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.

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!”

how-do-you-like-your-eggs-fertilized5

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.

dpcu
The DPCU and his trustee sidekick

Finally I went to the only other trusted banking source I knew of, the DPCU (Daniel Pearce 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.

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.

She’ll be right… It’s just a little concussion…

Part 3 (if you haven’t read Part 1 on Adventures and Naps blog page, or Part 2 – click on the links first!)

After my big weekend of learning to sail, I was not surprised to wake up Monday feeling completely exhausted. Again I was a little surprised that I still had my sea legs, but I suspected they would go away as the day progressed. Over the weekend I had sustained numerous small knocks to the head and one pretty solid knock from the boom of my dinghy and I still had a headache from it, but there was nothing I could do but go to work and get this day over with. I was sure after a good night’s rest I would be 100% by Tuesday, and until then I would just have to get by.

Within an hour of getting into the office I realised something wasn’t right, the sea legs had turned into a constantly slight warp in my vision, concentrating on anything was taking all of my effort, my comprehension of basic conversations was basic at best and my speech had apparently seriously slowed. I decided that maybe those booms to the head had, had a greater effect than I had realised.

Doctors are expensive in Ireland and the Irish health system is about 15 years behind what I was used to in Australia so I wasn’t particularly fond of going to a doctor. But I really had no choice. So I packed myself up and after reassuring my boss several times I would be fine, I found myself in a local doctor’s surgery. MRi’s are not standard so I ended up having ‘an old fashion’ physical examination with the doctor asking me to follow her finger and touch my nose, while she used a little hammer to bang my bruised knees checking my reflexes. After a 15 minute examination the doctor advised, that without a proper scan of my head she could not be certain, but suspected that I had a mild concussion.  She wrote me a letter and advised that if my situation worsened to head to a hospital, otherwise I was to rest for the next couple of days.

In a haze I proceeded home to rest, stopping off at the grocery store to buy something to eat. On the trip home I remember being accosted by a woman on the bus, but for what I have no idea; I remember calling my mum to tell her what happened; and then I remember standing in my bedroom at home realising I did not have my bank card. Somewhere on the trip home I had lost my only Irish bank card. I had enough sense to cancel my card then and there and in the days since I have still not found the card, so god knows what happened to it.

sailing donnaOver the next couple of days as I began to recover I realised just how bad I had being. I returned to work on Tuesday, feeling better than I had on Monday but probably still not really right to be at work. The room would still warp from time to time, and my comprehension was still mediocre at best but as they say… fake it until you make it. Being new to the company and still on a temporary contract I didn’t want to let something as trivial as a mild concussion get in the way of a possible permanent position.
By Friday for the most part I was back to my normal self.

As I had talked to people afterwards as my concussion became general knowledge around the office, the common question I was asked is ‘Will you go sailing again?’ and the answer is a definite YES. I really did enjoy my weekend, I really enjoy sailings, and as I become a better sailor the likely-hood of a knock to the head decreases. Next time though I may just wrap some bubble wrap around my head just to be on the safe side.

If you haven’t yet read Part 1 or Part 2 of this adventure follow the link to Adventures and Naps where I guest posted Part 1. While you are there have a read of Alanna and Tyler’s adventures, and if like me you like what you read – don’t forget to follow them!

seal
One of the seals who live in Dun Laoghaire Harbour

 

Level One – Dinghy Sailing

Part 2 (go to Adventures and Naps to read Part 1)

Following my sailing taster several weeks ago, I decided to start my sailing experience from the very beginning and complete a Level One – Dinghy Sailing course. The course is run over a weekend and last week I finally got to get out there and completed the course.

I showed up again all bright eyed and bushy tailed at the Irish National Sailing School (INSS) at Dun Laoghaire Harbour excited for the weekend ahead and full of notions that I would take to sailing like a duck on water. In truth, I was just as bad (or good) as the rest of my fellow newbie sailing enthusiasts.

