Friday, March 31, 2006

Old Head of Kinsale

The Old Head of Kinsale used to be a beautiful spot I believe. It probably still is - but unless you can afford the membership or fees for an expensive gold club, you won't see it. I've never seen it myself. The entrance is closed to the general public. Still, the whole area is lovely and there is a spectacular view of the cliff from the public area before the gate.

Here is a link to the golf club website - it shows a nice view of it as an intro: link

Respect for the line

Painting straight lines is not easy. And the Place de la Concorde painting has got many thin black lines, so I'm developing a strong respect for lines.

I did the first one with masking tape, but it didn't look great, so I'm now in the process of painting the other black lines by hand. It's slow work. When that is done, I'll have to touch them up so they look perfectly straight. It's going to be a while before this painting is finished! And I don't think my lines will be as straight as the original.

Talking about straight lines, and thinking about bar codes, here is another piece of interesting/useless information: Weetabix and Bixies are the same! We bought a box of Bixies in Lidl in Castelblayney (it was our first venture into the world of Lidl/Aldi - well apart from the Aldi in Bouge), and I had a box of Weetabix bought a couple of weeks ago in Superquinn. They look the same, they taste the same, the list of ingredients is the same, and the batch number is the same! Both have batch number 6023, the Weetabix has a timestamp of 20:19 and the Bixies 18:53. The only difference I could spot was that the Weetabix has a red code "2", and the Bixies has a blue code "D", and the price of course..

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Lisa and I went to see Tsotsi at the IMC in Dun Laoghaire last night. I thought it was very good - very gritty, with a bit of a soft heart, but I certainly did not find it "mushy" (it was described as mushy in some of the reviews). The coldness in the eyes of Tsotsi, the eponymous character, is really chilling, and it's only towards the end that you see some humanity in him.
It's set in the ghettos in Johannesburg, and it's showing a life where gangs rule and human decency is a scarce commodity. Some of the scenes are really hard to take - there is a senseless killing on the subway at the start of the movie which sets the tone for the whole movie. And there is a scene with a dog which is really heart-breaking.

I spent the whole movie worrying about the baby, though. Not that I thought that anybody would do any harm to him... I was simply worried that he would fall off the couches and beds he was lying on ... that baby was constantly being left lying at the edge of beds, tables, couches, and I could picture him rolling over (like babies do) and falling onto the floor. I'm sure the baby's mother spent the whole shooting of the movie worrying about that! Or maybe it's just me!

The movie won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, and I could see why (though I have to admit I have no idea what the competing movies were)

The IMC in Dun Laoghaire was very handy - the car park is a bit tight, but I got a spot no problem, and when you get your parking ticket validated when you buy your cinema ticket, you get your parking for free.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hayfield Manor, Cork, Old Head of Kinsale

We were down in Cork over the last few days, and stayed in Hayfield Manor in Cork City, courtesy of American Express Membership Rewards. The current membership rewards program is ending in the next few months, so we're making the most of the points accumulated by Brendan over the years.

We had heard that Hayfield Manor was nice, and we were not disappointed. Lovely room, nice bar and restaurants, peaceful location (despite the fact that it's very close to the city centre - it's just across from Cork University on College Road), and excellent service, from Bart the concierge, who jumped out of a car he was moving to pick up our suitcase, to Anna the Polish waitress in the Perrotts restaurant.

The only black mark was the pool - it was freezing! My fingers went yellow with the cold and I was wheezing by the time I got out of the pool. They are currently refurbishing the leasure centre, so maybe that's why ....

The food was to die for, including the breakfast, with a chocolate muffin that Brendan has declared to be the best muffin he's ever had!

The weather wasn't great - it was dry most of the way down from Dublin (3 hours and 15 minutes, leaving Dublin around 9 on Sunday morning). It started to rain as we got near to Mitchelstown, and it didn't stop raining all day Sunday. So, we got the Sunday papers and spent the afternoon reading them, which is something we don't do very often.

Monday was a bit drier, in that it wasn't pouring rain, only drizzling the whole day. We walked down to the city centre for a little look around the town, then we took the car to drive down to Kinsale, and the Old Head (at that stage, it was raining quite heavily again). We drove on to a beach close by and watched the big waves crashing on to the shore. A few surfers attempted to get to the big waves, but gave up after a few minutes - it looked like hard work.

We got back to Dublin yesterday. And today is glorious in Dublin - there was frost on the windscreen of the car this morning, but the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the temperature is getting closer to 10 than it's been in a long time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Just in case you're wondering...

The Place de la Concorde imitation is coming along. It's going slowly, as I haven't had much time to sit down and paint, but I'm at the stage where I'm doing the black lines, so we're getting there.

