Last weekend my nieces came down from North Tipperary to join in Winterval festivities, which are happening all over Waterford City. As Maeve is much too small to really get what’s happening, having our 7 and 10 year-old girls over was a lot of fun and really got us into the Christmas spirit! I mentioned in my last post how wonderful Ireland is at this time of year. There may not be any snow on the ground, but the way the towns, villages and cities are decorated and the shops are set up leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. I feel so blessed to have such a large family of in-laws here – it really takes away the sting of being away from Cape Breton and my parents/brothers/nieces/sisters-in-law/aunties/uncles and cousins (I have a pretty big family too!).
Aside from the monumental task of baking I always set for myself, I have been taking the time to enjoy our first Christmas in Ireland as a little family. Maeve may only be four months old, but she seems to sense something special is going on. She met Santa with her cousins (not a tear was shed!) and has put up with the ridiculous outfits I’ve been shoving her arms and legs into. For being such awesome parents, we are rewarded daily with beaming, gummy smiles, little baby chuckles (as she dreams of nice things) and ferocious playfulness (she cries hard and she plays hard).
So last Sunday we bundled her into her sling and set of to explore what Winterval had to offer, nieces and sister-in-law in tow.
We started at Greyfriars’ Municipal Art Gallery and had a look at some of the paintings and photographs on display. There were some fluffy floor pillows strewn around and the girls had fun playing in them while we looked at the art. I loved the different paintings and photos of Waterford through the years – there is so much history in this small city and I’m constantly learning new things about my adopted home.
We went to Reginald’s Tower next, hoping to catch some of the storytelling that was going on, but we were a bit too early. No problem; we were able to enjoy the tower free of admission that day. We climbed to the top, stopping on each floor to see the many artifacts on display and watched a film about the history of Waterford and the tower, which is well over a thousand years old.
After the tower, we stopped at The Reg, where the girls had a hot chocolate while watching a Christmas movie and we adults sipped hot, mulled wine and had a quiet chat. I think The Reg has the right idea – keeping the kids occupied for a little while so the adults can rest their feet and have a nice drink. I fed Maeve and then we were on our way to the horse drawn sleigh, which I had booked a few days prior.
The sleigh was running a bit behind schedule due to traffic, so we went across the street to the museum and Bishop’s Palace. The Singing Christmas Tree was located behind the palace, so we listened to some lovely Gaelic songs and carols from the male singing group Cor Fear na nDeise. We made our way back to the horse drawn sleigh and this time they were ready for us. We had a fun, bumpy, entertaining ride through the city.
Finally, we made our way to the city center where the Christmas Carousel is set up. Patrick and I took the baby to No. 9 Café for a cup of tea while the girls had a ride on the carousel.
We had a full, busy day but there is so much more to see, do and take advantage of. After Christmas, we’ll be making our way to the skating rink for an evening of ice skating.
The kids had so much fun, but maybe just as importantly, so did the adults. I’m so proud to reside in such a proactively festive city. Well done to all involved!