Return to the Emerald Isle

I’m back after a few weeks of slacking off, three days / about 1000km smarter in the matters of the Emerald Isle, aka Ireland. Benji, Barbora and I headed out from Edinburgh airport on Friday night after making a life changing purchase at the airport Accesorize: a pair of sunglasses. Their purpose was completely monofunctional: disguise! We were planning on picking up a takeaway dinner from Mr. Perri’s, an infamous place where I once worked, back in 2005. As suspected, the greedy owner was there, we even had a taste of the greediness itself! She refused to give us vinegar!!! Said it was no good with curry sauce! Bollocks! The more surprising thing was that I recognised three people who worked there, the one was still wearing the same shoes! And to think I was already horrified when she told me she had been working there for nine years back in 2005. Either way, we walked out with three curry cheese and chipses, though severely lacking in vinegar, and all of my dignity, thank you sunglasses, thank you owl hat!

From Santry we headed straight to Galway in our cute red Toyota Yaris. Got there just after 11pm, parked and went and checked into our hostel, the Kinlay House. I stayed there with Suzie six years ago and I remembered it being ok and very central. We got a 3 person private dorm and Barbora went to bed while I went out to show Benji around. Galway is famous for its nightlife and certainly didn’t disappoint! The pub street was packed with people and great vibes. Eventually we found what we were looking for. A quiet old mans’ pub just off Eyre Square: partying is all well and good but we just wanted a pint of Guinness before bed as we had a lot of driving to do and a lot of Ireland to explore.

In the morning we took Barbora into town for a quick tour before heading out Clare-wards at 10am. Before the Cliffs of Moher we stopped at Dunguaire Castle for photos and in Burren for Poulnabrone Dolmen and the scenery. The cliffs, though impressive as always, have become much more commercialised since last time. The tourist centre is finished, it’s buried in the ground and making great effort to be uninvasive. And it probably is. On the other hand, the highway that is the cliffwalk and the staircase that cuts the visitors off from the viewing platform which has obviously been deemed too dangerous, are a slap in the face of scenery. A short walk ends with a barrier that one is not supposed to cross though many do as that is where the proper cliff experience starts.
We decided to see the Cliffs of Kilkee next. They might not be as dramatic but they are quiet and tourist-less, it looks like it’s mostly locals that go there to walk their dogs and their offspring. Unlike Moher, they are maybe still Irish!

After the cliffs the plan was to head to Tralee and make it as far as we can before the Czech Republic – Poland game at 7h45pm, then try and find accommodation there. We cut the trip shorter by taking the Killimer Ferry to Tarbert, however it got late somehow and we decided to stop at every pub on the way and check if they were showing the Euro 2012 game as there were some local games on that night and we didn’t want Barbora to miss out, like that other time with chimpanzees. The first pub we came across, the Swanky Bar, was indeed showing it. It was 15 mins until the game and we decided to just stay there, after all, Barbora needed to change into her Czech jersey and all.
As the game was nearing the end, we got a bit worried about accommodation, it was almost 10pm and we didn’t really want to go ring people’s doorbells at that time of night to get a room in a B&B. We ended up asking the guy that was setting up the stage and the cows in the pub, in case he knew someone that owned a place, which he did indeed. He said there was a hostel right there in the village, he called the owner, told her we were watching the game and we’ll be right over when it’s finished.

Did I mention cows? This was because there was to be a cow milking, wellie drinking, best dressed farmer’s wife competition that night. We thought it was unlikely to be fun as the pub seemed deserted apart from us but just before we left a couple of farmers’ wives turned up indeed.
The nice Ferry House hostel lady greeted us with a “First of all, let’s get it over and done with. Congratulations on the win! It was a good game.” and with a handshake. Then we got an 8-person dorm for the three of us as we were being cheap and went out for Chinese. The curiosity got the better of us then and after the meal we headed back to the Swanky Bar to check out this competition. The bar was a different place! It was completely packed! In the back people were getting the cows ready and according to the poster the guy who arranged the accommodation for us was DJ Shicco himself?

