, we are having lots of fun being home!

Days 9 and 10 – Cupcakes and catch-ups!

Friday, Col and I started our day in Larne town.  We had a list of things to do, pick up a package from the sorting office, pick up an N.I driving license application, pick up a cable for the tv.  Y’know, just every day errands.

We stopped off for lunch at a place called, Ann’s Pantry.  Since there’s only a few cafe’s down Larne’s main street, we figured what could go wrong, right?

WRONG.  It went very, very wrong!

It was lunch time, and the bakery had run out of white bread for Col’s toasty, my food was microwaved in front of me, the service was slow, their ‘vinegar’ bottles, were malt vinegar, but had been emptied and replaced with white vinegar (I’m sure Sarsons would love to hear that!), my chicken and ham pie was made with thin sliced packet ham – not chunky, proper ham, y’know, the ham that you make a chicken and ham pie with?!?!?!  The list was extensive, including the extractor vent thing in the bathroom being covered with an inch of grime and dirt.  Disgusting!!!!!

Back at home, after doing all our errands and picking up a clothes horse, we were FINALLY able to embark on doing some laundry (having a broken tumble dryer, is getting old, I’m bullying Col in to getting someone down to fix it!) while watching the afternoon TV trio (“Deal or no deal”, “Come dine with me” and “Four in a bed”.)

Dinner, was from the chippy formerly known as the Frying Squad in Larne.  I had a battered sausage supper, Col had fish’n’chips and, the reason, dear readers, you don’t have a picture of said dinner, is because it disappeared faster than ice cream on a hot day!

Saturday morning was one I’d been looking forward to for a while.  I got to see one of my fave Scottish lass’s and one of my oldest and dearest (hockey) friends.

Us three 😀

The location was ‘The Little Cupcake Cafe‘ in Belfast.

“Belfast’s first cupcake cafe, specialising in gourmet cupcakes, cookies, traybakes and desserts”

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Day 4 – KFC and the Antrim Coast!

The glorious weather continued, it has to have come from Houston with us! We never get this lucky with weather!! Another late night, meant another late rising, I didn’t get out of bed until after noon – oops!

Brunch was a KFC.  Now, my American friends may wonder why the heck we wanted to ‘waste’ one of our meals on KFC.  But, let me tell you Northern Irish KFC is in a whole other league to that of your American crap!

KFC!!!

Firstly, KFC should not have mash potatoes and gravy – that’s just a travesty, the wedges aren’t much better and it’s just a disappointment all-round, not only that, but you don’t have Tower burgers either!  Our KFC, has ‘fries’ and chicken gravy – not the thick brown gravy y’all have.  It’s hard to explain.  Anyway, needless to say, my KFC trumps your KFC and it was long past due that we had some trashy food!

Going for a wee blurt up the coast!

After KFC we went for a wee spin up the Larne coast, and a wee dander in Whitehead up towards the lighthouse.

Rowan and I out at Whitehead

Col and Rowan freezing their manly bits off!

Col and I in Whitehead for a wee dander!

The dandering didn’t last long, we were, as we say here in Northern Ireland, foundered! It was bloody chilly, so we abandoned that plan and headed to, yes, you’ve guessed it, do more shopping!!

We went into B&M for a quick squizz and then bounded up to the in-laws for a ma-hoooosive, delicious Sunday dinner, sticky toffee pudding with custard and ice cream for dessert left us all ready to explode.  So, when we got back to the apartment, Rowan vegged out in front of the play station (now that the poor kid had a cable to allow him to play it) and we didn’t move much, but for the odd cuppa tea!

Days 2&3 – Home Unimprovement

Friday 13th (unlucky for some!) we woke up to a little ball of fur outside our bedroom door.  When I opened the door, he scampered in and stood up on his back legs, “Right, you’re up, play with me” he seemed to say LOL!

James had bought the ingredients for a big ole fry and Helena had cooked them, Col and I just turned up for the eating, it was delicious! Wheaten bread, soda, potato bread, sausages, eggs, bacon, beans – the lot! Nom nom nom!! Again, the food came before the thought of a picture for my blog 😉 lol!!

After breakfast, we headed back up to the folks house where we spent a while outside in the sunshine, (yes, you read that right, sunshine, in Newry!) throwing balls and various other squeaky toys for the dogs – who seemed to get great enjoyment out of it might I add!

It was then that we loaded up the car (having left two cases in my parents house) and Rowan joined us for a merry voyage up the road to visit the in-laws where we got to meet the newest addition to their family, little Miss Lulu, who, like Mylo, is a cheeky wee fart!

Little miss Lulu!

But absolutely adorable! She doesn’t like outsiders so much, so it may take her a while to warm to us – though, she warmed to Rowan in a heartbeat (like most women do 😉 LOL!)

We caught up with Col’s folks and before we realised it, it was time for dinner, so we took a wee jaunt up to Carrick to pick up dinner in the Victoria Hotspot chippy.  First fish supper of our trip home (with curry sauce of course!), was just what the doctor ordered – so much so, in fact, that I almost ate mine on my knee on the way back to Col’s parents house in the car! haha! Rowan scolded me though and told me I was rude, so I held off!

