Riverdance in Dublin

Quite some time ago, at this point, I was thrilled to be in Dublin, Ireland, and I had the wonderful opportunity to see Riverdance live at the Gaiety Theatre. There was so much more to seeing this show than just simply seeing the show.

I grew up watching Riverdance and Lord of the Dance on VHS anytime I visited my Mom-Mom’s apartment. I was captivated from an early age with the perfectly choreographed step, stomp, and ballet-like dance.

I became even more captivated with the music as I matured. I started learning violin when I turned 9, and trips to Mom-Mom’s led me to those VHS tapes time and time again, fully listening to the Irish fiddle, rather than just hearing it.

Now, 16 years into learning the violin, Irish/Celtic music is my favorite to play. There is a spring to the music that makes it just as fun to play as it is to listen to. It feels more natural to play an Irish jig unaccompanied than it does to play something classical or jazzy without at least a second instrument.

The energy of any live performance always makes for an enjoyable experience. Seeing Riverdance live was particularly something to be reckoned with. The unadulterated joy on the performer’s faces says it all. They hold nothing back- they dance with all they have, they sing with all their passion, they play their instruments with every ounce of energy. And all the excitement they have permeates the air and makes the experience all the more enjoyable to the audience.

Also, I have a thing with symmetry. More often than not, it gives me a better feeling than its opposite. It’s not something I can actually describe, it just suits me better, it feels more comfortable- a random quirk of mine, if you will.

With that to say, Riverdance is a party for me! So much of Irish step dancing involves symmetry. I love the perfection of the dancers- each of their hands held the same way, their heads perfectly straight, often times there are mirror images on either side of the stage- my brain automatically splits the stage in half and then even more so enjoys what it is watching if it is exactly the same on either side. Sure, I have my quirks; it’s fun to enjoy something that caters to your quirks, I’d say.

So to be in Dublin, with most of my immediate family and my aunt and Mom-Mom, and spend an evening eating at Wagamama and then seeing Riverdance live- it was certainly an experience to remember.

And did I mention we surprised Mom-Mom with this show? What a night!

Happy surprises!

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concepts of being on time

As may have been made apparent in my lazy day post, I have a fairly straightforward “type A” personality (while being introverted, yes. It’s fun to be both of those things, I catch people off guard if they do not know me well). This plays in to a lot of areas in my life, one of the big ones being Time- I like to be on time, I refuse to be late.

Some dear friends of mine got married a few years ago, and I was involved in the festivities. I will never forget what the bride’s father said at the beginning of the wedding weekend while talking about the schedule to all of us playing a role in the day: “Early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” I know that wasn’t the first time I had heard those words put together before. But when I heard them at that moment, it was all I could do to keep from jumping up and down and screaming because I had found someone like-minded (yes, that someone being the bride’s father). Those specific words have stuck with me day in and day out ever since.

When I am expected somewhere- if it is a matter of someone waiting for me- I am Always early. Being early gives me time to prepare for whatever it is that is about to happen; I am able to scope out what is going on in my surroundings. If I am meeting friends for dinner, this means I can get a table and choose the seat at the table that best faces the door. If I am going to an interview this means it may be noted that I am prompt. If I am arriving at my job it gives me time to sit back and breathe for another few minutes before working. If it is rehearsal with other musicians, I then have time to tune my violin and warm up.

I have never been to a job interview less than 15 minutes early (at which point I wait in the parking lot and then make my presence known 5 minutes before the interview is scheduled). I leave for work every day at exactly the same time. Most days I get to work 15-20 minutes early and I wait until 8:58 and then walk into the house. I leave myself so much time because of the darned traffic here in this city. There have been days when I’ve arrived and had only enough time to park my car and get into the house at 8:58am. But Never any later than that.

The time that everyone decides on is supposed to be the time that event begins. Not the time that everyone arrives to start preparing for the event.

