28 December 2012

Christmas 2012

My first week back in Invecargill was sort of hectic. First of all, it's actually a proper summer here and quite hot, which was a bit of shock to the system after coming from icy cold wind and rain in Galway. I had Christmas shopping to do, gifts to make and food to cook, plus unpacking and tidying up the spare room that I have claimed as my own, and helping mum to unpack and tidy up her new place. In fact, I'm already getting sick of being around my family so before long I'm going to head out to Colac Bay and begin to write my thesis, all reclusive and on my own, with a beach view:

So Christmas itself was exhausting. It all started on Christmas eve when I was sitting on the floor wrapping presents and I saw something move out of the corner of my eye - it was a spider, running across the carpet. Only a medium sized spider, but I just did not have the energy to deal with it properly, so I tried to encourage the cat to eat it. The spider stopped moving as soon as it saw my shadow so at least it didn't go hide somewhere, but the useless cat would not get it for me. And I know that she does kill spiders sometimes because I found a dead one on my bedroom floor one morning, which was surely a gift from her because it hadn't been there the night before. So with the cat being no help at all I grabbed a book and squashed the poor thing, only it didn't want to die so it took several whacks. Just as I was about to turn back to my present wrapping I noticed lots of little insects crawling over the floor and my first thought was 'ew, the kitchen is being invaded by ants'. But then I looked closer and saw that the tiny crawling things were actually tons of baby spiders! The one that I killed must have had a sack of babies and I burst it open. That was the last straw and I had to be completely cruel and vacuum them all up. Poor spiders. They should not come into my house, then I wouldn't have to do that.

With my spider fiasco over, I still had presents to wrap and food to prepare. Mostly it was ordinary food but the frozen banoffee cheesecake was my prize piece for this year and I think from now on I will always make a banoffee cheesecake over a normal banoffee pie. Especially seeing as Christmas was actually a proper hot day. It was awfully hot even before lunch when I had to go pick up various family members, and it only got hotter. Too hot to eat almost. Too hot to sit in the sunshine. Ended up retreating into the house (which was no cooler, my sister's house is practically a sauna) and watching rather un-christmassy movies. That was my Christmas practically over - I got pearl bracelets from Dad from Thailand and a Minnie Mouse watch, and my brother actually came through with a really good gift of frosting equipment so I can go straight back to cupcake making. I spent the evening with friends, who have a brand new puppy that is so cute (and I so want one), but it is very nippy and has sharp little teeth.

Now New Years is nearly upon us and the perfect weather is finally supposed to break, the forecast is solid rain for the next few days. It's a bit of a bummer, but then, it's been sort of strange to have no rain and it will still not be very cold. It will give my sunburn time to fade at least. A bonfire by the beach would have been fun for New Years, but it's really just another day so I don't really mind being kept inside by the rain, to celebrate quietly with friends. The good weather should come back so there will be plenty of time for that.

20 December 2012

Back in Invers

So you know you're in New Zealand when you're walking down the main street and you see a kid eating a pie one-handed while riding a bike. When I arrived at Christchurch airport the other day I had some time to spare and was hungry so I bought a pie, a proper New Zealand pie, with proper New Zealand tomato sauce. And it was awesome. Overpriced though, it was the airport after all.

Today was my first full day home and it was stinking hot (or at least it seemed so to me) but I did very little and couldn't even make the most of it because to me it was too hot, having come from such cold weather just a couple of days ago. Not to mention that I'm completely wrecked - I felt fine yesterday but I guess I must still be on Irish time because I woke at 4 am after only a few hours sleep and I swear I hardly even dozed after that. This evening will have to be a very early night, and then tomorrow I really have to start being back properly and going to visit people (the few people that I have here after leaving all my Irish friends...), plus there is all the Christmas stuff to finish organising. I feel sort of like I have dropped out of time completely - I keep forgetting what day of the week it is and it certainly doesn't feel like Christmas is just a few days away. Guess I've well and truly grown out of the whole Christmas-magic thing, and having a plastic tree that doesn't smell of pine at all really doesn't help.

On the positive side, I didn't have to wait for Christmas to get a new toy - at Hong Kong airport I bought myself a smartphone and now I have been trying to figure out how to use it. I'm still finding it confusing, but getting there. I'm worried I'll break it though, considering how often I drop everything else that I touch. I also have a brand new (to me) bike so that I can get around now that I'm back in Invers - it's not the prettiest but it will do. I need a helmet though, I keep forgetting because in Ireland I got so used to seeing everybody cycle without a helmet. Definitely won't get away with that here. Over the weekend I promised my sister I would help her make gifts for people - which means making truffles and fudge, yum. Hopefully this southern hemisphere summer will stay so good as it has been in the last two days because I'm sure I really deserve some proper warm weather. Coming soon will be lots of photos to make everybody over on the other side of the world jealous, in hopes that they will come visit next summer...but first I have to stop hiding from the heat and sun and get out and do something. So I really need to catch up on sleep. Which means it's my bedtime now, or at least after I have removed the results of my unpacking off of my bed.

