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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Summer loving had me a blast

Here's why planning a summer holiday in Europe sucks:
  1. There are plenty of cheap package holidays and last minute deals, especially to certain areas of Spain and Portugal. And I'm sure some of them are nice. But have you ever seen those reality TV shows based at Luton where they all head off to Lar-na-kah and get sunburnt, then drunk, then have fist fights, then depraved sexual unions (usually also televised) before vomiting in the pool and calling it a night? And that's on day 1? Yeh, well, do you want to spend your holiday with them?

  2. Once the cheap ones are ruled out (there goes 85%) you are left with the expensive ones. Although the whole world is in recession, no one seems to have told the European tourism industry. It is still fecking expensive. And 4* is a very misleading rating - it may get you a beautiful view of Vesuvius from a cave-like room accessed through a tunnel with twin beds featuring retro bedspreads - where retro means actually from the 70s and not in a cool way. If you can afford 5*, then, as the American's say, good for you, and even then you may be stuck 30kms from nowhere, in which you'll need to hire a car. Which brings me to...

  3. You can of course think the unthinkable and ... not ... take... a ... package. There, I said it. In this case you can forget about booking a hotel directly because (1) either the rack rates are just insane or (2) you can get the exact same hotel on a package and it's always cheaper that way and (3) usually both. This brings you to self-catering accommodation. There are a couple of UK websites which put you in touch with the owners of France's lovingly renovated basement dungeons and piggeries and Spain's many many many many many many apartments...

    - You find something perfect, but it's (a) far too expensive or (b) booked out or (c) usually both
    - You find something perfect - and I mean jaw-droppingly beautiful and you get your own cheese cellar - but it's in the middle of nowhere and you'd need to rent a car and drive which is (a) annoying, (b) expensive and (c) generally not relaxing - especially at intersections or when you can't see other cars to remind you which is the correct side of the road.
    - Everywhere in Spain a golf resort, and we couldn't care less about golf.
    - Everywhere in Spain is apartment complexes - see problem (1) above.
    - Everywhere in Portugal is apartment complexes - sorry if I'm repeating myself.
    - Everywhere in Portugal looks like it was decorated by accident when a nearby tile factory exploded.
    - Everywhere in Spain and Portugal has rapaciously extravagant bedspreads, that, in my opinion, are in poor taste.
    - You find something perfect, but it doesn't have a pool, but there's a beach nearby, but it's a stony beach, and although it is possible to swim in it, you don't want to be that tourist, but there are great beaches nearby - only a short 10 minute drive (no car) or a relaxing 3 hour walk downhill (but that's on the way there).
    - You find something perfect but the closest airport is uniquely positioned between two airports that Ryanair does fly to from Dublin. You could fly via Stanstead (annoying + more expensive), you could fly to the nearest airport and rent a car (no) or catch a train then a cable-car, make a short ferry crossing, then a taxi - and taxis are very cheap in Via del Tumour!
    - Most places are just dead ugly (see previous comment about exploding tile factory)
    - Out of desperation you try everyone's last option...

  4. Malta.

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Don`t supersize me

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-fructose_corn_syrup:

In a 2007 study, rats were fed a diet high in fat and HFCS and kept relatively sedentary for 16 weeks in an attempt to emulate the diet and lifestyle of many Americans. The rats were not forced to eat, but were able to eat as much as they wanted; they consumed a large amount of food, and the researcher, Dr. Tetri stated that there is evidence that fructose suppresses the sensation of fullness. Within four weeks, the rats showed early signs of fatty liver disease and type II diabetes.

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Bare essentials of safety from Air New Zealand

(Thanks Claire)



The Aviation Herald

If you`re into aviation, thereā€˜s no better site than The Aviation Herald.

They list any ... incidents ... as they happen and also post updates about previous ... incidents.

What`s surprising is just how many ... incidents ... happen every day. Don`t worry, in nearly all cases no one is hurt. But having said that, there were 16 things worthy of reportage yesterday including an exploding breast implant (ouch), a bird strike, and two planes who came closeish to flying into each other.



When economies go bad...

More bemoaning the Irish economy, this time from a new report by the IMF.

From http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/long-painful-road-to-recovery-lies-ahead-1789196.html:

The IMF says: "The economy is in the midst of an unprecedented correction. The stress exceeds that being faced currently by any other advanced economy and matches episodes of the most severe economic distress in post-World War II history."

The report also warns that Ireland has become the most expensive place to do business in the eurozone.

Even if action is taken, there will be no early return to growth. "The correction of distortions induced by the nexus of property and financial developments will further pull down potential growth in the immediate future, before it rises back to a 2pc range by the close of the forecast period in 2014," it says.

