Wednesday, July 30, 2014

IRELAND! part two: "She Was Fine When She Left Here"

During our first few days in Belfast we walked all over.  We discovered downtown, city hall, the various parks, Queens University, and the shipyards where the Titanic was built.
We managed to make our way to the Ulster Museum where we saw an interesting exhibit on the art of the troubles.  I'm only still just learning about what happened during the troubles (outside of what I was taught in school) so Roibeard had to help explain a few of the pieces, but I am still so glad that we went.  Even though the imagery depicts a violent and hurtful past it is good to see that negative energy used through artwork instead of being used to harm other people or to get revenge.  I also think it's an important way of documenting the city's past.
On a lighter note, the grounds outside of the museum were absolutely beautiful and perfect for frolicking.  It was a bit chilly a lot of the time, but I have to say that overall we were quite lucky in terms of the weather.  I was worried it was going to be non-stop rain, but there was only the odd shower here and there.

Our walk led us down to Queen's Quay which borders the River Lagan in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast.  It was here where I was able to marvel at the enormous Samson and Goliath.  The cranes are located in the shipyard of Harland and Wolff.  Goliath was constructed first in 1969 and Samson in 1974.  I have been told that they are still in use today.


Due to time we were unable to go into the Titanic Museum.  Even so, just walking along the Titanic Quarter was interesting enough on its own!
Oh oh!  Down by the shipyards we found a film studio!  I was told it's where they film Game of Thrones, which I have never actually was still cool to see all of the props! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NES outing

Hi everyone!  Let me introduce you to NES.  NES is our 7 year old shorthaired grey and white kitty.  He is the most loving and calm cat you will ever meet.  He is so sweet and even tempered that I'm convinced he could make even the nastiest cat haters love him. 
NES was born on the south side of Chicago.  His owner didn't want him (or any of his siblings) and threatened to throw them in the trash.  I rescued this little one (and his brother and sister who live in California) from an awful and certain death.  He has lived with me in Detroit and San Diego and now we're back in his home town of Chicago.

When we moved here, we were without jobs and needed to quickly find an apartment, so we settled for a quaint little studio.  Although the place isn't without its charm it is rather small for NES to run around. I know it's temporary until our lease is up, but sometimes I feel so bad having him cooped up in here.  So, to help him get his exercise and give him some fresh air, Roibeard and I have been taking him out on walks every few weekends. 
There is only one problem...he HATES being outside.  He is terrified of the outside world.  We take him in the courtyard because it's quiet and there are always very few people around.  Still, he is one major fraidy cat.  All he wants is to be back inside.  All we want is for him to happily frolic and enjoy the sunshine for a bit.
The thing is though...the second he actually gets back inside...he cries to go back out!!!  After the fact he convinces himself that he had a grand old time.
Don't let the eyes fool you...he is secretly loving this.

Monday, July 14, 2014

IRELAND! part 1 belfast: arrival

Yay!  Ireland!  Yes, that's right!  After over a year of planning Roibeard and I finally made it to Ireland.  The trip was partly to meet his family, partly to look for wedding locations, and partly a vacation.  All around though it was amazing.  Too cheesey?  Too bad.
Since we were there for two weeks and took sooooo many photos I am going to share these with everyone (with anyone?  hello?  anyone?)  over the course of a few installments.
I have to admit that before I visited, when I pictured it in my mind my fiancé was from Hobbiton. That's right, complete with little cottages under green hills, music and dancing every night, the occasional dragon slaying, and breakfast, elevensies, afternoon tea, lunch, dinner, supper.....
As the trip got closer Roibeard became increasingly worried of my askew fantasies.  First of all, not only was the Hobbit not a work of Irish literature, but also he grew up in gritty Belfast during the tale end of the troubles.  He feared that I would be greatly disappointed when I got there.
The thing he wasn't taking into consideration was that I was experiencing this city for the first time.  Each day was unique and special to me.  I loved and cherished every moment of it and helped him to see around the troubled past of his city and through the eyes of an outsider.


1) One of our first days in Belfast we took a trip to city hall.  It's one of our wedding location ideas.  (Basically if we can't afford a castle, this is our back up).  You can't see the building much, but I like that Roibeard looks so natural here. 
2) We came across this brightly painted gazebo just outside of city hall.  I liked the way it looked against the grey feel of the city.
3 & 4) Roibeard and I playing on a music installation downtown.  Not all of the "keys" worked, but it was fun to hop around and add to the urban sounds around us.
5)Bigfish mosaic sculpture on Donegall Quay.  The scales are covered in newspaper clippings, text, and images that relate to Belfast history.
6) We found an old telephone box while exploring and had some fun with it.  I'm pretty sure now a days it is used as a toilet.
7) Mural from the New Lodge area.  I found some of these murals to be so haunting.
8) More murals from Now Lodge.  Roibeard used to play in this area when he was a boy.  He told me so many wonderful stories of him and his "gang" running around these streets as children...up to no good, of course.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Green City Farmer's Market

Today is my day off.  This is important because I don't get many days off, so I when I do get a day off I need to take advantage of it.  Unfortunately this usually means waking up early to have a meaningful adventure with Roibeard before he himself has to get to work (what's even more rare than a day off is a day that we both have off...).  So far we have near failed at the farmer's market two weeks in a row.  The market is only open until 1 PM on Wednesdays and both times we have arrived after noon.  Last week was even more awkward as we assumed we would find a bank on the way (we didn't) and arrived with no cash.  That's right, we were the jerk eating all of the free samples and not buying anything.  This week we were a little better off as we brought cash, but the vendors were closing up about 15 minutes after we arrived.  Still, we managed to pick up a bunch of Kale, some delicious cherries, and two types of fancy cheese.  I love cheese.  Oh!  Also, I got a delicious crepe with organic honey.  Mmmmmm. 

Moving on, I was so happy to have a chance to wear my long vintage dress and floral hat.  I can't really wear these things at work because they would be covered in coffee within seconds if I did.   Also, I have to say that while I felt right at home in my flower child attire in California I feel a bit odd wearing it here in Chicago.  I don't mean that I get strange looks or anything, (okay, maybe I get a few looks, but most people compliment me) but I feel out of place with the big city as my back drop.  Especially when I'm in the subway stations.  A dress like this needs hills and the ocean!