Saturday, 31 October 2015

What it means to be a Kiwi

New Zealand have just won back-to-back Rugby World Cups.  As a Kiwi abroad for this phenomenal achievement I loved to see literally every post on my Facebook newsfeed directed towards the All Blacks success.  Either staying up until, or waking up for kick off is an achievement it itself due to the time difference.  This got me thinking about what it means to be Kiwi, so I decided to compile a list of what makes us, us.

1.) The All Blacks
It goes without saying really. New Zealand loves rugby. We love the All Blacks.  Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith; they're all household names.  The majority of Kiwi kids could name more rugby players than politicians, and to be honest most adults could probably do the same.

2.) Australia
The sibling type rivalry between New Zealand and Australia crops up whenever the two countries encounter each other on the sports field.  Every Kiwi has been the target of a "sheepshagger" joke at some point.  And every Kiwi likes to remind the Australians of how their underarm bowling style in 1981 was a disgrace to sport.  I wasn't even alive at the time, but still know exactly how the incident went down.  Following the most recent Rugby World Cup success, New Zealand has the upper hand, for now.

3.) Kiwi tucker
From pineapple lumps to L&P, pavalova to mince and cheese pies, not to mention Watties tomato sauce and marmite, Kiwis have a unique range of food.  Anyone who comes to our country should be made to try hangi, some favourites from the Edmonds Cookbook, a whitebait fritter and of course some hokey pokey icecream.

4.) Maori
Even if you aren't fluent, you probably know a few basic words in te reo. Kia ora, kai, whanau & ka pai are among some of the words you should expect to hear during everyday conversation.  If you went to school in New Zealand it's quite likely you would have participated in a powhiri and probably know most of the words to Tutira Mai Nga Iwi.  Most Kiwis can sing the Maori verse of the national anthem and know most of the actions to the haka.  Even if you aren't Maori you're proud of the culture and watching the All Blacks do the haka before a game fills you with pride.

5.) Sheep
Ask anyone from outside of New Zealand what they know about our country and the answer usually includes 4 key aspects. The All Blacks, the Lord of the Rings, Lorde and sheep.  Oh and it's really beautiful.  Considering there is a few million sheep scattered all over New Zealand it's unsurprising really.  We even like to post videos of them participating in political rallies.  We really are a strange people.

6.) We have a but of an accint
Contrary to popular belief, the Australian and New Zealand accents are entirely different.  Most Kiwis have probably been teased by a foreigner about their accent at some point, particularly if they've done a bit of travelling.  The people I know here in Ireland enjoy asking me to say the phrase, "I had the neighbourhood kids around today to play on my deck", or alternatively, "My neighbours wife loves my deck".  It isn't my fault my pronunciation of the letter 'e' is slightly skewed.
We also have some words of our own that make foreigners look at us like perhaps we aren't speaking English at all.  For example, "Can you chuck my togs and the chilly bin in the ute while I look for my jandals so we can head down to the bach?"  And we are ridiculously lazy so therefore cut down any word we can get away with. If it can be abbreviated, it will be abbreviated. Electricians are sparkies, ta can pass for thanks, McDonalds is maccas, at Christmas we give Chrissie prezzies as opposed to Christmas presents.  We have a biccy with our cuppa (biscuit with our cup of coffee) and if that biscuit is chocolate coated, it's a choccy biccy.  Even the word definitely is shortened to defo. So yeah, by now you should defo be getting the point.

7.) Kiwi and proud
For a little nation we've achieved a fair bit over our short history, and as Kiwis we're pretty proud of that.  Most of us think NZ is the best country in the world.  We love talking about Sir Edmund Hillary, who knocked the bastard off.  Every Rugby World Cup we replay the phenomenal tries scored by Jonah Lomu.  If anyone is talking about basketball we chuck in our limited knowledge through watching Steven Adams.  Some of our Olympians have competed and won against the very best; Valerie Adams, Sir Mark Todd, John Walker, Peter Snell, Barbara Kendall, Mahe Drysdale, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond to name a few.  Lorde took the music industry by storm.  The Lord of the Rings franchise brought the New Zealand film industry to the forefront.  We love reminding people that New Zealand has produced some pretty great people, and is pretty great in itself.

Kiwis are a pretty laid back type.  We love our country and are proud of where we are from.  We're a little bit odd and defo unique, and that's how we like it.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Ring of Kerry, Co. Kerry

Today I participated in an International Society trip to the Ring of Kerry and surrounding areas, taking in Kenmare, Ladies View, the Torc Waterfall and Killarney National Park.


Holy Cross Church, Kenmare

Scenery shots from the various lookouts

Torc Waterfall

And the All Blacks successfully qualified for the Rugby World Cup final so, great day all round.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Solo travel is fantastic.  Seeing new places is great.  Combining the two together and you're in for a wonderful time.

On Sunday I caught the train to Galway for a wee little day excursion.  I haven't seen much of Ireland despite having been here for around 7 weeks, but Galway is by far my favourite place so far.  The weather was spectacular, the cathedral is beautiful, the stores and waterfront are great areas to explore.  I even went to an aquarium which was more like a glorified pet store as it lacked turtles, sharks or anything more exciting than seahorses.  And to add to the excitement of a solo adventure to Galway, while I was there Ireland played France in their last pool match of the Rugby World Cup.  The pub I watched it in called The Skeff was packed; standing room only which made for a great viewing atmosphere.

There are a few places I want to go back to in Galway, so I will be making a return trip.  Mostly to try some more of the cafes and restaurants the city has to offer. Food will forever have my heart.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Weekend Adventures

What a whirlwind the end of September - start of October has been!

On Friday 25 September I departed Dublin airport at some ungodly hour of the morning headed for Edinburgh, Scotland.  Such an awesome city with a cool vibe.  From Arthur's Seat, to Edinburgh castle, all the old buildings, pubs and monuments, Edinburgh has a lot to offer.  Not to mention A CAT CAFE!! Highlight of my weekend.  I'd love to go back at some point and see other parts of Scotland as well.

The Scott Monument - 287 steps to the top.  Built in the 1840's.

Edinburgh castle

Haggis - was actually really nice much to my surprise

Life advice outside the World's End pub

Arthur's seat - the mini mountain right in Edinburgh.

  Cat cafe. Need I say more?

October 1 the UL Wolves went to the greyhounds.  It was a fun night. Always good to put a cheeky few euro on a dog so you can yell at something as they come down the straight.  I literally know nothing about dogs so picked off their names and had zero luck.  Probably not the best technique available.

Last but certainly not least, October 2 I went for an excursion to Wales that lasted less than 24 hours! But all for good cause as the All Blacks were taking on Georgia at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.  What an atmosphere.  All day you could feel the excitement wandering around the city as anticipation built for that evenings match.  The pubs were full of supporters.  Millennium Stadium itself is huge, and with the roof closed the atmosphere inside was electrifying.  Despite some uncharacteristic missed kicks from Dan Carter and some painful dropped balls from the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, New Zealand came away with the win which was celebrated late into the night by the supporters, many of whom had adopted the All Blacks or Georgia for the evening but were from all over the world.