Monday, October 12, 2009

And we're back...!

I realize it's been a donkey's age since Luke or I updated the blog, but, at the request of Uncle Brian Faulkner, we've resurrected it! High fives all around, right?!
I think I'll start at the beginning of the year... makes sense, no?

For my 30th birthday in February, Luke arranged for two of my best friends to surprise me with a visit to Dublin. Everyone managed to keep the secret from me for almost a year. There was incredible stealth involved and I was well pleased to find the two of them sitting at one of our locals (The Gingerman) on the Saturday afternoon. We kissed the Blarney Stone, walked out on Finn McCool's pathway to Scotland, sang karaoke in Dublin, danced our feet off in a night club in Killarney, ate Irish stew, teared up at a proper traditional music session, had a pint in Belfast, drank coffee while watching seals in the harbour in Howth, befriended numerous animals (dogs and horses mainly), climbed Bray Head, circled the Ring of Kerry and drained many a pint. Needless to say, it was the best birthday I've ever had, surrounded by people that love me (how will Luke top that next year.....?).

In March Luke and I went to London for a weekend to visit some people that we had met in Lagos, Portugal when we were on our honeymoon, and to celebrate his birthday. We kept in contact via email and Facebook over the years and finally we all decided that it was time to catch up. We flew in the Friday night and stayed with a Polish girl (woman?) we had met. She was kind enough to meet us at the tube station and take us out for a night on the town with her friends. The next day we met up with a lovely couple we had met - she's from South Africa and he's from Ballycastle, Ireland. They met us at their local tube station and took us out to Borough Market for the day. That night we went out for amazing Thai food and hit their local pub. The next day they took us to one of Gordon Ramsay's pubs for a posh and leisurely lunch to celebrate Luke's birthday. After that, Luke and I were on the plane back to Dublin.

In May Angel Pier played a festival in Brighton so we popped on a plane to London after work on the Friday and arrived in Brighton by train at about 10pm. We went out with the drummer and his girlfriend and enjoyed the gayest town in Britain (it's true!). Next day Luke and I got up early and went to Brighton Pier where we had a coffee and just enjoyed the sights. Hadn't ever seen anything like that. It was like stepping back in time. Around midday Luke had to head to the venue so I met up with Claire (the drummer's girlfriend) and we walked along the beach, took photos, enjoyed the glorious weather and then went to the venue for the first gig (2pm). Once that was over, the gang of us headed to the area of the next venue and hung out on the streets (The place was mad because of the festival. Everyone and their mother was out having fun and enjoying the music and food). After the gig we got everyone together and went out for a gargle. Next day we got up and hopped on the train back to London and then on the plane back to Dublin.

July! We went to Naples and the Amalfi Coast for a little over a week, which was amazing. We arrived in Naples and headed to the apartment we rented. We arrived late afternoon so we settled in and then set out to acquaint ourselves with the area, and then on to dinner at a restaurant that we had been told has the best pizza in Naples. For those of you that don't know, Naples is the pizza capital therefore pizza is a must if you ever go there. Personally, I would recommend the mixed seafood pizza. Deliziosa! After dinner we wandered around in the warm air and ended up at a bar that was overflowing with locals. We ordered refreshments (I had a local wine recommended by the woman at the bar) and headed outside to enjoy the atmosphere. We then headed back to the apartment and went to bed - to be rudely woken by the loudest thunder we had ever heard in our lives. We would have sworn that Vesuvius was erupting! The rain was hitting the window so hard we thought the glass was breaking. Luke got up to make sure it wasn't and discovered that the kitchen was flooded. The water was coming in under the door! He fought to get the water back outside while I watched, afraid of the storm (there was only one broom, folks). We ended up staying up from about 3am until sunrise when the rain finally ceased and the sun came out. We figured that since we were up we would just get dressed and head out into the city to enjoy it before everyone else gets up. I have to say that it was incredible to see a big, bustling city so silent. It was about 5:30am so not much was open, but we wandered down to the port where we found a cafe open for the port workers. We sipped an espresso while overlooking the massive boats and enjoyed the silence.

July continued........
Luke and I were out one Friday night at a leaving party for one of Luke's co-workers when I received a voicemail (it was loud at the bar!) from Aunt MJ. To my surprise, she and Uncle Mike were in Dublin and wanted to meet for breakfast the next morning. I rang her back (I'm sorry it was so late MJ, but I was VERY excited to hear from you!). We planned to have brekkie at 11 (if I remember correctly). I walked to their hotel, which just happened to be about 10 minutes from our apartment! to meet them. We wandered to Grand Canal Dock where we had a delicious meal. It was so great to catch up with them and spend one on one time. Never happens, as you can imagine!

