Monday, 30 March 2009

There's no place like home!

I'm back from my little trip abroad - I went to Ireland for a little more than a week, going to the Borderlines XIII conference and then having a few days more in Dublin.

The conference was neither as international nor as interdisciplinary as I had hoped, but good fun and very informative, as I now know a gazillion more Middle English than before (gone straight up from "none at all" to "I can understand some simple words"); learnt that the same differences between archaeologists' and literature-ists' papers exist in Germany and in Ireland; found that there is so much still to learn; got the distinct impression that I should really try to read some Chaucer one of these days; discovered that Irish saga background is really different from Middle European background; learnt where the Liffey and the Puddle flowed together in the old town of Dublin; finally understood why my "Celtic-style knotwork" always ended up with one crossing out of pattern and a few more odds and ends. Sadly, I was not really fit as with an appalling bout of bad timing, I caught a head-cold straight before leaving for Ireland and thus felt like I had cotton wadding inside my skull instead of a brain for the first one and a half days.

After the conference, I got to see the book of Kells, the Georgian Town House Museum(Number 29), the National Museum, the Collin's Barracks (second part of the National Museum), Phoenix Park, the Botanical Gardens, and the innards of several bookstores and supermarkets. I ended up with a few photos (though sadly, most of the Irish museums seem to have a strict no-photo policy), a few bars of Cadbury's chocolate, some other odds and ends and a few books, both work and non-work.

Alltogether, I'd say the trip was well worth it (even though Ireland seems exceedingly expensive to me) - the visit to the National Museum alone was so good that in retrospect, I'd have travelled for that. Should you get the chance, go see the wonderful hairnets they have, made of silk thread so thin that you'd think it is one single fine human hair; or the small bit of gold brocade tabletweave from Viking Dublin; or the wonderful bog garments, dating to the 17th century but showing stunning parallels to diverse medieval garments. And I should also add that the museum staff I met were all extremely nice and extremely helpful, and the visit to the museum is free (though the cakes in the museum café are enormously expensive).

It was, in short, a wonderful trip, but I'm thoroughly happy to be back home again now. Not least because I really missed the home-cooked food and the fresh fruit out of our grocery box - somehow, even a freshly-made sandwich just can't keep up with, say, a pie with turkey breast, fresh carrots, onions, sprouts and a cream sauce with fresh parsley. And an apple for dessert.

No comments: