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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

February's Flying Freak

Not much to talk about in February; most of the family birthday's land in the first 2 weeks of February. My Dad's, 5 days later followed by my sister's and Neil's and then 5 days later followed by my brother's. Valentine's Day I got spoilt in the morning and then spent the day watching football and taking photos of the players; something which has somehow become a regular Saturday in my life. I'm now the Social Media Coordinator for Frankston Pines FC (soccer), and so am juggling their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as being their photographer and messing about in their website. Cos I apparently didn't have enough to do with my time..?!

Mid-February and the beautiful Indie's Christening comes around. We manage to get to the church JUST as the Christening is starting and with Godmother Maire in tow. She had even stayed sober the day before in an effort to be a good influence, yet still managed to almost miss the service! Panic stations all round, but crisis averted! Some sore heads from the day at the cricket previously, but most managed to pull it together for the occasion; apart from Clara's boyfriend Ben who ended up lying on Ruth's sofa in a heap, with an old lady sitting at his head! Very funny!
A beautiful sunny day spent chatting outside with amazing pulled pork burgers and a pool to sit by. Ruthie and Steve know what we like! :)




February also brought White Night to Melbourne (http://whitenightmelbourne.com.au), where the city is lit up and there were over half a million people walking around taking in all of the shows. We walked into the city from Chapel St about 9pm and then didn't get home til 2am, but it was great - graffiti artists doing their thing on Hosier Lane, Cirque du Soleil representing, buildings lit up with light shows to music etc.

 I had a work week-long trip to Brisbane, where you think all this travel would be great; but when you travel during the week then you see the inside of the office and that's it. And it's all extra work, as you need to continue to do your Melbourne job at the same time. I need to win the lotto. Well, I probably need to play the lotto first; and then win it...

I was up at 5:30am every morning in an attempt to jog the boardwalk along with the rest of Brisbane apparently, but the humidity is a killer when you're not used to it. At least I attempted it every morning anyway; getting no more than 5kms done, but it was a start to my #fitfatchick campaign. I went out to the city with Clarissa one day at lunchtime, but otherwise went from apartment to work, work to apartment.


So...you know the way random weird things always seem to happen to me? Well, prime example coming up. I am on the way back from the work-trip to Brisbane on a Qantas flight; headphones in, minding my own business. I wear my headphones at all times now when I'm walking about on my own since I seem to attract so many weirdos! I'm seriously like a magnet to them! I sit down in my middle seat, and wait to see who I'm going to end up sitting beside. A few mins later, a stern looking lady sits down to my right. Then about two or three minutes after this a guy gets on and we have to move as he dramatically struggles to put his big back-pack under his window seat. I sit down again and continue to listen to my music as he fumbles about beside me and is messaging on his phone. I ignore the fact that he is staring straight into the side of my face until about five minutes later he interrupts me to ask if he can take a "Selfie" with me. As it's such a random request I laugh and agree to do it, thinking that he has some guts to ask a complete stranger this!
Turns out he's messaging his mate who tells him to take a photo of the person beside him, and when he said that it "might be weird" to do that (YOU THINK?!), the friend tells him to ask the person; so he does! It made me laugh and I was thinking it was something to put in the blog at least. Harmless fun and all that...but unfortunately it didn't stop there.
Let's call the traveller "Brad". Well, Brad had been in the Qantas Lounge, taking advantage of the free wine and was already drunk before getting on the 3 hour flight. Brad then thought that he'd talk to me the ENTIRE 3 hour journey home, while continuing to drink bottle after bottle of wine. He got louder and louder, the closer we got to Melbourne. His language got more and more vulgar as the flight progressed with eventually him randomly waving his hands in the air at times of turbulence shouting "this is how they all died the last time!" or "We're all going to die!!!" at the top of his voice. As a side note, can I just say this was 4pm on a Thursday afternoon.
So, I noticed that the more breaks in our conversation, the more ridiculous he got and the more embarrassed I became at having to sit beside him as he shouted about vaginas and used the word c*&t as freely as the word "the". Mrs. Stern to my right looked as though she's about to sue Qantas for the whole damaging experience. The plane was silent apart from Brad's booming voice saying "Wouldn't you just love to draw a massive c*ck in the crop so that everyone could see it flying overhead?" I can't even write down the rest of the stuff he said it was that bad!! Not to mention his attempts at picking me up; "You have beautiful eyes". "Those eyes aren't Irish". Total cringe...
So, I tried to keep him talking about everything and anything so that he would act semi-normal and keep his voice down at least. His family (one brother), his job (hates it and is going to be made redundant; but is in fact just happy that his hated boss is losing his too), his girlfriend (yes, you read right, he has a girlfriend) etc. When I ran out of things to say to him he would pipe up with something random and probably racist. At one stage the Air Steward had to tell him to be quiet or that we would have to land the plane early! (Although, I'm not too sure where else they were thinking about landing the plane other than at Melbourne...?!). I was sure there was going to be police waiting for us when we landed; ready to take him away and me, guilty by association. EVENTUALLY we landed, but the drama didn't stop here. Brad decides to call his mate - ON SPEAKER PHONE - to wish him a "Happy Birthday from everyone on the plane". I look around and, funnily enough, can't see one cheery person on board who is keen on joining in on the "Happy Birthday" song that Brad has now started. Brad's poor mate is met with silence on the end of the phone, from the non-too-happy passengers who have had to put up with Brad's obscenities for the last 3 hours. We disembark the plane and as he's asking me to go with him to a BBQ, he grabs my hand and won't let go. I'm left there nervously laughing as he literally drags me towards the door. Out of nowhere, the Air Steward (who wasn't too impressed with Brad's "OoooOOOOoohh" after he had tried to bluff him into silence) bursts through the middle of us, forcing him to let go of my hand. Two seconds later security are on poor Brad, who is then manhandled out of the airport and left swaying on the pavement; waiting for his lift home; as I'm left hiding by the baggage carousel until he leaves and I am free to move on with my life until the next time...




Monday, 23 March 2015

Dear Sir / Madam...

The January Blues didn't have time to hit before January was over, despite the lack of sunshine!

