27 December 2011

an english country christmas

I'm spending a few days with the family I work for and their extended families at the country house they have. On Christmas Eve we all hung stockings on the main stairwell banister. Even I got one to hang. That was fun. My first ever Christmas stocking. I saw Father Christmas that evening in various shapes and forms around the banister.

My Christmas day began when I forced my body out of bed at 6am so I could go online to 'have Christmas' with MY family back home in Australia where most of them were gathering for a Christmas barbeque tea. It was lovely to spend a couple of hours chatting with video (when it worked), and three way conversations with my brother and his family still in Sydney. They waited to open my presents so I could watch which was really nice. It's one of my favourite Christmas traditions to sit around together opening presents. Eventually it was tea time for them and time to get dressed for me. We had an appointment to gather at the top of the stairs to check out our stockings!
They were fun and I got loads more than I expected. I mean, I never expected having a stocking at all but it was so stuffed that I had some presents on the floor underneath. I got a bunch of cool little knick-knacky things and some chocolate too. I wouldn't have minded just watching but this family is too hospitable for that. It was nice to be included. We went down for breakfast and then left for church. Unfortunately by this point my body was beginning to scream at me. Probably from the recent late nights and early Christmas start. I wasn't feeling so good, found it quite difficult to stay awake during the service though it helped that the sermon included four pass-the-parcel packages going around, a little nauseous and generally exhausted. I went straight to bed when we got home. My boss came and knocked on my door when lunch was ready but I still didn't feel like getting up so I ended up skipping lunch. After 2-3hrs in bed I felt a bit better so went down and nibbled a bit of left overs as they cleaned up from lunch. Bit of a pity to miss the main event of the day but I was glad that a long rest made me feel much better. I was still a bit weary so took it easy and drank water more often than I usually do.
We sat around in one of the lavishly decorated rooms with a little fire going. After a while a quiz box came out and we were answering questions that were read out. That was fun. Made me feel right at home too. It's one of the things I enjoy doing with my family on the odd occasions we do it. I got a number of questions right. There was also plenty I had no idea what the answer was. And I excitedly announced the answer (with some armraising for cheer) to the question, 'In which country do you find the Barossa Valley?' With the sons telling my boss' mum to relax and go with the flow, we were quizzed for quite sometime before we moved on with the next planned Christmas tradition. The lighting of the Christmas tree. Their huge tree, wonderfully decorated in silver and white, also had candles clipped to various branches. Real ones soon lit with real flame. Another first experience for me. They sung a french Christmas carol (my boss' mum is french) and then some english ones.

Shortly after this was present time which lasted for a long time. There were loads of presents every where. The boy absolutely loved his presents and was thrilled after getting a whole five presents and being consumed with playing with them that his other 20 presents were put on hold for the following days. It was wonderful watching them open presents. I always enjoy this part. This family reacted so exuberantly to each one it was delight to share in. The presents were also a bit more lavish than the kind I'm used to seeing passed around. Amongst all this I got three presents myself. I knew my boss had some more for me. (She'd already given me a ticketmaster gift card a few weeks earlier so I could book in to see a show.) But I also got presents from her parents and her husband's mum. So very thoughtful and kind. Eventually this was followed by tea. Meals have been much later than I usually have them. Tea doesn't usually start until 8pm and that's actually predinner drinks. So by the time we have entree, main, dessert and after dinner coffee there's not much evening left. But they are all good company and it's been very pleasant and entertaining to be amongst them.

Boxing Day mid morning I joined them for a trudge across the muddy fields to where they'd set up to do some clay pigeon shooting. That was interesting to see live. I stood with everyone else for most of it watching the shooters hit and miss.

I then helped collect some of the clay pigeons that had been missed and survived the landing and scooted up the hillside and jumped the haybales as they did a launcher swap. I actually had a bit more fun watching one brother load the launcher and fire it, especially when his brother was shooting. He he. Rivalry. It was fun to see the clay pigeons shatter in mid air after the bang. Most were quite good shots. It felt like quite an english experience too.

The rest of the time was mostly filled with chatting, eating, drinking and occasionally playing with the boy and his new toys. All very relaxing and I've been very well looked after and welcomed here. A very pleasant english country Christmas.

23 December 2011


One for me!

