Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Better than the real thing

Sometimes the lead up to an event is better than the actual occasion, the excitement, preparation, the day dreams, the factor of the unknown.

But this year I am not going to let this happen – I want my holiday to be so much better than anything I could imagine, so I have stopped – stopped googling, reading reviews, staring at beautiful digitally enhanced photos, slumping over the itinerary for hours ...

A hectic work life situation has played a huge part in this, but just as I started to panic last week that I have not done enough for my impending trip, I stopped and thought “No.”
This year it will be different, this year I will go on a relaxing holiday, I will go with the flow, chill, unwind and untimely enjoy myself.

Of course I am keeping an eye on the world news for my holiday destinations, especially Israel which is hotting up just in time for my arrival. But that is it.
I do not know what one Israeli Shekel can get me, I have no idea what the Dead Sea looks like, the hotels in Istanbul could have blown up by now and haven't a notion what kind of people will be on the cruise ship.

Israel currency
This year I want to be surprised, I don't want to compare photos of the Athens Acropolis to pictures online and I will be open to all suggestions for things to see and do.

Usually I know my destination inside out, I have a definitive list of things that I must see and do, I know exactly how much the taxi will cost from the airport to the hotel, and in all the planning I usually forget to relax (unless I have a specific time allowed for such!).

Obviously I have an idea of some of the things to see and do, we even have some tours booked for Israel, but for the majority of the days there is no schedule, no plan of action, no timescale ...
(As I write this I am starting to imagine mayhem ...)

Day dreams of sunbathing on a cruise liner are helping me get through the dreary busy work hours, but these are general images, nothing specific because when I get there I want to be wowed.

The week before is exciting, but it will not be the best part of my epic holiday.
Have you been let down after an unbelievable lead up?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Knowing me and knowing Ski

When you travel you learn about places, people and things from all over the world, but you also learn about yourself. Months on the road, by yourself, with people in good places and bad you come to terms with who you really are.
You learn things about yourself that you never knew. Some good, some bad.

I have always known that I am organised, efficient, and at my worst: scheduled, but what I didn't know was my issue with control – more exactly my fear of not being in control.

Learning to let go on The Remarkables, New Zealand (c)fifiheavey

Of course on the road, you plan things and more often than not they do not go according to plan and despite some dismay at this (maybe a few hissy fits) I grew accustomed to things steering off course. I quickly adapted, and put a plan B, C or even Z into place. But even when things don't go as planned, you can stay in control, you can re-direct the troops and carry on, re-focused.
Concentrating (c) fifiheavey

“Let go”


“Stop Thinking”

“Go with the flow”

On top of a snow covered mountain in New Zealand, hurtling towards the bottom at what must be record speeds with no plan, no idea, no alternative to my disposal, my nightmare was realised.
My ski instructor told me I had “control issues.”

You see skiing is fun, or at least it is supposed to be, you the skis, a snowcapped mountain and the fresh air. In this game however you have to submit your control, you have to go with the mountain, the skis, ignore your instinct thoughts ... relax ... glide ... smile ... stop.

I wanted to have fun, I wanted to have so much fun with everyone else and enjoy skiing. I wanted to excel through my beginners group to intermediate with my boyfriend, I wanted to show that I was better than some seven year old brat - so I concentrated really hard to get all the moves, to learn how to sweep from side to side and stop before I feel off the edge.
Ski lifts on The Remarkables (c) fifiheavey
The ski instructor told me I was trying too much, I needed to let go.
This concept was alien to me.

In the videos I look rigid, stiff, my turns are forced, my feet locked into a “wedge” shape. I wore the bruises from the ski lifts for weeks, the trauma of having to hurtle my body forward seconds before I fell to my death across a cliff took longer to disappear. But the effects of not being able to “let go” have never left me.
Over and over, I recall children diving to get out of my way, ski couples huddling in fear, and teenagers gasping in shock as I fly my way down an intermediate slope and throw myself to the ground, as my boyfriend laughs himself into a hoop.
Snowboarding as the morning sun breaks out.
(c) fifiheavey

Sometimes having fun can be hard work – I knew I should have picked snow boarding!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

"Bully Day" - The Irish Weather

Rain, hail, sleet, wind, snow, frost, sunshine, heatwave, humidity – all get the same treatment by my father, he calls it a “bully day.”
His tone changes from happiness on a nice day to slightly angry on a bad one, but the words stay the same, the weather is described as “bully.” Take it or leave it – read into it what you will that is the way it is.
Sunlight behind rain clouds over Garadice Lake, Co Leitrim
The Irish weather is a worldwide phenomena. Not because it is particularly bad, or extremely changeable, or frustratingly unpredictable or down right mean (because it is all this) but because it is so much more.