If I thought the 1720 was a small sailing boat, it was nothing in comparison to the 3.5meter (11’6 foot) Laser Pico I was going to start my sailing adventures in. The level one course is a very basic introduction to sailing, but I am happy I choose the level one dinghy course over the level one yacht course. With the dinghy course you are the only one in the boat; you are in control and responsible for the rudder, the sails, and the boom; and when you lose control of the rudder, sail or boom you are the only one to blame. You learn about wind direction and how the direction of your sail effects how fast or slow you cruise through the water, about no go zones, and how to tack and jibe. A basic introductory lesson to sailing but one that any person starting out really needs to have.

picosBy the end of my first day I was feeling very confident in my abilities, I was lured into a false sense of ease by the lack of exhaustion in my upper body which I had been expecting, and as I had managed not to capsize all day I was now a master of the seas. The couple of small bumps to the head from the boom when I failed to react quickly enough or the freezing rain in the afternoon hadn’t ruined what I had felt had been a great day.

I woke the next morning to not quite sore but exhausted muscles and the ongoing feeling of sea legs which had not quite disappeared from the day before. The second day of sailing was spent much more on the water, refining the skills we had learnt the day before. As we came in for lunch you could see in the attitudes and conversations of my fellow novice sailors that we had set out that morning expecting to be masters of the harbour, but we quickly began to feel that everything we had learnt the day before had somehow already slipped away. The morning had been rough on our morale, and the picking up of wind which had led to a few more booms to the head had done nothing to improve our situation. But we persevered, and after lunch we began to feel like masters of the harbour again as we sailed our Pico’s around our little course congratulating ourselves for not capsizing and ignoring the 12 year olds sailing around us like pros.

CertBy the end of the weekend, with my Level One – Start Sailing certificate in hand, I felt thoroughly happy with my sailing adventure. I had really enjoyed sailing in the little Pico’s and already had plans on my next holiday to rent a little dinghy and sail around the bay of a new city. But I have not lost sight of my Mediterranean dreams and am already planning to undertake my level two course in August.

If you haven’t yet read Part 1 of this adventure follow the link to Adventures and Naps where I guest posted Part 1. While you are there have a read of Alanna and Tyler’s adventures, and if like me you like what you read – don’t forget to follow them!

Weekend Adventures, Kevin the koala and my Epiphany

DSC_0146During the week I made a new friend, he’s an Australian who’s been living in Ireland the last few years. His name is Kevin and he is a koala.

After meeting Kevin he very quickly grew on me, I think the idea was that he was something familiar from home, but without knowing it actually hit another soft spot. You see my mother has a little teddy bear called Yellow Ted, I gave him to mum years ago and now that my parents are retired Yellow Ted travels Australia with my parents. Yellow Ted even has his own Facebook page  where he shares his adventures… it is very cute and I love reading it and seeing his pictures.

DSC_0202Don’t worry, I am not about to set Kevin up with his own Facebook page. But Kevin the koala reminded me of Yellow Ted. So this weekend when I decided to go on my mini adventure Kevin came with me.
It had been a couple of weeks since my last mini adventure and I had decided to walk from Greystone to Bray via the Cliff Walk before heading to Powerscourt House and Gardens. I started the Cliff Walk at a decent hour, about 9.30am and the track was quiet. The walk itself has a lot more untamed beauty to it than Howth Heads or any of the other trail I have done in Ireland so far and I really enjoyed it.

I had lunch and ice-cream in Bray and headed over to Powerscourt House and Gardens. I love Powerscourt. When my mother was 17 she lived in Ireland and went to Powerscourt. We had a picture at home of her in front of the main water fountain feature there. When I first went there 8 years ago I took a photo in that same spot, and today I went back to that same spot and had another picture taken of me in front of the same water-fountain.