Last weekend was book club. We had tea together at one of the girls houses and talked about the book for the briefest amount of time. Yeah, we don't ever talk about the book for that long but this time we did less. But the main event--aside from the food and wine and chat--was a trip to Winter Wonderland. We walked along Oxford St to see all the lights and then down to Hyde Park Corner. I must admit, I was a little disappointed. I'm not sure why, perhaps the phrase usage in songs and movies, but it was NOTHING like I expected. I was thinking snow, ice sculptures and other wintery stuff though I was unsure how it would work being that it's not really cold enough outside for snow to stay.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is a fair. A show with rides and games and food and markets. We got there too late as well so there wasn't much we could do other than walk around. The ticket booths were closed so no rides or games. We did stop and have some hot mulled wine though which I liked. It made me feel like I was drinking apple pie. The night was still quite good coz the company was. :)

One for the boy!

This week, with the boy on holidays from nursery school, we invited his friend and nanny to go on a trip with us to the Museum of Natural History. Both boys have recently got into dinosaurs so we caught the bus (after it eventually came) and went straight to the dinosaur display.

They were a little scared at first with huge skeletal displays but they had such a great time. There was loads to see and even some animated robotic ones (with 'skin' on). The T-rex was a little frightening too. The boy kept saying he didn't want to get bitten so I picked him up and told him it won't coz it's just a robot. Dinosaurs aren't alive anymore. I think a big part of the fun was walking around exploring. Free roaming with so many different things to see.
We went through the mammal display too. I was quite impressed with the life-size whale display. I mean, I know they are big but to see it up close...it's so huge! We also had the special treat of buying lunch in the cafe. Sandwich and crisps (that's a packet of chips). And that was also to keep us nannies sane before the bus ride home. ;)

Next up is Christmas. I'm on holidays already until 2012. I'm spending Christmas with the family at the country house and then hanging out in London. Hope you all have a good one full of wonderful laughter and great company.

11 December 2011

pictures from home

I was wonderfully surprised to find three parcels in the mail yesterday, all addressed to me! Best of all was the one that wasn't something I ordered. ;)

It was a Christmas present from my sister which is sitting on my window sill while I work on getting it all Christmasy. I think I'll open it early since I know what it is. . .having chosen the yarn for her to weave. Included in the parcel though was the most delightful pictures I've seen in months. Yes, mostly scribbles but being away from home missing my sister's little ones growing up, receiving some drawings from them is the highlight of my week.
I was laughing and most impressed with my 4yo nephew's drawing. He's getting really good. Such a detailed picture with lots of imagination. I love it. The best part was reading the huge description my sister wrote on the back of his explaination. It's all about fighting monsters in the tavern protecting the innkeeper. Swordfights, the big flying boss, a special red bubble that makes monsters inside it fight each other, axes, bashers... My nephew is the squarehead who is healing the zapping tower. Such a little gamer. He he he.

06 December 2011

piano soho

Saturday night I went to Soho in London to a bar called Piano. I quite liked it. It had a great atmosphere except by the end of the night it was so packed it was difficult to move any direction. It has a cool jazz bar feel to it. Live pianist playing. This night I think it was Bazz Norton who is the guy who started it up. I liked the silver balls hanging over the bar and the keyboard on the wall and definitely the music which was jazz when I got there and other hits later. It's always nice having live music and Bazz was great. Each song just rolled into the next.
I'm not sure if New Zealanders are welcome though.

I went to help celebrate a friend's 30th birthday. (B'day girl in red) We just hung out, talked...rather shouted with each other, had some drinks, some of us had some food, bit of laughing, lots of photos...the typical fun stuff. My 'dessert' was a Mudslide. Yum! Delicious cocktail. It was a good evening and I'd happily go back to Piano too.

01 December 2011

doing nothing

I was just looking through this website and reading a list of things to do with kids indoors other than tv. One of the suggestions was NOTHING. I like the writer's point. :) Not that it's one that can be used all the time. Though I more than suspect this is often used by a lot a parents already. Just not so strategically.

It says:

"Boredom is good for kids. Children are seldom truly bored; they just haven't excercised that part of the brain that uses their imagination. Make a rule that if your kid announces they're bored, they'll have to do chores. So if they truly can't think of anything off-hand to do, eventually they'll think of something.

