Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy, snowy days

Yes, I know it's freezing cold.
Yes, I know it's snowy.
Yes, I know it's difficult to drive.
But doesn't it look beautiful!?
I get ridiculously excited seeing snow in Ireland. I understand this country isn't geared up to deal with it, I found that out the hard way driving into work on Sunday. A 20 minute journey took me 45 minutes. But I was blown away by the views on my way in. The lakes like a sheet of glass, beautiful white mountains reflected on the lake, and the silence. Lovely, lovely silence.

I mean, look at it! And this is where I work... lucky me, eh?

And what's more it makes me feel all christmassy. Not really supposed to say the c-word until the first of December, but seriously, there isn't much else to look forward to, is there?

Friday, November 26, 2010


Just a quick one now, before I head off to work. I have had it up to my eyeballs about the bailout and IMF and four year plan and budget and ECB and all that goes with it, okay? From now on I am going to enter a blissful state of denial and ignore all the bad news. Instead I am going to concentrate on the following:

  • It's less than a month until Christmas
  • We are as good as sorted on the house front (more on that later)
  • I get to go and spend time with my family soon
  • Despite the weather being freezing, it looks beautiful out there
  • My friend just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy
  • Looking at pictures of kittens 
  • Watching comedy DVDs
  • Baking loads of goodies, because there's no such thing as too much pie
  • Sitting down with a good book and a glass of wine
And that's only the beginning. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bailing out

It most certainly felt like the morning after the night before. On sunday night, Brian Cowen was waiting in the wings with his namesake for hours on end to announce to the nation what we already knew, and what the international media had been reporting for the past week or so. Ireland needs international help to deal with the massive cock-ups made by the governments, past and present.

I only see this bailout plan as a positive thing, to be honest. I would put as much faith in the current government to sort out this economic crisis, as I would into a baboon with a learning disability to operate the Large Hadron Collider. Admittedly, there will have to be some harsh measures, but at least these measures are being monitored and regulated by someone other than a corrupt minister only interested in lining his own pockets.

In his 1pm/7pm/8pm/8.15pm announcement Brian Cowen said that these cut backs will affect everyone. My question is, will the Dail be taking a paycut alongside the rest of us?

In my native Finland, there has been some criticism as to why other countries are asked to fork out vast amounts of money to bail out a country that has failed to regulate it's banks' lending practices or to pay back it's loans in the boom years like so many other countries, Finland included, have done? Finland suffered a similar banking crisis in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I remember seeing the news in my childhood, the main story being the recession for about 5 years running. Having learned from our mistakes, the succeeding governments took measures to make sure it wouldn't happen again. People are, however, left wondering how could this not have been foreseen? I'm sure it was. But unfortunately it was foreseen by someone who either, didn't voice their concern, or when they did, they were laughed off by all of Celtic Tigers and their cubs with euro signs flashing before their eyes. They were too busy building the 8 bedroom houses, buying the second homes in Bulgaria and drawing out another loan to do up the conservatory in the old house.

It was easy get swept up with it. All you heard was people telling you how the economy was in such a great growth, how we should spend more because it was good for the economy. Keep the money in Ireland, it's good for the economy. I've even heard someone blame this recession on all those foreign nationals who came into the country in the early naughties and sent their money back home. I've heard people saying it is this money, leaving the country and not staying here to keep the economy going, that is to blame for this deep hole of crap we now find ourselves in.

Every time you shop online, you're more than likely to spend money abroad. Your foreign holidays are leaving money out of the country by the bucketload. What about me, and hundreds, if not thousands, like me? A foreign national, working in Ireland full time, living here full time, paying my taxes here?  What about all the Irish people working abroad, sending money home, or saving it all up and bringing it home with them upon their return.

In any case, we are receiving help from the EU countries, ECB and the IMF. I must say I was surprised to hear the UK and Sweden, non-euro countries have agreed to bilateral loans. Well, UK not so surprising, but Sweden even more so. But I suppose they must feel not only the pressure of the other EU countries, but the concern for their own economies if this now localised problem was to suddenly become europe-wide. Surely it's better to fix that one broken tile on your roof now, rather than to wait for the whole roof to cave in?

