Wednesday 26 April 2017

Middle of Middle East trip

Typing to you live (well obviously not dead!) from Muscat, Oman.

This is my third time in the Middle East.  Hmm, when I see that typed in b&w that seems crazy - because being honest it would be far from my first choice for a holiday. Allow me to explain however. The first time I visited was 2/3 years when I was working on a project for a few weeks in Abu Dhabi (with some meetings/days in Dubai) so it wasn't actually a choice - or a holiday!  And then last year I went to visit my sister here - Muscat, Oman where she lives and works. On that trip I also took in a few days in Abu Dhabi and Dubai again (my other sister K was also with us and she had never been to those cities before).
And now! Here I am to visit my sister L again. 

I have a lot of holidays to take this year and I wanted to get some trips in my calendar. I also need to make sure I squeeze in holidays in between college etc - whenever I have a break from college I need to ensure I at a minimum, take some time off work, and ideally that I go away somewhere. So I had this week in April booked off since early January and then I just needed to decide where to go.  I was thinking of visiting a friend in San Francisco (which is one of my favourite cities in the whole world) but for a variety of reasons I will go there some other time.  And so (for a variety of reasons also, which I won't go into!) I decided I'd go visit L.  Then it turned out that Enid had some time to take also, plus she had never been out to see L so she decided to come too.

I like Muscat.  Out of the three places in the ME listed above it is far and beyond my favourite.  Abu Dhabi and Dubai are not my cup of tea at all.  If I was forced that I had no option and must go back then I'd take Abu Dhabi at a push, but Dubai I will never be in again.  Dead cert.

In fact I like Muscat a lot....


For part deux click here!

Saturday 15 April 2017

The Train, Abbey Theatre

Yesterday was Good Friday in Ireland, and while some businesses close unfortunately the part of the company I am currently working in does not - but however I chose to take the day off.  Which I am glad of. It's feeling like a very nice long weekend already and it's only Saturday.

Cousin Kasey, Enid and I met in my flat where I made some cocktails.  The (ridiculous) licencing laws in Ireland outlaws the sale of alcohol, and the Church says one should not drink on Good Friday.  On this basis I go out of my way to make sure I have a drink or two.  I really do not like being told what I can or can't do by the State - particularly when the State is being told that by the Church...  And ironically enough, this year, that ties in nicely with the theme of the play we saw later.

I had intended making a few different cocktails.  But in the end I was too busy chatting and we needed to leave earlier than intended to collect our tickets, so the pineapple dacquiris and ciproskas were scratched, and I just made Falling Waterfalls and vodka and diet cokes.
I've no photo of the food but it was LOVELY - thanks to Cousin Kasey for bringing!

From there we headed down to The Abbey to see The Train

This poster was up outside my office during the week

We had another quick drink before the start of the play - theatres are exempt from the licencing laws.  You see! Like it makes no sense at all.  Why is a theatre exempt but a pub is not?  Crazy. 
And I ordered our interval drinks.  Ok enough about alcohol on Good Friday, on to the play!!!

But first, a pic of Enid and I (posterity! posterity!)

The Train
It was wonderful! Absolutely wonderful.  Such an imaginative and creative way of telling the story of the contraceptive train, plus the Ireland as it was then - how much the church was involved in the "bedroom" of Irish families. 

The actors were excellent - and great singers - it is a musical afterall.  All in all a great production. 

AND at the very end a superb hat tip to #WakingTheFeminists (do you remember my blog post about the event I attended) and a call to action for more areas of women's lib where change is needed.  To be honest it did depress me that while there have been improvements of course (contraception, divorce, signing for loans without a man [bloody hell], removal of obligatory redundancy on marriage, equal pay) there are still remaining other areas where there is MASSIVE improvement needed - bodily autonomy for women being key of course.... #Repealthe8th.  While two years ago Enid and I did a lot of canvassing for Marriage Equality,  Enid had told me that she didn't think she could do it for a referendum for Repeal the 8th. That considering some of the stuff we encountered on the doorsteps (while mostly good, when it was bad, it was HORRIFIC), that she just thought it would be too emotive.  Anyway after last night she thinks she will do it.  I am happy about that - she was really good at it - but I want her to only do it if she wants to do it herself. 

Team Clean up Dublin

Here's Enid and I at a canal clean up day a couple of years ago.  It was the most gorgeous weather that day.   Lol which is why I am wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a mini skirt. In Ireland.  As you do. Actually, when the sun shines in Ireland it absolutely IS what you MUST do, in my opinion!

And here we are on Friday picking litter in Ranelagh.  There were loads of other jobs we could have done - weeding, painting plant pots etc - but we always volunteer for the unglamorous job of litter picking.  Reason being that no one else volunteers for it, and it just needs to be done, and anyway we just walk along chatting and having a laugh and the time flies and we get loads done.