The weather is a conversation starter with strangers, a meaningful exchange with friends, an everyday (if not every hour) occurrence and it is always acceptable to talk about it – anywhere, any time. Us Irish are emotionally attached to the weather, we are fascinated by it. And it is something that transcends gender, age and class.

“Did you hear the forecast?” is a question heard about one hundred times a day, people walk into a room and announce “it's windy out there,” “God that is awful rain,” or once every five years “it is beautiful out there!”

Those who visit the country are always amused by how much we talk about the weather, the girl at the supermarket check out will comment as she scans your items, the bus man will usually make a declaration on your entry or exit and the bar person is well conversed in all things weather related.

And yet despite the fact the weather forecast is consulted two – three times a day, and we have discussed at length today, tomorrow and the weekend's weather we always look unprepared.
Tourists clad in rain jackets to their ankles, wearing woolly jumpers and heavy boots stare in disbelief as Irish people run through puddles and torrential rain in a teeshirt, jeans and flip flops to get to the shop in the middle of November!

Again this year the Irish people endured a pathetic Summer, and if we are to believe the forecasters (by the way we usually don't – hence the need for such discussion) then we are in for another crazy winter.
Another addition to the Irish weather phenomena is that we are never organised for 'extreme' weather. Over two weeks of sunshine will result in concerns over water shortages, two weeks of non stop rain will flood the country and the whole island comes to a stand still with frost and snow! Imagine what would happen if we got some real 'extreme' weather?!

Fresh snow in Tullyveela, Corlough, Co Cavan

Putting aside my severe Vitamin D deficiency, my loathing for days of rain and the amount of cursing I do over frost, I actually quite like the Irish Weather.
Actually maybe 'like' is a bit strong!

I am pale with freckles – so a lot of sun is not my friend, I love the wind and I also love the snow (aside from driving in it). A long Summer evening is perfect in Ireland.
We sometimes forget that the large amount of rain in Ireland contributes to the vivid green colour of our country side, and the sweetness of the grass leads to world renowned meat produce.
Rainbows dominate our skies, starry nights are dream like and morning mists are haunting.

Our handsome dog Wally enjoying a colourful Autumn in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim
If it were not for our attitude weather – what would we have to complain about?!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Jellyfish salad - my revenge

It came into conversation a few weeks back, I hate Jellyfish, they have ruined my life and I need to extract revenge on them – they must die.
My sentiments are not unwarranted, I have good reason to feel this way about those 'things', I have actually been suppressing my feelings for years now.

Revenge is a harmful action against a person or group (or jellyfish) in response to a grievance, be it real or perceived.

The story:
At the very innocent age of seven, when all things were magical and beautiful and what my parents said was gospel, I went on a family holiday to Bundoran, Co Donegal.
It was all going swimmingly until I went swimming at Rossnowlagh Beach. It was a glorious day, in the days when the Sun visited Ireland during the Summer, I had a spade and a shovel and life was grand.
Into the water I splashed. “Look at me” I cheered to my adoring parents.
Step, jump, up and down I bobbed on the small waves.
Then “squish” down went my tiny little foot onto an evil, dangerous and spiteful jellyfish. I didn't mean to touch it, I just wanted to play, I didn't even see it. But the jellyfish didn't care.
The sting ran up my foot, the pain was something I had never experienced before.

The stinging cells are triggered by an object touching a microscopic hair. This hair triggers the cell to squeeze violently, ejecting a hollow thread that penetrates the victim's skin and injects poison.

My father came rushing over, tears streamed down my face. I felt sick, I got sick and still the pain echoed through me.
“Why me” I would have pondered if I wasn't too busy screaming in pain.
It eased after a few hours, but the scar stayed with me forever. That evening I discovered a hearty appetite (yep I blame the jellyfish) because before then food was a disruption to my busy playful life.
And as a result of this fine appetite I have grown accustomed to, comes my idea for sweet revenge. 
Because “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

For cooking jellyfish you have to first soak the jellyfish overnight in the refrigerator. The best way to cut the jellyfish is to roll up the flesh and slice it, so that you get thin julienne strips. These strips are then to be blanched. The blanching can be repeated one more time (it is sooo evil), after which you drain off all the water.
Now you can marinate these pieces with the seasoning of your choice, like vinegar, salt, spices and so on, and then add them to salads, or vegetables or other sea-food dishes. After mixing the seasoning the marinating process should be done in the refrigerator. Usually the juices which collect after marinating, are to be discarded as they might have harmful bacteria.
Recipes include: Jellyfish sushi, burgers, stew, salad, satay and stir fry.

Satay Jellyfish - www.rasamalazia.com
Meet more like minded people on: Revenge on those dumbass Jellyfish that sting for no reason Facebook page!