Sunday, July 11, 2010

Welcome to Ireland

Welcome to Dublin Ireland. This is our first view of Dublin. It was cloudy that day and most days every since we arrived. They tell me that they had gone through an extensive drought before we arrived. Irrigation is unheard of here.

Dublin by air

On our first day here Deanne went shopping with Sister Creer, mission president's wife. I have to admit that shopping is one thing Deanne likes. They toured a number of sites in the down town also.
I stayed behind and visited with the members. The Dublin Stake was holding a bake sale, bazaar and a parking lot dance to raise funds. This was the small Irish band that played for the dance. They were very good. Played a variety of Gaelic music and country and western. Johnny Cash and Elvis was their favorites. I find that listening to the radio here is not much different than at home. However there are more classical music stations than back home. We listen to a local country and western music station.

This was our first home when we arrived in Ireland. A small cottage next to the mission home in Dublin. Former mission president's home and now temporary home to new missionaries arriving into the mission.

This is the Dublin mission home. Three days after we arrived it was closed and the Ireland and Scotland missions were amalgamated. In Provo our mission president was President Smith. When we arrived in Birmingham President Ogdon was our new President. One week latter we were sent to Ireland and met at the plane by President Creer and his wife. Three days latter President Creer was released and went home. President Griffin from Edinburgh Scotland became our new mission president. That is 3 mission president's in less than a week and 4 in 2 weeks. It is a record for missionaries.

This office is temporarily our Welfare Services office, until they decide what they are going to do with us. There have been a number of meetings here, in Solihull and Frankfurt to resolve the future of this building. The current proposal is to turn it into a youth outreach center with institute center and an Employment Resource Centre.

Ireland is a land of a lot of old churches. The primary religion is Catholic. You will see some of these old cathedrals built within a block of each other by different ministry orders of the church. It is illegal to tear them down. They are considered an important heritage. They are huge and impressive but little used today.

Another more modern cathedral less than a block from the previous church.

A typical row housing block

More older housing blocks in the down town of Dublin

Everywhere there are monuments to some great leader or saint

This is the oldest Protestant church in Dublin. It sits in the middle of an important intersection in the center of the street. It is now used as a art gallery. A woman on the bus told us that as a child she was told by her Catholic mother that if she ran around this church three times she would see the devil. She was always to scared to try.

Down town Dublin

Trinity College. One of the oldest universities in the world. Over a thousand years old. It is still in use and very exclusive to get into. You have to have money to get in.

Interior mall of Trinity College.

Down town Dublin. It is one of the cleanest down towns I have seen anywhere and teaming with people. Few cars and no garbage.

This is a living statue. Deanne put a coin in his cup and to her surprise he leaned over and said thank you. How he could stand so motionless for so long is a mystery. He was good.

This is Grafton Street in down town Dublin. A large section of the city is blocked off to all vehicle traffic. The streets are so narrow, where would they put the cars anyway? Shopping here is not cheap. If you look closely you will see a Canadian flag down the street. This is a large exclusive chain store owned by the Cristie Family of Canada, owners of Weston Bakeries & etc. At the entrance of the store was a doorman in a uniform. We talked to him and obtained a missionary referral from him. He had been to Calgary while in the military and trained at Suffield. While there he visited Cardston. In Dublin the preferred method of travel is by taxi, bus or train.

Statue of Molly Malone

Who can forget the sweet little ditty we all learned as a child of Molly Malone.

In Dublin's fair city
Where the girls are so pretty
I sat my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh
Alive, alive oh
Alive, alive oh
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh

Poor Molly was a street hawker of fish by day and part time prostitute by night.
But she made such a sweet ditty.

This is the widest street in all Dublin. O'Connell Street.

One of the numerous statues on O'Connell street in Down Town Dublin

Our new home for the next few months in the Dublin suburb of Fenglus


Living Room and dinning room

Stairs leading to the bedrooms upstairs

View outside from our bedroom window. Note that all yards have high fences around them.

These tree intrigued us. Dublin is at the same latitude as Edmonton, AB. Yet these trees are more like those grown in Florida. Sort of like palm trees.

Our parade has a garden and park area on top of it. After a period of drought it is now getting fairly dry, They do not irrigate here.