Friday, March 24, 2006

New lambs

We went up to Airfield on Wednesday to see the new lambs. A sure sign of spring, though don't be fooled by the sunshine in the picture. It was still really cold. Well, cold by Irish standards, at least. That means 4 or 5 degrees above freezing! This winter has felt very cold and very long. Today is the first day that it looks like the weather might be changing. It's getting milder, but the price to pay is that it's been raining all morning. Hopefully, the weather will brighten up a bit over the next few days.
There are plenty more lambs to be born. There were only 5 or 6 in the field on Wednesday. I'm sure there are plenty more born since then. I'll go and have a look tomorrow afternoon, and hopefully will get back with better pictures then. The electric fence around them is to keep the foxes at bay. There are plenty of foxes in the area, and I'm sure they would love to get their teeth into such a tender morsel.
By the way, don't forget to click on the pictures to see them in larger size.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

La Mer

As soon as I posted yesterday's blog, the song came to my mind. Did you know that "Beyond the Sea" is a translation of a French song by Charles Trenet, called - you've guessed - "La Mer"
I was never a big Charles Trenet fan, except for that song, as we learned it in primary school (I guess Madame Barte was a fan)
If you ask nicely, I will sing that song too.
Here are the lyrics:

La mer
Qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs
A des reflets d'argent
La mer
Des reflets changeants
Sous la pluie

La mer
Au ciel d'été confond
Ses blancs moutons
Avec les anges si purs
La mer bergère d'azur

Pres des étangs
Ces grands roseaux mouillés
Ces oiseaux blancs
Et ces maisons rouillées

La mer
Les a bercés
Le long des golfes clairs
Et d'une chanson d'amour
La mer
A bercé mon coeur pour la vie

You'll find some of his songs on the French Amazon web site. Here is a link to one of the albums.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Sea

This is a picture of the sea (well, the Indian Ocean, actually) at Baros.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Li Bia Bouquet

At the weekend, the conversation came around to National Anthems. (I can't remember why it got around to this fascinating subject - maybe we were watching the Ireland-England rugby match on the telly).

Here are a few facts about me:
  • I recognise the Irish National Anthem no problem (but I don't know the words).
  • I know the first few words of the French National Anthem.
  • I have no idea what the Belgian National Anthem sounds like or what the words are... Somehow, it was never taught while I was in school.
  • But I am proud to say I can sing Li Bia Bouquet's full refrain, and first verse in Walloon. I'm not sure if it's sung throughout Wallonia, or if it just the official Namur song, but I will sing it if you ask me nicely.
Here are the words (along with a picture of one of the 40 Molons):
Refrain :

C'est d'mwin li jou di m'mariatche,
Aprètez, aprètez tos vos bouquèts,
Vos lès mettroz au cwarsadje,
Dès bauchèles do banquet.
Mins c'èst l'minne li pus djolie
Ossi vraîmint, dji m'rafie
Di li donnér li bouquèt
Elle aurait li bia bouquèt.

Ca sti one saquwés d'drôle
L'ote-fi j'aveûve on'crôle
Tot aspoûyi
Dj'allès soki
L'âmour vint m'rewéi.

C'èsteûve mi ptit' Mâriye
Come el'esteûve djolie
Quén embaras
Ca sti c'djoû-là
Qui dj'a siné l'contract.

Adiè totes mès folies
Dj'intèr dins l'confrériye
C'ést-st-à l'ôté
Qui dj-vas djûrer
Amour, fidélité.
C'est d'mwin qui dj'boute àpièce
Adiè tote li djonesse
Po cominçî
D'jî m'vas satchî
A l'cwâde àtot spiyî

For more info about the Molons, go to their website here.

And if you go to this website, you should hear it (except if you're on a Mac, like me)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

And another birthday..

And how could I forget Willow's Birthday. Our little darling was born on 17 March 2000! This is how he looked when we got him (at the June Bank Holiday weekend 2000). Look at how big his ears look compared to his body! That's probably the equivalent of thick legs on a puppy, a sure sign he was going to grow into a 9-kg cat! Well, actually we had an idea he would, as both parents were big cats. As far as I remember, his mother was just like him, and the father was black and white. It is thanks to Hester that we got him. We were talking about cats towards the end of the Eurovision party in 2000, and she told us she knew someone who had kittens to give away. We jumped at the offer, and we've been glad we did ever since.

And now, a before and after (I've changed a lot too!) The thing hanging out of Willow's mouth in the 1st picture is a toy mouse - one of his favourite toys. He loves to fling them around the house:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Birthdays this month

A lot of birthdays to remember this month - Laura (the Belgian Laura, not the Irish one - funny that I have two nieces called Laura, and they've never met!) on the 10th, Yves on the 15th, Lisa on the 23rd I think, and Papilou on the 31st. And we just heard that Brian is 18 this month!

