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Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Having spoken to a number of people about how silly I felt for failing to stop my car jerking forward when the clutch cable snapped as discussed in my previous post "Clutch, Clutch, Clutch!" several mentioned the disasters that had befallen them whilst learning to drive:
  • One had driven four miles with the handbrake on
  • Another had pulled off and driven up a main street with the bumper from the car behind attached to their towbar
  • Someone else had narrowly missed hitting a petrol pump
  • Finally one person said they drove five miles extra every day because they couldn't reverse and so had to go a circuitous route to get home.

So, thought I put the question out there, what is your story from when you were learning to drive? Do you have any funny incidents that happened to you in your learner days? (or even when your learner days were officially over!)

Photo: (c) www.car-accidents.com

P.S.: To anyone who logs on regularly (thanks, money is in the post to you two or three!) I will get around to giving my tuppence worth about the deep and meaningful topics I aspired to last week but right now to be honest I couldn't be a***d thinking that much!

The Irish Wife

Three men were sitting together recounting how they had given their new wives duties.

The first man had married a woman from Albania and boasted that he had told his wife she must do all the dishes and house cleaning that needed to be done at their house. He said that it took a couple of days but on the third day he came home to a clean house and the dishes were all washed and put away.

The second man had married a woman from Korea. He said he had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and the cooking. He told them that the first day he didn't see any results but the next day it was better. By the third day his house was clean, the dishes were done and he had a huge dinner on the table.

The third man had married an Irish girl. He said that he told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day the didn't see anything but by the third day most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye.

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© Andrea Simonato (a.k.a. aemmea98) on

Name change!

Just a quick post this morning, I am going to change my name by deed poll but I can't quite decide whether my new name should be Lucky or Healthy for the reasons (summarised!) below;

When trying to get my car towed to fix the clutch (see Clutch, clutch, clutch!) on a freezing cold night;

  • The battery had gone dead, I must have left a light on in my confusion, after hitting the bollard
  • Trying to find jump leads was like trying to get gold dust but eventually managed to get the loan of a set
  • The bit that attaches to the car so that a tow rope can be attached was missing from my boot
  • Phoned good friend with similiar car, whose car is always pristine (guaranteed to have the missing bit) - and she had just traded it in and was waiting for new model.
  • The tow rope broke on a really narrow road with three cars behind me and another coming in the opposite direction.

Following on from my previous post "If this goes on - I will be as thin as Paris Hilton!" I went for tests yesterday to check what was going on. Now, I know how to get value for money, so I left the hospital with four separate diagnoses:

  • Hiatus Hernia
  • Severe inflammation of the stomach
  • Gallstones
  • An ovarian cyst for good measure

So I am destined for the operating table very soon! On the brighter side;

  • It was only the clutch cable that was gone so wasn't too expensive
  • At least the severe pain was my Gallbladder and not IBS - much quicker and more final solution to the pain problem
  • If I hadn't had the tests they wouldn't have found the cyst for God knows how long

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Friday, February 24, 2006

That Friday Feeling!

Once again thank Crunchie its Friday. Just call me lucky; things went that well this week – not!! Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to put up posts with any in-depth topics this week but at the minute I have great intentions to put some decent posts up next week. Some of the topics I hope to give my tuppence h’penny about are:

  • Jailing Irving for Holocaust Denial
  • Religious Fundamentalism
  • Follow up to the Clutch, clutch, clutch Saga
  • Another joke or two

However, I may not get the chance to post until later in the week due to circumstances beyond my control. Meanwhile, have a fantastic weekend.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Irish declare war on France

Jacques Chirac, The French Prime Minister, was sitting in his office wondering what kind of mischief he could perpetrate against the United States when he was interrupted by a telephone call;

"Hallo, Mr. Chirac
?" a heavily accented voice said.
"This is Paddy down at the Harp Pub in County Sligo, Ireland. I am ringing to inform you that we are officially declaring war on you!"

"Well, Paddy,"
Chirac replied, "this is indeed important news! How big is your army?"

