Ireland is a pop-up picture book

We arrived in Ireland on the 11th of March. It was windy and raining, walking out of the airport in my new K-Way jacket I thought, I got this, it’s not so bad. What are people going on about this place being cold?

It was OK for the rest of that day, we got our car and took a long drive to the Airbnb in Malahide (little city just north of Dublin). We walked into a very warm house and room and it was dinner time. Time to hit a pub!

Just two minutes away from our accommodation, dinner for me was; soup and beer bread and hubby chose a vegetarian curry. We shared both. After a bit of chatting I escaped and walked down the road for my first shopping exhibition.                                I chose Tesco, it was also all we had right there at our doorstep, so I bought some things for breakfast and went back to the pub …. Conversation continued, but being visibly tired we called it a night and went ‘home’ to sleep.

Morning! We were greeted by a beautiful sunshiny day. Breakfast in bed alla me, courtesy of my Tesco shopping and we were finally ready to explore Ireland.

The first stop was the beach, and I just want to laugh at the thought of the wind, it was blowing so strong that holding the cell phone for a pic was a real blast!!!                    Next visit was the Malahide Castle and Gardens, and by now the weather had changed on us like four times. No lies!

We both bought a what I call Irish jackets, something proper for the rain and wind, and that was the last day I wore the K-Way.

From here on I don’t need to mention the cold anymore, protected and dressed for an Irish adventure I adapted by zipping up and putting on the hoodie or removing it just as quickly.

Ireland is beautiful. The road users are well mannered. People are friendly. There are lots of South Africans and Brazilians living there. Vegetarian and vegan options are available almost everywhere you go. People walking everywhere all the time! Anytime of the day, they walk, and you can see they love it. They eat potatoes with everything, which probably explains why they are happy and mostly friendly.

The accent is sexy and even I know how to say yeah, yeah. And that park and garden is actually pronounced with a smile and more open mouth so that the R sound is well … there but not there.

Parks, castles, gardens, green grass everywhere you look, it rains everyday so it’s not a surprise that everything is so green. I loved it all.

The impact of the virus was visible everywhere. Overnight stores had placed hand sanitiser at entrances for customers and there were lines at till queues indicating distancing. It’s as if they were all on the same WhatsApp group, it all changed instantly.

Places were starting to close up, either behind us or ahead of us. Schools closed and a day later all public and touristic places started closing too. It was almost time to go back to Portugal, we left on the 19th of March. I still looked at the e-ticket on my phone that we had booked for Bergamo, Italy and cried a little.

It was time to leave and we were getting nervous about places shutting down around us and our airline cancelling our flight back home. I was sad to be leaving like this, as if we were not saying goodbye properly, we didn’t do and see everything we had planned to. Still I loved my time there.

Ireland was like walking into a pop-up picture history book and that is the best way to describe it. ♥

Corona update on this day – Italy now had 41,035 confirmed cases, Ireland 557. Portugal would be in state of emergency and everything would be closed.

Slow drive south

From the north of the country we traveled slowly to the south, making our way through beautiful towns where my family lives. Stopping in different cities and spending time with family along the way. After 25 years everything is new and different and I’m enjoying everything I see. Although we had rain along the way we managed to do some sightseeing on our drives, what a beautiful country. You have to see it for yourself.

Long dinners with late nights ending in softly talking in the kitchen or the dining room until 2 A.M. no one noticed the time….

Every visit with family was filled with so much love, hugs and kisses and a lot of tears. Happy tears, we cried, or maybe I did most of the crying. On Saturday we were in church (that was probably the last or second last service before church closed down due to the virus) we were celebrating one of my cousins’ baby dedication.

This was the first announcement of the possibility of churches closing temporarily. On this day there were only 13 reported cases in Portugal, you kind of think that this is still a China problem and that everything is OK and people are just being paranoid.

So far I had been with two of my aunts, there was one missing, and then she walked into church! I was emotional and cried at every hymn and then when she walked in….well the tears were uncontrollable.

We had such an awesome reunion that day, we could not fit everyone in one photo the apartment was too small for all of us, there were people bursting from every crack in the apartment. It was beautiful, the long talks and continued laughing and old stories told by some of the best characters in the family.

I went to Portugal to experience this…this is what I longed for and missed.

It was especially rewarding to also meet some family members for the first time, cousins that have over the years married and had children that I had never met. The embraces were given as if we’d known each other all this time….I miss them all already.

We traveled south to the beautiful Algarve where hubby’s family lives. I though he had hardly any family left that we just had to see a few people and would have time for more sightseeing but it turns out there are aunts and cousins in every corner of Algarve. It was something so special, to see everyone again, every photo is a reminder of that. Just by the way, on my cell phone I have over 2 000 photos, I imagine its double on my photographers camera!

Every visit was a photo shoot and we spent the days there literally going from one table to the next – for breakfast, lunches and dinners – it was insane but so enjoyable and I loved connecting with old friends and family again.

On the 11th of March we left for Ireland.

Corona update on this day – Italy now had over 12 000 confirmed cases, Ireland 43 and Portugal 35. Some people were starting to panic just a little.

At least I got to hug her

We arrived in the north with the first visit and nights sleep in a cute little town called Joane, oh there was so much excitement at the dinner table. So much noise, the TV going, a noisy extractor fan (my cousin kept switching off but mysteriously found its way back on) the frying of bacalhau and chips and kids talking loudly while playing on their iPads. The continuous talking you hardly had time to answer one question and the next one was being asked. This is exactly what I longed for and why I wanted to be there I wanted to experience this again. I get emotional just thinking about it.

