Boston Trip: Tourist Adventures – U.S.S. Constituion & Barking Crab

As the weather was unseasonably warm (close to 80 degrees!) for the one day, we chose to do something outdoors.   As I thought the kids would enjoy a trip on a boat to see the U.S.S Constitution – aka “Old Ironsides”, we opted to head to the city.

This is a photo of it sailing during the July 4th celebrations in Boston Harbor.

So trying to make it a real adventure for the kids, we parked our car at the Wonderland T station which is the end of the line and took the T to Aquarium stop. First we had a quick visit to the seals outside the New England Aquarium before getting a slurpee and goldfish at the 7-11.

Then we took the commuter water shuttle from Long Wharf to Charlestown Navy Yard.  Once there, we walked over to the U.S.S Constitution only to find out it was CLOSED on Mondays!  Grr…

So annoying as I looked on their site and swear it said open every day from 10-6 … turns out it says Tuesday – Sunday and I just overlooked it.  Why would they not write “CLOSED MONDAY” right on the section where the hours are on their site.  We were not the only ones turned away.

From the boat, you get such a nice view of the city including Nils’ old apartment at Lincoln Wharf.  [the arch windown on the red colored buliding.]

 We did, however, go inside the U.S.S Constitution Museum to learn about the ships history and what life was like for those who were aboard her. 

Afterwards we took a trip back on the water shuttle back to Long Wharf, where we then walked over to the Barking Crab for lunch.  At the Barking Crab, we took a seat in the far corner nearest the street where we overlooked the street.  As we are expecting a big storm on Tuesday, there was a lot of wind and the plastic flap of the door nearest our table was blowing hard but not enough to hit us. We were sitting there waiting for our food, the kids were coloring when suddenly a huge gust of wind blows open the plastic which hits a latter leaning against the wall.  Suddenly the ladder flies over and lands on top of Soren! His head was between the rungs and it landed hard on this shoulders and hit the left side of his head.   Screaming crying, it was dead silent in the place and he was so scared.  The poor guy has no luck – always getting injured.  As he already has a broken arm, my dad told the lady to call 911 and have him checked over by a paramedic. 

So within about 5 minutes, we hear sirens from the ambulance and Soren and I go over to the other part of the restaurant where it was closed so they could check him over.  We all agreed, he probably will have bruised shoulder but he didn’t need to go by ambulance to the ER.  The lady then gives us our lunch FREE and both kids get a souvenier t-shirt.  The manager wrote out an accident/incident report but you know that she was afraid of a lawsuit.  He seemed find but just shook up – poor kid!

When we left, we took the “new” Silver Line.  My parents, both who work for the T, wanted to check it out as it’s part electric with rails overhead and then switches to diesil fuel.  In looking over the map, we read it that the line would take us to the airport, where we could pick up the blue line at the T stop there and head back to our car.  But as we went around, we realized rather quickly that it didn’t stop at the T station at all and we were back into the city where we started.  So instead we took Red Line at South Station one stop, then took the Orange line at Downtown Crossing one stop to State Street, where we then took the blue line to the end of the line.   

It was a big adventure for all.

National Trust: Spring has Spring. Scooting, Birds, Frogs & Flowers at Sheringham Park

After Maebh got out of school today, I took her to First day of Spring! After school today, M & I spent some time scooting around Sheringham Park, checking out the frogs, bird feeders and flowers. Then headed to Sheringham to have an ice cream by the seaside – a little windy but she loved it.

She is getting better & better at scooting – though she still tires easy so I have to hold her by her coat and push her…while she steers.

Dublin, Ireland: Exploration & Fact Finding Trip – Day Five

We saved the best for last.  On our last day in Dublin, we spent the day checking out “Howth” (rhymes with both).  Howth is a small fishing village about 25-30 minutes north of Dublin City Center.   We took the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) which is the commuter rail line like in Boston.   The train station puts you in the main dock area where there are restaurants, who get their fish straight from their own boats right there.

The community website is “Howth Is Magic” and we loved the town.  Of all the places we’ve seen so far, this one was by far, the one that our family could live if we chose to move to Dublin.  It was a cross between Marblehead, Gloucester and Winthrop – three of our favorite places, so you’ll see why it’s perfect.  Marblehead in that it has some multi-million homes on the sea and a lively Yacht Club.  Gloucester in that it is a main fishing village with loads of history.  And Winthrop in that it has a quite working-class, seaside vibe and close to the big city.

