Friday, June 30, 2006

Last Day

Today would have been my last day at work.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Who Would have Guessed It?? ;-)

You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I just don't do it.

I never have. Two things I hate; being wet and being cold. To me, swimming is the worst of both. Even the year I belonged to the gym, the closest I got to the pool was the sauna and steam room beside it. I've been to some of the hottest and most exotic beaches in the world, but never in the sea at them.

Tonight is end of term splash night at the kids swimming club. You bring your parents, they get in the pool with you, and you splash them.

I have tried every excuse in the book, and some I even made up myself, but to no avail. It took me 30 minutes to locate my swimsuit, so long it is since it saw the light of day, but I had two too willing helpers to assist in the hunt.

It's inevitable ...

Misuse of Migrant Labour - A Rant

Having been there at Easter, it doesn’t come as any surprise that Dubai is apparently the fastest-growing city on earth, and is the world’s biggest (and most opulent) building site. Allegedly fifty per cent of the world's supply of cranes are now at work in Dubai. I’d vouch for that. The Sheikh wants Dubai to be a the top island resort with underwater hotels, chains of theme parks, the Burj Dubai (planned to be the world’s tallest building), not to mention the palms (three I think at the last count) and ‘the world’.

What also doesn’t surprise me, having seen it all first hand, is the reports of unrest and strikes coming from the Emirate this week. Migrant workers do most of the construction work; in fact migrant workers comprise nearly 90 percent of the workforce in the UAE. The labourers seemed to come mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, even China. I struggle to remember if we met an Emirati whilst we were there!

This week, rioting apparently started when buses due to take labourers to their residential camp at the end of their shift were delayed. These workers spend hours on bus trips to and from the sites each day. We used to watch them from the comfort of our 5+* air conditioned hotel room, queuing for their buses at the end of their shifts, lined up in long rows, all dressed identically in blue or orange boiler suits. And the buses were never-ending, they ferried workers back and forwards all day and all night, the seats never got a chance to cool down; as one person got out, the next got in.

It was a bit like that with the beds too I believe.

Out in the desert are the labour camps that are home to the migrant workers. They sleep eight to a room, as one person gets up to work, someone else is falling into the same bed, exhausted. And all this to work long shifts for poor wages and with no job security.

When you start to do a bit of research, you find out all kinds of information, for example, last year 84 workers committed suicide. Independent research published in local media found that there were 880 accidental deaths at construction sites in 2004. These numbers were compiled by surveying embassies of countries that have large number of workers in the UAE. Government figures, on the other hand, state that the total number of deaths in 2004 was only 34.

Technically, the labour laws in Dubai offer some protection to workers: a day's shift should be only eight hours with overtime limited to two hours and paid at a higher rate; there should be medical care, proper housing, 30 days' annual holiday and employees should not be made to work during the searing midday heat in the summer. I can guarantee the last one wasn’t strictly enforced, when we were there construction was going on 24/7, right above our suntanned noses.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Battle of the Blogs

In recent days my blog has become, uncharacteristically, an all-singing, all-dancing blog worthy of it's own spot on Blackpool Prom during 'Illuminations' season!!! Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I have gladly partaken of all the freebies I have been offered on various sites and have transfomed my blog into an international holding house for the bored beyond belief, complete with FREE translation services. How generous is that??

Tonight 'the usher' is frantically scanning the internet for a little international counter just like mine. I feel a competition coming on, especially as he maintains that my counter is actually telling lies, and that all those foreign people haven't been on my site at all.

I wonder what shade of green he is ;-) envious green methinks :-)

So whatever you do, don't click on the link at the side of the page that says 'the usher', especially if you are internationally located. That would be adding to his counter, and you wouldn't want to be responsible for the starting up of blogwars, now would you!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Technical Crisis

I seem to have a technical difficulty with the blogger line that should be across the top and is now all squashed over at the left hand side.

Can any techies help me please?

A Matter for International Debate

It seems I have started a little cross-atlantic discussion on the merits of rugby over football (soccer) and/or American football :-)

I came across an interesting post on one of the blog journeys I sometimes undertake late at night by hitting the 'next blog' button at the top right hand corner of the screen. Basically it was entitled 'Football Sucks' which would be a sentiment I would whole-heartedly subscribe to. Of course, I couldn't resist an opportunity to add my tuppenceworth to the 'debate', citing the fact that the author sounded like a man of taste and discretion, and much more like a rugby man than a football (soccer) man to me.

And so the post Frnknsalsa: The blog that lives again. was inspired.

I think it's safe to say, I've won the football (soccer) battle, but I'm going to struggle to convince my friend that rugby is a patch on American football. Of course, a game of any sport played well is a beautiful thing, and I simply advised him to watch the game of rugby played at its best by indulging in some European or Southern Hemisphere rugby. With the greatest respect to our American cousins, the art of playing good rugby should not be judged on the efforts of their national side!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Heineken Cup 06/07

Ulster in Group 5 with:

London Irish

Reading here we come :-) WHAT a weekend that's gonna be :-)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This'll put you off your game

I'm not too sure whether I find this Haka video funny or disturbing!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Beauty Tips from the Beauty School Drop-Out


There can't be too many people with naturally curly hair who go to their hairdressers and pay to have their hair straightened so that it can then be curled.

I did.

It always looks so easy (and so nice) when they do it in the salon, and then you are fooled into thinking that if you just had the correct equipment you could probably do the same job at home. And then when you consider that you can purchase the equipment for the price of one sitting in the salon ....

