No Where #Ireland Family #Roadtrip


Author, Ryan King shows thickness of walls at Rathgall Stone Fort, Ireland. Anyone else wondering how tall they were?

If you think Ireland destinations, you might think of Shannon and Galway, of walking the Cliffs of Moher, kissing the Blarney Stone, stepping on the Giant’s Causeway, or driving the Ring of Kerry. We did none of these on our family roadtrip.

I tried to sell my husband on the beauty of the Cliffs of Moher.

He asked, “How many people die there each year?”


Safest way to view Cliffs of Moher (image by

“Well, there is soil erosion at the edges and the occasional gust of wind, so a few…plus suicides.” Later I found out these unprotected cliffs are one of the 12 deadliest tourist spots in the world.  “We can be careful,” I said.

“With our four boys? No cliffs–anywhere.”

With that we headed to Ireland back roads. Using our fave holiday home rental search, we landed on the outskirts of Tullow. Never heard of it? Neither had we. It’s in the middle of no where. In Ireland, though, there’s always something to see and do with our sons.

The Rathwood nature park no longer features Falconry and Birds of Prey. I really wanted to hold an owl like the kid in the ad. The furry ponies were apparently grazing elsewhere, so we saw the deer and headed into the woods. A wide gravel path meandered to the goose pond. The place struck me as where-to-walk-your-stroller, but the boys enjoyed being out. If you’re a shopping looking for fine gifts of clothing and decor, the Rathwood Center is a great place. We zipped through hoping the boys wouldn’t break anything very expensive and hit the road.

The Rathgall Stone Fort was our find of the day. With outer walls from 800 B. C., the “Ring of Rath” is actually one of the most important Bronze Age sites in Ireland because of the bronze and later iron workshop excavated there. Discover Ireland says, “Rathgall was a huge workshop where spears, swords and shields were fashioned.” Clay molds, gold and glass beads, and the like were all found, although you’ll have to hit a museum to see the artifacts (some one of a kind for Ireland). Makes sense that beyond the thick stone inner walls, you walk out through three successively larger earthworks and stone rings protecting what was once a wealthy family or community.

Ireland also abounds with ruins, but unlike Wales, they are most likely to be of abbeys or monasteries. Seeing the clouds drifting behind open arches of once great windows in places of worship was both enchanting and a bit depressing to me. With better weather, you photographers of all skill levels would have a heyday. Pressing small feet and the always hungry tummies of our four sons kept me on the move.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-10-49-27-amWe couldn’t find an Irish Bakery to compare to The Welsh Bakery at all, but we scored a 5 EUR skateboard, 3 EUR Manchester United sport shirt and more at the charity 2nd hand shop. These are great places (also around the UK) to find off the wall, sometimes literally, souvenirs from Irish crystal candy dishes to vintage outerwear. Make sure to stop in if you get the chance!

I stayed back with three of our sons who wanted an active day of swimming and playing at our accommodations while our eldest son got his desired daytrip to Dublin with dad. They did the touristy town tour, saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and enjoyed Guinness in its hometown at the pub lunch.

Our days passed quickly, and next we headed to the coast to spend a day around Wexford before catching our return ferry to Wales. More on the coast next time. We did make one important discovery in and around Tullow.

Everywhere Ireland is close to Somewhere Ireland, and even No Where Ireland is a great place to go.


Related Links:

Largest Stone Age Capstone in All Europe Near Tullow

Movies Made at The Cliffs of Moher

Puffins and Other Birds Nesting on Cliffs of Moher

Top 10 Things to See for Ireland First Timers


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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Living in Holland


Castles, Cakes and Cows #Wales #Roadtrip


Pembroke Castle (Image from Coastal Cottages Blog)

If castles are your thing, then Wales is the place you want to go. I’m not talking about “modern” palaces with fine decor like Neuschwanstein and Versailles, but honest to goodness medieval fortresses, the kind of places to take refuge from the Zombie hordes. Choose carefully though as the castles are in various states of repair with diverse access to fresh water and other necessities.

These hotly contested lands were divided into at least four factions in the 1200’s–all of whom tried to secure their holdings withe stone upon stone. As posted previously, our family road-trip covered four countries, counting Holland, England, Wales and Ireland. I had no idea Wales would become one of my favorite places in all Europe. screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-4-36-47-pm

The Welsh people, much more so than the Irish and the Scottish, have held onto their native tongue (e.g. all signs in Welsh & English, so you know you’ve arrived), heritage, and culture. We heard Welsh everywhere from the pub chatter, the waitresses to the gas station attendants and customers. It’s every day, every where including most schools.

