Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

When I left Melbourne, what seems like a lifetime ago, I don't remember the flight to Los Angeles being that long, but maybe that's because the couple I was sitting next to (who were doppelgangers of Laurie and Noelene Danaher from Sylvania Waters) kept ordering me brandy and cokes!

I must say at the start of the journey Noelene and Laurie were lifesavers as the airline staff seemed far too busy doing whatever it is they do in that little room with the blue separator curtain, to come and see if any of us in cattle class wanted anything! Thankfully Noelene and Laurie's diligence saved me the embarrassment of having to ring the call bell and face the wrath of a flight attendant who had been interrupted from her very important work in the little room with the curtain, by some worthless passenger. The problem occurred when I fell asleep. I don't know if N & L hadn't noticed my snoring or the fact that I was most probably grinding my teeth, but when I woke I found I had four brandy and cokes lined up on my tray table and given that I was in the window seat, this made a trip to the loo impossible until I had dispensed with the line-up of little plastic cups! In the end, I had to thank N & L most graciously for their hospitality, but requested that they cease and desist, so that I could ensure I wouldn't roll off the plane when we arrived at LAX.

No such problem on the way home! Again I was in the window seat, but sitting next to me was my beloved, who is just as apprehensive as I am about ringing the call bell unless there is an emergency, and a complete lack of any liquid refreshments doesn't qualify as such in our lexicon! So it was that by the time we had received our second tray of brown mushy goo, with hard bread roll and a salad that consisted of four lettuce leaves and half a cherry tomato, I thought, "That's it!" and rang the bell. After some time, the flight attendant stuck her head around the curtain, looked down towards me and disappeared again. After a few minutes, she was leaning over Phil, glaring at me "Yes?” I could feel the "now look what you've done, we'll be punished for this" vibes coming from Phil, who I expected to chime in at any minute and say "It wasn't me Miss, SHE rang the bell!!!" I took a big deep breath and asked her for a drink, she "tutted" and walked off, without thinking to ask Phil if he wanted one and I certainly wasn't going to call her back, God knows what would happen!

Eventually she came back with a plastic cup, filled to the brim. "Brandy and coke" she said as she flung it at me. I wanted to say "WHAT...........NO ICE????", but I didn't. I could feel Phil winding himself up to ask for a drink too, but by the time he got the courage to open his mouth, she was long gone, having disappeared again behind the blue curtain. I offered him a sip of mine, but he graciously turned me down, and sunk into his chair looking as dejected as a kid on Christmas morning who found potatoes in his stocking instead of presents. Where are Noelene and Laurie when you needed them?????

Our flight home wasn't all bad though, we flew through a marvellous lightening storm somewhere over Indonesia, but I didn't tell Phil, because I knew he watched far too many of those "Air Crash Investigation" shows to see the beauty of it. I also watched a great movie with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson in it, though as usual I fell asleep before the end, so don't know if they ended up getting together or if it finished like "An Affair to Remember" with Emma Thompson in a wheelchair pretending she was fine, some years later.

By the time we reached Melbourne I was in a heightened state of anticipation. From the moment I'd booked my tickets before Christmas last year, I had pictured myself walking through the big glass doors at Tullamarine, wheeling a trolley weighed down with suitcases and duty-free plastic bags, into the arms of my adoring family and friends, just like in the opening sequence of "Love Actually" (without the Hugh Grant voiceover obviously............though that would be nice). I had replayed this snippet in my mind a million times. When I was marooned on the windswept and lonely station at Castle Cary, this was the picture that kept me warm. When I was sitting in my lonely room during the disappointing overnight stay at a particular hostel in America, this was the picture that made me feel safe. When I stood in the aisle at Notre Dame overwhelmed by the inspirational spiritual energy of the place, this was the picture that kept me grounded. So you will understand, I'd built this scene to a crescendo..........and now I was on the brink of experiencing it. OOOHHHHH!!!

We arrived safe and sound and moved effortlessly through Customs and Immigration..wow, it felt good to hear the friendly voices of my fellow Aussies asking me about the contents of my bag and welcoming me home. I must say I found the electronic “Swine Flu Temperature Detector” tunnel I had to walk through a little confronting, but thankfully despite my long sojourn away from home I didn’t trip off the siren and flashing lights. This must be the first time in my life I was REALLY glad not to be considered “Hot”!

Finally as I approached the big glass doors, trolley weighed down with suitcases and duty-free plastic bags, my beloved at my side, everything was going according to plan. The doors opened and we walked through to……….nothing. No cheers and squeals of delight from adoring fans, no Craig Armstrong piano soundtrack, no “Welcome Home Molly” signs………….NOTHING!

