Pub Crawl Failure – My First Taste Of Guinness

I’m a woman who believes in marking an occasion and while I’m not a big drinker, when I learned I’d be spending a weekend in Dublin, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to have my first taste of Guinness in the place it originated. I spotted the sign above on the day we arrived and briefly and I do mean briefly, considered doing the tour, but decided since alcohol consumption was the implied expectation, I’d be a dismal failure.

We squeezed in loads of sightseeing during our Dublin experience, but it wasn’t until our last day that I had an occasion to make good on my plan to have a taste of Guinness. By Sunday afternoon we were trying to find a pub with live Irish music for David and a Guinness for me. Michael was happy leaving the choice to us and having read the reviews for the Oliver St. John Gogarty pub, we chose it for a late afternoon rest stop.

It was our only pub visit and as it turns out, the best choice I think we could have made. Having researched the man the pub is named for, I discovered Oliver St. John Gogarty was the contemporary of a many literary figures of his day and served as the inspiration for several important characters as this snippet from Wikipedia revels ” His most famous literary incarnation, however, is as Buck Mulligan, the irrepressible roommate of Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s Ulysses.”

I left the pub that evening assuming he’d been a publican, but discovered later that he was medical doctor, published author, playwright, and poet who was involved in Ireland’s fight for independence along with Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. 

The Gogarty pub was so much more than I’d expected and the music and atmosphere alone would have made it worth talking about, but the fish and chips … were the best I’ve ever eaten! The tartar sauce alone was good enough to make a southern woman weep.

There’s a saying I’ve heard somewhere that goes like this, “Southerners like to think that God invented fish just so there’d be a vehicle to eat tartar sauce.” Can anybody help me out with the proper quote and the origin? It sounds like something Paula Dean would say.

You can see the musicians in the distance by the windows. They provided a perfect accompaniment to the fun we had and I was well pleased with the whole experience especially the one in the photo below.

You must know by now that I like to document a lot of my expat experiences and having a taste of Guinness in Ireland is worth a snap or two. I’d heard a great deal about the taste and what to expect and I was prepared to find it too strong based on its consistency and color, but I thought tasted a bit like coffee in a way only sweeter than the black coffee I drink. It was heavier than a regular beer and felt richer like a milk smoothy in a health food bar.

While I photographed a pint, I only drank a half. That’s me as you can see having my first taste. I look a little apprehensive, but I was all smiles later. Remember … I barely drink so a few sips in and I was feeling it.

There’s one last thing I wanted to share about Gogarty and it was one I would not have expected. When his return to Ireland was delayed by WWII after completing a lecture tour in the United States, Gogarty applied for and was granted American citizenship and spent most of the rest of his life in New York where he wrote for a living after giving up medicine.

So while we skipped the literary pub crawl and our consumption of Guinness was pretty limited, we still managed to choose the one pub with something for all three of us. Without knowing the history of the man that Gogarty’s was named for, it seems a happy coincidence that a doctor (David), a published author (Michael), and a (now) Guinness loving expat (me), chose this pub to round out our Dublin experience.

Until next time … Cheers!

Photowalking Through Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green

Photowalking - spellcheck is screaming red warnings that this is not one word, but two that I’m squeezing together to suit myself. A quick Google check reveals that there are groups of people who write it this way all the time so lets ditch the classroom now and move onto the green.

St Stephen’s Green is right across the street from the Fitzwilliam Hotel where we stayed a few weeks ago during our visit to Dublin. The main entrance can be seen in the photo above. The world outside the gates is a busy one with shoppers, cars, and buses all rushing past the edges of St Stephen’s. Inside the park, there are 22 acres to explore, use for exercise, or just rest a while.

David and I did a bit of all three during our Sunday photowalk and it was interesting to see the different things that caught our eye. Obvious to us both when we began was the man who was hand feeding the swans and ducks. After snapping more than a few photos from across the lake, I tried to creep up undetected so I could get close enough to grab a tight image of his hands near the swans.

These are still a bit fuzzy for me, but interestingly I discovered he was talking to the birds as he fed them and when he spotted me hanging around he had a few words for me too.

You can see him waving his hands while telling them what I think was something like, ‘That’s it, no more for today!’ I could hear him saying a few words I recognized, like Mr. and Mrs., but the rest of it was in another language.

