So Long, Farewell

725 days after first arriving in Dublin to start my new life and a new adventure I am boarding a plane in search of my next adventure. For anyone familiar with my blog for some time I have been umming and ahhing about my life in Ireland and weather to leave for pastures new. Well over Christmas I finally made up my mind, and so after a short holiday to Australia to visit family and friends I am off to Canada.

Back in July 2017 I had applied and very quickly was accepted for the 2 year International Experience Canada Visa; I had not expected to get the Visa so quickly and had no intention of going so soon. Instead I sat on the Visa with the intention that I would go in June 2018. I had a great job in Dublin where I was learning a lot and working with a great team, I also had great friends who I could really rely on so although I wanted to go to Canada I was in no rush.

 

But as the year rolled on I realised I was not happy. The cost of living was getting higher and higher and impacting on my quality of life, I had started to apply for more senior roles but the salaries I was being offered were the same and sometimes less than what I was already on. I became depressed, I was sick of the rain, with no car (insurance too expensive to own one) I felt confined to the city where there was public transport for me to get around, I felt like all I ever did was eat and drink, I was sick of the “casual dating” scene I felt was so prevalent Irish culture, and I felt isolated from the things I loved: being outdoors, hiking, playing with my dog etc. I had felt it coming for some time, the weight slowly slipping on, my zest for adventure slipping away… then over Christmas while sitting on a sunny beach in Morocco I decided enough was enough, I was out.

I decided that although I want to continue to grow in my career it was not the most important thing to me. Having a healthy work / life balance, being close to nature, being able to afford avocado toast (ok maybe not avocado toast, I hate avocados… Eggs benedict, I like that), getting a dog, having a car – these are all things that are important to me and all things I feel I have missed over the last two years.

So on that basis I went looking for a place to live in Canada. For me it was important to find somewhere that:

  • Had a proper hot summer which lasted more than a week;
  • Was close to nature, with lots of hikes and outdoor recreation activities;
  • Was close to a lake, river or ocean;  
  • Was affordable to live; and
  • Embraced an outdoor, active but laidback lifestyle.

Okanagan

In the end I chose Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (BC). Settled between the Rocky Mountains and Vancouver I had visited and fell in love with the Okanagan Valley 8 years ago while on holidays after a semester as an exchange student at the University of New Brunswick. I had been a little reluctant on BC originally; mainly due to the fact that it was already the go-to destination for Aussies, and I did not want to be mistaken for just another Aussie out to get drunk, snowboard and work bar jobs. BC also only legislates for a mandatory two week’s annual leave per year, and although employers in professional industries are known to provide more leave this was a huge concern for me with my need for a better work / life balance. However all the other natural beauties of BC and my fond memories of the Okanagan Valley soon outweighed any reluctance and I had made my decision.

So now all my bags are packed and I’m ready to leave. I will leave behind some amazing friends, but as we go on our separate ways we will remember all the times we had together; and as our lives change, come whatever we will still be friends forever…

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this

I did it my way

 

friends

The Sahara

Part 2 of our Moroccan Adventure (part one here: Morocco, Marrakech, Souks and Sunshine…).

