Impromptu Road Trip to Belfast

A couple of weeks ago I was between homes, I had moved out of my old house before my
new house was ready following a string of irreconcilable differences between myself and the main tenants of the house (i.e. parties starting at 11pm on a weekday, moving additional people into the house – one I am pretty sure had a drug problem, people going into my room when I wasn’t there, and generally making me feel unsafe).  A work colleague and his partner had graciously let me stay in his spare room and had made me feel well at home introducing me to his friends, and eating all their food; but they was off away for the weekend and for 1 night I didn’t have a place to stay so I decided to book into a hotel for the night.  DSC_0374

I had rented a car to put all my stuff in for the move, so I had a transport and an entire country to pick my hotel from. Finally Friday afternoon I made my decision and booked a hotel in Belfast. I drove up straight after work and arrived about 9pm. I had booked into a hotel called the Balmoral about 6km from the city centre, and from the outside it looked like a decent place. I didn’t really have any plans and was pretty exhausted so ended up just hanging out in the hotel room and watching telly (considering I don’t own a television it was kind of a treat). The hotel room stunk of cigarette smoke and all the facilities where basic but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.

I went to bed and was woken up about 2am by yelling, and I mean yelling. Three people in the room next to me were getting into a massive domestic in the hotel room, and by the way they shouted, swore and carried on you could imagine that these people where all flannel shirt wearing, front teeth missing and mullet haircut yobbo’s. Security came and told them to keep it down, which they did for about 15 minutes and then they were at it again. This carried on until 5am when security finally kicked them out of the hotel but it was too little too late for everyone in the surrounding rooms.

But I didn’t let it put a dampener on my visit to Belfast, and in the end I was up and out of the hotel by 9am and on my way to the Titanic museum.

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I had intended to spend maybe 2 hours max in the museum and then have a quick look around the city before driving back to Dublin. The museum was fantastic, I am not really a reader of all the little bits of information they put around the place at Museums but thank-fully a lot of it is audio and visual as well so you really get a great sense of everything around you.  The museum is divided into sections and runs through everything to do with the Titanic; from Belfast the city at the time the Titanic was commissioned, to building the ship, examples of the different classes on the ship, the sinking, the survivors, the review into the sinking, movies made about the titanic, and finding the wreckage years later… Everything about the Titanic is covered and really makes for a fascinating tour.

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Four hours later I stroll out of the museum and with no time to look at the rest of the city I jump in the car to head back to Dublin. Now it wouldn’t be a road trip without me getting lost, so after missing my exit and the next exit being closed I decided to use Google Maps to get me back to Dublin…. Well that was an adventure.  I ended up going through every little country village between Armagh and Newry before I ended up back on the national motorway and on the right road to Dublin. I was hungry and constantly on the lookout for a little village shop, café, bakery or something to get some lunch but if these places did exists in the little villages I drove through I didn’t see them. Eventually I got back on the motorway and decided I would just have to settle for something at one of those big petrol station / MacDonald / Insomnia all in one stops.

By late afternoon I found myself back in Dublin and pulling up with a car full of gear out front my new home in Irishtown. I was greeted by my new, very excited housemate and after we finished fixing my not quite complete bed I was ready to settle myself into my new home. It had been a ridiculously crazy week, and even my relaxed overnight adventure to Belfast wasn’t as relaxed as I had planned but I did enjoy Belfast and I am keen to get back up there again very soon and check out the rest of the city. My next trip to Belfast though I think I will take the train… J

Care Packages

It is now over 2 months since I first moved to Dublin and my birthday is fast approaching. As such my mum has already been given the heads up that I would like a care package full of the things I am missing from Australia. It is funny, for a country that I am not particularly fond of there are a few things that I really do miss, such as:

