We’ve been here in Ireland for two and a half weeks (in Cork the entire time) and it’s safe to say we’re completely smitten! We’ve been blessed with blue skies as well as some unseasonal sunshine however as the day closes in, the temperature drops really quickly and gifts us with some of the most beautiful wintry sunsets conceivable (I’m hopeful we might get snow based on the extra warm days).
We are generally getting around either on public transport (double decker buses that give us a bird’s eye view of charming narrow streets and gorgeous houses). We’re also walking a lot and, as always, it’s my preferred way to discover a new place. I’ll put it out there now: Cork begs to be enjoyed and there’s so much to enjoy. We basically stop every half a block to bookmark places and take pictures.
Amongst our visits to recruiters, we’ve also made our way to UCC (University College Cork) and soaked up some of the lush campus. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves — it’s about 25 minutes walk from the city centre.
Finally, we’re still loving all of the street art and sculptures dotted everywhere — here are some gems from the last few days or so. Let me say it again: we love it here and are thrilled to be sharing this special place with you, too.
Tis’ cold to be sure, but we are nevertheless head-down arse-up and hot on the trail of jobs. Here’s a delightful winter post in the meantime…
(yeah trust me, it’s worthwhile)
One aim I have for this year is to be better at sharing things and so I’m aiming to use this site for building a compendium of recommendations. Prior to now I’d used sporadic WhatsApp/FB messages with friends and loved ones to share things in a manner inarguably sloppy, sporadic and somewhat difficult to process. For a long time I’d thought about properly sorting things into emails however I’m actually the worst at this so moving forward, I’m going to try and write these posts and then there’s easy hyperlinks too!
Without further ado, some recent things that are worthwhile sharing:
- To start, this undeniably enjoyable street art from our new city located on the South Mall, Parnell Place. Not sure of the connection Alf Stewart has with Cork but holy cow, anything that immortalises one of my favourite ‘Strayan ockerisms is a bloody winner. Here’s a fun response from the icon himself, too! On the whole, the Cork streets are home to mesmerising art pieces with the standout for me the Irish historical figures located on Kyle Street.
- The first book I’ve read in 2020 is the much-acclaimed Michelle Obama memoir Becoming*. I’d heard that Becoming was genuinely extraordinary writing however I was completely unprepared for how engrossing the narrative structure is and how effectively the key motifs around education, economics, structural segregation, community, rhetoric and policy is communicated. I can’t recommend this highly enough, not least with regard to relevance around how subsequent USA administrations are managing civic issues both on a federal and international level. Also, an additional comment that Obama’s expertise is formidable – prior to reading this memoir, my understanding of her experience was limited to her work in law – with her work post-FLOTUS a continued pursuit of essential social change that shows genuine leadership.
- Sincere thanks to my rad brother-in-law Andrew for alerting me to this interview with Andrew Scott, Irish actor extraordinaire, on the famed podcast How To Fail with Elizabeth Day. This episode is a stand-out and kicks off a new season of How To Fail, with this conversation with this hallowed actor an all-round treat and I’ll also take the opportunity to highlight a slightly different interview here with some of his lesser-known fans, too… A stat that’s additionally worth sharing: Scott’s cult character on Fleabag Season 2 has spiked sales in Marks & Spencer canned G&T.
- I genuinely love grocery shopping and when I’m somewhere new, supermarkets and chemists/pharmacies are my ideal place for an excursion, especially when this involves sourcing snacks, etc.: enter, Deliciously Ella Salted Caramel Cups. These are a winner, albeit a treat in every sense of the word as they are a bit ‘spenny. More generally, we are actively acquainting ourselves with supermarkets in Ireland (so far our favourite is Dunnes Stores, in particular the Bishopstown location where Simon picked up a cashmere beanie from!!!) and subsequently getting amongst brands and treats not available in Australia. Last night we tried the infamous Salted Caramel Cups. Needless to say I’m thinking about them right now and they were an outstanding pre-dinner-walking-home-from-Tesco snack. Honourable mention here to this local brand, Cali Cali Foods, for their chipotle hot sauce as well – more of a salsa-y relish than a hot sauce and deliciously smoky, too – we’ve been enjoying this with loads of meals!
Finally, our hearts are heavy with the bushfires and national emergency happening in Australia. This crisis keeps evolving and we are trying to stay informed with regards to how we can all be responsive on a community support level as well as mobilise as citizens. One component is ensuring that all of our voices are heard so that action is taken on localised and national fronts for both recovery and structural changes plus funding to environmental and preventative policies are made. In terms of the scope of damage and the extent of the fires, this photo essay here puts into perspective that this crisis did not happen in the space of days – ordinary people, emergency services and journalists have been engaged with this for months now.
