Monday 14 December 2009

New home for new beginnings.

I have moved. Yep new name blog for my new experiences, because as Malcolm pointed out, this blog has served its purpose and my new journey has begun. So, I do have a new blog address and if you would like it please email me at natsrule at live.ie (and yes it should be @ but hoping this avoids junk mail) as the new one is a little more anonymous. I am not sure if Malcolm plans to keep this blog up and if not I think it will be deleted in the next month or so as I have exported the current contents to my new place, pop over and visit!

Thursday 19 November 2009

Look what the wind blew in!

I am sitting on the couch looking at the tip that is my lounge. If I needed a reminder that it is 'my week' with the kids a quick peek into my living area is all the verification I need. Like the seasons can be identified so can my weeks. When the girls are here it is like a messy breezy autumn day and books, shoes, bags and clothes look suspiciously like they have been blown in by a mighty wind. I think that must be the case, surely two girls cannot create such havoc? And then I see that more has been added, a scarf, gloves, hat, coat, handbag and the daily Metro...was that really me? Then the tales of the day get told, dinner gets eaten and I kinda forget about the state of things.
So yes, I have a week of chaos and this is followed by zen like peace and tranquility and a tidy house. I think it is the best of both worlds, just as the peace and quiet gets to much the bags, shoes and laughter return.
All this talk of wind, it must be because it was SO very blustery today. I walked out of the apartment to a wall of rain and wind which immediately picked a fight with my polka dot pink umbrella, turning her inside out and destroying a couple of joints. Somehow I manage to flip it back to normal but the poor thing is destroyed. I will continue to attempt to keep my head dry under its flailing skeleton for a while, after all it cost me £20! In all fairness though, the wind was so strong this morning that it actually even snatched my beanie off my head in some sort of cheeky game and I was sent running down the street after it..grr. I have to say I would prefer the wind WITHOUT the rain!
But I cannot complain because there is something very energising being blown about in such mad conditions. The weird thing is that it is not that cold, I was out at 22h00 collecting the kids from a school play they were watching and it was 14 degrees!
Tomorrow night I am playing in a hockey match, I really really hope the weather has settled by then!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Musings

A few lessons I learned this past
week...

Don't lose the lid for the milk bottle in a confined space. Yep, the recycling bins are inconveniently placed in the car park basement. This is very handy for regular motor vehicle users, but as a staunch supporter of the local bus corridor my car does not get to stretch its wheels very often. On a Wednesday however it has a little outing to the hockey club which also means a visit to the recycling bins. Now as the bins are near the exit and I am always in a rush I put all the recycling in my car and empty out on my way to the exit. Tonight the lid popped off the empty milk bottle in my car, the bottle that has been empty and in the warm apartment since Monday. LOVELY.

I can play hockey for 2 and a half hours on a cold, damp windy night. I went down to hockey to practice with the Vets at 19h30 and we ended up playing a match against the thirds. After that I was rearing to go home but Mandy and I decided to stay for the thirds and fourths practice so hockey continued until 22h00. Considering I only got home from work at 19h00 I was pretty pleased with myself.

Focus Ireland is a fabulous charity. Last week a whole bunch of us from work volunteered to paint a house and clean up a garden for the charity. It was a fabulous experience and was made very memorable when our 6 foot something MD managed to put his knee through the €1800 glass top hob while painting the kitchen. The thought running through everyone's mind? Thank goodness it wasn't me. Anyhow, the charity does great work in Ireland and I think what they do benefits all of us so thanks muchly.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

To swine flu or not to swine flu..

I have swine flu. I am eating like an oink. I am not sure what it is but what I see must go into my mouth, croissants, pastries, ice lollies, cashew nuts, pizza, bananas...i could go on but I think you understand my predicament. It did not help much when Kirstin taught me the fine art of drinking tea through a twix, yes astonishingly it does work, unfortunately you need a LOT of twix to get through a cup of tea! Of course with all the input I then have to ensure a certain amount of output and so I found myself walking home in blizzard like conditions in the dark, to ensure that the Twix does not find its way to my ass, especially because the pastries already have.

Now Jess did have the H1N1 virus - and that would have been rather handy to contract. With H1N1 you CANT eat, I reckon they call it s-w-i-n-e flu to reduce the street cred's of the marvelous side effect of the virus. If everyone knew that you could lose up to 3 kg's (ask Jess) not many people would be buying anti bacterial wipes now would they? Of course I kept a safe distance from Jess, using my polo neck jersey as a barrier - she was not impressed but in all fairness I had not discovered the merits of swine flu at that stage. In all seriousness though, I did NOT actually want o get sick, shame Jess really was not well but I must point out that considering how contagious it it meant to be, none of us got sick.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Sweet and Sour

Sitting in my car at the traffic lights, and notice that through the darkened window of the BMW x5 in front of me little hands are waving. Of course who can resist waving back at friendly children and so I smile and wave, not that I can see much but the small hands through the windows! Next thing there is a notebook but I can't read it, I use the international sign language for 'I can't see what that says' and the notebook is shoved against the window with the word SWEET in big bold letters and it hits me. The game my children used to play when they were little, if the driver smiled and waved they were sweet....and yes a grumpy unmoving person was sour! Wow time sure does fly, now my children are as tall as me, gone are the little hands and rosy cheeks peeping up from the back seat. SOB!!!

Monday 19 October 2009

Am I back?

Oh boy, I really do battle to find time to blog, in fact it is so bad that I was going to delete this monologue of my life but my girls begged me not to. Instead I closed it for a while, invitation only without inviting anyone. Sorry. I am not sure I am back, no promises that I am actually going to start spewing out irrelevant stories again.
Life has had some interesting turns, no internet at home for a week at a time, weird! The girls spent 10 days with Malcolm while his folks visited from SA, very odd for me, I missed them a lot but it was also quite a new experience not having to rush home after work every day, not feeling bad tearing off to hockey practice on a Wednesday etc.
Overall life is still good and I am still playing hockey, have had my first Vets festival committee meeting and have made some fabulous new friends, lost a few old ones and realised how lucky I am to have such strong unwavering friends in my life. My favourite saying "some people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime" has never been more relevant.
Back? If not on my blog then in my life you betcha!

Sunday 13 September 2009

When the sun shines in Ireland...

It is heaven on earth. I am sure I have said it all before but amuse me, won't you? There really is something special that happens on this green isle when the sun shines. The traffic jams to Brittas Bay are horrendous, so don't do that, instead head out for a walk up the Dublin mountain and sit on the rocks overlooking the sea and the land below. On your walk up every person who passes you by will nod and smile and say hello, hi, hey or some form of greeting they particularly like. You will pass people with dogs, people bending over the hedgerows filling pales with black berries (wish I could say big fat blackberries but they are not genetically modified up there) and marvel at the way the light filters through the forest bits of your walk. Or get up early and head for the beach or go further afield to Wexford if you like....just DO NOT stay home and do the chores!
I reckon that in SA we get so used to our fabulous weather that we take it for granted, here a sunny day is a gift, a thing to enjoy and boy oh boy we do.

Friday 4 September 2009

Bagless

Engrossed in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on the bus this morning and my phone rings and I am rudely yanked from Hedeberg Island in Sweden as I hear the panic stricken voice of my youngest....
She got off the bus and left her school bag behind, a rather ingenious way of avoiding the dog ate my homework excuse, only the bag was a brand new Roxy one and she was not a very happy young lass.
I sprung into action, luckily Jess had her bus ticket so the number on the top right corner helped dispatch contact the driver who confirmed that Kirstin's bag was on his bus.
The fact that I had done this all before for my eldest ensured a sleek operation, only this time I had to go to Donnybrook garage to collect the abandoned bag. Last time we just met the bus on its return loop, very handy that was! BUT having said that I felt a true sense of belonging when I hopped in the car and headed for the Donnybrook garage this eve without my sat nav! Silver linings on every cloud.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Forms of torture

Hockey season has started again, I did play summer hockey and had a fabulous time, scoring three goals per match towards the end of our short season and feeling like a real pro, okay an IMPROVER is more accurate, but hey this is my story!
That is until I ventured out on a cold and wet Wednesday night and reality came tap tapping. I am not very good at the drills, in fact I wanted to lift a corner of the astro turf and hide. The weird thing is that once we started playing, unfortunately only after 1 hour and 15 minutes of humiliation, I was actually quite good. I thoroughly enjoyed getting soaking wet and having rivers of water running into my eyes, slippery grip on the hockey stick and soggy shoes. It somehow added to the satisfaction of going out there and getting some exercise!

