Archives

Reading – Childhood Favourites

Share

In keeping with the theme of books (from my last blog post), this week the focus is on getting kids to read more.  When so many children are going practically square-eyed from staring at computer monitors, iPads and T.V. screens, there’s a real need to spend time reading to younger ones, or planning regular trips to either the library or local bookshop.

I was reminded, last night, of how much reading I used to do in my younger years, by the #keepthekidsreading campaign being promoted on Twitter by @SummerBuzz, a Twitter account from Irish Libraries. My father was an avid reader – still is – and my aunt (on his side) would always buy us books for birthdays and Christmas.

Enid Blyton’s books were a favourite of mine. I’d say they formed 90% of my little library from the time I was about seven until I’d reached my mid-teens. And, although I’d an English teacher who criticised the long sentence structure, I do believe that they were (and are) a great asset in developing a child’s imagination.  I remember, to this day, being unable to pass a cave on a beach without having a good look around inside for treasure, and feeling the urge to investigate wooden panels in any room that would happen to have them, in case a secret passage way would be hidden somewhere.

Back then we used to trade our books in The Banba Bookshop (I think it was in Rathmines). We’d spend ages in there picking books out. If we traded for cash we’d get a third of the price back, depending on the condition/age of the book. If we swapped we’d get half the value of our books, so we nearly always swapped.

I still have a few of my childhood favourites. I was doing a clear out yesterday of the book cabinets, and still couldn’t find it in my heart to bring the books (below) to the charity shop. They’re third hand now as I’ve read them, and my daughter has read them too.

Do you still have books from your childhood days? Which ones have become emotionally attached to?  Have your children read them too?

Books

 

 

 

 

 

Anne of Green Gables – Review

Share

Book cover

Last month’s Blogger’s Book Club choice was Anne of Green Gables chosen by Jennifer Svajlenko Smith.  I was happy to see this suggested as, with exams and projects and other stuff going on, I didn’t want to be getting into any heavy reading.

It’s a book that I feel is geared towards young teenage girls.  It’s a lovely, easy read, and full of the most fabulous descriptions of characters and landscapes.  I don’t know how it escaped my attention when I was younger as it’s exactly the sort of book I would have loved.

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert (brother and sister) of Green Gables make the decision to adopt a boy who will help them with the work around their farm.  They are, therefore, surprised when Anne (with an ‘e’) Shirley is sent to them.  Anne is a talkative little girl whose imagination and outspoken nature have a habit of getting her into trouble. Matthew, a shy, retiring sort, warms to her instantly.  Marilla, who is more reserved, initially attempts to send Anne back but has a change of heart.

Anne’s red hair and freckles are the bane of her life and she laments them often, but when others pass comment she flares up, resulting in her having to apologise for her actions.  When she reacts to Mrs. Lynde’s comments on her appearance she does so by insulting her and is then made to stay in her room by Marilla until she apologises.  When eventually she apologises she does it so dramatically that Marilla is astonished by how Anne relishes the drama.

Anne attends the local school, where she enters into academic competition with Gilbert Blythe after he teases her over her hair and calls her ‘carrots’.  She desires to engage with ‘kindred spirits’ and finds one of these in Diana who becomes her ‘bosom friend’.

As Anne matures, Marilla begins to realise how much she means to her, and Anne, in turn, realises how important Green Gables has become in her life.  The book culminates in Anne having to make a life changing decision in relation to her future and that of Green Gables.  It takes an unexpected, romantic twist at the end that hooks the reader into wanting to read more. Luckily we can find out what happens next in the rest of the series – eight books in total.

Personally I feel I can’t stop at reading just the first one, and look forward to reading the rest of them very soon.

 

 

Building an extension

Share

I’ve been a bit busy the last few weeks but thought I’d put up a quick blog post this evening (morning?) before I hit the pillows.

Things are going to be fairly hectic over the next few months…just when I thought I’d get a bit of a break.  We’re planning to add a ‘granny flat’ onto the house, and the tenders have just come back in.  I’m led to believe (by @clonmelarchtech) that, once the contractor has been selected and the price agreed, the building will progress fairly rapidly.

The photo below shows the outline of where the proposed extension will go.

site for building

site for building

I’m going to blog the progress over the next few weeks.

To begin with the tenders came in a little over budget – a *lot* over budget actually. Fingers crossed we can knock a bit off the price.

(I did try persuading my parents that they don’t need a bathroom, plumbing or electricity. I think they thought I was joking.)

Exciting times!

 

 

The Tayto Bar Review

Share

Over the last few weeks half the country (or at least half the country that’s on Facebook and Twitter) has been possessed by the latest craze to hit town – the chocolate Tayto bar!

IMG_3851

I am no exception.

JUST LOOK AT THE HUGE MASSIVE CHUNK OF DELICIOUSNESS!!!!

I absolutely LOVE to combine a genuine, authentic, cheesy, oniony Tayto crisp with a genuine, authentic piece of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate.  It’s an amazing taste combination that makes me smile as the cheese and onion flavours of Tayto crisps mingle with the chocolatey goodness of Cadbury’s chocolate.