18 December 2012

On Leaving Ireland

So for my last days Galway confirmed my reason for leaving and would insist on bucketing down rain every time I tried to go outside. I will not miss the rain, or the big puddles, especially in the dark when you don't see them and then walk right through and get your feet wet. I will miss my friends of course, and some of my favourite shops, and being so close to so many interesting countries (not that I made enough of that). I won't miss my lab or my building or the university, or the messy drunken students that are everywhere. Or the insane crowds that make me not want to go into town in the weekend. I'll miss my nice little apartment a little, but at the same time I'm sick of the dampness so I'll look forward to being in a house again. And I miss our NZ food so I can't wait to be back for Christmas!

I'm now in Hong Kong airport and it is very foggy outside, and I feel pretty gross after a 12 hour flight and a long (stressful) day of packing before that. Not to mention the horrible stress at Heathrow where my flight from Dublin had been so delayed that I actually nearly missed my plane! I got to the check in counter in the nick of time, she checked me in but couldn't print a boarding pass because it had all been shut down. I had to power walk to the gate, I would have ran if not for my heavy carry-on bag, and the man at the gate said 'sorry, the flight is closed'. My immediate response was 'nononono', but then he said relax, just wait, he'll try his best, and luckily they managed to get me through. If they hadn't I would have been screwed because it's all controlled by someone in Auckland and once the flight is closed they can't do anything about it. What a nightmare, I have never cut it so fine before. And being so late meant there was not option to choose my seat and the flight was so crowded that I was stuck in a middle seat. I think I hardly slept at all. I just hope everything from now on goes smoothly. I have another 12 hour flight in about an hour, and then another day of connecting flights to get from Auckland to Invercargill!

So right now I'm in Hong Kong, I have nearly an hour before I need to be at my gate and I have a credit card. Luckily there are very few shops here that I would want to shop at - mostly fancy over-priced designer stuff. But maybe I can find something I like. At least walking around the shops will let me stretch my legs before the next flight, so I think it's time to go do that instead of sitting here at the computer.

02 December 2012

31 Dresses

It's December now, first day of summer in NZ but technically in Ireland winter has already been around for a month, because they're weird like that. I have taken up a challenge for the month, along with a friend of mine, and it's called Dressember - sort of like movember, only for girls and the challenge is that you have to wear a dress every single day. Which I think is surely harder than movember, because not bothering to shave your face is surely pretty easy, and trying to find so many dresses to wear, and to repeat them in new and interesting ways, is much more difficult. Of course, it's not meaningful like movember, though some people try to raise money for women's charities. I'm just doing it for the fun. And not just so that I can feed my addiction to buying clothes either. I think it began in the southern hemisphere, where wearing a dress in December makes a lot more sense. Luckily for me, I'll be spending half my December in NZ so I can wear both my summer and winter dresses. You're also meant to take photos every day, but I'm not sure if I'll manage that. Especially on days like today, which is Sunday, where it is too wet to bother leaving the house. For the first day of the month I got off to a good start though; not only do I have a photo of me in my dress for the day, but it's a photo with Santa:

It is not really a very good photo - it is too white and shiny. Guess I will have to get another photo with Santa to make up for it. But not today, because today I don't plan on leaving the house again. In fact what I would most like to do today is be huddled on the couch in front of a movie with a hot chocolate. However, I have only two weeks until I leave Ireland, pretty much for good. I have so much to do in that time! I should be working right now, except I have lost my ID card and so I couldn't get into my office. I have to pack, I have to give away all my extra stuff, I have to get travel insurance and arrange to bring a second suitcase with me (I hope it doesn't cost too much!), I have to tidy my room and I should probably buy a few presents for people. And I have to say goodbye to all my friends. So much to do, so little time. But I am so looking forward to Christmas, to a holiday from work and to some sunshine. So that I can wear my summer dresses, which will make this Dressember thing a lot easier. Until then I will just make the most of winter dresses, big scarves and warm leggings. Here is what I have to work with for the next two weeks:

That should be enough, so I will try really hard to restrain myself from buying more stuff, because I already have far too much. All my friends here will be getting lots of hand-me-down Christmas presents this year!