Friday, 31 August 2007
Thursday, 30 August 2007
You drive into, what you think is, a small town in the middle of nowhere and lo and behold the world and his granny has got there before you. Parking space? - you'll be extremely lucky - and for once we are, we find a space close to the town centre thanks mainly to somebody deciding it's time to visit the next small town. No thanks to the cow who got in her car and just sat there even though it was obvious we were trying to get parked. I hope the door knocker got her.
We have lunch at FNAC's cafe les Americains before collecting the hire car. Note the young man enjoying the pleasure of cold water on naked flesh from the industrial sized fan which seem to be part and parcel of most cafe fittings now.
After collecting our car we set off to Foix which is one of the tiniest departmental capitals in France. Tucked between the Arget and Ariège rivers means that it is slightly cooler and more pleasant than the furnace-like Toulouse.
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
La place du président Wilson se situe à l'entrée est du centre ville de Toulouse est un petit jardin rond, et autour duquel rayonnent plusieurs rues - en son centre, une sculpture et une fontaine honorent le poète Goudouli depuis 1898.
The smiling poet is seated beside his naked langourous relaxing muse; la Garonne.
Toulouse was exceedingly hot and you can only envy the naked langourous muse but at least it was pleasant to relax within the vicinity of the cool water. And the pleasure, the sheer joy of a cold shower on naked flesh (upon one's return to one's hotel room) cannot be extolled enough.
We took a walk down to Place de la Daurade and Pont Neuf, Toulouse's oldest bridge, which has seven unequal arches and curious holes. My theory is that in time of flood these holes would allow the flood water to pass through without smashing the bridge.
From Pont Neuf it is only a short walk past the magnificent fountain representing the two rivers, Tarn and Garonne,
... I think this little house is for the ducks. What a fantastic setting.
Monday, 13 August 2007
On his way back to the college he wandered about the city learning the names of
the streets: Oxford Street, Victoria Street, Cromac Street, Durham Street,
Townshend Street, Carlisle Circus and he thought of the island names -
Lagavristeevore, Killaney, Crocnacreeva, Carnasheeran, Crecaharna - words full
of music, and he said them out aloud to himself as he went along.
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Saturday, 11 August 2007
I have had a look and think this is a great idea - sadly it only applies to the USA but perhaps in time it will be extended world-wide. Anybody who wants a copy of the screensaver click here:
Friday, 10 August 2007
Mary Ann McCracken was born in 1770, one of six children from a very remarkable family. The McCrackens were one of a handful of very influential Presbyterian families who were keenly interested in promoting social reform and the cultural revival of Ireland's ancient poetry, music and language.
Mary Ann is probably better known to many as the devoted sister of Henry Joy McCracken who, in 1791, helped establish the Society of United Irishmen.
The entry, which runs between High Street and Anne Street is named after Henry Joy himself and is said to mark the route of his final journey from the Old Belfast Jailhouse to his execution at the Market House in nearby Cornmarket.
Mary Ann was a remarkable woman in her own right and far ahead of her time. She campaigned for the rights and welfare of women and children and believed that destitute children should be educated. She fought for the abolition of slavery and the improvement in conditions for factory workers. She was also a business woman and along with her sister Margaret ran a Muslin shop in Belfast. After Henry Joy's death and with characteristic spirit she overcame strong family opposition and brought up his illegitimate daughter in the family home in Rosemary Street. She later lived at 62 Donegall Pass where an Ulster Historical Circle Plaque marks the house.
Mary Ann achieved great longevity and died at the ripe old age of 96. Her interest in social reform remained almost until her death in 1866. She is buried in Clifton Street graveyard.
McCracken's Cafe Bar is dedicated to the memory of Mary Ann, one of Belfast's finest daughters.
In Belfast town, they built a tree
And the Redcoats mustered there
I saw him come to the beat of a drum
Down to the barrack's square
He kissed his sister, went aloft
He bade his last goodbye
And as he died, I turned and cried
They have murdered Henry Joy!
I know, I posted this before but I removed it and now I am re-instating it. OK?
A spokesman for the local council in Lodz said: "I don't know why she is complaining, it is not a busy road, and she can still get to the back of her garden quite easily." He said the road was expanded to improve access to a new computer factory and that the law change in December meant that they did not need permission. He added: "She still owns the land, it just has a road on it now."
I don't know why she's complaining either - since she still owns the land she can erect toll-gates and charge motorists for driving across her land. Simple, problem solved, she's now a rich woman.
Thursday, 9 August 2007
DNA tests on a drink bottle taken from a Belgian café where police are investigating a sighting of Madeleine McCann have failed to produce a match with the missing four-year-old.
However, local reports said Belgian detectives had not ruled out the possibility that Madeleine was seen at the café, because the DNA matched that of a man.
There is an interesting report in The First Post that says
Police have known "for a month" that Madeleine had died in the apartment,
it is widely reported. The tabloid newspaper 24 Horas says that the police are
looking for Madeleine's body in the sea, helped by English sniffer dogs.
According to another paper, Jornal de Noticias, police want to examine inconsistencies in the statements of Kate and Gerry McCann, who were interviewed separately late into the night early on in the investigation. In particular, they want to focus on a three-hour period in which only the McCanns saw Madeleine.
The Guardian says:
Local officers have refused to confirm or deny the speculation
which on Tuesday forced the McCanns to give a television interview insisting
that they retained confidence in the inquiry. But if the couple managed then to
contain their exasperation, one of their friends has not. Rachael Oldfield, who
was among the party having dinner with the couple when Madeleine vanished,
yesterday described the speculation as "very hurtful and all rather ludicrous".
