Thursday, September 30, 2010

More Typo Crime Scenes - and the Rewards of Vigilantism

I was at a petrol station in Dungarvan the other day when I spotted this gem out of the corner of my eye as I was gazing into the middle distance while filling the tank. I did a double take as I couldn't believe such a glaring possessive punctuation error could have made it to the printers without someone proofing it en route - but I suppose nothing should surprise me at this stage!

My typo vigilantism is getting worrying now - not alone am I winning the prize for the best entry in the Irish Times Terrible Typos competition which I blogged about here - but I spotted two errors in the Letters page of the same "paper of record" as it's dubbed - which prompted me to write to Madam Editor. I didn't get published in the Letters Page - rather I got an email from the Letters Ed thanking me for pointing out the error of their ways.

Sparing the blushes of the writers of the letters with the typos probably, or their own blushes for missing them in the proofing. I did ask if they can mess around with someone's letter and correct spelling mistakes and grammatical glitches, but that wasn't addressed in the reply I received.

So there I was wandering around a Home and Garden shop - again in Dungarvan, where I'm work-based - one lunchtime last week, and marvelling at the prices (high by my frugal standards) when this beauty leapt from the display stand, begging to be snapped. I duly obliged and here is the result. Isn't it amazing that the boss wouldn't check the spelling before putting the poster on display, as it is written correctly on all the boxes containing the same Utensils!

But then there'd be no fun for anoraks like me - and no market for books like the "Great Typo Hunt" one and the classic that (for me) started the ball rolling - Lynn Truss's "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"

By the way, in case you're (your!) wondering what I bought with my winnings from the Terrible Typos competition - well, half the tokens are gone - on two great books that I know will give me hours of pleasure. One is "Adrian Mole - The Prostrate Years" by Sue Townsend who penned that wonderful series of Adrian Mole books, taking us from his adolescent agonies to his male menopausal misery and beyond.

The other is Tim Butcher's new African saga - "Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa's Fighting Spirit" - his Boys' Own Adventure re-telling of following in the footsteps of Graham Greene's 1935 "Journey Without Maps". I haven't yet read Greene's book, and I guess that's another one to add to my wishlist. Tim was in Lismore two years ago at Immrama as a speaker and enthralled everyone with his account of his travails and travels in the footsteps of Henry Morton Stanley along the Congo River which he wrote about in "Blood River". I had the pleasure of meeting him at Immrama and the dubious pleasure of having him tell me he'd read an online review I'd written on Blood River after our Book Club in Lismore had read it!

The moral of that story was never to write anything about someone you wouldn't be happy to have them read in your presence - unless you're a journalist or a pol. corr. or suchlike.

I hope you enjoy these lighter looks at life and literacy - as well as literature!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Socks on the Rocks - and the Beach - Knitting to go

Here are some of my recent knitting projects - I already told you about the gloves I made during the summer, and the kick I got out of trying something totally new. Well that's probably what inspired me to try my hand at knitting socks. I had a bit of a hang-up about these as I had some residual PTSD (Post-Traumatic Sock Disorder) from school where I remember turning heels as a particularly cruel form of nun-administered torture where ripping and restarting resulted in a grubby straggly distinctly unwearable sort-of sock.

I never looked back until now - and boy am I glad I did! I have really enjoyed the challenge of making these two great pairs of socks, and they are quick for on-the-go knitting - on the bus, train, car (as a passenger, I hasten to add!) and during your lunch break on the beach, as I did yesterday.

The mint socks you see here are a lacy pattern from Cascade Yarns which is a free download from their site here and which are also on Ravelry which I recently joined - there are so many knitting sites and wonderful projects for sharing that you need never buy a pattern again. I just love the various books and have learnt a lot of tips from them on how to perfect different techniques I thought I knew - and did, just not quite as good as I do now.

