fairy lights

Christmas preparations have commenced. Colourful fairy lights framed the large window in the room where we eat. A pine evergreen bouquet soaked in a tall glass jar and graced our dining coffee table along with a smaller jar of cranberries next to two large pomegranates and clementines. The scent of cloves with cinnamon and lemon wafted from the stovetop and greeted the children as they arrived at my place tonight.

A few more decorations made their way on the walls and the Safi cabinet by the front door with more to follow in the coming week. The Christmas tree being the next item on our list in trying to make this holiday time we get to spend together as memorable as possible despite the challenges we face.

Since the children did not get to spend Thanksgiving week with me, as would have been the case had I not given in to the request conveniently forgotten, I prepared a belated Thanksgiving dinner tonight for us four to share. The salmon was in the oven along with broccoli steaming next to it with water and olive oil and seasoned with salt. Basmati rice finished on the stove as they arrived.

Their father was late, as usual. Instead of respecting the fact I wished to start my time with our children after not seeing them the past five weeks, he commenced to engage in a long-winded discussion about how I did not want the children for Thanksgiving week and that he and his new wife did me a 'favour' by taking them off my hands as I traipsed off to Ireland to see my fiance'.

My face contorted in a most bewildered look as I explained to him how he and his wife asked me, or rather insisted, they have the children for Thanksgiving. As a result of their request, I had to change my travel plans as I intended to be gone during only one of my weeks with the children instead of the two which ended up my not seeing the children for five long weeks as we alternate child care weeks. I remember how he explained the divorce decree was 'wrong' and should have stated that we each have a holiday per year instead of one parent getting both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I wondered why he did not simply make changes to the decree at the time. Why bring up the issue this year. I remember sitting in the car as I dropped off the children at their father's house that Friday back in September, reminding him how he already had the children last year for Thanksgiving. She piped up as she grabbed his arm and mumbled something about having family over for Thanksgiving dinner two weeks after their wedding.

I then reluctantly gave in. I should not have thought since I do not have a 'complete' family that it did not matter. That it was not a real Thanksgiving if the table did not include my other half along with extended family. This year I learned my lesson.

I stood at door leading to the garage from inside the house arguing with him. She stood at the entrance to the large garage door instructing me about something or other with the children's shoes and ballet clothes and whatever. I was not paying attention to her. After her accusation of using my time with my children on Skype in order to spy on their house, I learned another lesson.

As a result of his choosing to use my time to greet the children in order to pick fight after fight, which included him wanting the train turntable, the salmon was dry as it over baked and the broccoli was mushy and not tasty even to me. Yet we four sat at our belated Thanksgiving table and ate the meal before us. Save for my son who insisted salmon gave him a headache and thus refused to eat more than two bites of it.

Stefan continued talking about their vacation plans letting me know they now have extended their vacation to Germany one more week after they had initially told me they would return. Though this would not have been an issue a month ago, it leaves me in a bind as I now have to find child care for my children for an extra week as I start a new job and a new chapter in my life.

After I could no longer bear to listen to any more of what he had to say, I told them to leave so I could get started with my time with the children. Later that evening, I sent him an email informing him we would be resorting to email from now on in order to discuss any issues regarding the children and any changes in our schedule. No surprise, there was no response from him.


tree branch tccc

At about the time everyone in the States was sitting around an abundant Thanksgiving table, I was sitting on my bed looking out the window at the squirrels gathering nuts on the leaf-covered lawn. There was an eerie quiet on my street. I suspect even the homeless had someone with whom to share this holiday meal. I, however, was alone.

Though the divorce decree states I have the children this year for Thanksgiving, I was foolish to 'let' them have the children this year. Even before my trip to Ireland was finalised, I planned on being together with the children this week. Somehow I let them convince me to give the children to them as they said something about having lots of family over since they would be newly married.

I imagined what the house would be like if Mario was here celebrating his first Thanksgiving. There would be laughter and joy as well as the occasional arguing as such are our natures. Mostly there would be contentment in our being together as a family. As the kind of family which stays together regardless of hardships.

My daughters called me on Skype this morning when they awoke. Sage was still asleep. They let me know they would be going to their father's friend's house for Thanksgiving and that their step brothers were in San Antonio with each of their own fathers. The revelation disturbed me as I realised I could have spent time with my children this year for Thanksgiving instead of giving in to the requests of the now new wife.

My Thanksgiving was quiet. I ate hemp bread with Havarti cheese, avocado, and bell peppers in solitude this evening and waited for Mario to come home after his late shift at work tonight. He was tired yet made time for us to talk. Making time for each other is what matters most. It is what keeps people together. On this day of gratitude, I am grateful for my relationship with a man who understands me - sometimes. I am grateful with his willingness to do whatever it takes to keep what we have going indefinitely no matter the obstacles standing in our way.



My flight from Newark to Austin was delayed. Nothing unusual for travel but inconvenient nonetheless. I sat at gate C133 until an email informed me of yet another delay along with a gate change. As I walked to the new gate my body ached from the two bags weighing down upon my shoulders and the plastic bag with cake pans I was carrying. Somehow I would have to figure out how to travel with less.

At gate C107 I waited for ten minutes before deciding to walk across the way to the duty free shop. I browsed the large chocolate bars as I was hungry though at a price of $17 per bar I decided to stay hungry for a while longer. I walked through Hudson's bookstore knowing I would not buy any more books but needing to pass time in a way better than simply sitting at the gate.

Aware of the time left until departure, I walked back towards the gate looking for a place to charge my phone. I found an open area of tables and chairs with iPads available for use. There was also an option to order food from nearby restaurants. I ordered what I usually order whilst waiting in Newark. The falafel sandwich from Flora Café.

As I waited for my pita sandwich to arrive, I played solitaire on the iPads at the table. I was tired and simply wanted to get to Austin. Sooner rather than later. I already knew I would arrive too late to Skype with my boyfriend but at least we had the chance to text and talk on the phone.

My seat on the plane was changed due to the change in aircraft. Technical problems with the original airplane was the cause of the delay as we all waited for another airplane to arrive from elsewhere. I sat in my window seat next to a 4-year old girl named Wesley and her father. They were traveling from Manhattan to visit family for Thanksgiving.

The girl was spunky and chatty for a 4-year old. At one point I pulled away towards the window as the girl's rainbow candy cane crossed into my seat. Her father apologised and took it away. Later when we landed he thanked me for 'putting up' with them. I told him I have three of my own not much older than his daughter.

I asked the girl's father how often they fly as it seemed his daughter was quite used to traveling. He told me they get out of the city at least six times a year as they have no yard for her and her 7-year old brother to play in. Wesley kept busy during the flight watching movies on her iPad and scrolling through family photos. All the while I kept thinking how great an impact environment has on a child's upbringing as growing up in New York is quite different than being raised in a place such as Austin.