The gardens at Powerscourt are amazing, everywhere there are people, friends, couples, families just wandering around or laying on the grass enjoy the serenity of the place. I could have spent an entire day there, and I wished I had brought a picnic blanket and some lunch to just sit in the sun and enjoy the day with friends. But as usual I was doing this adventure alone, I had actively decided not to invite anyone on my mini adventure and for once I was starting to regret my decision.

I can be stubbornly independent. For the last 10 years I have almost always traveled on my own and am so use to it I find it difficult to  travel with others. I like to decide where I go, what I do, what I don’t do, where I eat, when I eat and not have to worry if the other people do … I don’t like having to spend an entire day in mindless chatter. I can go minutes, even hours happily being in peoples company without talking to them. Pretty much I like things my way. I know, I know, not my most endearing quality but at least I recognize it and can work on improving it.

Anyway being at Powerscourt today, just Kevin and I, brought this all to the forefront of my mind as I wondered the gardens. After sitting in the Japanese Gardens at Powerscourt for some time pondering my newest epiphany I  decided that I am going to make more of an effort to invite my friends to come with me on my mini-adventures. Because lets face it, sometimes the things that we most dread or the events that make us most anxious usually turn out to be some of our best adventures…. or misadventures.

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Dublin Horror Renting Show

It’s been several weeks since I moved into my new home and finally the anxiety I would get thinking about the events leading up to the move have now disappeared, so I have decided it is time to share my renting horror story.

In the months leading up to my move to Dublin I had been fiercely watching DAFT.ie to get an idea of house sharing options in Dublin. I was keen to live in the Swords / Malahide area as I knew the area well and thought it a great place to spend my weekends. I had done a few Skype calls to try and secure accommodation before I arrived but to no success. Instead I arrived in Ireland with 5 night’s accommodation at a local hotel and determined to find a place within that timeframe. What I hadn’t realised was that Dublin has been in the midst of a housing crisis, rents were astronomical and though discrimination against people without references is illegal the surplus of people looking for accommodation means that landlords can and do only rent to those who provide all the right references.

In the end, I did find accommodation that did not require references within my 5 day time frame (maybe that should have been my first warning bell). It was a 3 bedroom house on the outskirts of Malahide sharing with a young married couple and another married guy who worked in Ireland to and sent money home to his family. When I moved in I paid a deposit and my one month’s rent in advance; I was promised a sub-lease agreement to sign in a few days from the main tenants of the house once they received the paper work from the agent. The sub-lease agreement never materialised even after multiple requests.

For the first week my housemates seemed quite friendly, and I thought everything would be grand. However the 1 ½ hour commute into the city each way for work was more than I had expected so after only a fortnight I told one of my house mates (the wife of the married couple) I would start looking for a new place to live close to work, however assured her I would give notice. By this stage I was already beginning to feel uncomfortable in my new home; two of my new housemates did not speak English as a first language and when the wife was not home, always spoke in their mother tongue even when I was around. They also watched television in their native language meaning I was never able to sit with them and watch television if I wanted. The husband only worked casually and spent most of his days at home lazing about the house in his underwear leaving dirty dishes everywhere – when I approached him about being uncomfortable with him lying around in his underwear I got a lecture about he and his wife being the main tenant of the household and it being his ‘home’.  Only working causally meant the husband was constantly concerned about the cost of gas and electricity and would often follow you around the house reminding you to turn off the lights when you left a room (whether you would be returning to the room 5 min later or not); he wouldn’t use the timer on the hot water to save energy and often turn off the hot water the moment you got in the shower leaving you with cold water a few minutes into your shower; and when you turned on the heating on a cold evening he would turn it off and suggest you go put more layers on…. I was getting infuriated with him and so was the other house mate, however talking about it only ended in argument and being told we could leave if we don’t like it.

