Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Homecoming - Part Three

The sun shone and the country wore her finest colours for the duration of our stay in Ireland.  We feasted on Taytos, black pudding, freshly laid eggs, soda bread, smoked salmon, chowder, boxty, fresh from the earth potatoes, unbeatable Irish sausages, homegrown beef, organic pork, just out of the oven scones and Grandma's apple pies. 

Picture of Tayto crisps from Ireland
The Best Crisps In The World!
Sausages beans black pudding mushrooms fried potatoes bacon and fried potato on plate
Breakfast Is Served - Irish Style
Freshly dug new potatoes on red and white check tablecloth
New Potatoes - Fresh From Mother Nature

Photo of perfectly baked golden brown fruit scones
Baking Perfection - Grandma's Scones

We stayed with old friends and even made new ones.....

Picture of kune-kune pig
My New BFF - The One & Only Blossom!

photo of lamb being given a bottle by young girl
Charley The Lamb & Lala

Picture of wary looking black cat

We felt the warm sand between our toes and the icy Atlantic chill in our bones.  We had impromptu barbeques and toasted marshmallows.  We built sandcastles and created stone sculptures.  We rock-hopped and paddled.  We planted flowers with Grandad.  We flew kites and kicked balls.  We stuck our heads out the car windows feeling the wild caress of the warm summer air across our faces.

a young girl and young boy walking on keel beach with th minaun cliffs in the backgound
Toes In The Sand On Keel Beach

young girl running throguh the water on a beautiful summer's day at Keel Beach, Achill Island
Water Between The Toes - Keel Beach

young girl toasting marshmallows over log fire
Toasting Marshmallows

young girl making stone sculptures on Keel Beach
The Three Amigos Stone Sculptures

A young girl and boy jumping from rock to rock on beautiful beach

Young boy planting yellow flowers in soil
Grandad's Little Helper

young boy in Ireland kit kicking Ireland ball on beautiful green lawn, blue sky in the background with candyfloss clouds

young boy in car feeling the rush of the wind across his face as he sticks his head out the window

We came across some pretty heavy traffic.....

sheep on road, sunny day, blue sky, wispy clouds
Traffic - Island Style

We warmed our bones in the evenings in front of turf fires, as the sun set the sky ablaze with magnificent sunsets.  We woke to gentle birdsong in the morning and the freshness of the morning dew.  We spent our days in the easy company of old friends and family.  Some days it was easy to imagine I was back for good but all too soon the sun went down on our last day, my father stood before me unable to hold back his tears and it was time to leave.  The word "goodbye" isn't allowed in my parents' house.  They come from a generation where goodbyes were very often final and my father in particular watched as his brothers and sisters settled in far-flung places, seeing them only fleetingly for the rest of his life-time.  I hugged him and sent up a silent prayer that he and my mother would be okay until I managed to scramble the cash together to come home again.  And this is the big bogey about living in Australia - it's one damned expensive country to get out of!  I'm going to need about twelve thousand dollars just for the airfares alone for me and the kids.  Throw in the hire-car and living costs and you are looking at fifteen thousand dollars and then some.  I don't know about you but it's not exactly what I'd call spare change. 

The word Ireland on back of soccer jersey
Ireland - Time To Leave

The morning of our flights, deep dark clouds gathered over Dublin and I had to smile as La-la and the Dude mused as to whether or not it would rain.  Big fat drops started to fall as we taxied down the runway, matching my mood perfectly.  Sixteen and a half hours later, after a brief stopover in Dubai, we landed in Singapore and were greeted by medical personnel and police.  An announcement had been made on the plane that it was just a precaution regarding some sort of flu outbreak but the looks on the faces of the police said otherwise.  There was no doubt if you so much as presented with a sniffle, you were going to find yourself in an isolation ward pretty sharpish.  No sooner were we deemed healthy enough to pass when the Dude announced he needed the toilet.  Now this is the moment when the logistics of a parent travelling with two children on her / his own and the multitude of hand luggage becomes a logistical nightmare.  Having located the toilets and having dealt with the Dude's objections about not wanting to go into the "giiiiiirrrrllls" toilet, we finally entered the multi-cubicle room only to discover there was no family cubicle.  It quickly became clear that I was going to have to leave La-la standing on her own with ALL the hand luggage whilst I helped the Dude.  In this day and age I don't think it's such a smart idea to leave an eight year old in charge of all the luggage.  We'd already had an incident in Dublin over a toy gun the Dude had smuggled into his bag!  I didn't fancy someone "dropping" something into our luggage when I wasn't looking (I'm ALWAYS looking!)  Now you can call me paranoid all you like but I'd rather be paranoid and free than rotting in a hell-hole somewhere, protesting my innocence.  So I about-turned and headed for the disabled toilet I'd seen on our way in.  And that's when things got interesting.....