The lavender socks are from my old reliable book How to Knit that my gloves came from. They are simply plain knitted socks which I embellished with a few daisy stitches embroidered on the side in hot pink - sadly not on these photos but they really look funky and a bit dippy-hippy. These were easy-peasy to knit, and once I mastered the heel flap turn I was delighted with myself. There are a variety of heel-turns and I've only done these two flaps so far, but there are a myriad out there for future socks - I could become a terminal bore about knitting and socks, so stop me in time - it could be catching!

There's a wonderful sandspit near my work area called the Cunnigar which is about two miles long - it stretches across most of Dungarvan Bay from Ring, where it's accessible by road, towards Abbeyside across the bay from Dungarvan, and there was talk of bridging it over a century ago as part of a relief scheme mooted by the board of Guardians of the local Workhouse, but that didn't happen. It would have destroyed what is now a virtual nature reserve, as it is a haven for birds and small wildlife, and the tides can still flow undisturbed in and out of the harbour at Dungarvan, while the shallows on the seaward side are home to numerous oyster beds of the local fishermen in Ring. At low tide there's a vast grid of oyster beds visible which vanish when the tide comes in.

Yesterday I walked about half way along the Cunnigar, and took some photos of the sea and sky, with the tractors on the sands away in the distance. I often wonder how much time they have before they have to return to safe ground and avoid being swamped. I had my lunch sitting on the wall overlooking the beach and thought how lovely to enjoy the outdoors in late September - the weather was warm and sunny and I knitted some more sock rounds.

The evening before I was at a Trade Union meeting in Waterford and as I arrived early I had something to eat in the Ramada Viking - they do lovely bar food there - and spent a quiet hour there knitting and reading after I'd enjoyed my cajun chicken wrap. So I can see myself as a latter-day Madame Defarge - albeit less ghoulish and knitting with a purpose I hope - and always have a little bag with some knitting to go with me.

My next project are legwarmers for my future D-i-L Jany - I've got this great cable pattern from Ravelry and will get started this weekend - watch this space for the end result whenever I get there.

The Photos show various stages of socks -
and the lovely views from my walk along the Cunnigar yesterday in Ring.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Hidden Gems in Donegal - Culture, Freebies and a New Teapot

I hadn't planned another post on our recent trip to Donegal and Northern Ireland but when I went through the photos I just had to write this one, as I made a side trip to a hilltop Ring Fort called Grianan of Aileach. This is just south of the Inishowen Peninsula and affords tremendously panoramic vistas over the entire peninsula and the surrounding countryside. I was wandering around Buncrana on the first morning of our staycation (thanks Ann for the term - hadn't thought of it before!) looking at a map of the town, obviously lost and trying to get reoriented, when a woman approached me and asked if I was lost. She was so nice about it I could forgive her the Sybil/Basil the Rat moment (See Fawlty Towers) of stating the Bleeding Obvious, and when she put me on the right road she suggested I should visit the village of Burt where the Ring Fort is situated.

I wanted to get to a particular chemist shop, one of many businesses in Buncrana that offered discounts and goody bags for delegates to the AMAI conference hubby was attending. Needless to say I absconded with the vouchers booklet and made some contribution to the local economy, no doubt raising the GDP of Buncrana in the process. I got a lovely goody bag full of toiletries and a nice bottle of my fave perfume -Red Door by Elizabeth Arden. For this I had to spend €20 in the shop, not a bad deal as you can never have too much toothpaste and shampoo - both of which I'd left home without packing. I also mooched around a lovely gift and homewares shop where I set my sights on this lovely teapot, which enhances my growing collection - I now have four purely on aesthetic grounds - that they are receptacles for my fave beverage is coincidental! Don't you just love the sentiments? After my own heart indeed, and it came with a 20% discount too! I also got some bargain-basement wool in a lovely shop, and I am busy making socks with some of it - one down and one to go.

