Visit "home" for Thanksgiving Holiday

I was lucky enough to return to Boston (my hometown) for 10 days during the Thanksgiving holiday. It was special trip in that only I returned – as the kids were in school and it’s not celebrated here in Dublin.

To start the trip off, one of my best friends, E, who moved to Florida not that long after we left the US, came up and spent 3 nights.

After visiting a few stores, including Trader Joes – LOVE LOVE – we headed over for lunch at Friendly’s.  While no one in their right mind would want to eat a grilled cheese sandwich on sour dough bread and have a Reecees Pieces Sundae but that is all I wanted.    Hard to explain the strange American food cravings you miss when abroad.   This place is special for us as when we both lived in Boston, we’d go here often with the kids and also, before we moved away I took Soren there for a special ice cream sundae treat and we split the biggest one they had.   We drove up to Plum Island and then walked around Newburyport  – another favorite village which I will one day live – I think it’s the only village in Massachusetts in which I really want to live.

Traveling alone, she and I shared a hotel room for two nights in Salem, NH as we can be close to Windham, NH home to three other great friends, N, J and E.

That Thursday night, we had a dinner and drinks in the Margaritas restaurant in the lobby so it was perfect and everyone who was invited from the Boston area made the trip up.  We had a lot of laughs and yummy drinks.  Sadly though, my nachos sucked!  Four years of trying Nachos outside of the US has made me come to realize no matter who well the menu copy sounds, they will suck!

The next morning, we did short visit over to our friend N’s house which was beautiful, huge and decorated so nicely.  E, J, N & I spent the day up at the Merrimack Valley Outlets – NO SALES tax and a lot of great stores.  I picked up a few things for the kids but had my suitcase weight not be a factor, I would have got a bit more.   As N had a birthday part to attend and needed to leave at 2:30 pm, we opted to stay at the outlets and eat lunch there so we settled for Qdoba – yep more Mexican.   Only this time, it upset my stomach so that evening, I didn’t venture outside the hotel room.  We went over to J’s house, where we got to see her father and three children day,

Finally the last day of our trip, we didn’t have any plans.  We thought about walking around Boston for the day but instead, as it was a sunny but chilly day, we headed up towards the coast of NH starting in Hampton to Rye, Portsmouth, Wells, Ogunquit, Kittery and Kennbunkport.

Our final destination was Kennebunkport, Maine for lunch.    The photos will say it all but it’s such a cute town, which I would love to live  – or in that area.  The only negative is that it is pro-bush, pro-republican as Bush Sr. has their family compound here.  Nevertheless, it was great.  Lobster rolls and bloody mary for lunch, salted caramel chocolate fudge chunk and the company of a great friend – was a great time.

After a lovely day out, it was back to Logan airport to say goodbye to E and head on to my parents house for the rest of my time in Boston.  More about that part of the trip later …

I will add that while I had an enjoyable time, I left more confused about whether or not I would want to move back to Boston any time soon.  Part of me feels, sure I could return, the other part of me says I’m not yet ready.

Many people think repatriating is harder to deal with than moving overseas in the first place.  I’m not sure… I think many problems occur when one assumes that moving back to somewhere physically familiar – the culture, language and environment will be easy. However, life changes and while for us it’s has already been 4 years living away from the States, our home has changed, our friends and family have changed too.

People who have never lived overseas tend to not understand the new outlook on life and I know it’s not possible to expect us to pick up our lives where we left off 4+ years ago.

It was nice that some friends came from Boston for vacations and it would be even better if my parents could come visit!  Truthfully,  I want to return with the kids this summer for a family vacation.  I think it would be a big eye opener if we want to return or not.    Part of me says I could return tomorrow other parts say no way.

Jobs, schools, where to live – so much to consider!


Boston Trip: Tourist Adventures – Exploring Boston’s North Shore – Beverly, Rockport & Gloucester

Today the four of us took a drive up the coast to the North Shore.  We first stopped at Bear Skin Neck in Rockport and walked around bit.

While it was Easter weekend and there were some tourists there, the full on busy season really starts in May, so many restaurants were still closed.   It was still such a pretty place to walk around and poke in and out of the shops and admire their windows.

When Maebh and I spotted a machine which stamps your penny flat with a picture of Motif 1 on it, we couldn’t resist.  So far they have 5 of them each or so from various tourists spots.  Only this one was electronic so extra cool.

And the famous Motif 1 – which I think is coined “the most often painted and possibly photographed building in America.”

This little shop had some characters outside of Gumby and Pokey so I couldn’t resist a photo.

