Thursday, June 18, 2015

My 2 Cents

It was announced the other day that Ireland will begin rounding prices up and down for cash transactions. So if we are in a shop and the total of our purchases comes to some number of euro and, say, 21 or 22 cents, the cents would be rounded down to 20. If the total ended in 23 or 24 cents, it would be rounded up to 25. This is voluntary, but there was a trial run a year or two ago in County Wexford (I think) and everyone loved it--shopkeepers and customers alike. It's easy to see why! The one and two cent coins add up quickly and are heavy. There are no one and two dollar bills here--those are coins as well, so there are amounts ranging from 1 cent to 2 euro. We like the one and two euro coins, but of course they don't accumulate quite as quickly :-)

We started removing these and keeping them in a bag from one of Bill's prescriptions. The bank has a receptacle to take them--Change for Charity--so we will dump them in there, though we did keep one of each. We have them with our US penny, our British penny, the old pre-euro Irish penny and some shells we brought home from the beach.

These coins will remain legal tender and anyone who wants to still use them will be able to do so, but I think they are hoping to cut down or eliminate  production of them. It costs more to make each coin than the coin is worth and they had to make a lot more of them than other coins because people do exactly what we do--remove them from their pockets and wallets and stick them in a jar somewhere, thus removing them from circulation. There are some curmudgeons who do not like this idea--we heard one guy crying about his "freedom of choice" being taken from him. Get a grip, dude. So if that guy wants to carry around bagfuls of 1 and 2 cent pieces in his pockets, more power to him. We will keep on weeding out the ones we get and saving them for the receptacle in the bank--we don't have to lug around the coins and the Irish Heart Foundation gets a donation. Works for me! Apparently it works well in 5 other EU states, which are already doing the same thing.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Odds and Ends

Yesterday I was talking coffee and saying that we were still not used to having a french press instead of a coffee machine. Tim to the rescue! He knocked on the door a bit later, bearing this:
I've never seen one like this before, so I googled it and discovered that it won a design award in 1988. It is great for us because of the shape. We really have no extra counter space, so a deep and/or bulky one would have been in the way. This one fits perfectly there on the wide windowsill and does not take up any counter space! Yay! It was nice to drink non-gritty coffee this morning :-)

It's still fairly cool here--at least for June--even though the sky is bright blue. I love it! Mid-June and I actually had goosebumps today! Even though it's not hot, I made myself a nice salad for lunch today, which I enjoyed very much!
Yesterday we took a walk into town to the "designated casual trading area," where we recycled our bottles and food tins on one side and got some stuff from the fruit and veg man on the other!

The fruit and veg guy is there every Saturday. He had a nice selection so we will make a visit to him part of our Saturday routine from now on!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Old Coast Guard Station Garden Tour

Up here on the slope of the hill, we have a lot of stuff blooming and planning to bloom! It's very green with more and more colour every day. The gardens are divided into two areas--there are the upper gardens, which are all around the Coast Guard Station itself and out back in pots on the building and sheds, on the stone wall, and scattered around in the grassy area. Then there is the lower garden, which is, at the moment, sadly neglected. The guy who owns the two cottages rented by us and one of our neighbours owns that, too. He prefers to do the work in the lower garden himself, but since he lives in Dublin--a 4 hour drive away--it's not possible for him to do much on a regular basis--especially since we've had pretty wet weather for the past couple of months. As a result, the lower garden is pretty overgrown, but it still smells wonderful down there and it is nice, when I am working in the kitchen, to look out onto the flowers and birds that like to hang out there.

This afternoon I took a walk around the upper and lower gardens just to enjoy the flowers.

Here is some of what is in the lower garden:

And up around the place:

And you can tell Teresa is a professional florist because when you approach her door, you see a couple of lovely arrangements. I love the twigs!

Between our cottage and Jason's (our doors face each other) we have a couple of pots of these plants, which look like they will flower soonish. I love the spiky leaves!
Hope you're having a beautiful and colourful weekend wherever you are!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Random Stuff

Yesterday morning, while Bill was with the practice nurse (which I assume is like a nurse practitioner in the US) for his blood test, I was sitting in the waiting room by myself, knitting. The TV was blaring across the room--some terrible show about crime, which is apparently on EVERY MORNING!!! They were quite loud as they breathlessly announced this fact. It was a UK show. Was RTE unavailable? It seemed a bit odd to have such an awful show bombarding people with stories about hit and runs, shop burglaries and the resulting trauma suffered by the clerk, and the poor elderly couple who opened their door because they thought it was their carers knocking, only to be robbed and threatened with a razor! They had all of these brochures around about mental health--seems like a steady dose of that kind of crap would not help!

I tuned it out as best as I could. I was reminded once again that things begin later here. It was quarter to 10 when we left and there was still no one else in the waiting room. At one point, the admin person answered the phone and was helping the caller make an appointment. The person was given the choice of 9:30 or quarter to 5. They chose the latter. There could have been many reasons for this choice, of course, but it does seem, based on previous phone conversations that we've overheard, that appointments early in the day are more available than later ones.

