Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yummy Yummy in my tummy

I have found the ultimate in chocolate goodness all thanks to the might and glory of Marks and Spencer. The wonderful M&S people have created Belgian Chocolate Covered Summer Fruits. These little gems consist of strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries slathered with Belgian yumminess. I must go and indulge in one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

I'm going to miss Marks and Spencer when I return to Canada.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Food poisoning, let me count the ways I love thee

Today we had our team lunch at a somewhat new restaurant in town. The girls I work with LOVE this place, ( name being withheld for fear of owner tracking me down, killing me, chopping me up and concealing the evidence in the Soy "Chicken" and Ginger dish). I had been to said restaurant once or twice before and was not impressed. A few weeks ago I ordered a Ploughman's sandwich- pretty hard to screw up, but screw up they did. I was presented with a soggy pathetic sandwich on a mammoth sized plate, complete with run of the mill brown bread soaked through with volumes of mayonnaise, wet lettuce and something resembling cheese. It was foul and came with the hefty price tag of €6.50... daylight robbery in its finest form. Perhaps my €6.50 was paying for all the dishsoap needed to clean the frickin' plate. So, when I heard we were to have our lunch there I allowed myself an inner groan. Seeing as the company was paying I decided to splash out and have the spiced squash and aubergine bake with creme fraiche and toasted nuts. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Lovely it was not. The veg may or may not have been cooked, there was a complete lack of aubergine, ( instead, replaced with giant hunks of onion) with the levels of creme fraiche inducing unwelcome nausea. Dessert was impressive- a chocolate brownie with almonds, leading me to believe it was not made in house. It was a thoroughly disappointing experience and was set to get worse. After having some coffee the girls and I sat around for half an hour after eating and chatted..... that was when the grumbling and rumbling began in my stomach. The sounds of lunch rejection failed to cease upon getting up and moving around and nor did they ease as we walked back to work or when I tried to drink some calming peppermint tea. No, instead it got so bad I was forced to rush from my desk and into the bathroom where I spent a glorious hour on the toilet reliving every "wonderful" moment of my lunch. The rest of the day was spent sitting at my desk clutching my stomach and willing all of the gods in the skies to stop the churning and the pain. It is now late evening and I cannot face food still and am making breakneck trips to the bathroom at an alarming frequency.

I think it's safe to say, provided I make it through the rest of the evening, that I will not be darkening the doors of this restaurant ever, ever again. A truly awful gastronomic experience.

And yes, I will be making sure the imbecile manager/owner will be made aware of my condition tomorrow. Not a single toilet trip will be omitted.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nee naw

My apartment is very close to the Cork Maternity hospital. Whenever I walk over to the nearby supermarket I pass by the entrance which is littered with expectant mums, pacing fathers-to-be and chain smoking relatives. Nothing exciting ever seems to happen outside the four walls of the hospital but on Saturday there was fabulous drama. I was waiting to cross at the main hospital intersection when three screaming police cars shot past me flanking a family car, with a crazed man at the wheel, and a woman in the passenger seat, obviously in tremendous pain, what with her contorted face. I didn't think the police EVER escorted expectant mothers to hospital but in this instance they did! The three cars police cars threw every caution to the wind, they zig zagged through lanes of traffic, they shunned the demands of a red light, they even blared their horns at little old ladies! I can only imagine how much fun the dad-to-be was having- what other time in his life would he have the opportunity to break every single rule in the driving manual with the encouragement of the police?! Once the civilian car reached the gates of the hospital, two of the police cars pulled back, allowing Dad Schumacher crease his way to the waiting medical staff in a haze of tyre smoke.

And that was about how exciting my weekend was. I am on 'lock down' in the financial sense, as Ian and I are planning a trip to Paris at the start of Autumn. I haven't been to Paris for almost a decade. An entire decade! So, no money wasting is permitted between now and then... NONE! I cannot wait to return to the Chateau de Versailles. It is a mind boggling standard of beauty, opulence, over indulgence and sheer wonder. My very first visit to Versailles was when I was, perhaps eleven or twelve and the memories have never left me. The colossal beauty and luxury of the chateau leaves most people with their jaws hanging on the ground... me included.