And up the tip of Bear Skin Neck, you can see all the lovely houses dotting the coast line.  Very New England.

Speaking of houses, as we started to drive from Rockport to the Mile Marker One in Gloucester for lunch and then after into Manchester By The Sea & Beverly, we passed by some pretty neat houses.   The wooden houses which you see up in this area are so nice – especially the ones with the huge porches.

After lunch we drove by our old house and around the block so Nils could see it and immediately Soren knew where we were.  Again, Maebh says she does, but I’m still not sure how much she remembers.

We then stopped at Obear playground, our local playground, where the kids could play and run around the bases at the baseball field.  We saw a kid we knew who was just finishing baseball practice.  Made me kind of chuckle that Soren would be there had we still lived in the US.  Though Maebh was great at throwing a baseball.

Still not sure if I feel really “homesick” to the North Shore yet.  Parts of me think, oh this is so nice and I wouldn’t mind living here again, but other parts of me knows the reality of moving back to the US now is just not an option.  Perhaps one day….

Winthrop, MA: Visiting the Point Shirley & Planes Above

The kids and I took a drive around Winthrop to view our old house down on Point Shirley.  A few more cars on the corner, but not much else has changed.  When Nils is in town, we’ll have to stop over and say hi to Dan and the kids.  We stopped in the playground to see the planes coming overhead.  As Bayside on Point Shirley looks over Logan Airport and Boston skyline behind, it’s a great viewpoint to see the planes.  We’ll walk around Deer Island soon too.  Part of the fun of this time was the planes were flying overhead as they approached the runway on Logan.

The playground is in such a horrible state – I was shocked at how bad it was.  Four years ago it was starting to have broken things, but now it’s just completely ruined. They’d be better off removing all the structures than to leave it as is as it’s really just an accident waiting to happen.  The only thing they could go on was the red tire swing.

If I lived here, I’d be on a mission to do fundraisers to repair it.  I think I saw a sign in the town center with a thermometer reflecting how much money they have raised so far to improve the neighborhood parks.  This one should be top of the list – especially how the field is the main area for the July 4th Horrible’s Parade.

And some high lights of our first couple days in Boston.  The kids saw a Boston Fire Department truck outside Stop & Shop so they had a photo with the truck.


And Maebh had Pez for the first time .


Have a lot of fun with my parents cat, Jack Jack . So much so they want one back in England.

Our rental car for a few days… brand new Nissan Altima, which rides GREAT!

We visited a brand new Savers – the super thrift store where the kids got some :”new toys”.

My mother won $1,000 on a scratch ticket.

me and my mini me!

and Soren with Nils

Crane Neck Christmas Tree Farm: West Newbury, MA

Today the four of us set out to cut down our own Christmas tree! Sure part of us was thinking it was terrible to cut down a tree, bu the other part was tarnished from last year’s experience we wanted it to be as fresh as fresh could be and wanted to start a new family tradition.

So after some research we decided to head to Crane Neck Christmas Tree Farm in West Newbury. Such a nice, family-friendly place. I vaguely remember cutting down our tree 15 years so with the McIntyre family but it’s completely foreign and out of my mind.

Upon arrival we were greeted and asked if we knew what type of tree we wanted to find. I said we had loved the look of the Fraiser Fir from last year but the experience with it dying with a week of getting it home was so poor, we wanted to see what they had first. One thing was for sure, I wanted to get a glance at their $5.00 trees, yep that is right, $5.00 trees! They were nothing worth taking but we had some laughs.

We were told the general direction of some trees which would fit our needs and off we went complete with a sleigh for pulling the tree back and a saw.  How fun, right!?  It sort of backfired on us as Maebh was so tired she cried and hated almost every minute of the expedition. Soren had a lot of fun and next year will just be better!

A little past the $50 and $60 trees was a little section of “discounted trees” with tags… well a few were terrible and most were half decent. I think we lucked out too because come tomorrow (Saturday & Sunday) I think most of the “cheapo” trees will be taken.

Enjoy the photos, we had a lot of fun!

Now that was cool for a 4 year old – this net thing took the three and made it smaller and manageable!

As we were leaving some horse riders were going by – a treat for a 4 year old!

Who knew that a simple wooden board with a snowman painted on it and a hole for a face could be so entertaining.


Can you believe it, we ended up with a FIVE DOLLARS tree and to some it’s a bit like Charlie Brown’s tree, I love it.  Once decorated it will be great!

More information about the tree farm can be found on their site.  With most tree farms, depending on their size, they have to let their trees catch up, etc.  So before you head off, call or check for their site for hours and their inventory – not point in going if they are not selling trees this year