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Showing posts from April, 2013

229. The Vikings and Charlemagne

I had never made the connection. Strangely enough the advent of the Vikings and of Charlemagne had been put in separate files in my brain!

In the Wexford public library at the other end of my street where I've been spending my afternoons lately, I am learning about the History of Ireland in general and of Wexford in particular. Fascinating! Absolutely fascinating.

We learn at school in France that the Vikings came running to the northern coast of the French kingdom around the year 800. Under the impression that it was the only important thing they did I was very surprised to read that they actually raided the coast of Ireland in a much more drastic way.

In the book Exploring Ireland's Historical Towns, The History Press Ireland, 2010, Pat Dargan writes:

"The second phase in the development of Irish towns was undertaken by the Vikings, during the 9th century. At this period Ireland, in common with most of Western Europe, was subjected to a series of Viking raids. The first…

228. IRISH ROADS

I had heard of Irish roads way back in the 1960s in Australia when someone with Irish background told me once in earnest that: "Irish roads were designed and made only by people coming out of a pub". This phrase used to make other people laugh but as a newcomer to Australia I did not see the joke.

In Ireland since January 2013 and driving around for four months now I start seeing the joke!

The latest motorways are fine, wide and with a flat tarmac, fairly straight, with spacious shoulders on the sides, and financed by the EU kitty for roads across Europe. The Irish country roads, however, have definitely been designed and made by people coming out of a pub, mainly... if not all. They are as sinuous as can be whether on hills or on the flat. They are as narrow as can be stuck between hedges of prickly bushes such as gorse, without any space for shoulders so that you just can't pull up on the side in emergency. I found I could not stop to take a photo. Very often as I was…

227. Lost Mail

I have been living in Ireland for three months now and so far I have only liked and praised this country. Maybe it is time I allow myself to critisize a few things for good measure!

The first thing quite bewildering for a continental visitor is the lack of letterboxes on houses and flats. There is a slit in every front door but no letterbox as such, i.e. a hard metal box with a door and a key to that door and your name on the box.

As I occupy the second and top floor of a very old house, I first thought it was peculiar to my place. But when I asked at the Post Office about a parcel I was expecting and mentioned that unfortunately my place had no letterbox, the lady behind the counter assured me it was not special to my place. A slit in the front door of all houses, old town or new suburbs alike, was what there was for mail delivery. When I explained about letterboxes, she had doubt at their efficiency saying that then just anybody could get into them.

To add to that problem, as I sh…

226. LET US PRAY

Since I arrived in Ireland last January I have been happily going to the Presbyterian church in Wexford town attending the Sunday morning service and a bible study on Tuesdays. Members of this congregation have been patient enough with my weird notions and tolerant of my dissidence as a Christian. I thank them for this, whole heartidly.

We pray together out loud, each one talking to God and bringing up any subject where God is needed for help. Praying, in my view, is an act of humility, you admit blankly that you need help because you can't deal with a problem by yourself. It is also an act of transcendance, you connect by thoughts with a supra entity out of this mortal world of ours.

But who is this supra entity? Who is God? We don't know. We don't even know if 'he' hears us. We try hard to listen to any sign of 'his' messages. With great difficulties we see signs of 'his' presence in our lives. We keep praying nonetheless.

So, let us pray. In the…

225. Tight budget, priorities and lucky strikes

Some say that money does not make you happy. From my experience the lack of money does not make you happy either!

I have lived on a tight budget all my life. Who doesn't?! But when I say 'tight budget' I mean not enough to eat AND do other things as well. It was eat OR do other things. Now that I am an old lady on a minimum old age pension my budget is 680€ gross per month. So I have to put my priorities in a strange order sometimes. Here in Ireland I can only use 550€ gross per month as I have kept my usual electricity and car insurance going at my place in France. Here I pay a rent of 300€ monthy. My monthly electricity bill is not regular but it comes to 40 or 50€ per month. Therefore I am left with 200€ for a whole month with food expenses, petrol for my car and entertainment... It is EITHER food OR petrol for my car OR entertainment. I am not even mentioning clothing. I have lived with one pair of pants for the whole winter. I might invest 10€ in a pair of jeans when…