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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Good times in Essex St (West)

I'm stealing someone's internet connection. Thank you SSID "NETGEAR".

Our new apartment is just lovely! So happy to have moved. It has a spare bedroom, so you can visit us (offer applies to nice people only).



Another day, another Euro

I've finished my contractually-obliged responsibilities for the week, and before I hang up my fashion suit, I thought I'd post a photo. This will allow fashion suit designers in Auckland and Melbourne to get a look at the latest in European suit fashions. My face has been altered to protected my identity.

Laura didn't mention that our new apartment is about 5 minutes walk from where I'm working. That's pretty amazing! Now I know what to do with my 1.25 hour lunch break - go home.

As well the fashion suit, you can see nearly our entire short-term apartment - no wide-angle lens required.

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This and that

Just a weensy update to keep all our avid readers (cough, splutter) going over the weekend.

Our boxes are here! Wave 3 of our possessions (what we brought with us, and what we air-freighted ahead are waves 1 & 2, respectively) are currently sitting in a warehouse in Dublin 12. A very nice man called Barry is sorting customs for us, and will even arrange delivery. Of course, we have to actually pay him for these services, but the customs things sounds boring and difficult, and the warehouse is out in the boonies, so paying them to sort it for us seems smarter.

Our short-term place smelled VERY strongly of off fish this morning. Burning 2 sticks of incense simultaneously wasn't even enough to keep the smell from whiffing at me. I'm always grateful for interviews, but today I was extra-grateful: a reason to escape the house besides the stench. I will NOT miss the smell at all.

New apartment
On Tuesday we'll get cable broadband and tv installed at our new place. (It's a special, cheap package - otherwise we'd lose the tv. While I am unemployed, 70 channels sounds good - but it's hardly necessary when I'm not watching it all day.) Sometime between 1 and 6. I hope. Fervently. Otherwise we'll have to trek back here to do anything - which means spending all day not in our new apartment for me while I job hunt.

More conveniently located near our new place: a cafe called Lemon Jelly, which sells chai - about 3 doors down; a sustainable living centre with a shop; many bars and restaurants; a very fancy-schmancy kitchen store; the same company's very fancy living-focused store. Oh, and apparently bits of the Old Dublin wall. I'm not sure exactly how significant this is, but I'll be researching it, so I'll let you know.

Weekend plans
This weekend, Lili wants to go to a knitting shop. Seriously. The man is crazy, but sweet. Very sweet, so let's indulge him. And after at least a year of resistance, I may actually cave and knit him a pair of socks. (It was the sock-knitting I was avoiding, not knitting for Lili.)

Before I go, a small whinge/ warning re: antibiotics.

Now, let's be clear: I am all for antibiotics when they are necessary. Doctors are generally sensible, so if they offer them, I take them. I say generally, because the doctor in Naples, Florida who prescribed me the super-antibiotics (twice) that made me sicker than the suspected bronchitis was... well, less sensible.

Anyway, Lili's doctor prescribed us antibiotics as an anti-malarial treatment* for India. Goa was a very low risk zone, but it was especially important for me, because mosquitoes love me. LOVE me. One of Lili's friend's husbands got malaria, and it sounded very scary. And really, better safe than sorry, right?

So after weeks of antibiotics, my stomach and digestive system generally are not in a very good way. While I had the flu, I was too sick to notice the symptoms. But as soon as I started to get better, I noticed. And once I finally finished the course, I started on acidophilus to get my stomach all happy again.

But it was too little, too late. The gunky yeasts in my stomach had long since escaped and invaded my entire body, and were multiplying.

I won't say any more, not because it's gross to imagine yeast spores growing on your internal organs, but because it isn't actually interesting. If you're really interested, you can email me (sound of a very empty inbox).

And so I'm still taking the acidophilus, plus garlic when I remember. I'm also avoiding sugar in all forms, since that's what helps the yeasts to grow. So no fruit, sweet veges (corn, sweet potatoes, etc.), sugar, honey, or anything that's sweet, unless it's artificially sweetened. No alcohol.

Artificial sweetener is gross. I believe that in decent doses, it is probably carcinogenic, and it has a funny taste. So I generally avoid it. But yesterday I caved, and bought a (small) diet Coke with lime. It's a sad state of affairs when diet Coke is my fallback, no?

So anyway, antibiotics: avoid taking them for 6 weeks at a time unless you have to.

And that's all folks!

* Bear in mind that no treatment is 100% effective. If either of us get a fever for up to 2 years after we left India, we have to see a doctor and tell them we may have malaria. Because we might. It adds a certain fearfulness to any illness, no?

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One step forward, two steps back

There's the good news, and the still-no-news.

First, the good news: we've found and put a deposit down on a new home. (A rental, don't worry, we're not crazy property speculators... for many reasons, one of which is the still-no-news to come.)

