{13/09/2012}   Holiday/toy money

I love shopping anywhere that doesn’t use sterling because, worryingly, other currencies seem like Monopoly money.  I know this is a dangerous mind set for overspend potential but I find it delightfully therapeutic to spend “holiday money”.

I am just back from a few days of work in Switzerland where I spent all my francs.  I had accidentally (deliberately, but it’s my “Monopoly money” psychology at play) got out more francs than could possibly be necessary for three lunches and dinners and tram travel, yet mysteriously I had a heavier bag on my way home than on my way there and merely some coins left in my “abroad wallet”.

Yes, I did have a small scale spending frenzy.  I had asked a Bern resident at my job where I could buy cheese.  He directed me to the food hall of a big department store, Coop City, right by the main station.  I only had about 20 minutes in which to shop but I got far more cheese (never heard of any of it so no idea what it’ll be like!) than I would ever have contemplating buying in one go at home.  It was liberating, a bit of a grab-and-go shop.   I had to pass through (detour quite drastically) the enormous chocolate wing of the food hall.  I mean, I was in Swtzerland, it would have been wrong not to buy chocolate … right?!  I spent somewhere in the region of £40 on cheese and chocolate.

Then at Zurich Airport, I almost (had I had enough cash left and not had to use a credit card, the purchase would have been in the bag, as it were!) convinced myself that being in Switzerland meant that it was perfectly ok to buy a Swiss watch, admittedly a bottom-of-the-range bright coloured Swatch rather than a more expensive Swiss time piece!

I know I wasn’t on holiday in Bern but my treatment of foreign currencies as Monopoly money is consistent whenever and for whatever reason I am in possession of other currencies in their respective country.  It is a reason I enjoy holidays so much too, for I spend a lot of time in my own country fretting about whether I’m being frivolous by buying unnecessary things; once abroad with a wallet full of toy money, I am prone to thoroughly enjoy spending (to a realistic extent though, hence looking at Swatches rather than Rolexes) money on treats and goodies.  And, yes, I have bought a fair few things that looked great where I bought them but didn’t translate well to my home or normal tastes, some rather, erm, distinctive pottery being a recent example!  I was also always glad I didn’t buy one of the lanterns in Morocco that look amazing there but which I had a niggle wouldn’t “work” in my house.


Yes, I did finally book a holiday.  No, it’s nowhere near as exciting as a cargo ship from France to Martinique.  Yes, it is somewhere I have been before, five times in fact.  Today will be my last blog until Monday, 20th August as I am flying to Reykjavik this afternoon.  Hurrah!

I have also decided that I will be holidaying from my mobile phone so I won’t be checking email, Facebook, texts or calls.  This is something which thrills yet terrifies me, two reactions that surprise me a little.

I always want to go to Iceland (it’s safe to assume that not once in this will I be referring to the frozen food shop!) but it seems a bit of a cop out going somewhere I’ve spent quite a bit of time before.  But having spent, wasted, days – really, days – looking for a holiday and ruling them all out on the grounds of expense, flight times from hard to get to airports, the issue of it being summer (ie too hot, too busy, hurricane season) and getting bogged down in Trip Advisor reviews, the thought of going to Iceland filled me with a sense of calm.

So thanks to Iceland Express having cheap flights at good times, providing me with two self-catering apartments in two areas I wanted to stay in and one of my hosts renting me a smart Lexus, I am feeling the holiday vibe!

My main aim for this holiday is to relax and read a lot.  I don’t read much these days and I enjoy reading.  I also want to spend a lot of time outdoors and at least once a day I want to be in hot springs or a pool.  I know of a few places I’ve never been where you can swim in the sea, the North Atlantic, maybe in one spot the Greenland Sea, and the water is hot from a geothermal source.  I love the idea of having a hot bath with the icy cold sea around me and, as likely will be the case, rain.

Other reasons to love Reykjavik and Iceland in general are that it’s fairly easy to get a good coffee or tea, I am always overwhelmed by the amount of sky and space you can see, two of my favourite restaurants in the world are there (and both are cheap!), the sun will be up from c5am to 10pm, I will be able to wear jumpers, I will hopefully get to go on a boat and see whales, I will eat lots of fresh fish, even if it rains I will have plenty to do, mainly swimming in hot water, I will be able to sort out all my aches and pains under the waterfall at the Blue Lagoon and, most important of all, I know with certainty that as soon as I set foot on Iceland I will feel relaxed and far, far removed from all things that are stressing or bothering me.  Exactly how a holiday should be.  So ta-ra for ten days!