I looked around in desperation and then from the corner of my eye I saw a blur of movement. As we rounded the corner of the barricades, I was almost bowled over by a cute little dot, flowers in hand, who threw her arms around me and said, “Mummy, you’re finally home”. Two more arms encircled me, this time strong male arms, “We sure missed you Moll”. Em and Johnny were my welcoming party, my daughter and her beloved, both so happy, both so excited and then I realised that what Hugh Grant said is right, it doesn’t matter how many people are in the arrivals lounge at the airport, what matters is the feeling they bring with them and at that moment I knew “Love really is……. all around”

... full text

Back to Dublin

After our amazing journey of discovery around the wilds of "the west", Phil and I returned to Dublin for our last night with Michael and Craig. Of course they greeted us with with rapturous warmth and were eager to hear of our adventures in the wild parts of Ireland. How do you condense such an emotionally charged, physically stimulating and spiritually challenging week into words that do it justice............of course you can't, but really, Michael and Craig "got it" without us having to say much at all. It is wonderful to spend time with like minded souls who don't need things "spelt out" to them, but can connect with the energy you emanate and understand.

Our final night in Dublin, was appropriately spent "at the pub", where Phil and I finally succomed and tried our first taste of Guinness. At the risk of losing all credibility I may have earned to date, I must confess, one sip did it for me (and not in the way you may expect). I've got to say it tasted like an amalgam of the cold, dark water of Doo Lough, the smell of the muddy bogs and the creamy foam of the treacherous waves at the base of the Cliffs of Moher................most appropriate, but not quite as appetising for me as a nice, crisp, clear Pino Grigio. In fact to be perfectly honest it tasted bloody awful, but there you go, maybe my Irish heritage was missing that vital ingredient that would ignite in me a passion for a drink that everyone else seems to think is the "nectar of the gods". So I stuck with my wine and revelled in my "Aussieness", which some may also say is lacking, given that I simply can't come at beer either!

We finished our evening with a beautiful meal at a little restaurant that provided snuggly blankets over the back of the chairs in the outdoor eating area............brilliant!!!

It was with sadness (but excitement too) that I attempted to stuff two plus months worth of travelling into my suitcase late that night. So much experience, so many miles, so many countries, so many new friends, so many memories, SO MANY STORIES!

And the journey continues for just a little longer.

... full text

Some really pretty landscape pictures

No words, just pics! Words are not required when you are in the midst of landscapes like this!
... full text

Where's Wally?????

See if you can spot the "Wally's" on the edge of the cliffs .
... full text

A selection of cemeteries, castles. and old churches

Cemeteries and churches have always been my thing (along with castles and ruins of all sorts) I've always had a fixation about old churches, castles, cemeteries and memorials, both intentional and accidental. I don't know why, but I think it allows me to connect somehow with the people who have walked a similar path to me and who have experience to share. I have always found it sad and frustrating that we (as a society) don't connect to the wealth of wisdom that surrounds us on a daily basis. We lock up our elders in aged care facilities and forget them and yet when they die, we sensationalise their lives and speak of them as if they were saints. We forget that they were normal people like us with the same faults and foibles. We miss the opportunity to learn from their hard earned wisdom.

And so, I hang around in falling down churches and cemeteries where I can see, hear and feel the stories of my elders, my ancestors. If only we could collectively open our eyes, our ears and our hearts on a daily basis and connect with the wisdom and experience of those older people in our community NOW, before the opportunity is lost and we find ourselves hoping that we can connect to the spirit of those who have preceded us by traipsing around the ruins that represent lives lived long ago. Mind you, I've got to say, I find great comfort in those old places. Listening to the voices, reading the stories and feeling the presence of people long gone. I only hope that one day, in the distant future, someone will sit by my grave and wonder who I was............ and that I will be able to leave some sort of imprint on their life as those who have gone before have left on me.

... full text

More of Moher

Some more photos of the Cliffs of Moher including a mate I made along the way!
... full text

The beauty...............!

The beauty of the Irish countryside needs no written augmentation by me. You can see for yourself the majesty of the Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare from these photos and will understand why there are security people all over the place to make sure that clumsy antipodean visitors (Wally's) don't loose their footing and end up "in the drink"!
... full text

The ancient Ireland, I loved!

There is an ancientness about Ireland that not only resides in the people, the stories and the music, but that is embedded in the rocks, the hills, the lakes and rivers.........an ancientness I was drawn to and immersed myself in. I'd always wanted to connect with the ancientness of Ireland, where myth, legend and reality merge. I was so lucky to spend time on my own at some of the really ancient places, places where people worshipped gods now long forgotten, places where the Irish Christians performed rituals of praise and intercession, places where ancient feet had walked before the dawn of time.

This journey for me has taken me to many ancient places, across three continents, but I've always had a deep seated connection to the old ones who walked the hills and valleys before the coming of the Celts, Gaels, Angles and Saxons. The Tuatha de Dannaan (the people of Dana), the Firbolgs, the Fianna were all known to me. In some weird way, from the time I was very young, these stories rang true. I have always had an affinity with the invisible world, from which (in my view) we are separated by such a thin veil that movement between the parallels can often happen with very little effort. Now some of you will think "Oh my goodness, she's really lost it now!", however my visit to Ireland and particularly to rural Ireland, merely served to reinforce this long held understanding.

I won't totally freak out those of you for whom this doesn't resonate, suffice to say, I was not in the least disappointed by the "old ones" who made their presence very clearly known to me as I walked around the ancient stone circles, sat amid ancient trees in ancient forests and put my feet into the clear waters of ancient lakes and rivers. Instead I'll load some photos for you of some of these places and hope that you too may see or feel the presence of these ancient ones.

... full text