But I digress - this was supposed to be about the cultural history of ancient Donegal - I drove up to the Ring Fort which was visible for miles around as a bump atop of one of the hills south of Buncrana - and the winding boreen led to a magical place - with the most spectacular view in a 360 degree panorama I've yet seen in Ireland. There are other wonderful vistas like The Vee nearer home just over the Waterford border in Co. Tipperary, but they aren't full circle views.
Looking north you see Inishowen and the inlets of Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle; looking east there's Derry and beyond, and looking west there's Letterkenny. South is...well, the rest of Ireland I suppose! In all you can see seven counties from the hill ford and here are some of the photos so you can see for yourself.

The Ring Fort is massive, over 3000 years old and featured in Ptolemy of Alexandria's 2nd Century Map of Ireland. This snippet is lifted from some of the tourist information I picked up in the delegates pack. It sits atop Grianan Hill at an elevation of 244 metres above sea level. It's an Iron Age fort, and underwent many changes over the next two centuries, until its destruction according to the Irish Annals in 1101. It was rebuilt to its present state in the late 19th century and much of the stone used was from the 1101 destruction. I'm sure it's an archaeologist's dream and Time Team would have a wonderful three days excavating the place to look for more clues about its origins and functions.

I just enjoyed the solitary beauty of the place, scrambling over the walls and trying to ignore any hint of vertigo as I scaled the narrow steps to the ramparts on the inside walls, walking the perimeter and taking photos from every side/angle. (Irish joke aside - how do you confuse a Kerryman? Put him in a Round Tower and tell him to stand in the corner! Caveat - Irish jokes told in Ireland use the Kerryman as scapegoat instead of the Irishman - a universal practice I'm sure!)

I hope you enjoy the photos and reading about this hidden gem in Donegal - I certainly enjoyed exploring another lovely spot in Ireland - a great country for a holiday or a staycation once you get decent weather as we were lucky to get on this break for the border.

Photos from the top:

  • My Chocolate Teapot (Born to Shop brand)
  • My Goody Bag Giveaway Contents (they came in a Christmas Bag!)
  • Grianan of Aileach - Various Views
  • Looking north to Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle
  • Looking east to Derry and Northern Ireland
  • The Ramparts of the inner Ring Fort
  • The Gate of the Fort

Friday, September 17, 2010

More Northern Delights - from the Giant's Causeway to the Western Seaboard

On the final leg of our trip to Donegal we did some sightseeing in the North of Ireland (the UK part is Capitalised to distinguish it from the north of Ireland - which would be Donegal and the border counties of Ulster in the Irish Republic - oh, it's complicated if you don't know it already, I'm not going there in this post!)

It's often said there are two topics one should avoid in Northern Ireland - religion and politics - as they are the elephants in the room. What I do find is that I am trying to assess someone's position on both so I don't make a major faux pas in conversation. The clues are often easy to follow - just being introduced to someone can give a clue - an Irish-sounding name is generally a Catholic with probable nationalist sentiments, while an Anglo name is probably Protestant/Loyalist leanings.

That's the sort of thing living in Ireland over the decades of the euphemistically-named "Troubles" teaches you - that you can pigeonhole someone in a nano-second with the most ephemeral clue - and it still baffles hubby that we can do that - he thinks it's stereotyping -and he's right, but then so am I! At least now that a tenuous peace has been restored in the North since power-sharing those dark days are gone but they've left a horrendous legacy which you never escape as there are reminders everywhere - as I wrote on Derry two posts back.

We left Donegal and via Derry we went to the most magical place in Northern Ireland and one of the most beautiful in the whole island - the Giant's Causeway on the Atlantic coast. Legend has it that Finn McCool used the causeway as stepping stones to Scotland. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site - I think the only N. Ireland one and there are two in the Republic. (Skellig Michael and Newgrange/The Boyne Valley).

Basalt columns make up the Causeway and they are beautifully symmetrical polygons - mainly hexagons. It's free to visit but you pay £6 to park the car! We didn't walk the entire site - just down the road to the rocks and walked out onto them - and enjoyed the views and the landscape. It was a bit showery but generally the day was great and sunny, and we got some great photos.