Jason and Jen came to Dublin the next day (we knew this - it was all planned in advance) so we all went to the zoo for the afternoon. The boys were darlings and walked for hours like little troopers. The weather cooperated, surprisingly, so it was a wonderful time. J & J were then kind enough to include us in their dinner plans. We had gorgeous pub grub at the oldest pub in Dublin (now, folks, in Ireland children are welcome in an establishment like this - it's not so much a watering hole as it is a landmark). After dinner Jen took the kids back to the hostel so that Jason could come out for the night. Conor Breslin joined us as well, which was fantastic. Jason hadn't seen him since he was here last which was, emmm, about a gazillion years previous. It was great to see them catch up. We met near our apartment and had a few drinks there before heading to the local (Pearse Tavern) for a few jars of the black stuff. Needless to say, it was a late night! Fair play to Jen for being so thoughtful and allowing us all to spend quality time! * It must be said that J & J are inspiring as parents and as a couple. They are extremely family oriented and responsible yet they have also managed to maintain their 'cool' factor, which I think is awesome. *
On to August! My parents (the best in the world, I might add...) flew into Dublin. Luke met them in town upon their arrival (around 11am) and gave them the keys and alarm code for our apartment where they had a nap. I left work at 1pm and anxiously headed home. As I turned the corner onto my street I saw a familiar form on my front step. It was my DAD! He was reading and having a coffee all rooster-haired from his kip. I was elated! I popped down beside him and shortly thereafter my MOM came out to join us. I wish I always came home to find them there, I have to be honest. We all headed up to Donegal later in the afternoon to meet up with the Faulkner/Breslin clan. Carmel had organized a family reunion of sorts up at The North Pole. She even organized a bus to pick us all up from Letterkenny Golf Club. Walking into the clubhouse was like walking back into Canada. I couldn't believe it. We all had a drink and then hopped on the bus. Off to the North Pole we went! The turnout was incredible. People that haden't seen eachother in days, weeks, months, and even years. To say it was a magical night would be an understatement. There were hugs and kisses, a warm atmosphere, music, and pints a plenty. There was a lot of love in that room. At the end of the night we said our goodbyes (we had to be dragged out of there and herded onto the bus - no one wanted to go home!). Mickey and Emma were kind enough to put Mom, Dad, Luke and I up in their house (brave!). The remainder of the weekend flew with the fun. More hugs and kisses, a beautiful dinner lovingly put together by Emma (who was assisted by numerous members of the group, namely Sean who learned how to make samosas that night - there are photos to prove it! - well done Seano!). Unfortunately Luke and I had to head back to Dublin for the work week, but my folks drove out to Dublin the following Thursday to pick us up and bring us to Ballyliffen where they were renting a house with Brian and Carmel. The place was incredible. Right beside the beach which we all walked on (and Luke and I swam in!). We hit golf balls (well, I missed more than I hit, but that's not the point, right?!?), had dinner at a lovely wee place with the North Pole crew, saw some beautiful scenery and even pet donkeys!. Of course, Luke and I had to head back to Dublin again for work... arg (but we headed home in style - my parents flew us from Derry!). The following weekend we were all in Glen Colm Kill for the fiddle festival. Breathtaking is not the word. The town was tiny, but the craic was enormous! We stayed in a cottage with coin-operated electricity that overlooked the ocean, just past the field full of mother cows and their beautiful wee calves. We had a BBQ, listened to Emma fiddle away and took a windswept walk on the beach. At the end of the weekend my parents came back to Dublin with us for the balance of their stay. The last Friday of their visit we all (including some of the Canadians and Irish) attended a The Angel Pier show at Whelans which was great fun. Sadly, my parents had to leave at the end of the weekend, but they reassured me that we'll see them sooner than we think (and I know that's true - they're here more often that Luke and I visit home!).

That brings me to October. Luke and I went to Warsaw to spend time with his brother, Damien, sister-in-law Laura and their beautiful baby Zoe. We brought friends with us for the craic and enjoyed a weekend packed full of family and great fun.

Now you're up to speed on things here. Luke and I are both still working, thankfully. Fortunately the recession has not hit us horribly. We've been able to continue enjoying ourselves, saving, and just generally living as we always have. We're now two weeks away from our next adventure, which is a two week trip to Thailand. We can hardly believe we're actually going there. We just decided a couple of months ago that it's something we really want to do, so we did it! Luke has a mandatory two week slot that he has to take off so we figured we might as well take advantage of the length of time and go far, far away! We'll be visiting Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Krabi and Phi Phi Island and we can't wait. We've booked ourselves in some very posh hotels for a change (we always stay in hostels but figure that we would splurge since everything is so cheap there - it's not actually splurging, you know?). Roof top pool in Bangkok, beachfront hut in Phi Phi, hotel and spa in Chiang Mai. Elephant trekking, a thai cooking course, temples, a visit to a tiger sanctuary where you can actually PET the tigers.... it'll be amazing and I'll tell you guys all about it once we're back!

Phew..... I did it. I caught you up!

I hope you enjoyed the trip down my memory lane and I promise to keep it up!

I love you all!
Photos will be on the next entry!