Hot Cross Buns In January – Not Such A Good Idea

Just when you think you’ve successfully navigated the worst time of year for homesickness that bitch ups and hijacks you! And it was something so small, so insignificant that I didn’t see it coming…
One of my Dad’s favourite things to eat is a hot cross bun. He positively delights in putting those little beauties in the toaster until they’re lightly browned, then spreading some butter on them and sitting down and enjoying them with a cup of piping hot tea.
One of my son’s favourite things to eat is a hot cross bun… He needs it lightly toasted with plenty of butter on top and he will enjoy it with a glass of chocolate milk. Yesterday he lit up with excitement in the local supermarket when he spotted a packet of hot cross buns. Of course I bought them for him and smiled smugly to myself thinking – “breakfast is going to be easy tomorrow.” I had no idea what was going to be served along with it.

A Simple Hot Cross Bun – Seems There’s More To These Delicacies Than Meets The Eye!

This morning I watched as my boy smiled in delight as I presented him with his perfectly prepared hot cross bun. I listened as he “yummed” his way through it.  I grinned at him finding such happiness in something so simple and then I clutched my tummy as a bolt of homesickness shot through me so intense that it took my breath away.
I turned and fled to the kitchen before my son could see the change in my demeanour and dragged in a deep breath as a longing and yearning for home washed over me like a wave and, in that instant, threatened to drown me.
I held onto the counter top for strength as I wondered where the hell this had all come from.  I waited for it to pass but it didn’t.  Images of home assailed my senses instead.  The soft sand between my toes on Keel Beach, the smell of a turf fire, laughing with old friends and my Dad’s smile.  And that was it – I realised what had set me off – the inextricable link between generations epitomised by a simple smile.
My boy has his grandfather’s smile and this morning I’m sad that he hasn’t seen enough of that smile in his short life.
Don’t get me wrong  – I’m not belly-aching (even though I literally was!) I’m not complaining about my life – I’m incredibly blessed to have these opportunities to live in other countries and I’d be a miserable old bitch if I couldn’t explore this incredible world of ours.  However, there are times when you need home.  I need to go home.  I need my kids to spend time with their grandparents.  I need to see my father’s smile.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to make that happen

The Candle In The Window

Well here I am facing into my third Australian Christmas and I have to admit to not being altogether thrilled about it.  It’s one thing when you sign on for the big adventure, when you agree to up sticks and travel to the other side of the world and in the bigger scheme of things you are fine and enjoy all that your new place of abode has to throw at you.  However, hiding in the seams of the bigger scheme are those times when you just can’t get your head around where you are.  Christmas in Australia is one of those times for me.  The Aussies love their summer Christmas  – as they should but for me it’s just not Christmas.

Photo of snowman made from sand

The Snowmen Are A Little Different In Australia

Christmas for me is so many things.  It’s about home, open fires, over the top decorations, seeing family and spending time with friends, wrapping up against the cold, walks in frosty forests or on wind-swept beaches, sharing wonderful food, having a few drinks in the local pub, impromptu sing-songs, fun and laughter.  The west of Ireland is an incredibly special place to be at Christmas time.  Decimated by emigration over the years it is a time when people come home and it is this that creates an amazing buzz.  People are happy to be home and those who are at home are ecstatic to have their family members back even if it is for only a few short weeks.  Christmas Eve in any of the west of Ireland towns is a day for last minute presents, picking up “the bird” and joining the old friend you just ran in to for a drink or two.

Photo of bottle of jameson whiskey

A Few Hot Jimmies Will Put You Right

Later on in the evening most people make their way home and their journey is lit by candles twinkling in the windows of all the houses.  This is a tradition that dates back to ancient times and is rooted in the old Brehon laws of hospitality – whereby a stranger knocking on the door must never be refused.  In later times it was understood to symbolise the lighting of the way for Mary and Joseph as they searched for somewhere to stay before the birth of their child.  Nowadays it is seen as lighting the way for Mary and Joseph but also for those who are returning home.