It's a 2-bedroom apartment near Christ Church, on the edge of Temple Bar. Which, if you don't know Dublin, means fairly central, on the right side of the River Liffey.

Rentals move very, very fast here - places go within an hour of being advertised online. And it can be a competitive market: people turn up, references and cash in hand, only to wait in a queue 20 people deep.

We only just got this place - the people who were supposed to be there before us decided to put off their viewing, Apparently there was a soccer game they wanted to watch.

Anyway, sucks to be them, because we got it. It's not as big as our apartment in Auckland (I've only seen 2 or 3 that size or larger in ads, and they're all multiple thousands a month), but it is fairly spacious and ticks most of the items off on our list.

Okay, my list. For example, a bath (extra-deep, yay!), a dishwasher (David's preference, but I'm doing most of the dishes at the moment, so yay!), a balcony, good storage, elevators, nice furnishings.

Yes, fursnishings. It's fully furnished. Sets of sheets and all. A clincher for me was that the furnishings are not dissimilar to those that David or I would choose anyway: no manky floral drapes or overstuffed couches.

No photos yet - I'll take some when we move in.

And now, the still-no-news: I am *still* job-hunting. I've applied for or enquired about a good number of roles, but so far, no dice.

It is fairly disheartening to go through the same process every (week) day. I'm not wild on selling myself, but I'm doing my best. What it really comes down to is finding the right role where my rather unique set of skills will be recognised and appreciated.

Meanwhile, I keep busy. Like a 50s housewife, I cook, clean, do laundry, buy groceries, that kind of thing. I knit, I read. I also spend a fair amount of time "catching up" on television I never knew I had missed out on: mostly lots of MTV reality drama, and the "someone-has-been-killed-so-let's-solve-the-mystery" genre. Scintillating stuff, I know.

Speaking of which, I should finish up - it's just about time for that show...

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Day 1 of x

I don't really like blogging about work as it feels narky - but in general terms, it was a good day. The project is interesting (there are major hurdles), but the people seem really good.

I sported my new fashion suit and hot-footed it the 30 minutes to where I'm working. I'm overturning bad habits too. I got up and made a sandwich for lunch. I also took loose green tea to work - no more takeaway coffee. Think of the money I'll save. And tea is better for the health. Unfortunately for both (money and health) I was coerced to my first pub for lunch (fish and chips - very good it was too). Green tea really is great. The first cup of the day (when all the caffeine and tannins are released) really does make you feel amazing. Try it (with good quality green tea!) if you don't believe me.

Working hours are 9 until 5.30 with a compulsory 1.25 hour lunch break. By compulsory, I mean if I don't take it, it doesn't mean I can leave 1.25 hours earlier. Starting at 9 seems very late to me. But it gives me time to prepare lunch and maybe do some yoga. Also, in spring and summer, the daytime hours are very long here.

A good first day all in all. I hope the optimism lasts!

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Knitting pretty

Laura's latest progress

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This could be the start of something big

The series of "firsts" continues.

On Thursday, we got library cards!

As you probably know, I'm an avid reader, and one of the things I foolishly forgot to research on Dublin (or mention in the blog post) was the public library system.

Well, Dublin City Libraries are a little different: the central library is teensy-weensy, and you can only borrow up to 8 items at a time. Yes, 8 items at a time. I guess I'll be making regular trips in.

On Saturday, David and I went to Stitch and Bitch in the city.

I hadn't ever been to a knitting group before, and if Sara hadn't been so encouraging, I'm not sure I would have gone. But we were both glad I did: it was an excellent chance to meet some lovely people, and the food was excellent!

The project I took along with me is the Party Lace scarf from Magknits. It's a really easy pattern, and I think it will make a lovely gift. I'd post the great photo that David took of it, but it's hidden somewhere on his laptop, and I can't find it at the moment.

And our final "first" for the post: today is David's first day of work.

It's a little bittersweet. We've spent virtually all day together, every day for nearly 4 months. As he reminded me last night, it's really the end of the honeymoon.

But on a positive note, it means we have an income. Well, an income above and beyond what our tenant is paying to cover the mortgage. And being financially conservative as I am, I certainly can't complain about money coming in.

Of course, I'd rather it was me who was working. But it is as we suspected: the right role for me takes more time to find, so I have to sit tight and keep interviewing.

Meanwhile, I guess it means I have some knitting time on my hands...

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New Mercer "Quality of Living" Survey

Because I keep my eye on these things :-).

