Wednesday 25 July 2007

A Leprechaun For Me

It's got to be a rainbow for me
from a leprechaun with his pot of gold
filled to the very top.
I'll trade it in at the jewellery shop
but it's got to be a rather big pot
cause otherwise I don't get alot!
Or give me two and I'll be rich like you
if you don't give me anything....
I'll take that crown and make myself the king
and I'll be more powerful then anything!
You and your friends will learn to play the horn
while I sing about you my leprechaun

By Kirstin

Friday 20 July 2007

Where should we hang our hats?

I have to say that I was rather blase about finding a rental in Dublin. Having spent alot of time cruising a few property websites, mainly daft and my home to let, quietly confident would be a very modest phrase for my attitude to renting. My mornings were spent cruising the sites, making lists of possibilities, calling the agents for appointments only to discover that most of the places we could afford we did not want to live in! We took to checking out the place a day before the agent was taking us to view and cancelled a few appointments without even going inside. Then we found Booterstown Hall, it was only 2 bedrooms but both were double and the open plan lounge/dining room was refreshingly large with a wall of windows overlooking the sea and harbour. It was also very close to Jessica's school and our only negatives where 2 bedrooms and a busy road. We had found home. We decided to continue looking for a couple of days and the more we looked, the more we knew that Booterstown Hall would be our new address. I called the agent, Marjorie and she said that it was still available and she would be happy for us to sign a lease, but she was in the process of seeing a house that she thought we might like as it had 3 bedrooms. We decided to have one last look before signing our lease and set off on a wet Friday morning sans kids, Jessica was not feeling well at all ,so Kirstin volunteered to stay home with her. We were a little early so we drove around the neighbourhood which looks very neat and tidy, and had a look at the "latest possibility", our meeting point. It was okay, a small garden in the front but no grass just pebbles and a path. Marjorie arrived and took us through the house, a nice size lounge with glass doors leading into a large open plan dining room and beautiful kitchen, downstairs shower and toilet with wood laminate flooring throughout. Glass doors from the dining room open out to a little garden, again no grass, it is actually a parking space for the car with a bit of space for a bench and a Weber, I can see lots of pots overflowing with herbs and flowers.... Up the stairs to 3 bedrooms (one single, 2 double) all with lovely built in cupboards 2 bathrooms and a fantastic attic room, a place where the kids can chill and do homework or hang out with friends. We said we would take it, but we have not signed a lease yet so I do not want to get too excited, Marjorie has said that it is ours but I like it so much I would rather be cautious for now! This is where we would like to hang our hats!

Happy Day

On Tuesday we drove up the coast road to Bray. The sun was shining, the sky was mostly blue and the emerald green of Ireland waved us along. We stopped at a view point in Killiney and looked out at the sea and the patchwork hills of our new home spread out in front of us. A man sat eating his lunch on a bench enjoying his break, another sat reading revelling in the fact that he could be outside on this particular summer day. Embrace them, these happy days of summer, enjoy every minute of sunshine because the rain is round the corner! I watched my girls enjoying the day and the sights and my heart felt light, happy day.

Wednesday 18 July 2007

Mall rats

Malcolm has an interview! He left a couple of suits here after his last trip so he was not too worried until he couldn't find his shoes! He puzzled over this for a while, backtracking in his mind as to were he may have packed them. Ahhhhhh in the UNACCOMPANIED luggage, the luggage that has not arrived in Dublin yet!!!
Well now, a trip to the Dundrum mall is a necessity, much to Jessica's glee. Luckily it is very close and it was raining too, so a perfect day for indoor shopping! We found the mall very easily and went underground to park, same set up as in S.A. with a boom to get your ticket etc. The likeness stopped there, I have never ever in my life seen such a beautiful car park! Well lit, brightly painted, no really it is unbelievable, AND there are electronic signs telling you how many parking spaces are available on each level!!!! Not only each level we soon discovered, but each ROW!!! There is a light above each car park space and it is green when empty, turning red when you take the space! The mall was also super, similar to Cresta, but obviously more interesting for us with all the different types of shops. I think Jessica could have spent an entire day there, our very own little mall rat.

