Moving story

We moved house last night!

We only started house hunting just two weeks ago, but the rental market in Dublin seems to move incredibly fast! And so it took us just 14 days to view a few place, find somewhere we love, process an application and get references, pay a deposit, pack up all our belongings, and move into our new home.

The packing bit was the hardest, as we had to fit it around work and numerous other commitments.  And it doesn’t help with me being a bit of a hoarder!  However, I did summon up the courage to finally cull my extensive collection of books, which I’ve dutifully carted from house to house over the years, but not actually had the time to read!

The move itself was relatively painless.  It took two hours to transfer all our stuff to the new place.  Instead of hiring a van for the day, we used VanTasks – a man-with-a-van service – to shift all the stuff.  It worked out at about the same price as hiring a self-drive van for a day, but you get the advantage of an extra pair of hands to do all the heavy lifting!  I’ve used these guys twice now, and would thoroughly recommend them.

The only problem now, though, is that all out stuff is still in bags and boxes.  We only finished moving at 9pm last night, and by the time we ate some dinner, we just wanted to get to bed. And so it was fun and games this morning trying to find some clean clothes for work.

Longer Commute

In just over a week’s time, I’m moving home! Up until now I’ve always lived pretty near to the city centre where work and choir are based. And as such, I’ve enjoyed the luxury of being about to choose to walk or cycle to work on a morning.  The walk takes a maximum of 20 minutes, and the cycle is less than 10 minutes.

However, nothing ever stays the same for ever, and a recent rather large change in my life has been my girlfriend moving in with me. Now the living together thing is going swimmingly well, but she does have one particular niggle with my house, which is the 1-hour drive each way to her office – especially as my journey time is so short!

And so, we’ve both agreed to move to someone that’s a bit more equidistant between our two jobs, to make the commutes more equal.  And that means moving to the burbs!  Don’t get me wrong, we’re moving into a lovely part of south Dublin, and the new house and neighbourhood are fantastic. But I’m now facing a longer commute to work.

The new place is just over 6km from the office, which is not massive in the grand scheme of things. I know of loads of people who cycle 20-30km each way to work, but they tend to by lycra-clad road warriors, who ride considerably faster than me! I suppose my issue resolves around losing the choice to walk to work. To go that distance on foot, according to Google maps, would take about 75 minutes (far too long!), and so that option isn’t viable. So my only option is to cycle.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cycle, and I’m not bothered by wind and rain (although snow can be scary!).  And my commute time each way is still going to be under 30 minutes. But a tiny little bit of me mourns the loss of choice.

I could, of course, investigate going to work on the bus, or even – shock horror – by car! But I’d prefer to avoid those options if at all possible.

Lower Estimations

We don’t often get anyone knocking on the door. We’re in what I like to call a “gated community” – in that an electronic fob is required to get through the gate into the grounds of the apartments, and again to get into the lift/stairs – and so visitors have to call on the intercom or phone when they arrive, to be let in.

And so, when there was a knock on the door earlier today, I assumed it must be one of our neighbours. But no – it was a salesman – and he must have persuaded one of the other residents to let him in. I’ve flatly refused to let other salespeople into the apartments in the past, as I hate the concept of being doorstepped with a hard sell.

Anyway, so this guy was from Airtricity, and he was trying to persuade me to switch electricity suppliers to them. He asked if I had a recent electricity bill that I could show them, and he would explain how much money I could save. I declined, but he kept talking, trying to persuade me to play along – reminding me why I hate this kind of selling.

The thing is, I’d been considering moving my supply to Airtricity anyway, as they have the cheapest prices on the market at the moment, and are a good way for eco-agnostics like myself to feel a bit better about saving the planet, without any of the down sides of being properly green (such as putting in any effort). I even had the company’s website loaded up on one of my browser tabs. But this recent visitation has put me right off the company, and I may well end up going with Bord Gais instead, just on principal.

Dubliniversary

Today (18th April) marks the one-year anniversary of me moving to Dublin… an event that I’m choosing to call my Dubliniversary. Not that I’m planning to celebrate the day in any particular way – except perhaps for a couple of drinks after our concert this evening.

I arrived in the city last April in the middle of an abnormal heat wave, with nothing more than a suitcase and the promise of a singing job in the cathedral choir. I had no place to live, no friends, and no day job. I was also leaving behind a very comfortable life in Edinburgh that I had established over the proceeding 12 years. And for what? Why had I quit a well-paid job, said goodbye to all my friends, and moved out of my lovely flat? Was I having a mid-life crisis or something?

Basically I had only one reason for coming to Dublin, and that was to try out the cathedral lay clerk lifestyle. It had been something that I’d always wanted to try ever since, as a boy treble, I had visited and sung in some of England’s finest cathedrals. I had missed the chance of being a cathedral chorister, but I could always dream of singing at the very highest level one day as an adult.

But why come to Dublin in particular? Wouldn’t it have been easier to go for a lay clerkship in Scotland or England? Well, I did enquire about becoming a lay clerk in Edinburgh, but was told there were no places available (interestingly, now, a year later, they have just issued an advert for a tenor), so I had to look further afield. And the problem with a lot of English cathedral roles is that the weekday Evensong services typically start at 5.15pm or 5.30pm – with call times for the choir being between 4.45pm and 5.00pm. So unless you have a day job with flexible working hours, or you happen to be a school teacher, then the start times can be a bit of an issue.

In Christ Church, however, our weekday Evensongs start later in the day at 6.00pm, and the choir warm-ups begin at 5.20pm. And that later start time, coupled with the fact that the choir only sing on Wednesdays and Thursday outside of the weekend, means that the singing role is a lot more compatible with a career.

So that’s why I’m here in Dublin. But what has the last year been like? Well, I’ve really enjoyed it. It was a big upheaval to start with, but it helped a lot to have a ready-made group of potential friends available in the choir. I’ve also grown to love this city and the Irish people, and have started to feel much more at home. The job market for IT people is also quite buoyant at the moment, so I’ve not had too much bother finding work. I’ve also got a rather cool, if quite pricey, apartment that’s only about a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre.

As to how long I’ll stay here… who knows? At the moment, it’s quite open-ended. I’m certainly planning to be here till at least the summer of 2009, and then I’ll have a think about what I want to do next. That might mean moving back to Edinburgh, going elsewhere, or staying here in Dublin. When I first moved to Edinburgh, it was only going to be for 2 years, and I ended up staying for 12 – and it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility for that to happen again.

Alarm!

The fire alarm went off at about 11.30pm, and within a few moments people were coming out of their apartments to see what was happening. Some were fully clothed, but others were already dressed for bed, and all were somewhat disturbed at the prospect of a fire in the apartment block.

I joined the small gathering round the alarm control panel, while one of my neighbours phoned the management company for advice. Someone went to the 2nd floor – as indicated on the alarm display – to check for signs of something wrong, but returned to say that nothing looked amiss.

With no obvious signs of fire, the advice from the management company was to reset the alarm, which we did. And when the alarms were silenced, people quickly dispersed and returned to their homes.

The whole incident lasted no more than five minutes from beginning to end, but within those few short minutes I met and talked to more of my neighbours than in the whole of the previous eight months combined. Strange what brings people together.

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