Morocco, Marrakech, Souks and Sunshine…

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Morocco, the land of the Sahara desert, Atlas Mountains, Casablanca, Marrakech, souks and sunshine… For Christmas 2017 my friend, Guada, and I decided to escape the dreary cold and wet winter of Ireland and head south in search of sunshine and tan lines. Being both from the southern hemisphere (Guada from Argentina and I from Australia) the idea of a hot Christmas was a welcome and totally normal idea. So we packed our carry-ons full of summer gear and headed off to Agadir.

We reached Agadir at  2.30am and slowly made our way through customs. A few hours earlier we had organised for a chauffeur company to drive us the 2 ½ hours to Marrakech. As we walked out of the airport we were meet by 2 men; one dressed in modern western attire, the second in a full length cloak and pointed hood…. To our ignorant relief our driver was the one in modern western attire. But as we soon learned the full length cloak and pointed hood is a traditional outfit in Berber culture, and after a few days, as we became accustomed to seeing them everywhere, my friend and I both wanted one for ourselves…. but at 2.30am in a new country, with no other people around, it just kind of freaked us out.

blue houseWe jumped in the car with our driver and head off in the middle of the night along the road we hoped was for Marrakech. I had popped a sleeping pill as we left Dublin and had fallen asleep almost the moment I had sat down on the plane, so I quickly fell back asleep on leaving Agadir, while my friend desperately tried to stay awake in case we were being kidnapped. We speed along the blacktop and arrived in Marrakesh at about 6am. We had booked to stay in a traditional Riad in Marrakech’s Medina, but at 6am when we rocked up on the doorstep bags in hand the night-man refused to let us in telling us we could not check in until later. Thankfully after some words from our driver, the night-man let us leave our bags and our driver took us for breakfast at one of his local haunts. Our driver treated us to Harcha and Msemen, typical moroccan flat breads served with honey, cheese or eggs, and our first of many proper mint teas. After breakfast our driver dropped us off at the train station where he promised we would find somewhere to sit for a few hours and use the free WiFi while we waited for the banks to open up to exchange our money. I have to say, he was a pretty amazing driver, and we looked forward to more of this open and genuine hospitality.

DSC_2856We spent our first day in Marrakech visiting the Majorelle Garden ( Yves Saint Laurent), Jemaa el-Fnaa (square) and Marrakech’s famed souks. We looked, we shopped, we ate and we drunk mint tea. Completely exhausted we were back at the Riad and passed out by 8pm that night.

The next morning we were up early and on a mission. We had decided to go to the desert for 2 days the next day meaning that we only had one more full day left in Marrakech and we were determined to make the most of it. We started the day at Saadian Tombs, it was a peaceful and in the far corner there was a local man creating new mosaics for the tombs. From the Saadian Tombs we headed to the vastly different but impressive El Badi and Bahia Palaces. Before accidently finding ourselves on an impromptu tour of Marrakech tanneries while in search for the Ben Youssef Mosque. After lunch we leisurely made our way through the souks again before strolling through the gardens surrounding Koutoubia Mosque and ending the day in Jemaa el-Fnaa square.

 

Morocco continues in ‘The Sahara’….

The Lull

It’s September 2017, I haven’t written in God knows how long and everytime I want to write I can’t find anything to inspire me. The initial excitement of moving to Ireland is a distant memory, life has settled into a cycle of work, home, gym, eat, sleep and weekends. In June I celebrated turning 30 and as the hangover subsided I started to reevaluate my life in Ireland. Skyrocketing rents, sub-average wages, a string of unsuccessful dates with Irish douchebags, and the summer that never came had left me wanting to jump ship.

When I was originally planning my great escape from Oz, I had been tossing up between Ireland and Canada, but In the end I choose Ireland. As I lazed around my apartment the day after my birthday nursing my hangover I decided again to look into the Canadian ICE visa. I wasn’t sure what I wanted but according to the Canadian Immigration website it could take several months to be invited to apply and several more after that to be accepted. So I decided why not; I would start the application process and consider my options, if I change my mind in the coming months as I waited to be invited to apply there would be nothing lost. Within days I had been invited to apply, and in less than a month I had received a letter advising my application had been successful.

In the immortal words of Jade S. ‘Fuck me dead,’ that was fast.

In the days after receiving my letter I started to excitedly look at jobs in Canada. In the months since I have excited planned my move.