When I last visited I was unable to see the famous Opera as it was closed for renovations. Not this time, I thought.

What a foolish thought that was.

ONCE AGAIN, the Opera is being renovated and will be closed for 20 months!! Noooooo. I will have to do the same as I did last time- buy the postcard and tell everyone, regardless of the truth, that I was in fact there.


Monday, July 21, 2008


There are some people in this world of ours who should not be allowed to reproduce. Actually, scratch 'some' and replace with 'substantial amount'. Yesterday some friends and I went to Fota Wildlife Park, just outside Cork city. The place was swarming with little snotty nosed, screaming, melted ice cream toting, sticky handed children. Some were adorable little cherub faced wonders, tottering around like mini Buddahs, whereas others convinced me the devil is well and truly alive. Children were running around trying to pull feathers from the male peacocks, other little monsters were throwing Coca Cola at monkeys while a few terrors tried to stick their fingers through the wire fence into the cheetah compound. Truth be told I prayed to all the Gods that one of the little rotters would feel the wrath of wild cat teeth.. however it was not to be.

I was annoyed at all the loose cannon kids running riot but was disgusted by the attitude of their parents- My ears tired of hearing the words, " Benjamin, TRY not to throw drinks at the monkey", "Emilia TRY not to run after the bird", "Adolfus TRY not throw your ice cream at the passing strangers". I may not have kids but I damn well know that there isn't a single kid in the world that will TRY to do the 'right' thing when they are four years old and loaded up on sugar. They are mini destruction balls. Yet some parents were eager not to put the brakes on their hideous displays of mayhem instead enouraging or ignoring their discovery of nature in all its frgailitiy. Sure, the monsters tampered with the flora and fauna of a unique park and sure they threw objects and food at innocent animals, but it appears I was unaware that the little Benjamin's, Emilia's and Adolfus' were learning to 'discover', and so what if their filthy little hands added in the downfall of an eco-system.

Other than the Attack of the Under Fives, the day at the park was great! I went there with a few friends, they brought a picnic, we had a cake, I got chased by a wasp. It was great! The being chased by a wasp was not so great as it involved frantic running and random swatting... I may have taken out one of the above child monsters with my swatting. Every war has its victims.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Popcorn and ABBA and songs, oh my.

I have a popcorn shell stuck in my tonsils. It's like a mini person is in my throat, repeatedly stabbing my tonsil. I have tried coughing, drinking tea, water, fizzy drinks, dry bread, cornflakes, toothpaste and Listerine but nothing will move the shell. It got lodged last night while watching Mamma Mia- it completely ruined my singing abilities. I could only croak out a few bars of Mamma Mia, Waterloo and Dancing Queen.

The movie itself was fun! The script was awful, the overacting shocking, Meryl Streep can't hold a note, Pierce Brosnan should reserve high octane singing for the shower and Colin Firth needs to find a new niche other than 'reserved Englishman'. But, it was still a great movie- completely camp and OTT.

The drive home from the cinema was equally fun. We located Abba Gold in the glove box, rolled it on, turned up the volume and roared out as many songs as we could. I roared as much as possible considering I had a popcorn shell lodged in my throat. It's an affliction at this stage.

I am supposed to be going to a club tonight called "Sophisticated Boom Boom". I have looked up the web page for it and I don't understand it. A friend of mine does belly and Bollywood dancing and she told me her troupe is putting on a show along with other dancers..... yet it's a club night. I'm not sure how this is going to work. There will also be cake at this club.... yes we all get a slice of cake. See?? This gets stranger and stranger.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mamma Mia


I think I might pee my pants. Mamma Mia is in glorious technicolour with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan! Who knows if they can sing? Who cares? I shall sing for them until cinema security threatens me!