So…naturally when I heard about Tayto bringing out a Tayto chocolate bar I was over the moon!!

I HAD TO TRY ONE!!!!

But Tayto put the words ‘Limited Edition’ on the wrapper.

The world (those people on Facebook and Twitter) went apeshit for Tayto bars.

They sold out everywhere. They became more precious than gold!

I searched for them in every shop in the entire town of Clonmel for two days.

I just couldn’t GET a  flaming bar of the stuff!

I had secret agents on the lookout (sort of) and was alerted, through Facebook, to a possible sighting.

Tayto bars at First Chapter

Finally….success!!!

Ally ventured into First Chapter in The Showgrounds and feigned interest at the Wrigley’s stand, while watching a suited official with a mobile phone in his hand arranging and rearranging a stand filled with the red wrapped Tayto chocolate bundles of joy! Eventually, when he looked away, she seized the moment, grabbed three bars, discreetly paid for them and fled the shop!

As she raced up the escalator towards the exit door where my car was waiting outside, the First Chapter bookshop clicked ‘like’ on my post.

Ha ha!

Anyway, enough Cagney and Lacey…onto the Tayto chocolate.

Finally we had them.

Tayto bars

First reaction: “Yayyyyy”

Followed by: “Is that the size of them? Where are the big bars?  Is this all they have?  How come they look so big in everyone else’s photographs? Are these the samples?”

Then: “Come on. We have to get home quick and eat them before we’re mobbed!”

Once we got home I grabbed my camera and photographed the bar beside my iPhone.

Tayto Bar Size

It’s thinner than an iPhone too!

Apple might want to get in touch with Tayto for their secret receipe.

Or maybe not.

Second reaction:- “Tayto!! What have you done??!!”

Followed by: “This isn’t Cadbury’s.  Where’s the onion?  I can’t taste any onion, can you? What’s with the after taste? Maybe that’s why they’re so small.  I need crisps with this.”

So crisps were eaten with the Tayto bars and promptly pronounced ‘delicious’.

Tayto crisps

It’s a good attempt, I guess.

Here’s a photo of the inside of the Tayto bar and you an see the crisp particles easily.

Chocolate Tayto Bar

I didn’t think the chocolate was as bad as people were making it out to be.

But it’s not Cadbury’s.

Or maybe it just doesn’t taste the same as a good old fashioned cheese and onion Tayto crisp with a good old fashioned square of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate – the way it should be.

Tayto and Cadburys

If you still haven’t managed to come across a Tayto bar, and you’re in a bad way to have one, you could always try Ebay.

Tayto bar Ebay

Update on claiming ticket refund from United Airlines

Share

Yesterday I posted about the situation with United Airlines and how they had told my mother (who has been diagnosed with cancer) that  she wasn’t entitled to a refund on her flights to Oregon to see my brother because “The illness, as described in your correspondence, does not qualify for an exception.”

I put up a post yesterday on United Airlines Facebook page voicing my disgust at their attitude and was overwhelmed by the response on Facebook, Twitter, and Ian (my brother’s) blog. (Thank you everyone who liked, shared, and got in touch with us.)

Here’s the update:-

United Airlines replied to me yesterday and this is what they said :-

“This is a very restrictive bulk rate ticket purchased through Expedia. The funds for bulk tickets are transferred to the airline after travel has taken place. We have no authority to refund your Mother’s ticket. We’re called Expedia and they tell us to have you call them at 01 524 5005 in Ireland or 35315245005 in Europe. We hope this helps. ^km”

I have two problems with this.

Firstly, this is a different reason given, for refusal of the refund, to the one that my mother was given, which makes me question United Airlines refund process.  One would think that if a passenger requests a refund that there is a procedure for assessing the validity of the request BEFORE any further investigation is done, and before any response is given that could cause upset or offence to anyone.

Secondly, my father had already tried to call Expedia’s Dublin number several times over the last two weeks and was diverted to a call centre that he’s pretty sure isn’t based in Dublin.  Expedia told him that he needed to contact United Airlines with regard to a refund.

So, between United Airlines and Expedia they’ve managed to create Mission Impossible with regard to getting a refund, by passing the book to each other.

To those of you who’ve been wondering why my mother didn’t claim off her travel insurance, I think that she thought seeking a refund would be the easiest option, especially as United Airlines offer a refund policy in the case of ‘unplanned events’.

Rather than it being a simple process, it caused her a lot of stress and anxiety on top of the worry she is already experiencing.

She is claiming through her travel insurance now, and I’m pretty sure will avoid both United Airlines and Expedia in the future.  I certainly intend to steer well clear of both.

United Airlines – A ticket refund request

Share

Some of you will have seen my post earlier this evening on Facebook regarding my mother’s recent request for a refund on her flight to America. For those of you who don’t know, she was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks ago and, because of the surgery and treatment she has to undergo, won’t be able to fly any time soon.

While private home owners and small businesses who she had booked accommodation and other services with have been mostly sympathetic (some responses have been overwhelming), the response she received when she requested a refund from United Airlines was, quite simply, shocking.