  • How soon can I leave?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • When can I afford to go?
  • Where is there the most sun and warmest weather?

However as the initial excitement of receiving my visa wears off I can’t help but wonder am I just running away from my lull? Have I made a rash decision and am being too stubborn to change my mind? Have I given Ireland a proper go? Is there another option that I should be thinking about that is less dramatic than changing continents? Or am I making the right choice and are these just nerves?

I don’t know.

I don’t have the answers. In the end both going to Canada or staying in Ireland could be the right decision. In the end it’s all about what I make of my decision. Sooner or later I will have to make the final decision to stay or go, but in the meantime it is my responsibility to take control of the lull and restore the excitement to Irish life.

Mum wants to Blog…

Back in March (about a week or so after I setup my own blog) my mum, inspired by my decision to start blogging decided she wanted to start a blog of her. My parents were set to semi-retire in the coming weeks and start traipsing around Australia as two grey nomads in their caravan. Internally laughing to myself I thought ‘this is going to be interesting’.

I had done a bit of research on blogging before I decided to set up my own blog, watching Youtube videos and reading articles like ‘How to write a blog for dummies’. I passed on the links to the sites I had found useful to my mum and left her to set up her own blog.

A day or two later my mum was already stuck. She had watched the videos and read the articles but when she jumped on to WordPress to set herself up it just wasn’t happening for her. The setup stage was a little more technical than putting pen to paper and mum was struggling…. daughter to the rescue. In the end I organised for mum to send me her details and I set up the WordPress account for her, I picked a web address from the ideas she had given me, picked themes, photo, wrote a bio, etc.

13179279_266234143719449_6771317988140813333_nAbout the same time, mum also had the idea to start a Facebook page for her Teddy, Yellow Ted, to document his travels around Australia with the two grey Nomads. So as I was organising her blog I also set up a Facebook page for Yellow Ted and linked it to mum’s Facebook account. I was starting to think it was a sign of things to come and I would probably be jumping onto her blog a lot to ‘fix’ things she couldn’t get her head around.

But it all turned out well. Once mum had the basics set up she quickly began playing around with her Blog and changing theme’s, uploading posts, figuring out how to add pictures etc. In the end, after the initial setup I have never once had to jump onto her blog to correct any mishaps (touch wood).

In April they retired, and the 2 Grey Nomads and Yellow Ted set off on their adventures around Australia in their caravan. Now mum blog’s more than me averaging about one blog a week as she shares stories from her trips on the road and “hardships” of retired life.

It has been great to see mum blogging and to read of my parents adventures. Although we may talk a couple of times a week, sometimes being on the other side of the planet can make it difficult to appreciate what is going on in their day to day life. Blogging has given us that opportunity to read and get a real feel for the other person’s life that we wouldn’t have gotten through a phone conversation. I now look forward to mums next blog post at Nomadic Pearce Travels and am really happy she decided to give it a try.

Facing your fears… Why I blog

It’s been a few (6) weeks since the last time I posted a blog. I have written blogs but not felt any desire to post them. I was finding some of the things I wrote were filled with negativity about Ireland and I did not want to sound like I was always bitching, and other times I felt my life and experiences here too mundane to write about. But today I got to thinking and I remembered why I started to write this blog.

This blog was about sharing my experiences with my friends and family back in Australia, new friends, other expats, and complete strangers. When I first started the blog a friend expressed how shocked she was that I would open up like this; she understood that for me expressing my emotions and letting people see my vulnerable side was especially hard for me.

dublin-hikingOf course she was right, but that was one of the more personal reasons for starting the blog. I wanted to overcome my fear. Writing behind the anonymity of a screen gave me a sense of courage to write about some of my more scary or vulnerable times in Ireland (while sometimes having a laugh at my own stupidity and misfortunes). It also meant that I was sharing those emotions and vulnerabilities with my friends and family who would read about them and be able to offer words of encouragement even if it was from afar. Essentially helping me to learn to communicate better with people.

The first few months were a challenge but they were also an adventure; everything was new and exciting, and although I found it difficult sometimes to share some of those challenges I think I did a pretty good job at opening up. But now I have started to settle into my life here, and I have found I have slipped back into old habits; the impulsive, feisty and self-assertive woman who started this blog has taken a step back and is now sharing the stage with her more pragmatic and sometime very shy side.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, reading back on some of my posts I shake my head and laugh at my brazen honesty about some of the things I have gotten up too. However I do want to continue to write and to work on my shortcomings, I don’t want to let my fears stop me from experiences life to the fullest here in Ireland. So I am going to publish the posts I have drafted and I am going to continue to blog, while I will continue to rely on my friends to give me a good slap over the back of the head when they think I may be letting my fears get in the way of life.  