  • Going into one supermarket and being able to buy everything I need! – This is driving me absolutely insane; I walked all across the city centre last weekend going into every Asian / Middle Eastern/ African / Western supermarket I could find looking for endame beans and only found one store on Thursday on the way home from work that stocked them…. In Australia I could walk into any Coles or Woolworths and find them in the frozen veg section of any store.
  • Cheap, decent quality electronics and appliances. I always took it for granted how cheap and easy it was to get a microwave, new headphones, a television, etc. in Australia. Now, when I need to buy all of those things here in Ireland without the benefit of Australia’s trade agreements with Asia the cost of electrical goods here is SO, SO much more expensive.
  • Clothes drying in one day. Yes, yes… I know I came to a wet cold country what did I expect… but I did think I would have a dryer.cadbury_oldgold_rum
  • Old Jamaican chocolate by Cadburys – I forgot to pack a block or two when I left, however this stuff does not travel well in a care package so sadly I will have to wait until someone is coming over here and ask them to bring a block with them.
  • My friends. I know they are only a phone call, Facebook message, SnapChat away but I miss not having them around on the weekends when you are wanting to just hang out in the park or go shopping. I know I will make new missyfriends that I will be able to do this with eventually but for the mean time I miss my Australian friends.
  • My dog, Missy.

But all of these cannot be packaged up and sent in my care package from home, so I will have to be more strategic… and a little materialistic on what my care package will contain.

So, for my birthday mummy dearest I would like in my care package:

  • Bean bag covers – these things are ridiculously expensive in Ireland 80euro and up! In Australia I brought one with filling from Kmart for $25 total. So I would like Bean Bag covers so I can have a bean bag in my room (and some spares just in case).
  • A Kate Hill overnight/ weekend away handbag and/or side bag – I love Kate Hill handbags and am really missing not being able to order a bag online anytime I want (they don’t ship to Ireland)!

KH travel bag  KH Crossbody bag

  • 1 double adaptor and 1 power board – I brought 2 Australian to European plug adaptors with me when I came over here, however I must of brought about 6 items which require the adaptors and I am constantly switching back and forth between them, so instead I would like 1 double adaptor and 1 multiple power board so I do not have to be constantly switching back and forth.
  • Hydralyte – I had a massive hangover the other day so I checked in to the chemist to pick up what in Australia we call Hydralyte – pretty much it rehydrates you. Turns out the Irish stuff tastes horrible and is nowhere near as effective at curing a hangover as the Australian version. So in preparation for my next hangover I would like some Hydralyte (the orange one please).

Hydralyte-Product-Shot-web

  • Brown Brothers Cienna…. Well if I am going to have the Hydralyte I Cienna-glass-ShaneHengst-201502may as well have my favourite bottle of wine to go with it. Still haven’t found anything that I enjoy drinking as much as a bottle of Cienna.

So that is what is in my care package, fingers crossed mummy dearest doesn’t kill me with my list and I shall definitely update you and show you the goodies when it arrives at the end of June!  In the meantime I am curious to know what others would have in their care package so feel free to leave a comment telling me what you miss from your country of origin and would have in your care package.

Cheers

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

When Tuesday night Bingo turns into a big nigh…

Last Sunday some mates of mine invited me out to Tuesday Night Bingo at the Wrights Cafe in Swords. I had been to bingo before back in Australia so the idea of going to bingo wasn’t inciting any real feelings of excitement, but my mates are always a great crack and I knew it would still be a good night. Facebook informed me that Bingo didn’t start until 9.30pm and just as it crossed my mind that this was a little late for a Tuesday night, I rebelled against the thought and declared to myself that if I thought 9.30pm was too late to be going out I definitely needed to go!

avrilTuesday night  came, the boys picked me up, and we headed to their place for some amazing homemade Cottage Pie and a few glasses of red wine. We chatted about my new place and settling into Dublin life, the renovations the boys were planning, and all the good stuff a couple glasses of wine brings out. Then it was 9pm and we decided it was time to head down to Wrights.
When we got to Wrights the place was almost deserted. Turned out it was closer to 10.30pm before bingo started and slowly as 10pm came round the place started to get a bit busier. Avril, the absolutely gorgeous Drag Queen and our ball-caller for the night showed up, and things started to liven up. I had to work in the morning so I keep to the red wine and “wasn’t having a big one”. The next thing you know its 2 cocktails for  €10 and I have 2 … whatever they were in my hands!

Turns out the me and averilbest way to enjoy bingo is drinking with mates, and a Drag Queen – who looks better in short shorts then you do! Avril was brilliant, keeping the whole crowed entertained with her dirty humor, classy dance moves, and killer legs.

