What’s missing?…How can we stay entertained and engaged?…

Ruins of a castle on the drive to Balleyconneely.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland is home to what could be the oldest pub in the world. It was opened in
900 AD.”

It would be unrealistic to say we find a level of contentment in every country we visit. It seems the determining factor is how well we can entertain ourselves when we feel like being considered.

Unfortunately, here in Ireland, we’re stuck indoors most days with the cool, windy, and rainy weather. Each sunny day, we can’t get out the door quickly enough to explore, take photos and reach a destination we’re curiously seeking.

Seagulls on the craggy rocks in Balleyconneely.

We’ve made a list of places we’d like to visit while here, but with only 55 days remaining until we depart for Amsterdam, time is quickly closing in, and we wonder if we’ll be able to see these points of interest while here.

I’ve been nudging Tom for us to get out and research his ancestry but with the distances to the locations in which to explore, we hesitate to go. Also, as he’s continued research on Ancestry.com, he doubts he’d be able to find anything when records weren’t diligently kept for citizens in Ireland during that era, the early 1800s, and further back.

A dad and son are looking for seashells on the beach.

Instead, he fills his days with mindless drivel while I prepare the posts, prep the meals, and do the laundry. I spend a certain part of each day dealing with the insurance issues resulting from my four surgeries between January and April. The “paperwork” never seems to end.

Don’t get me wrong…we aren’t bored. We’re rarely, if ever, bored. In the quietest of times, we can always plug in the HDMI cord to my computer and the TV and watch a movie, although we rarely do so during daylight hours.

A few years ago, we both used to read a lot of books on our phones. But, for some reason, we’ve lost interest in reading books and instead read news and general information online.  

In Ireland, many cliffs and rocky walls line the shoreline. It was great to see a few beaches, but none attracted sunbathers and swimmers in the cool weather.

Isn’t it amazing that if we so much as conceive of an idea or have a question, we can go to the Internet for an answer? Tom seems to enjoy this type of research more than I do since I try to avoid using my laptop unless I have an important reason after I’ve uploaded the day’s post.

Is something missing right now? For Tom, not much. He’s always able to entertain himself. But, for me…I have to work a little harder to find ways to entertain myself.  

With the limitations of the past almost five months since the diagnosis of heart disease at the end of January 2019 and subsequent multiple surgeries, I’ve felt a little trapped at times.

We no more tire of seeing sheep than we did warthogs and kudus.

In Marloth Park, once I was able to wander out to the veranda at the end of the bed rest period, seeing the wildlife entertained me and kept me busy most days. This was only for about a month but it made me realize how much I was dependent upon the wildlife visits to keep me engaged and excited each day.

I suppose, for me, that’s what’s missing. But, soon enough we’ll be moving along, cruising, spending shorter periods in various country locations in the UK and eventually visiting the US when our days and nights will be complete.

There are no regrets. There is no sorrow over what has transpired since the end of January. There is no grieving over the loss of seeing the animals every day and its excitement.  

Instead, there’s a powerful sense of gratefulness that supersedes all else.  Regardless of the challenges presented along the way, they are softened by taking the time to appreciate what we do have instead of what we don’t. We continue on this path.

Have a peaceful day filled with gratitude.

Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2018:
We haven’t seen Scar Face in weeks and look forward to his return. Now, we have a particular affinity for Tusker, who’s very shy but practically swoons when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice…you know, the voice some of us use when talking to pets and babies. For more photos, please click here.

Whoa!…2500 posts as of today…Food photo…Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Tom’s breakfast plate included scrambled eggs with red onion and cheese with thin slices of smoked salmon and tuna pate on the side. I had the same meal but a smaller portion, all befitting my way of eating.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The Titanic was built in Belfast, Northern Island.”

 When recently I happened to notice the number of posts we’d uploaded since our first post on March 14, 2012 (click here to read the first post), I was stunned. It’s hard for us to believe we’ve actually done 2500 posts, including today, and how hard we’ve been striving to be consistent during this past almost seven years. We’ve made every effort to post each day, other than a few times due to travel days, illness, and power and WiFi outages.

In 2013, we began posting almost daily as indicated in our archives, showing how many posts we uploaded each month, including a total for each year. We’ve often mentioned how quickly time has flown, but it becomes all the more relevant when we see this 2500 number.

Is this comparable to 2500 chapters in a book? Not entirely, since our posts are shorter than one would find in a book. However, as posted, it’s a continuing story progressing similarly to a book.

Beautiful scenery on the way to the SmokeHouse located in The Pier, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway.

We’ve contemplated writing a book, particularly when we’ve been offered a few opportunities to do so over the years. However, as we’ve always stated, we didn’t do this blog to make money and become commercialized, going to book signings and even appearing on TV shows, none of which appeals to either of us.

