Friday, December 24, 2010


After a few days of uncertainty, we have made it home in time for Christmas. We were set to fly out on the 22nd at 5.30 pm to arrive home at 10.30 pm. With all the disruptions at the airports both in France and in Ireland, the picture looked ever so bleak. I couldn't find the courage to pack, almost certain that we wouldn't be travelling. I was stuck to the Internet and the news, feeling disheartened anytime the snow started falling again, anytime the airport had to be closed again. As long as we got into France, anywhere, we would make it home even if we had to drive hom for more than 7hrs, I didn't care. But getting to France seemed like the hardest part to achieve. The airport was closed on the 21st in the afternoon, flights were cancelled. I packed but my heart wasn't in it. I had to pack carefully, making sure I had some warm clothes on hand for the girls, enough nappies and snacks for Noelie should we get stranded anywhere and have to sleep on an airport floor.

On the 22nd, at around 12 noon, we set off for the airport. Mr Foodie's brother kindly picked us up from home. The roads in the area, being secondary roads that have never been grited or salted since the snow came, and where, in parts some of the first snow (the one from Novemeber) was still lingering, were treacherous. We took our time and made it to Mr Foodie's parents house in not too bad a time. Mr Foodie was set to finish work around 3pm and we were to set off for the airpot straight away, our flight supposedly taking off at 5.30pm. Thankfully, his boss let him go a bit early and we arrived at the airport around 3.15pm. The scenes in the arrivals hall were nothing like what I had seen on tv the previous days. The massive queues were not there. Some people were queueing for the desks but the queues for check ins were relatively normal. No desperate scenes of utter chaos, all seemed fairly normal. We checked in and made our way through security. We had decided not to take the buggy with us and Noelie was walking along and being very good. Marie knew that there was a chance we might not make it but was also extremely good. We went to our departure gate and then it all started. Our flight planned initially for 5.30pm was delayed until 7.20 pm. Not a big delay but enough for us to know that we wouldn't make our connection. I kept saying to myself that once we are in France, it doesn't matter we would make it down South somehow. Our phones kept ringing, people were asking us what was happening, we kept telling them that so far so good, delayed but still flying. Then, the flight was further delayed until 22h30. A long way away, as long as the snow kept its distance, we were going to make it to France. Then it was put forward to 20h40. My dad, ever the joker, asked me if it was today or tomorrow. Not so funny, but hey, at least it's not cancelled. The flight planned to depart after us took off, we were still waiting. There seemed to be a lot of children on our flight, all trying to go home to their families for Christmas. We had no public announcement, no vouchers for food or drink and the coffee shops in the airport were starting to run out of food. They replenished their stocks but nothing but chicken stuffing sandwiches could be found.

Eventually, a plane arrived and was disembarked and deiced and we made it on board. It was past 11pm. We were going to make it to Paris around 2 am (French time). Marie and Noelie were being very good still although none of them had slept more than 20 minutes. Marie found a little friend and was playing with her while we were waiting. We were desperately trying to keep Noelie entertained. We took off and made it to Paris landing at 2.30 am. Noelie had not slept yet, neither had Marie. The stress of the day and the adrenaline still pumping meant that they couldn't sleep. When we arrived, we went to the transfer desk. The girl there got us to skip the queue because of the children, not a passenger made a comment, there was about 20 off us having missed a connection, some of them to far away places like the US or even Honk Kong. There was no quibble, no shouting, not an ounce of frustration amongst them. The girl at the desk gave us a voucher for a hotel and promptly renooked us on the first outgoing flight to Toulouse at 7.15 am the very same day which meant a very very short night for us. The girl ecplained that she had gotten a special authorization to put us on that flight since we had small children and they had released seats for us on the plane and shuffled some passengers around so that we could seat together. One of her colleagues drove a group of us to the hotel. A 4 star one with as big a bed as I had ever seen. The 4 of us would easily fit in it so we didn't bother using the other room they had booked for us.

