Friday, 28 September 2007

The Highway Code

Many smokers regard their car as the last refuge from the ban that has prevented them from lighting up in public.

But now smoking behind the wheel could result in their being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

Under the new Highway Code, which comes into force today, having a cigarette while driving is a breach of the rules of the road and classed as a "distraction

New additions to the Highway Code include drivers being advised to stop if they are dazzled by the sun.

Can't you just see the fun that will cause if hundreds of motorists stop on motorways because they have been dazzled by the sun?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

The Thursday Comic Strip - Pogo

Pogo was the title of a long-running (1948-75) daily comic strip created by Walt Kelly, as well as the name of its principal character. Set in the Georgia section of the Okefenokee Swamp, Pogo often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of the strip's funny animals. Since Pogo occasionally used slapstick physical humor, the same series of strips could often be enjoyed by young children and by savvy adults on different levels. wikipedia:

Pogo website:


Click pic for flick

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

New Guinness world record

1,010 bikini-clad women pose on Australia's Bondi Beach, setting a Guinness world record for the largest swimsuit photoshoot.

So what? it's just another ridiculous world record to appear in the Guinness book of records. If you want to see the photos then go to the Reuters website or google it. Frankly I don't think it's worth the effort.

Madeleine McCann in Morocco?

This photo was taken on 31st August ...

Don't you just love how these people, who think they have seen Madeleine, wait weeks before contacting the authorities.

UPDATE: once again it's a false alarm.

Pictured girl 'is not Madeleine'

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

My Top 10 Restaurants

The clock outside Robinson's - pity it no longer works either - it used to keep good time.

... and I have had to review my top 10 restaurants again. After visiting McHugh's on Saturday I have decided to drop it off the list (meat was cold and had to be reheated, vegetables looked a bit grey, cheese cake [or whatever it was] was all runny) and then, after a pleasant meal in Robinson's Bistro tonight, I have decided to slot them in their place. I have not eaten in Robinson's for a while - last time was when we were able to eat in the bar downstairs but they have stopped serving food there now (so maybe you can work out how long it has been since I last visited) it won't be as long until the next visit.

1. Metro Brasserie, Belfast
1. Ginger, Belfast
3. Robinson's Bistro, Belfast
4. StoneBridge, Richill
5. Cutters Wharf, Belfast
6. Grace Neill's, Donaghadee
7. Coyles, Bangor
8. Balloo House, Killinchy
9. Old Moat Inn, Dundonald
10.Villa Italia, Belfast


On the way to the bus stop this morning I was stopped dead in my tracks by this amazing sunrise. I just had to stop and take a couple of pix and then I looked round and there was a bus leaving the stop - thankfully it wasn't mine.

I Like Trucks

This one is for dr em - who thinks this is a great song. I was beginning to think she had dreamt it until I finally found this on YouTube. If you want to watch the video be sure to click the pause button on the playlist to the right.

If you want to download an mp3 of this song - you can find it here:

Autumn festivals

Today we can celebrate the Moon Festival (Mid-Autumn Festival) in Hong Kong

This traditional Chinese celebration is marked by shrines of gifts to honour the moon goddess, with lantern displays and deliciously sweet moon cakes on sale.

Galway International Oyster Festival
September 27 to 30

The Irish port of Galway's annual oyster festival is a collective binge on the oysters that grow wild on the sea beds of Galway Bay. Highlights include the World Oyster Opening Championships and an Oyster Pearl Contest.

But ...For wilder times, head straight to the Oktoberfest in Munich, which is synonymous with beer, all things Germanic and constant partying.

Mile high scrub!

An air passenger in China shocked cabin crews when they found him taking a sponge bath in the toilet.

Passengers on the flight from Nanning to Chongqing complained that the man was spending too much time in the toilet.

An air attendant knocked on the door, and then noticed water flowing out from underneath it, reports the Chongqing Morning News.

"We had to open the door with a key, and saw that the man was half naked," said the attendant.

"When he saw me, he said he was bathing, and asked me if I had some shampoo."

The man, Jin Sheng, said it was his first time on a plane.

"I discovered the bathroom had hot water, so I thought of taking a bath, since I hadn't had one for nearly a week," he explained.

The airline could not punish or charge Jin, as there is nothing in the regulations to prohibit passengers from having a mid-flight bath. Ananova

Well, I can't see the problem here - other than possibly airlines not providing facilities for people who want to freshen up.

