the end of a perfect...

Mom and Dad's holiday is nearly over. Apart from some tenseness about the whole your-boyfriend-is-a-father issue, it's been good. It's too bad in a way that they haven't gotten to see the rest of the country but they are thinking, if their finances hold up, they might come back while I am still here.

And that introduces a scary thought. How long am I going to be here? The plan was always to stay for a year and a half but now, with 2010 about to start, I'm feeling pretty settled in and good about being in Dublin, and I have absolutely no plan for the next stage.

[Buries head in sand and resolves to think about it later].

Today I'm planning to take the folks to the Museum of Modern Art which is a place that I love because it's in a cool building, it's free and there are beautiful grounds all around -- although I don't think the weather today is really for strolling. And then we've all been invited out to Saoirse's families places for dinner in a local pub in Killiney. There's definitely a winding-down feel about our days now, and Mom has already packed one of her cases and bought yet another case to fit her thousands of purchases into. And while it's been great...well, I wouldn't say I'm exactly sorry it's nearly over. I must be growing up at last; time to get on with my own life!

Plus, I've gained about 4 kilos!!! Let the great diet commence. I might even look for a cheap gym or at least check out the college facilities.

The Green Line

One of the folks who read my blog suggested a great idea -- taking the Green Line Luas for a trip through the various suburbs and "villages" and having a pub crawl. We're going to do just that, but as it's a day time trip it'll be more a "coffee crawl". It's kind of chilly today so I like the idea of popping in and out of cafes and stuff. That should keep everyone happy. Dad has his guide book to refer him to all the history and things, Mom will shop (but of course) and I will be a Good Host with the minimum of effort.

The greengrocer down the road told me that people didn't like the idea of the Luas while it was being built, but having never seen Dublin without a tram system, it's hard to understand why. I love the way the Luas looks gliding around Stephen's Green -- sort of "the future as imagined by people in the past" and I would say it is definitely a big addition to the urban landscape. Not to mention a cool form of public transport. I almost never use it, living bang in the centre as I do, but I'm actually looking forward to the day. It's so easy to just stay in the centre and forget that there's a whole world of Other Neighbourhoods out there.

Thanks, Rose. I'll let you know how we got along.

And outrage ensued

Things are going great! Bar one awkward conversation that I am trying not to think about because I just start getting mad.

My Mom and Dad and I met my Boyrfriend for an early coffee this morning. It is a coldish day but he's heading off "down the country" to where his family is from in the West and this will be the only chance so I thought, what the hey, and we arranged.

It was brief and I introduced him as "my friend" but of course Mom, being Mom, knew right away what was going on. He had mentioned his daughter in the course of conversation so on the way back to the apartment, Mom decided to engage me in some plain talking and said, "You do realise that it will be difficult being involved with someone with a child."

"Mom!!!" I said.

She went on to say, his primary committment is to his daughter, he might get back with her mother, etc, etc.

To which I can only comment: What business is it of hers?

I am pretty upset, but in the interest of family harmony I am just not going to go there and if she wants we can discuss it by email when they are back home. This is still their holiday so we've got to be having fun. Today, the sales start in Dublin so it's Mom's day. Neither Dad nor I are much into shopping so we will trail around behind her as she hits all the big department stores and we'll carry her bags. We need the exercise; yesterday was fabulous but it did mostly involve eating, eating and more eating. I don't know how much Dad spent on all that fancy food but it was definitely appreciated.

I need some plans though, urgently. So if any Dubliners read this, I'd love some suggestions for cool things to do over the next couple of days. I think I have New Year's Eve more or less sorted out: there's a parade on in the afternoon. We'll eat at home and then go to a pub for a traditional sort of experience. Mom 'n Dad are leaving on the 2nd and shortly after that it will be back to work for me!

So...what to do today?

Merry Christmas everyone!

It's Christmas eve and it feels so strange not to be at home today! Still, if I had to be away for Christmas, it doesn't get better than this. I'm in Dublin, my parents are here, and the new year is shaping up to be fantastic... I'm so happy. And something tells me that this may be the first, but won't be my last, Christmas in Dublin.

So.. Happy Christmas everybody! X Towniegirl

Excitement nearing fever pitch!

That's not me. It's my parents. They've never been away from home for Christmas and they are so cute -- really excited. I feel as though our roles have been reversed.

I had been worried about what we'd do for dinner on Christmas day because I'm not much of a chef, goodness knows, and the kitchenette here at the apartment is pretty spartan.

Turns out Dad already booked something on the Internet. And it's a sign of how excited about this trip he must be, because it's a wildly extravagent Christmas Dinner at a fancy hotel called the Merrion. I don't even want to know how much it's going to cost. He said the money they are saving by staying at my place instead of a hotel should more or less cover it (!). Mom doesn't know yet as it's also his present to her.

The only thing I'm worried about is that none of my clothes are really up to scratch for such a fancy place. There's the black lace number I picked up at Oxfam on George's Street. It is really pretty but it smells of mothballs. It's from the 1950s and while it's gorgeous I haven't gotten around to having it drycleaned and it SMELLS its age. That's the best I've got and I think I'll have to run with it and the shiny shoes I picked up in Penneys.

BTW, Glendalough -- I've been there in the summer and now I've been there in the winter too and my personal opinion is that winter is the time to go. Sure, it's cold up in the Wicklow Mountains but what could be more beautiful and Gothic than snowflakes whirling around a medieval monastic settlement and the lakes? Loving it.

Tonight Mom and Dad are actually staying IN as finally, after basically running around since they got here, they are tired. I'm tired too...but not so tired I can't go on a date! We are exchanging our gifts tonight as we won't see each other until the 27th. Want to know what I got Him?

am I awful?

We are having a fantastic time but this apartment is SO small that I'm about to leave, ostensibly to get some groceries, but secretly to go to Simon's Place which I love because it's the sort of cafe where you can go on your own. I just need half an hour by myself to drink a coffee and think in the quiet. I also love it because the walls are always completely covered with posters and flyers about things to do -- sometimes in small venues that you mightn't see advertised that easily. Fr'instance, who knew that there was a course on fabric painting? And it just costs 50 Euros. So I guess my lie to myself is that I am actually going to research some fun things to do with my parents.

The weather is cold and bright and really very beautiful today, so I was thinking when we get back we'll do something outdoorsy like to go one of the lovely parks for a walk, followed by lunch someplace nice. Soup in front of a fire sounds fine and my Boyfriend told me that a lot of Irish people go to hotels to have lunch in the hotel restaurant, which maybe we'll try as that wouldn't be something that would necessarily occur to me. Tomorrow, I'm really hoping for some more of this fine cold weather as we've rented a car and the plan is to go to Glendalough in Wickow, so long as the roads aren't too icy.

So: and also tomorrow, an interesting encounter as we are meeting my Boyfriend for lunch although I will introduce him as "my friend" because, after all, it's a new relationship still and it's too soon to get serious about things. I'm kind of hoping that meeting my folks will make it easier for him to introduce me to his family -- not 'cause I want to be pushy but because, well, I don't know. They sound interesting and fun, and to me it just seems like the normal thing to do.

Right. I hear Mom and Dad loudly making coffee in the kitchen so I'm going out for my quick, precious, solo coffee. Simon's Place was in the movie "Once" and I do get a bit of a kick out of that as well.

last day

Shopping in Dublin

Today's the last time I'm going to do any work until after Christmas. I've been busy and I think I deserve some time off. Plus, this is my first time being the host to my parents in my place and I want to do it properly.

Today I'm taking my parents down to see St Patricks and the Marsh Library. They will be blown away to see books that are older than just about any building in North America.

St Patrick's

My mom is going to want to go to Mass. She's not that religious but it comes to the fore around this time of year and I think she'd like somewhere with music. As I have not been to Mass since I got here I went to consult my greengrocer (the oracle) and he advised me to take her to the "moving crib". Do I have to go to Mass too, or can I bring her to the church and then admire the crib outside for half an hour? That's the question!

This weekend I was thinking we'd maybe go have some coastal walks near Sandymount or Dun Laoighaire, followed by a nice hot whiskey!

I still have to deal with the vexing question of whether or not to introduce my Boyfriend to them, despite the fact that he's not "ready" for me to meet his family. I'd like to but... also, Mom and Dad are going to be here until the New Year! I can't not see him all that time. We're meeting for lunch in an hour or so so perhaps I'll suggest he meet up with us at the weekend "just as a friend". Also, I've got to spend some time with him on my own. Really. I do - there's no question about it! So I'm thinking, got to get them some tickets to a few shows so that we can grab some time together for at least a few evenings over the Christmas period.