"Right now,"
said Paddy, after a moment's calculation, "there is myself, me cousin Sean, me next door neighbour Seamus, and the entire dart team from the pub. That makes eight!"

Chirac paused. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have one hundred thousand men in my army waiting to move on my command."

said Paddy. "I'll have to ring you back!"

Sure enough, the next day, Paddy called again. "Mr. Chirac, the war is still on. We have managed to get us some infantry equipment!"

"And what equipment would that be, Paddy?"
Chirac asked

"Well, we have two combines, a bulldozer, and Murphy's farm tractor."

Chirac sighed, amused. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 6,000 tanks and 5,000 armoured personnel carriers. Also, I've increased my army to one hundred and fifty-thousand since we last spoke."

"Saints preserve us!"
said Paddy. "I'll have to get back to you."

Sure enough, Paddy rang again the next day. "Mr. Chirac, the war is still on! We have managed to get ourselves airborne! We've modified Jackie McLaughlin's ultra-light with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four boys from the Shamrock Pub have joined us as well!"

Chirac was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 100 bombers and 200 fighter planes Mymilitary complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've increased my army to two hundred thousand!"

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!"
, said Paddy; "I'll have to ring you back."

Sure enough, Paddy called again the next day. "Top o' the mornin', Mr. Chirac! I am sorry to tell you that we have had to call off the war."

"I'm sorry to hear that,"
said Chirac. "Why the sudden change of heart?"

said Paddy, "we've all had a long chat over a bunch of pints, and decided there's no foo-kin way we can feed two hundred thousand prisoners!"

What can I say, I want to write a deep and meaningful post but right now I am incapable of doing so - so instead you get a bad joke!

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Photo: (C) www.irishflags.com

Where is my mind gone?

There is no explanation for how little my brain is actually functioning today (certainly the wine last night did not help but this goes beyond sluggish). I am looking at the same report for most of the day and other than receiving Divine intervention in the next few minutes I still won't have completed it by close of business. This is not good, I gave my word it would be completed today. I also have so much to do when I get home that it is not even funny anymore and yet my brain refuses, point blank, to co-operate - I'm f***ed!

What has caused this mental meltdown? Its beyond me. (but then it would be right now, due to my diminished mental capacity!)

Oh boy do I wish there were a smart pill I could take right now.

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(c) posters.westbalkanonline.com on Google

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Clutch, clutch, clutch!

I knew I should have stayed in bed this morning. Knew it, knew it, knew it. Bad enough that I was heading for a smear (sorry guys!) but on the way the clutch went in my car. Not too bad, so far; one is a fact of life and the other I knew was inevitable as the clutch had been playing up for a little while.

What clinched that feel good factor for me was that, despite the fact I had managed to get off the main road without a major accident as my clutch was going, when I was in the process of parking the feckin thing went completely. It snapped, causing the car to jerk forward into a bollard. Bloody lovely, so now I have a car that doesn't work, with a great big dent in it and I still had to get to the doctors!!!

I won't even bother with the details of how the doctors visit or the subsequent hours went, needless to say, I am now sitting with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of wine in the other! Hope your day was better!

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Photo: (c) www.car-accidents.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Not quite the beach but hey!

Well, its not exactly Mauritius or the Bahamas but have just booked two nights away down the country in a nice hotel with leisure facilities etc so happy days! As I haven't had a proper holiday in over two years I can't wait - to be pampered just a little!

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Photo: (c) www.limerick.radissonsas.com

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ugh, where did he get that idea from???

Was just checking through the comments on all my posts and they're great; intelligent and witty observations all round - except for one, which was left on my post "Baby Race".
Teazer Man has somehow got the impression that I would be interested in porn. All this from a post about thirtysomething women who want to start families. My first thoughts and reactions were as follows;
  • Yuck, yuck, yuck
  • Where did he get that friggin' idea from?
  • Am I missing unintentional signals that I inadvertently place in my posts?
  • Didn't I tell you - men just don't get me!!!!
  • At least he said he liked my blog....