Brazilian street art

A neat piece of street art.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Friday, 21 September 2007

Add a caption

Cherie Blair shows off her John Travolta impersonation.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Bank of Ireland

A close-up of the head above the entrance to the Bank of Ireland. If you look above the modern shop fronts you will be amazed at all the different heads that can be found on Belfast buildings.

George Melly farewell.

Two months ago I posted on the death of George Melly but it was only today that I came across a report on his funeral which was as outrageous and flamboyant as George was. See photos here at

I think that is the way I would like to be seen off

Cherie Blair - 'The autobiography'

Cherie Blair is to write her autobiography after striking a deal which could net her £1 million.

The book - which Mrs Blair is working on without the aid of a ghost writer - will be published in October next year and is likely to be accompanied by a high-profile (highly lucrative?) promotional tour of Britain and the US.

Mrs Blair is known to have kept meticulous records of day-to-day events throughout her decade in Number 10, and her publishers said the memoir would draw from "a mass of information, including diaries, notes and emails".

Now, that's what I call forward planning.

Perhaps significantly, the book will come out within days of next year's Labour conference.

Best female singer ... you can not be serious!!

Amy Winehouse defied her critics last night by winning two prizes at separate awards ceremonies.

The troubled star was named best female singer at the Mobo awards and later scooped the best female live act prize at the Vodafone Live Music Awards.

Just goes to prove how ridiculous these awards are now.


A US man saved his own life when he crashed his car into a tree as he choked on an onion ring.

That's a bit drastic, isn't it ???

Is it a bird, is it a plane ....

Police are investigating after villagers in Romania claimed to see a Superman-like figure flying through the sky.

Almost 20 villagers, from Gemeni, Mehedinti county, claim the UFO was wearing a shiny blue suit, just like Superman's.

Police officers took written statements from all of the witnesses and say they described the figure in the same way.

Local policeman Ion Anuta said: "We talked to people of different ages who are all reliable citizens in our village.

"They all said they saw this strange creature who flew over their houses in his shiny blue costume. We'll just have to see what happens next."

Villager Constantin Toader, 41, said: "He looked like Superman and was flying slowly at about 100 yards from the ground in a standing position. He didn't make any smoke or sound. Just cruising around."

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Sunshine and wine

Now that the weather is on the turn and the days are getting shorter (almost) I thought I would remind you of what we are missing - sunshine! This photo was taken in Granada in January - I never did get round to posting photos from that great trip, did I? - after we had 'done' the Alhambra palace we found a cafe in a pleasant little square serving decent food and a good bottle of local wine and there we sat sat soaking up the sun (we do seem to do a lot of that, especially with a drink in hand - well why not?). I'l tell you this though, Malaga in January was very pleasant - warm sunshine without being too hot meant we could really enjoy traipsing round to see the sights and there weren't busloads of tourists getting in the way. Did you know there's a Dunnes Store in Malaga? (well you do now).

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Garden Gourmet

Saturday 15th September: weather is warm and sunny so we take our grandson along to the Food Fest/Garden Gourmet (whatever it's called) in Botanic Gardens. Catch some folk (for want of a better word) music and decide to give the beer tent a miss (at their prices, can you blame us) so take Little Tee round to see the magician and the jugglers - they are better than the musicians. Think I'll give it a miss next year.

Have had to leave my digital camera in to be repaired so had to use my camera phone for this, not too successful, photo of autumn leaves in Botanic Gardens. It's starting to look sort of pop art to me.

Monday, 17 September 2007

What is happening on Blogger?

Why, when we edit our blog, are we getting part of the information in English and the rest in German?

Madeleine McCann - the ongoing story

Here is an extract from an interesting article on this morning, which casts an entirely different light on the Madeleine McCann enquiry:

… yesterday (15th September 2007) it was revealed the joint head of the probe is set to face a criminal hearing over an alleged cover-up in the three-year-old case of a girl who also disappeared in the Algarve.
Chief Insp Goncalo Amaral is accused of concealing evidence that police tortured the mother of Joana Cipriano, eight, into a confession. Leonor Cipriano later retracted her statement but was convicted of murder and jailed for 16 years.
Three other officers are also being investigated, including recently retired Chief Insp Paulo Pereira Cristovao, who writes for a Portuguese newspaper that has leaked several stories about the investigation.
A further officer is accused of fabricating evidence.