As we approached Austin I texted Mario letting him know I would soon be landing. He was already home from work and wished to Skype as I walked towards the baggage carousel. Instead, we talked and texted as I simply wanted to get home. Travel takes a toll on both the mind and body particularly if you have been away for a month.

I arrived home by 20,00h and went to bed two hours later. This morning I awoke early and chatted with Mario before he left for work. Afterwards I drove to my usual three grocery stores to restock the refrigerator and cross off the other errands on my to-do list which included getting my mail at the post office I put on hold for the past month. The return to my life in Austin has begun once again as I continue to wait for the time Mario will join me on this continent.


ireland sun

My journey this morning found me in between homes once again. As many times as I have travelled to and from Ireland to see Mario, I will never get used to that feeling of having to leave. To leave him. Us. Both in a state of helplessness as we somehow go about our daily lives. Together, yet apart.

We both awoke before the 05,30h alarm went off, having slept no more than three hours. I packed my bags the night before but there were still those last minute items left to pack. The toiletries bag, the clothes worn the night before, and the slippers being the last item as I zipped up my tall waterproof boots on my way out the door.

There has never been a time when Mario could not find some friend to drive me to the airport. Friends willing to awaken before the sun has had a chance to rise over the horizon in order to drive a friend's girlfriend the half hour to the airport are good friends indeed.

He waited as I checked in my bag. This time I waited in the MileagePlus Premier line though I am sure if I kept proper track of all my airline miles I would have attained a status higher than Silver. We both wished we could be travelling back to the States together. We both knew it was not possible this time but keep waiting for the time when it will be possible.

This time it was different. This time we have no future travel in mind as before when we would look forward to February or June or the following November. Our embrace was long. Though we tried to smile as we said goodbye, our hearts were saddened once more as we both walked in opposite directions.



These two random people decided to wave 'hi' whilst I photographed the town street.

These two random people decided to wave 'hi' whilst I photographed the town street.

I could easily have slept in later this morning than I already had but decided to make my last walk to Tim Smythe park and jog two rounds. It would be my last time this year and possibly for the foreseeable future. This time it is different. After ten times visiting the Emerald Isle, it is time for a change.

Mario made me a healthy breakfast again this morning as he had yesterday before work. Two sunny-side up eggs with cucumbers, radishes, and colourful bell peppers along with sourdough bread with brie and feta. I will miss our breakfasts together as I am sure he will miss my making dinner and cakes for him.

We left the flat at noon. Mario walked me to the front door of Suas Coffeehouse where we lingered a while. After a long hug and goodbye kisses, he continued on down the street to his place of work. The new location of the coffeehouse proved to be more convenient this way.

I stayed for an hour and ordered my usual cappuccino but decided on a plain scone this time. I chatted with Conor for a while. He informed me the coffee was Costa Rican today. I will miss this morning routine as well but let Conor know I would return before closing for one final coffee.

Afterwards I walked over to Dunnes where I bought more sugar, eggs, and single cream for the cakes I planned on making. On my way home, I stopped by the silver shop where the shopkeeper informed me she was in the midst of decorating the front window and could I return in half an hour. I used this time to go home where I measured out the ingredients for two ricotta cakes. I then realised I needed more butter and possibly more flour.

On my way to The Poet’s Corner Pub, I stopped by the silver shop once again where I purchased something for my daughters and two unplanned items for myself. I made it to the pub by 15,15h where I enjoyed the vegetarian curry with rice and papadum. Mario made it particularly for me as it is not an item on the pub menu. The place was not as busy as yesterday which made for a few more moments of our being able to chat in front of the kitchen.

In a sense, I was procrastinating. I did not want to accept the fact that this was my last day in Ennis. After my lovely lunch, I returned to Dunnes where I perused the lovely kitchen items near the back of the store before making my way to the opposite side where I located the Kinder eggs for my children and the butter for the cakes.

At Open Sesame, the health food shop across from the flat, I bought the organic plain flour which I did not need in the end. Somehow I managed to stay away from the bookstores today though I have plenty of books to keep me busy until Mario and I see each other again next year.

Before my last coffee at Conor’s, I stopped by the silver shop one more time to enquire about a smaller size for one of the rings I purchased as I noticed it was too loose. The shopkeeper let me know she had none in stock but promised to post it to me in the States when it arrives.

I continued to linger at Conor's for one final cappuccino. His treat. He talked about the book festival in March and the large festival to be held in the town in August.

Once home, I made three cakes. Two five-inch ricotta cakes and one six-inch orange rosemary cake with mascarpone cream. I was happy with the ricotta cakes but quite disappointed with the orange rosemary cake as I had rewritten the recipe I made in Greyabbey to accommodate a larger pan size. Tonight’s cake ended up sinking in the middle with a small portion of the top being left unbaked. I put the cream on the cake after it cooled and decided it was edible nonetheless.

Mario made it home from work around 22,00h. The mood was somber as we both knew it was our final night together for quite some time. When and where we see each other again is unknown this time.

Farewell to Ennis. For now...



Two days before my departure is the time it starts to sink in. Two days before we have to say goodbye once again as we part ways.

The morning started as other mornings. I dressed in my black ruched leggings and two long-sleeved running tops. The bitter cold was bearable once I started the brisk walk to the park and moreso once I started the first of three rounds around the perimeter of Tim Smythe park. In addition to the jogging I did my 75 bar pushups and was ready for the rest of the day to continue.

Ennis is fairly quiet on Sundays as most of the shops are not open. Not even the bookshops. The coffeehouse, however, was open and I was glad to make it there for my cappuccino and scone after walking Mario to work. It was his first day back since our holidays in Northern Ireland.

After my coffeehouse visit, I returned to the flat and retreated to the bedroom. It was cold so I curled up under the covers and read for 15 minutes before I received a text on Viber from Mario. 'Hi, love' was all it took for a smile to appear on my face. I napped for about an hour and readied myself for the walk to the restaurant where he works for an early dinner of vegetarian spring rolls with salad and 'chips' making sure to photograph the bold orange glow of the setting sun outside the bedroom window before I left.

The Poet's Corner Pub was crowded. I waited half an hour for a table in the library in the back but it was worth it. As it was warm inside, I did not mind the wait too much. Afterwards I waited outside the kitchen for Mario for a kiss and a few words before I returned to the flat.

He arrived home around 21,30h. I finished watching a German movie on ZDF whilst he went about his evening routine. We were well aware we had but two nights left to spend together. We also knew our seeing each other next time would not be as soon as times before.

Time draws nigh with each passing minute. We realise this fact but cannot ignore it. Though we wish time could stand still or I could stay here awhile longer, such is not our reality. 



'Do you want me to go with you?'. He knew he promised to go jogging with me this morning, yet somehow I knew I would be going by myself. I told him he did not have to go but could meet me for coffee after my run.

