Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hamish!


Amelia and David's ridiculously cute West Highland Terrier Hamish.

Dublin Castle

Castle Enthusiasm

Yep, a castle. In the middle of the city. Actually it's just the record tower that's left from the original medieval castle. The rest of the castle was destroyed in a great fire and the additional structures were a palace added on in later Georgian. This is the original Dublin, a walled medieval city in which so much of Dublin and Ireland's history was created.

Drawing Room

The building and palace are only accessible by tour as they're still being used as government building. What I love the most about going on tours is the little tidbits of information you wouldn't normally get reading books or brochures. This is the magnificent Drawing Room. This might sound a little naive, but I always thought drawing rooms were for, well, drawing. Turns out, as the guide explained, "drawing" was actually a shortened from "withdrawing", when, after gathering together in this entertaining room, the ladies would "withdraw" to the parlour and the men might "withdraw" to the smoking room.

Dining Room
The other thing I found really interesting, is the guide said that you can generally tell what a room was originally intended for by looking at the plasterwork on the ceiling. In this case the ceiling rose had grapes on it, indicating it was the dining room. The guide also said you can tell original Georgian rugs by the pattern. If they match the pattern on the ceiling it was most likely original.

Aside from all the interesting information and history, I was just in awe of the sheer magnificence and amazement of the craftsmanship. To create this at a time when there was no mechanics, computers or electricity simply astounds me.







Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dublin? But why?



Dublin is a long, long way from Brisbane. And, well, you know, I don't fly well. So why am I here?

Well, almost 20 years ago (yikes) when I was a student at QUT, I did a couple of industrial relations subjects. The lectures were at night and I used to catch the Ipswich line back late to my college in Toowong. Another girl in my class also used to catch that line to her flat in Taringa so we'd travel together.

That girl is my bestie Amelia. Over the past 20 years we've lived in different cities but we'll always be besties. She even lived with my other bestie Cheree for a while. She married a lovely Irishman she met during her travels and has lived in Dublin for 11 years. I have been PROMISING to visit her for 11 years and finally, in my year of "just doing it", I booked my flight over and so here I am.

And yes...the 29 hour flight nearly killed me!! But so worth it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The streets of Dublin

Area around Temple Bar

Callaghan Davenport Hotel

National Museum of Ireland


Temple Bar

Temple Bar


Over my dead body...


This is the statue of George Salmon who was Provost for the famous Trinity College in Dublin. He was an ultra conservative and once said women would only be admitted into the college over his dead body. Ironically he dropped dead the month women were admitted in 1904. Now his statue looks over the grounds as women, making up over half of Trinity's population, go to lectures.

Hmmmm......irony or karma? ;-)

Irish History Lesson


I took a guided tour so I could understand the history of Dublin and Ireland. My knowledge of modern European history is appalling so pretty much everything they spoke about was news to me.

What I did learn was that the poor Irish have had a right crappy run being invaded by all sorts over the years and it's completely understandable why they take their independence so passionately.

The walking tour went for two hours and covered the invasion by the Vikings right through to the Easter Rising in 1916 and Dublin as it is today. We went through the medieval section of the city, through Temple Bar, the "cultural quarter" and through the grounds of Dublin Castle and Trinity College.

I'm absolutely in love with the cobblestone roads and stone buildings. It's a city steeped in history and character and I feel a bit like the character from Playing Beattie Bow, going back in time, especially when the streets are empty.


I'm only here for another couple of days and I still have LOADS of places on my list to see. It's not really a city you can cover in a week. In fact, I haven't even been over the Liffey to the North side. Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breakfast at Bewley's


Amelia has given me a list of Dublin institutions that HAD to try while I was here. So first on the list was the world famous Bewley's in Grafton Street. It was established in 1835 and has been on this site since 1927. I had breakfast here in the beautiful wood panelled cafe, with stain glass windows, chandeliers and artwork.



It had gorgeous old world charm, tapestry upholstered booth seats and very reasonably priced menu.  I just had granola with organic yoghurt with fruit. Nothing exciting, but it was really good.