It ended up being the craziest night, a real Irish experience. It felt like everyone was there, all age groups mingling together and having lots of fun. A funny Irishman tried to get Barbora and I to participate in cow milking and I was pretty keen but after the second round finished and we didn’t get a chance I opted for leaving since I was to drive overnight the day after. It was an unforgettable night though, it had everything: good 90’s music courtesy of DJ Shicco, a fight in which six people had to restrain an angry old guy, ladies in short skirts rolling on the floor in the spilled milk, an old man pulling old ladies, a toothless mumbling judge… but the highlight must have been the dirty MC guy. None of us could quite grasp the Irish accent yet but whenever we understood something it was hilarious. He said things like “Mind your language, there’s cows here!” and “Stop talking and keep wanking, I mean pulling.” and occasionally mooed! We felt a little bit out of place but it was the most fun night in a long time! The atmosphere was indescribable and impossible to catch in a photo!

We left the Ferry House early the next morning and headed through Tralee to the Ring of Kerry happy about the sunny weather. We bought hot food and wanted to picnic on the nearest lookout point but Ireland decided to play one of its old tricks and as we were approaching our spot dark clouds started gathering and the moment we reached the lookout the pourdown began. We ate our food in the car completely unaware of the scenery behind the fogged up windows. On the other hand, that was the only proper rain we experienced throughout the trip. As we headed out again the sun came back and pretty much remained for the rest of the trip. After the Ring of Kerry we did Beara and I am proud to say we managed to get lost on the ring road, which I think was my fault. It caused one of the biggest confusions of the trip where we ended up on a three way intersection with all the roads going to Ardgroom. We never reached the cable car at the end of the island but at least it’s something to do on the next trip. Beara easily compares to Kerry, especially the northern road. Again maybe not as dramatic, but much more Irish in the deserted kind of way with beautiful green alleys and coastal views.

As our flight was scheduled for early the next morning, we decided to save money on the last night’s accommodation which would give us about three hours of sleep anyway and just drive to the airport overnight. That opened up a slot for another sight that evening. First we were thinking Cork but we didn’t want to get caught up in a big city so we opted for a smaller place near Cork. One option was the Blarney Castle where one gets to kiss the stone of endless chit chat, which is what Benji really wanted to do, but the opening hours were unfavourable, thank god, and we went to Cobh instead. Briefly known as Queenstown, Cobh was the last port of call of Titanic before its infamous crossing of the Atlantic. Exactly a 100 years since, there was a pretty solid theme to the place. We took photos, had dinner while it was getting dark and headed back to Dublin at about midnight when my night blindess could no longer annoy me.

We got to Dublin airport at about 4am and dropped the car off there. Thank god the second rental guy told us we could just do that instead of going to the car hire place and then shuttling/mopeding to the airport. I went straight to work from Edinburgh airport and got there at 9h20, 10 minutes early!
Needless to say it was a hard day!

Moral of the story: No matter where you’re going, always take sunglasses! Even if it’s Ireland!

XXXX III: The Return to the Wallaby Island

This is a story of ten adventurers who voluntarily marooned themselves on an island full of giant hungry rats!

Was it because the mainland was infested with zombies? No!
Was it because of the possibilities of hidden treasures and unknown riches? No!
Was it because the weather on the island was destined to be way better than anywhere else in Scotland? That did happen but no!
It was to steal the souls of these marsupials, drink alcoholic beverages and eat yummy steaks far from those too lame to come along!

The trip was a success. I should probably start by introducing the word of the weekend, the insult ‘dickmaggot’, hand-invented by us, on the island, in a burst of inspiration and misunderstanding. Saturday was a day of dickmaggots: first the angry cabbie, then the car hire retards and eventually the boat grumbleguts that called the patrol on us. They made us go back to Balloch to get two additional life jackets but also gave us a good tip of how to get to the islands. We drove to a village called Aldochlay five minutes down the road where the marina is sheltered from winds by the islands. True, there was a huge fuck off island right in the way but we managed to cross it by foot and row the luggage around while making amazing time! Even with the delay we were all at the island and setting up camp at the original time.

Once the camp was set up we went for a stroll to the wilderness! We even successfully managed to steal a couple of wallaby souls and most importantly, we all saw them which turned out to be lucky as the next day none of us had any luck. It could have been the fact that the ground was dry and the deadwood made so much more noise than on our previous trip. We also had a party of ten noisemakers!

