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Showing posts from July, 2009

Midleton Rail service opens today

Was bemused to read in paper today about the "opening" of the Midleton rail line. What of course, you are not informed of, is this is something similar to the split of the DART services in Dublin at Howth junction, so trains could serve as far north as Malahide. Very nice, but effectively the service was split in two between services serving Howth and service going on to Malahide. So the first question I would have is how many trains each way per day, and to what extent has this been done at the expense of existing Cobh-bound rail users?

From 4th August there will be a full service of 21 trains per day, on 30 minute intervals from 6.15 from the city (a HUGE improvement on the appalling "service" which I had no choice but to endure when working in Little Island around 2003, where in order to be at work for 07:00 I had to get a train at 5.45!!) Trains from Midleton start at 6.45 - good for city bound commuters who start at 8am, but no use to anybody starting at 7a…

Cocktails in the rain

One of the biggest new things I discovered this year whilst traipsing California was the Margarita cocktail. You'd be quite surprised to discover that this hasn't got a massive fanbase here - Irish people seem to prefer the sickly sweet cocktails like Moscow mules (which was rather popular when Smirnoff bottled it for a while in the mid 1990s), Pina Colda (oh all that cream!) and Mojitos. There is a legend, probably true, that the mojitos in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin 4 cost 20 lids a serving, though I must admit my source for this is the Ross O Carroll-Kelly spoof guidebook. I did try checking on their website, but in the best possible taste of a high star chain, they hadn't the poor taste to do something as low brow as publish the prices of their cocktails online!

But alas, there is no margarita to be had on the normal menu!

Captain Amercias in Cork doesn't do it, however, their Dublin branch does!

However there seems to be several schools of thought on the mak…

Stitch Wars

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Stitch Wars
Originally uploaded by Bear and Bird I just couldn't resist this. Aside from Jabba the Hut with a bunny rabbit, the Darth Vader on a sewing machine is just too good to resist.

The Bord Snip Nua Report

Before I listened to anything the media had to say yesterday, I took the liberty of having a scan through the Bord Snip report, which suggests 17,000 public sector job cuts, slashes in welfare spending and a plethora of charge increases, before tackling the rough job of siphoning out the propoganda from the reality.

What of course was most interesting to me in the report, and something which isn't obliquely pointed out, but you can hear it from the screams of fear of the anti-poverty industry, was the plans to combine lots of different bodies who quite honestly, are all doing the same thing.

For example, we all know about the forced amalgamations of bodies like the Equality Authority, Combat Poverty etc, but what beats me is how so many of these bodies somehow managed to become de facto state bodies in the first place? Why are what are effectively bodies supposedly representing community activists now part of the long arm of the state? For example, another one I notice is Citizens…

Some Irish euphemisms for hotels

Vibrant - you wont sleep at night because its over 3 night clubs who attract a clientele that screams at each other until 4am
quiet, leafy location - miles away from anywhere
next to the Aviva Stadium - next to the building site that soon will become the Aviva stadium
rich in character - hasn't been redecorated since 1978
only a 5-minute walk from St. Stephen's Green - if you are Benny Hill, that is
renovated Georgian Building - former brothel
family-run hotel - reception 2 hours a day and scornful looks from the landlady if you come home after 11pm (actually not really a "hotel" but a bed and breakfast with pretensions)
recently restored - we found some magnolia paint out the back
informal - no service
situated in a premier residential area - no parking and public transport is crap
a pleasant outing from Dublin - last bus leaves at 8pm
traditional Irish hospitality - you'll be gouged for every last cent
rooms are furnished with simplicity and sophistication - we took a spin…

Hostels vs Hotels . . again!

Well I was reading on hotelchatter (great website by the way) about hostels that start going more upmarket by converting dorms into private rooms and couldn't help thinking of one well, ahem, well known example of what quite frankly I can only decribe as a scam, in my vicinity. I recall a new hostel opening a few minutes downhill from where I live (lets just say the restaurant is particularly prized, and rightfully so, its bloody good) when I started visiting Cork in 1992, and I recall staying in one of their spanking new private hotel rooms back around 1995 or 1996 while visiting a conference in UCC. Now looking at the photos now there is no doubt that the decor and design of the rooms are hugely upgraded, but my are they small compared to purpose built if simple hotels further out of town. In fact I suspect that most of the rooms themselves haven't changed much at all.

In fact even a check on Hostelworld - a good site if you are just looking for a dorm, but a minefield if …

Rainfall

I have been quite interested in rainfall over the last few days. Like most people, I huddle indoors when the weather turns foul and large amounts of water pours all over the place. And seeing as this is now the 3rd summer running where we've had far more rainfall than sunshine in Ireland I may as well. In fact I have actually got to a point where I do wonder if it was a relationship-induced delusion that made me ignore the absence of a sunny season in Ireland or indeed I'd been living under way too much work/alcohol or a combination of both for too long to appreciate that actually, no, there isn't a lot of sunshine in Ireland.

Anyway one of the nicer aspects of rainfall is I don't need to water my copious plantation out in the terrace (except for my tomatos and the other plant that remains nameless that Christina kindly resccued from being dumped and planted in the shaded area in the back, where it sort of lives without thriving but doesn't die or look unhealthy …

BBC podcasting outside of the UK

I have a nice habit, since my sleeping patterns managed to completely break down into 1-2 hour sessions, of leaving my alarm off at the weekend so I somehow manage to vaguely compensate for the sleep I miss out on during the rest of the week. Last Sunday I managed to wake up at 3pm having dropped off at midnight the night before - I don't I've ever managed to sleep for 15 hours before, even after several days of flying from the opposite side of the world. I still felt sleepy.

Anyway one of the catches of sleeping in until midday on Saturdays is I miss my secret pleasure, BBC Radio 3's Saturday morning CD Review. I've listening to this now for almost 20 years, since I started college. In north county Dublin you can still (for the time being anyway) pick up BBC radio on FM in reasonable stereo from across the border in South County Down (is this why the vegetables selling at the Swords farmers market from the folks with the clearly south Down accent is regarded as &qu…