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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

On our doorstep!

Four words - The Great Ocean Road. After that there are no words. Nothing can describe how beautiful that place is!!

ANZAC day I went with a mate up "The Great Ocean Road" ( It took us 3 hours to drive to see "The Twelve Apostles" and oh my God was it worth it. Driving up we were mostly on the main road and motorway, and you don't pay much attention to your surroundings. Then pulling towards the sea you go through lots of green scenery that reminded me of home. We pulled up at the lookout point and walked to the sea. Turning the corner to see the view, my breath was literally taken away. It was literally an "Oh my God" moment that left me with my mouth open. It was a beautiful, albeit chilly, day; but the light on the rocks was amazing - these photos are with no filters.

To think that this sight was on my doorstep, a short 3 hour drive away, was insane. It was like we were in paradise. How could I have not visited this before? Photos don't do it justice and words cannot describe the beauty of the natural scene.

I headed down onto the beach. How good was it to breathe in the sea air and forget about everything? How it felt so good just to hear the waves, taste the salt in the air and let the stresses and worries wash away from you. The sea was loud and the waves crashed against the rocks. It was only 7 degrees when I was there, so winter clothes were needed, although sunnies too :)

After a while we went to Port Campbell for some lunch and then headed back along The Great Ocean Road to see what else was in store. We went into Otway Reserve and saw some people stopped at the side of the road looking up into the trees. Pulling over we saw some wild koalas just hanging out and eating their food as they looked down at us. Crazy to think these beautiful animals were so close to us and yet I have only ever seen them in the zoo. They're so cute, you just want to grab one and take it home!! I got away with holding one without it using me as a toilet the week before though; so I wasn't chancing that again!

We continued along The Great Ocean Road til we got to Apollo Bay and we stopped for more snaps here. A beautiful beach that was surrounded by shops and restaurants. The weather was so perfect and the sky seemed to go on forever. My friend commented that the sky always seems so much bigger in Australia and thinking about it, I completely agree. Sounds silly; but it seems to be so much more expansive than at home for some reason. Beautiful.

The town of Lorne was next; definitely a surfer's paradise with many in the sea and many more walking around the main street. The beautiful weather had everyone in a good mood and the vibe was a very relaxed one. 

Driving home along the windy road, there were so many "wow" moments and reasons to stop and take photos. Very distracting for a driver who couldn't (or at least shouldn't!) turn around to take in the view and the surroundings.

Finally the last stop was the "Round the Twist" lighthouse - a programme I'd never seen as a kid, but I knew the theme tune; which was promptly put in my head for the rest of the day! The sun was setting and we were watching some people fishing while we looked back over the day. What a great experience and something so beautiful on our doorstep. How lucky are we to have such scenery and landmarks only a few hours from where we live? I was grateful. Grateful for the break, for the opportunity to be able to experience this and grateful for the company.

"Have you ever; ever felt like this...." 
No; I don't think I have. 

But I bet you're singing it now, aren't you?!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Townsville Times

So the Easter week was fast approaching. I couldn't wait for the break from everything - to be able to sit back and relax, unwind and not have to think about everyone else. Me-time with my sister, niece and Dad. Bring it on.

Maire had a surprise 30th party for her boyfriend Colm in The White Room on Fitzroy St on the weekend before Easter. Jo Jo was sharing her 30th with the him and everyone had been looking forward to the night out. Turns out management at The White Room had triple booked the function room/bar area with another leaving party and a Hen Party. Needless to say Maire and Jo Jo weren't impressed, but fun was still had by pretty much everyone. I learned that I'm still not ready to be out or to be drinking, but after some texts to friends and a good girly chat with Lara the next day at "Monkey Bean" in Toorak Village (lovely apart from the length of time it took us to get our food), I felt much better about things. After this, I headed to a birthday BBQ but was so tired from the night before that I was pretty much like a zombie all evening.

I don't normally talk about work, but I will for this. A few weeks previously, I had suggested (and pretty much said) that we should have an Easter Egg Hunt in work. I got Serena, Dan and Jess on board and we each took 7/8 clues each on board to invent and Cat bought the eggs. On the Tuesday of Easter week we had the Hunt - so the morning was spent frantically trying to think of some clever clues! I thought I did OK actually -

"Tell me; when you were a kid,
And watching TV,
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,
Who was the enemy?"