(Insert pic from Dave)

Either way, we did see them and we could return to camp where Dave fired up the “braais” and everyone pulled out their meat (even Benji managed to bring it along this time). The food was accompanied, and followed by drinks, campfire chat and a near skinny-dip in the icy loch. Contrary to popular belief, and to the weather dickmaggots, it didn’t rain at all! Not only there was not a drop of rain all weekend, but we also had way too much sun and I managed to sunburn my face on the way back.

In the morning we all went on another hike but as I said before with no wallaby success. We did see the white deer again though. And we finally made it to the other side of the island. Man but that squishy ground is hard to walk on! One would have thought I’d have sore muscles form all the rowing I did, but no! I had sore thighs!

We were even more organised on the way back and the trip took us no time at all. That’s when I learned that there is apparently a catch to parking in Aldochlay, even though parking spots seem to be hard to find. You might just find that your tires have been slashed overnight. Well it wasn’t the case this time! We went back to Luss for a quick coffee and desert before the drive back to Edinburgh, where it rained all Saturday, as we later learned! Win!

Moral of the story: Always row from Aldochlay, bring enough life jackets and a coffee pot for the morning. Oh and avoid dickmaggots!

A week of sins?

That’s right! Time to indulge in extreme computer gaming, extreme sports and extreme drinking marooned on an island!

Diablo III is now out and that pretty much takes care of the evenings as the monk Olvaid and the wizard Gwendii explore Sanctuary and fight evil while Benji and I drink ourselves silly on Diablo beer, which actually turned out very nicely. Just the right amount of spiciness though I would like to make the smell of chilli a bit less noticeable next time.

Speaking about fighting evil Slovakia is playing Canada in less than an hour in the IIHF World Championship. The line-up seems favourable for a repeat of our 2002 success, if we beat Canada now, and Sweden beats the Czechs we will have a chance to play them in the semis just like ten years ago and then meet the Russians in the finals, providing they win all of their games. Despite that happy coincidence I have learned not to get too excited about Slovakian ice hockey anymore, so we will see what we will see. Either way! GO SLOVAKIA!!!

And what is that about indulging in alcohol on an island? Yes, the third trip to the island of wallabies is underway! This time we are bringing a bunch of people and hopefully someone will remember those steaks in the fridge! You will be able to find the full report here first!

And so the hunt begins…

I have started applying for jobs. I am only looking at Sweden and Norway at the moment although I suspect that as the time progresses and there are no replies I will start looking everywhere.

The portfolio is now reasonably presentable, though still not completely finished. There is a company that is actually recruiting (rather than just encouraging applicants to send in CV’s) I would really like to work for. Their application deadline is on the 31st and before then I need to learn Revit, re-learn AutoCAD, write a cover letter and, worst of all, take a presentable picture of myself. Scary!

There’s also the matter of archive documents I need to start looking at again and videos of Parnica to translate and send off! Yep! I shall be pretty busy.

In other, better news, I have now bottled Diablo beer! Who would have thought putting stuff in the priming solution would actually influence the taste. I have cooked hot chillies with in the honeyed water and I was very generous with the chillies as the whole thing was going to be crazily diluted but the final beer is spicy! So spicy and diabolical! I just hope it won’t need as much maturing as Triple did. I hope it will be sort of drinkable (when chilled) when Diablo III comes out. One week to go!

And about ten days until the Return to the Wallaby Island! Weather and ospreys permitting! The preparations are being made!


Late again this week! But that’s ok because I have been working very hard on my portfolio! Now viewable on!

I know wordpress isn’t the best place to host one’s portfolio but I felt like Daportfolio was even less customisable, more gangsta, and the pictures were resized too small and you could only describe every picture in 200 characters. How does one describe a Kaleidohouse in 200 characters??? The other way was Dreamweaver, but that attempt crashed and burned exactly at the same time as last time I tried to make a website back in 2006. I thought having a geek would help but then we decided I needed something much quicker than that. WordPress it is then.
I am a little bit annoyed that the blog part of my site can’t be displayed without the two slashes and a date and that I can’t get rid of the categories, and most recently the comments. Maybe I’ll try and integrate them in further though it might prove impossible. The portfolio is not completely finished but it’s getting there and is just about presentable now. Job hunt starts tomorrow for real!