Holy Thursday 2017

Enid, Alice and I met up for a catchup on Thursday in Xico on Baggot Street.  Enid isn't mad on the food but it suited Alice and I - she wasn't in the mood for walking far as she was wearing very fancy shoes, and I just adore the food here.
I ordered the chili as I always do.  My friend Tara and I are obsessed with the rice here.  Last time we went we were asking so much questions about it that they were almost going to send the chef out ot us  #ricenerds
Tara and I go here a lot - we used to go a lot when it was the Baggot Lounge previously.  "Pint and a platter?" used to be our code for will we go to the Baggot for a drink tonight...back in the day!
I also like the atmosphere in Xico.  At some point of the night it literally goes mental and turns into a nightclub with dancing on the tables. Well that's what I remember doing last time I was there. I joke and call it the "Titty Twister" from the movie "From Dusk til Dawn". 
Enid wasn't overly happy with the food.  Lol but sure she never is :-) She was complaining to Ciaran the next day.  He was like, well you were eating in a nightclub, what do you expect?!

We left way before the titty twister turned into vampirefest however.  None of us fancied a hangover the next day!  It was a great night as always with these pair early finish or not.

Vincent Hanley

This Irish Times article came up on my facebook feed this morning.  It is 30 years since the death of Irish VJ Vincent Hanley.  Below is what I posted on my facebook page today.

I was a bit young for MT USA originally but I remember it well - maybe from reruns?? I always loved Vincent Hanley.

It's sad though that the story of his death, and the conversation about the cause of his death/how it was reported at the time overrides how just bloody good he was.

It actually isn't just an Irish story though - it's redolent of the (1987) book "And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic". The world was simply afraid to say the real reason people were dying. People were scared and fearful that they too could be infected. And with that fear came shunning and abandonment...
"In 1988 Key West had one of the highest AID'S rates per capita in the US. Part of the reason for this was that it became a refuge for hundreds of people who were diagnosed elsewhere but felt they could not remain at home in what many considered to be hostile environments". (Source
If you'd like to see some photos of this sombre but beautiful memorial I had blogged about it previously here.

I'm glad I live in a different world now.

Enid commented on my facebook post which is a very good add on to the above

"So sad, to be dying and then to be cut off from your family and society by the stigma of the disease that will ultimately kill you. I remember the Benetton ad - it put a face on the people and their families. I think it was ground breaking"

Sunday 9 April 2017


How adorable is this!
Enid and Ciaran were recently in Venice, and Enid brought me THIS back from the Peggy Guggenheim museum.
It even looks great when it's still in its packaging

Literally 5 seconds to assemble, pop it on a wine glass, and there you have it - a Mondrian art lamp!

The scale of it doesn't really work in my window sill where I thought I'd originally put it

So it is currently residing on the mantelpiece.  I still think it looks a bit lost.
And hey! Literally watch this space.  I am currently looking at an art piece to replace the print above my mantle.  I'm really not fond of the print that is currently there.  Sometimes I think it might be a Georgia O'Keeffe or Georgia O'Keeffe inspired maybe?  But in any case it's not my taste, I guess it is my landlords taste...  Anyway as I said WATCH THIS SPACE! Something exciting is coming!

Saturday 8 April 2017

The bicycle...a simple solution

I've been thinking for a while about getting a new bike.  My current bike is a mountain bike I've had about 7 years.  To be honest it was never great even from the start and it's pretty beat up now. 
I cycled around town and dropped into a few places.  One or two I've blogged about before as I've been in to get different things done to or bought for my bike, and today it was good to be just looking at the bikes.
One shop I was excited about going to was the Dutch Bike Shop.  Enid has a dutch bike which she's really happy with and I'm currently investigating if one is right for me.  At the end of the day the Dutch (amongst lots of other things) know their bikes!
Love this quote they have painted on their wall....
Two years ago when I came home from Key West (where we do A LOT of nice and easy biking) I swore I was going to cycle more.  Which I have.  There's nothing like it for your mind and body, and SOUL!  If there is something bothering me I find there's nothing like navigating around the Dublin traffic to take your mind off it.
Cool car parked outside.  The shame I've no clue what it is.  Why did I not look at it more carefully???

So this really caught my eye!  They didn't have the women's version for me to try so I took this one out.  I liked it a lot, it's nippy which I am used to currently and which you don't get with the traditional dutch bike style.  The only thing is that it wasn't the most comfortable ride.  The saddle in particular, plus no real suspension.

This however is the opposite.  Very very comfortable.  But a little unwieldy, and very heavy.
So I really am not clearer as to what I want, will have to do a bit more looking around.  Still good to have a good gander at the dutch bikes, and they're definitely not ruled out.


Renault Caravelle

I came across this photo the other day and it made me smile.