Answer: "Shredder"

Good no?? I was pretty pleased with my attempts at rhyming and being cryptic at the same time. More than I can say for Daniel's attempts:

"Your egg is in the archive boxes in the Finance Dept"

Not very difficult to figure that one out.
Not to mention that when he went to hide the eggs, he was walking around with them in his hands looking as guilty as all Hell; as though he had just committed murder or something! Subtle as a brick :)
The whole office seemed to enjoy it and everyone got an egg - so there was smiles all around with hopes of it becoming an annual thing. It's funny what a little bit of something different (and some chocolate!) does to give a bit of a pick-me-up to employees!

I was thinking that we might put in a LDC team for The Corporate Games in November. Just for laughs, cos we're not exactly the most sporty or athletic office around. We're good at eating, not that great at drinking (but will still give it a go) but are mostly sedentary nerds. We need to think about our strengths...We have 2 employees that are 6ft 6in and 6ft 7in respectively; so am thinking we need to enter the Netball comp and just make them stand at either hoop. Is that cheating or using your brain?!
To those who are ignorant to the world of Netball and would like to know what it's about - don't bother. It goes alongside cricket with the boring-as-hell to watch category and has silly rules, but it's MASSIVE over here. Think basketball with no contact or running with the ball.
Anyway, considering that we know we've no chance in hell in winning anything, I'm thinking of perhaps Dragon-Boat racing or something fun and different while hopefully asking for a free day off. Looking forward to the planning - just have to let the two lads know they've been recruited against their will and then use my powers of persuasion to get other members to join the "team" as currently it's just me, myself and I.

So, the Easter break arrived! My flight was changed from 6am to 4:20pm so I missed out on a day of my holiday, but I managed to win a little by having a row to myself on the plane on the flight to Townsville. Arrived to a "balmy" 29 degree evening and got to see the beautiful Izzy again. She has grown so much in such a short time. 3 months old now, she is so much more alert; although nonetheless spoilt now that Nanny had left and Granddad was here. A right little princess now, and a pink one at that once Aunty Ciara arrived :)

I got a free 5-day pass to the Genesis Gym down the road and went there every day. Thank God for the ladies-only part of it; if it was only to avoid the complete intimidation of 7ft Pacific Islanders in the weights area of the gym it was worth it. Don't think the beast would have been too impressed with my sweating and struggling to lift 5kg weights above my head!

It's amazing what joy babies bring to everyone. No matter who you are, you can't help but smile when a baby smiles at you, you can't help but melt when you see them laugh or feel sorry for them when they cry. People who aren't normally touchy-feely or affectionate become mush around babies and especially when they're part of your own family. My Mam and my Dad are completely in love with Izzy and can't refrain from taking their eyes off her or having her in their arms 24/7. It's funny to see my parents around their grandchild - it's a different love; a more "on display" kind of love it seems. Like they don't care who's watching, wearing their hearts on their sleeves for all to see. I guess when the baby isn't your direct offspring; when you don't have to discipline them, to teach them and bring them up, then all you have for them is love. "Spoiling" a baby is only because your love for them is overwhelming and my God do grandparents spoil their grandchildren! Izzy even got her first Easter egg; which Bhany ate - obvs...

I was laughing to Bhany and saying that I'm sure I'll get to see Izzy the third time I come to visit; when the grandparents aren't around :)

My sister and her fiancé asked me to be Godmother to Isabel and my brother Kev to be Godfather. I am beyond excited and grateful to be that bit more involved in Izzy's life! I am now the proud Godmother to two beautiful precious girls! Again, distance is once again an issue; but she'll be the closest one to me at a mere 3 hour flight away.