Ignorance is.....NOT bliss

We have seen the sun every day! Not all day but I am happy to report that it does exist in Dublin! Of course this is interspersed with clouds and the occasional (poetic licence) downpour. On Tuesday (17 July) we went to Tescos to get a few things and when we came out it was drizzling. My umbrella was still in my luggage and we had no raincoats, but being the tough South Africans we are, decided that as the drizzle was light we would make a run for the car. About half way there we learnt what under-estimating your opponent can do and the heavens opened and we got SOAKED. To make matters worse Malcolm got a blood nose...wearing a white shirt, so we had to go home again to change into dry blood free clothes! At 14h00 we went to look at our first rental, it was a 3 bedroom in a lovely little suburb but it backed onto a horrible open piece of land with a few rusting containers, so we decided to give it a miss.
Wednesday dawned bright and sunny AGAIN.....but not for long! Kirstin woke up with a temperature and aches, we had brought no remedies from home, so a trip to the pharmacy was required. Luckily it is a short walk, so I made the journey on my own and felt like an idiot asking the pharmacist what I could give my 11 year old for aches and fever! So, anyone who is planning to do what we are doing.......pack a little medical kit, especially if you have kids! The kicker? They suggested Calpol, ha ha ha globalisation!!!! We are certainly learning fast and having a lot of fun doing it.