With reference to people I know living in different places, and other points of interest:
Quality Of Living Survey 2007
1 = Zurich
2 = Geneva
3 = Vancouver
5 = Auckland
9 = Sydney
12 = Wellington
27 = Dublin
35 = Tokyo
39 = London
44 = Chicago
48 = New York

Cost Of Living Survey 2006
1 = Moscow
2 = Seoul
3 = Tokyo
4 = Hong Kong
5 = London
10 = New York
18 = Dublin
19 = Sydney
38 = Chicago
(Auckland wasn't in the top 50)

Also in the Worldwide Health and Sanitation Survey 2007, Auckland, Wellington and Dublin are pretty much equal, and well above all other major world cities.

See more details at.



Sweet treats

Oh Auckland, what can compare to your delights?

taken September 2006 on Symonds St

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Congratulations or commiserations? I'm not sure but I have a job. And, oh dear, it starts on Monday. 3 months and 13 days of leisure comes crashing, screaming, to an end and a 6 month contact begins.

Tonight we get to celebrate in royal style. I think Mexican at a food court will do nicely. I don't want to rise above my station.

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Postcards from Dublin #3 - Dublin one interview at a time

After the non-event that was job-hunting in the week after Easter, this week has been nuts. It turns out the thing to do is to put your CV on Monster and make it searchable. Then your phone just starts ringing - you don't even need to look at job ads! Of course I didn't know that, so I also - shotgun style - applied for a bunch of jobs which only compounded things.

As well as less pleasant things like technical exams and dressing in a suit (quite a shock after 3+ months in jeans and shorts), I've been able to get a good look at the city.

Park West: Yesterday saw me at Park West which is a massive business park about 30 minutes west of the city centre. I caught a special Park West coach from the city centre (another story altogether). Apart from suburbia, the only thing of note was Phoenix Park. We only skirted around the boundary, but you could sense its imposing massiveness. Park West itself was what you'd expect a massive business park to be. I spent a good-humoured 20 minutes or so wandering up and down cookie-cutter streetlets trying to find my appointment. I don't remember much of the return journey as I was on my cellphone the entire time. I must have looked a right girlypants to my fellow coach passengers - funny guy with in a suit, pasty after an exam, selling himself non-stop on his cellphone. Foreigner to boot.

Fairview: Not an exciting desitnation in itself, but isn't life about the journey? My first trip on a Dublin Bus bus! The helpful contact at the company had told me to catch route 123 from O'Connell St. The thing about taking a bus in a strange place is the fear that you'll miss your stop or not even know where your stop is. It took me a while to reverse-engineer the bus route from the website and at 08:10 this morning, map in hand to track the bus along its course, I rolled up to O'Connell St (a 3 minute walk) and boarded the 123. The extensive Dublin Bus network seems very efficient. You need to know how much the fare is in advance - you put the money a machine (exact change only), and the ticket comes out. No need to talk to the driver. It's all quite fast. So fast in fact, that I turned up to my appointment 30 minutes early. Completely at ease on my return journey, I both boarded the bus and disembarked (at a stop closer to our apartment) while talking on my cellphone. Then I walked to the apartment, up two flights of stairs, and sat on a couch in the hall-way. Still talking on my cellphone.

Sandyford, well Stillorgan really: The moment I had been waiting for! Dublin has a light-rail system called the Luas. There are some issues with the network (it is in two sections which do not connect) but generally speaking it is excellent. Auckland NEEDS a light-rail system like this. It really is shabby that successive councils have completely failed in this respect - how great would it be to catch a light-rail train up Queen St and along K'Rd or Symonds St - possibly even to Newmarket. Interestingly, the Luas is the only public transport initiative in Europe not funded by the Government. It is privately owned and run, and it makes a profit. So I sped off on the Luas green line and was delivered safely at my destination about 20 minutes later. Clean as a whistle, fast as a speeding light-rail system. One of things I like about light rail is how it makes use of existing roads in the inner-city areas but has its own corridor (and can go faster) in less built up areas. I love the Luas. I am a Luas lover. I only hope to use it again soon. (My return trip was just a good BTW and on both occasions I only had to wait a few minutes for the train to arrive).

Christchurch (inner city): This I accomplished on foot. A 20-25 minute walk from our lodging. I walked west along the Liffey and crossed over on Grattan (hmm ... gratin....) Bridge, through Parliament Street to Lord Edward Street. Dublin Castle is here, along with Christchurch Cathedral, St Werburgs Church and City Hall. After my interview I ambled back home down cobblestoned streets (real cobblestones mind you, real old ones, not that I'm pointing figures at one, but you know who you are Nuffield St) and came out right at Govindas. Ahh Govindas. More warm vege curry, and the end of an extremely busy two days.

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I cracked

What's that? Why, that's a ball of yarn sitting in our freezer, which will hopefully help to stop it shedding like crazy.

A ball of yarn? Well, yes. A ball of yarn. That I bought. This afternoon.


You see, I had all these good intentions - I was going to wait to buy any yarn until at least one of us had a job.