We write this ongoing series for love, and we continue to do so for love; love of the world, its people, its wildlife, its places, and the many who so kindly visit us time and time again to see what’s transpiring in our daily lives.

At times our stories and photos are exciting and filled with world adventures. At other times, of which we are well aware, our posts are mundane and of little consequence.  

The SmokeHouse‘s interior was somewhat surprising when we expected glass counters contain rows of fish.  Everything is frozen for safety and lasting quality. More on this in yesterday’s post.

And yet, our readers continue to return for more, pass our web address on to others for their viewing and stand along with us in support of this highly vulnerable and revealing expose of our daily lives.  

At times, I equate it to the content of the TV show Seinfeld, when for us, it can feel like a “story about nothing.” Perhaps readers find some sense of comparison and comfort from the mundane aspects of our lives during those times when “nothing” is going on.

But, “nothing” may frequently be. Isn’t that what life is like for most of us, especially those who are retired? Some days, we’re busy and engaged in our daily activities. At other times, we find a certain level of contentment from doing very little; a load of laundry, making a meal, and watching a favorite TV show in the evening.

Visitor’s vehicles were parked around the SmokeHouse’s building on the pier.

Do those quiet days make us feel any less alive? For us, those days connect us to reality, provide us time to reflect, plan for the future and look inside ourselves for ways in which we can grow.

When I think back to our 15 months in Marloth Park, South Africa, it was the quiet times we recall the most, the wildlife coming to call, a day’s drive into Kruger National Park, an evening at Jabula with friends, not necessarily indicative of a busy, fast-paced life.

And here in quiet, remote Connemara, unable to drive on long road trips due to my legs, we’re perfectly content. As I write this now, Tom is taking a nap. I am sitting alone in the lounge, munching on a raw carrot. How much more simple can that be?
This horse was fed by passersby when she got as close as she could when we stopped for a photo.

And yet, in a mere 54 days, we’ll be in Amsterdam for two nights awaiting a cruise in the Baltic Sea, which will take us to Copenhagen and Skagen, Denmark; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden. 

Certainly, this type of trip isn’t mundane and laidback. Once the cruise ends, we’ll live in the countryside in England in four different locations, here again, hardly an everyday experience.

At this point, we’re contemplating staying shorter periods in most countries to expand our horizons vastly, but we’ll never tire of the quiet days, like today; a delicious dinner already prepped and ready; a glass of wine savored, along with a favorite cocktail for Tom, as we lounge in two stuffed comfy chairs overlooking Bertraghboy Bay in Connemara, Ireland.
For us, this is hardly mundane, but at times, in this unusual life we live, it may be routine and predictable.

Friends…thank you for sharing 2500 posts with us…thank you for staying with us during mundane and quiet times, and thank you for either writing, commenting, or quietly lurking in the background.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out! May this be a pleasing day for you, even if it’s quiet and relatively uneventful.

Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2018:

And, here are the girls!  Not much is “girlish” about female rhinos! For more rhino photos, please click here.

On the road again…A gorgeous drive to a smoky place…What is food costing us in Ireland?…

It was thrilling to see white sandy beaches with little to no debris and few people.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The Celtic cross and shamrock are
both associated with Ireland, but the national symbol is the harp.”

We’d come to a point where it was time to get out when finally there was an isolated sunny day. It’s tricky driving on the winding, hilly roads and the thought of driving more than three hours in a single day is daunting.

With the necessity of keeping my legs up when I am not walking in order to keep the swelling under control (swelling impeded healing), the idea of driving for more than a few hours doesn’t make sense at this juncture.

Could this be a mating pair of sheep?

The healing of my legs is going well, but visible only in tiny increments when we clean the wound, add the cream cream, add a new moistened gauze ending with bandages and clean compression socks every two days.

When we did this last night, I decided to wash and shave my legs in the tub in the upstairs bath with a sprayer. Being cautious with the open wound, I was able to shave around it.  

This has been the most extended period of my adult life when I hadn’t shaved my legs in over four months. In the past, I shaved each day. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  As soon as my legs dried, we began the usual bandaging process. This could continue for a few more months, based on how it’s looking now.

Sheep lined the road’s edges.  Tom drives extra carefully when there’s no fence protecting the animals.

Anyway, early yesterday afternoon, we decided to get out to a location that wouldn’t cause considerable swelling to my legs while sitting stationary in the car. 

The Connemara Smokehouse was the perfect selection. Not only would we enjoy a scenic drive along the open ocean, but we’d also have the opportunity to purchase smoked fish from this fine establishment, raved about by locals.

