Super Nanny

Max and I are home – YAY!!  Today Gerry and Hannah arrive (I messed up when I booked the flights, entirely my own fault) but this arriving on different days is kind of cool, too!

Max Studies over the Atlantic

I’ve realized over this trip that traveling with the 4 of us can be like herding cats.  In traveling energy, Max and I are similar while Gerry and Hannah are two peas in a pod.

A very slowly moving pod.

Max and I get up early, travel quickly, and plan ahead.  Hannah and Gerry tend to want to sleep in, stroll, and let things take them by surprise.

These are two VERY different energies that can clash in an enforced high-pressure setting like international travel.  Thus, although I didn’t consciously plan it this way, it’s probably VERY good that our travel was divided in this manner.


Why am I starting with the worst?  Because it’s like a spicy appetizer to a VERY satisfying meal.  Tomorrow I’ll write all about the BEST stuff we did, but today is catharsis…

Family Biking at Phoenix Park

Biking in Phoenix Park

In some ways Dublin was the BEST of our trip (This Is Knit, The Book of Kells, biking in Phoenix Park – all AMAZING memories!)

And in other ways Dublin was the absolute pits.

Having lived in New York for 20 years, I understand the dynamic of a large city, how cramming so many folks into a limited space ratchets up the tension a few notches.

Each large city – no matter how wonderful – has it’s own flavor with a slightly sour after taste.  To me, NY feels brusque, LA feels self absorbed, London feels a bit patronizing and Dublin feels like an inefficient-but-controlling nanny constantly telling one that they’re being naughty.

Nice Cockles

Naughty tourists.

Most of the negative interactions we had in Dublin revolved around us misunderstanding what someone in authority wanted us to do, and thus our inability to walk the invisible line they’d drawn.  See my post yesterday about the Nanny Hotel experience.

The wallet loss aside (which could have happened ANYWHERE) there seemed to be an almost – delight? – when our family was confused or had a hard time understanding something, and thus had to be admonished.

There was a, “Well, that is what happens to naughty children who don’t follow the rules…” attitude in Dublin, which we hadn’t run into at ALL in the rest of Ireland.

I’m sure it springs from the huge number of tourists who come through, and the Dubliner’s exhaustion with dealing with them.

An example was when we visited the National Museum.  We’d looked forward to this, there were exhibits that interested EACH of us, and after seeing the book of Kells we wandered through Georgian Dublin over to the Museum.

National Museum of Ireland, Front Door

As you walk in the building you’re overwhelmed with the architectural detail – the carving, the tile work, the interior of the entry dome, it’s all AMAZING!  I love architectural detail, I take photos of parts of buildings all the time and spent a few minutes outside photographing the front doors before walking in.

What I didn’t see was the hidden image of a camera with a line through it which was etched into a glass wall (seriously, it was HIDDEN behind a door.) No photography.

Now, I would NEVER photograph an exhibit unless I had permission or knew that it was allowed.  I wasn’t in the exhibition area, I was in the gift shop area.  What I was interested in photographing was the tile in the floor.  But if no cameras are allowed, I totally understand and I’m happy to put the canon away.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see the sign.  No one did.  NO ONE.

So when I pulled out my camera to photograph, I was yelled at.

“NO CAMERAS!” Very harsh, like the Soup Nazi.  SO I put it away.

But the fellow who’d yelled had to come over and say,  condescendingly, “You cannot take photographs in the museum, you have to put your camera away.” (it was away)

But he wouldn’t stop.  I don’t know if he was making an example of me in front of the other visitors, or if it just made him feel good, but he walked over to the “no camera” etching (which was only visible once you were INSIDE the museum looking back out through the front door) and said, “The sign is right here, there is NO photography.”

Thanks.  No pics.  I get it.

Once through the entry foyer we did what we usually do at museums; separated to view what interests each of us most with a ‘meet up time’ set about an hour later.

Now, I swear it was NOT my paranoid take on things, but I am positive that there was one guard who was trailing me to make sure I didn’t whip out the camera and sneak a black market pic of a stair railing.  I’d go upstairs, there he was.  I went downstairs, there he was.  I watched a video, he was outside the theater when I left.  I went to the cafe to meet the family and get a bite, he was right behind me.  Very odd.  I hope he had a good time – I know I did!

One of my favorite places to eat are museum cafes.  Often the food is just wonderful, and it’s usually not terribly expensive.  This cafe was strong on the great dishes, but the prices were higher than I’d expected.

They weren’t listed on the items, they were posted clearly on the wall by the cash register, but I found it hard to match the long descriptions of the dishes with the written text.  Let’s face it, reading a menu board, especially at a oblique angle, is NO ONE’s favorite thing to do.