Pictured is myself, Enid and our cousin Danielle who is a year older than us.
I remember this photo well - I think Enid and I are about 9...we were coming up with mad hare brained ideas and dressing up and taking photos all summer long.  This photo was taken by Dad but there are tons of photos at home I imagine of us and different friends and cousins in different costumes.

The blue dress was handmade by our Great Aunt - Mary Kelly.  She would have made it when she was about 20 for a dance.  She had a really teeny tiny waist that it fit us when we were 9!!! I remember the weight of it - it was a proper 1950's style dress with a few under layers of netting to it.
Mary was my Nana's sister and we never called her Great Aunt or anything.  We are pretty informal in our family, and in fact she was always known as Mary Kelly - probably to differentiate her from one of my Nana's daughters (my aunt) who was named Mary.  Mary Kelly was such a great woman - she made Enid's wedding cake, and she also made her bouquet which was the most beautiful loosely tied bunch of wild flowers.  She died maybe 10 years ago or so, my Nana and her were very close and I know her passing hit Nana hard and she still misses her so much.

And then the cream dresses were dresses that two of my aunt's Clare & Christine wore when they were bridesmaids for (my aunt and Godmother) Bernie's wedding.  That was the early 80's - 81/82 maybe - but they work as a 1950's style.

 The car.
If I remember correctly was a Renault Caravelle,  It was one of my dad's many projects, which if I am being truthful to the past must be said did not get any further once my dad bought it.  What can I say, maybe he was busy with other things but my dad was famous for starting things and never finishing them.  Ah sure look it, that's life,  Anyway he had this car for about a year and then sold it on... Nice having this photo of it anyway!

Tuesday 4 April 2017

This is Dublin 2017

If you're a regular reader of my blog you will know that I talk about "posting for posterity" a lot. It really sums up my attitude to my blog, it's just a hobby and probably the best thing to come out of it is the record it leaves...I do like to think that some day (say in about 150 years) this blog might be read by someone as a record of how an ordinary person lived in the early 21st century.  How cool would that be :-)

Anyway I had a bit of a eureka moment/wake up call just before I fell asleep on Sunday night. Georgian doors etc and posting for posterity is all very well - and it is, I'm not taking away from one of my most recent blog posts, I've wanted to do it for a while, I enjoyed doing it, and I think it is a nice record to have.
But when I was going in to the office at 7am the other day there were 2 people asleep in sleeping bags literally 2 feet away from me as I was going in the office side entrance door on Marlborough Street.
Then at the ESB building on Sunday, that I mentioned in the Georgian door blog, there were a few people sleeping out/sitting there also - actually they had set up a bit of a camp..
On Grafton Street, every single night there's a huge soup kitchen and clothes/blanket bank set up - I've seen it loads of times, there's a huge amount of people attending it :-(
There's also a mobile health clinic that pulls up to St Stephen's Green every night to help people who are living on the streets.

And that's the Dublin right now that needs to be recorded "for posterity". Great Recession or not, don't forget we had years of the Celtic Tiger before that, and this is what we have to show for it, and this is how some (a lot) of our fellow citizens have to live now.  And while there's nothing new there, I do think it's close to the worst it's ever been...or it's certainly not getting better

And another thing that really makes me angry is the hiding / under reporting of the problem by the Government/in the media.  As far as I am aware a count is done once a year or a few times a year of the number of people on the street.  Last year (November I think??) I saw a report in the papers in relation to the numbers.  The count was done on a freezing cold night with the most horrific lashing rain.  On nights like this people are going to do as much as possible to get in to a hostel or room for the night.  The count needs to be done on a really mild night when you will get the most accurate picture of the extent of the problem.

Rant over.  Now to think of something I can actually DO.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

During the week on my intranet in work I saw something that made me think of wanting to go see The Beauty Queen of Leenane.  I mentioned it to Enid and she said she'd like to go too.  So that was cool.  I would have gone on my own anyway but it's always nice to go to something with Enid.

It was so so good!  Every time I go to the theatre I say I need to go more often. If you remember I said the exact same thing in a blog from a couple of months ago...
Our seats were a bit rubbish to be honest, I guess I had left it very late to be buying Saturday night tickets a couple of days before it.  But even so we had a great night.
It was a tough watch at times.  It's a black comedy and sometimes it veered very much into the black.  But that's the good thing about live theatre it challenges you and makes you think. And makes you talk - I walked part of the way home with Enid talking about it and then turned around and back into town.

Enid...our seats were right up in the Gods, hence the stairs pic!

St Patrick's Day 2017

I am a little bit behind in my usual St Patrick's day post - it's April afterall!!  But anyway, as is tradition here's what I got up to.

I was in work on the day :-( Not that I had any great plans or would have done anything very exciting but it still would have been nice to call out to my mother or something. 

I stuffed myself with cupcakes in work to comfort myself about working

That's evening I made Green Russians!

