Sunday 26 May 2013

Dillingers, then Caitlin Moran at the National Concert Hall

A couple of  week's ago our cousin Kasey emailed Enid and I to see did we want to go see Caitlin Moran speaking at the National Concert Hall.  Enid had read some of her books and I was aware of her after seeing her on the Late Late Show so we both thought it sounded interesting.  Kasey kindly said she would organise the tickets.
So the week of the talk quickly came round and after a few emails it was decided we would go to Dillinger's (yay) and then on to the NCH.
  I arrived first so I had an opportunity to have a good look around Dillinger's from a different angle - Enid and I normally sit at the bar whereas we had a table this time.
They've had two nice new mirrors installed.  Really finishes off the decor well. 

While I was waiting for the girls I ordered a vodka and diet coke for myself.  What I love about Dilly's is the nice staff - they don't bat an eyelid when Enid and I order our drinks and ask for them to be served in the cool cocktail glasses :-)  Ah the things that keep Enid and I happy!
As you can see I was also supplied with a glass of ice and a spoon which I like too.

 For eats we got a sample of the small plates. 
I got the mac and cheese, Kasey got the chili and cornbread and Enid ordered the brocolini with garlic crema.  We all tried some of each others.
In the forefront of the picture are corndogs which I have never eaten before in my life!  These were mini frankfurters covered in cornbatter.  They were little bites of deepfried heaven!!!!
We then strolled to the National Concert Hall.  We didn't know exactly how to get to it from Ranelagh but with the aid of Kasey on google maps we found it easy enough - and we walked through some nice areas with interesting houses.

Although we weren't getting a drink we pottered into the bar to have a look at it and as we walked in 3 books stacked on a little counter caught my eye. I checked them out and what do you know (a) they were Caitlin Moran and (b) they were Bookcrossing books! This meant we could take them (yes FREE books) but it also means that after reading them and registering them on the bookcrossing site we will need to release them on! Sounds like a deal to me!
Thank you LeamhLiom - the Irish bookcrosser who had released them in the NCH.

The talk was part of the Dublin Writer's Festival

Enid, myself and Kasey.

The woman of the hour!
Okay!  So my thoughts on Ms Moran and what she had to say!
She stormed on to the stage all mad hair, tights, doc bots and denim shorts and I must say for the first five minutes I detested her.  Sorry :-( I really did.  I just found her waaaaay over the top and just too in your face and just too damn talkative and just too I don't know, maybe, "contrived".
But very very quickly I found myself warming to her.  It's impossible not to. 
She is intelligent, funny, articulate, cheeky, hilarious, serious, irreverant, crude, interesting, warm, self deprecating, proud, and just god-damn all round BRILLIANT.
Highlights for me:
Slagging off her appearance on the Late Late Show. 
Well slagging off the Late Late Show really.  (Paraphrasing) "So there I am: a feminist, sitting with woman who has shown her breasts in Playboy [Rosanna Davidson], while watching a woman dance Swan Lake [Monical Loughman].  The producers must have gone what are we going to do with these two, yeah let's segway them with a ballerina"
Oh jesus, depressing, the above (in my words) sounds so unfunny but I swear to  God out of Caitlin Moran's mouth it was fantastic.
Another funny moment(s) came when the floor was opened to the audience to ask questions.  A mix up with mics meant that we were all expecting a question from a lady on the ground floor whereas the mic was with a lady in the stalls above.  So suddenly this disembodied voice comes out of no-where "You write briliantly about xxxx" and Caitlin jumps up and screams "what the hell, WHERE are youuuuu?" (or something to that effect).  We all shriek with laughter, she continues "are you my inner voice???", more laughter,  "because that's what my inner voice would say to write brilliantly"
It was just so funny!
Equally funny was where a girl (bravely in my opinion - fair play to her) explained she was making a radio documentary and (kind of pleaded!) was there any way she could have five minutes of her time after the show. 
You could see Caitlin didn't really appreciate the awkward position and she said something like I'm not sure I have the time, I'm signing afterwards, but look I'll see what I can do, talk to my people etc etc......and then just as she moved on she just threw out a little "cheeky bitch" at the girl. 
Loads loads more of greatness over the course of the night.  A fantastic night.  Only twenty euro - worth every penny, I would have paid double!!!!!
Since then I have flown through my bookcrossing book "How to be a Woman" - which I shall now release so someone else can enjoy the amazing Caitlin Moran.
Three things to finish on
1. I love you Caitlin Moran. 
2. While I always considered myself a feminist, I here and now confirm that I am not just a feminist, I am a STRIDENT feminist  - in joke, between me and Caitlin ;-)
3. Apparently she is on Twitter and is prolific in her tweets.  And of course amazing. 
I am tempted to join Twitter just for Caitlin Moran.