Another view of the parkade roof.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Birminham - Solihull Experience

Coming into Birmingham by air. The fields are separated by hedges which have grown up over the original fence. This is a very beautiful country. Very green. With all the rain it gets why shouldn't it be? The trees are huge and not stripped by wind. Even though Britain is the home of municipal planning, I don't think the planing was done before development. They just built and put up roads and fences where ever they got the notion. The roads are narrow and very winding. There are few big stores. Most stores are small shops with a narrow merchandice base.

On our first night here, I fell to sleep at the table. Deanne went to bed early. I woke up at 8:00 and went to bed.At 9pm Deanne woke up in a panic thinking it was 9am. She shook me awake excitedly saying "Ron wake up and get dressed. We have to be downstairs to meet Elder Green soon. Hurry or you'll be late". She sure had her reconning of time all screwed up. By the time she was convinced that it was not morning I was awake and it took some time to go back to sleep. But we made it through our first day. It was like drinking water from a firehose.

The most common mode of transportation in the city is double decker bus. It is no wonder given the size of the roadway. Parking is another matter. Canadian cities need to take a leaf from the British book and chill out. There are no parking meters and people who are brave enough, simply park wherever they find room. On the side walk usually and if you see a parking spot on the opposite side of the road you simply wheel over into it. So you will see cars parked on the side of the street facing both directions. The whole idea is to discourage you from driving. Buses are much more reliable than at home. Usually running every 15 minutes and you can get anywhere in the city faster than by car.

Wow what a place to drive in. We attempted to drive to Costco. When we got near it we could see the Costco sign, but we could not make the right turn to get there. They have these round abouts (traffic circles) everywhere. If you take the wrong exit you end up in Neverland. After 3 attempts to exit the round about, we took the wrong exit even with the GPS. It took us into a part of the city never seen by a sayne man. The streets were just wide enough to peddle a bike and here we were in a car which by north American standards is considered small, but by British standards was large, a Vauxhal. There were blocks and blocks of this. There was little room to pass and no place to turn around. When we did pass another vehicle our mirrors came within inches of touching. We saw what looked like a Hindu wedding. the streets were lined with thousands of people of all nationalities. The sidewalks were covered with small small stands for fruit, vegitables, meats, cloths and some unmentionables. We didn't know where we were. We were told latter that this was old Birmingham and that some of the buildings we saw were over 1800 years old. All were 2 or more stories high. After about 30 or more minutes of this we found our way out. By then we decided that Costco wasn't worth it. Three unbelievable hours latter we finally found the mission home and safety. We regretfully didn't take any pictures. I was too busy driving and Deanne was too busy screeming "RON WATCH OUT".

We took a side trip down to Warwick to see the Warwick Castle built by the Normans when they invaded England. What a fantastic experience. Unfortunetly we forgot the camera. If any one comes to see us this is a trip worth taking.

The most common material used in sidewalks and many streets are sidewalk blocks and paving stones. They tell me that is is cheaper and more economical than cement. If the sidewalk heaves or cracks you simply remove the block, tamp the base and lay a new block in.

Most houses have these thick heavy hedges arround them. It deadens the sound and adds privacy.

This is an old road bridge built by the Romans. Notice the firns growing out of the stones. It looks delapidated but it is over 1800 years old and stood the test of time. This is the view from the south.

This is the view of the same bridge from the north.

Just to the south of the chapel runs a small creek. It is surprising how clear the water is in such a highly populated area. It wasn't always this way but the city and county have done an excellent job of cleaning up the creek and repopulating it with fish.

One of our favorite walks. This is a small stone path which led along the creek. Above us on both sides of the creek are golf courses and on the opposite side of the creek from the chapel is a Romada Inn Resort. It looks very old and expensive.

Notice the heavy vegetation. Birmingham gets a lot of rain and is very green for much of the year.

This is the Birmingham Mission Home. It has offices on the first floor for the mission president and an Employment Resources Center and apartments on the 2nd floor for missionaries.

This is the Birmingham Ward chapel next to the mission home. The Stake Center is at a neighbouring city, Litchfield. Because most members use the bus as their mode of transportation, they have to rent a bus to go to stake conference and car pool for other meetings.
Our apartment was on the 2nd floor with the big windows. From here we had an excellent view of the surrounding area and the creek beyond the chapel.

This is the view of the mission home and chapel from the street. The chapel is small by north American standards because they only house one ward in each chapel in the UK and Irland. The chapels are built in a location that is on the bus route because the majority of members come by bus.