Bingo finished about midnight and we stayed around to enjoy a couple more drinks. At this point I decided the best way to sober up a little was dancing. I headed to the dance floor where the rest of the 20 somethings were and decided it was time for a little fun. Being a Tuesday night, most of the people out were in their early 20’s and students or shift workers from the airport. I knew I was at the older edge of this crowed but I really didn’t feel it, and I didn’t care, I wanted to dance and have a little fun.
And a little fun I had.avril1

It was a “school” night so I was, as always, on my best behavior (wink, wink). I was keen to dance the night away, however some young fella kept wanting to talk so I figured the easiest way to shut him up was to snog him. So I had my little fun, and the next thing I know it was 1:30am and time for this Cinderella to head home. I left my fun on the dance floor, said goodbye to my mates and headed off home for a peanut butter sandwich and 3 hours sleep before it was up and off to work again.

6 months ago I would have said I was getting too old for this shit – but these days I feel like I am getting my second run at 21!

The next morning I woke up, wished I could go back to bed but was otherwise all good for the day. I don’t know if it is me, or the adrenaline of being in a new county – but whatever it is, lets keep it going!

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Charmaine

 

One month in…

It has now been just over one month since I arrived in Dublin, the weather has turned wet, and the original excitement of being in a new city has begun to fade. The hunt for an apartment in the city center continues as I get another “I am sorry but we decided to go with another applicant” rejection text message for yet another place, and that elusive bank account still feels like a unicorn just out of reach. While my scant wardrobe of wintry clothes makes me dream of a shopping trip I can’t afford and the effects of my not great diet and lack of real high intensity exercise begin to show…. It has all begun to add up.

But with what sometimes feels like all the negative, there have also been a number of not always so obvious positives in the last month, and this post I wanted to focus on the positives.

Unlike many new migrants to this country I had been fortunate to start a temping job by the end of my second week here, and have been in the same temp position since. My co-workers at my workplace are amazing, you really couldn’t ask for a better team to work with, and there are a number of full-time positions coming up within the organisation which (if I am successful in applying for) would actually mean I could use my degree and have the opportunity explore my other career interests too!

My co-workers have also been really supportive in my search for a new apartment, keeping an ear out about anything that may come up, making recommendations to try different websites, and even offering to write a letter of reference. They have also been really emphatic of my banking saga’s trying to make any offers of assistance that they can. I don’t think I have had two days in that office where people have not come in with food to share with everyone and really they have just made me feel so welcome. For any temp that is not always something which you get to feel, and it makes the experience of getting up and going to work just that bit much more enjoyable.

Social media, blogging, Meet Up groups and apps have also been a huge positive in my life over the last month. As I’ve talked about in previous blogs I have been attending Meet Up groups, some have been a success… some not so much, but all worth attending at least one. Dublin Facebook groups have allowed me to meet new people, find out about things happening around the city, and sometimes just connect to someone when you are feeling isolated on a packed commuter bus. My blog has allowed me to connect to other bloggers, and the communication/ relationship you develop with your readers/ other bloggers has been just as enjoyable as writing my blog. Blogging and communicating with other bloggers has also allowed me to find out about things happening in Dublin and offered new ways of meeting new people, for example Bumble.

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Bumble is the Tinder for finding a BFF. Well Bumble is a dating/ ‘hook up’ app owned by Tinder but it does have a BFF option for people like me looking for female friends (it may work the same for men, I am not sure). I am only in my early stages of this app but so far I love it! – But I will keep you posted.

Apps have been a huge positive in my life over the last month. All the public transport companies have them Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and the Luas, so I always know when my bus is going to arrive – or if it has been cancelled (which as annoying as it is, at least
I know it has been cancelled now and I am not standing at a bus stop for half hour waiting for a bus that never arrives). Twitter has also been a huge help, often I find it is updating me on an accident or traffic delays etc. which may affect me long before any of the news agencies are updating their news feeds.twitter-logo

The new people I have meet have also been a huge positive in my life. Although I have not known them long, and acquaintances may be a better word to use then friends, just having those people in your life when you first move to a new city has made all the difference. A text message of excitement when someone finds a new apartment or to let you know which pub they are drinking at if you want to join them, makes you feel wanted and connected to the city.

Last but not least, the biggest positive has been that I have been going this alone. That is not to say that I don’t have encouraging family and friends back home, or supportive co-workers and new friends here. But I have been able to develop those friendships, wade the tide of frustration and anxieties when things go wrong, and just survive and thrive in the day to day on my own. I have not needed a significant other, whether they be a boyfriend/ girlfriend, sibling or parent to hold my hand through this last month, and that in itself is an extremely gratifying and liberating feeling.