The whirlwind!

Well, I thought my folks would be exhausted when they got here yesterday but no sooner had we gotten back to the apartment than Dad threw his suitcase down and said, "So are we going out for a drink or what?" and out we went. They didn't even stay for long enough to take their coats off!!! Dad had done some research too, so although I made some suggestions about where to go he brought us all to a place called "Mulligans" where, he had been told, they are supposed to serve the best Guinness. Mulligans is in a rather grotty looking street but as soon as you walk in, the atmosphere hits you in the face. Does that sound odd? I mean it in a good way. I love the sound of a hundred people in conversation. We had a pint of Guinness each and then went for some dinner in the Porter House pub. All the way from Mulligans to the Porter House, Mom's going: "Dublin's so big! We're going to get lost! Look at all these people!"

We're from a very small community and while I've gotten used to being in bigger places, I guess the city takes some getting used to. She will get her head around it soon. Today, I went into college late after getting some groceries with Mom and of course we went to my favourite greengrocer. That guy is hilarious.

"This must be your sister," he says when we walk in. Well, of course Mom thought that was great. They got to talking and next thing you know, we're all invited to his place to have a drink with him and his wife on Stephen's Day!

"I'm so glad I brought some of my partridge berry jam," Mom says when we walk out of the shop, "because I wouldn't feel right going to someone's house without bringing something.

Mom brought two suitcases. One is full of clothes and the other is full of food!! I'm pretty sure she wasn't supposed to carry all that stuff into Ireland but I'm not complaining. She'd even sneaked in some frozen cod tongues in a special bag...and they were still frozen!

"I'm not going back with an empty suitcase," she says, "so you'd better take me shopping."

Not having seen them for a while I guess I'd started to forget how energetic and sociable Mom and Dad are. I think that I'll be the one who gets tired, not them!!!

Now I have to go -- I'm meeting them outside the gates of Trinity so's to show them around college and introduce them to some of my friends (not my boyfriend though -- still not sure what to do about that." And Dad, of course, wants me to take him to the college bar!

on my way...

I'm so excited! Mom and Dad are arriving soon.

Running out the door to catch the 16A to Dublin Airport. It is so cool that there's a bus from O'Connell Street all the way there, almost door-to-door! Wow! I hope Mom and Dad won't be too tired. I had planned to let them rest but I'd love to take them out for a proper Irish pint tonight. Surely they'll be able to manage a little one?

You know, I think this is a real rite of passage; the first time I have my parents in my house as my guests instead of the other way around! I have tidied Bepe's room. I bought flowers.

Flowers on Moore Street -- cheaper at the end of the day but just as pretty.

OK. Gotta run!


My parents are arriving tomorrow. I can't quite believe it. Since they told me they were coming over, I've had at the back of my mind "I must do that with Mom and Dad when they are over" every so often -- and now they will actually be here! So funny. And I think it's really quite a big deal for them. They are not genealogy freaks, but we are still very much of Irish descent so I guess coming to the land of their forefathers and mothers has got to mean something. It has for me, I think, although not in a sappy sort of way. It just seems so cool to be studying 19th century literature in a city that saw so much of it being created.

I will still have some work to do for the rest of this week, so after they've recovered from the trip (it's only a 3.5 hour time difference so no major jet lag) I'm hoping that Mom and Dad will be kept busy with the city cards Dublin Tourism gave me. But as soon as Saturday rolls around, I want to hit the town with them big time. I've been trying to spend as little money as possible lately and I know they won't mind paying for meals and things.

Xmas lights

Someone read this blog and sent in a suggestion for a pub on Leeson Street, Hartigans. Dude, good tip. It feels like the kind of place that must've been the same for centuries and had one of the features of some of the best pubs in Dublin; you go in and there's trendy young guys and old men in cloth caps and old ladies with glasses of port and they are all talking about politics. Or music. Or something. The point is, they are having fun together, and the age difference and difference in outlook doesn't matter. Some pubs have it, and some don't. If you could bottle "it" you'd make a fortune.

I've found a cool Xmas market in the Docklands, where I have rarely been although it's a fun kind of area, with shiny modern apartments around the water and good looking people walking around with fancy groceries. I picked up some top-end playing cards for Bepe and I think he liked them although he did seem more impressed with the bottled moose which he brought with him when he left yesterday.

On the boyfriend issue, I've kind of decided that if he's not ready for me to meet his folks, then maybe he shouldn't meet mine either, except maybe as "just a friend". Not a tit-for-tat thing -- I just figure perhaps he's right, perhaps it is too soon for introductions. But it does seem a shame.

It's a countdown

Wow! I can't believe that Mom and Dad will be here next Tuesday--and I can't believe I haven't seen them since April. I'm really psyched about showing them around "my" city. I've almost gotten used to it, but when you think about it, the cobblestones in Temple Bar are probably older than most communities in Newfoundland.

Walking around and trying to decide where to take them has enabled me to see Dublin through "new" eyes again and also made me realise that I've really settled in. For instance, when I first came, if I'd had any money I'd've stocked up on green t-shirts and Guinness hats, but now that I'm practically a local, there's no way... But I know my folks will want to buy a bunch of that stuff to take home.

Look at this cool Xmas tree on O'Connell Street. Not so much to look at in the daytime, but when it's dark -- which is quite early at the moment -- it's awesome. The spheres all change colour.

That's all folks. It's half past four and I am heading home early. We're going to a gig tonight at the Sugar Club. No idea what to expect.

feels like Friday...but it's not

I woke up early this morning and thought it was Friday for the longest time. Then I's still Thursday! That means all of today and all of tomorrow in the library before I can take some time off. Boy, am I ready for the holidays.

Anyway, as I have to work I've decided to go to one of my old haunts, the National Library. As it's actually quite easy to go and use it, I'm surprised more people don't. Not that the Trinity library isn't great, but I do get a kick out of reading in the NATIONAL library, right beside the government and ride across from the museum. Makes me feel like a real scholar and not just another Masters student putting off cold reality by doing a post-grad course. I just hope that the guy I so embarrassingly left a note for months ago has forgotten all about me...

But before that, I've decided that I deserve a treat and am going to Bewleys for an Irish Breakfast. With a book. On my own. Fabulous. After carrying out some, ahem, research, I've decided that they do the best one in town. Of course, eating breakfast out means no lunch today but hey...once in a while it's worth it.

Just about a week to go before parents get here! So psyched. Bepe is leaving on Tuesday so I'll have a little time to clean up the apartment and I should really get him a gift because he's letting me use his room for my folks (hopefully they'll be able to wade throught the sports stuff and airplane model controls to reach the bed). He's such a guy's guy though, I haven't a clue. I know he'd love tickets to something but I can't afford it so I'm thinking maybe a rugby shirt? Or something? A friend of mine won free entry to a rubgy event, a questions and answers thingy, in Donnybrook next week so if she doesn't want it, maybe he could use it? Sheesh, though, what the heck do I know? I do have a jar of bottled moose left over from Mom's last care package. Maybe he'd like to bring that back to Italy?

This weekend I want to dedicate myself to getting in to the Christmas spirit, hopefully without spending any/much money so if anyone knows of anything free or cheap, drop me a line please.

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!

Well, my Christmas shopping continues apace.

I did some shopping on Grafton Street today and to my amazement it was snowing!

OK, so it's not real snow. Someone was blasting artificially made snow out of a shop somewhere. But how pretty! I hope it will snow before the holidays are over.

Dubliners might rush by, but for me Grafton Street is still a blast, because whatever time of day you walk down it, there are always loads of performers.

Here's a guy with a cute...oh never mind. He was doin' a good show:

Also, I've had a good idea for a present for my parents--especially because they'll be buying loads of stuff and will need all the suitcase space they can get. How about a carriage ride? That might be fun.

The greengrocer down the road, source of all wisdom, told me that his brother is in the carriage business, and that their father used to work for Guinness with a cart, delivering the beer all over the city. That's how it started. Apparently, when Guiness switched to using trucks, the cart drivers became carriage drivers!

Should I be offended?

My boyfriend's Dad, it turns out, is playing in a "session" this week... but when I asked if I could come along, He told me that he was "ready" for me to meet his Mom and Dad. When I suggested I might go, it was really just to hear the music. I really like traditional music, and they play in a place in the northside suburbs somewhere, where I haven't been. But now I've been told I *can't* go, I'm a bit upset? Is that normal? I mean, I know we've only been together a week 'n all but still?

Not working so hard these days...