{30/07/2012}   Lazy day off

Courts are pretty much on holiday for the summer and I find myself with days off, no holiday sorted, nothing specific to do and a bank balance that matches the philosophy that when you have time you don’t have money.  Plus, my blogging is getting a bit slack and I am far too consumed by holiday planning to write anything of particular interest.  Therein lies my current problem, apathy (or maybe atrophy would be more appropriate as I am veering very much towards armchair travel!) making my ramblings far less pointful than ever.

So I shall write about my day in the hope it makes me realise it was a little more worthwhile than I currently think, extracting all the bad bits of sitting around, swearing at the computer and travel companies causing me rage (seriously, this single supplement thing is going to cause me to have an embolism).

Roughly twice a year I feel a need for a sausage and egg McMuffin meal and once the need strikes, it will linger until it’s fulfilled.  I have needed this breakfast for about three weeks now and this morning, I finally had my McDonald’s breakfast.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and even my reluctant dining companion enjoyed it, in fact so much so he had two meals.  It hit the spot for me and I won’t need another one until the new year.  We then had a coffee elsewhere before heading for a walk by the beach and sitting down admiring the choppy sea for a while.  There, that was a good morning.

Fast forward, fast forward, holiday issues, stress about stressing about a holiday, tax bill panic, stress about being stressed, fast forward … at around lunch time I headed into town to buy a guidebook on Greece, having decided I would go to Ithaca.  Then, by virtue of having borrowed a friend’s tongs for a BBQ on Friday evening, I went to said friend’s house to return the tongs, whereupon I was fed a lovely homemade gorgonzola and tomato puff pie (flaky pastry, it’s not puff, I know, but puff sounds funny!) and a salad.

By the time I got home, I was less sure about Greece.  Then I had the revelation to go to Germany by car.  I have visions of me as Jack Kerouac on a European road trip adventure.  Minus the drugs, alcohol, women, cigarettes … anyway, I shall be beat and bohemian.  Ish.  But I haven’t booked my channel crossing, decided when exactly to go or thoroughly thought out the possible expense.  One friend has already suggested it would be cheaper to fly.  But it’s not very Kerouac Does Europe, is it?!  Plus, I am unexpectedly enthusiastic about taking my German car back to her roots so she can try out the autobahn and “get a good run”!   So I walked back into town and exchanged my Greek guidebook for a German one, to the amusement of the sales assistant.  As an aside, if anyone I know is planning to go to any of the following, I have (bit sad, I know) guide booked myself out so feel free to borrow: Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, South America, Southeast Asia, Central America, Vietnam, Madagascar or the Caribbean Islands.  Pff, I never thought I’d end up going to Germany, it doesn’t have the excitement factor of Madagascar and I fear there won’t be lemurs roaming wild.

I think best to end my day there.  But I have had the mindset of going to Germany for a good half day now and I am getting quite enthusiastic and I suspect bookings may well be made tomorrow, hurrah!


{16/07/2012}   Planning my holiday

Why on earth, when I am absolutely rasping for a holiday and free in two weeks, can I not decide where to go and just book somewhere?  I now have an unexpectedly large collection of travel guides and have most areas outside Europe and Australasia covered.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this indecisive, though maybe because I’m kind of enjoying the, “Ooo, where shall I go”, mystery element.  My only fear is that I will spend August having not booked anything with Olympics dominating everything from TV and radio to my rants/conversation.  I am convinced I will have changed jobs (so no opportunity for long summers with no work) by next year and this feels like my last opportunity for a long and exciting adventure.

So far I have thought about:

Hiring a VW campervan and driving round Europe.  Ruled out as it’s about £700 a week to hire and I fear the novelty would wear off fairly soon.  Plus I think I want to go further afield.

Madagascar.  I still want to go but I can’t bring myself to pay £1,240 for a flight that requires a long stopover, thus taking between c28 hours and 48 hours to get there.  Plus, to see the lemurs, which I feel one should if one is going that far and it being lemur land, I would have to endure rainforest conditions and I don’t know whether bugs/creepy crawlies/slitheries are things I could cope with on top of the heat.  But it’s vanilla, black pepper and whale-watching season and I have visions of vanilla-y, peppery air and whales leaping and what have you out of the sea!

Uruguay.  A friend has recently been and I saw photos of places I would love to go to.  I can’t remember why I ruled that out, but I did.

