Monday, July 30, 2007


Vacation Day 14- The sun was shining as I woke up on my last day in Glenfinnan. Amazingly, my eyes stayed dry for most of the day. After another scrumptious breakfast and a chance to sit by the fire in the lobby, one of the ladies that works in the Glenfinnan House drove me back up to the train station. We had a lovely chat about the Highlands, Edinburgh, and books. I explained that I was an unpublished writer working toward selling my manuscripts. I also told her that her boss has been answering questions regarding Scotland and the Highlands for me for about a year now. This led us to talking more about books, romances set in Scotland and my writing. I wished I'd had more time to chat with her! (And the boss was sick the day I got there and she'd called in sick the other days I stayed there. That was disappointing for me. I wanted a chance to thank her for all her help and to talk a bit more about my plans for helping to promote the hotel and the area once I am published.)

I took this picture of the steam train coming in. This is the one used for the Hogwarts Express train in Harry Potter.

The ride back to Edinburgh was just as spectacular as the ride from Edinburgh. I took a few pictures on the train that came out surprisingly well. The first two are of the Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel. You may recognize this view because it's been used in the Harry Potter films. As we move along the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the train always slows down so people can get pictures.

These other two are along the way before we slid back into city life.

Once I arrived in Edinburgh and unpacked my bags in the Smith's Guest House, I took the bus to the Royal Mile. I stood around and listened to two pipers on a street corner and then I went into Deacon Brodie's (again) for dinner.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


My original plan for today was to take a boat ride along Loch Shiel. I was very excited...until I saw the rain. It was a steady drizzle that cooled the air enough just to make it necessary for long sleeves.

Instead, I decided to sit inside the hotel and continue writing. I started out having breakfast overlooking the loch. Then I moved to the common room with comfy chairs, bookshelves and board games. I was alone there, but I loved it. After a while, I moved to the lobby and sat by the fire. I people-watched while I soaked up the heat of the fire and wrote some more. When I got hungry in the afternoon, I moved into the bar for tea and homemade scones & shortbread. Yummy! The sun did manage to peek out for a little while before the rain returned. I continued chatting with visitors and locals alike and indulged in a taste of the local brew. After dinner, I went back to my Tennent's Lager. One of the employees reminded me of Ivan Drago from Rocky 4. The one who became the evening bartender, the one who actually chatted with me about living and working in this area, was like a Scottish version of David Spade only younger.

I ran outside to take a couple more pictures and then hung out until closing. As I sat looking out over the night sky, I started to get misty-eyed. I LOVE this place. My heart feels good here and I so didn't want to leave the next morning. As for the writing, by the time I turned out the lights in my room, I'd finished 24 pages for the day! Not bad, huh?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


After my lazy day in Edinburgh the day before, I hopped the train for my 5 hour ride to Glenfinnan on the Road to the Isles. This is my favorite ride in all the world! The ride was rainy for most of the time, but it didn't matter. Magical mists swirled over moors and around hills and in valleys. Toward the end it stopped raining and the sun was out by the time I arrived in Glenfinnan.

I walked from the train station to my hotel, which was right on the loch. (Loch Shiel, that is.) If any of you are Highlander fans, you'll recognize this- "I was born in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel." The original Highlander movie and the TV series are what actually got me to first visit Glenfinnan. I fell in love with the place all on my own, though.

The Glenfinnan House Hotel was where I stayed and it is absolutely beautiful! If you're familiar with Monarch of the Glen (a show set in the Highlands that I watch on PBS), you'll understand when I say I kept waiting for Golly or Duncan to pop round the corner! (If you're not familiar with Monarch, then just imagine being in an old castle and waiting to see some eccentric Scotsmen greeting you!) I truly felt like a princess for the entire time I was there. The staff is very kind and courteous. When I started asking questions about the local area, they were only too helpful to supply me with answers and stories of their own.

These were my first views when I got off the train.

This is just outside the front door of my hotel. Beyond the picnic tables is the road leading back to the main road of the village.

