Dublin calling

Trip Start May 27, 2010
Trip End Aug 31, 2011

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Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Monday, November 1, 2010

I saw another royal figure this week.  Not a member of the English royal family, but the Emir of Qatar - one of the world's richest monarchs.  And didn't they pull out all the stops for him.  From cannon salutes at the Tower of London and police escorts (which I saw and heard, again, from the comfort of my desk at work), to a horse-drawn carriage procession at Windsor Castle.  It was major.  One of the emir's wives (he has three) was in the papers, and was said to be fighting off the flirtatious advances of none other than Prince Phillip.  Dirty old man!  As for the emir's visit though, who really cares.  

Also reported in the paper this week was the unfortunate story of a transgender commuter who fell to his death when he was pushed by a female friend.  It's not really an interesting story, except for the newspaper's obvious uncertainty as to whether to call him a her, or her a him.  It was quite amusing.  Later in the week it was reported that the transgender dude (for lack of a better word) was actually a high profile human rights lawyer who practiced as a he but was known as a she.   

I had a relatively boring week, and came to realise just how much I rely on my laptop for entertainment these days.  While it was at the computer shop being repaired I had to resort to watching free to air TV in my room on a television smaller than my hand.  I felt lonely without my laptop on the bed next to me.  There are loads of things I could do to entertain myself rather than straining my eyes to see the speck on the shelf that is my TV: I have books I could read, I have housemates I could talk to, I have a gym membership that I could make use of (and incidentally, I did, once during the week).  But no.  I remained defiant and insisted on watching normal British TV.  I learnt a lot though.  For instance, I always wondered why X Factor was so big over here.  X Factor at home was always the poor relative of Australian Idol, and so no one really ever watched it at home.  But here, it's huge.  What's more, I never took the time to realise that X Factor is actually a singing show, as opposed to a talent quest with people juggling and old ladies doing the splits.  So now I understand why it's so widely followed and loved.  I still think it's shit - the singers are hopeless.  In my humble opinion.  And Cheryl Cole?  I just don't see what all the fuss is about.  She mimed.  What a loser.  I also learnt while watching free to air TV that there are a lot of people in this country seemingly prepared to forgo a tasteful wedding and instead put their plans in the hands of either men (no offence or generalisation intended), or washed up wedding planners.  The first couple were ex Big Brother contestants who had used their winnings to fund cosmetic surgery to enhance their features.  The woman's features were so enhanced that she literally couldn't even smile on her wedding day.  The whole time she looked as though she was about to burst into tears, and at one point she even said she wished she could smile.  Urgh.  In the case of the episode featuring a 16yo bride and her 17yo fiancÚ, all class was thrown out the window in favour of tacky dress design and random colour schemes.  Another couple wed to a "blue moon" theme, apt given that the groom had told his blushing bride that he would marry her on the next blue moon.  He dyed his hair purple to suit his suit, and her dress, yet the rest of the colour scheme was blue.  Go figure.  Guests turned up in Hawaiian shirts and leis, except for the parents, who just couldn't grasp the idea of a themed wedding - fair play to them I say.  The burlesque wedding was the best though.  Well, to be precise, it was a renewal of vowels that saw this couple on the program but regardless, it was tacky.  The overweight bride in a burlesque-inspired gown, a giant bird cage at the alter, need I say more?  In all, it was an interesting week of UK television viewing.  Time probably better spent doing other things.   

On another equally random subject, I observed some interesting microwave behaviour this week at work.  I was a good girl and took my lunch to work every day, and thus I had to use the microwaves at work.  In most of the offices I've worked there are generally microwaves in the kitchen on the same level, but at NR London they only have two industrial microwaves that are inconveniently located in the dining room on the ground floor.  This means that two microwaves are potentially shared by up to 1,000 staff.  So, if you get there a minute too late, you have to queue to use it.  On Monday I waited about 15 minutes before one became available for me to cook my three minute noodles - whoever said they were two minute noodles was lying: it takes three minutes.  I had to wait because the cleaning crew appeared to have taken up residence in the microwave room and were taking forever to heat their lunches.  I exchanged some bemused looks with another girl who was waiting as patiently as me, and agreed in silence that these cleaners were taking the piss by heating their three containers of food one at a time when there was ample space in the microwave for all three containers to be in there at once.  On Tuesday I encountered the same girl with whom I'd agreed by ESP on the ridiculousness of Monday's piss-taking.  We nodded in acknowledgment and noticed that we both had the same lunches as the day before, so we knew we wouldn't take long.  Thankfully there were no other staff in the kitchen to get in our way.  On Wednesday some strange behaviour was exhibited again when someone was taking liberties with the microwave and opening the door to stir their food at, literally, 10-second intervals.  I considered pointing out the uselessness of opening and closing a door and letting heat escape thus taking longer to heat your food.  But I refrained, instead concentrating on which minute marker I would turn the dial to when it finally became my turn to reheat my spaghetti.  I never thought a microwave was a difficult appliance to use.  But for some it appears to be a challenge, or rather a game - a physical challenge to see which method gives the best heating results.  I think next time I'm going to try Miss Wednesday's approach and open the door every 10 seconds and see if it makes any difference to the time it takes to heat my meal.  I doubt it very much.  