A quick word on RTE's coverage of the 1pm/7pm/8pm/8.15pm announcement, or more accurately, the lack thereof. No information on the website or Aertel, which as far as I know, should update in real time. RTE1 saw fit to lighten the mood and air Fair City as scheduled before the press conference, without even as much as a banner across the bottom of the screen to let viewers know what was happening and when it was happening. Appalling lack of communication from the national broadcaster at a time when it really was needed. Shame.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dear Campers

Okay, I just cannot help myself. Another blog post about I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, I hear you say? But it is fascinating viewing, it really really is. It even made me switch over from BBC's Children In Need 2010, which was a brilliant night of TV, too, more of which a little later.

Earlier on, the much put-upon ten little celebrities were joined by foul-mouthed comedienne Jenny Eclair and the over-sized mobile phone carrying Dom Joly. They do this every year, the producers. They wait for the group to gel a little bit, usually for about a week and then they decide to stir things up a bit by dropping in another two mouths to feed. It doesn't always go down well, particularly this year when our Dear Gillian keeps getting voted in to do the trials she's not excused from on medical grounds, and she keeps fainting into the arms of Medic Bob. In fairness though she did manage four stars (= four meals for camp) last night in a tube of water and other stuff. She was fine with baby gators, but bailed when faced with a spider. Go figure.

Anyway, new arrivals. I was expecting Dom to be a loud mouth, shit-stirrer and Jenny to go in cool, calm and collected. I was half right. In their Shack task  Jenny kept her cool a lot better than Dom did, picking out stars from underneath layers and layers of cockroaches. Well done Jenny. Once she got into camp, she took an immediate dislike to Lembit. I know his kidney bean shaped head must be a bit disturbing from close up, but surely a judgement like that should take more than half hour? She called him a cock, apparently. Maybe it's just because he used to be an MP. Most of them are cocks. But he's not an MP anymore. Give him a chance, Jenny, he's just like a special needs puppy. Annoying, yes, but you can't kick him to the curb either, without feeling incredibly bad about yourself.

Dom, on the other hand seems to be taking it all in his stride, getting quite relaxed in the camp. I'm still waiting for that massive mobile phone to emerge for a special guest starring spot any time now. Please, ITV?

Oh, Linford Christie has turned out to be a roaring disappointment. Apparently, he's not only 50 years of age, but also has the mindset of someone from the 1950's. Having pretty much attacked Playmate Kayla for posing for Playboy, he proceeded to liken her to a prostitute and said that his own daughter would find herself homeless should she ever even dream of doing something like that. You're lucky you can run fast, Linford (Thanks for that, @hollywills). Dagenham girl Stacey jumped in to defend womankind and prostitutes (male and female) all over and my inner feminist was cheering her on. She was the only one to speak out. You are my champion, Stacey!!

Okay, 12 in a camp, getting a bit crowded, yeah? Let's send in another camper, then, shall we! Talk about the most lackluster welcome ever! Poor Alison Hammond, she wasn't to know. Or was she? Don't get me wrong, I like her, did when she was on Big Brother. But she is loud. And big. Big personality and big as is takes up a lot of room. And probably used to eating a tad more than rice and veggies. In her VT she did say she wanted to go in to lose some weight, which she will more than likely achieve unless the hungry campers turn on her and decide to slow-roast her over the campfire. She did bring the camp a Chocolate Orange. With 12 pieces in it. For 13 people. Think these things through, Alison!

The Chocolate Orange didn't really go very far due to Gillian's fainting fit at the trial earlier. Poor Alison was feeling a bit self-conscious at mealtime even offering to skip the dinner because she was the last one in. She tucked into whatever it was they had on offer that night, afterwards pointing out that Gillian, who also does the cooking, gets everything ready, dives into the food first spooning out a big portion for herself and then leaving the last person in he queue to scrape the bottom of their all-purpose pan. I don't know when they'll start voting people out of there, but before they do, it is going to get rough going around that campfire.

And poor Shaun. Hermit Shaun. All he wants is to go back to camping with four other blokes, doing blokey things and spend most of his time asleep in his hammock. Please don't go, Shaun, you have so much more to offer.

Now then. Children In Need. Great show, but in all honesty I really didn't care about anyone else on stage once these lads took to it. Take That. Sigh and swoon. I loved them all through my teens, I remember being heartbroken when they broke up and I was absolutely ecstatic when they announced their comeback. And then Robbie came back and him and Gary made up and did that song... I am swooning as I write this. I mean come on, look at them! They look amazing. Even little Mark, who I imagine will in years to come look more and more like a cross between Dobby The House-Elf from Harry Potter movies and Frodo Baggins. But Jason. Oh, Jason. Never mind your Chocolate Orange, bring me Jason Orange! Yum. I'd tap it and unwrap it...