This is my internal jukebox on the big screen. I am forever humming something from Gold, interspersed with my own personal take on the lyrics. I love Abba. A Christmas party is not complete without a rousing rendition of 'Waterloo', 'Knowing me Knowing You' remains one of my all time favourite songs and who can forget student clubs playing "Gimme Gimme...A Man After Midnight", ( a particular favourite of the single ladies, with the lyrics roared into the ear of any unfortunate young man that happened to get in their line of vision).

A house party was not a house party without someone distracting the music junkie away from the cd player which was invariably playing some coma inducing Bob Dylan, ( yeah yeah I know, I don't appreciate 'music'), throwing said Dylan CD out the window and replacing with Abba Gold! A random punter was placed on sentry duty only allowing women covered in glitter and feathers or a fabulously gay friend to press the 'Play all' and 'Repeat' buttons.


Ta Dah!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand I am back. My immigration papers have been completed so I now have hours upon hours of free time each and every evening for the forseeable future, therefore, I need something to occupy my time. What better way than to give out about something on the world wide web. Also, my one man PR team, Ian, showed my blog to someone over the weekend. She read it, stroked my ego, thus compelling to write something. I like to ramble about things so I think I'll be able to come up with something.

Take for example this evening- my word I nearly gave myself an anurism. Each evening I like to huff and puff my way along the banks of the Lee river in Cork. The banks are beautiful, huge fields, full of dogs chasing balls and children, other children in canoes doing their best not to drown, old people with dodgy hips, the young and fabulous sprinting with ne'er a drop of sweat on their tanned brows and then there is me. During my time in Canada I became a vegetable. I sat on my backside letting my roots grow further into the sofa, all the while, demanding regular feedings. The educated among you will know that consistent cheese eating combined with a lack of movement does not do wonders for the posterior, so once back in the Emerald Isle I decided to get out and get active, but not before racking up euros on my debit card. There was no way I was running in public without looking like I was trying out for the Olympic Track &Field team, so I took myself into Cork's finest sporting store and demanded apparel befitting a woman on a fitness mission. I got myself gel shoes that make me spring like a spaniel, trainer pants that are THE latest in high tech non -sweat- getting- anywhere- near- your- skin, and an aerodynamic top that a NASA nerd probably invented. That's what I think and I shall not be deterred.

I had the look and that was pretty much it.

I decided to venture to the riverbanks at non peak hours... so large masses of people wouldn't be tempted to call for an emergency ambulance armed with oxygen. It was awful.. awful awful. I looked like a bruised and battered tomato for days on end and started to get sympathetic nods from the elderly walkers. The hardcore sprinters nearly tailspun me into the river such was the speed they passed me with. But that was then. Now I can more or less keep going without wanting to throw up on one of the passing ducks. Dogs have also stopped chasing me which makes for a welcome change.

So, everything was going well UNTIL THE UNIVERSITY YEAR ENDED AND THE CITY WAS SWARMED WITH OTHER PEOPLE! Each year in Cork, the university runs summer courses for foreign students. The city is invaded with the screams and shrills of rowdy, hormonal, deafening Spanish and Portuguese teenagers. Fortunately, these kids are so busy trying to impress some spotty member of the opposite sex they have no interest in maintaining any level of fitness. However, there are other courses run at the university- for American undergrad students. I am sure they are lovely people when you sit them down for a chat and a bottle of wine but when they are pounding the pavement, MY pavement they are thoroughly and utterly awful.

This evening I was jogging towards the canoe jetty along the rather narrow public path. At most, on the path, two people can pass without dislocating each others shoulders. Anyway, I spotted three, shall we say, rotund, Americans, coming at a sedate pace towards me, all three running abreast. Now, general path and running etiquette in any part of the world is to reduce the three legged lassies to a single mountain range and allow oncoming runners to pass. You WOULD THINK! No no no no no no, they refused to do so. I got in a bit of a snot and refused to move so kept on drilling ahead like a heat sensing torpedo, ( well not that fast, but the description adds a certain something). As I approached the trio they refused to move so I stopped and they stopped and, wait for it, wait for it, I got this from one of the muppets,

"Aaaahh we were , like, here first".

No, I did not have some witty retort, or dirty look to throw them.

And for that I will never forgive myself. My brain failed to react in time.