"I think there are some leaks coming from the police but a lot of what I
have read recently has been completely untrue," she told the London Evening
Standard. "It is difficult to defend ourselves because the investigation and
everything in it is confidential." Of the reported scrutiny of emails she said:
"It's just made up."
The Belfast Telegraph actually has quite a balanced report on the story.
Surprisingly, places you would expect to be there (such as Ginger) are not - I think this says more about the UTV viewers than it does about the quality of the aforementioned restaurants.
1. Ramore Wine Bar,Portrush
2. Old Inn,Crawfordsburn
3. The Stables,Groomsport
4. Bushmills Inn,Bushmills
6. Deane’s Restaurant,Belfast
7. Belfast Castle,Belfast
8. Nick’s Warehouse,Belfast
9. Halfway House,Banbridge
What makes it more surprising is that in another poll being run by UTV (Local Hero 2007) Ginger is currently at the top of the list. (Well it was the last time I was able to find the top 10 list - says a lot for the UTV Food web site).
Just thought (for fun) I would list my top 10 :
1. Metro Brasserie, Belfast
1. Ginger, Belfast
3. McHugh's, Belfast
4. StoneBridge, Richill
5. Cutters Wharf, Belfast
6. Grace Neill's, Donaghadee
7. Balloo House, Killinchy
8. Old Moat Inn, Dundonald
9. Villa Italia, Belfast
10. Giraffe, Belfast
My wife would never have forgiven me if I hadn't listed Ginger at the top - so had to make it joint first. Some of these establishments may have come further up the list a few months ago and the whole sequence could change next week. Chefs come and go and quality of meals can vary, though some are consistently good. I do miss Frogities though, formerly of Bradbury Place, it was the best French restaurant in Belfast. If you Google you'll find that some web sites refer to Chez Delbart (that now occupies Frogities old premises) as Frogities - this is not Frogities and is not even on a par with Frogities. I visited Chez Delbart once in the belief that they were Belfast's new French restaurant - I have not been back.
Feel free to disagree with my selection.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
For our 30th wedding anniversary we went on a tour of China and on a trip up the Li River this gentleman appeared on the boat selling snake wine. Only a few of us were brave enough (or foolish enough) to sample it but I must say it tasted all right - a bit like a smoother version of poitin if I remember rightly. It's also supposed to be an aphrodisiac oc:
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
I took this video from the bus so please excuse the poor quality due to the bus acceleration. Just thought you might like to see a few more murals from East Belfast of slightly better artistic quality than the one here: Some of the murals are being replaced by something less politically or religiously sensitive but frankly I cannot see these murals ever being painted over.
This from The Guardian: "Paramilitary murals will be replaced under a government-funded scheme to redecorate Northern Ireland's gable ends and public spaces with more welcoming images."
Monday, 6 August 2007
To my knowledge this had always been the Belfast Water Commissioner's Office but closer inspection revealed a series of letters set into the wall. At first I thought the letters were I.N.R.S. & O. and tried in vain to match sensible words to the initials but the best I could come up with was Irish National Rivers Something or Other but a bit more research produced the fact that originally this was Richardson Sons & Owden's Linen Warehouse and further research reveals the letters are, in fact, J.N.R.S. & O.
So, with M&S now ensconced in the building, it has almost reverted to its original purpose.
The M&S building can be seen in the background of this pic and if you look closely you will just see the above letter to the right of the two young lovers.
Chichester Street once ran from the City Hall to Oxford Street but at the height of the bombing campaign, as a security precaution, it was decided to block off both ends of the lower part of Chichester Street where the Law Courts are housed. This complex came to resemble Fort Apache with its high fence and gates.
For some time now work has been going on to remove the gates and security fencing and as you can see a picturesque public garden is beginning to take shape.
Sunday, 5 August 2007
I just couldn't resist posting this again:
Van Gogh walked into the bar and Gauguin said: "Vincent! Want a beer?"
And Van Gogh said: "No thanks. I've got one 'ere."
Friday, 3 August 2007
My wife thinks this may be a bloke in drag - what do you think ?
Detectives have issued a sketch of a Dutch man and an English woman seen with the girl in a restaurant in Tongeren on the Dutch border.
The news comes exactly three months since the four-year-old was abducted from a holiday complex in the Algarve.
A Belgian police spokeswoman said the witness was "trusted" and "100% sure" the girl she saw was Madeleine.
"She works with children and noticed something unusual, that is why we are taking it seriously," the spokeswoman added.
"She said the woman spoke English and the man was Dutch. She said they were acting strangely, but I don't know why."
Checks were also being carried out on the number plate from the couple's car, a Volvo station wagon, the spokeswoman said.
The news follows a number of other reported sightings across Europe of a child resembling Madeleine since she disappeared in May.
Student Jolien Houbrech, 21, who works as waitress at the east Belgian town's De Pauze restaurant said she had served the couple and the girl on Saturday.
Police had removed the girl's drink and taken it away for forensic tests, she said.
She described the child as aged five or six with long blonde hair.
Miss Houbrech said she did not have suspicions about the couple until another customer had alerted her to the girl's resemblance to Madeleine.
"She said that because of her work as a child therapist she had noticed that the people's behaviour was not that of normal parents," Miss Houbrech said.
"After she said that, I said maybe she should call it in to the police."
The couple left before the customer raised her concerns, Miss Houbrech added.
Police said results from DNA tests on the drinks bottle removed from the restaurant were expected next week.
August 3, Mumbai, India: People wade along a flooded road Photograph: EPA