I am sure, however, that he probably just trawls the blogosphere placing his adverts in the comment section of blogs. So there you have it folks, Teazer Man, coming to a blog near you soon.

Ah well, at least I'm starting to reach a wider audience!

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Wish I was there!

Its Friday afternoon at last - hooray! If I had my choice this is where I'd be heading off to as soon as work is finished. However, I don't think that'll be happening anytime soon - but a girl can dream!

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Photo: © eduardo ajjam (a.k.a. coki8) on Stock.XCHNG

"I grew up in a bubble, your honour"

Journalist relieved at acquittal
16 February 2006 22:16

A Sunday Mirror journalist who has been acquitted by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of forging prescriptions has said she is 'incredibly relieved it is all over'. Naomi McElroy, from Grove Park Drive in Glasnevin, had pleaded not guilty to ten counts of forging and presenting the prescriptions in five Dublin pharmacies. On the third day of the trial she was acquitted by direction of the trial judge following legal argument.

Afterwards, she said that all she had set out to do was her job and pursued the story after her editor read an article in a medical journal that anyone can fill a prescription and get a prescription pad from a printers. She said she did not even know she was breaking the law and never thought she would be prosecuted.

So Ms. McElroy was acquitted for forging prescriptions - she did not even know she was breaking the law - spare me, please!. How could she not know she was breaking the law? She didn't grow up in a bubble somewhere, I presume. Whilst I acknowledge that we don't all know the intricacies of the law we do know generally whats legal and whats not. Even if you're not particularly well educated or informed, which I presume she is, given her occupation, how could one never have seen somebody being arrested on TV for just such a crime? I don't believe that she genuinely didn't know that it was a crime to forge a prescription. Also, the fact that she was just doing her job doesn't make the crime any less a crime.

I know in the bigger scheme of things it was a relatively minor crime (as she wasn't going to sell the drugs or anything like that) but you sometimes gotta wonder at the stupidity of the defenses people put forward for their stupid actions.

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Photo: © Ylidog on Stock.XCHNG.com

Why I don't read newspapers as often as I should

Having previously been quite an avid reader of newspapers I have found myself doing so less and less in recent times. Aside from the odd cursory glance through the Irish Independent or Irish Times I really haven't sat down and read a newspaper cover to cover in sometime. Now this is terrible if, like me, you like to keep abreast of what is going on in the world and to be able to form well-informed and educated opinions on current affairs. I do still watch the news on television and of course I have remained faithful to current affairs programmes and informative documentaries so I'm not completely ill-informed.

So why don't I read newspapers as much anymore? The simple answer is that I just got fed up with all the bad news, the doom and the gloom.

Its impossible to open any newspaper without reading about numerous human tragedies; murder, rape, illness, genocide, racial tension....... the list is endless. I am trying to get back into my stride but honestly some days its just too depressing even taking into account the other information one misses out on: business news, reviews, humourous anecdotes, happy events etc.
Don't know if I'm the only one who feels like this but I am going to make a conscious effort to read a newspaper cover to cover on a more regular basis once again.

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PS I have finally worked out how to upload photos from the net directly to blog (so what I hear you techies say but I'm learning as I go along!) so at least this blog will hopefully be a little less bland from here on in!

Photo: © Kathryn McCallum (a.k.a. lemon drop) Stock.XCHNG

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Oh for God's sake get a bleedin life!

RTE programme earns ire of animal activist
Thursday February 16th 2006

An animal rights activist last night accused RTE's 'Podge and Rodge' show of harming animals. Mary Chundee, from Friends of Animals in Mullingar, hit out after the show featured ferret racing with commentary from the station's GAA commentator, Micheal O Muircheartaigh. Ms Chundee claimed the animals were terrified and confused by the people, the noise and the studio lighting. In reply, RTE said it "would like to assure viewers that professional animal handlers are on hand at all times to ensure the safety of the animals during filming".