This is the view from the front step. If you look really, really closely you might be able to see a stone monument sticking up in the distance (just slightly left of center). That's the Glenfinnan Monument. It was built to commemorate Bonnie Prince Charlie's gathering of Highlanders back in 1745 to help him take back the crown for his father. (Sadly, many of his troops were slaughtered the following year at the Battle of Culloden.)

And this is the view of the hotel from down by the loch.

Between the train ride and relaxing in my heaven on earth, I managed to write 18 pages! All in all, this was a spectacular day!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Okay, so we're up to Day 12 of my trip back in June. Monday the 18th was the first day I was completely on my own. As much as I love being with my friends, I do cherish my alone-time too. This day was a lazy day for me. I slept late, finished reading the Harlequin Romance I was reading and then wandered into the city centre. Of course I shopped, played on the internet, shopped some more and ate. I went back to the cafe outside the castle that Sue and I ate in. While there, I started working on my characters and their personalities and conflicts. After a few hours, a couple of cups of tea and a scone, I moved on to do a bit more shopping before going back to Deacon Brodie's for dinner and a couple of pints. I didn't take any pictures today, but I'll throw this one of Sue's at you just so you have something to look at today. It's Edinburgh Castle from around the end of Prince's Street Gardens, I think. Isn't it magnificent? Just imagine trying to invade the castle by surprise from this angle!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Vacation Day 11-Edinburgh

This morning was MUCH better weather wise than the day before. It was warm and sunny. I took a coat with me when I went to meet my friend, but I didn't wear it until we went on our bus tour. After a good night's sleep, I also felt 100 times better too.

I got to our meeting place early and so I went into the tourist information office where I signed up for an internet access account and where I also started collecting information for a one-day tour somewhere close by. (I ended up deciding against a day tour since I was already taking the side trip up to Glenfinnan.)

When Sue met me, she came with her luggage. I'd forgotten that she'd have to check out of her hotel since she was leaving that night. We immediately bought tickets for the double-decker sightseeing bus tour of the city that allows us to get off and on at any of the stops. This had headphones so we could listen to all the historical information about what we were seeing. We got off along the Royal Mile and walked up to Edinburgh Castle. My friend wasn't too interested in going inside and I've been in several times, so we just walked around it and took some pictures. Here is my friend Sue in front of Edinburgh Castle.

If you notice on the sides of the picture there are bleacher seats. This is in preparation for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a concert they have every August (for the whole month) with traditional dancing, bagpipes and military bands from around the globe. It's a wonderful show to see if you ever get the chance! I went in 1997 and I still think about it!

After walking around there for a bit, we went to a cafe right by the castle. It was in front of an old church. Do click the link because it is a beautiful place. We sat outside with the beautiful sunshine and the crowded streets and enjoyed our drinks and snacks. Of course, we talked the entire time!

When we finished, we hopped back on the bus and rode through the streets of Edinburgh up toward Calton Hill. I've never been up to this end of Edinburgh, so I was excited. Except...the bus driver didn't stop and we had to backtrack to find the steps to get to Calton Hill. And let me tell you, those steps were a killer! I had to keep stopping to catch my breath and let my legs rest. BUT the view was so worth it! Here we are:

And then some shots of the view (Thanks to Sue. A couple of these pics are hers!):

This is the view over Edinburgh.
I'm not sure, but I think this is called Arthur's Seat. (If anyone knows for sure, let me know!)
These were other views from the top of those grueling stairs.

See the little yellow dot in here? That's me!
After this, we made a couple more stops and rode back up to the Royal Mile. We shopped a little and ate at Deacon Brodie's Tavern, which turned out to be my home away from home. We walked a little more, talked a little more, stopped for a coffee and then it was time for Sue to take the bus back to the airport. I was sad to see her go. I had a great time with her and only wished an ocean didn't separate us!

The rest of my evening was uneventful. I walked to the bus stop and went back to the guest house to do a bunch of little domestic things-laundry, cleaning out my bags, organizing my next few days. I still hadn't done any writing by this point and I was a little concerned. Still, I decided not to be too hard on myself. I was on vacation, after all! So what did I do? I read.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Goodbye Ireland, Hello Scotland!

