Saturday 31 December 2011

Happy 2012!

Just a few words as 2011 is drifting away.  I hope that 2012 will be a great year for you, I hope it will be happy and healthy and that you will have lots of whatever makes you content.  I have trips to Stoke, Manchester, Iceland, Dublin and Nice lined up so I'm pretty happy with that as travelling is one of my big loves and I appreciate that I am lucky in that I am able to travel that much.

As I get older I appreciate my health more and more, without good health life can be pretty difficult no matter how blessed you are in other ways, and I hope for continued health for all in 2012.  My diet/gym has been sidelined these last few weeks but I am getting back onto the wagon from tomorrow, I am determined to keep the healthier lifestyle doing!  Hopefully I'll be a shadow of myself this time next year.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, I'm chuffed that I get so many people popping in to read my various musings and hope that you will continue to do so next year.  My very best wishes for 2012, and a couple of woofs from the longdog rascals below too!

Max and Pepsi

Thursday 29 December 2011


Looking forward to this new series starting on BBC One tonight.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Bono at Leopardstown Races 2011

Bono Pouring Champagne for the Photographers

Bono, Ali and their daughters went on their annual St Stephen's day out at the Leopardstown races yesterday. Bono was in a generous mood and handed out champagne to the waiting photographers.  Story and more photos here. Bono's daughters have grown into beautiful young women, but there is a big error in the article, the journalists have got Jordan and Eve mixed up in the photo captions. (PS they have now corrected the errors).

More photos here .

Saturday 24 December 2011

Update - Video of Bono Busking on Grafton Street

Lovely video of Silent Night from the busking on Grafton street earlier this evening.  Another song that was sung was Baby Please Come Home.

Bono Busking on Grafton Street - Again

Bono,  in what now seems be a Christmas Eve tradition, once more joined Glen Hansard, Mundy, Liam O'Maonlai,  Declan O'Rourke and others to busk on Grafton street this evening. The event was in aid of the Simon Community and Peter McVerry Trust, both charities working to help the homeless.  I've not heard what songs were sung but lots of other photos can be found here.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Siku the Polar Bear Cub - Major Cuteness!

If you want something to put a smile on your face watch the video below.  The cub is Siku (meaning ice in Greenlandic), just one month old, who lives at the Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Denmark.  He had to be taken away from his mother as she could not produce enough milk for him.  He is being cared for 24 hours a day by three keepers, what a wonderful job!  And what a sweetheart little Siku is.

U2 Christmas Party

U2 threw the Christmas party for their staff at Principle management on Wednesday 21st December at Harry's Cafe Bar on Hanover Quay.  As well as the staff, The Rubberbandits and Gavin Friday were there.  Apparently also attending were Gavin's dogs Ralph and Stan wearing Santa hats!  I'm sure a good time was had by all!

Photo:  Irish Independent     

Wednesday 21 December 2011

The Jean Genie, David Bowie 1973

This performance by David Bowie of The Jean Genie was first broadcast on Top of the Pops in 1973 and has never been seen since, the tapes having been wiped by the BBC. The footage belongs to John Henshall a cameraman who worked on the programme who kept copies for himself.  He didn't know the BBC had not kept a copy and also was unaware of how important the footage was, and it was only when he mentioned it on Johnnie Walker's Radio 2 show that it all came to light.

Mark Cooper, executive producer of Top of the Pops 2 said: "Bowie singing The Jean Genie is electric and the kind of piece of archive that not only brings back how brilliant Top of the Pops could be, but also How a piece of archive can speak to us down the years."

I loved Bowie in the 70's, he was so pushing the boundaries, mixing theatre with music and he was so different to anything else at the time. He was androgynous, almost alien, sexy, charismatic, unique. This performance is him at his best, it is indeed  "electric," every now and then an artist will do something special and this is an prime example, lost for 38 years (yikes!) and thankfully found again.  As Mark Cooper said, some performances are so amazing they can still captivate people decades later.

Apparently Henshall has hundreds of other tapes, what other delights could he have for us?

Monday 19 December 2011

Christmas Baking - Pfefferkuche

Been baking German Christmas biscuits - Pfefferkuche - for the first time today and they have turned out well.  There's a gorgeous smell of spices floating in the air! Thanks to Chris and Andy for sharing your "secret family recipe" and for sending the spices.


