Ireland & England…a dream came true

P1050008Ever since I was a girl reading books like National Velvet, I wanted to visit England someday.  Later on, when I started devouring historical novels set in England, Scotland and Ireland, that dream continued, though I never expected to see it come true.  But it finally did!

We just returned from P1060360twenty-three days in Ireland and England a couple days ago…and already it seems like a dream.  I imagine all of the other drivers in both countries are glad I’m off those roads, though I’m happy to say that we returned P1050669both rental cars in one piece and I didn’t hit a single sheep in Ireland.  Who knew that one could find them running loose in the more rural areas, complacently napping at the edge of the asphalt, or having a friendly chat with each other in the middle of the road over the next hill?

The Dublin statue above is  of Molly Malone, remembered in a song in which she sold “cockles and mussels, alive, alive-oh.”

I loved every minute.  The gorgeous country.  The tremendous sense of history. The friendly people and charming villages and incredible museums.  The little surprises in the differences between our cultures and foods,  like the Dublin McDonalds, with a coffee shop area complete with a lovely glass case filled with delectable pastries and P1040876desserts. Or….ahem…the “Black Pudding” served with every “full Irish Breakfast” which is nothing like any dessert you’ll ever see.  Believe me.  Do not imagine it with whipped cream on top.  🙂

photoMy dh was so patient with me on this trip–as evidenced by the 4,664 digital photos I took as we drove around Ireland–Waterford, to Killarney, to Abbeyglen Castle in Clifden, to Donegal, Belfast, and back to Dublin.  Then in England, we stayed in Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, spent a day at Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame) and wrapped up with four nights in London,.  As much as I loved the scenery, I was also entranced by the signs we saw (as in:  “Polite request, no parking please”   or “We serve PROPER hamburgers”) and the statues everywhere.  P1040823This statue in Dublin, with the dog and the angel, was one of four statues surrounding a monument, and we were told it was meant to depict faith and devotion.

P1070064This one of the legs, in London, depicts I-don’t-know-what, but it made me chuckle every time we saw it.  🙂


And the whimsical horse head, apparently grazing forever in this park, really caught my eye.  I wish I had space to share a few hundred photos here!  I’ll be coming back to blog again in a week or so and will add more, but will also be posting a lot on my Facebook page at over the next few days.

Besides the scenery and the wonderful old buildings, I loved the old, old churches, and the amazing art they held, both in stained glass and marble.

These were down in the crypts of Christ Church in Dublin…along with a handy little coffee shop if one needed a little pick-me-up.   I was enthralled by these memorials:

photo-12The first, with the mourning family scene, is so touching.  But I wonder about that male figure to the right, watching idly…as if he’s waiting in the wings, ready to take over the title and land?

And this one…so beautifully sculpted, showing such grief…over a handsome and remarkably buff sixty-year-old.  Was Nathaniel this gorgeous at the end of his life…or as a young man? It was so interesting to study…and contemplate. P1050773  Did the mourners commission these works solely as a personal tribute, or did they imagine that people would visit the crypts for generations to come, and that their loved ones would thus be remembered forever?  Click on the photos and you can see them in a larger size.

We hit some writerly places..Dublin Writer’s Museum, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s farm, Mary Alden’s farm, Jane Austen’s Bath, and Oxford University, where Alice in Wonderland was written, and where many of the sites mentioned in the book still exist…like the massive tree where she would sit, the garden gate in a stone wall where she peeped through a keyhole, and the tall andirons in the Great Hall, which were the inspiration for the scene where her neck grew longer and longer.  JK Rowling visited the Great Hall of Christ Church, in fact,  for inspiration for scenes in her Harry Potter series.P1050964

I wish I could go on forever here, but  I will leave you with Shakespeare’s grave site, inside his church in Stratford-Upon-Avon.  The rector there said that his grave marker holds  one of the few curses that one will find on the many graves placed in English churches.

P1060288Shakespeare feared that his bones would be dug up and dumped in a boneyard in the years after his death, so he gave a lot of money to the church, and was buried in the floor of a church. He left a warning to anyone who disturbed them!

This was my dream trip. I would love to hear about the places you  have always wanted to visit…or, about your experiences when you did!

All the best,

Roxanne Rustand

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Ireland & England…a dream came true

  1. Teresa Hughes says:

    It looks and sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Good for you! As for me, I dream of going to Australia! I don’t know if I will ever get there but, it is on my bucket list!!

    Glad you had a great time and a safe trip!

    • roxrustand says:

      Thank you, Teresa. I was so thrilled to finally make the trip. Australia would be wonderful, too. And New Zealand would be cool as well! My husband doesn’t care much for extensive travels, though, so I doubt we’ll ever get that far.

  2. michelehauf says:

    Sounds like you had a great time, Roxanne! Over 4000 pics? Wow. Do you know what each one is and where? I had trouble remembering where I took the few hundred in Paris.

    • roxrustand says:

      Lots of photos..but my philosophy is that if I take loads of them, I should end up with few that are good. 🙂 And you’re right–its hard to remember exactly what’s what, though some sites are very memorable and they stay in chronological order in iPhoto, so that helps! Funny thing…I lugged a very heavy case with a Canon 7D and L-series lenses, thinking I wanted to make the most of this one chance to be in England and Ireland, but ended up mostly using my little Panasonic Lumix–which dropped in my pocket. Would’ve had more space for bringing back purchases if I’d left the bigger camera at home!

  3. GunDiva says:

    I’m so jealous! I once spent two days in Ireland and it was horrible. We wanted to get out into the countryside, but only had time for Dublin, which in my mind, is just a big, dirty city (didn’t help that my best friend was mugged there). I’m going to go back to Ireland one of these days and see something other than a city, I swear!

    The one time I’ve been to England, I was amazed by the history of the place. We saw headstones – beautiful ones – that were older than our country. It was astounding.

    I’m glad you had such a glorious time.

    • roxrustand says:

      I can imagine that areas of Dublin aren’t so great, and I’m so sorry to har about your friend. Bad memories, for sure. But we were in the touristy area…everything covered by the double decker tourist hop on/hop off buses, and it was clean, appeared safe, and there were soooo many things to see. We probably got the sanitized version, but I loved it–the museums, the phenomenal sense of history at Christ Church, Dublinia (Viking museum). the restaurants and music in the Temple Bar area And some aspects were sad and a bit overwhelming as well, like the Kilmainham Gaol–a prison between 1796-1924, and the place political prisoners were detained and executed during the Irish Rebellion. I don’t drink beer, but we did the Guiness tour which was very well done and offered spectacular views of the city.

  4. Willa says:

    Oooh – love me some black pudding . .. just don’t think about what the ingredients are 😀

    • roxrustand says:

      I couldn’t bring myself to taste it. 🙂 Norwegians have something similar–krub–and iI haven’t tasted that either. But a lot of people must like it since we saw it served everywhere!

  5. Kylie Brant says:

    Wow, it looks *amazing*!!! I want to go to Ireland and Scotland. I always thought it’d be a girls’ trip since John doesn’t do countries without beaches . I can live with that! It looks like you had a marvelous time. I can’t wait to see more pics!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s