A weekend of munching

This weekend was a good bit quieter than the last so you won’t have as much to read! Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing really!

Straight after work on Friday I set Mrs. Sat Nav to Reading for the first time! Reading is notorious for busy one-way systems, but I somehow managed to make it there without incident. I went to Las Iguanas, a Brazilian bar and restaurant, for yummy cocktails with some of the girls I met during my induction for work. We then made our way to the Handmade Burger Company, where the rest of our gang joined us. I gobbled my way through a brie and cranberry burger and chips, with a chocolate malt shake on the side. Bliss! It was really great to get to chat to some other people in similar situations to myself as well.

Saturday morning, I had a fabulous lie in followed by a bit of housework (which was strangely enjoyable/therapeutic). Feeling energetic, I went for a run/walk around the local area and discovered that what I had thought were fields, are actually the “Town Moor”

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There is a really lovely signposted walk along here, which takes you from Cookham to Bray. I haven’t done much of it yet, but I did discover two of the “Guardians of the Green Way”

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As well as some much smaller Green Way guardians…..

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I have added doing the Green Way walk to Cookham and Maidenhead onto my list of things to do!

That evening, made my way to the infamous Giant Asda of High Wycombe, to stock up on goodies for the week. One of the things I like best about the weekend is having the time and energy to cook a leisurely dinner, so I put together my favourite chickpea curry and enjoyed a quiet night in with my book (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest in case you’re wondering).

The next day, I made some scrumptious brownies (if I do say so myself!) and drove up to Wembley to hang out with Peter and the gang. We had a lovely pub dinner with some Irish friends of theirs, and I must say it was nice to be surrounded by familiar accents again. My Dublin accent is definitely fading so it was a good refresher for me!

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A much anticipated visit

Prepare yourself, this is going to be a long one!

Last weekend turned out to be one of my best so far, as my boyfriend John came to visit! He arrived mid morning on Friday, and after a slight mishap where he somehow managed to get on a bus for international transfers rather than coming straight into Terminal 1 from the plane, we were reunited in Heathrow!

We went straight back to mine for pancakes, and relaxed a bit before heading into London to meet up with two of John’s old friends. We were a bit early, so went for a wander around Chelsea which was really lovely. Who would have thought there would be so many pretty green areas and trees hidden in central London?

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After our wander, we returned to Paddington Station where we were meeting Michele and Trish, only to find that a brass band had set up in the middle of the station!

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London is full of surprises it seems! Drinks were then had with the girls in a Brazilian bar/restaurant near Paddington, where there was a giant indoor fountain with a pond full of huge koi.

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The following day, we made our way into London again and strolled in the sunshine in Hyde Park. I decided I wanted to be soppy, so we rented a row boat in the Serpentine Lake and spent an hour arguing over who was a better rower (I am more skilled, but John has more strength).

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Hyde Park is really gorgeous, and was full of interesting things like this cute little house, and a funny chap who was posing for photos.

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We then made our way to Soho for dinner in a restaurant called Pho. This lovely Vietnamese place specialises in a traditional soup called (you guessed it!) Pho! To start, we shared summer rolls, which despite being served cold (we were both expecting something like spring rolls) turned out to be really yummy.

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Our mains were so tasty I forgot to take pictures! But the Pho is served with a plate of herbs on the side, so you can flavour it to your own taste. For dessert, we shared a chocolate truffle slab with green tea on the side.

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After our dinner, we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical. This was really wonderful, from the amazingly talented children to the beautiful sets and the Great Glass Elevator! I really enjoyed that it was based on the book rather than the two films, as I am a big Roald Dahl fan. My only gripe would be the music. Apart from “Pure Imagination” which was taken from the Gene Wilder film, the score and musical numbers were nothing to write home about.

Unfortunately, we came to the end of the nice weather at this point, as the heavens opened on Sunday. We decided that a morning spent catching up on Game of Thrones was on the cards, and that we deserved a spot of relaxation after our busy Saturday. Once the rain had eased a bit, we drove out to Windsor and visited Windsor Castle. However, I’m sorry to say that the the rain never completely stopped so I was too wet and cold to consider taking pictures!

We had our fill of Royal poshness, then drove to picturesque Marlow for dinner. Unfortunately, the Slug and Lettuce restaurant was quite disappointing, but we very much enjoyed seeing Captain America: The Winter Solider at the cinema afterwards.