But then I got an email from Sara - aka Tangelled Angel - inviting me to come to Stitch and Bitch in the city this weekend. It's a great opportunity to meet people - knitters, which is even better, but also actual people, not just recruitment consultants (yes, you're people too, but I want a job more than I want your friendship.).

But you don't turn up without knitting - that would be bad. And by this stage, I'd seen a recruiter who actually seemed to think I was a decent candidate, and who had a few ideas about how to find me a good job. Plus David had one offer on the table, and expected a couple more shortly.

So we popped in to Dublin Woollen Mills, because it was on our way home, and Sara's description guaranteed a small selection, which meant quick decisions (David had yet another interview scheduled). I looked around. Man, there was a LOT of acrylic there. David looked sceptical, and worried that I might finally lose the plot and cry (the job hunt has been very hard work).

But in a small cabinet under the buttons, just where Sara said it would be, was a small selection of Rowan.

Keeping our non-income, and my lack of knitting patterns in mind (really looking forward to getting my knitting books delivered), I was very sensible, and bought only one thing: a ball of bright purple Kid Silk Haze.

Not usually my colour, and with the crazy fluffiness of this particular ball, not ideal. But I have a plan.

Sachiko, who is my older brother's mother-in-law (that's Reiko's mum, if you're in the know) wasn't able to attend our wedding due to ill health. But she sent a very (very, very) generous cheque. And when I talked to Mark & Reiko about it, I said I'd like to send her a small gift back.

Now, giving gifts to Japanese people is dangerous, because it starts a process that never ends. But in his infinite wisdom, Mark suggested that a hand-knit scarf would be a good idea, because Sachiko had so admired the scarf I'd given Reiko for Christmas.

So if I want to get technical about it, the scarf will really be a continuation of our wedding thank-you notes (which, by the way, you should receive shortly). It was a necessary expense.

Frankly, as long as it keeps me from complaining about my slow and painful jobhunt, I think David doesn't really care what I d0!

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Join the club?

You're either in or you're out.

Today I went for a job interview that included a technical exam. In the part of the interview before the exam, things were friendly, but formal. After the exam (I did okay) and the atmosphere changed considerably. We had a great chat about IT work in Dublin and working in Ireland generally. When I left, he wished me all the best and I could tell he really meant it. I'd joined the club of job applicants that can walk the walk (at 1st-tier interviews, I guess there are a lot of that can't).

Some years ago I did a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. It's a full-immersion thing. You're not meant to talk to anyone except if you need help from your teacher or for practical concerns. And meditating most of the day is hard. It's quite common to really want to leave about half way through and indeed, on my course, some people did. I was supposed to hand in my car keys when I arrived, but I "forgot" so I was in the unique position of just being able to pack up and take off in the middle of the night. Many nights I really wanted to. At the end of the 10 days the atmosphere changed completely. Congratulatory food was bought out, special books, a pin-up board with information about meetings and so on. By virtue of surviving the 10-days, I'd joined the club of initiated Vipassana mediators.

Right now, I'm reflecting on both my good fortune for new clubs joined as well as missing some venerable old ones, from which I voluntarily removed myself.


On another note entirely, I spent some time yesterday in Merrion Square - a lovely private Edwardian square that fell into disuse before being gifted to the city and turned into a public park. It was lovely. It's hard to describe the quality of nature here. There is a greyness and a coldness to the light which sets things off. It seems to imbue everything with a sadness, quiteness, and seriousness. Oscar Wilde lived in the surrounding area for some time. I don't know if that's related or not.

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On our outing today (I'm slowly recovering, and with a recruiter-interview tomorrow, I figured I should see how much energy I have) I realised there were a few important things I'd neglected to consider when compiling our list of criteria for our location of choice.

For example, hills. I really, really dislike hills. The - admittedly small, but steep and somehow incredibly wicked - hill between our Auckland apartment and my office almost did me in every day. Steep both ways, it induced a near-heart attack on the way up, and a near-tumble on the way down. I avoided it wherever possible, cutting through the small park and ducking under the trees if I was headed into town. And on the few days when I had to walk up or down the hill more than once each way, I was not a happy camper.

Anyway, from what little I've seen of Dublin city centre, it's flat. Bless.

We didn't consider sunshine hours, either. I like the sun, but I don't like its effect on my skin. So far, Dublin has been fairly sunny - but a weak, Northern Hemisphere-style sun, so I don't risk getting burnt. Well, I won't once I finish up my course of doxycycline.

The one thing we didn't consider that isn't working out so far is hardly cause for major concern, but it's a nuisance to me nonetheless. Apart from the ubiquitous Starbucks, no one seems to drink or sell chai.

As a non tea- and coffee-drinker, chai's my hot drink of choice. Okay, chamomile tea if I don't want the caffeine, but when other people crave their morning coffee, I crave chai.

