Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Holiday reading

Steve Tilley recently blogged his holiday reading. He gets through a lot of books. I am currently looking for suggestions for holiday reading (please leave inspired ideas in the comments) but thought I would post a few titles I have enjoyed myself recently. Steve rates his, I wouldn't know how to start!

1. A Case of Exploding Mangoes: Mohammad Hanif

On 17th August, 1988, a Hercules C130 carrying Pakistan’s military dictator General Zia ul Haq crashed. The real cause of the accident was never discovered, but this novel based on the incident works through several twisted and intertwined plots including a blind woman's curse, mechanical failure, generals unhappy with their leader and it being the mango season. All plausible enough and with some dark humour an enjoyable read.

2. People of the Book: Geraldine Brooks

This was a book club title, and to be honest, I thought I was going to hate it; I thought it would be dry and boring and intellectual, but in fact I really loved this book, the story and the way in which it is written. Another novel inspired by a true story in which a rare book expert is given the task of conserving the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Gradually you are taken back through the life and story of this holy manuscript until you eventually find out how and why it came to being.

3. Judge and Jury: James Patterson

This is a thriller about the capture and trial of a mafia boss. The struggle is between the boss' desire to remain free and the agent's desire to see him punished and needless to say, things do not go smoothly. Pretty action packed, sometimes gory, fast moving and an entertaining, fast and easy read.

4. Watchers: Dean Koontz

A top-secret government laboratory creates two genetically altered life forms. One is a dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose. The dog finds a home with a single man who finds him as he goes into the woods to commit suicide. The monster follows them everywhere they go because he wants to kill the dog. A thrilling and intruiging read if you like this kind of thing; probably the best book I have read this year so far.

Enough for now, suggestions below please!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So ... here's the craic ...

Holiday coming up ... fantastic location ... sun, sea, sand and ...

... helicopter transfer.

Sounds fantastic I hear you say - what's the problem?? Well, to start with, here are the facts:

  • Fact number one: I love flying, absolutely adore it, and have done plenty of it.
  • Fact number two: I have a morbid fear of heights.
Let me explain 'morbid'. I am the person who went to the first level (and that's the first level up, not the first level down folks!) on the Eiffel Tower and refused to move away from the side of the lift in case I got any closer to the 'edge'.

I am the person who pushed the wrong button on the glass lift in Belfast's new Victoria Centre, ended up in the glass dome (what is that? three, four storeys high?) and couldn't get back down because the choice for getting down was going down in a glass lift or on a glass encased stairwell.

I am the person who went on the London Eye (against my own better judgement) and sat on the bench in the middle of the capsule with my eyes tight shut, fingers so tightly wrapped round the bench they had to be prised off, with tears streaming down my cheeks the whole way round.

I am the person who was put in a chairlift to go down the mountain after a ski lesson and reacted so badly that the unknown 11 year old child in the chair beside me felt it was his duty to personally comfort and reassure me we were going to survive the journey the whole way down the to the village. I was 25 at the time.

Feck's sake, I can't even look at these photographs of the workmen sitting drinking their tea on the metalwork of the skyscrapers they are building without getting the willies.
To those of you who do not share my fear, the two facts above must seem contradictory and to be honest I just cannot explain why I have no problem flying when I can't climb a ladder into my own roof space.

But a plane is a plane, and in it I have no difficulty. A helicopter on the other hand ... well, I'm thinking it's just a smaller version of that capsule on the London Eye.

So while the rest of the family are booked onto the 10 minute helicopter transfer, I am currently booked into the 2 hour 'nightmare' road transfer, until such times as it is seen that I pass the 'can rationally ride in a helicopter (subclause: without causing all those around me to have nervous breakdowns at my expense)' test.

Which is why I am heading across country to an airfield on Sunday for a trial flight .....

Sunday, June 21, 2009


When the iPhone was taken to it's place of incarceration and final rest yesterday, a last minute check discovered that it wasn't dead at all.

I hope I get as lucky when it's my time.

I have now moved onto the next issue ... does anyone have access to a helicopter?

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I have killed my iPhone. It is dead as a dead thing, stone cold, tatie bread as we say here.

It started on Thursday night. Not that the death was long, slow and drawn out. Oh no, that bit happened almost instantaneously. It was the diagnosis of death that has taken so long.