We didn't do much the time I was in Townsville; which suited me perfectly to be honest. I went to the gym every day and then probably spent the rest of the day eating!! (No change there I hear you all say!)
We went to "Billabong Sanctuary" and saw all kinds of Aussie animals - venomous snakes, kangaroos (even one with its joey in its pouch), wombats, dingos, crocodiles, emus and koalas - where I even got to hold one. They are cute as all hell, but they stink! And I narrowly missed being used as a toilet by the female koala that I was holding - thankfully she managed to crap on the zoo keeper and not me; a fact that was noted by my sister and Dad as unusual that it didn't in fact happen to me. Would have been a good story for the blog! :)

We went to see Orion, Bhany's horse; who is like a completely different animal from the wild beast I first met. He used to run away from everyone, and hated men. He would stamp his feet and snort if a guy approached him and we would have to go round the fields trying to catch him to bring him in. This time, he came up to Bhany when she called him, followed her out of the field (paddock to you Aussies), and stood beside us. The amount of time, effort and money that Bhany has put into him is truly paying off and he loves her so much it's so cute to see! Bhany the Horse Whisperer :)

We saw some vampire bats, including one that Bhany found with a broken pelvis hanging from the bottom branch of a bush with it's head on the ground. It unfortunately needed to be put to sleep.

We went for a walk on The Strand where we amused ourselves with the areas set aside for people keeping fit - monkey bars, steps, ropes etc; using them for photo opportunities instead or for funny videos.

We ordered 2kgs of chicken wings (along with some other items!) for our lunch at "Longboard Bar and Grill" and took a photo of "Aunty B" (the "B" standing for "Butch" - the lovely nickname bestowed onto me by Luke) and the bones.  Obviously he is extremely happy with himself after coming up with that gem.

The "butch" bit came about when Bhany and I were standing at the fireplace at home years ago with Mam and our GrandAunt Nora in the room. Mam asked Nora if we looked alike. "Oh yes", Nora said smiling "but you can easily tell them apart. Ciara is the butch one". Wouldn't want to have feelings in my family! This "complex" was further intensified by a brother of my GrandUncle Frank "complimenting" me by saying I had "mighty calves". I don't think I've ever recovered.

Anyone who knows me knows I can't cook. I will "cook" for myself, but nobody else, as I don't have the confidence and know that I'll eat whatever it is anyway, cos....well, cos it's food and it's me :)
I decided this week to help with the dinners. One night I decided to suggest making "Dropscones" - a delish treat that my Granny (Dad's Mam) used to make years ago. I got the brief recipe low-down from Mam via Whatsapp and then set about making them. This effort was soon brought to an end after Dad came into the kitchen, took one look at what I was making and said "I'll make my own thanks". Insulting much? I made mine and that was it - Dad made Luke's and Bhany made Dad's; who was delighted with her attempts of playing chef; just not mine apparently. Nice one Dad.

I am shattered from the week of staying on the couch in the living room and having my sleep patterns become those of a 3 month old at nighttime. Isabel sleeps through the night, but it's been midnight or 1am most nights that she's been going to bed, and then up at 6am. Sleeping in the lounge area means Ciara is awake too; and for someone who needs A LOT of sleep to get through the day; this takes a lot out of you.

The other night I was going to bed when I heard a noise from the kitchen. "What's that?!?!" said the Scaredy Cat inside my head. "It's OK" I reassured myself, "it's only a chicken". For about 5 seconds I was reassured that there was only a loose chicken in the kitchen, when I suddenly questioned the validity of what I was thinking. "Don't worry", my sister said (clearly seeing the look of terror crossed with confusion on my face), "it's only a lizard. Goodnight"; and with that she walked into her room and closed the door; leaving me to fend for myself with the giant dragon that was squawking from the kitchen. In the darkness, I feared for my life. I thought of how the lizard would crawl from the kitchen and leap onto the bed to attack me just like the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park. I imagined how you might wrestle or kill a lizard and how much of a mess I would leave on the sofa-bed once the dragon had slain me in my sleep. So I decided I wouldn't sleep; and stayed curled in a ball on the sofa-bed, under the covers for fear of clasping eyes on the predator.
In the morning my sister showed me the demon itself. It was about the size of a matchbox. Needless to say I didn't announce the reasons for my lack of sleep that night after seeing how pathetically small and friendly the little tail-less (since Bhany stood on it and it left it's tail behind in the hurry to get away!) creature was.

Australia has the weirdest of animals along with the deadliest. In the middle of the night I heard screams from out the front of the house. I was slightly alarmed that nobody else seemed to be in the slightest bit bothered that clearly someone was being murdered only feet from where we were sitting - Dad even turned the TV up! However, Bhany then explained to me that the screams were actually coming from a Minah bird that had nested out front. From that night; it routinely screamed it's head off about 11pm onwards - each time making me wonder if ever there was a murder outside, we'd all be inside reaching for the remote!!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Season 2...