May 15, 2013
PASSENGER: XXXXXXXX
TICKET(S): xxxx, xxxx
REQUEST ID:xxxxxxxxx
Dear xxxxxxxx:

Thank you for contacting Customer Refund Services regarding the above referenced ticket.

We regret that we cannot issue the refund requested, and would like to explain why; exceptions due to illness are granted based on the ability to travel in the future. The illness, as described in your correspondence, does not qualify for an exception. Please be advised that your ticket is valid for one year from the date of issue, and may be used toward the purchase of another United Airlines ticket. If the fare of the new ticket is higher than that of the original, you will be charged the additional amount, plus the applicable reissue fee when the new ticket is issued. If this reservation has not been canceled or to make a new reservation, please call 1-800-525-0280 or visit our website at www.United.com. If we can be of further assistance, please contact one of our Customer Service Representatives.

Thank you for choosing United Airlines, we look forward to serving you in the near future.

Sincerely,

Customer Refund Services

1-800-UNITED-1
FAX: 713-324-1431

Note the line “The illness, as described in your correspondence, does not qualify for an exception.”

I’m shocked and upset by the response and would love to know, what exactly, constitutes an exception. This was the message I posted on their Facebook page:-

“I am disgusted with United Airlines’ lack of compassion and empathy. My mother, who was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago, and is due to spend a lot of time in hospital having treatment for same, applied for a refund for a flight she booked in order to visit my brother in Oregon. United Airlines turned down the request on the grounds that “The illness, as described in your correspondence, does not qualify for an exception” and went on to say that “your ticket is valid for one year from the date of issue, and may be used toward the purchase of another United Airlines ticket”. Cancelling the flight was not a decision my mother took lightly. She hasn’t seen my brother in over two years. If she thought she could see him within the next twelve months she would not have requested a refund. She is not suffering from a common cold. She has cancer. As it is, the refund for the flight would go a long way towards the expense she now faces (travel and treatment). Her deposit for accommodation was refunded by a private home owner whose response was both touching and overwhelming. I would have expected more from a corporate body like United Airlines, but you have more than adequately displayed your emotional detachment from the customer in this instance. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

 In the last few minutes they have replied to say:-

UnitedAirlines

 @Susan we’re very sorry to hear about your Mother, and we want to help. Please send us a private message with her confirmation number or ticket number, and we will see how we can help. ^EY

Update to follow.

‘Beach Combing’

Share

We made a last minute decision to take a trip to Cunnigar Strand in Waterford today, so that Ally could collect some stones and shells for arty stuff.  The girls’ brightly coloured hair stood out in stark contrast to the surrounding beach scenery, but do you think they’d pose for me?

Not a chance!

I still managed to grab a couple of shots of them though. 🙂

20130224

The photo below was taken as they came across a jelly fish or something.  Both of them were daring each other to touch it, but neither of them would.

20130224b

Happy New Year 2013!

Share

Christmas tree in the wood

 

It’s been four weeks since I last posted an entry to this blog.  Things were manic just before Christmas with college and work, and a few other things I’d to deal with.  But, hey, on the bright side of things, I’m off to a good start this year! Last year I didn’t get posting until the 3rd of January.

Happy New Year to all of you who’ve taken the time to stop by today and in the past.  I hope you had a great Christmas.  I’m happy to report I that had a really relaxing few days, and kick started the new year off with a beautiful walk this morning.

Continue reading

Year 4 – Design an app!

Share

The pressure is on to design an app for my Fourth Year Creative Multimedia Project.

Yes, that’s right – an app – to be designed by me! A mobiley phone, iPaddy yokimijig that does stuff.

It’s a BIG challenge! I’m not much of a coder and my graphics are ‘fairly harmless’. (In fact…they’re COMPLETELY  harmless.)

My evenings are taken up with studying tutorials on software that I haven’t used very much, in preparation for the amazing creation that I am expected to produce.

Tonight I learnt how to use the Pen Tool in Illustrator (thank you Lynda.com).  I drew an ‘awesome eyeball’, and shaded a fish (thank you Vicki Wenderlich).

 

Shaded Fish

 

Which is great….

Except that there isn’t a fish in my app!

Oh well….trawl-ing through tutorials seemed like a brill-iant idea at the time, and it sardinely gave me the oppor-tuna-ty to learn something newt.

I’ll er…fin-ish this blog post now.

Great service from MacSweeny’s Photo Shop Cork!

Share

MacSweenys Photo Shop

 

I meant to post this ages ago and forgot to.  MacSweeny’s is a camera/photo shop that I’ve been dealing with for a while.  I’ve purchased my 7D and my tripod there, and some other bits and pieces over the last year or so.

Ally’s camera, a Canon EOS Rebel (similar to the pic below), had been giving a bit of trouble before the summer. The shutter release button kept jamming, and the battery would have to be removed and inserted again in order to take another photo.  All very well, I suppose, if the only photographs you take are of still life and you’ve no objection to functioning as a factory robot. Continue reading