Photo of Cabdle in Window

The Candle In The Window

One of my favourite things to do on Christmas Eve is to stand, in the darkness, at the window of my parents house, high up on the hill, and look out across the island as it twinkles in the night.  It’s a beautiful sight and one I’m looking forward to seeing again, just unfortunately not tonight.

Wherever you are this Christmas I hope you enjoy it – Roisin.

Commitments, Contingencies and Coping With The Unexpected

It’s one thing to commit to a blog. It’s another thing entirely to find the time to actually write it!  When I committed to this blog a number of months ago I had a long hard think about whether or not it was a good idea to even start it if I was never going to have the time to attend to it.  I looked at all the commitments I have, sized up where I could adjust my schedule, allowed for contingencies and decided I could manage it. My aim each week is to have a post up by the weekend and failing that at least by Sunday morning at the very latest.  So far I’ve been doing ok…… until last week and the week before that…….  And here is the problem – when it came to allowing for contingencies I couldn’t have imagined a total crash of my computer system or, just the week after that catastrophic event, the arrival of a super-storm!  I had been thinking along the lines of sick kids, school holidays and unexpected visitors.  Obviously I need to up my contingencies game.  So, note to self – when it comes to planning contingencies in the future perhaps I should plan for bigger contingencies than most.  Mind you, contingencies don’t come much bigger than the super-storm that hit Brisbane last Thursday!

photo of jellyfish shaped storm cloud over water

The Beast

Two storm cells came together and formed The Beast – A Supercell Thunderstorm that unleashed hell on Brisbane in just over an hour.   One minute I was out the back of the house in blazing sunshine and sweating my tooshie off and the next I was looking out my front door, with my jaw on the floor.  “Oh dear,” I whispered as I stared at the sky with cold blasts of air rushing over me, “what’s this?”
Within seconds, a strange cracking sound started, then a blast of thunder exploded over the house. The sky was totally dark by now and it was as if night had descended upon us but not for long as sheets of lightning lit up the landscape.  And then they came – golf ball sized hail stones catapulted out of the sky and pummelled everything around them.  The noise was deafening.

One of The Lumps of Ice That Hit Brisbane During the Super-Storm

One of The Lumps of Ice That Hit Brisbane During the Super-Storm

Now, it should be said I’m from an island on the west coast of Ireland and am no stranger to the fury of mother nature.  Storms on Achill are brutal and fierce and I’ve experienced some of the worst. However, in all my days, I have never seen hail stones the size of golf balls!  And we were lucky, as the storm intensified, hail the size of tennis balls fell in other parts of the city and how it fell!

A pile of Ice on the street

An Ice-pile

It rained down mercilessly, like God was emptying his Eski (local slang for cooler box.)  Nothing was safe and the damage has been extensive.

car damaged by hail in brisbane

Hail Damaged Car

Cars in particular were badly damaged.

Beige coloured car with window smashed in

A Lot of Cars In Brisbane Look Like This At The Moment

Many houses had their windows smashed and the office blocks of the CBD (Central Business District) also suffered.

Glass Office Building With Broken Panels

Beat Up Ofice Building In Brisbane CBD

Many people took shelter in the CBD only to find themselves being showered by hailstones and glass!
At about 5pm this is how Brisbane CBD looked.
Dark and foreboding sky

The Beast

Now if that’s not apocalyptic looking, then I don’t know what is!
As the hail abated the wind intensified and ripped through the city tearing up trees and taking roofs with it as it went.
Apartment with Roof Missing

Bye Bye Roof

Photo of UTE crushed by tree

Bye Bye UTE

Back in our part of town the hail had thankfully turned to rain and it was sheeting down.  Things were starting to look a little more like a “normal” storm.  Of course, power outtages and internet blackouts followed and so yours truly had to abandon all plans for posting on a Friday – again!
However, having seen all the post-storm damage I’m incredibly grateful that we came out of it totally unscathed and that nobody was killed.  I may have had to postpone a post till today but it’s not every day you get to write about having been in a superstorm.  Ah life in sub-tropical Australia – everything is bigger here – especially life’s little contingencies.