So, it's that time of year again.

The time of year when a load of girls get together and drink copious amounts of alcohol, act like wild animals when out in public, have a lot of fun, become great friends and share great laughs. Oh and play some hockey too along the way. Minor detail for the hockey team. I'm beyond excited that it's hockey season again and that I am intact enough to take part!

For instance - Saturday week began with 3 snake sweets for brekkie, followed by a hockey game in the sun. After a 1-0 win by our motley crew, I celebrated with a Mars Bar, 2 more snakes and a Diet Coke while watching the second match. The food of champions.

Then we all bunched together in a few cars and zoomed across to Greensborough to watch the Premier League Men's and Women's matches along with the Reserves. (A hot-dog was consumed to give me the fuel to get me through these games). I won't even tell you what I had for "dinner" or Lara will kill me! :) The other girls went to on to go to the Start of Season Party and I'm afraid I can't publicly put the photos up...let's just say it looks like a good night was had by all.

I played 2 practice games back to back last Saturday in the sun and thought I might need a stretcher afterwards! Great fun, but I think I left my life on the pitch. Home for about 2pm, I had a shower and got back into my PJs and got into bed for a 3 hour rest as I was so shattered! No sleep, but I honestly felt that I had negative energy to continue to be able to move my limbs!

So here's to another season - with both new and old friends and more memories. Here's to many more hungover games, to beers on the sideline and BBQs after. Here's to countless hours of preparation as Women's Club Secretary, organising sponsorship and social events, uniform and registrations. Here's to the laughter and hopefully more wins than injuries! Hoping to be able to stay away from The Alfred Hospital this year! 

The girls from the 5 teams of Powerhouse St. Kilda are my family over here on the edge of the world. They are what keeps me going and holds me together. My hockey family are the reason why I feel at home and part of Melbourne; even if very few of them are actually Aussie! I am very grateful for the friendships I've made here and the help and support that they've provided me with. I can't say that my liver or wallet is equally as appreciative, but hey - you can't please everyone...


Splish Splash

So my Dad was due to arrive at 5:30pm on Monday. Sunday I get a barrage of texts saying there is some sort of chaos at the airport in Dublin and he has had to switch airlines and won't be arriving til 1am Tuesday morning. My plan of getting plenty of sleep didn't work out and so I was awake til 3am when I got home from the airport. Work the next day wasn't exactly amazingly productive due to the 2-hours sleep I managed to squeeze in.
Returning home from work at 12pm, we head to Telstra to get Dad a SIM card for Australia. Now, this is after texting my mate at stupid o'clock the night before asking him to drop my spare phone that he was fixing back to me, as it was the only unlocked phone myself, my Dad and my sister had between us. The phone was there waiting for me in the morning, but the only issue now was my passcode wasn't working in it.
So, at 12:40pm we head off to Chadstone shopping centre in an effort to speak to someone in Apple who can help us unlock the phone. I was immediately looked at like I had stolen the phone. Admittedly my "I need you to wipe the phone as my passcode isn't working and I don't care what's on it, I don't need it, but can you do it quickly" story was probably backing up their theory. Either way they still did it. An hour later we leave Chadstone with an unblocked (not stolen) phone and a new SIM.
My friend Anna, who is staying with me til she goes home to the UK on Saturday, calls me to say she's near my apartment and so we tear home to give her the key and head off to the airport to drop Dad again so he can go to Townsville to see my sister, her fiancé and the new granddaughter.

Now; rain has amazing powers here in Melbourne. Aussie's are not exactly good drivers at the best of times, but when it rains; everyone seems to lose the ability to drive a vehicle and utter chaos ensues. Screaming inside my head, I calmly tell Dad we have loads of time and continue to crawl in traffic to the airport.
We eventually make it to the airport JUST in time for Dad to check in and be ready for his flight. Deep breaths and I head back to drop back the car to my mate and walk home to Anna to get dinner.

A couple of nights later Anna and I go to "Sister of Soul" on Acland St (  for a friend's birthday; where Anna gets food envy at my veggie burger and chips over her Rawsagna (which was, of course, much healthier!).