So I was totally unprepared that an entree for me, a few cookies and tea for 4 would total €36.  We put back the cellophane wrapped cookies (much to the disgust of the woman at the counter) bringing my chicken roullade and tea for 4 to €24.  Looking at the receipt I saw we were charged for something we didn’t order, which further PO’d the cashier when we pointed it out (she looked at us as if we’d just made a big mess in her cafe – “Naughty, naughty Americans…”)

However, the museum was AMAZING.  We could have spent days there.  The cases themselves were not labeled extensively, but there was very good text along each exhibit and the arrangements were very good.  I saw a WONDERFUL video episode from a series called “Legacy” (which I would LOVE to find and purchase!) and seeing the bog people close up was an experience no one in the family will forget.  Amazing.

I also saw a knit beret-type hat with a flat brim that had been found in a bog, dated to the 16th C.  It was definitely knit in the round.  Food for thought.

As we finished up at the museum and started to leave,  I asked one of the gift shop cashiers about the video,

“Hi – I have a question; the video I saw about Vikings, would —“
– [clipped & short, interrupting] “‘S’not available.  Don’t have it.”
– Okay.  Thanks very much.  Sorry I bothered you…

Can You Spot The Duck?

Just then Max looked up and saw a DUCK sitting on the glass in the oculus of the dome  and asked the guard if it would be okay if he took a picture of it.

Happily, the guard said, “Yes” so the kids snapped a few shots of the duck

(And in the process the kids got a nice shot of the ceiling for me, too!  A nice companion to a ceiling at Aughnanure Castle)

Ceiling at Aughnanure Castle

Unhappily, some other visitors saw Max with his camera, so they took theirs out, and were  swiftly deterred with a strong and snappish, “NO CAMERAS!”

Naughty tourists.

The duck was not admonished.

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17 thoughts on “Super Nanny

  1. davidc

    I do not understand why you cannot take photos in museums. If it is an object that will be damaged by flashes, then ban flashes. If people show they cannot turn off the flash than ban photos of those objects. But for most objects encouraging photography should be the rule.

    Museums are attempting to preserve the past. what better cheap way to do that than release thousands of digital copies of the items to people all over the world?

  2. Maven

    I cannot wait to see your next post about the best things about your trip. After reading this, I have the intense desire to throttle!!

  3. Thea

    I’ve been in hotels where you can’t open the window too, how annoying!! But the TV thing is ridiculous. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your trip 🙂

  4. Patti S.

    1. Museums. I agree about them (usually) having the best food/drink for the money; however, haven’t been back to Ireland since 1982.

    2. Photographs. I think he had a crush on you. You clearly ‘obeyed’ his every word …. It reminds me of when Monet’s “Water Lilies” were in WDC at the Hirshorn. The parents had conveniently lost control of (at least) two very small children. (I’ll begin by saying you really have to see them in person–if they are something you like–b/c it’s like that scene in “Spinal Tap” when they’re devising the Stonehenge backdrop–but they’d had too much to drink, etc.)

    So at the Monet exhibit one of the, small, adorable children runs (with alarming) speed toward the oversized canvas–and the guard bellowed out “STOP”. Yes, the child had touched the canvas, but no visible harm done (a very lucky moment for everyone.)

    3. Congrats on your 1st vacation (since ‘forever’).

    4. And thank you also for recommending Donna Druchunas’ Successful Lace Knitting with your extraordinarily beautiful pattern on the back cover & on pp 89-91 (Lace & Colorwork Wimple). Ms. Druchunas’ blending of contemporary info whilst “celebrating the work of Dorothy Reade” makes this book a classic!
    I know I’m biased, but I certainly would want to make yours first – but as my Tendinitis keeps reminding me … “Baby Steps” 🙂

    5. I’m glad everything went well–or as well as it can go when you’re travelling 🙂 but I’m also very happy everyone will be home safely–we missed you <3 p.s.

  5. Irma

    I’m sorry you had a negative experience in Dublin. Our visits there couldn’t have been more opposite. If you want to be in someplace where you as a tourist are treated like royalty it’s Belfast. We had so many people gush at us in disbelief that we would want to visit their city. We’ve never felt more welcome anywhere.

  6. Elizabeth

    Welcome home, Annie!

    My family is divided along the same lines. Gender as well. Funny how life is.

    I’d chalk the Dublin experiences up to collective hard-lined Catholic guilt (“don’t even THINK about doing that, or you will go to Hell…”) pounded over and over and over into one’s head over the centuries….

    I. too, am fascinated by architectural details. Wouldn’t those ceilings make for some interesting stitch patterns……..

    Ooohh, a sampler afghan inspired by your trip…. Rolling hills, thatched roofs, pints of beer, bicycles…. what a creative knit THAT would be…

    Which inspires me..I’m about to leave on a travel of my own…THANKS for stirring up the grey cells with a little inspiration!

