Endless Summer

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A few weeks ago when chatting with my friend Kirstyn she asked me how I felt about not getting a summer holiday this year. While we both took some time to ourselves over the past few months this counts as the first summer in our respective 24 years where we haven’t had at least two months of pure freedom. Oh the perks of being a student. It wasn’t something I had thought about and so her question stopped me for a second.

Truly, it feels like I have been on summer holidays since I moved to California. I think it might have something to do with the weather? I’m joking…it has everything to do with the weather. I can count on one hand how many times it has rained since we arrived. (This is not a good thing, the drought is truly a natural disaster.) However, for this Irish girl so used to a damp, cold and changeable climate being able to count on sunshine for days on end is nothing short of revolutionary. 

It is one, big, long, endless summer and it’s coming to a close. My heart is starting to beat towards home again and it’s all kind of coming full circle. Before then here are some photos to recap on the last couple of months. 

When Hannah came we spent some time exploring San Francisco before embarking on our road trip. We cycled through the city and across the bridge to Sausalito which is a cheesy, touristy thing to do but definitely worth it. I love cycling around this city. 

We spent 4th of July at Lake Anza. I read half a book, basked in the heat of the glorious sunshine and avoided the millions of kids in the water. Haha. 

These above four photos are from Jack London Square in Oakland. For about ten minutes of my commute to work this is my view. It’s stunning no matter the weather or time of day—though the morning I shot these photos was particularly stunning.

What are brothers for except playing leap frog and other weird stuff like that? We have fought and we have made up and bickered and drove each other crazy this summer but it has been nice to have him here…most of the time. 

We have spent some time housesitting and garden-sitting over the last few months. These are some of my favourite photos I’ve taken this summer. 

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Hanging out in Temescal Alley is always a good idea, especially for those filled-right-before-your-eyes doughnuts from Dolly’s! 


How has your summer been lovelies? It was 34 degrees on Monday and in the high 20s today so it doesn’t look like this summer is ending any time soon. I think we’ll just have to come home to get our quota of autumn-winter chills and cosy fireside cuddling. 

When Family Visits.

We had some visitors a couple of weeks ago and I can’t stop looking at the photos. It was a whirlwind week with my three year old cousin Emily and her lovely mama Mel. We ate, drank and did a lot of playing.  Three year olds don’t make for great tourists; they can be grumpy and demanding but when they’re sweet, they are so so sweet.

Here are some things I want to remember from this week:

How you momentarily forgot what ‘blowing a raspberry’ was and instead, when prompted, just blew air onto Richard’s belly. 

How you sat and painted pictures with me in the sunshine.

How we spent hours making ‘leaf soup’ in the garden from your previous day’s impromptu leaf collection. 

How you exclaimed with glee in the restaurant (we were playing Mr Napkinhead) and smashed a glass and then quietly said ‘sometimes I just get so excited.’

How you repeated Rich when he said that sunflower seeds were like crack to the chickens, ‘Yeah, like crack. Let’s give them some more crack.’

How you think we’re all silly, all the time. 

How you trust that we’ll always catch you, always find you, always love you.

How, during an epic-level tantrum you told us all to stay put while you left only to have you run back moments later crying that there was a road up ahead that you couldn’t cross. 

How you loved—and requested—Rich to drive fast. You say ‘that’s power, that’s real fast.’

How you somehow picked up an American accent by osmosis (on the plane?), stretching out your words like ‘fee-ast.’

How you say ‘I’m not cute, I’m a people.’ 

How you ask ‘do you need a cuddle?’

How you said ‘Clio likes to kiss me all the time but I don’t want to be kissed.’ I promptly stopped despite it breaking my heart. You’re just so kissable. 

How you hate pictures and cover your face whenever you catch sight of the camera. 

How a scary face involves you holding your fingers wide and over your eyes. 

How you picked blackberries for us every single day without fail but refused to even try one yourself. 

How you danced to the band in the restaurant on the day you arrived. And then you insisted Eoin dance too—not with you though, all on his own. 

How you laughed.  

How quickly we fell into ourselves, you and us—it was like no time had passed.

Sailing in the San Francisco Bay.

Now that I’m working in Oakland I don’t get into the city much. The last thing I want to do on the weekend is sit on a sweaty bart or wait forever in line for food or deal with traffic coming back across the Bay Bridge (though, that said we do all three pretty often!). We prefer to get out into the wilderness given the chance.

However, a couple of weekends ago we braved the crowds at Fisherman’s Wharf to get a spot onboard AC Sailing’s USA 76, a former America’s Cup yacht for a sunset sail. Eoin works on board 76 a few times a week and so this was a sweet perk of having him staying in our teeny apartment for the summer. USA 76 is over 80 feet long and goes super fast. The boat is made of carbon fibre (Eoin says the boom feels crazy light!) and sails closer to the wind than a normal yacht. We got to participate in grinding and each had a chance to helm. The night was clear and the sky was a thousand stunning shades of sunset—we had to pinch ourselves as we cut through the water under the Golden Gate Bridge and took in the view of the San Francisco skyline. I don’t know how this is real life because its pretty ridiculous. 