In the ongoing quest for perfectly straightened hair, I learnt this week that holding my trusty GHD by the ceramic plates is not an effective hair straightening technique.  I have burnt my ears countless times.  I have burnt my hands countless times.  Heck, I've even burnt my face before.  But holding the hair straightener by the wrong end certainly does not help in achieving the straight, glossy locks we strive for, nor does it make typing easy.  Ouch! 

I thought about Christmas this week.  It's November now, so I don't want to waste any time.  I turned my mind to what I might make for lunch on Christmas Day and even started making a shopping list.  Yes, I'm crazy.  But I've never had to cook the Christmas turkey lunch before, and this year I've decided to cook, given that Lalene and Scott are making their way to London and will be here for the festivities.  I'm going to do it English-style, complete with the turkey, Yorkshire puddings and pigs in blankets (little franks wrapped in bacon, I think!).  And we'll drink wine and have party hats and bon bons with lame jokes.  It's going to be great and I cannot wait!

Christmas came early when I won a competition for tickets to the Top Gear Live show!  I entered a competition in the paper and got a lovely email to inform me that I'd won.  Brilliant.  The downside is that I have to go to Birmingham to see it.  It should be a feast for the eyes though - all those chavs, dreaming about the cars they will never be able to afford.  Ohhh but that's just mean, innit.  Phil will have to park his new Golf in the middle of everything, so that the blokes can all stand back, arms crossed, and go "phwoarrr, sweet ride mate".  A few weeks ago I also won a voucher for 34 of my closest friends and I to spend a day paintballing, so my luck is certainly looking up!  But, as the old adage goes, you have to be in it to win it!

Dublin was calling this weekend.  Nat, Gemma and myself were off to the International Rules at Croke Park in Ireland's capital.  Nat and I finished work at our usual time on Friday and set off in search of Gatwick airport, the one London airport we hadn't yet visited.  We got the train out there from London Bridge, cleared customs and got ourselves some grub before boarding our Ryanair flight.  It was another bumpy flight, and I had to hold Nat's hand again, but we landed safely in Dublin and got a cab into town to meet Gemma and Leanne.  They were already drunk.  So we went out for a few more to a local pub and endured the 80's music and people in fancy dress.  We decided to go home at about three different times, but somehow ended up back inside, with a fresh round of drinks, three times.  It was a mammoth night, with a 5am finish and Chinese takeaway collected on the walk home.  

Given that the last time I was in Dublin I disgraced myself and spent the night out on the tiles with some randoms, I didn't get to see a whole lot of Dublin itself.  Our tour bus driver from last year wasn't the most helpful either, because all he seemed to be able to point out were the chavs in pink velour tracksuits pushing prams and/or drugs.  So I made a vow to myself that I would have a half-decent look around Dublin in daylight, even if it meant getting the big red bus tour to take me around the city hassle-free.  As it happened, I never got around to going on the big bus tour, but I did walk through the main shopping precinct and wandered through Trinity College, making sure to step on the grass where the signs read "do not step on the grass". 