Ireland/Scotland- Day 10

My friends and I had a great breakfast and then took a cab to the airport. I sent them on their way to Shannon and beyond and I waited for my afternoon flight to Edinburgh. The weather was absolutely miserable. Landing in Edinburgh was way too easy and I kept waiting for a customs agent to start chasing me down.

The highlight of my day came when I stepped through the doorway and stared out at the awaiting crowd. I panicked for a second because I was meeting a friend I wasn't sure I'd be able to pick out of a crowd. (Sue and I are both teachers. One year our classes of young children were penpal classes-Hers in Bristol, England. Mine in Austin, TX. We only did that one year, but we kept in touch over the next 4 years. When I mentioned my trip to Scotland, she offered to fly up and meet me for a couple of days. This was the first time we were going to meet.) But Sue stood out front with a Lexi Connor sign! That truly touched my heart and brought a huge smile to my face. She's been very supportive of my quest for publication and so this was extra special coming from her!

I admit I was worried at first that we'd have these awkward silences and, God forbid, but what if we didn't like each other! But I had NOTHING to worry about. I felt instantly at ease with her and I don't think we stopped talking until we said goodbye after dinner and drinks that

By the time I got back to my hotel that night, I was cold, wet and exhausted. My hotel that night was the Smith's Guest House, which was a lovely little place to stay with kind people running it. I was hoping for a common room so I could sit and write, but they didn't have one. It didn't matter, though. My plan had always been to spend my days along the Royal Mile or Prince's Street, writing, people watching, eating scones, sipping tea or Tennent's. I had to take a bus to and from the hotel to the city proper, but the bus stop was right out side the front door. My room though, was on the very top of some very narrow stairs and I had a sky light. At first I worried, because there was no curtain and I knew it wouldn't get dark until late and wouldn't stay dark for very long. But I managed to figure out it had a screen I could pull down over it to block out the light. Sleeping that night was very comfortable and very much needed.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Quick Post

I'm going to town on the manuscript (have been for a few days now), but I wanted to share my news. Fractured Paradise took 2nd in the Inland Valley "Put Your Best Hook Forward" contest and To Catch a Falling Star took 3rd! Woohoo! I'm waiting to find out how my friend, Marian Stevens places too. I'll let you know when I hear from her!

Later...Marian and her manuscript The Rebel took 3rd place in the Contemporary mainstream category! Congrats, Marian! Celebrate!

As for my Scotland journal, maybe tomorrow???? I'm having too much fun with the writing and it's finally flowing. I don't want to do anything to annoy my muse! Catch you later!

And later...Ugh. I think I jinxed myself. I'm getting stuck. BUT I'm plugging away anyway. I'd decided to have this manuscript (TCAFS) completely overhauled by the time I go visiting the family in RI July 28th. That's a week and 2 days. I can do it! I can do it! I can do anything I set my mind to! Right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A WOW Moment!

OMG! I'm LOVING the revisions I'm doing to my current manuscript, TCAFS. WOW! Can I just say WOW again? This may not mean much to some of you, but WOW! I'm smack dab in the middle of hour number 4 of work today and I don't want to stop! (Well, I don't have to yet!) I'm threading in more internal conflict into the story and another light bulb just flickered to life above my thick-skulled head! (Do I have too many exclamation points? Can you tell I'm a wee bit excited? Isn't this the BEST job EVER??!?!?!?) I realized something about my heroine- she says she wants one thing, but she's been sabotaging that dream forever. As the book opens, she still hasn't recognized her sabotage or why she's doing it! This is her life lesson! Yes, I knew some of this, but until this point it wasn't clear to me. So thank you to my heroine, my friends and the editor I met with on Friday! This manuscript is a first class WINNER!

Okay, enough babbling. Back to work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Dallas Experience

My 1st goal was to be more outgoing. I accomplished it. My other goal was to not make a fool of myself. I'm happy to report I accomplished that one too!

My roommates and I got there Monday. Tuesday I registered, went through my bag and then went to play tourist. I walked down to where Kennedy was shot, took some pics and went through the Sixth Floor Museum. Very interesting and tragic.