After telling the birds goodbye, he turned to me and began to try to explain how he came here everyday to feed the birds. He had very limited English skills, but managed to communicate by way of the months of the year touching his fingers in the same way you might list numbers, that he came very day to feed the birds. I also picked up the word Hungary making me think he was speaking mostly Hungarian which explained our strained verbal exchange.

While I was having a chat of sorts with the very nice bird man, David was taking pictures of me. This was one of my favorites. My friend Patrice said it captures my spirit, but it also shows me wearing my glasses. It’s the rare photo that slips through where I’m actually wearing them as my vain self tends to snatch them off now if I see a camera pointed at me. This never used to be an issue for me as I’ve worn them to see distance since my mid 30s. (There’s a funny story in that which I may share later)

David snapped this one of me hanging over the fencing with my camera around the monument below.

This is the photo I took from my draped fence position. I love to remember that changing the perspective can affect the whole look of something. In this case, I was more interested in the signs of season change coming and the flowers beginning to bloom than I was with the monument of Sir Authur Guinness.

The wild branches of this tree drew me into to this shot just as I imagine it did for the couple sitting on the bench together.

There’s a center part of this park with fountains and wide open places for sitting and watching children while they play or pushing them in strollers (pushchairs) while talking with friends. At least that’s where my imagination went when we walked into this space. I noticed the plaque on the park bench almost immediately and went over to discover another connection to mothers and babies.

Not too long ago I read a book about horror of being put in and left a place created with an idea towards helping girls and women in need who were usually, but not always, unmarried and pregnant. It evolved to the point that a teenage girl might be locked up in a Magdalen institution for being too flirtatious or for having a contrary opinion with a church or family member. It’s a very sad story.

 David took this shot of me trying to get a different view of a bust of Irish novelist and poet, James Joyce.

I think I like him better in black and white. I was particularly interested in his rings and how he wore them on his first and second fingers.

This was my favorite view of his bust and I was glad I was able to capture the couple under his chin.

Around a corner on our way to one of the park exits, we came upon a little cottage that looked as if it belonged in a children’s fairy tale. Ardilaun Lodge was built as a home for the park superintendent by Sir Arthur Guinness who bought St Stephen’s Green from the city in a dilapidated state and re-landscaped it for public use before gifting it back to the city of Dublin.

 

I thought this tree was gorgeous and took three shots of it quickly hoping to catch the man walking towards me before he noticed what I was doing.

As you can see in the close-up of him taken from the photo above … he noticed.

Heart Chocolate – Sweet Love

Heart Chocolate - Dublin, IrelandIt doesn’t take much to make me think of my sweet husband and a weekend away in Dublin without him just before Valentine’s Day kept him ever-present in my mind.

Despite a busy schedule of seeing the sights and long talks over coffee with my friend David, I found myself imagining what it would have been like to walk the streets of Dublin with the younger version of John as he was when he lived there 40 years ago.

Staring into my ‘heart’ chocolate at a table in Bewley’s, a place that he had recommended and whose tables he sat at years before, I felt only gratitude and a kind of sweet contentment knowing he was missing me too.

Valentine’s Day is the last in our trinity of dates that bunch together at the beginning of the year and mark the anniversaries that defined our early time together. Four years ago today I stepped off an airplane to meet John face to face. Most of you know this story, but if you’re new to GOTJ, you can click on the airplane link for the full ride.

I was full of hope and romantic daydreams with a clear musical soundtrack that began and ended with this tender song of longing.

We’ll go back to Bedruthan Steps for our annual Valentine’s Day ramble and snap a photograph to mark the anniversary of our first visit there. I’ll likely add it to this post later if you’d like to come back for a look.

Chocolate Hearts For John From Dublin

Updated Post:

Here’s a couple of photos from our afternoon at Bedruthan Steps. It was so chilly we didn’t stay out long, but we had a warm drink and a flapjack afterwards and I took a photograph of John in the afternoon light that I think might become a favorite.

