It was time for Missy to get her annual booster, so we drove up to Dublin on Monday.

“You are driving all the way up to Dublin just to visit the vet?”


“Why? Can’t you find one here?”

We just happened to live in Tallaght, Co. Dublin first before moving to the South East of Ireland later on. Back then we didn’t own a car and that’s why we needed a vet within walking distance. Our friend highly recommended a veterinary practice to us. We thought we’ll give it a try.

A few years back our sheepdog hurt his dew claw and needed surgery done. I tell you, I was so nervous! It was Rapsy’s first time to lie on the operating table. We went to the Animal Hospital and they handled things quite well.

I find it comforting, while I’m a bit of a nervous wreck because of something that happened to my dog/s, the vet remains calm and explains every detail to me. A vet should also explain the steps of how to care for the pet. Then, of course, you don’t want just the sole medical advice but also want the vet to see things from your (the pet’s owner) point of view.

“If it would be my dog I would/wouldn’t…”

I’m thinking of another time, when Rapsy became quite ill. My nervousness during the dew claw incident was nothing compared to the one that hit me when I didn’t know if my dog would continue to live and be healthy again or would have to be put down in the near future. Because time had not been an issue back then, I was able to drive to Dublin for the treatment.

You might or might not find a good vet in short distance to where you live. About half of Ireland’s population and facilities are in Dublin — some more are spread all over the country. The chance that you will find a specific vet or animal hospital is higher in the capital. In emergency cases you might have enough time to drive to Dublin but it’s best to find yourself a good one close by as well.

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Storm Callum

About this time last year (16th October 2017) ex-hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland. This year a storm called Callum is on its way. A status orange weather warning has been issued for all coastal counties, a status yellow for the other counties in Ireland. People are advised that high winds (gusts of up to 130km/h in this case) can be dangerous especially around coastal areas.

Once a storm warning has been issued: take it seriously, make necessary preparations inside and outside the house, and take extreme care while driving on the roads.


Around the house and in the garden: Are there any objects which could be taken up by the wind and swirled around? Move them into the shed, into the house or into the garage. Remember the bins, too! Put them down on the ground or, if they are empty, put them into the shed or into the house. Think of garden furniture, flower pots and all lightweight objects: secure them or, if there is enough room for them, bring them into the house.

Check your supply and buy: batteries, candles, gas bottle/s (heater, hob), food cans and water bottles – be prepared in case of a power outage. Good thing to charge and keep phones and other gadgets charged all the time.

Drive very cautiously: Keep control over your car and watch ahead and stay alert. Expect spot flooding, high winds (especially from the side), fallen debris on the road and beware of vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

Be careful while walking: wear hi-viz / bright clothing! Watch out for sudden gust that could blow you unto the road or knock you over. Think about your pets, too. When walking your dog be aware that he might be a little beside himself.

Looking back to 2017, I find that Ophelia hasn’t been as bad as we had expected it to be. However, storm Brian, which hit the isle just a few days later, did a lot of damage and brought spot flooding along with it. By the way, I’ve published two posts at my AbleToPerform blog. One is called Storm Coming In and is about Ophelia, the other is called Blown Away and shares a few thoughts about how Brian destroyed something that I had to let go…

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Living in Ireland you will eventually need a PPS (Personal Public Service) number.

Who will need to know this number and what is it used for? 

People and organizations like your bank, your employer, the HSE, the National Driver Licence Service and Revenue will need to know your PPS.

  • Employment and tax purposes: Your employer will ask you for this number. However, you do not have to share your PPSN with a potential employer. It’s only once you are hired that s/he is in need to know your number. If you are self-employed you will have to have a PPS, too.
  • Bank: Some banks will ask for this number as soon as you apply for a bank account while other will ask you for this number later on. However, sooner or later they will need it especially if you are earning interest with your savings and they do have to pass on this information to the Revenue office.
  • Public Services: Once you are applying for welfare social services, free travel pass, housing grants and more, the public services will seek your PPS.
  • Driving Licence: Beside other documents you will need your PPS number to apply for driving licence.
  • Health Services: if you are applying for a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card, you will need to have your personal public service number at hand, too.

Where can you get it?

The document can only be issued by the DEASP (Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection) is send out by post. However, you will need to go to your county’s PPS Allocation Centre to apply for it.

To find out more detailed information, go to Personal Publish Services Number (

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Future Posts

I’m thrilled to see you here!