Monday 20 May 2013

Harry - as photographed by Google street view

Have you ever Google Street Viewed your house? 
Every swung the camera around to see what was going on in your neighbour's house?  I have. 
And look what I found!
Off into a neighbour's house to wreak some havoc (or beg for food)

Sunday 19 May 2013

Clever branding!

Coca-Cola is currently running a Share a Coke campaign in Ireland.
What they have done is very clever.  The iconic "Coca-Cola" is replaced by names. 
For example my name!

My sister's name!
Unfortunately I am not sure if I will see my other sister's names'.
Lydia - maybe
Faith - hmm, unlikely
Enid - eh I'd say definitely not.
Sorry girls :-(
You will have to have

I believe that this campaign originally ran in England before coming to Ireland. 
I must say it is very funny when I see very typical "Irish" names on a very typical "American" product. e.g. Aine (pronounced Aw-nya) and Siobhan (Shiv-On)  and Sinead (Shin-ade)

Table Quiz!

Table Quiz's are very popular in Ireland.  Apparently they originated in the United Kingdom around 1970 where they are know as pub quiz's.
The basic premise of it is entry of teams or "tables" of 4 for approx €10 a head, 10 rounds made up of 10 questions, one quizmaster and a couple of people correcting the answer sheets.
Last night  I attended our Kayak Club's annual table quiz which was in aid of the Anne Sullivan Foundation.  It was a lot of fun. 
With the advent of mobile phones and wi-fi etc it can be hard to stop the "cheaters" so at the beginning of the night we were handed a plastic bag and all of our team members had to put our phones in the bag, tie a knot in it and place it in the middle of the table! 
Here are some of the questions from the quiz.  Answers down at the bottom of the page :-)
1. What are the ingredients of a Black Velvet cocktail?
2. What film contained the song "Raindrops keep falling on my head"?
3. What recent astronaut recently sang in space before arriving back to earth?
4. When was the last Concorde flight?
5. What game is played to Harvard rules?
6. Name two sports done on a piste.
Our team won!


We won these very fancy (and heavy!) little candle holders.

Hmmm.  I can't exactly see these on my mantlepiece!!! 

1. What are the ingredients of a Black Velvet cocktail?
Guinness & Champagne (never tried one - have you?!)
2. What film contained the song "Raindrops keep falling on my head"?
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
3. What recent astronaut recently sang in space before arriving back to earth?
Chris Hadfield
4. When was the last Concorde flight?
5. What game is played to Harvard rules?
American Football
6. Name two sports done on a piste.
Skiing/snowboarding and Fencing
How did you do out of 6 on the above?

Friday 17 May 2013

Dying to be thin

What do you get when you take the measurements of a sketch and photoshop them on to a real woman.
A scary picture that's what.

These pictures were featured in the MetroHerald detailing a Brazilian model agencies fight against anorexia in their models and in normal life.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Irish Driver's Licence

My driver's licence is up for renewal. 
This ties in with a "new" licence being issued in Ireland - a credit card size type of licence which most European countries and USA have been issuing for about 40 years!
Check out pictures of my old licence below. 
I think you will agree the credit card style licence is well overdue!!
The licence is a laminated "paper" document.  The issuing Government department kindly supplied a little plastic folder (on the right) to store it in :-)

The document folded out to three pages.  As you can imagine, if you didn't store it in your plastic folder (!!!) it could get quite tatty.
I am looking forward to a nice small card which I can store neatly in my wallet.

