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A bumper weekend edition!

Posted Apr 18 2010 3:23pm
Okay, we have been very bad about blogging over the past few days but the weather here has been so lovely that we have been out of the house more than in it! We are way behind with all our blog visits and comments so please excuse us - we feel very bad about not getting around to visiting all our friends but we are trying ..... honestly! I had a visit to the groomer on Friday - I'm still recovering from that and not very happy about it - but at least the NSLM is happy and my face has not been touched! He goes mad if the groomer tries to shape the hair around my face so it's left alone even if the NSLM's Dad says I look like a 'toilet brush' at the moment! So today's post is a bit of a monster catch-up of all that's been happening .... hopefully you don't get too bored and manage to make it to the end .... that's where the really exciting news is! But first, the NSLM wanted to show you some great places to visit ....

We went to the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, Co Cork last week. There was a really interesting tour of the Distillery to see how whiskey is made and to hear all about the history of Jameson whiskey. Murray was very good paying attention and listening to the tour guide. An Irish music group - Crystal Swing - were on the Ellen DeGeneres show earlier in the week and they presented her with a special 10 year reserve bottle of Jameson with her name on it as they live in Midleton!

Murray had been fascinated watching the lady in the Distillery putting names on the bottles! We got a 'special friend's name' on a bottle - but it's a secret for now! Midleton Distillery is well worth a visit .... Murray's Dad enjoyed the Tasting Corner where you can sample various whiskies!!

Another interesting place we visited was Castlemartyr Hotel in the village of Castlemartyr in Cork. This hotel opened in 2007 at the height of the 'Celtic Tiger' here as Ireland's first 6* hotel and spa. It quickly closed nine months later - one of the first victims of the recession here! However it's back open again .....
The original castle was built in 1207 for the Knights Templar. The manor house, now the hotel was built in the 1700's and inhibited by various Earls including Sir Walter Raleigh before the last Earl left in 1905. It then opened as a boarding school run by the Carmelite Fathers until 1996. Having been empty for several years it was opened as a hotel in 2007. We sat in the ballroom (which was the oratory when it was a school) for lunch.

Due to a bit of a technical glitch - our lunch order got lost and when Murray's Mom enquired about it after a long wait - the waiter discovered the computer order had never gone through to the kitchens. But we didn't mind the wait as the hotel very kindly gave us lunch 'on the house' as a result! Well done to Castlemartyr for good customer service! Petey, last week when we were in Cork we wrote a message to you in the sand again .... but the photographer didn't take a very good photo of it! Firstly, it was written the wrong way around - and then the photographer really didn't take a good photo - shooting into the sun! But hopefully you can make out the message but if you can't ... it says 'Hi Petey' .... Murray, as you know loves whales and here he is with his uncle Pádraig and they are holding a rib from a whale and part of a whale's jawbone! Pádraig is the guy that took those really great photos of the whales beaching off Hook Head a few months ago and he was a great collection of whale bones in his house in West Cork! On the beach near where he lives - we met a gorgerous Golden Retriever called Sam! He reminded us so much of Max and we told his Mom all about our wonderful friend Max in South Africa. She went home to check out your blog - Max! I had so much fun playing with Sam - he was really a very friendly dog! When he left, the NLSM's sister was great at keeping me entertained while the NSLM collected shells and unusual stones! He loves collecting as you all know ..... But we did manage to get everyone to stand together long enough for a 'family' photo and its not often we can get everyone to agree to stand still long enough for a photo! Thanks uncle Pádraig for taking this one! Mostly the men just wanted to walk and chat together .... But the girls did take time out to admire the scenery and let Pádraig take another photo! Murray's Mom is usually the photographer so it was great to have someone else take the photos for once! Even if the photographer thought the scenery much more interesting than the people .... In really exciting news during the week, Murray won a special merit prize in the Texaco Children's Art Competition . This competition has been running for 56 years and every year thousands of children in schools all over Ireland enter the competition. Many years ago, well in 1968, Murray's dad won a prize in the 4-6 years old category and his Mom still had the newspaper cutting from April 1968!

.... and we also have a photograph of the winning painting that Colm did (it was of his Mammy). He won 2nd prize all those years ago and still remembers travelling up to Dublin to collect his prize with all his family (he had five brothers and one sister and it was a huge 'day out' for them!)

So you can imagine how delighted we all were this week that Murray won a special merit award in the Special Needs Schools category all these years later! His Grandma was particularly happy with him - following on in his Dad's footsteps!

The weekend finished with ice-cream .... always a good way to finish .... and the good weather continues. Which is probably just as well, because at the moment, you wouldn't want to be trying to leave Ireland. There have been no flights out of country since last Thursday and there doesn't seem to be any chance of any flights for the next day or two!

- Clive

ps - Petey, we've been watching the golf at Hilton Head all weekend - we're getting very excited!
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