Monday 16 July 2007

Fly by night

The 14 July is finally here. I am fetching Jessica from her final sleep over at Ashleigh's house at 7:45. Kirstin slept at Sabrina's and Karen has called to say that she will drop Kirstin off as she has to go out at 8:30. Malcolm has sold his car and needs to drop it off at about 9:30 and I need to go and fetch him once all the paper work is done. This is all running through my mind as I wake up today.
Today we are flying and I have so much to do, our luggage is going to be a problem, we have way over 20 kg's each so I have to sort AGAIN and give more things to charity or family if they want it. Mom's lounge looks like a refugee camp, open suitcases and hand luggage overflowing with clothes and books. Never mind, mom seems fine, she is even running around with her camera preserving the moment forever in print.
Dad is making a breakfast feast, our final family breakfast (usually a Sunday tradition) on Jessica's request. Georgina and Murray will be arriving shortly and so will Ibb (aunt), Tom (uncle) is unfortunately busy today, donating his time to the beautification of the church, so this is a good reason as there is a wedding coming up!
Breakfast was as usual delicious, and it was good to relax for an hour with all the manic packing going on. We finally got the cases sorted out with about an hour to spare, we kept having to move things, especially the liquids, which we decided to put into our main luggage to save ourselves from unpacking hand luggage at the airport. Of course Malcolm found a CD voucher for Musica and with an hour to spare he decided (in his wisdom) to go and use it. This caused a lot of panic when he was not home at 15:05 and he still had to shower and time of departure was scheduled for 15:30! Somehow he made it and we all said a tearful goodbye to granny/mom and my dad in the driveway before setting off for the airport with dad (Malcolm's)and George and Murray. As we were driving up to International departures drop off we got a sms from Karen, she and Sabrina were at the airport looking for us, they had actually managed to get there BEFORE us!!! We got our bags cling wrapped, we were flying from OR Tambo International so this is strongly recommended!!!!! We handed our tickets in and when the guy saw that our return was for February next year he told us that the kids needed visas for Ireland because they would be there for so long. We explained that we had Irish passports so it was not a problem. He looked at me very doubtfully and went off with his phone to call the Embassy. I was in shock now, could this really happen to us after all we had just been through? Malcolm had checked with the Embassy but still! Well it was fine after all the hot flushes and heart pounding he put me through. Luckily being early there was no queue at check in so things moved quickly and once our bags were checked we had another tearful goodbye with dad. I was starting to really hate goodbyes, it really is a sad affair. Then Georgina, Murray, Karen, Sabrina and THE DEPARTING went upstairs for a drink (stiff one for me please!). We sat there for about 45 minutes which was very pleasant and then the next round of good byes began. It really was sad watching Kirstin say goodbye to her best friend of 5 1/2 years, I hope that they really make an effort to stay in touch, but they are also so young!!!! After a round of hugs and kisses with Karen and Sabrina we sadly watched them leave and then had ANOTHER round of sad goodbyes with Georgina and Murray!!!! (See why I am hating goodbyes now?)
Next we went through passport control, long queues at this point. By the time we got through it was almost time to board so we headed for our gate, we did not really spend any time in duty free. It was so weird saying goodbye to Malcolm as he was flying on British Air on a later flight. Of course just after he left a guy came out and announced that our flight had arrived late from Zurich and although they were aiming for an on time departure this could not be guaranteed! They came down the queue and took our boarding passes with the computer on a wheelie desk. At least we could see they were seriously trying for an on time departure!!! Well you have to respect the Swiss for their time keeping, they worked very hard and we did manage an on time departure! The flight was great, better than I expected, I thought that the plane would be old and that we would not have our own TV and leg room would be awful. Well we did have a TV, leg room was better than expected (Just) and the food was actually Divine!!!! Also I was expecting a cold flight and I did not even need my blanket! We did not sleep well and were woken up at about 4 am for breakfast! The girls slept through breakfast, I decided that I would rather let them sleep and buy breakfast at Zurich airport. I woke them up when the Alps came into view, this was something they had to see, they are HUGE, I knew they were big, but I had no idea of how far they actually stretched until I saw them from the air! Switzerland from the air was beautiful, it all looks so quaint and there were lots of farm houses and fields with country roads. Zurich airport was very pleasant, the shops were very expensive, lots of brand names, and lots of waiting areas with comfortable chairs. The kids had breakfast, Jess had a blueberry muffin which I tasted and it was truly the best blueberry muffin I have ever tasted!!! Kirstin had a cheese and ham ciabatta which was also Divine and I just had a cappuccino which was also very nice. We wondered around the shops for a while and then went to a waiting area were Jessica promptly fell asleep. At about 8:45 we went through the whole scan a bag again and had some water confiscated which we had forgotten about! We enjoyed the last leg of our journey and landed in Dublin to a beautiful summer day of clouds and 15 degree C. It really did feel warmer than that though! The guy we got at Customs was very friendly. I showed him my Irish passport and the kids S.A. ones and he said "You're alright but should I let these 2 in?" I told him that I did not think allowing them into Ireland was a very good idea so he told them to go back! It was all fun banter and he wished us all the best in our new home and we were through!!!
Our bags came through first, still in cling wrap, what a relief! Synchronicity!!!! We went to the meeting place as arranged and I bought bus tickets and called Malcolm on his cell phone. He had just collected the car and was on his way back to meet us. The bags fit in the car, including the back seat and we said goodbye AGAIN as we were catching the bus. The kids loved the bus trip, it was a double decker so they sat upstairs at the front. They loved Dublin from the beginning, until we started the long walk from the O'Connell street bus stop to the Luas at St Stephens Green. The roads were jam packed with tourists and being a Sunday it was SO busy. Of course we were so tired and it was frustrating fighting through the crowds and trying to stay together. We eventually got to the Luas and then it was a hop skip and jump to the place in Milltown were we are staying. (Derrick, Rose and Emily's place) Malcolm had managed to navigate quite well and had also just arrived when we got "home".
We all had a shower and then went for ad rive to see the kids schools and showed the girls the Dublin sea. We were starving and could not get parking were we wanted to go and eat so we headed back towards home, stopped at the Black Rock mall got McDonalds (shameful admission) and went to Marks and Spencers for some groceries. That was an experience of note, puts Woolworths to shame!!!! The kids and I were like country hicks oohing and aahing and embarrassing Malcolm with our squeals of delight as we discovered the different cakes, pastries, picnic food and and and. Need a whole blog posting to describe it! When we got home the kids ran down to the park opposite the flat and we watched them frolicking in the grass and being kids. It was a fantastic sight to behold and they came back pink cheeked and energised. All in all a great start to our new beginning!!!