I haven't had much time to update my blog this week, so instead of writing too many words, here is a picture of batfish - we came across them on the corner of the reef in Baros, and they followed us the whole way back! (I had initially posted another impression of the sea at Baros, with my favourite watercolour pencils, but, even enhanced with Adobe Photoshop Elements, I thought the colours didn't come out right, so I changed my mind and posted this instead!)
According to the book we have, these guys are Tall-fin Batfish, also known as Longfin Batfish. They can grow to 60 cm, which is probably the size of the bigger ones in this picture. They came really close to us, as if to check us out, which is unusual for fish, in our experience (they normally ignore us, or try to hide). We came across them near the spot where the blue triggerfish hang out, where the current changes direction.
Other years, there were lots of Oriental Sweetlips there, but there were none in that spot this year. The fish on the left is an Oriental Sweetlip. They look like they should be easy to photograph, as they just tend to stay very still above or below coral overhangs, but if you try to get close to take a picture, they have a nasty habit of drifting away under the overhangs. By the way, all photos of fishes here were taken by Brendan, using our good old Sony Cybershot camera, with a Sony underwater casing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

When Philip Met Isabella

Last Sunday week, we went to the Design Museum in Collins Barracks to have a look at the Eileen Gray permanent exhibition (on the top floor), which was very good. I'll probably talk about it more some other time. On the way out, we stumbled upon the exhibition "When Philip met Isabella, Philip Treacy's hats for Isabella Blow". And we are glad we did! The exhibition (which is free by the way) is all about mad hats designed by Philip Treacy (who studied in the NCAD) for his muse and sponsor, Isabella Blow. The exhibition is temporary, but has been extended until 2 April.

There are hats that look like turrets, like a French 18th century sailing ship, like mad horns , like UFOs, in all colours, black, bright pink & green, with and without feathers (most of the feathers are carefully cut to look just perfect).

There is even a sculpture, which I think is supposed to represent Isabella's face in profile when you look at the shadow it casts on the wall - well, that sculpture has got heads of crows, the head of a red-robbin, it also has bits of a rat, of a rattlesnake and a lipstick. I'm glad to say I couldn't make out the rat bit! It's gross, but it's also fascinating. I won't put a picture of it here, but you can find it on the web!

Now, I have to say that Isabella Blow is not a particularly pretty lady, but she is supposed to be "one of the world's most influential creative directors!"

A matter of taste, I guess!!

What you have to admire is the quality of the work - these hats are works of art - there isn't a stitch out of place. Actually, there isn't a stitch visible!

You can find some pictures of the hats at the British design museum site: here
There are also pictures from his shows at his own website: here

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Here is a watercolour impression of a stand of green coral on the reef in Baros (it's just to the left of the wide opening in the wall, just across from the bungalow we were in). Actually, I'm not 100% sure if the green bit is coral or a green algae growing on the coral.

Friday, March 10, 2006

One last giant clam

I couldn't resist - it's just too easy to manipulate the colours in Photoshop Elements!
This is the last one, I promise!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

6 giant clams

Here are more variations done in Photoshop Elements. To combine them, I had to reduce the size of the original image, so the end result is not as rich when you enlarge the picture, but it's nice to see them all together all the same.

Giant Clam

Here is an impression of a giant clam (though they are called Giant Clams, some of them are only about 20 cm), and a few colour variations done with Photoshop Elements.
Click on each picture to see them in large size. I just love the colours of them.

And here are some pictures of the real thing:

Monday, March 06, 2006

House of Flying Daggers

No, this title is not a reference to the BB-MHBD Household, where all is harmonious (and I'm too clumsy to go near daggers, or any sharp knives for that matter!)

House of Flying Daggers is the title of a movie. We don't rent videos very often, but Brendan suggested this movie on Saturday night, and I really enjoyed it (and yes it's a love story, but, No, I didn't shed any tears)

It's a Chinese movie in the same vein as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with a perfect balance between action & romance. Possibly not quite as rich, deep and haunting as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it's still a wonderful movie, with a good plot (although some bits are quite predictable), great fight scenes, some depth of feelings, and fabulous costumes. The lead actress, Ziyi Zhang is gorgeous, of course, and one of the male leads, Takeshi Kaneshiro, is easy on the eye too. Ziyi Zhang also played in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and in Memoirs of a Geisha. A good DVD to rent, if not to buy.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Un dessin d'Erika

Erika et Maman sont venues à Dublin la semaine passée (congé de mi-trimestre). Nous avons passé beaucoup de temps au shopping centre à Dundrum (Zara et Next ont une collection impressionante de vêtements pour enfants!), et à Airfield.
Voici un dessin d'Erika:

Saturday, March 04, 2006

But where do we get the time?

Since leaving our lives in big corporations behind and starting PC Medic, Brendan and myself have the time to indulge in all the things we enjoy. And blogging is one of the things we've dived into in the last few months. If you think I've been a prolific blogger, check out PC Medic's blog. There are so many things that interest Brendan that it looks like he will never run out of topics!

As for myself, I resort to pictures when I don't feel like writing too much. My philosophy is that if it's going to take me more than 15 minutes to write my blog, I'll get tired of it. That's without taking into account the time to paint, scan and crop - but that's different!

Here is an impression of the sea seen from Baros (watercolour pencils on 140lb watercolour paper):

Life is good

Friday, March 03, 2006

Une photo de Willow

Voici une photo de Willow - j'en garde en réserve pour les jours où je n'ai pas le temps d'écrire un blog! Je jure que la photo n'est pas truquée!