After all that running around I decided that a more gentle approach to exercise was a good follow on and so S and I took her Scottish terrier for a walk up Kilmashogue, a poorly timed walk it has to be said. We met at 7h30 and began our ascent with Alfie happily leading the way. At 8h15 we decided to turn around and head back as the evenings have shortened alarmingly and we found ourselves stumbling back in near darkness towards the end of our descent! Of course we had Alfie for protection and S and I did not feel the need to speed walk, or jog on our way back to the cars, at least we got to appreciate the sights of lit up Dublin spread peacefully below us. I think form now on our mountain walks will have to take place on the weekends and when the urge of an evening walk attacks, we will prowl the streets of suburbia instead.

New Beginnings

This post has been postponed and put off for a very long time but I guess I have to bite the bullet and get it over and done with. I think I have not been blogging because things are so different now and even though all the important people in my life know about this, it is still a very awkward topic that will hit a nerve with loved ones. I also do not want to upset anyone with posts, but I guess at the end of the day reading what I write is a personal choice.

Simply put I asked Malcolm for a separation and after a year I moved out into my own apartment and started a very new and foreign journey. The girls have been absolutely fantastic and although I am sure it is difficult for them they have settled well and are very encouraging and supportive.
I am not going to say much else about it, as it is obviously very personal but perhaps after getting this out the way I can return to blogging with some enthusiasm, instead of treating a hobby I used to enjoy as a duty and a chore.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Eureka! Ikea.

Armed with bottles of mixed cordial, CD's and the promise of lots to look at, the girls and I made our way along the M50 to the new Ikea in Ballymum. We were happy enough to wait in the long queues to get into the car park, in fact we had decided that it would be part of the whole experience, and at least I knew I would not get 'Are we there yet?' because they would actually be looking at Ikea while stuck in the car!
The amount of QT we ended up getting would make speed dating on telly look slow, it took us a horrifyingly quick 10 minutes before we were in a parking space slamming the doors. Oh well.
The store is massive, I heard on the radio that it is either the size or Croke Park..or twice the size, considering 80 000 people fit into Croke to watch Bono and the gang...that makes Ikea rather humongous.
We meandered around upstairs in the show area - they even have a 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartment fully kitted out in Ikea, pretty cool.
Lunch was a mere recession busting €10.70 although admittedly the order was 3 fries, smoked salmon, brown bread, 2 juices and a coffee (free refills on drinks) but still!!!!
All in all it was a great day out and we will definitely be going back for mattresses (if my Internet research can unearth some good feedback), book cases and anything else we might need in the near future, oh and maybe, just maybe LUNCH!

Sunday 26 July 2009

Get on your boots...

And walk down to Croke park for the final night of the U2 concert! We are lucky enough to have FOUR tickets for Monday night in our little paws. Getting the tickets was....interesting. See we really, really wanted to go, so we logged on to Ticket Master using all three computers, feeling very very clever...until we discovered that when Ticket Masters website sees multiple log ons from the same IP address you can't get tickets! Needless to say we had a highly annoyed Mr Rule and a very sheepish Mrs Rule...it had been my idea to attack from three fronts after all. So...we missed out.

Of course when Bono heard what had happened, and that the RULES had missed out on tickets he said that he simply could not perform in Dublin without us being able to experience the magic and so it transpired that a third date was added to the Dublin tour. Now this is all top secret, Dubliners think that it is because he likes playing to his home crowd. In reality he had to sell another 59996 or so tickets or it would not have been financially viable for the band...

So yes, tomorrow night we are taking two very lucky teenage girls and four very, very expensive tickets (that is ANOTHER ticket master disaster involving panic and the option - Best seats available, and had NOTHING to do with me this time) to the 360 degree tour with The Script opening...who just so happens to be a band we really enjoy too. Lucky, lucky US.

Don't tell Jess...

Jess churned out yet another masterpiece, this time for Carla, who is doing her babies room in a Winnie the Pooh theme, she has been on summer holidays and was in the mood for a bit of culture, Joe (Carla's husband) reckons she should go into business! Of course I agree, in fact I have a poet and an artist so I should set up shop with both of them - Jess can illustrate Kirstin's poems....oh and I will just bake the cupcakes for the tea room...

Fairy cake magic

This morning I got up and started baking for my friends baby shower. When sleepy head Jess came downstairs at 10h30 she was very disappointed to discover that I had already baked and decorated a dozen cupcakes and made a milk tart.

So of course I had to make another batch, this time substituting half the milk for orange flower water to try something different. Luckily Kirstin wanted to prepare the batter so besides my little tweak she actually did all the work!

I had made cream cheese frosting for the first batch so this time I made vienna cream frosting, again using the orange flower water instead of milk. We used the food colouring very carefully as we wanted pale pastel colours and the results were not half bad. I demonstrated the icing technique using the yellow on four cupcakes clamouring for some decoration and accessories and then the girls each got to dress up four cupcakes too. I think the results were fabulous...and not only did they look good dressed up in such finery, they tasted fantastic too!





Friday 24 July 2009

Get a Hair cut and get a Real job!

Yesterday D at work turned around to another D and told her "to get a haircut and get a real job". We all laughed at his comment and then he told us it was the name of a song...so here it is, I think it is funny, not sure this is his best effort, maybe it is, I had no idea who he was and I had not heard the song but I read the lyrics at work yesterday and decided it could be a fun Friday song, Happy weekend everyone!!!!!

Saturday 11 July 2009

ONCE - Falling Slowly

The girls and I have just finished watching an indie movie called "Once" and this is the feature song, in fact the song won an Oscar although not without some controversy. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"The song was nominated at the 50th Grammy Awards for Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media; it lost to "Love You I Do" from Dreamgirls.[4]
The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song on 24 February 2008, ahead of the choral gospel song "Raise It Up" from August Rush and three songs from the modern Disney musical Enchanted.[3] The song's win marked the fourth year in a row that the Oscar winner had not been nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. For some time, the song's eligibility for an Oscar was in dispute, because it had been performed and recorded prior to the release of Once[3] The Academy ruled that because the song had been composed for the movie, and the prior public exposure during the long period that the movie took to produce had been minimal, it remained eligible.[2] The Academy had ruled likewise on a similar controversy involving 2004 Best Original Song nominee "In the Deep".

I loved the song when I first heard it, and although the movie was a low budget one, the girls and I thoroughly enjoyed the 'humanness' (is that a word?) of it and the fact that it is all set in Dublin and we have walked so many of the streets that appear in the film. Enjoy!



And I have to share another one with you...I had not heard it until I saw the movie, but WOW, the kids and I just looked at each other and got covered in goose bumps, her voice is so full of emotion. If you would like to know more about the movie here is a link to Wikipedia, copy and paste it (don't you just love it?) -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_(film)


Fostering

When I was introduced to Tippin I had to lie on the lounge floor to get a look at the black and white mother of two hiding under my sofa. The sight of anyone at the glass doors to the lounge sent her into a small hissing fit or a mad dash for the security beneath the furniture. A week later this blog post is being interrupted by her stretching out across the computer desk talking to me begging for a scratch. She has certainly made herself at home and we can here her all day talking and meowing all over the house.
Her two little boys Davey and Oliver have three very capable mothers, two of whom have realised that raising kittens is very hard work. Unfortunately there are downsides to kitten fostering.
The biggest hurdle? The litter box. The cats are not allowed outside so when we got the cats we also got litter trays and cat grit. WELL. It stinks, unbelievably and to make matters worse we cannot leave windows open for fear of escape. Of course I have to open them a crack and we remove what we can and flush but I have never seen anyone empty the room as quickly as Tippin can after a visit to the red tray in the corner! And yes we do change the litter...frequently.
We also spend a lot of time sweeping or vacuuming up litter as she is a very enthusiastic digger - I guess even she knows that she needs to bury that awful smell as quickly as possible!
Kittens are very busy little things and I have even had to remove them from the dining room table! At least puppies cannot claw their way up to places animals are not meant to be. Of course when I walk into the lounge and see one curled up on top of the Sky box (it is warm) and the other sleeping under the coffee table it is kinda nice! But they certainly are a handful and a good lesson for the kids. Yikes, Tippin is back on the desk demanding attention...as nice as this is I think I will risk being called heartless and admit that 7 weeks of cats will be long enough, and yes for the kids too!

