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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Roof terrace panorama

Funny how you don't think of something until the last minute. I just released (a) I could take movies with my camera and (b) I could post them online and share them with you.

First see the easterly aspect of our roof terrace view including Christchurch, other churches, the xmas Ferris wheel, the Four Courts and the Jameson whiskey tower amongst other things.

And the westerly aspect. About 9 seconds in you can see the Guinness brewery at St. James' gate. The Dublin "mountains" are in the background.

My apologies for the video quality. It's my first time and I don't have a lot of time.



I call it: Shamrock shaped puff balls

Tomorrow we leave this emerald isle with its cold Christmasyness and its enmistyments for another island: sparkling in the sun and bathed in the warm frigid waters of the South Pacific.

This island, the island of Ireland, with it's 32 counties, 4 provinces, and 504 local council regions, 2 motor tax offices, its castles, churches, public houses, tuna & sweetcorn sandwich filling, incredible density of convenience food stores, stout, all brand new cars and dirty buses, all not-quite-snowing and nice-try-but-no-attempts-at-Continental-style-Christmas markets and all dark nearly all the time, has housed us, nay sheltered us, nay protected us! from fate's weary blows but now launches us into the sky and carries us away... but all the time dropping little shamrock shaped puff balls as we go so,

    that after our adventures in ramen, bullet trains, new babies, nihongo o hanashimasu, flat whites, mince and cheese pies, seasonal allergies, in-laws, out-laws, by-laws, coleslaws, sunburn, dangerous rips, boysenberry ripple, grandmas & gefilte fish overdoses, extreme weather conditions, aren't they polite? & costco.

....we can find our way back (by following the puff balls).



Festive foods

We're headed off on our trip tomorrow, but I couldn't let the chance to discuss Christmas food go by.

I love Christmas food. Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, loads of cake and pudding... Yum! My parents never have a dry turkey; the stuffing is vegetarian & plentiful; the cake and pudding have more than enough booze, plus boozy sauce to add on top.

But there's more to Christmas food, if you're in the right hemisphere. Mulled wine, gingerbread, and lots of Christmas cookies (strawberries and salads are lovely, but they don't have quite the same festive kick).

Which brings me to the Very Good Taste Christmas Fifty (the ones I've eaten are emboldened - which ones have you had?)

1. Crystallised or candied fruits
2. Egg nog
3. Bûche de Noël, or Yule log
4. Rum balls
5. Bebinca
6. Roasted chestnuts
7. Cavallucci
8. Tourtière
9. Uszka
10. Port & Stilton
11. Hallaca
12. Roast goose
13. Lefse
14. Sugar plums
15. Romeritos
16. Pinnekjøtt
17. Hot toddy
18. Christmas cake
19. Tamales
20. Sorpotel
21. Panettone
22. Candy canes
23. Pasteles
24. Speculaas
25. Makowiec
26. Christmas pudding
27. Stollen
28. Figgy pudding
29. Lebkuchen
30. Turrón
31. Mince pies
32. Wassail bowls
33. Buñuelos
34. Pio Quinto
35. Marzipan fruits
36. Mulled wine
37. King cake
38. Christmas beach barbecue
39. Cola de mono
40. Lutefisk
41. Kutia
42. Pizzelle
43. Dominostein
44. Cranberry sauce
45. Pfeffernüsse
46. Satsumas or clementines
47. Pumpkin pie
48. Smalahove
49. Nut roast
50. Brandy butter

Note that while sushi is not a traditional Christmas food, David and I think it will serve us very well this year. (Provided I get my hands on some turkey and stuffing once we arrive in Auckland, of course!)

And with that, I (we) wish you all a very happy festive season. I expect/hope we'll be too busy relaxing to blog throughout January, but we'll definitely return with enough incriminating experiences to make you shudder in February.

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Pound sinks to record low against the Euro (kind of)

From http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKTRE4BL1WO20081222:

LONDON (Reuters) - Irish airline Aer Lingus pledged to make a small profit
in 2008 and 2009 as it set out its defence against the 750 million euros (£708
takeover bid from Ryanair.

Hang on, it's not quite _that_ bad.



