Sunday, September 25, 2016

An 'aha!' moment


Not that kind ... although they're fun, too.


THIS!
"That overall lack of direction went a long way toward fueling my overspending back in the day. My general lack of any kind of life direction sort of bothered me, so I often covered it up with short-term pleasures. I spent money and did things at least in part so that I wouldn’t have to consider my lack of life direction.
I think that feeling is common for a lot of people. If you don’t have any sense of what you want to do with your life to guide you, it becomes really easy to just drift through life, living paycheck to paycheck and simply trying to get the most momentary enjoyment that you can from what life hands you."
I found this blog just now. It seems to have a number of contributors with posts about various personal finance topics but it's the latest post, "What Should I Do With My Life? The Fundamental Question of Personal Finance - and a Surprising Answer" that jumped out.

In particular, those two paragraphs above stood out - okay, maybe it was like a universal smack upside the head, but really! Why has it taken me so long to realise this? (emphasis mine).

I'm a drifter. Somewhere I did know this, I've been told, but I suppose you get to a point in your life where you just start 'Adulting' and get on with it. My upbringing didn't encourage girls to be anything other than wives (ideally of People: doctors, lawyers, etc.) and mothers. I knew I didn't want that but at the same time, anything I DID want was neatly deflected as unimportant, silly, unnecessary, etc. So where did that leave me?

Anyway, here I am. I don't believe in coincidences - everything comes to you as and when you need it. There have been a number of 'aha' moments in the past couple of months and I've begun to pay real attention, conscious attention, to them and am finding ideas, experiences, and opportunities are starting to show up.

I don't love my job, but at the moment it's steady and allows me to live comfortably and enjoy a few things.

But what I really need to do is write my book(s).

***********************************************************************************************************

I've transferred money from my Canadian LOC to clear my English credit cards. The exchange rate is pretty miserable, but the interest rate on the LOC is about 5x lower than the credit cards! It makes more sense to do this, despite the fact that I haven't lowered my total debt load, as I can adjust my outgoing debt payments down a little bit.

I'll be paying a bit more than minimum on the remaining CC and concentrating harder to bring the LOC down more quickly.

I add this as it was another of those little 'aha' moments, even though it's technically more of a lateral move than a forward one.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ireland: Dublin, Day 1 (photo heavy)


copyright irishexcursion2015
Well, I know you know that Jane and I were just a 'little' excited about our trip to Ireland, so here's my first post now that we're back.I've just finished organising my photos so thought it best to just get the first post done or it would be ages until I got around to it.

We started our trip in the capital, Dublin, a very old, eclectic, vibrant and international city. Jane had arrived the day before me so had had a chance to walk around and explore a lot.

We were staying in south Dublin, in the area called Ballsbridge which is home to many foreign embassies, beautiful, large Georgian homes and wide streets. It's quite lovely (and not cheap). Our B&B was called Ariel House and was one of the said Georgian homes. It was gorgeous, albeit the decorates were a smidge tired and in need of a little TLC. The staff was superb, however, and the breakfasts delicious.

On the map above, if you find 'Irishtown' on the right-hand side near the bottom, our B&B was half a block from (just to the left of) Landsdowne DART Station, which works out to a 15-20 min walk from the city proper.

There was a lounge to relax in if you wished and in the evenings they put out cake and hot drinks for the guests.

Breakfast was a small bowl of muesli & yogurt and a poached egg with smoked salmon. There was homemade brown bread - which we found everywhere we went in Ireland - which was hearty and very delicious. It wasn't soda bread but was rich and flavourful.

Then we headed out, walking 20 mins or so into the city.


Our beautiful room. The ceiling was about 12' high!


Jane, excited to be going adventuring in Dublin, outside the B&B.


The front facade of the hotel. Our room is on the top floor, far left.


The doorways around Dublin were beautiful, all slightly different colours or designs.


Some beautiful tilework decorations.


The Grand Union canal.



The statue called 'Eire' in Merrion Square (a small, pretty park on our way to the city).


Jane 'trying before buying'. Chair sculpture in Merrion Square.



The Oscar Wilde memorial in Merrion Square. He lived in a house across the street for a few years.




We bought a bus tour ticket outside the gates of the park as they were having a 'one day sale' and they were a pretty good deal for 10Euros each. We didn't go on right away but purchased them as they were good for 24 hours.

We first went to Trinity College for a tour.


A cow sculpture on an empty house.


Trinity College, Dublin.