I ran two rounds around the park and did my 50 bar pushups before running back to town centre. It was perfect timing as I saw him approaching across the street from where I was standing. We walked into Suas Coffeehouse and took our seats in the back. The same ones as yesterday.

Conor tempted me with the savoury scone of the day which I gladly accepted. Goat cheese with carmelised onion and a hint of rocket with red pepper jam on the side. The coffee was one from Costa Rica, I believe, and quite tasty with hints of orange and chocolate.

After our morning coffee ritual, we returned home where I showered and dressed before we headed back out for more walking around town. Since I decided I wanted the silver leaf ring I saw at the new shop yesterday, we returned to the shop where I tried the ring on one more time. After some debate, I decided it was not the right fit for me.

We continued to another jewelry shop which turned out to be too fancy for my taste and quite pricey. Mario saw how I wished to get something and suggested the silver shop where he purchased a ring for himself earlier this year. It is a shop we have passed by time and time again during each of my trips here, yet never once did I walk in.

I was hesitant, to say the least, and doubtful I would find anything of interest. As it turned out, I found many things of interest for both myself and my two daughters. Mario even found another ring for himself. I selected one ring. Then another ring with two amethyst stones caught my eye. The third one was unique as well, with its hinged compartment. I simply had to have it. I bought all three silver rings, taking two with me and having to return later in the day to pick up the last one as a hinge on the ring needed tightening.

When I returned to the silver shop later in the afternoon, the shopkeeper held the ring out to me as she finished polishing it. It was the perfect ring for my other middle finger. I perused the shop a bit more, enquiring about earrings for my daughters. I found something I knew they both would like and promised to pick them up Monday as I needed more time to select a pair of earrings for myself as well. Amidst all my doubt about finding something I would like as we walked around in the rain, there was indeed a silver lining.


suas bw

'Where did you go? Galway?' he asked as I walked through the front door. I was gone longer than usual having looked forward to my jog at Tim Smythe park this morning. The walk to the park takes about ten minutes. I decided to jog three rounds at the outer perimeter of the park, stopping at the outdoor equipment to do 23 pushups against the bar each time.

A rainbow appeared in the sky at one point. Rain followed shortly thereafter but I continued to jog in the rain. On my way back to the flat I stopped by two shops to check on shower gel. The third stop was the art store across from the Polish bakery. My quest for the rainbow heart stickers for my son continues but the stickers were not in stock yet again.

Once home I showered and dressed for our visit to the coffeehouse. We sat near the back and waited for our order. Mario ordered a tiramisu cake which was unlike any I have ever seen. The soft layers were more gel-like and there were no ladyfingers or sponge cake rather crushed gluten-free cookies. 'Heaven in my mouth' was how Mario described it as he devoured the piece of cake before our cappuccinos arrived.

I took two bites out of my scone whilst I waited for the coffee. I also had a taste of his cake. It was good and not too sweet. As Conor arrived with the cappuccinos, he noticed Mario's empty plate. Before Conor had a chance to say anything, Mario requested another slice of cake. Conor smiled as he was about to suggest the same.

We enjoyed our time at the coffeehouse, picking up where we left off the last time I was in Ennis during the summer. Conor brought us a raw coffee espresso to try. It was strong but not bitter. I drank both of ours and was bouncing off the walls afterwards, full of energy and ready to walk around town.

One of our stops was O'Mahoney's bookstore where I found the book I wanted to get at Blackwell's in Edinburgh. I did not know the title nor the author but immediately recognised the book when I saw it on the shelf though somehow I thought the cover was aqua in colour. All I knew was it took place in Sweden and it was about a 60-year old man who was about to face a change in his life from which he could not return. Books are my addiction and I seek out at least one new book everywhere I travel, my personal library ever growing. 

Another stop was the new jewelry shop two doors down from Suas Coffeehouse. A lovely silver leaf ring caught my eye and I had to see it in person and try it on. We continued onwards towards a gift shop where I wished to look at scarves. The rain started as I decided to take the long way to get there. I perused the selections noting the fact that I had already purchased two scarves there in my previous travels to Ennis. Two scarves is the extent of my 'collection' thus far. I have a few more days to make my decision about the third scarf.

Afterwards we walked towards Ennis Bookshop where we parted ways for close to an hour. Later in the afternoon I had Mario wait for me outside the dressing room upstairs in Willow as I tried on the red dress in the window. It looked awful and was something intended for a tall flat-chested woman. Not for someone short and busty like me.

As I dragged him from one place to the next I reminded him 'It could be worse. We could be in Greyabbey'.


dublin 19nov2015

We survived thirteen days. Though we wanted to leave after our first night, we stayed and made it through the next twelve days. Barely. Mario and I were at each other's throats at times. Possibly too many times. Perhaps it was the confinement we felt. More than likely it also had to do with the high expectations we had. But we made it back to Ennis - my second home.

The alarm went off at 05,30h. Though I had been awake for more than an hour prior to the alarm going off, I lingered in bed for another five minutes before heading to the shower. Both of us were eager to leave even if it meant getting up early. But having gone to bed at 22,00h last night helped.

Somehow our bags were much heavier than when we first arrived. I cursed my over packing tendencies and vowed to change that for my future travels. I see how a lighter laptop for travel is a necessity when having to carry it on your back for hours on end.

We boarded the bus at the bottom of Main Street in Greyabbey at 07,15h and made it to the Europa bus station in Belfast an hour later. Somehow we managed to get my large, overstuffed roller duffle bag on the seat next to me in the first row but I did not get a chance to take off my computer backpack and large bag I had strapped across the front of my body. The one with one of my cameras inside.

So I sat in my seat behind the driver sandwiched with bags from three sides and the window on my right. I kept glancing at the clock up front hoping time would speed up. It became more difficult to breathe and the girl across the aisle and one row up annoyed me with the music blaring from her headphones. I kept looking over at her. She did not get it.

We had 45 minutes to wait before the bus to Dublin departed. At 09,00h we boarded the X2 to Dublin city centre where we arrived two hours later. We should have gone to the airport instead as it would have been easier to book the express bus to Ennis. The next bus to Ennis left at 12,30h. It was not the express bus which meant it would take at least an hour longer otherwise.

When he let me know we would be arriving in Ennis around 17,30h, with the possible one hour wait in Limerick, I did not have to tell him how I felt. The look on my face said it all. He knew I was thinking how we would not make it in time to go to the coffeehouse. As he walked away, I had a feeling what he was doing. He called his neighbour to pick us up from Limerick and drive us home.

The drive to Limerick was longer than planned. Fifteen minutes longer. We arrived at 15,45h. The last passenger left the bus and laid down her backpack for a minute close to where I was standing. 'He wasn't very nice' she started. I thought she was referring to the bus driver honking the two or three times.

