Well, we managed to get through immigration, despite the fact that Michael’s work permit had not arrived. The friendly immigration official stamped our passports with a 3 months visitor visa, as he was sure that our documents would be coming. He told us that we would then have to attend the immigration office with Michael’s work permit when it arrived and then we would be issued with our 1 year visas. We checked into our hotel and then set out to try and find somewhere permanent to live.
I was tasked with the job of finding an apartment for us, as Michael had to start back at work immediately. I found a suitable apartment in the docklands area of Dublin. The apartment is a very nice 2 bedroom, 2 bathrooms affair in a reasonably quiet location. We have spent the past week buying bits and pieces as although it is furnished, we have to provide the linen, towels, cleaning products etc . It is starting to look like home and I think we will be happy here.
The work permit finally arrived and off we trotted to immigration where we waited for 2 hours to finally receive the precious stamps. We went to dinner to celebrate and it wasn’t until the next morning that Michael realised that he had the wrong stamp in his passport. The stamp he had been given specifically stated that he was not to work whilst in the country. Not happy! Back to immigration where the gentleman just giggled and put the correct stamp in Michael’s passport. There were a few other glitches along the way however I mustn’t complain.
London in July
Michael’s brother, Matthew, and his family are holidaying in England so we thought it would be a great idea to fly over and spend the weekend with them. Michael researched the flights and accommodation and chose a flight landing at London Airport on Friday night and selected a hotel that was only 10 minutes by DLR from the airport. Unfortunately, Michael received a text message from British Airways at lunch time on Friday informing him that our flight had been cancelled however they had booked us on another flight leaving half an hour earlier but landing at Heathrow Airport instead. Oh well, not much we could do about it.
The next morning we were greeted by a lovely sunny London. Michael and I headed to the Borough Market for breakfast and it was almost deserted. We had a great time looking at the different stalls and it was blissful not having to push our way through the crowds. Michael then left to meet Matthew and family at Greenwich. I did not join them as they planned to visit the Maritime Museum and I had already been there twice. There are many galleries and museums in London that I would happily visit many times over, however the Maritime Museum is not one of them.
I walked across an almost deserted London Bridge and wended my way through the quiet streets until I reached St Paul’s Cathedral. It was here that I began to seriously wonder if something had happened, as there were only a handful of tourists about and absolutely no one was sitting on the cathedral steps. It wasn’t until I reached Trafalgar Square that the crowds began to build. I spent a lovely day visiting my favourite haunts. There was an exhibition of El Greco at the National Gallery. I had never seen his artwork before and now I am inspired to visit Spain to see more. The National Gallery was a bit too crowded and the day was so lovely, that I decided to once again walk along the Thames, crossing Westminster Bridge and then back along Lambeth Bridge. I wonder if Londoners know how lucky they are to live in such a fabulous city.
I finally caught up with the others at the M & M store. We chose what we wanted and Michael took our purchase up to the counter where the cashier took one look at Michael and shrieked. We stared open mouthed at her whilst she apologised saying that she had a great fear of foxes. Michael was wearing a t-shirt with a giant fox on the front, which I had bought him for Christmas. The cashier then continued to serve Michael, all the while avoiding looking at him. It was quite bizarre. We then had a lovely meal in Chinatown and it was great hearing about Matthew and Kate’s travels and the places they have visited.
The next day we met Matthew, Kate and Olivia and headed to the Columbia Road Flower Market for breakfast. It was another lovely day and it was very relaxing walking around and once again we found it no where near as crowded as our previous visits. We walked from there to Brick Lane to view the graffiti and the markets and I was actually able to see inside some of the shops, as Olivia wanted to see the vintage clothing on sale. Then it was over to Spitalfields Market followed by a pub lunch with Pimms. It doesn’t get better than that. A walk through Covent Garden to the Seven Dials and then it was time to say goodbye so that we could head off to the airport. It was strange saying goodbye, as we don’t know when we will see them again. Hopefully they will come and visit us in Dublin.