Monday, 19 November
Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. It stays green because it rains so much (less than it does in Seattle, actually, but nobody here believes that). They have a lovely phrase for gentle mist: "soft rain." It soaks you in about 15 minutes on the bike, but otherwise it's not so bad. However, what we've been in for here this time is "lashing rain." The kind that soaks you in a 30-second walk from the car to the door, the kind that beats on the skylights at 1:53 a.m. and keeps me awake and forces me to blog. Here are some other observations about things and how they happen here.
Fat. We took O.A.D.'s mother to lunch on Sunday. The man at the table next to us had a whole plate of pate for his first course, then proceeded to a main course of steak plus at least a litre by volume of chips (french fries) and an equal amount of onion rings. We left before he got dessert. In the supermarket yesterday morning, I was trying to find some low-fat yogurt and I always read yogurt labels anyway to make sure I'm not getting any gelatin (mad cow). The first stuff I picked up had not only whole milk, but whipping cream! I'm sure it was yummy....
Being green. We saw an ad on TV that reminded us that one recycled aluminum can saves enough electricity to keep your TV running for 3 hours. We are reminded to conserve water, although I'm not sure why (see first paragraph above). To recycle glass, you have to take it to a special bottle bank (usually in public car parks), but most everything else is picked up kerbside. An English brand of smoothies available in Ireland, Innocent, comes in a bottle that looks like plastic but the label proudly states that it's made from corn and completely compostable.
Prices. Muffins in bakeries are usually $3-4--and muffins have a short tradition here, so I'm not sure they're anything like worth that much. Bananas work out to about the same price as at home. The organic low-fat yogurt I bought yesterday was only slightly more expensive (and tastier, and localer) than what I get at home. Chocolate in good Euro brands (Lindt, Green and Black) is less expensive but so far I have resisted. Nutella is lots cheaper and, as Nathan pointed out, has no trans fats, unlike the same brand sold in the U.S. But taking the cake so far was a pair of pajamas I bought for 4.50 euro, or about $6.75. They were probably made by child slave labor in Asia (or eastern Europe). The fabric alone would easily cost $20 in Seattle. That allows nothing for labor, transport, or middle-man mark-up. Boggled my mind, so I had to buy a pair.
Yarn and coffee are on the agenda for today (after it stops raining enough to sleep). The Irish yarn shop that's first on everyone's list is on a famous (but tiny) street in the heart of Dublin; I can't imagine there are any bargains there, but I hope there's some nice Irish wool that will keep Dwan's head warm in his battle with cancer. Also on the agenda may be coffee at Bewley's, which has been a coffee shop in Dublin for probably a century longer than Starbucks has been around. Of course, if we stumble upon a Starbucks, we might have to go in and inspect the premises for Zana. To get into town, we'll ride the Luas, Dublin's second commuter rail system.
Hope to see you on O.A.D.'s Thanksgiving ride to benefit Northwest Harvest (scroll down this page in the News & Distractions sidebar for more info).