Now all I need is a QR code that links to my site. It will probably appear as a picture of the week later this week.

This and That Four

So many things going on!
Job hunt, flat hunt, newly discovered archive materials, crazy brewing projects involving catnip… I haven’t even had a chance to think about the upcoming trips!

I have started on a portfolio of sorts! Any advice on which website is good for architectural portfolios would be much appreciated. So far I have Deviant Art but I don’t really like the layout. Not enough customisation. The idea is to eventually create a website of my own but I need something quick so this might have to do for the moment. I just wish the site ‘daportfolio’ didn’t make me sound so gangsta!

Another piece of news, and this might come as a surprise to some, yes Chmeli you, is that we are moving flat again. Our landlord decided to increase our rent by two hundred quid and the agency has been absolutely rubbish to deal with from the start. I’m quite looking forward to writing bad reviews once we’ve got our deposit back. If we get it back that is. We’d like to stay in Marchmont but the area is getting expensive, I personally think we might have raised the attractiveness of it and now it’s backfiring! So we are looking although I don’t even know if I’ll be in the country once the lease runs out in July. With Britain having no architectural jobs available I’m now considering Sweden or Norway. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

My mum found a website which hosts documents from back in the days of Austria Hungary, same ones as those in the archive. Unfortunately there is only one collection for Parnica (Births and Confirmations between 1839 and 1886) which is very hard to use as there is no Marriage collection to cross reference with. The moment you think you found someone, bang… you find another four people of the same name. Still it’s good to be able to view it in our own terms and actually have time to pay attention to helpful little notes on the side. I already found a few things that baffle me, for example, Jan the firstborn of Jan Micik and Katrena Haklik was born at no. 88 (the place where Zuzana Harmaniakova, the woman that was to become Jan’s wife after Katrena’s death lived) instead of their family house no. 139. Were they good friends, staying over because their own house was too crowded after they got married? Would that explain why Jan and Zuzana married later? Were her three illegitimate children Jan’s too??? We can only guess really. I did confirm though, that Zuzana Harmaniakova indeed married Adam Janci and had a child with him before he died in 1887. Jan Micik then did marry Adam Janci’s widow, the fact that confused us.
All I want to do now is go through all this properly, and the collections from my grandfather’s village too, but there’s portfolio work to be done first. *sigh*

In other news, catnip beer is underway! Well, I have planted catnip! We shall see what happens! The aroma is meant to be one of peppermint crossed with skunk!
The whole experiment is meant to provide a beer we could use for a fundraiser (or awareness raiser) for the endangered Scottish Wildcat.
I like my beers to be thematic… This is why I have made a diabolical beer for when Diablo III comes out in about three weeks time. The batch has been fermenting since this weekend so the game better take a very long time to finish!!!

Ancestral certainties!

The second and third archive visits from yesterday and the day before shed more light on the mysteries described in Ancestral conspiracies! and Ancestral confirmations?. It turns out my whacky theory was almost completely right, with the exception of the mysterious sister having been Katrena Micik. The baby actually died at six months of age, preceded by her mother by about two months. Jan Micik remarried in 1889 and exactly 10 months later, like a good girl, Zuzana Harmaniakova gave birth to my great grandmother Maria. A slightly puzzling fact is that apart from Jan (*1877) she had another son, Ondrej (1881 – 1893) about whom we knew nothing and as far as we know, Jan’s father was unknown, as so was Ondrej’s. Nevertheless her marriage certificate says she was a widow of Adam Janci. Was he the father of the two boys? Would they have lived together without getting married? Or did she marry him after her two kids were born?

And there is still no sign of the mysterious aunt of my grandma! Could it have been the wife of Andrew’s brother John? I’d thought I had found John’s family in Illinois, but his wife’s name is supposed to be Elisabeth (Alzbeta), while according to the archive it should have been Zuzana. Then again, who knows with so many Jan Miciks. Maybe it will be clearer after June 26th and 27th, the next archive stop.

I have also started a 14 day free trial on Geni and merged my two trees, the Micik’s and ours.

I now have 43 ancestors in my family tree, going as far back as 1700’s (ok, it would be more like 1799 but that’s still 1700’s so shame!) and all the way to my fourth great grandparents. Maybe I should start working on my dad’s side of the family now and look for those elusive Jews!