Happy Friday everyone, hope you have a great weekend!

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Keeping fit in a new city

9 months ago I started a lifestyle change which lead to me loosing now 30kg. Over the last 6 months people have asked me how I did it, and now that I am in a new city my friends and family are asking me if I am able to maintain my lifestyle change. Thus today I wanted to share how it is all going, what I am doing to maintain my lifestyle, and how I intend to keep fit in a new city.

How it is all going

Since moving to Dublin to say I have relaxed my routine and diet would be an understatement.  I workout only on the weekends and that is limited to running in the park with a few free workout stations thrown in. I don’t own a car in Dublin and rely on public transport to get around which means I do walk quite a bit. To help make up for the lack of exercise I also get off the bus a few stops early and walk about an hour each day to and from work.

My diet is a complete other story. Chocolate Minstrels, pastries, scones, fried potato, bread and dips, hot chocolate and wine have all made a big appearance in my diet in the last month. But each week as I settle in to my new life a little more my diet slowly improves, and I am happy to say after a month of being here I haven’t put on any weight – if fact I somehow managed to lose a kilo or two!

What I have been doing to maintain my lifestyle

 Exercise

As I previously mentioned I walk a lot, on average I do about 5km a day just through walking to and from work. The first thing I did when I moved into my new place was to find the nearest park for me to run to/ around. In this case it was Malahide Castle and I was lucky in that a 5km running trail was already marked in the park with a number of basic workout stations based at intervals around the trail.  However when I first arrived in Dublin I did not know this, and had already made a plan that at every park bench I would stop and do an exercise, for example:

Run to bench 1 – do 10 step ups on each legpark equiptment

Run to bench 2 – do 3 sets of 10 triceps dips

Run to bench 3 – do 20 squats

Run to bench 4 – do 20 star jumps

Run to bench 5 – do 10 lunges on each

Then repeat until you were too exhausted to continue (or mum called) then walk back to the house.

Although my workout stations ended up being slightly different with the equipment provided by council it essentially worked a lot of the same core areas. This was a great workout and from walking out the front door to walking back in the workout session usually took me about 1 ½ hours, I ran/walked 9 – 10kms and burned about 1400 calories.

Diet

Since I started my healthy lifestyle kick I have been a stickler for breakfast, and when I say breakfast I mean eating something within the first hour of waking up. I don’t care if it is an omelette, a piece of fruit or a yoghurt but I really do believe having something (more than tea or coffee) within that first hour is really important as it does kick start your metabolism.  It also stops me going into Anne’s Bakery on the way into work to buy a scone and hot chocolate like I did this morning as I was running late and forgot to grab my banana!

I also like to eat every 2 hours where possible, admittedly on the weekends I find this difficult as it can be hard to have access to good, healthy food. But when I am at work I always have a pile of carrot sticks, fruit, and a healthy pre-prepped lunch within easy reach.  At the moment my go to lunch is a ‘Super Value’ Ceaser Salad with some lemon and herb chicken which I cook up at the beginning of the week and keep in the work fridge, it is quick, easy and very filling.

At night I try my best to stick by the rule of eating dinner 2 – 3 hours before going to bed. At the moment that means that by the time I commute home I have to eat straight away if I was to be in bed by 10/11pm at night. I also keep my meals very simple, you know meat and veg. I love potato, so I allow for one jacket baby potato with dinner. I find this helps with the potato cravings and means I do not get to a stage where I binge eat a truck load of fries.food

I know, I know this sounds so, so boring… but this “boring” diet means:

a) I don’t really have to think about food or what I am going to cook which has been one less stressor in my life; and

b) It means I don’t feel guilty on the weekends when I go out for dinner or coffee with friends.

As mentioned I have fallen off the band wagon quite a bit though in the last couple of weeks with 3pm sugar hits and stress eating. Thankfully with keeping to the above diet and exercise as much as possible the effects of my 3pm sugar hits, stress eating and occasional breakfast scone and hot chocolate have been minimal.

Over the last week however, I have started to feel it is time to really get back in the habit. I have started to get tiered (even if I have enough sleep) and constantly bloated. When I exercise and eat right I am an extremely peppy, energetic person who always wants to be on the go. So if I am lethargic and bloaty that means my diet isn’t as good as it could be and/ or I am slacking off on the exercise.  So this past weekend I worked on what I could put in place to improve on my current habits and maintain a healthy lifestyle in a new city.

