One of the first things that I noticed on the Island of Ireland were the palm trees. I thought that I was seeing visions of the Middle East with all them palms! What the amazing thing about them is that one would not connect the palm trees with a climate like Ireland‘s but with the tropics. And Ireland is not the tropics, most certainly not! This palm tree is one of the ones we had in the side garden. As a matter of fact, these palm trees in Ireland are a hardy variety from New Zealand called the Cordilyne australis in Latin.
The next thing that I noticed were the mountains that are really quite high. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. The Dublin Mountains and the Wicklow Mountains handsomely wrap the coast by the eastern side from Dublin down to nearly Wexford. Here are some fab photos of Ireland in the various parts of the country. This is the way the Lonely Planet describes Ireland.
I arrived in Ireland in early January when it was still rather nippy and wet; well, wet it is all year round. Hence, the 40-shades of green that is supposed to be in Ireland. Yes, green it is. Even the roses used to flower until xmas – my visitors at that time of the year from various nations, were most astonished seeing me roses still in full steam blooming! The snow only lasted on the ground a day or two. Once, though, what is still known as ‘The Big Snow’ in 1986 there was snow – a few inches – for a whole week. I found it all rather amusing; I am born & bred in Lapland, after all, where the masses of snow used to stay put on the ground from September until mid May! In Ireland the land and the people thereof got an extra week’s holiday at the time. Nobody could move because the roads were covered in snow and no snowploughs, then. It was also freezing inside as well as outside. The heating system in our first house was not the most modern and the windows were single pane, also the walls and the attic were not insulated properly in that house. Here is my ‘advice’ to my future-in-laws on how to insulate them windows. Have a great laugh reading it!
I was so very, very cold the first years in Ireland right through the seasons that I drank so much black tea that I became allergic to it. Still, today, I cannot drink it! Not that I become a jibbering eejit* with it, it just that it makes me feel so terribly ill. Tea is the Irish central heating and pick-me-up of old. In anything and everything a nice cup of tea is the cure. You are upset, a cuppa. You are happy, a cuppa. Whatever the case may be – there is always a reason for the brew. And the brew has to be done in the prescribed manner:
A Perfect Cup of Tea
- Heat the teapot with the boiling hot water.
- Pour out the heating water off the teapot.
- Put the tea leaves – 1 teaspoon per cup + 1 extra in the teapot.
- Pour the boiling hot water over the tea leaves.
- Cover the teapot with a tea cosy.
- Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Stir the tea in the pot and serve .
My mother-in-law kept her teatimes always spot on time: the first cuppa of the day at breakfast, the elevenses at 11am and the afternoon cuppa dead on at 3pm. Then in between cups if visitors happened to call. I was instructed by her to do a ‘Protestant cup of tea’ thus:
Put the milk in first in the teacup – hers was fine bone china – then the tea n sugar. The reason why for the milk first, according to her, was that the cup would not get stained black. So it is, the Mother knows best, as always!
If an Irish person asked you to come for Tea, what do you think he/she meant? No, not for a cup of tea but for tea as a dinner which was the main mealtime at 6 o’clock in the evening. The High Tea – notice the silly hats in the article, excellent recipes for little something to nibble, though – which is served at 5 pm is also very different from the Afternoon Tea which is served much earlier in the day.
One thing that was nigh impossible to get in this tea culture was a decent cup of coffee. A person like myself that is from the ‘coffee culture’ of Scandinavia tis was most vexing a la Jane Austen-way of expressing the matter. I was praised the high quality of the coffee in the Bewley’s and their famous Sticky Buns. Well, I went there, actually, to the flagship Bewley’s on the Westmoreland Street and I went to the Grafton Street one as well and sampled them – and twas quite OK. Am afraid nothing to write home about. It was, certainly, a totally different coffee to the usual instant variety that one was served if one by mistake said ‘coffee, please’ when being asked ‘tea or coffee? ‘ in somebody’s house.
That is why my coffee was brought to me by somebody coming from Scandinavia, sent to me by post or fetched by me while in Finland or Sweden. The system worked beautifully as I hardly ever had to buy the coffee in Ireland where the price of the brew is astronomically high compared to Finland.
Tis for now – Slán. Riihele xx.
* eejit is the same as ‘idiot’ in the Oirish language.
Slán is ‘Bye’.
Oirish = Irish put in a jokey way of language. Not insulting at all.
The photo is one of our Palm Trees in Ireland.