I made a pact that to really experience Dublin and Ireland I only wanted to eat at places that were unique to the area. So no Maccas or Subway, even their coffee. I want the authentic experience. Sometimes it's a bit hard finding vegetarian lunch and dinner options because they love their Irish strew and fish pie, but everything I've had so far been faaaabulous!


Bewley’s CafĂ©
78/79 Grafton Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
http://bewleys.com/

Brush with fame...sort of...not


This is the closest brush with fame I will get in Ireland. I'm up on Killiney Hill and just behind my head is Enya's castle.

Yes...castle!

Tapas-gasm!


Greetings from beautiful Ireland! I haven't posted since I arrived because I've been way too busy stuffing my face. Lovely hey?

The rich, fertile soil from the constant rains makes beautiful, farm fresh fruit and vegetables and the Irish seem very patriotic about using local produce. So all the food has been lovely and fresh (except this one pub I went to, but it was in Temple Bar so I should have known better).



Amelia and David took me to The Port House Ibericos, their favourite tapas restaurant last night and Oh. My. God. It was amazing. It was in an old converted stone cottage with open fire place and timber floorboards. It was cosy and intimate and full on a Tuesday night.

The menu was extensive but not too much that it was hard to make a decision and there were lots of vegetarian options clearly set out. We had nine dishes between the three of us and were full to the max at the end. Each dish was flavoursome and cooked to perfection, I've never had anything like it.



We had:


  • Escalivada - Grilled mixed vegetables
  • Bravas (x2) - Deep fried cubes of potato with fiery tomato sauce
  • Paella de Marisco - Traditional Spanish rice dish with seafood
  • Almejas con Jamon - Clams pan fried with serrano ham, garlic and white wine
  • Berenjena con Queso de Cabra - Fried aubergine and coats cheese sandwich in breakcrumbs
  • Chorizo - Iberian sausage with a blend of spices
  • Albondigas - Meatballs in rich tomato sauce

Sooooo amazing, washed down with five glasses of Spanish wine.  I think I had my first Tapas-gasm!



The Port House Ibericos
Ballinteer Road,
5-6 Pembroke Cottage, Dundrum,
Ireland
http://porthouse.ie/ibericos

Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Mumsy!

Today is my Mum's 61st birthday. She looks pretty good eh? ;-)

Happy Birthday Mumsy-Poo!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lunch at my Desk


Dumplings for lunch - yay!! But not outside in the beautiful sunshine :-(. Inside at work, in my windowless office. 

No matter...have exciting news coming up soon that will make being inside all worth it :-)

My New Blog



This is my latest blog, Karina's House Project. I haven't been writing it for long, but it's about the building of the new house.  I think it will be a nice record of the history of the house although at the moment, it's a bit of a venting avenue as we still battle with delays due to the Council, plans and other things.

I'm using this blog to note all the beautiful things I would like the furnish the house with, my thoughts on design, my bargaining talent in sourcing items, my pain, frustration, happiness and sadness.

Love you to visit and come with me on my building journey.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Govinda's!


We had the Govinda's Feast tonight. There's not really any way to take a good pic of it, but really, it's delicious. Dahl, chickpea curry, rice, kofta balls with salad and a pappadum, then a dessert of halva and a lemon and mint drink. It's $12.90 now, but when I was a student it was $8. It's still pretty good value, Graham and I shared it and it was filling enough.

I love all our local vegetarian places. They all seems to be run by such nice people and the food is always good value.

If you're in Brissie and looking for a good vegetarian local you can check out my list for Weekend Notes.

Sunnygirl Bird Cardigan


Huzzah for my new Sunnygirl bird cardigan!
Fail for walking around until mid morning with the swing tag hanging out the back :-(

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sushi in the Park


I sit in a windowless office at work :-( It's an open plan section of the media and communications department that's in the middle of the office so unless I go to the kitchen or downstairs to reception, I wouldn't know if it was hail or sunshine. Thank God I work with awesome people or I think I would go stir crazy.