Once we entered the shop, we were surprised to see there was no official “fish case,” with a variety of freshly smoked fish on ice on display. There were several freezers filled with several types of fish, all frozen and professionally packaged.

Most roads are not tree-lined when the majority of the terrain is green rolling hills and mountains.

(Speaking of professionally, the SmokeHouse’s website is impressive, as shown here at this link).

Why was all the fish frozen? We all have a perception that the best fish is caught in the morning and sold unfrozen a few hours later. When we asked if they had any fresh, not frozen, smoked fish, their answer made all the sense in the world.

Particular with freshness and food safety, the smoking process proceeds as they’ve stated here on their site:

A short time into our drive, we encountered the open sea.

The Smoking Process Smokehouse Ireland
The raw materials used to make Connemara Smokehouse Smoked Seafoods are subjected to meticulous scrutiny, where every step is of the utmost importance in producing a perfect end result. When the fish has reached the ideal weight for smoking, it is harvested from the sea, rapidly cooled, gutted, cleaned, hand filleted and boned.

To add to this assurance of quality, Graham fillets the fish by hand, which allows him to monitor every single fish that passes through our Smokehouse. The whole process is conducted quickly, hygienically, and under strict control to retain the fish’s fine taste, freshness, and natural color.

It is smoked in aromatic smoke from a slow-burning fire of beech wood shavings. Then salt is sprinkled by hand over the fillets. After 8 to 10 hours, it is rinsed off with fresh water and placed to smoke and dry for a further 16 to 20 hours.

For the first time since we arrived on May 12, we encountered sandy beaches.  However, the cool weather in Ireland is most likely to keep beachgoers and tourists away.

This adds an exquisite taste, gives a delicate color, and results in a mouth-watering experience. The recipe used and the timing of the process vary according to the size, desired taste, and fat content of the fish. The Connemara Smokehouse obtains its wild Salmon locally. All the fish used in our products are harvested from the pure, rugged Atlantic waters.” Packing:

Storing Your Products: all products are vacuum-packed and shipped by courier. Whatever the packaging or specification, The Connemara Smokehouse always guarantees the tastiest, best quality Irish Seafood.

Smoked Salmon will be kept in your fridge for two weeks in the unopened vacuum pack and up to 8 months in your freezer, also unopened. However, we recommend consumption within seven days or freeze for up to 8 months, as this is better for the quality. See more about storing your products here.

The pristine beaches were unoccupied other than by a few bundled-up walkers with their children or dogs.

This made a lot of sense to us. Fish spoils quickly. This particular company refuses to run the risk of their carefully prepared products spoiling and possibly causing illness to less-than-careful purchasers. The smoked fish is vacuum-sealed and tastes best, as explained to us if eaten within three days of, defrosting (in the fridge) and opening the package, although it may keep as long as seven days in a very cold refrigerator.

Upon entering the shop, we were warmly greeted by the owner. There were several other shoppers in the store with us. We only waited for a minute for one of their friendly, knowledgeable staff to assist us with our order.

There were plastic laminated menus of products offered in English, French, and German. After perusing the menu and getting a few tastes from our rep, we decided on organic smoked Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and a tub of tuna pate.

Prices were comparable to smoked fish in the US, if not a little more. For all the fish, we spent Euro 76.59, US $86.07, enough fish to last us for several breakfasts when we’ll enjoy it the most.  

Also, lately we’ve been spending approximately Euro 40, US $44.95 a week for fresh-caught, unsmoked fish and seafood, plus all of our general groceries at SuperValu in Clifden.  

After arriving in Ireland one month ago, we’ve spent a total (including all fish) of Euro 1210.17, US $1359.93, which also includes wine and Tom’s Courvoisier.  Dining out, we’ve spent Euro 247.61 US $278.25.  Our grand total to eat in and dine out is Euro 1461.71, US $1628.17 averaging at Euro 48.59 US, $54.60 per day.  

Based on past records we’ve diligently maintained over this past many years, the cost to eat in and out is higher in Ireland than any other country we’ve visited. There’s no doubt that we purchase many organic vegetables and high-quality foods, but we only have a maximum of two meals a day and few, if any, snacks.

It’s the way it is.  As we all know, part of the fun of traveling is dining, whether cooking at a holiday home or dining out.  We admit we haven’t missed out on a morsel of fine food, most of which we’ve made at “home.”

In any case, we had a great time yesterday, driving for a little less than two hours with many stops along the way to take photos. Over the next several days, we’ll continue to share more new photos from our outing. Before we know it, we’ll head out on another sightseeing tour.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2018:

      This is a “train” of the African Silk Worm grouping, which returned to our veranda after we moved them away. For more photos, please click here.