Holy crap

Live rates at 2008.12.18 20:20:12 UTC

1.00 EUR


0.950703 GBP

Euro United Kingdom Pounds
1 EUR = 0.950703 GBP 1 GBP = 1.05185 EUR




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Only snow can make this workable...

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Give Up Yer Auld Sins

I'm a little late to this but discovered it on breakfast TV this morning (who would have thought I'd learn something useful on the otherwise forlorn Ireland AM).

Basically the story went that back in the 60s a school teacher in Dublin (Ms Cunningham) had these bible stories and she had the kiddies read them out and and she taped them. Somehow the tapes fell into the hands of a radio guy and he made them into a CD which did very well. Then Brown Bag Films (which is not 100m from here in Smithfield) made an animated short movie for it which was screened all over the place and nominated for an Oscar. I think they're now available on a DVD for xmas, I think. Anyhoo, so I you.tubed it and they're fantastic. I love them! The accents & the stories themselves, deadly!

... and more on YouTube.

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The national emergency continues

I know you're all very concerned about Ireland's sudden pork shortage, so I thought I'd give you an update on my last post.

Only 10% of the country's pork is affected. But once the pigs get to the processing plant and are processed, they are no longer tracked or traceable. So even though only 10% of the pigs are affected, there's no way to know what meats these poor piggies were made into.

(Poor b/c of the yuckiness they ate, not b/c they died to make delicious bacon or sausages.)

So all Irish pork is a no-go. Including organic Irish pork, which the authorities know is not affected b/c they don't use that kind of feed.

The latter seems extraordinarily unfair to me - organic farming is expensive enough already, and with the big R-word on (that's a RECESSION), it's possible that people will buy even fewer organic products b/c they cost a bit more, so the organic pork farmers are worse off already. Stopping them sell their products when we know they're safe - and there's a suddenly (if temporarily) expanded market for them is just mean.

Or over-protection of the non-organic pig farmers. Either way, I think it stinks like a... a pig slaughterhouse.

So no pork. Still. One of my colleagues has a brother who works in a sausage factory. Apparently he's spending a lot of time in the pub at the moment.

However, we can be grateful (well the brother certainly can, it sounds like a fine way to spend a few days) - there was a concern that cows may have been affected also - which would mean beef and all dairy products could have been contaminated. But it's ok, they're fine.

Thank goodness. Ireland without sausages, rashers, beef, milk (for the endless cups of tea) and cheese (ah the ubiquitous cheese, which apparently goes with everything) - now that's unlivable.

Which reminds me, I must share my chives-and-berries experience someday soon...

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Smithfield on (controlled) fire

Every now and again they turn on the big gas laterns / torches that line one side of the square. The first time it happened I was in the lounge and it scared the pants off me (see last photo!).

There's an ice rink and a Christmas market (so last week) in the square too - as well as, right now, one of those portable radio broadcasting trucks and from the sounds of it, about 3 competing musical acts. I suspect the sausage guy is sitting there in front of his big grill very depressed right now (see previous post).

Some photos for your enjoyments. Tschüs.

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A national emergency

Over the weekend, pork products from all over Ireland were recalled.

"Jayzis, hows yer wan supposhedta make me fry widout da rashers now?" implored Paddy O'Shea.

Seriously though, Ireland without bacon is like... well, it's almost like Ireland without beer, let's put it that way. Good call on the recall for health & safety, but there were - and probably still are - some very unhappy people who've gone without their rashers (of bacon) and sausages and pudding (black and white) for their traditional Sunday fry-up.

Of course, it doesn't stop there. Bacon is an integral part of life here. It comes with or on or in almost everything. And speaking as a bacon-lover, I'm pretty happy about that. For all the jibes about the rubbish Irish food (and I make many, because I am not that impressed overall), the ubiquity of bacon is a high point for me.

(For the record, I also love brown soda bread and Guinness, and am quite partial to Bulmers, but I'd like to try it on a truly warm day to be sure, and there have been no such days so far.)

Of course, David is probably laughing himself silly about it. He, the handful of vegetarians and vegans we've met, and the tiny Jewish and Muslim communities are probably all going about their business, unaffected and slightly smug, while the rest of us feel... slightly bereft somehow.

But it's ok, the food safety people have got extra staff on to sort it out, so we should be able to buy local pork products again very soon. In the meantime, apparently imported stuff (hello Lidl & Aldi!) is fine.