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Dublin Dating

Back in March, less than a month after arriving in Dublin I wrote a blog entitled It is a universal truth that a single women must be in want of a partner. I had just moved to Dublin and was annoyed with people wanting to set me up or assuming that I needed a man. 6 months on and it is a different story….

POFAfter settling in to Dublin life I decided to give dating a try. Not knowing many people here I decided to jump into the online dating scene and try out Plenty of Fish – a dating app I had previously used in Australia… Maybe my Ex should have been a warning sign of things to come… There are definitely Plenty of Fish in Ireland, however all the ones I meet were catfish!

Guy 1

The first person I meet was an Irish guy in his early 30s (let’s call him Guy 1). I wasn’t sure what I was looking for at this stage, friendship or something more? But the date went well, we went out to dinner and then to a bar afterwards and chatted into the wee hours of the morning. I even got a present at the end of the night, Kevin my Koala. It was a great date, and was shortly followed up by another and another. Guy 1 was very attentive more dinners, drinks and even a music festival were all quick to follow and as Guy 1 steamed headfirst down the relationship rabbit hole I tried my best to keep everything slow, casual and just fun.

Although I would usually say it is more about spending quality time with a person than how much money you spent on them, I have to admit I was enjoying all the extravagant dates. If this is what dating in Dublin was all about sign me up!

About a month after I first meet Guy 1 the text messages died off and the calls stopped. For a week I tried to initiate conversations a few times but in the end decided I would wait until Guy 1 contact me. Finally after no contact for a fortnight I was pissed off and but before I went flying off the handle at him I thought I would send a simple text asking ‘What happened?’

After a fortnight of no contact Guy 1’s response was not wholly unexpected, he had changed his mind, he didn’t want a relationship and felt things were heading that way…. No shit Sherlock, you were the one pushing for the relationship.

I was disappointed, although I didn’t want to jump into a full on relationship so quickly I had enjoyed dating Guy 1. I replied to Guy1 questioning his motives and pointing out the consequences of his actions. I told him if he hadn’t wanted a relationship he shouldn’t have acted like he wanted one. I also berated him on his lack of communication, if he had changed his mind that is fine but tell the other bloody person.  It might be a hard conversation to have but it is the respectful thing to do.  I was honest and told him how disrespectful his behaviour was and how he had now made me weary of Irish men. I was surprised when he responded apologising for his behaviour, and a second message the following day further apologising was an even bigger surprise, but at that stage not even a friendship was worth trying to salvage. Thus was the end of Guy 1.

Guy 2

A week or two later I decided to try again and agreed to go out with another Irish guy around my age – Guy 2. Guy 2 was out to impress. For our first date we went to Bull Island, Guy 2 pulled out a blanket, laptop and picnic basket and we watched the Jungle Book while eating cheese and drinking red wine. While on the date we organised to meet up again on Sunday morning to do a high ropes course and go zip lining. The zip lining was a lot of fun, we did have a couple of the awkward getting to know you bits thrown in and he did keep bursting out in songs from the Jungle Book but we had a good day and as Guy 2 dropped me home he talked eagerly of going out again soon.

pokemon goA couple days later Guy 2 sends a random text about the gym and PokemonGo but when I try to create a real conversation there’s no reply…. Apparently PokemonGo is more interesting than a real life girl. Finally a week later bored, slightly tipsy and sick of the muck around I sent a text message asking if Guy 2 wanted to go to Dalkey Island on the Sunday. He quickly responded that he was keen to go with me and we organised to go the next Sunday.  However Sunday came and an hour before we were meant to head off I received a text message saying he was too hung over to go. He text later that day asking if I had ended up going and telling me all about his hang over but I never responded.  Strike 2 for Irish men.

Guy 3

Finally after another few weeks I decided to give the whole dating thing a try once again and agreed to meet up with Guy 3 (my third Irish guy) for fries and shake after work one evening, a very 1950’s diner date. Everything went well, Guy 3 was engaging, laughing at all of my jokes, asking lots of questions and not holding back when I asked him questions…. Even his keen interest in Anime was a topic I could talk about.