Our tour was given by a student guide and took about half an hour. It was really interesting and our guide was very good. It's a beautiful campus, right in the heart of the city and covering 47 acres. It was founded in 1592 (by Queen Elizabeth 1) and today there are approximately 17,000 students studying a range of disciplines: medicine, science, geography, politics, law, etc. and has both undergrad and postgraduate studies.

According to Wikipedia: Trinity College (Irish: Coláiste na Tríonóide) is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin, a research university in Ireland. The college was founded in 1592 as the "mother" of a new university,[Note 1]modelled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and of Cambridge, but, unlike these, only one college was ever established; as such, the designations "Trinity College" and "University of Dublin" are usually synonymous for practical purposes. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland,[7] as well as Ireland's oldest university.
Originally it was established outside the city walls of Dublin in the buildings of the dissolved Augustinian Priory of All Hallows. Trinity College was set up in part to consolidate the rule of the Tudor monarchy in Ireland, and it was seen as the university of the Protestant Ascendancy for much of its history. Although Catholics and Dissenters had been permitted to enter as early as the end of the XVIII century (1793),[8] certain restrictions on their membership of the college remained until 1873 (professorships, fellowships and scholarships were reserved for Protestants).[9] From 1871 to 1970, the Catholic Church in Ireland forbade its adherents from attending Trinity College without permission. Women were first admitted to the college as full members in January 1904.[10]
Trinity College is now surrounded by Dublin and is located on College Green, opposite the former Irish Houses of Parliament. The college proper occupies 190,000 m2 (47 acres), with many of its buildings ranged around large quadrangles (known as 'squares') and two playing fields. Academically, it is divided into three faculties comprising 25 schools, offering degree and diploma courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. As of 2016, it was ranked by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings as the 160th best university in the world, by the QS World University Rankings as the 98th best, by theAcademic Ranking of World Universities as within the 151–200 range, and by all three as the best university in Ireland.[11][12][13] The Library of Trinity College is a legal deposit library for Ireland and the United Kingdom, containing over 4.5 million printed volumes and significant quantities of manuscripts (including the Book of Kells), maps and music.

We kept our tickets for the Book of Kells for the next day, rather than wait in the lengthy lineup that day.




This is called 'Sphere within a Sphere' and stands outside the newer, smaller Berkeley library.


After the College tour, we hopped on a Green Bus Tour to go out to Dublin Castle. This was a building from the roof of the tour bus. Sorry, I don't have details on this...



The Record Tower of Dublin Castle. The sole surviving medieval tower c. 1228.

We bought our tickets then went to have lunch as we had some time to fill and were getting peckish.





Temple Bar and The Olympia Theatre entrance roof. 




We stopped for lunch at the Queen of Tarts, a delightful cafe just across the street from the castle. We settled into this lovely space.



Lunch! Delicious. I had a fantastic quiche. So delicious was the food and so lovely was the cafe that we almost missed our tour of Dublin Castle!!

The tour had already started but a tour receptionist took us over to join the group. We only missed a few minutes of the introduction - phew!



The castle chapel.






The state apartments.


The (with)drawing room.


The throne room.



The dining room.



St Patrick's Hall, used for presidential inaugurations and dates from the 1740s. It was used recently to welcome Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland in 2011. She is the first English monarch to visit Ireland since 1911.


The beautiful ceiling decorations in the Hall.



Our first selfie of the trip!


The castle gardens.






Christ Church Cathedral. We missed the tours but there was a food and craft fair on the grounds and we consoled ourselves with divine mini cheesecakes. Mine was passionfruit. 


Off Grafton Street, the main pedestrian shopping arcade.

There are about a million pubs in every city and town in Ireland. Not kidding.


It was heaving, although in this photo it doesn't actually look as busy as it was (or at least felt!).



Tilework on a business down one of the alleys off Grafton Street. There were about a dozen flowers, all different colours.



A couple of the decorative light stands outside the Renaissance Hotel. Each was a different woman.



Another doorway en route back to the B&B.

We stopped at a pub called Crowe's Pub for dinner, a place Jane had discovered the day before. Dinner was delicious: a three-beet salad with halloumi, quinoa, rocket and pine nuts. Drinks were a little less so - I had two attempts at a rum & coke and wound up with little bugs in both! Ick...

The landlord finally figured out that they were fruit flies that had got into the bottle of rum through the spout. Once he'd opened a fresh bottle, all was well and good with the world and I even got a second drink on the house for the trouble, which was really nice of him.

Tomorrow: the Book of Kells and a ghost tour!