Emphasis mine.

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Dublin in NZ Herald

A deluge of posts, I know.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=10578079.

Dublin: Lucking in with the Irish

Having a pint or three in Dublin's party central, Temple Bar, is compulsory. Photo / Tourism Ireland
Gregor Paul takes a sip of Guinness and points out the top 10 must-see places when you visit Ireland's popular capital.

1 Visit the Guinness Brewery

Come on - you have to. Even if you are not super enamoured by the black stuff, even if you think it takes like alcoholic Vegemite, the brewery trip still offers plenty.

It is not as horribly corporate and tacky as it could be.

The building is modern, clever, stylish and, as with most things in Ireland, there is a charm about the hosts that helps to sell the whole experience.

And, if nothing else, the trip is worth it for the views from the top floor, where Guinness have thoughtfully built a bar.

2 Visit the Dublin Writers' Museum

Dublin has made a long and significant contribution to the literary world. The list of famous writers to come out of Dublin includes James Joyce, George Orwell, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde.

The Writers' Museum in Parnell Square brings to life that celebrated past with intriguing personal insights. Little known facts, such as Wilde being a promising pugilist during his days at Trinity College, are revealed.

Other little nuggets inform us that Samuel Beckett, had he not turned out to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, would also have made a name for himself in cricket.

3 Watch Gaelic sports at Croke Park

The Irish have retained a healthy regard for their own Irishness, their own sense of identity. Which is why their own Irish sports continue to thrive.

Hurling and Gaelic football are the two biggest sports by far in Ireland and there is nothing better than going to the home of those games, Croke Park, and watching them played.

The 83,000 seat stadium is quite magnificent - it is where the All Blacks played Ireland last November.

It is also, of course, the site of the infamous November 21, 1920 Bloody Sunday massacre, in which British troops fired on the crowd during a football match. Fourteen people died in what was one of the most significant events of the Irish war of independence.

The emotion is intense and the experience is never to be forgotten.

4 Visit the O'Connell St Post Office.

What? A post office - what's the point in that? It's just one those things that has to be done. Everyone who goes to Dublin ends up going there. It's a landmark by which all Dubliners guide others.

The O'Connell St Post Office was also the main stronghold of the Irish Volunteers during the Easter Uprising in 1916.

5 Go hunting for U2

Unlike other European countries, the Irish don't have a punitive tax regime that encourages the rich and famous to head elsewhere. There are even incentives to encourage the rich and famous to stay (Ed: Wrong! U2 are famously headquatered in The Netherlands who offer better tax breaks to artists than Ireland).

No one in Ireland is richer or more famous than U2, and frontman Bono can be spotted in the suburb of Dalkay (Ed: Wrong, it's Dalkey). And if you don't find him, enjoy the cute village.

6 See where Posh and Becks got hitched

That's right, the world-famous David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria were married in Luttrellstown Castle on the outskirts of Dublin in 1999.

The castle dates back to the 15th century and over the years has been owned by the great and good of Ireland, including the Guinness family. Now it is one of the best five-star golf resorts in Europe.

7 Stroll through the grounds of Trinity College

Dublin owes its fame as a literary city to Trinity College - recognised as one of the best and most creative tertiary institutions in Europe.

Not only is it full of smart people, it is in the heart of the city and the fabulous old buildings are flanked by ornate and tranquil grounds.

8 Play golf at the K Club

Scotland is recognised as the home of golf, but Ireland's reputation as a venue of some quality for this curious sport is growing fast. The K Club, on the outskirts of the city, hosted the Ryder Cup in 2006. It is a high quality golf course and if you are lucky, you might find yourself playing at the same time as some of the world's best professionals, who are known to sneak in and out.

9 Have a night out at Temple Bar

It is horribly cliched. It is the domain of stag and hen parties from across the continent, but Temple Bar, on the south bank of the River Liffey in the drinking heart of Dublin, has to be visited. It is loud, brash and not for the faint-hearted but, as long as you respect what you are in for, it can be fun.

10 Head down Grafton St

Grafton St is the beating heart of the capital. It is where you can shop, drink, eat and people-watch. The power of the Irish economy can be seen in action along this street.

The locals have ferocious spending power and there is something inspiring about watching a nation flex its muscle through the power of its consumers (Ed: My god, how out of date is this?).

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Sizes of Auckland vs. Dublin vs. London

Earlier this month I compared Cornwall Park to Phoenix Park.

Now let's compare Dublin, Auckland & London in a really unscientific way:

- London is the aqua-coloured blob. I took the area that Google Maps called "London", so I assume this is the conurbation of 'Greater London' which doesn't include commuter cities like Surrey.