Window shutters

If you have been following my blog for sometime you will have noticed I mention my (twin) sister Enid a lot. 
I may have also mentioned Enid's blog also.  She originally started blogging when her husband and her began renovating an old Victorian Dublin house.  Now that their building project is over (and they are living in the house) she blogs about daily Dublin life. 
It was Enid who actually got me into blogging! 160 posts later - thank you Enid :-)
  I stayed the night in hers last night and as I opened the shutters this morning I just thought wow... Imagine being lucky enough to live in a house that has shutters and large shutterboxes instead of curtains!

I also like this big old fireplace.And I particularly like this painting done by her husband - I think the modern style art against the old style Laura Ashley wallpaper is a really great contrast.

Launch of The Gibson Hotel's new bbq menu

On Wednesday myself and a friend attended the launch of the Gibson Hotel's new bbq range designed by Rozanne Stevens's.
The  Gibson Hotel had very kindly sent me an invitation to this event and I was excited when I received it.
On arrival we were greeted by an Aperol & Prosecco cocktail/spritzer - 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts tonic water, 1 part Aperol. 
It was a very nice and refreshing drink, although both Deirdre and I commented that we thought it tasted much weaker in alcohol than 3 parts Prosecco.
There was a fine spread of food, all made by the Gibson kitchen made from the recipe's designed by Rozanne.

The salmon steamed in a large leaf was so succulent and flavoursome! 
And the charred, cheesy, salted corn on the cob - oh momma!  

Rozanne then gave a short presentation about herself and her cooking (she apparently favours the "ish" style of cooking - thai-ish, irish-ish, bbq-ish - relaxed fusion cooking I guess!)
She was a very nice relaxed speaker and as Deirdre comment she really charmed us all. 
And she was talented at what she does - both the cooking, and the talking while she cooked - she made it all look effortless.

Rozanne bbq'd a lobster with herb(ish!) butter on the new Calor mini-bbq which is a dinky little thing! 
Check it out - it stacks together like a little picnic basket and when you take it apart it forms a prep area and a cooking area. 
It's a very clever gadget in my opinion.  But Deirdre and I did comment that it is a very small cooking area and wondered it it would be big enough for using for more than two people.  But it definitely would be great for a romantic picnic avec deux :-)

Here is the lovely lobster, butter and salad dish that Rozanne made - with her own home made dressing made with verjuice: I think Deirdre might have been the only person in the room who knew what verjuice was (juice from green grapes) - she's a foodie :-)

And finally Lindt chocolate!
Big thanks to the Gibson and Rozanne.  It was a very enjoyable night.
If you are planning a bbq event in Dublin I'd certainly reccomend
you investigate the The Gibson Hotel - the food was phenomenal and the hotel itself is very cool.

Adorable glassware!

Enid & I dropped over to Ikea today.  It had been a long time since we'd been there together.
We found the most adorable glasses!!!!

Pretty pink flamingos and luscious looking pineapples!

 It makes me very happy to see them in my kitchen press.

Edit. 04/03/14
If you like these glasses check out my cool upcycled cocktail bar/drinks cabinet! <= click on link :-)

Dunboyne Castle Hotel

I attended a wedding in Dunboyne Castle hotel on Friday night. Beautiful grounds and establishment.  Impeccable service. 
It is hard to believe that before this building was a hotel it was a convent - mainly used as a "home for unmarried mothers".  From the information on the website it has a much longer history than that, but unfortunately I fear, that for the woman who lived here while waiting for their babies to be born it will never be anything but a dark place in part of their lives... 
Ireland was certainly a different world in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and even 90's. 

From the Dunboyne Castle website:
The orginal floorboards that carry you through the historic house have carried many of the most influential people in Irish History. The imposing house, with its three stories and seven bay windows dates from the mid-eighteenth century. The unique style of the house is a result of the influences of its many owners and now finally the Fylan Collection has put its own distinctive stamp on it.

The land surrounding Dunboyne Castle had been the seat of the Barons of Dunboyne, a branch of the famous, historical Butler Family. It first came into the Butler family through the marriage of Thomas to Synolda, daughter and heiress of William lePetit, 6th Lord of Dunboyne. It is believed that this barony dated back to 1207 with a new barony technically formed when Thomas took his seat in parliment as the 1st Lord of Dunboyne in 1324.