Normally we bring lunch with us and sit at a meeting table in our area. We chat, pour over magazines and stuff, it's fun and gives us a break, but then we go back to our work sometimes not going outside into the fresh air for a full 8 hours.

But not today!! I don't know who's idea it was, but someone fabulous decided we should go to the park for lunch and sit in the sun.

And it was glorious!

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, picture perfect Autumn day. Not a cloud in the sky, warm midday sun beating down on my back, mums and bubs in the playground and students kicking a football on the oval.


I grabbed some vegetable tempura sushi from Sushi Train and this delightful lychee tea (in a can - how novel) and sat in the grass, feeling those happy rays wash over me.

I don't think we were gone much longer than we normally take for lunch but we were definitely much happier and refreshed when we got back. We usually go out to lunch on a Friday and I think we'll be adding lunch in the park at least one day a week too.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mother's Day


Hope all the Mums out there had a lovely day. My 13 year old made breakfast - eggs on toast with tobasco. It was very nice, especially seeing as he cleaned up after as well.

He's a special kid, my boy. I was very young when I had him, so sometimes I feel like I've grown up with him and now he's a little adult just as I'm finally feeling like I'm an adult.

I got a bit nostalgic looking through some old photos of us.







*Sniff* time flies.

The random Asian store that just keeps on giving


That random Asian store in Toowong is the random Asian store in Toowong that just keeps on giving. I really must find out the name of it.

Aside from the el cheapo dumplings and face masks, I also bought some Mabo Sauce. I was pretty sure it was another lost in translation error and it was actually Ma Po sauce, the delicious spicy bean paste that you cook with tofu and mince.



Yep, it was, and seeing as we couldn't put mince with it, I added peas and three extra bird's eye chillies...just in case "medium hot" wasn't enough. Actually it turns out medium hot was probably quite enough and the extra chillies were not at all needed. Josh and I spent the meal running for glasses of water and tissues to blow our nose and wipe our watery eyes.

Strangely we enjoy this.

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day Mumsy-Poo

A big, heartfelt Happy Mother's Day to all Mums out there, especially mine. It's a hard and sometimes thankless job this Mummyhood. And one you don't appreciate until you become one yourself and you find yourself with your hands in poo, then hands in wallet, without much sleep and constant worry (and guilt).

So Mums of the world, take a breather, enjoy the dodgy homemade cards, dodgy breakfast and  enjoy the ONE day off this year. Actually, we all know it will only be half a day. You'll end up doing the dishes (or in my case, re-doing the dishes) and cleaning up the wrapping paper and crap at the end of the day. But it's a nice thought.

Happy Mother's Day to my Grandmother (on my Mum's side)
And my thoughts are with my beloved late Grandmother (on my Dad's side)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pamper Night


No, it's not Hannibal Lector or Phantom of the Opera. It's the collagen face mask I used tonight. I didn't post the photo of me wearing it because it would scare small children. Hell, it scared me when I looked in the mirror.

I bought it from that random Asian store in Toowong I posted about yesterday, it was on the front counter near the register, next to some dried mushrooms. There was a huge box of them and they were only 90c each.

Now normally I wouldn't buy something to put on my face that was a) from a random Asian store; b) not written in English; and c) 90c each, but my Bestie Bernice had tried them before and I remembered her saying they were awesome.



So I bought a whole stack, I thought it would be fun. I got collagen, red ginseng and aloe vera for me and lemon for Josh, but for some reason he didn't seem very interested.

I walked around like an Egyptian mummy come to life for half an hour, scaring the son and myself whenever I walked past the mirror, but after 30 minutes I peeled it off to my new "Young Skin".

Not bad for 90c, along with all the other things I bought. I'm loving this random Asian store...if I knew its name.

Saturday Arvo Chillin'


Chilled out Saturday arvo at home. Lucky for me I have my own entertainment. Live acoustic courtesy of the 13 year old.