I had never seen Noelie so happy to see a bed in her life. She was hugging it and kissing it, shouting 'dodo, dodo' (sleep in french). So we put the girls to bed, I climbed in beside but I couldn't sleep knowing that we had to be up an hour and a half later to catch our second plane. As soon as their heads hit the big fluffy pillows, the girls were gone. Mr Foodie had decided not to sleep at all, and went down to use the Wi fi in the hotel. At 5 am, we got up and took a shower. We put on our previous days clothes, still feeling dirty and smelly from the day before. We got the girls up (not without a fight though) and went down for breakfast. We made our way to the airport, got pas security and onto our flight. It was delayed by an hour as we had to deice but we made it home around 10.30 am yesterday with very little sleep.

It took us 22hrs to get home, with an 18 month old baby in tow and no buggy, and a 7 year old on less than 2 hours sleep. But we made it. As we got home, we checked the Irish news, only to find out that the airport was closed again and thousands of people were being stranded, again. And all I can say, is we were trully blessed. We made it, not that easily but we did. And the girls were amazingly good, not once did Marie complain that we were being delayed or that she was tired and had to walk, not once did Noelie cry because she too was going on less than 3 hours sleep, taking cat naps here and there. I was probably the worse of them all, being snappy and quite unpleasant to Mr Foodie although none of it was his fault. So Mr Foodie, I apologize for my very not nice behaviour. Today I will spare more than a thought for those of you who had to cancel plans, or are stranded somewhere, and those of you who were as lucky as we were and made it. It's been a tough journey. Wherever you are though, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I should have kept my mouht shut

I knew it! I should have kept my big mouth shut! If I hadn't posted yesterday about how all that snow is starting to really annoy me now, it wouldn't have snowed again. I'm sure of it.

But, no. I had to go and open my mouth and say that I was kind of getting sick of it. And what happens? Well another good 5 to 10 cm fell overnight. Seriously, it is starting to get boring now! And I can't even do my grocery shopping online as the next delivery slot available is for Friday! Friday, we have time to die of starvation by then (although we won't because the freezer is well stocked) but I'm starting to run out of fresh stuff.

It took Mr Foodie 20 minutes to get out of the garden this morning to go to work. His tracks from yesterday afternoon had all disappeared. The snow is half way up the wheels of my own useless, dead car.

But what I find amazing is the fact that we keep being told that the worse is over, no more snow. Temperatures will go up by the week end and it will all start thawing. Yeah, right! I think the weather people are at this stage as believable as that stupid government. And what about after the week end, they don't seem to be as confident about what's going to happen then. More snow, colder temperatures? Or just a big thaw that will bring on some floods? Nobody knows.

I keep thinking about people in Nordic countries (Hi Heather!), they are well used to plummetting temperatures and snow and ice. So why can't we just get used to it? Why can't we just even be prepared for it? You know, snow chains and snow tyres? Life doesn't stop in those countries, schools don't have heating problems, or burst pipes. Life goes on. Even in the South of France, we are used to snow and ice and cold weather, they do sell snow chains and winter tyres. The year my brother was born (yes, Mr Foodie, the great cold of 84), temperatures in the South of France plumetted to -20. School was open, people went to work, roads were adequately treated. Shops sell snowsuits for as little as 20 euros. So why, can't we deal with it the same way here? Why can't we look at nordic countries, or Canada and take advice from them. See how they do things and learn from it? But no, we let it bring the country to a standstill and we keep using old methods such as salt and sand on the roads. By the way, did you know that salt is useless if temperatures fall beneath -8?

Argh, it's just so frustrating. One thing I know though, is that I will be hitting the French sales in January and I will be getting proper snowsuits and snowboots for the girls. Because I'm sure that this is not the end of it, I'm sure that before the end of this winter, we will have more snow and more ice. And we will be in the same predicament we are in at the moment. The difference is: I will be prepared.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow and Ice and all the things nice.

I thought I would ride out the whole Big Freeze thing but it looks inevitable now. I have to write about it because there is nothing else to talk about it seems (well at least until tomorrow, when the harshest budget of the history of the Republic of Ireland will knock us all out). 

