Thursday 27 September 2007
Kirstin is always the one who ends up in hospital! She has been struggling a little bit with the move, which we were all expecting but the funny thing is that she is “presenting” (too much Grey’s Anatomy ;-) ) with a sore tummy. I am fairly sure that this is due to all that is going on but I decided to amuse her and take her to the doctor anyway.
Finding a doctor is also not that easy so I went on to a medical website and searched in our area. The first doctors’ room I called are “not taking on any new patients” so I called the medical rooms at the Dundrum mall and they could see Kirstin so I decided that we would try them. Of course I got a horrible doctor, Dr Shoab who is difficult to understand, his English is not too hot, and he diagnosed appendicitis.
Now Kirstin has had the pain for 6 days so I felt awful and he sent us off to Crumlin Children's hospital….”stat” . Problem….I do not know how to get there so home first to look in a map book and plan my route. I could not find the hospital in the map book so turned to the Internet and looked up the hospital. No address on the website, by now enormously frustrated! I found a phone number so I gave them a call and a very helpful doctor answered and one of her colleagues lives near us so she gave me directions. Turns out that it is basically one road bar a couple of roundabouts and one turn right, but you can’t go left so no chance of going wrong!!! It is about 20 minutes away so I left Jess at home to wait for Malcolm, of course this was the day he had decided to try out the bus for the first time, which had turned out to be a blessing. By now I am having enormous doubts about the diagnosis, it does not really make sense….6 days, surely she would be writhing in pain, but I did ask Kirstin to pack sleep over things and her toothbrush etc just in case. Now we had to go to accident and emergency, with a letter from Dr Shoab in hand and we were sent to the waiting room and then called to triage where a nurse took Kirstin’s temperature, blood pressure and a urine sample. Back to the waiting room for about 90 minutes (thank goodness I had packed magazines and books) and then finally we got called in to the doctor. In a twist of fortune it happened to be the same doctor that had given me directions which I was pleased about because she was really friendly and warm. The urine sample was clear and after examining Kirstin she found that nothing was wrong! Kirstin did not like the diagnosis and insisted that she was in a fair amount of pain so the doctor examined her again and told Kirstin that if she wanted to stay at the hospital overnight they would keep an eye on her and check her in the morning. To my astonishment Kirstin was rather happy with the turn of events even though she knew I could not stay. I asked the doctor if she felt that it was necessary and she said no not at all, I could keep an eye on her at home. I mentioned to the doctor that half of Kirstin’s problem might be the fact that she does not want to go to school so she said that Kirstin could stay at home and I could monitor her. This was also a favourable outcome as far as Kirstin was concerned and she happily hopped off the examining table to go home. I was relieved, but more pissed off for all the running around because of one stupid doctors observations. I also smelled a rat…there was no way Kirstin was staying at home, I had been swindled, not that I think her cramps were not real, I just think that they may have been capitalised on!
Once in the car I broke the news to Kirstin, school was a go for tomorrow and she could take a couple of painkillers if necessary, but she is behind in maths and cannot afford to take more time off as she had already spent a day at home. I told her that I thought part of the problem was anxiety and the rest probably constipation, she seemed to agree with me actually and was not too upset with my decision. Next day I bought duphalac syrup and I have not had a tummy complaint since!
Wednesday 12 September 2007
Official statistics from An Garda Síochána for 2001-2005 show that the overall headline crime rate for the metropolitan area per 1,000 of population is the highest in the country. During the 1980s and 1990s, a heroin epidemic swept through working class areas of the inner city and outlying suburbs. Dublin had 80 homicides from 2004 to the end of 2006. 32 were gang-related. In 2007, as of mid July, there have been 15 homicides, in which 4 were gangland shootings. Homicides in Dublin from 1/1/04 to 20/6/07 took place in many crime hotspots.