She explained when we made one of the stops that a lady needed to use the bathroom but took too long to return. The bus driver told the missing lady's companion he would simply leave her behind as he did not wish to wait any longer. The lady's travel companion told the bus driver that her suitcase was still in the luggage compartment. At that point, the bus driver got out and removed the lady's suitcase. This, in turn, meant the lady's travel companion needed to leave as well. No, the bus driver was not very nice, I thought.

The drive to Ennis took less than half an hour. We parked, took the lift up to his flat, and dropped off the luggage. I was anxious to go have my coffee at Conor's new place. He moved to O'Connell street in town centre at a larger location not far from where my boyfriend's place of work. I was relieved to be back in this town after our thirteen days in a remote location. Somehow spending time at the village made us appreciate the place we called home. At least a second home for me.

I chatted with Conor for a while and ordered my scone with cream and cappuccino. I looked down towards the kitchen and noticed the Latvian chef whipping the cream for my scone. My coffee was worth the wait. It is always worth the wait as Conor takes his time perfecting the art of coffee making. As I waited for my cappuccino, I tasted my scone. I noticed a taste of vanilla and asked him if he had changed the recipe. He let me know he added vanilla back to the recipe and I thought it was a great choice.

When my cappuccino arrived, I decided to taste it before I added sugar. It needed no sugar and it was the first time I had a coffee without sugar. Conor let me know they changed the milk to an organic whole milk. It made a difference I liked very much.

Mario joined me after a while as did his friend Jan who happened to be passing by the coffeehouse. We recalled our experience at the village. Mario and Jan talked mainly in Slovakian and I would try to guess what the guys were talking about. Mario noted the smile on my face as I drank my coffee.

We parted ways again and I continued my stroll through town. I was glad to be amongst people I knew and in a town so lively. I walked towards the Ennis Bookshop and noticed the shopkeeper vacuuming the wooden floors. Thinking the shop was closing, I walked across the street but then noticed an older man entering the shop. I turned around and walked inside, perusing the shelves whilst knowing closing time was not far behind. Tomorrow I would return.

Mario had already returned home when I arrived. We spent some time with his roommate and another neighbour before heading to Knox's for a pint of Guinness. There we met a couple from Denver, Colorado. We chatted a long time and had a lovely conversation about life in Europe and life in general. At one point I asked what they liked most about travel. Bob's reply was the same as mine: we both like the aspect of meeting new people in the places we visit and hearing their stories.


no 14

'Oh really' the shopkeeper exclaimed as he let her know of his plans to move to America. He then spent three minutes discussing the issue with her.  When he arrived at the counter to pay for the breads, the young cashier said 'I hear you're moving to America.'

Such was the conversation between my boyfriend and the people at the local grocery shop which he retold me as he walked in the door with our breakfast baguettes and croissants. After the lemon incident, we sat down to a quiet breakfast. Misunderstandings have a way of getting the best of us lately. But all was well when he called me on Skype from the living room as I sat in the bedroom.

We went shopping today as planned. First to the antique shops on one side of the street, of which one was open, then to the opposite side to a shop filled with modern items. Mostly handmade jewelry. I fancied a red coral bracelet but could not get myself to buy it. I searched the entire shop for something for my children but did not find anything worthwhile. I saw a book, The Girl in the Photograph, which looked interesting and wanted to think about returning later to get it.

antique shops

We took one more walk to the beach. The tide was low and the sun was shining strong. But it was still cold. We returned to the cottage and did not leave until later in the afternoon when we walked back to the shop where the dapper shopkeeper wore a tie which was quite unlikely attire for a village without places to go dressed up.

suuny beach

'You probably think I've been sitting behind this laptop since you left. I haven't. I've been upstairs...' he trailed off as he defended his sitting behind the desk. I handed him the book I selected which ended up being discounted by 30 percent. It looked interesting. The work 'photograph' in the title caught my attention amidst a stack of books above it.

Life is different in a small place such as this where we spent the past thirteen days. Though we wanted to leave after the second day, we are partly glad we stayed. Partly due to the fact things were not as we had expected. Certainly technology has taken much time away from spending quality time together as we relied on online entertainment instead of taking time to sit and read.

I envisioned us sitting in the living room listening to the crackling of the fire in the fireplace which was pictured online when I booked this cottage. I doubt I would have booked this place had I known the fireplace was not functioning. Also, had I known that a car was so important to get to the outer lying towns, we would have looked for another place to spend our two weeks together. The traffic was yet one more issue but not something one would know specifically to ask.

But things are as they are and we learn from this experience. We learned for next time to ask many questions. We learned we need not take so many clothes when traveling. We know to reduce our time online and spend more time together. But the next time we see each other will be a long time away for us. Perhaps next summer. Which is why this time was so important for us.

Though we are glad to leave tomorrow we know the days we have left together are few before my flight back to the States. Then we will rely on Skype once again as we both return to our lives apart.


rose cottage

'Tomorrow we go shopping' Mario exclaimed.

'Oh yay' I clapped my hands. My sarcasm did not go unnoticed.

One more day. We have to make through one more day before we make our way back to Ennis.

clouds greyabbey

'You will like Ennis now' I heard him say. Though I spent most of the last two summers in Ennis, in addition to weeks during autumn and winter last year, I always found I ran out of things to do as I waited for him to return home from work. This time I would think how it could be worse. I could be stuck in a place where there really is nothing to do. Like this tiny village.

We slept in late, waking up at 09,00h. He dressed and went to get the daily baguettes. Four again as he ate the rest last night. We had the usual for breakfast. Bread with cheese and raw vegetables. As yesterday.

Afterwards we plopped ourselves back on the sofas in the living room where we resorted to our computers. Though I could have studied more today I figured today was a slow day. Certainly being cooped up in this cottage is having an effect on us both.

In the early afternoon I walked into the kitchen to make vegetable soup with carrots, potatoes, leeks, onions, and celery. As the soup was cooking I made an orange rosemary cake - my favourite thus far and one we devoured by the end of the day. 

It rained throughout the day but at one point we decided to go for a walk. We walked up the road towards Belfast for five minutes before finding out there was nothing for us to see but small houses and trees. We retreated home and picked up where we left off - on our sofas.

abbey close
tree1 greyabbey
tree2 greyabbey

'Are you eating again' I asked as he walked in from the kitchen with yet another banana stuffed in his mouth.

'It's just a banana' he replied. I told him there must be some kind of limit as to how many bananas one can eat during the day. I looked it up online and laughed at a question someone posed.

'Can you die from eating too many bananas?' was the question posed by someone from Minnesota. The reply was long but I laughed at one part: 'It is hard to imagine that people who are healthy are going to be killing themselves with bananas. It’s hard to imagine someone eating 25 bananas in a day, much less 250.'

