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Friday, 27 February 2015

Half-Way Home...

Week 2 started with lashing rain and 130kmph winds, while I looked at the photos of the girls in Melbourne on the beach in their bikinis! Again I couldn't be more removed from this scene as I am driving down the road with Mam and we have to stop to let a farmer with a huge flock of sheep herd them from one field to another down the road we were on. Not a sight you would normally see on Chapel Street in Melbourne...

Day 8:

Up early to the gym, followed by a trip to the dentist I was not looking forward to. He put me at ease telling me I had "lovely teeth" and to keep up the good work - although he did the mandatory mentioning of the tongue ring, telling me that he had to look to be frowning on them. All good, as I was afraid since it had been the three years since my last visit!
From here I did the 3 hour drive to see my beautiful Ita in Co. Clare. I made it all the way to about 50m from her house, but did about 5 trips up and down the road before finding her lovely house!
We spent the day chatting on the sofa and catching up while eating Wine Gums, where she tried to convince me to come home again next July for her 40th. We reminisced on the Cystic Fibrosis trip to Turkey which we did together with Michelle and her family in 2011; something which only seems like yesterday. She cooked the dinner (with starter and dessert if you don't mind!) and ordered a pair of boots that I was wearing that she liked. She then sent me on my way as it was so stormy and I'd another 3 hours drive ahead of me before I got home. I wouldn't tell her when my flight was home in January as I know what she's like and she'd make the trip up to Dublin when she wasn't able for it! 39 going on 4 I think my dear!
This girl is a daily inspiration for me. The strength and positivity that comes from Ita when confronted with full dialysis every second day, weeks on end spent in hospital, dozens of daily tablets, jabs, pumps etc. is astounding and literally unbeliveable. Here's me complaining about having a headache for a week and feeling sorry for myself because I'm jet-lagged yet this little ray of sunshine continues to beam despite all that's against her. I love you Ita, you are a credit to your family and one of the strongest people I know. And I still maintain if I win the lotto between now and July I'll come home to you :)

Day 9:

I was tired from all the driving the day before, so I chilled at home for a bit minding Izzy and wrapping my Christmas presents. I sorted through some of the stuff I had left behind when I thought I was only going for a year originally. I went to the gym in the evening, where I bumped into Eamonn again and where Al put us through our paces. Looking at the circuit on the board you don't actually think it's that bad; til you start and realise that you're dead after 3 laps, and you have 12 to go...

From here I drove to Orla's and chilled with her over dinner that night. We argued with Oisin how a certain character on his Marvel bedspread wasn't Wolverine (turned out the following week that the soon-to-be-4-year-old was right...). It was great to just sit down and talk about everything and about nothing. Although Skype, Facetime, Facebook, Instagram etc are great for keeping in touch with everyone from across the world, nothing beats sitting down and talking; and boy am I good at that! We chatted for hours on this and that, about how things have changed and about times gone past. We laughed about old times and wondered about the future. We laughed about the "flamboyant" bird that Oisin picked to go on the Christmas Tree! I love these times, but they also make me feel the worst; as you know that it is going to be a long time before you get to do it again. Be grateful for the times you have and have had though, as nothing else is certain; right? So, we talked and laughed and ate (of course!) and stayed up til the early hours of the morning before we went to bed.


Day 10:

A particularly random kind of day today. Went from Orla's to the gym for 7am and from here to Sarah's where I got changed, robbed a top (which I still have to return), and then went with her to meet Michelle and Gab for lunch in Bray. It was really cold today - we met in Michelle and Gab's beautiful home where Michelle was telling Sarah about how much Matteo's reflux has improved and how he hasn't been sick in ages. I'm not even sure if the words were out of her mouth when the contents of his stomach were out of his!


We went to this lovely restaurant on the seaside and sat for a few hours there and had a great time. I got to meet the first addition to the family; Matteo's big brother Liam, who is obsessed with Bin Trucks, Fire Engines, Trains etc. He was very good at the table and entertained by "YouTube" and when that wore thin the surprise present they pulled out of the boot of the car for "emergencies like these". Sarah, Michelle and I all cringed as Gab (who is Italian) tried to order a specific coffee from the waitress, who clearly wasn't getting it. Our mortification reached peak levels when she returned with an espresso and ask Gab was it OK, only to have Gab reply "No, not really, but it's too complicated to explain". This was meant in the nicest way possible if you knew Gab, but considering how we knew what it was sounding like, each of us had out heads down staring into the plates trying to let the ground swallow us up! It didn't make anything better when Liam starting shouting "SHITE" at the top of his lungs - which turned out to be his way of pronouncing "Slide". Awkward.

From here Sarah and I went to another part of Dublin to collect my medicine. Una had come up with the ingenious plan of sending the medicine back to Ireland with Clara who had just returned home. I went to her house where her Dad gave me the goods and like that, the swiftest of drug deals was done! :)


Day 11:

A minus 1 degree morning this morning meant the cars had to be left to defrost for a while before you would dare to get in them. 