Getting back to Melbourne was a traumatic experience, with a manic dash for the connection at Doha (only for the plane to be delayed an hour) and then having a screaming child to one side of me and a man with Tourette's on the other. And I don't mean that he was a bit twitching; he had full blown Tourette's. When I say I had bruises on the sides of my legs the next morning - I had to see which side they were on to tell whether the three-year-old or the forty-year-old had given them to me! I am quite a patient person, but when I was found stuck between the above for fourteen hours, my patience grew very thin very quickly and I began to appreciate what makes murderers do what they do. I ended up standing at the end of the plane on a number of occasions, just to allow myself some breathing space so I wouldn't scream at the man who was consistently shouting obscenities or slap the kid who was refusing to stop kicking me. I was never so happy for a plane to land when it did. Beyond exhausted and rushing to get out on time for Tilly who was collecting me, I proceeded to stand at the conveyor belt and wait for my bags. And I stood, and waited, and stood and waited. I tell the baggage desk that my bags aren't there and they tell me wait longer. An hour later I'm still waiting at the belt and no sign of my bags. I tell them that they're STILL not out and the lady has a look at her screen and asks me to confirm that I went through Manchester. "No...", I tell her "I went Dublin - Paris - Doha - Melbourne", but it didn't appear that my bags took the same route. So, I eventually get out of the airport 2 hours after landing where poor Tilly has been going in circles waiting for me to come out. My bed has never been so comfortable!
My bags turned up three days later after having a mini-holiday of their own God knows where!

I had a day off before going back to work, so I just went back to Pilates, sorted out my food and got myself ready for work. It was 11am the next day and as I walked down Chapel St, it was as though I had never been away.

I arranged to go to the Australian Open Tennis with Em, so we took in The Crocket Club Food Market beforehand. My first time at the Tennis, I brought my camera and GoPro, although both weren't allowed in (as the lens was over 300mm and no GoPros were allowed). Some quick thinking by Em and we got them in smuggled in a blanket. A quick selfie whilst inside and we burst out laughing when we saw our faces on the Big Screen within The Rod Laver Arena! We went to see Rafa Nadal play Tim Smyczek. 6 hours of tennis later, the Men's Game had only just finished and most people left the arena before the Women's had even started. I felt so sorry for them having to wait around for so long and then only start their game at midnight! Great experience though! I was up for the underdog Smyczek, but Nadal got him in the end.

Kate (friend of Una's who was couch-surfing in ours), Maire, Cathy and I went to watch North Korea v Saudi Arabia in The Asia Cup in the AAMI Stadium as Maire had received some free tickets with work. We only figured out it was North Korea at about half-time! The standard of football left a lot to be desired, but it was a good night out and Kate was more than delighted with her flag and the random Arabic chants that she knew from living in The UAE!


Preseason Hockey Training has started, so I tried to get my lazy #fitfatchick self to that on the Saturday mornings as I had to work late most evenings and so I was unable to go on the Tuesday nights. We had great fun and didn't have to worry about the sun as Melbourne's summer seemed to have come and gone in the time that I had been in Ireland. We celebrated Clara's birthday in "Is it Cafe" after training one day where I caught up on all the goss and realised how much I missed the girls! Orlaith, Kate's friend, had quit her job in Sydney and was "in hiding" in Melbourne for a while as she had told them that she had to go home to Ireland! She was couch-surfing in ours too and the activity in the house made it a great place to stay in! Maire was still staying in mine, so we had 8 in the house at one stage! Orlaith didn't want to be tagged in anything in FB or Instagram as she claimed she was "on the run". How funny was it when we were at Boot Camp one evening and they wanted to take a photo and put it up on their site. Spot Orlaith...she's the one literally hiding behind one of the girls' heads!

One evening, on my way home from work, I had to get the 78 tram down Chapel to Carlisle Street and then the 16 down to Barkley as I had an appointment. I was sitting on the tram chatting to Kiwi on my headphones/handsfree when I noticed this "lady" causing a bit of a stir on the tram. She was clearly off her face on something, but she was staring at people and talking under her breath. I sneakily took a photo of her for my mates as part of our "Tram Freak" update; since there's always one unusual specimen to keep you entertained. Anyway, I exit the tram and have to wait on Carlisle Street for about 5 minutes for the 16 to arrive. What luck that the "lady" had also exited with her father, and they were waiting at the bench, about 10m from where I was standing. Continuing to talk to Kiwi, I was looking the other way when he asked me what all the shouting in the background was about. I had drowned her out as she had been shouting the past 20 minutes, but when I turned around I could see that she was, in fact, shouting at me! She was shouting and spitting at me, asking me "what the f*&k are you looking at you blonde c*&t" and other pleasantries. I ignored her and told Kiwi that I thought she was talking to me. Next thing she's off her bench and over at me with a wine bottle in her hand, threatening to bottle me! She threw her hand to swing when another man stepped in and told her to leave it out, just as the 16 tram turned up. I go for the tram and she runs after me! I jump on the tram and manage to squeeze in the other side of the steps, with the man who had stopped her from smashing me over the head with a bottle standing in between her and I. Here she started on him, calling him everything under the sun and screaming at the top of her lungs that he was dead once she told her "Bikey mates". She proceeded to scream and threaten, raise the bottle of plonk to his face and shout for another 10 minutes before he got off. At this point about half the tram were filming her and her obscenities. She then starts up again before another unassuming old man who was sitting beside her pipes up "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP! LET THE PEOPLE HAVE A QUIET JOURNEY HOME!". She was in such shock that she did just that and everyone else went about uploading their videos.

I head up to Townsville for Izzy's first birthday and spend the long weekend with Bhany, Luke and her. We have a lovely time, a pool party and a nice relaxing weekend with some sun - finally!! Izzy gets spoilt and is getting so big now every time I see her! I ordered a Boost juice and she drank pretty much all of mine! We spend the weekend going to the Dog Beach, doing some shopping, cleaning the house, going out for dinner, Izzy's Pool Party, and Australia Day Pool Party, going for walks etc. I love going up and having nothing to do but relax. I get confused with Bhany by Luke's mate who then confesses to "thinking I'm hot", which I point out; therefore means he fancies Bhany! I love how his girlfriend was the one who made the confession about it to Luke though!



Neilee comes home when I'm in Townsville, so I get to see him after Australia Day when I go home to Melbourne. My claims of "we're never doing this again" seem to have jinxed
the distance relationship aspect, when I'm asked to go to Singapore for 2 months only 4 weeks later. I had been planning a surprise 35th birthday party for him for the past month, gathering photos together and getting everyone who couldn't make the party to make a video of themselves for him. It was hard work trying to organise the people at home in Liverpool to make videos for him and send them to me when he was still there with them! Eventually they all came through and I booked the upstairs in The Imperial on Chapel St (http://imperialsouthyarra.com/), one of our most regular haunts, sent out the Facebook invitation and we were on our way. Trying not to say anything on a number of occasions I was struggling to keep my mouth shut. His mate Wildy kindly ruined the surprise of the Ed Sheeran tickets that I had bought him on the way to go bowling one day, so I was determined to keep the party a surprise.
I flew Bhany down for the weekend and treated her to her hair and makeup. We get glammed up and she hides out in mine as I go to dinner with him and try to stall until I get the "go ahead" from Bhany and Una as to when I can come. I delay by getting a dessert that I didn't want and by just keeping him talking. The later it got the more I could see that he didn't feel like going out and was going to suggest going home, so I steam ahead in the rain with my heels and holding my umbrella. He is surprised and didn't suspect a thing apparently, so it all goes to plan. Until the venue gets a hold of things...
So, this is my chance to give my official review of the night. I gave you enough chances to fix things, The Imperial, but you didn't, so this is my review and I hope that everyone reads it.


