Great excitement

To my horror, round at my friend's house last night, I stood on the weighing scales in the bathroom and found that I've gained weight. And just before Valentine's weekend, too!! I guess it's just easier to tuck in to fish and chips when it's winter and the weather is cold (see, I've gone native, thinking that this is cold!)

To cut myself some slack, I should point out that I had a huge and delicious meal yesterday at lunch, and so will assume that at least half the weight gain was down to that. Still: the healthy eating starts next week. I'm not gonna start a diet on Valentine's weekend. No siree.

So, yesterday, I met the lady from the Irish Countrywomen's Association. She was a lot younger than I'd expected, and very friendly. And that's not all: she also bought me lunch. She said she wasn't expecting to get out for Valentine's because she has two kids, so this would be her treat. Nice place, Roly's. If it was up to me, I'd maybe rethink the name, which sounds like a bit of a euphemism for "fat", but I've no complaints about the food, which was sort of "down home cooking gone fancy" style. She said she'd certainly be prepared to help me to meet people around the countryside if I do decide to go down the research route, which is good to know. I haven't even talked about it with any of the professors, though, so it's all still very what-if-ish for the moment. She also told me that she has a friend who's looking for someone to take care of her kids on Saturdays, as she has a new boutique in town somewhere, and I said I'd maybe be interested. I don't know a lot about kids, but I'd like to give it a try. Especially if I do stay on to do more research, I'll need an income source.

I'm very excited about tomorrow night. I've found the perfect present for my Boyfriend. It didn't cost a lot -- it's a more symbolic gift than anything: the collected works of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Everyone knows that Ireland is a land of writers and poets and, believe me, in Dublin you can't forget it, as every second pub claims to be the place where Brendan Behan used to hang out. But, in my opinion, the Irish don't make enough of a fuss about le Fanu. He PRACTICALLY INVENTED the ghost story in serious literature FFS! So where are the le Fanu postcards? Pub portraits? Come on, guys; he's one of our -- I mean your -- own!! I'm going to give it to him when we go out for wine and a snack at Fallon & Byrnes on Saturday evening- my treat. I've seen him very little the last few weeks because he's so busy with his thesis and I think it's going to be fabulous.

[Contented sigh]

sun breaking through clouds

Today it's like the seasons are battling in the sky over Dublin for supremacy. One minute, it's all big, black clouds and threatening to rain, and then the sun bursts through and everything is bathed in yellow sunlight. You can tell that warmer weather is around the corner and while I quite like winters, it's good to know that soon I'll be able to put away my heavy coat.

But the scary thing is that spring also means that I do need to start thinking about what to do next and, honestly, I don't feel ready to leave. That means either getting a job or starting a PhD or, perhaps, both. And should that be here, or somewhere else? There are so many reasons to stay. I've hardly seen the rest of the country. I really feel positive about my new relationship, and I've had some interesting ideas for research. Plus, although as a student I'm fairly protected from the wider world and all its problems, I do know it's not the easiest time in the world to find work. All of that is making me think that maybe I'll try to stay on and do some postgraduate work, and hopefully find a way to make a few bucks, even if it is by waiting tables. At least, as long as I have this blog, I'll get a few free tickets to things!!!

So yesterday, feeling thoughtful, I took a walk about. Near the Jervis Centre, they seem to be getting things ready for the Chinese New Year Festival this weekend. That put me in an Asian frame of mind so I went to a Filipino place I've often thought about going into, because it always seems to be full of Filipinos, and I think that's a good sign. It's called Cafe Manila and they have an all-you-can-eat deal at lunch time. I picked up a paperback in the discount book store on the same street and went on my own. How much did I eat? You don't want to know. I'd never had Filipino food before, but it's pretty good.

I'd bought a book but I didn't read. I really thought hard about things and then, out of nowhere, I had a really great idea for a research topic: Exploring links between Irish folklore and nineteenth century Gothic literature in Ireland. I mean, for instance, Bram Stoker's Dracula was set in London and elsewhere-not-Ireland, but he was Irish, right? Who knows where he found his inspiration. Last night I was at Saoirse's place, and her Mom suggested that I get in touch with an organisation called the ICA -- The Irish Countrywomen's Association. She said it's the sort of grassroots organisation that would help me do my own fieldwork easily. Sounding out the idea, I rang them up. I'm usually pretty awkward on the phone but I lucked out and got talking to a friendly lady who invited me to meet her for lunch at a place called Rolys. I've looked it up. It seems lovely, but out of my bracket, especially as I am taking my Boyfriend out Saturday for Valentine's. So it'll be a glass of water and the cheapest side salad for me. But how nice of her to not only meet me but spare her lunch time, and just because there's a small possibility that I might want to contact the members of her organisation. Really.

Am I getting excited about the weekend? Absolutely. And not just because of the Hallmark-greeting-card festival; I also haven't seen my Boyfriend that much the last couple of weeks, coz he's been so busy. I'm just really looking forward to a long evening with him over a bottle (or two) of the sort of wine I can't usually afford.

Spring flowers

February in Dublin, and flowers are everywhere. Firstly, the real thing in the form of snowdrops and crocuses and early cherry blossom is beginning to appear in the parks, months before spring appears back home. Sure, the days are still often grey and it's not yet time to take off the winter coat, but these little flowers are so pretty in the wet winter lawns, it's almost enough to make this goth girl want to change out of her black clothes and into something a bit more summery. And that's not all. Because Valentine's Day is coming up, the stores and street vendors have gone all-out with window displays and shows of flowers and, know what? I know it's hokey and commercial and what-have-you, but who's pretty, even if you don't buy anything, it's good to see the city looking so bright and it's a welcome reminder that winter is nearly over. So there.

While we're on the topic of Valentine's Day, I've decided what to do. I'm going to take Himself (this is how the Irish refer to someone's Significant Other) out to Fallon and Byrnes Wine Bar, not on the 14th, when everything will be crazy, but on the 13th. It's great there. I can afford it (once in a while) and it somehow manages to feel both very Irish and sort of Left Bank Paris-ish all at the same time. Last time I went it was with a bunch of people from college, as a sort of informal continuation of a tutorial session. We drank a bottle of wine, solved the problems of the nineteenth-century-literature universe and hungrily watched other people eating. At the table on the left, a girl with bright pink hair and a leopard-print dress was having a mild argument with her boyfriend (didn't seem too serious) and on the right, two grey-haired ladies were planning a holiday. I love places that are for everyone.

So that's what I'm planning. Wonder what he'll do for me????

I mentioned it before, but Dublin Tourism asked me to point out again that the Chinese New Year is going to be celebrated here in a big way. I love Chinese food so I'm hoping that it's going to involve dim sum being distributed for free on Dublin's streets (although I should mention that I haven't heard that anything of the sort is happening). I do know that there are going to be street markets and concerts and all sorts of events around the city.

Just found out this weekend on a wander about the city that there are often concerts and things in Dublin Castle. I've never been, but I like the idea of a show in the castle!! Sounds fancy. :-)

Ireland won in the rugby this weekend against Italy, so things are predictably gloomy back home with Bepe, my room mate although everyone says that everyone knew what was going to happen in that match beforehand. He spend Sunday slouched miserably on the coach in a tracksuit, groaning. A sort of horrible mixture between disappointment and the associated hangover. Did I feel sorry for him? Well, not much. Just a little. I made him soup, but he didn't eat it. It's not clear if that's because the soup was a tad burned, or because of the heartache. But it's the thought that counts, right?