    1. Annie Post author

      You know, Elizabeth, I’d wondered the same thing about my experience in the South vs. the North.

      No matter how worldly we are, how much we travel and educate ourselves about different philosophies, there is a certain comfort level we find in the ways in which we were raised. There DID seem to be a disconnect between how I was perceiving the admonishments, and how they were intended.

      Perhaps this could be chalked up to different methods of ‘correcting’ children (Irish Catholic school vs. Hillbilly Protestant?) and also may explain why I felt more comfortable with the ways rules were presented while I was in the Northern part of Ireland?

      This is a very interesting thing to consider.

  7. JustGail

    Welcome home!

    I can’t speak as to the different energies (attitudes?) of different cities, as I haven’t had the opportunity to go many places and actually explore the city. When we do go somewhere, we usually hit the touristy places, go back to the motel, and leave. I have worked with people from many places though, and there are definite differences in they way they communicate.

    As far as no photos in museums, I can understand. Exhibits can be damaged by flash (you know some people will use flash if they can’t get a good picture without). There is also the issues of security (looking for items worth stealing? cause a disruption/damage?) and keeping people moving (how often do you stop and try to stay out of the way when you see someone else trying to take a photo?), and financial – they may have a book available with the exhibits.

    The only exhibit I’ve been to (so far) that I *really-really* wanted to photograph was the Kroje exhibit at the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids in 2005(?). They had signs up that said “no photos”, and I asked if they had a book with the exhibit, and they didn’t. I must have looked sad, when I asked if I could take photos with no flash, and they said OK. Not only did I disable the flash, I taped over it, so if it accidentally turned on when I changed settings, it still wouldn’t flash. I went during the week, and I was the only one there, and had a chance to chat with the guides, I don’t know if that made a difference or not.

  8. Roz

    I would strongly urge a trip to the Louvre — I have a gajillion photos of the Mona Lisa — all taken without flash. So do all the other tourists. Turn off the flash — use one of the manual settings on the camera — and you’ll get a much more realistic image. You can also whip out a notebook and sketch to your heart’s content.

    I also find that being a little nicer than I’m used to being helps oodles. If I take my DC/NYC/Boston attitude overseas, things go very badly! 😀

  9. roz thompson

    I think there are krappy people everywhere–even among the nicest. When we were in Ireland–it may have been Waterford we saw a Burger King–and were so excited. We ran to it and I ordered something MY way (the poster that touts “Have it Your Way” was right next me!!) and the cashier told me I couldn’t have it that way!! I pointed to the poster and she still said I couldn’t have it MY way!! Oh, well, most of the people were exceptionally nice!! And the country itself was beautiful.

  10. Nita

    We were in the Paris art museum Musee d’Orsay where non-flash photos are allowed. My friend had a camera that would reset to flash after each picture.

    I can’t tell you how many accidential flash pictures she took, right in front of guards (including two of the Whister’s Mother) and the guards just looked at her or ignored her. We were laughing hysterically and I kept telling her she was going to be dragged out or end up in a Parisian jail. But they never did a thing.

    Which I actually think was NOT ok! I thought being allowed to take pictures was pretty unusual!

  11. roz thompson

    Annie, who did you go through to find your house trade???? I would like to try that IF anyone wants to come to Oklahoma!!!! Thanks!!! Roz

  12. Cora Shaw

    I was so fortunate when Bruce and I went to Southern Scotland and Northern England. we were on a choral tour so didn’t have a lot of free time, however when we did we went to museums and art galleries and to two yarn stores. I found them few and far between in the smaller towns.

    I had no problems with pictures in the castles, museums and art galleries in addition to the many cathedrals we went to. however I can tell you about the 2 yarn stores and the differences in both. One was located in downtown Harrogate and the other in York.

    1) the Harrogate Store…

    It was rather dark and dingy and the yarn was EVERYWHERE on the stairs, the floor (in bags) everywhere. The owner was very nice and we spoke for about 45 minutes. We purchased enough yarn (not available in Canada) to knit a cute sweater. As the lighting was poor it was difficult to see the colors of all the yarn.

    2) The York Store

    It was very bright and well organized. We had difficulties finding the location so we arrived 10 minutes before closing. The owner was quite rude even though Bruce made a point of saying I have money to spend. He wanted to make sure that I bought some nice yarn that is not available to us in Canada. We spent less there, although ended up with enough yarn for 4 sweaters. We got out of there 15 minutes after we walked in. We were not impressed with the “customer service” since that is my business and training. I would love to move to either location when Bruce retires, however I don’t think that will

    All in it was a great trip and we had a blast. I know I was exhausted as tours take alot out of you.


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