Over the past two weeks I have moved some of the old posts of 4inIreland to this new Carmen In Ireland blog. The transfer is complete now. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Future posts will include a wide range of topics that fall into the categories you already know from the old blog: Events & Locations, Food & Recipes, Nature and Weather, On Ireland’s Roads, Shopping and, of course more on The Irish (culture) as well.

I’m looking forward to seeing you here, too. Thank you for taking the time to read what I have to share about Life in Ireland. 


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Brack – Irish Sweet Bread

This is a Tea Brack. The recipe calls for self-raising flour and it is baked in a loaf tin. To find a recipe using yeast, please scroll down a little bit. 69DB8950-E1EF-41CC-8EBF-F4E6F4567126


  • 120g (3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 120g (3/4 cup) self-raising white flour (or else use regular white flour and add 1/2 tsp baking powder to it)
  • 130g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp spices (e.g. cinnamon, pimento, allspice, etc.)
  • 300g (3/4 to 1 cup) dried fruit, soaked in liquid overnight (see no. 1)
  • 1 egg


  1. Put 300g fruits and 250ml black tea (or coffee) into a large bowl, mix and let soak overnight.
  2. The next day, stir in brown sugar and the egg.
  3. Add flour (baking powder if required) and spices and mix well.
  4. Spread into a prepared (greased or lined with baking paper) 2lb loaf tin or use a silicone baking dish.
  5. Bake at 170 C for about 60 min.

Let cool on a rack. Freshly cut slice tastes really good if you spread some butter and/or jam on it.

Store in airtight plastic container up to a week.

Tea Brack Recipe Using Yeast

I meant to post only one recipe of Brack but I have discovered this one, too. It calls for yeast instead of self-raising flour, is round in shape and baked on a baking sheet (not in a loaf tin). It reminds me a lot of what we would call a Früchtebrot (Fruit Bread) in Germany.


  • 300g Whole wheat flour
  • 150g White flour
  • 1 tsp spices to taste (allspice, cinnamon, pimento, etc.)
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • Dash of salt
  • Dried fruits, soaked in liquid overnight (see no. 1)
  • Nuts (optional)
  • 150ml water (additional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Put 300g fruits and 250ml black tea (or coffee) into a bowl, mix and let soak overnight.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, spices, dry yeast and salt.
  3. Stir in soaked fruit (incl. remaining liquid).
  4. Add nuts (optional)
  5. Slowly add water (150ml) und 1 tbsp olive oil and mix.
  6. Shape into a round bread. Line baking sheet with baking paper, place dough on top. Let rise for 45-60 minutes (until double)
  7. Bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes.

Let cool on a rack. Freshly cut slice tastes really good if you spread some butter and/or jam on it.

Store in airtight plastic container up to a week.

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Keeping Warm In Winter

Warm up from the inside out: avoid cold foods and drinks. A cuppa hot chocolate, tea or coffee will help our bodies to get warm. Instead of salad, eat some cooked, warm veggies and, for in between, eat hot soups.

If you don‘t have a slow cooker yet, I would suggest that you‘ll buy one. I love to cook with it; during winter because it keeps the steam to a minimum and during summer because it doesn‘t heat up the kitchen so easily. You can use it to cook the soup/s and to keep them warm all day.

To keep your body warm when going outdoors, wear several layers of clothing and don’t forget the gloves and hat.

Get some extra blankets/throws for your home. I like the fluffy (fleecy) kind. During winter we use them on top of our mattress and sofas and as blankets. Our dogs got their own ones, too — they prefer to lie on them instead of on the cold floors. 😉

Hot water bottles: they are great for the cold season! When the evenings and nights are cold and the heater is already turned off, fill them up with hot water and place them in your bed under the duvet or snuggle up in a blanket that‘s warmed up by a hot water bottle.

In winter the days are not only colder but also shorter: the mornings are longer dark and it is getting dark early in the evening. I prefer a light-flooded home; you probably do to. Of course we don’t want to black out the rooms unnecessarily. However, especially during very cold days, drawing the curtain can help quite a bit. If we don’t want to spend a fortune on heating, we will have to choose: do we want more light or (more) warmth inside our homes. By the way, if you do get curtains, look for thermal or lined ones. They will be of good use during summertime, too.

Whenever the sun is shining, I leave the doors to the rooms that are on the south and west side wide open. That way there is not only more light but also cozy warmth coming into the rooms and the hallway.