Come Saturday night, it was time to go to the game.  I don't follow football (Aussie Rules), rugby, or soccer, so it seemed a strange thing for me to go to a football match.  In Ireland no less.  But it's not just football.  It's International Rules football.  It is an annual match between Australia and Ireland, where a hybrid game of football is played, a mixture of Australian Rules and Gaelic football codes.  Mick Malthouse, coach of the 2010 AFL Premiership team Collingwood, was the coach of the Australian team this year.  So it was interesting to see the game played, and some familiar faces on the field.  Sport really isn't my thing, but the atmosphere is what is special about it, and something I forget all too easily - just because you don't like sport, doesn't mean you can't enjoy watching it or simply being there.  I might live to regret those words the next time someone wants to drag me to the pub to watch "football", however.  It made me realise just what I might've missed out on when the World Cup was on earlier in the year when I first arrived in London.  It seemed like I was the only person in town that didn't give a rats about it, and I now regret not getting more involved.  Because in hindsight, it was the atmosphere and excitement that was more interesting than the game itself.  So, as expected, Australia took out the series and the crowd (about 90 Australians among 62,000 Irish) went wild, watching as the Aussie boys took their lap of honour.  

After the game we made our way back into town, taking pictures of peculiarly (that's a hard word to say isn't it!) arranged shop mannequins and waving politely to the cab full of boys who pulled up next to us at the lights.  We dropped in to a basement bar where some semi-traditional Irish music was being played by three men: two pirates and Jesus.  Jesus was the drummer, a very good drummer, but a very eccentric alcoholic drummer with a twitch that saw his head nearly topple off every time he moved it to the beat of the music.  Jesus was one interesting dude.  

Throughout town there were loads of ghosts, ghouls and other random characters, the result of some brilliant Halloween costumes.  From MJ to Gaga, Tetris pieces to Sonic the Hedgehog, there was something for everyone.  I've never been anywhere in the world that celebrates Halloween, so it was a fun time checking out all the people who'd made such effort to dress up and play the part.  

Another pub, more madness, then a taxi ride home and I was being abused by the taxi driver for spilling my drink.  I assured him I didn't spill anything, even though I'd just asked him to "stop going over the bumps, you're making me spill my drink".  I was told it was something along the lines of a 150 euro fine for soiling a taxi, so for the rest of the ride I held onto my can of Coke so as not to make a real mess.  

It was a great weekend, and along the way there were some brilliant comments made, so here is a collection of some of the rubbish we spat while we were in the green isle:

At the football when Australia were a few points down: 
"I think the Aussies have gone walkabout."
"Show us some of your dreamtime magic, Goodesy!" 

At the football, when Ireland were losing:
"What would your grandmother say if she saw that rubbish kick?!"
"Suck it Ireland.  I mean, that was a good try." 

On Friday night at the pub, Nat discussing Aboriginal culture with a random patron:
Patron:  "Yeah I know all about Aboriginals, I've spent a lot of time in Mexico"

Walking through Temple Bar where everyone was dressed in Halloween gear:
Homeless guy:  "Spare any change for the homeless?" 
Heidi:  "Nah, sorry mate.  Nice outfit though." 

Also on Friday:
Heidi:  "My friend thinks you look like Usher"
Guy:  "What, she thinks I look like Exhibit?"
Heidi:  "Are we in court?" 

Saturday night:
Jesus:  "You look lost"
Heidi:  "Yeah, I was, but I'm not now because I've found Jesus." 

To the dude who was trying (hopelessly) to pick up Leanne: 
Heidi:  "Let me give you some advice, if you're keen on a girl..."
(Dude grabs Heidi's hand)
Heidi:  "Don't touch me!"
(Heidi turns her back and walks away without delivering said advice.)

Heidi to the man in the pub (hopelessly) trying to pick up Thea: 
"Dude, I think you should do your fly up and leave", shooing him out the door with the end of the Australia flag pole.   

In the taxi, passing a shop window display: 
"I've never seen a man in a suit doing that before!" 

To the guy in the pub loitering around our general area: 
Heidi:  "Do you know anyone in this group of people?"
Loiterer:  "Ahh, hmmm, let me see... no"
Heidi:  Right.  You should probably just leave then, because no one is going to talk to you".  

Eating chocolate in between pubs: 
Heidi:  "Eww, it's got raisins in it" (takes the chocolate out of her mouth and throws it on the road)
Nat:  "No, it's caramel"
Heidi:  "Ohhhh.  Give us another one then."   

Heidi, to most people she encountered while wearing a sheepskin vest: 
"I'm a sheep farmer.  I run a station with forty thou' head of jumbucks.  I made this vest me-self mate."

Heidi, to just about everyone she encountered while wearing a sheepskin vest: 
"G'day mate, how ya goin?"
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Kylie on

Love it, love it, love it!!!!!!

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