The new Asda down in Larne

From there, we finally started our homeward bound journey down to our Bay Road apartment by the sea.  However, we of course needed a few groceries “to tide us over” I said, so we went in to Asda and £84 later, I had started my shelf of stuff to bring back to Texas with us.

The apartment was everything we remembered it to be, and more.  The dishwasher is broken, the extractor fan light is broken, the washing machine and tumble dryer have both gone and the shower is broken.

We couldn’t find the toilet roll holder, my socks, my bedding, the cupboards, fridge and freezer were filled with foods at least 1-2 years old, but we’re home!!

I spent an hour or so clearing out the cupboards and getting the placed organised, I couldn’t ‘leave it be’ overnight, it had to be sorted, and we fell in to bed around 1am.

We didn’t get ourselves up until almost noon, but we started the day off with some yummy bacon butties (with ‘off’ Heinz ketchup – yeuck!!) while watching the F1 Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying session before we headed up the road into Island Magee for a ‘poke’ in the Rinkha ice cream shop – something that manys a people do during the vaguely sunny days of Spring and Summer here.

The Rinkha

Old skool sweetie and ice cream shop

The smaller one was mine, but it was still huge!

From there, it was on to Whiteabbey, for a stroll around the Abbey Centre.  I somehow forgot, however, that places close early on a Saturday here in Norn Iron! D’oh! We managed to get Rowan a new phone cover and Col and I hit Pound Land pretty hard (again, for our shelf of stuff to come back to Texas with us!)

Next stop, was the garage to pick up something nice for dessert – only to discover our distinct lack of ‘chip and pin’ was going to be problematic for the forseeable future.  Rowan ended up paying for dessert and we left, somewhat amused and concerned at the same time!

Our first non-family visit of our trip home, was with one of my longest standing bestest friends ever.  Her name is Laura and I’ve known her since we were both in the Bosco Drama Group’s 2001 production of Godspell.  I’ve known her for almost 11 years and she’s had a special place in my heart the whole time!  Her other half, Lorcan, I coincidently have known forever too, he used to get the same bus home from school as I did!

We had a yummy fresh pizza dinner, followed by tea and apple pie (or brownies if you were so inclined) and while the boys watched some nature programme and the start of ‘Walk the Line’, Laura and I had an accidental, but not unwelcome, girlie chat upstairs! LOL! Poor guys!

We didn’t leave until later than we’d all anticipated, it was great to see them and hang out and it’ll not be the last we see of them on this trip!

Of course, we had to stop in Tesco en route home, for a nosy and to pick up some soda, by this stage it was almost midnight, and we were all starving again.  There was only one thing for it, a pitstop at the Golden Well, our post-hockey game haunt, where we got our usual, chicken chow mein and a sausage supper, Rowan got a curry half and half and we had a bit of everything.

Holy crap, it’s good to be home! Curry three days in a row!!

Day 1 – Fresh on Irish soil and raring to go!

Thursday 12th April, in spite of the fact that our timing wasn’t quite what we had planned it being was great!  We got down to my parents house in Newry around 12.30pm, and, it just so happened, dad was cooking brunch.  So Col and I ended up with a nice fry for brunch – proper bacon and sausages! It made my day! LOL! What a welcome!!

When we’d eaten (and of course had a cup of ‘proper’ Curran tea!) Col hauled out the ‘Curran presents’ suitcase and we off-loaded a case-full of presents.  Since we weren’t home in January like we had originally planned on being, we had everyone’s Christmas presents with us.  Not only that, but mum, dad and Rowan had presents for us too, I came away with two highly coveted bottles of perfume, some slippers and a few other bits’n’bobs.

Note: I say ‘highly coveted’, because perfume in the USA is ludicrously expensive, I was getting dangerously low on my supply and refused to buy any over there, as I knew I could get some for a good price on this side of the Atlantic.

Hugo was very happy to see me!

From my folks house, we headed out the road to my sister and her other half James’ new house for a visit to meet my furry nephew Mylo, and have dinner.  Their house is lovely and in a great area, she has it lookin’ well, but my favourite part of the visit has to have been the little ball of barking fluff that went mad every time you so much looked at him! LOL!

Mylo following Aunty Lasairiona up the stairs!

Dinner, let me tell you, was food of the Gods!  Helena called up a Chinese in Camlough, called the Happy Villa, and ordered a spread for the seven of us (plus Mylo got the odd nibble!) I would have taken a picture of the food, however, it didn’t last long! As soon as the lids were off, the vultures attacked, LOL!!

With such a long list of foods that we hadn’t had in two years, she couldn’t have done a better job of ordering a wide selection for the seven of us, prawn toast, bbq ribs, chicken satay, salted chilli chicken, chicken curry, honey chilli chicken, chips, fried rice and my favourite, prawn crackers!!  We ended up having a wee bit of almost everything and enjoyed every bite!

When dinner finished, it was around 7pm, I flopped on the sofa and told Nina that if she didn’t take my ass out to the Buttercrane (shopping centre), or did *something* that involved me moving six feet outside her house, I was going to conk out.  So we went shopping!