I wasn’t sure if there was any romantic connection there but we did have a good time and as he left me at my door Guy 3 suggested we meet up again on Sunday for Pizza and a pint. Well maybe date number two would tell me if there was anything there…. Minutes after he left he messaged me and we chatted back and forth briefly. When I jumped on the computer later that night I noticed he had deleted his profile from the dating website… a bit soon but ok, he must be optimistic. Sunday came and I sent him a message asking if he still wanted to go for the pizza and pint, I never received a reply back…. By Monday I had blocked the guy.

That was it, saying I was pissed and confused would be an understatement. Each of these men had professed to want a relationship or acted in a way that would say they were looking for something serious. They had misled me, lied and had been down right disrespectful and I deserved better than that. It was not like I was some crazy stalker women, I had never bombarded a guy with messages, tried to discuss marriage or babies, been demanding on his time (I have a life too you know) and at the end of a date I had never left thinking “well that’s the end of that!”

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What the hell was going on? How was I attracting these men? Even worse… Was I the problem? Did my independent Australian female ways not align to the Irish dating scene? – Well if that is the case good riddance, I wasn’t changing who I am. A friend of mine believed that maybe Guy 3 was married and had a case of the guilt’s after our date. But either way I was just confused by what was going on.

I had had enough, No More Irish Guys was my new motto.

Guy 4

I persevered on and organised my fourth and final date. I was determined that Guy 4 would not be Irish and started talking to an Indian guy who had grown up in the States and moved to Ireland a few years earlier. We appeared to have a few similar interests, were both experienced living overseas away from our mummies, and he was good looking according to his pics.

Warning bells started ringing though before we had even gone on our first date. Guy 4 kept sending me selfies and wanting me to send him selfies, which I flat out refused to do and told him that sending guys selfies wasn’t my thing.  Then while at work Guy 4 asked me to call him and was surprised when I told him I was at work, later that night he called me back just to chat, I told him it that was a little too much considering he had been text me all day and we hadn’t even meet.

I had organised to meet Guy 4 in a restaurant / bar on a Friday night. He had given me the name of the place but it turn out he had confused it with the café next door, so after a bit of mucking about I finally found him. Considering that both venues had a restaurant I was disappointed to find out Guy 4 hadn’t considered this a dinner date, instead eating before coming out. Guy 4 had thought it was just drinks and then hit the night clubs…. Apparently he missed the part where I told him I wasn’t interested in going to a night club. Me and my empty stomach were not impressed, and I didn’t feel comfortable eating while my “date” sat there and watched. Guy 4 spent the night talking about himself, trying to tell me the same stories over and over again, and although we had agreed not to discuss our work for over half the night he talked about his work or tried to ask questions about my work. By 11pm I was over it, I was tired and I wanted to go home. Guy 4 tried to walk me home however I insisted on catching a cab. Hangry me was further enraged (never mess with a hungry woman) when he pulled me away from the curb insisting that it was safer for me to stand back and he hail my cab. No thank-you. I happily left him on the street to catch his own cab home.

By the time I got home I already had three messages saying what a great night he had had. I ignored the message knowing in my hungry state I would not say anything nice.   By the next morning I had another four messages including one asking to go out again that evening. Later that morning I finally replied telling him I was going out with my friends, and intended to tell him later that I was not interested. Instead Guy 4 replied saying he would be free that evening to go out if my plans changed or he could meet up with me and my friends. I meet my friends and while out received about another half dozen messages saying how much he enjoyed meeting me, a link to a song he thought reflected the date, how he felt we had a lot in common, how he missed my company, and how he really hoped we could go out again that evening. By this stage I was annoyed and starting to feel a bit stressed by the intensity of Guy 4’s messages. By the time I got home that afternoon I had even more messages from the guy. That was it. I had intended to tell the guy I was not interested but by this stage he was stressing me out and I was exhausted. I turned off the data to my phone, and when he started calling me I turned my phone off completely. I know, I know not very mature or respectful.

The next morning I woke up, jumped on my laptop and found an app that would block calls and text messages. I turned my phone on, saw my phone start to ping over and over again with the missed calls and messages, installed the number blocking app and blocked his number. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with my decision. I thought the guy deserved to be told why he was being blocked, however at the same time I could imagine the flood of calls and text messages I would receive in response and I didn’t want to deal with it.