To what used to be my favourite venue on Chapel St,

I cannot describe my disappointment of the lack of service you provided to me on the night that I had planned with you. From my side I had done everything you requested me to; pay the $500 deposit, order the food in advance, inspect the room, bring the laptop and photo/video stream into the venue the day before for testing, provide numbers of guests etc. The idea was then that I wouldn't have anything to do or any worries on the night as it would have been taken care of. However, 30 mins before I turn up I have my sister texting me telling me that you don't have the connection on the computer, so you can't actually play the photos. The saga is fixed so I turn up and then half an hour later have you turn the photos over to show the Australia Football game on TV without asking me. Following on from this, when I ask for the videos to be played you are unable to do so, and the music is cut for 20 minutes as you have members of staff mess with the equipment in an effort to rectify the situation. I am beyond upset at this stage, after 3 weeks of planning amounts to nothing but an awkwardly silent function room. I tell you to leave it and continue with the music for the party and you find a solution some hours later when there is no way I can gather people to watch the videos. You didn't inform me of the fact that the bar upstairs was cash only, and so my guests had to go downstairs to buy their drinks; which was also not put against the bar tab of $1000 that I still had outstanding on the bar. At the end of the night you still had the cheek to ask me to pay the last $300 to make up the tab, and even though there was apparently no EFPOS machine to deal with card transactions throughout the night, one magically appeared when it came time for me to process the payment? Your staff member had taken my SD card home with him, so I couldn't take the photos and videos home. Finally, I had provided jars and sweets for the table at the door. I cleaned up the area and put all of the sweets in the jars, leaving them in a box and putting them in the corner of the staffing area for collection the next day, as they were too heavy for me to take home. Imagine my delight upon returning the next day only to find that your staff had opened the box and the jars and helped themselves to the contents, which were now scattered about the room!
To say I was disappointed with your "services" is an understatement. To say I felt robbed of the money I paid you is too light a term. I provided you with feedback 2 days after the event and still had to chase a response from you on this another 4 days later!! I know that you won't view this as important, that you won't be in the slightest impacted without my business or even notice that you ruined my night, but I hope that someone else reading this and thinking about using your venue will think again and spread the word; showing you how important it is to keep your customers happy, how you are only as big as your clientele and how the impact of social media works. A quick apology and quick thinking on the night would have solved everything, but if only one person doesn't book with you in the future from this, then that's $3,500 damage and money talks.

Regretfully yours,

Social Media Bitch.

***********************

I guess it's just as well that I gave up drinking this year...!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

New Year, New Me

Day 29


We go to Neil's Mam's for a late breakfast and then spend the day with her, walking around the shops in the city and getting him some bits to wear for New Year's Eve that night. We then go back to Neil's mate's house to pick up our clothes and wait to be collected. Lynn (his Mam) turns up wearing tracksuit bottoms, white sports socks and black shoes and Neil nearly dies! "What are you doing woman??!" he says and then asks if anyone has seen her in public like that. I find it hilarious and, unfortunately for Neil, so does Neil's mate Killen who was home! We head off to hers and get a Chinese Take-Away where Neilee shakes his head at the sight of his mother waiting in the queue. When we get back to her house his sister Carol has the same reaction and now there's two of them shaking their heads at her in embarrassment. I'm even smiling about it now as I type this! So we have dinner, get showered and changed for the night and then head over to friends of theirs who are having a party in a marquee out the back of their house. Lots of drink, chatting and dancing later; alongside the mandatory grilling that I was getting from most people, it was suddenly 3am and Lynn, Carol and her boyfriend Chris were heading home. 6am then comes and Neil is falling asleep. Imagine my delight as I ended up spending the next three hours curled up in a ball on the mat in front of the remnants of a fire in the sitting room, with his coat and a dog blanket over me for warmth. Both he and his mate John fell asleep on the couches in the sitting room and I couldn’t move either of them, so I just lay on the floor waiting for someone to get up or my back to break; whichever came first.





Day 30

9am came and Dani gets up and tells me there’s a bed upstairs. I’m upgraded from the floor to an extremely deflated air-bed, where I sleep for the next hour and a half before getting up and moving to the couch downstairs. And The Man of the Year Award goes to…???!
So; just like that it’s 2015 and I’m hoping the way in which I brought in the New Year (on the floor of a strangers house!) isn’t a sign of things to come?! New Year’s Resolutions for this year are 1) No alcohol until 2016, 2) Cook something different every week and 3) Be the best I can be for me. Here’s to hard work paying off, preferably no hospital-time, lots of laughter and new adventures. It’s funny, when I told the people at home (Ireland) about my “No Beer for a Year” (any alcohol really, but it’s hard to get anything to rhythme with that word) challenge, they all thought I would have no problem with it as I never really drink…in Ireland. I told my friends in Melbourne and they all thought I had actually lost my mind! Goes to show the difference in lifestyle already and also a bit ironic considering the stereotype that Ireland has!
We don’t leave the house til about 4pm where we go home for a power nap and then get changed and meet Carol, Chris and Lynn for dinner. I’m laughing to myself at poor Lynn who is trying to play “Happy Families” at a table full of hungover and tired people! We head back to Killen’s and spend a few hours getting entertained by his drunken self as he tries to keep two girls on the go through his texts. Bed for about 4 hours before I have to get up to go to the airport and take the short flight home. 

Day 31

Another goodbye to Neil for the next month and I head off home. Dad picks me up and I can’t believe it’s my last day at home!! What a mixture of feelings!