Cargo ship from Montoir, France, to the French West Indies, Martinique and Guadeloupe.  I want to go on a cargo ship one day but the combination of extreme seasickness (apparently at times it’s hard to even read a book as you feel so vomitous), boredom where there are no adventures of the swashbuckling kind I am envisaging, expensive single journeys to France (can’t book return as return date subject to significant change) and that it’s hurricane season in the Caribbean (more that the voyage back could be heavily delayed and I want to be back at a certain date, plus my two days on land could be marred by rain, heavy rain).

To a lesser extent I have thought about Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico (hurricane season), Fiji, a train across Canada, Okinawa, Vietnam, India to see tigers (wrong time of year) and most countries in South America.

You’d think I had loads of money with all these far-flung holiday ideas, but that’s also a bit of a hindrance!  A week driving around the UK might be more realistic.  But I am adamant I will be having adventures that will change my life forever.  Maybe it’s because I don’t entirely know what I want from this holiday, or I can’t find the right place to offer: a long land or sea journey (adventure element), a quiet beach with few tourists, warm not hot, somewhere cheap to eat; it appears to be a tall order!  I also desperately want to stop daily blog writing (to cut out the days I write a load of uninspired drivel!) and I want my holiday to be mobile phone and internet free!

I am now in the mood to do some more flight price checks to see where else I can rule out.  This holiday malarkey is always more expensive than I expect.  It is kind of exciting reading about new and exciting places though, I’m just not prepared to accept my only holiday will be an armchair one!

{03/07/2012}   Hotel buffet breakfast

Why on earth do I eat hotel buffet breakfasts as if challenged to eat a bit of everything?  I went down to breakfast yesterday and today with a mantra going round in my head to circumnavigate the breakfast bar to clock what was on offer then select one possible area of food type and focus solely on that.  Did I heck?!  I did do a round but I couldn’t decide whether to go for pastries, a cheeky fry-up, fruit, cheese and ham, waffles, yoghurt, cereals … too many choices, so I opted for my usual: a bit of everything until I could merely waddle back to my room cradling my laden belly.

I love breakfast and I love breakfast food.  I surprise myself by how much I can consume for breakfast.  I had a mini fry-up, a selection of pastries (well, it’s a French chain, Novotel, so the pastries must be good, right?!) and possibly maybe definitely the odd, ahem, nibble.  It was very nice, though the hot stuff was over-hot-lamped.  I shall rule that out in future after two valiant attempts.

I often go on about buffets and how dangerous they are for me, but I still can’t control myself.  It’s most disturbing.  I think I am saddled with the strong belief that you should appreciate that you have access to food, that if it’s there to be eaten you should take advantage of it as you don’t know when your next meal will be … erm, that’s sounding a bit melodramatic and like I’m desperately trying to think of excuses for ultimately being a breakfast buffet bloater!  As if!

I would not say that buffets are a food source that excites or interests me particularly.  But a breakfast buffet is a thing of wonder.  I arrived at the hotel on Sunday afternoon, heard mention of breakfast, looked at the breakfast area and found myself getting all excited about the prospect of the buffet and what it might have.  It was a bigger, more varied buffet than I had expected.

Possibly my favourite ever buffet breakfast was at an extraordinarily posh hotel in Frankfurt.  It cost something outrageous like 35 euros but it was a work expense.  As it was so expensive, I felt it my duty to get my money’s worth.  I ended up virtually useless for about two hours afterwards.  They had an area for a variety of different countries’ food.  What could I do but eat my way around world breakfasts; in the name of research, don’t you know?!  I was really disappointed that by the time I discovered the Japanese section (annoyingly, I had missed a whole table of maybe three other types of breakfast until after I was full), I could barely raise my fork to my mouth for my distended belly.  I heroically tried a few bits.  Bit of a mistake really, but it was all very good.

So this week I will be putting on breakfast weight but one day I will – I must – have a light breakfast, perhaps of fruit, yoghurt and muesli, and it will keep me going until lunch time and I will be relieved not to feel slightly pukey.  And now I’m thinking about whether to have waffles first or cheese and ham with some rather authentic-looking baguette!  So hungry … off to breakfast I go, empty-bellied ready for today’s onslaught!

                I found out yesterday that a friend has got us booked into Copenhagen’s Noma, apparently the world’s best restaurant.  I am beside myself with excitement and expectation.  I am also already planning what to wear and how to be cool (given shocking embarrassing previous experience) with any potential celebrity diners!