Rich and his partner assisting in raising the main sail — the hardest task of the evening due to its enormous size. 

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Me! At the helm! It was way harder than it looked but pretty freaking cool. 

It felt like we could touch the bridge at any moment but in reality there’s another 115 feet (the height of our sail) above us. 

Thanks so much to Eoin and AC Sailing SF for taking us out. If you want to see a little video of the evening check out my instagram.

It was one of those nights that makes this whole experience of living abroad all the more exceptional. I’ll always remember this night, how it felt and what we saw; it was so beautiful. 

Friends Like These.

Before leaving Ireland I didn’t think too much about finding friends in California. Being more on the more introverted end of the spectrum I did worry about it a little about it but overall I thought it would just work itself out. I planned on joining a team or something like that if things were getting tough. Like most realities it was both easier and harder to make friends here than I expected.

M & R are our first real ‘couple friends’ which makes me feel pretty old but also old enough not to care because I have decided couple friends are the best! We couldn’t have asked for better friends to hike, cycle, eat, drink, hang out and solve the worlds’ problems with. We also managed to live with them for almost a week and remain friends which is seriously saying something! Ha! 

We took these photos on our last hike before M+R left for Ireland. We had been meaning to head to Bolinas for a long time and it seemed like a opportune way to mark the occasion. We hiked to Alamere falls, a stunning waterfall that flows right onto a beach. The only way to access the beach is to hike a four mile trail and then climb down a rocky cliff onto the beach. It was so incredibly beautiful—I cannot wait to go again. 

I’m not sure what this year would have been like without friends like these two. I think we have all grown and learned and stretched during some intense debates and seriously steep inclines. It’s been two weeks since M + R left for home and we really miss them. I can’t wait to see where we all end up next. 

On Living Abroad (and 5 travel instagrammers worth following).

It took me a long time to fall in love with California.

When I was working in the city I used to wander aimlessly on my lunch breaks wishing I were home, or at least somewhere friendlier and more familiar. I craved a semblance of community. I missed the squishy babies and their open mouthed slobbery kisses. I longed to call over to my siblings for dinner, to drop by my friends houses unannounced. I missed the ease of life at home, of knowing who was where and what was what. This new city left me feeling ill at ease. Some days it felt like I was buckling from the constant stimulation of finding my way and always having to introduce, explain and arrange. I’m an introvert and making friends is hard. Putting myself out there was hard. It still is hard. But it is right—putting myself out there is the only way I will grow. I know that and at times I really don’t like it but I knowledge is power my friends. 

While I didn’t fall in love with foggy San Francisco, somewhere between the mountains and the sea I discovered a new normal, a bold wilderness that I have learned to love with all my heart. We made some friends. We bonded over idealistic obnoxious twenty-something ideals. We solved the worlds problems and shook our heads at the current state of affairs. We laughed as we hiked through forests, over mountains and down to the sea. As my muscles stretched and grew so did my appreciation for this place where we live. 

I still miss the squishy babies and I wish I could drop by my friends houses and have dinners with my siblings. I could never imagine life without them and yet that’s what the past nine months have been. We have created a life here. That fact gives me a real sense of pride. Pushing the boundaries on what I thought was possible and what I thought I could achieve has been one of the best parts of this past year. 

For the first six months living here I just wanted to go home. Every time we hit a stumbling block it would be my first retort, my final cry, my broken record. But little by little—deep in shady forests, on golden sandy beaches, and in a warm-hearted, nurturing work studio—I found that I was no longer simply surviving. In the abstract, I never thought I would ever move to another country (let alone the other side of the world!), that we could get the kind of jobs we have or do the kind things that we are doing. The reality that we are indeed doing all those things blows my mind every day. What does that mean for the next year? Or the year after? 

It's getting increasingly harder to imagine leaving. We will do it and there will be a period of adjustment and it will be hard but good. All things worth doing are so. 

One thing I have learned this year is that home is not a place but a state of being. We are more fluid than we think and much more adept for change than I ever thought possible. Who knows what’s going to come next. 


I would love to know about your adventures. What have you got planned for this summer or the coming months? If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be? Have you ever thought about living abroad?

If you’re interested in getting the travel bug (or some serious insta-envy) here are some people worth a follow:

  • Our friends Ashling & Paul are spending the next three months travelling around South America. 
  • As is a sweet girl from my college Emily and her boyfriend (they travelled around the world a couple of years ago—her instagram is one of my favourites!). 
  • Another college friend, Fiona, is living in New York and her photos are truly stunning. 
  • My sister-not-in-law Nadia is constantly jetting off some place new—check her out. 
  • Courtney Adamo’s instagram is one of my very favourites (pretty much the definition of #lifegoals for me). She and her husband and their four children are spending the next year travelling around the world—I can’t wait to see what is in store for them.