Friday 10 July 2009

Jason Marz - I'm Yours

At last a Friday song again, and this happens to be one of those cheerful ditty's. Whenever it comes on the radio Jess enthusiastically twists the volume button and we all enjoy.


Tuesday 7 July 2009

Wednesday was market day in Port Pollensa and I wanted to have a look and see what they had, so even though we woke up to magnificent blue skies and decided that the beach was the place to be, we set off for the market first. I loved it, so many stalls selling so many things, clothes, jewellery, nuts and dried fruit, fresh fruit and vegetables, barrels of olives and more. Jess and I both found lovely pieces of jewellery and then I chose some olives and we got some fresh fruit and vegetables for the apartment. By 11h30 we were done and on our way to join Don and Maura who had gone straight to the beach earlier in the morning, it was Maura’s last day with us and they had more records to smash with the bat and ball, they got to an absurd 4 digit number – apparently it was a very good bat and ball set!
We spent the entire day at the beach, finally leaving at 17h30, Maura had to get ready to leave and Malcolm made a salad for us all to snack on because we were planning on going for dinner when he and Don got back from the airport at around 21h00. Jess had choice of restaurant and she had chosen Dakota – American style, looked a lot like the Spur steak houses to me! She had also specifically booked a table on the ‘island’ right next to the water, which was a fabulous location but the wind was a bit chilly and considering the kids and I had waited an hour for the table there was no way that we were settling for a more sheltered spot! Of course we were waiting for Malcolm and Don too, so we had no choice BUT to wait…but still! We did not really mind waiting anyway, people watching was fascinating and it was great to sit and chat in such a relaxed way. Passing the time!
Thursday was same again, except the kids bought blow up tubes from a shop and spent a lot of time bobbing in the sea. Don and Malcolm played bat and ball and I soaked up sun and read my book. We all went for an early dinner to Simbad – Kristin’s choice, when she had spotted macaroni cheese on their menu her decision was made. Malcolm and I had the paella which was much too salty, and for me to say that is BAD!!! Kirstin had an amazing macaroni cheese; we all declared it the dish of the night. After dinner Malcolm made yet another trip to the airport to drop Don off, shame he had been having so much fun he did not want to leave! The girls and I strolled into town and got ice cream cones and slowly made our way back to the apartment.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Memorable OJ...

Tuesday was another cloudy beginning. We decided to take a drive to a town called Deiá because I had discovered it in my book, "1000 places to see before you die" (or die trying) and a friend of Maura's had also recommended it. We had hired a Peugeot 206 so fitting the six of us would be challenging, but it was a mere 40 km's away so we knew it would be a short drive with a big pay off, if reading the description in my book was anything to go by!

We headed off in a cheerful fashion but arrived in Deiá weary, hot, nauseous and bothered. Our journey was through the mountains, absolutely spectacular but as the roads were narrow and unbelievably serpentine so it had taken us over two hours!

"The road is long, with many a windy turns..............."

We did stop at a viewing spot and drank in the view, sadly the pictures do not do it justice. There was a little shop carved into the wall of the mountain and a Spanish lady stood and pressed oranges, selling the freshly squeezed juice to tired and thirsty travelers. Kirstin and I sat on the wall and sipped our juice - and proclaimed it the most memorable orange juice we have (and possible would ever) ever drunk. Slightly refreshed we continued on our journey - still believing that our destination was JUST around the corner. Little did we know that our stop was around the half way mark!





We walked around the little village and finally settled on a spot for a snack and a drink and referred to the map to find a route home that did not involve more mountains. We discovered that we could head back towards Palma and then take the motorway back to Port Pollensa, a long way around in mileage but we KNEW that there was NO way we could face those winding roads twice in one day! Our decision made we all squashed and folded our way back into the car and headed home, arriving back in Port Pollensa a mere one hour later!





Plotting our next move on the map!

By the time we got back it was about 17h00 but the sun was shining and it was so hot that we all headed down to the beach for a swim. Don and Maura also had their faithful bat and ball and attempted to break their record of 260 without missing...it was fascinating watching them, they find their rhythm and then it is back and forth for AGES..
Dinner was the usual long slow walk and Don made the decision and we had dinner at a place called Totts, offering a 3 course meal including a glass of wine, beer, soda or sangria for €15 per person.

Friday 3 July 2009

Beach holiday beginnings

Sunday morning we woke to a familiar sight...clouds. I didn't care, it was warm and dry and we were on holiday! The coffee I had bought the night before was revolting; I do not think that the lime scale in the kettle helped so the kids and I wondered down to find a spot for breaky. Malcolm headed off to the airport to collect Donovan and Maura and the girls and I sat in the heat and soaked up the peace of the island. The spot we chose for our breakfast was across the road from the beach so the view was amazing. The girls ordered fresh orange and that is exactly what they got - the Spanish know how to serve up fresh juice.

After breakfast all the shops were begging for little miss shopaholics attention (that would be Jess by the way) and so we wondered around poking our noses into interesting spots and before we knew it Malcolm was back from the airport with two hungry bodies, so it was back to a restaurant to feed the travelers. We ended up at a place called Simbad and the owner was so friendly and the cafe' con leche (coffee with milk) was a huge improvement on the poison back at the apartment so we elected it the coffee spot for the week.


By the end of breakfast the clouds had dissipated and we went back to the apartment and changed into beach gear and headed down to the sand, warm sea and sun. Kirstin did not like swimming in the sea, she hated not knowing what was below, but when the whole gang headed out to the buoy she swallowed her fear and went along with everyone. I watched them from the shore, after lying in the sun the warm sea felt cold and I was rather hesitant getting in and before I knew it their heads were bobbing very far away; by the time I swam out to join them they were turning back! We all floated around in the gentle swell enjoying the experience of the extra buoyancy because of the salty water. Our surroundings were breathtaking, the beach was perfect and we knew that this would be a fabulous beach holiday.

Later in the evening we headed toward the port for dinner, there were so many restaurants to choose from and Maura suggested that every night a different person could pick a place, we all thought it was a great idea and gave her first choice and so it was that we all found ourselves eating pizzas and salads at a corner Italian place that boasted the best pizzas in Pollensa. I find the bases of the pizzas strange, it is more like a pastry then a dough, very thin crust and very little tomato base. It was a delicious pizza, just not what I am accustomed too. After dinner we strolled around for a while and got ice cream cones for everyone and then headed back to the apartment. Our first full day on holiday had been fabulous!

Sunday 28 June 2009

Let's start at the very beginning...