I have been stuck in since last Monday. I ordered my shopping online for the first time ever and it was delivered on Tuesday, thankfully since a good 10 inches of snow fell on Tuesday evening, making the roads barely passable from Wednesday on. Still on Wednesday, Mr Foodie managed to go to work, just about, but he abdicated on Thursday and Friday and stayed home. School closed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

We had a great snowball fight on Tuesday evening with the neighbours. Wednesday, Marie went sleighing with the neighbours and some of their friends, in the field next to us. And Thursday, Mr Foodie and Marie went out to try and build a snowman. They just about made the body before giving up, it was too cold. The fire has been blazing everyday from early in the morning, the heating has been on a good while and I lived in fear that we would run out of oil as the weathermen and women announced temperatures of -13.

Our neighbour drove me to the Post Office in the landlord's agricultural Jeep so that I could collect my pittance since nothing had yet been put in place to accommodate people who were snowed in. We stayed in all week end, Mr Foodie only venturing out to get bread and milk. Cabin fever set in on Friday and I escaped for an hour or so to deliver some cinnamon rolls to the neighbour and get out a bit, albeit not far at all.

This morning, things were more or less back to normal, we still have about 10 to 15 cm of snow out, the roads are extremely icy, but Mr Foodie went to work, and Marie's school reopened. So we muffled up and walked down to school, since my car has refused to start since Thursday. I looked like I was doing some kind of cross country skiing rather than walking and people who had the courage to take the car were laughing at me, but it was a lot better than Tuesday when Noelie and myself nearly ended up in the ditch along the road a fair few times. I'll take ice over fresh snow any day now, when it comes to pushing the buggy. I didn't plan on repeating the experience until later on this afternoon but we received a text asking us to collect our children immediately as the heating was not working in the school. So much for being back to normality! And school will be closed again tomorrow although this was planned since September.

Noelie has been fascinated at the snow, spending hours on end looking outside when it was falling. We took her out walking in it and she thought it was great fun, although a bit cold for her liking. We have been baking, cooking, reading, watching TV, knitting everyday. The days have felt extremely long and we found ourselves in bed by 10h30 most nights. And it has been boring, I have to admit.

The snow doesn't seem to want to go anywhere and we now wake up to lovely frosty mornings. So much so that this morning I had to take out my ridiculously ridiculous camera (bring on Christmas so I can get my proper one!) and I had to take pictures. Hope you like them! I am now seriously running out of ideas on how to entertain the girls, there is only so much starring out the window we can do! If you have any ideas, please feel free to let me know!

PS: Sorry if this post seems a bit like random thoughts. It is exactly what it is. I have Noelie stuck to my leg looking for biscuits and Marie hovering about telling me that she's bored. Help!!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Desktops have a future!

Here in the Foodie household, we are a bit computer mad. When you live in the middle of nowhere, there are times when your computer and your phone are the only contacts you have with the world at large. There is the blogging, of course, Facebook and Twitter (although I must admit I haven't got into Twitter that much), uploading pictures, keeping in contact with my family in France, catching up with favourite programs, getting assignments ready for my course and uploading the assignments. Mr Foodie is a huge Facebook fan and loves to play games on his computer too. Marie loves to draw on the computer or type up stories and Noelie loves to watch In the Night Garden on YouTube.

So what we're looking for in a computer might seem like a lot. A good HD screen and a good webcam to keep in touch with my mum and dad and allow them to see and talk to the girls. It has to be sturdy (to resist the attacks from a very excited 18 months old), and it has to be compact so that it can be put in a corner somewhere (it does happen sometimes!). Wi-fi is a must as the modem is in the playroom and we more than often use the computer in the kitchen or the sitting room. Oh and we need fast and easy access to our favourite applications (so that I can access my blog quickly!).

So I was really amazed when I stumbled across the Inspiron One desktops from Dell. I thought desktops were a thing of the past, that the only way forward was laptops. How wrong was I! The Inspiron One Desktop has made me rethink the future of desktops. It has a HD touch screen that makes drawing and uploading pictures or other onto Facebook and other websites really easy. Its design is really streamlined and it would fit practically anywhere. And it can be connected to nearly everything such as games consoles, TV tuners, cable and satellite boxes too (but not your brain yet although I'm sure that will come soon enough!.) A real home entertainment centre and what more at a really reasonable price. Further information can be found here . It really has it all in one!

And if you think that a desktop can't do all that, then check out the youtube Video. It's incredible what desktops can do nowadays!


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