Monday dawned sunny once again, so we went for a walk around my local fields that I have previously written about. It wasn’t to last however, as dark clouds came rolling in and it began to rain once again. We decided to drive to Cookham, which is yet another picturesque village nearby. The rain prevented us from having a proper look around, but it is definitely somewhere I would like to return to.

We finished off our long weekend with an early dinner at The Golden Ball. John had yummy BBQ chicken and I had scampi and chips. Afterwards, we made the drive back to Heathrow where our weekend began. Strangely, saying goodbye to John was even harder than leaving home both times has been. I suppose it has felt like I’ve had two separate lives, an Irish and a British one, and it was quite an odd feeling  to have them both collide.

However, one of the nice things about being far away from John is that I appreciate our time together so much more. And with me being in the UK, we now have the opportunity to explore many more places together when he visits! I’m already planning his next trip!

Chilling out

Needing a second round of stronger antibiotics meant this weekend was another quiet one, but I was quite happy to spend time relaxing and unwinding. On Saturday I had a wander around Maidenhead, and unfortunately I didn’t manage to find any work dresses once again. I did come across a beautiful 50s Wedding dress in a vintage shop though, if only I had somewhere to wear it!

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Saturday night I made myself a lovely meal in, Healthy Prawn Curry and Honey Roasted Peaches. Both were absolutely gorgeous, and I’m pretty pleased to be eating leftovers tonight for my dinner 😀 Both recipes were from thelondoner.me, so I will definitely be returning there for future recipe experiments!

On Sunday I braved the M25 again to bring my cousins to the cinema! After an hour in the car (and getting slightly lost) I managed to find my way to Hemel Hempstead. Thank god for Mrs. Sat Nav once again! We saw Lego Movie (a bit slow to join the club admittedly) and it was greatly enjoyed by all. This was followed by a trip to McDonalds which was greatly regretted by me later, I’ve been mostly eating vegetarian since arriving here so it seemed even stodgier than usual!

I finished off my weekend with another gorgeous walk through the fields behind my estate. I’ll leave you with some of my pictures, which don’t do it justice at all!

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Simple pleasures this last week

1. Awesome homemade bean burritos (om nom)

2. The library. Gotta love the smell of old books!

3. Driving to Maidenhead without my Sat Nav

4. Divergent in the cinema

5. Free Ben and Jerry’s!

6. Not freaking out when I got lost coming home from the cinema!

7. Receiving an email offering me an expression of interest for a a permanent job back home (not taking it though, the location isn’t for me and I’m having too much fun here!).

It’s nice to feel that I am perfectly content right where I am 🙂

A quiet weekend

Despite spending the majority of the week in bed, I still wasn’t feeling 100% come the weekend so I decided a quiet one was in order. On Saturday, I ventured to High Wycombe to have a proper nosy around the Giant Asda and Matalan. I may sound like I’m from some sort of backwater town without electricity or a third world country saying this, but the amount and variety of foods available over here is seriously overwhelming! Everything and anything you could want is available, from chupati breads that look exactly like the ones I lived on while in India, to Irish stew in a CAN!!! Please see evidence below: Image

After Asda, I went onto Matalan where I was hoping to treat myself to some new dresses to wear to work. Sadly, I was disappointed in the dress selection, but I managed to nab a lovely mini chest of drawers to go on top of my actual chest of drawers and hold my makeup. The postcard design goes with one of my duvet covers, so I’m quiet pleased with them (bit sad that I’m getting excited about furniture and bedlinen, but oh well!).

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Saturday evening I had intended on taking it easy, but after watching Masterchef with my housemate, we were both inspired not to cook as we could never make a meal to that standard. So we went to a local gastropub called the Golden Ball which was absolutely gorgeous. I had tempura prawns and a crab and lobster burger, while L had squid and blue cheese and mushroom tagliatelle, and we finished off with a tarte au citron (that’s a lemon tart to you and me!) to share! Here’s a link if you want to take a nosy…… http://thegoldenballpub.com/

Sunday was spent relaxing before picking up P from Heathrow and heading to his for dinner. I am quite proud of managing to navigate Heathrow by myself! I had a lovely dinner with P’s gang and it was lovely to see them again. I was feeling quite thoughtful on the way back, as I realised that the last time I had driven to Maidenhead from Wembley was when I moved out of P’s into my own place five weeks previously. It wasn’t nearly as scary this time, and I took a moment to reflect on how far I’ve come since then.