Hola! Where do I begin? The flight was FULL and left on time. Jess and Kirstin managed to get seats next to each other but Malcolm and I were scatterlings of Ryanair - he upfront and me near the tail. I got a middle seat, between two guys from USA on their way to Palma to celebrate a 40th birthday party. We had a great flight, J the 6'1" guy was really nervous of flying which was highly amusing because he is a pilot - well in training and only in little planes! By the end of the flight I had been invited to join the 40th birthday party celebrations - with 91 guests I guess another bod is no big deal!
We landed 30 minutes early - half an hour extra holiday I cheered, little did we know the inefficiency that is Palma airport meant that the 30 minutes were spent waiting for stairs for the plane! Ah well. No amend that too...another 3o minutes wasted waiting for our luggage - I think Palma owe me an hour.
Next was the car hire and that really peed me off. We had to go to a central meeting point and find a person in a yellow shirt. It felt a little like the Amazing Race- which incidentally I have discovered I would SUCK at. Then we had to go outside and look out for a mini bus that said Centurio (or something close to that) on its side and we would be whisked off to the car hire place 5 minutes from the airport. Sadly we are not as pushy as most of the other families utilizing the car hire service so we miss out on 2 busses (they only hold 6 people – you do the math when faced with mostly FAMILIES) and by the time we get to the car hire place it is 18h45 – and we landed at 17h00!!!
Next is the drive to Pollensa – uneventful besides driving on the WRONG side of the road!
We missed the grocery store by a minute – as I ran in they turned the lights out….right now I hate my Mallorca holiday!
Finding our apartment is slightly challenging – the garmin is not doing her job, but only because it does not recognize the street name we input. The restaurants are overflowing with happy patrons as we drive around aimlessly and my stomach is beginning to remind me that I have not eaten since 13h00. This annoys me because by the time we find our apartment the places will all be closed – it is now close to 22h00…an open Spar! Wahoo – milk, wine, bread, ham, cheese and coffee – sorted!
Stroke of luck! Malcolm asks a woman if she knows where our street is and it turns out we are only a block away, this is superb news and if I had a tail it would be wagging furiously. Once we locate the apartment complex the next trick is finding our door “E” with a key tacked to it. The hunt is over after about 5 minutes with Kirstin triumphantly holding the coveted key. We had also spotted a really great restaurant around the corner that was still open, so after dumping our luggage and Dublin clothes (jeans) we legged it down to dinner.
The restaurant was great, across the road from the sea (of course we soon realized that these are a dime a dozen) and we sat and ate al fresco. I decided to have fish, Dorado was part of the 3 course menu on offer and Malcolm said it was a fabulous game fish. I think a Dorado is a different fish altogether in Mallorca because there was no way the little guy winking up at me from my plate was a game fish – and yes eyeballing me because it was WHOLE!!! Game fish meant a nice fillet or a steak in my mind, not a teeth to tail on my plate affair so I ate it with caution and yes to be honest…long teeth, but I did eat it. Of course I also did leave a fair bit on my plate so there was no way I was missing out on my third course and when they mentioned crème caramel that definitely sealed my calorie counting fate. It was also a spring board to many more dinners ending in something sweet - a habit I do not often indulge in, the constricta style jeans I am wearing today have reminded me of my bad holiday eating habits - ah well.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Hoooo Boy!

Wow, it has been a while - I just feel like I have nothing interesting to say on my blog..but then I think, did I ever?
Work has been hectic, we have been short staffed for ages so it has been challenging but a new staff member joined a couple of weeks ago. She is still in training and I feel sorry for her because it has been slow going as we still have to do all the usual work and try and teach her!
On Saturday we fly to Majorca/Mallorca (depending on who you are talking to!) for a week of sea, sand and sun and we are looking forward to it immensely. We are staying in a self catering apartment which looks really nice, Malcolm booked our holiday this year so I am just going with the flow. It feels really strange as I am usually the one doing all the organising but now that I am working I do not have as much time on my hands, Malcolm did for a while but now work has got very busy for him too as he is running with a finance project.

Kirstin and Jess are now young ladies, and make me very proud, Kirstin is almost as tall as I am and although she still enjoys her go kart is definitely more of a GIRL. Gone are the days when she did not brush her hair before leaving the house, invariably with a chocolate moustache!
A trip to the mall is not like it used to be, outfits need to be co-ordinated, make up applied (mascara only for Kirstin - have given up saying no) and hair fiddled with. Jess writes her last state exam tomorrow and then the summer holidays begin, although Kirstin has been enjoying her summer holiday since the end of May! Jess has been home when not writing exams and I think she adopted the holiday spirit so I am not sure how keen she is to see her Junior Cert results in September! We have had some fabulous weather and it is really awesome to have daylight until after 22h00...summer in SA may be longer but enjoying daylight for 5 hours after work is brilliant, albeit short-lived!
Now I am afraid it is time to do a bit of cleaning, got home and baked peanut butter chocolate chip biscuits with the kids...kitchen needs my help!

Saturday 13 June 2009

Love Actually..

A song from one of my favouite movies...especially because Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are fabulous!!

Monday 1 June 2009

Flora mini marathon - Done and dusted

I did it! Finished the Flora Mini marathon! Before I even began the marathon I had to walk 1.5 km's to my luas stop which was teaming with women in running gear, man paradise!

When I got into Stephens Green I decided to visit the ladies, avoiding porta loos being my primary reason. I battled to get into the shopping centre because of all the people and once I made it up 2 flights of stairs and saw the queue for the ladies I made a hasty exit. I guess 40 000 women clog up a mall with ease...

I walked down Baggott street to the meeting point and nipped into Burger King - no queue for the ladies there! I met up with two of my colleagues and we made our way to the starting point. Interesting!

If you could see the sights I saw! The shoes some wore, would cause the feet to roar! (Sounds a bit like Dr Seuss there) Okay seriously then...for a 10km mini (I know) marathon may I present you with the image of a woman in HEELS - yes I promise it is true. Women walking in skirts, jeans, women looking ready for a night out after the leisurely 10km stroll. Well at least it helped pass the agonising 35 minute wait in the sweltering sun! Katie and I had a good gawk and an even better giggle. And then we were off! I was VERY nervous as Katie had been training and I did not want to get left behind because her husband was looking after my purse and phone (Kirstin did not want me to leave home without a lifeline...for her) so I mentally prepared myself for hell..."When you get that stitch, keep going, when your calf muscles are screaming, keep running, when you can hardly breathe, keep breathing, etcetera" and then I surprised ME. I could jog the course, I discovered that the reason I can only make it around the block is because I start too fast! I run instead of jog. I had a marvellous time! I confess to being very relieved in the beginning because with 40 000 women we actually could not jog but then things began to open up and Katie began to move...and I kept up! In fact I think I could have jogged more than we did! It was extremely hot so we decided to take it easy and did some walking but in truth I wanted to keep practicing my new found ability to JOG!!! Of course being sprayed with water by firemen along the route gave all us ladies that little bit of extra reserve energy required to push on through! I now have my first mini marathon medal and plan to start a little collection I think!

After the marathon I caught the luas home, jam packed full of other sweaty smelly women! In fact I hoped I could make it all the way to Windy Arbour for the odour! I got home (another 1.5km walk I MUST point out) and the first thing I said to Kirstin as she opened the door was "Do I smell?" She sniffed the air rather carefully, came in for a closer whiff and confidently said no. "How about under my pits" I asked lifting my hand to the heavens. She backed away slowly but I really did need to check... and so the poor child came in for a cautious sniff again and a relieved (and surprised) look crossed her face as she declared me smelly free. Perhaps I need to work a little harder next year??

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Bliss

I cannot begin to describe the fabulous feelings that are welling up inside me and all because we are enjoying our fourth day in a row of pure blue skies and marvelous rays of sunshine; according to google this pattern is set to continue until Wednesday, perhaps longer but our home page only give a 3 day forecast.
To attempt putting into words how beautiful Dublin is when the sunshine is difficult, but I think I have raved about it in varying degrees in previous posts.

We have a park across the road from work and on Friday Alan, Artur, Demi and myself all bought sandwiches and went and found a beautiful spot on the grass amongst hundreds of other like minded people and ate our lunch. We soaked up the sun and the atmosphere, appreciating the beautiful day that we had been given.
After work we all headed to Diceys beer garden and I enjoyed a shandy with my team, soaking up the sun again! It was amazing standing there in my short sleeved shirt and skirt, watching people in summery gear streaming into the garden, all the more cheerful because we were looking ahead to the 3 day weekend!

Malcolm was enjoying a sports and social event at The Kingston Hotel near his work and they also sat outside enjoying the first days of summer. Sadly he spent a lot of the beautiful Saturday with a wee thumping in his head but on Sunday he got to enjoy another fab day outdoors playing cricket. This morning he heads off for Mullingar to play cricket again, this time on a private estate, yep some guy with a little bit of money has a cricket ground in his garden where games are played, apparently it is a lovely setting...I bet! Maybe Malcolm will take some pictures today and I can post them on here at a later date.

For now I am off to enjoy another fantastic morning, and a small matter of an unprepared for mini marathon....

Saturday 30 May 2009

Run Natalie Run...

Or walk! I am taking part in the Flora women's mini marathon on Monday. It is the largest women's race of its kind in the world. Wow. I tried to do a bit of training, walked home from work a couple of times and attempted (poorly) a run around Marley Park. I THINK I managed 1.5 km's....and walked the rest. Two hockey tournaments in May have to have helped right?

