Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fasting and saving

Back to the Fast Diet this week, or at least trying to get there. I did my first fast day on Wednesday but part of that was needing to get something to eat before choir, as I wasn't quite organised enough to have something with me. Went to a pub near where we rehearse, thinking I might get some soup and noticed they had penna all'arrabbiata, which I remember from WeightWatchers days as being a relatively good restaurant choice. It was a huge portion though. Really far more than one person could manage, even one not trying to fast. I still ate a bit more than half, more than I really should have and I was stuffed. Otherwise it was a fairly successful fast day. Today was my second and it was also pretty good.

Went into work this morning to catch up on some desperately overdue printing out and saving of emails. As per usual, what I thought might take three hours or so took closer to five. I didn't have breakfast and planned to leave work by about half-twelve to get home for lunch by one. Ended up staying there until just past three but two squares of dark chocolate and a cup of vegetable broth (I have a small Tupperware container of bouillon powder in my drawer) kept me going for less than 120 calories. Along with a litre of water in my new Tupperware bottle, which I'm loving, I have to say. And when I got home, by the time I'd eaten my planned wrap with salad and tuna mixed with quark and some pickled onions I was very full. There was some chocolate cheesecake at the quiz this evening so I definitely went well over even though they were very small slices. I did walk home at least. And I'm set for bringing lunches this week, too.

But look what I got! A friend of mine has a small translation company and mentioned a while ago that she was very busy and would give me something to do. When I was at her house on Thursday evening we got talking about it again and she sent me a contract to do as a trial. I will admit that it was very difficult but she said that on first reading she was delighted with it. She's going to go through it in detail later and send me her marked-up version so that I can see the things she thinks don't quite fit (hopefully there won't be too many of them). And in the meantime, she handed me this in return:
Well, okay, I had to give her back a fiver, 'cos that was the price we'd agreed on (still far more than I was comfortable with for a first trial)  but still, I've decided that this is officially the start of my 40th birthday fund.  :-)
Along with getting mountains of washing done yesterday and all the washing up done today, I'm calling it a pretty successful weekend all round!

Friday, June 27, 2014

A glimpse at my future

Apparently, this is the kind of thing I have to look forward to if I go ahead and start trying to earn money as a translator. LOL

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Chimneys

While I was in Dublin I stayed in a hotel not far from where I grew up and right on the sea. I took masses of photos, mostly of the same thing, hoping one might be good enough to get printed out in large and hang somewhere. I kind of have an idea of doing the same thing with a few different landmarks over the next few trips back there so that I can someday have one section of a room showing some of the best of my hometown. Or perhaps just have the different pictures dotted throughout the house. When you can see things all the time and then all of a sudden they're not in your background anymore, you do sometimes feel the lack somehow.

Anyway, this time round the photos are of the chimneys. These chimneys form part of the power station at Pigeon House or, as wikipedia tells me, actually Poolbeg Generating Station on Dublin Bay. It's funny how you know some stuff about your hometown but how often when you actually go looking for the facts you realise you only knew half bits and pieces of the actual information. At any rate, driving along the coast road as a child, on the way to visit my grandparents on the northside of the city, or on the way to the airport, we always looked out for the first view of the chimneys. My dad used to run a garage along Sandymount Strand, from where I took most of my photos. That was years before I was born but it did mean that he always had the answers to our questions about the area. What's that, why, when where etc., etc., etc. As an adult I used to love going to Sandymount Strand to walk along the beach or, if the tide was in, along the lovely promenade that was built. It was a lovely Sunday morning thing to do, although you had to get there fairly early or the place would be crowded. For once I was in Ireland during a heatwave so the weather was amazing and the light was incredible, although at times the sun was nearly too bright to allow really good photos. Here's one of my favourites of the chimneys though.
The chimneys, taken from Sandymount Strand

