Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Belfast: Home Away from Home

We love Belfast. It really holds a special place in our hearts. This is mostly due to the fact that J has the most fantastic family here in Belfast. J's Dad is originally from Northern Ireland and J's Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle and only first cousins (and their adorable kids) live on this side of the pond. We try to visit Belfast as often as we can, and over the years Aunt Eileen and Uncle Trevor's house has become to us, like a second home. We love spending time with J's family here. Belfast is always a place in our travels we can't wait to get to. Especially for us on this trip, Belfast was for us, a taste of home to look forward to when we were missing everything comforting.

J's family is welcoming, warm, generous and fun. Pappy (J's grandfather) is an inspiring man of 94 years! You may even recognize Pappy as having been one of our most consistent and thoughtful blog commenter over the last 15 months. It is a true pleasure to sit with Pappy, who is a brilliant story teller, and listen to his tales of life in Africa, life as a missionary, life with Nanny, and of course, his jokes. Aunt Eileen is a fantastic cook and wonderful just to be with. Uncle Trevor is funny and thoughtful. David and Holli are great, fun, cousins and their 2 year old son, Jake, is just adorable. It was the first time we had had the opportunity to meet Jake, and he really made quite the impression. He is a little blonde hair, blue eyed ball of life. His smile lights up the room and his laugh is infectious. He has his mischievous side too. The first time we met him, he and Holli had come to the all-ages Live Nativity service at church. The children were all about, as carolers, angels and shepherds. Jake isn't the kind of little boy who likes to sit still, so he set off ambling about the church, charming three-year old girls with his radiant smile. His strolling led him to the alter and the trough where baby Jesus lay. Holli was close by, about to pluck him from the alter when Jake scooped the baby Jesus doll out of the trough and held him tight. Jake wanted to be friends with Baby Jesus! The congregation all burst out laughing and the miniser, who was jut finishing up some announcements at the podium declared, with a smile, that he should finish up before he was really upstaged. Its never a dull moment with little Jake.

J's other cousin, Ali and her husband Ed live across the English Channel in Birmingham (for the moment.) Unfortunately we didn't get the opportunity to see them in person, but we were lucky enough to catch Ali and her two boys, Archie and Toby, on Skype one evening. Toby is just a year,and we had yet to meet him, so it was great to see him moving about. We had met Archie when he was just a baby and it was amazing to see him as a llittle man, streaking across the computer screen behind Ali.

There were many highlights from our time in Belfast. We enjoyed the Christmas market in front of City Hall. We had a lovely time at a lunch we attended with A. Eleen and U. Trevor's friends at a gold club Sunday afternoon. Like themselves, A Eileen and U Trevor's friends are a blast to be with. Rosie and Jane even took us on an impromptu tour of Belfast's Titanic quarter and up to see the night view from the top of Victoria Square! J got to spend lots of good quality time with his Pappy, we sorted through and were delighted by hundreds of old slides of A Eileen and J's dad in their younger years, we had a nice family dinner with David, Holli and Jake, we took Jake to the park and we even went to the theate to see a musical rendition of one of J's favourite childhood books 'The Little Prince.' As usual, we had a fantastic time in Northern Ireland left Belfast with heavy hearts, mentally calculating when we could next return. Thankfully, we were on to London, where more smiling, familiar faces awaited our arrival!


1 comment:

Mom and Dad Mooney said...

Sooo nice to see you with familiar faces! Soon it will be our turn to give you great big hugs and kisses. Loved the travel cost break down.