Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mixed Signals

Mention the 40 foot to most people in Dublin and the swimming place below in Sandycove comes to mind...
But nearby in Dun Laoghaire there is another 40 foot - a newish trendy bar...

Recently the following dialogue ensued at home...

Daughter (in a hurry from the hall door): "See ya, going to 40 foot."

Me: "What? It's a bit dark out!"

Daughter: "Don't worry...with a bunch of friends"

Me: " will be very cold, geez, you're one brave girl!"

Daughter (getting annoyed): "I've got a coat! Chill out!"

Me: "It aint me that will be chilling. Have you got a big towel?"

Daughter: "Are you drinking or something?"

Door slams.

Early Sun

Early Sun
Originally uploaded by John of Dublin.
A slightly hazy morning as I looked out at breakfast time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Big clean-up on Killiney Beach!

The last post on the Killiney Beach photo provoked some thoughts on colouring etc. Just for fun I'm including the unaltered and altered images below for further comment. In my humble opinion the unaltered photo, although representing the truth on the day, it is not quite as pleasing to the eye as the altered photo. I'd prefer to be on holiday in the second place! What do people think?

Original Untouched Image
Contrast and colour saturation increased

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunny Saturday

Wasn't Saturday a fine day? A good to be alive day. Ireland always looks better when sunny. I was out roaming with the camera again.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Anyone for Cricket? Alas, not me!

Wasn't it cool that little Ireland beat the mighty Pakistan? There is suddenly more talk of cricket going around our island.

It is a game that I do not like much, but I've tried and will maybe try again. I've watched it very slightly more often on TV in the last six months on Sky Sports HD...but that's mainly because the finer details in the grass look excellent on our 50 inch high definition plasma!

I know there are many fans out there. Do any of you remember the book written in Irish "An Dialann Deorai" (The Diary of an Exile) written by Donal MacAmhlaigh? It was on the Leaving Cert Irish course in the 1970s and was based on Donal's experiences when having to emigrate from Ireland to Britain in the 1950s and his time doing Navvy work etc. The last thing I expected this ardent Irish language speaking, GAA fanatical, quintessentially rural Ireland man to write in his book was that he liked watching the English play cricket. But he did. He liked the relaxed pace and I think the civilised behaviour etc. Ever since reading this all those years ago I've attempted to take some interest in it. I've even a fair idea of the rules etc. It also perplexes me how people can go along to the big cricket grounds where you seem to be miles away from the action and sit there and enjoy it.

I like watching snooker on TV which is slow paced but intriguing. Even bowls to some extent. I'd like to warm more to cricket.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Music, sweet music!

Spousey has a flashy modern red sports car (yes, I'm jealous). She often notices young lads gawking when out on the road. Eh...I'm sure it's the car that's the gawk subject.... she's not a bad looking chick with natural dark hair and wearing the right sunglasses... but I'm certain there are quite stringent age limits with 20 year old lads for tastes in older women!!!

Anyway, yesterday she told me that a white mid 90s Honda Civic pulls up beside her at traffic lights. I'm sure you get the windows...fancy wheels....unnatural underbelly lights....thumping bassy music.

The window winds down and two pimply faced lads in the front seats take a closer look at the gleaming red sports car. At this stage with the window down the noise of rap music is stronger. Spousey is in the Dublin County Choir and listens to difficult practise pieces in the car all the time. So in an attempt at counter-attack she winds down her window, turns up the CD player and gave them a 100 watt sample of Johann Sebastian Bach's more energetic works!

The irony of 300 year old music belting out in this setting was not lost on the lads and they went into resounding laughter. The lights then turned green and they accelerated off like escaping from Hell. Spousey just shook her head and hoped they would be safe.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Oil Power and Solar Power

I spotted this treat today at lunchtime from the shoreline at Blackrock. Maybe there is something symbolic for our future about the Poolbeg ESB power station being beside a bright rainbow....old energy and new energy?

New "kids" on the block! is truly an exaggeration, but it somehow seems apt. I'm referring to the invasion of the Blogosphere by Oldies.

First we've got Grandad over at Head Rambles. He writes great articles. Then his wife Granny started it at Granny Lost The Plot, another very good writer. The interaction between the two blogs is a riot of fun where I suspect fact and fiction blur beautifully. It's brilliant stuff.

We've also got another skilled writer Grannymar at oldbones who seems to be good pals with Granny. The communication between this pair is like watching One Foot in the Grave on the web. And Grannymar's daughter ellybabes has been blogging for quite awhile (and indeed Elly's partner whom Grannymar refers to as sin-in-law!). So this causes further fun and interactions. Indeed Grandad is now trying to encourage his grown up daughter to blog. the modern IT world often dominated by youth, this might seem to some as the equivalent of the tail wagging the dog!