This is also reported in the Telegraph

Unfortunately, unless Madeleine is found safe and well, we will probably never know the real truth.

More :
An article in The Guardian: With prejudice

Various articles in The Telegraph

Various articles in The Times

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Bangor or Burano

Today we visited Grace Neill's in Donaghadee again for a meal with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson but this time to celebrate their wedding anniversary. great music, great food and, most important of all, great company. As the weather was still pleasant on the way home we decided to pay a visit to the Esplanade in Ballyholme and sit on the terrace for a while enjoying the last of the afternoon sunshine. As I looked down the esplanade I couldn't help but think that it reminded me of houses on the isalnd of Burano. Maybe not just as warm but just as colourful.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Duke of York

oh the grand old duke of York ...
To look at this you would think you are somewhere in France but, no, it's the Duke of York pub in the heart of Belfast just down the street from the John Hewitt pub.

Nestled in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, on one of the city’s oldest cobbled streets, The Duke of York was once at the centre of Belfast’s thriving newspaper district.

Little wonder then that it was frequented by the literati and the glitterati of that time, from newspaper hacks to poets, politicians and raconteurs. Ironically, it has outlived the publications that once employed its most devoted customers and today it is filled with paraphernalia of the printer’s trade, with great screw presses and wall murals made up of hot metal type.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Today is Hadrian's Wall day

According to my calendar the building of Hadrian's Wall began on this day in AD 122. So I think we should celebrate the occasion by taking the day off work. BUT how do they know it started on this date? Do they have Hadrian's diary?

13th September AD 122:
Got up early, picked up the paddies in my chariot and headed off into Northumberland to start work on my wall. Those Picts sure are a pain in the ass though - always trying to climb over the wall. In the end we had to kick a few butts. Will have to put a stop to lunch in the pub - takes forever for the paddies to get back to the job. Should have let McAlpine take the contract.

Italy braces for pasta strike

In a move that could rock the very foundations of the entire nation, Italians are being urged to go on a pasta strike today.

The strike, which would see Italians refusing to buy pasta for a whole 24 hours, is being called for by consumer groups, in response to price increases of 20% that have hit the pasta market.

But producers say the strike targeting Italy's national dish is wrongheaded because the price is linked to a global rise in the cost of grains.

'It's a symbolic strike, which will have no impact,' said Luciano Berardi, commercial director of pasta manufacturer De Cecco, dismissively.

... and he's dead right.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

E is for Eagle

A couple of pictures for my grandson.

As I stand on the mountaintop, as the great bird approaches.
She is small in my sight, but grows larger on approach
until I am blessed with the full sight of her graceful wings,
proud countenance and good company.

All too quickly, she grows small again on the horizon and
disappears from view.
And I call out, "Look, there. She's gone."
But there are other mountaintops beyond me.
And at the precise moment

when I note the great bird's departure from my view,
I know there are new eyes
taking up the sight of her.
And fresh voices calling out,

"Here she comes!"

Henry van Dyke

Fly like an Eagle.

D is for Directions

Another new addition to the city centre is signposts, like this one at Donegall Square North. I see toilets indicated but don't ask me where because I think the nearest in that direction is at the bottom of Anne Street. We are talking about a mile away so just pray you don't need to find them in an emergency.

I see the building behind the sign has been renamed Lesley Building - blue boat has made a comment about Lesley Buildings here: I can't remember what the building was previously, but the ground floor is occupied by a building society and a new glass extension has been stuck on top, which didn't improve the look of the building.

... and here's something linked with blueboat's latest photo

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Here kitty ...

A nice piece of garage door art from our trip to France.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Maria Callas - Casta Diva

James Dean - Forever Young

Romance in the city centre

Bus stop, wet day, she's there, I say
"please share my umbrella."
Bus stop, bus goes, she stays,
love grows under my umbrella.

All that summer we enjoyed it, wind and rain and shine.
That umbrella we employed it, by august she was mine.

Ev'ry mornin' I would see her waiting at the stop
sometimes she'd shop and she would show me what she'd bought.
All the people stared as if we were both quite insane.
Some day my name and hers are going to be the same.

That's the way the whole thing started, silly, but it's true.
I'm thinking of a sweet romance beginning in a queue.
Came the sun, the ice was melting, no more sheltering now.
Nice to think that that umbrella led me to a vow.