It may be only December 8th, but I am so not working hard. I like to think that it's because I deserve it, because I did so much reading before my coursework started, but the fact is that I just feel all Christmassy and stuff although there's still two weeks to go. My parents will be here next week, I have a boyfriend, I will have the apartment all to myself (and my parents obviously) over the holidays and, well, there's loads to do. Plus, the fact that I got some free tickets and that my folks will be paying for meals out and stuff over the holidays means that the financial pressure is off. And a good thing too, 'cause I'm getting bored of soup!

This weekend, I had 2 tickets to A Christmas Carol from Dublin Tourism and although I am supposed to go and write about my own experience, I actually gave them to my man and his kid because he always has to take care of her on Saturdays, and it was billed as a family show. I felt very virtuous--although as I spent the first half of the show shopping on Jervis Street and the second having not one but two hot whiskeys in the theatre bar, I'm not sure that I deserve to. Anyway, apparently the show was great -- and not TOO scary.

Sunday, I had him to myself. He took me to his folks' place near the sea on the northside. They weren't there, but I hope I get to meet them. I also found out that they are an Irish speaking family!!! Originally from the west of Ireland, they all still speak Irish at home, and the Dad plays the fiddle. Well, I like them already. Too bad they weren't there. In fact, I don't even know if they know about me at all...don't want to push things or anything but it would be nice to meet them. I'd promised Saoirse's mother I'd share my entry to the Craft Show at the RDS and I only just made our date on time. Great stuff -- but mostly out of my budget. She, however, went crazy!

Sunday, we went for a wintery walk by the sea.

The girl in the photo is not me BTW.

When I first came to Dublin, I didn't rate the sea very much because I'm from Newfoundland where the ocean is king. But I've had to revise my opinion somewhat. I love the long sandy beaches and I think I like them best at this time of year when you bundle up with a scarf and a had and get blown about like a paper bag in the wind. Romantic AND refreshing!

Well, I am not seeing Him tonight, but I am doing something I haven't done for a while, and that's go for a drink with my roomie. I'm going (alone) to see a movie in the German Film Festival at the IFI and meeting Bepe (and hopefully not Fabia) for a beer in the bar there afterwards. It's a really neat place, very much for the arty-student-about-town.

S'all for now folks.

WOW! Free gifts!

I am so lucky! I have just been with a lady from Dublin Tourism and she has given me...well, how can I describe it...a CHRISTMAS DELUXE GIFTPACK of free tickets and stuff.

Well, I won't have to worry about spending too much money this Xmas. For one thing, my parents are coming and I daresay they'll be picking up tabs at restaurants and stuff (Thanks, Mom and Dad.I do appeciate it and when I am gainfully employed I will return the favour). For another, I now have free tickets to:

1) the the RDS. That's this weekend and I am going to invite Saoirse's Mom. It's not necessarily my sort of thing, but I think it is hers and she has been so sweet and welcoming to me that I'm happy to have the chance to do something for her, too;
2) The Christmas Carol at the Gate Theatre. Super! And nineteenth century literatre is my thing too. This is practically studying!!!
3) Loads of tickets for ice-skating in Smithfield! I've already been but I'll go again. Might even take Mom and Dad. Dad used to play ice-hockey and will chew your ear off about how he could've gone pro if he'd only been given the chance (etc.)
4) Four Dublin City Cards. She gave me some of these when my sister was over with her family and they saved a bundle so I might try to keep my one for when Uncle Joey so that I can give it to him because he loves a bargain.

Well, that's all good. And tonight? Well, tonight: I AM COOKING DINNER FOR MY BOYFRIEND!

As the only thing I know how to make is soup, we're having soup. However, I have it on the best of authority that it's very easy to cook a baked potato, and for the second course, I have something very special in my kitchen cupboard... something romantic! Something that will knock his socks off! You guessed it: MOM's BOTTLED MOOSE! Who could resist! Ha. So: a cosy night in. Bepe is working until late so we'll have the apartment to ourselves. I think his girlfriend will be staying over tonight so I guess, hm, well, will we be three or four for breakfast?

yuk -- Boys and their stupid toys

Bepe and a couple of his loud friends from the restaurants are noisily sprucing themselves up in the living room prior to going to what's got to be the daftist waste of money IMHO: A show about cars.

"Top Gear" is a show on TV that is now...ugh...I mean, how is this better than those Monster Truck Rallies they go to in the US?

I know: we all have different tastes blah blah and sure, I hope he has fun. But I also hope he doesn't bring those noisy idiots back to the apartment afterwards 'cause they'll probably be all over-excited and wake me up.

Yes, I am a grouch. But that's because MY hobbies are COOL and HIS are SILLY!!!

Now I feel guilty. I guess it's a good thing that in this rich tapestry of life we all have different interests. Imagine if everyone wanted to go where I did! There wouldn't be room for me!

Anyway, speaking of tasteful venues, I'm going to have a quick dinner and go to the Long Hall, absolutely one of my favourite Dublin pubs of all time, for a drink. It's so pretty there! Mirrors! Chandeliers! Good-looking bar staff! Traditional and history!

And most of all, appearing tonight, my boyfriend! I already saw him once today but going out in the evening is different; it calls for a change of clothes, some make up and the vintage hat I bought when I was supposed to be shopping for presents. I've never been crazy about being tall but you know what? There are advantages. Let's face it: from up here all those short people in hats look like mushrooms. Instead, I think I look pretty fetching in my 1950s velvet number! Yup: hats were really made for us beanpoles.

It's the end of the world as I know it in, I've been quite cocooned here in my own little life in Dublin and suddenly worlds are going to collide. Mom and Dad will be here in just under two weeks. They'll have to stay in a hotel for a couple of nights, but then Bepe's going back for his first Xmas in Italy in two years, and we'll have the apartment to use.

Although I've reached the ripe age of 23 (!) this is my first Christmas away from home and it feels strange. I don't know how to have Christmas in a city apartment. Should I get a tree? Should I attempt to cook dinner? I think that there are some hotels and restaurants that do Christmas dinner but is that, well, not homey enough? Or would it be a nice break for Mom who, let's face it, would likely end up doing most of the cooking anyways.

Also, what about my boyfriend. We're on a "go slow" system because it's all very new, but should I introduce him? Or not? I mean, he's not introducing me to his folks 'cause they are still upset about his split with his daughter's Mom. On the other hand, it's apparently OK for me to meet his little girl. He's already invited me to a Christmas toy fair with her. He always tries to do stuff with her at the weekends which means that if I want to see him Saturday and Sunday (and I do) I'm gonna have to get used to Disney movies and playgrounds and all the rest of it.

Ah, life.

The Christmas shopping continues. Who knew I had so much to buy? I did find this cool (and very Dublin) arty place near Camden Street, Mayfly, which is near a very funky cake shop. Not to easy to find as you have to wander away from the street, down an alley and into a funny building that's a traditional Dublin rowhouse from the front and a curious eco-art-building at the back. But very cool and I like the way Dubliners are arty and unpretentious!

So...I'm still at college. It's windy today and I forgot my hat so I guess I'll download some pictures from my phone and put 'em up here in the hopes it calms down before it's time to head home...

stars in my eyes

Things did not work out for me this weekend exactly as I had planned.

In fact, they took a new and interesting in turn.

In fact, I have a new *boyfriend*. It's still very early and well I am not sure how it will work out long term but I am so excited. Too excited to go into it here. I am superstitious and it is too early to talk about it. I haven't even told any of my friends.

This morning I woke up and Dublin had never looked as beautiful as it did when I opened my curtains. Sure, maybe it's because of the Amazing Events of the weekend, but the sun was shining and everyone just looked cheerful and happy although they think it's getting cold (I am from Newfoundland -- I know cold. It's not really that cold).

I missed an appointment in college and wandered about the neighbourhood taking pictures instead.

The bridge near my house.

This is Dublin's Spire. It's near my apartment but I have to leave the building and walk a couple of minutes to see it. I totally love it, but apparently it's controversial and it has a bunch of nicknames. One is "The Nail in the Pale" which I don't understand.

I was talking to the greengrocer about it.

"I used to hate that feckin' thing," he said, "and I was dead opposed to it but seeing it every day I'm after getting used to the bloody object and I wouldn't be without it now."

Translation: He likes it. I love that man. He is a poet. And he doesn't know it.

My Mom and Dad will be here soon!!!! So I have to get their presents, like, yesterday. Well, I am organised. I have bought my Dad a tweed hat at a shop on Nassau Street that must've remained exactly the same since, oh, 1930 or so. They have fantastic men's stuff there. All those classic tweed suits and things... why don't young men dress up more? I think they would look amazing!!