The next morning we were off for our desert adventure. We were collected from the Riad at 7am and taken to a meeting point where an hour or so later we started our journey. We headed across the Atlas Mountains towards the Ksar of Aït-Ben-Haddou. The ksar is  mainly a collective grouping of dwellings. Inside the defensive walls which are reinforced by angle towers and pierced with a baffle gate, houses crowd together – some modest, others resembling small urban castles with their high angle towers and upper sections decorated with motifs in clay brick – but there are also buildings and community areas. It is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a complete panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. This world heritage listed village is also a Hollywood A lister, having appeared in (Brenden Frasers) The Mummy, Jewel of the Nile, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Prince of Persia, and most recently Game of Thrones just to name a few. As we were taken on a tour through the village, our guide proudly announced that last year running water had been connected to the village and next year they expected to get electricity. Sadly we were on a tight schedule and had little time to wander around the village and take in the eclectic scenery of donkeys, chickens, carpet makers, souks, children and women going about their daily lives as we were herded off to a restaurant in the new village for lunch.DSC_3039Our stomach’s full, we dozed on the bus as we continued to head west towards the Sahara. The landscape changed and we passed through mountains which reminded me of contour lines in geography class. We finally passed Zagora and found ourselves in a long valley of date palms, another hour and we were on the edge of the Sahara Desert. We said goodbye to our driver and hello to the camels. Most of our tour group stood around, obviously not wanting to be the first person to have to fumble their way onto a camel, but the moment the guide called for someone to be the first I was already standing next to my camel ready to jump on. Our journey was to take a bit over an hour, and I quickly fell into the rhythm of the camels movement… to be honest the movement kind of reminded me of being on top while having sex.

DSC_3141Half an hour in and my ass was killing me. I was wearing a tight pair of jeans that had rubbed against my skin along the stitching as I bobbed up and down. The older Danish woman bobbing up and down beside me quietly complained that her hips hurt and a women her age should not be in this position for so long. Finally the sun had set and we had arrived at our camp for the night, a ring of 12 sleeping tents and one food tent encircling a fire pit. Guada and I bunked up with a Columbian mother and daughter, we threw our bag into the tent and headed to the food tent for mint tea and to await our dinner.

Once our group had all settled into the food tent one of the guides joined us with a tray of glasses and a pot of mint tea. He poured us all glasses of tea and we went around the group introducing ourselves, our guide was genuinely interested in everyone and would try to say foreign phrases he had learnt from previous guests. After the tea was finished our guide cleared our glasses away and the men served us a communal dinner of soup, and chicken and vegetable tagine. We ate until we were full and then were served fresh fruit; the fruit was just delicious and we could not get enough of the oranges.

DSC_3090Finally the food was cleared away and we all moved outside to the fire pit. While some of our guides lit a small fire the others grabbed their drums and krakebs and started playing. After the first song was over some of the drums and krakebs where passed among us tourists as we attempted to keep in beat with our guides. After a while one of the older guides and an old eccentric Italian man jumped up and started dancing around the fire, they quickly encouraged others to join them and I found myself laughing and dancing as we circled the fire.  Eventually the many of the tourists started to disappear and head to bed, we sat for a while and talked to our desert guides about the stars and their lives. Our guide had grown up a Bedouin, travelling in caravans through the desert most of his life…. He said desert life had become much more difficult in recent years and so he and his family had settled in the village 6 years earlier. He missed the desert and they still went away for periods at a time, but it was better for them to be in the village.

Eventually we drifted off to bed, but we were not prepared for the cold desert night… Along with the 2 blankets each we found in our tent, Guada and I wore everything we had brought with us. For me that was a turtleneck sweater, t-shirt, and long sleeve shirt, with jeans and summer pants over the top; my winter jacket zipped up and hoodie pulled close around my head; shoes on and my bed socks on my hands like gloves. We were still freezing but somehow we survived the night. The next morning we had breakfast and mounted the camels just before sunrise for the trek back to our awaiting buses. Not everyone was keen to climb back on the camels, and for some of us it may have been smarter if we didn’t. However again I mounted my camel and we set off the way we came. Within 10 minutes I was regretting my decision. This time every time I bobbed up and down on the camel it felt like my ass was being smacked raw. But I refused to admit my defeat and battled on. As the sun rose over the mountains we stopped to admire the sunrise and to take selfies. Finally we arrived back at our bus, we dismounted our camels, bid our guides goodbye and loaded back onto the bus.

DSC_3201We left the desert and traveled back to the town of Oaurzazate which we had passed the day before. We were guided around the old city and the Taourirt Kasbah by a local guide enjoying an education in the the history and traditions of clay architecture before being deposited in a restaurant overlooking the old Kasbah to enjoy lunch.