I went to Celbridge to see Orls and the realization of my not being able to see her hit me as I was saying goodbye, making me get upset. I was only getting used to being able to see her and now I was having to say farewell for another length of time. Orls is like a rock in my life, one who is always there for advice, who knows me and knows when “I’m fine” doesn’t really mean that. She is impressively smart, thoughtful and beyond considerate, makes me laugh so much and is one of the people I most admire in the way that she handles everything that goes on in her life with such apparent ease. I think I would need a full-time Nanny, PA, fitness instructor and dietician to attempt to live the life that she does; she’s inspiring in her aspirations and in her kindness – standing in the kitchen of her new home, I suddenly didn’t want to leave!
After a teary goodbye I went to “The Avenue” (I was literally single-handedly keeping the restaurant in business at this stage!) to meet Elaine and Orlaith for a proper catch-up. We spent a couple of hours going through the last number of years and it was lovely to be able to chat with them. These beautiful girls have been in my life since I was born and I sat at the table thinking that I was so grateful to my parents for making friends with theirs, allowing them to be in my life.
Quickly home to see my Aunty Bridie and cousin Katie who had come to see me off. I took some photos (which Bridie made me promise not to put up, so I can’t!) for myself and had a lump in my throat as I hugged them goodbye at the door. I wish I could skip all of this part; I’m literally tearing up right now thinking about how hard it is to say goodbye to so many people so many times. You sometimes forget how many people you have in your life that you care so much about; especially when you’re surrounded by them. It’s only when they’re not there that you take note, or when you have to say goodbye.
I set about trying to pack my bags and failed miserably trying to fit everything in to bring home to Melbourne (see, I think I was meant to say take there?). Eventually I give up and leave a box worth of stuff at home with the purpose of posting it over to me at a later stage.
 Doireann and Gary call over to say goodbye and it’s another difficult time, where I was determined to keep a smile on my face as I remember how hard it was to say goodbye to her the first time I left. I think we both did extremely well!! I rang Michael and Anne, but he wasn’t in, so I said my goodbyes through the phone to her to pass onto him and then it was just me, Mam and Dad; dinner and time for bed.





Day 32

So that’s it. Day 32 and my trip home to Ireland is over. What a whirlwind trip, full of emotions; both good and bad. I look back on it and all that I did, and am happy that I was as busy as I was.  I wasn’t too bad saying goodbye to Mam and Dad as I knew I would see them in May at Bhany’s wedding, but the thought of leaving Ireland for another 2 years was hard. Time to think positively and perhaps about the next trip home; probably for approx. Christmas 2016. Still, focus on the task at hand and try to survive the 17,214kms of flying distance ahead of me! Dublin – Paris – Doha – Melbourne; time to get back to work, get back to Bhany, Luke and Izzy for her first birthday, get back to Australia and get back to some Vitamin D - summertime, let’s be havin’ ya!!                        


Monday, 9 March 2015

And so this is Christmas...

Day 22

Week four begins with Christmas Eve and my love of Christmas is bubbling over with the many traditions we have at this time of year. One of the traditions is to have Christmas Eve dinner with The Tobin family from Maynooth; long-term family friends. However, due to the number of children sprouted in the two families in the last three years, it was decided that we would have a Christmas Lunch instead, allowing for said kids to be in bed early for when Santa would come. The whole build-up of December amounts to today and tomorrow and it's hard to believe it when lunch is over and everyone goes home. It was great to see everyone and Orlaith, Elaine and I organise to meet up separately so that we can catch up before I go. The rest of the day is spent chilling at home with family, until the evening when we bundle into the car and head to Maynooth. I have to make two trips since I am the "Designated Driver" and Dave has promised that I'll pick up some of the lads, so I double back and we get everyone into The Roost in Maynooth for a Christmas drink. It's great to see the lads that I grew up through my teens with; Pip, Rob, Dave, Leddy and Noel and we talk about the fast-approaching Wedding-Of-The-Year with Rob and Heather in April. It's too close to my trip home and even my sister's wedding for me to make it, but I'm delighted to have been invited. We're eventually kicked out of the pub at midnight and I drive everyone home. One of the lads sends me a lovely text later on and I know that even though things have changed, they're always there for me. 


Day 23


So, with my luck number Christmas Day arrived! We get up early to see that Santa has remembered that Izzy isn't in Townsville for Christmas and has delivered her many presents to the house! Such excitement to see her open the presents and play...with the wrapping paper and the boxes before heading back to bed!! We all got ready for Mass with Bhany and Luke getting a "Get out of jail free card" due to having Izzy. As usual it's all about who you can spot and I got talking to loads of people outside, so that was lovely. I couldn't stick around in the cold, so we headed home and straight into next-door for the annual "Post-Mass Drinks" in Hatch's to catch up with all the neighbours for an hour or two. I got to see Ciara, Dave and Jennifer (who was expecting a baby in 3 weeks) and only noticed that my family had deserted me when Kev told me they had already gone to Maynooth! So the two of us bail in his car and head into see Noel, Teresa and the "Half-Brother" and "Half-Sister" Donal and Ellen as tradition number one million and eight. Donal decides it'll be a great idea to play this "Jellybean Roulette" game, where you randomly select Jelly Beans and they can taste of anything like strawberries to toothpaste, mint to vomit. Needless to say I went first and was told the one I selected was either Popcorn or Rotten Egg. I put it in my mouth and after two or three chews figured it must have been popcorn as it didn't taste of anything really. How wrong I was. Within two seconds of this thought, the most vile-tasting, stomach-turning taste hits me and I don't need another millisecond to guess which one I got. I spit it out but spent the next half an hour dry-retching as the taste wouldn't leave me. Other classics were Teresa getting "Vomit" and Dad getting the same as I did, but defiantly swallowing it. Even the thoughts of it as I'm typing this is making me feel sick again. Be warned people - kids are evil and that game is not to be taken lightly!!!


We head home and set the table ready for the feast that was being prepared. One of my favourite meals of the year; and not because of the food but because of what it represents for me; family and loved ones all sitting down together laughing and joking, having a good time and being thankful for what we have. We eat our fill and then some and retire to the sitting room where the final tradition is to open the presents under the tree then. Bhany hands them out as Dad films and Izzy plays with the paper. Each one of us are spoilt and Mam is super impressed with Dad's sneaky and ninja-like ability to pick Christmas presents for her. And in typical Mam-fashion, she's more impressed with the $10 phone cover we bought her over everything else. I can see where Izzy gets the box and paper playing trait!

After the long day and with the build-up all over, I head to bed thinking about how much I love Christmas, how happy it makes me and also how sad it is that others don't have the same experience or thoughts on it. 


