Funny how the time slips by so fast, isn’t it? One minute you are walking along minding your own business and the next minute you are wham! head over heels in love with a man who is just not that in to you.
Well, at least not until you got him drunk on Irish coffees and kept him that way until he succumbed to your wildly Irish ways.
19 years later … he is still here by my side, cooking and feeding our family with so much more than food.
I have just finished judging the finals of the annual Blog Awards, and honestly, bloggers out there, hats off to you all. The very best part of blogging, aside from meeting lots of new friends right here on this blog and then in real life, is discovering all the new voices and talent behind so many new (and old) Irish blogs.
I had some real favourites this year and I can’t wait to see who cleans up at the awards ceremony in a few weeks. Best of luck to you all!
Now, on to the crux of the matter.
A recipe for these excellent little balls of dough stuffed with even more excellent spoonfuls of shredded Oldefarm pork and vegetables.
- For the buns
- 2¼ tsp dry active yeast
- 240 ml milk
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 700 g flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar/honey
- For the filling
- 450 g shredded (cooked) pork (or could use ground (raw) pork too.
- 250 g shredded cabbage
- 1 carrot, diced small
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp Sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tsp grated ginger, fresh
- 2 green onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- First .. for the buns
- Heat the milk and oil in a pot until it is lukewarm. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid and let it sit for 8 to 10 minutes – this helps activate it.
- Sift the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bow.. Add the yeast liquid into the flour, mixing with a fork. Once all the liquid has been poured in, knead for 15 seconds until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough – or it will become chewy.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes max. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover, and let it sit for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- When the dough is almost done with its rise, sauté it all together in a pan the ingredients for the filling — pork, vegetables, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, ginger, green onion and garlic.
- Next, punch down your risen dough. Turn it onto a floured surface again and knead for just a few strokes.
- Cut off a ping pong ball-sized piece of dough and roll into a 3″ diameter flat circle.
- Place about a tablespoon of the pork mixture into the circle and fold the dough up around the filling, pinching and pleating until the top is sealed. It doesn’t have to be perfect
- Place the finished buns on a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel to keep them from drying out as you fold the others.
- Fill a wok (or pot or rice cooker, depending on what you’re using) with about an inch or two of water and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. After the water has begun to simmer, set the basket over the water, covered, and steam for about 15 minutes, or until buns are resilient when touched and the filling inside is cooked.
- Make sure to refill the water between batches, as it will likely evaporate during the boiling. You may also need to adjust the heat to low as the water boils — a low simmer is all you need.
We did lightly pan fry ours right after steaming, in a toasted sesame oil, and served it with a Korean dipping sauce – a staple here at ChezWise … and Jack, our nine-going-on-nineteen son, can make it with ease.
It is delicious. Give it a try.
Korean dipping sauce
When planning a meal around here, the sauce always has a big role to play in the end result. When we come across a sauce loved by the whole family we tend to keep a jar of it on hand in the fridge and that way, when trying to feed a hungry brood in a hurry, there is one less thing to make. This dipping sauce can be used as a favourite sauce served alongside a plate of wontons, poured over a delicious fried rice or noodle dish, or as the perfect accompaniment to seafood pancakes.
What you will need
236 ml [1 cup] soy sauce 129 ml
115 ml [1/2 cup] water
1 Tbsp brown sugar/honey
1 pinch black pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp concentrated vinegar (Essig essence)
2 green onions, chopped
2 chili peppers
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
How to prepare
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Store in the fridge in a jar with a tight seal for weeks on end.
We use this sauce a lot here at home. We have basted roasting chickens with it, dipped dumplings in it and it is also an excellent choice for drizzling over a bit of fresh salmon sashimi if you are fortunate enough to have it on hand.
Anyway … it has not all been a bed of roses guys n’ dolls … and there have even been a few times where neither of us knew which way was up or which country we were headed to next.
But we have hung in there and are still working out our differences – every single day of our version of this wedded bliss. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?
A quick reminder for those of you who have been following along … this is how loaded our special day really is.
September 30th was the day we met, the day we got married, the day we opened our restaurant, the day we brought Jack home to live with us and the day we closed our restaurant right before moving back home to Europe.
We have kept it fairly uneventful since then … but I always have a feeling that something significant will happen on this special day.
Another week awaits us and this one brings a new month rolling in with cooler breezes.
Thanks for tuning in x
Wow .. where to start. This journey we are on with the Electric Car from Renault Ireland and GIY Ireland has taken several twists and turns over the course of the summer.
The first thing worth mentioning is … it is still summer here in Galway. Although the air has cooled a wee bit, and the leaves are starting to turn and tumble, the sun is shining, the kids are not wearing coats to school and there is beer n’ BBQing happening in the backyard every evening.
Himself has never experienced anything like it and has been wearing shorts since April. He said it ‘feels like an American summer’. He still refuses to swim alongside us in the sea though … that would be admitting he has now, finally after 6 long years of fighting it, acclimated to his new home.
A few weeks ago, while I was wrapping up my Thesis for college, he was banished from the house two weekends in a row. I had to get my work finished, so he planned a few excursions with the kids and decided to do a little driving experiment to go along with it.
I asked him to document the details because he took the eCar on one excursion and the diesel guzzler van on another outing.
Enjoy the unedited version of my husbands detailing of his little jaunts through the Irish countryside on a quest. Best if you read it with a half Alabama/half Galway accent. And read it slowly … because that is the way he talks … real slow …. like ….