We stayed out of big tourist places making one concession by visiting Pembroke Castle. Having recently seen a bit of the fortress in the movie “Me Before You” (yes, you will cry), I was unprepared for the massive structure. Surrounded by a water-filled moat (swans a-swimming), looming towers, Pembroke captured the best of both history with dioramas, models of various building stages, to scale model reconstructions. Characters stood ready to tell you about the scullery, the knighthood, the falconry and more of medieval life. With our four boys, we broke away from the Free Tour to explore at our own pace.

Pembroke also afforded us our only “gift shop” of the sort to carry my collector spoons, my son’s pins, and Christmas ornament and such. We’d already decided to buy a Welsh flag as well and couldn’t find one till here, where several sizes tantalized.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-4-24-36-pmAs interesting as Pembroke Castle was, my family enjoyed Wiston just as much, maybe more for the kids. We found Wiston by taking an adventure drive with no destination our first afternoon. Brown signs pointing to castles, ruins, hill forts and such abound. Stumbling upon Wiston, we discovered a ruin built around the same time as Pembroke by Wizo (love that name). Wiston is a prime example of moat and bailey construction.

Hiking through the field past earthworks and up the hill, sharing the place with cows who quite frankly found us fascinating was a real kick. One of my sons took the opportunity to stand on the castle’s hillside and give a speech thanking the cows for their support as his bovine audience lined up to watch him with serious intent. We may have worn our boys out on castles though, as the youngest sidled up to hold my hand and said, “Boy, you guys sure like history.”

img_0065We stayed on the outskirts of Haverfordwest, where a short walk took us to Spittal’s only and authentic community pub, The Pump on the Green where we ate our fill included family style bowls of peas and carrots for all.

Our best food discovery, though, were the Welsh cakes. Even the gas station had them in packages of six–perfect for our troop. I bought a package of Welsh cakes almost every time we stopped. Ryan glanced over and sighed when I returned to the car. But how could I pass up the ginger and dark chocolate Welsh cakes when the traditional fare was made with raisins? BTW- The Welsh Bakery is not to be missed. Their toffee-tiffin cut up like fudge bites is mouthwatering yum-yum.


The Welsh cakes we had were almost 3 inches across.

I’m not sure how I lived in the EU so long without visiting Wales, but I would return in a heart beat. “Keep Calm and Cwtch” said the tea cozy, and who of us doesn’t need a nice hug or cuddle?





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Posted by on November 13, 2016 in Food, Travel


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Divine Appointments #SoulfulSunday

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-1-57-34-pmThere was a certain older man, German by birth, who received a message from God. I know not if it came to him in a dream, a voice, a vision, or by some other means. Was he in Germany, The Netherlands, or elsewhere? The details are lost to me.

God told the man that he was to be baptized, that he was to go to the Central Station in The Hague and to wait. The man prepared a bag packing a long white robe and everything else he thought he needed for this day appointed by God in his life.

There was another man, quite young, who recently called on the name of Jesus and was saved. The young man had a passion for sharing the good news that Jesus could make other people new and change their lives. Jesus did this for him and, the young man was certain, wanted to do this for others in his home city. In order to share, the young man joined a small group from his church that walked the streets of the city in pairs stopping to talk, to listen, and to speak of Jesus to any who would listen.

So it came to pass, that the young man entered the train station only a few blocks from where he worshiped God each Sunday. The day was a Saturday, and while many people busily went from place to place with no time to talk to a stranger on the street, those people in the train station waiting for their ride to arrive or for a friend to disembark were idly engaged. The train station was a good place to converse with a stranger about any subject, the weather, the travel schedule, and even the love of God.

As the young man from The Hague walked up to the older man from Germany, they were a study in contrasts. The German stood with a bag on his shoulder, his windblown gray hair standing out even in doors, and his full salt and pepper beard covering half his face. Clean shaven from the tip of his chin to the top of his head, the young man asked the older if he knew about Jesus.

“Yes, I do. In fact God sent me here today to wait for someone who will baptize me.”

“That’s me,” said the young man.

The elder praised God.

Thus two strangers from different lands met in The Hague by divine appointment. They took a tram to the sea and walked through dry sands to wet by the Scheveningen pier where one donned a white robe. Perhaps passersby stared. Some probably stopped to watch.

I was not there that day, however, I was in church the next Sunday when a video was shown, where I watched a young new believer bless the older and lower him beneath the waves and back up to walk in the fullness of life. My heart strained with wonder.

