Thursday, 9 October 2014

Lit Nit Wit:Labyrinth

I think around this time last year I read the book 'Citadel' which I reviewed here.  It transpired that it was a sequel to the book Labyrinth, which I just finished. Just like Citadel it is set in two time frames, this time 2005 and the Middle ages. It follows two main characters Alice and Alais (took me an age to realise their names were similar...) as they discover and take on family secrets to escape an ancient evil that threatens not just them, but humanity.

Alice is in France to sort out the will of an aunt she didn't know she had, at the same time a friend is excavating an ancient site, so volunteers, towards the end of the dig she is drawn to a boulder under which an underground cave holds deep ancient secrets and two skeletons  

Alais lives in middle age France. The daughter of a nobleman, instead of keeping to the castle as she should she often heads to the river and grasslands to collect plants she can use to heal peoples ailments. It is on one of these trips that she finds a man dead in the river. At the same time the king of france has put out an order for the death of Heretics and those who hide them shall also be prosecuted. Her Father and his assocaiates try to decide what do to, to cast out their people or defend them.

Honestly I don't think I enjoyed this as much as Citadel. Maybe it is because I am such a lover of World war stories.  I think there is a good pick of packing, she could have told the same story with less pages and I probably would have enjoyed it more honestly. I still did enjoy it and maybe if I'd the cop on to read this first I would have appreciated both books better. Reading them in order is always a good idea.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Adventures in London

Yes ok I have an addiction, well several really, but my biggest addiction is London, every few months I go into extreme withdrawal and need and I mean NEED to get some London air in my lungs and see some fabulously urbany dressed people. I 100% live in the wrong place.

















Day One: Thank god for nice taxi men. Of course I was too excited to sleep the night before (I am such a child) so I snoozed by 4:10am alarm a few times. Thankfully my taximan
woke me up and I was in the airport and more importantly the bar of the airport in plenty time. There is something kinda funny at being able to order an Irish coffee at 5;30am, not a massive fan of that drink but I couldn't decide between a coffee or an alcoholic drink so I got both.
There was no sleep in the plane at all at all, so when I got into The city (via the Stansted express) I went straight to Brunswich Shopping centre (off Russell Square) for what else but A Giraffe Breakfast Burrito, I was wide awake then!! I met up with an old work friend, whom I was mad to bring to the National Art Museum, but he was more in the mood for the cinema. I have to admit I was somewhat reluctant until I got into the Imax cinema in Leister Square which has a screen size of 26X20 METRES, just imagine Scarlett Johansons face on that (We saw Lucy, it is unlike anything Ive seen before, holy  moley!!) After coming out of the cinema (at like 2pm, I was utterly disoriented by the light) the tiredness did hit me, so there was very very little done until 5 when I headed to Clapam to Bodean's BBQ for a good aul Pulled Pork Sandwich and White Russian with my Dad. 





















Day Two; The main main reason for my trip was because it was my BFFs birthday and my present (other than my Presence of course) was to bring her to Les Miserables, I've wanted to see it since I was about 14, I've never even seen the whole movie cause I wanted to see it live the first time round. Prior to going there we ventured into Westfield in Stratford. My housemate recently went to London too, and she booked in a bag coming home, for the shopping. Thank god I didn't think of that cause I would have bought a Lot more, their Primark was amazing, We didn't see one third of the place really, we ate at , Strada such a lovely Italian.
So off we head to Les Mis, we were fairly high up (upper Circle E24 to be exact). it had a Resticed view and by Resticted we could see about 97% of the stage and you could always hear what was going on,so we didn't mind. I was pretty sure I was going to cry, I knew it was depressing (its called Les Miserabes for a reason) but I was doing well, untiil the last 5 minutes, when I could hear someone else BAWLING crying and I lost it a small bit, but at least I wasn't loud. When I lived in London, when I was waiting for my friends to finish work (I always finished 2 hours before them) I'd often head to Leister/Piccadilly and watch people, this trip I did again, I'm so unused to seeing so many people just walking along, chatting, eating so late and its so fun to watch. My friend and I had a chat with a Policeman about drinking in public in London ( as you do) and got chatting to a Turkish man who had moved to england two days prior.

Day Three; My friend has lived in London for five months, and had yet to venture into the Portabello Market, that all changed Saturday! Just going there to see everything is amazing, Old furs, sports equipment, WW2 stuff (Gas masks freak me out ever since I saw that episode of Doctor who) and food SO MUCH FOOD. We grabbed some Falafel wraps which were so so good, In Ireland there's this sport called Hurling, one of the most fast land games there is, and every year is a final, which happened to be when I was in London. So I met my dad and we watched the Hurling together for the first time in years actually. The team I didn't want to win, won, but it was a good afternoon all the same.











The last time I went out in London, we got talking to some of those Reps in Leister square, who got us to buy some tickets to some clubs or whatever, one we couldnt even find and we ended up staying in one place which was ok, wouldnt say it was worth the money we paid for the tickets, so this time we decided to go to one place and just stay there. We decided on the Zoo Bar, which btw is full of Spaniards, which is a good/bad thing, depends on your opinion on Spaniards. We had a bit of a jig and a beverage or two and felt much less had than last time.