Now, if it is a large social situation, it is the opposite for me. Unless I am hosting a party (rarely happens), I am a good half an hour late, typically. I allow myself more leeway for a few reasons-

1. I am not good in large social situations, nor do I particularly enjoy them.
2. People rarely arrive at parties early, and if they arrive on time, they are normally the only ones. I do not like to be the only person present at a party. It makes need for small talk. I do not like small talk.
3. I can arrive unnoticed, most of the time, if I am late. Then I can find a couch or chair in the corner of the room and do what I do best- observe. Observing is my favorite form of engaging in social activity.

However, if said social situation is starting at a specific time for a reason other than “let’s get together and eat food and maybe eventually play games or watch a movie,” like perhaps a surprise party, or a get-together with a purpose where everyone realizes that timeliness is necessary, then I go back to my “early is on time, etc.” mantra.

—–

I was privileged to spend two weeks in Northern Ireland at the beginning of August, and one night we were all at a get-together  to meet my brother-in-law’s very large extended family. The festivities were due to start at 8pm. We arrived around 8:45, I believe. Late, yes, but at least I already understood two things:

1. This is how my sister and her husband work, most of the time.
2. This seems to be the Irish way of thinking to begin with.

And then I got to talking with Ted, my sister’s father-in-law, after meeting one of his sisters. I either apologized for being late or at least made reference to it (it wasn’t in my control anyway), and Ted laughed at me. He pointed to his sister. “She got here at 7:45! The house was dark! My wife and I were not even here yet!” (Ted is one of 12 siblings, or some other large number. His youngest sister was the one who got to the party at 7:45. Not a single other soul, including the hosts, arrived at the house until at least 8:15pm, if I am not mistaken.)

WHAT?! The hosts of the party were not even at their house 15 minutes before it was supposed to start? It wasn’t like they just needed people to arrive. They had food to put out and tea to make and other sorts of get-together things to do.

I laughed with Ted and his sister, and then explained to him my way of thinking, which seemed to be his sister’s way of thinking. “Ted, what do you think if I say ‘Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable?'”

Lots of chuckling. That’s what he thought.

“You mean to say, Bekah, that getting somewhere early is a benefit?” … more chuckling.

“Well, Ted, how would you phrase that statement?”

He pondered for a moment, and then threw out this re-phrasing: “Early is unnecessary, on time is early, and late is on time.”

So there you have it- a clashing of cultures, or perhaps just personalities. I can appreciate it. But I cannot implement it.

What are your philosophies for being on time? How have you found it in other cultures? How has this been a problem? How has it been a good thing?

Wagamama

I had a fantastic night in Dublin a few weeks ago, spending my last night in the Irelands with my family eating good food and enjoying great entertainment. We were on South King Street in anticipation of seeing Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre (post on that to come in the near future), so my well-traveled sister recommended we eat dinner at an international noodle bar chain called Wagamama.

It has been my traveling experience that eating becomes quite a drag when you are with a large group (11 in ours! Gotta love big families!) Eating out is expensive and inconvenient and eating in is boring and inconvenient, but you have to eat somehow, and quite often. Miraculously, this place solved the inconveniences I’m used to when eating out with my large family.

After our taxi driver dropped us off on a side street and somehow gave us directions away from South King Street and everywhere we needed to be, we eventually (with the help of some locals) figured out how to get where we wanted to be, and we found ourselves at Wagamama, just across the street from Gaiety Theatre.

My mouth was watering upon my first look at the menu. This place was perfect for our large group. There is a good mix of vegan and meat dishes. There are plenty of different tastes to please everyone. And while the menu uses Japanese terms for a lot of the dishes, there is a glossary at the top so that you can actually figure out what it all means! I also love a menu that directly specifies whether or not a dish is vegetarian, it helps me take a lot less time to figure out what I want. The best part of this restaurant for my family was that it definitely pleased my younger siblings who more often than not prefer some sort of Chinese-inspired noodle or rice stir-fry- for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Irelands didn’t often have anything of that caliber to offer during the three weeks they were there. My mom had actually brought over a bunch of their favorite noodles with her so that they could make them on their own, which they did, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