I returned to the kitchen to start dinner. We had to use up what was in the refrigerator and thus I decided to make something with potatoes, carrots, spinach, leek, milk, feta, and eggs. The result was a vegetarian moussaka which we ate with a simple salad of arugula, baby tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, feta, and Urfa chilies.

We waited an hour or so to return to our places at the dining table and enjoy the last of the orange rosemary cake.


kitchen skylights

'Are you going somewhere?' he asked as we sat at the breakfast table wondering why I had put on makeup and dressed in something other than my indoors clothes after my shower today.

'No. Are you?' I shot back as I explained I could ask the same after he shaved and put on cologne. At least we were having some kind of conversation today.

The morning started out as last night had left off but was turned around not long after our breakfast. My boyfriend went out for bread whilst I took a quick shower after which I sat on the small sofa by the window reading something on my laptop. Somehow I was not up to preparing breakfast this morning.

Even on vacation we wish to take a break from cooking once in a while. Secretly I had hoped he would take over this morning. I was glad when he opened the door to the kitchen to let me know breakfast was ready. Sunny side up eggs as I like them accompanied by baby tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and the various Gouda cheeses. And the fresh baguettes he bought this morning. The breakfast he made thawed the ice and we started to speak once again.

Afterwards we decided to go on a walk to the village centre and peruse the gift shop by the coffee house. As we approached Main Street we was Monday. Everything is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. I was disappointed as I wished to see if I could find something for my children. We would have to wait until Wednesday to return.

The rest of the day we spent in the living room listening to cars and the horse which passes by the cottage at least once a day. Somehow I never manage to grab my camera in time. I spent my afternoon on the sofa by the window studying whilst he sat on the other sofa watching something Slovakian on his laptop.

We felt a bit cagey in the cottage and the village as there was nothing else to do and nowhere else to go without a car. We returned to the kitchen in the evening and ate the rest of the spaghetti for dinner and the other half of the yogurt cake for dessert.


beach past greyabbey

I was awake before the sun. I could no longer sleep. Thoughts of baking circled in my mind. By the time the clock struck 08,00h the cinnamon scones and 5" yogurt cake were out of the oven and the spaghetti sauce was simmering on the stove for half an hour already.

At 09,00h he went to Vivo for the four fresh baked baguettes which were waiting for us. We sat at the large dining table and ate breakfast together. The rest of the day was spent reading or watching whatever we each found online. In the evening we returned to the table for spaghetti and zucchini feta pancakes with half of the yogurt cake for dessert.

We spoke few words to each other throughout the day even when we went on a short walk to the beach. As we have had few chances to live together and learn more about each other we realise we have more to learn. Every once in a while we need a quiet day to think about what we have and how far we have come.


belfast christmas market

I decided on a short run this morning as we planned to take the earlier bus to Belfast. I made the turn around the bend by the primary school and ran to the border of the village where the beach comes into view. Since it was Saturday the cars were few on the road to Portaferry.

After a quick shower, I sat down to a simple breakfast of baguette and butter before dressing for the cold autumn day. We had to catch the 10,20h bus at the bottom of Main Street. He thought we had to wait at the one around the corner from our doorstep. When he realised this was not the case, we ran out the door and hurried our steps as we later hurried them on the way back home.

An hour later, we arrived in Belfast city centre. Our first stop was the Movie House on Dublin Road. The movie started at noon so we had little over half an hour to get to the location which was a 20-minute walk. It was raining. Not merely a drizzle this time. By the time we reached the movie house, we were soaked.

The doors were not yet open so we waited outside in the cold for ten minutes before they let us in. He paid the cashier the £9.80 for our two matinee tickets to see Burnt and then we walked around the concession stand for another ten minutes before deciding to go through door number 2.

Two other people were already seated by the time we took our seats. The lights dimmed and nobody else arrived. We watched about ten or so minutes of previews before the movie finally started. As I had watched the trailer beforehand, I knew the main happenings of the movie. He did not wish to watch the trailer.

Though we liked the experience of going to the movies together - which was something we had not yet done - we left the cinema feeling there should have been more. 'Typical American movie' was his reply, referring to the nicely tied-up package of Hollywood where a happy ending is almost always guaranteed.

I felt the movie had a weak storyline. There were characters who contributed little to the plot. Other parts of the story could have been developed further. I recalled watching The Hundred-Foot Journey late last summer and how it left me inspired as I left the theatre. I had no such feeling as we left the Dublin Movie House.

We walked out of the cinema and back into the rain. Coffee was next on our list of things to do. Turning left on Skipper Street, we decided to go our separate ways for our drinks since I did not want a Guinness and he did not want a coffee. I kissed him goodbye as he crossed the street to The Harp Bar and I continued down Hill Street a short way until I reached the fogged up doors of Established Coffee.

I ordered a cappuccino and a chocolate and coffee loaf which I enjoyed at the long communal table in the middle. He arrived as I finished the loaf and we chatted for a few minutes before heading back into the unrelenting rain.

Once again, I went to the bookstore whilst he checked on something at Primark. He found me downstairs looking for books for my children and decided to leave me in my 'Eden', as he called it, whilst he went to the Europa bus station to check on the bus back to both Dublin for next week and tonight's bus.

I looked over the receipt the cashier handed to me and noticed she overcharged me by £2. The books were discounted but the cash register rung up the prices at the full price. After waiting for a supervisor to return me the difference, I walked upstairs in the hopes of finding him. I found him walking towards the bookstore as I exited.

The day was not ideal for the opening day of the Belfast Christmas market. The rain offered no reprieve as we walked around the various stalls looking for something of interest. This was not the magnitude of the Christmas markets in Germany, particularly the one I went to in Nuremburg when I was pregnant with my first child.

Since the children's father kept all of the Christmas decorations we set up around the house every year, I hoped to find replacements at this market. There was nothing. The pyramids and Räuchermännchen might have to wait until my boyfriend and I go to Germany one day lest I find them online.

Our jackets were not waterproof and we were getting colder and wetter by the minute. I was hungry and wanted to go home to try the three assorted Gouda cheeses we bought. We walked to the Europa bus station as he thought the bus left from there at five past 'something'. It was the wrong station. We had 25 minutes to get to the Langanside bus station so he took hold of my hand as we quickly walked to catch 17.05h bus. We made it with ten minutes to spare.

Once home, we hung up our wet jackets which were soaked through and turned on the heating in the cottage. I took a hot shower and prepared a simple dinner. We ate the leftover potato soup along with baguette, Gouda cheese, bell peppers, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. For dessert we had the rest of the courgette orange poppy seed cake. This was as close to a Christmas together as we would get this year.


courgette orange poppy seed cake

On this Friday morning, we decided to sleep in. There was no run. However, I quickly dressed and accompanied him to Vivo, the local convenience shop, for the daily baguette run. We needed diced tomatoes for spaghetti sauce as well. And milk.