I haven't got my mom anything yet though. She's tricky.

Oh, and I will have a new person to buy a gift for this year [blush]!

Friday feeling

Another week over! I have worked sooo hard this week and I am feeling good about things! There are times when I feel as though the thesis is taking over my life but right now I am on top of it and good to go for the weekend. I'm going to go home now, pick up some ingredients on the way home and make some more soup.

Yes, I have become quite the soup chef. And while I would rather eat a less monotonous diet, as a way to keep money on the side for going out, it's working out very well.

But not tomorrow. Tomorrow, I've been invited to eat at the restaurant where Bepe works. And I really can't wait, because it's not the sort of place I could normally afford to go. His boss, bless him, is letting him have a few friends over for an early bird meal instead of a Christmas bonus this year. Well, I'm telling you, if it's as good as Bepe says, I'll get my mom and dad to take me there when they are over...a few weeks from now.

After the meal I'm meeting the Beautiful PhD Student for another of our unsatisfying is-it-or-is-it-not-a-date outings. Sigh. I think I'll tell him that I'd rather not see him anymore, even though that means telling him that I really, really don't want to be just friends.

He's suggested going to a wine bar. Now, to me, that sounds like a very grown-up, romantic sort of thing to do. But then he's already made it superclear that he's not looking for a relationship so... yes, I'll have to tell him I don't want to see him any more. Sigh. But tell you something, I am going to look Fabulous when I do it!!!!

The weather forecast for the weekend is not bad, considering the time of year. Cue my sad, solitary walk on Sunday at Sandymount or Howth or somewhere suitably moody after having said goodbye to my hopes 'n dreams.

Shock news

My Uncle Joey is coming over in the New Year.

Now, I love my Uncle Joey and no family party would be the same without him, but what I am going to do with him? He's going to stay in a hotel (which I have arrange + he wants it to be great + cheap so maybe not so easy) but I'm betting he's going to want to be shown the town. He's only coming for 5 days but, uf...

What to do with a drunken sailor? And if you think I'm casting aspersions, it's not like that. Uncle Joey was the only one of his family to go into the fishing/sailing world and he's the archetypal bigger-than-life man's man who likes to work hard, play hard and knock back his beers.

I can't believe he's coming. So like him, though, to just book his tickets and tell me afterwards, ha. He split up with his wife of 20+ years a while back so maybe that's why.

So if there's any ladies out there interested in a 50ish gent from Newfoundland with tattoos on his forearms, a heart of gold and a serious party habit, let me know.

Christmas is coming, the goose is gettin' fat...

Well. With these dark evenings and stormy skies, it's not difficult to remember that Christmas is coming. More and more of the stores in town have Christmas things in the window, and most of the streets seem to have their festive lighting on. Even if people are still cross about what happened in the France/Ireland match last week, there's a good atmosphere. I walked on Grafton Street today, and there were plenty of buskers doing their thing in the rain and raincoat-covered tourists looking at them.

Mom and Dad will be here in...what? Three weeks. I'm hoping it's going to be cold-but-pleasant but what the hey, even if it's rainy and windy, we haven't seen each other since April and it will be fun. Mom being mom, she'll be bringing me as many home cooked goodies as she can, Ireland's import laws and suitcase space permitting. I'm hoping for cod tongues. I wonder why the Irish don't eat 'em, when they're so finger-licking good. There are some places selling good (considering it's not from Newfoundland) fish around Smithfield and in Howth, but still, no cod tongues. Perhaps I can introduce them to the locals? Anyone want to call up to the apartment for a tasty dish of cod tongues?


Yesterday was a blustery day. I didn't mind. I like the wind. I hooked up with Pollyanna, a girl I hung out with quite a bit when I first arrived but haven't been seeing much lately. She's living in, where I don't go that often (tho' I should as it seems to be where most of the students hang out). Pollyanna has a new boyfriend (don't they all-all but me) who is a law student at Griffith College To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I warm to him but as I've only met him once I'm maybe not being fair. Anyways, he lives near the college so we called in for tea in the afternoon.

There's this really neat area between the Grand Canal and, I guess, St Patrick's Cathedral (I am not sure where this area ends and begins. It's called Portobello and it's a maze of cute old houses. This guy lives in a flat in one of them. It's pretty down-at-heel but you can still see how fabulous it must have been once. I didn't know it, but Dublin had a Jewish neighbourhood once, and there is still a little Dublin Jewish museum tucked away down a side street.

Though now I think of it, isn't there an Irish Jewish character in James Joyce's Ulysses? I think there might be.

We walked along the canal and saw about 100,000 swans and although you might find this hard to believe, as it started to get dark, a FOX!!!!!!!!

After getting blown about for an hour or two we figured we deserved a hot whiskey and went to the...well...interestingly named Bleeding Horse. After a couple of drinks the name and the whole idea started to freak me out a bit and anyway it was time to go home!

Today I worked superhard and am hoping that this will be the form for the rest of the week...but now: home for soup!

Weekend feelings

It's been a funny week, 'cause of being off with a cold and all, so it doesn't really feel like a weekend at all. I woke up feeling fantastic this morning and did a big shop on Moore Street and environs. Though I say so myself, turns out making soup is easy after all, and I'm getting quite good at it. While having soup for dinner every second night is getting a bit boring, it's a lot cheaper than eating pizza fro the corner shop and the result is more money for going out, so it's all good.

Even Bepe has had some of my soup and thinks it's OK. Which is a real coup as he's a chef. So he should know, right?

Anyway, I'm pretty psyched today. I'm about to go skating with a bunch of people I know from college and I'm actually looking forward to it a lot. Afterwards, we'll grab something to eat somewhere and then go to Sin E (that's pronounced "Shinn Ay" and it's Irish for something.) I haven't been there before, but I've heard it's great.

Tomorrow I'm hooking up with Beautiful PhD Student and daughter at some point. But I'm thinking maybe I should just stop seeing him at all as it's not fun, hanging out and knowing that nothing's ever going to happen. Also, as I've just been going to college since leaving school I guess it's something of a shock to know someone just a bit older than me who's already a parent. I've just been wandering around feeling all young but, fact is, I'm an adult and all this postgrad stuff is just a buffer between me and the real world -- a real world I'll be in as soon as the Masters is finished. It's not bad, but it's a little intimidating.

I am Irish in outrage!!

Well, either you live on the moon or you are aware that two nights ago Ireland was cheated out of a place in the World Cup.

I didn't watch the match but like everyone in the country I've seen the footage since and it's obvious what happened. Personally, I doubt any one actually cheated on purpose.

Meanwhile, I've discovered the one good thing about Ireland's having been cheated: everyone is talking about the same thing, and it's suddenly possible to strike up conversation with just about anyone on the street. The street sweeper? "Give us a smile, love, you can't stay depressed about the match forever." My college lecturer? "I realise you are all upset about the match, but I still can't extend the deadline..." The greengrocer? "This has ruined me life." Bepe (and he's not even Irish!): "I am going to hunt them down and strangle them with my bare hands."


In other sporting news, I've found out that there will be skating rinks in Dublin for the holiday season.

Of course, I am going to invite everyone I know here--because what they don't know about me is that, like most Newfoundlanders, I've known how to skate since I was little, and I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to skate rings about all the Dubliners and assorted foreigners-in-Dublin I know. In fact, we're all very good skaters in my house. I grew up thinking Wayne Gretzky was an uncle, there were so many pictures of him in Dad's workshop.

three colours blue -- and French movies

I spent all day in the apartment today, still getting over my cold. But the fact is, I'm feeling a lot better although I'm sort of confused.

My friend came over last night with a bottle of Jameson, and he made me a hot whiskey or two (OK; it was four) because I had a cold. He'd brought a DVD as well: Garage, which is an Irish film.

(The Jameson place is near my apartment and here's a picture of it)

It was a sad little story, but the right sort of thing to watch when you have a cold and you're feeling a little glum anyway. Bepe was at work. He works a lot of evenings, obviously, being a chef. So there we were, sitting and watching and sipping and it just felt so nice and comfortable that I ended up with my head on his shoulder and legs across his lap. You know. Like friends do.

I've been kidding myself when I say that I'm OK about just being friends with this guy. I totally get that he's a separated Dad and his priority is his daughter, etc., etc. But. Ah. I really like him.

Of course, eventually the film ended and he had to leave. He kissed me. On the CHEEK, like I was his MOM or something!!!! That was worse than not being kissed.

