Sunday, January 03, 2010

Home sweet home

After almost an entire month of travel it feels great to be home. Even though Maisie and I are both sick and it's ridiculously, outrageously, crazy cold here with talk of snow later in the week, I'm delighted beyond words to be once again sleeping in my own comfy, cozy bed and cooking our meals again!

We closed out 2009 and rang in 2010 with a really nice trip to the U.K. where it was good fun visiting, spending time with family and friends and introducing Maisie to everyone.

Here's Maisie all ready to go. The giraffe suitcase is all my stuff, the zebra case holds all of Maisie's items and the two huge bags are both Eammon's and not shown is his carry-on. Truth be told though his two big bags were only partially full as he wanted room to bring home all the books, chocolate and tea he planned on purchasing while over there but still, Maisie and I went carry-on and Eammon had two giant checked bags.

The trip was really planned so to spend time with family and friends but we did manage to squeeze in a little bit of touristy stuff too. When we first landed in London we were met at the airport by Eammon's brother Kevin & Sister-in-law Chris who totally set us up with a car, GPS, cell phone, mini-laptop and an air card. Big huge thanks to both for everything!

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We then headed to Cardiff, Wales via Southampton. Yeah not the most direct route but Kevin's car had some issues as they drove up to meet us so we had to take them back home before we headed to Eammon's eldest brother's home in Cardiff for Christmas Eve.

While in Southampton Kevin & Cris' youngest daughter Kelly along with her husband Anthony & their daughter Molly stopped over to visit with us for our brief time there.

Once in Cardiff we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas eve dinner and then stayed up until after midnight visiting with Eammon's brother Michael and his family.

It was mid-day on Christmas by the time we awoke and Maisie was trilled that Santa had found her in Wales and had left presents under the tree. Her cousin Nancy-Claire was Maisie's constant companion helping her open gifts and playing with her all-day-long. Helen, Patrick & Laurence all entertained Maisie too but Maisie just really took to Nancy-Claire and demanded her attention.

Though it seemed like we had been non-stop eating Christmas day, huge English breakfast and endless chocolates and cocktails, we all somehow managed to find room for a Christmas dinner of beef Wellington, various roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes and Michael's terrine of three different homemade ice creams...yum!

Christmas night was another late one for us as we were so off schedule and hadn't adjusted to the time zone change so boxing day was another late start for us. While Eammon slept in very late I was happy to sit in the lounge in front of the fire while Maisie and her cousins went out into the freezing cold to walk through a park and look at swans.

After a late lunch it was time to head off to London so that we could visit with Eammon's sister & brother-in-law Ruthie & Don, their children Minnie & Steven and his girlfriend Sheila. When we were driving there I couldn't help thinking that at home with Maisie there was no way that we'd be planning to meet-up with people starting at 8PM but our body clocks were so all-over the place we just went with the flow. We had a nice visit and Maisie and Eammon managed to polish off Minnie's entire Selection Box but with Eammon and Minnie that's par for the course. Thankfully it was just a Selection Box and not Jaffa Cakes because if Minnie & Eammon are in the same room with Jaffa Cakes you need to watch your fingers and fear for your life and the life of your children as they are both Jaffaholics and love to torment one another.

I think it was after midnight by the time we got checked into our hotel and it wasn't long before we were all sound asleep as we had to get up at a reasonable hour in the morning.

Sunday morning we headed to Harrow for brunch and Maisie spotted a little airplane ride which she wanted to try so after we ate she took a spin and really enjoyed herself.

We then visited with more of Eammon's family, his brother Tim and his wife Jenny.

Maisie then got to meet her Grandmother Ruth Shanahan and Rodney. Both of Maisie's Grandmothers are named Ruth and I found it cute when Maisie would say that she wanted to see her Grandmother Ruth Shanahan so that we'd know which one she was talking about.

Kevin, Cris, Kelly, Anthony & Molly also showed up at Tim & Jenny's so we spent a nice afternoon with everyone. We were quite tired though from all our late nights so we headed back to the hotel at a reasonable hour and got some much needed rest.

Monday was one of our days to be tourists so we headed into London for a day of fun.
Right after coming off the underground we walked through Leicester Square where there was a fun fair and Maisie couldn't wait to get on the rides. Unfortunately Maisie was limited in her choices because of her height but she delighted in riding the Merry-go-round.

The only other ride she was tall enough to ride was the Waltzer so we did that one too. Maisie loved when we spun around really fast, giggling and shrieking the entire time. We actually returned to this fun fair later the same night as well as on Thursday. I think this little fair was the highlight of Maisie's trip. Guess that this summer it will be time to visit an amusement park or two.

We checked out Trafalgar Square, walked around Chinatown where we stopped at Wong Kei, our favorite place for lunch. We visited Covent Garden and watched a couple of very fun street performers. By the time we got to Covent Garden poor little Maisie was beyond tired and when we sat down for a drink she just passed out for a nap snuggled on Eammon's lap. He was quite happy to sit, rest and drink a few cups of hot mulled wine and I happily wandered around shopping until she awoke.

Just before we got on the train for the hotel we were walking through the Trocadero Centre and Maisie spotted a trampoline and wanted to have a go. She was actually a bit timid at first but once she got jumping she had a blast.

Tuesday morning we headed out to St. Albans to visit with friends. Eammon was in England five years ago but for me it's been about eight years and the last time I saw everyone there were no children in the picture but now there are seven between four couples. Funny thing too, there was a 2, 3, 4, two 5 year-olds, a 6 and a 7 year old. It was great seeing everyone again and catching up. A big thank you to Pete & Sam who hosted, wined & dined everyone, put us up for the night and for the wonderful accommodations.