One very exciting thing was going to happen the next morning, we were picking someone up form the airport. That someone special was my sister!!! We have not seen each other since Dec 2014. We speak to each other daily, but wow, to actually see each other again after so long….I was beyond excited. Also we had a surprise for her, that’s the day we told her we coming to Italy to spend a few days with her & GC and the boys. We arrive on the 19th  ask your husband about the plans, he knows everything, we are coming to see you all in Italy.

The reason for her quick visit is a complicated thing around her driver’s license….filled with lots of bureaucracy.

Well that little bit of excitement was very short lived. Because on that very day our airline sent an email saying that flights to Italy had to be postponed or cancelled. Sadly we had to opt for the cancellation and a refund.

Corona virus was now spreading quite a bit in Italy they were not on lock-down yet, but the country was starting to suffer under this virus. Countries were not flying in to Italy to avoid the spread.

We spent a day with my sister and then she had to leave and go back home to full lock-down. To the uncertainty of what was going on back home with the number of reported cases escalating daily. The day she left, Italy had just over 3000 confirmed cases.

Our dream mini holiday in Italy was cancelled and we made plans to just come back to Portugal for more time with family after our trip to Ireland. At this point things were still pretty normal in the places we visited and we still had some touristic sightings and visits and lots of family catch ups with long lunches and dinners. Anything that involved lots of food, laughter and love.

At least I got to hug her ♥

A travel diary

I don’t know how to start this story, I just know that it has a few parts to it that need to be broken down a bit. By now a few people have written about living in a time of the coronavirus – the lock-downs, the self-isolation and the quarantine. My story is about my observation as a traveler during this time.

We holiday a lot back home but stamps on my passport are scarce – this is my story and travel diary –

I was last in Portugal in May 1995. At that time I had two babies in my arms both in nappies. I was on maternity leave of my second child and when we came back home a month later maternity leave was over and I was back at work.  And just like that 25 years later I was finally going on my dream trip to Portugal. I just wanted to visit my aunties (my dad’s sisters) I was so excited that I think I started packing end of January.

In February I was surprised with a visit from something called shingles!!! And to add to that I also contracted tick bite fever. I have no idea how I got either one of them, and the doctor actually said stop thinking about it. Stop trying to figure it out, what matters is that we have the blood results; you now have the correct medication and you will be fine. At one stage I really thought I was dying and that I would not make this trip at all. I cried in-between fever sweats and lay awake at night sweating and thinking that maybe I should plan my own funeral. Just in case…it was that bad 😦

It was a terrible month. But I did recover and I did get better and the planning and packing continued. I was most excited because no one knew we were coming. Some of my cousins found out in the middle of the month of February, I told five of them about our arrival date, and five might sound like a good amount of people knowing but in a large family like ours that is nothing!

My sister in law found out about our arrival the day we were leaving SA. At the airport after checking in we sat down for lunch and then we made a video. She received this with photos of our bags being wrapped and put on airport scales. Photos of boarding passes and us standing next to check-in counters. I was excited for us and excited for them!!! It was such a good feeling doing that video, sending it to her and saying; Hi, we coming, we will see you Sunday night at around dinner time. But don’t cook we going out for dinner, a place has been booked. Just give us a bed and a good Portuguese breakfast the day after.

And that she did.

We left SA on the 2nd of March for Portugal, on to Ireland, Italy, and then back to Portugal and finally back home to land in SA on the 25th.

Phew that’s a lot of places in such a short time, we were a bit stretched but the adventurous spirit was larger than life.

So exciting I cant even !!!!!!!!!! ♥

Silver anniversary

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9 October 1990

October is a pretty month, the weather is good and the city turns a beautiful light purple because of the Jacaranda trees, there’s a wonderful smell in air, it’s sweet and fragrant especially at night and the air has a magical feel to it.

This year October is extra special because my bear and I celebrate our wedding anniversary, our 25th silver anniversary! Three cheers to me because I have worked the hardest….raising two mischievous very busy sometimes naughty little boys and then a third one – my biggest and oldest child requiring more adult supervision than the other two a.k.a. my husband.  Ok, ok three cheers to both of us 😀

We committed to the insanity, refusing to give up on each other. And I know we are not a dying breed, there are so many special couples around us celebrating longer years together. But I feel that this really is something special for us, almost like we are the only ones.  A silver anniversary to be celebrated and rightly so!  Spending a quarter of a century with one person must be celebrated with a really special occasion and we are sooo doing that. We deserve it.

On the 10th of October we are taking a little trip, it’s something we have not done for ourselves in all the years together. We never really went overseas, I’m purposely not counting the trip together to Portugal in 1995, that was oh so long ago.  Yes there were many holidays here in SA and Mozambique and such awesome weekends away too but these always involved family, the boys, and extended family, sometimes with friends and sometimes with the camera club.  We managed to escape once or twice just on our own too for those ‘dirty little weekends’ 🙂 but no big trips for only two.

Looking back I know we were spoilt, we have made such amazing memories. Our home is filled with little curios gifts, souvenirs & things, shells, bottles and frames from those special holidays.  There are numerous albums and envelopes full of photos, boxes overflowing with slides and there must be millions of digital photos at home…

So blessed, we have truly been blessed in our marriage, I have felt God’s hand & guiding all the time, His presence was always near.

So this month we are doing something extra special just the two of us and I’m dying with excitement I can’t wait to arrive at the airport.  A little trip to an exotic island off the coast of East Africa  ♥♥  to celebrate relax and love. We deserve this.

Hello Zanzibar, jambo, we are coming!!

 

PS:   this was our wedding song, our first dance. I know he remembers this because every time we hear it, if it plays on the radio or somewhere he smiles and always holds my hand

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you, George Benson