We went back to Ireland via Strabane and headed through Co. Donegal towards Sligo - another lovely county. We went on another detour to Mullaghmore and saw the village where Lord Mountbatten owned Classiebawn Castle and where he was assassinated by the IRA in 1979 - a horrific mass-murder on one of the worst days of the Troubles when 18 British soldiers were also blown up by the IRA in an ambush in Warrenpoint. Sligo's iconic mountain, Ben Bulben, famed in W.B. Yeats's poetry, towers over every vista in the county, and it's a beautiful table mountain.

The light was wonderful as the evening sun was shining through rainbow-scattered skies between the sunshowers, and we were heading south-west for Co. Mayo, which made driving into the setting sun a bit of a challenge for hubby while I snapped and clicked both our cameras. We'd phoned ahead to book a room for the night in the Hotel Westport, thanks to the Garmin's hotel guide which I knew would come in useful one day! Thanks to the recession, rates were good for B&B in a 4* hotel even though I slept too late to have a swim the next morning - as I'd stayed awake watching two films back to back on telly - Witness (love that Amish film!) and a Nicholas Cage black comedy The Weather Man (a spectacular cinema flop by all accounts but I enjoyed it - love male menopause movies!)

Next day we drove home via Connemara and the Western Seaboard of Co. Mayo and Galway, and enjoyed the wild rugged mountain scenery of Delphi and Leenane at Killary Harbour which is Ireland's only fjord, in the true sense of the word - although we in Waterford claim to have one - hence the Ford in the name. We drove around the famous Reek - Croagh Patrick, the pilgrimage mountain that draws thousands of climbers in bare feet on Reek Sunday every July, and enjoyed the views to Achill Island across Clew Bay with its 365 islands - though I don't know who's counted them! In Connemara we saw Kylemore Abbey and the lake, and headed for Galway via Oughterard.

It was a lovely trip home and we arrived back in Lismore that evening, having driven from Galway via Limerick's new bypass tunnel under the River Shannon, which will make life a lot easier for airport-bound travellers who had to run the gauntlet of Limerick city centre en route to Shannon airport for years - last year hubby took 3 hours to get through the city in a bad gridlock day when he was coming to collect us when we returned from hols in Spain.

I still had two more days of hols before I had to return to work which made for a nice short week, and I am enjoying the balmy September days before the autumn kicks in - already it's
dark by 8pm and I miss the long bright evenings.

Photos are a mix of hubby's and mine:
  • Both of us @ the Giant's Causeway
  • The Giant's Causeway
  • Ben Bulben
  • Classiebawn Castle
  • Killary Harbour (Mayo-Galway border)
  • Sheep crossing at Doolough, Delphi, Co. Mayo
  • Kylemore Abbey and Lake, Connemara

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Inishowen Peninsula - from Fort and Famine to Feast

On the second day of our visit to Co. Donegal we went on a guided tour of the Inishowen Peninsula on Lough Swilly - The Lake of Shadows. This was unusual on two counts - one, we never opt for guided tours, preferring to do our own thing and neither of us like being herded about - look this way and that and then the bus goes in 10 minutes - and two, this was a totally new part of Ireland for us both, which gave the day a real holiday feel.

The Inishowen Peninsula is renowned for Ireland's most northerly point Malin Head - which we didn't get to, but the drive along Lough Swilly on the western side of the peninsula gave a good sense of the place.

The fact that the weather was positively Mediterranean made it even more magical, as coach tours in Ireland are notoriously nightmarish if it's raining. Being incarcerated with about 60 strangers while a chirpy guide extols the virtues of the countryside - shrouded in mist through the condensation on the windows - is most peoples' vision of hell, while the rain from the last expedition across the car park to some unmissable sight drips down the back of your neck and you realise your shoes weren't as waterproof as you'd thought! No, that's not my cup of tea at all, so I enjoyed the afternoon tour of Inishowen for all of the above reasons.