We then head to "Crave" ( for a FroYo before getting the tram home. Then we meet today's Tram Freak.
Now, normally on the number 78/79 or 16 there's a daily Tram Freak. Previous encounters consisted of men in women's clothing, old men rapping, women getting naked due to too much drugs, dancing Elvis's (or should that be Elvi?!), singing priests and other harmless "creatures" that provide nothing but entertainment. This time, however, was different. Anna and I were sitting on the train when I noticed a tall, thin Aboriginal man standing over us. He eyes were wild and he looked less than happy. We continued to talk amongst ourselves as he stared at us. His attention was then turned to another girl sitting on her own, when a random guy said "oh I didn't see you there - how's it going?", pretending to know her to try and save her from the weird drug-induced crazy man. They continued to talk "as friends", as the druggie shouted and screamed "Rats!!!! Monsters!!!!!" and "That's what you think of the native people?!!" while roaming around the tram.
When it was time for the random girl-saving man to get off the tram, he stood beside the door with his hands in his pockets waiting for the tram to stop. The Aboriginal man tore off his jacket and started squaring up to the bystander, shouting in his face "do you want to start something?!" "come and have a go mate!", pushing him the whole time. The tram went silent. I looked around to see if there were any big guys on the tram that could perhaps help the innocent man, but everyone sat there; waiting for what seemed like the inevitable "King-Hit" to happen. The tram stops and said-bystander is pushed off by the screaming lunatic, who then returns to the tram and shouts "WHAT ARE YOU ALL LOOKING AT?!?!?!". You could hear a pin drop. I actually had the incredible urge to laugh cos the guy was so crazy and everyone else was in such shock, but thankfully resisted the impulse that would have undoubtedly left me in hospital. Turning around in a rage he sees his jacket on the chair next to a man and intimidatingly stands over him before saying "Thank you very much kind sir for looking after my jacket, I very much appreciate it" in the most polite tone I have ever heard, before turning and screaming about rats and monsters again. Thankfully the lunatic leaves the train at the next stop and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Stay away from drugs kids; or from the number 16 tram.

Immediately following this, Anna and I have to wait on Park St for the number 8 to take us down to the apartment. It is 11pm at night and it's raining. Cue skinny Asian man, who starts telling us he was robbed and has to get to Geelong on the train; so can we pay for his ticket. I would have felt sorry for the guy if he wasn't hiccuping every second slurring word, and holding a brand-new Blackberry in his hand which he could have used to call a friend?! When we said that we were sorry, and could't help him, he puts on the worst impression of someone crying I have ever seen in my life. Slapping his hand against his forehead (who does that?!) and immediately wailing at the top of his voice, he turns and walks away; while intermittently doing an award-winning forlorn look behind him to make sure that we're still watching his performance.

One of the days, at lunchtime, trying to be super efficient, I go home to have lunch and put on a wash. After doing so, I eat my lunch and when I'm walking back into my room I notice that we actually have a swimming pool in our apartment that I didn't know about.
In the hall.
Opening the bathroom door I see the room is completely flooded and it's coming from the washing machine. Then the fun begins.
6 towels, 3 buckets and 2 hours of mopping up with 2 mops and a cup (cos the water was so deep it was quicker to use this than a mop!), the water is gone - apart from the indoor pool.
Cue my having to go to the laundrette to wash and dry said-ten-tonne-towels before going back to work. Carpet takes days to dry and then smells for a bit, bathroom door is warped from the water soakage and won't close properly; but on the plus-side, the tiles have never been cleaner!

Monday, 7 April 2014


So free Friday night work drinks was quickly followed by the whole "I'm never drinking again" thing. We went to Rah-Bar for a colleague's leaving do, where we laughed at the fact that the drummer looked like Jack (who himself wasn't impressed with the comparison) and cried when it came to the saying goodbye part (ok, that was only me) and where Serena was well impressed at my ability to whistle a taxi (very ladylike of me as usual). One of my many talents.

