Before I continue with stories of Galway I have a few other things I've been hankering to blog about.
First of all the weather. In Ireland the weather is ever changing, so we will be guaranteed to have sun and rain on most days. This past weekend the weather was particularly moody; it went from beautiful sunshine to heavy rains with thunder in a matter of 5 minutes. I know, because we got caught out in it and our umbrella was useless against the downpour. Luckily the rain in Ireland is warm in comparison to the rain in Vancouver. The ambient temperature can be the same in both places, but 15 deg and raining in Vancouver is cold enough to wear a coat, whereas in Maynooth you're fine in sandals.
The other interesting thing about the weather is the way it's reported. The RTE weatherpersons must have kissed the Blarney Stone, as they provide very descriptive weather reports. I invite you to check out the link. It gives me a little giggle every morning.
The following is our weekend forecast (copied and pasted straight from the national network's weather page): "The weather is set to be on the cool, fresh side for the Bank Holiday Weekend with winds adopting a more northerly aspect. Some rain or showers across Ireland on Friday and Saturday, with some heavy or prolonged showers in places. Windy on Saturday also with a stiff northeasterly wind. But it should be much drier for the rest of the holiday weekend, with just well scattered showers on Sunday, and most places dry on Monday. Temperatures will be in the low to mid teens at best. Rainfall below normal, with a good deal of dry weather in most places."
While the forecasted weather is not overly optimistic, I enjoy the reference to "unseasonably cold weather" as fresh. Who wouldn't be pleased with "fresh" weather and "well scattered showers". I assure you our weather forecast is poetic every day.
And the second part of my post is about babies, as all of a sudden all my friends are having babies. This weekend alone promises to hold the birth of two new babes. My friends Leah and Paul in Vancouver are probably pushing as I write this, and I'm hoping that my friend Elaine hasn't yet gone into labour as I'm supposed to head to her house for tea this afternoon. Best of luck to both of you. ~to be fair popping out babies in Ireland is hardly something to write home about. Nearly all of Nikolai's friends in Maynooth have a new baby at home, as I've mentioned before having two under two is rather common. The child benefit rates are pretty generous, and actually encourage you to have more children as the rate per child goes up with the more children you have. ~It tops off at €1,422 per month if you have 8 children.~ I think that we'll try to apply too!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
After our day trips we went on a small tour. First we headed up to Northern Ireland which wasn't demarkated at all. We only knew we were there because of the drastic improvement in road quality and signage. We stopped for lunch at the very beachy resort town of Portrush. We had a lovely time there as the sun was warm and hot, the sand was gorgeous and people were swimming. In fact we're not exactly sure why they were swimming as the North Atlantic is F***ing (note: this is my first time swearing in the blog, but the adjective was required) cold in April.
From there we proceeded to the Giants Causeway, for some lovely scenery and interesting geological formations (see previous post for photo). Then we spent the night at a construction site on the side of the road outside of Derry or Londonderry (depending on your colours, we'll put Derry first, since we're living in Ireland). We'd pre-booked our hotel, so we weren't aware of the construction site. However, the hotel did have a lovely children's pool and Nikolai had a fabulous time.
It was Sunday night, and Sunday night in Derry meant that most everything... including many restaurants, were closed. We had an interesting dinner at a very popular "Chinese" restaurant. Our meals weren't quite what we expected, but it was a very kid-friendly place and Nikolai got a great take-home gift of a key chain/flashlight/compass. In Derry we did manage to see some politicized graffiti and a really beefy cop car, but otherwise our sojourn to Northern Ireland was completely safe. (However, I will admit that the news the next morning did mention a bombing in Northern Ireland, which was probably as more excitement than my Dad would enjoy.)
The next day we drove through the bog mountains in Donegal to my sought out destination of the famous woolen mills. At Studio Donegal my mom and I bought sweaters. Then I dragged everyone out to a factory where I was able to buy heaps of wool at rock bottom prices (€1.70 per 100g). I bought enough to make Brad 3 sweaters... and that's A LOT of wool. I figure the trip was educational for Nikolai... but the dander from all that wool did have my mom's asthma working up!
From there we did a marathon drive to Galway, for which Nikolai was very patient... up until we got very lost entering the city. (Maps and road signs don't often align in Ireland... then try throwing rush hour traffic and one way roads...) After 1/2 hour of driving into the city, I saved Nikolai from the car. My mom, Nikolai (in the ergo) and I hiked to the hotel and made it there just before Panda and Brad in the car.
For those who don't know... a few of Nikolai's first miss-pronunciations have persisted, and Panda instead of Grandpa is one of those. More stories of Galway to follow.
Picture: You can see how happy the sheep in Ireland are... these guys were just around the corner from the woolen mills.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We rented a car for 6 days, with Brad as the only driver. Our trip has been pretty much laid out in the photos that I've posted over the past few days, but I'll share some highlights and insights in this travel log.
Our first day trip was to Glendalough, a Monastic settlement in the Wicklow mountains. Coming from BC, the mountains certainly weren't specatcular for their height, but they were picturesque in a rugged sort of way, covered in thorny bushes, gorse, and sheep.
The second day trip was to Newgrange. A stoneage based temple that is older than stonehenge and the pyramids. It was fairly impressive in size, and the roof had never been altered, and still remains water-tight, so clearly they had good engineers. The most impressive thing about Newgrange, is that they designed the doorway in such a way that the ONLY time light enters the temple is the sunrise on the winter solstice. It has a sister temple that ONLY lights up during the sunset on the solstice -not open to the public-. They did a recreation of the winter solstice light while we were in the temple, which did not impress Nikolai at all. "Light on, light back on now" interupted our poor tour guide's shpiel. The picture is of the enterence to Newgrange.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Yesterday night we were sitting around chatting about the flight cancellations and made bets as to when my parents would actually get to fly out. I guessed Friday, Brad guessed Saturday and my mom (having finally come to the realization of how problematic the situation was) was hopeful for a Thursday flight. My dad did not offer a guess as he was on the phone.