So because I'm all better, I'm actually going to see this in the French Film Festival. And, this weekend is sorted 'cause Dublin Tourism says they're gonna give me some tickets to something in the Opera Ireland festival. Dublin Tourism I don't know what yet and I'm not sure who to invite. Half thinking I should stop seeing the Beautiful PhD Student Guy in general, because it's making me sad!!!

OK, going to stop moping and focus on how lucky I am. Most of the people I know would kill for free tickets to stuff. And even if I am not exactly an Opera Buff, it's free, right?? Just kidding, Dublin Tourism. I'm sure it'll be fantastic.

I changed my mind help!!!!

On second thoughts, it's NOT ok for me to look like a slob when the Beautiful PhD Student calls over. Crap... panic... does anyone have any tips on how to suddenly recover from a head cold? I don't want to be all cold-y and puff in the face when he comes around.

And on it goes...

Well, I still have a cold.

I've discovered this stuff called Lemsip when I'm using during the daytime. Hot whiskey seems to work better but if I'm even going to pretend to work, I'd better stay off the juice during the day, eh? I'd like to wallow about feeling sorry for myself but really, I just want to get better for the weekend. Last night, Bepe and Fabia did offer to let me share their meal but when it was in front of me I couldn't eat. She said, "Well, maybe you'll lose some weight" and I guess that was meant nicely but I didn't really appreciate it coming from Stick Lady. I'm not fat!!

I've been whiling away the hours making elaborate plans for every weekend between now and Xmas and thinking of things to do when my folks come over.


One good thing: My friend the Beautiful PhD Student rang last night saying that he was concerned 'cause he hadn't seen me about for a while. He's coming over later. Just as well I've decided not to be into him anymore, because my nose is all red, my eyes are puff and I'm wearing sweat pants and a dirty tee-shirt. I'm not looking my best. It's a real test of friendship. I'm hoping he'll want to do something with me this weekend, and that my slobbiness today won't put him off!!

Tomorrow, I'm going to go the cinema, snot or no snot. A French Film Festival is starting, and the IFI is so close I could pretty much haul something on over my pyjamas and head out.

Achoo again. See you soon.

Pass the Kleenex...

Urkle, snorfle.

I have a cold. I don't want to be too self-pitying as I know there are people out there with the swine flu, but ugh. And it was such a nice morning, too. I woke up, saw the bright winter sun streaming in the window...and then I just rolled over and groaned.

Bepe said, "It's from sitting by a drafty window." I told him that if I was going get a cold from a bit of wind, it would have happened back home in Newfoundland.

Anyway, I'm OK but I didn't make it into college today. I just stayed home, working my way through a box of Kleenex and reading my way through a pile of Penguin Classics that are (I'm trying to convince myself) somewhat connected to the things I'm actually supposed to be reading in college. I haven't felt like eating all day but now I'm hoping that Bepe and Fabia (maybe she'll catch my cold?) will let me share their dinner when they get back later.

A note relating to my reading today: Why is Heathcliff supposed to be this great, romantic hero? He's clearly a sociopath.

Also, got an email today telling me that next year's Book of the Year (A Dublin thing) is the Picture of Dorian Gray. That is quite cool as I wrote an essay about it once and actually really like that book. It gave me nightmares, and for a Goth-lite girl, that's a recommendation. I wonder if there will be lots of "Dorian Gray" activities? If they are having a "Dorian Gray impersonator" contest, I'd love to be a judge. I love goodlooking guys in velvet waistcoats. Heck, who doesn't.

Aha. I hear a key in the door. That's my cue to look feeble so that Bepe will let me share whatever he's cooking his girlfriend for supper.

Sniff. Sneeze. Whinge.

Hard as nails

I had a nice weekend. Saturday morning, I actually went into college and worked. Then, I got the DART out to Saoirse's neck of the woods and allowed myself to be taken care of my Saoirse's Mom. Ah... maybe not the most cutting edge of entertainments but pretty good all the same. Home made soup in front of the TV! Sleeping in their huge guest room instead of the little bedroom in my apartment! Getting taken out for breakfast in a fancy hotel in Dun Laoighire!

Seriously, she couldn't have been nicer. Saoirse and I just talked and talked until 2in the morning. Apparently, the boyfriend wants it all to get a notch more serious, but she's not so sure and...well, I couldn't give her advice, but I listened and I think that was the main point.

I will confess that I was hoping that the weekend would somehow involve visiting or being visited by Saoirse's cousin who, as I mentioned before, is a real-life, bona fide rock star! Sadly, no... but instead I had an entirely new experience. On Sunday, I was beginning to worry maybe I'd been there too long and so I was going to head home, but S's mom more or less MADE us go shopping with her. In my case, I bought almost nothing, but this is a lady who takes her shopping seriously. We went to Dundrum, which is in I guess a fairly upmarket suburb. There's a huge, fancy mall. I think I'm more of a downtown kind of shopper, but this was right up S's moms street and she was having lots of fun. She parked Saoirse and me in a hairdresser that did manicures and paid for us to get our nails done. I think that the purpose of this was so that S couldn't see her getting in the presents. Well, that was something I had never done before. They even stuck little contact sheets onto my nails to make them look "French". Ha! I've been avoiding using my fingers ever since. In fact, the only reason I'm risking typing now is that I think one of the nails is begnning to peel.

A couple of hours and a few dozen packages in the trunk of the car later, and we were off. And now it's Monday again, sheesh. But I do feel very rested and taken care of!

Oh what a beautiful morning...!

Well, it Friday and it's beautiful. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the Liffey and all the red-brick buildings on either side of it are lit up. Gorgeous. I've worked really hard all week and I hope the weather stays like this 'cause I'd love to go to maybe Bray or Howth and have a windy walk on the beach.

My friend Saoirse and her Mom have invited me over Saturday evening so I'll stay at their house and we'll watch movies and the day after she's taking us out for lunch in Dundrum at a big mall they've got out there. So that all sounds very Mom-ish. Tell you the truth, I don't mind leaving the apartment for the weekend. No problems getting along with Bepe but sometimes it's good to have our own space.

Early this morning on the way into college the nicest thing happened. I was making a detour to buy an apple at my favourite greengrocer when he comes over looking all concerned and asked me if I wanted to have Christmas Dinner with his family. I explained that my folks were coming over and I think he looked slightly relieved, but still. He said: "I've a daughter of my own in a foreign country and thank God she will be back with us for the Christmas but if she wasn't I would hate to think of her being on her own."

Isn't that just the nicest thing? I am going to get my Mom to bring some bottled Moose over so I've something to give him for Xmas.

The eternal optimism of the Irish

Despite what they seem to think themselves, I would say that the Irish are a very optimistic people.

It's almost like a joke:

Q: How do we know the Irish are optimists?
A: Just look at all the umbrellas on a windy day.

Today is a case in point. It's Ireland and it's November, so of course it's windy. It's not cold and I personally find it pretty pleasant. Every day like this, I must pass about 20 bins into which passersby have stuffed their poor umbrellas, which are all inside-out and mangled because of the wind.

Guys, this is a northern European country near the Atlantic. Is it maybe time to give up on umbrellas and get, like, a hat?

So I think it says a lot about how optimistic people really are here. Despite experience, they keep right on buying umbrellas.

Last night I went to see A Christmas Carol at Cineworld on the grounds that it's the most Gothic of Dickens' novels and therefore it was almost work. It's a Disney production so I wasn't prepared for how freakin' SCARY it was. There were kids to the left of me, kids to the right of me, but I was the one with her face in her hands, worrying about getting to sleep after the show...

On the way home, I called to Lidl. Gotta love that place. I bought a huge bag of onions for about 20 cents which, tonight, I'm going to attempt to turn into French Onion Soup. How difficult can it be?

Two a week

I've been worrying about how to afford all the presents I want to get. I think if I do it gradually, I'll manage. I need to get things in the mail by next week if I want them to reach Newfoundland on time, and that means shopping this week for my sister and her family and for the few friends I want to send some things to.

I've made a start today! When my sister was over a few months ago, she really loved the Celtic jewellery that you can get on stalls and in shops all over the city, so I bought her a silver Claddagh ring. Really pretty. It only cost a few Euros--not much more than sandwich, really, but it's the sort of thing you'd wear always.

Then I had a brainwave: I'll get matching GAA shirts for her husband and all her boys. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy as my youngest nephew likes to say. I'm sure there are loads of places to buy them. I just have to fid the cheapest one.

I'm back at the apartment. I decided to work from home today. I like my room although it's very small, because there's a view of the Liffey and if you look out the window you can see the Ha'penny Bridge and all the people walking about.