So I bought a set/pair? of hair straighteners and set to, first of all blowdrying my hair (a thing I haven't felt the need to do in six years) until I looked like one of the hair bear bunch on a bad hair day and then straighening it so I can use the straighteners to curl it. Well, nearly straighten it. I couldn't reach the bit at the back to straighten it - I would have needed arms like Mr Tickle to achieve that miracle.

If the 'straight' wasn't quite straight, the curling was a disaster. I did what I thought I had paid vast quantities of money to my hairdresser to do, but instead of curling my hair into nice spirals, I got the complete Miss Hoolie look. After an hour of trying, I eventually gave in and watched the instruction DVD that had been supplied with the straighteners.

And suddenly it all became clear! So I went back to the job, but by this stage my poor arms were so knackered that I did a couple of curls at the front, sprayed them with half a tin of hairspray and then gave up as my other half considered that the amount of hairspray in such close proximity to the hot straighteners constituted a serious fire risk.


In my experience (and even as a child I was useless at those painting by numbers kits) doing your makeup is a nightmare, so my advice is to go to the Benefit counter in your nearest department store and let them talk you into a free trial. Once you've had one of those and bought some products, they very kindly keep asking you back for further free promotions.

If you can time these visits right, you never have to do your own make-up again :-)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I wish I could speak off the top of my head like this!

We go to liberate, not to conquer.

We will not fly our flags in their country We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them.

There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose. But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.

Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread lightly there.

You will see things that no man could pay to see -- and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis. You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing. Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country. Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.

If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly and mark their graves.

It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive. But there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign. We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow.

The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam. He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.

It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly. I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.

If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.

If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer. You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest -- for your deeds will follow you down through history. We will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation.

(On Saddam's chemical and biological weapons.)

It is not a question of if, it's a question of when. We know he has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that means he has already taken the decision himself. If we survive the first strike we will survive the attack.

As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.

Our business now is north.
Col. Tim Collins RIR

Friday, June 09, 2006

I have a friend ...

...who stole a bra from M&S. She didn't know she had stolen it; she went in and bought a bra and when she got the new bra home, she discovered someone had put a second bra in the box.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fabulous Flowers


Aren't I the lucky one - look what I got from the support staff at my 'old' job :-) You can guarantee that had the neighbours curtains twitching.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to focus on the positives in my current situation, and one of the positives is the very good friendships I have made with colleagues along the way, and the support they have been to me recently.

I am so going to keep in touch with them all

Unexpected Visitor

At about 10 o'clock last night I was reading in the bedroom and out of the corner of my eye I spied what I assumed to be a moth fluttering round the central light. I ignored it, until it flew over my direction at which stage I took a swipe at it.

When I turned it's direction to see where it had gone I nearly jumped out of my skin. My initial reaction was 'Good grief! Thats the biggest moth I've ever clapped eyes on' and then I slowly realised it wasn't a moth, it was a ruddy great bat!

Safe to say, noone has ever moved quite as quickly as I did as I ran out of the house, screaming blue murder. I think my other half thought I had taken leave of my senses (again) as he watched me dance around the front garden, in the dark, in my bare feet shouting 'Get it out! GET IT OUT!'

Used to dealing with old bats, he quickly dealt with the problem, and peace, tranquility and (relative) normality was returned to the house.

I've never been a fisherman, but when I recounted the size of that bat .... ;-)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Thou Shalt not Covet Thy Sister-in-Law (to be)'s Tent

With the wedding looming large on the horizon, I decided it was time to take action and get a wedding present for the happy couple. I asked the groom what he thought they would like. He thought about it for some time and then came back with the answer.

To this day I am unsure if he consulted sister-in-law (to be) regarding the decision, however, the answer that came back was a tent. Now, a tent is an unusual choice of wedding present, unless of course you want to explore the campsites of Donegal for your honeymoon, which is always a possibility.

I know a little bit about tents, because we have one, but having only spent one night camping in it to date hardly makes me an expert in the subject matter. However, true to style, I took to the task with gusto, did my research, tramped round the camping shops and eventually managed to find a suitable model.

We spent yesterday afternoon putting the tent up in our back garden, and I have to say, when we were done, I stood back and seriously considered swapping our 'once slept in virtually new' tent for the one we had bought them! The two tents are probably the same size but the layout is different giving the newly weds (to be) greater space to utilise inside, always a benefit when camping in rainy Ireland.

But I decided not to do the swap; honesty and integrity got the better of me. Theirs is a nice tent for sure, but at the end of the day it's not our tent, where we spent our first ever night under canvas as a family, where Michael lost his first ever tooth, where we had an early morning close encounter with sheep.

So today they get their wedding present - the coveted tent, and I am REALLY looking forward to the pantomime that will be watching them taking it down and packing it all away!

Happy Camping :-)

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I've just noticed that sitting in the sun reading books seems to feature very strongly in my blog entries.

Friday, June 02, 2006

How's it going?

Now that the very heavy weight of making very important decisions has been lifted off my shoulders, I'm settling nicely and quickly into my new 'life'.

My kids were on a half day at school today so, having spent the morning buying flowers and planting up pots for the garden with an anonymous person, I went to collect them at lunchtime. It was a fantastically hot and sunny day today, so we had a leisurely lunch outside and then decided we would take a walk to the library.

We did the three mile round trip (with a pit-stop at the sweetie shop for good measure) in a little under an hour and a half. The kids were great; they walked the whole way without moaning once and at the library we spent some time reading a couple of books before heading back. Then we marched off home, taking a different route for the sake of adventure, singing 'We are Marching in the Light of God' as we went!

And when we got home, they played with friends in the garden whilst I sat in the sun and read one of my newly borrowed 'escapist-type' novels.

So it's going OK so far :-)