The Chinese consulate will have to make do with plastic

As mentioned, we headed to Ireland this past weekend. The flight from the John Lennon Liverpool Airport was about 30 minutes long - just long enough for the you to develop a knee-impression in your lower back from the guy sitting behind you in the Ryan Air how-many-cattle-can-we-squeeze-into-a-plane contest. That put us on the ground at about 8am.

Where dreams go to dieBeing there so early, we figured we'd make the most of our first day, and head straight to Waterford, and see if we couldn't get item number one (the legendary silverware) off the list straight away. A quick two hour ride later, and we were there. We spent the whole of those two hours reminiscing about our last trip to Ireland, and how much fun it had been. And explaining to the Critter why the first place we were going after getting off the airplane was not a castle, or a hotel, but some big store. A special store. Where they make beautiful glass things, and exclusively elusive forks and knives and stuff. See the picture to the right? Yeah, that's the Critter pointing out the magic Waterford factory store, where our memories would be mocked.

Me: Excuse me, ma'am - where is your flatware section?
Nice Irish Lady: Eh?
Me: Flatware? Silverware? Forks/Knives/Spoons?
NIL: Oh! We stopped making silverware several months ago now.



A random towerhouse We moped our way up to our B&B - a fantastic farmhouse named the unpronounceable Derrynaflan house which was a working dairy farm. They make their own cheese! OK, this went a long way to picking my spirits up. A couple of pints at the village restaurant later, went the rest of the way.

We also managed to stop off at the same random towerhouse we had visited years before. And again, it was on a semi-random turn-off, made without planning. Weird. The Critter was as impressed by the blackberries at the entrance to the field as she was by the little castle. Note that food is her priority. That's my kid.

The next day, we figured we'd try something new, and head a different direction. Well, old and new. We did visit Cashel again, which is my favorite spot in Ireland (see below), but afterwards, we headed up to Tipperary and then on to Limerick, neither of which had been on our list of destinations before.

You know why people go A Long Way from Tipperary? Because there's nothing there. We got out and walked around the town, thinking that any minute now, we'd find the interesting bit. You know Jack Judge wrote the song on a bet? Yep: That he couldn't write a song in 24 hours. And he changed the lyrics and threw "Tipperary" in at the last minute. You know what? You can tell.

Open note to anybody/where with a song about you. Please have something ready to entertain me when I visit.

Similarly, Limerick was a bust. We didn't even get out of the car to walk around. There was not a single reference to a Edward Lear or a Man from Nantucket. I'm sure it's a nice city, but it's a big city, like many big cities, which isn't the reason we had come, so we turned around and headed back to Cahir, a small town we knew we had enjoyed previously for a decent meal and some more really good beer.

The best part of the trip was sitting around the breakfast table in the morning, talking with the other guests, and taking the Critter back to some of what had been our favorite places on our previous visit. It never struck me as more true that the best part of spawning a little monkey of our own is how much more fun it is to do these things with her than it was on our own.

The Critter at CashelThe Critter and I at Hore Abbey

As for the silverware? Waterford can bite me. I bought a whole cheese from the B&B lady. She told me how to wipe the mold off. We also bought the Critter a small, stuffed sheep toy with a shamrock on it. We named him "Mutton." That made my day.