Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day Parade in Gorey Co Wexford 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pack your Farm Ville and move to Ireland Town

It is that time of the year again: rivers turn green, shamrocks are waved and we all feel a bit Irish. Paddy's Day is here and it is indeed a great opportunity to market Ireland as a tourist destination in these times of crisis doom and gloom.

A few weeks ago, Ireland was named the fifth most popular tourist destination on Facebook and now, to coincide with the country's national day, Tourism Ireland is launching an 'Oirish' rival to popular Facebook game Farm Ville, which is called Ireland Town.

Personally I think is a brilliant idea, we'll just need to wait and see how many facebook farmers we get to move from their cultivated Farm Villes and grab a bit of new turf in Irish Town. And, ultimately, how many will decide to visit the offline Ireland, encouraged by the virtual experience.

Happy Paddy's Day everyone!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bring on the pancakes

Pancake mix:
500ml milk
2 eggs
200gr flour
pinch of salt

butter (to grease the pan so they don't stick)

(a pinch of baking powder for North American style 'fluffy' pancakes)

So far, it has been pancake Saturday, pancake Monday and pancake Tuesday this week... pancakes are some of those treats we seem to remember once a year but they are so easy to make and are so delicious, it is worth remembering them all year around!

This is roughly the recipe we use for the traditional ones (although in Galicia -where they are a Entroido/Carnival treat - they are usually made with water and just a drop of milk). For the 'fluffy' North American version, we just add a pinch of baking powder, make a slightly thicker batter and pour in the centre of the pan without letting it spread all the way to the edges.

Mr M has been trying to make some gluten-free pancakes with chick pea flour at work (as one of the guys is gluten intolerant) but the result wasn't very convincing - or so I hear. So if anybody has a successful and tasty recipe for gluten-free pancakes, let us know!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Running out of Road on World Book Day

Since today is World Book Day I have decided to write a little post about one book you might haven’t heard of. It is one of the many books that are self-published and sold online directly by authors each year.

There are a good few examples of DIY authors that have done remarkably well and the Internet, of course, has helped greatly breaking the barriers between artists and readers.

In Ireland, Roddy Doyle famously self published The Commitments before becoming a Booker prize winner and turning The Commitments into a hit film (and a major part of the country’s pop culture). And that was before the age of the net had even arrived.

However (for what I hear) the self publishing road is not always a smooth one. And the Internet is a very big place indeed!

Running out of Road is the first novel self published by half boss and half friend Jillian Godsil (and she is not paying me to write this!). As it happens, it was my first ever Kindle book as well, which I was quite excited about.

It is an interesting experience to read something by someone you see and work with everyday. Particularly when that ‘something’ is as raw, dysfunctional and f-wording as Bella’s story in Running out of Road.

Bella is a swearing, crude and damaged young woman in desperate need of a real meaningful personal connection. Abandoned by her father and estranged from her mother, Bella marries the owner of the local pub in Ballybawn, the fictional Irish village where the action takes place. But her marriage, like any other previous relationships in her life, is also doomed.

She is trouble, as people would say. She is troubled, it could be said. I suppose it is only a matter of perspective, and empathy.

Narrated in first person, we follow Bella’s thoughts throughout Running out of Road, her feelings and her screw ups, and we almost want to ring her up and tell her not to do half the stuff she is up to.

We are inside Bella’s head, with all the mess, the noise and the going ons in her complicated life. Jillian might use as many f-words as commas, but the writing is delicately crafted, words carefully chosen to give us a vivid image of what is feels to be Bella, running out of road, but ultimately surviving and maybe even finding a bit of hope.

Sure, like many other self published books, Running out of Road might need some editing and trimming down but then, who doesn’t?

Ah, and there is a lot of sex as well (just so you know!)

You can get a copy of Running out of Road, Kindle edition, for the price of a packet of crisps. And you never know, you might be one of the first people to read the next biggest thing.