                I love food, both cooking and eating it.  I have been fortunate enough to have eaten at some amazing restaurants, from Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner to “that little place round the corner from where we stayed in Italy”.  I have eaten at one and two Michelin starred restaurants, but never somewhere as hyped up as Noma, the world’s best restaurant.

I am not going until September, long after this daily blog will be over, but I feel a need to record my expectations now.  I first heard of Noma on, possibly, MasterChef a few years ago.  One of the chefs on it was passionate about seaside foraging, and for those reasons he was sent to Noma, before it was awarded the desperately impossible title of world’s best restaurant.  I remember vowing that I would one day go there, despite the issues I had about Copenhagen from previous experience (my impression was probably largely, and unfairly, marred by three things:  I was backpacking and had arrived in Copenhagen from Germany where we’d stayed with a friend of mine.  She had given us a bag of large fresh tomatoes, which, as our rucksacks were full for a month’s travelling and camping, had been tied to the outside of my rucksack.  I fell over under the weight of my backpack on that lovely bridge with the view of colourful buildings and ended up tortoise-like on my back unable to get up, with squashed tomato everywhere.  Also, the Little Mermaid was covered in graffiti and it was pissing down with rain).  Major parenthesis digression!

Anyway, I am Noma-bound in just over three months.  And I am extraordinarily giddy with excitement.  We are going for lunch, which to me is better than dinner somewhere like that as usually it means you can linger longer and you have the rest of the evening to walk off your meal, not that I’m expecting huge portions!

So what am I expecting?  Well, it’s going to have to be way, way beyond expectations, more delicious and varied and beautifully presented than anywhere else I’ve ever been.  I am also particularly looking forward to trying ingredients and dishes I’ve never tried before.  Oh my, I am so excited!  I think the restaurant environment will be surprisingly relaxed, lots of wood, and I am hoping it will be a small menu and impeccable service.

I might even be really daring and try things I otherwise wouldn’t try, in the knowledge that if it doesn’t taste amazing there I can rule it out as being something I will ever like.  But then again, maybe I should just eat things I know I’ll love.  Oh, what a dilemma!

I suppose the point is that a restaurant with such – well, the ultimate – accolade has no right to disappoint.  What a pressure!  I am expecting culinary and service perfection but, perhaps most of all, an amazing meal in an amazing place with an amazing friend!  Roll on September!

     There is a slim chance my current research for a three-four week holiday over July/August will result in my staying at home, but for now I’m finding the “where shall I go” element incredibly exciting; free entertainment and geography lessons!

     My current favourite option is a four-week cargo ship voyage between Le Havre and Martinique and Guadeloupe.  I now know where those French West Indies islands are located (this harks back to an earlier post about travelling broadening your geography knowledge) and that it takes over a week to get there from Le Havre.  There is an outdoor swimming pool on the boat and you take meals at the captain’s table.  Tragically, I have an image in my head of Captain Birdseye and a crew whose characteristics date back at least one hundred years.  I also have a bizarre conviction that there will be pirates.  Whatever the reality, I imagine adventures and swashbuckling stories.  Delusional?!

I have also looked into Vietnam, Uruguay, long train journeys, visiting tigers in India (wrong season) and finding a remote beach on which to do nothing.  But I’ve realised that I don’t want to have lots to do, I want to read, write and lounge, all interspersed with adventures.  Hence my interest in the cargo ship option – only five to seven fellow fare paying passengers, a journey-long supply of fish fingers and Pirates, ahem, of the Caribbean (ie sexy ones, not real ones).  Thing is, it transpires there is a far greater risk of seasickness on non-passenger liners.  Thing is, yes, you’ve guessed it, I am prone to seasickness.  Minor detail …

Sorry, got a bit waylaid there with visions of Captain Birdseye and Captain Jack Sparrow.  I had thought that researching a holiday then not going on holiday would be quite upsetting, but so far I’ve spent a lot of time looking at maps and finding out all kinds of nuggets of information; this is what armchair travel should be about and it’s unexpectedly good fun.  Mind you, if it gets to July and I don’t have my epic journey booked, I will be somewhat morose.

While living in Japan, I needed to leave the country to get a visa.  I went into a travel agent and asked where I could go the next day.  It took a while for the travel agent to realise I was serious, that anywhere outside Japan would be good.  It was all very exciting, not knowing where I’d be going.  I left the travel agency with a return ticket to Indonesia.  I was there for a week and I had so, so many adventures and memorable experiences.  I love that you can go anywhere, you don’t even need to plan it like I’m doing now.