Day 24

Well what a miserable, wet and cold day St. Stephen's Day turned out to be! Kev had talked me into doing a 3km charity run in Maynooth called "Run for Mum" (https://www.facebook.com/runfor.mum?fref=ts), which I was regretting as I looked at the pouring rain. The event itself was well organised and had a great turnout despite the weather. A dusty looking Noel turned up telling me about his night's escapades and I saw Paul McKenna, my best friend from years ago, arrive to do the run with his new "Running Man" or "Pistorius" leg! I leave Kev to set off towards the front and I mingle somewhere around the middle and give it a go. I notice Paul running alongside me at the last 750m or so, and we cross the finish-line together; my being happy that I didn't die of lack of fitness and overeating, and Paul elated and emotional as it was his first run since he lost his leg about 10 years ago. My admiration for this guy is immense. He gets the new "running leg" 6 days before the run and "to test it out" he runs 3km in it?! Unreal. I am delighted for him - here's me barely holding it together from the amount of chocolate cake I ate the night before!!
I bump into Ciara Baxter as we take shelter from the rain inside and then another ex-Melbourne mate Emma Bruton; all of whom laugh at my "waterproof" mascara which is now all down my face. At this stage I would like to point out that I didn't put mascara on for the race, I literally am that lazy that I had it on from the day before (or more likely a collection of the week's mascara!). Bhany and Luke pick me up and Kev goes to The Roost to meet some friends. It's here that he bumps into a guy at the bar who asks if he's "Ciara Sweeney's brother". He says he is and John Higgins, whom I used to work with in Northern Rock, tells Kev that he's never met him, but recognised him from my Facebook photos! Ha - how random is that? Probably scary for everyone else that I'm taking photos of and putting on my Facebook...but I think you should look at is as though I'm promoting you and making you famous! :) Again, proof that I'm a stalker / murderer's dream. Home for dinner and then eventually make myself get ready to go out with Bhany. We only lasted about three hours; I was driving so wasn't drinking, didn't recognise anyone and felt about sixty-years-old with all the "kids" that were out, so retreated home after midnight! 

Day 25

Off to the gym to do some conditioning to try and get rid of some of the Christmas food eaten...I often think to myself that if I didn't love food quite so much, I could be thin with all this exercise..! With Kev and I in one car and Mam, Dad, Bhany, Luke and Izzy in the other, we head off to my Aunty Bridie and Uncle Henry's in Co. Laois to celebrate Nanny's birthday with family. Again, another tradition I love, where my cousin Jennifer comes down from Mayo and we spend the day eating, chatting and playing games. The tradition of playing "Charades" or "Who am I?" always brings many laughs with it. This year's highlight for me was when I was playing "Who am I?"; where the rest of the players give me clues and I have to guess. Bridie's clue came in as "The little man with his hand in his pocket!!!" I stare blankly at her thinking "A Leprechaun?!" Clearly I need to brush up on my history - the apparently OBVIOUS answer was Napoleon Bonaparte?! Right...

Day 26

Another friend-and-fun-filled day today. Had to say goodbye to Shell, Sarah and Ciara; so met them in Jamie Oliver's restaurant in Dundrum for a beautiful meal and the usual laughs. I'm going to miss these girls so much - their normality and ability to just know how to make you feel better (usually by either making fun of you or telling you an even more horrific story about themselves) is brilliant and I always leave smiling about something or other. From here I met Leno for some Ice-Skating and a browse around the shops. You can't go through a Christmas without going Ice-Skating...although I'm not sure if the way in which I "grace" the rink would be deemed appropriate to call it Ice-Skating!! I managed not to fall though - it's the little victories! Leno was able to give me a realistic idea of what life was like in Ireland, after having lived in Melbourne for a few years. She told me how things are different when you come back for good; that it's not the same as when you come back for a visit and how you feel like a part of you is missing. It was sad saying goodbye to her as I really feel like we're the same person on so many levels!
I literally thought I would die from the cold when I was waiting at the bus stop at Liffey Valley. I mean, I seriously thought that if I breathed too deeply that I would freeze on the inside - it was minus six degrees Celcius and despite the hat, scarf, gloves and jacket I thought the end was near. I got the bus to Maynooth where Doireann picked me up and we headed into Celbridge to meet Bhany, Luke, Kev, Donal and Ellen and go bowling. I ordered some pizzas in for the gang and we had a laugh for an hour; I sucked just about as much as I do at Ice-Skating, but at least I didn't need the bumpers, like Ellen did. (I'm leaving out the point that she's a 12-years-old, as I feel that it takes away from my glory a bit). We skidded back to Donal and Ellens afterwards and stayed for an hour or so as I chatted to their Mam Teresa and put the world to rights before saying my goodbyes here and heading home. The goodbyes are getting harder now as the time grows closer to going back to Melbourne. Even as I type this I am putting in "Home" for Ireland and "Home" for Melbourne and then having to go back on myself to be clearer for you as you read it. 