© Irish Independenthttp://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/

It truly amazes me how fanatical some people can become when you're talking about Animal Rights. I am all for kindness to animals and completely against cruelty to animals but honest to God I am constantly astounded by the energy and the fanaticism of some Animal Rights supporters! Take Ms. Chundee above, has she nothing better to do with her time? Seriously, anyone who has ever been within a mile of a ferret would know that the animals handlers were somewhere close when RTE was filming the ferret race (for both the ferrets and humans safety!). I thought I was bad but that gal really needs to get out more!!!

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Photo: © RTE at http://www.rte.ie/tv/podgeandrodge/

Knew there was something I forgot to do!

Big Brother was back in Dublin yesterday and I forgot to go to the audition! I wouldn't mind but I was actually in the big smoke and had I remembered I could have taken time out of my busy schedule......but what costume could I have worn? A little black maid's number, a gypsy outfit, a clown suit or even a ferret costume!! ....the possibilities are endless.....

Somehow I don't think I'd have gone - definitely not my scene, although no doubt I'll be glued to the show once it starts. Just surprised that I didn't notice an inordinate number of lunatics on the street in Dublin when I was there!

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Picture © http://www.channel4.com/bigbrother/

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Those cartoons and the ensuing riots

I'm all for an inclusive society, think that multiculturism has a lot to offer us and I am not a racist. Also, I do try my best to be aware of any prejudices I have (who doesn't have them) and to be objective when looking at issues. I personally think that people should use the right of free speech responsibly and not deliberately offend others beliefs, cultures etc and think that the cartoons in question are in extremely bad taste and offensive to say the least.

However I have watched what was a furore over an offensive cartoon develop into riots, buildings being torched and even people dying. I understand that Muslims, are deeply offended by the cartoons, as they not only depict the Prophet Muhammad in a deeply disrespectful way but also as the very act of depiction itself is viewed as blasphemous within Islam, however, what the violence that has gone on is out of all proportion; that people should die over a cartoon is beyond ludicrous.

Whilst I don't condone cartoons that are disrespectful, blasphemous or offensive to any religion; Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc......I do believe in free speech and the associated rights of living in a democracy. The whole furore is beginning to turn into an argument against Free Speech. Indeed what has been going on in the Irish media generally with regard to the issue is cause for concern. The fact that we, as grown adults, are not being given the opporunity to view the cartoons (other than if you have access to the net) is a farce. Whilst acknowledging the deep offense that it may cause to the Muslim community here in Ireland I do feel it is important that the right to free speech is upheld. None of the Irish media has done so, as yet as they have not shown the offending cartoons to the nation.

I am not sure whether the Irish media is being extremely politically correct or whether they are afraid of the consequences of causing offense as witnessed across Europe in response to the publication of the cartoons. The extent of over-kill on political correctness is another issue which I may address in a future post. Either way, the right to free speech has not been upheld, which I feel it should have particularly when there are those (a violent minority of the Islamic community worldwide) who use violence and threats to stop the press in various countries doing so. On a point of principle, I am with John Watters on this one, the cartoons should be published for the simple reason that the Irish press or indeed the press anywhere in the world should not be told what they can and cannot print, particularly by people who don't even live in Ireland.

Democracy and the right to free speech also ensures that Muslims who are offended are allowed to protest peacefully and also, as is already happening, answer back with equally offensive cartoons.

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Last post and gee it's Valentine's Day!

Just wanted to correct the image that some of you may have now conjured up about me after the last few posts; I am, in fact, not a short, lardy arsed cripple with a wind problem! (Or maybe that is what people see and thats why I haven't had to wade through tons of cards, balloons, chocolates and teddies today!!) When I started this blog I didn't actually think anyone would ever find it, let alone read it and while I'm not exactly top of the blogs there are at least one or two people who do actually log on regularly (I prefer quality not quantity myself!) but I had decided that I wasn't going to talk about the PA or IBS cos I really don't want a bloody moan or support or symptom blog but I just had to mention them yesterday cos I was so browned off.