We stopped at two major attractions in the area - Fort Dunree and Doagh Island Famine Village. I'm not really into Military anything, let alone Museums - so I wasn't prepared to be overly impressed by Fort Dunree, a defence point on the shores of Lough Swilly dating from 1798 and which housed the entire British Fleet during the First World War as it sheltered from the Germans. It was actually interesting to hear how it remained in British control until it was handed over to the Irish Government's Defence Forces in 1938. There were a number of key “Treaty Ports” around Ireland that Britain didn't relinquish until well after Irish Independence - and this one was the last to be handed over. The little anecdote about it is that the Union Jack was lowered by one British Officer, and the Irish Tricolour was raised by an Irish Officer - and these two men were brothers-in-law! They were married to two sisters, and I suppose it's a nice metaphor for Anglo-Irish relations after the fraught tensions engendered by Ireland's neutrality in WWII which we euphemistically called "The Emergency". The views from this rocky outcrop were spectacular and I just enjoyed these rather than the dungeon-like bunkers and museum.

Our next port of call was Doagh Famine Village which was absolutely fascinating. The guide spoke at breakneck speed in a strong Donegal accent which really needed subtitles for those of us unaccustomed to it. But what a narrative - very strong social links to current issues, be they famine in other parts of the world or the nation losing the run of itself in the property boom - we' were all getting a bit like the landlords of yore. The exhibits were static and very geared towards the tourist as everything was multi-lingually labelled - French, German and Dutch - probably reflecting the clientèle profile. The fact that someone had the initiative to start up something like this in such a remote corner near the northernmost tip of the island of Ireland has to be impressive, and the owners have a real passion for their work.
The Great Famine of 1845-49 had a lasting impact on the Irish psyche that still resonates and provokes strong emotion in any debate - and clearly demonstrates how famine is and always has been a man-made disaster - the crop failure is almost always incidental and the catalyst is usually social and political ineptitude and apathy. Ireland has never regained its pre-Famine population of 8 million, after over a million died and millions more emigrated on the aptly named "Coffin Ships".

The thatched cottages are lovely and folk-museum-like, and some were positively arcane - in the Ripley's Believe it or Not category, such as the depiction of the Irish Wake tradition in rural Ireland which lives on in so many places. We learnt a lot of trivia that would make the day for any pub quiz aficionado - like the origins of "Dead Ringer", "Saved by the Bell" and the significance of "Snuff at a Wake" - neither of which I knew before. Dead ringer and Saved by the Bell refers to the fear of being alive which led to a string being led from the hand of the corpse in the coffin through a pipe to above ground where it was tied to a bell - and someone sat watch by the grave for a few days - so you could be saved by the bell if you became a dead ringer! (These are hotly disputed origins on some websites so make up your own mind!). Snuff at a wake was extremely popular but could be rationed by being placed on the deceased's chest in the open coffin and as the mourners paid their respects they took a pinch of snuff - and that prevented people coming back for seconds! Normally we would say that something is "thrown around like snuff at a wake" to infer excess and largesse - as in the "banks were throwing money around like snuff at a wake during the boom".

We ended our tour with traditional tea and soda bread and jam in the farmhouse kitchen which was done out in the style of the 1950s - and was a lovely way to wind down the day. We were driven back through the mountains of Insihowen to Buncrana along some of Ireland's most treacherous roads that have claimed numerous young lives in recent months and years - 8 people were killed in one catastrophic head-on collision in July and when you see the roads there is no room for speed as they are pretty unforgiving.

That evening we enjoyed the "craic" at the Gala Dinner for the conference delegates and guests. We were entertained by a lovely choir singing some wonderful harmony and they sang "The Derry Air" better known as "Danny Boy". There was an uninspiring speech from the Minister for Social Protection - an Orwellian rebranding of what was once Social Welfare - Éamon Ó'Cuív, a grandson of DeValera, Ireland's first Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and comes from a political dynasty - something that characterises a lot of what is wrong with Irish politics in that it reinforces a sense of entitlement rather than a meritocracy.