There were four freshly-baked baguettes in the basket. Apparently there is an oven in the back of the store where the shopkeeper bakes the bread every morning. My boyfriend took all four plus two croissants. We needed sparkling water as well but the cashier informed us they had none now but they will at 14,00h when the supply truck arrives.

After breakfast I cleaned up the dishes and took a short break before stepping back into the kitchen. As I sat on the couch in the living area near the door to the kitchen, I saw my boyfriend go in. Deciding to start baking my cake, I gave him that look. The look which said 'this is my kitchen, I need you to leave'. He got it and left. 'You don't like anyone being in the kitchen with you, do you' he asked. I did not need to answer.

He stayed in the bedroom long enough for me to make potato leek rosemary soup and put the small courgette orange poppy seed cake in the oven. Whilst the cake was baking, I made us sandwiches, cut up vegetables and an apple, and made the table. Five minutes before the cake was ready I walked into the bedroom and asked him if he was hungry. He was and he joined me in the kitchen for lunch at the large dining table.

'Now I see why you like being in the kitchen by yourself' he exclaimed as he walked in to a table filled with healthy foods and a cake cooling on the counter. We both agreed that the large cottage kitchen makes it easier for us to want to be in the kitchen as both of our kitchens back home are anything but inspiring.

Though his kitchen in Ennis is filled with natural light, it can hardly fit two people. My kitchen in Austin, on the other hand, is dark and slightly larger than his. With my not using the dirty, old kitchen cabinets in the rental house, my dishes and other items are strewn about in boxes waiting for the next move. The dishes which I use on a daily basis I keep on the counter by the refrigerator.

Whenever I wish to make something requiring a piece of equipment packed away, it becomes too much of a bother to navigate through the stacked boxes and dig through random paper bags filled with ingredients not able to fit in the pantry. Therefore, I end up rethinking my time in the kitchen and opting for something simple as bread with peanut butter and honey or rice and pasta dishes when the children are staying with me.  

I returned to the couch in the living room after lunch long enough to find a recipe for palacinke. I could not remember the last time I made these Croatian crepes except that I made them once in the old house when the children were much younger but I remember them well from my childhood. My favourite version was one made with a cottage cheese mixture rolled inside each crepe and layered in a casserole dish to be baked in the oven. Today's version was accompanied by the plum jam I made and caster sugar with lemon zest.

On a rainy day like today, I wished the wood burning fireplace in the living area was in use. When we saw photos of the cottage on HomeAway's site, we pictured evenings sitting by the fireplace reading our books whilst cuddled up on the sofa. It was only after we arrived here that we were told the fireplace was now purely decorative. We were disappointed and felt this was something which should have been disclosed in the description on the site.

rain on window

At 14,30h he returned to Vivo for the bottles of sparkling water. When he walked in the door, he replayed the conversation he had with the shopkeeper. 'How many baguettes do you need for tomorrow' asked the shopkeeper as we took all four that were on display this morning. By now she had noticed we end up taking all of the baguettes she sets out every morning.

'What time do you need them' she continued. Since we planned on going to Belfast tomorrow, he told her we would need four Sunday morning. She agreed to have four ready for us at 09,00h on Sunday. In a village where customers are few, shopkeepers make sure to take care of those who support them. This was certainly the case today as we knew something like this was unlikely to happen where we lived.

We sat down for the palacinke at 16,00h though we ate less than two hours prior. We ate three each and saved the rest for after dinner along with half of the cake I baked after breakfast.


Seeing how we spent most of the rainy day indoors, my boyfriend suggested we go outside for a walk. It was cold, dark, and windy and he had doubts about his 'crazy idea' to go out at such a time. We bundled up and walked to the end of the village and back. I told him his idea was not crazy as it was good to be out in the fresh, though cold, autumn air. Once back at the cottage, the room we thought felt cold before we left now felt much warmer.


belfast tower

One song. That is how long it takes to jog from our cottage at one end of the village to the opposite end where it ends. I told him I would be back in four songs. The perplexed look on his face let me know he had no idea what I meant. 'About 20 minutes' I clarified, as I figured at four to five minutes per song in my iPod shuffle would equal close to twenty minutes.

Certainly it would take at least two songs to jog in one direction, I thought as I stretched in the living room in front of the now decorative wooden fireplace. As soon as I realised this was not the case, I continued along Portaferry Road as the morning before. I passed by two greyish white swans on my left. The same old discarded bicycle tire was in the same place it was yesterday as was the crushed cardboard coffee carrier.

After two songs I thought of turning back until I looked up and saw the sign in the distance. The sign I ran up to yesterday. 'I could make it', I thought. Four songs. It took me four songs to get to the sign as I ran against the wind and hugged the stone wall as large trucks passed me by. I then turned around and returned to the warm cottage where we ate fresh baguettes for breakfast before heading to the bus stop.

We walked out to the bus stop a few feet from our doorstep ten minutes before its arrival as there was no rain this morning. We rode alongside the shore with the occasional spray from waves below splashing up onto the bus. We arrived in Belfast an hour later at 12,50 and walked towards the same shopping area we visited earlier in the week. We parted ways as I walked down Skipper Street which turns into Hill Street. Established Coffee was my destination. The bank was his.

The coffeehouse was crowded but I managed to find a table. The same table where we sat the first time. I looked at the display case wondering if I would find a scone and noticed a label with the words 'Apple Cinnamon Scone'. It was a cinnamon roll not too different from the ones in the States. I decided against anything from the case and ordered a cappuccino for £2.70.

The cappuccino arrived in a smaller cup than either of the two coffees we had in Greyabbey. In addition to it looking like it contained more coffee than milk it was a cappuccino where you can taste the pure flavour of coffee, not overly steamed milk. It was so good I had to order another. This time I ordered a flat white which was not too different from the cappuccino. I also ordered a brown butter and cinnamon loaf.

I moved over to the large communal table and waited for my flat white to arrive. In the meantime, I jotted a few notes in my travel journal. My boyfriend showed up, an hour after I arrived, and sat with me as I drank my coffee and enjoyed the sweet treat. A baby across from us caught my attention. I played peek-a-boo with him and watched his eyes light up. Those are the years of a child's life where it does not take much to make him happy.

A light drizzle awaited us as we left the coffeehouse and walked a few feet over to The Harp Bar. The bar is beautiful with its copper tabletops on the café tables and a large copper trough sink in the bathroom. We talked about our future plans as we each drank a pint of Guinness.