It was a close call. Thank goodness it wasn't beer, or rioting (even worse - sober rioting) - may have taken place.

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Even at the home of the black stuff, they dream of a white one

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Canadian shenanigans

So it seems that the Canadian PM is playing silly buggers.

(Heh, I've always wanted to use "silly buggers" in the right context, so my mother wouldn't get mad at me for what is, technically, swearing. Hope you're proud of my restraint, mum!)

If you haven't read the reports in the newspapers (and, let's face it, I haven't, b/c I can't find them in any of the 3 papers I read online regularly), here's a great synopsis and extrapolation from a very fine Canadian woman.

(If you are not a knitter, you may not have heard of the Yarn Harlot, and may not have read her blog. You may wonder why I chose to refer you to her. Well, she is smart, successful (without making others unsuccessful), and she has a really great way with words. Also, it is the first explanation I've seen of the events that are unfolding.)

I'm looking forward to seeing how this unfolds. And if you're very, very good, I'll post about our own Canadian shenanigans in late Jan/early Feb.

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Little Britian + Update

We had a grand time in Frankfurt, mostly Weihnachtsmarkting, which was mostly essen und trinken. Laura was spoilt for choice for sausage vendors and we found a fish stall for me - the highlight was specially prepared Christmas herring (herring marinated in red wine). We also enjoyed potato-based snacks in many forms, the ubiquitous glühwein (it came in many varieties) & also apfelwine. For desert there were lebkuchen in many shapes, sizes, and varieties and massive chocolate bretzels. We bought back some bethmännchen and some stollen. It was pretty cold, but not much colder than it is here. And it didn't snow, although it had been earlier in the week.

Speaking of freezing, it really is. It's been struggling to get beyond 0° today, and it finally made it by 1pm. Non-main roads are icy, water features have frozen over, and ducks are getting stuck in rivers and being rescued by local men swinging hammers on strings (I've lost the link now, sorry!). All this cold, and yet no snow which, in the absence of a thriving Christmas market scene, is the only thing that makes it worthwhile. So we are 3 weeks out from our holiday, which means we're 4-or-so weeks out from the warm climes of southern hemisphere with all its little islands, cyclones and anti-cyclones - we can't wait!

In other news, and just to prove that living in the UK is a mistake and that the Irish are better and that Ireland is better, I found this article.

Santa and three elves attacked at fake Lapland

Father Christmas was allegedly punched by a father who spent hours queuing and three elves are said to have been involved in the violent confrontations.

Lapland New Forest, located on the Dorset Hampshire border - which costs £25 a ticket - promises a magical festive experience - including a winter wonderland full of reindeers and log cabins, a skating rink and a magical tunnel of light.

However disappointed families have spoken of a "glorified car boot sale" with a Nativity scene on a billboard, a broken iceskating rink and huskies in a muddy field.

The park has now been renamed "Winter blunderland" and has received 1,300 complaints.

Adrian Wood, 49, a worker who resigned from the park said: "Santa was punched by a furious father who had been waiting in line for four hours.

"He had got to the front only to be told he couldn't take a picture of his children and that they weren't allowed to sit on Santa's lap.

"The family were then told they would had to get in another queue to get their presents - that was the final straw.

"He marched up to Santa and punched him in the neck and on the chin and the staff and his family had to pull him off - it was unbelievable."

It was claimed one child had to be comforted after finding a Santa smoking a cigarette outside his grotto.

Ivan Hancock, from Dorset County Council's trading standards department, said: "I've never known anything spark so many complaints in my 20 years of working with three different authorities. We have had 1,300 people contact us.

"I've heard of someone spending 3,000 pounds on tickets and terrible stories of real human misery," he said.

Henry Mears, from Lapland New Forest Limited, confirmed that his staff had been attacked.

"So far about six of our staff - three elves and three security - have been assaulted
and all have been verbally abused," he said.

"One of our elves was slapped and had a pram pushed into her leg which has left a horrible bruise."

But Mr Mears insisted they were isolated incidents and most people were happy with their experience.

"I would like to point out that 95 per cent of the people who come to Lapland New Forest are extremely happy with it," he said.