Monday, September 27, 2010


We're trying to make room on our UPC hard disk (I'm sure there is a proper name for it, but I don't know what it is - it's the box from the cable company on which we can record movies), so we're watching a good few movies these days.

11:14 was a good surprise - never heard of it before, but it had an interesting story line - all circling around the same few roads going across a small town in the middle of nowhere in America, before, after and at 11:14 PM. A few people's lives are criss-crossing, with tragic consequences and ironic twists. Some scenes were quite bloody, actually completely gross, but in a sort-of-funny way (I still couldn't look at them directly - I had to watch those bits in the reflection in the window - somehow it makes it more bearable).

A couple of big names - Patrick Swayze, Hillary Swank, Barbara Hershey. And if the guy driving the car at the start of the movie looks familiar, it's because he is Henry Thomas, who played Elliott, the little boy who befriends E.T. in E.T!!  These are the wonderful pieces of information you'll find on Wikipedia! Just do a search for Henry Thomas in Google images, and you'll see how he hasn't changed all that much!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Siobhan Ryan - black skirt & red top

Nice red top on Siobhan Ryan this evening. I like it that she is already wearing brighter colours!

Abstract Exercise #3 - Variation 1 - Take 2

I was so happy with my Abstract Exercise #3 - Variation 1 that I decided to paint a bigger version. The original was 12x16". This one is 20x24" (51x61cm) - a different proportion altogether, so I had to redesign it from scratch, but I kept the same colour scheme (dark background made up of ultramarine + process magenta + black, and blues and greens made up of process cyan + lemon yellow + white).

There was a band of sunlight falling over it when I took one of the photos, and I chose to show you this one as it reveals the colours much better, though nothing as vibrant as the original. Colour corrections go too blue or too yellow.

Food Porn

Scrumptious photo of a burger (I'm told it's a M&S gourmet burger, on a ciabatta, with tomato, red onion, gherkins and ketchup) taken 2 weeks ago (while I was in Belgium). This is what Brendan gets up to when I'm away:

Autumn Day

We've had some lovely weather in the last couple of days (it certainly makes up for the rain last weekend and earlier this week). After a quick trip to town to buy supplies in Asia Market, we went for a walk in Bushy Park.

And, after shopping in Lidl and a bit of abstract painting, here I am. Day gone in a flash. I'm definitely getting old.

I've got a bit of tidy-up to do now, and then it will be time for dinner - Marks & Spencers noodles (special offers - 3 for €7) - I love M&S special offers - the salads are gorgeous - Crayfish and Quinoa, Edamame & greans beans are my current favourites. I also like the Quiche, olives and parma ham (3 for €7), and of course the meal deal for 2 specials - main course, veggie, dessert (have you ever tried the profiteroles? or the Belgian chocolate soufflé? No? You haven't lived!) and a bottle of wine for €12.50. Though, I think that there are not as many specials as during the summer. I guess we're getting into the eat-eat-eat season and they don't need to have specials to attract customers. On Friday, I had to resist the lure of the giant Belgian biscuit tins. And they already have mince pies on the shelves - way too early. No wonder the Irish nation is heading for obesity. But no Belgian chocolate truffles, yet, thankfully, as I'm not sure my self-control would resist that temptation.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jean Byrne vs Siobhan Ryan

Jean Byrne was sporting one of her old reliables on Thursday, her mid-brown polka-dot velvet jacket. It suits her nicely, but it's not very exciting any more. I would like to see new clothes on her - perhaps some nice autumn colours - dark orange I'd say would look well on her. I wonder how Met Eireann's wardrobe budget is allocated? Now that they have a new weather girl, Siobhan Ryan, does that mean that each of them is getting a smaller budget? Or is the allowance decided based on the number of TV appearances per year?

Siobhan Ryan chose a fairly conservative outfit for Friday night, a Chanel-look skirt and top that will please the older audiences.

Tonight on the other hand, she went for a sharp modern line, with a zippered grey dress. I find the sleeve detail a bit fussy, however. Maybe not as adventurous as some of Jean's dresses, and certainly less controversial than her silver Christmas dress, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Siobhan's wardrobe will reveal over the coming months.

Big Wheel

I mentioned a while back that we went on the big wheel at The Point Village when Amy was over with us in August. It was really enjoyable. We had a lovely clear morning, and the views of the city and the sea from the wheel are gorgeous. Maybe because it wasn't too busy (we were amongst the first there at opening time), the wheel turned fairly quickly, and we had 3 or 4 turns on it. I'm not great with heights, and I certainly  felt it there more than at the London Eye, although it is not as tall. I was glad of the air conditioning in our capsule, but I was still fairly sweaty at the end of our spin!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photographing Fairies

Another week gone by - in a flash. Scary how quickly time goes as you get older.

