Ireland welcomed me with a hailstorm and an icy wind. I had totally forgotten what it feels like to walk up the quays in Dublin and try to negotiate this same weather. I had got some sort of virus in my ears just before I left, which meant I had to work hard to equalise them when flying over, and on the quays, freezing and fuming, I battled on, Smurf hat in place, my hands on my ears, resembling the figure in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. Everyone said how it had been lovely last week, which almost made it worse – I just got the dud week. However, I had flown home, not for the weather, but to spend time with family and friends. In between the blasts of winter, there were glimpses of what-might-have-been: a glistening landscape saturated in sunshine. So, although we got out for walks, it was an indoorsy kind of a week: lots and lots of talk. I travelled on the buses, which, after Berlin, were something of a disappointment. Having said that, I loved travelling on the top of the bus in from Walkinstown to the city centre, all that was missing was a packet of Carrolls No.1 (Cigarettes for those you too young to remember them, or to recall how you could smoke on the top of the bus).

Dublin looked well, despite the weather. There’s money floating around all right, and there are shops there that have lasted through more than one recession – Heathers shoe shop and Bargaintown on the quays, Evans’s art supplies on Capel Street, Hogans butchers on Wexford Street. Areas that were semi-derelict in Dublin now have shops and cafes. I’m thinking of Aungier Street/Wexford Street/Camden Street as they were thirty years ago – I actually loved the down-at-heel look, but even the improved look has a nicely bohemian flavour to it. Lots of places have embraced the Berlin tatty-old-furniture look, and though they are more expensive, they are comfy and hip after a blast of hail. I had new eyes for my city, realised why young tourists like it, and really enjoyed the familiar flavour. Going down to Ballyknock was a most wonderful treat. I had dreamed of sitting by the fire, watching a movie, sleeping in my own bed finally. We got out for a walk, but I had forgotten that you have to seize the day in Ireland – any dillydallying and it’ll be wet again. I found it colder in Ireland than in Berlin, because of the damp and the ever-present wind. You realise what hard work it is to function, endless closing the door, pulling the curtains, worrying about the cost of heating, wearing layers of clothing, and talking about it all the time.

Of course, there’s the awful tug of the goodbye facing you at the end of the week. I began to feel lonely for Barry and Clare the day before I left. I helped Clare to bleach her hair – something which goes against every fibre of a mothers’ being, to do such damage to a beautiful head of hair. But I understand, I have been putting highlights in my own hair (but via a hairdresser) for 30 years, so I can hardly judge. Then we made 2 big lasagne, portioned them into little containers and froze them, so that Clare has instant food for the long slog ahead to get all her projects submitted. By the time we had had dinner together, I realised they were all set for their final few furlongs till the end of term, and I lost my loneliness. I arrived back to the non-damp, non-wind atmosphere of Berlin, which was considerably warmer than Dublin. Yesterday hit 20 degrees, with misty sunshine, so I went cycling on my now-fixed bike in Templehofer Feld, with my friend Jennifer. Originally, it was supposed to be a picnic, but we were too disorganised, and there are too many lovely cafes, so we sat in a wonderful open space enjoying the full sun and had coffee after our cycle. Today is cooler, only 15 degrees, and there’s rain forecast for the weekend, though it will still be hovering around the 20 degree mark, so I might do my Irish trick and seize the day if there is any break in the rain, and get out for another cycle.