Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The First Bit

I haven't written much because there isn't really a lot to report. I'm settling in to the country house and quite enjoying the peace and quiet.

As mentioned, I'm about 4km from town (8km round-trip). For my first load of groceries, I walked to town and then took a taxi home (€5).

I'm lucky to have amazing neighbours on both sides and one set (Ronnie and Mary) offered to take me to another town (Gort) to get groceries with them. Gort's main store has a bigger selection and lower prices. Not to say that prices are low. In general, most things are much more expensive than Canada. However, I'm still learning who has the best deal on what.

I've been out on the bike a couple of times as well. Yesterday (7/29) I rode into Kinvara to drop off some bottles at the recycling depot and to pick up a few groceries. I ran into my local taxi-man and said I felt like I was cheating on him!

The weather has been cool -- I don't think we've hit 20 yet. I don't mind too much, but there are often showers throughout the day -- which makes going for a cycle a bit of a gamble. So far, so good.

Cycle Boy in Kinvara
I'm slowly building up the KMs on the bike. I find I need to take a one-day break due to knee and shoulder pain. Not to mention me arse. I'm not 30 anymore, so I don't want to push things too fast. But I can see riding 25km a day (weather permitting) by September. I can currently do 15km without much difficulty. I think riding into the near-constant winds and the undulating roads will just take a bit of time to get used to.

A sweet destination!
I still haven't gone to the pub in Kinvara. Mostly it's an issue of timing. The places I want to go open at 5, and the weather has been crap to walk in around that time. My plan is to walk in and per-arrange a taxi pick-up a couple of hours later. Perhaps tomorrow.

The internet is good enough to get work done, but I need to add another client. I've been cut back a little and I'll need to keep the income coming. Luckily my expenses are low.

Irish cat (1 of 2) says hi!
Anyway, that's it for now. Things will get more interesting over the coming weeks, I'm sure of it.

And so it goes...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lazy Sunday

July 19, 2015
Kinvara, Ireland

As the title suggests, it was a lazy Sunday.

I had a fitful sleep thanks to the never ending drip, drip, drip of my nose. Plus sneezing and coughing and a general malaise.

I spent the early part of the day puttering. Unpacking stuff and moving it around. I caught up on emails and blogs and posting photos. I did a little bit of work (if I do two more items then I have no deadlines until early August). I attacked a pile of dishes and created a new one.

It was a nice day so in the afternoon I went to the back of the property to pick berries with the cat.

Picking Berries with a New Friend
I forgot, of course, about all the stinging nettles mixed in the bramble. I didn't forget for long. My hand is still tingling.

Later I pulled the bikes out. There are two. An older mountain bike and a newer more urban bike. I filled up the tires in the mountain bike and went for a very short spin. The brakes are in dire need of adjusting.

I tweaked the other bike and put together a little emergency road kit. I thought about going for a ride but it was getting late. Plus all this nasal drip and sneezing aren't motivating me to pound the kms.

So I set everything up for a ride tomorrow. I'll go into town for some supplies and, if the nose is no better, some anti-histamine.

I'm actually feeling a little timid riding the narrow country roads, but I also know how good getting back on a bike will be for me.  It'd be nice to do some substantial daily rides. 

And that was Sunday.


July 19, 2015
Kinvara, Co. Galway, Ireland

The last few days were a whirlwind. Relocating from Nova Scotia to Ireland wasn't particularly difficult (I worked ahead so I had lots of free time), but the journey was long. Something like 30 hours from my NS bed to my hotel room in Galway.

Despite a tropical storm off the East Coast, I was able to fly out of Halifax on Wednesday (7/15) and make it to St. John's, Newfoundland where I hopped a second flight to Dublin.

The second flight was only 4 hours. It was a pleasant enough WestJet flight, although somewhat cramped -- even in the 'plus' section.

We touched down in Dublin around 7am local time (GMT+1; ET+5; PT+8!). The next leg of the journey was a bus ride right across the country to Galway. I had already booked an express bus for 11:15am -- which meant I had to hang out in the airport for a while. I took advantage of this time to get an Irish SIM card for my phone (€25 for a month of pretty much unlimited everything). Then I grabbed an overpriced coffee and banana and stared at the clock until 11am.

At that point I wandered out into the fresh air and hopped on a very comfortable bus. It came complete with power outlets, WiFi and a toilet.

Small Countries Rock!
The bus took about 2.5 hours to cross the country. Traffic was heavy when we arrived in Galway. I hopped off the bus and was met with my first bit of Irish friendliness: a woman gave me a 20 Eurocent coin so I could access the bathroom to freshen up.

Then I grabbed my bags, asked for directions to my hotel and off I went.

I had two big bags, which was a bit of a pain but they were free to bring on the plane. A lot of the stuff inside (old clothes, nearly worn out shoes) I will simply leave behind.

The Hotel Victoria was quite close and I was checking in in no time. The room was €109 taxes in. It was also huge:
Room 204 - Victoria Hotel, Galway, Ireland
I was pretty knackered from the flight, but I went for a short stroll in search of food and then popped into the hotel's pub for a pint. Well, three.

Caught on Camera!
In the pub I met an old Irish couple. They were nice, welcomed me to Ireland and mentioned that they were connected to the McCain family in New Brunswick.

I crashed at midnight, thinking I would wake up early enough to get out and snap some pictures of Galway before the tourists showed up.

Wrong. I woke up Friday morning at 10.

With checkout at noon, I scrambled to shower and hit the nearby mall for some provisions.

At 1pm James, my Kinvara taxi driver, picked me up. It's about 40km one way and with my bags a taxi made the most sense. We also stopped at a Tesco so I could grab more provisions and plug adaptors for my electronic gadgets.


We arrived at my new home mid-afternoon after zipping through the quite small town of Kinvara.

Home Sweet Home
Kate, the owner was quite welcoming. We spent the afternoon going over things like how to feed and water the cats. She showed me around the rather large yard that includes a ton of berry bushes and apple trees in the back. Raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants and more.

The neighbours came over for a short visit and then it was time for dinner, then bed.


Saturday (7/18) morning was a bit of a blur. Kate was getting ready to leave and she was taking care of last minute things. The neighbours came by again and I discovered that I had picked up a cold. I never get colds and here I am, just days into my Irish adventure and my head is completely stuffed. Bah!

By noon I was all alone, save for the two cats (George and Moley).

There was another afternoon visit by the neighbour and his guest from the UK. She was interested in housesitting. We chatted about that for a spell.

The weather was quite crappy, with lots of wind and rain all day. But shortly before sunset (which is still at 9:51pm -- at 53 degrees north, we're at the same latitude as Edmonton) there was a small break in the clouds during a heavy shower. The result was this:

Double Rainbow - iPhone Panorama - No filter!
I rushed back to the house to get my good camera, but it was too late. Still, the iPhone image is pretty good. I made sure to put the phone down and stare at the nature's wonder (which is why I was too late getting the good camera).

After all that excitement, it was time for bed... ready for my solo Ireland adventure to begin on Sunday (7/19).


Saturday, July 04, 2015

THR +365: What a Difference a Year Makes

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since I went under the knife/drill/hammer and saw. But a year it has been. And a good one too.

The new hip is amazing and the old hip isn't exhibiting any troubles.

I'm still battling the weight, despite massive amounts of walking. However, I'm feeling great and that's all that matters.

So, Happy First Birthday, left hip! Hip, Hip, Hurray!

"I'm one!"
And so it goes...