We never know when God is working, where he might bring us together with someone He wants us to reach out to. Perhaps we have a word, a kindness, a testimony they need. Or perhaps, it is they who will bless us most unexpectedly. I pray we rise to the occasion and give glory to God.

They may not be marked on the calendar or give an alarm tone on our phone, but we can be on the look out for them nonetheless.

Divine Appointments


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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Living in Holland


4 Boats, 4 Boys, 4 Countries -Family #Roadtrip #Holland #Wales #Ireland


My husband can’t pass up the opportunity for a LOTR reference, “Yes,” he says, “We’re driving to Ireland, There and Back Again.” You might be thinking of cheap flights this time of year and all the time saved. I was. I tried to run the numbers for flying and renting a minivan. When you’ve got four kids, though, the numbers don’t add well.

Then Ryan had to say, “And I’ve always wanted to go to Wales.” He knows how to hook me by throwing in some exotic destination I’ve never seen. Oh, he had me good.

You might think we’re a wee bit crazy. Several of our friends did as well. For a family like ours, though, the road trip is a classic. Simply must be done every so often. This one had a lot of flair.

Four boats. That’s right, the ferry lines actually make these deals for what they call the “Land Bridge” across Europe. Their opening salvo “From 118 euro” catches you before you add in the mandatory cabins for our night crossing (had to get 3 x 2 berths), the 2 euro beverages you swear you won’t buy but end up with (at least  few) anyway, and the fact that that was a one-way price not including the car and 5 of the passengers. The price was significant less than flying and renting, plus we saw so much more.

We slept on the Hoek Van Holland to Harwich boat, the sea a motion of lullaby all night long. For the next week you might have thought our family motto was “Drive on the Left” as often as we said it. We even set the GPS to remind us every time we put in a new destination. The Irish Sea crossing from Fishguard to Rosslare was not so amiable as 3 out of 6 ended up with sea sicknesses. I mostly slept and read, though. That’s the beauty of having four boys–Dad takes them to the bathroom.

Before our return, however, I’d researched seasickness prevention, and we implemented a number of solutions. I have to give a shout-out to the gcaptain for the best list on the web of ways to prevent seasickness .

On the return trip we ate a low fat starchy breakfast, took meds an hour before, chewed peppermint gum both for different cadence and aromatherapy, chanted in the car “I will not get sea sick,” and claimed the limited seats at the end of the boat where we could gaze at the unmoving horizon in the distance. The two of us with sinus issues also took meds for that. Did I mention we prayed? We prayed quite a bit. The Irish Sea and English Channel on return were both fun days of catching the free movie (Rosslare to Fishguard), reading, and playing soccer with new friends (Harwich to Hoek Van Holland).

The Landbridge Roadtrip was a huge success. We had the comfort of our own vehicle, masses of snacks and food packed that saved us quite a bit, and we got off the beaten path where we never might have gone otherwise. Four countries, I said, but those will have to wait for upcoming blog posts.



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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Living in Holland, Travel


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Books for Your Family Trip #Ireland #Wales #Roadtrip

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-07-04-amThe school librarians saw me coming and knew I’d be leaving for holiday with a bag of books. Our recent school vacation (blogs forth coming) opened the doors for a King family road trip from Holland to Ireland by car with a few days in Wales. Below are the books I weighed our vehicle down with and the links to my reviews on Goodreads. Several of the chapter books were not read, because I’m in the midst of reading Harry Potter aloud to our younger sons. Also because they were all carrying assigned books from school.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-46-25-amOur younger sons loved hearing the short Irish legend as rendered by Tomie De Paola, Fin M’Coul, The Giant of Knockmanyhill. They laughed out loud as Fin’s wife helped him outwit his arch enemy, the bully giant Cucullin.

For your family Halloween read, check out the Irish ghost story, Kate Culhane, and for bringing the Irish-Manx-Scottish water horse legends to new life, read The Scorpio Races. (5 Star Middle Grade)screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-33-07-am

Join me on Goodreads here.


Best for Ireland: Kate Culhane: A Ghost Story by Michael Hague (5 Star), and Leprechaun Luck: A Wee Book of Irish Wisdom (5 Star) by Erin Gobragh and Catherine O’Neillscreen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-14-30-am

Nonfiction Reviewed: Castle (4 Star) by David Macaulay, The Horrible History of Britain and Ireland (4 Star) -includes Wales and Scotland, or course, A to Z Ireland (3 Star) by Justine and Ron Fontes, and Wales (3 Star) by Tamara L. Britton.screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-15-34-am

Fiction Highly Recommended by Librarians: Nory Ryan’s Song (A Girl in Potato Famine) by Patricia Reilly Giff (#1 Librarian Pick for Upper Elementary and Middle Grade), Twist of Gold by Michael Morpurgo (Brother and Sister from Cork to California). fiction-set-in-ireland

Also recommended and set in Ireland or set in Wales (thereabouts): Atemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Leprechaun in Late Winter (Magic Tree House #43) by Mary Pope Osborne, Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist by R.L. LaFevers.