Dublin enjoys a maritime temperate climate characterised by mild winters, cool summers, and a lack of temperature extremes. Contrary to popular belief, Dublin does not experience as high rainfall as the West of Ireland, which receives twice that of the capital city. Dublin has fewer rainy days, on average, than London. The average maximum January temperature is 8 °C, the average maximum July temperature is 20 °C. The sunniest months, on average, are May and June, with six hours of sunshine daily (though daylight in these months is a lot more). The wettest months, on average, are December and August, with 74 mm of rain. The driest month is April, with 45 mm. The total average annual rainfall (and other forms of precipitation) is 762 mm, lower than Sydney, New York City and even Dallas. Due to Dublin's high latitude, it experiences long summer days (around 19 hours of daylight) and short winter days (as short as nine hours). Like the rest of Ireland it is relatively safe from common natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.
Strong winds from Atlantic storm systems can affect Dublin, though usually less severe than other parts of Ireland. Severe winds are most likely during mid-winter, but can occur anytime, especially between October and February. During one of the stormiest periods of recent times, a gust of 151 km/h was recorded at Casement Aerodrome on 24 December 1997.
An urban heat island effect means Dublin is a few degrees warmer than surrounding areas. There is also a slight temperature difference between the city centre and the city's suburbs, with the city centre slightly warmer, as it is more built up. There are slight differences between the city centre and the Airport, just 12 km north.
The city is not noted for its temperature extremes due to its mild climate. Typically, the coldest months are December, January and February. Temperatures in summer in recent years have been rising to substantially above average figures, e.g. 31 °C in July 2006, over 11 °C higher than the average maximum. Recent heat waves include the European heat wave of 2003 and European heat wave of 2006.
The main precipitation in winter is rain. The city can experience some snow showers during the months from November to April, but lying snow is rare (on average, only 4/5 days). Hail occurs more often than snow, and is most likely during the winter and spring months. Another rare type of weather is thunder and lightning, most common in summer.
A new survey by worldwide travellers has voted Dublin as having the most friendly and helpful locals in Europe. The poll, carried out by the TripAdvisor company, was based on the responses of 2,100 travellers.London came out on top for nightlife, shopping and being family-friendly, while Paris was voted best for romance, art and culture.The French capital was also found to have the most unfriendly locals, however.Edinburgh tied with Prague for the title of the most "underrated" European city.
I had invited Derrick and Rose around for homemade pizza on Friday night (this is where the milk tart please came from) and we were invited to another South African family for a braai on Saturday (the koeksisters please)
Now there were a few unforeseen problems with this mammoth task that I had set myself....Firstly I had dedicated the morning to clean the house (got that done!) and the afternoon to bake all manner of things:
Yeast pizza dough
Tomato base for pizzas
Yeast koeksister dough
Syrup for koeksisters
Pastry for milk tart
Filling for milk tart
The kitchen, well it was not very pretty to say the least, I did not have an inch of space on a single counter top....all my own fault mind, because as I am always saying....I am NOT the tidiest cook! So 2 different types of dough rising, a syrup to be made, dough to be plaited... aarrgghh and....I have to go and fetch Malcolm from work ($%^&*) nothing like cutting a chunk of about 70 - 80 minutes out of your day! Luckily I had decided to pre-bake the pizza bases with the tomato sauce and the milk tarts were done. I left Jessica to make the syrup and Kirstin to clean up behind me, and a fine job they both did. I got home again about 10 minutes ahead of the Rowes (luckily I had taken the casual evening approach) to a clean kitchen, boiled cooling syrup and lots more to be done. By now the koeksister dough had more than doubled so I knocked it down again and concentrated on grating cheese and slicing vegetable toppings for the pizzas. By now the dough was rising again, not sure that this is a good thing...so start plaiting for a while. Realise that this will have to wait so cover plaits and get back to pizza...
Well pizzas were fine, koeksisters were now plaited loaves...knock back down, plait again and quickly fry a few for Derrick and Rose. I decided that the rest could be done in the morning, I think yeast dough can go in the fridge overnight???? Bagged the dough made space in my tiny fridge and sat down to relax and watch the rugby. Of course as the dough was still warm it rose in my fridge again, bad bad bad for 2 reasons....do not think it is good for the dough to rise so many times and my fridge is too small. The syrup which I had placed in the fridge in an OPEN container had been knocked over by the rising dough, luckily it was still there, it had just been tipped to an angle, phew! Or so I thought....when I took the spring onions out of the vegetable crisper they were decidedly sticky OOPS! Now I have to clean the bloody fridge and fry 40 koeksisters...not to mention find the uniform shop to buy Kirstin some more shirts (that is for another post) and be at a braai at 14h30, okay so the cleaning of the fridge can wait!