The Plan

 Exercise

I hate gyms, I went to the gym in Australia – but I am not a fan of them. I would much rather be exercising outdoors or at home than in a gym.  In Australia, I had put together a few things at home to help me avoid going to the gym and I have started missing my old exercise routine. So over the weekend I went out and brought myself what I consider to be the must have home fitness equipment:

  1. Runners
  2. An exercise mat
  3. A set of dumbbells, and
  4. A skipping rope

Back in Australia I live 5 min away from my work so I had plenty of time in the mornings and evenings to work out. In Dublin at the moment I spend on average 2 hours a day commuting (yesterday I spent 5 hours due to an accident in the Port Tunnel!) so being able to get my entire routine in every day and still have a life can be difficult. So when I can, I do all four exercises routines in one day – on the days when I just can’t manage it I at least do one of the three routines below.

Exercise One:

 Side Scissors x 10 each side

Plank (min 30 sec)

One leg hip raises (min 1 min)

Side planks (min 30 sec each side)mat

Reverse crunches x 10

Sit-up twists x 20

Skip for 1 min

Repeat 3 times

Exercise two:

 Squats x 20

Overhead triceps extensions x 10 (4kg weight)

One arm shoulder press x 10 (4kg weight)

Rear delt row (2 types) x 10 (4kg weight)

Triceps kickbacks x 10 (4kg weight)

Skip for 1 min

Repeat 3 times

Exercise Three

Criss Cross – or as I like to call them the “spread your legs” x 10

Russian Twists x 20

Heel taps x 30

Crunches x 20

Skip for 1 min

Repeat 3 times

Exercise 4

9.5 km run or walk to Malahide Castle and back including work out stations.

These routines where created using two methods – researching different workout programs and from learning which areas of my body I wanted to work on; and based on the exercises I will do. There was no point in me putting push-ups into my routine because I knew I would never do them. I know I physically needed to have a fitness instructor standing over me to make me do a push up so I am not even going to pretend like I am going to do one. On the other hand I know that Exercise Two is my favourite workout routine and when I have the time I will do that twice a day.

Food

I am big on planning, it’s what works for me. I am also a big fan of pre-cooking meals such as lunch. So over the weekend I made a basic spreadsheet outlining from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed what I eat or drink… I know, I know its sounds nuts but I find it helps me prepare for the day. To give you an example:

6am – Wake up make cup of black tea

7am – Eat omelette

9am – Banana and cup of black tea

10am –Water

11am – Carrot / cucumber sticks cup of green tea

12noon – Water

1pm – Ceasar Salad Lunch

2pm – Cup of black teafood1

3pm – Water

4pm – Berries and cup of green tea

5pm – Water

7pm – Make dinner

8pm – Cup of green tea

10/11pm – Go to bed

I also have some block cheese and coco pops bars at work for those days that I want a little more or to satisfy the chocolate cravings. While at home I currently have a jar of peanut butter, and if after dinner I am feeling like that little naughty snack I just grab a teaspoon of peanut butter and treat it like an ice-cream cone. It hits the spot and is great for protein.

Conclusion… I feel like I am writing a school report!

This lifestyle change plan has been altered from my Australian lifestyle plan. The weather here and lack of hills and mountains does make it quite difficult for me to be able to do the same types of exercises I did in Australia. In Ireland I am putting more focus into running as it is something I feel that if I move it will be easy to continue.  I am also looking into joining a Saturday morning kayaking group; I have an app that shows me all the local hiking trails in the area and have been using it to go hiking on the weekends; I am going to try out a Pole Fitness class (although I am expecting it to be a complete fail); I am trying to meet other people like me who are into maintaining a healthy lifestyle; and I have changed the wine to vodka and cranberry.

I am not a fitness instructor and I don’t pretend to be an expert in exercise or diet. Everything I do or have learned and continue to learn has been from word of mouth, talking to nutritionists, talking to doctors, and my friend Google. I still need to learn a lot more about nutrition and about cooking and baking with healthy ingredients so I can vary up my meal options. But right now I have a plan which works for me, and as things change and I learn more so will my lifestyle.