Monday I made a quick trip to the local library, which is always lovely as the smell of books is really calming. On Tuesday, myself and L decided to head to the cinema in High Wycombe for free Ben and Jerry’s and a film. The film (Divergent) was good and the ice cream (Smores flavour) was scrummy, but I somehow managed to get completely and utterly lost on the way home.

Firstly, I took a wrong turn on a giant roundabout (sat navs aren’t much use when there are so many roads that it is just a mass of red lines!) and ended up on the M40 to London. It was NINE KILOMETRES to the next exit. So after driving 18km for no good reason, I was back at the original junction only to find that the road the sat nav wanted me to take was blocked off. Luckily, I remembered that the sat nav had redirected me through Marlow on the way there (why it knew the road was closed on the way there and not the way back I’ve no idea), so I followed signs towards Marlow in the hope that I would be redirected through there. Eventually, my prayers were answered and the sat nav started giving me a new route to take. But THEN, it turned out that it was bringing me to a different section of the road that was CLOSED OFF! Nearly in tears at this point, I turned around and began driving back the same way once again. Fortunately, I somehow managed to find my why to Marlow and back home eventually. My journey only took a good half an hour longer than it should have but at least I got home eventually!

Why I left Ireland

A slight deviation from my usual recounting of my explorations (sickness = no adventures). I have decided to write about why I left Ireland behind, in a bid to combat homesickness and cheer myself up about being away from home while ill.

  1. Lack of employment opportunities – the Irish market doesn’t seem to value young people and the contributions they can make despite their limited experience in the workplace. Yes, I have not worked full time as a healthcare professional before, but I have volunteered in Ireland for the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Enable Ireland and St. Vincent de Paul. I have volunteered in India with children with disabilities and worked with adults and children with disabilities and chronic illnesses in a residential setting in the US. I also happen to have a very highly regarded honours degree from Ireland’s top university, which means that I have up-to-date theoretical knowledge and clinical expertise based on my student placements. But apparently this counts for nothing.
  2. Poor experience of the recruitment process in Ireland – Why did you invite me to interview at a location an hour plus outside of Dublin, just to tell me that I didn’t have enough experience for the role? Could you not have read my CV in advance? This happened to me multiple times, though my low point here has to be when I received an invitation to interview, followed by an email the next day stating it was sent in error. Without an apology. Tears were shed.
  3. Soaring numbers on waiting lists – It might seem odd to have this here. Surely I would want to stay to help reduce these numbers? Why yes, I would. But no one would give me a job so that I could do this. Knowing that thousands of children and adults are on waiting lists while I was drawing the dole was the most frustrating experience of my life. I had the skills to help and support these people, but I was being forced to volunteer or else be idle. At least in England, I can put my skills to good use, develop as a clinician and gain valuable experience which I can bring back to the people of Ireland in future.
  4. The Dole – No one cares less about the young people of Ireland than the good old Department of Social Welfare. When I found myself a part-time temporary job as a carer for the elderly (four hours a week for three weeks), I was left a voicemail message informing me that my Jobseeker’s Allowance claim was being completely suspended. For the sake of €40 a week for three weeks, I was losing out on my usual €144. Luckily, I have a caring mother who supported me until my TD responded to my plea and rectified the situation.The only “assistance” in my job search that I was offered was an offer to submit my CV to the Food and Grocery Association and to attend an event run in conjunction with this organisation where I would gain valuable CV writing skills. It is very kind of the association to assist young job seekers, however I am a fully qualified Speech and Language Therapist, and I highly doubt that they have experience in clinical CVs. Lastly, as if the Department were determined to get in a last dig before I left for England, I was informed that I couldn’t be given my last four days of my allowance in advance and a cheque couldn’t be sent to my address in Wembley. I was told I should forfeit that last €96 before I asked could it please be transferred directly to my Irish bank account. The office agreed to this, before leaving a voicemail message a week later (when I was in England) to inform me that my €96 was in the Post Office in Rathfarnham. Again, it took writing to my TD to rectify this.
  5. Atmosphere of doom and gloom – Multiple friends and family members unemployed. Multiple posts left unfilled by the HSE. Multiple reports of highly paid senior officials while vulnerable service users suffer. Enough said.
  6. I missed being an Speech and Language Therapist – I went into Speech and Language Therapy because I wanted to help people. I don’t want awards or fame or fortune. I just want to work in an environment where I am valued and feel that I am making a difference to people’s lives. In England, I have all of that. It makes me sad that I can’t have it in my home country.