1 week in London and settling into my new home in Malahide, Dublin
28.12.2014 - 11.01.2015 6 °C
So this is the first blog of my year in Dublin. My plan is to put up something every few weeks or so, just to keep people who are interested up to date with some of my adventures over here ☺ Sorry, but this first one will probably be pretty long!
Before I settled in Dublin I spent 5 days in London exploring in the freezing cold weather. I arrived at 7am on Monday after a ridiculously long flight from Brisbane and was immediately shocked by just how cold and dark it was outside! After a harrowing journey on the underground with my hugely oversized luggage (and the help of two friendly businessmen) I made it to my hotel above Hyde Park, where I was told that my room was ready early and I could check in immediately… SCORE!! After a shower I felt much more awake and headed out to stay that way until a more reasonable hour of the day. I wandered through Hyde Park and went to the massive Westfield in Shepherds Bush but only made it to 5pm before coming back to the hotel and passing out. That was a mistake because then I was awake again at around 2am – a trend that unfortunately continued over the next few days! It didn’t help that it was dark until about 9:30am and then started to get dark again around 4pm!!
Some of the things I did manage to do in the short number of daylight hours from Tuesday to Thursday was the Natural History Museum, London Tower, London Zoo, Oxford & Bond Streets, Temple Church, saw The Mikado, watched the fireworks on New Years eve from the courtyard of my local pub ‘The Swan’, and basically walked through the majority of central London. My calves are going to thank me for this year!
On Friday I took the train out to Oxford early in the morning (well like 8:30 but it was still dark) and met Amy Backhouse in a café near the station. We had perfect weather for the day and roamed around through all the gorgeous grounds and parks, stopping for coffee whenever we needed a break and taking lots of pictures. Was such a nice way to spend my last day in England before heading on to Ireland and I so enjoyed catching up with someone from back home!
On Saturday morning I had worked out in perfect detail just what time I needed to catch the underground (5:10am) and where I would need to change (Notting Hill Gate and Earls Court) to make my way out to the airport in plenty of time to check in my luggage for my 8:30am flight to Dublin. Unfortunately the underground system does not reward those who plan ahead! First of all it was pouring rain so I had to drag my 1000 pound suitcase down to Lancaster Gate station with my hood barely keeping my head from the thrashing rain. When I finally lugged it down a flight of stairs to the platform, the time board immediately changed to say the next train was delayed… that was fine, I had planned around 15 minutes of emergency time into my trip. But when it got to 5:25 and still no sign of the time board changing I realized I would end up late for check in if I didn’t find a different way out there! So I unceremoniously dragged my suitcase back up the flight of stairs (it seemed to be getting heavier by the minute…) and ran through the rain back to my hotel where they could call me a taxi. The nice man behind the counter said he would get one immediately, but then after walking around to about 5 different phones in his office came back to tell me the phones were dead! He very chivalrously offered to go outside and hail a taxi for me though, so I waited in the warm while he did so. I had informed him before he made the call that I only had a card to pay for the taxi, but this is something he must have forgotten when he got one (fair enough since he was standing out in the cold and wet!) but I only saw the ‘CASH ONLY’ sign as we drove off up the road towards the airport. Needless to say I did not say anything until we finally arrived at the airport, where I explained what had happened. He got very frustrated, I offered to pay a fair amount more in euro cash so that by the time he had changed it over he’d get a big tip, he seemed happy with that, I threw him the money, jumped out of the taxi, grabbed my now dripping wet and still ridiculously heavy suitcase, and ran for my check in area! Luckily Aer Lingus are an awesome airline and the girl who was waiting there was lovely, because I am fairly sure I had just missed the closure for baggage drop, but she seemed to notice my disheveled state and took pity on me, so all was then good and I was ready to head to my gate and from there my new country!
As soon as I got on the Aer Lingus flight, and the attendants welcomed me with their lilting accents and cheery faces, I felt like I was going to the right place. I settled in for the flight (only an hour, most of which I must admit I listened to Celtic Thunder….) and next thing I knew we were landing in Dublin. The scenery as we flew in was spectacular – everything was so green! I breezed through the passport sections (so easy with my Irish passport!), grabbed my bag, and headed out to arrivals, where I was so glad to see Gill, Mayah and Ruby all there to pick me up! Was so great to finally meet Gill, even though I felt like I knew her already, and once I’d gotten home and met Simon and Poppy and seen my new house and my new room I immediately felt very settled and ready for the year ahead. On that first day we walked up to the grounds of Malahide Castle and took the girls to the playground. I must say I could get used to the idea of having a castle at the end of my road! Then a fairly early night as I was still fighting with a bit of jet lag.