Many challenges await us as we move forward with our lives together whilst living on separate continents. Though we both await the day when we can live under one roof, we realise the reality is far from soon. But at least we have this time together in Northern Ireland for another week before we return to Ennis where we have another five days together though he will be working most of those days.

the harp bar window

The drizzle turned to rain as we walked in the direction of Primark. Once again, we went our separate ways for no more than half an hour. He to Primark whilst I headed to Easons bookstore where I found a large section of books and games in the downstairs portion. I spent no more than 15 minutes perusing the various sections before he arrived. Since our mission this trip was to buy food we cannot find at the village, we did not spend more time at the bookstore. We will take one more trip to Belfast this weekend and will return to the bookstore after our visit to the Christmas Market which opens Saturday at noon.

At Tesco we found most of the items on our list, including two bottles of red wine. The shallots for the night's pizza were nowhere to be found so instead we bought garlic. Flour was important as well for I had yet another week of baking ahead of me. The mascarpone I was also unable to find for the courgette and carrot cakes but knew it would not be an issue as we would eat them with or without the spiced mascarpone cream layer and topping.

We gathered our groceries into his backpack and made our way to the bus station. We were early but also tired from walking around in the rain with heavy bags. It was dark as we rode back to the village. Once inside our cottage, I changed before I went to the kitchen to start our evening meal. In the meantime, he walked over to the local store for something sweet since we had nothing sweet already made.

belfast rainbow

In the time it took him to return, I took the linens out of the washer/dryer combo and made the bed. Then I sliced various cheeses I brought from Scotland, baguettes, baby tomatoes, and cucumbers as an accompaniment to our wine before I baked the pizzas. We relished every bite of our meal this evening alongside the wine and enjoyed our time together.


abbey doorway

Though I was awake before the sun, I lay awake in bed scrolling through the tweets on Twitter looking for anything of interest. I came upon an article containing the transcript of Reese Witherspoon's speech at Carnegie Hall about women, ambition, and her role in getting movies produced where the woman was the lead and not simply the sidekick to the supporting male lead.

She ends her powerful speech with these words: '...I believe ambition is not a dirty word. It’s just believing in yourself and your abilities. Imagine this: What would happen if we were all brave enough to be a little bit more ambitious? I think the world would change.'

With those words in mind I crawled out of bed and dressed for my morning run. This time I went straight towards the beach on the main road to Portaferry and ran along the side of the road with the narrow sidewalk. As cars passed by me, I stayed close to the stone wall dodging overgrown ivy and trying not to get stuck by the lone thorny blackberry branch.

I passed by some swans on my left, an old bike tire, and a smashed cardboard coffee carrier. I wondered how long the sidewalk would last but decided to run up to the sign signaling a curve in the road. My curiosity would have to wait for another day as I turned around and jogged back to the cottage.

After a quick shower, I got ready for coffee at the contemporary place. It was open today. As I approached the counter, I noticed a repairman at the coffee machine. The waitress informed me it would be another ten minutes until she was able to use the machine.

I enquired about scones since I did not see any on the counter or in the glass case to my left but saw a sign advertising cinnamon scones along with bacon and French brie scones. She informed me they were just coming out of the oven. I told her we would wait for coffee before placing our order.

As we waited at a table close to the counter, I noticed a man carry out two baskets of their version of scones. 'Those are not scones' I told my boyfriend. 'They look like cinnamon rolls' I continued and was once again reminded that travel is an experience where nothing is the same wherever we go.

The chef magazines I perused whilst waiting for our order had a stamp 'Property of Hoops Coffee'. I wondered why as Hoops coffee was across the street. Perhaps they borrowed the magazines, I pondered. The flat whites arrived. I put in three of those little sticks of raw sugar into my tall cup as I watched him pour four.

The coffee was once again hot and tasted the same as the coffee we had yesterday at the other local coffee shop - meh. Both with perhaps one drop of caffeine and too much milk. The scones were nothing to write home about either. My cinnamon 'scone' was a bit salty. He liked his bacon and French brie scone.

As I glanced at the receipt, I noticed Hoops Coffee written across the top. 'I thought Hoops Coffee was across the street' I looked at the waitress. She informed me they just moved last week as they needed more space. I guess that was the reason for all of those cards of congratulations and wishes of good luck on the wall behind the counter.

We returned to the cottage where my cooking and baking frenzy began. It started with the pizza dough followed by the plum jam. It was my first time making jam as I remember. I had three plums still from the flat in Edinburgh which I brought over in my luggage. I diced them and cooked them with a bit of water and lemon juice.

plum jam and shells

After forty minutes I added brown sugar and granulated sugar and cooked the mixture another twenty minutes longer. Perhaps I cooked it too long. Perhaps I should not have used brown sugar as the jam was thick enough to stand a spoon in it though it was tasty. It was edible and that was the most important aspect of this experiment.

Next was the lemon thyme cake. I wrote the recipe, mixed the ingredients, and baked the cake in the new 5" push cake pan I bought at Lakeland in Edinburgh last week. After thirty minutes, I took the cake out and realised I should have baked the cake without the convection option. The next cake will be better, I thought. We still have another week.

Whilst the cake was cooling and the pizza dough was rising, I walked around the cottage and made a few photos of the antique typewriter and the plum jam. Afterwards, we took a walk to the abbey ruins across the street. The sun made a rare appearance today as I set out to make photos of us. Just as I balanced my camera on the stone walls along with the proper settings, the sun emerged from behind the clouds and messed up my manual settings.

antique typewriter

'The rocks are cold' exclaimed my boyfriend. 'You can't move' I told him, but he did. Eventually we got a somewhat decent shot using the 10-second timer which was better than no photo at all as we have only two other photos of us.

abbey sunlight

I looked up and noticed a contrail behind a tree. 'Oh, you like trees. I forgot', stated my boyfriend. I turned to my right and noticed the bright yellow tree with the small patch of red leaves. I made a few more photographs before we headed home.

contrail tree
yellow red tree

Seeing how the sun had already set a few moments prior, I wanted to photograph the four balls of pizza dough. My boyfriend took the cookie sheet on which were the dough balls and set them on the table outside. 'It's cold' he exclaimed as I had him hold the cookie sheet whilst I configured my camera settings. 'Ok, that will do' I told him as I put the lens cover on my macro lens.

He chopped the baby tomatoes and multi-coloured bell peppers whilst I prepared the dough. We enjoyed one pizza each for dinner. We took our time with the lemon thyme cake with plum jam and whipped cream as we devoured it in three sittings throughout the evening.

We then retreated to our separate spaces where he watched his Slovakian television shows online whilst I read the introduction to the book I purchased at Looking Glass in Edinburgh - Elsewhere. A nice end to day 6 at our cottage in a remote part of Northern Ireland.

pizza dough


greyabbey cemetary

The day began at 8,30h. The streets glistened with rainfall though it was not raining at the moment. I took advantage of that fact and went on my morning run to explore the village of Greyabbey. The ruins of the abbey are across the street from our cottage which is located at the north side of the village of Greyabbey.