As for RWA National, here's my take. I met a lot of wonderful people, heard a lot of good inspirational talks and ate a lot of good food. I decided not to try to go to a workshop in every time slot. I picked the events that I absolutely couldn't live without and went to those. They included the Heartbeat luncheon, the literacy signing, the PRO Retreat, Midnight/ Moonlight (I can never remember the right name) Madness, the Harlequin pajama party, my editor appointment, a couple of workshops and of course the Rita/ Golden Heart Awards.

The Heartbeat luncheon- The Heartbeat chapter is the medical romance chapter of RWA. You don't have to write medical stories to be a member. The president, Julie Rowe, was kind enough to invite me to the luncheon as her guest after we exchanged a series of e-mails. The food was good and the company was even better. I got a chance to meet 3 editors from Harlequin's London office, all lovely ladies, and I sat with the agent who currently has one of my manuscripts, another lovely lady. I also got the chance to meet a writer friend I've been chatting with for a couple of years now, Laura Iding. It was great to finally meet her! She answered a few medical questions for me way back when I was still writing suspense and we've kept in touch ever since.

The literacy signing-Tons of people, tons of authors, tons of fun! I was good and only bought 7 books.

The PRO Retreat- A good time! Although, the two ladies sitting next to me both fell asleep for a while. Luckily neither of them snored! I really loved the presentation done by Colleen Gleason about web presence as a promo tool and tracking device. No, not that kind of tracking device. Being able to find out how people are getting to your website or blog.

The Celtic Hearts Meet & Greet- This was really cool because we got presents, which I hadn't expected, and I got to put faces to the names I'd been chatting with for so long. I slipped out for a while to watch my CP get an award for taking 1st place in the Finally A Bride contest. That was awesome! Yay Jenna! Then I went back to the Celtic Hearts party and listened and laughed for a while more.

Midnight/ Moonlight Madness-I saw lots I wanted to buy. I restrained myself. In the end, I bought a magnet for my office that says " characters are talking" and a keychain I just couldn't pass up. On 1 side it says "How to finish a manuscript" and on the other side it says "Puke it out and pick through the peas and carrots"! It's worth noting that the background color to the keychain was mashed pea green.

The Eharlequin Pajama Party- I passed by the room after the Madness, peeked in and then read the announcement on the door. Evelyn Vaughn (I love her!) waved to me and came out to invite me in. Now I must say that my roommate Jan Hudson introduced me to Evelyn on Monday, so we'd been exchanging hellos all week. Anyway, I hung out, listened, met people, and then decided to leave. Oh! Mary Teresa-Hussey was able to help me pronounce part of the Gaelic on my "Where's My Pint?" T-shirt! Of course, I went to the bar after, had a Guinness and promptly forgot what she'd told me! I thanked Evelyn before I left and she said anytime I was on my own and I saw her I had an invitation to join her. How cool was that?

My editor appointment-Friday was the special day. Friday the 13th, mind you. But it went very well. The editor was very kind, very encouraging and very helpful. She was interested in my story, my characters and my setting. She's going to read the beginning of book #1, get back to me and we'll go from there. I'll keep you updated!

The only workshops I actually attended (I think) were on Saturday. (Jeez, what did I do the rest of the time?) Oh, and I went to the Harlequin/Silhouette Spotlight on Friday too.

The H/S Spotlight did something very important for me. It helped me see exactly where I want to be. Eventually, YEARS & YEARS down the road, I think I'd like to write single title romantic suspense, but for the foreseeable (sp?) future I want to be a Harlequin writer. More specifically, I want to be a Harlequin Romance author. (See next section for more on that.)

My Saturday workshops were Exposing the truth About Writing Short Contemporary Romance and Brenda Novak's Overcoming Discouragement and Other Obstacles to Success. Both were EXTREMELY helpful and exactly what I needed.

