Wandering Free

1401550280017Ridley: So, I’m back from my week in Portugal (you’re probably going, ‘eh? I never knew you even left!’) and Latimer is back from her fantastic travels too. If you follow us on twitter, our feed has been packed with pictures. I have to say we’re extremely lucky that we’re both able to do these things, as I know not everyone has the opportunity, and while I didn’t go as far afield as Latimer did on her amazing travels, I still had a brilliant time. We also both had pocket sized travelling Buddhas to keep us company on our separate adventures. He has a little spindle and a giant smile. Latimer gave me mine, she got him in China, you’re not allowed buy the little man you have to be given it, so I was well chuffed to get him!1401550283680IMG_20140531_124548

So with my little Buddha, I was able to step out of my life and into another for a short time. Whenever I go abroad I always come back wishing I could spend my life exploring, to be able to wander to the farthest reaches of the earth, learn new languages, eat unusual foods and experience different cultures. I’m a firm believer in working to live and not living to work. I know on my deathbed I won’t be wishing I’d spent more time at the office. Well maybe I’ll wish I’d once visited an office, as I’ve never worked in one, but you get my meaning!1401551450575

While in Portugal, I got to listen to people speak a different language, try a few words myself, I tasted octopus, sea bass, swordfish, and I had the best of ice cream (lots of it). There were palm trees, cockroaches, crickets and weird beetles, colourful birds and lots of cats, all things that we don’t really have in Ireland (except for the cats, but these are Portuguese cats, so I’ll count them). The houses were painted bright exciting pinks and blues that were complemented by the sparkling sunshine and the tiles of the roofs were beautiful vibrant terracotta.IMG_20140529_200137 1401550285752 IMG_20140531_143657 1401550277759 There was blistering heat during the day, where I burned to a fire engine red, and freckles, that I never knew were lurking just beneath my skin, popped up like uninvited mushrooms. Then night time, it was freezing, the stars were so exceptionally bright, and the darkness came so much earlier than at home. It’s the differences between places, and often times the similarities, that I love and get excited over. I’m certain that there are lots of people out there that feel the same way, right?

I think the one thing I really need to learn to do though, is appreciate what I have in my own country too, to see it through the eyes of a visitor and know that while our houses aren’t bright colours, and we have no palm trees, it’s still a great place to live. 1401551449963Everyone commiserated with me when I returned home on how bad the weather was, that the rain was what greeted me when I stepped off the plane, at first I agreed wholeheartedly, but when I thought about it I decided that there was just a different type of beauty in the dark storm clouds rolling by overhead and the patter of rain, the gurgling of water filled gutters, while I liked being away from it all, I have to say I would miss it if I never had it ever again too.0212

On that note, I’ll leave you with more pretty pictures!

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Gold! Always Believe in Your Soul!

Ridley: I’ve been wrapped up in the Olympics the last little while. I have to say London has absolutely out done itself. Britain should be so proud!

Now of events, I’ve been watching the rowers, the swimmers, the runners and of course, the boxers. I just spend the time marvelling at their athletic feats while I snack on crisps and lull on the couch.

One thing I have noticed; the games really bring out the patriot in you, don’t they? So many countries and the people within them surely think this? There is absolutely nothing like watching one of your Olympians stepping up to the podium. 

At the moment, here in Ireland, there is one person’s name on all our lips, Katie Taylor. While I’ll be the first to say we have fantastic sports people, Katie really is the woman of the hour. When she received her gold medal around her neck, there wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium or in the country.

Shivers shot through me to hear our nations song, ‘Aran na bhFiann’ song by thousands in a completely different country, there were so many of us there it was a like a GAA (football or hurling) final in Dublin!  (Or the Euros in Poland this year!)

For the week or so of her three big fights, the country, the people of Ireland forgot their worries and joined together. We speculated, we hoped, we debated and we prayed for a great result. We all love to support our teams and our people. We get behind our heroes and we cheer them on. Even now, one of our most popular songs that we sing at nearly every event harks back to the 1990s during the World Cup in Italy when our football team got through and played in them. Their coach was Jack Charlton and the song: ‘We’re all part of Jackie’s Army’.

Granted we didn’t win the World Cup of course, but it’s all part of the craic to be involved somehow, to get swept up in the tension, the fun and the ‘what if’. I remember it well, I would have only been nine or ten, but we watched every one of the matches with our team playing on a small fuzzy television. We did it while wearing knitted Ireland scarves and floppy green top hats! It’s this absolute support that we show any sport or person, no matter if you’ve never watched or followed it before, that really makes me proud to be Irish.

During Katie’s final match yesterday, 1.5 million people tuned in to watch it. Some business closed for it, others brought televisions and radios in to watch or hear it in work. In Bray, Katie’s home town thousands turned out to watch it on the big screens there. I loved this video of them all going mad and celebrating at the result.

The ESB (electricity company) has said the demand for electricity dropped by 6% for the duration of the match (and then jumped back up afterwards, as we all turned on the kettle for a cuppa, no doubt! Haha.)

Everything stopped when that first bell rang, the streets and roads were empty. Seriously. Total silence descended over the country as people watched the fight, and when she won, the screaming and the singing and the hollering began. Life restarted again, people flooded the streets, cars were back in traffic jams and all anyone could talk about was, ‘did you see the fight?’

(Here’s a brilliant video of Thai Tims singing about Katie, so cute and fantastic that a country so far away has people celebrating her. The tune is originally ‘The Wild Rover.’)

Even if you weren’t a fan of boxing before this, you’d end up at least being a fan of Katie Taylor’s, who is unbelievably hard working, modest and generous in her praise to her fellow fighters. She’s done more than win the country’s first gold medal, she’s given it’s people hope and happiness. To cap it all off, the summer seems to have come at last! We’ve had absolutely fantastic weather the last two days to coincide with the win. People are wandering round laughing, smiling and getting sunburned. For this weekend at least, we’re all glancing at each other with raised eyebrows and saying, ‘Recession? What recession!’

Long may it last!