Monday, December 18, 2023

Merry Christmas 2023!

Our Christmas tree for 2023!

December in our part of Colorado began with cold and snow. 

Our windows were full of pretty views ...

...including views of many of our local wildlife.

It has been unusually warm the past week, but there may be some snow on Christmas Day, which is always festive to see.

 I have been busy shopping, gift wrapping, and baking for Christmas

The gingerbread cake house on the left in the photo collage above was made using one of my favorite Nordic Ware baking pans in that shape, and the large Gingerbread Men Cakes were also made using a Nordic Ware baking pan.

We celebrate on Christmas Eve with the Italian-American tradition of the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" although I usually tend to incorporate even more seafood in my recipes.
It is one of my favorite feasts of the year!

I know many are as busy or even busier than I am but 
 I also hope you are enjoying every moment, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Let us all remember the reason we celebrate!

My hope for 2024
Peace on Earth, 
Goodwill towards all!

I am going to take a blog break and return in the new year--see you then!

You can also find me on:

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Kenmare and The Ring of Kerry in Killarney. Ireland.

After visiting the town of Blarney in County Cork--see my last post-- our tour bus drove on to County Kerry, where we stopped for lunch in the colorful town of Kenmare.

Kenmare is located at the head of Kenmare Bay and lies on two noted Irish tourist routes, the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara, approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Killarney. As a result, it is a popular tourist destination and many of the businesses in the area cater to tourists. The town is noted for its food and pubs. We enjoyed walking around the town and looking at the shops.

Our tour then drove towards The Ring of Kerry,  a 111-mile (179-kilometer-long) circular tourist route in County Kerry, that is rustic and beautiful.

We passed many fields of grazing sheep along the drive.

It was a lovely drive!

Our tour bus came to a stop at Ladies View where we all disembarked to take in the views and take photos.

We were visiting in late October and the autumn colors were beautiful!

The name "Ladies View" stems from the admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting during Victoria's 1861 visit to Ireland.

The view brought back memories to me as I visited the area in both 1972 and 2008. We were happy to see it this time with my husband's sister and our brother-in-law.

As we returned to the bus we saw a beautiful rainbow!

As we drove by the lakes its color intensified.

The rainbow followed us all the way to the town of Killarney

We stopped for the night in Killarney and we walked into town to have dinner in a local pub. 

Everything was delicious!

I had to take this photo of gasoline prices at a gas station in Killarney  At 1.82 Euros per liter of gas at that time in Ireland, it would convert to paying $7.43 for a gallon of gas in USA cash! It was a reminder that inflation certainly exists worldwide.

Currently, I have been busy decorating for Christmas and enjoying this beautiful time of the year, and I hope you are too! I hope to share some of my holiday preparations here next week before continuing on with memories for our Highlights of Ireland and Scotland tour. See you then!

Monday, December 4, 2023

East Dunmore, Tramore, and Blarney, Ireland

After leaving Waterford City, our tour bus traveled SE towards our hotel stay for the night in Tramore, Ireland, but first, we made a stop in Dunmore East.  Dunmore East is a coastal fishing village with many beautiful thatched-roof cottages and is situated on the west side of Waterford Harbor.

East Dunmore is a charming town that is a popular tourist stop, especially for cruise ships in the summer. I was mesmerized by its unique trees.

As we drove into town we had a good view of the harbor and lighthouse from our bus.

We stopped for a few moments at the poignant "Lost At Sea Memorial." The monument was commissioned by the people of Dunmore East in remembrance of loved ones, those lost in local waters, and those lost at sea. The wall behind the sculpture lists all the names of those lost.

Our bus parked and we were able to walk along the harbor pier. there we had a good view of the coastline and the lighthouse. In Ireland, it’s common for coastal villages to have a lighthouse, and this one was built in 1825 and is a 52-foot high (16-meter) sandstone tower. This Doric-style lighthouse is the only one of its kind in Ireland: there is no other lighthouse of this style on the Emerald Isle. It is always active, emitting white and red flashes at 8-second intervals, depending on direction.

Across the harbor, we had a view of the oldest lighthouse in Ireland The Hook Lighthouse also known as Hook Head Lighthouse, is a building situated on Hook Head at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, Ireland. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, and the second oldest operating lighthouse in the world, after the Tower of Hercules in Spain. This iconic and unique monument was constructed by the powerful medieval magnate William Marshall in the early thirteenth century, thought to be sometime between 1210 and 1230.

We traveled south to Tramore, another seaside town in County Waterford, where we were staying overnight. 

We had dinner at the hotel and then had an evening excursion in town...

We were driven to a charming little pub called Jack Meade Bar and Beer Garden. The pub dates back to 1705 and has been in the present family since 1857.

There we sat at a table by a wonderful peat-burning fire, had traditional Irish potato chips and a stout beer, and listened to an enchanting few hours of traditional Irish songs!

Would you like to listen to a few songs?  Go to this link on my Mille Fiori Facebook page to hear us join in on singing "The Wild Rover," and this link to hear " Forty Shades of Green," and this link to hear my favorite Irish song, "Danny Boy."  Just make sure to turn on the sound by clicking on the microphone icon on the top right of each video reel.

I am sharing some old photos from a blog post from 2008 when my husband and I visited Ireland. We kissed the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in Blarney, Ireland. This was actually the second time I had kissed the stone, as I had visited in 1972 with my oldest brother and sister-in-law. At that time, we were visiting her family in a town near Blarney in County Cork, as she was born and raised there, and we also made a visit to the castle at that time. 

County Cork covers much of Ireland’s southwest. Its capital, Cork, is known for St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, a neo-Gothic structure with tall spires and stained-glass windows. Across the River Lee is the castle-like Cork City Gaol, built in the 19th century. Northwest of Cork is the 15th-century Blarney Castle.

During our visit, instead of going to the castle or kissing the stone again, we met my sister-in-law's sister at the Blarney Woolen Mills across the street and had a nice chat in the cafe there to catch up since our last visit.

Kissing the Blarney Stone in 1972

I'm not sure I could bounce up from kissing the Blarney Stone for the "Gift of Eloquence" any longer at my age!  Do you think you would do it?

Our tour guide told us that sadly a few places in County Cork were badly flooded by Storm Babet which had passed over Europe, Ireland, and the UK a few days before our arrival, but as we traveled the next day we didn't see any flooded areas. only beautiful dairy farms.

Next post, we are going to visit the southern Ireland town of Kenmore and then on to the stunning landscape of Killarney, Ireland