First of many fantastic evenings with friends in the bush!!!…No bag yet…

Don and Rita toasting the occasion.

Last night, it was cold and dark on the veranda at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, but the seven of us weren’t hindered at all by the weather. The food and service, as always, were superb, and the companionship was over the top. Finally, Kathy and I were together once again and well as my friend Rita.

The three of us girls sat at one end of the table, and the boys, Tom, Don, Gerhard, and their friend from Germany, Achim, came to visit them for a few weeks. It was a celebration of Gerhard’s birthday. He doesn’t care for cake, but Dawn and Lyn had decorated the table for the occasion.

Rita, Kathy, and me at the end of the table on the veranda.

Our gift to Gerhard? Four bales of prepaid Lucerne from Daisy’s Den, to be delivered whenever he and Rita decide.  On Wednesday, we stopped to purchase the bales, seeds for Frank and The Misses, hornbills, and a big bag of sweet potatoes for the wildlife. We included the receipt for the Lucerne in the birthday card with a note explaining the gift, included with Daisy’s Den’s business card, making the ordering as easy as a quick phone call.

Now, as I type this, we hear the funny little chirping of the mongoose who’ve arrived in a small band. Tom raced indoors to get his leftover rib bones from last night’s dinner. Mongooses are carnivores, and they like bones, but hilariously, they try to crack them open on big rocks in an attempt to get to the marrow. It’s rather funny to watch.

Tom, Gerhard, and Achim to the right. Happy birthday, Gerhard!

As for last night’s get-together, the conversation was delightful among the group as a whole and in the male and female groups. We had so much catching up to do after being gone for four weeks. It was wonderful to be back with our friends once again.

Kathy and Don are hosting a goodbye get-together this upcoming Wednesday at their riverfront bush home. We’re bringing our meat, the dessert; apple crisp served warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Rita’s bringing the salad, and Kathy and Don will host the side dishes.  We all bring our beverages, which makes hosting a dinner party so much easier when planned this way.

Kathy and Don each ordered the jumbo prawns.

Today, another cool day with sunshine that will hopefully warm the day soon, we’ll stay in. I have to get back to work on post corrections which I’ve ignored for the past week. This morning upon arising very early, I got to work organizing things around the house.

Before we’d left, I filled a large tote with items I’d planned to go through once we returned, mostly old clothes I had to consider giving the heave-ho. It felt good to empty this huge container and make the proper decisions about disposing of old worn-out items. Also, I did three more loads of laundry, hung them on the clothes rack, and started chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner, homemade taco salad.

This is Gerhards’ eisbein, a huge pork knuckle.

Since those flat little taco seasoning packets contain wheat and tons of chemicals, I found a good low-carb recipe for taco seasoning. It took only five minutes to measure and put together the various spices and shake them until blended. Soon, I’ll cook the big package of mince (90% hamburger meat) in a large pot atop the stove, adding the spices after the meat is cooked and drained.

While we were in the US, both of us enjoyed taco salads, which aren’t necessarily available in South Africa, other than in such big cities as Johannesburg or Cape Town. When making these salads, we don’t use prepackaged grated cheese, which also is infused with chemicals. Here’s an article on why pre-shredded grated cheese is not worth eating.

Now, I have to finish working on dinner and then get to work on corrections. In the meantime, I’m on hold with United Airlines for the 10th time to find out where our bag is and when it will be delivered since it didn’t arrive yesterday as promised. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow! Have a pleasant Saturday!

Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2020:

From the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #130.A surprising close-up of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar. For more, please click here.

An evening in a traditional Irish pub…Will this be our standard Saturday night dining experience?…Tomorrow, Part 2*…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…

On the way to the pub, we stopped for a photo of this which I believe is pheasant.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated grandly in Ireland. People eat traditional Irish food, which includes beer, pink bacon, and savory chicken.

*Part 2…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…will continue in tomorrow’s post.  

Today, to break up the seriousness of Irish history, we are excited to share our first night in a traditional Irish pub with excellent meals options. The atmosphere is delightful, the staff friendly and helpful, and the ambiance of patrons stopping in for an ale and a chat depicts the image I had in mind.

The patio at Tigh Mheaic.  We commented that we doubt diners would sit outdoors in such excellent weather even when the weather warms up by a few degrees during the slightly warmer summer months. 

We were in a traditional Irish pub while on a cruise from Harwich, England, to Boston, Massachusetts (USA), which had a few ports of call in Ireland along the way.

In September 2014, we’d met several couples on board, and eight of us took a van from the ship to the town to check out a few pubs and shops. It was on that cruise that we visited Blarney Castle. For photos on this port of call visit, please click here.  

Tom had previously kissed the “Blarney Stone” during his two previous visits to Ireland before we met, once with a girlfriend at the time and the second time with his dear mom, Mary Lyman who passed away in 2008, months from her 99th birthday. When we were there in 2014, we didn’t kiss the stone when we’d read that mischief-makers peed on it after dark.  