Friday, November 19, 2010


Myself and Mr S went around having a look at three possible rentals yesterday. None of them were through a letting agency or anything, it's word of mouth and knowing someone who knows someone who has a house for let. God forbid should we actually do this in an official and effective manner.

House #1

  • Available right now
  • Nice landlord
  • Cheap rent
  • Mouldy ceiling in the kitchen
  • A huge dip in the floor in the living room
  • Threadbare carpet in the bedroom
  • Fully furnished (with furniture that had obviously come from a skip)
House #2
  • Three big bedrooms
  • Beautiful views
  • Very remote location
  • Brand new everything
  • Not painted inside or out
  • No floors in yet
  • No kitchen yet
  • Basically, it's still being built
House #3
  • Loads of room
  • Lovely neighbours
  • We know the landlord
  • Cat-friendly
  • In a village
  • Possibly too much room
  • No idea how much the rent will be
  • Too close to the pub (!!)
  • Driveway possible blocked every Sunday because it's across the road from the church
Basically we gave up on the first one as soon as we set foot in it. Come on, you cannot possibly expect to find a tenant for a place that looks like something from The Hills Have Eyes 3: The Beginning. It was truly horrendous, and  when Mr S went in to tell the man it wasn't what we were looking for, the owner had hinted that he'd thought I looked a bit high maintenance and hadn't thought I'd go for the shack he had to offer. Just for the record, I don't consider that being high maintenance, I call it having standards! The owner had also "decorated" the surroundings of the house with "No Parking" signs everywhere. Not just eccentric, but a bit disturbing, too.

The same man owns House #2, he was originally building it for his daughter who then decided to move to Cork and now the house is nearly finished, and he's not entirely sure what to do with it. Daughter apparently doesn't want to rent it out because she might want to use it for a about two weeks a year. It is lovely, I must say but if he doesn't know whether or not he can rent it out, I think we'll give it a miss.

House #3 is lovely, but I don't know if we'd need 4 bedrooms. I suppose we could always give the cats a room each and that would still leave one room spare. Unless Mr S and I start sleeping in separate rooms. Which is not going to happen any time soon. It's a relatively new house, the landlord is a friend of Mr S's and the neighbours are lovely, but it is bang in the middle of the village, which means more noise and less privacy. I think I'm being too fussy...am I? 

Lucky we're not in a rush. or we just might find ourselves treading the charmingly sticky lino floor or shack number 1. *shudder* Honestly, I'd rather live here...

With this delightful gentleman as a neighbour

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Our landlord rang us yesterday, saying he wanted to come up for a chat. Something had to be up, seeing as in the five or so years we've been living here, I've seen him maybe twice. The man understood the importance of privacy if nothing else. Having said that, he did often take his time to fix things around the place, but nonetheless he was my ideal landlord. He didn't come anywhere near the place as long as you paid the rent. He didn't even care about us doing a few bits of DIY in the house, we did always ring him to let him know but his answer was always "Go ahead, do what you want".

Anyhoo, he was looking a bit sheepish coming in, completely uncharacteristic of him. Mr S and him engaged in what my Finnish, get-to-the-point type of frame of mind calls shite talk for about half an hour which was driving me nuts and it really took all my will power not to blurt out "What do you want?!?!" just to get them to shut up about the recession et al. Eventually he did get to the point which was the fact that the house and the site it sits on, are in his son's name. Said son is after moving down from Dublin with his wife and wants to build a house. Here. Which means he wants to knock down this house in order to build a new one. So we have to move.

I am quite excited and annoyed at the same time. Excited to be looking at new places to live, annoyed at having to pack all the crap we've (read: I've) accumulated over the last few years. I wonder would it be okay to leave anything we don't want behind, and he can bulldoze the whole lot without us having to do three trips to the local tip... I can always ask.

Our neighbour didn't take the news all too well. She's been here for over ten years and really likes it here. Well I like it here, too, but what can you do. I understand the nuisance of having to pack up and move, but my god it'll be great to get rid of some amount of shite!