 Day 27

This day was spent eating. OK, so I spend most days doing nothing but eating, but this day was even more than normal! Another minus 6 degrees Celcius day meant skidding to the gym before going back to Maynooth to meet up with some of the crowd from Enfield. Ciara, Amers, Debbie and Conor met me for brekkie and a chat and I have to admit I was probably most nervous about this meeting than many of the others. I guess because these guys only knew me as "Ciara and Paul" and never just as me on my own, that I didn't know wha
t reaction they would have, what reception I would get or if anyone would be inclined to "take sides". Don't get me wrong, I knew in reality that they wouldn't, but I guess it was just something I had in my head and I couldn't get passed the fear to go visit Enfield where we used to live or to see anyone from there just in case. The minute I saw them I knew I had been silly to think they would have reacted any other way than being happy to see me and indeed happy to see me happy. We sat and chatted about the previous three years in Enfield; where I discovered they got a new supermarket (cue gasping of breath in shock), and  in Melbourne where I tried to give a quick update on my life. It was great to see them and all of them look great! Not that I was looking for anyone's approval, but I didn't want anyone's judgement I guess and I was delighted that the girls had reached out to meet up with me and also for Conor for having taken the time out to come too!
I left eating breakfast to go eat lunch in "The Avenue" (again) with Bhany, Luke, Kev and Izzy as a goodbye for them although it's never bad with Kev as he's so laid back and we all knew we'd see each other again in May for their wedding in Thailand. Mam and Dad had gone to a wedding down the country, so it was a good excuse to avoid a teary goodbye.
I brought them all to the airport as Kev was going out for the night, and I washed my hair beforehand thinking that I'd dry it when I got home. I dropped the Townsville-bound crew off and headed home to Kilcloon to get ready to go meet Orla for dinner in Maynooth (told you it was all about the food today). I went into Mam's room to get the hairdryer and couldn't find it. I looked everyehwere and then realised she must have taken it with her as they were staying overnight (even though I don't know why you need to bring it for one night!) at the wedding. Panicking at having to go out in public looking like I’d been dragged through a bush backwards, I frantically tear through the house in search for a travel hairdryer or something that resembles it might dry the unruly mop on my head. I rejoice triumphantly as I find a hairdryer in the back of Mam’s wardrobe, but my joy was short-lived when I soon realized it was an American hairdryer and I needed an adaptor to use it. Again I high-five myself at the revelation that Dad had loaned me a multi-way adaptor that was surely OK for The States, so I laugh victoriously to myself when I discover that it does indeed fit! I don’t think I had time to blink between turning on the dryer and the loud BANG that ensued after this, signifying that I had blown the sockets of the house. Now in semi-darkness and with a smell of burning in the room, I have 25 mins before I’m meant to meet Orla for our dinner date. I won’t even talk about the lengths of the corridor I ran in an effort to get the air to dry my hair, or the “head-banging” imitations I took part in when the original running-up-and-down-the-hall-like-a-lunatic plan failed. Eventually I gave up and just kept running my hands through it in order to grease it into place. Dinner was lovely and it was so good to get some more down-time with Orls. Having thought I was only going to see some of my besties once or twice, anything more than that was such a bonus that I was delighted with every moment. “Bistro 53” was lovely and we stayed and chatted for hours. I couldn’t say goodbye to her so I said that I’d call over and say bye when I got back from my trip to England as she was only in Celbridge. I head home through the frozen tundra and remember that I need to print out my boarding passes for the flight tomorrow morning at 6.30am. DO you think I could find the laptop when I got home?? No…as my father had taken it with him to the wedding. Who does that?! So, Mam had taken the hairdryer and Dad had taken the laptop – it was like a conspiracy! Then I remember that I'm actually pretty much in the dark and none of the sockets work, so it doesn't even matter. As a Plan B, I needed to try and see if I could download the Ryanair App on my phone. Of course, that could never be as smooth as it sounds and I ended up not having enough room on my iPhone, so I had to go and start deleting Apps so that I could download it. It’s a wonder I had any hair left, never mind an unruly mane in need of some straightening. EVENTUALLY about 2am I manage to get it working and I head to bed ready for the next adventure...

Day 28

I get about three hours sleep and Doireann comes to get me to drop me at the airport. She’s such a sweetheart getting up that early in the morning to do that trip for nothing. So I guess it’s about this time that I let those of you who don’t already know into a bit more of my life. Let me introduce Neil. This boy of mine is funny, caring and sweet, he’s a football (soccer) OBSESSED Scouse (person from Liverpool, England) and can be a handful with his 34-years-of-independence ways. He’s been my saving grace these past months; giving me a shoulder to cry on or an outlet to distress through laughter – even if I’m probably the biggest inconvenience to his previous carefree bachelor life! The poor thing manages to get through 34 years of single, easy life and then meets me with all my wonderful “high-maintenance” ways! Not to mention I drive him crazy when I apparently use “Bring” instead of “Take”. So – this has been coming a while. Apparently this is a thing that pretty much all Irish people do. How I’ve managed to go 32 years without anyone ever mentioning to me that I should use the word “Take” when I’m bringing someone somewhere; hang on, is it…? Or maybe it’s when I’m already there and tell someone else to bring it? Or when I’m saying that I brought something with me in the past tense? I dunno…clearly his CONSTANT efforts to teach me weren’t very successful – but I (along with the majority of the rest of the Irish population), use “bring” for pretty much every “bring” or “take” scenario. Who knew? “Who cares?” I hear you say. Well evidently Neil… and Bertie, Una’s English boyfriend, who both go bezerk when we say “bring” – and maybe you, who have been sitting there reading my blog the past year shouting “IT’S TAKE, GODDAMMIT!” at the screen every time I fail to use it?? :)
Anyway, so there you have it. Again, as always, I was worried about what other people would think; stupidly forgetting that it's my business, my happiness and my life. I met Neil in Melbourne some months back and am going to spend a few days over New Year’s in his hometown of Liverpool as he has gone home for Christmas and isn’t back in Melbourne until Australia Day (end of Jan). I am beyond excited to  go and see him, but equally nervous about meeting his friends and family. The world is against me as usual as the plane is delayed. We are then told we can board and are sent out to the plane, but the crew change their minds and leave us for 20 minutes in the freezing cold standing on the concrete. This is when I notice that the Irish flag painted on the Aer Lingus plane is BACKWARDS. Shivering with embarrassment we’re eventually allowed on the plane and we head off on the short trip across the sea. Landing in Liverpool, I was in aisle 5, so was happy to be getting off the plane rather quickly. Of course, just because it was me, the Air Steward announces over the tannoy that the back of the plane will have to disembark first through the front stairs as they didn’t have a second set of stairs from the back and to avoid the plane tipping over, they needed to get off first. I’m sorry, WHAT? We all stare at the Air Steward with a “do you think we’re stupid?” look on our faces as he announces again what we’re going to do to stop the plane from tipping over. Well, I’ve heard it all now. All of us at the front must weigh a hell of a lot to be keeping the plane stable with all the cargo and other people on-board, not to mention the weight of the plane itself?? In a little spark of humour, one old lady (who is clearly madly insane) sprints (in a way that only an 80-year-old can sprint) from the back of the plane to the front, bashing people out of her way shouting at the top of her lungs (in a thick Dublin accent) “I don’t know about you loonballs, but I’m getting the f*ck off – the bleedin’ plane’s about to topple over!!!”.
Eventually reunited after the morning’s saga (and finally with dry hair that was more or less straight), we head out into freezing Liverpool and take a quick tour about his home-town before heading to “meet the mother and sister”. Since I’d already had the pleasure of meeting these by Skype, the official introduction was a lot easier; even with his sister starting off with “Top of the morning to ya” in as Leprechaun an accent as she could manage! :)
From here we went into the city and did the tourist thing, visiting Albert Dock, Pier Head, The Beatles Museum, L1, The Cavern, The Liver Buildings and the likes. I really liked the city and the buzz about it. We went for something to eat and from there to meet some of his friends before heading home. A long day, but a good one and I’m all set for the final week ahead.

And so a month has passed. It took the month for me to figure out what was strange about home. It was when I was talking to Leno that I realised what was different about Ireland; what I couldn't put my finger on for the last three weeks. It was ME. I was different. I had changed, not Ireland, and felt like I didn't fit-in anymore. Having this realization was quite sad actually, thinking that I didn’t feel that I fit-in in my own homeland. Would that mean that I never would again? Would that mean that I would never really come home? Too many big questions – who knows what path awaits me and what lays ahead of the decisions to be made!


Sunday, 8 March 2015

FOMO Forever?