*One last note, my preferred place to buy secondhand books online is Better World Books. Not only is their selection stellar, they donate to world literacy programs plus they donate books, and their work saves books from becoming landfill (they reuse, repurpose and recycle). I will note that books can take a little while to arrive however it’s worth it – check them out!
This morning Quinn finally took us for a walk down to Blackrock castle as the sky cleared. Well, I say morning. It was about noon by the time we returned back home to Rob’s. It’ll take us some time yet to get adjusted to the 9am sunrises and 4pm sunsets.
Quinn is a golden retriever–poodle–horse about about 4 years old. She just about trampled a poor lady to death who was power walking in the opposite direction. “JEAYSUS!” the woman exclaimed. Thankfully I had enough leash to yank her in the other direction. That was my adrenaline fix for today.
In other news, the precise day last week that I attempted to put Euros onto our Travelex card the company was hacked and its website and app have been down since. According to the chap I recently spoke to in the Phillipines they are having to rebuild their entire security system.
We had planned to use this as an interim solution until we set up Irish/Euro bank accounts, but it seems we’ll just continue to use our Aussie cards (albeit with the crappier exchange rate) until our bank cards arrive next week. So far we’ve signed up with N26, which is some new fandangled online bank. Aoife’s account is already created, using her EU passport, and her card is on the way, but I’ve had no end of being messed around by them and their app. I think it just doesn’t like Aussies…
Also, some of the local entertainment thus far:
All too quickly our time in Dubai was over and we were packing up yet again for our final travel leg: Dubai to Dublin by plane and then Dublin to Cork by bus.
Our final day in the UAE was spent in the Hatta area with a healthy mix of hearts (may the record state that I shot the moon to win the game) and kayaking before returning to Dubai for dumplings shared under the Burj Khalifa.
Post-hike up to the dam in Hatta with Eoin and Sarah, adventures in marital kayaking… and post-lunch mural photos – this one’s for you, Dad!
At the Mall Of The Emirates and looking up at 800–plus metres of the tallest building in the world
In yet another marathon Tetris packing mission, we repacked our bags and assembled for our 4am wake-up call with Waffle the cat helping throughout (Simon is Waffle’s favourite person and she couldn’t get close enough, including jumping in and out of our suitcases). All too soon we were running the checking in baggage limit gauntlet and successfully avoiding excess baggage fees before boarding our flight to Dublin! It would be off-brand for us not to comment on the caffeine offerings and we can happily report that the Jones The Grocer departures outlet does live up to its promise of good coffee. It definitely hit the spot in terms of our overall sleep deprivation and impending travel four hours backwards to Irish time.
Ready to fly north!
Touching down to blue skies in Dublin was an early lesson that weather changes quickly in Ireland and by the time we were on the bus heading south to Cork, the afternoon light and the rain were closing in. After landing, we began the immigration process (more on this in another post) before collecting our luggage and sharing a pre-bus ride ‘Mighty Irish Breakfast’. I am very happy to report that my earlier endorsements of Irish bacon were upheld in the Mighty Irish Brekky and Simon is now an initiate and convert to the traditional delicacies of black pudding and white pudding (again, more on this at a future date).
Snapshots of Dublin including those blue skies – we are looking forward to a proper stint in the capital as soon as permits!
We arrived in Cork slightly ahead of schedule with our host Rob picking us up before the cold really got into our bones and fatigue from a full day of travel could make us entirely delirious. At Rob’s place just outside the Cork centre, we enjoyed our first night in our new home city with the local seasonal meal of spiced beef shared in outstanding company. Rob’s place is lovely and we’re very grateful to feel at home already.
As we don’t have any further photos from our arrival, I’ll close with my mum’s welcome message that seemed to echo as we were driving through the historic streets of Dublin and then getting off the bus at Patrick’s Quay by the River Lee, Cork: “Welcome to the island of saints and scholars.”
The Dubai winter permits plenty of activity as it doesn’t get hotter than high 20s each day. Something our very generous and thoughtful hosts, Sarah and Eoin, have taken full advantage of. We’ve had a stellar time getting around to food stops and sights, peppered inbetween with shawarma and games of hearts, something we loved playing with the Maddens in our last days back on Brisbane.
So we set off on our Irish adventure on New Years Eve, and on the way started the new year (and decade) in a new country, The UAE. There to pick us up from Dubai airport in the morning was Eoin, who gave us a quick tour of Dubai before we came back to their apartment to have a recharge with feline hosts Waffle and Jimmy. We then saw the new decade in with multiple fireworks displays down at Dubai Jumerah Beach.