All the green food colouring was sold out so I had to make my own by blending blue and yellow.  This was NOT the green I wanted but it did...just about!

This is me.  Saying Happy St Patrick's day y'all.
 Seeya next year!


Sunday 2 April 2017

Georgian Doors, Dublin

Phew!  So I have had the most enjoyable time pottering around Merrion Street & Square and Fitzwilliam Street & Square and a few other streets in between.  But boy did I have trouble uploading all the photographs on my stupid laptop to this blog - I nearly threw it out the window in frustration.  Anyway I do hope this post is worth it all - it's something I've wanted to blog about for a while now so I think it I said, let's hope so anyway!

The inspiration for this post comes from a video I saw some time back where a fabulous Marian Finucane, an architect student aged 19, is interviewed and tells us (in her wonderfully plummy accent) why she thinks it's important that Georgian Dublin is preserved.  Marian is of course better known as a broadcaster now...and while she still has that beautifully plummy accent, to me she also has the gravelly tone of someone who has smoked 20 Benson & Hedges a day since her time as a student...and I say that with great respect!
Anyway I digress. 
The video link is here:

Dublin is famous for it's Georgian terraced streets.  I've always loved looking at them and like a lot of people particularly the doors and the fanlights above the door - decorative now but originally installed as an important function.  So for the sake of posterity (as a lot of my posts are) I took a jaunt around on my bike this morning and snapped a few pics.  It was interesting to see the difference between them all - there really is no one style, so while it's just a selection below it does actually represent the doors/houses as a collection which ultimately do conform as a collective even with their differences.

This lovely pink door is beside Government buildings/opposite the Merrion hotel.  It's not exactly a heritage colour is it, and for that I like it a lot!

Some of the doors are particularly ornate.  But it is more common to see plainer ones.  For that reason I did seek out some of the fancier ones to post here.  They wouldn't be to my (simpler!)  taste at all but I am sure there are lots of people out there who really enjoy them.

This one is so beautiful and pristine. 
It's a little too pristine for me...with a lot of things in my life I prefer a quirkiness or a slightly unfinished look sometimes...yeah strange I know but there you go.  But no one (including me) can deny that this is beautiful.

Another ornate one for your viewing pleasure!

Check out the beautiful fanlight above the door on this example

Sure you could practically be back in the 1800's couldn't you!

This is from Fitzwilliam Square East which seems a little grander than South and West.  Different builders/developers maybe ;-) Ok so I was joking typing but that could well have been the reason??  Or maybe just built at different times.

How beautiful are these two! (Merrion Square)

Plus these two beauties! On Merrion Square also

The new sign says Fitzwilliam Street. The old one below says Mansion House Ward.
I've looked this up on the net and can finding nothing further but I have a vague inkling that Dublin used to be divided up into what was known as wards??  If anyone knows anything further I'd be delighted if you'd post in the comment section at the end of the blog,  I will do some more digging also and see if I can find out anything more...

This one here is another piece of inspiration for this blog!  So about a year ago I first saw it. Literally the only "derelict" house in the vicinity.  So I specifically wanted to get a photo of it today - I was going to make a silly joke about needing to get Marian on the case to get it restored :-)
Well no need!!!  Skips outside, work in progress!
The sign outside it says "part of the Manor House hotel group of Ireland".  Looks kind of a late 80ish sign to me.  Again I can't find anything on the net.  If anyone knows anything about this group or this hotel I'd love to hear it!

Sigh.  The ESB offices.  I don't think I can add to anything that has not been said before about this development.
Although! I will say, I actually like the building.  I tend to like most Stephenson buildings anyway. But sigh, could they not have just built it somewhere else!!!

Wilde - serviced offices (a relatively new concept to Dublin - oh why helloooo Celtic tiger, ah sure there you are back now already, are you?) on Merrion Square

Another ornate one! Which I think...

...may have been restored/painted like this in 1991.
1991 Dublin city of culture doesn't stand out for me...I guess the Millenium "Dublin's great in '88!" was a hard to act to follow. 
Ah good times, the excitement of the delivery of those Dublin millennium milk bottles will never leave me!! Lol :-)

Look at this interesting fanlight which has a lamp  inbuilt.  It was literally only the one of these I saw.

Nice classic red example

Nice classic blue!

I do love a bright yellow door!

And a lovely classic black

Ok so I saw these - three different style of signs and I was initially thinking why Dublin city council, why?! But you know, now I am thinking, hey that's Dublin, that's Ireland, we're kind of quirky, sure fek it, why not!

Leeson Street

I finished up my mini tour with a visit to the Starbucks on Leeson Lane where tucked away in Leeson Lane, and hidden behind this door is something rather special.

If you are interested click on Enid's blog here to find out more!

I finish with!

This is my gaff :-)

And this is Enid's!