It's a good lesson to learn that life is not always entertaining, and that they're not the centre of attention. And if you've got a typical home, there's actually plenty they can do. So don't feel like you always have to provide options and events for your children. They'll be just fine exercising their brain."

Check out the other ideas listed here.

30 November 2011

barbarians defeated

I met some friends at Clapham Junction where we had lunch, though most had a full English breakfast. Then we joined the cattle drove to the stadium at Twickenham. Seriously, it really was a cattle drove. Near the stadium we had the whole street to walk down and there was a massive flow of crowd and police stopped us temporarily to let traffic pass across our path.

In the stadium I opted for the drink of choice (between my friends anyway). I've had a guinness in Ireland and a whisky in Scotland and even German beer in Germany. I was told I should have a bitter in England. So I did. And I still don't like beer. :P Took me the whole game to drink a pint.

Game on! It was odd to have the atmosphere go quiet as the game started. More of a fun match than a serious one though. I was there to watch a rugby match--Australia vs Barbarians. Pretty much Australia against the select from various other teams. Even some traitors.

Rugby is a strange game to watch in my opinion. It's semi organised fights. Men jumping all over each other with a few rules and tactics to it. He he. I'm not a rugby person. But I was happy to support the Aussies anyway.
And happy to hang out with friends. Happy that they lent me a warm Wallabies scarf. It sure was chilly when the sun went down about 4pm. And happy we gave a good thrashing.

We all went to a local pub afterward (to avoid getting squashed in the train) and sat around and talked for quite a while. Ok, I knitted too. : ) Then I went back to my friend's house and joined them for Chinese and a silly movie that provided quite a few good laughs.

I also squished a book club meeting and a movie with some other aupairs into my weekend. I was a little socialed out by Sunday night. It was a good one though.

21 November 2011

a play in the park

It's easy enough to get to one of the biggest, well-known parks in London for me. Hyde Park. Though I usually go to the Kensington Gardens end. There they have the Princess Diana Memorial Payground (aka the 'pirate ship playground' by the boy) which is a wonderful one to play at. There's loads of paths that lead you to different play areas each with a different theme. Of course one is a pirate ship in a big sandpit. I took the boy and his friend the other day.

They have a teepee area too which I never see many kids playing at. It does look cool but not so much to do. More imagination needed I think but with all the other areas having loads to do and climb on and all that they are easily distracted away from this one. There's also a section with a treasure chest, a water play area and a little farm sort of area with huts and a tractor.

The boys played for ages on these big wobbly circles in the general playground area. They had so much fun just jumping across them from one end to the other and back again. They also climbed across the bridges and slid down the slides. Then we went to the music area that has lots of great clanging and spinning things and these cool squares that ding when you walk across them. Quite an excellent playground. We stayed until they closed the playground at 3:45pm. Seems early but it's starting to get dark by that time here now.
On the weekend I dogsat the family dog while they were away which meant multiple walks a day since we have no back yard or front yard or barely any outdoor area here as the squished up houses in London go. So each afternoon I took her out for a long stroll in the park area of Kensington Gardens.

It was brisk but quite enjoyable. Autumn is a lovely season simply because of the colours. And I do like wearing scarves. : ) I was kicking my way through the leaves and admiring the scene and taking photos. I let the dog stop and sniff things and try to pee even when her tank was empty.
I also let her stalk some squirrels. She would have so loved to be off the lead and really run after them. She'd sneak slowly toward them and then run after them hindered by the lead as they scampered up the tree. She'd jump up at the base and I only assume she was wishing she could climb up after them. He he. It was nice to be forced out into the fresh air, into nature and take a little time to enjoy this autumn. Not that I haven't been. It's definitely nice to have a number of nice parks nearby in the big city though. Keeps me sane.

14 November 2011

new things

Bit of 'new' happened over this weekend.

New age for the boy. He turned 3 years old on Friday. We had a party with a few other children at his grandparents' place. Very simple--toys and food and cake. Once the boy got over being grumpy after being woken up from his nap, he had fun. Lots of presents.

New boots for me. I went shopping on Saturday and for the first time in my life I bought myself some nice black boots. Other than gumboots (aka. wellies) or hiking boots. I keep wanting to buy some every winter but never have. Here there are so many choices and I wanted something nice but warmer than my slip-on shoes. I found some that are reasonably flat, reasonably priced and that I'm more than reasonably happy with. Let's hope they last well.