At this point the Dude was doing his, "I'm about to burst" shuffle.  So before the door was even closed I told him to "just pee!"  The door, which seemed to be moving in slow motion, finally slid shut - after a helping shove from yours truly.  Believing my privacy was assured, I decided to avail of the facilities myself.  So, I took up residence on the throne.  Someone on the other side tried the door and I spotted a "push to lock door" button beside me, so, wishing to pee in peace, I pressed it.  And as soon as I did, the door started to slowly but surely OPEN!  I now know that it obviously meant "push to operate door" but that wasn't much good to me as I watched my own personal window to the world gradually opening and revealing my compromised position.  La-la was the first to spot what was happening and made a panicked dash for the door, frantically trying to push it in the opposite direction.  The Dude just stood there - horrified.  And I sat there as second by inexorable second another face was revealed.  It was obviously "toilet rush-hour" in Singapore because I have never seen so many people waiting to use a toilet.  I think I counted ten in all - mostly Asian.  Now for those of you who haven't lived in an Asian country, let me tell you that "loss of face" is a major concern.  And this term is applicable in many situations but mostly applies when you compromise yourself - as in losing your temper in public or offend another, for example refusing food that has been specially prepared in your honour.  Revealing yourself, whilst sitting on the toilet, with your trousers around your ankles and your Nora Batty's (support tights) around your knees - well that goes way, way beyond losing face.  I had nothing left.  My audience were in such shock they didn't even have the presence of mind to look away.  Mercifully, I had realized at this point that the blasted button obviously operated the door and punched it as hard as I could.  Slowly - oh ever so slowly - the door started to close.  Ten horrified faces later I breathed a sigh of relief.  La-la sank to the floor and the Dude announced, "I'm not going out there!"  I have to admit, I was in no rush either.  Funnily enough when we eventually emerged, only an annoyed cleaning lady stood there.

Nora Batty in curlers and support stockings
Nora And Her Lovely Leg-wear

Thankfully the rest of our journey was uneventful and eight hours later we landed in Brisbane.  Our perfect holiday was over.  Hell-week - that's jet-lag by three for me - was ahead of me and I still don't know when I'll be home again. 

Sunset behind mountain
The Last Sunset


Monday, 6 October 2014

Into The West - The Homecoming Part Two

Anyone who lives in Ireland will tell you we have a little weather issue - it rains a lot.  However, the same people will tell you, when it doesn't rain - there is no other country in the world they would rather be.  Ireland is quite possibly the most beautiful country on the planet but when the sun shines it is simply spectacular and the west of Ireland in particular is sensational.  For it not to rain for five weeks in  a row is nothing short of miraculous and I will be forever grateful to have been in the country when she shimmered at her amazing best.  I'm going to let the photos say the rest.

minaun cliffs achill island with beautiful blue sky and candy floss clouds
The Minaun Cliffs, Achill Island
long shot of keel beach achill island with croghan mountain in the backgound
Keel Beach, Achill Island
pristine beach on achill island with flips flops to the forefront and beautiful golden sand and the atlantic ocean
Barr na gCappall, Achill Island
Volcano shaped slievemore mountain on achill island in ireland set against beautiful clear blue sky
An Sliabh Mor, Achill Island
blackface sheep crossing road in west of ireland
Keel beach in the foreground, Inisgalloon in the background, set against clear blue sky
Inisgalloon Island from Keel Beach
summer sunset on achill island, dark in the foreground, ornage, purple, pink and blue sky
Midnight Sunset
Golden sands and aquamarine waters of Keem Bay, Achill Island
Keem Bay, Achill Island

Beautiful pink dog rose in foreground with greenery of bush in the background
Wild Rose
intense golden and orange flames of a bonfire set against the dark of the night
Bonfire Night

boats in the bay achill island, shore and boats in the foreground and moutains in the background
Boats In The Bay

Croagh Patrick set against a blue sky with candy floss clouds and fields and sea to the foreground, white church on top is just about visible
The Holy Mountain - Croagh Patrick