The original castle on the Dunboyne Estate along with the Butlers other castle in Tipperary, Kiltinan Castle was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell. He dispatched them to Connaught, with all the other Catholics who would not co-operate with him or the English Monarch at the time.
The first part of the present day castle was built at the start of the 1700's, and the building you see today was completed in 1764 by Drogheda atchitect George Darley. The house still retains many of the original features, one of which is the stucco plaster on the ceilings. This plasterwork is by the masterful Francini Brothers.

Since the Butlers the Castle has passed through many families, the Butler-O'Briens, Sadlier, Morrough-Ryans and the Watchmans. In 1955 it became home to the Good Shepard Sisters who remained until 1991 when it was bought by the Keating Family. by 1999 when it was bought by the present owners the Castle was in need of much repair. As you can see it has finally returned to its former glory and is now getting the attention and recognition it deserves from the caring and appreciative guests and staff that walk its floorboards every day.

Sunday 5 May 2013

La Bucca Dunboyne

Last night I met up with two long-time friends for a night out in Dunboyne.
I have known Ann & Louise since my very first job in TSB Bank (1998) and we have kept in touch ever since.  It helps that our birthdays are all within 4 days of each other (isn't that co-incidental) so even if we have not seen each other for a while we always get together for our birthdays.
It was not our birthdays but we were overdue a catch-up so last night was arranged a couple of weeks ago. 
We originally intended on going away for a night - Ann had found a great deal for a hotel - room, dinner, breakfast, spa & 1 treatment - so we were all excited about that.  But then poor Ann fell down her stairs while rushing to get ready for work and ended up on crutches with a broken foot!  So because the spa would be no fun for Ann we are deferring our night away until August when we can all enjoy it properly. 
Instead we decided to go local to La Bucca and Brady's pub in Dunboyne - which is always a fun night.
Louise's starter of chili chicken skewers

Ann's starter of bruschetta a la funghi

I started with peri peri chicken wings - very nice!

And then I had a amazing shrimp termidor for my main.

Louise always has the chili beef salad!

Ann tried the shredded duck salad for the first time and really enjoyed it.
What is great about the mains portions is that you can choose between a starter size or a main size.  We always get a starter and then a starter portion which works perfect.  If you were skipping a starter then then a large main would work perfect too.

The chef makes a different special dessert each week.  This week it was Toblerone Cheesecake and it was a very good intense luscious chocolate dessert.

We also shared a sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce.  Our server (who was a lovely girl) kindly bought us three spoons and a portion of ice-cream each.

After dinner we were offered a complimentary shot.  Ann & Louise took a Limencello and I took a sambucca.  I had a slight pain in my stomach and I always think sambucca aids digestion - that's my story and I am sticking to it! :-)
And finally (how lucky are we!) the manager Dan sent us over a glass of prosecco.  We think this may have been because Ann is a regular there with her family.  Thank you Dan!

At the recent Irish Restaurant 2013 awards La Bucca were nominated for multiple awards including Best Casual Dining and Best Customer Service.  On the night they won Best Casual Dining - completely justified and very well deserved in my opinion!
And considering the service we got from our lovely young lady and Dan the manager I think Best Customer Service would have been warranted too :-)

Automated stamp dispenser, plus postbox all in one - 1970/1980's???

 Yesterday I visited a friend in hospital and I noticed a "machine" that I imagine does not get much use anymore.
At the side of reception against the wall there is a Stamp Dispensing machine on top of a post box.
The stamp dispenser is no longer in use - the dispensing slot has a little note saying that stamps are available in the shop.  

I wonder does anyone even purchase stamps in the shop and use the postbox?? 
I am trying to put a date on this (obsolete?) piece and for some reason I am drawn to guess it is from the 1970/01980's.  However I note there is a 1d price on the front right of it so it must be originally from pre-decimalisation (4 farthings made 1 penney - 1d - I believe) which changed in 1972 so therefore I am going to change my guess to 1960's.  It might even be 1950's??
Wonder when it was last used though?!