Saturday 31 March 2007

Big Deal

On Friday 30th March 2007, I bought my first property. In all truth I can't believe it myself as it has happened rather suddenly, but having paid a deposit (and finding out what flooring costs today), it is beginning to seem scarily real now.

It is a small 2 bedroom flat in Celbridge, Co Kildare. There are 2 bedrooms ~ well ok 1 bedroom, 1 craft room ~ a bathroom, a living room/kitchen combined, a balcony and a 'tardis' as my fried Eddie has labeled the store room. All in all just about big enough to swing a cat, just not sure if it is big enough to swing 3 cats!

I've spent most of the week walking around in a daze. I got a call from an estate agent on Tuesday afternoon to say they had a property for me, which I could view on Friday. It didn't seem at all real, and I was scared to get too excited until I saw it for real. But even after paying my deposit, I was stunned. Luckily my great friends, Joe, Valentina and Eddie came with me for moral support (and decorating advice). I was so glad to have them with me. And even more so when they took me to the pub for a celebratory pint of Guinness.

Of course now the real fun starts. My head is spinning with all the things I have to do, I don't know where to start. I've spoken to my bank, who don't think the mortgage will be a problem, so I need to get cracking with that. And the list of things to investigate is endless ~ everything from utilities to flooring, appliances to soft furnishings and heaven knows what else.

All told though I think I'm very lucky. I so much wanted an opportunity to provide security for my future, and hopefully this is that chance. I'm sure the next few months will be stressful, and I have a lot to learn, but I also want to make sure I enjoy this time, and sometimes step back and appreciate what I've got.

In fact, some of you may need to remind me I said this in the very near future ;-)

Friday 30 March 2007

Meet Jinxy

This is Jinxy. He decided to come live with us about a month ago. He turned up one night, absolutely starving, and although he was obviously a domesticated cat he was rather smelly and a bit beat up.

We took him to the vet and had him checked out, spayed and got all his shots and he is now one of the family. As you can see he has fitted in well being a scrap booker.

It doesn't really come across in photos, but he is possibly the cutest cat I have ever met. He is the best cuddler ever, and as I write he is curled up on my lap cleaning himself.

The only problem Jinxy has is an extremely gassy tummy. It'll probably take a while for proper food to help his tummy settle after living rough, but the sooner the better. At the moment he smells like he is drinking 10 pints of Guinness a night!

Visiting Prague (3)

On our last day in Prague we walked around PetrĂ­n Park - the funicular railway wasn't working, and after 2 days of walking I found it hard going! We stopped for more creamy hot chocolate halfway and then slowly wandered our way to the top. It is a lovely park, and the trees in full blossom were just so pretty, but honestly, I'd have preferred a less arduous walk on the last day, being so tired and all.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat in an Italian restaurant near the old square, and caught one final tour before we had to leave. The tour was a short walk around the quiet streets and hidden squares of Prague, culiminating with a boat trip around the Charles Bridge. The boat trip was fun, we had ice-cream and beer and relaxed while hearing some historical tales, about the river Vltava (meaning 'Wild Water') and the incredible changes to this impressive European city through flooding and 40+ years of communist rule.

It was a great trip, the highlight for me being the Mucha Museum, and the incessant stream of Art Nouveau influences visible throughout the city.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Visting Prague (2)

Our second day in Prague we took a trip to Karlstein Castle, 25k from Prague. An historically important castle since the time of Charles IV in the 14th Century.

The weather was poor, but the mist lent an atmospheric quality to the trip, this photo taken at the sloping entrance to the castle reminds me of Gustav Klimts' painting, 'The Forest'.

Karlstein Castle is impressive, originally constructed in the 14th Century as a treasury for the crown jewels. The current structure is predominantly a 19th Century reconstruction. The trip finished with creamy hot chocolate in a little cafe near the castle.

On returning to the City we visited the Mucha Museum, which was incredible. They showed a genuinely interesting audio-visual film about his life (so that is a first!). And there were a number of his original artworks, and sketch books, as well as the obligatory litho-prints of his work.

We wandered around the city for a while, and were about to head back to the hotel when we came across the Easter Markets which had been set up in the old square.

There were stalls selling local pastries, beers and souvenirs and a stage with local children performing traditional song and dance routines in costume, it was very sweet.

I took this photo of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn and love the faery tale quality of the Gothic steeples and the up lighting.

Visiting Prague

We spent the weekend in Prague to celebrate Joe's birthday. We decided on Prague because the pictures in the brochure looked so lovely, and we weren't let down. It is a beautiful city, with beautiful architecture and a rich history.

We walked for miles, taking a guided walking tour on Friday which helped us find our feet and get an overview of the city. I was enthralled by the art nouveau decoration everywhere, and overjoyed to find an Alfons Mucha exhibition in the Old Square – he being one of my favourite artists. As it started to rain in the afternoon it was perfect timing to wander around the Mucha and Dali exhibitions.

A classical concert was held on the steps of the National Museum that evening, featuring among others’ Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It was such a perfect setting, you could imagine you were transported back in time to the early 20th century, attending a private recital at a fashionable party.

After that we had just about enough energy to have dinner and take a tram back to the hotel to have a final drink and collapse into bed.

Monday 26 March 2007

Why I’m blogging…

The last 12 months have been pretty good to me, and I often think I'd love to remember the feelings I've had around certain events. Although the thought of writing a blog scares me, it seems like a darn good way to record those special moments and maybe overcome a few fears along the way.

My Mum always warned me not to keep a diary, or write things down in case they come back to haunt you, and I guess it is good advice - but I'm taking the plunge, and possibly risking offending people or regretting my words in time to come, but what the heck.

So why has it been such a good year? In May 2006 I finished a 4 year degree course, and at the age of 32 graduated with a first class honours degree in Human Resource Management from Dublin Institute of Technology, which I have to admit I am proud of.

Having finished studying I suddenly found myself with loads of free time, which I hadn't had in 5 or 6 years, and I was a little concerned about what I was going to do to fill that time. Turns out I needn't have worried! I found Scrapbooking.

This has changed my life in so many ways. I’ve met some wonderful new friends. It’s a perfect channel for my creative 'crafty' side that has been a bit neglected over the last few years. And it has given me an outlet to think about the things that happen in my life and to record them, in pictures and words.

So I’m still scared stiff about committing my words to ‘paper’ in any permanent sense – but here goes.