Day Four
My real last day in London. In the morning I headed to Hyde Park, went to speakers corner and learned how and why the Economy is going to go bust in the next five years. There had been talk of cycling but I was so tired from everything that idea went onto the list of things I'm going to do next time I'm there, yes there is an actual list already. I met my dad once more for some chinese in Chinatown, where I heard a Chinese version of 'Let it Go' which put me in a great mood altogether. I headed back to Hyde Park and met up with my friends again and we just strolled along Picadilly Road, past the Ritz and fancy cake shops and it was so nice. I've found there's always new things to do in London, you could have an interesting day even if its just walking along a particular road, imagining spending stupid money on afternoon tea.

I already can't wait to go back, some friends who live there happened to be in Ireland so I have to go again to see them, and Abbey Road, and Wicked.........

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Slow Cooked Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa

As you know by now, my life is somewhat boring when I'm not travelling, I am heading to London next week though, I digress. Last week one of the absolute high lights was buying a Crock pot slow cooker, fun times in the LoC household! I don't think I'd even seen one in person before I bought it. When I mentioned it to a friend she reminded me Pinterest is a thing and it has an abundance of recipes for a slow cooker, (follow me on Pinterest here)

This week after a major Pinning marathon I had chosen a lovely looking Hearty chicken stew with butternut squash and quinoa recipe. Only after buying all the ingredients and half way through peeling a butternut squash for the first time did I realise this was not for a slow cooker at all. Genius!

So I had to change the cooking around a small bit, but it turned out edible and that's the most important thing to take out of it

Ingredients

1 Butternut Squash
4 Chicken Breasts
1 can tomatoes
1 can mixed beans
4 small carrots
2 small onions
handful plum tomatoes
parsley
2/3 cup Quinoa rinsed
1 pint of chicken stock ( I used Knorrs stock pot)

First  peel and chop the Butternut Squash.
Steam it for 10 minutes and add it to the slow cooker
Brown the chicken and add that to the cooker.
Chop the onion and carrots and add
Add the canned veg (I didn't even drain the beans just added the whole thing)
Add rinsed quinoa and stock and Parsley
Cook for 4 hours on high or 6/8 on low



Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lit Nit Wit: Guernica

Ok by now looking at previous Lit Nit Wits, it's fairly obvious I have a thing for World War 2 era books, and also you know recently I was in Italy, but what did I forget to pack?? A book! Not exactly the worst thing in the world but then I needed one for the travelling and the queuing etc etc.

So I was in the Oxfam book shop in cork (its a lovely dainty shop and the selection has kept me happy so far) and I came across the book Guernica. Now I've heard of the Spanish dictator Franco, he's is often mentioned in the background of my WW2 books, but I've never sat down and read one that takes place in Spain, till now.

The books starts in the year 1939, the town of Guernica was attacked a few years before and we follow Justo Ansotegui around the market, he observes the men playing cards and the women complaining about the food in the market that they cannot afford anyway. It is clear all Justo has faced trauma and the war cost him dearly, he has only one arm and was once known as the strongest man in the area, all this is very intriguing as we wonder what has this man  and this town endured under Franco. These People are Basque something they are proud of, but it is evident they are not too profess this (my knowledge on the Basque people was limited when I started reading but the Author Dave Boling teaches enough that you have a better understanding as the book progresses without inundating the reader with information)

The book goes back in time to when Justo was a child and tells the story of him and his brothers, growing up, becoming men, what the two younger brothers do when they leave the farm whom they marry, then the story leans on the next generation of children and their lives. The feeling of close family bonds and love are prominent factors in this story and what people in the early 1900's did for entertainment and what they did to survive.

I am really not the best when it comes to reading attacks on people/towns etc (you'd think the opposite with the amount of books I read...but nope, its all fairly traumitising for me).
However Dave Boling does do a remarkable job, it the best and worst way possible the visuals are remarkable and I did get a bit emotional in the Italian airport like an eejit, but anyway I felt he handled the writing of an actual event very well.

The next part of the story explains how people survive a trauma such as the attack on their town, dealing with what they have lost and how they will survive this.

Also the ending!! Oh the ending made me so so happy, it made up for the destroying of the town for me it was totally unexpected and usually I can totally see things coming.

Another interesting part of this book is Picasso is mentioned in the story sporadically. He actually painted an interpretation of the attack. It's not one of his most famous works to my knowledge but it is something to behold.

I think this is a great book and it caused me to really want to learn more about Franco and the war in Spain, which may be dwarfed by WW2.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Holiday to Rome

A few weeks ago my parents sat me down and told me they had                                                                   something to ask me.
I immediately thought I was in trouble to be honest, but instead they asked me if I would go to Italy with 
my brother, who was mad to go but wouldn't go alone. Of course I jumped at the chance to go 

Getting and staying there:  The one thing about getting to Rome from Ireland is you have to go from Dublin. Our flight was at 6am so we traveled up the day before and stayed in The Abbey Court Hostel which is just off the main street, it has a Cinema room and a hammock room and it organises transport to the airport too which is handy. We flew into Ciampino airport which is about 35 minutes from the city, we took the bus there and we were able to walk to our hostel. We stayed in The Pop Inn Hostel which for location was amazing, not a lot of facilities compared to The Abbey Court, and there was a few small broken tiles in the bathroom (still in the shower unattached) but it was clean and had internet and all we did was sleep there. BTW: There is an accommodation tax in all of Italy that was 2 euro per person per night, so it cost us 12 and I believe that has increased since we left and it has to be paid in cash.