We had a lovely meal and an early night, unlike the previous night when a spontaneous sing-song in the bar kept us up till past 2am and was thoroughly enjoyable. As I write this the Taoiseach (PM) Brian Cowan is in trouble for a poor interview he gave yesterday morning after a late night at his party's conference in Galway and he's being slated for it, as the Twitterati are buzzing with whether or not he was hungover - he was certainly unwise to agree to a Morning Ireland live radio interview at 8.50am when he was drinking and singing in the bar until 3.30am - with the current state of the nation going down the economic tubes there's a strong sense that "the peasants are revolting" against this poor taste and bad judgement - a sort of Nero fiddling while Rome burns moment.

After Donegal we went to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland and drove down to Westport, then on the final day we went home via Connemara, so there's plenty of fodder for another post in a day or two. I hope you enjoy these travelogues and maybe you'll be inspired to visit this corner of Ireland some day.

The photos show:
  • Lough Swilly
  • Fort Dunree
  • Thatched cottage at Dooagh Famine Village
  • Plaque at Famine Village
  • Depiction of a Famine Eviction
  • Me in a cottage kitchen with the "Box Bed"
  • Jan and me at the Gala Dinner

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities - and a Break on the Border

Last week I went with hubby Jan for a few days to Donegal and Northern Ireland - he had a conference to attend in Buncrana for Town Councillors so I had plenty of time to explore the area while he was at the sessions and we also had time to sightsee together.

Co. Donegal is a beautiful part of the country and I hadn't been up there for over thirty years, while Jan had never been. Neither of us had been in Northern Ireland as tourists: apart form a perfunctory drive into Co. Fermanagh when I was at an INO (Nurses Union) Conference in Cavan - just to say I'd crossed the border - I'd never been into the North, and Jan had gone to Newry over twenty years ago to sell a car before we returned to Africa. It was a car we'd bought in Wales and it was easier to sell it in the North than to import it into Ireland and incur all that cost only to sell it on.

We drove up to Donegal in a day, took about six hours to get there via Dublin, which was a bit of an indirect route but the best roads. Motorway all the way to Dublin and Drogheda over the lovely new toll bridge over the Boyne (pictured in this post), then normal roads for the rest of the journey.

We stayed in Buncrana, a town on the Inishowen Peninsula which is the most northerly part of Ireland. We didn't make it to the extreme tip at Malin Head but we did get close to it when we went to Doagh Island. The first night we had dinner after checking in to our hotel, the Lake of Shadows, and dropped into the conference venue, the Inishowen Gateway Hotel, to meet some of the delegates. It was an early night for us both after the long drive. Next day Jan went off to the conference and I wandered around Buncrana for the morning - a lovely little town with some nice shops - including the oddest name
ever - Ubiquitous Restaurant!

Across the Border - the city that dare not speak its name

After lunch I went to Derry/Londonderry for a look around the historic walled city. Never has a city had such a controversial name - I still don't know what the official name is as the Catholics would use Derry and the Protestants/Loyalists use Londonderry. So as an uninformed Southerner I would probably be excused whichever name I used, as in mixed (religious) company you end up offending someone regardless. Not being terribly au fait with the current nuances of names, I just kept quiet and drove into the city - about 20 mins from Buncrana - and enjoyed the buzz that comes from being in a foreign country - as Derry is in the UK - and realising if I said that to a Nationalist Republican I would cause major offence as they claim ownership of the North as part of Ireland.

Well, the "North" is on the island of Ireland but as Six Counties of the North remained with the UK after Ireland's Independence in 1922 it has been a flashpoint ever since and 40 years ago the "Troubles" erupted with the loss of over 3,000 lives on both sides of the divide over the next three decades. There's peace now but as there are many unhappy with the Good Friday Agreement and the power-sharing that ensued it is a very tenuous truce - hopefully a lasting one, nonetheless. There's a powerful imagery in the sculpture at the roundabout to the city called Across the Divide - you can see the photo in this post. There's also a link to Lismore - the artist Antony Gormley has a sculpture at the Millenium Forum Theatre modelled on his own form as in the one in Lismore Castle Gardens.