John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper - February 14, 2012- Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

John Winchurch - February 14, 2012

Birthday Wishes & Sage Advice

David Morris - London 2011

My dear friend David is one of my very best friends. Born five years before me, he is in many ways like the older brother I wish I’d had growing up. Interestingly we were both delivered by the same physician in the same hospital just as true siblings might have been. Part wise sage and part Santa Claus, he is generous with his gifts and a trusted friend and advisor.

Over three years ago on February 23, 2008, I sent him an email on the last day of my first visit with John. I told him all about my feelings for John and that even though it sounded crazy even to me, how I wanted to find a way to come back to him. Having a practical as well as romantic spirit, I knew he was the right person to reach out to when I was trying to decide on next steps back then.

I reread our emails from that period today and wanted to share a bit of what David said to calm my fears particularly about how fast everything was happening. Here is just a small part of what he said to me.

“Listen to your heart.

It’s a good one.

I know one when I see one.

But it is a muscle.

You do need to exercise it.

Use it.

Take a leap for good love.

For the metaphysical heart.

If you fall, all of us will welcome you and help you back on your feet.

If you succeed (and you will),

then we will all marvel at good love.

Restore our faith.

Be happy for you.

Rejoice.”

Wise words from a dear man who has had a tremendous impact on my life … all good and all so appreciated. It’s his birthday today and I was pleased to be able to share some of it this afternoon having a bit of fun and swapping stories. I wish you could have been there.

Taking The Slow Train To London

Okay, so it’s not really all that slow and I don’t mind at all because my ticket price (bought in advance) was a great deal, and I’m seated at a table with a power source for my computer. I’m taking the little netbook with me that John and I carried all over New Zealand so I can get some writing done while I’m riding.

It will be my first train trip alone since moving to the UK, but I expect it to go smoothly. We’re about four hours by car from London and the slow train takes about the same amount of time when you factor in a few stops along the way. There’s an express train if you are in a hurry, but I’ll be there in time for lunch and that’s good enough for my pocketbook.

My imagination tends to go wild when I ride the train thinking about all the people who have traveled the rails before me. One of the bloggers I read did a few posts on traveling by train in the 1940′s and has some photographs that you may find as interesting as I did if you’d care to make the trip over to her place here. She’s an American like me, who fell in love with a man far from home and now lives in the UK.

I’m off to London this morning to spend a few days with David, my dear friend and former next door neighbor. You may remember he came to visit for a few days last summer with his partner Steven. David takes amazing photographs so I’m sure it will be one big photo shoot for the two of us. I never feel as if I’ve had enough time with him since leaving Atlanta and I’m looking forward to long conversations and adding to a memory box that already has some sweet memories of good times together.

 

 

I’ve Been Here Before – St Michael’s Mount

I just spent far too long putting this post together only to have it disappear so I’m afraid you will have to make do with a shorter version as I have blackberries in the kitchen calling to me to turn them into jam.

When I knew David and Steven were coming to Cornwall, I suggested we pay a visit to St Michael’s Mount and as they were going to be here on a Sunday, we made a plan to attend the Sunday service.

To reach the church you must cross the cobblestone path you see in the photograph above.

This is easy enough as Steven demonstrates above until the tide comes in.

Here you can see the exterior of the church nestled with the castle around it. I took this on an earlier visit.

I managed to snap a discreet photo just before the service began. After the service David photographed a few of the stained glass windows with two shown below.

David is in the photo below with Marazion in the background.

Can you see the tide coming in the photograph below? People are hurrying to get across.

Below is a another look at the water and people … it’s partly under water now.

You can see a close-up of what the stone path looks like as the water spills over it. John took this of me in 2008 and I altered it a bit for this post.