What we did: I am all about the bus tour, it gives you a feel for the place and a map and you see how to get around and the bus tour had a stop 2 minutes from the hostel so on we jumped. Compared to other cities I thought Rome was tint, in a good way, it meant lots of things were pretty much in walking distance. 
On the first day we also headed into the Coliseum and BTW: If you are between 18-24 and have I.D you get into Coliseum for 7 compared to 12:50. 
On The second day we went to The Victor Emmanuel 2 monument and took the lift to the top and there was the most lovely view you can see the Forum The Coliseum and St Peters Basilica. We took a tour of the Pantheon which was really interesting and informational and only cost 10. we ended up in a few random but utterly beautiful churches and museums. BTW  we headed to Palermo Turismo Catacombs and I wasn't allowed in as my knees were showing, I had a cardigan but still I wasn't allowed, and they don't have anything to cover you, in other churches and buildings like that they do provide shawls, but I learned to carry a scarf too for your legs.
 
The Vatican:  The tour group at the Pantheon informed us they also did tours of The Vatican. It did cost us 45 (and those over 24 would pay 50) but we wouldn't have to queue at all which was something I wasn't looking forward to, so I felt it would be worth the money.There was about 25 of us on the tour and we were given ear pieces to hear what our lovely stereotypical Italian woman tour guide who gave us lots of info on statues and the map room and The Sistine chapel. We actually split from the group so we could see more areas such as the bust hall and The Raphael room and The Egyptian room. The Sistine chapel is a thing that everyone should see in their lifetimes!! If your neck doesn't hurt from looking up your'e not looking enough! 
The Basicila is just a marvel to look at the whole church even (go to the Crypt too under the church if you can). supposedly it can seat 60,000 people!! The art in the whole place is staggering and I didn't even see half of it and we were there for about 5 hours.

Food and Drink: Our First night I for some reason wanted to head to the Ghetto to see it (maybe because I had headed to the one in Paris). We ended up eating there too, but we got pizza, I don't think my brother would have appreciated Jewish food but I saw some of those Restaurants too. We also got Kosher Gelato (who knew that was a thing!) The second night we ate by the VE monument and that was a mistake, it was too touristy and the pasta wasn't great and it was more expensive and very MEH. The third day we ate early after The Vatican and again had Pizza. We walked a fair bit away from The Vatican so the price would be more reasonable price and I accidentally....ordered half a litre of wine at 3pm... I am a massive Coffee drinker, so finding a good coffee place was paramount on this trip. It was actually on The Pantheon Tour where the Tour Guide recommended Caffe Sant'Eustachio. I went there straight after the tour and ordered an Espresso......and then another one, it was unlike any coffee I've ever had. My brother even had some, he didn't exactly appreciate it but he's still drank coffee from a famous place. For gelato,the tour book we had mentioned Giolitti and it was in proximity of The Pantheon too, though it was kinda hard to find the gelato was just unbelievable.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Day Trip to Kinsale





Last week it was my day off and I decided it was an 'Eff it I'm going to wear a romper, a hat, red lipstick and head off to a part of Cork I hadn't been to before. On the bus I go to Kinsale, a town in Cork I've never been to before. How I'd never been is beyond me, Kinsale is a picturesque sea town which seems to be inhabited solely of fishermen and tourists. It is surrounded by history and marshes and is a lovely place just to walk around and explore. It has two historical Forts a WW1 and a 9/11 memorial and the town itself is really pretty and tourist friendly and its only 40 minutes from the city
 I really want to do more with  my time off as it doesn't happen that often and I might aswell do as much when the weather is good.  And you cannot go to a seaside town without having some sort of sea dish in this case Chowder, I kept thinking of that episode of The Simpsons (The boy who knew too much, the one with mayor Quimbys nephew and the french waiter...)



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Sunday, 10 August 2014

How I look like I've had more than 5 hours sleep



















Recently I have started working night shifts at work, they have been going well, until your last night is over and you're told the best thing to do is get 4/5 hours sleep to get back into your normal sleep routine, being a lover of sleep this is not very appealing and it really doesn't help that I look zombiefied!

Face: First of all particularly after nights, moisturiser is a must, plumping up the skin and all that,
A light base such as Garnier BB Cream brightens and wakes up the face. A brightening concealer under the eyes and down the nose helps this also.
Nars Orgasm on the cheeks livens up your features.
Eyes: I used a white eyeliner on my waterline (mine is from Avon. Don't forget them brows too!            Lips: I recently bought Tutti Fruiti from Revlon. A cute pop of colour helps me look less zombiefied

  What is your favourite product to make you feel more awake