DSC_3209

After lunch we leisurely made our way back to Marrakech, stopping here and there in the Atlas Mountains for photo opportunities or to stretch our legs. Finally just before 7pm we were dropped at the gateway to the Medina, grabbing some street food as we walked back to our Riad.

Finally I was able to peel away the jeans I had worn for the last 2 days and enjoy a long, hot shower. On peeling away the jeans however I discovered that my desert adventure had left its mark, the rubbing of my tight jeans as I bounced up and down on the back of the camel had left a 2 ½ inch cut on my my ass….DSC_2823

The adventures continue in ‘Agadir and Hamman’.

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.

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.  

dublin

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.

Happy Birthday Me

The other week was my birthday, and as a sort of birthday present to myself I decided to go away. I had been thinking over a few different ideas; Disneyland Paris… Amsterdam dressed as a Disney Princess… Ibiza… Tayto park… in the end I went  hiking in County Kerry. Although it may not sound like the big party weekend that a birthday weekend should be, it was still a great weekend away.

Due to indecisiveness the booking of my four day mini holiday only happened on the Monday / Tuesday before my birthday. I rented a car and then jumped on bookings.ie to find cheap accommodation. I was determined to spend my first 2 days (one night) hiking part of the Kerry Way in the Black Valley, but the other two nights I was open to wherever the cheapest accommodation would be.

In the end my accommodation bookings looked like this Thursday night – Black Valley, co. Kerry, Friday Night – Cork City, co. Cork, and Saturday night Ballinskelligs, Ring of Kerry, co. Kerry.  That might sound like I was tramping from one side of the country to the other and then back again but it turned out to work really well. The Wild Atlantic Way a costal scenic route which starts in Kinsale co. Cork and makes its way all along the south and West Coast to Derry in Northern Ireland. I had already completed part of the Wild Atlantic Way from Tralee almost all the way to Galway back in October so decided that for the second 2 days of my trip I would complete the Kinsale to Tralee part of the route including the Ring of Kerry.

So with a sort of plan in hand 6am Thursday morning I set off to Killarney co. Kerry to start my mini adventure. After my Canadian Tim Hortons breakfast, in the Obama Plaza in County Offlay I arrived in Killarney about 10.30am and went in search of the Tourist Information Centre for a map of the area I wanted to hike. It turned out the Tourist Information Centre didn’t really have any proper hiking maps of the area, but I had read and been advised that the trail was well marked so wasn’t too worried and after parking my car at the Lake House Hotel headed off on my overnight hike.

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The Kerry Way – Killarney to Black Valley

With the exception of the area around Torc Waterfalls (a main tourist attraction for Killarney) the path was very well signposted and I had no troubles finding my way.  My only beef would be that the signposts didn’t indicate how far it was to your next destination which would have helped gauge whether I needed to hurry up or could slow my pace and enjoy the scenery.

In total the hike into my B&B in the Black Valley was about 20km ascending about 350m as you walk over the mountain range into the valley. use7I was especially taken by the views shortly after I passed between Torc Waterfall and headed over the top of the range before I headed back into the valley towards Galway’s Bridge. Up here you could see down into the valley below but were not quite at the peak of the range, you had a mix of jaggered rocky mountain sides and open fields with little running streams and wild deer grazing, which eventually lead to one particular field with a small waterfall with a pebble shoreline where you could sit and enjoy a break. It was all starting to make me think of the Jane Austin tv movies I had seen over the years and it was easy to imagine this landscape hadn’t changed much in the last 200 years, especially when there was not a power pole or any other sign of industrialisation in sight.

