Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bon anniversaire, Erika

Je te souhaite un très très bon anniversaire! Voici une reproduction de la carte que je t'ai envoyée. J'espère qu'elle te plaît. Je l'ai crée avec des aquarelles - un tracé blanc avec une gomme spéciale, un fond bleu et une note rose qui s'est mélangée avec le bleu. Je te montrerai comment faire la prochaine fois que tu viendras me voir en Irlande. Le bleu est un "bleu de Delft" et le rose est un "rouge rubis".

Gros bisous!

Friday, December 29, 2006

China Sichuan - we have more information

We were down in the China Sichuan restaurant before Christmas - we had a gorgeous meal there again, with my parents this time.

In the time-honoured Chinese restaurant tradition, we were given a calendar at the end of our meal. [Well, I'm not sure how much of a tradition it is, really, but our Chinese Take-away delivery man always gives us one! (our Chinese take-away is Yumi, on Bird Avenue in Clonskeagh, the most consistent take-away I've ever seen. I eat the same thing every Friday evening, and it's always just perfect - King Prawn Sweet and Sour, not very original, but why change if I'm happy with it?)]

And on this calendar, we found all the information we had been looking for:
  1. Where is China Sichuan moving to? The Forum, Ballymoss Road, Sandyford, across from the Stillorgan Luas Stop in Sandyford. (There is even a little map on the calendar.)
  2. When was the China Sichuan restaurant established? In 1986.
  3. What is my Chinese horoscope sign? Dragon.
  4. Well, there is one question still unanswered - When are they moving? Brendan asked Kevin and his answer was "it was supposed to be 4 months ago". So we'll have to wait a while longer to have this final question answered.
By the way, for the few of you who are stumbling upon this page when looking for the China Sichuan restaurant's & Yumi TakeAway phone numbers, here they are:

China Sichuan: 288 4817 or 288 0882
Yumi, Clonskeagh: 269 3488 or 269 2151

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Met Broadcast - Rigoletto

When you're writing every day, there always seems to be something to talk about. But if you stop writing for a few days, it seems much harder to start again. I'm not sure if that's true for everybody, but it's certainly true for me. We've been busy over the last while, and I just haven't had a chance to attend to my blog. And now that I've managed to grab a few minutes for myself, I'm not sure what I want to write about.

Maybe I'll tell you about the Met Broadcasts. The Metropolitan Opera in New York have a special program through which they broadcast live performances to the world. They have this program called Sirius satellite radio. But I've found out that Lyric FM play the Met Saturday Matinée broadcasts on Saturday evenings (GMT).

I caught it for the first time last Saturday evening, as Brendan was out. I listened to Verdi's Rigoletto, and it was a real joy. This Saturday is Verdi's Don Carlo. I might not get a chance to listen to it, as it's a busy time of the year, but I'll try to catch other performances in future.

Rigoletto is one of my favourite operas. I saw it for the first time in the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, a good few years ago. It was a glorious production - very simple, but very effective. I remember the scene where Rigoletto arrives home. He is on the street, then a white curtain is pulled, and he is inside his house. It was so simple, but it worked really well. And I remember the flames coming out of the stage when the lightning was striking in the big thunderstorm scene at the end of the opera, when Gilda sacrifices herself to save the Duke's life.
The music is big and gorgeous, and the story is tragic. All perfect ingredients for a good opera.

I've been to a good few operas over the years, and I've been to some really boring productions, so it's a joy when all the ingredients come together well. I've often found that for every good one I've seen at the Gaiety, there has been one bad one. On the other hand, the operas at the festival in Wexford have always been great productions.

That's all I've got time for, folks. More about my favourite operas some other time!

Sunday, December 17, 2006


We were in Lahinch at the end of July this year. Brendan took plenty of great photos during that trip to Clare. He's got a few of these shared on Flickr.

A lot of the pictures we take - either on our travels or closer to home - are an inspiration for my watercolours. I've recently gathered some of the photos that I would like to interpret as watercolours into a folder on my Mac Mini - Right now, I have 398 photographs to work from! It's great to have those for the days where I'd like to paint something but I don't know what! If worst comes to the worst, I'll start with the first picture in that folder and work my way through. I really have no excuse!

Here is a watercolour I did from one of these pictures. I'm including the original photograph and 2 versions of the watercolour. One is a scan of the watercolour, the other is a photo of the watercolour (which gives more detail than the scan). Sometimes a scan works better than a photo. I think that photographs are more dependent on the ambient light and they can be dull or brash, whereas a scan is more reliable. But the camera gives more detail than the scanner we have, which is quite old. As I couldn't decide which one I preferred, I decided to include both

Saturday, December 16, 2006


After my blog yesterday, I did go and look for pictures. I've found plenty of old pictures, so be warned!! I promise I won't post any pictures of anybody in compromising situations! But be prepared for a stark reminder of our dreadful dress sense! The eighties wasn't a tasteful decade!