It's widely available in Auckland - sometimes you can even choose between the sweet (read: disgusting) or spicy (read: delicious Phoenix brand) versions. Nothing used to make me happier than a large soy chai from the cafe on campus - well, until the coffee guy tried to impress us with his homophobic comments, and I stopped going there... But you catch my drift.

So I've googled a little. Bewley's Cafe has chai, and someplace called Lemon Jelly does too. But 99.999% of cafes don't.

So that was rather poorly planned, wasn't it?

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I was reading Wikipedia's excellent article on Hiberno-English, the technical name for Irish English. A small excerpt here:
There are many terms for having consumed a drop too much drink, many are used elsewhere, but the Irish tendency is to attempt to find the most descriptive adjective yet on each occasion. Some examples: "loaded", "blocked", "twisted", "full" (common in Ulster), "spannered", "scuttered", "stocious/stotious", "baloobas" (common in Cavan), "locked", "langered", "mouldy" (pron. mowldy as in "fowl"), "polluted", "flootered", "plastered", "bolloxed", "well out of it", "wankered", "fucked", "fuckered", "ossified", "binned", "rat-arsed" , "plastered", "gee-eyed", "demented" "flahed drunk" "langers altogether" "in shit drunk" (common in Cork), "buckled", "steaming"( common in Donegal), "messy", "sloppy", "cabbaged" , "wasted", "paralytic/palatic", "full as a boot", "full up", "full as the bingo bus" (common in Louth), "legless", "hammered" , "blootered", "squooshed", "banjoed", "mullered", "bingoed", "mangled", "ruined", "half-tore", "oiled", "jarred" (not too drunk, "I'm not drunk, I'm just a bit jarred!"), "in the horrors"(common in Waterford), "stoned" (Dundalk only), "I'm off my tits", "pissed", "sozzled", "blottoed", "diageod" (in reference to the drinks company), "trolleyed", "sloshed", "rote", "rote off" "pissed", "steamed" (common in Mayo) (Phrases in italics are more "colourful")



Status update

As of last night, my lurgy is officially upgraded from a cold to the flu.

I won't go into the details, because they're yucky enough to experience once, let alone re-live through blogging. Suffice to say, I remember feeling worse than this (campylobacter - both times, my allergic reaction to the wisdom teeth painkillers, and my even nastier reaction to the Floridian antibiotics for suspected bronchitis) - but never at a time when I wasn't under medical care.

David says this is the first flu I've had since we've been together - so in 6 1/2 years. My immune system must be doing ok - maybe all those smelly, dirty brothers were useful after all!

Speaking of brothers and family and suchlike, today and Monday are big days, and we're thinking of you.

Today, Joan (my mother-in-law) and our very good friend Katie (my bridesmaid) are celebrating their birthdays. Plus, Colin & Monique (David's uncle and now aunt) are getting married. Congratulations to all of you! Send photos!

On Monday, Brent (my youngest brother and bridesman) is turning 25. Happy birthday Pinky B! I haven't sent you a cheesecake this year, but we love you loads.

In fact, we haven't sent anyone anything, apart from wedding thank you notes... Whoops. I blame the flu!

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Moan and whinge

I'm siiiiiiick.

How sick? Quite sick, as it happens.

Sick enough to reschedule an appointment with a recruiter, because after a nauseous night of not-sleep, I'm exhausted as well as sick.

Sick enough to not want to make the 40-step trip to the living area where the tv is, because it's comfy in bed and the light out there is so bright it makes my head hurt (more).

Sick enough to have plain toast for breakfast.

Too sick to read my only unread book, because it requires concentration that I can't muster. Too sick to mend my beloved vintage denim jacket, whose seams are rapidly disappearing as the thread crumbles into nothing - even though I wear it almost every day. Too sick to go yarn-shopping so I can knit something (anything!) to keep myself occupied - and let's be honest, too sick to search the Interweb for a pattern to knit up.

I miss health, our apartment in Auckland, TV in the bedroom with lots of channels, lots of easy-read books, and knitting.

I'm over it. Would the good-health fairy please make a house-call?

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Postcards from Dublin #2 - Fear and Loathing in Dublin

We're in limbo at the moment. While there have been successes (Laura's ID card, and a bank account on the way thanks to the clever trick with getting online contents insurance as a means of proof of address), there have also been disappointments.

I think my job hunt is going okay, but it's slower than I would have liked - no interviews with companies yet (my dry-cleaned suit hangs waiting...) but several promising roles with big name corporates on offer from agencies. I've never liked recruitment agencies, and they are the same beast here that they were in NZ, but with no other connections I have to rely on them. Also, the daily rate offered so far is a bit less than I what I would have expected. And I suppose that generally I am having a hard time getting motivated about working after such a long and varied break (it was three months last week).