By Wednesday Maisie was stick-a-fork-in-her-done. She and I had been away from our home for basically three weeks, in addition to home we'd been in three countries, traveled on five different airplanes, had done lots of hurry-up and waiting, time changes, odd schedules, too much sugar and junk food, new people and places, different beds, being sick and still not 100%. For a four-year-old she had done oh-so-well but had reached her limit, exhausted and ready to return home to Georgia. So after leaving Pete & Sam's I knew that Maisie couldn't handle being confined and/or social and I wanted Eammon to have some more time with his Mum before we headed home but I really didn't want to run around too much so I had Eammon drop Maisie and I off at the Harlequin Centre so that she and I could just walk around, sit a bit, be alone and not have to be on good behavior. She and I did our thing and Eammon enjoyed spending some one-on-one time with his Mum. By nighttime I too was exhausted, run-down, coughing and sick so we all made an early night of it and I think we were all asleep by 9PM.

Thursday was our last day in London and we were to be tourists again but with family. It was an extremely cold and gray day but we met up at the London Eye with Kevin & Chris, their eldest daughter Tammy and Grand-daughter Molly. Just to show how gray it was, the picture above was taken just about noon time and is in color but it looks more like a black and white.

Maisie was still exhausted and not feeling well so she wasn't oh-too-thrilled with the whole London Eye excursion but the rest of us really enjoyed the views and experience.

After the ride we all headed over to Chinatown and Wong Kei for a repeat of Tuesdays lunch. After lunch Tim joined us and we all went over to Leicester Square so that Maisie & Molly could do the fun park rides together where they both enjoyed themselves. We all walked around for while, visited Covent Garden again and then took Molly over to the Trocadero so that she could jump on the trampoline. Though the weather was bone chillingly cold, totally overcast and gray it was a nice end to our trip and we enjoyed spending the day with everyone.

Thursday night, New Years Eve we packed our suitcases and were in bed early. At midnight I heard fireworks and saw some flashes but couldn't be bothered to get out of bed to take a look and I was happy to let both Eammon & Maisie sleep through till the morning.

Friday was to be a long day of travel and more hurry-up and wait. Kevin, Chris & Molly met us at the airport to see us off and pick-up everything they lent to us. I'm very sure that Chris is happy to have her car back, thanks again for allowing us to use it during our visit. Due to the new security measures it made getting onto the plane a lot more time consuming than ever before. We did the usual security checks but at our gate we had to do a second security check with all the hand luggage being hand searched and body pat-downs. There were separate lines for the men and woman so Maisie and I headed off in one direction and Eammon in the other. When my bag was searched it was decided that my nail clippers, though not on the TSA's list of prohibited items, posed a security threat and needed to be confiscated. Guess that they were afraid that with the 1/8-inch-opening on them I'd forcefully and maliciously clip someones hangnail...yeah whatever. Because of all the extra security and then a problem with the truck which was used to remove the stairs to the plane we left Heathrow over 90 minutes late and we didn't make-up any of the time in-flight.

Once we landed in Atlanta it took us over 2-1/2 hours to clear immigrations and customs as well as Atlanta's ridiculous practice of when you come in on an international flight, having to go though a security search again before you're allowed to leave the airport. FYI, if you ever fly to Atlanta on an international flight and you've say, bought a bottle of liquor or any liquid or gel over 3 oz. at a duty free shop, you can't just walk off the plane and out of the airport with that bottle...oh no. After you clear immigration you have to collect your checked luggage so that you can walk it through customs before having to re-check it so that you can pass through a security check before picking up your luggage again on the other side and then walk out of the airport. Well when you pick up your luggage after immigration you'd better stuff that bottle into your checked bag before re-checking it because even if Atlanta is your final destination, because you have to go though security again, you're not allowed to carry anything more than 3 oz and what fits in your one-quart bag out of the airport. Crazy, crazy, crazy I know.

Right now, all I can say is that it's great to be home and we're looking forward to returning to our normal schedule. Maisie's very excited to return to school and gymnastics and I'm ready to get things around the house organized and not be living out of a suitcase.


  1. Lisa, I'm just scrolling through and catching up on your posts. It's fun to see both sides of the family :) And to see so much of Eammon on the blog :)

    It looks like you have had some fun holiday adventures...but to be honest the beach looks best! But you do have a cute hat to keep warm- you look darling and warm in the pics.

    Sorry that you are home to cold. We are buried in snow, but that's to be expected. We also shook a little last night with an earthquake- yikes!


  2. Oh, I feel a spark of jealousy here - London...Sigh. Love that place. I think I should have been British.

    Fantactic hat my dear - LOVE IT! Glad you're back home!

  3. Wow, that is a huge adventure. Looks like you guys had an awful lot of fun to close out the old year. And here's to some wonderful sleep and time at home to get all restored and ready for the new year.

  4. How fun to read all about your European Vacation! And welcome home...

  5. For the Shannys reading this. After 50 seconds of the video showing the panorama of London, the domed building you can see in the centre of the screen is St. Pauls Cathedral, not the local mosque as my brother Kevin advised the other people in our carriage.
    :o) Eammon

  6. Okay! I went to college in London for a semester. Went to South Hampton too...okay all over Englad and Wales and Scotland. I loved your post!!!! Loved the pictres!!!! Man, it makes me want to go back. Thanks for sharing with me.


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