In July 2012, we first set off on this round the world adventure. Or this, Southeast Asia or bust adventure. We knew that Asia, and more importantly, warmth was in our future. We hate the cold. I loved living in Chicago for five years, but I hate the cold. I love the look of fresh snow, but I hate the cold. I love jeans, tall leather boots, and sweaters, but I hate the cold.
Our first stop when we left the hot summer in the US that July was a holiday on the west coast of Ireland with family, and it was certainly not hot there. The family picked on me mercilessly because I just could not get warm, wearing jeans and socks and sweaters, curling up under a blanket on the sofa. And that was summer. I’m a summer girl, and I enjoy summer all year round. The cousins went swimming. I wore a scarf.
I, honestly, hesitated about evening attending World Travel Market in London. Early November in rainy London? I would much rather stick it out in the hot and humid rainy season in Bali. I don’t even have clothes for cold and rain. Regardless, we knew it would be a good opportunity, we had some friends to stay with in London, and we were positioned well to catch Depeche Mode in Dublin that same week.
That is how we found ourselves in Limerick for a week in November. It would be a good chance to stop in to see the family. I tried not to let the weather bother me. After all, we were more there to spend time with family – Aunt Theresa, Uncle Jack, cousins Linda and Steph, and their families.
We bought an unlimited data plan for the phone to set up “Amber’s wifi cafe,” hunkered down in the family lounge, and worked for the week in Limerick. During the days it was chilly. I wore everything long sleeved that I owned, including a scarf. Theresa gave me a thick pair of fuzzy wool socks to keep my feet warm. As the day wore on, the lounge became warmer, but I was still chilled.
We watched several episodes of Friends during the day, and TV at night with Jack and Theresa. The X Factor was big then. We ate so much home cooked food, Irish breakfasts, brown bread, potatoes, Taytos, and chocolate, that I was almost busting out when we left. Meals included meat and potatoes, and portions we just don’t see in Ubud and with plenty of hearty foods it is too warm to eat in Ubud.
In part due to the weather, we rarely left the house during the week. We went into town a few times, did some shopping, got some tattoos. The usual during a week in Ireland with the fam.
One of our splurges, though, involved our afternoon trips to the Ardhu, a large pub within walking distance to the house. I would again throw on everything warm I owned, with my rain jacket and a scarf, and we would trudge on over for a snack and a pint. But why would we leave the relative warmth of the house and the comfy sofas to trudge through the cold and rain to the local pub?
Steph’s young kids hang out at their grandparents each afternoon after school. And, I don’t have a problem with Steph’s children in general. The oldest two got a kick out of me, remembering me from our summer holiday in Kilkee. All they remembered was that I spent a lot of time on the computer (I had just launched the blog, and was starting to plan our trip), and I did yoga. They made fun of me quite a bit, mocking me on the computer and practicing yoga. It was quite endearing.
It was just the youngest, Niles, and his television programming choices that drove us to the quiet of the local pub.
Niles, who was about two years old, had an infatuation with Fireman Sam, an annoying little cartoon, with unrealistic story lines where Fireman Sam seems to be the only person in the town of Pontypandy who can save the day. Apparently, one of the goals of the cartoon is to provide fire safety advice, much of which Eric disagreed with, as the son of a fireman. I know it is a children’s show, but I found it to be one of the most annoying shows ever created. Unfortunately for us, there were about twenty episodes saved on the the DVR, on a constant loop, from after school until dinner. Niles would not watch anything else. Thus, it was Fireman Sam who made us flee to the Ardhu each afternoon for some black and creamy goodness (that’s a Guinness for those of you not in the know).
Even the Ardhu was cold, the drinks were cold, except for when I ordered a hot whisky, and even the bathroom toilet seat was cold. I felt like I spent much of the week chilled to the bone. But, it became a fun little routine to bring the computer down to the pub, knock back a few pints, perhaps some curry fries, and call it “work.” There are certain things that I love about our new lives, and this was certainly one of them.
What also helped us survive the cold, was just hanging out with the family. We are not close to much of our family, and not merely because of geography. We have been to see the Irish relatives a half dozen times since our first trip to Ireland in 1999. Every visit is fun, hearing old stories, laughing as a family. It is a close family dynamic that we just slide right into during each visit. We have our usual jokes where Theresa threatens that the kitchen is closed, and we are on our own for food, until she starts cooking for us a few minutes later. Most of all, we love being spoiled while in Theresa’s capable hands. That is what I think of when I hear people talk of the warmth of the Irish. It certainly is not because of the weather.