Week three flies in and I'm on the downward slope of the trip. It's funny how long it takes you to settle in and feel like you're home and then you're almost going back. Bhany and Luke brought Mam and Dad into the sitting room and told them that they were moving back to Ireland after he finishes his stint in the army. This news of course brought tears of joy from Mam and massive smiles from Dad, who are only delighted to be able to be a part of Izzy's upbringing. Mam follows it up with "you didn't need to get me anything for Christmas - this is the best present ever", to which Bhany looks at me afterwards and says "well you couldn't have told us and saved us the money!" Ha ha!
I can see how much happier Bhany and Luke are now after making the decision which shows me that they've made the right one. Their lives in Australia are completely different to mine and they're now on the countdown to the time when they can come back to Ireland to settle. How time changes everything!
Day 15:

I drop Anna off at the airport after her short trip over and then Dad, Luke, Bhany, Izzy and I head off to Killybegs, Co. Donegal in the rain to go start the visiting of the relations. Izzy, surprisingly for someone so small, can take up a lot of space; not leaving much for the two adults (Bhany and I) squished in the back of
the car for the 3 and a half hour trip. We arrived in Donegal Town first to call in and see my Grand-Aunt Mary and then from there to Croaghlin to see my Dad's cousin Catherine, her husband Pat and their son Conan. Nuala, my other Grand-Aunt was also there and was delighted to see us. Trying to take a photo with Nuala and Izzy was a task in itself, as Nuala kept looking at Izzy instead of the camera, and Izzy kept looking everywhere else! We stayed for a few hours as Izzy played with the dog and won everyone over with her cuteness! Nuala's attempt to compliment me by saying "You're looking great Ciara! Your Dad showed me some photos where you were looking skinny, but you don't now..." made everyone laugh (and probably made me die a little inside!) and reinforced my commitment to the gym while being at home! We had some food back in the house with Catherine while I tried to guide her into the world of Social Media and then I went to bed about 11pm; wrecked.

Day 16:

From Donegal we head to Cloonfaughna,  Co. Mayo, where we bring (take? bring? I'm not sure anymore...still need to fill you in on this!) Izzy to meet our cousin Jennifer and her Mam and Dad Anne and Michael. She immediately loves Uncle Michael who plays with her at the fridge. I remember how the big adult joke was to make the kids scared of Michael when we came to visit; thinking we had to bring him
something as he would always ask "Well? What did you bring me?!" when we arrived in to his house. We would scramble about the car looking for something that we could present him with upon arrival; with Mam and Dad laughing at our fear of not having anything when the time came. I remember one time, where the three of us had woken up early and went to the kitchen for breakfast. Michael was there and got us cereal with  milk. The three of us started diving into the cereal, but suddenly stopped and couldn’t eat any more. The food tasted funny and it wasn’t nice. Not wanting to be rude and probably through fear of having Michael say anything to you (not that I EVER remember Michael saying anything bad to us or ever even raising his voice in my life!), we sat at the table for an hour or so before Mam got up. When she came into the kitchen she asked

us why we weren’t eating and after smelling the cereal soon discovered that Michael had used buttermilk in it! It still makes me smile how we simply sat there saying nothing, yet pretending to eat and how Michael never noticed anything amiss. I think it was Michael’s sheer size that intimidated us? Not sure…he’s my Godfather and I love him to pieces; well over the “fear factor” now! Michael was known to give me unusual gifts, such as the time he handed me something he said he found while working and said “Don’t say I never give ya nothin’”. I looked at it the lump of rusty metal and wondered what it could be. “A door knocker?” I said. “Kind of…” he said, before revealing that it was the handle of a coffin from a grave he had been digging earlier!!
Now this Grave-Digging-Uncle was playing the game of “Let’s stick the magnets on the fridge, then rip them off and throw them on the floor” with 11-month-old Isabel and she was having a great time!

We stayed a couple of hours, had some dinner and then got back in the car and headed back home to Co. Meath. I turned right around and headed into meet Sarah in Celbridge and we headed to Michelle’s house for some take-away, chocolate and wine with Ciara. A proper girly night! We got Sarah to order Indian take-away and then waited for it to arrive. The ring of the doorbell meant Sarah had to answer it and we laughed as the courier chatted away to her. When she sat down with the food we had spent an hour talking about, we quickly noticed that Ciara’s order had been forgotten. Sarah called the place back up and within 20 mins the doorbell rang again. Same man (who by now we had decided was hitting on Sarah), and Sarah took the food, chatted away to him and thanked him before coming inside. Yet again the order was wrong, and Sarah had to call up a third time to explain. Another 15 mins later the same man (who we decided was about to propose to Sarah at this stage) turned up with the order and joked about Sarah doing it on purpose to see him. The three of us laughed our heads off in the back room as she squirmed and politely laughed off the comment. Finally Ciara got to eat her meal about an hour and a half after the rest of us had finished! Not good when you’re “Foodie-Friends”.
The night continued with laughter and chats, and it was eventually 3.45am when we headed to bed; not very envious of Ciara who was working the next morning. 

Day 17

Woke up at 8am exhausted and sat round with the girls til we decided to go for brunch. Still so cold outside, I don't think I'll be used to it by the time I go home. After a beautiful brunch Sarah brought me back to the gym in Celbridge. I had been to Dundrum Shopping Centre and bought a new handbag in "Fat Face" as I'd seen Shell with it and really liked it. As I was getting out of the car Sarah shouted at me, "Don't forget your Fat Face!". I didn't think anything of it til she stopped the car and wound down the window to clarify "I meant the shopping bag, not your actual face"!! I think I must have spent the first 20 mins of the workout laughing about how she thought she needed to clear up that she hadn't just blatantly insulted me as I was getting out of the car.
From here Dad collected me and brought me home and Doireann and Gary kindly dropped me out to Swords to meet up with Antoinette and Ciara. When I lived at home we usually only got to meet up a few times a year anyway and it was scary to think that we used to work together about 10 years ago or more! I got to see Antoinette's new home and her new dog too, who is very cute! We chatted and reminisced and laughed at the old times. Antoinette was the only person on my trip who told me not to come back. "Why would you come back here when you have a life in Melbourne?" she said.

After the goodbyes, Ciara said that she's drive me the 25 mins to my house as it was almost midnight. 15 mins into the journey I think she was regretting the decision as the Dublin girl didn't realise that I "lived in the sticks"! Now, I don't really live in the REAL countryside, but it's rural; yes. Some of the roads don't have markings on them and there are no streetlights, so this was pretty much the middle of nowhere for poor Ciara!! With all this running around I think I might be in need of a holiday when I do go back to Melbourne!





