The time of year when home seems very far away
What I love most is that sense of relaxation when you arrive back in Dublin, where the pace of life is less frenetic than London. I’m looking forward to the pretty lights on Grafton Street, having hot chocolate in Butler’s Café, and catching up with friends over drinks.
Just two people from my class in Trinity are still living in Ireland, but most of us will be home for Christmas. I can’t wait.
AN ‘ORPHAN CHRISTMAS DINNER’ IN PERTH
Diarmuid Ó Loing (31)
This will be my second year cooking a big dinner for our Irish and Aussie friends in Perth. Last year there were 13 of us but there will be even more this Christmas. We’ll all eat in my back garden and make a session of it.
I will go to Mass first thing, with my girlfriend Genna and some friends, followed by a few hours at the beach before coming back to the house to start preparing the food. It will be about 40 degrees, which makes cooking in the kitchen very intense. My Aussie friends think I’m mad not to just have a barbecue, but the turkey and ham is an important part of Christmas.
My best friend’s little brother, who was living here until recently, sent us a package from home with Bisto for the dinner, Lyon’s tea bags, Tayto crisps and Irish chocolate. There’s an Irish butcher in Perth, McLaughlin’s, that imports Irish pork so I’ll be getting the sausages and ham from there.
I share a house with two other guys who, like me, are both from Rathcoole in Dublin. There’s about a dozen others I knew from home living in Perth, ranging from 21 to 46 years of age. It is a home away from home here.
I had my own construction company in Ireland, but the business went bust and I wasn’t even entitled to the dole. I have a good job as a bricklayer now with a company called Tyrone Masonry, which has 90 per cent Irish employees. I’ll miss sitting down with my family for Christmas, but I have a new life here now. I had to move on.
A FAMILY CHRISTMAS IN THE DESERT
Christmas is celebrated in style in Dubai. Shopping malls vie with each other to display the biggest, the tallest, the blingest tree, the most authentic Santa or the most glitzy lights display.
In Abu Dhabi last year, the Christmas tree at the Emirates Palace Hotel is reputed to have been worth more than $11 million. Adorned with jewellery made from gold and precious stones, it came with its own 24/7 security.
There will be festive markets, tree-lighting ceremonies, carol-singing, mulled wine and mince pies, and even a pantomime. My daughter’s class are staging The Grumpy Sheep, based around a traditional Nativity story, complete with baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, and, of course, camels.
We will be having Christmas dinner delivered, on this, our third year in the United Arab Emirates.