Elizabeth At St Michael’s Mount – 2008

You have two ways to cross as I said earlier and this trip we came back in the boat below. I wrote a post about my first church experience at St Michael’s Mount in 2008 and thought some of you might find it interesting.

~~~~~~~

Elizabeth - August 2008

Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat

Originally posted – August 13, 2008

I have thought a good bit over the last few days about this post. What to call it and how to write it. Sometimes it can be difficult to say what is on my mind. My internal editor tends to call out from the back of the room where she sits in my head. Arms crossed over one another she has a defensive posture she likes to assume when she feels as if I’m stepping off into a place of too much controversy. She’s there now, shaking her head giving me the look that says, “ Are you sure you want to talk about this?” “ Shush, I say … get lost,” and with that I step off into the murky waters of spiritual questioning.

I don’t like church services or organized religion. I dislike anyone telling me what I must think or do in order to know God.

In England where many I’ve met consider themselves to be atheists, saying those words out loud doesn’t seem to have the same effect as it would in the bible belt part of the US where I was born. Mind you I feel that I have been to enough church services to speak from a place of experience as to why I don’t care for them. It’s pretty simple really. The only voices I hear in any house of worship are those in my head. Cynicism, skepticism, and judgement, both of others and myself tend to make so much noise that the voice of God is never present there.

So I don’t go anymore.

Recently I made an exception to my usual avoidance of church attendance when I spent an hour or so in a historic chapel attending the Sunday service. The Chapel on St. Michael’s Mount was completed in 1135, although much of it had to be rebuilt after an earthquake in 1275. I had mentioned to John that I would like to see what a service was like there when we had visited it originally a month earlier. I said it was for the experience you know … I mean how many times does one get a chance to hear scripture quoted in a place where souls have gathered for a same purpose for almost 900 years. I said I wanted to go in order to see how a Church of England service might differ from the Lutheran beliefs that I’d grown up with.

That’s what I told him and that was the truth at least in part, because the core of who I am is a woman with an insatiable curiosity. In most situations I have a strong desire to experience things firsthand, but the rest of the story is that on some level I thought in a worship service held where people have come together for hundreds of years I surely might find some whisper of God’s voice.

I wasn’t necessarily looking for direction communication as in a voice from a burning bush, but I thought just maybe …

So early one Sunday morning we made the trip to St Michael’s Mount and I took a small boat with a few strangers across the causeway. The castle and chapel are perched on an island that must be reached by boat except at low tide when a cobblestone pathway appears from the water inch by inch.

Once my feet touched dry land I was off at a brisk pace up a steep path of large uneven stones to the top of the mount to claim a seat in the tiny chapel next to the ghosts of the Benedictine Abby established on St Michael’s Mount in 966. On my way to the top I passed a group of woman who looked to be of retirement age chattering their greetings to one another and largely blocking the narrow path. “Ugh!” I thought as I nodded a tight polite smile to the four women who seemed oblivious to anyone else.

The sound of their voices stayed with me as I walked on a bit faster in an attempt to hang on to the place of stillness and contemplation I was trying to encourage in my head.

The ladies chattered on like the magpies who hang out in John’s garden as they followed behind me more quickly than I imagined they could for women with walking sticks. Suddenly, they seemed right behind me as I stood in the short aisle deciding where the best seat might be for seeing and hearing the service. Hearing them talk over the sounds of the pre-service organ music I decided on a seat as far from them as possible.

The ladies settled down as the service began and I adjusted my average-sized behind on the tiny cushion meant to provide a bit of padding. The small seats of the individual chairs were placed in tight rows possibly anticipating the crowds of people the church hoped to welcome, but the church interior remained largely empty with only fifteen to twenty people dotted round the sanctuary.

As hard as I tried to have an open mind and heart so that I might feel some spiritual connection, I could only think of the historical issues that have and still plague the religious institutions that try to minister to souls in need.

That would be me you see in the boat at the top, always questioning, but still searching. Somewhere there must be a community of people like me who are looking for something simple and honest that may only be found I think, in silence.

Don Henley, one of the members of The Eagles, a band I grew up with in the 70’s sang a song called, Sit Down You’re Rockin the Boat! These are just a couple of verses of the song so you can get the picture.

I dreamed last night

I was on the boat to heaven

By some chance

I had brought my dice along

And there I stood

And I hollered someone fade me

But the passengers they knew right from wrong

And the people all said sit down