 In addition, on the weekends throughout the year, there is a market which is a typical one you find.  Fresh bread, fruit & veg, along with some crafts and other home made bits.

We walked along the first pier checking out the seals and the fishing boats.  They even have an RNLI Lifeboat.  It was very windy, so we didn’t bother going up the other much longer piers to the end but I did take photos of it.

Each day when the fishing vessels unload, they throw all their scraps and chum into the water and that is why the inlet is filled with about a dozen seals.

They actually have three piers, which you can see better from this photo I took when we were flying in on Wednesday morning.  The far right pier and inlet area is for fishing vessels, the middle is for the Howth Yacht Club and the one on the left is a walking one with two lighthouses at the end. 

Off the coast is an island called “Ireland’s Eye” which you can see from the main pier and in the summer, you can take a boat there.  

Also off of Howth’s coast are several shipwrecks, the MV Tayleur and the MV Geraldine! Since it was underwater we couldn’t see it BUT I found out some of it’s history. During WWII England was experiencing severe food shortages because many of their transport vehicles had been targeted by Germans. They relied very heavily on fishing vessels and since Ireland is so close they were a large provider of the fish. Once Germany realized this they started targeting Irish fishing vessels bringing fish to England. During one such incident, a German submarine sunk the MV Geraldine and killed 5 of its crew members.

All week long Soren and I had planned on having lunch at the Bloody Stream and eat oysters.  As it was still early, we head over towards the yacht club to let the kids play at the playground in the grassy area.  Such a perfect place for the kids to play.   When there, the sky suddenly turned dark and it started to pour rain which turned to hail.  So we ran across the street and looked for the closest pub we could retreat.

We found the Abbey Tavern.  We started out having only one drink and set off to leave, but when we opened the door, suddenly it started to pour again.  So we ended up having lunch there.  It was okay… I had the seafood chowder, of course.

After we left the pub, we walked up to the top of the hill and took some photos and took in the view and then walked back down via St. Mary’s Abbey.

As we approached the town, we saw a Coast Guard helicopter flying above hovering around the piers.  Then we spotted a bunch of emergency vehicles near the side of the pier.   We later found out that there was a fishing vessel which left the pier and a person onboard fell down the stairs and was knocked unconscious.  The Coast Guard lowered a paramedic onboard to stabalize the person until they brought their boat back in to the waiting ambulance.

By this time, Maebh was fast asleep and we popped into the Bloody Stream, where we Soren & I enjoyed our oysters before heading back on the train to Dublin to get our bags and head to the airport for our flight home.

Dublin, Ireland: Exploration & Fact Finding Trip – Day Four

On Saturday, the four of us traveled from Dublin via the Dart (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train to Bray sort of on a fact-finding mission.

He had heard it was a nice seaside place to live, just 45 minutes or so, south of Dublin in County Wicklow.   The town was nice, the beach area was cute with some restaurants and hotels and the amazing Wicklow mountains just off the coast, but I just don’t see us living there (if we move to Dublin).  Nils thought it was a bit like Cromer…. an old Victorian seaside community which is past it’s prime but great in the summer time.  I like Cromer, so I defend it, naturally and can see parts of that point.

One of the highlights of Bray is the Sea Life Centre, which is an aquarium right on the beach.  We have been wanting to go to the ones here in Hunstanton or Great Yarmouth for a while, but the cost for a family to go is quite high, so we have not yet gone.  But as I had a buy one child ticket, get an adult ticket free offer from Kellogg’s breafkast bars,  we decided to do it.  Plus it was raining on & off so thought an indoor place was a good idea.

The kids LOVED it!  It was not a huge place, but there was a guy who worked there, who did a few demonstrations like fed the piranhas – and shared some myths about them.  He says you can walk across their tank with bear feet and they’d leave you alone.  He talked about how they got the reputation about stripping a cow in seconds was from a trip to the Amazon River in 1913 by President Roosevelt where they starved some fish so that they’d attack…

There was a really cool octopus.