Last weekend, we watched another movie Brendan recorded - Photographing Fairies. It's a quirky movie - we thought it would be all peaches and cream and lovely. It's not. Several people die violent deaths in their pursuit of fairies, and the fairies themselves are not even pretty (one of them is an ugly fat man!). The photography (not of the fairies -of the movie) though is excellent - surreal light takes us through Charles Castle's journey, from getting married, losing his wife a day later, photographing the dead in World War I, and then discovering a convincing photograph of a fairy that shakes all his rational certainties.

There are 2 cute kids in the story, but they are not sickly cute in the American movie kind of way. They have their little world - it is strange and dangerous, but they seem oblivious to real life - and death - going on around them.

It's a good movie - and the ending is happy - if you're into life after death, that is.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

La tourneuse de pages

I'm not in the humour for work this afternoon - it doesn't happen too often, but right now, I feel I need a short break.

So let me tell you about a movie Brendan recorded for me a while back. It's a French movie - very low key, not much said, but plenty of atmosphere, looks and tension. La Tourneuse de pages is the story of a gifted little girl who fails her entrance exam to the conservatoire because she gets distracted by one of the jurors (who allows a fan to come in during the audition and signs an autograph). Ten years later, she is hired as an assistant PA in a lawyer's firm. A while later, the lawyer is looking for somebody to help watch over his son while his wife is rehearsing for a concert....That's as much as I'm going to tell you. Except that there is a hilarious (and painful) scene involving a cello.

I just love French movies - they don't go for the obvious endings like their American counterparts. It's all very subtle, but it stays with you well after the credits are over.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Slowly catching up on the books I've been reading in the last few weeks. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is the last on the list. I'd never read anything by this author, so I really didn't know what to expect - I was worried it was going to be heavy going, but it wasn't one bit. It reads very easily, and yet the main character in it, Eilis Lacey, a young woman from Enniscorthy who emigrates to America in the 50s, has great depth and personality. It seems that a lot of decisions are made for her - going to America is not her choice, a job is found for her, and accommodation, but she complies, and, over time, once home-sickness has subsided, she starts to grow in confidence, and to enjoy her new life. But of course, she gets the dreaded call from home, and has to go back for a short while. How will she fit back into her old life? Ultimately, what life will she choose for herself? Or will she let others make the decisions for her, in Ireland or in New York?

I really got into this book - I found Eilis a very engaging character, although at times I wanted to tell her to get a grip of her own life, and stop letting others make all the big decisions. One thing I found particularly interesting was her feeling of disconnectedness (is there such a word?) when she came back to Ireland. It is home, everything is familiar, yet she feels a stranger there, not quite in phase with the pace and the people, and everybody seems to be conspiring to find reasons for her to stay. And as days go by, Brooklyn seems to drift further and further away, a distant, dreamy world.

I'm not sure the ending is the one I would have chosen, although it is the one I was hoping for, but it makes sense in the context of her personality. It seems quite fitting too, and loops the loop on the story nicely. Another one to add to MHBD's recommended books.

Rain Rain Rain - A bit of Sunshine - Then more Rain

Lots of rain this weekend. I thought we'd never get out - but then, out of the blue, we just had a gorgeous hour of sunshine, and it's really mild, so we headed off to Airfield for our constitutional. It was mucky, but very pleasant. And now it's looking like it will rain again. Time for a cup of green tea!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Busy Busy Run Run

I was in Belgium last weekend. Came back on a crazily early flight on Tuesday (I had to get up at four, for a taxi pickup at 4:30, my flight from Charleroi being at 6:45). It almost took longer to get across Dublin on the coach than to fly from Belgium - rush-hour traffic was very heavy at Whitehall and Leeson Street.

Brendan had a job waiting for me at 11, but, thankfully, it was really straightforward. Been busy since. And laundry fairy is handling double the usual volume this weekend, so I'll be glad to put my feet up this evening.

Jean Byrne - black dress with golden belt

Despite stiff competition from Siobhan Ryan, Jean Byrne still topped the Met Eireann fashion stakes last night, with a LBD adorned by a wide gold belt. Not the first time she wears this, but it's really classy.

American Wife

If you're curious about George W. Bush's presidency and about his wife Laura, but you're not into biographies, Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife may be for you. It's a fictional account broadly based on Laura Bush's life. It's not presenting W. in the best of lights - basically a sploit but likeable young man from a wealthy family, who was unhealthily obsessed, even at a young age, by his "legacy". Laura, on the other hand, the narrator of the story, comes across as a principled and sound individual, who falls in love with W.'s charm and lust for life. Where reality stops and fiction starts, I'm not 100% sure, but according to Wikipedia she was indeed involved in a car crash where she ran a Stop sign, causing the death of a friend in the other car. Whether or not her grand-mother was a lesbian and whether or not she had an abortion, god only knows, but it makes for an excellent story, with plenty of interesting characters. It's not light, but it reads easily, and there are a few steamy sex scenes too!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Weather Girl - Siobhan Ryan

New Weather Girl on RTE Six One News last night - her name is Siobhan Ryan. She looked very serious last night, possibly a bit nervous. And she's upping the fashion stakes at the Met Office! Tiger print sleeveless dress and big black belt!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Crushed Berry Top

Lovely top on Jean Byrne last night - she carries strong colours well. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Black top and black trousers VS Blue Dress

Jean, Jean, Jean, you were doing so well - lovely dresses all through the summer, with nice chunky jewelery, and bright colours that suit you so well.