This picture here was taken in the Mourne mountains. Ann was into hill walking and we went along with a few of her friends. Máire and myself were not into keeping fit at the time and we gave up half way up and went shopping instead!

From left to right: me (with back turned to the camera), Ann, Máire, Christine and Kay. I think this is a lovely picture of the girls. I'm the only one still living in Dublin, and we haven't kept in touch that much. We all live busy lives!

And now, to start the "dreadful dress sense" series, here is one of me at the Trinity Ball in 1987! I really thought that outfit was the bee's knees (is that how it's spelt? I must check what that expression actually means!). And you can't even see that the satin blue dress has a bow on the side of the hip! And did you notice the lacey navy tights!? Not the best for someone who has fat calves like me!! And let's not mention the "overcoat" - it was actually a button-through dress.

I had been dancing the night away and I needed to rest my feet! I'm one of the few people who actually enjoyed the Trinity Ball, as I had no romantic interest in my date for the ball, Anthony. We just had a great time going from concert to concert and dancing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Birthday, Christine!

Today is Christine's birthday. And did you know that her son, Daragh, was born on 20 December 1996, the same day that Brendan and I got married! And her daughter, Sinéad, is 5.

I still remember Christine from the days I lived in a flat in Lower Leeson Street with Kelly, Lorna and Orla (It was either Number 75 or 73). She was living in a flat upstairs from us, and it was through her I got to share the flat with Maire, on Adelaide Road. It's all a very long time ago! I must go and see if I can find some pictures from those days, when we were all young and beautiful (actually, I think I look better now than I did then, but I'll let you decide!)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Squid and the Whale

On Saturday, Brendan and I had an early night out in Indian Summer, the Indian in Stillorgan. I had booked it for the boys' night out, and since they couldn't make it, I thought we might as well go! We had a lovely meal there. We went in around 6:30, and were home before 8! It was very quiet - only another table of 2, and a party of 4 had just arrived as we were leaving. I would have thought that at this time of the year, it would be busier, but I guess Indian is not to everybody's taste, and therefore is an unlikely choice for Christmas parties. They don't know what they're missing. I had a lovely dish of fish and prawns, after a shared starter that included prawns, lamb, chicken, chickpeas, pakoras and a spicy salad.

We then rented a DVD, something we don't do very often. There wasn't much there - the choices were Syriana, In Her Shoes, and The Squid and the Whale. I had seen In Her Shoes before, and I felt that Syriana might be too heavy, so we opted for The Squid and the Whale. I had read something about it a while back. It's the story of a family in Brooklyn going through a divorce, and it tells us how it affects the 2 sons (one is 16, the other 12). It's not a Hollywood movie, so there is no big drama - just a simple story nicely told, taking us through the messy stages of separation and how the divorce is affecting the children (and the cat!).

Jeff Daniels is very good as the pedantic writer and college professor, who lives in his own world and doesn't seem to understand why his wife cheated on him (I wonder why she stayed with him for as long as she did!), and how his actions upset his two sons.

And I like Laura Linney too. I remember her in The Life of David Gale, which I really thought was an excellent movie. The other actors in it are Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet. I don't think it did very well in the box office, but I thought it was a very powerful movie, dealing in an interesting way with the subject of the death penalty.

PS: You will find the Squid and the Whale in the Museum of National History in New York

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rodrigo y Gabriela

Last Thursday night we went to the Rodrigo y Gabriela show in Vicar Street, with Niall and Rita. It was Niall who had introduced us to their music a good few months ago. I had watched a few minutes of their DVD, which Niall had kindly loaned to us, but I hadn't really paid much attention to it, I have to admit.

So, it was a good surprise when the concert turned out to be excellent. Basically, Rodrigo y Gabriela are 2 Mexicans who live in Ireland, and the music is just their 2 guitars, which they play like maniacs. They used to play in heavy metal bands, and you certainly get a sense of that influence in their music, but the fact that it's just 2 guitars gives it a very flamenco sound. Rodrigo does the more delicate work, while Gabriela's fingerwork on her guitar resembles more that of a bodhran player. Her knuckles must be in bits!

Anyway, what a show - the skill and the passion! You can check them out on My Space, where you can listen to some of their music.