He spent 1/2 hour waiting to talk to Lufthansa, only to be told that his flight was cancelled (duh) and that they were no longer responsible for him since they weren't his primary air carrier. After 1 1/2 hours on the phone to Air Canada he found out that they didn't think that they were responsible for him either as they had got their tickets through Areoplan points. Apparently Areoplan didn't think that they were responsible for ensuring my parents flights home either.
Then we watched the evening news... and as I'm sure everyone who has been fallowing the news knows... everything is literally up in the air. (Pardon the pun). Unfortunately no one knows WHEN the volcano will stop erupting. And so we find ourselves in the middle of what will likely be the news story of the year. And I'm revising my estimates of a departure time to two weeks from today.
We've decided to revert back to real life from vacation land. So today I got some chores done, Brad joined his crew for a cycle, and my parents are doing their best to telecommute.
On the upside, the volcanic dust does not appear to be affecting our sunny skies. The only thing we noticed was a slightly yellowish haze on the horizon. Barbecues for all!
The photo is from the Giants Causeway. A very lovely walk, and ironically volcanic.
**Update: Areoplan came through, and my parents now have a return flight booked for Friday. We're hopeful that things will have cleared up by then!**
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Well... my parents won't be leaving tomorrow, certainly not on the scheduled 6 AM flight as conditions continue to deteriorate over the Irish airspace. Dublin airport has officially announced the closure until 1 PM tomorrow. My mother is predictably pleased and resigned. Those who know my father can imagine how many hours he has spent on the phone to trying to figure out how he's going to get home.
The picture is of "Panda" and Nikolai at a reststop just outside of Killybegs in Donegal.
Friday, April 16, 2010
For those of you who've read the news... yes flights in Ireland (and much of Europe) have been grounded due to the volcanic eruptions in Iceland.
For us, that meant a very cloudy day yesterday despite predictions of sun. Luckily, it's blown further west today and we have clear sunny skies; flights are resuming. My parents fly out on Sunday, so hopefully they won't have any problems with their flight. The only possible problem is that their flight connects through Frankfurt in Germany... and Germany may still be covered in volcanic ash. However, Lufthansa has promised to reroute them as necessary, so providing no further volcanic eruptions, they should be good to go on Sunday as planned.
For fun, I've included a picture of Brad in front of the sign for Castlegar in Ireland (one of a few Castlegars). This particular Castlegar required a drive down a one lane road to a collection of a handful of farmsteds definitely off the beaten track. We got the big stare down from the locals as we took our photos. I'm sure that we'll be the talk of the town for the next week!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I will blog about our travel adventures next... but first it needs to be prefaced with stories of sickness. Since that is really what my parents' visit has been all about!
It all started on the Tuesday before their arrival... Nikolai was sick. He was the saddest little guy I've ever seen and he spent most of the day on the couch crying and sleeping. He was definitely better, but still out of sorts, on Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday he was right as rain, but I got a mysterious sore throat on Friday night. By Saturday afternoon I was really sick, and spent the rest of the next three days in bed, crying and sleeping with my super high fever and sore throat. This was fairly disappointing, since we'd borrowed a friend's car to pick my parents up at the airport, and we were wanting to do some other car chores before they arrived. Regardless, Nikolai and Brad were able to pick up my parents without me!
On Monday, I went to the doctor and got my much detested antibiotics. Frankly, I am generally not a believer in antibiotics... but it was amazing how quickly I got better once I started the regime. Unfortunately, my mother got a worrying sore throat on Tuesday night and, having learned a lesson from me, she went to the doctor on Wednesday afternoon. Brad got the sore throat the day we left for our driving tour. Luckily, I'd planned ahead and packed my full briefcase of natural antibiotics. So he managed to survive through a few days of mild sore throat on a regime of three Golden Seal extract pills daily, tea tree oil gargles, echinacea and oil of oregano. Phew!
The only problem was that I didn't realize how tenacious this particular strain of strep was. Nikolai ended up with the worst diaper rash I have ever seen on him. Which was rather surprizing since he's nearly out of diapers, so it's not like he was sitting around in wet diapers all the time. Then, after being cured, I came down with another bad case of strep yesterday. Not wanting to get really sick again (and on behalf of my mother and Brad who were both still struggling with their strep) I went back to the doctor. Only to discover that he'd come down with strep throat as well!
Anyways, to make a long story shorter... Nikolai's diaper rash... a strep infection... my throat... was a repeat infection. Basically, our whole household was passing the infection back and forth to each other. My solution... we have become VERY clean. So we are all washing our hands frequently, no sharing of utensils, I've washed everyone's pillow cases, etc. I refuse to have this very aggressive bacteria continue to live in my house.
The picture is from Clonmacnoise.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Thursday, April 08, 2010
So my parents' showed up. That wouldn't have stopped me from blogging, but I got sick... really, really sick. A fever of 39.4 C (104 F) for three days straight, a trip to the doctor (will be a story to be told later ~~strep tonsilitis and a worrying chest rattle), a plethora of pills, and I'm back together again. Just in time for our road trip... So my visits with my parents blogs will most likely unfold (chronologically) after they've departed.