Buttercrane shopping centre

Col stayed at home with Mylo to do some work (as he’d not ‘checked in’ in a day or so) and Rowan, James, Nina and I loaded up in the car and headed in to Newry.

First stop was the perfume shop, where I hit pay dirt (I’m sure you’re shocked!) I’m really, not in the least, a beauty blogger, a make-up lover, or, someone who takes great care and time in their appearance – however, I’m a sucker for perfume.  I love it!

Like I said above, perfume is expensive in Texas, so when I saw one of my favourites (Cerruti 1881 100ml) on offer for £20 I grabbed at it with both hands.

I also picked up a scent that I’d gotten a whiff of, about six months ago on our way to Singapore, but the price was too high I just kept a note of the name and said I’d keep my eyes peeled for a good deal.  “Intimately Beckham” – I know, I know, I’m not normally one to subscribe to the famous people churning out fragrances and all that lark, but I fell for this one immediately, plus, it was down to £15!

My third and final scent purchase, an impulse buy, was a bottle of DKNY Delicious Night that was decently priced at just over £20.

Fresh off the plane and spent £60 on perfume – though however much this may sound, please bear in mind that I almost spent £60 on ONE bottle, in duty free on the way over, so these three bottles were a bargain, especially since I’m “running on fumes” over in the US, I’m in urgent need of purfume!

The only other thing I bought, after a wee dander around the Buttercrane was a few bottles of Dettol spray cleaner.  Don’t ask 😛

We did have a nice wee dander around the shopping centre, though there’s a lot that has changed, shops have gone and shops have come.  It’s not exactly the Buttercrane of my youth any more!  Back at Nina and James’, we watched a period of the EIHL 2012 playoffs from the previous weekend and I was spent.

In bed by 9.45pm, out cold by 9.46pm.

Home sweet house!

I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is to finally be home!

Like I’ve mentioned time and again, it’s been two years, almost to the day, since we were last ‘home’, properly, in the “country of my birth” kind of home, not Texas where we’ve grown to call home.  Here I sit, writing a blog a week after we landed in sunny Northern Ireland.  Normally I’d say that, dripping with sarcasm, however, the weather since we got home, has been fab (especially by Norn Iron standards!) I haven’t even needed my first ever rain coat that I bought in Academy Sports before I left in preparation.

We may have been home a week, but it only feels like a few days since we disembarked the plane in the International Airport.  Time is flying.  Maybe it’s cause we’ve been so busy, maybe it’s because we’re having so much fun, or maybe time just goes quicker on the little emerald isle!

We’ve been up and down the A1 like a yoyo, we’ve already seen a half dozen of the people on our ‘to see’ list and we are almost booked up a week in advance.  It gives me a warm feeling to have been missed and for people to be so keen to see us.  I’ll be honest, with a few people, I was a smidge apprehensive, but, so far, so good.

In spite of the fact that our apartment is falling down around our ears, it’s good to be in our home by the Irish sea.  So far, our washing machine display has no bulb, it’s burned out, (meaning that you can’t see what you want to programme it to do), the tumble dryer is sounding like a machine gun and we’ll probably need to call the Hot Point engineer out to look at both of them before I can trust them with a load of our clothes.

My dishwasher threw an E1 error (meaning it wasn’t getting an water), when we fixed that, it threw an E3 error (meaning that one of 3 parts have gone), so we’ve ordered the cheapest of the three replacement parts and are hoping that will sort the issue.

My kitchen sink tap has a small leak, my kitchen extractor fan light isn’t working (which is more problematic than you might think), my shower fixture has rusted clean off the wall, (so now when you have a shower, you have to hold the shower head yourself,) and my neighbours have covered our landing and stairs with boxes of crap and rubbish – and don’t even get me started on the price of petrol! We just paid £72 (or around $125) to fill up this little Ford Focus we’re driving…and people back in America are up in arms that gas is approaching $4 per gallon!

In spite of all of that, we still couldn’t be more happy to be home.  Between family, friends and food, we’re having a great time being on this side of the Atlantic and I have started to take my camera with me everywhere we go – to save you all from blurry, poor quality camera phone pictures! My brother and my soon to be brother-in-law, tell me I’m acting like a tourist and my friend Liz, said, ‘I don’t know you’ and ran away when I took my camera out to take pictures of the cherry blossoms on the canal!

I have started to type up a day-to-day blog, but, for now, however, I’m knackered and going to attempt to find something to watch with my honey, on our four-channel TV and take in a nap before we watch Round 1, Game 1 of our home-from-home team, the Houston Aeros in their play-off run 2012!

Heading for a drive up the Co.Antrim coast!

Home and hitting the ground running…or something!

Since we got home from Angel Fire, New Mexico, we’ve barely stopped.  I’ll try to keep it short, which y’all know is a challenge for me!

The Sunday after we got back, cause none of us could be ‘arsed’ cooking and Sophie wanted to try a Cajun place before she went home, we tried our first Cajun restaurant ‘Ragin Cajun’.  My friend Theresa used to enjoy going there when she lived here, but I’d never been.

Place your order here 🙂

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