The Short Contemp one featured 3 Mills & Boon Medical Romance authors and 2 Mills & Boon editors (I'd met them at the Heartbeat luncheon and one was the editor I had my pitch session with). I took 3 pages of notes. As I listened to the ladies speak and answer questions, in my heart I realized the Harlequin Romance line is the line for me. I got all fired up between the info from Friday's spotlight and this workshop. It may not be with book #1, but I feel in my gut that Mills & Boon Harlequin Romance will be my first home in the published world.

Brenda Novak is an EXCELLENT motivational speaker. I came out of there recharged and geared up for the battle with the current manuscript, which is getting quite an overhaul as we speak!

The Rita & Golden Heart award ceremony was good, but none of the people I rooted for won. Bummer. The reception after was a little crazy, but soon people started filing out and of course I stayed until the bitter end, hanging out with my Austin chaptermates and 2 ladies from Florida who talked about joining the Austin chapter.

Sunday was uneventful and all I did was read when I got home. Yesterday and today I've been torturing myself into working on my revisions and now I'm revved up to do them, to make book #2 the best it can be. Then a few friends and I are going to tackle some tough revisions on book #1. Even if the editor comes back with a rejection on the partial, I have to fix the rest for me-just to prove to myself that I can. I've made it part of my learning process and I REFUSE to start writing book #3 until #1 is beaten into, revised. (Of course, I can still plot and plan out book #3...)

Okay, I'll leave you alone now. Come back in the next couple of days. I'll either have pics up from Dallas or I'll restart my vacation journal, this time in Scotland!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Feelin' Better

But not enough for a full post. I know, I know. I should be in bed already resting up so I can dive into writing and blogging tomorrow. I'll get there. I promise. For now, enjoy this picture from one night in the bar during Nationals. I want to say it was Thursday, but I'm not positive. From left to right we've got: Marian Stevens, Kit Frazier, some lovely girl named Heather, yours truly and Cindy Procter-King. Marian and Kit are two great ladies from my Austin chapter. Heather was new to conference and met the others at a Chick-Lit party. I've never met her before, but I've seen Cindy's name online. Plus, she was a Golden Heart finalist this year! She's a sweetheart!

As for more Dallas pics, I promise I'll have more soon.

Dallas And Beyond!

Wow! What an awesome time! My goal was to be more outgoing. I met a lot of wonderful people and had so much fun. I'll be posting some pictures soon and I'll go into some more detail about my week at the RWA National Conference. I'll just tell you that I learned A LOT! For now, I'm going back to the couch with a warm cup of tea because in addition to all the wonderful information I got at Nationals, I also caught a cold.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ireland Day 9

The weather today was exactly as we expected the whole trip to be-raining and cold. We got to sleep in today since several people flew out of Shannon instead of joining us for one more day back to Dublin. After a lazy morning, we boarded the bus and started our ride back to Dublin. Along the way, we stopped at Clonmacnoise, a monastic site founded on the banks of the River Shannon. It looked interesting, but my friend and I were so cold, we couldn't even think about touring the ruins of the settlement. Her husband took the trek and promised to share his pictures. My friend and I sat in the teeny tiny coffee shop, ate too much and had 2 hot chocolates each. The visitors' centre had a video about the founder and the early years of the site and we did watch that.

I slept on and off for the rest of the ride back to Dublin. Once we said goodbye to our tour guide and check into our hotel, my friends and I took a cab to The Brazen Head Pub for a pint. I think it's the oldest pub in Dublin.

After that, we walked to find a place to eat in the Temple Bar area. My friend (the husband) convinced us to walk back to our hotel. After all, we'd been told it was only a 20-25 minute walk. AN HOUR LATER we set foot back in the hotel lobby. I admit I was exhausted and I went to sleep fairly quickly.

Okay, so for the next week I'll be in Dallas for the RWA National Conference. This means the Ireland/Scotland journey will be temporarily interrupted. When I get back, I'll probably have stuff to report about my Dallas discoveries. Once I get through with those reports, I'll resume my travel journal with Day 10-the day I left Ireland and arrived in Scotland!

Those of you going to Dallas, have a safe trip and remember to look for me and my Ireland/ Scotland T-shirts in the bars! Those of you not going to Dallas, have a happy and productive week!

