Monday, February 20, 2017

My Time in Ireland - Cork City

So, I said in my last post, that this next time I would talk about Ireland.  Just to give some back ground information, I studied abroad in Ireland when I was in college.  I spent 4 months over there back in 2012 and I can honestly saw it was the best four months of my life.  Ireland is a beautiful country filled with amazing people.  I lived in Cork, the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, in the southern part of the country.  I attended the University of College Cork, which has one of the most gorgeous campuses I've ever been to.

The top picture is the quad and the bottom is the Honan Chapel right in the middle of campus.  Here is a picture of the gate and the path I got to walk every single day.

Yet there is much more to Cork than just the campus.  I got to go grocery shopping at the English Market in the city center.  There, you can purchase fresh meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, amongst other things.  I would usually go in through the door where the fruit was and, since it was the season, the smell of fresh apples was mouth watering and amazing.

Cork had many other interesting places to explore.  There are many churches in the city such as St. Finbarr's Cathedral, which is actually an Anglican church.

Basically, you can't throw a stone in the city without hitting a church.  My personal favorite and the one I attended while I was there, was the church of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Besides churches, there are many other things to do in Cork.  They have the Crawford Art Gallery, which I sadly never went to, but often walked by it.

There is a Butter Museum which shows how butter was made long ago and the great impact the dairy industry has on Ireland.  In my opinion, Kerrygold is the best butter and Ireland's dairy products give my home state of Wisconsin a run for its money.

A little bit of a hike from the city center is Cork City Gaol, or jail as its spelled in America.  It looks like a medieval castle from far away but once inside, it has an eeriness to it that lets you imagine a little bit of how a prisoner felt in this jail.

Off to more pleasant diversions.  In the city center, there is large fountain and near by is a monument commemorating the various rebellions in Ireland.

If you're looking for a little bit more nature, you can always visit Fitzgerald Park and maybe on the way back, check out the Cork Public Museum.

The River Lee runs through the city of Cork.  In the picture below, the tower on the left is Shandon Bells, which you can climb up and ring the bells.  My apartment was at the top of the pink building next to the orange building, in the far right corner of the picture.

This was the view from my apartment and I'm so thankful I got to look at this every day for the entire time I was there.  You could also smell the peat moss burning in the mornings when I would open my windows and I want to get my own peat moss to burn at home now!

The river also runs through campus and some of the most beautiful trails I've ever walked have been beside that river through the campus.

Finally, there's no better way to end a day in Cork then in a pub and the city has a plethora of them to choose from.  These were just two of many I visited while I was there.  Pubs over there are different than bars here.  Everyone of all ages goes there to socialize and spend time with their friends and family.  They mingle, tell hilarious jokes, and enjoy each others company.  I've never encountered anything else like it before or since.

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my beloved Cork.  There is so much more to see and talk about but I figured I had rambled enough.  Another time, I'll show you some of the other awesome places I visited in Ireland and the other countries I visited while over in Europe.  I'll leave you with one of my favorite pictures of the city of Cork, taken right outside my apartment building on Thanksgiving.

May the sound of happy music, and the lilt of Irish laughter, fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Something More Than Books

For the love of all that's holy, talk about something other than books on your blog!  Yep, I heard that. So I went back and read my first entry about what I planned to write on and I realized that books have pretty much monopolized most of the entries so far. So today, I'll give you a little bit of a life update and some of the other things I love.

Well, I switched careers shortly before Thanksgiving.  I now work for a local bank behind the scenes in a support position.  I no longer have to deal directly with customers which has made me a much happier person.  My old call center job was just stressing me out and making me miserable.  I was getting physically sick from it.  So I went on the job hunt and found my new position.  It has decreased my anxiety and stress level so much that after all these years, I've quit smoking.  On the down-side from that, I've put on some weight, which I definitely don't need but I'll balance out eventually.  We had a health risk assessment for my job and when my co-workers asked me how I did after I finished, I told them I passed with flying colors except I'm too fat.  Yes, I said it just like that.  And yes, I think I kind of shocked them because some of them looked askance at me.  They are still getting used to me and the way my thoughts tend to come flying out of my mouth! 😉

The holidays for me were pretty standard.  Family time, cool presents, and so much food I thought I was going to burst on a number of occasions.  The new year has been pretty quiet and back to normal. I've been reading more now that I'm not so busy anymore.  I also got a free month of Netflix which has been awesome!  It's cold and snowy up here in the Midwest so there really isn't much else to do except hang out indoors.