After debating between the yasai chilli men, or a serving of the vegetable gyoza and wok fried greens from the appetizers, or the yasai yaki soba, the last on that list is what I ended up with (no mushrooms, no pickled ginger; I’m still sometimes picky). Immediately upon receiving it, I knew I made the right choice.

yasai yaki soba- teppan-fried wholewheat noodles with egg, beansprouts, peppers, white and spring onions, and garlic, garnished with fried shallots, sesame seeds, and coriander vinegar

Typically I find noodle dishes too bland for my taste, regardless of who makes them. Maybe that’s too much of a blanket statement, but it’s what I’ve found to be true more often than not. There was soy sauce on hand, and I intended to make use of it after I took a few bites, but I never ended up needing it. I can’t tell you how or why, but it was one of the best dishes I’ve eaten out in a while. There were so many flavors all through it, and I was definitely shoving as much as I could in my mouth at a time in an effort to finish it all before I got too full (it was quite the generous serving, and yes, I did finish it.) I’m curious about the coriander vinegar; I do not like vinegar in most dishes, and typically request it to be omitted from my food if I am eating out. The fact that it was in this dish somehow passed by me, and actually I didn’t even realize until writing this post that I ate that dish with the vinegar in it. Does coriander vinegar have some sort of a different taste? I don’t recall tasting anything remotely like the vinegar taste that I don’t enjoy.

My mom got the yasai katsu curry. Not up my alley when it comes to food and tastes, but she loved it and ate every last bit of her dish as well!

yasai katsu curry- sweet potato, aubergine, and butternut squash deep fried in panko breadcrumbs, served with a curry sauce and japanese style rice, garnished with dressed mixed leaves and red pickles

My two youngest brothers ordered off of the kids menu and they were not disappointed either. Here is my youngest brother, clearly enjoying his food (and his chopsticks- a utensil he uses -gasp- breakfast, lunch, and dinner, regardless of the food).

He even got to have apple juice with his kids meal. I tasted it, and it was no Motts or anything of the sort. It tasted like a fresh squeezed cider!

As we were in Dublin and it is part of the European Union, we paid in Euros. My dish was €10.95, which comes out to approximately $13.75. Given that price, and that my dish was one of the cheaper ones on the menu, this is not a place I’d frequent every week (I assume others may pass it off- I am frugal to a fault), but it was a great experience that I’d be up for again if circumstances allowed! So far as I can tell, the only Wagamamas in the States at the moment are in the Boston area. Why does Boston get all the love? I’m ready for this place to expand here! Worldwide, you can find Wagamama in such countries/cities as Belgium, Egypt, Kuwait, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and a lot more.

Have any of you ever eaten at Wagamama? Where was it? What was your experience?

Northern Ireland- Tollymore Forest

Last weekend we took a short drive to Tollymore Forest- a whimsical place where C.S. Lewis spent a lot of time and found some inspiration for the Narnia series. It is one of my favorite places here, and I was so happy to go with the little ones in my family and see their reactions to this place that I love. It was such a beautiful evening that as we passed the windy gap on the way, we could see clear to the Mourne Mountains because of how blue the sky was. The evening got darker as we walked through the forest, so my pictures didn’t turn out great, but here is a small selection. Enjoy!

 

the windy gap- on the way to Tollymore

 

two of my brothers and I at the windy gap

looking the other direction towards Belfast

And arriving at Tollymore – I loved the light shining through the trees.

The moon over the Mournes.

 

 

Northern Ireland- the north coast

Safe travels overseas led to a then lovely trip up to the north coast of Northern Ireland. Carrickfergus CastleDunluce Castle, White Rocks Beach, and Giant’s Causeway were on Saturday’s agenda. It is so nice to be exploring this countryside again- and this time with my entire family!

Carrickfergus Castle

Dunluce Castle

View at Dunluce Castle

Walking down to Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Mom at Giant’s Causeway

my sister and me

 

More of the Causeway

 

Looking down on the Causeway (quite the hike!)

 

Levi at the top of a rock- he’s a mountain goat! (White Rocks Beach)

 

Learning cricket on the beach.

 

Siblings on the rocks.

 

This rock looks like a sheep.