Selected Travel Guides: Back Roads Ireland (DK Eyewitness Travel) (4 Stars), and  The AA Guide to Wales (3 Stars).screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-43-09-am



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Other People’s Mail #moving

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-9-37-12-amI have a little confession to make: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading other people’s mail for the last couple years. Whose mail you ask? Gimme a minute.

Unlike the US where those Halloween pumpkins pieces left in neighbors’ mailboxes by my unruly friends violated federal laws protecting the mail, Holland seems to have a more relaxed attitude regarding the post. Want to stuff mailboxes with flyers? No problem, just follow the Nee-Nee stickers on their boxes. The post situation is usually direct.

Official mail tends to find its way to the correct addressee in short order–unless an international move takes place. To take up the slack time for our US mail, we leave a forwarding order at the US Post Office closest where we’re leaving directing all our postage-paid items to my parent’s house (especially if we don’t have a new address for where we are going). Mom is great about letting us know if an item of import turns up while we are in transition. (Thanks, Mom!)

Forwarding mail comes at a price that doesn’t extend to posting to other countries. Hence the detailed list of places to notify of a change of address you make prior to moving. Several items fell through the cracks in my system when we moved to Holland, and they tended to be those mailed only once a year.

The previous occupants of our house in The Netherlands left a good bit of post behind including their yearly bill for the Thames Royal Yacht Club, a few investment updates, and their subscription to Engineering & Technology Magazine. I may not be very tech savvy, but I’ve discovered I love reading cutting edge news from the field.


Industrial sabotage suspected in Space X explosion. Image from

For two years now I’ve eagerly torn the plastic baggie off EandT Magazine to delve into the world of tomorrow today. Did you know a rocket from Space X exploded during take off recently at Cape Canaveral? Or that Lionfish are invading the Caribbean? You may ask how a fish becomes a leading technology story. Well, it turns out a remote controlled robot is being tested for use against these ecosystem invaders. Recently an airship that looks like two blimps strapped together crashed in the UK, and the world’s first array using tidal water movement to make electricity was connected to the grid in Scotland. That’s just on page 6 and 7!

Hopefully you understand why I’m reading other people’s mail these days. What I don’t understand is how they’ve forgotten to update their address with the magazine for two solid years.

Here’s to hoping for a 3rd year of postal neglect.


Kristin King is an author and US expat living in The Netherlands. She has no magazine subscriptions of her own but might consider signing up for a tech mag when other people’s mail becomes unavailable.


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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in Living in Holland


Dutch Caribbean Menu #Foodie

Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare

Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare

You may remember the posts I did about another part of Holland, the Caribbean islands which are part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. (Yes, I know Holland is actually a region not the country.) My poor husband had to visit the Dutch Antilles for work, and special menu was planned one night of the visit. Was it full of coconuts and exotic islander fare?

Not exactly. Regardless, I thought I’d share the courses and parings for all you foodies out there.

Appetizer – Shrimp Salad paired with “Solo Quinta” 2013 (Rare White Blend)/Recas

Soup – Ciorba de Perisoare (Romanian sour soup with vegetables and meatball – photo)

Click for Romanian Sarmale Recipe

Click for Romanian Sarmale Recipe

Main Course – Romanian Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls made with sour cabbage stuffed with pork, beef, and rice) AND Traditional “Cordon Bleu” (Rose veal meat wrapped around Schweitzer cheese and mushrooms) with spinach and potatoes. Paired with “La Putere”/Feteasca neagra 2013/Recas

Dessert – Cake with vanilla cream, caramel and nuts or fruit salad – Paired with Cabernet Sauvignon 1998/Odobesti

Not what you expected?

Me either. You know how it is when you travel though, it’s hard to say what you might be eating. It’s all part of the adventure.

Related Posts:

This Is The Netherlands?!? (Guest Post and Images by Ryan King)

The Netherlands an Island? (Images of Curacao)

Summer Longing for the Sea (Curacao)


Kristin King is an author and American expat living in The Netherlands. Currently her dog sits to her left and the bedroom balcony door is open on a cool, sunny Dutch day.


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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Food, Living in Holland, Travel


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