From reading this you may think that all I do is spend all my time exercising or working on my diet and this type of lifestyle would not suit you, but I don’t. I do like being active and I don’t really watch television, so spending 3 hours a day on the weekend hiking or working out is fun for me. But I do do other things, like blog! Or go shopping, watch the rugby, go out to meet new people at Meetup groups, catch up with friends etc. and the more active I am the more active I want to be.

I really hope that my experience and detailing my lifestyle habits helps others
moving to a new city or really even those who haven’t moved help keep a healthy lifestyle in their city. I would really like to hear about other people’s experiences in keeping a healthy lifestyle when moving, or even if you have any recipes to change up my meals that would be great too!

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Below I have listed some of the websites and apps I have used in the past to help me in case anyone is interested!

http://www.bodybuilding.com/ – Although it may seem to be for serious Body Builder type person this site has a lot of good video’s to show you how to do exercises but it also allows you to choose the muscle/ area you would like to work and gives you exercises you can do to work those areas.

http://www.kaylaitsines.com/ – Although I do not prescribe to this in its entirety (apparently I am also too old for this program as it is supposed to be for those under 25 years) I did find it had some great tips and exercises that I have incorporated into my workout.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/ – this is an Australian government website which I found really helpful when it came to the basics of understanding food choices and the difference between potato and sweet potato.

https://au.pinterest.com/ – Pinterest!

www.meetup.com – MeetUp

Apps

Endomondo

Food Switch

Walking Routes.ie

My Fitness Pal

It is a universal truth that a single women must be in want of a partner….

It is a universal truth that a single women must be in want of a partner…. Ok so that wasn’t quite how the famous opening line from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice actually went but I thought it made a good opener to today’s blog.Unknown1

My relationship status, as a single person, is apparently a topic for public opinion. It doesn’t matter if I have known you since I was 2 years old or I meet you 5 minutes ago, people feel they have the right to pass judgment, make a comment, tell me the relationship status of every male co-worker in the building, or recommended one of their single friends to me.  Having just moved to Ireland I often get asked “Did you move to Ireland for a man?” or “I am sure you will find a nice Irish boy soon enough” or “so do you think you will be settling down soon now that you’re in Ireland?”

For any person moving to a new city or country on their own there is so many other things to worry about. Finding a job, an apartment, the best restaurants to eat at, best places for coffee, finding new social or sporting clubs to join, and making new friends are the priority – we don’t have time to be dealing with the emotional rollercoaster ride that is dating.

 

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The last thing I am thinking about is dating.  I don’t care if Mark in Accounts is single, or if Ger is currently going through a messy divorce. I don’t care that you have a really nice friend in Navan who may be a little young for me. I just moved here.

The last thing someone moving to a new city / country is thinking about, or should be thinking about is dating. If you are planning on moving or just moved to a new city and you are more worried about not having a boyfriend or girlfriend then where you are going to live or about having friends then you may not have your best interests at heart.

women-friends

Being single and moving to a new city is great. You only have to worry about yourself, you discover new things about yourself, you learn how much you can do on your own, and you push yourself to try and do new things you may never have thought of doing before. For me it is the third time I have gone to a new city on my own and a highly recommend it.

So random strangers stop pushing the subject, and single people just ignore their ignorance – they obviously don’t know how fabulous it is to be a single person in a new city.

lonely-expat-problem-making-friends

Charmaine Xx

Finding the Right Apartment and the Right Housemates

At the moment I am looking for a new place to call home. When I originally planned to move to Ireland I had it all sorted out in my head; I love being outdoors and wanted to learn how to sail so I was going to move to the village (or what an Australian would call the outer suburbs) of Malahide. I arrived in Dublin and under the stress of living in a hotel, I quickly found a house share arrangement in Malahide to live. I was not entirely comfortable with my new housemates from our brief meeting but I was in a hotel and needed to get out fast.

I moved in and very quickly realised my mistake in making such a rush move:

The location – I had wanted to work and am working in the city center. The hour commute each way into the city is already driving me insane. I am also finding that I spend a lot of my evenings in the city center so by the time I am getting home its 10.30/11pm and I am up at 6am to catch the first bus of the morning. This means the active exercise full lifestyle I am use to is being lost. The house is also not close to any of the main bus or train routes so I am walking 20 – 40 min to public transport.