It would have been lovely to get this photo when the tide was in. Sandymount Strand is one of those where you can walk for more than half-an-hour to get to the sea when the tide is out and yet only leaves a few inches of beach visible when the tide's fully in. Here's one taken the following day but from Blackrock, which is a few miles away, when the tide was coming almost in.
The chimneys, taken from beside Blackrock DART Station
And there were lovely clouds just a small bit to the left of the chimneys in this one, which would have made it perfect. I can kind of understand why artists can end up painting multiple pictures of the same scene. So many variations.
The chimneys, taken from Sandymount Strand. That's not sea in the background though, it's mist evaporating.
I happened to land in Dublin on Saturday evening and by the time I had collected my rental car and driven over to the southside, it was dark. I had just turned on to Sandymount Strand when I noticed the moon. And it was incredible. I pulled into the first car park to get out and look at it, because I really wasn't sure I could look away and didn't want to end up crashing the car! It was gone within a few minutes but it was one of the most amazing moonscapes I have ever seen (I want to say it was one of the most amazing moons I've ever seen but it's the same moon every night, after all!). It was giant in the sky, flaming red and so low it looked like it was perched on top of Dun Laoghaire pier. Along with the smell of the sea and the sound of the waves (moon and waves, anyone?), well, I have to admit I did get a little teary-eyed. But that's not the kind of thing you can photograph and hang on your wall so I'll stick with the chimneys for now. Anyone have a favourite of the photos above?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Everything's moving so fast

I can't believe we're already halfway through June. This evening I'll be on a plane to Dublin to spend a couple of days there and mainly to see one of my best friends getting married. I'm looking forward to it and really looking forward to not having to be in work for a few days.

It feels like things there are really catching up and I won't have a chance to fix everything before it all goes tits up, if you'll forgive the expression. It's not one I really like but just fits here. I stayed late yesterday to at least try and sort out the mess that is my desk and at least get a bit of an overview of what's to be done. I thought I had a pretty good idea of the very long list of stuff I need to do and was plugging away, realising I wasn't even going to get one of the bigger tasks finished when I moved what I thought were two files that I just needed to get filed and found another one underneath them. It had been totally hidden from sight somehow but contained workings for an invoice that should have been sent out the last week of April/first week of May. Crap. I couldn't believe it when I saw it and quite genuinely felt like just getting up, walking out of the office and never coming back. My stomach was in knots. I still cannot really figure out what happened but that is the second really big mistake I have made since September. And that I just have no reason or excuse for. That panicky feeling? That's the reason I tend to not make big mistakes - I loathe that feeling and would rather spend hours working extra every week to be sure everything's done properly than be a bit less picky. Let your guard down for just a little while and see what happens. I sent my boss an email immediately but what could I say really? She did read the email almost immediately (I could see it had been opened in her inbox) but didn't reply. I haven't looked at my Blackberry today. I'm kind of hoping by the time I get back next Friday she'll have calmed down a bit. But it's really bad that my annual review has to be done by the end of June. And since I'm hoping to leave before another one comes around, my evaluation for this review will be what my reference will largely be based on.

When I got home last night I was still too keyed up to sleep so I set to, finally doing the washing up that has been collecting since, I kid you not, just over a week. As I said, things are catching up with me! I have barely even opened the door to the kitchen this week as I knew what I'd be looking at. Got it all done and the place sorted out a bit. Labelled and stored the jam I made nearly two weeks ago as well.

This morning, I've been taking a long time to get going (obvious by the fact that it's one o'clock and I'm still talking about morning). I've one wash that will be finished shortly and another to go in immediately as there are things I need to bring with me that I didn't get around to washing during the week. Typical. Hopefully they'll be mostly dry by the time I need to leave. I've tidied up a bit and just finished hoovering. Need to wash the floors now. And then myself. And then find some food. I think I'm just going to go out for lunch and save myself any more washing up duty. And at some stage I have to pack, too. So I really should get a move on now.

Here's a link to some photos taken after the big storm last Monday. I haven't quite figured flickr out (after something like seven years - I really need to do something about that) so most of the photos are without captions or names but you can get an idea. We have had some spectacular sunsets, too. Although I find the sunset setting on my camera seems to make everything very yellow rather than enhance the red. But you can get an idea of the devastation.

Monday, June 09, 2014

What the actual fuck!?!

That was kind of the reaction we had this evening when we came out of the restaurant following this month's book club. We went to Okinii, a Japanese restaurant not far from the main train station. Highly overrated, by the way - food was nice but service was pretty abysmal (especially given that you order everything yourself via an iPad at your table) and quite frankly the whole thing was more expensive that I would be bothered to pay again. At any rate, we were sat way down the back and it's quite loud and we were engrossed in conversation so it wasn't until I went to the front of the restaurant to go to the toilet that I saw it was absolutely lashing rain. And I saw lightening, too so when I got back to the table I duly told the girls that it was lashing rain and storming. None of us really reacted more than to wish we'd brought umbrellas and then we got back to our discussion.