But when it is really cold outside, I draw the curtains or even leave some of them shut all day, e.g. the one at the front door, or like the ones in our living room and offices.

Whenever the sun shines brightly, the temperatures in our sitting and living room can easily rise to 20°C, even up to 22-23°C. In the afternoon this will change and so I draw the curtains again, to keep the warmth inside our home and to avoid unnecessary heating costs.

During winter I prefer cozy heated rooms over daylight. Yes, at times this means that not much daylight is flooding into our home. That’s why we have bought daylight bulbs. They will make the rooms a lot brighter than the common ones:


The picture doesn’t show how well they do that. But if you look at the lamp you will see that the light ray is white and not yellowish. The bulbs aren’t that cheap but they are well worth getting for winter.

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Power Outages – Be Prepared

In Ireland it’s not that uncommon to experience a few power cuts a year — especially in rural areas. 😉 Sometimes they’ll last for a few hours; at other times it might take a few days until the problem is solved. Although most of the times it cannot be predicted, it’s always good to be prepared for such a situation. Today I’m going to talk about which things come in handy when electricity is gone.

Most of the power cuts took us by surprise, they came without any prior notice and weren’t predicted. That’s why, since we are living in Ireland, we bought more and more things that ease the time until power comes back.

Light in the Evening

We have a large amount of tea lights and candles at home. It’s good to store them in a place with fast and easy access — especially in darkness. Tea lights are available in different “sizes” (burning time) e.g. 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours. Use a heatproof glass or tea light holder. Pillar candles, placed in a big lantern or glass with shade, look beautiful and add a good amount of light into the room. I find taper candles are the best way to lighten up a dark room. But you’ll need to keep a good eye on them.

If you do not like candles or an open fire, you could use a rechargeable LED lamp instead. It can be charged by USB plug, by cranking it up or by solar.

Heat/Boil: Food and Water

One of the houses we rented while living in Dublin had a gas hob in its kitchen. The modern ones have an igniter to light up the hob. However, when there is no electricity available you can carefully light it up by match or lighter.

Many rental homes only have an electric hob, though. Then an additional wood-burning stove really comes in handy. I still miss the one we’ve had in Germany very much 😦  If you have neither, get a camping-/gas cooker and use it to warm up meals.

By the way, if you buy a camping cooker get one that will connect to a regular gas bottle. It’s either already equipped to hook up to the gas or else you will need to get a hose, clamps and a regulator for it. This will help you to save money because the small disposable gas bottles do not last as long and you will end up spending more on gas in the long run. To find out more about these gas cookers, ask the expert in your store.

Heating & Keeping Warm

With the help of a gas hob you can warm up and cook meals and bring water to a boil (to make tea and coffee). Drinking hot beverages will keep you warm from the inside. You can also use hot water to fill up the good old hot-water bottle; or pour it into the wash basin so you can wash yourself with cozy warm instead of freezing cold water. 😉

Blankets are great to have for the cold nights. Use them on the sofa and/or in bed. If you can, get some sleeping bags, too. They’ll keep you warm during the night when temperatures drop.

In case of a power cut during the day you could get one of these: 

We’ve bought one a few years ago. (In 2018) They cost an average of €100 + about €30 for a fill of the bottle of gas (excluding deposit for the bottle). For safety reasons don’t use these during the night!


When we moved from Dublin to this rural area we smiled at the radio the landlords had left behind. It was a wind up radio! But, believe it or not, we have used it quite a few times while living in that house!

All these great reports about the weather and current situation you find online will not help when there is no electricity (and the batteries are dead on the smartphone 😉 ) and no internet available. That’s when you are grateful for such things as a crank up radio.

If you cannot find one that is rechargeable (through electricity when available, to wind up or solar-powered) then get one that uses batteries. But, remember then that you will also need a good supply of batteries at home. 😉

Does anybody remember the good old board games? They need no electricity, are easily stored away and fun to play.


  • Batteries (Radio)
  • Matches and/or lighter
  • Baby wipes (handy especially when options to wash the body are very limited)
  • Canister or empty plastic bottles filled with water (not for drinking but for every day cleaning and toilet flushing purposes)
  • Car converter (to charge smartphone/s, laptop, LED lamp, etc.)
  • Food: instant coffee, tins (soup/stew, tomatoes, beans, peas, etc.)
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