The house – the house is a cheap new build, the door knob to the bathroom fell off the other day and the second bathroom has not worked since I moved in. The house is also very cold, the heaters are too small for the bedrooms and it take 40min for the hot water to heat up so you can have a shower (the timer does not work). In the houses defencee it does look very pretty and the rooms are quite large and bright.

Cost – I pay €500 a month for my double bedroom plus bills, there are house shares in the city centre for €500 – €600 and I would not have to pay to commute in everyday (which cost me €30 – €40 per week).

Housemates – Getting along with my housemates is important to me. My housemates are nice enough, but we have very different views. I am quickly running out of patience as one of my housemates in particular rules over the house, opening doors to let the cold air in when we have just spent an hour with the heating on trying to warm the place up, changing the television channel on my other housemate because he wants to watch the soccer, and turning the bloody hot water off on me while I am in the shower. My house mates are also all married and settled, or married and sending money home to their family overseas. For someone who has just moved to Dublin, this type of home environment can make it difficult to feel comfortable in your home and to build a friendship network.

For some people not getting along or having a social connection with their housemates is not as important as other things, such as a new fashionable home. But for me it is up there on the list of ‘high priority’ items. So within a week of moving in the search for a new place began again. I am not on any official subletting agreement so I am not too concerned about moving on.

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Current Rental Environment in Dublin

Renting in Dublin at the moment is in crisis, new laws have been recently put in place to stop landlords increasing rent on existing properties for the next 2 years and new anti-discrimination legislation has been enacted to stop people being discriminated against when applying for rental properties. However there is not enough housing to meet demand and for every property I apply for there are 100+ other people applying for that same property. It also means that there are a number of rental scams going around with people asking for deposits for properties that do not exist, and some people giving you keys when you pay a deposit but the keys not fitting the locks to the property you were paying a deposit on…

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Knowing all this I have delved back into the share house search, so far I responded to over 40 advertisements, and received responses back from six of those inquiries. I have viewed four properties to date. One property was a complete dump – landlord trying to make a three bedroom apartment out of a two bedroom apartment by turning the lounge room into a bedroom and no improvements have been done on the property in at least 10 years. The second property was an older apartment as well but it was workable, however I quickly got the feeling from the male housemate that he ruled the roost and we would not get along at all… Apparently the feeling was mutual as the property was re-advertised the next day.

 

I fell in love with the third house I viewed. The house itself was in a good part of town, it had that warm and cosy feeling, and I felt I got along well with the other housemates. However it was not meant to be and for a day or two I was devastated that I did not get the place. But from that experience it has helped me reshape my idea’s on the type of place I am looking for and the type of housemates I want to live with. Now when I respond to an advertisement for a property I am interested in I give people a better idea on who I am, what I am looking for and why they should pick me to be their housemate.

So for now the house search continues. Since my last rejection I have found a further 5 properties which meet my criteria… hopefully I will get to view at least one of them and find my new home soon!

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Irish Banking – Welcome to the 18th Century

Today marks 29 days since I arrived in Ireland and finally I have all the paper work I need to open a bank account. Navigating the Irish bank system has been an experience to say the least, in the 8 years since I last opened a bank account in Ireland the country has tightened its rules on proof of identity and proof of address for new accounts. No longer does a letter from your employer (or the manager of the hostel you are living in as was my case the first time round!) count as proof of address. This can make proving your address especially difficult for someone new to the country who is currently living with friends/family or in shared accommodation.

Finally after being employed for over a fortnight I have the letter from Revenue (the Irish tax department) providing the proof of my address I need to open my bank account. I have made an appointment at a local bank and fingers crossed I will have my account open in another two weeks… yes that’s right two more weeks! Why? Because it can take up to a week to get an appointment with a bank and then a further 7 days to “process” your information and set up the account. But then I shall only have an account, it will be up to another 7 days before I have a debit card in which to allow me to access my money without having to go into a bank. It really is not a quick process…

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So what have I been doing in the meantime to access my money?

So far I have been living off my Australian savings but that is not ideal. For every cash withdrawal I make it cost me $5 in bank fees and for every transaction 2.5%, I am also limited by the Irish ATM’s to a maximum 600€ withdrawal a day. This can make things difficult if you are wanting to provide a cash deposit and/or one month’s bond to someone for a share house to secure your accommodation.