I am a little too fond of travel guides, particularly before I go somewhere, but with that Indonesia trip for example, I didn’t have the time or inclination to go and buy a guidebook.  I just went there.  I discovered some breathtakingly beautiful places: traditional, unspoilt villages, a volcano I drove down, some amazing temples, waterfalls, deserted beaches, dolphins, restaurants on beaches … they were all my discoveries.  If I’d read a guidebook I’d have gone in search of some of those things.  But isn’t the joy of travel in the sense of exploration and discovery?  It’s great feeling like you’ve discovered something amazing by stumbling across it rather than searching for it.  That’s kind of why I’d love to go on a ship or a train, I wouldn’t have a clue where I was most of the time, admittedly on the ship I’d merely be “at sea” for more than half the time, but how exciting must it be when you see land again after a week or so?  And for that land to be a beautiful lush island in the midst of the Caribbean, having set sail from the familiar thus unexciting English Channel.  I mean, seriously, how can the English Channel end up “becoming” the Caribbean?!

{09/05/2012}   Passports

I found my previous passport, it’s full of stamps and memories of a more exciting ten years than those visible up to year eight of my current passport. I think this sums up how I think of my 20s: travel and adventure.
I love the idea of a passport as a travel record. It pains me that you no longer get stamps for EU countries, then my current passport would seem far more exciting and I wouldn’t feel so rug bound and lacking excitement. When an Australian friend and I drove around parts of Poland, Germany, France and Czech Republic, she got stamps galore, I just had a memory of the excitement of border crossings. I know it’s a bit silly to want a mere stamp in a little book, but I have never stopped finding border crossings thrilling. Merely crossing from one country to another (and, no, airports don’t count and neither does the “You are leaving the UK – Bienvenue en France” type signs around the Eurotunnel entrance) is something momentous, an occasion of the utmost excitement … to be marked by a stamp of confirmation. Such stamps also allow you to say really tossy things to friends while you’re standing in airport queues, such as, *flicking through your stamp-ridden passport*, “Gosh, I don’t know if there are any free spaces for a stamp … oh, look at that *stop flicking*, I forget [yeah, right] how bizarre the stamp for North Korea is”. Most annoying.
By virtue of being eligible to have a passport and it being straightforward to get one, I feel I have a duty to use it. It’s a bit like voting in that, as a woman, generations before me risked their lives to allow the likes of me a right to vote. So I vote and appreciate the fact it’s easy for me to vote and that women fought extremely hard to make that the case.
On the rare occasions when I am not in possession of my passport (usually for passport renewal or visa application), I feel a great sense of loss and I am conscious that a freedom has been taken away from me. I remember sending my passport away a few years ago and actually holding on to the envelope for as long as possible before finally dropping it into the letter box. I then felt panicky and reassured myself that if in the next few hours I felt a need for my passport to be returned, I could meet the postman when he emptied the letter box. Really quite pathetic, I know. Then about two days later I had to turn down work in Paris (it would have been a horrid job that I probably wouldn’t even have done, but that so wasn’t the point).
My passport expires in about two years. Writing this has made me think that I could combine the end of my 30s with the filling of my passport and the broadening of my geography knowledge; it appears to be all about the collection of stamps but really it’s more about having adventures and convincing myself I am as exciting as I rose-tint myself as having been during my previous decade! Then my 40s can be spent fretting about my carbon footprint!

{05/05/2012}   Bank Holiday Weekends

Raining?  Check.  So there you have it, simple, it must be a bank holiday weekend, woo hoo!  I am soon to be kayaking (second lesson, this time most likely in the rain) and this afternoon a friend is coming to stay through to Monday.  She will be getting the train from Brighton, which somehow manages to take about 2 and 3/4 hours, so I feel there should be some excitement to the day to make the cross country train journey worthwhile.

Over the latter half of Easter a friend came to stay and the rain was so bad we hardly went out.  There was also the Easter Sunday confusion as to what if anything would be open.  This weekend, Sunday should be normal and Monday, at worst, should be like Sunday in terms of opening times.  So what to do when it’s raining?  You’d think we would all have bright suggestions for rainy bank holidays because there are so many of them, but when it rains it seems I have in mind outdoor activities.