Fast forward to about another hour later, just before eleven we left the restaurant and it was still spitting rain a bit. Got to the first cross street down the road, looked to the right and saw the fire brigade with lights flashing and blocking the road. Well, to be honest it wasn't them blocking the road, it was the two or three trees and large branches that were. Seemed unusual and interesting and then we continued on. I crossed to the tram stop and then noticed there were lots of very big branches across the lines at a few places. Since it seemed likely the trams weren't running as a result I turned around to walk up the road to the nearest underground station, figuring at least the underground would be running. But it turns out, not so much. I did get to the platform just as one tram was about to arrive, which was running to one stop before mine so I hopped on that and met one of the friends I had been with and separated from when I went off to get my tram. We both decided that since it seemed all the other trams, trains and buses weren't running, we'd get taxis. But when we got out of the underground we could see even more trees down, blocking most of the taxi rank, as was the portaloo that's there for the taxi drivers. And no taxis in sight but a longish queue waiting.

Walking it was. We set off together, as the first part of our route lay together and when we got to where I would normally have turned off the entire road was blocked with police stopping people from turning up there. Again, trees down and across the road. I asked them if the road along the river was clear and the answer was stay away from anywhere with trees (living in such a nice green city, that's pretty hard to do!) and it's all at my own risk. What a sad state of affairs the world is in when that's the first thing the police have to think of to say: at your own risk.

I kept walking along with my friend until we got to the river. Had to walk around a lot of large branches and trees blocking the way and passed one poor smashed car but luckily no injuries to be seen. There were lots of trees down all along the river, too. And glass smashed out of billboard type poster pillars with the posters also torn to shreds. My house, at least, seems to have escaped any damage but there are tiles on the pavement next door and further down the road, again, a few trees down. The big tree across from mine seems okay though. And look at this photo posted on twitter. Amazing.
This person must be just around the corner from me - I can also see this ERGO building from my window. There are more photos of that girl's twitter feed if you want to see the kind of thing I'm talking about. As well as lots of remarks on insurance companies getting what they deserve and irony. LOL
And this is at the side of the supermarket just down the road from me:
Amazing photos online of cloud formations, too, like this one from a nearby town:

All in all, I feel a bit like in a film when some mad action is taking part outside while the oblivious in the restaurant keep eating and drinking and come out at the end of the film when the hero has saved the world and is just sitting down to relax and they're wondering why things look different!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sand safety

The lovely Earthchicknits has once again posted a reminded of the dangers of sand hole collapse. She came very close to losing her then three-year-old son seven years ago when they were at the beach and he fell into a hole dug by some kids earlier in the day, which then collapsed on top of him. Thankfully, a woman who helped them search after he went missing remembered the hole-digging from earlier and they found and were able to dig him out before  the worst could happen. Unfortunately, a majority of sand hole collapses involving people do end in death and so Earthchicknits does a lot to spread the word and  try to make sure that everyone knows about this problem. I grew up in Ireland and although it's not the place with the weather to spend every day on the beach, as an island country, spending time on the beach was definitely part and parcel of normal life. And yet I had never heard of this at all. The only safety notices I ever remember were always to do with water safety. Although a quick google reveals at least one death in the last few years so even though it may not be common, it does happen. So, please, do your bit to spread the word. Visit Earthchiciknit's blog, pin the sand safety poster, tweet, blog or post the message on whatever social media you use, talk to people about it and, above all else, when you're at the beach, please make sure to observe good sand safety.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Scorn not his simplicity

I may have posted this before. One of my favourite songs and, as mentioned in the video, absolutely the definitive version. And even though I know this was recorded for a television show it still has that great feel of a few musicians just coming together to make music, with some joining in just for a while, some not etc. as the mood takes them. Brilliant stuff.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

How to lock your bike properly

Saw this earlier on LPA Rebuild and thought it was worth sharing. I haven't been out on the bike this year yet and really want to save up and get myself a ladies version of the bike I have so that I'm more likely to not be put off going for a cycle. I just wish the guy in this video had explained why he's so scathing about combination locks since that's what I have. Mind you, I also have a bike that cost me 20 euro and am using a lock that cost slightly more than that so going by his rule of thumb, I'm not doing too badly. Heehee.