After all that, the koeksisters were a bit tough, I guess the manhandling of the dough and all that rising contributed to this, I had omitted the cream of tartar when making the syrup as I did not have any, and what difference would that make right? But they were not awful and I guess if you have not had koeksisters in a long time they were bloody marvelous! Mmmmm Rose later googled the cream of tartar and it stops the sugar from crystallising, and I thought I had not boiled the syrup enough! I guess I will have to try again when I have a cold rainy afternoon stretched before me with nothing else to do! So Irene I still owe you some decent koeksisters....someday soon I promise.
I will learn to use the bus, I will learn to use the bus, I will learn to use the bus....
Monday 10 September 2007
I took my guests on the “scenic” route through the centre of Dublin. Scenic is the way I travel most of the time as I usually miss the turns I am supposed to take, despite several attempts I have never actually found the direct route to the airport through Dublin. Anyhow, we eventually arrived home and had a few drinks to relax and catch up. The girls headed for bed around 1am but I was showing Don our new telly and the 24 hour fishing channel. We finally succumbed around 3am.
Nats suggested we all try the Viking Tour, this is a WWII amphibious vehicle that takes you through the streets of Dublin and then around the dock in the water. The driver had a few humorous chirps en route and the highlight for Don was that we had to growl (as in RRRRRRRRRRR!) at the Celts since they no longer allowed us Vikings to kill them. For those of you who know Don Roderick’s affinity for the letter R you will understand how Don delighted many of the children on board with particularly loud and feisty growling at any Celt’s who had the misfortune to wander by.
Once the tour was finished we wandered around Dublin gravitating towards Temple Bar (sorry Mom, no Book of Kells this time!). We enjoyed lunch at Fitzsimmons pub and then made our way North of the Liffey to Henry Street and into Arnott’s department store where Nats and Kirstin acquired Croc’s with “jibbitz” (croc jewels). After shopping Nats and the girls headed home and Tina, Don and I decided to try out a few of the Temple Bar pubs for a taste of Irish life. Needless to say, Temple Bar is tourist capital and you have more chance of meeting Poms on Hen or Stag nights than any self-respecting Irishman. The first place lacked character; besides a rather inebriated Swedish Don Juan who was scaring Hen parties out of the place faster than a thirsty sailor can finish a pint.
We went to the pub that every tourist has a photo of, yip the bright red Temple Bar.
Like many Dublin pubs, it is far more extensive then might first appear and we managed to find a nice nook with chairs where we could observe the crowd and hear ourselves think. There was live music in the room next door and although we could not see the band we could hear them. Don had a few bewildered looks as he asked random people to pose for him so he could take their photo, surprisingly not a single person declined. Don and I kept the Rule tradition of changing drinks frequently so as to guarantee an almighty hangover the following day!! To make matters worse the sneaky Irish have ATM’s in the pubs, no charges and away ye go. Although we planned to sample some of the other pubs on offer the ‘craic’ was far too good and we only managed to drag ourselves out of there to get the last Luas around 12:30.
Don took it upon himself to entertain the weary travellers on the homeward journey while I thanked my stars for not looking too much like family
Sunday was slooooowwwww, the girls, Tina included, were decidedly fresher than the menfolk. We all caught the Luas back into Dublin and after failing to find the café we were looking for, found another pleasant place to enjoy the traditional Irish breakfast séance Black & White pudding. Coffee and juice all round please!
Nats and Jess opted out of the Guinness Brewhouse tour and the rest of us made our way West. We decided to bus it which was perhaps not the best decision as we must have waited about 30 minutes for a bus, felt like an hour. At least Don & Tina got to try out all the different methods of transport besides a taxi. Eventually we arrived and enjoyed a self-guided tour. The building is 8 floors and after the third floor we decided to go straight to the Gravity Bar, a large glass pub on top of the brewery with almost 360 degree views of Dublin city. I braved one of Dublin’s finest while Don, Tina & Kirstin enjoyed a Coke with their token. Kirstin amused herself taking pictures of the tv running Guinness ads while Don spotted Jock’s Dad and took a few pictures…..