We always knew finding a good job for Laura would be harder, but I've been surprised at the number of roles on offer. They are also not paying as much as we'd like. But we have to keep in mind we're moving to a different country, a different currency, and with Laura - to a more commercial role. Also Laura has a cold and is feeling miserable - so she is in bed. And I'm not exactly full 'o energy either.

And my 1GB RAM chip blew up in my laptop. So I had to steal memory from Laura's. I know it's a small thing...

On the up side, we (being Laura) started looking at apartments yesterday - and we even went to see one. For €1200/month you can get a decent apartment. For €1500/month you can get a pretty fab apartment (for some reason there is downwards pressure on rents at the moment, even though demand is high). That means we can lead a the sort of life style we're used to (i.e. no flatmates!) without breaking the bank. I think that may be one of the boons of living here vs. London. (Yes I am always comparing...)

If you've read this far, we'd love to know you're reading our blog. Please comment or email us and remind us that we do have friends - just not here! (yet!).

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I may have a cold, but it hasn't stopped me from getting legal!

Yesterday we trotted down to the local Garda station to sort my immgration status out. We were early; there were no queues - perfect!

The immigration office was closed for the day.

So we went back this morning, and I got a lovely card that shows I'm allowed to re-enter Ireland as often as I like. The photo is like a mugshot: were I a celebrity, The Smoking Gun or a gossip site would be all over it. But because I'm not, it's just a really, really bad photo, which is less embarrassing.

We're still not 100% legal for work just yet - we need to get social security numbers. We made the mistake of trying to get them yesterday, only to be told that you need proof of address, like a bill, which we don't have since everything is provided here and our phones are pre-paid. We only tried to get the social security numbers because the man at the bank said we needed proof of address like a social security number card...even though you need proof of address to get that in the first place... It all seems a bit circular, so David bought some contents insurance online, and we're hoping that the policy with our names etc on it will be sufficient for someone to give us some sort of documentation so we can get the other bit.

Here's hoping.

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For guys

How has it taken me this long. We're here. Scroll one block to the left and you can see the spire, or is it "The Spire", on O'Connell St and the GPO right to the lower left of that. And scroll down a few blocks and you'll see the Liffey. And, yeh.

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Hare Rama

Two wonderful things, both connected, happened today. First - we confirmed "Govinda's" in Middle Abbey St is a Hare Krishna restaurant and second- I bought dinner for us there, and shouted myself a Carpe Diem Kombucha carbonated herbal tea drink. This drink combined several of my favourite beverage qualities: it's Asian-inspired (or so the label says), it's it healthful (or so the label says), it's carbonated (I can confirm that), and it's exotic/strange. It was delicious. It had just the right amount of sweetness (5.3g / 100g).

This was the first real meal that we've bought in Dublin. We are on Lidl rations until we are earning €s. For example, for lunch today I enjoyed a microwave tortilla which had discharged 60% of its filling onto the microwave plate while it was cooking. As a final indignity, what little filling remained had the salinity of sea water.

Our apartment really is in an amazingly central location. Today we went to the Garda immigration building, a bank, the IRD-equivalent, and the social security building. They are all within 5 or 10 minutes walk. Unfortunately, every visit was unsuccessful for one reason or another so we still can't legally work, open a bank account, and Laura better not leave the country or she might never get back in. (Also, what it lacks in blue-skyness and warnmess, the city centre makes up for in complete flatness.)

A couple of bites on the job hunting front for me today thanks to extremely tradeable commodity known as .NET developer. A quick and unscientific survey revealed about twice as many job adverts for .NET as J2EE.

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Happy Easter!

Rather than eating lots of chocolate like everyone else here, we've indulged in a few lessons in Irish politics and history. (Finally, the 5th form history module on Ireland has become relevant. So what you learn in school actually can be useful!)

In the paper yesterday we discovered that there would be a commemorative service for the Easter Rising at the GPO - only a short walk from where we're living. I was keen to go along and see how the Irish treat commemorations, and it seemed wasteful to not go when it was so close, so David accompanied me.

Apart from most of the shops closing in deference to it being Easter Sunday, what was most noticeable was the large number of the Garda out and about in their fluorescent yellow vests. Some streets were blocked off, and to get in to them you had to be let in by police officers, who searched your bags. To get into the actual viewing area in front of the GPO - which, I may add, was well removed from the actual building itself), you went through a search and a pat-down. For some reason the (male) officer wasn't too keen to pat me down, so I was directed to a ladies' line.

The commemoration was fairly brief: people milled about, then there was a combined parade of representatives from all branches of the military, then we waited for dignitaries to arrive: the Minister of Defence, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Prime Minister, then the President. There was a lament from a bagpiper, someone read the document that attempted to declare Ireland's independence back in 1916, and the President laid a wreath.