After 5 ½ hours of walking I finally reached the Shamrock Bed & Breakfast. The B&B was the last B&B in the Black Valley before you reached Bridia Valley, and my feet were well tired by the time I reached my destination. The B&B is run by Sheila, who I would consider a typical country Irish grandmother; tough as old boots, says her prayers 3 times a day, is always well stocked on scones and soda bread, and told it as it was. When I arrived she quickly settled me in, started a fire in the dining room and set me up with tea, scones and a WiFi password. I had pre-arranged dinner to be included with my stay however as it was a Thursday and the parish priest only gave Mass on a Thursday evening I would have to wait until after the service finished at 8pm for my dinner, but as I had just been filled up on scones I wasn’t fussed. Sheila returned from Mass and quickly began to dish out a 3 course meal of Potato and Leak Soup (my favourite), Beef and Vegetable Stew, and Apple Pie and ice-cream all homemade and all so delicious. With a full stomach I soon headed to bed for an early night.

use5The next day I was up and out of bed by 7.30am, where I was again greeted by an array of food from my host. I had told Sheila the night before I didn’t want too much for breakfast, a little bacon and maybe some eggs would be fine but in traditional grandmotherly style a plate piled high with bacon, scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes, toast, fruit, orange juice, tea, jam and butter sat on the table waiting for me. I ate heartily knowing the 20km journey I had to make back to Killarney would be exhausting and knowing I would probably only stop to eat a banana on the trail. After breakfast I profoundly thanked Sheila and headed back the way I came.

This time round I stopped to have a look around the ruins of an old abandoned house probably not more than 100 years old, which stood next to the ruins of another much older structure. The house was already being reclaimed by nature; the roof had long since disappeared, ferns covered the floor and there creepers all over the walls. It was humbling to see how quickly nature had reclaimed these buildings.

use4I finally arrived back at the Lake House Hotel (as planned) in time for lunch. I had previously visited the Lake House Hotel with some of my extended Irish relations and had really enjoyed the food here as well as the view out across the lake so it was a no brainer to finish my journey here. I was able to get a window seat and celebrated the completion of my 40+km hike (and my birthday) with a glass of red wine and an amazing leg of roast lamb.

After a very long lunch break I jumped back into the car and headed off to Cork to start Part 2 of my weekend journey…

Keep an eye out, I will be adding Part 2 of my Birthday weekend mini adventure over the coming days!

For more information on the Kerry Way, Shamrock B&B, or the Lake House Hotel  click on the hyperlinks!

Who you gonna call…

As someone who has left all there family and friends, a secure job and a nice apartment behind to move on their own to a new country and start again I would call myself a pretty independent, self reliant person. But over the last couple of weeks I have had to face my more vulnerable side and realise that there are times when I do need to call someone and ask for help.

independent women sick memeI am not the best patient, when I get sick I get “man flu” and think its the end of the world. I don’t battle through it, instead I crawl back into bed and wait for the end… or my recovery. In Australia, when I was living at home (and I may have tried this a couple of times after moving out) I would text my daddy to bring me water, boost juice, toast, a bucket, etc. as I lay in bed dying.

When I broke my toe on Christmas eve I called my mum, who had to drive across town to pick me up, and then spent Christmas to New Years taxiing me around while I was unable to drive.

In Australia, even when my parents where not available there was always a close friend or boyfriend  I knew I could call to pop down to the shops and pick up some medicine, comfort food, or just pop over and keep me company while I was being a baby.

A couple of weeks ago it was a concussion, this week it was a cold and slight feinting episode in the shower, and although I am fine it has made me realise that no matter how independent or self reliant you may think you are, you should always have someone you know you can call if you need help. Of course I have my parents and friends back in Australia who I can call, but you also need someone close by.

sick_woman1After my concussion, I was talking to a work colleague, who was shocked to realise I didn’t have anyone to check on me while I was concussed and insisted in exchanging numbers so if anything did happen I could contact her.  I now also realise that I do have a group of friends that if needed I could call on for help.

It is important as you establish yourself in a new city or country to identify people in your life who you can call for help when you need it. They don’t always need to be your closest friends, just someone you know will answer your call. Because you never know when you will get sick… get hit in the head by a boom… drop a dumbell on your toe… or need a place to crash for a few nights.

So who are you going to call?

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!