Day 18

Well I'm absolutely knackered now and didn't feel well this morning, so I just stayed at home and gave the gym a miss. Dex, Carlos, Shell and Sarah were going to The Avenue in Maynooth for lunch so I headed in and joined them. In typical Gran Canarian / Hispanic fashion, Carlos fell asleep at the table once he had eaten; we're so used to it now that we don't even pay any attention; apart from taking the odd photo of course :) It reminds me of the time when we were all in Copenhagen visiting Dex and Carlos and we went over to a friend of their's for dinner. After dinner Carlos fell asleep, so we decided to see how asleep her was and each got in and took a photo with him. In this photo he is the only one asleep, but it makes me laugh every time seeing how he didn't even notice us all climbing over him!!
When we were leaving we took a photo (where Sarah practiced having eyeballs as opposed to little holes in her face for photos!) outside on Maynooth Main Street and I love it. I love how it doesn't feel like 15 years since we left school, like 20 years of knowing each other?! I love how life has changed for each of us, but when we're together it's like it's never changed at all and we're still the immature, silly bunch of girls that used to eat take-away chips on the sly in the bathroom at school. Christmas is about family and friends, and I'm so lucky to have both. I love the feeling I get when I look at this photo; like I can count on having these girls as my friends for the rest of my life.




Day 19:

I decided to head into Dundrum Shopping Centre and brave the crowds for some "Me-Time" and to get an outfit to wear for New Year's Eve. It was busy but manageable and so I strolled round for a while and then thought I'd try see if I could catch Av on my way home, as I know she was home from England for Christmas. Another old school friend from 20 years ago who I may only see once a year when I was at home, but one who I know I can always count on for anything. I love this girl; I love how honest she is, but I mostly love how positive she remains in life. I love how she tries new things all the time, always appears so happy and fresh and isn't worried about stereotypical restraints or the confines of the norm. This girl goes to "Play-Group" for adults and loves Hula Hooping! I called into Avril and her parents for a bit and then we went down The Village (Celbridge) to catch up. Apart from a few attempts by some rare local specimen, we were left alone to catch up. Again it's so hard to fit everything into an evening. How can you summarise what's been happening in your life in a couple of hours? We made the best attempts at it and said our goodbyes; til the next time...wherever that may be!



Day 20:

Today was the first day that I took time out. Nothing eventful to add to today; I just chilled at home, played with Izzy and did some beauty treatments on Mam and Bhany. Some of the neighbours called round, so I spent time chatting to them; Felicity who gave me a very cute and thoughtful gift and Marie who had just become a Grandmother again that week!
Mis-timed the gym again so ended up calling into see Dex and her family as I was there. Arranged brekkie plans for the next day and said goodbye to her Mam, Dad and brother Sean who was filling me in on his nightmare renting episodes and cheering me up with some excellent examples of kid's homework that he had to correct over the holidays. Very funny - I'm sure that has to be one of the highlights of the job!
Picked up the Christmas Cake that I'd bought from Pauline at Pip's Homebakes https://www.facebook.com/pips.homebakes?fref=ts AMAZING - you need to look into this girl; I've ordered about 10 cakes from her so far - so talented!!). I found her on Facebook, but in a weird and classically Irish chain of events, it turns out that I was in her sister's class in Secondary School and my brother did The Galway Cycle with her husband! I took the cake home and then accompanied Doireann out to Balbriggan to drop out some stuff for Gary who was at his Christmas Party. Home to bed.


Day 21

Wow - three weeks done and I still feel like I need another 3 months to get round to seeing everyone! Today was a jam-packed day, which made up for yesterday. Gym first thing at 7am where Billy put me through my paces and I nearly passed out. Home to shower and back into Maynooth to meet Dex and Carlos for brekkie to say goodbye. Some of the goodbyes seem weird as it's not me that's leaving yet, it's them; so it doesn't really feel real. I jumped on the train to town and bumped into Paul and his one of his children, so that was an added bonus, as I didn't think that I could bring myself to go back to Enfield just yet to where we used to live. We chatted for the journey and then I ran to Nassau Street to meet Niall for lunch, who I used to work with in Harris. He commented on how fast I was talking and that I do that when I'm nervous; and I remember that he knew me more than I ever even knew myself! It was so good to see him, even if it was only for a short while. He's all professional now and doing so well; although it's hard for me to see him like that when we used to go play pitch and putt or go on the rides at the Fair at lunch in work and be so sick after them that I had to go home! 
From here onto Grafton St to meet Lynn for some more ex-Melbourne chats. Again so normal to see her in Ireland even though we met in Melbourne. Another classically Irish moment was when we first met through hockey. I was the Secretary for the Club and she was texting me for some info. She must have mentioned to her husband that she was texting a "Ciara from Ireland" about the hockey; where he said "I know a Ciara from Ireland who plays hockey out here" only to find out that her husband Stuart used to sit beside me and work with me for 3 years when I worked for Northern Rock! What were the chances?! So, we caught up for a glass of wine and the few hours flew by as I updated her on all the "goss" from Melbourne. She looks amazing as always and living at home suits her; although she admittedly said she was dreading January when it would be summer in Melbourne and in the depths of depression in Ireland mid-winter.
I left Lynn with a goodbye hug and walked to Capel St to meet Mam, Dad, Bhany, Luke and Izzy for dinner. We had decided to come in and take a look at the Christmas lights in the city as it's kind of a tradition that we used to do. We headed out after eating our food and the Heaven's opened, soaking the lot of us as Luke and Bhany wrestled the buggy to get the waterproof cover on! I popped into Arnotts to see Antoinette and say goodbye to her and Harry. It's good to see her so happy. Thankfully the rain didn't last too long and we were able to walk up to Grafton Street again to see the lights before heading home. Due to my having come to Dublin earlier in the day, I had to "slum it" and get public transport home as there wasn't enough room in the car! 

 And so three weeks out of four are done with in the blink of an eye. I had to remind myself that this month snap-shot of Ireland isn't a true one; that it's Christmas and I'm home after a long time away. I had to remember that it wouldn't be like this the whole time, that everyone gets on with their lives and the country is still trying to recover from what its so-called leaders and people of "responsibility" did to it. That it's still hard. This month jam-packed with visits and trips wasn't a true reflection on what I was fearing that I would be missing when I went back to Melbourne. And yet still I felt there was something not quite right; that Ireland had changed somehow, I couldn't put my finger on it yet. Forever more to suffer from FOMO, especially at Christmas time, I had to just put it down to not being able to have everything; if it was easy to leave home then everyone would live in Melbourne, I am sure of it!!