Graham Gouldman

Back to school

A lot of teacher's are sitting nodding their head's in agreement with this ....
Grand Avenue:

Saturday, 8 September 2007

G is for "Glasses"

Today was such a good day that we decided to take ourselves off to Bangor, Co. Down just for a wee change. It felt so good just sitting soaking up the sun with a glass of the black stuff.

Recently I posted a listed of my favourite restaurants but I think I am going to have to amend that. I think no. 10 - Giraffe will have to come out to be replaced by Coyles, Bangor. We had a meal in the restaurant a few weeks ago which was really something and today we had what was laughingly termed 'bar food'. I say laughingly because our meals were nothing like bar food you get served elsewhere.

I had warm rare beef salad with blue cheese, lentils and truffle, while dr. em had roast pork belly and honey glazing with creamed leeks, beans and savoy cabbage - she replaced the mustard mash with champ. For dessert - cheese platter for dr. em and chocolate mousse with cherries and almonds for me. I hope I am making your mouth water. So I think Coyles will have to step into the no. 7 slot.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Exit Music

Exit Music, the 20th novel in Ian Rankin's Rebus series, charts the final 10 days in the run-up to the iconic Scottish detective's retirement. Rebus's efforts to clear his desk are interrupted by the murder of a Russian poet, in what at first appears to have been an abortive mugging. However, the arrival in Edinburgh of a delegation of Russian businessmen muddies the waters, and as Rebus and his colleague, DS Siobhan Clarke, dig deeper, the attack begins to appear less random. At the same time, Rebus himself falls under suspicion following an assault on Edinburgh gangster (and Rebus's Moriarty) Ger Cafferty, and any remaining chance he had of going gently into that good night is destroyed.
Listen now to Ian Rankin reading the opening of Exit Music, exclusively for Guardian Unlimited Books.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Christy Brown

Let me not go tamely out to sea
the eternal sea
the only sea
that waves us on to oblivion.

O let me rant and roar as the very
as always down all the bruised days of my reckoning .
Let me shout
and scream and laugh and curse
and pray in the hollow rock of my penitence.

Christ, you all-seeing son of an inconceivable woman,
don't let me
die between the sheets
or even between the thighs of some foolish ready
Let me die with the wild wind in my few hairs
the mad Irish
weather scudding over my mind
the bitter-sweet aftertaste of oaken beer
anointing my senses.

O Lord of wine and water
fire and snow
purifier and destroyer of all my days
grant me this;
that when I die
it will be under an Irish sky.

Christy Brown (June 5, 1932 - September 6, 1981)

Your Bank Of America account is Blocked!

I just got an email from Bank Of America saying Your Bank Of America account is Blocked! Which is very good because I didn't know I had a Bank Of America account nor did I know it was on drugs (c: - so do you think I should take the bull by the horns and click on the link or be a mouse and just delete it ???

Talk to me

On the bus to work this morning I noticed a cloth tied to railings and idly wondered who was celebrating a 40th or 50th birthday today. Imagine my surprise when I saw a totally different message. I just had to laugh but only because the message was so different from what I expected.

There was some speculation in the office about whether the person who had done this was male or female and some of us were accused of being sexist for assuming that only a bloke would have done this. One wag went as far as to suggest that it was the woman's fault in the first place (oh how we laughed). The question was almost answered when another colleague informed us that there were 2 more such signs on a nearby road, reading Ian, we need to talk and I'm nuts about you - so we decided that a woman was responsible until someone pointed out it could just as easily have been a man.

Putting gender aside, I hope Ian doesn't go all macho and still refuse to talk. Ian, somebody has spent a lot of time and effort on these and has declared publicly that (let's just assume that Ian is heterosexual) she's nuts about you so the least you can do is talk to her. Show us that you are a real man, talk to her and settle whatever differences you have.

I hope that, for her (?) sake you are worth all the bother and it all works out alright in the end.

If anybody knows who these people are - we would be very grateful if you let us know of the outcome. Thank you.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Revel - 23rd August 2007.

Yes, we did have some rain - here we are near Revel at a man made lake, we did manage to finish our picnic by the lake and return to our hire car before the heavens opened.

Don't rain on my parade.

Not just in Belfast ...

We saw recently how utility boxes were being decorated in Belfast - this fine example of beautifying ugliness was found in Lavaur near Toulouse.