I was updating to version 3.0 so I could send photos by text. Do I ever wish now I hadn't bothered my backside? Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?? Anyway, I went through the processes of downloading the new version of iTunes so I could download the new version of whatever it was I needed to send photos.

And then I just did as I was told. And the phone died. Now, I kept getting messages that said it wasn't dead ... OK, what they actually said was that the phone was 'recovering', but this transpires to be a lie. However, in vain hope I sat for four hours going through the same processes, round and round in circles, getting the same messages. Nothing.

So I took it to the Apple expert on Friday, my brother, who pronounced it terminally ill. Advice from O2, my service provider, was needed.

This I sought last night, and for another nearly two hours I went round and round in the same circles again with nice O2 lady on the phone (landline; remember, mine is dead) Eventually, she admits defeat and refers me to Apple, who had closed up shop for the day.

This morning, another two hours of going round the same circles, but with a few different exercises thrown in for variety's sake. Apparently, out of all the trouble there has been downloading version 3 in Ireland, and , I am assured, there has been lots of trouble, I am the only soul on the whole of the island of Ireland who has received an error code 2.

Is this supposed to make me feel better?

After consultation with supervisors and much pondering, the pronouncement of death was finally made at 10:40am. It is currently on it's way to the Apple store in Belfast for post mortem.

I take some comfort in that I am the owner of the first iPhone in the world (probably) to die of it's version of swine flu. But not much.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's not idiot-proof, it's methodical

Thus spake the engineer in the house (otherwise known as the Ikea fairy) regarding the assembling of Ikea bedroom furniture tonight.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dear Miss ...

... Jim was off school because he caught a chill and had terrible diahorrea through a hole in his wellies

... please excuse Harry's absence from school. I've been in bed for three days with the doctor and couldn't get up to get him dressed.

... Tommy was absent with his face. He's had it a long time and the doctor says its spreading

... please excuse Sadie for not being at school last week. I've been upside down with the painters for the last three days

... I have kept Kevin off school because the doctor says he has slipped a dick

... Joanne won't be in school for a few days because she has trouble with her eye. The doctor says it's a misplaced rectum.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Wipe that grin off your face woman!

Anyone who even loosely follows this blog will remember that this time last year when it was announced that Ulster were in the same pool as Stade Francais for the Heineken Cup, I went a bit weak at the knees, and then proceeded to blog about it and post pictures of naked rugby players for the rest of the year.

Well, today was the draw for next season's Heineken Cup and although we all know history has a way of repeating itself, who would have believed it could happen just so quickly!

Yes, Ulster have once again been drawn in the same pool as Stade Francais. Another whole year to (justifiably) post naked pictures on this blog.
It's hard to argue with such evidence: Pink is indeed beautiful!!

Random things of no particular interest

  • beware of people with £20 tents and £50 carryouts when camping
  • good song, worth a listen
  • I'm thinking of starting a campaign to boycott chippies who only use frozen chips and not real ones made from potatoes
  • this time four weeks I should be in St Lucia
  • poll booths should be set up in supermarkets if they want people to actually bother voting
  • Steve Tilley read a Bateman ... and laughed
  • the passport office and our local chemist are in a combined money-making scam involving passport photos
  • strawberry and black pepper, not basil
  • if I had £100 million, I'd save Setanta over Newcastle United

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Toadstool furniture and spiders web curtains, this MUST be the place :-)

For more pictures see 'all picture no sound'

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Fairy Glen

"Let me tell you about a special place. The Fairy Glen, in the Kingdom of Mourne."

As the weather has been so good (and there's the scud on it now), we have booked to go camping this weekend in Rostrevor, Co Down. Rostrevor is on the shore of Carlingford Lough at the foot of the Mourne mountains.

More importantly, it is home to the Fairy Glen, where the little folk live and spend their time dancing along the Kilbroney river to the sound of harp music only they can hear. We are going to see if we can find fairy folk getting up to all sorts of mischief, running along window ledges and gazing at their reflection in the glass.

We're going to search out the wise old owl who tells the story of what the little folk get up to when they come out to play after dark. And of course, we'll be keeping a keen eye out for Daisy, Michael, Mary, Alice and their friends. Or at least, evidence of them.

If you don't believe me, or are considering that I have finally and totally lost the plot, get yourself a copy of Declan Carville's book 'The Fairy Glen' or 'A Winter Night in the Fairy Glen'.