Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Where NOT to go on holidays

New York for Independence Day, Dublin for St Patrick's Day and a Royal Wedding in England. 
These are locations and events that go together, that you should experience once.
But what about – wrong place, wrong time?

Here is my list Where not to be during your holidays.

New Year – Rural China
December 31/ January 1 – Time to ring out the old year and herald the New Year? Not in China – Chinese New Year is in February silly.

Outback, Australia
C) fifiheavey
Australia Day – Outback
“Stick another shrimp on the Barbie” and lets open and tinnie and celebrate Australia Day. Not in the outback of Western Oz – they look strangely at you and wonder what all the commotion is about!

Valentines Day – Iran
Want to declare your love on February 14. not in Iran: “Symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses, and any activities promoting this day are banned," announced state media last month. "Authorities will take legal action against those who ignore the ban."

St Patrick's Day- Saudi Arabia
(c) fifiheavey
Ah a day to don the green and drown a shamrock. Nope not here the state completely bans the production, importation or consumption of alcohol and imposes strict penalties on those violating the ban, including weeks to months of imprisonment, and possible lashes.

Christmas Day, Bethlehem
It might be a day for peace and love all over the world, but it could turn ugly in Bethlehem as different religious denominations fight to mark the day.

Also avoid any country where a member of the monarch has recently died – it usually disrupts everything, including transport.
And do not go near New Zealand when the lose the rugby.

Wrong place, wrong time – any stories?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Make it a dramatic Lent

“Sweet stuff”

“Chocolate and crisps”



“Just crap”

Are all legitimate answers to the Big Question which gets asked annually on the small island of Ireland: What are you giving up for Lent?

Lent may not be a season which attracts a lot of tourists to Ireland (except for Paddy's day which falls in between). But it should be, because it is a precarious time for us Irish.
Lent suits us, not because we are a Catholic country devoted to penitential preparation, or because of our strong will power, or indeed our spiritual commitment.

But because it gives us a legitimate reason to take part in our favourite passtime: complaining.

I don't mean to paint us Irish in a bad light, as you all know we are a fun loving, adventure seeking, merry folk. But oh do we rejoice in the moaning, groaning, misery department.
We excel in communal suffering, take pleasure in agony and smile in the face of sacrifice.
Lent – depending on what you give up provides the perfect opportunity to join the national hobby. 40 days of complaining, of hunger pains, of smoking craves, of social exclusion (the lack of alcohol) etc.

There is of course more to Lent than the suffering, in Ireland it is a time of dramatic celebration. And in that I mean it is a time for drama to flourish.
Small towns, villages and parishes around the country put aside their beleaguered sacrifices to join with others and provide entertainment for the suffering masses.
Whether competing for the One Act Drama Festival Finals or not, local halls are filled with comedy, dramatic scenes, plights of love and sorrow and best of all some of the finest pieces of Irish literature.

Whether you are just in it for the pancakes and the Easter eggs or you go the whole hog and fast off everything that ever tasted nice – take the time out this Lent to support local drama groups.
Make your Lenten Promise to invest in yourself (that is deep ...) and in Irish culture.

Also are you going off anything 'unusual' this year?!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Take a trip for love

Is Valentine's Day an overblown hallmark event to buy cards, presents and spend a week's wages on a dinner for two? Yes.

But the idea of taking one day in the year to tell those who mean the most to you how much you love them is beautiful. So take the time out to say how you feel and do be romantic. But romance doe not mean spending a fortune on red hearts and it is not about showing off your love in front of others at a swanky restaurant.

Instead, today take the time to plan a romantic day, weekend or holiday. Planning something romantic is a perfect way to spend quality time together, have something special to look forward to and get away with your special someone.

Need some inspiration for a romantic trip?


Glencar Waterfall, Co Leitrim
Glencar Waterfall, Co Leitrim
Ever heard of it? Want to know what it is all about? Take your romantic ass there, marvel at nature
and be inspired as the great Irish poet WB Yeats was. (Print off 'The Stolen Child')
Romantic tick, poetic tick tick.

Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare
Why the cliffs? You are on the edge of Ireland the next land mass is America. Feel the breeze – hold on tight to your loved on and make some beautiful declarations! Ladies bring some hair spray and maybe a raincoat.

Carrauntoohil, Co Kerry
Yep, the mountain. The highest peak in Ireland. Climb past deep mountain lakes, along ice-carved ridges until you reach the breathtaking summit. If your partner is still with you (maybe stay together on the way up) take a look around the legendary landscape and pledge your allegiance to Ireland and to (insert name here).


Paris, France
You cannot bypass Paris. It is the most romantic city in the world. It is beautiful, the buildings, the landmarks, the language (if they are not shouting at you!) Eat a baguette and cheese, climb to the top
Fiji island
of the Effie Tower and say “J'Adore.”

Venice, Italy
Smelly, yes. Dirty, yes. Wet, yes.
Still romantic. A mid night stroll, a gondola ride, share a pizza or pasta and sip some chianti. Bliss.

Fiji islands
Get away, really far away. Stop off at the beautiful and romantic Bounty/ Love Island, or just keep going – until you reach the last island. Then relax and tell your partner “if I was on a deserted island all I would want is you ...”

You are Welcome – now go forth and love!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Getting to know your body

You know how it goes – you head up to Dublin for a Hen Party, eat drink and be merry and then wake up the next morning dehydrated, tired, carrying a few bruises and head off to see the controversial Human Bodies Exhibition!
The exhibition is advertised on every radio station and paper in the country it had it's world premier in Dublin – and that amounts of promotion deserves some attention. Also a dream lasts only 2 seconds? That had to be investigated!

The Human Bodies Exhibition, The Ambassador, Dublin
Photo from thejournal.ie

We strolled into The Ambassador after 12.20pm, paid the hefty €20 only to be met with an almighty stuffy crowd. We had to queue to see every single exhibit and as there are over 200 full and partial human body specimens – that is a lot of queuing.

The Ambassador was split into different sections of the body. We started with a basic skeletal system and added layers in each room – muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory and urinary. Towards the end there was a separate foetal development section and one especially to show the effects of disease on the organs.

Oh yeah so the exhibition is made up for REAL HUMAN BODIES.
But that never really effected me – it may be because my head wasn't exactly clear from the night before. But I was detached from the “realness” of it all.

Capillaries galore.
Photo http://www.thejournal.ie/  

The specimens featured in The Human Body Exhibition were donated in accordance with Chinese law to the Dalian Hoffen Biotechnique Laboratory which engages in research and innovation of the Plastination technique, and produces, preserves and provides specimens to medical schools and the general public for educational purposes. The laboratory uses the Plastination technique to preserve the specimens.

In each room you get a fact sheet, with information about what is on display and some fun facts which really are interesting and help with the queuing aspect.

The foetal development section was the most striking aspect for me. From four weeks to 12 you see the development of the foetus. This was truly amazing. The image of the 12 week foetus was astounding. I could have stared at it for hours, I kept looking at it and touching my stomach – imagine that grows inside you! Imagine that was once you! At 12 weeks you could see fingers toes, a nose, ribs ...

12 week old foetus
Photo: http://www.thejournal.ie/
Also another section which seemed to take everyone's interest was the one which showed cancer, diseases and damage to internal organs. Seeing the effects of smoke and obesity was shocking. The difference between a healthy lung and a smokers one really hit home. You could see breast, stomach, liver, lung cancer on display. Black spots are not good let me tell you that!

So is it worth a visit? Yes it is, it could certainly change the way you use your body.

Some of the interesting facts that have stayed with me:

  • The first physical movement of the fetus occurs at 11 weeks – it can yawn!
  • Your ankle carries x1.5 times your weight when you walk and x8 times your body weight when you run!
  • Obesity can affect your hearing. And exercising can help your memory.
  • Your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body
  • The longer a man's left ring finger is the less chance he has of getting a heart attack.
  • Smoking effects almost every organ in your body – but alcohol and drugs seem to only effect your liver!
  • Over exercising can lead to fertility problems.
  • The average dram lasts only 2-3 seconds and the average person has at least 7 dreams a night.
  • You will die from a lack of sleep before you die from a lack of food.