This morning I spent a very pleasant morning with Katie, we went to the R.D.S and collected our race numbers and then wondered around sampling all the things on offer. They had a Wi Fit section and I had my weight and BMI checked...my BMI was in the ideal range - woohoo!!! I did a whole lot of little tests and eventually my fit age was revealed...32! Happy little camper moi!!!

Perhaps a 32 year old version of me will manage a jog? Worst case scenario...a scenic walk around Dublin at 15h00 on Monday, and at least we raised money for our charity through work! I will actually try to jog a lot of the course, wish me luck!

The LATE Friday song

What can I say, last night at Dicey's this song played and I thought, oh I like...good Friday song - I know it is Saturday but I heard it on Friday!



Thursday 21 May 2009

IT'S BAAACK

Wow all hands on deck for a crazy weekend at Three Rock and lots of hockey. I am beginning to question my enthusiasm of being on the committee...so much to do and so little time! Who am I kidding? I love the rush! Tomorrow my day begins in a Desperate Housewives type fashion with a trip to the hairdresser for an overdue highlight session and after that the fun begins, programmes to be collected, envelopes to be stuffed, food to be bought, glasses to be collected and somewhere in between I have to get myself semi glammed up for our Friday evening get together - guess that means I should go and put myself to bed, was hoping to find a Friday song as I have been neglecting that but what's another week eh?

Sunday 17 May 2009

Calm before the next storm...

A glass of wine, a joint of beef in the oven, football and the sound of pages turning in the background. Welcome to Sunday in my home today. The page turning is my eldest preparing for junior cert, the football, we duh ... and the glass of wine? Well just a glass of wine really, but it does create a warm fuzzy glow as an added bonus.
Weekends as a working mum are very different to what I am accustomed to, but I have found my rhythm, Saturday is cleaning (oh OKAY...unless something more appealing rares its head) and Sunday at some stage is the hunting and gathering for the week ahead. To this end I have to just say...I L-O-V-E Aldi. My budget remains intact and generally I even have a little left over grocery money at the end of the month, how great is that! I have also discovered frozen mashed potato (in three varieties) which is fab for the working mom, and today I am testing out the Maris Piper roast potatoes...we will see. My potato ricer has not been forgotten I hasten to add, just not as utilised as in the past!
Blissful weekend it may be, but I do have to confess that I am also really looking forward to next weekend. TRR Vets hockey festival time of year again and as my family have learnt....I'm here, but not really ( a stop over for a change of clothes and spot of beautifying) as most of the weekend (OK...all of the weekend) is spent playing hockey and then evenings socialising. This year I am on the organising committee so a bit more work will have to be done, but hopefully it will just add to the buzz of the whole weekend.
Sadly it flies by so quickly, this morning I woke up thinking ... "This time last week I was in Black Pool" and in some ways it already feels so long ago! I guess I just have to make every minute count and then hold onto the memories I create for as long as possible! (The wine talking???)
Wow, this afternoon really is peaceful, wet and cloudy, lots of rain but feeling so content.

Saturday 16 May 2009

James how could you?

A while ago I went and bought a new hand beater, this is a rather necessary appliance in my kitchen even though it does not get as much action as it once did. I popped into House of Fraser and was rather amused to see that James Martin has added his smiling face to the boxes on the Wahl products. The price was very similar to all the others so I decided to get it - even though I did not know the brand, James had me convinced that it would be a long lived kitchen appliance.
WRONG.
Sadly it lost the battle with the brownie mix and died a slow and agonising death (well it SOUNDED painful) while trying to beat the batter. Wimp! Sadly I have seen a few more appliances with his name, but I am not going to be tricked into buying another Wahl product by one of my favourite TV chefs.
I guess buying quality only applies to the actual ingredients when cooking with James.

Monday 11 May 2009

Eastern Promise

I sat in the lounge area of reception yesterday morning after checking out with a heavy heart, but that was a good thing because the reason for my gloominess was the end of an absolutely awesome weekend!
Black Pool Fylde Fillies Hockey Festival did NOT disappoint. In fact if anything it was even better than last year because some of the faces were now familiar and it was great to catch up with people from a year ago. I left having met even more people and 2010 will no doubt be another great reunion! See I am already planning to attend next year.
Paula has a wicked sense of humour and to this end I was made team captain for the weekend, just goes to show the spirit in which we play…i.e. not very seriously!



Besides forgetting the name of the team we were playing while doing a ‘Three Cheers’ all went fairly smoothly, although I did not do much and elected Fiona as my mouthpiece because she is very good at encouraging everyone!
I did manage to sustain a few injuries; my beautifully swollen foot has done my injury proud! When it first happened and I was hobbling about I felt like a bit of a hypochondriac but now I am vindicated and have proudly showed off my bruises and scrapes – a wonderful astro burn on my left arm also generates a suitable wince to all who see it!
On Saturday night we all dressed up in the same outfits, and I must say it was pretty cool dancing in the turquoise circle that made up the Dolly Mixtures.
As usual all the teams rose to the challenge and some of the outfits were absolutely amazing.


After all the dancing a whole bunch of us ended up curled up on chairs and couches chatting until after 04h00 and then we all felt satisfied that we had met the magic hour and now had bragging rights for Sunday morning as to how little sleep we needed. Pulling off a win in the first game of the day on Sunday, was the highlight of our hockey games, especially as we had to get up earlier to get to the pitches!
Sunday evening was a repeat of last year with a visit into Black Pool to watch Funny Girls which did not disappoint. Afterwards we walked over to a bar called Roxy’s were the music drew us all on to the dance floor and we had a fantastic time.
More chatting ensued back at the hotel and another early morning bed time was the result! Somehow we still managed to make breakfast before the 10h00 cut off and then as the sun was shining and the whole sky was painted blue we even had a walk on the beach.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Black Pool here I come AGAIN

Wow I cannot believe a year has passed me by and I am off to Black Pool for the hockey tournament. This year the dinner on Saturday night is Eastern Promise - our outfits are...actually you can see the pictures when I get back!
It has been a manic week, Monday being a public holiday has thrown me off a bit and I found myself madly grocery shopping and getting bits for tour on Tuesday night.
Wednesday night (tonight) we proudly watched as Jess was presented with her award for Artist of the year 2009 at her school.
Tomorrow night we will be looking for a school in East Glendalough to enjoy seeing our youngest in action on stage and then somewhere in between I need to pack -WHY am I blogging? I have to go and pack!!!! Sorry folks but airport at 09h45 on Friday so adios!!!

Busy little bees

Friday - Lost the plot in Marks and Spencer - tatty teddy (blue nose bear as I fondly call him) pink dressing gown and slippers proved too darn irresistible and THEN I saw the most beautiful embroidered pajamas and then and then and then...€75 later I made a hasty exit hoping that the fact that the gifts were for my husbands SISTER'S baby would be a good enough defense.
Evening spent with family in front of the TV with Pizza Hut pizza, popcorn, Ben and Jerrys newest flavour - Chocolate Macadamia and DVD's.....ahhhhhhhh.

Saturday & Sunday - Spent the entire day up at the hockey club volunteering during the Irish Hockey League finals. Jess and Kirstin joined me and ended up pitching in too - Kirstin gleefully took up parking attendant duties as it required the use of walkie talkies - over and out!
On Saturday evening we had drinks at the club and a taxi home...car left in car park - on the bright side it was a fabulous spot for Sunday when Kirstin and I reported back for duty after I had done some necessary house work and a pleasant stroll up to the club. Sunday night was more wine...but only one glass and then home for a spot of couch surfing.

Monday - Bank holiday wooohooo!!! Went to Dundrum with Jess and replenished my work wardrobe with a couple of things. Jess ordered some jeans and then made a lunch stop - food was not fabulous but the setting is pretty cool - basically a HUGE glass wall and I am sure on a sunny day it must be fabulous.
Next on the list was a mad dash into town to meet Don and Maura, Maura is working in Dublin for two weeks and we wanted to say a quick hello to Donovan before his flight back to London. We went to a place called Lemon Jelly where Jess Kirstin and I had pancakes - I could make better but they were not bad...and the others had bagels, Malcolm said his was amazing..to me the name Lemon Jelly evokes imagery of fantastic pancakes and all good gooey sweet things, but what do I know? Don left to catch his plane and the rest of us had a little wander around the shops and then called it a day as the kids had to get everything ready for school!

