Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I keep dancing on my own

Ok first of all I do have friends I promise! Secondly I am not writing this for sympathy or anything like that again I promise

Ok so.... I have friends (again I promise) who point blank refuse to go to the cinema alone, to sit in the dark and not speak to anyone while being entertained by a big ass screen that's taking all your attention anyway. This has always perplexed me tbh. Anna kendrick said in a magazine (I think it's Cosmo) that she has no problem with going to the cinema alone, and I am the same absolutely. Let me tell you a secret no one cares if you arrive at the cinema on your own, if they are spending their time concentrating on you and not on the film well there's a pretty big issue with the film It surprises people that I'm doing things alone. I was in a taxi last week heading to Des Bishop in the Everyman and you could hear the surprise and sympathy in the taximans voice when I said I wasn't meeting anyone there (coming home is very funny by the way, there is talks about him doing another gig in March next year with the same material) I think or at least I think I think that by spending time on your own you really get to know yourself, if you don't know yourself properly how will anyone else get to know you

When I was a teenager I was always afraid my wanting to hang out with my friends was somehow inconveniencing them, I always felt I was the one asking to do things and meet up and if I didn't get a text near to the time of the hanging out the other person didn't really want to do the thing so I would not push it.

Even as an "adult" I found myself asking if anyone wanted to do something by putting a question up in Facebook, often times deleting it as no one would reply to the status and that wasn't helping with my thoughts of inconveniencing people

So I started doing things on my own going to places and experiencing things. On occasion my friends do these things with me but I am now fine with doing things alone

I started this when I was about 17
This wasn't even my idea actually, it was my aunts. The summer before I'd had an awful boring time so I had decided i wouldn't let that happen again. I happened to be visiting some family and my aunt
recommended I go to German college for a few weeks to prepare me for the leaving cert (for you Irish people German college is just like Irish college and for non Irish people, Irish/German college is a thing you go to in the summer continuously for three weeks where you only speak that language. You have classes and play sports and do other activities, and no English speaking is allowed). I jumped at the chance to be doing something for three whole weeks and signed up straight away. I was a bit nervous but a girl who i was in primary school with was there and everyone there was friendly out. It was a tough few weeks but I got through it and had friends in no time really.



The next big thing was college.
I didn't even know where Dundalk was when I accepted the place, I just so wanted to get a place I jumped at the chance to go to the other side of the country ( I realise Ireland is small but it's still the other side of the country!) i went to a town I didn't know into an apartment with people I didn't  know and into a college where there was one other chap from my town who has been told to look out for me. Again it was daunting to go there and do things but it was also such an adventure, heading out for
a Bacardi breezer on a Monday with a group of people who didn't know you but were nice enough to include you is such a nice thing to happen to you, with sugary alcohol in me I could talk away to anyone and have a giggle dancing away with my new friends

The february of first year I was busy making plans for the summer. I had gotten a ticket for oxygen (the festival, it was still cool in 2009) and then out of the blue my dad calls me and tells me he thinks it would be a good idea to go on a J1 and stay with my aunt in Santa Barbara (A J1 is a visa Irish students can get to go the US from the end of May until early September). This announcement kinda startled me, as this idea seemed to come from no where and I knew people usually went on J1s in fairly big groups with 12 people staying in a one bedroom apartment and never stayed with their aunts. But off I went and organised this visa and in no time (via London San Francisco and LAX) I was in Santa Barbara. This was a new challenge as I had to get a job and didn't have an immediate way to make friends like the way I had in German college and actual college. My aunt basically arranged a play date for me with her friends niece who was there from Canada for the summer, which was totally handy really. After about 2 weeks I had a job in an Irish bar, after telling the manager I was going to stalk him until he gave me a job, true story...
He also hired another Irish girl who actually was there with friends and there was a good few people staying in hers, she invited me over a few times and I hung out with my arranged friend, and got friendly with the other staff at the bar, we went for a thank god the World Cup is over party in a proper American bowling alley where they routinely held big lebowski parties.

There was  a few time when I wanted to see other parts of California, kinda like an itch and I knew the people I knew would be working so I would go on my own. On one occasion I went to San Francisco which entails getting on a bus at midnight and waking up at 8 am in the city so that was cool. I really saw the benefits of traveling alone there, for example to walk from my hostel to the Golden Gate Bridge, walking the Golden Gate Bridge and returning to the hostel took an honest to god 6 hours I am not even kidding! I think if I had attempted this with someone else someone would have been killed. Obviously we could have taken a bus but instead I walked and walked and had a caricature drawn saw a lady gaga made from skittles, got an in and out burger, left said caricature at the counter, retrieved said picture and then once I arrived at the hostel while stretching my legs and making coffee got talking to two Australians and ended up having dinner with them and drinking captain Morgans till all hours, I just don't feel that would have happened if I had brought someone else along.