After a few weeks in the house our first guests arrived… it was the wife’s mother, two sisters, and the new born baby to one of the sisters. They stayed for 5 days, meaning there were 6 people sharing a 3 bedroom house with only 1 working bathroom. Finally they left but a fortnight later the other housemate’s wife and daughter arrived to stay for almost 3 weeks. It was a full house, and I was expected to make allowances for the toddler staying in the house.  I understand people have families but I never signed up for this when I first moved into the house. All of these extra people don’t just mean that the house is more crowded, it also means that it can take longer to get a shower, use the kitchen, or that more electricity is being used… and when I brought this up with my housemate they thought me selfish for asking whether they would be paying for the extra electricity being used by their families while they were here.

All the while I had continued to look for a new place to live. Finally I found the place, my lovely little old miner’s cottage with its 170 year old fireplace in Irishtown, and not a moment too soon! A few days earlier I had had another run in with the husband about the hot water system, I had turned it on for his wife to have a shower after he misuroomnderstood me telling him the water was not hot enough yet for the wife to shower. I had then left the house and no one turned the hot water off after his wife had showered, so he had a go at me for leaving it on… I, being a bit fed up at this stage and didn’t back down, in the end after a few harsh words I just walked away with nothing resolved and things had been tense between us since.

Anyway, I had my new place and was now only a few weeks away from moving out… The day I found out about the new place told the wife, when I first told her I was leaving she was very good about it, thanking me for giving notice and acting as normal. We chatted and laughed in the kitchen about the bingo night I had been to the night before, everything seemed good. However that was the last time she talked to me unless I asked her a direct question which she could not avoid. From that day on she avoided me, would not say good morning when I would see her or communicate with me in any way. Her brother had happened to show up the evening I told her I was moving out and continued to stay at that house every night from then on, sleeping in the lounge room. The brother made me feel uncomfortable, constantly sleazing up to me when I was home and being a right misogynist, while the sores on his mouth and face suggested he had a drug problem. After he started to stay with us, on several occasions I found my bedroom door and window open either when I got home from work or in the morning when I woke up making me feel even more uncomfortable and causing me to hide my valuables.

By the end of the week, after telling my housemates I was moving out, the father of the wife was also staying at the house and the 4 of them would start drinking and carrying on loudly about 11pm at night. As this started on a Friday night I did not mind so much until this continued on to Sunday and Monday night when I had to get up early for work. Monday night about 2am I went down stairs and asked them to keep it down as I would need to be up shortly. I was meet with a string of abuse and laughter, and returned to bed angry and upset. It had happened to be Census night on the previous Sunday and as it was my first Census I was keen to complete the survey. I had asked my housemates about it and they had told me they never received on, so on the Tuesday I rang the Census office to ask for a new copy to be delivered. While on the phone they had asked me my address and I could never remember if it was 57 or 75 so I quickly jumped on DAFT to check the number on the ad for the new housemate… turns out it was 76. But while I was there I noticed they had the move in date a number of weeks after I had moved out. I thought they may not have realised I was moving out that weekend so sent a text message to my housemates to tell them. The reply was a phone call with another string of abuse, and when I explained about the Census all hell broke loose… apparently we had received a Census but they had not wanted to complete it so had thrown it out and did not like that I had organised a new one.

I hung up the phone to the housemate shaking and in tears. After several nights of lack of sleep, the ongoing isolation I had left in that house, and the overall stress of the situation I had reached my breaking point. Walking back to the office I had decided I was going to rent a car that evening and move out, I had no idea where I would go for the next 4 nights until my new place was ready but I needed to get out. As I neared the office I saw the one person from work that I knew would help me if it was in their power. I walked up to him and explained through some uncontrolled sobs what had just happened and asked if he knew anyone with a spare bed, couch anything who may be able to put me up for a few days. In the end he was able to offer me a room in his apartment that luckily was free that week as its usual occupant was on holidays. After sitting through a team meeting with a big fake, calm, smile plastered on my face I pulled my Head of Department aside and explained briefly that I no longer felt safe at my home and was moving out that evening. As much as I tried I was unable to keep the calm composure I had managed through the meeting, and the tears and silent shaking came back. Of course leaving early was not a problem.