Thursday 30 April 2009

The Vase

When we were living in New York we invited a couple to our home for dinner after having enjoyed an evening at their place. They arrived and the wife handed over a box from Pottery Barn, not the usual bottle of wine, chocolates or flowers but a beautiful frosted red/brown vase.
For some reason I am affected every time I see that vase. What is it about it? I have no idea, the bearer of the gift is a lovely person but we have no contact, in fact that dinner was the last time I ever saw them.
But something happens inside me when I see that flower receptacle...a lifting of my spirit, a tug deep inside. It is peaking out from the top of my kitchen cupboard in one of the pictures I put on my blog and even there in the picture it caught my eye. I am not a hoarder or a gatherer, am not over sentimental about THINGS but I cannot bear the though of ever losing that vase. Weird.

Monday 27 April 2009

Showers that don't make you wet

We have a mini baby boom going on with our SA friends, yep two of my fellow Africans in Dublin are pregnant, a baby boom because our circle is kinda small, and if you count it in couples the percentage is high :)

Anyway!

I decided to throw Kelly a small intimate baby shower to celebrate the coming of their bouncy boy or girl. A brunch was my choice for the late morning gathering and a very surprised Kelly walked in to find smiling familiar faces.
Hours before I had been manically mixing spooning and pressing out muffins and scones while Jessica and Carla went about blowing up balloons and hanging banners.


I had managed to make a makeshift (okay, okay) wash line and hung some baby clothes from it in the lounge and once Carla, Jess and Kirstin had completed the look with pink, blue and cream balloons, changed all the items on the mantle piece for fluffy toys and it looked very much like it was supposed to!
Everyone brought along something tasty to add to the groaning table and much fun ensued.

I had asked everyone to bring pictures from their baby days and we had great fun asking Kelly to guess...
I also bought safety pins and Lisa managed to collect the most safety pins from people who said the "word that was not allowed to be said" - B-A-B-Y.
We also all had a go with a pair of scissors and a ball of string to guess the circumference of Kellys bump!
Lisa brought pin the dummy on the baby which was also loads of fun and a fabulous idea.


For once we did not allow the kids to hijack the lounge but we STILL managed to sit around in the open area by the kitchen! Now guess what we were talking about here....


Kirstin wrote a poem...in about 20 minutes and here it is:

Babies bring excitement and joy

Will it be a baby girl or baby boy?

Picking out a high chair, stroller and crib

Then baby bottles, dummies and bib.

Dirty fingers, crayoned walls,

Shouting and screaming in the malls.

Fairies, princesses dinosaurs and more

T Rex, fairy tales and folk lore.

Cowboys and Indians boys will play,

In the sunshine every day.

Crowns and fairy princess dress

for the girls with very little mess.

Little fingers, little toes

What it will be nobody knows.

Friday 24 April 2009

SMILE - Lily Allen

Friday again - and I kick the weeekend off with a 7 a side hockey tournament tonight! Last night the Vets festival committee members got together for a meeting and the three of us ended business at 22h00 and then sat around talking until midnight, it was fabulous. Good springboard to the coming weekend!

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Corridor Duty!

Corridor duty is not all bad. It gives you lots of time to reflect…on when last the carpet you are sitting on was vacuumed! We were there to do a job though - keep the battle of the sexes lines well defined by the patterned carpet running along the hotel wing we were in, girls rooms on one side and boys all opposite.
There was only one small unfortunate incident where I got caught up in a prank…but after that I behaved. Yep, it all started innocently enough, I noticed two girls entering a boy’s room with a key card and went to investigate. The boys whose room they were in had hidden their shoes and it was payback time. I stood helplessly by as they began to dismantle their beds! Of course I had to tell them that there were better ways to do things, soap on the toothbrush being one of my personal favourites. Unfortunately I got caught up in the moment and next thing the boys were trying to get into the room and I was hidden in the bathroom where of course I was discovered, the boys got a rather big fright to see me there, oh dear not a very good example, but extremely funny…
After that little hiccup I took my task more seriously and settled down to carpet scrutiny with the other four on my ‘team’.
We decided to let the kids all sit in the corridor and socialise as it was the easiest way to keep an eye on EVERYBODY. Sadly this did not work out very well and a very angry night manager came upstairs to find 29 kids, linen pillows and five adults hanging out in the corridor, OOPS. Unfortunately ONE of the rooms on our floor was occupied – typical. After that everyone was sent to their own rooms and we continued supervision from the corridor and played lie dice. I discovered that I am NOT very good at it. I also learned to play backgammon and think that perhaps adding another board game to our alarmingly big collection may be necessary.
At 02h00 three people went to bed, and I was NOT one of them. Dave and I heard the kids trying to peak under the door (looking for feet) and I hatched a cruel and evil plan...we left shoes outside every noisy room. I guess as a mother of two girls my instinct to keep things in order was too strong. and we prowled the corridor, listening out for stirring and sneaking about noises. At one point I went into one of the girls room just in time to here a thump on the window. I went and flung it open, peeped outside, looked left and right and discovered why the rooms had quietened down - they were all hanging out their windows for flow of conversation purposes! At first they mistook me for one of their own so it was very difficult keeping the laugh out of my voice as I roared for all of them to get into their rooms and go to bed. Somehow I managed though because 5 heads disappeared at alarming speed.
Next we confiscated the handset from the phones as every couple of minutes our hopeful 'it has been quiet for a while' would be shattered by the ringing of a phone in some or other room.
Finally it got quiet - 03h00.... Dave and I lay in the corridor on our pillows and he slowly drifted off to sleep and then I heard a cell phone alarm! I jumped up and stood at the door of the room and listened carefully, some rustling and then silence. I hid around the corner and took in the sight of Dave gently snoring in the corridor with telephone headsets strewn about and had a fit of the giggles. At 04h15 I woke Dave and we finally got to spend a little time in our rooms for some well earned shut eye. In the morning the kids discovered all the shoes and were absolutely flabbergasted that we had such foresight - the cheek of them! They actually commented that they did not think we were clever enough to come up with a low down dirty trick like that!
They forget....that once upon a long time ago I was one of THEM.

Monday 20 April 2009

LAST weekend re-visited

I never finished telling you about my hockey weekend, so a quick run down of the highlights. We spent A LOT of time at the club. Every morning started with breakfast at 10h00 and then it was a day of hockey for the kids, a lot of sweet buying and water carrying by me and a lot of encouragement - they all thought my psoitive thinking was MAD...but humoured me anyway and went from an apalling loss in the first game to a very proud draw in the second - and afterwards they told me how the positive thinking had really helped them, let that be a lesson! 15 year old girls agreeing with an adult - I kid you not.

Slowly but surely I got to know some of them, it was rather daunting I have to say, especially as I did not know ANY of them and they did not know me!

On Saturday night there was a dance, which finally ended at midnight and all the kids trailed off with their families. We walked back to our hotel and came across a bar with tables outside and sat down for a drink. We soon discovered (the gay credit card sign above the door was our biggest clue) that we were at a gay bar and had some very interesting conversations with a very funny guy! Of course it was so pleasant that we had a second round of drinks before finally deciding that bed was probably a wise option due to the fact that we would be faced with 29 U16 year olds again in the morning, a very sobering thought!

Fast forward to Sunday night...we all stayed in a HORRIBLE town (sorry if you live there!) and as it is my policy to find the positive in every situation it is this: the best thing about the town is that I can cross it off a list of "Where I would like to live!"

We all went for a walk and some very strange guy followed us for a while, I stayed back with the boys and kept telling them not to turn around, it was just encouraging weirdo...of course boys being boys...but finally we caught up to the rest of our group and Dr Strange sloped off in a different direction.

After our walk the kids went back to causing mayhem and the adults met on the hotel terrace for a sundowner before dinner. At 20h00 all the kids came up to the restaurant and we had a buffet style meal leaning towards kids favourites...29 vs 5 we did not say a word especially as it was all very edible!

And then the fun began! And I think it should be a post unto itself...

