spring romance

I'm not talking about any romance of my own, more's the pity. I'm talking about the apparently vast population of ducks, swans and other birds living in Dublin's city parks. Yesterday, from my apartment window, I watched two boy pigeons having a big fight over a girl pigeon, who was doing her best to look as though she didn't noticed. And today - ah - it was so beautiful I spent a couple hours in Stephen's Green feeling all spring-like and optimistic. Romance was totally in the air too, and not just among the couples making under the chestnut trees. I guess this is the time of year when all the Irish ducks and swans start thinking about...well, the birds and the bees.

At the risk of appearing voyeuristic, I can share a few shots I took with my mobile:

Aren't they just the cutest couple?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the park, this guy wasn't doing so well:

My guess is, he probably treated some lady swan really badly a while ago and then, when he wanted her back, she just told him to stick his head where the sun don't shine -- and she didn't mean the bottom of the lake in Stephen's Green!!!

On the way back to college, something funny happened; I bumped into the lady who treated me to lunch in Roly's Bistro a few weeks ago. I was a bit embarrassed, becase I felt I hadn't thanked her enough for being so nice, but she actually invited me to meet up with her for a glass of wine one evening next week. I have to choose the place, so I'll have to, ahem, research a good place for a glass of wine and maybe a little snack or something. She also told me that there's going to be a big, huge ceili in the park on St Patrick's Day, which sounds like a load of fun. I've seen Irish dancing before, of course, but this would be like a huge, mass event with THOUSANDS of people and HUNDREDS of musicians and well, wow, basically a gruelling mass of arms and legs all moving to the beat. Ha. Take that, Rio de Janeiro! I expect there'll be more clothes involved. Although, you never know. My greengrocer told me that St Patrick's is the day when Irish people are EXEMPTED from whatever vows they've taken for Lent. Apparently, a lot of people still give up stuff -- chocolate, smoking, booze, or whatever - but when St Patrick's Day comes, it doesn't count. How cool is that? He said the Missis is putting him on a diet for Lent, but "I'll eat so much on Paddy's Day I'll more than make up for it."

I've been given the chance by Dublin Tourism to go to a sports championship in Croke Park. Gaelic games are exciting, for sure. But I don't want to miss the ceili, either. Spoiled for choice, I guess.

Books, books, books.

I am very much looking forward to this weekend. Or, perhaps I should say, the nerd in me is looking forward to it.

It's the weekend of the Dublin Book Festival!!!

I think that I read somewhere that Irish people read more, on average, than folks in all the rest of the English-speaking countries. I'm pretty sure that's true, and I love the way there are odd little bookstores tucked into corners all over Dublin. There are big megastores, and they are great in their "we've got everything" way. But my favourite bookstore in Dublin -- and I say this as someone with access to the amazing library at Trinity College -- is the Secret Book and Record Store on Wicklow Street, just off Grafton Street. Ooh, I just googled it, and it has a MySpace page. It's a funny place that would be easy to miss. You go through an ordinary looking door and down a longish and rather grimy corridor and then you're in this L-shaped space heaped with the oddest assortment of books, music and customers. The sort of place tattooed guys crossly buy Nietzsche paperbacks in and moms-and-babies go to to pick up second-hand children's books. I love it. I go there several times a week. Usually, I don't buy anything, but they don't seem to mind.

One of the things I most love about the Irish is that most people seem to strive to be eloquent. My greengrocer, for example, is one of the best-spoken people I've ever met, and even those guys you pass on the street who use an expletive for every second word; well, you've got to give it to 'em -- they do inventively. The Irish love language the way people from other cultures love fancy food or wine, I think.

So that's a very long-winded way of saying, well, I am looking forward to the Book Festival :-) I will be taking care of the kids on Saturday again, so I must see if there's anything bookish I can take them to so that I can propose it to their Mom.

I'm also hoping that it's mostly free, as I am saving my pennies for the biggest Spring festival in the world: St Patrick's Day

Exciting times. Oh, and I am getting a little work done too, as well as thinking hard about next year and What The Future Holds.

By the way, my Uncle Joey is now living in Ireland too. He's working in the fishing industry just like he did back home, and living in circumstances I don't entirely understand. I must go down and investigate one of these days because my Mom and Dad are getting very curious!

Irish priests

I've just seen my first ever episode of Father Ted, round at a friend's place.

Oh my gosh, I can't believe I've been in Ireland all this time without having seen it until now. Honestly, it's the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life. It's hard to believe it's so old; the last one was made in 1998, apparently.

I do love the way the Irish are good at making fun of themselves. Not that I'd dare to try, of course. I'd be too scared of putting a foot wrong.

Since the Chinese New Year Festival, I'd been planning to go to this exhibition of Chinese Art in the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle. It's just 2 minutes away from Trinity, so there's no reason not to. I just hadn't gotten around to it. I don't know that much about art, far from it in fact, but I can tell you that the Chinese stuff is really different to Western Art. For one thing, a lot of the pieces on show seemed to be basically very, very fancy early comic books. You could roll 'em out and see the story. Interesting. I made a resolution to find out more about Chinese history and culture -- when I have some free time, ha ha.

Honestly, I am trying to keep busy because I am still pretty sad. I keep seeing Him. I don't know if I can even refer to him as an ex-boyfriend, because I don't know any more if he ever thought of himself that way. When we were "together" I complained I didn't see him enough. Well, now I see him everywhere. And guess what. I think he's engaged to the mother of his daughter now. I saw them at college the other day, and she was definitely wearing a sparkly ring on her left finger. So what does that make me? I guess it makes me the last fling so that he can be sure she's really the Right One before settling down for good. I feel like a used Kleenex when I think about it, honestly. It's awful. I'm just hoping that the fact that St Patrick's Day is coming up and that the city is going to be mad-cram-packed with revellers will help. Although I don't feel like it, I'm gonna arrange to do as many things as possible in the hopes that being tired will make it easier to sleep!! Everyone from home's been writing enviously about how cool it must be to be in Ireland for the festivities and I suppose, yes, despite the stuff that's going on in my personal life, it is. And as there are a couple of weeks to go, I am sure it will get easier and it will be fun. I will check it all out this week, and blog on here about my plans. If anyone has any suggestions, that'd be great too.

Saturday, I took the kids I look after to St Anne's Park. Sure is pretty up there. Although there was a chill in the air, spring is definitely here. I noticed that small kids are a lot like dogs, in many ways. And I'm fond of dogs, so I'm saying that as a *good* thing. If they don't get enough exercise, they get cranky. When they've had enough, you've got to give them something to eat. So we went to the park and I threw balls for them, and then when they started fighting, I fished out the bananas and cookies their Mom had packed for them and it was all OK again. So, just like a day at the park with two labrador pups, really. I'm starting to think that this job is going to be OK!