The Liffey is a funny river because it's tidal, so it rises and falls with the tides, and there's proper seaweed growing in it, which you can see when the water is low. If you're wondering why I am waxing lyrical about the river, the reason is this: There's a great, big seagull standing on my windowledge giving me the beady eye. Those things are a lot bigger than you think when you see 'em close up and it's beginning to give me the creeps. Why doesn't he want to go hang out on the river with the rest of his buddies...?

Defintely having an Alfred Hitchcock moment here, folks...

Christmas countdown

I've never been such a huge fan of Christmas. Well, of course I loved it as a kid, but in the last few years I've been kind of negatively impressed by the whole commercial side of things. You know.

But this year I feel totally different. Like anyone, there are times when I find myself getting irritated and irritable around my family. I mean, I love them, but families are like that. And I guess I can be irritating too!!! But this year, because I haven't seen my Mom and Dad for so long, and because this will be the very first time that any of us has spent Xmas away from Newfoundland, I'm getting kinda excited. It's going to be a whole different experience! And this year, I'm doing the cooking! Which makes me think, heck, maybe I'll see if I can't book a restaurant for Christmas dinner, 'cause I don't want anyone to be disappointed. I'm getting good at soup, but hm...Turkey and Cranberry Soup, anyone? Ha, ha!!

I was talking about it with the greengrocer down the road, who I've come to realise is the Fount of All Wisdom. He said, "There's something wrong with this world when the Christmas decorations go up as soon as the Hallow'een ones come down."

But I'm not so sure that he's right this time. Winter is long and dark and while it has its rewards (hot port and brandy, anyone?) why not make the most of the biggest holiday? I'm totally already making plans for Mom and Dad and hoping that I also get some time to go out with friends. Saoirse's boyfriend will be out of town, so she'll be free for girls' nights out and stuff.

I have about 50 cents to do my Christmas shopping, so if anyone has smart ideas about where I could go, I sure would appreciate it. I actually do have to be organised if i want stuff to reach Newfoundland on time. I want to send some really nice things to my sister and her family, to a few friends and to my housemate Bepe's family, 'cause I really got fond of them when they were here. Suggestions anyone?


Well, after my fit of the blues last week, I had an amazing weekend. First off, on Friday, Saoirse called and invited me to meet her, her boyfriend and a couple of his friends for a meal. We went to a Korean joint on Parnell Street.

Well now, I had never had Korean food before. Perhaps stupidly, I had assumed it was kind of like a variation on Chinese. But it's completely different. It was a sort of barbecue with a hotplate right in the middle of our table. Also, I've had rethink on Saoirse's boyfriend. I thought he was boring but actually, he's really nice. So I am happy to eat humble pie.

Then, I have to say, the highlight of the weekend and something I hadn't planned at all; the 2009 Dublin Tattoo Convention! Wow! It was 15 Euros to get in, but it was totally worth it. There were people in there with the most incredible tattoos. I have just a teeny tiny one on my wrist from a few weeks ago, but seeing some of that amazing artwork made me think well....maybe just another, teeny-eeny-tiny one. My worry would me that it would get addictive and I wouldn't know when to stop ... and I don't want to end up covered in 'em from head to toe.

I did, ahem, give my number to a really cute Irish guy who has a tattoo parlour in Wicklow somewhere but something tells me that he's not the sort of boy my Mom'd approve of so I'm half hoping he doesn't call. Or am I. I don't know.

Well. That's all for now. I've been working superhard all day so I'm gonna pick up some veg on Moore St and try out some more soup.

Bon appetit!

Learning Italian?

I've had a good idea.

I think I've blogged about the Ilac Centre before. They have a library in there that's always full of people because there's a free language lab and there's a magazine section and you can just sit and read or do whatever you feel like. It's a cool idea, having a library in a downtown shopping mall.

Plus, there's a room in there where they arrange language exchange meetings. So I'm thinking, maybe I'll go there once in a while and study Italian. After all, my house mate is Italian. I won't tell him what I'm doing; that way if I start to understand I'll know what he's saying if he talks about me on the phone. Ha, ha!

I know there's an amazing library at college, but you know what? I'm there all day long and the last thing I want to do in the evenings is go back to Trinity. This will be a whole different place and I'm hoping I'll meet different types of people at the weekendly language exchange.

In other news, I've decided to learn how to make great soup. I'm tired of not knowing how to cook and I think soup is a good place to start. I have even bought a recipe book. I can show it to you on Amazon but I picked up a second hand copy at the Liberty Mall. I've only been there for a few minutes just before closing time but I'm gonna check it out this weekend as it looks like the sort of place that's in my budget!

Anyway, back to soup: I went down to the greengrocer with my new(ish) book and showed it to him, because I'm not so great at knowing what's what in the cooking department. I LOVE that guy and this is why: When I told him that I was going to get into soup cooking, he said that every day he'll put aside "imperfect" vegetables for me -- like funny shaped carrots and stuff: "They taste just as good, love," he said, "but there's a lot of people who won't buy them. I'll let you have them for almost nothing because I hate to see things go to waste."

So that's that: I'll be living on soup from now on! Let's hope I can get to grips with this whole cooking business.

I told my friendly greengrocer I was really grateful, and he said, "Sure I've a daughter meself and I'd like to think of someone looking out for her over there."

Apparently, she's a milliner in Manhattan! Pretty cool, huh? She does all that fancy stuff, and she's planning to come back to Ireland when she's ready to set up her own business.

So that's me today. Three cheers for the weekend!

feeling a bit blue

Although work is going well at college, I'm feeling a bit lonely right now. Saoirse (not her real name), of all people, is the one friend I feel closest to. Now she's hooked up with this guy. He's nice, I guess. He's a science postgrad. He's from Korea. He's pretty clean cut. Too clean cut for me. I mean, he's nice and all but his socks match his sweaters. Know what I mean? Anyway, the point is that while Saoirse and her new boyfriend are off looking into each others' eyes or doing what comes naturally or whatever it they do do my main friend for going out is away. I totally understand that obviously she wants to hang out with her boyfriend but seriously...

Of course I know other people from college but I didn't seem to click with them as well. Then I go home and Bepe, who I have to say is a good flat mate, is either working evenings cause he's a chef or out with HIS girlfriend. And then the only realy new friend I've gotten to know in the last little while is a single Dad and his time is pretty tight too.

Sigh. It's not like I've loads of free time because, despite appearances, I am actually working really really hard right now. Plus, I am only going out to things that are either free or cheap because I've got to save for Xmas. I rang Dublin Tourism to see if they were going to keep running the blog on their site and the lady said yes, for the time being, and that there'd be some free tickets to something soon and she'd try to organise some "recompense" for the Xmas season so I've got that to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I just feel a little gloomy. Maybe it's partly the critical eye I'm casting over The Fall of the House of Ussher, but I don't know...

I think maybe I should go out on my own a bit more. But where? Bars are really out because it's just lame and pathetic to sit and drink on your own, the cinema is OK but it doesn't really do anything for the "I'm spending too much time on my own" issue.

Anyway, I'll be back soon. Hopefully in a better mood.

Winter is a-coming in

In Ireland, they don't really have proper winters.
Not like we do back home in Newfoundland. But today the weather is doing a convincing impression. Personally, I don't care. I got my flannel peejays and I've a raincoat so I'm good to go. Plus, there's the wonderful consolation of knowing that with lower temperatures, wind and rain comes the just compensation of my latest favourite tipple, another Dublin staple (and something you can really only have ONE of: HOT PORT AND BRANDY!! Wow! What a delight. It's the same as hot whiskey -- whiskey topped up with boiling water, with a lemon slice, cloves and sugar, except, obviously, with port and brandy. Amazing. Well, but you can imagine why one is enough, for the liver as well as the wallet.

Studying is actually going really very well this week so I am feeling extremely virtuous. Also, because it's suddenly gotten chilly, I've been spending more time in college in general. I know more people now so there's always someone to talk to between bouts at the library and Trinity's Buttery canteen is great when you're watching expenses.

This week I found out (I'm a bit ashamed it took this long) that there's a Science Gallery that's actually in TCD. It's not that big, and it's free, so today I went at lunch time. The show they have on at the moment was hilarious. I particularly loved the big photo of the foot growing teeth. There was something very ickish about that that reminded me of some of the 19th century fiction I have to read. But the fish in the acquarium that was also a mini-garden looked very sad, I thought (Note to self: don't anthropomorphise fish. You love fish and chips)

When Mom and Dad first told me that they were coming to visit for Christmas, I was disappointed I wouldn't be getting home to see my peeps, but now I'm really OK about it. Plus, it no longer seems all that far away. They will be here in...what? About six weeks. Although we're descended from Irish fishermen, they've never been here before and I want it all to be perfect. So while I'm not usually one for forward planning, I would welcome some suggestions!