Today, however, is a new day and I'm feeling good again - as normal as it gets for me anyway! I patiently await the surprise bunch of flowers (believe me it would be a very big surprise!) and am keeping this evenings diary completely free (nothing new there but I can live in hope.)

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Monday, February 13, 2006

If this goes on - I will be as thin as Paris Hilton!

I'm back earlier than planned but then not much went to plan since Friday afternoon. Went out for dinner Friday evening after work. Nothing special just a main course and then back to friends house for a glass of wine or two.

Well, that was where my weekend started and ended. I didn't get a wink of sleep Friday night, in fact I couldn't sit, stand or lie with chronic abdominal spasms and eventually ended up in the hospital to get an injection to make it all go away.

I thought I'd got used to dealing with crap like this having inflammatory PA (psoriatic arthritis) but Friday/Saturday knocked me for six. I was diagnosed with IBS years ago and it was never too severe, nothing I couldn't handle but this weekend was not fun. So, life really can be a bitch, I've managed to get a fairly good handle on the arthritis since I was diagnosed. For someone who used to hate needles I've learned to self-inject my medications etc. - whatever the PA has thrown at me I've bloody come back and now this - bugger, bugger, bugger!

Just had to rant somewhere. I know its not the end of the world and so many people have so much more to take but this weekend f***ed me off big time.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Thank Crunchie it's Friday!

Whey hey!

It's almost 5pm Friday - my absolute favourite time of the week! Nothing wild planned except maybe a glass of wine tonight. However, I do need to clean the house from top to bottom or else may need some scare tactics a la Redmum's threat to her young wan.

Have a great weekend, will be back in the blogosphere on Tuesday (I'm taking a long one myself!!!)

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Paul McKenna implicated in "How the fuck did that happen?" ????

If the Paul McKenna programme is responsible for me losing weight as discussed in my previous post is it also responsible for me becoming a short-arse??

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How the fuck did this happen??

Had a health screen the other day which threw up some very interesting facts. Now I already know I'm not the healthiest being on the planet (my fat arse, lack of energy and the fact that I smoke, drink and neither exercise or put the world at risk of running out of fresh vegetables anytime soon, are all fairly good indicators of this fact) but some of the results were unexpected to say the least.

My lung function was good despite being a pal of Twenty's with regard to still smoking. The ECG they did, proved that in fact, I do have a heart and its working normally (to all my exes - I told you w****ers I did have a heart!). Apparently my pee was fine too, although for my money, why would you even want to know!

The truly shocking thing were the basic measurements (not of my arse - I already know its big) of my weight and height. The scales loomed in front of me and in the end I closed my eyes and hopped on;

"** and a half
stone" she said,

I have managed to lose over half a stone without trying - fucking magic! (Apologies for the language but you have to understand the state of shock I was in, this does not happen in my world! PS KnackeredKaz, if I work out how it did will let you know so you're 100% happy with you LBD!) Great, fantastic, long may it continue etc. etc. etc. So then to the height;

"shoes off, back against the wall and stand straight
" says she;

okie, dokie, here goes;
"165cm" says she
(or something like that - metric doesn't register with this thirtysomething);
"whats that in real terms?" says I
"Five foot five" says she
"Fuck off, how did I go from 5ft 6" to 5ft 5" in the space of a minute!"
(obviously not what I said but definitely what I was thinking!)

So my question is this; how did I become a less lardy-arsed, more short-arsed specimen of humanity in the space of a few minutes???

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Baby Race II

Following on from my previous post Baby Race I watched the next two parts of the programme on C4 and it did get better. Certainly less depressing with more women having success on their chosen path to having children.

The biggest thing about the programme was that it kinda forced me to think about the issue consciously, which I really never had done before because I'd never been in a situation where to me having children was an option. Some of my friends who don't yet have children were also watching. Not all of them are single but even one of them who is in a relationship and has always been fairly put off by the idea of children was forced to ponder a little on the issue of her fertility. For todays educated, thinking women, facing the fact that your level of choice in the biggest decision that anyone can make is as shocking as whether or not you can have children. As my friend put it "its the difference between going voluntarily to WeightWatchers and having someone steal your buns!"