New bed for the boy. Now that he's 3 he's progressed from a cot to a big boy bed. A bunk bed in fact. He slept in it for the first time last night. He was quite excited about it and woke up happy this morning. (Nice change from the last week.)

New little one on the way. Not for me obviously though it does effect my life. My boss told me this weekend that she's pregnant and all going well there will be a new little baby in about May next year. The sketched future plan at this stage is possibly to have me stay on and help for as long as my visa allows. I'll work with the boy and they'll have a newborn nurse to help out for six weeks or so from birth. Then it'd be me and my boss with the kids and I'd be full time once she's back at work . I love being a part of a new baby coming. It's an exciting time. A wonderful newness.

06 November 2011

guy fawkes day

Er...day. Yes, 5th November though the celebrations go all weekend.

Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day (or Bonfire Night). There are literally fireworks all over London all weekend. Last night, since I'm here in London, I decided to go out and see some of the celebrations. I planned to go to Battersea Park because there was loads going on there. They were also going to light a big bonfire and have a big fireworks display. Some friends of mine were looking for something to do after the Rugby so I changed plans to watch the fireworks from the shore of the River Thames (rather than us all paying £10 each to get into the park).
All rugged up in some of my knitteds I waited for them at Sloane Square. Note my new wurm beanie I'd finished early that day. This replaces the one I accidently felted and shrunk. Sloane Square was all pretty with lights for the Christmas/celebration season.

My friends were running late. Public transport was heavily loaded and delayed. So I walked on down to the river by myself, found myself a little area to stop on the packed pavement and waited. Eventually the sky lit up in blasts. It was interesting to see the fireworks with low cloud about. The whole sky seemed to turn bright orange or red for moments. The picture of me in the middle has Chelsea Bridge in the background.

After a lengthy display I turned around and began to wonder how easy it would be to find my friends in the massive moving crowd. Then I spotted them just across a parked car. I went with them to meet some of their other friends and then we walked (quickest mode of transport) to a pub nearby. After a sit, sip, chat we walked again and found another pub we were able to sit inside at (only found room outside at the other one) where we did some more sit, sip, chat. It was a great to have a nice social evening. They are lovely people. Well the girls are. I'm sure the guys are too but I didn't end up talking with them much. From there I decided to head home.
Yep. I knitted all the way home. Even walking around the tube stations changing trains and walking home.

The little project bag works well for knitting on the move. You should check out my little creations in my store at www.kelgellcreations.artfire.com. There's several in there still. :)

29 October 2011

in a day's work

Sometimes being a nanny is a hard slog. This new job comes with some impressive and persistant tantrums. Seems to be tied into learning how to deal with his emotions and how to express himself. This week has been full on. Being half term holidays means full days for me.

But of course there are perks, good times, fun and cuteness. Today we had some yummy fun making gingerbread men...and women...and monsters...and snowmen. ^^

Being a nanny is a great option if you want to get paid to play, be silly and have fun baking yummy treats.

24 October 2011

slotting into London life

The past week has been a busy one. Work as usual. I had a couple of full days as the almost 3yo boy has started his half-term break from nursery. All next week will be full days too. I'm already looking forward to next weekend. He's finally off his second lot of antibiotics and is in a lot better state than he has been since I moved in. Hopefully now we can actually start bonding and finding our places with each other. It's been nice to see what I've been told is his normal self and to hear him laughing. A full week with him will be good for us two I think.
I've also been connecting with people in London. I caught the bus and went to a knitting group on Thursday night which I enjoyed. It was nice though a little hard to have conversation with anyone who wasn't sitting next to me. Apparently the pub was a lot fuller than normal so the clatter of voices was louder. Friday night I met a friend from my Scotland tour and we went to the book club together that she goes to. There was about eight girls there, loads of delicious food and wine. It was a good night apart from being tired from a long day. The girls were quite lovely and some are into crafty stuff too. Saturday afternoon I went to Camden Markets which were huge and packed and lots of great stuff you can buy. I'll definitely have to go back. Probably more than once as a few hours just isn't enough to see it all. I bought a lovely blue hemp skirt and was tempted by loads more. Probably a good thing I didn't have cash on me. I did buy a mini London book map though as I keep going to places that are just off the folded map I have.
Today I'm relaxing as the coming week will be another busy one. But for now, I'm off to see if I can find some sneakers that don't have holes where they shouldn't. I should soak in a little sunshine too as this week's predicted to be wet and cool.

