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Giving without a thought of getting

This time last year the world (me included) was going mad shopping online. People seemed to be making a concerted, albeit subconscious, effort to make up for not being able to travel home. To reach out and be closer to friends and family who never before had seemed so far away, we sent stuff because we couldn’t send ourselves. Quarantine rules meant people spent the holidays in Airbnbs often just minutes from their families. Many didn’t travel at all, and instead spent their first Christmas in Budapest.

The capital with the eye of an expat

The fifth province

I’ve often heard of Ireland being described as the 51st state, given her close connections with the USA. Back in 2019, in a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, nearly 10%, some 30 million Americans, identified as having Irish ancestry. Given that Ireland’s ...

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Guising, mumming and souling

Hallowe’en is just around the corner. In Ireland recently, I commented on the huge uptake of this once pagan holiday. I can’t remember a time when I saw so many houses decorated. The place is awash with white cotton cobwebs, lifesize figures of witches ...

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Skinful: The fruit of her own doing

Of the four quotations on the opening page of Robyn Flemming’s forthcoming book “Skinful: A Memoir of Addiction”, the one by Joseph Campbell moved me most: “Your life is the fruit of your own doing.” Had I asked myself at 15 where I’d be ...

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Olympic-sized lessons

I’m not a massive fan of the Olympic Games. For me, it’s not about who wins what for which country; it’s more about how people handle the disappointments.

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Mastering my AÁBCs

For the seventh time in twice as many years, I have once again boarded the Hungarian language train after nearly a 12-month stopover in the land of anything-but.

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Daring to be different

When the sun comes out for the summer and the temperatures start their inevitable climb towards the unbearable 40s, Hungarians living in urban areas gravitate towards the water. Whether it’s the Balaton or Velence, the Danube or the Tisza, or any of the waterparks ...

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BBQ at the Kis-Balaton

With the advent of the summer sun, the annual exodus from Budapest is in the offing. Visitors to the city during July and August are often surprised at how empty it is of Hungarians. While Parisians head to the coast and Milanese head for ...

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The light of himself

On the front of a house in the village of Kemence in the Börzsöny hills in northern Hungary hangs a sign that says “Legyetek önmagatok fénye” (be the light of yourself). In that house lives Mihalis Patsoras, a man in his seventies who has ...

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A virtual St Patrick’s Day

For the first time in more years than I can remember, I’ll be in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day. This year though, like last year, it’ll be a somewhat tepid affair. Pubs are shut. Music venues have become a vague memory of the recent ...

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An unbridled enthusiasm for life

Sometimes, when I see a baby or a toddler and they give me a certain look, I know that they’ve been here before. They’re old souls. This isn’t their first go around. They may have been on Earth for only a few weeks, but ...

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Where there’s a need…

One of the silver linings in this whole COVID-19 phenomenon is that we’re all slightly more aware of the fortunes and misfortunes of others. Life as we know it came to a standstill and is now limping forward, trying to regain some semblance of ...

Translating a need

COVID-19 has brought out the best in us and the worst in us. After five months of lockdowns and reopenings, be they full or partial, we’ve begun to adjust to the new normal. But our world is divided.

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Ireland in Hungary

The internet has probably been the biggest game-changer for diplomacy since Lord Palmerston heralded the first telegram as the death of diplomacy back in the 1850s.

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What to give this Christmas?

2020 is a year that many of us can’t wait to see the back of. It’s a year in which we’ve had front-row seats to a series of travesties as our elected representatives have done one silly thing after another. It doesn’t much matter ...

The capital with the eye of an expat

The fifth province

I’ve often heard of Ireland being described as the 51st state, given her close connections with the USA. Back in 2019, in a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, nearly 10%, some 30 million Americans, identified as having Irish ancestry. Given that Ireland’s ...

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Adding some Scottish to the mix

French philosopher Voltaire is reputed to have said "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation". Presumably he was talking about the French. Some three centuries later, the British in Hungary are looking in that direction too, this time for ideas on ...