And I was glad for the projections on the back of the stage in the second half of the concert - otherwise, all I would have seen would have been 2 bobbing heads. I would have missed out on the visual effect of how they play the guitar! When I went to the Bob Dylan concert with Brendan a few months ago, all I saw was Bob's hat!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Constant Princess

A few months back, I told you all about "The Other Boleyn Girl", a book by Philippa Gregory, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Well, I've just finished "The Constant Princess", which tells the story of Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. I enjoyed it too, and probably will read on a few more Philippa Gregory books (she has a new one out - more Henry VIII stories!). I found the end of the book a bit disappointing - it kind of fizzles out. I suppose I already knew the end of the story, having read the other book, but I feel the author rushed through the end of the story a bit too much for my taste.

On the other hand, the early chapters are lovely - if you've been to Granada and the Alhambra, you'll enjoy her description of Katherine's early life there, and the sense of how special the Alhambra is.

(Note: when you click on the link for "The Constant Princess" book on Philippa Gregory's website, you may find that it brings you to another book, "The Virgin's Lover". Hopefully her website designers will soon fix this bad link!)

(Another note: I was finally able to upload a picture onto Blogger from my Mac, so the engineers at Google must have fixed that bug! Good on them!)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Au grand Saint Nicolas, patron des écoliers..

Aujourd'hui, c'est la Saint Nicolas, un jour important pour tous les enfants belges et hollandais, car en effet, c'est le jour des cadeaux!! C'est Saint Nicolas qui nous apporte les jouets, tandis que le Père Noël apporte en général des vêtements ou autres choses utiles.

Et Saint Nicolas apporte aussi des bonbons. Il suffit de laisser ses chaussures près de la cheminée

"... Je serai toujours sage, comme un petit mouton
Je dirai mes prières pour avoir des bonbons.
Venez venez, Saint Nicolas, Venez venez, Saint Nicolas
Venez, venez Saint Nicolas, oh tra la la"

Je ne sais pas si c'est la version officielle, mais ce sont les paroles dont je me souviens.

Je revois les photos d'une Saint Nicolas, à l'école d'Heuvy, où nous avons chanté cette chanson. Si je me souviens bien, on avait des grands chapeaux pointus sur la tête, et je revois Marie-Alixe, mon amie d'école primaire, chanter, avec un air très sérieux. Je devrai vérifier les albums photos la prochaine fois que j'irai en Belgique!

(PS: still some issues with Blogger - I can make text italic, but I get an error when I try to upload a picture)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Beta Blogger

I moved to the beta of the new Blogger application a few weeks ago. I had no immediate plan to play around with the design of my blog, but I just liked the idea of moving to the latest version.

Initially, my experience was good, but in the last 2 days, I haven't been able to add pictures, links or any character formatting in my posts. I normally do my blog from my Mac Mini, using Firefox. I just checked on a PC, and the features are working perfectly well in Internet Explorer.

I know it's only a beta, and cross-platform functionality is often lower in the priorities at this stage of software development, but I find it really annoying. I hate to have to move from computer to computer when I have my mind set on a task. I just get frustrated with having to accommodate the technology. As far as I'm concerned, the technology should be there to accommodate ME! That's the whole point of having a computer - to make my life easier. Not the other way round. And that's precisely why I just love Blogger. When I started my first blog, I was up and running in less than 10 minutes and everything WORKED. It was just like they said on the website - 3 easy steps and you're done. I'm sure this is only a temporary glitch!

Anyways, I'll now go in and add the pictures to my previous posts. Not much else to do on this wet and windy Sunday afternoon.

We went for a walk in Bray just after lunch, and I think we managed to catch the last bit of dry weather for today. There are storm force winds forecast - up to 140 or 150 KM/H! and the showers look like they're going to merge into rain. So I'm glad we got our bit of fresh air. We got battered by the wind, but we enjoyed our walk by the seafront - and Brendan took plenty of pictures of the waves!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Can't add any pictures

I normally add a 5x5 watercolour to my birthday posts, but for some strange reason, Blogger seems to be in "bare minimum" mode today - so I don't see any button to add pictures.
Hopefully it will be back to normal tomorrow, and I certainly hope I will have a little bit of time to write a few lines. I was working for most of today, but I'm planning to take a break tomorrow.

(Picture added on Sunday, using Internet Explorer on Windows, instead of Firefox on a Mac)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Birthdays this month - Oh my god, it's December!

I don't know where November went - I didn't get a chance to post anything to my blog this week! Good for PC Medic!

Birthdays this month are:

Mary on the 12th

Christine on the 15th

and Erika on the 30th

Wishing all 3 of you a happy birthday!