Note the vines growing on the outside of their building.  Quite impressive.

Tom took all of his accrued vacation time, 28 days, to take his mother to the Vatican to see the Pope, tour Italy to end up touring Ireland based on their solid Irish history. It was this story that made me fall in love with him.  

I figured any son who’d use his entire year’s vacation to take his mother (just prior to her going totally blind) to fulfill her dreams was definitely my kind of man.  He humbly told me this story on our first date in June 1991, when I’d invited him to my home for dinner. 

He hated the food I’d made but he didn’t complain at the time: grilled Cajun swordfish, grilled baby asparagus, and couscous, none of which he eats. He didn’t care for the Cabernet Sauvignon I served since he’s not a wine drinker.  He did enjoy the Creme Brulee I’d made for dessert.

Hmmm…we’ve seen this sign at locations throughout the world.

I realize I’ve told this story in a previous post. But, I was entrenched in the story of taking his mother to see the Pope and visit Ireland. However, after 2,479 posts as of today, it’s easy for me to tell a story I’ve said in the past.  

When I do retell a story in a post, I’m always aware it’s a repeated story, but I also realize we always have a flow of new readers from all over the world that may not have seen the previous story.

Last night’s drinks and dinner at Fáilte go Tigh Mheaic, which the locals shorten to Tigh Mheaic. The pronunciation of this name is tricky. Next time, we’ll ask for clarification. The Irish language is exceedingly difficult for us foreigners to grasp including pronunciation and meanings.

The design and decor of the bar depict precisely what one would envision for a small-town pub in Ireland.

As I am writing today’s post with Irish news on the TV in the background, a news story that unfolded was how the audience for the traditional Irish pub is going by the wayside. These pubs used to be packed with heavy drinkers and loads of merriment and conversation, on occasion rowdy behavior.

The young generation of today has little interest in hanging out in a bar.  Instead, they spend time in more sophisticated nightclubs packed with people their own age.  

We, old-timers, easily recall years of great times we had hanging out in a bar, meeting people, and at times, developing romantic relationships, as was the case with Tom and me. We met in a bar in Bloomington, Minnesota, 28 years ago.

Eventually, we moved into the dining room to dine.

There may still be a few diehards for the locals who stop at a pub after work or in the evening, but they are not as prevalent as they were in the past. My vision of dozens of people clamoring at the bar, engaged in lively chatter, may not be a reality after all, especially in this low population area.

Carna, where the bar/restaurant has a population of only. From this site: “There are currently 178 people living in Carna Village, but 1,786 people live in the townlands around Carna and the Iorras Aithneach area. The entire huge area of Connemara only has a total population of 32,000. The population dramatically dropped from the previous average of 8000 before the Great Famine.”

With this low population and the risk of causing injury or death on the narrow winding roads to oneself and others, excessive drinking makes no sense at all in this area or any area for that matter. Undoubtedly, over the years, this fact has added to the lack of interest by the locals and tourists in “barhopping” or in “hanging out” at one location.

This taxidermy which we’re not fond of in general reminded us of the antelope heads at Jabula Lodge, our favorite restaurant in Marloth Park.

Speaking of drinking, last night for the first time in 3½ months I had two glasses of an excellent Malbec.  Of course, after not drinking for so long, I felt a little tipsy but I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious wine.

Nonetheless, we had a lovely evening. After a while, we left the bar to enter the adjacent dining room to order our dinner. The food was fresh and filled with local flavor. We both had grilled scallops, Tom’s with salad, chips (fries) and mine with veg and salad. Tom gave me his salad as he often does.

The bill was much higher than we’re used to after living in South Africa for 15 months. Our bill before the tip was Euro 89.03, US 99.73.  Had I not ordered the entire bottle of wine, the bill would have been about Euro 78, US 87.41, by ordering just the two glasses separately. I won’t do this again. Plus, Tom left a cash tip of Euro 15, US $16.81, making our total for the evening Euro 104.50, US $117.06. We aren’t thrilled paying this much to dine out once a week.

We thought there’s be entertainment at this tiny stage, but none started while we were there.  A handcrafted sailboat replica occupies the space between stage performances.

We brought home the remainder of the bottle with more than half remaining.  According to this site, a typical bottle of wine contains five glasses at 150 ml, 5 ounces each.  For my first wine since the cardiac bypass surgery, I wanted to make sure I controlled the size of my servings which, in some locations, they pour too much, more than I’d wish to.

Today, cool and cloudy, we’ll stay put, make a lovely Sunday dinner, and settle back doing a “bunch of nothing” which is quite enjoyable from time to time.

May you do the same today.

Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2018:

The view from the restaurant, aptly named, Aamazing River View located in Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.