Glynn and I returned to New Zealand last week and I'm busy settling back into reality after a very enjoyable time in Ireland and a stop in Paris and London on the way home. What a great way to spend Christmas - the northern hemisphere way. It was Glynn's first time home for Christmas in three years and we enjoyed a lovely relaxing time with his family in County Wicklow, with some day trips into Dublin to shop along Grafton and Henry Streets and see some sights.
(Baile Átha Cliath is the most common irish name for Dublin which means 'The Town of the Ford of the Reed Hurdles' - which is the name of the early settlement which joined with Blackpool also known as Dubh Linn in irish - to become the city of Dublin)
Glynn's mum is a great cook and our large Christmas dinner, complete with turkey and ham, plus dessert of Christmas pudding, trifle, brandy cream, custard and cream was eaten in stages. Food, drink and good conversation was a real focus of the day, and we enjoyed a lovely French wine Glynn's dad had saved for the occasion called Chateauneuf du Pape, made from four different grape varieties. Other food highlights included a Christmas eve meal with a beautiful port, some salmon, trout caught and smoked by Glynn's dad, and some Spanish treats, including manchego cheese. I ate so much food, and spent a large amount of time sitting in front of a roaring fire, so have great memories to bring home, and all the new year resolutions required to get back in shape.
In between Christmas and New Year Caroline, Alan, Glynn and I went to Glendalough which is an old monastic site in the Wicklow Mountains, about 40 mins drive from Kilquade. It was also the site of lead mines and was one of Glynn's climbing haunts. Spot the perfect round tower in the picture below in amongst all the amazing winter colours, and in the picture to the right St Kevin's bed which he made for himself to meditate and look out over the lake before founding the monastry in the 6th Century. It was once Ireland's largest religious university, but like Clonmacnoise was destroyed in 1398 by English troops.
What a great way to start the year and thanks to Alan and Caroline for having me stay and making me feel so welcome. Happy New Year everyone!