Next I deleted my profile on Plenty of Fish. What started out as being a way to have fun, meet new people with similar interests, and potentially find my next relationship turned into a stressful nightmare. I was left completely confused by the first three men that I had meet and ready to immigrate back to Australia just to escape the fourth guy.

For the time being I am having a break from dating. I am just going to hang out with my friends and have fun. At least I know my friends are all normal-ish.

friends

My impulsive behaviour really can cause me a lot of trouble

After the whole tirade of moving house and not moving house I was left extremely low on funds, I had paid rent and deposit of over €1,000 at (the dirty) place and still had my deposit of €600 at my original place. On top of this I had a month’s rent due. I always try to ensure that I have some back up cash in the bank however with all of these expenses (not to mention a couple of trips to the doctors) my back up cash was gone. My pay came in and it was not enough to cover rent or living costs until my next pay.

hsbcBut it was alright, I had organised a credit card with HSBC for when shit really hit the fan. So I went and found the credit card and went off to save myself. The credit card didn’t work. I checked my account and there was an outstanding balance of 0.34c and almost $6,000 available to access. Well that didn’t make sense. I called HSBC and they advised me that I had been due to pay the 0.34c mid-July and as I had not paid the 0.34c a block had been put on my credit card.

You have to be fucking kidding me.

I paid the 0.34c but HSBC advised it could take until Tuesday to be processed and have the block removed (this was Friday morning).

ulster bank

I contacted my local Irish bank to see if I could get an overdraft, the earliest they could get me in for an appointment to discuss the potentially giving me an overdraft was Tuesday. The minimum personal loan I could apply for with my bank was €2,500 and for a minimum term of 12 months, not what I needed or wanted and as I had not been with the bank very long I was advised the application would not be approved. Again the Irish banking system has let me down.

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The DPCU and his trustee sidekick

Finally I went to the only other trusted banking source I knew of, the DPCU (Daniel P Credit Union). I asked my brother for a loan of €500 until the following week when my credit card would be unblocked and I could return the money to him. The DPCU approved my loan within minutes and transferred the money into my Australian bank account immediately, all I need to do is withdraw the money here. God the relief I felt.

The drama isn’t over, the tenant from the house I was supposed to have moved into still hasn’t found anyone to move in and I don’t believe she is making much of an effort to find someone. I can text and call her as much as I like to follow up but this may only make her go slower out of spite. However the relief of knowing that I can pay my rent this month and that I have a clean and safe home to go to does take a lot of the burden off my shoulders.

Financially I have put myself not into the best position for the next couple of weeks (and potentially months), however I will recover.

This last fortnight has really taught me that although one of my personality traits that I have always liked about myself is my impulsiveness, my impulsive behaviour can cause me a lot of grief and stress. I have also learnt that a clean home and security are far more important than a housemate that may be a bit tight about the bills and have a personality that does not entirely suit you. But I have made the decision to slow down, I have not been here 6 months yet. Things will work out for the best, I just need to give them time and to stop trying to rush them.

When you throw the rational and pragmatic aside and start being impulsive

Since moving to Dublin in March I have been on the go to set myself up and secure myself in Dublin. Setting up bank accounts, finding a home, finding a job, meeting people, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. It has been go, go, go.

I was calculating and pragmatic when I planned my move over here and although I definitely had my stressful moments, I have always been able to make rational decisions and get out of hard situations. However being rational, calculating and pragmatic are not always words that some people would describe me as. Impulsive may be in some ways more accurate.

A few weeks ago after a particularly bad week with my new misogynistic housemate and older financially tight housemate I made an impulsive decision to move out. I jumped online and agreed to move into the second house I looked at. The house was close to my work, close to the city centre and the other tenant seemed relaxed and easy going, just what I wanted. I transferred the bond (deposit) and a month’s rent and moved into the house.

The place was what I considered a dump. When I had looked at the house the tenant had said it was only messy because of the other person moving out, and as you only have 20minutes (if you are lucky) to really look around and get the feel to the place I really hadn’t realised how bad the house was. On moving in I found leftover food caked onto the stove, the sink, the washing machine, the kettle… pretty much anything in the kitchen, and it was not new caked on food scraps. This was the type of caked on food that had its own ecological system growing on it. The bathroom was mouldy and had obviously not been cleaned for months (if ever) and the room I was moving into was dusty and dirty. I talked to the tenant however she could not see the problem and advised if the house was not clean enough for me it would be my responsibility to keep it cleaner.

dubThis on its own had me anxious. But what tipped the place over the scales for me was the neighbourhood. I had only visited the neighbourhood once on viewing the property and had been told that it was a working class area. However as I was moving in, the men across the street started catcalling and as I walked home that evening from a friend’s house and saw the drug addicts, drunkards and violence that was on the street I became even more anxious.