I sent my housemates a text message advising them I would be moving out immediately and went to pick up my rental car. When I got back to the house the lot of them where there: the husband, wife, brother and father. They proceeded to sit there and watch me pack my stuff into the car, never offering any assistance, appearing to be trying to intimidate me. I asked the husband to transfer my deposit back to my account, which he said he would do, and I got into my car and left.  I left the car I had rented with some friends of mine, who gave me food and the comfort good friends can only give before I caught the bus to my workmates house. Finally about 9pm that night I arrived at my workmates place, he and his partner welcomed me into their house making me feel more at ease in the first 5 minutes then I ever had at the other house. A glass of wine later and I was relaxed. 3 bottles later I was drunk. The next morning I am not sure if I was hungover or still drunk…

I never received my deposit back on the other place. I did contact them several times to no avail and with no sub-lease agreement in place I had little to no legislative backing to assist me in getting my money back. In the end I decided that the stress of trying to get the money back was not worth taking the matter to the small claims tribunal.

houseIn my new place, we signed all of the leasing documents before I moved in; receipts were given and each tenant even has an ongoing spreadsheet of expenses. I have meet the landlords and there is a much more open and by the book approach to the rental of the property.

The whole ordeal has been an eye opener to some of the harsh realities of Dublin life. But this problem is not isolated to Dublin or Ireland. Any major city often does not have the capacity to provide accommodation to the 1,000s or millions which move to the city in search of work, adventure or a new life each year, and without the correct knowledge and out of desperation many of these people will find themselves in situations like mine or worse. However unlike myself, they will not have the knowledge, ability or supports around them to get themselves out of this situation.

I don’t want this post to put anyone off moving to a new city or country, instead use my experience to learn from my mistakes and put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen to you. Travelling is an adventure and allows for so much personal growth, as much as this has been a major challenge to me it has also helped me to grow and develop as a person; and while I would not wish this experience on others I do not regret the decisions I made at the time – at least I have learnt from them.

Until next time….

Charmaine

Back in the Game…

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted something… my bad. Between work, finding a new place to live, moving, getting sick, not having access to my music and all of the other small stresses that have seeped into my life, my motivation for writing has been at a low. I am still not wanting to talk about finally leaving my old house, but when I am ready I will share my story as I think it would be a good warning to others.

But this week I have begun to feel motivated to write and engage in my blog and motivated to be in my life again.

I moved into my new home a fortnight ago and it has been great so far. It is a shousemall two bedroom miner’s cottage in Irishtown, just outside of Dublin’s city center and less than 5 minutes’ walk to the beach. Owing to the housing crisis this 2 bedroom cottage has been converted into 3 bedrooms by turning the lounge room into a bedroom… not that I mind at all, I have always wanted a fireplace in my bedroom!

I love being close to the beach, and although it’s not the same as an Australian beach it does relax me to be so close to the sea. Irishtown is proving a great little suburb, a decade ago it would have been considered one of the more run down suburbs of Dublin but owning to the boom of marketing and IT companies in the Grand Canal Docks, most notably – Google HQ, the area is really up and coming. In-fact Irishtown is sometimes dubbed Googletown owing to the amount of Google employees living in the area. Irishtown, the Grand Canal Docks and Sandymount (all within a stones throw from each other) have many cute little bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, and organic food stores all within a 10 minute walk from my front door, while if I want to do some serious shopping or have a night out it is only a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride to the city centre.

docksIt’s a 45 minute walk to work from my new place, which is great; even if I am feeling lazy and don’t want to work out I still get at least 45min of activity each way going to and from work. There are plenty of gyms as well within a 10 minute walk from my front door, a nature reserve, a sport ground, and of course the beach so I am spoilt for choice in creating my new workout routine.

Now that I have moved into my new home I am really starting to feel settled in my new life. I still have to work on finding a permanent job, but now after working in Ireland for the last 2 months and seeing the level of what is expected of employee’s I have grown more confident in my own abilities to break a few glass ceilings.

Love

Charmaine