I think it's all terrific, adds great balance. Many popular bloggers seem to be young in their 20's or 30's. I was feeling a little old at 52, but now I feel younger!

The Oldies have lots to say, a long lifetime of rich experiences. Young people were never old but old people were young.

Be afraid, be very afraid! The invasion has started.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Smell - a very under-rated sense!

My wife and I were in the Avoca shop in Powerscourt yesterday. We noticed lavender sacks for sale. The shape and scent brought me back more than 40 years. My mother used to put these sacks in chests of drawers with clothes. The smell of lavender still reminds me of our old house, drawers, comfort, security, letting parents take care of you. When you're an adult you can take on big challenges, but a child should just enjoy growing up in blissful safety.

I'm currently reading a novel called the The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. There is a great passage in it about how the young girl Liesel relates through smell to her foster father, Hans, who is kind to her and is teaching her to read each evening in the basement of their house....

Some nights after working in the basement, Liesel would sit crouched in the bath and hear the same utterances from the kitchen.

"You stink", Mama would say to Hans. "Like cigarettes and kerosene."

Sitting in the water, she imagined the smell of it, mapped out on her papa's clothes. More than anything, it was the smell of friendship, and she could find it on herself too. Liesel loved the smell. She would sniff her arm and smile as the water cooled around her.

I've written last year about how under-rated and powerful the sense of smell can be (Smell..the sense of the past and also comments on the novel Perfume). I'm sure we can all relate certain smells to childhood or other memories. Any thoughts?

March Trees

March Trees
Originally uploaded by John of Dublin.
There are some great trees in Powerscourt Gardens, Co. Wicklow. These looked interesting yesterday with the fading sun in background

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Feeding Fun

Feeding Fun
Originally uploaded by John of Dublin.
Blackrock Park at lunchtime on Tuesday.

Monday, March 05, 2007

RTE's The Restaurant - snapshot of new Ireland

I find myself watching this TV piece regularly for various reasons.

The side show is sometimes more interesting than the celebrity chef and critics table. I refer to the other diners tables which are sometimes occupied by an obnoxious bunch of snobby pretentious Irish nouveau riche. Their holier than thou attitude to the food is often dramatically contrasted by their poor table manners. They would do themselves more favours if they could handle their cutlery properly, avoid pointing with their knives and in particular drop their pompous accents which are often clearly put-on for the night. Also, their silly attempts at being knowledgeable at wines nearly always lets them down spectacularly. It's very difficult to name grape type and regions from taste - see how often the real experts get it badly wrong. It would be far more honest for them to just say how they like the wine and comment on it's flavour and scent, rather than trying to impress by effectively picking a wine name and region (and even year) out of a hat.

To me it's a fine example of how immature many of us are in the middle class with our new found wealth. The English upper middle class could still run rings around many of us when it comes to dining breeding. But as long as we can laugh at ourselves it's harmless fun.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Irish Blog Awards - Oscar Night.

Well in spite of a nasty bacterial infection of cellulitis in my leg and doped with heavy antibiotics I ventured along to the Irish Blog Awards on Saturday night.

I do think that the most interesting winners of the night were those two great sisters Kirstie and Aisling of They were terrific to talk to and the idea of their webiste is excellent. I believe they are making money from it and things can only get better from the two awards they have now picked up. Aisling has the challenge of MS to contend with and is so cheerful, outgoing and optimistic. I wish them both every success.

The very warm Sinead Gleeson was also great to meet and talk to again and she so deserves the Best Arts and Culture award for her hard work on the Sigla Blog

I also got to talk to Red Mum - who is a great writer and photographer and did well with her Best Personal Blog award. Her nice northern accent makes me feel at home as all my maternal relations are also from Northern Ireland.

It was also good to chat briefly to the previously mysterious Twenty Major. For the last few years I couldn't get the image out of my mind of him looking like the weird Ho-Chi-Minh type guy at top of his website. He's quite Irish looking in reality as we all now know and did well again this year in the awards.

Also with the help of old blogging pal that girl I tracked down Omaniblog whom I'd been most anxious to meet and we had a great long chat.

Finally I settled down for awhile for a good chat with gingerpixel (Claire Wilson) and her husband Matt and some of their family. They are really nice people. I think Claire will sooner or later get an award for her great photography and her work has really motivated me to get back to this hobby which I've always enjoyed since my teens.

I'd been hoping to get a word with one of my favourite and most inspiring writers Sarah Carey but she was gone before I'd a chance. It's unbelievable that she has yet to win a blog award.

Well done to all the winners and to Damien again for his tireless work. More details of all this years winners are here.