The ceremony wasn't nearly as interesting as some of the people around us though: young families of the men on parade, a few Irish tourists, and some older men who wept a discreet tear or two as the piper played.

Afterwards we decided to take a walk around on the south side of the Liffey, in the touristy Temple Bar area. I can't see what all the fuss is about: it's central, and the streets are charmingly (but impractically) cobbled, but it didn't blow me away. However, I can see the attractions well enough: bars and cosy restaurants everywhere.

On the way home, we came across a Sinn Fein parade, which led to a rally. David was less than impressed by the paramilitary-style uniforms worn by some of the participants, but I was simply impressed that people would feel so strongly about a political party to actually wear a uniform!

One of the people in the parade was Gerry Adams. After having learned about him in 5th form history, it was quite exciting to see - and snap a (bad) photo of - him in person.

I know, I am such a dork. But he's my first famous Irish person at less than 10 metres, so it's still exciting.

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So there

From Wikipedia's Dublin article:
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 (46°F), the average maximum July temperature is 20°C (68°F). 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 (2.9 inches) of rain. The driest month is April, with 45 mm (1.7 inches). The total average annual rainfall (and other forms of precipitation) is 762 mm (29.5 inches), 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.


Already thinking of that next holiday

I like flying and one of the boons of being here, surely, is the low cost flights to Europe. EasyJet, of the "Airline" TV show fame, doesn't fly out of Dublin but Ryanair does. Headquatered in Dublin, I'd never heard of Ryanair, but it's one of Europe's biggest, cheapest, most controversial and most disliked airlines.

Just check out this great site and read the stories of woe. I especially liked this one:

We won [a free flight from] Stansted to Perpignan. Took over one & a quarter hours to check in. Most passengers were unaware of Ryanair baggage scams - 15kg limit, charge for each item of checked baggage, and most scammy of all being prevented from combining baggage allowance of more than one person into one bag. Lots of arguments at check in causing big delays. Worse still was the fiasco on the return trip. Almost every passenger bought a £2 priority boarding pass. Everyone wanted to be first on the plane. Result was ugly carnage - crushed kids, trampled elderly folk, only the strong survived.

(When is a priority pass not a priority pass...) I still have every intention of using them. I haven't discussed this with Laura yet.

Another good site that has ranked airlines based on customer feedback. The only 5-stars are Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Cathy Pacific.



Reality check

Our move has been exciting and exhilarating - and occasionally terrifying, let's be honest. But now we're finally here: it's happened, we're here, and life starts again.

The bubble that mostly surrounded us on our (wonderful, amazing) honeymoon hasn't exactly burst... we're just slowly but surely re-entering the real world: going to the supermarket, doing dishes, that kind of thing.

For me, the real world began again yesterday afternoon, when I read an email from my uncle in Chicago. Except he wasn't in Chicago, he was in Naples, Florida, with my maternal grandmother, who is very, very unwell.

I haven't seen Grammie for almost two years, and I know that by the time you get into your nineties (she turned 95 on Boxing Day) you inevitably have a health problem or two. Yet I still cling to the image I have of her from our visit. Admittedly it was a very brief visit, due to my nasty chest infection (and even nastier antibiotics), but apart from a different hair colour, she was still the same Grammie I remembered from my childhood.

Well, as it turns out, Grammie's aorta is shot, and she's too high risk for surgery, so she's stuck with it.

For awhile David and I have been idly discussing a visit to Naples in February, to coincide with the annual pilgrimage from the Chicago clan. Now, we're talking about a visit much sooner.

Meanwhile, life here goes on. Laundry has to be done - and when the washing machine breaks and the door won't open, so half your clothes are trapped inside, with no hope of recovery till Monday at least, clean socks have to be bought.

Jobs have to be found, and we've started looking. After I register with the Garda on Tuesday, I'll be busy with the final edit of my CV - and hopefully making some appointments with recruiters.

We've also managed to get new mobile phone numbers. I won't post mine here - but if you'd like to know and I left you out on the email, leave a comment and I'll be in touch. We'll still keep and periodically check our old numbers for awhile though, just in case.

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Some honeymoon photos

A selection of photos from our honeymoon. Laura might upload everything, including her photos, to Flickr later.

David's Honeymoon Highlights - Hong Kong

David's Honeymoon Highlights - Goa

David's Honeymoon Highlights - Crete

David's Honeymoon Highlights - Athens


Postcard from Dublin (#1)

Indeed there was trouble finding #26 and indeed we were taken in, saved really, by our new friends who live a few doors down. At their apartment I had my first Guinness (on Irish soil) and we enjoyed their hospitality very much, only retiring early in the morning. And this on a day which had started early in central Athens – eating spinach and potato pies in Syntagma, near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Being an immigrant is a new experience for me and looking at a new city which you have chosen to live in, rather than visit, is both an exciting and scary prospect.