When she was ending the call, she said, "Bye. Bye. Bye, bye, bye. Bye, bye." This is common. Like a doofus, I used to try to match the byes to be polite. Then I heard people ending calls that way all the time and I realized that one "Bye" would be enough!

I've noticed that there are many "wee" things here. When we pay for our groceries we are always asked if we want a "wee bag." Even when we have had enough groceries to fill our backpacks and Chico bags, we are asked about a wee bag. The other day we were in the bank to deposit our income tax refund which arrived from Texas (because we live overseas, we had to send the return there) with our last name misspelled (how hard is it to spell "Burke?") and the town reading, "Kittybegs." Whatever. The woman at the bank asked Bill to provide his wee PIN number. Before that she asked if he had his wee card. Sometimes we are asked if we can wait just a wee minute or a want a wee bit of something. I find myself rather taken with this wee turn of phrase and I imagine there will come a day when I hear myself saying this. I have fun learning about the different ways people use the same language--dialects can be fascinating!

Summer has left us for today. It was actually pleasant while it lasted these last few days, but it is nice to get a break from all that sun and heat! Not sure when or if it will come back, but I kind of like this few days on/few days off thing.

I leave you with a wee photo of a wee creature that was in the sand at Fintra Beach the other day. It has fur. We have no idea what it is.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Comes to Killybegs

Summer has apparently arrived in Killybegs and even I, the most passionate hater of summer that I have ever met, thinks it's OK :-) Temps today were in the 60s. I can live with that. The sun was shining. I don't usually care for sun, but if it comes around once in a while, I can live with it--or even appreciate it! It does make the water sparkle.

We were out earlier than usual today because Bill had a 9:15 appointment for his blood test. He had no trouble signing on with the GP at the health centre--so much less hassle than we had last year in Ballinrobe! He was seen by a nurse practitioner (yay!) who even wrote his prescription. They were a bit apologetic that it would cost 10 euro for the lab fee. Little did they know this was quite a discount for us, since we paid 20 in Ballinrobe! Even so, the nurse has started the process of getting him enrolled in the warfarin clinic, which is at the community hospital. It takes us about 2 minutes to walk there. Once he starts going there, there will be no fee.

The pharmacy is right next door to the health centre, so we got his prescription filled. While we were waiting I rummaged through the 50% off basket and found some spikes that go on your shoes for walking on ice. I've had several types of these over the years and these were the best kind that I've had --actual spikes and not coils or metal knobby things--I bought a pair. I am ready for winter now!

After we left the pharmacy we strolled around at that end of town. There was a cruise ship docked in town today, so there were a lot of people wandering around with backpacks and cameras. We walked out onto the pier and got a different view of our beautiful little village.

There was a sailboat on the other side of the pier.
Then we walked down the road to the entrance of the other pier, where the cruise ship was docked, but there was a gate and people were prevented from entering. The cruise ship committee was ready with their signage, directing the tourists to the craft fair at the Bayview Hotel in the town centre.
We'd heard about the craft fair, and planned to call in, so we turned around and headed back towards home--the hotel is on our way. It was a nice little craft fair and we even found a wee present for our friend, Karen O. One of the vendors said, "So you're out touring today." "No," I said, "We live here!" Her eyes widened in surprise and the expected conversation ensued. "Oh, you live here, do youse? Where?" and "What made you decide to come here?" The emphasis on that last question is always on the "here."

We had lunch and then Teresa came by to say she was ready to go to the garden centre, so I got my stuff and tagged along. I got a lemon balm plant for the windowsill and then we stopped at the attached tea room and had the most delicious apple pie and a latte. I also got to meet one of Teresa's friends, which was fun. Of course we also had the always adorable Fergus along with us!

It was another lovely day and I was reminded again how glad I am that we have anchored here :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Killybegs to Sliabh Liag

We have landed in an incredibly beautiful section of the planet and yesterday we were blown away once again by the sheer awesomeness of it! We set out in the early afternoon on a tour. Our neighbour, Tim, has a birthday around now, so we went with him, Teresa, and Fergus to a wonderful little tea room in the nearby town of Kilcar where we had a delicious afternoon tea (well, Fergus waited in the car while we had tea, but was rewarded with smoked salmon afterwards!).

On our way there, we stopped at Fintra Beach so Fergus could work off some energy. It was so different from when I was there last week. The tide was much lower and it was a bright, sunny day.

Fergus was able to swim out to one of his favourite seaweed islands to play ball.
After we left the beach, we drove along the coast road to get to Kilcar.
After tea, we went on to Sliabh Liag, the tallest sea cliffs in Europe. Breathtaking. I really did just catch my breath and stand in awe. The photos do not do it justice, but here are some anyway.

To give you some sense of scale, you can see the boat in the sea--looked like a bathtub toy!

It was a beautiful day in many ways.