I put my foot in it

Well, Friday's party was a success. Quite subdued, as parties go. I didn't even have a hangover on Saturday morning. Which was just as well, as I had arranged to meet my friend, formerly known as the Beautiful PhD student, who was taking care of her daughter for the day. We went to the Wax Museum together with one of her little friends from Kindergarten, and all thanks to the free tickets I'd been given by Dublin Tourism.

Apart from my sister's three kids, I have never spent much time around children and I felt kind of awkward because my friend's kid kept starting at me. I asked her if she liked Spongebob. She said "No."

For a cute little girl, she sure was scary.

We met outside Trinity and made our (short) way to the Wax Museum on College Green. We had to hang about a bit outside while the girls ate chocolate bars because we didn't think they'd be able to bring them in.

My friend's daughter kept staring at me ominously.

"Are you my daddy's girlfriend?" she asked.
"Ah no," I said. "We are just friends. We haven't known each other that long."
"Because he had a girlfriend before and I hated her."
"Oh...well, I'm not his girlfriend, so I guess that's OK."
"My mammy used to be his girlfriend."
"Well, we're just friends."

I was sweating here. I'm telling ya.

So then we went in and it was fine until we got to the wax statue of Gollum, whereupon the friend from Kindergarten suddenly started to cry really, really loudly.

As we tried to comfort her (the only bright idea I had was to offer more chocolate), she said, "I thought he was gone to Heaven."

Turns out, her granda died recently and she thought that Gollum was him.

"Honey, your granda was one ugly dude." That's what I thought, but of course you can't be mean to a sobbing infant.

Fortunately, there was face painting on so we did that and the whole situation was turned around pretty fast.

And Jack and the Beanstalk went down pretty well.

I'm telling you, I really like this guy but I'm actually glad now that he is unavailable for a relationship as it's clearly a minefield, getting involved with single parents.

After the Wax Museum, we shifted left about 100 metres and checked out the chocolate festival in Temple Bar, where, thankfully, nothing reminded either of the little sprites of deceased relatives.

I was telling my friend the greengrocer the whole story later, and he told me about his grandmother's wake and how she fell out of the coffin. But that's another story.

It's funny, but since Hallow'een, there's been a definite change in the way things feel. I mean, although there's no snow or ice, there's a feeling of winter. I need a coat. And while I would love to get something fantastic and expensive and vintage in one of the many shops that drive me crazy with envy, I will probably go to Penney's, as every penny counts (ha, ha) and I'd rather spend MY pennies on going out than looking fab. (Not that I won't, but you know what I mean.

Dublin Tourism had asked me to review the Wax Museum in thanks for the free tickets so here's my two cents: A great day out for all the family! The fairytale stuff will go down well with kids, but rush past the scarier items if you're with impressionable little girls.

Party tonight

I've been working hard all week, and now I am all set. We're good to go. I am even going to cook tonight: Colcannon, a traditional Irish dish. It seems really easy, so I'm hoping even I can get it right. I bought the ingredients at the greengrocer on my way home from college. I love that guy. So we had the following conversation:

Buddy says to me: "So do you have something planned for Hallow'een?"

"Sure," I say, "I'm having a little party tonight and going out tomorrow."

"Well, you might as well enjoy your youth while you can, it'll be gone soon enough."

"That's kinda gloomy!"

"Well, it's the season that's in it. I've been in here all week ponderin' me mortality and contemplatin' the certain doom that awaits."

"What certain doom?"

"Sure we all have to die sometime."

You don't just get vegetables from that guy; you get philosophy too!

There seems to be loads on this weekend so it will be hard to choose. If I go the easy route and stay close to home, there's a chocolate festival on in Temple Bar. But chocolate? I love it, obviously, but. Well, I'm pretty tall so if I gained much weight I'd just look huge. So... well... OK... alright, just one!



So, Bepe and I decided to hold our Hallow'een party on Friday instead of Saturday, because we both want to go out (separately of course) on Saturday. Because our place is so small, we can only invite a maximum of 20. With us, his girlfriend, and the neighbours on either side so's they don't get too annoyed by the noise, that's already 8 people! You can get up to 20 pretty fast.

As he's a chef, I passed him on the recipe for Barn Brack (again, how do you spell that thing? I keep forgetting. I got from the lady in Fresh Cafe. She said it was her mom's and that it was really easy and sure enough Bepe seems to have done a good job. He made it this evening. I sneaked a taste. A bit more bread-y than cake-y, I should say. Not bad. I never cease to be amazed by people who can cook. Are they born with an extra gene of some sort? There I was on Monday feeling pretty good about myself for having added some fresh vegetables to a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup, and there's Bepe knocking out cakes. Well, he's a chef I suppose. So that's all the food we're offering. As there'll be a good mixture of Italians, Irish and miscellaneous foreign students and other people, I'm hoping we'll come up with some fun. I bought the drinks and, guess what, my sister sent me some Screech in the post and it actually made it on time.

Now I'm saying I don't appreciate Jameson but Screech is special. Not only is it rum, which I love, but it is Newfoundland rum and while I don't drink it that often back home, it does the trick when I am having a moment of homesickness.

I got a call from Dublin Tourism today. They wanted to know if I would go to the wax museum and write about it if she gave me free tickets.

"If it's free, I'll do it," I said.

"Be honest," she said, "but only if you like it." Ha, ha.

I have never been to a wax museum before, although I have a feeling I might've read an Edgar Allan Poe story about one. Or was that someone else? Sheesh. I may be striving to become World's Greatest Expert on Nineteenth Century Gothic Literature but I do tend to get my ghost stories mixed up.

I rang my new pal, the former beautiful PhD student, who is still beautiful but has been officially demoted since he told me that he's too busy being a single dad to want to Get Involved with anyone [sigh]. So I am going with him and his kid and some friend of the kid's from Kindergarten. If anyone had told me as recently as a few weeks ago that I would spending one of my precious weekend afternoons with a kid or two, I'd have laughed. Could I be mellowing? What does it mean?

Well it's late. Late for dinner that is. I'm gonna crack open a couple of cans (of spaghettios, while Bepe sneers at my bad eating habits and inability to cook) and have an early night.


Could I be a ukelele lady?

Yesterday evening, I'd made soup for Bepe to have after running the marathon (home made with just a little help from Campbell's). But we'll-call-her-Fabia, the girlfriend [insert random misogynistic term from HipHop anthem here] was all over him, giving him a MASSAGE in the LIVING ROOM that I couldn't stand it any longer. After texting a few people, I decided, what the heck, I'd go out for a quiet drink on my own with my book. I mean, why not? It was either that or stay and watch that [expletive] all over Bepe while my soup went cold in the kitchen.

So I went to this joint called "Shebeen Chic" which I've walked past before but not gone into because it doesn't look like much on the outside.

What a place! Not only was one of the barman seriously hot, there were two separate music events ongoing. A traditional "session" upstairs, and--wait for it--an open mike UKELELE session downstairs! Ukelele! Who knew there was a ukelele fan club in Dublin? I hung around downstairs on the edges of the uke-fest and it was really fun. This cute young guy played a version of Britney's "Hit me baby one more time", two older gents played fantastically well and there were lots of group performances, including some Japanese guys doing Bluegrass or something. Totally surreal, totally fun. Made me wish I played the ukelele too, though I don't have a musical bone in my body. Only in Dublin will you find a bunch of people playing the Ukelele in a dark basement and doing it well, too.

As for the bar, well, I really liked it. It's kind of thrown together, and I'd swear there's a few bits and pieces there they've taken from my Nana's house, but there's a great vibe. There's even a shelf full of books, so it is actually the kind of place a gal could go on her own -- although quiet it certainly wasn't, last night! Because I was mostly listening to the music I had just one drink, a really expensive cocktail (note to self: quality better than quantity? consider).

Also--and I realise that this is beginning to sound like an infomercial--they run a FREE club called the Recession Club which is free! Obviously, I haven't been yet, but as I really like this place so far, and it's 5 minutes away from my place, I'll be checking it out.

When I got home, Fabia was still there and a prebed shower was out of the question 'cause the bathroom was, once again, full of her teeny tiny underwear which she has to wash my hand -- in my place, for some reason.