- Dublin is the brown/purple blob at at top-middle of the London blob. I've included the populated parts of the greater Dublin area.

- The green/yellow blob on running down the left of London is Auckland. This is probably the least accurate because Auckland is really spread out and in an awkward shape due to all the harbours. I've probably been a bit too generous with Auckland, including all populated areas in all directions - really the full extent of the greater Auckland conurbation.

So wow - Dublin is kind of small and Auckland is really spread out, even on the London scale.



Simple pleasures

EMBED-Sleeping Dog Runs Into Wall - Watch more free videos

The best thing is you can play it over and over.



The Perfect Lunchbox

It was a good weekend - it was hot! - unfortunately I had/ have a combo cold & hay fever thing that has proven quite unpleasant, but hey, it's not swine 'flu.

In a bid for healthy eating and money saving (we're in a recession don't you know) I've been concocting strange work lunches that scare my colleagues: tonight I made tofu & fried fish roll (don't knock it till you try it, they're muy rico) with yu hsiang (spicy garlic) sauce and splash of chili oil, with rice (rice cooker), and bean sprouts (a massive bag for 80 euro cents).

It's cooks in about 5 minutes and cost all of a few euro. It's full of protein and only trace amounts of fat. Yum.

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we heart kerry

I don't think anything in photography compares to seeing brand new medium-format slides on a light table. Especially when it's velvia and the colours are popping. And especially when you've used beautiful sharp optics and you can see amazing tiny detail under the loupe.

So it was yesterday when I picked up the two rolls I shot on our holiday with the Morrises. We saw Dublin (from the inside mostly), Cork, Kinsale, Kenmare, the two rings, Portmagee, Caherciveen, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney, Kilkenny and for the kids - Hell Pizza. Quite a ride - and we're still recovering.

I'm really pleased with the first two shots here: The first is of a stone fort in Caherciveen and the second is the Gap of Dunloe (which is a beautiful place). This is a different kind of photography. It's the wait-for-the-light-to-be nice, or just hope-it-is-because-im-impatient kind. There's not much composing or fusing. And it helps I only have the one lens on the Contax and it's a prime, so there's no zooming or lens changing.

a long night
scanning finally completed
i make breakfast

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Excellent news

Murphy's ice cream are coming to Dublin!

I have loads more to share for a change - knitting, my new qualification, and the world's best postcard. But that will have to wait until I also have some free time.

In the meantime, I recommend fantasising about the chocolate, and chocolate & whiskey ice cream.

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NZ tops Global Peace Index

Top 10 most peaceful nations

1. New Zealand
2. Denmark
2. Norway
4. Iceland
5. Austria
6. Sweden
7. Japan
8. Canada
9. Finland
9. Slovenia

Ireland is 12th.
Australia is 19th.
France is 30th.
UK is 35th (not great).
Taiwan 37th.
Argentina 66th.
China 74th.
U.S. of A 83rd.

Ten least peaceful
1. Iraq
2. Afghanistan
3. Somalia
4. Israel
5. Sudan
6. Democratic Republic of the Congo
7. Chad
8. Pakistan
9. Russia
10. Zimbabwe

Full list here. I'm a bit miffed about Austria. Is "peace by to ignoring history" really peace?

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Phoenix Park vs. Cornwall Park

Now that I've started biking around Phoenix Park I was curious to see how it compared size-wise to Cornwall Park in Auckland.

Here's my comparison. The reddish area is Cornwall Park (somewhat rotated so it fits in nicer) and the greenish area is Phoenix park.

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Dublin can be Hell

(Apologies for the crappy mobile phone, out of focus, and badly lit photos)

Sometimes bad things happen and it's not your fault even though you didn't give way 100% properly on the driving test ... and then you walk to the John Gunn on Camden St to process some film and you find that a popular NZ pizza chain has inexplicably opened up in Dublin. Yes. NZ pizza chain. Dublin. Go figure.

So it was a couple of weeks ago when I discovered Hell Pizza on Wexford St (it's really Camden St - or the "street with a thousand names").

Along with smoothies, bagels, sushi, gourmet burgers and all-over body waxing - the modern Pacific-rim trappings we took for granted are slowly migrating to Western Europe and it's hott.

Last Thursday, after Laura's haircut, we finally gave in. Wow - with Macs Gold (Speights too, but less excited) & kumara fries (it's pronounced koom-rah not koo-ma-rah) the pizza was somewhat incidental. The menu appears to be 100% exactly identical the same as back in NZ - right down to the breaded brie.

So if you're in the area, go to Hell, I think you'll like it.


And now I implore you Burger Fuel Inc - you're in Dubai for god's sake - come here too! We will patronise you! Oh yes we will patronise.

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