The following summer my dad (who clearly has great suggestions) suggested I come to London for that summer, he had a friend who would be able to get me a job in a hotel with accommodation and two meals a day (actually possibly it was three but I never was awake for breakfast). The brilliant thing with this job was there was people who I now lived with who were all not from England and were also looking for friends there was French Spanish Brazilian, Hungarian Australian and they were nearly all amazing. Within two days of arriving I was invited to go see Stonehenge with a group of them and off we went, the only problem being one of the Australians misheard my name and what he heard became the nickname I was stuck with for the summer (let's say it rhymes with lympho....)

I spent a good amount of time on my own also though. One night after reading Michael Caines book all night I knew I wouldn't be getting any sleep so went for a walk at five am. If you ever wanted to see Trafalgar Square empty the time to go is five am.  We spend the summer staying up all hours learning bits and pieces of other languages and while watching drawn together (an 18+ cartoon) I had to explain the term ballsack to one of my foreign friends. Other than the riots I had just an amazing time and I thoroughly recommend all people to spend a summer in a big city which does not sleep!

Since that summer there hasn't been a massive change of scenery which has led me to go off and do my own thing it's been more little things

Last year I went to Paris on my own. I spent a good three hours locating Coco Chanels original shop/ apartment and after proving I knew a bit about Chanel to the security man (she had this apartment but slept in the Ritz every night FYI) he allowed me in to see the mirrored staircase where an American lady and I had a fan girl moment, people had warned me about French people, but other than a bit of catcalling in French outside train stations (at least I think it was catcalls, my French is non existent) I had no problems whatsoever

I went to my first comedy show (mark Dolan) and first concert (Biffy Clyro) alone.
I've been out drinking in London and cork on my own.

Last week when I wrote about my trip to cobh and to gone girl (yes alone) I failed to mention a small issue that occurred that evening. I was in the first pub having a desperado (yum), it was about 9pm and I realised the only people I had spoken to were people who were working and therefore had to speak to me (I.e the lady I bought my tickets from, who I ordered my latte, cinema tickets and beer from) and I was hit with a dark cloud, I got upset over the fact that I had enjoyed the trip with no one there was no one who I could talk about gone girl with or who could admire Cobh with, I convinced myself in those three minutes that no one wanted to spend time with me anyway and i did get a bit upset with this thought. I did get over it and eventually went to a pub where I had a grand chat with some people about music and I had a dance with a chap and ended up kissing someone at the end of the night who told me they were glad they met me, that still doesn't take from the fact that as much as I enjoy doing things I can get lonely. I can talk to anyone (not tooting my own horn or anything but I can) but sometimes I've no desire to talk to people and sometimes people just don't want to talk to me and that's ok. Feeling lonely is ok, I wouldn't like to feel it frequently if I'm honest. After the mini crisis I made it a mini mission to
reconnect to a few people so I don't have to be alone if I don't want to. I'm proud my friends are off having adventures in Dublin and London and it seems to be difficult to meet new people to chat with when you reach your 20s, this is something i know I have to work on, but I know I can keep myself company when needs be.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Adventure Time: Cobh Edition

I have lived in Cork for the majority of my life, and yet there are so many parts of this lovely county I haven't seen, and I'm on a massive journey to change that since I live in the city and have the ease and ability to get there. One day last week I was off for a few days so I decided I'd have a 'Self Love' Day and go to a place I haven't been before, namely Cobh. Ok I have been to Cobh before for twenty minutes to see one of those massive liners, but I'd never been to The Titanic museum or the Cathedral and I got to go on a train!! I love trains so much, I am the biggest child!!

The first place I headed was the Titanic Muesum, The Titanic stopped in Cobh to drop off some people (lucky them) and collect some other people.We got to see a third class and a first class bedroom and saw a piece of luggage that had been on the actual boat. The building itself was where the passengers bought their tickets and waited for the boat to arrive, so I felt as I was standing in history. 
Does anyone else get those sqaushed penny souvenirs?? I get them everywhere I can so of course when I saw one there I had to get one, again I am such a child.


I then headed to the cathedral, I thought it was odd I've seen The Basilica and not the Cathedral up the road from me, I've seen pictures of it but had never been there, same with the "Deck of Card" Houses, (23 houses built on 23 levels and all painted differnt colours like a stack.....of cards!!) and The Annie Moore Monument (Annie Moore was a girl from Cork who was the first person to reach America through Ellis Island ) 
I probably wasnt more than three hours in Cobh, it is a small place so you can see all the history and the sights quickly enough, but it was just lovely and if you ever have a few hours to spare in the cork area you should definitely head there 
 

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.