So I'm trawling the Internet now nosing about, and quite honestly, getting ideas well above my station... I'd love something like this,

but I'm afraid we'll end up in something like this instead

I'm worried for my cats, though...Or Tom, at least. I'm sure Lily will be fine as she never goes outside. Likes her creature comforts, that one. But Tom likes to venture outside a couple of times a day, and if I'm completely honest, he's not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. I know you're supposed to keep the cat indoors for a few days so he'll get used to the smells of the new house, and them let him out and it should be easier for him to find his way back. Unfortunately letting the cat out is very dependent on your neighbours, too. Irish people don't like cats. There are some delightful exceptions to the rule, and of that I am grateful, but generally speaking if you let your cat out, there's always a chance he might not come back. Being the lazy little fur ball that Tom is, he might not mind being an inside cat, after all...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dear Gillian

I don't really do this often, but I feel compelled to blog about a TV show. Show called I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! http://celebrity.itv.com/2010/ For those not in the know, it is a TV reality show, where celebrities (playing fast and loose with words "reality" and "celebrity" here) are dropped into the Australian jungle for three weeks during which time they endure Bushtucker Trials involving goo, creepy crawlies and eating kangaroo penis, balls or bottom. Quite possibly all of the above.

It's a great show. It really is. Why, I hear you ask? Well in all honesty, there's nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a group of has-beens trying desperately to stay in the limelight while the show producers are doing everything they possibly can to strip them from that last little thread of dignity. And doing it quite successfully, I might add. How dignified would you feel after crawling through a tunnel filled with spiders, cockroaches, rats, snakes and goo, just to grab a hold of few plastic stars which mean your camp is eating something other than rice and beans tonight?

Some of these has-beens did quite well out of the show over the years, but really the lucky ones are few and far in between. Mostly the public laughs at them for the three weeks they're in there and then forget all about them until the ITV compilation show around Christmas time.

But enough with my ramblings, and to the point. The point why I'm writing about a TV show. Two words; Gillian McKeith. The once-presenter of You Are What You Eat, #notarealdoctor and poo-inspector extraordinaire. These days he calls herself a nutritionist and some time ago she basically went around a couple of years on TV in the UK telling people to eat mung beans, shifting through their poo and calling herself a doctor. Doctor she ain't but she may know a thing or two about mung beans, being a vegan and all that. Just to make one thing clear, and I'm using the help of Dara O'Briain here to make it clear as day. Nutritionist is to a dietitian what a toothologist is to a dentist. Ok? I  could call myself a nutritionist and get into no trouble at all with any type of authority.

Clearly in a bid to boost her non-existent celebrity profile at the moment, Dear Gillian decided to sign up for a stint in the jungle. She told everyone from the very beginning she's afraid of all bugs, snakes, spiders and basically everything with more than four legs, I imagine. Note to Dear Gillian: when you say this on air, every viewer in the country capable of dialling the number to vote for you to be thrown into a dark hole with spiders, is going to do so. Which is exactly what happened yesterday. She was voted to spend some quality time in an underground crate, chained to the floor with five padlocks in the company of some lovely rodents. She was going head to head with a former MP and Cheeky Girl romancer, Lembit Opik.

Having screamed at regular intervals at ordinary flies while being briefed about the task, Dear Gillian was locked into a crate and told to fumble around in the dark to find keys to the padlocks holding her in place thus freeing herself. She continued screaming and telling us she couldn't see anything (it was dark in there so, duh..)  and as soon as she heard the bell being rung to mark the victory of Lembit, she screamed even louder to be let out of the crate. Then she "fainted". While being "unconscious" she was given oxygen and carried to level ground where she managed to pull down her top to hide her control-panel undies while still supposedly out of it. Faking it.

More hilarity ensued when she returned to the girls' camp telling the tale of her loss, putting a lot of emphasis to the fact that she had fainted twice. I must've been to the loo when she passed out the second time. She is getting on everyone's nerves already and I, for one am loving and hating it in equal measures. I cannot wait for tonight when this vegan excrement-enthusiast will have to eat all sorts of maggots, insects and animal genitalia. I'm sure she'll go back to her camp telling her camp mates (a Bond girl, a Playmate, a WAG and an X-factor finalist) how she had to wrestle a crocodile to the ground and rip out it's testicles with her teeth. Now there's  a trial I'd watch over and over...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pottering about

It's my day off and I'm not really sure what to do. Yesterday was spent in a blissful state of do-nothingness and I am starting to feel that I should get off my backside and do something today. I've been to the shops, not sure if that counts?

I cooked awesome bangers and mash last night, garlic and herb sausages with creamy mashed potatoes with little spring onion mixed in. I, typically (another thing picked up from mommy dearest), made enough mash to last two people a good three days. The leftover mash has now been designated for shepherd's pie topping. Shepherd's pie which I'm going to be making for dinner.