The Walls of Derry
were the scene of the famous Siege of Derry in 1688-89, and in more recent times there are many memorable infamous events, the worst being the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972 when 13 unarmed protesters were killed by the British troops. That inquiry has just recently ended with the British Prime Minister apologising to the relatives of the victims, which has brought some closure to one of the most divisive and bitter events of the Troubles. There's some tourism now around the Walls and even on the remnants of the Troubles in the Murals that give some colour to the housing estates - they are all highly political and have been retained as a marker of their significance to their communities. I managed to capture some on camera and they give an idea of the sentiments and sometimes persistent "Siege" mentality that persists to this day. This is evident in the dispute that's arisen over the British City of Culture 2013 that Derry's just been awarded - it led to a split in the City Council over the inclusion of the UK in the title.

It's fascinating contemporary and ancient history when you're in the thick of it and I certainly enjoyed my walk around the Walls, unguided apart from all the information points on the Bastions and the various Gates, and absorbing the atmosphere while wondering what tales these walls could tell of all they've witnessed since their birth.

I drove across the Craigavon Bridge - a double-decker bridge across the Foyle River and back over the Foyle Bridge and re-entered the Irish Republic/Ireland at a different border. The only indication that there's a border is in the speed limit signs - Ireland uses Km/hr and the North as the rest of the UK uses Miles/hr. The currency is the other clue that you're in a foreign land - the North is part of the Sterling Pound territory and £ signs abound, as the UK remains resolutely outside the Eurozone and I wrestled with some mental arithmetic to get my € rates converted to £stg. All I do know is that the North's prices are way cheaper than the Republic, even in the same shops - Lidl are said to be much better value in the North and as they are leading cost-cutters in the South that's saying something.

As we saw so much during this trip to the northern shores of the island, I will write a few different blog posts over the next few days, and hope you enjoy reading about what may be already familiar or totally new to you. It's fascinating stuff when you're in the thick of it and I certainly enjoyed my walk around the Walls, unguided apart from all the information points on the Bastions and the various Gates, and absorbing the atmosphere while wondering what tales these walls could tell of all they've witnessed since their birth.

I'll try to do a Picasa Web album for the sidebar!
The photos here include:
  • Various views of and from the Walls,
  • Cannon and plaques from the Walls,
  • The Murals (the famous Free Derry one and a few Loyalist ones)
  • The Boyne Bridge in Drogheda,
  • The Ubiquitous Restaurant in Buncrana,
  • The beautiful Guildhall in Derry,
  • The Maurice Harron Sculpture "Hands Across the Divide"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My 15 minutes of (Irish Times) Fame - Terrible Typo Vigilantism pays off at last

Today I was having a long leisurely lunch with some retired public health nursing friends (reminding me I'll be in that club in another decade!) when I got a call on my mobile from a guy from the Irish Times. He called to tell me I'd won a €50 book token prize for my typo submissions in a competition in the paper last Saturday week in the Weekend supplement related to a book review on some geeky guys in the States who've written a book on the topic - The Great Typo Hunt.

Those of you who've been following this blog for some time will know that I've got a fetish about typos, grammar glitches and gremlins, and greengrocer's apostrophes, to the extent that I've photographed some gems on my daily rounds. Little did I think they would bring me the celebrated 15 minutes of fame when they'll appear in tomorrow's paper!

I did ask the reporter to ensure I couldn't be sued by the offending parties who might now become the offended parties with this unwelcome notice of their grammatical illiteracy. Of course the winner was the night classes "Enrole Now" which was supremely ironic and a cause of much local mirth - by the time the Principal of the college discovered it and had it removed the damage had been done. I also entered the "Dog Fowling" one.

I've written a few blog posts on the topic of typos in the past and for all my newbie followers who might like to look back at them - here are the links to the posts with a Grammar label.

Read the article here and check out photos 5 and 11 - my entries - and go forth and spread the word - the typo vigilantes are still on the prowl!

PS - who can spot the "Greengrocer's Apostrophe" in the article? Wonder was it a plant?