Saturday 17 December 2011

Candlelit Christmas Concert

My cousin Glen and I went to the Candlelit Concert in St Cuthbert's church tonight.  This is an annual event here, we don't go every year, but decided that we'd like to go again this year.  Rock music is usually my thing music-wise, but I have always liked some classical music.  Maybe that's because I grew up with a mother who loved, Strauss, Wagner, Verdi and Rossini. Classical music was part of my growing up, always being played on the record player.

We first had an Italian meal in Franco's, which didn't turn out as relaxing as we'd hoped.  Glen arrived twenty minutes late as she's forgotten the tickets and had to go back home to get them.  Then we had to wait a long time for our food (they were very busy.)  This meant we had to rush our main course (which was a shame as it was lovely) in order to get to the nearby church on time.

St Cuthberts dates from 1778 and is thought to be the fourth church on the site.  It's an Anglican church but set up more like a Methodist one, with an upper gallery around three sides.  The windows depict the life of St Cuthbert who was an important saint in the north of Britain. It was painted in white, turquoise and gold.

The altar of St Cuthberts
The musicians were The English Philharmonic Ensemble and the choir was The Beverley Singers.  During the concert the lighting was from two large candelabras hanging from the ceiling and four large candle stands, all filled with candles.  The only electric light was a few spots of light around the huge arch in front of the altar.

Some of the music I enjoyed some I didn't so much.  I did like Clark's Suite for Trumpet and Strings, sounded very of it's time late 15th/early 16th century.  Then there was Vivaldi's Winter was as dazzling as ever, amazing how someone can put winter into music, I could almost see the snowflakes falling!  Lovely.

In the interval we went out into the crisp, frosty night and walked the short distance to the Tithe Barn which is the church hall, where you could buy traditional Christmas Fayre of mulled wine and mince pies. I don't like either so I didn't buy any but i wanted to go into the building because it's such a historical place.  Dating from around 1480 it has had many uses over the many yea s of its existence as well as collecting tithes and by 1970 was quite derelicts.  But, thankfully, St Cuthbert's restored it and it is now regularly used by the church and other organisations.  It's a fantastic building with an impressive roof of oak beams and rafters, and you can "feel" the history of it.

Tithe Barn
A little Oriental girl came out to play Silent Night on the violin.  There were a few off notes but it was generally good and she was only five, she has some future ahead of her!  She looked cute in a scarlet dress with her hair in pigtails and was not fazed by performing in front of all those people.

I'm not a fan of hymns, but I do love the Christmas carols, they are uplifting and great tunes. The carols in this concert were Once in Royal David's City and O Come All Ye Faithful sung by the choir and audience, and made me feel all Christmassy.

The final performance was from Handel's Messiah.  It was brilliant, the "Hallelujah Chorus" made the hairs on my neck stand up, powerful stuff!  This was only a small orchestra and choir, seeing it on a bigger scale must be mind-blowing.  It was a great way to end an very enjoyable concert, I'm definitely in the Christmas spirit now!

(I wasn't having a good photography night, most of my photos didn't come out, but I've included the ones that did in the article.)

Bono in Surprise Appearance in Dublin

Bono made a surprise appearance on stage with Imelda May at the O2 in Dublin last night (16th December).  They performed Desire and Baby (Please Come Home) together, oh to have been in that audience! Bono looking and sounding good, great to see him spending some time back home.

Story and great photos here

Photo here taken from

Video of a very sexy Desire, sound is a bit dodgy, but it brings across the great atmosphere.

Friday 16 December 2011

Strange Friendships

Wonderful video of a pretty special, but apparently regular, event in Ireland, a labrador and dolphin swimming together.  Amazing to see these two animals frolicking together like this, the much bigger dolphin careful not to hurt the dog. I know labs are water lovers but that one is a really strong swimmer!  A truly beautiful friendship between two of natures most special creatures.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Pre- Raphaelites and the Little Black Dress

Brrr it's been cold today!  I met up with my friend Alison and we went to look round the Christmas Market in the town centre.  It's not really very Christmassy, it's just the usual continental market that comes here every now and then.  But I love pottering round it and taking in all the sights and smells of the varied foods available.  I was looking for a warm trapper hat with long flaps and found the perfect one there, just what I need in this nippy weather.

We then went round some of the shops in the shopping precinct, Alison bought a couple of tops but I didn't buy anything, still enjoyed pottering around window shopping though.