This Sea Life Centre specializes in breeding Sea Horses – which were sooo cool.  I have a few videos of them, which I’ll upload soon.

He then opened up the touch tank and shared a lot more info with everyone nearby.  Kids loved that part!  The kids received ribbons for touching starfish and anemone.  And at the end, as they got all their answers correct on the scratch card quiz (thanks to Nils for some help), they got a second one.  Of course, you end in the gift shop and both kids wanted everything especially all the Octonaut stuff, but thankfully we talked them out of it quickly. 🙂

It was a lot of fun and we’re hoping to go to some of the others. Though due to the storm in early December, the Hunstanton location closed and relocated their animals to other centers, but once open, we’ll definitely check it out.  There is even a Sea Life Centre in London, so when we are there for a visit, perhaps we can go.

Once we left the Sealife Centre, we walked up to the town center to see what it was like. Nothing really grabbed us here – some standard shops like Specsavers and KFC but when Nils suggested I poke around in the three charity shops, while he takes the kids to a nearby pub for a drink, I jumped at it.

Instead of having lunch in Bray, we took the DART up to Dalkey to check out that town.  We heard it was really a great place to live and judging by the cars on the road, Range Rovers, Porsche, BMW and the fact that Bono from U2 lives there, it is not a place for us to live! 🙂  Surely we’d be back for visits to walk around the town, attend the Lobster Festival, explore Dalkey Castle (originally named Goat Castle) and just enjoy the seaside but not a place to live.  We had lunch in a nice pub called the Magpie Inn. Seafood chowder was great – and they had a large selection of Craft Beers so a big plus.  The other place which we were eyeing was Finnergan’s Pub, which is the place where Bono and his wife took Michelle Obama and her daughters for lunch when in Ireland – so widely popular and full.   In fairness to the town, we didn’t spend much time walking around as it was really raining and it was cold.  I’m sure it’s a lovely place to explore in the summer.  The few shops which windows I peeked in were so nice – a bit like Newburyport with the old money of Beacon Hill.

Afterwards we took the DART up to Sandymount and walked through Ballsbridge.  Another popular neighborhood which some find really nice stately homes.  Many Embassies and diplomatic residences but truthfully again, not a place for us.  Just take a look at these two beautiful homes – lovely right. The rental market for such homes is from €3,000 to €5,000 per month and sometimes more on! 100% not an option for us.  Sure there are some 2 bedroom apartments just around €2,000 – but you can get a lot more elsewhere. (4+ bedrooms for that much money and even less!) 

I did some research online to get opinions from others and have been doing a lot of looking at properties, schools, etc.   Based on all the properties posted for sale, here are the ten most expensive areas in Dublin (found this online – not my findings).

1.) Sandymount!
2.) Dalkey/Sandycove 
3.) Ranelagh
4.) Ballsbridge
5.) Rathgar
6.) D4
7.) Foxrock
8.) Dublin Mountains
9.) Howth
10.) Booterstown/Mount Merrion 

Forest Schools at Sheringham Park

Even though Maebh & Soren’s school has a weekly Forest School – Outdoor learning component built into the annual curriculum, the teachers arranged a full day for the Nursery & Reception kids at Sheringham Park.  I combined working that day at the park so that I could join them right after lunch.

It was organized by the same staff, from the Acorn Toddler group, who did the other events I have blogged about before: Animal Adventure AdventureA Shore ThingMagnificent MothsDon’t Worry Bee Happy, It’s A HootOwl Prowl and a few more.

The morning they had some walks around the park, did some activities.  When I joined them, they went into the learning center to build their own Yule Logs.

After they mixed their own sweet dough in cups.  They rolled their dough into sausage like shapes and put them on the sticks, which they whittled earlier in the session.  We then headed over to the tarp covered circle area where Rob had a fire set up.  Parents were invited to come join the kids at 2 pm for the bonfire portion of the day.

 After some warm cocoa and sweet dough on sticks, a book was read and then we were off.

They all had such a great time and I’m still laughing about how they were all bundled up for a full day outside in the cold, complete with waterproof covers.  Can you imagine a dozen 3 & 4 year old kids going to the toilet a few times during the session? It took about 1/2 hour each time!