17 October 2011

playing dodgem-people

Saturday was a sunny day and not too cold so I decided to walk to Oxford Street. It was one of those things on my mental London-to-do list. Oxford Street is a major shopping area of London and apparently millions of pounds are taken in this area daily. Some extreme like that anyway. It's a pretty straight forward walk from my place. Once I got to Bayswater Rd I just headed toward the city until it turned into Oxford St. It took an hour or so and then I roamed for most of the afternoon.
I did a little shopping. Got some nice tops for myself but mostly bought bits and pieces for presents. Got a few family birthdays coming up. It was a sight to see. I went into Selfridges just to look. I'd been told it is quite glamourous and that is true. I only strolled through the first floor. Mainly I just looked around to see what was here. I got some lunch from M&S foodhall and went and sat in the sunshine at Soho Square. You could not walk straight down this street. Honestly, it's the most packed with people I've seen any area of London. I noticed this more when I caught the bus home. From the top deck it was more noticeable.

04 October 2011

ireland road trip

So I picked up my hire car from Dublin airport and after paying more than I expected in extra costs, stressing about getting out of the airport and away from the city without going through the toll (thankfully made easier with a GPS--though interpretting it's 'turn left' at the right spot was an annoyance) and heading into the countryside, I was smiling. Ooo, how I loved being behind the wheel again! It'd been 7mths since I'd driven and I'd missed it. It felt so good to be cruising the country roads, taking a detour as I pleased and seeing places I wouldn't have if I'd stuck with public transport.
I decided to stop by Loughcrew Megalithical Cairn where I ate my lunch and then walked up the hill. It was a bit windy but it was great to see the green fields sprawled across the landscape. I couldn't resist spreading my arms and exclaiming with a laugh, "I'm in Irleand." It was good to be back and know I had five and a half days before me to see it properly this time. I walked up to Carnbane East and had a look at the interesting rock set ups. It's a tomblike place though I don't think it actually is. But apparantly at the spring and autumn equinox at sunrise the sun shines at just the right angle onto a rock at the back that has carvings all over it. But you know, it's rocks. Not quite like the ones I'd seen in pictures though. I think I missed the main photographed ones in Ireland because I didn't have time that day to make a detour. These, and the walk, were a nice start though to exploring the country.
I continued to make my way over to Ballina and met my host who was in a hurry to get ready for work. I got ready too because I was going along. She works at this new museum that is being set up which is a collection of bits and pieces from Irish history. This night there was an event on as it happened to be Cultural Night (which apparently is a nationwide event). So I was introduced to her friends and workmates and shown around. One of her best friends kept me company most of the night as my host ran around as photographer for the evening. I decided I like Bailey's Irish Cream, looked around at the different artifacts on display, listened to some speeches and particularly enjoyed the live irish music that was playing downstairs. And just my holidaying luck (I seem to keep being places where significant things are happening), the Taoiseach (pronounced something like T-shark, the prime minister of Ireland) came to give a speech. I was introduced to him afterwards, specifically with the mention of me being from Australia, and had my photo taken with him. Ha. Amused. I seem to keep being places at eventful moments in my travels.

I most loved the hour approaching midnight when everything went an easy casual. People started to sit around the musicians and join in. People were performing random solos; someone sang a song, a girl played her flute for a song, another guy sang a song (people joining in for the chorus), another lady sang and played guitar, etc. Very communal feeling. It was great. And I saw a guy play the spoons. Like really play them; not just tap them together. It was great. My host was just fabulous too. She was so nice and frequently made sure I was ok and enjoying myself. Very hospitable. It was a great couchsurfing experience. My only awkward moment was having to wake her to say goodbye when I need to leave midmorning the next day.