Then I gave Alison a tour of old Carlisle, she lives in the Scottish Borders and doesn't know the city well.  We first went to the cathedral, which, though small (it's the second smallest cathedral in England), has many special features.  It was established in 1133 and somehow has survived fires, wars and numerous border raids by the Scots - Carlisle, being a border city has had a lot of strife and has been both English and Scottish numerous times in the past.

The barrel vaulted roof of the cathedral dates from the 14th century and is painted sky blue with golden stars, it is generally quite dark building and looking up to the ceiling feels like looking at a bright blue summer sky.  The most famous feature of the cathedral is the east window.  It is in the most complex English Gothic style,  the Flowing Decorated Gothic. It is truly beautiful when the sun shines through it.  Much of the window still contains the original medieval glass.

 The choir has forty six black oak misericords - hinged seats.  The misericords are carved with various, often fantastic, scenes, hybrid creatures, angels, scenes from legends of the Apostles, St Cuthbert, St Augustine and others.  Some of the seats have traces of burns from where monks had fallen asleep in services and burned them with the candles they held.  A nice human touch!

From the cathedral we walked the short distance through the grounds to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.  First we went into the gallery (free entry) which has an extensive and nationally important Pre-Raphaelite exhibition.  These form part of the part of the museum's Emily and George Bottomley bequest, which came to Tullie House in 1949. I have always loved Pre- Raphaelite art - even years ago when it wasn't "in fashion", now it is appreciated as it should be once more.  As a young teenager I often used to go to the art gallery to look at these paintings and drawings.  As well as loving to see the exhibitions I've always liked the "feel" of art galleries and museums, it's like stepping into another world.  Tullie House itself is a beautiful building, with well preserved marble staircases, ironwork stair rails and gorgeous ornate wall tiles.
Madeleine by Arthur Hughes
We then went next door to the museum - once Carlisle's main library, another place I spent a lot of time in.  We went into the Little Black Dress exhibitions.  this is about the history of the Little Black Dress (LBD) from Victorian days until the present day.  I found it absolutely fascinating.  It looked at the psychology of black clothing to the influence of designers from Coco Chanel (who created the original "Ford" black dress in the 1920's). It looked at the role the LBD played in Hollywood with actresses such as Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.  In the background all the while was the moving, mournful singing of Edith Piaf, who, of course, always wore a LBD.

The exhibition was set out in decades and the ones that stood out for me were the 30's, 60's and 80's. The glamour and elegance of the 30's was captivating, the dresses were beautifully designed and would make you feel like a million dollars.  The 60's dresses were new, vibrant, young heralding a new age.  There was a photo of Twiggy in a little black Mary Quant mini dress.  It is easy to forget how mind blowing that was at the time.  I'm old enough to remember those times (I was VERY young though LOL!) and nothing like it had been seen before.  It was youthful and of the future, when anything seemed possible. The 80's stood out for me for the wrong reasons as the fashions were so awful then, even the LBD.  Dear me. 

Every woman knows a LBD is an essential part of any wardrobe. It can make you look fabulous and feel a million dollars.  No wonder it has been around in many versions for almost a century. If you can, go to see  this free exhibition, it's well worth seeing. It's on until February 26th. So that was our day out in Carlisle, we saw a lot and spent next to nothing, that's what I call a good day!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Bah Humbug No More

I've been neglecting my blog this last couple of weeks, life has been hectic with the Christmas madness beginning.  I used to be a bit "bah humbug" over Christmas, but a few years ago I decided to try and be more positive about it, to make an effort to enjoy it rather than muttering "bloody Christmas" all the time and sinking into further apathy.  And it's kind of worked, I can't say I love Christmas now, but I certainly don't hate it anymore.  I decorate my apartment, up goes a six foot tree, silver and lilac baubles, lights, lots of candles around my living room.  On goes the Christmas music, I have a Santa in my car and even buy my boys special festive things.  I try to make things "Christmassy" as my mother did when I was young, she was German and she made it a magical time for me - Germans really know how to do Christmas.  My German friend Chris has sent me her recipe for traditional German Christmas biscuits, so they will be a new addition to the festivities this year.

I'm not neglecting the social side of things either, I'm going to the Christmas market in the city centre this weekend and a Candlelit Christmas Concert the following one, as well as some nights in and out with family and friends.  Sometimes if you learn to embrace something you don't enjoy, you find it's really not that bad after all......