Sit down you’re rockin the boat

The people all said sit down

Sit down you’re rockin the boat

Cause the devil will drag you under

By the sharp lapels of your checkered coat

Sit down Sit down

Sit down you’re rockin the boat

Oooh Oooh Oooh (scat)

Oooh Oooh Oooh

I suspect I’m not alone in my little boat so I’ll just keep on rowing for now.

When Friends Come To Visit Part II- Climbing Rough Tor

As I continue sharing our three-day visit with friends David and Steven, I want to show you our trip to Rough Tor. David took the photo above as we struck out for Rough Tor.

John went on with ahead with Steven while I lagged behind a bit with David as he and I took time to snap a few photos along the way. The three images below were taken by John. In the one just below you can see two tiny dots in the center. ( click to enlarge )

In the image underneath you can see the tiny dots a bit better. I am the dot on the left and David is the one on the right.

Do you recognize the pile of stones below? Oh wait, there’s someone missing … look at my border at the top and you’ll see me standing on the same pile of rocks. Steven has long appreciated that photograph and wanted his photograph taken there above all else during his visit to Cornwall. Due to the fierce wind and the slipperiness of the wet rocks he had to use another stone as a stand-in.

See the rock above David’s head (he’s in the blue jacket ) … that’s the one Steven wanted to stand on.

Even I didn’t want to risk it this time, but I did slip my shoes off to climb up on the one next to it on the back side. (two photos below) Can you see the moorland pony down left of Steven … it’s a long way down from the top of the rock. (click to enlarge)

After I slipped off my shoes, I felt much more secure climbing up the back side of the rocks below. My neglected rock climbing skills came in handy and I’m glad I was still in shape ( hah!) well, at least well enough to get as high I did below.

Yep … that’s me. The wind was wicked.

From my lofty advantage I managed to get a photo of John ( ant-sized figure in the center)  as he was taking pictures of me.

Did you find John? He’s down there with his arms outstretched. I had to step back to show you the cool impression carved out by weather on the rock .

Here’s a photo of me with Steven after I came down off the rock. I’m wet and bedraggled from wind and rain along with still being barefoot.

Steven & David

John did a bit of climbing himself.

I think by the time this one was taken John was ready to go.

I couldn’t resist finishing with David and his runaway brolly. It’s a long way down although easier than the climb up and about halfway back to the car David decided he’d had enough of the rain and decided to find his own cover. His umbrella clearly had other plans.

I’ll be back with more later if you’re interested. Sunday took us to St. Michael’s Mount for a service in a church built in the 14th century and I have some good pictures from our last day to share with you.

When Friends Come To Visit

John & Elizabeth - Bedruthan Steps - August 2010

When friends come to visit you have an opportunity to see things a bit differently than you normally might. John and I have had our picture taken here before, but only on a self-timer. When my friends David and Steven arrived last Friday from Atlanta by way of London, we had a chance to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes.

I love the picture above that Steven took of us at Bedruthan Steps. You may remember that this is the spot John took me to right after I stepped off the plane in Cornwall when we first met face to face on Valentine’s Day in 2008. Below is the picture that preceded the one above where John is looking a bit sweet and bashful.

There were a series of others like this where the spontaneity could not have been captured using the self-timer on my camera and I’m glad Steven was there to snag them. We managed to squeeze a lot of the Cornish experience into their visit beginning with a lunch of pasties made by me. David took the three pasty pictures below.

Steven & David

You can’t see it very well, but Steven and David are holding up score cards giving my pasties a 10 and a 9. They were playing around, but they did eat every bite so I think they really liked them. I also made two blackberry/apple crumbles and three blackberry cobblers along with a key lime pie. Blackberries are everywhere right now and I’ve picked over fifteen pounds so far. Most of the berries are in the freezer, but I couldn’t resist making a few sweets to share with our guests.

Photo Credit - David Morris

After lunch we were off to Lanhydrock which is our closest National Trust property and perfect for a rainy day.

Photo Credit - David Morris

If you look closely into the reflection on the silver serving dish cover, you can see me with my new camera and Steven off to the right.

After a look around for some rainy day headgear (the one David is holding won’t do at all) we take a look outside to see if the rain has slowed enough to have a walk around the grounds.

We move outside to see what we can find in the gardens around Lanhydrock.

I managed to capture this leaf and the church below with my new camera with no worries about the rain as it’s waterproof, a valuable quality when living in a country where we don’t let a little rain keep us inside. (Panasonic DMC-TS2)

David is using his new Canon G11 which is the other camera I wanted. ( I know … I’m greedy when it comes to camera gear.)

Only one more shot and we’re off to our next location.

If you come back tomorrow, I’ll show you more of our journey around Cornwall.