Warning: Don't try this at home!

OMG - Packing up the house.....I actually started in JANUARY, sorting out and throwing out the non essentials, you know what it is like, every cupboard in the house becomes a receptacle for STUFF! The kids were not always very impressed, especially Kirstin who has a stronger Rule gene for hoarding than her older sis Jessica. We did make progress though and they even sold some of the toys that were in good condition to a second hand toy shop. In April I had to manically go through the house and sort out what we were going to send in a groupage shipment to Ireland. Of course there were tears and tantrums here too, "No, you can't take 10 dolls to Dublin, you hardly play with them anymore!" "But they are ALL my favourites, how can I choose???" And "You sort out your own bedroom, I have to do the whole house" AND THEN...."It is your fault that xyz did not get packed we/they are children, YOU should have helped" (i.e. DONE IT ALL)
Anyway on May 2 Pickfords arrived and boxed and wrapped the CHOSEN ones for the journey across land and sea. The house seemed rather empty after this, no family photo's and no pictures on the walls. I realised that a house is only a home when it has all the characteristics we bestow upon it with the said collection of STUFF.
The house was still not sold so we had to loan pictures for the wall from the folks (Remember the Rule gene I mentioned) which Dad kindly got out of storage for us. In the middle of May we had a show day on a bright sunny day and we sold the house, this was a huge relief as we were getting uncomfortably close to THE 14 JULY, D Day.
I thought I was quite organised, I had made a list of the things we were selling in January, to be paid for and collected in July, and emailed it to friends to pass around. A week later all the big items were sold, we had decided not to take furniture and "white goods"as our house in Dublin is guaranteed to be a lot smaller than the one we have inhabited for the last 5 years.
Moving forward to 6 started getting collected, Jessica's bed and my dresser were the first victims and got loaded African style onto the ROOF of a bakkie (Pick up). This took about 3 hours to co ordinate, I swear it was a frustrating thing to behold! On Sunday the rest of the beds went, plus a lot of other bits and pieces and we spent our first night out of our home. Amongst all of this there were farewell parties for all of us AND a baptism,more on this another time though.
On Monday Malcolm and I were at the house bright and early to pack up the odds and ends and to be there for people picking up there purchases. Tish (Jessica and Kirstin's art teacher) arrived for her things and ended up buying the last few items, including the TV cabinet. Her brother is a minister in Zimbabwe and she does a collection for him, so she turned out to be a God send, she wrapped and packed all the bits and pieces, odd sets of crockery, kitchen utensils, and so much more, loaded it into her car and took it away for him. I cannot explain what a relief it was to have her around! She loaded up her car about 5 times and took all the bits and pieces with her. And then we threw out and threw out and threw out. I cannot tell you how much we THREW OUT but it was never ending, the dregs of mayo and other sauces in the fridge, the pantry and the drawers, all the 'not enough' to give someone. Do me a favour have a look in your fridge, imagine it was sold and you had to empty it.....yep, I had to do that! And let me hastily remind you that I like cooking, so I have more things in my fridge than your average chef! (Think anchovies, pink peppercorns, capers, curry pastes, sambal olek even ghee etc.)
In between all of this we also met up with friends for dinner (thanks guys!) every night and squeezed in a theatre trip and dinner to The Lion King (magnificent). We were the walking dead by the end of the week. There was so much to do that I could not think beyond to the magnitude of what we were doing until it was done. In a way this was a good thing because it made all the good byes to my great friends and family a lot easier than they would have been had we "had it easy".