26 December 2010

My Winter Christmas

So here I am in Dublin for Christmas, my first winter Christmas. And it is a proper one with all this snow, even the locals have never had such a white Christmas as this.

The house here is decorated to such an extent as I think I have ever seen. Everything is traditional and organised and perfect. And of course it is a catholic household so there is a nativity scene and a statue of the Virgin Mary and I went to mass on Christmas eve. Which was sort of interesting I guess, and also rather long and cold.

And Christmas dinner was delicious and eaten at a beautifully decorated table. Again though, different to my own NZ Christmas. There was turkey and ham, and christmas pudding. But no pavlova or trifle or cheesecake. And no sunshine to lie in afterwards.

Now, the day after Christmas, I am still very full and sitting by the fire. The snow is melting away somewhat. Soon I must go back to Galway and get back to work. There will be no big excitement for New Years, it is too cold and transport cannot be relied on - as soon as you went to the effort to organise something I bet that it would freeze and snow again. On a more positive note though, the icicles are very pretty.

24 December 2010

21 December 2010

Nearly Christmas

Here in Galway the temperature has dropped to -15 degrees at night time. The streets outside are covered in such a thick layer of ice that they should just let us all stay home from work on account of the terrible health and safety hazard that is getting to work. There was a lunar eclipse last night, or actually this morning at about 8 am, and then sunrise and the sky was supposed to go bright blood red. A friend bet that I wouldn't actually manage to get out to see it. Luckily I didn't take that bet cos come the morning there was no way I was going out in that ice. I kept getting up, looking out the window and then getting back into bed. But if the sky had turned bright red surely I would have noticed, so I think maybe this whole eclipse+sunrise thing can't have been so big as it was purported to be. It was probably pretty enough but I think I'll keep an eye out for one happening in summer.

Speaking of summer, despite the rain I would quite like some of that Invercargill summer right now. Maybe the rain would melt all this ice. It's pretty enough on water and trees, if only I didn't have to walk to work. Which I can stop doing in two days, I will head off to Dublin for a short break. That is if the bus makes it what with all this snow and ice. But it won't be much of a break. I want to fit in time for shopping, time to talk to friends, time to relax, and horribly enough time to work.

And speaking of work. The book chapter that I am a co-author in has been published and we have a copy in our office! The exclamation is primarily for the fact that my name is in print in a science book. And then it is only an exclamation as a matter of course really because when it comes right down to it my name is not even in print as I would like it to be, it is not my full name. I checked and double checked about a dozen drafts and when it comes down to the actual printing my name is wrong and there are spelling mistakes in the text. But on the upside, who reads the text anyway, my beautiful pictures are in print. Now to the real hard work, which is to finish up everything and become an expert in my field so that I can submit some real publications. But look, my name, in print!

But of course with it being Christmas and all I must make truffles. Only being me any kitchen endeavor is liable to make for a good story and once again I have done something ridiculous. It could be worse though, when compared to other incidents of mine this one is really quite minor. Basically I was again reminded that not all glass bowls are heatproof. So I was making truffles and had the glass bowl over a pot of water in order to melt the chocolate. And I heard this cracking noise. And then I heard it again and it was quite loud so I thought to myself what is that noise? I picked up the bowl and looked at the bottom of it and yes, what would you know but there is a big crack in it. So I move it from over the water, and just in time too because in the next couple of moments the bowl just very gently becomes two halves of bowl and all the chocolate mixture begins slipping out. So I move it real quick over a clean pan and manage to rescue most of it, and it's all ok, there are still lots of yummy truffles. I think I owe my housemate a new bowl though. What was amazing was how quietly the bowl just broke in half. Like there was no big deal about it, it just suddenly wasn't a bowl any more.

09 December 2010

Update from Galway

It is very very cold here. It went from frosty to really snowy back to frosty and icy. Now it has thawed a little and is wet and sludgy. It gets dark really early too, so every day it seems like it should be time to go home at about 4, or even earlier, but there is still many hours left of work to be doing. It is going to be a very long winter, I have an awful lot of work to do. I have perhaps been slacking off a little over the past few weeks, but still, even if I hadn't I would still be in this situation. The situation being that I have until the end of February to finish all the things I am currently working on, so I will have to be working about 60 hours a week until then. Very sad.

It is still snowing in Dublin though, and over the UK. The mail is held up and travel is held up and people are having accidents. Yesterday and the day before a rescue helicoptor was flying back and forth over the river. As a joke I bet a friend that they were looking for a body. His bet was that it was something to do with the secret police and the new world order. But word has it that it really was looking for a body, that somebody somewhere left a suicide note and then jumped into the river. It's a really fast river too, and the water is really high over winter. It always freaks me out a bit that there is such a strong river in the middle of a city, in many places without fences or barriers. They broke up the big sheets of ice so that they could look properly.

But luckily this morning I arrived at work and my parcel from home has arrived! So my mood has improved by several orders of magnitude. There was nobody around my own office so early so I went in search of a friend to come help me open things. Because everything was wrapped up separate in christmas paper.

Now I have lots of NZ sweets to share, and I have everything I need to make real lolly cake, and our classic kiwi dip. I have lots of random kiwiana stuff, and I have a kiwi shaped cookie cutter!! That is probably the coolest thing. Plus the box had about a million stamps on it.

So a dash of Christmas has come early for me, and now there is only two weeks in which to get an insane amount of work done, then I will relax for at least one week! And maybe go somewhere for New Years but maybe there is no point making plans because that snow is like sentient malevolence going out of its way to stop all modes of transport and be a bit of a kill joy. Still, at least we can make snow men.