I was driving along one of the highways when I spotted a sign for the Museum of Country Life which someone had told me about the day before. So since I was passing by I took the detour and happily spent more time there than planned. It was set out in lovely gardens/woodlands and I wandered around a little before I actually found the museum building that was around the back of the estate. This museum was a display of country life (obviously) that existed right up until the 1950s or so. They were so resourceful. They handmade just about everything they needed and used what they could get their hands on. It was interesting to see how they did things and got what they needed. I was fascinated by all that they made using just straw; furniture, rope, bridle and saddle and reins and more. They also used reeds, heather and willow. I also found a huge spinning wheel and saw a short video of napping which I'd never heard of before. (It's a method to roughen and treat fabric to make it warmer and more waterproof.) In the 'education rooms' there was a whole bunch of women knitting and spinning so I went in to have a look. I chatted with a lady who said they all got together once every two months to craft together. We talked about dyeing because that's what they'd done last time and I found out that the 'fruit' around the walnut and shell is the best source of brown dye.
Eventually I decided I better get going so I could find my hotel in the little town of Liscannor in time. I enjoyed listening to the radio while cruising along...and creeping along too. A lot of the roads in Ireland are just wide enough for two lanes, one for each direction. There's no edge to pull over on. You have to wait till you find a spot to pull over if you need to. I was glad I had the GPS because it would have been hard to navigate by myself with just the map. The roads were quite windy too which I didn't mind driving except when I kept catching up with drivers who were being suuuper cautious. Some sections I drove a lot slower than I comfortable could have. Night arrived this day in just such a circumstance. I'm not sure if the GPS took me on the road I'd planned to take but it was an extra windy road where I was stuck behind the head of a random convoy that slithered slowly up and then down. By the time I made it to my hotel it was almost 9pm. Bit of a pity really because my room was delightfully fancy compared to what I usually end up with and it made me feel glamourous. I even got choc chip bikkies with the drinks welcome basket. It was great to be able to access the internet from my room there. I got up at 5:30am on Sunday to go online and talk to and see my family, especially some of my nieces and nephews, back in Australia. Then I went back to sleep for a few hours and didn't end up leaving till almost noon.

I backtracked slightly to the Cliffs of Moher which were quite a sight. Pity it was a little hazey though. The sun did come out momentarily and it didn't rain really so at least I was able to view it comfortably. I took lots of photos and wandered back and forth. I thought it looked great but it would be an amazing view on a clear sunny day. I had in mind to sit out here somewhere and just enjoy it but it's one of those tourist destinations so there was lots of people around. Whilst I did linger I didn't kick back and relax like I had planned. Not that it was really the weather for that anyway.
By the time I got in the car and started south again, I decided I needed to head straight for Killarney where my next hotel was booked. The sun came out while I was driving and I wound my window down and took a slight detour to go a short scenic route around Spanish Point and then followed the GPS toward my destination. I toyed with the idea of driving around the inlet which would have added quite a bit of time onto my journey as I was a little concerned about the process of getting on the ferry. But the GPS took me right past the pick up point and I could see that I hadn't yet missed the once an hour ferry I opted to take it without thinking. This ferry, across the River Shannon, was very straight forward to use. Drive on and park and pay the guy that comes to your window. It was the first time I'd ever driven on to a ferry though so there was a feeling of childlike glee at another 'first'. It was only a 20min crossing and then I was driving again. I found my hotel in Killarney easy enough and it wasn't far from the centre of town. After settling in I walked to town and around a bit. Shops were open late and there was plenty of people about. Seemed to be American season as there was the USA accent coming from a significant amount of people--not just here but in all the touristy places. I ended up going to the cinema which I'd seen on my way to the hotel. I was in the mood for chick flick/comedy so I went and saw Crazy Stupid Love which had been raved about on the radio. While there were a number of scenes that I cringed at, overall I was quite entertained. Yes, life can be crazy messy but it does go on.

On Tuesday the weather was a bit patchy so I decided to switch my walking idea with a driving one and see if the weather would, per chance, be any better the following day. So I drove around the Dingle Penninsula. It did rain on and off too so I didn't particularly stop anywhere--not for long anyway--just once I got to the point where there was a scenic stop. There I decided to pull out the watercolour pencils I'd been carting around with me and actually use them. I sketched without water though as I stayed sitting in my car and didn't want to bother getting too messy. My sketch was based on the view you see below. Nothing particularly fabulous but I haven't done any drawing in a while I probably prefer to draw more from my imagination with perhaps some inspiration rather than copy what I see. Eventually I continued on around the penninsula and back to Killarney.