Marlborough St, which is on the north side (the less good side) of the Liffey, looked fairly forlorn at 10pm last night - not the buzzing inner-city location I was hoping for. Our saviors partly took pity on us because they believed it foolish to be wondering around in the dark with all our suitcases – we could be robbed they said - that didn’t impress me either. So imagine my delight when I drew the curtains this morning and looked out on a sunny day, a pleasant volume of people wandering past, a fruit stall right opposite, and a van delivering Polish baked goods to a shop!

This positive vibes continued on our small excursions today. Marlborough St is only a few minutes walk to several large shopping streets. We crossed the Liffey, skirted around Trinity College. We had Starbucks. We bought new prepay SIM cards. The inner city was much more impressive than I had imagined. Dublin has a population similar to Auckland so I was expecting something on a similar size, but it is much more sprawling and full of churches, impressive civil buildings and plenty of shopping, including many of the stores I didn’t think had made it here.

A couple of streets back is a cheap supermarket (Auckland multi-culturalism has prepared me well. The Lidl is not dissimilar to the Mt Albert Pak’n’Save; just smaller, a bit crappier, and with some of the Asians, Indians and Somalis swapped out for Eastern Europeans) and heaps of fruit and vegetable stalls, but more importantly, some Asian supermarkets and restaurants. In fact there seems to be quite a few Asians here which I take as a very positive endorsement. They are discerning, and they bring their cuisine with them and for that I am always grateful.

Cost wise, the nominal price of things is very similar here to NZ (by which I mean a grande caramel macchiato is about $NZ4.50 and €4.50). With $NZ1.00 buying about €0.50 that means everything is roughly twice as expensive for us while we are not working. The exception might be rent which in nominal terms is significantly higher than in Auckland. So I figure the main way to profit (financially) from being here is to save as much as possible and send it back home to the mortgage. Of course, there are other types of profit to be had too.

It’s 8pm now. The sun’s going down. The laundry is on. The Simpsons is on. I’m wondering what to have for dinner… so life goes on really.

The view from our window.

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The luck of the Irish

I'm blogging from the comfort of one of the couches in our temporary Dublin apartment (temporary-temporary, in fact - but more on that later). We've made it!

Of course we made it, you think. But in fact it was a close-run thing.

The final two flights of our 10-flight odyssey (Athens - Heathrow and Heathrow - Dublin) were fairly easy: short, and with a connection that meant we didn't get caught for being around 15kg over the baggage allotment (bless the generous Greeks who didn't seem to care how heavy your bags were!). However, Heathrow - that is to say, the UK- Ireland area of Terminal 1 at Heathrow - is... less than impressive. It's big, but it lacks seating, ambience, decent shopping facilities, and wireless Internet access. And rather like an enormous shearing shed, it appears to be mainly constructed of corrugated iron. On the plus side, the bathrooms were clean.

Our arrival in Dublin was fine. We met possibly the most cheerful and personable immigration official ever, and he decided that I could be trusted to present myself at the Garda station within a month to get a work permit. The only mildly unpleasant part was that he had to take my photo, which I was unprepared for. But I'm sure my mussed hair, sunburned nose and the bags under my eyes will provide sufficient amusement for him and his colleagues for some time to come.

Given British Airways' appalling baggage loss record - and the fact that most of the losses occurred on connecting flights in and out of Heathrow - we were pleasantly surprised to be able to collect our bags and leave the airport. So far, so good.

The trouble began when we turned up at our new temporary street. Where was #26? Well, no one knew. The cab driver tried and failed to help us, so we disengaged ourselves and decided to take a look on foot, hoping that the friendly locals would enlighten us.

Turns out the locals had no idea either.

But luckily for us, the two girls we asked for help took pity on us. First they waited with me and the bags while David went to look for the apartment building. Then, when he found it but couldn't get in, they invited us up to one of their apartments to use the Internet.

They probably figured we'd use the Internet briefly and be on their way. Instead, they didn't get rid of us until 2AM.

We had some trouble getting in touch with the people at the apartment block, and for awhile it looked like we might need to go to a hotel... out of town, because it was the Thursday before Easter after all, and everywhere l9cal and not hundreds of Euros a night was already full. A friend of theirs even volunteered to drive us.

But then finally David managed to get in touch with the people, and get in the building, and get the keys. And he came right back and we all continued to enjoy ourselves for some time after that.

So we spent our first night in Dublin meeting fun people and having a good time, then came home to a lovely 2-bedroom apartment - a temporary upgrade for the 1-bedroom we'd booked.

Really, we have the luck of the Irish. (I just wonder whose Irishness brought it - David's or mine?)

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