As I said in the last post I've decided I don't want to know about my fertility for the time being. I wouldn't do anything about it anyway, as bringing a child into the world on my own by choice is just not an option for me. I do admire anyone who has chosen to do so but personally its not something I would want. I'm a firm believer in "what is meant for you, doesn't go by you" so I'll just keep ticking along as I am, thank very much.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

You're never alone with a book!

I forgot to bring my book with me on my recent trip, big mistake, as I'm one of those people who can't sleep without reading. So off I toddled into a bookshop in one of the airports I was in during my trip. I presumed I'd get a magazine as usually the selection in the English section of many foreign bookshops can be hit and miss. But the price of the magazines was ridiculous (to me anyway), I don't need to spend between €8 and €10 to be bombarded by images of beautiful skinny women (l'd love to say I can look in the mirror but I'd be lying!) with maybe one or two decent articles in between if you are lucky. So I went over to the English section and actually managed to get an interesting book "The Plot against America" by Philip Roth.

Now I'm fairly well read with regard to World War II but not in relation to American history so I got that tingle of excitement when I looked at the cover and learnt something I didn't already know - that Charles Lindbergh was a Nazi supporter. Whilst I have read many books about World War II, I don't remember Charles Lindbergh being mentioned in any of them.

The fact that this was news to me is nothing to write home about in general and a lot of people may already know that, my point is, that's the joy of books. I love learning something I didn't know or being challenged or forced to look at things differently. It's fantastic buying a book that you want to read and hardly being able to wait to get stuck into the damned thing.

I don't have children but if you do, for God's sake get them reading, it's one of the biggest gifts you can give them. I'm so glad my Dad taught me to read at a very early age before I went to school.

I'm still only beginning to read the book as the trip was hectic and I really didn't manage to read more than a couple of lines each night but will let you know what the book is like.

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Photo:© Random House Readers Group at http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/readersgroup/

Baby Race

If anyone who reads this is female, single, in their thirties and has never had children - STOP now please! Do not depress the shit outta yourself like I managed to do last night by watching Channel 4's Baby Race.

Now as an intelligent 33 year old woman I obviously knew the general statistics on fertility etc. but watching a four women between 33 and 35 years of age having their fertility checked was actually shocking. To see one be told that already IVF was probably her best bet just gobsmacked me. The programme scared the beejaysus outta me. I'm just gone 33 and single and it really didn't throw out much hope for those of us thirtysomethings who have not yet had children and are still single. (Especially if like me you're in small town Ireland/England and you're not exactly bowled over with choice on the man front!)

Whilst I wouldn't even contemplate going down any of the routes mentioned in the programme (sperm donation, IVF, adoption, or simply finding a partner asap with a view to getting knocked up) anytime in the near future, the programme certainly made me feel like I may at least need to consider what I really want sometime sooner rather than later.

Do I really want to know if I'm still fertile or whether my eggs are deteriorating like snow in the Sahara? Having given it due consideration my answer right now is no. I wouldn't consider any of the options mentioned right now as I'm kinda old fashioned and would like any children I have to have both parents around in a loving and stable relationship. (I know it doesn't always work out like that but I'm entitled to want / wish for that). Also, whilst I see many friends and family with beautiful children I also recognise that children are bloody hard work, even when there are two parents around.

One thing that bugged me was one of the experts in the programme did mention the usual "many women are choosing careers and leaving having children till later....blah, blah, blah". Not all childless women in their thirties have made a conscious decision to put their career first. I'm single and childless (sounds v. bleak doesn't it?) because if I ever have children I would like to do so in a loving, committed and stable relationship (preferably marriage) and so far I've not found that. I am not in my current situation cos I have an absolutely amazing career that I put before my personal life. Obviously some of these people have never ventured out on the Irish (or UK) single scene!