First time for EVERYTHING

So the concert then. The girls and I caught the bus in and walked along the Liffy which was fabulous as we were blessed with blue skies and mild temperatures. Jess and Kirstin put pink sparkly eye shadow on to celebrate the occasion and we all wore comfortable shoes – standing makes this a necessity in my book. I wore my runners and hoped that I would not embarrass my girls. Little did I know that I actually would embarrass them in a way I would not even have imagined.
The opening act was Ray Gun and they were okay but I had been feeling kind of strange all day and after their performance I started feeling a little nauseous – no they were not that bad! I told the girls I was thinking of heading to the back but they did not want me to go so I stayed put. Five minutes later they regretted my company, I felt light headed, put my chin on Jessica’s shoulder and promptly fainted. Typical! The first time I EVER faint is at the 02 packed full of people. I came too and wondered why Kirstin was screaming MOM and in tears, jeez I felt sooo bad, they were terrified. I promptly stood up, confused and somebody handed me their coke which I gratefully accepted. I assured the kids that I was okay and then sat myself down on the floor…eeuuww…and drank my coke. I stayed down for 15 minutes and then took a deep breath and got back up. Luckily that was the end of that nonsense and P!NK came on and everything was right with their world once more. The very first song that she sang was actually the song Jess posted on my blog so that was pretty cool. Watching my children loose themselves in the moment was an awesome experience –they ABSOLUTELY loved every millisecond of the concert and it was unbelievably brilliant, P!nk sure knows how to put on a show. I have been to a few concerts now and I have never experienced anything like it. For all my Face Book friends, the pictures are uploaded – and here is a sampling for the blog too!

Sunday 19 April 2009

P!NK



I am going to the O2 to see PINK tonight with the girls, we can't wait!

Jess chose the song for the blog...obviously one of her favourites off the Funhouse album...hope I am not the bad influence....

Friday 17 April 2009

Yes Man

I know it is only April BUT the funniest movie so far this year is Yes Man. We have just finished watching it and it is laugh out loud funny. Not since Dumb and Dumber...okay and Wedding Crashers have I laughed so much...now the worst thing is to get a rave review for a movie, watch it and not find it funny....so I hope that does not happen after my gushing optimism...but I think Jim Carry is on top form.
Yes it may not all be clever funny but it is good for a laugh..and a few sit up and "maybe we should do that" moments too!

Humble Beginnings

The weekend did NOT get off to a very good start…I couldn’t fall asleep on Thursday night and at 02h15 a very frustrated me got out of bed and dressed for the day in my new white hoodie and tracksuit (not white!) pants. I often marvel at ladies dressed to the nines for flying – comfort is king for me. I made a bee line for the kettle and passed the time chatting to Malcolm, he had been out with work mates and had not made it to bed.
I collected a few people and headed to the airport and arrived on time at 04h00. It was actually really cool because Malcolm had booked the car into the parking opposite the terminal and as you drive up it registers the number plate and the fact that parking has been paid for online and the boom opens automatically, perfect for such an early start. All the kids had been instructed to wear their white hoodies so it was easy to keep the group together and Aer Lingus saw us all and herded us off in small groups and got us checked in quickly which was fabulous.
Security was a piece of cake - I had checked my hand luggage size bag so liquids were not a problem for once.
I tried to sleep on the plane but it was impossible and it is only a 90 minute flight. We were greeted by the U16 Holland coach who had hired a bus for our trip up to the club and on the way we stopped at a hockey shop called Hockey Republic where we drank coffee while the kids played around, called their parents begging for some or other fancy stick etcetera!
After that it was off to the club where all the kids had a two hour fun training session and I finally had a couple of zzz’s on the couch, well actually old train seats – pretty funky.
The weather was fabulous and I made the most of the rays by donning shorts and T-shirt for maximum ray absorption.
All the meals were organised by the club, so we had sandwiches and fruit for lunch and pasta bolognaise for dinner. By 21h30 we finally left the club and made our way on foot to our hotel (about 2km's away) trailing our bags behind us. We were all exhausted but decided that we HAD to go out and have a drink together and so we dashed upstairs freshened up and met in the lobby 10 minutes later. We went to a pub and had a couple of rounds of drinks before admitting defeat and sleep walking back to the hotel to our very comfortable beds.

Thursday 9 April 2009

Wonderful friends

Last night we played our hockey game with the Vets men. We mixed it all up and I played froward, which I have not done in AGES. I was rather trepidacious as I have got rather comfortable at the back and the men are good and I am not sure they suffer fools gladly on the hockey pitch! That is why I have to make extra effort in the kitchen - like Nigella's rice pilaf with the curry Wendy made instead of stock standard boiled rice! I digress.
Left wing was my position last night and by some miracle the ball managed to find me while I was in the D and I scored TWO goals. I also got hit in the chest with the ball - really hard! The good thing is that I realised that it is less painful than I had imagined getting hit would be. After the game Bruce made a joke that I had been taking performance enhancing drugs, of course I was pleased with that comment because I certainly have come a long way since my first mixed game with them!
My friend Hillary also told me that she has freed up her morning so that we can walk up the Great Sugar Loaf today with the girls as she would love to meet them and I was really touched by that. Looks like the Sugar Loaf may not happen because rain is threatening but nothing is stopping us from the coffee and scones at Avoca anyway! I really have been so fortunate there are so many wonderful people in my life, here and back in South Africa. Lucky me.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Things I am grateful for today

The budget is the budget. Everybody is complaining BUT how can I? Yes I have to pay more, but that is because I have a JOB. I do think that justice needs to be served and assets need to be seized BUT I have decided to keep looking on the bright side, like the cocktail I had last week.... a sunny disposition!

First - My children, I am so enjoying that wake up cuddle and being here with them while they are on holiday

Second - Sheena. I was having my usual self doubt about this silly little blog, a total of 10 visitors today - and I would not mind except that none of them were NOT from home...sniff.
I sat here looking at my blog and just thought how much easier it would be to go onto my dashboard and hit delete. No more stress. Then I got an email from Sheena asking for my blog address...I am a strong believer in signs so enough said.

Third - Sunny skies and a 15 degree reading from my car, in a t-shirt right now!

Fourth - My self indulgent day, a pedicure and french paint - love looking at my toes in my brightly striped slip slops.

Fifth - My new fabric softener...I have just washed my new hoodie and cannot wait to pull it over my head and take a deep breath through my nose!

Sixth - Hockey game tonight against the men's Vets team and a dinner afterwards.

And last but by no means least a great weather forecast for our trip - 20 degrees on Friday!!!! Saturday it drops by 2 but that is still fantastic....I am soooooo excited!!!!!!

Tuesday 7 April 2009

To new experiences

And onward and upward we go. This weekend I am off to keep a watchful eye over the U16 hockey teams - tonight was the final meeting with the parents and players and I am now VERY excited at what lies ahead. I have my own white embroidered tour hockey hoodie and I am READY. The tournament is very well organised, we all meet at the club for breakfast every morning and get fed lunch and dinner there too. On Friday night Emma and I are off to explore the city because the kids all go and stay with host families. I am not sure about Saturday night as yet, I believe the hockey club hosts a disco and I am guessing we have to ensure that our charges keep themselves.... well to themselves! But they do go home with host families again after that.
On Sunday night we all get bussed to a hotel and that is where the guarding takes on a more serious note, we do corridor duty...ALL NIGHT...in shifts. Monday we are off to a Disney type theme park and then it is on a coach bus back to the airport for our flight home.

STILL on about that ride...

Where was I? Saturday morning....I think! Firstly downloaded photo's onto the memory stick so that I could print photo's for the frame. Then it was Dundrum for a new hand beater - saving THAT story for another day and some baby clothes for the newest addition to the family - our niece. I got the pictures printed, cannot remember the last time I held actual photographs in my hand! Rose and I met at Butler's for a coffee and then it was home to finish off the picture frame for Sido and to make brownies.
Jess, Sido and Kirstin walked down the road to one of our favourite breakfast places to give Sido an Irish breakfast on her last day. When they got back we presented her with the frame...she was so thrilled she cried! I was so very glad that I had gone to the effort, it was worth it.
People started arriving at 2 and then at 2h45 I had to drive Sido up to school to catch the coach that was taking the Spanish students to the airport. It was all very emotional and the kids all waved the bus off and then it was a mad dash back home to a crowd of friends for my birthday hamburger braai (BBQ).
It was a great afternoon, lots of nice prezzies, great company and food...and wine..and we finally wrapped up at around 22h00 which also meant a good night's sleep! I woke up on Sunday and lay there thinking back on one of the craziest weeks I can remember and feeling rather sad that it was finally time to face facts....my birthday is well and truly over for another whole year....