The next morning I woke at 7:30am and set about washing the clothes, cleaning my room, responding to hockey emails etc. Ruthie came round to get her nails done and I was changed and ready for the gym. Come 11am the "I'm grand" feeling went rapidly downhill and by the time it was time to go to JD's house for brunch, I was a shivering wreck in Ruthie's car; trying not to speak in case I was sick! Cue Ciara's arrival to JD's new pad in flip-flops, shorts and a training top; when it's cold outside (too hungover to remember runners and a jumper), and is left in the foetal position on the floor of her sitting room cos she has no sofa yet! I didn't even acknowledge the new apartment or how nice it was - just asked for the directions to the bathroom; where I quickly ran to when she offered me brunch! Man I'm sure my parents are so proud of their grown-up girl when they read this!

Gathering myself together, I manage to sit on the barstool and have a beautiful brunch with JD and Tilly; pancakes with Nutella and strawberries and washed down with fresh OJ. After another few hours of trying to psyche myself up enough to get off the floor and enter the public, I borrowed her MINUTE-sized jumper and headed off looking like a hobo to bunk two trams home, cos I forgot my MiKi .

Speaking of which - how ANNOYING of a system is this MiKi??? To those unfamiliar with the idea of MiKi, it's a public transport pass for Melbourne where you use it as a pay-as-you-go system so there are no tickets. Yes, it sounds like a great idea; except you need to buy the cards and top up at random shops and stations, none are available on board the tram or train as you would expect, and should you get onto the tram or train without one, without having credit on one or without having "tapped on" you get hit with a massive fine of up to $210! Lots of unsuspecting tourists get caught - although just as many fake-tourists living in Melbourne and fare evading since the dawn of time get caught too! Not to mention it's about $4 per trip, even if you're only going down the road.

In my case, I was fairly confident that nobody on earth would want to approach the girl who looked like that "Hey you guys" dude from "The Goonies" in the belly-top hoody and smelling like something a gremlin had thrown up. I was going to take my chances anyway. No more drinking til my birthday; I'm getting too old for this crap...

It took til about Tuesday for the total effects of the hangover to leave my system. In the midst of "The Fear" I bought tickets home to Ireland for the month of December. All more or less planned anyway, but the $1800 still hurt. Well it hurt the credit card, considering I only deal with fake money and never seem to have any of my own...
So I'm home from Dec 2nd to Jan 3rd and I can't wait!!! A whole month won't even be enough time to catch up with everyone for the 3 years that I'll have been away. I already have people booking in slots to see me and I am feeling panicked that I won't get to see everyone enough. Now I just have to work on the "Australia suits you" look...

Shouldn't take too much...

Later in the week Maire had a few of us over for a BBQ. After almost dying from lack of fitness at Hockey training, I ate my weight in home-made cookies and ice-cream that Rainman brought over to Maire's (cos I clearly felt that it was justified after running around for a bit). Everyone else was dressed up accordingly, but I was - once again - the homeless-looking, smelly, sweaty one stuffing her face. Cue a beautiful, tanned, blonde Swedish girl who swans in the door and smiles sweetly to everyone in the room. I smile back, dropping bits of chocolate brownie from mouth onto the floor.

Walking over to Gabby and Rainman for backup, said-model approaches us to introduce herself (she's nice too). "Hi, my name is Tu-veh" in the lovely sing-song accent that Swedish sounds like. Rainbows were pretty much coming out of her mouth as she spoke. Rainman couldn't quite get how to pronounce the name and after about 5 repetitions, she asks her to spell it. "T-O-V-E" the Swedish Goddess says. "Oh" Rainman shouts, "Tove" (rhymes with stove). Talk about killing the beauty of a name in a single second. Poor Tove didn't find it as funny as the three of us imbeciles did.

Speaking of eejits...only kidding: My little brother take the whole "talented" thing to a new level. Not only is he extremely smart, funny and intelligent (PhD), but he is amazingly athletic too. Not content with cycling the breadth of Ireland and back in a weekend for charity (110,000 Euro raised for Prader Willi Syndrome) with the Galway Cycle (, he enters a Triathalon straight after... and wins. 
Talk about raising the bar when it comes to making your parents proud! Here's me being happy that I went to hockey training or completed a 5km jog without losing a lung or managed to get through a night out without a hangover!! I guess it's the little things, but I'm beginning to think I'm adopted. 

Ciara's next goal - get through a hockey match without feeling like she's going to die of exhaustion. 

Kev's? An Ironman. Of course.

Go on Kev - I don't think there's a prouder big, lazy, average sister out there! :) X