The next day I headed out to Wicklow Mountains with Simon to a pistol range where he goes sometimes to do some shooting. It was great fun and all the guys there were very nice and let me have a go at shooting some of the different pistols there, even though I was a girl and aside from my first round of flukes, not very good! The drive there and back had some lovely scenery though and it was great to get to see some of the things outside of Dublin on my first full day there. That night Gill’s mum, dad, brother and his wife all came for a family dinner and it was so great to feel really welcome right from the word go. Some of you might have seen on facebook a video of me playing a game where you put an after dinner mint on your forehead and then use just the muscles in your face to try and work it down and catch it in your mouth – that sort of fun summed up the evening!
On Monday I had my first day of work…. hardly feel I can call it work really when I’m just colouring and going to the park and baking, but still! Monday to Thursday I turn up downstairs around breakfast and as Mayah and Ruby head off to school with Gill, I stay and look after Poppy until about 2pm when the older girls return home and we all hang out until around 5pm when Gill gets home and we get sorted for an early dinner before the girls are in bed at around 7pm. I have been to the playground about 3 times this week, gone for a cup of tea at Marie and Barry’s house (Gill’s parents), done a lot of colouring, baked and decorated cupcakes in our PJs, played dinosaurs, played horses, played dolls, listened to the Frozen soundtrack at least 20 times through the awesome speaker system throughout the whole house, and had some pretty fun jam sessions on the super cute baby blue piano. So this pretty much sums up my working week – hands up who is jealous?? Very, very different feeling to not have marking to bring home and assessment pieces to set and lesson plans to organize, I am still adjusting to actually having free time at nights without a huge ‘to-do’ list or some sort of rehearsal or church event to be heading out to. I’m sure I’ll adjust quickly to all the relaxing time, the problem will be getting back into work mode next year! But I won’t worry about that for a long time yet ☺ Wednesday night I took the DART down to Shankill and had dinner with a bunch of my Irish relatives from grandma’s side. It was so great meeting them all and so nice to know that I have all of them so close if I ever am feeling in need of family time – there was a lot of laughter and funny stories and it reminded me heaps of a Coleman event.
On Fridays I have the day off, so for my first one I braved the rain and wind and took the DART into the center of Dublin to explore for the day. Despite the rain I had a lovely time walking around first the more touristy side of the river and then over the bridge to Temple Bar and through to Grafton St and Trinity College. I regularly stopped for coffee, mostly just to escape the rain, and once I was proposed to by an Irish guy purely because he “had always wanted to marry a girl with an Australian accent”! Decided that was probably not a good enough reason to accept, so headed out again into the cold. Went to a few of the shops – for those of you who are going to visit me, the first place I will be taking you is Penneys because it is awesome!! Kind of like Target or Kmart but on steroids! Way bigger, super cheap, super cute stuff, and there is one just down the road as well. Winning! So my first day in Dublin turned out pretty well despite the miserable weather, and the rest of the weekend I spent watching movies, went to the big shopping centre down the road from here and saw ‘Into The Woods’, brought my book down to a café in Malahide village and chilled out there for a while, decorated my room with a bunch of photos of friends and family which I had printed off and brought over here, went to church this morning at a Baptist church in the next suburb over, and basically just did a lot of walking and a lot of chilling out.
So that’s a sum up (sorry it was crazy long!) of my first two weeks over here. I miss you all back home but am also feeling really happy and settled here, so for those of you worried about how I would cope – worry no more! I am loving it ☺ I hope everyone is enjoying the new year and settling back into work if you’ve just had a holiday. For my teacher friends – I hope you enjoy your last few weeks of holidays! For everyone, send me a Facebook message anytime! I love hearing from people and it has been sooooo nice to chat to a few people on the phone over the week, hearing familiar voices has kept me from feeling home sick ☺ Well I’m off now for some dinner, have a great week and I’ll post again in a few weeks. Bye for now! Xx