It has been one hell of a ride (Part 3)

The rest of the week passed in a bit of a blur. I do remember driving out to Dunnes 20 minutes away at 21h00 on Monday evening, looking for a pair of wellies that Jess all of a sudden HAD to have for a farm trip on Tuesday. I came back victorious with a fairly funky pair of white wellies with scrawls and birds in black -I may have to photograph them...
Tuesday was another round of late nights, movies if I recall. Wednesday.....all I remember about Wednesday is that I was rolling out mini meatballs to be dropped into tomato sauce at 21hoo and we only ate dinner at 22h00. Oh...and Kirstin went to a friend to do a project, I collected her at 20h00 and she had been fed (baked ham, mashed potatoes and veggies) and looked after, but when she got home and saw the meatballs she opted for a second dinner!
Thursday morning and my head was reeling. I was supposed to go the the Cirque de Soleil with work, I had booked it last year before I knew that we would have Sido staying. Jessica was feeling wretched as she was going out on Friday evening with all the Spanish students and it was my birthday. I was feeling guilty because I had a hockey match on Friday night and so while walking to work with the sun shining down on me I made a decision. No Cirque de Soleil for me, a dinner to celebrate my birthday with my family would be far more enjoyable.
When I got to work I told Alan my plans and gave my ticket to Shelley. Alan suggested I go to Thunder Road Cafe in Temple Bar as it was fun and hip and the kids would love it.
It was terrific, the kids each had a mocktail, I had a couple of cocktails - Sunny disposition was lovely...bonus for me was that my birthday was now stretching over THREE days.
Friday morning i was presented with an array of lovely gifts and then it was a mad rush to get to work on time!
I took a batch of brownies into work - which got demolished and the compliments were almost embarrassing (thanks Nigella) - and got taken out for lunch by my boss, along with 2 other ladies who also had their birthdays in the same week! We were given an extra 30 minutes and it was amazing how nice, long and lazy the lunch seemed!
On Friday evening I went to play hockey and then we all went for a quick celebratory drink. I surprised Malcolm by getting home at 22h00 and a good thing it was too. He had a lot to do and I assisted him for a while making hamburger patties until he booted me out of the kitchen with a nice cold glass of wine!

Monday 6 April 2009

It has been one hell of a ride- Part 2 (THE birthday)

Kirstin turned 13, wow where has the time gone? She is now a bona fide teenager although the characteristics of the metamorphosis have been making themselves present for a little while now. The little girl who would rather die then upset her parents has certainly almost disappeared. We are now faced with defiant glares, fisted hands and flaring nostrils followed by stomping to the bedroom, screaming into a pillow and then a little later slinking downstairs to hug and make it all better. Gotta love it. We started off with gifts, Kirstin is crazy for Twilight so many of her gifts revolved around that theme, the first book (she has the rest, but had not been able to get the first one) a poster, a CD and a voucher for HMV for when the DVD comes out, a jewelery hanging whatchamacallit and some clothes.

Ellen joined us for the day and we all set off to "climb" the Great Sugar Loaf. It was a beautiful day and the views from the top were breathtaking. The walk is surprisingly quick and easy and the kids loved it. The wind was the only horrible thing - it was absolutely icy. After our walk we all headed off to Avoca for lunch and cake, the choice of cakes leaves you reeling but I eventually settled on a passion fruit tart, Malcolm had a berry cheese cake, Jess had a pavlova, Kirstin a Mars Bar rice krispie square, Ellen a rocky road and Sido a pear and almond tart, see what I mean?



After gorging ourselves we had a little wonder around the shop and I found a really nice photo frame for 6 photo's which I decided to buy and fill with photos to give to Sido as a reminder of her Irish holiday with us.

Jessica and Sido had to meet all the other students for ten pin bowling so we dropped them off and headed home. I got stuck into cooking - macaroni cheese with bacon for the birthday dinner (I am not sure Kirstin has ever chosen anything else on her birthday!) a chicken ala king and chilli con carne for the freezer.

All in all we had a great day and Kirstin enjoyed her day thoroughly which is what it was all about!

It has been one hell of a ride - Part 1!

Where do I BEGIN? At the beginning I guess! On Friday 27 March Kirstin celebrated her upcoming 13th birthday with four of her closest friends. It was a night of dancing, DVD's and much laughing fortified by pizza, curly fries, popcorn and a small array of sugar treats. And of course the cake. The lounge was their domain and I knew not to even frustrate myself with trying to get them to bed at any hour and after spending 2 infuriating hours sorting the birthday girls bedroom out (for our Spanish student to occupy) I collapsed into bed. My only request to all the girls was that they kept the noise levels down and did not wake us which they managed admirably.
The following morning I completed the daunting task I had begun the night before and Kirstin's bedroom was finally fit for human habitation at around 11h00. The rest of the day was spent pottering around the house and re-potting some herb plants and cleaning windows. Much personal satisfaction when I was done and sat back to admire my handiwork for the day as I even managed to tackle the formidable attic too!
At 19h00 we drove up to school to collect Sido and I watched with amusement as the Spanish and Irish children were reunited when the bus dispelled all the visiting kids into the car park.
Of course Sido was very shy and it was awful not being able to chat away as her English is not great. My Spanish on the other hand....well it is non-existent. We had bbq steaks, salad, curly fries and peppercorn sauce for dinner and then I had to get ready for the Ladies hockey dinner. I had told my team that I would pop in for a drink after 21h00, I had figured that the kids would all be settled by then.
Hillary collected me and we went to the D4 hotel in Ballsbridge and what fun we all had! A room full of ladies, a free microphone and music....add to that a few too many alcoholic beverages and you have yourself a makeshift karaoke party with some impressive dance moves from the cheering onlookers. Oh, and a discovery....NOT all Irish people can sing.

Friday 27 March 2009

Thursday night in pictures...













And there it is, the cake of choice this year - I did NOT choose the blue! My hand mixer, James Martin one, died a horrible death when it lost its battle creaming the butter and made an awful sound and collapsed. Luckily it was far enough into the creaming process, and the icing was basically ready. I am just shocked that my fairly new hand mixer could not stand up to the task at hand, especially as its visits to the kitchen counter are fairly infrequent these days.

When you say nothing at all - Ronan Keating

Kirstin will be 13 on Sunday, my word time does fly. According to Kirstin this is her ALL time stand out favourite song, so Happy Birthday to my all time favourite YOUNGEST daughter!

Sunday 22 March 2009

Hedgehogs and echidnas


So I managed to turn out the cake on time. Friday night was spent baking and decorating and well...he ain't perfect by anybody's stretch of the imagination but he has personality...and Isobel thought he was wonderful and at the end of the day that is all that really counts! Malcolm reckons he looks more like an echidna google it and you will see that he has a very strong case.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Ooops!

I forgot to tell you all about St Patricks Day!!!! Firstly we had our first proper teenage parents experience when Jess asked if she could NOT go to the planned BBQ (he he okay braai) and instead made her own way into town with about 10 friends to watch the parade. Yes, when I see the freedom my daughter now has I am even more certain that we did the right thing!
Kirstin, Malcolm and I headed off to Warren and Tracy for our celebrations and when we got there the door had the most adorable welcome "Happy St Patrick's Day African people" which her girls had made - really smile worthy and heart warming stuff - thanks!
Upon entering the house we were greeted with orange, green and white balloons AND curly green and silver shiny streamers strewn about - Tracy really went to town! It was an awesome day, the sun shone the kids all played in the garden and we sat around chatting, drinking wine (okay I was designated driver so I had ginger ale!) and enjoying each others company. We all brought our own meat and a salad contribution and in typical SA fashion by the time we had all eaten the serving table still had enough food to feed us all over again!
At around 18h30 we headed home and collected Jess along the way and then had a quiet evening at home...so quiet in fact that I was in bed by 21h00...