The gate was open and I had hoped to find a trail where I could run amidst the ruins. Quails made their exit as I disturbed their morning ritual. For some reason I thought they were thinner turkeys but when my boyfriend and I returned to the ruins in the afternoon, he informed me they were quail.

There was no trail where I could run so I jogged around the ruins and out the gate. I continued up the street towards Ballywalter until I ran out of sidewalk at which point I turned around, passed our cottage, and continued up the opposite road towards Carrowdore. I greeted the sheep I saw alongside the road before I turned around once again as the sidewalk came to an end.

I jogged south past the centre of the village until I came upon a beach on the shore of the Strangford Lough where the smell of kelp in the air reminded me of times I would walk along the Californian beaches. Living in Austin the past ten years, I have not seen a coast so this was a welcomed change.

As I jogged back to the cottage, I glanced inside the only grocery store in the village and noticed there were four freshly baked baguettes left in the basket. I quickened my pace and grabbed some Scottish pounds at the cottage then turned straight around where I bought two of the baguettes.

After a shower, I set out to make a banana pineapple smoothie with the hand blender/food processor I found in one of the lower cabinets. It would do, I thought. We finished the smoothie and walked down Main Street where I noticed a contemporary looking coffeehouse. I had my taste buds set on a cappuccino but disappointment set in when I noticed the place was closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Across the street we noticed a cake shop - A Cake for all Seasons.  It was the only option we had, so we walked in and looked around the offerings on the counter. There were two scone options, Sara informed me. Raspberry chocolate and date wheaten. 'Date what?' I asked her to repeat. Perhaps I misunderstood her thick Irish accent because I had never heard of 'wheaten'.

I ordered cappuccinos for us and the date wheaten scone. Looking at the triangular shaped scone, I assumed it was made with whole wheat flour. The texture was certainly unlike the scones I have had elsewhere in Ireland and Scotland and reminded me of the ones I make back home. It was simply a scone and the cappuccino was simply a coffee which ended up being too hot for my taste. As we left, I handed her a £10 note I still had from my trip to Scotland. ‘Dad, Bank of Scotland?’ she quizzically looked at her father who sat behind us. As she glanced at the back of the note, she realised she could accept Scottish pounds.

Once back at the cottage, I gathered the ingredients to make carrot coriander soup for lunch. Two carrots, a potato, and one small onion in addition to ground coriander, salt, water, and two bay leaves. I debated whether I should add the bay leaves but decided to leave them in this time. Though I prefer to see the chopped vegetables, I chose to puree two-thirds of the soup before I added double cream and heated the soup further another ten minutes.

carrot coriander soup

Over lunch, I talked with my boyfriend about a book idea I had. Seeing how I put my bakebook on hold close to three years ago after having two publishers reject my proposal, I wanted to revisit my creative endeavour. Ideas are there. I simply need to organise them into another proposal and look for more publishers.

As the sun was about to set, we walked across the street to the abbey ruins. The gate was closed by this time but we were able to stand in front of the cemetery from behind a stone wall. Most of the headstones dated from the early 1800s with the abbey itself dating back to 1193.

Once back inside our cozy cottage, we retreated to our separate quarters. He in our bedroom watching Ano, šéfe! on his computer. Me on the small white sofa reading a few more pages of A Girl on the Train and trying to edit photos as Lightroom kept shutting down due to my old laptop's low memory constraints.

greyabbey bw

Though it took us a while to get used to being away from civilisation, even having considered leaving early on the second day, we are glad to have decided to stay and give this village a chance for two weeks. 


belfast centre

The bus came to a stop on Main Street at 12,10h, across the road and a block away from where we were standing as the rain drizzled overhead. Having already missed the bus a few steps from our cottage twenty minutes prior, we ran to the other bus and handed the driver the £7.90 each for our round trip ticket to Belfast.

The crazy man was on our bus. The one who approached us earlier at the bus stop flailing his arms and talking to himself as he lit his cigarette and staggered across the road. He appeared more than drunk and plopped himself down next to an unlucky passenger as he talked all the way to Newtownards where he took his time getting off the bus and somehow made his way across the street without getting hit by a car.

We continued onto Belfast and arrived almost an hour after we boarded the bus in Greyabbey. Our first mission was finding Established Coffee. The coffeehouse was recommended to my boyfriend by Conor from Suas CoffeeHouse in Ennis just before he left to meet me in Dublin.

established coffee belfast

As soon as he told me about the place, I looked it up and put it on our list of things to do in Belfast. Though it took us longer than it should have to find the remote coffeehouse at the end of Hill Street, the coffee did not disappoint. It was well worth the trek around city centre in the rain, though my boyfriend had a different viewpoint.

We ordered cappuccinos, a chicken sandwich for him, and a vegetable and lentil soup for me along with a slice of banana bread. The soup was tasty though I still wonder why I expect soups in Ireland to have identifiable ingredients. I will never understand their need to puree everything but every country has its ways.

The rain started up again as we left the coffeehouse and we walked around hoping that at some point the rain would stop. It continued at a steady drizzle for the remainder of the afternoon. I stopped by the road to make a photo of the Christmas tree and lights in the distance, narrowly missing getting hit by a bus. As one bus after another passed by, my photo opportunity was lost though we returned half an hour later.

belfast christmas

Due to a miscommunication, we ended up walking to the Europa bus station. The entire time I kept wondering the reason. He wondered the same. 'Why are we here' I finally asked as we made our way to the waiting area. 'I thought you wanted to come here' he looked at me with confusion. We turned around and walked back towards the City Hall.

'Ah, heaven' I exclaimed as we approached Easons bookstore. 'For some' he replied and we walked in and spent some time perusing the books and gift section. Though I prefer the smaller independent shops the selection of books at this chain store was great. I made a mental note to return on our next trip to Belfast.

As we planned to return later in the week, we decided to buy the essential ingredients at Tesco for soup, homemade pizza, and a potato gratin. The rest we would have to plan. We stopped by a 'much deserved' pint of Guinness at a pub by the bus station. At 16,45h we boarded the bus and headed back to the cottage. Crazy guy made it on the bus as well. After our dinner of potato gratin and mixed raw vegetables on top of wild rocket, my boyfriend and I enjoyed the rest of our evening at our cozy cottage in Greyabbey.


rooftop greyabbey
So all we could do was to
And we did not like it.
Not one little bit.
— Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss

The weather here at the cottage reminds me of Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat book where the children were not happy having to sit at home all day whilst it rained outdoors.

In a village with one food shop, which is more of a convenience shop, one butcher, and a guy selling fire wood in an alleyway alongside fruits and vegetables, there is little else one can do without a car. Though it is possible to walk the three kilometres to the next town, it becomes impossible without getting drenched by pouring rain. Even so, the neighbouring towns are not much larger than this village. 

So we sit inside the somewhat warm cottage and wait for the rain to stop so we can at least take the bus to Belfast to go for coffee and be amongst civilisation.