[insert expletive here]

Running for their lives

Dublin should have marathons more often!

It's not just that there's a great buzz about the city with all the 1000's of people taking to the streets; loads of the city centre has been closed to traffic and it feels strange and great being able to wander about the middle of the roads and look at the buildings from a new angle. Loving it! I'm sorry now I didn't train to take part but I kind of got caught up in Bepe's excitement. He went off this morning all kitted out and I told him I'd make soup this evening. (note to self: either learn how to make soup or preopen and dispose of cans so that I can at least pretend to have made soup.

Bizarrely, when I was out earlier, I saw George, from the National Library. I darted off in case he recognised me. I can't believe I left him a note that time. I don't know what I saw in him! Plus, he had a large spot on his nose. Too many health drinks training for the marathon, perhaps. Pah.

Hallow'een is closing in fast! Can't wait. As well as the party, some of the bars are having "best costume" competitions which might be fun. I seriously can't afford to buy something so if anyone's got any ideas for something home made and impressive (and cheap) please let me know!


It's an amazing day! Sunny and windy and gorgeous. Made all the better by the fact that there've already been some flurries of snow back home in Newfoundland. Definitely a day to be out-of-doors. Bepe thinks he'll be able to fly his remote control plane in Phoenix Park but it's so windy I'm not convinced. I'm going along to see him try tho'!

I love the wind, especially when it's not cold, like today. It's so refreshing. And all the more so after a late night...

scared of shadows

Well, I had a great time at the IFI last night but as I predicated, I was pretty much terrified the whole way through and couldn't sleep last night so today I'm tired and although it's not like me, thinking of spending Friday evening in. We are all into health 'n' fitness round our way at the moemnt, as Bepe's going to be in the Marathom next week and has embarked on a diet that seems to consist mostly of egg whites. He's looking very lean and trim, I must say. If he wasn't my flatmate, and if he didn't have a, not going there ;-)

The good news is that while I thought I couldn't afford to go to any of the gigs in the electronic arts festival there are actually a couple that are pretty cheap so after all I'm going to go. For the sake of two drinks less over the weekend, I think I can manage 5 or 8 Euros. There's an interesting looking one in Filmbase.

Know what? I'm totally dying for a kebab. It must be all the healthy stuff I see Bepe stuffing into himself. Wanna come? More soon...

Schedule issues

So, there are two pretty cool looking festivals on right now. The Dublin Electronic Arts Festival and the Horrorthon Film Festival.

While they both look great, I can't afford to go to that much right now, so I'm opting for horror as, with my interest in Gothic literature, there's clearly a connection. Right? Well, that's my excuse anyhow.

Tho I've gotta say that for a Gothic kinda gal, I'm easily scared and will most likely be watching most of tonight's performance from behind my fingers. And then someone will have to walk me home, because I'll be convinced that in every shadow there's a monster!

Tonight I'm going to see Trick or Treat, which is a cultural outing, because it's a very intelligent sort of a film. Ahem. So in the spirit of all things artistic, I'll be in the Mezz for a hot whiskey or two to get me in the mood before the screening.

Speaking of terror, while I'm actually quite a fan of traditional music (being a Newfoundlander, I grew up with a lot of Celtic sounds), I've always found accordions slightly creepy. Look at this picture. Doesn't it look a bit like an EVIL MUTANT PIANO that might come to life and play sinister music as you sleep?

Or have I just read a bit too much Edgar Allan Poe?

Falling colours

Today has been one of those crazy days in Ireland. This morning, it was so dark, it looked as though there was going to be a storm. Very dramatic. I was walking along College Green on my way to college when a big wet leaf hit me in the face. Then, around lunch time, the sky did something fantastic and was dark and sunny at the same time so the buildings were lit up but the sky behind they was dark grey. At the time of writing, it's quite a nice Fall afternoon, sunny and windy together. I'm planning to study late in college tonight, because I took some time out this afternoon to go for a walk in Merrion Square. I like it there, because there's trees and bushes all the way around the edge so although you're in the middle of the city, you can kinda pretend you're in a forest. Today it was all very damp and mysterious and some snails had crawled on top of the statue of Oscar Wilde and I really wished I'd brought a camera.

Trivia of the day; When I got back to college and told someone where I'd been I was told that the Oscar Wilde Statue is known by Dubliners as "The Quare on the Square." But affectionately, of course. Well, you live and learn. And it is a cool statue. I didn't even know stone came in those crazy colours.

Perhaps it's a bit nerdish of me, but I still haven't gotten bored of the excitement of knowing that I can go eat my sandwich in the same park or drink my Guinness in the same pub as some of the best writers in the English language.

So...I'm off home and I'm planning not to turn the computer on again today. Emboldened by the (relative) success of my Chinese stir-fry, I'm gonna give Colcannon (sp?) a trial run prior to cooking it up for our Hallow'een party.


Bepe and I have decided to have a Hallow'een Party! We'll see how many people we can squeeze into our teeny apartment. Sadly, this also means that his girlfriend will be there in a sexy little number but hopefully there'll be so many people there that I won't have to talk to her too much. I've even persuaded him to make a Barm Brack. I went to one of my favourite cafes, because I know they do cooking courses there and I thought maybe I could do one to learn how to make it. Well, they ARE doing a special Hallow'een course and it looks great, but no barm brack. However, the nice lady said to come back the next day and she would give me a photocopy of the one her mom makes.And she did! So, ahem, BEPE will be making it. So we're all gonna get dressed up and have all the games and I might make some mulled wine because I think my culinary skills are probably up to it.

Can't wait!

Fall is here with a vengeance now, and Trinity College is full of fallen leaves. I guess it's a melancholy time of year but I kinda like it. I met my buddy (sniff; he should be so much more) with his kid again and we had a happy half hour kicking the leaves about. Plus, in the summer the days are long, long, long and this summer I kept feeling a bit guilty about going to bars when it was still daylight outside. Now that the evenings are darker -- well, there's no such guilt and I have also disovered the quiet joy of a hot whiskey in one of those pubs where the old boyos go. Hot whiskey is a Dublin classic and a real treat on a chilly evening. Plus, it takes a while to drink so if you're on a budget you can nurse one of those babies for a good hour or so.

OKAY... I'm off home. Despite his reservations, Bepe has agreed that I'll cook dinner for us both this evening. He had a sportsy weekend with his remote-control plane (Saturday in Phoenix Park) and playing ball with some of his buddies from restaurant. And now, despite being all fit-n-healthy he's got a cold. So I'm cooking. But I don't know what yet. Gotta pick something up on the way home -- might make a detour into one of the Chinese supermarkets around Henry Street. I'm sure that even I can manage to knock together a decent stir fry...or can I?

bang! bang! bang!

Fireworks are illegal in Ireland, apparently. But that sure as heck doesn't stop them using them. They seem to be on sale all over the place and if you go into residential areas, you can hear them already.

So I guess Hallow'een is a really big deal here. I'll be saving my pennies till the end of the month so that I can go out and have some fun without having to worry about money too much.

Following my brief but succesful venture forth on a bicycle last week, I've done it again.

As you can see, the bikes are quite chunky, but they are none the worse for that. I see some chicks going around town with bikes they've personalised with artificial flowers and stuff. I wonder if people are going to do that sort of thing with these? Wouldn't that be fun?

Anyway, because of the financial situation, this weekend I'm having some friends over tomorrow night. We're going to watch a DVD and eat. Thankfully, Bepe is cooking. He is bringing along some buddies who, I think, are coming less for the free food and more in the hope of meeting some Irish women (the friends are Irish gals from my department). Lamentably, Bepe's girlfriend will be there too. You can't have everything.

I have already done some of the grocery shopping for the weekend on what is one of my favourite streets in the city, Moore Street. While you would hardly call it elegant, I love it, from the old ladies touting illegal fireworks from battered prams, to the fruit and vegetable stands, to the Chinese Lotto outfits to the mall where you can get all sorts of exotic ingredients. It feels so big-city-real but also very Irish. And you can have the best conversations with the people who work there.

"Dese Africans," one woman said (I am trying to write in Dublinese). "They are great cooks. "There was a fella here with a bunch of quare stuff and I asked him how you'd cook a yoke like that and didn't he come back the next day and he'd only brought me a Tupperware dish with the meat and the sauce in it and I brought it home and fecked it in the Microwave and it was only delicious."

If I'm feeling motivated enough and don't have a hangover, on Sunday I'm going to go here: The Huge Lane. Classical music is not necessarily my usual thing, but I've been told its free and, as I said, money is a bit of an issue for me right now!