Within half an hour of waking up the next morning I found myself having an anxiety attack from the decision I had made to move in to this place. I got myself out of the house and went for a walk to calm down. I came back with an armada of cleaning supplies in an effort to make the most of it, but shortly after arriving back at the house and I had started cleaning I became too anxious again and left the house. I finally acknowledged my mistake, and messaged the other tenant to tell her this would not work out.  I would accept paying rent until she could find another tenant and would get the bond back once a new tenant was found. Really in this economy that should have only taken a week.

I packed up my belongings that afternoon and moved back to the house that I had been living in. I had paid up until the end of the week and my old housemate was happy to have me back. Someone had already put down a deposit to rent my room from the following week, however following all the trouble the misogynistic housemate had caused the landlord had kicked him out earlier that day so I organised to take over the lease of his old room at the end of the week.

sandymountThe room is smaller but I am hopeful that it will work a lot better for me. The much bigger wardrobe is a bonus, the privacy of a window looking out into someone back yard instead of the main street is also nice, and there is more usable space as there is no fireplace in the centre of the room. Not to mention the rent is slightly cheaper. Things weren’t so bad and I thought things were looking up from the bad situation I had impulsively threw myself into….

 

As this saga was so long I decided to break it into two posts, please watch this space for part two of my impulsive misadventure.

Family

This is a post from my mum’s blog, one of the great things about the 21st Century is our ability to keep in contact and share our lives with friends and family all over the world through the magic of Facebook, Snap Chat, Whats App and Word Press…. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been when mum was 17 going to Europe on her big adventure! – Charmaine

 

Even though  Charmaine and I worked for the same organisation for a number of years before her big move to Ireland we weren’t in one  other’s pockets. She flew the coupe shortly after leaving schoo…

Source: Family

My Birthday Weekend… Part 2 – The Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a 2,500km stretch of costal roads which stretch from Kinsale in County Cork in the south east corner of the Republic of Ireland across to the Ring of Kerry on the west coast and all the way up to Londonderry on the north coast in Northern Ireland.

As part of my Birthday mini adventures my plan was to start in Kinsale and drive the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Tralee passing along the Ring of Kerry and overnighting it at Ballyskelleg before continuing onto Tralee to meet my Aunt Mary and heading back to Dublin. I had previously already completed from the Wild Atlantic Way from Tralee almost all the way to Galway and truly enjoyed it so the idea of doing more of the drive was an easy temptation.

I started my morning by having breakfast in Kinsale, as usual I was up well before most Irish and most of the town was still sleeping. I enjoyed a scone and hot chocolate in a hotel overlooking the marina before heading off to have a look at the famous star shaped James Fort which overlooked the city. Although the fort didn’t open until 10am I was still able to admire the building and enjoyed the alternative view of Kinsale.

DSC_0416My next stop was the Drombeg Stone Circles just past Rosscarbery about an hour from Kinsale. I don’t remember actually ever seeing a stone circle in real life before and I was a little superstitious about actually walking into the circle itself. Instead I stood on the outside, read all of the information about the circles and sat up on an embankment admiring the stone circles and their incredible view. When the bus load of tourists had finally departed I took my photos and I too jumped back in the car and headed on my way.

I had originally planned to stop in Skibbereen for lunch, however after not having a very warm welcome from some of the locals and not seeing any café or restaurants of interest jump out at me I decided to head on and try my luck at Bantry House, my next destination.

DSC_0457I was not disappointed, Bantry House was amazing. They had a small kitchen / café set up there which had the standard offerings but the food was good and views were amazing. The house was opened up to the public about 40 years ago and the gardens are still in the process of being done up to the state they were in, in the height of the households wealth but already it is quite beautiful to see. Part of the house is also open to the public and tours are offered twice a day to visitors, by accident I had just finished my lunch as one of these tours was about to start and I was very impressed by our guides knowledge and passion for the house. After 2 ½ hours of lunching, touring and strolling around the gardens I was behind schedule and quickly jumped in the car again and headed off. I was disappointed I didn’t have more time for Bantry village as it looked like a town I would have liked to see more of.