Shopping.  We could go shopping, but that never strikes me as a great activity unless you’re on holiday.  Museums/galleries etc.  This part of Kent is not South Kensington, though I am sure there are some.  But they will only be open on Saturday and would most likely be busy.  Zoo.  There are two zoos near here but they are very much outdoorsy places and any animal in its right mind, especially considering few come from rainy climates (or at least hot when there is rain).  There are lots of National Trust/English Heritage places, but dreary weather stops me appreciating such places as it brings back memories of being a child feeling that I was being dragged around historic buildings etc on rainy days.  It must have been a parental weather plan b.  It’s not exactly warm so a bbq or picnic under the wee-filled arches by the sandy beach probably isn’t a fantastic proposition.  There is cake and tea that can be sought out, but that’s hardly an all day activity that you would travel almost three hours for.  See, now I’m struggling!

Indoorsy things.  We could play Scrabble but right now that seems too serious.  We could drink tea, bake things, eat things and lounge about.  Hmm, that doesn’t seem too dreadful and idea but, again, worth travelling for?!  There is always the cinema, and there is a lovely independent one in Folkestone, but she’s visiting so we can chat, so watching films doesn’t seem right, but that could be an option.  I wonder what’s on, think back a few months!

And there endeth my current thoughts on bank holiday fun!  I suppose sometimes – “usually” of late – you just need to embrace the rain and time indoors, perhaps venturing out merely for supplies.  Who knows what we will end up doing and maybe I should just appreciate the fact we have two days of good quality catch-up time and accept that this is how it swings with bank holidays: rain, tea and cake!  See, I feel positive and enthusiastic about the bank holiday weekend already!  So come on rain, do your worst, we will overcome and have a memorable and enjoyable long weekend in true British weather style.  Ooo, now there’s a thought: a picnic in the car overlooking the sea, complete with steamy windows from a flask of coffee!  Oh yeah!

{08/04/2012}   Easter Sunday

I am not religious and I do not celebrate Easter but I do at least like to understand and keep up a few traditions.  I’m not even referring to chocolate, it’s the pussy willow tapping that I’m interested in!
My fact for the day is how the date of Easter Sunday is determined.  Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox (this occurs twice a year around 20th March and 22nd September and is when the centre of the sun is in the same plane as the equator, when night and day are approximately the same length).  For Easter purposes in Christian countries it’s taken as 21st March, thus Easter Sunday is between 22nd March and 25th April.
Easter eggs nowadays stand for new life but they actually symbolise the empty tomb of Christ.  Easter Sunday marks the resurrection of Jesus, the foundation of the Christian faith as per the New Testament.
In England, apparently we eat ham on Sunday and tap people with pussy willow branches to bring good luck.  I can see there could be some misunderstandings; I wouldn’t be hugely impressed if a stranger came up to me and hit me with a stick!  There is also a game called Lifting and Heaving that we play.  This is to fill time on Easter Monday and Tuesday.  On Easter Monday, tradition has it that young men would carry a chair decorated with flowers from village to village and any female could sit in the chair and be lifted three times to bring her good luck.  She would thank the men with money and a kiss.  I am not entirely surprised this tradition seems to have died out, though it could make for some fantastic YouTube clips.  Oh, and on Tuesday, the women do the same to the men!
The Scottish (apparently) follow a pagan era tradition of lighting fires for spring festivals.  I like the idea of spring festivals.  But where I live it’s pissing with rain so I’m not sure what a plan b would be.  It’s April showers!
Ireland does a lot for Easter if my minimal research is accurate.  Today, there should be lots of dancing in the streets and dance offs for the prize of cake!  Excellent, I like that idea.  Apparently a lot of eggs, real eggs, are eaten, often dyed and decorated.
As for the chocolate egg tradition, I have been hugely put off this tradition in recent years because of the stinginess of chocolate egg makers (the mass produced kind at least) and that the eggs are on sale for a ludicrously long time before Easter Sunday.  But I’m not going to rant about excess, over indulgence and packaging.  It is the French and Germans who started the chocolate egg Easter in the 19th century.  In England, Cadbury made the first mass produced Easter eggs in 1873.  I bet they had more chocolate in/on their eggs in those days.
As for my Easter Sunday, it will be with two friends and we will be embracing the feasting element of Easter (not that I think any of us gave up anything for Lent so as to justify Easter Sunday excess!).  This may not be a faith-inspired Easter Sunday but it will be one about friends, sharing and good quality Kentish roast lamb.  And a nice Rioja (thank you Fiona, of kitchen and cellar, for that recommendation!).

et cetera