A trip to the gym before setting off to get the Christening Cake that Kev and I had bought for Izzy. I crawled home in the hope that I wouldn't ruin the cake after getting it that far! Doireann and Gary called over and we went to Avoca for lunch, which was lovely! How much do I love this kid?! I wish that I could take everyone I love and move them over to Melbourne. It's funny because you miss people when you're away, but I actually think you can miss people more when you're back and realise how much you miss not having them around when you're back to normal - if that makes any sense? I used to live with Doireann, and then when I wasn't living with her I used to call over to her every day. The days where she came home from work and I wasn't sitting in her sitting room already, she would ask questions as to where I was. Now going from that to only seeing someone once every 3 years is a shock to the system; but it's the stupid non-eventful moments I miss the most. The hanging out on the couch drinking green tea. The driving around in the car. The going to Tesco at random times in the morning because we were still up. The not being there for her when I know that she needs me. That's what hurts the most. I can't even imagine what it was like for people who left for The States or Australia years ago and were never seen or heard of again? We laughed at the silly things that we figured out we both do without realising and I'm sure Gary regretted the moment he met me! I hope that Doireann gets to come to Melbourne some time to see what I mean when I talk about my other "Home" - although I'm not too sure if I'd let her return to Ireland!

The evening was spent hanging out with family and preparing for the big Christening Day the next day. Izzy was well and truly getting spoilt now with all this attention, choosing who was her favourite (after King Kev of course!) and playing Mam and Dad against Bhany and Luke, who wouldn't fall to her demands as the Grandparents would! They're blessed with the "Angel Child" who sleeps all night through, from 8pm to 7am and is pretty easy going. God help them if they ever have a "normal" child :)

Day 12:

Well the whole day was taken up with Isabel's Christening. We had Deacon Bob say the Mass and then come back to the house. We joked about how Mam assaulted him, but he didn't seem to mind :) Up since 6am we got the place ready and went to Mass. The Christening was on after mass, and with Kev and I as Godparents, Dad took some of the photos. Isabel was happy enough and lapped up the attention. Lots of visitors to the house and lots of food consumed. It was great to see Donal and Ellen again and how much they've grown. It's hard to believe that we used to put them in cardboard boxes and push them around the house as "trains", or how I was still in school when we used to mind Donal who is almost as tall as me now. Emer called over and I got to catch up with her, which was great after seeing her in Melbourne a number of months previously. Doireann called over, but was still sick with Pleurisy that she didn't stay. She and Emer shared stories on both having the random illness - something that I thought went out with the Black Plague! We chatted all evening to whoever came through the house, but were all fit for bed early with the excitement of the day. We watched "The Late Late Toy Show" and loved it, reminiscing about the many Christmas weekend trips we would have to various hotels for Dad's Christmas parties and how they would always fall on the weekend that "The Late Late Toy Show" was being screened on TV. We laughed about how we would get a set of lego each and some chocolate to entertain ourselves and how Mam and Dad would then go downstairs for the meal and drinks. Then we cringed as we watched the TV3 version. Enough said.



Day 13:

Morning gym (still amazed that I'm going?!) followed by some food shopping for Dad. I bumped into the lovely May whom I knew from school. May has her own business going with "My Wedding Planner" (http://myweddingplanner.ie/) and it's fantastic for any of you thinking of getting married and needing some tips and organisation put into place! She told me she was keeping up to date with my daily posts to Facebook, which is funny since I presume that nobody really reads them outside of close friends and family. I decided to head into town (Dublin) to see the city and to catch up with Antoinette where I used to work in Arnotts. She hasn't changed a bit - still as glamorous as always. A quick walk around Dublin, which I had noticed had gone downhill a lot since I was last there, and then back home to drive to the airport to pick up Anna, another "Melbourne Mate" from Leeds who was coming over to spend the day with me. Well she would have been coming over to spend the two days as originally planned if she didn't get her AM and PMs mixed up and so it only turned out to be a day :) It was great to see her - she looks AMAZING, and a much happier Anna then the girl who left me in Melbourne. Chats catching up on the last 6 months lasted til about 1am and then we were off to bed.


Day 14:

After the gym we decided to set off to show Anna something "Irishy" since she hadn't really seen much of Ireland. We took Mam's car and headed off to Sally Gap and then onto Glendalough. We didn't think the car would make the hills with Bhany, Luke, Anna and I in the car, we didn't know if Luke would make the journey without being sick or if the rest of us would make the journey without dying of hunger - but we got there in the end. It was beautiful as always and we got to see the deer in the fields around the church and thank God we had wrapped up enough as it was very very cold. From here we went to Johnnie Foxes Pub (http://www.jfp.ie/) - famed as the highest pub in Ireland and ended up sitting beside an Aussie randomly! We ate our fill; with Luke eating most of my dinner as well as his own, and set off home again in the pouring rain.
Bhany, Anna and I went out in Maynooth a couple of hours later to see "Fox E and The Good Hands" (https://www.facebook.com/foxeandthegoodhands) play alongside "The Barley Mob" (https://www.facebook.com/thebarleymob), but by midnight we were so tired that we called it a night and headed home. Love their music and it was great to get the treat to see the both of them perform when I was home! Bhany even got chatted up at the door by some guy who she then avoided for the rest of the night! On the way back to the car, we had this randomer stop in his and ask us if we wanted a taxi - even though he clearly wasn't one?! Weirdo!!
Home to bed by about 1am - straight to sleep as we were up at 6am the next morning to bring Anna back to the airport already!


 And so, just like that, Week 2 is over! I keep thinking that there's something different about home, that it's like it's changed but hasn't - I can't quite put my finger on it. I'm trying to soak up as much of my friends and family and take as many photos as I can to make sure that I don't forget or so I have the memories imprinted forever. I know it'll probably be another 2 years before I'm back for another visit; but how quickly did the last 3 years go?! What will be different then? Hopefully I'll have Permanent Residency and be aiming towards Citizenship, but what else? I mean, apart from the fact that I'll be amazingly fit, good looking, happy and filthy rich of course?! Think it's time to start doing the lotto...

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