Ireland- Day 8- Connemara and Killary Fjord

This day was rainy and cloudy for most of the day. It was still pretty warm though, so I didn't complain. Our first stop was the Celtic Crystal Factory. A lady much like a Catholic school nun (I can say that. I went to Catholic schools!) gave us a tour of the crystal work and then led everyone to watch the actual creation of a piece. I skipped that part so I could see what I wanted to buy. Sadly, I didn't find anything for me. This place is different from most crystal factories because they use color in their crystal. The work and detail is so strenuous on the eyes, the guys can only work on a handful of colored pieces A YEAR.

Next stop was the Connemara Marble Factory. Again I skipped the presentation and went shopping. I managed to find several things I wanted, but my purse wouldn't let me get everything. So I settled for a few worry stones (one for me, one for my CP and one for my Christmas bag for my local RWA gift exchange), a pair of earrings and a necklace of black marble with Celtic designs.

After the marble factory, we drove through Connemara. The scenery was by far the best! Hills, rock fences, lush green grass, mists. Apparently it's really poor farming land, but words and pictures can't do the scenery justice. I only took one picture because we stayed in the bus and I wasn't sure if the pictures would come out. Just imagine miles and miles of this scenery.

We also took a catamaran cruise along Killary Harbor, a 9-mile fjord. It was cloudy and breezy when we got there and it rained while we were on the boat.

On our way back to our Galway hotel, we stopped at a peat bog. In Ireland, they don't call it peat. They call it turf. Our guide explained the history, uses and process for gathering turf. This was an interesting part of the afternoon. I've read a lot of historicals with references to peat bogs and I did research on peat bogs for my last manuscript, so I was thrilled when the guide pulled over to the side of the road and let us get out to explore! A bunch of us did so, along with the guide. We picked up pieces, jumped up and down on the turf (it felt very springy) and listened to more stories. I confess I went a little camera crazy, but I won't bore you will all of my peat pictures. Just a few. This first one is our illustrious leader and another tourist.

Dominic told us when they cut the peat they have to leave it on the field to dry. To protect it from the weather, they stack it in a special way that protects most of the bricks. The picture with the feet shows this. It may not look like it, but there is a method to this madness!

This last shot is just to show you how it looks before they cut it.

From there we went back to our hotel for our dinner. An older lady joined us and talked quite a bit about Irish culture. She lives in Dublin and often takes these tours. She'll pop into the tourist office one day, find out what tours are happening and she's sometimes off the day after that! (What a life, huh?) Anyway, she taught me how to pronounce some of the Gaelic terms I've seen so often. We invited her to the bar with us after dinner, but she declined. Another evening mixing with the locals, sipping pints of Guinness and watching soccer. (I'm pretty sure I had at least 2 Guinness drafts a day!)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ireland Day 7

Today was cloudy, but sunny to start. We had some rain on and off, but again not enough to ruin our tour. Today we went to the Cliffs of Moher. WOW! It was beautiful! Oh, and my friends and I had been calling it the Cliffs of Moher, pronouncing it like "more". Our tour guide corrected us and said it like "mo-her". Anyway, here are the pictures I took at this place.

It started to rain just as we left the Cliffs. We drove through some more lovely countryside and stopped in Galway. The city center was 15 minutes away from our hotel, so our guide let us get out to shop for a couple of hours. I spent more money on gifts while my friend spent money on a pay toilet and then got locked inside. (Don't ask!)

The best part of the day for me was our visit to the King's Head pub. It was established in the late 1600's by the executioner of Charles II of England. As soon as I set foot in this place,, I could feel the history all around me. It was a small space with much of it still intact from long ago, but you could just envision the crowds, the laughter, the nefarious plans plotted in a darkened corner. I also imagined brawls breaking out and spilling out into the streets.

Thanks to Meggie MacDougall for mentioning my blog on hers! You're truly a lovely lass!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ireland-Day 6-Ring Of Kerry

Today was still warm and it did rain a little, but not enough to mess with our plans. The scenery was ABSOLUTELY beautiful. Many hills, lots of water, some clouds and still sun. We stopped along many places for pictures. Here's me (yes, that's right! It's a couple of current pictures of me!) along the Ring of Kerry.