Somehow another day had slipped by and we headed home, Nats came looking for us and was a welcome site to the weary walkers making their way back from the Luas stop.
Don & Tina were heading home on Monday afternoon so the school goers and workers bade them farewell in the morning as they prepared for a final shop and visit to Dublin city.
Later Don’s love affair with public transport continued when the bus to the airport sailed past them as they stood at the bus stop. The Irish bus only stops if you hail it like a taxi, live and learn! Fortunately they made the airport in good time in spite of this hiccup and last I heard were preparing for their next adventure.
Sunday 9 September 2007
Monday, Pat and Isabella had to go to work and we woke to a cloudy day! We were actually not too worried about the weather because we were going into Cork to buy a belated wedding present and a thank you present for Pat and Isabella. After spending a few days with them we had a better idea of what they would use and the unanimous decision after all the great food were things for the kitchen! We wondered around the shops and found what we wanted and as we were done by 14h00 decided to go to Blarney Castle. I was really pleased about that as it was one of the things I had planned for the weekend and I thought that we would not get to do it when we had not done it by Monday! Also it is in my book "1000 places to visit before you die"so I can tick it off the list! And boy were we glad that we went! It really was a fantastic setting and our only regret was that we did not have more time as the little town of Blarney is so charming and we would have loved to have spent some time there too. To get to the top you go up a really windy stair case which gets narrower the higher you go. It was very busy and along the way there are rooms to stop in and have a look with plaques explaining what the rooms were used for as the castle is really a crumbling ruin! We all kissed the stone at the top, thought I would share Malcolm's gift of the gab with you all! Here is a selection of pictures, I think you can click on them to make them bigger. There are so many more pictures, but I think that this page is going to be a bit of a mess if i add anymore! But to summarise......if you come to Ireland, I think that Blarney should be onyour list of things to do! After a fabulous afternoon we head off to Ballinspittle for dinner at a pub called Hurleys. Isabella had a dinner at work so Pat joined us and we had a fantastic meal together, the food really was very good. After dinner Pat went to fetch Isabella and we went home to pack and get ready for an early morning departure. The kids did not enjoy our relaxed attitude on the way to Cork and asked that we drive straight home because they could not stomach the thought of a whole day in the car! We had a drink with our wonderful hosts when they got home and went to bed at a reasonable hour for an early start. When we woke up on Tuesday morning it was another great day AND the tide was in because of the full moon and we were treated to a great view ....
And that was our trip to Cork in a few nutshells! Thank you to Pat and Isabella who were great company and helped ensure that we had a relaxing break. We look forward to reciprocating in the near future!
We went to Brown Thomas and browsed around for a little while and then walked the streets and stopped in at a home made soap shop called Lush. They have some very interesting scents for their soaps and bath goodies. Chocolate was probably my favourite and then they had these jelly cups which had pina colada smelling shower soap (jelly) in them, pretty funky stuff! After that we took the long windy route out of the car park and set off towards home and the Italian shop. I bought lots of pasta, biscuits, risotto and some roasted tomatoes and spicy sausage which I thought would make a great pasta salad for our braai which we were going to have that evening. Oh and Italian hot chocolate, now apparently the Italians call our hot chocolate "muddy water"and after Isabella made the girls a hot chocolate we all understood, it really is....muddy water! Their version is a thick pudding style hot chocolate and the girls went mad for it and begged me to buy it. Then it was back to Kinsale for a few purchases and home for lunch. Isabella prepared us a simple but DIVINE lunch of bruschetta, rubbed with garlic and then topped with tomato and basil.......and some with mozzarella. After lunch we went for a walk along the narrow country roads, not that much room for walking...and cars! Then the kids could not resist playing in the mud when they saw that the tide was out and we sat and had a drink and I made salads and Pat got the braai ready.
We had rashers in honour of all our African mates, here they are called pork ribs...but we all know that they really are rashers! Of course we did the typical African braai, about 3 types of meat and plenty left over at the end! After dinner we all sat around the dining room table chatting until we could not keep our eyes open anymore and then crawled off to bed.
Wednesday 5 September 2007
took loads of pictures and just stood there in awe of such beauty. The contrast of colour is awesome.