Lately I've been thinking of the future.  Working on my book and looking into grad schools overseas mostly.  Nothing too spectacular.  Tomorrow, I think I'm going to talk a little bit more about Ireland, my time there, and my return in hopefully the near future.  How has your new year been so far?  I hope things have been going well for you.  Until tomorrow...


Monday, February 6, 2017

Historical Intrigue with a Touch of Plaid!

Sooo, its been a while..... Yeah, I know, I've been slacking on the job.  I made some life changes and then the holidays hit so that has kept me pretty busy.  For a while there I wasn't reading all that much and I had several different reviews drafted but just never finished them.  So those will be rolling out within the next few days.  I'm going to be putting up a daily reminder for myself so I remember to write every day.  With that said, I am here to tell you about the latest book I've read.  It's Mad for the Plaid by Karen Hawkins.  I've been a fan of Karen Hawkins for years now and have read many of her books.  But, this one is definitely my favorite so far.  Here's the synopsis from Goodreads - Mad for the Plaid:

Prince Nikolai Romanovin is bored out of his bejeweled crown with London's society scene. If he has to make inane small talk or dance with one more tongue-tied virgin, he might actually run off. So when he gets word his beloved grandmother might be in danger back in his homeland of Oxenburg, Nik is all too willing to rush to the estate she's been staying in in the snow-capped mountains of Scotland. Arriving in secret only to find his grandmother missing, Nik devises a plan to switch identities with a member of his honor guard so he can move around freely without the pomp and circumstance that comes with the Crown Prince title. He relishes the freedom that comes with losing his title, until he spots her...

While her five older sisters all enjoyed seasons, got married to men of high station, and had children of their own, Ailsa, the baby of the family, was left at home to be raised by her absent father and her sharp-witted, but ailing grandmother after losing her mother in childbirth. Now twenty-nine years old, the sole caretaker of her grandmother, and the entrenched mistress of the castle, Ailsa has resigned herself to living at the castle and enjoying the amusements offered - spending time with her grandmother, copious amounts of reading, wild rides through the moors, and the occasional ball in the local town. All in all, it's a satisfying, if sedate, life . . . But when she meets a guard more handsome, and far more arrogant and sure of himself than any man she's ever met, she's determined to figure out his secrets, no matter the cost.

This book had everything historical romance readers will love.  There's mystery, intrigue, kidnapping, disguises, betrayal, attempted murder, a strong heroine, and a very alpha hero.  Nik and Ailsa do not start off on the right foot.  Through a series of letters, Ailsa thinks the prince is an empty headed charmer caring little for his grandmother, who is visiting Ailsa's grandmother.  He was so eager to be rid of her, he dropped his poor grandmother off at the door and left immediately.  On the other hand, Nik thinks Ailsa is a dowdy old spinster and incapable of handling his demanding grandmother so she pesters him with letter after letter.  When Nik's grandmother and male firned are kidnapped, he and Ailsa have to work together to figure out not only who took them, but also why they were kidnapped in the first place.  The banter between these two as they journey through Scotland in their search, is uproariously hilarious.  Ailsa brought a reality check to Nik's world while the two used their wits and intelligence to finally figure out who the culprit was.  And I will admit I didn't see that coming.  I can't say much more without giving it all away, so go pick up your own copy of this book today!!!

Amazon - Mad for the Plaid
Barnes & Noble - Mad for the Plaid
iTunes - Mad for the Plaid
Google Play - Mad for the Plaid
Kobo - Mad for the Plaid