As I have been working for the last fortnight in Ireland and I don’t have a bank account, I am paid by cheque. I received my first cheque last week and having been told that cheque’s could only be cashed by the bank who drafted the cheque I headed off to my nearest Bank of Ireland branch. On arriving at the bank and spending half an hour in line (it was lunch time so there was only one teller on) I was finally served. I was quickly disappointed again as the cashier advised me that not only did a cheque have to be banked within the same bank but also within the same branch in which it was drafted. In this case a branch about 40min walk from my workplace and nowhere near my home.

I was astonished and infuriated. I couldn’t understand – it was the same bank! I asked the cashier to explain why this was to me, but they could not say more than it was bank policy. My past experience with cheques has been limited to the annual Christmas/birthday cheque from the grandparents living on the other side of the country. Never have I had to fly across the country to bank my $50 cheque, so why could the bank that issued the cheque not also cash it? – the answer I may never know. So my cheque continues to sit in my dresser until next week when I go to pick up my next cheque and I will then proceed to walk the 40 min to the bank and cash both cheques at once.

Maybe it’s my “first-world problem” but I feel as we continue to storm through the 21st century the Irish banking system is providing us with a little taste of 18th century life.

Remembering what I have already achieved in 2016!

So as 2015 drew to a close and I was planning what I wanted to do to celebrate 2015 and bring in the New Year I started Pinterest-ing New Year’s Eve ideas. What I found were memory jars and this was the beginning of my inspiration for my 2016 New Year’s Resolution. Now this was my new years resolution but it is something that you can start at any time of the year, and if you love my little story to come I strongly recommend you go out today and start your own memory jar!

But back to my story. The idea of a memory jar is that you get a jar and all through the year whenever something good happens, whenever you do something that makes you happy, you have a good day, you get a compliment from a stranger – whatever positive thing it is, you write it down on a little piece of paper and you put it into the jar. Then on New Year’s Eve you empty out the jar and read all the great things that happened to you that year.

I thought this was a brilliant idea, I had been feeling 2015 was not my year that is had been pretty average but when I sat down and really thought about it I realised 2015 had been a great year. I had lost 25kg (now its 32kg!), I had moved into my first apartment all on my own, I had gone on an amazing holiday, went to a friend’s wedding in Singapore, decided I was going to move to Ireland, had almost finished paying off my 5 year loan (I ended up paying it off in 5 months! Yay!), and they were just the things I could think of off the top of my head. Imagine if I actually took the time and wrote down the positive things that happened in my day to day life that made me happy.

So that was it, I was making a Memory Jar. I decided I wasn’t just going to make a memory jar though for me, I decided to make it for three of my friends as well to help them see all the amazing things that happen in their life each year too. So I went to the store and brought the beautiful jars you see here.

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While I was standing in the cue waiting to pay for the jars I was flicking through the local free city magazine and saw the 2016 yearly horoscopes. I read mine and liked what it said so I grabbed the magazine and decided I would cut out the horoscopes for each person and put them in the jar as well. Then on the way home I was thinking about it a bit more and decided that I would also add a note to each memory jar with a positive message to each of my friends and in my own jar saying what I hoped they would (and I would) achieve in the coming year.

I went home and I put the name cards on each of the jars for each of my friends and had them ready to give to them on New Year’s Eve. The jars so far have been a real success for myself and most of my friends – one of my friends was overseas for New Years and will only be finding out about her memory jar as she is reading this post so she will be starting it a little late, but I am sure she will have so many things to put in it from her adventures this year already!

With my big move to Ireland at the beginning of March I have had a lot to put into my jar already this year. From my last sunset sail with Momo and the crew from Unhinged before leaving Townsville, hiking through the Blue Mountains with my best friend, to getting my first job in Ireland, writing my first blog, making my first new friend… all of these have been included into my memory jar. The jar also has served as a reminder on my harder days that I have had so many good things happen in my life this year that I do have so much to be grateful for, and you can’t have a rose garden without a little rain sometimes.

So go empty out that pickle jar (pickles are yucky anyway), wash it out and start writing down those little things each day or each week that bring a smile to your face, write about that new person you meet, the fun thing you did on the weekend, or that promotion you just got at work. Just write down all that positive stuff that is happening in your life every day that you take for granted, and come December 31st we will see just what amazing and lucky lives we get to live.

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Momo & I enjoying the last sunset of 2016 from the top of Castle Hill in Townsville, North Queensland – this is where we wrote  down what we wanted to achieve in 2016 for our memory jars!