Right now I'm trawling through my millions of recipe books to find a quick and simple recipe for peach pie or tart or any sort of baked dessert which includes peaches. I have has that tin of peach slices in the cupboard for too long now and I fear that if it doesn't get used up soon, it'll walk out of there by itself. Hence the mad recipe-browsing.

Mr S showed up yesterday with a wireless router. He bought it for his bar, to offer free WiFi and I am ever so kindly trying it out to see whether or not it actually works. Two laptops and my iPhone, all online at the same time. Talk about multitasking.

Anyway, back to my peaches...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Turning into my mother

I suppose there are people who'd say it's only a matter of time. I really didn't think this would happen so soon. I really am turning into my mother.

I recently purchased a bird-feeder and placed it outside our kitchen window so I can watch the birdies flying in and out. Just like my mother!

As soon as it gets dark, I go around switching of lights and lighting candles and nighlights around the house. I keep a supply of candles in a designated candle cupboard. Just like my mother!

I find myself falling asleep on car journeys. Even short ones. Just like my mother! Just to point out, when I'm a passenger, obviously. My mother doesn't drive, by the way. Despite having a driving license. Reasons for this are still a mystery to me.

Sticking with the sleep-theme, I do seem to be going to sleep earlier and earlier every day only to get up ridiculously early even on my days off. My mother has the ability to sneak in a few naps throughout the day which still baffles me. The woman goes to bed at 9pm and gets up at around 5am. AND she naps if she at all gets a chance. Soon I'll be spending the daytime snoozing on my couch. Just like my mother!

I buy my Christmas cards early and love picking them out, having a certain person in mind when picking up a certain card. Just like my mother!

I don't just drop in to visit friends, I plan ahead, usually ring the person well ahead of time just to inquire whether of not it's a good time to drop in. Just like my mother!

I'm not saying turning into my mother is a bad thing, all I'm saying is that I'm genuinely baffled by the inevitability of genetics kicking in. It's hilarious. I'll best be off now, I have arranged to go and visit a friend. I might have a cup of coffee first, sit in the kitchen, watch the birds outside. Maybe fit in a sneaky nap, too. I imagine myself spending a lot of time asleep in my future. I like it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

...in pictures

I just got the photographs taken at my grandfather's funeral. Had a little cry while looking through them. It's odd seeing yourself and your family like that. All so sad.

Oh god I feel weird. I think I need to talk to mum.

Like I said, I am such a girl.


I am such a girl. It's makeup! And you might win it!


Jennifer has an awesome blog, by the way for all things beauty. Have a look, well worth it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Morning quickie

Just a quick one... Sat here having my morning coffee, Mr S has left for work and I am trying to locate my work clothes. I may have to show up in my black and pink polka dot underwear. Makes a change, I suppose.

Anyhoo, just wanted to remark on how bloody grey and dull it has become out there lately. It's been raining for what seems like a lifetime and it shows no signs of stopping. Makes leaving work all the more exciting I must say, because there's a bridge which floods quite easily and that in turn forces us to make alternate arrangements for making our way home.

So far the "taking the back avenue" -approach has worked well, but I fear I may have to trade my car for a canoe sooner rather than later. Remember the floods last year?


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I feel like a tortoise. I only want to draw my head into my shell and stay there until April. Maybe March... It has been a rough couple of weeks.

Traveling is always taxing, not to mention traveling to a funeral. It was exhausting and very very sad. We had a few laughs, too, it wasn't all misery and I'd like to think granddad would've liked it. He was never one for too much gloom, and he certainly liked his drink, which is why we all raised our glasses of brandy in his honor afterwards.

Anyway, onto something a little less depressing. Or not, depending on how you look at it. It's getting really dark. I mean really, really proper dark in the evenings. I was leaving work just after six in the evening last Sunday and opened the back door to complete darkness. I wasn't amused. Soon I'll be like an owl, heading into work when it's still dark out, and coming home in the cover of darkness, too. And I know in Finland there's far less daylight during the winter months, but there's also SNOW which makes everything seem brighter. And that's what makes all the difference.

The thing is, I can't quite figure out whether or not I hate this darkness. I love nothing more than getting all cosy on the couch with a book and a glass of wine, lighting candles and watching scary movies. I believe the problem for me is having to leave the house. So back to the tortoise mind here. I'd love to crawl into a cosy little world of my own with a winter's supply of DVDs, books, coffee and red wine and only emerge when the migrating birds start to return, trees start looking a bit greener and the world, in general looks a bit brighter. Is that really too much to ask? According to my employer, yes.
Corporate bastards.