Finally I was on the famous Ring of Kerry and following the winding roads to Ballyskellege. The sun had kind of come out and I was surprised to see calm little bays with sandy beaches that looked like Australian beaches. The water was so clear, and not so cold for an Australian to put their feet in, and I could imagine if it was a few more degrees warmer I would even consider swimming.

DSC_0531Ballyskellig was not quite a village, it had a pub, a café and a gas station that probably sold bread and milk as well, and a few B&B’s and a hostel but it was all I needed. I settled into the hostel where the owner gave me a guide to the area advising how to get down to the beach, about the little castle and abbey ruins in the area, and how to get from the beach to the pub for dinner. I was set, and went out to explore the area – during my explorations I mused on how nice it would be here in winter and was pleasantly surprised to hear from the owner of the hostel that she stayed open over Christmas for people like myself who wanted to get away from the city.

The next morning I was up early again and on my way to Tralee for the final part of my journey. I had hoped to find breakfast on the road, but apparently breakfast before 10am in this part of the country was not going to be easy to find. Instead I stopped to visit the Kerry Bog Village, a life sized replica of what a bog village was like 100 or so years ago. It was fascinating to see, though the commercialisation of Red Fox pub and its ‘Irish Coffee’ connected to this tourist attraction did ruin it a little for me.

I eagerly arrived in Tralee just before 11am to meet my Aunt Mary for brunch. Again being a Sunday all we could get before 12.30 was some scones and tea, but the opportunity to catch up with Aunty Mary and discuss what I had been up too since arriving in Ireland distracted me from my search for a real meal.

The end of brunch was really the end of my mini holiday, there was nothing now to do but start the 4 hour drive back to Dublin, return my hire car and head home. It was a sombre return and 45minute delay in Adare didn’t improve the journey. But the return home gave me a lot of time to reflect, I had had an amazing few days and it reminded me of my initial goals when I first came to Ireland to buy a car. So after a great couple or relaxing days away and fresh perspective on my new life here I am ready to get back into the full swing of establishing my new life here in Ireland.

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To find out more about the Wild Atlantic Way, Kinsale, Drombeg Stone Circles, Bantry House and Gardens, Ballinskelligs, The Kerry Bog Village or Tralee please click on the hyperlinks.

 

Until Next time….

Interviewing

Today I had an interview for a permanent position in the organisation I am currently temping in (potentially my own role). Being a temp already in the position you might think that I would be a shoe-in for the position, but it is public service position within the human rights sector and probably one of the harder fields to get a foot in the door for even the most educated and experienced of people, so really there are no guarantees. So with all this in hand I knew I had to treat this like any interview I went for, I had to prepare, I had to make sure I was professional and that I communicated why I would be the right person for the position.

28a961dI knew this was a competency based interview which meant that the interviewee’s would be looking for answers using the STAR method. Situation, Task, Action, Result. It had become a very popular model used to access interviewees across the board, but knowing this and signing it in practice are two completely different things. I went through all of the different area’s that I knew the questions would be based around, people management, skills and expertise, communication, commitment and drive, etc. and wrote up standard dot point answers using the STAR method for each of these potential areas of questioning.

But in the end I don’t think it matters how much preparation you do, when you really want the position and you know the competition is stiff the nerves are always going to be there. I walked into the interview and put everything I had on the table, in some cases I used the examples I had prepared, in other cases the questions where put in such a way that my pre-planned answers were not going to suffice and I had to think on the spot.

Overall I was satisfied with how the interview went, there was one question in which I believe I truly choked and it should have been the one I did best in – communicating with difficult, complex, different clients. Really I should have had this one in the bag, but I choose a bad example, lost my train of thought half way through, and then had someone knock on the door and interrupt the interview. In the end I turned around and said ‘let me give you another example, it does not quite fit the question you are answering but I think would give you better insight’ and proceeded to give a different example. I am not sure if it worked but the visual response from the interview panel was encouraging.

So now all there is left to do is to wait. I was told by the recruitment agent that it could be a few weeks before I receive a response, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the successful applicants will know by mid next week at the latest. So fingers and toes are crossed that there will be a very drunk Charmaine celebrating a new job in the coming days.