We went along to Valentia Island and the
Skelligs. I didn't really care about the Skelligs until I watched the video and saw what it was-a monastic community from the first century. Well, they're not really sure when it was used. Anyway, it was a rock island a ways off shore in the Atlantic Ocean. What a hard existence, but what an amazing retreat experience. Well, I could see the joys of retreating there, but DEFINITELY NOT living there. One of my friends has decided he wants to go back for a vacation to take a boat out to walk around on the rock. It's a legitimate excursion, but you have to wait for good weather so the boat can get out there safely.

These are just pictures from our stops along the bus route to, through and from the Ring of Kerry.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


A HUGE thank you to Nita Wick for helping me figure out how to post pictures to my blog. I'll give you the Day 6 recap a little later. For now, browse back through Days 1-5 and check out the pics I've added. And I'll leave you with this picture to start. This was a sign posted above our table at a pub called O'Neill's in Dublin. I thought it was priceless!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th, America!

I hope everyone celebrating America's independence today has a safe and happy day. The Ireland journal will resume tomorrow.

Thank you to the men and women who fought and died for our independence and thanks to the men and women who still fight and die to protect the freedoms we enjoy.

I will also be celebrating the life and love of my English grandmother who started out a Sinclair. Happy birthday!

Mary L. Martin
July 4, 1922- August 4, 2003
I love you, Nan, and miss you still.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ireland Day 5

Day 5 started out cloudy and a bit cooler. We had some sun as we left Dublin on our tour bus and then the clouds returned. This day we traveled with the tour guide, Dominic, telling us various stories.

Our first stop was for a picture of the Rock of Cashel. My best friend sent me a replica of the Rock of Cashel years ago and I was so excited to see the real thing. We stopped far enough away so that we could get good pictures of it and then we hurried back on the bus. Well, maybe only I hurried. But we didn't go up to the Rock. I was very disappointed (apparently not part of the tour), but at least I got a picture.

Blarney Castle was our next stop. The castle and grounds were beautiful, but climbing the steps up to the top was frightening!

They were small, triangular steps that formed a spiral staircase. I held onto the railing for dear life, especially when I started getting dizzy! But I did it and I managed to kiss the Blarney Stone! Sadly, I don't think I've gotten the gift of eloquence though. Oh, and kissing this stone is no easy feat. You have to lie on your back, hold onto railings, drop your head back while some old guy (couldn't even be some hot Irishman!) holds onto you.

These shots are the view from the top of the Castle, which were taken while I waited to kiss the stone.

When we came down out of the castle, fine, drizzly rain started. My friends and I went shopping, had some lunch and got back on the bus. Sadly, one of the other people on the tour had a heart attack before we left Blarney's parking lot. We gave him some aspirin and drove him to a clinic. Our guide left the man and his wife there with a promise to keep us all informed. (He was rushed to a hospital and had emergency surgery, but was expected to fully recover.)

From there, we drove through some more beautiful villages to Killarney. The scenery reminded me of the Scottish Highlands-rolling hills, sheep, a house here and there, more sheep. Our hotel (an upgrade, we found out) was a 4-star with loads of room and beautiful furnishings. The dinner was phenomenal. After our late dinner, my friends went shopping and I stayed in to watch TV because I wasn't feeling well. It was neat though just to sit back, relax and watch soap operas in another country. All I needed was a good night's sleep and boy did I get it in that hotel!

On a side note, I took my film to get the pictures put on a computer disc. You may be seeing pictures sooner than I thought!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

And The Winner Is...

... Robynl!

Congratulations! You are the winner of my drawing for some books and a little Scottish surprise from my guest blogging post. Please drop me a line at and let me know your snail mail address and which type of books you like!

Thanks to everyone who's been following my journey through Ireland and the Highlands. Stay tuned. My trip was 2 weeks long and I've only covered 4 days so far. The day 5 recap will come later today. For now, I think I better get some work done!