G is for Girls

I posted a pic of a Belfast Chugger recently and here is another gorgeous girl about to pounce on somebody and separate them from their hard-earned cash. I think red stockings are really really sexy - as does, obviously, the young woman on the left who is eye-ing them enviously.

apologies for the poor quality pic - it was taken far too quickly, without enough time to focus properly

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Castelnaudary - 22nd, 23rd & 24th August 2007.

We arrive in Castelnaudary to find that this is the week-end of the cassoulet festival. Marquees are set up for diners to partake of the said delicacy and there are stages set up in different squares for concerts to be held nightly. Sadly the first night is too wet so that the scheduled pop concert has to be cancelled but ..........

....... it does not deter these young women from performing during the evening. They are accompanied by a samba (?) drum band and girate up and down the street for hours, much to the appreciation of the local population (and some tourists) - ahhh the pleasure of cold water on naked flesh.

Next morning calls for something more relaxing and we take an early (not too early) morning stroll along the Canal du Midi.

Farm beside the canal with a field of sunflowers, which I think are just past their prime. Not the scenic view of sunflowers we normally see on postcards.

An écluse along the canal - you can see the distance to the next écluses from the sign on the wall. One of the locks was manned (is that the correct word) by a young woman. I suppose nothing to be amazed at any longer but I just thought she was very young for the job (no, I am not suggesting any sort of incompetence - just, that I expected anybody doing this job to be much older with more experience, like the men we saw at other écluses).

Some scenes from fête du Cassoulet

Monday, 3 September 2007

Lezignan-Corbières - Tuesday 21st August 2007.

Carcassonne via Mirepoix - Sunday 19th & Monday 20th August 2007.

The half-timbered houses over the covered galleries of Mirepoix, which are adorned with sculptures in the shapes of animals, crowned men, women weaving hats,and even grotesques....

Carousel at the mediaeval city of Carcassonne.
Carcassonne by night.
Carcassonne by day.

I can feel it ....

The content of this advert really bears no relationship to the product but it is such a clever advert that you have to watch until the end to find out what is being advertised. It is a lot of fun too .... enjoy.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Montsegur - Sunday 19th August 2007.

Today we head for Carcassonne but first a detour to Montségur. Montségur is a special shrine of the Cathars (it has been described as their Alamo). In this nation of Southern France (Occitania) Cathars and Catholics had lived side by side as neighbours until the king of France and the pope made its demise and annexation the goal of a war officially known as the Albigensian Crusade. In 1204 the Cathars had asked Raymond de Péreille (one of their supporters) to rebuild his castle at Montségur (or Mount Safety) and it subsequently became their chief stronghold. While other castles fell easily, the besiegers found Montségur impossible to seal up tightly and starve out, even with 6,000 men. In 1243 it held out for 10 months, even into a difficult winter but shortly before Christmas a group of Basque mercenaries scaled a seemingly impossible sheer cliff face, and overran a forward position. From here, under the direction of a Catholic bishop specialising in war machines, the French were able to construct catapults. This spelled the end of all hope. The garrison surrendered on 2 March 1244 having negotiated a truce of two weeks, after which the Parfaits (or 'goodmen' as they called themselves) would have to abjure their faith or burn alive. Not a single Cathar took up the offer.

Surrounding countryside from the base of the rock (or Pog).

Montségur and pog silhouetted against an ominous sky.

Surrounding countryside from the summit of the pog.

The stone memorial marking Camp des Crémats, the burning field, where a stockade full of firewood was set alight as the archbishop of Narbonne arrived to take possession of Montségur and all the souls who converted to Catholicism. All 225 Parfait climbed the ladders and jumped into the flames rather than abjur their religion.

Cloud descending on Montségur shortly after my descent.

Information on the siege of Montségur from: 'Gascony & the Pyrenees' by Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls and also

As I stopped, for a rest and a drink of water, I looked over the surrounding countryside and to my amazement there just a few feet away from me was an eagle gliding quietly towards Montségur. Unfortunately my camera was in its case and switched off - so I did not have a chance to photograph it - I could only watch as it slowly disappeared behind some shrubbery - but it is a moment that I will not easily forget. To me the eagle seemed representative of the power and strength of the former occupants of the fortress.

In Bulgarian mythology, the eagle is a creature that flies between the worlds from the mountain heights to the underworld depths. It never ages because it drinks from the lake of the water of life that lies at the end of the earth. It is the helper of heroes.