Anyway just a few thoughts on what I found to be the most depressing programme I've watched in a long, long time.

Others who watched the programme and have made comments include Rachel2205 and TheCatGirlSpeaks

Monday, February 06, 2006

Van Gogh or Cezanne??

I've signed up for an art class, which is great except for the fact that I couldn't draw a straight line! Don't think any serious artists will have anything to worry about but sure it'll get me out of the house and might even encourage my creative side.

Sadly though I bet it'll be all women over thirty at the class. Bet there won't be a man kind there, more's the pity! I seriously contemplated signing up for a mechanics night class or some such but they were only running a tiling course. Now, as a driver there would be some advantage to doing a course on mechanics of my car, however, as I never intend to tile anywhere there would be no use in attending a tiling class. (Which would probably be full of women who've been bitten by the DIY bug anyway!)

I'll keep you posted on whether I look set to become the next Cezanne or Van Gogh!

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You know I was sitting in a restaurant the other night in France and it could have been a restaurant in any one of the cities I have visited in the past. It was beautiful and the fresh seafood was absolutely to die for (should really do a write up on the fantastic food I ate in the last week but I think Conor does that best) but I could have been anywhere.

Is it just me or does anyone else think that many restaurants / bars / hotels etc. that you visit when you are abroad just look the same? Also, many of the new buildings in most of the larger cities also all look alike. Globalisation is happening, and very quickly from what I can see. On one hand it's fantastic to be able to know what you are getting sometimes and it can offer a certain level of comfort if not everything is new or alien to the traveller. On the other hand, what's the point in travelling to gain new experiences if, when you get there, you could be anywhere in the world and there is nothing unique to the particular country's culture?

Just an observation and I do realise that the people, language etc all add to the experience and make it different but I just feel that globalisation is happening at a fairly rapid pace.

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A glass of wine please!

So I'm sitting in France about to tuck into a magnificent lunch along with eleven others from all over Europe and the wine is produced. Now, here in Ireland I reckon we'd order at least four bottles, if there were twelve of us sitting down to dinner but no, it was two bottles between twelve people. Amazing!

Here in Ireland we are constantly bombarded about the drink culture and all too often people point to European countries and say they drink with their meals etc., Yes they do but in fairness nothing like we do. I have to say I felt like an alcoholic when I was at that lunch; the glass of wine placed in front of me was the equivalent of what they pour in restaurants to let you taste the bloody thing and I could have drank the glass in one mouthful (yes I have a big mouth!)

So maybe I'll try to be more European in my drinking from now on - I must not drink a bottle of wine by myself and consider that I have been moderate in my drinking. Maybe I'll cut down to three-quarter of a bottle at a time - well there's no need to be hasty about these things is there???

Am now terrified that I could contemplate becoming moderate in all things (drinking, smoking etc.) - after all there was even less smoking in France than I expected. Jesus, just had a really frightening thought, what if I turn into a health freak who no longer smokes, doesn't drink and even exercises - ahhh!

Might have to cut down on my future exposure to other cultures - I don't feel myself anymore - hold on - did anyone see my cigarettes??

And I'm back!

Well, I've arrived back in sunny Ireland, safe and sound after a fairly hectic four days work and travel. Managed to get the teeny tiny suitcase on as hand luggage whenever I wanted due mainly to the fact that all the flights were with Air France and what a pleasure it was to fly with them. Nearly fell off my seat on one of the internal flights when I was allowed have coffee and a wine along with my sandwich. Sad really that it has become the exception to the rule when one is treated like a valued customer on a flight but that's the way things have gone. I like that little bit extra - good customer service - I really object to having to pay for putrid coffee on Ryanair and other supposedly cheap flights. The irony being that anytime I have flown Ryanair there have been no cheap flights left (usually it's for business and by the time four partner countries agree on date and place of meetings we are too late booking to get any decent deal!) So, for my money I prefer those little extras and being treated as a customer rather than a number, but then again I'm old school.