And then, last night that black top with over-wide shoulders, tapering down to the waist. The rock chick look gone wrong doesn't work when you're presenting the weather. And it's top-heavy - the detailing is just too fussy at the shoulders. I also think that the black trousers look too casual.

- Versus -

Thankfully, you were back to a flattering blue dress tonight. And a gorgeous necklace too

Monday, September 06, 2010

Abstract Exercise #3 - Variation 1

Exercise #3 from Rolina van Vliet's fabulous book. This one is rectangles with dark spaces in between. I love the colours of it (and the photograph doesn't do it justice - the original had a blue cast, but this one looks a bit too yellow). I might paint a larger version of it (it's about 40x20cm). I have a large canvas that's begging me to use it.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Dandelions #3, #4 & #5

I haven't had much time for painting lately, but I've made time to create special birthday cards for three people lucky enough to have their birthdays in August (and I didn't think that David would like the flowery theme)

The Girl who Played with Fire

We went to the IFI last Sunday for the second installment of the Millenium trilogy, The Girl who Played with Fire. Similar to the book, it's not as tight a story as the first one, and some essential facts are not explained (like the type of gun that Zala was holding). I guess that it's assumed that anybody going to see the Swedish movie has read the book (or has someone with them who has). Still, one hell of a story!)

Blueberry pancakes

Brendan makes a killer blueberry pancake. It's so good we have to ration ourselves! Blueberries have been very abundant this year - they are even grown in Ireland nowadays. Apparently, a cold winter is what they need to thrive. I enjoy a few blueberries over my Oatibix in the morning, but their flavour is ten times better when cooked inside a pancake.

Talking of berries, we're planning to go to Airfield this afternoon to collect blackberries. I'll then make an apple & blackberry crumble! Happy Days (though not as sunny and warm as on Thursday and Friday - those 2 days were the best of the summer, warm, and with that perfectly gorgeous September light)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Handle with Care

Earlier this summer, Mary gave me the loan of Handle with Care, by Jodi Picoult, another story about a special child and her mother. Willow suffers from brittle bone disease. She is a very brave little girl, but the slightest bump or knock causes her bones to break. The bills are mounting, and a lawyer tells her mother she could sue for wrongful birth. A difficult decision, all the more painful as her gynecologist is also her best friend.

Still recovering from the disappointment of House Rules, I was not expecting much when I started this book, and, although it does follow some of Picoult's well-rehearsed themes, I thought it was a thoroughly good novel. I felt that Willow's sister's character (Amelia) was well developed and it was interesting to see her story unfold in parallel to the main drama. So it's with anticipation that I'll get ready to read my next Jodi Picoult - Salem Falls. And looking at her website, there are plenty more of her novels awaiting me.

His and Hers

I went to the pictures with Susanne a few weeks back - I really haven't had much time to write lately.

His and Hers is an Irish documentary, or rather it's a series of interviews with women of the Midlands, from the very young to the very old, as they sit in their kitchen or parlour and comment on the men in their lives, father, boyfriend, husband, son. It's very sweet, funny, and poignant too.

We both enjoyed it - even to the last little old lady who was talking to her son on the phone, she'd be telling him she was well, but at the same time she was worried it would be too much of a shock for him if she was to die suddenly. Not one bit worried about herself. Typical Irish mother! It's really about all the hopes and joys and sadness of an ordinary life. One note of warning though - not a single separation, divorce or wife-beating - according to His&Hers, all is rosy in the Irish Midlands.

Satay House

I've been meaning to write about Satay House, a Malaysian restaurant in London, ever since we got back from our Paddy's Day mini-break. We had been there last year, as it was very close to our hotel, and we liked it so much we had to go back. And it was just as good. I can't remember for the life of me what we had to eat (I can't even remember what I had for dinner last week), but I do remember I had a lovely dessert. I think it was the Sago Gula Melaka - tapioca pudding with palm sugar and coconut milk - real comfort food.

A customer of mine recommended I try the Ais Kacang next time I'm over. Some people call it "that ridiculous dessert" - apparently, it's got a bit of everything and 2 types of syrup and condensed milk and ice shavings, and sometimes a scoop of ice-cream on top. Do an image search for Ais Kacang in Google and you'll see what I'm talking about! But be warned, it's not for the faint-hearted. I think when I try it, I'll skip starters!

I picked one of the pictures that looked the most appetizing from this blog, which contains plenty of photos of exotic and wonderful foods from Malaysia and the world.