This evening was a bit wierd. I wandered into town again but the atmosphere wasn't the same. But of course, it was Monday. I should have gone to have my pub meal the night before when it was still the weekend and more lively. I feel so silly and odd going into a pub by myself. I eventually stopped thinking about it and just went in. (The offer of Bailey's Cheesecake helped.) I did still feel awkward but I sat down and ordered the cheesecake and some Bailey's as well. It was sweet on my tastebuds. Mmm. Then I went and ordered some soup. He he. Fun to have tea backwards. The soup would have been quite enjoyable too except it really was over salty. Oh well.

Tuesday I checked out early and drove southward stopping at Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park as I'd planned. Very glad I did as it was beautiful. With the cloud covered sky and the tree canopy above the atmosphere on the short walk to the falls was delightful. Almost like I was in a misty, mystical forest. There was plenty of rocks and green around to make me gleeful. I hung out there a long while and took lots of photos.

I stopped at Lady's View which is apparently so named because Queen Victoria and her ladies thought this view was so beautiful. Perhaps so. It was hard to tell for me with the low cloud and misty rain. I decided to go find one of the walking tracks even though it was spitting but after walking about five minutes I changed my mind and headed back to the car. It wasn't really going in the direction I wanted to go and I really couldn't see much of a view still. So I just drove on to my next destination, another couchsurfing stop. The drive there wasn't bad. I giggled when I drove through a rock. I wish I had been able to stop and take a photo. There was this huge rock, smack bang in the middle of the road's path. So the builders of the road dug through it. Now I have been through plenty of tunnels but this was more like just a hole in a big rock. Shortly after this experience I drove through a cloud. (I have done that before and did a lot more this day too.) Once I got down near the Beara Penninsula it cleared a bit. At least in patches and I got to view a bit of the natural beauty of this more remote area as I drove. I didn't stop as I planned to just get to my host's place and settle in. I didn't know this would be the best I saw of the Beara Penninsula. I got to Allihies from a different direction than my hosts had given me, then drove on to find a buddhist centre they'd mentioned, and then pulled over and smsed them again. I ended up driving back and forth quite a bit trying to figure out where they were. Turns out they weren't actually in Allihies, just near it...somewhere. Eventually I found the Buddhist Centre and went there to ask them as my hosts volunteer there. One of the ladies there helped me make sense of the directions I was given and I was able to find my hosts at last. They were a nice couple and we had a pleasant chat. It was interesting to stay with Buddhists as I don't think I've ever spent time with any before. I hadn't previously connected the 'no killing any living thing' to being vegetarian but it's a good thing I quite enjoy vegetarian meals. And this homecooked one was most delicious and I savoured every bite. They had a living area that was glass for one wall that looked across what they told me was a beautiful view. But the cloud had come right down to the earth and I could see maybe five metres down the hill. The next day was no better. My hosts suggested places that were worth a visit but when I left mid morning the driving conditions were exactly like the photo above. I wasn't gonna see any views out here. I was a little down because of that and the fact that this was my last day here. In the end I decided I'd go straight to Blarney Castle; one of those landmark tourist places of Ireland. Since it is right by Cork where I was due to fly out from later that evening, I was gonna spend a few hours there and check off the Blarney stone on my 'visited' list.

It was a good decision too. There's more than simply a castle there. I went straight to the castle first though to make sure I visited the blarney stone. Good thing I did too as there were lots of people and you had to join the queue at the top. There was a staff member assisting people to kiss the stone and one taking photos you could collect at the bottom. I settled for my own version of visiting the stone. I word it that way coz I had no interest on putting my lips on that hussey of a stone. But I was there. :)

I then went to wander around the gardens which were wonderful. All green, damp, rocky and almost hidden. There was lots of tracks to explore and a boardwalk area too. Even a little waterfall though it looked manmade. It very nice to relax and wander about in such beautiful nature before I left for England where a few days later I would move to London.

It turned out to be an expensive holiday and cost me more than I had hoped it would but I'm still glad I saw Ireland properly AND that I drove myself around. I'm sure there's more wonders there I could have seen. Other great places to visit. It's one of those things...the more I travel the more I realise there is to see and the more I realise I won't get to see it all. At least I now consider Ireland sufficiently covered. So now to think about what country to visit next.^^