It ain’t about the money…Well, actually, it is.
by Ron Wise
A few weeks ago I started my journey from Galway to Claremorris with a two-fold purpose. The first, was to do a little experiment with the eCar v’s the family ICE vehicle (Internal Combustion Engine) otherwise known as the 3 litre diesel van that sucks the life out of my wallet every time I turn the key in the ignition (which I ran on the same trip the week later).
The second purpose was to find our gander, Pippin, a lady friend. Pippin has become an integral part of our flock management system here at Chez Wise, and lends his watchdog services to ward of stray dogs and greedy foxes, and he also, alongside Pearl the terrier, keeps a watchful eye over all the babies that hatch over the course of the summer.
See short 6 second video here.
The trip from our home in Galway to Claremorris was about 60km so I had to plan accordingly, as we don’t have a fast charge capability with the Renault Fluence. A few phone calls later, we had received the OK from the lovely folks at the McWilliam Hotel to allow me to park the car and charge-for-free in their parking lot, while I spent the day at the Claremorris Country Fair with the four kids, and without my wife … because she was still writing her damn thesis.
Although we had a wonderful experience at the fair, and the kids were well behaved, we did not find a mate for Pippin.
We made our way back to the hotel, loaded up all our purchases of the day and did a quick headcount because Móna gets mad if I misplace a kid …. and we headed home. The cost of the trip, there are back with the eCar was €2.00 – as we charged at home before we left Galway and the McWilliam Hotel, as with all public chargers are all still free.
The following week, still determined to find a mate for my gander, we headed back that same way in the Diesel van. The same trip to Claremorris and back cost just under €15.00
You can see why I love the eCar. It is about the money, well more like the savings.
Having to figure out a way to encourage all the kids to become more involved in the gardening projects this year was a challenge we were ready for. There is a lot of finger-pointing going on and ‘it’s her turn’ etc. but the unexpected side effect of it all, is they have now started to fight over who gets to harvest and eat the goods. The cucumbers are chopped in salads, we have a few late strawberries popping out this week thanks to the Indian summer we are experiencing, and the most recent project assigned to us by the folks at GIY Ireland is to plant a winter crop of spuds for Christmas day.
Rumour has it they will not grow to produce ‘Spuds for Santa’ as the kids have nicknamed it, but all we can do is wait and see.
For now, and especially with regard to driving the eCar for a few months …… we are really enjoying the ride ….
That’s all for this week,
Well, everyone keeps asking ‘Are you going to do a PhD?’ … it seems like the next step doesn’t it?
Hello husband of mine. Please, remember to place the oxygen mask firmly over your mouth first, and take a deep breath before bellowing out your outrage at the thoughts of me even considering this.
Before I allow myself to think about taking on another FOUR LONG years as a student, I decided to ask my good friend Sally McHugh to give me the run down, on what a person needed to do in order to put the wheels in motion, when thinking about applying to do a PhD at NUI Galway.
This is her story and while it is all told in an excellent and very engaging manner, Sally wants you all to remember that this is just her experience. It is meant to help you navigate through what might be entailed when it comes to the grant(s) and application process. I think it is the best guide I’ve seen to date.
Take it away Sally!
I was lucky enough to be recently awarded a 2014 Hardiman Research Scholarship from the College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies at NUI Galway. My journey towards this point started back in 2007 when I enrolled on an evening diploma class at NUIG. Two years later I commenced a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and graduated with a Master of Arts (MA) degree in 2013. I loved my time studying in the university and really wanted to continue researching so I began to think about doing a PhD. Different ideas went through my head over time but it wasn’t until I experimented with different concepts for my MA thesis that my topic fully developed. I hummed and hawed for a long time over whether I would apply or not and it was constantly niggling away in the back of my mind.
Once I decided I was going to go for it, I had to make contact with a supervisor and find someone that would share the same interests as myself. A list of NUIG potential supervisors and their research interests can be found here and that was a good place to start. The next step was to email and arrange a meeting with a potential supervisor and have a chat. Before either of us made any commitments, fully discussing my topic was good for sussing out if we could work together. Once my choice of supervisor had agreed to come on board, it was time to start researching the different funding available and how to apply for the different grants.
During the academic year the Graduate Studies Office run information sessions and these were very useful and helpful for understanding the application process. At the 2013 sessions, the Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr Lucy Byrnes and the Vice Dean for Research, Dr John Walsh, gave all the necessary information on the different scholarships and how to apply for them. They went through the application process in detail and spoke about what is expected in the different applications. They also gave pointers as to what else to add into your application, for instance, have you a vision for something and if so to tell them about it; are you passionate about your topic and if so to demonstrate that passion. This was good advice because often we (I) tend to be more formal when doing applications, but realistically how are those selecting the candidates supposed to know how you really feel unless you tell them? They advised mentioning what position you came in a class, any academic awards you may have won, scholarships, or anything relevant that might make you stand apart from your competitors. Attending these talks and taking everything suggested on-board was vital in preparing a good application.
Before you start the scholarship application itself, you will probably have to write a proposal for the college department you wish to study in. This usually consists of roughly 5 pages (A4) with headings such as Introduction (outlining your research question), Aim & Objective(s), Theoretical Framework, Methodology and Research Plan, Significance of Study /Relationship of Project to Existing Research. Your supervisor may be able to assist you in the drafting up of this document and once it’s done, it will be the foundation for all the scholarship applications that you apply for.
In the academic year the first opportunity to apply for funding was the Hardiman Research Scholarship and the Dr Tony Ryan Scholarship Scheme (your one application is considered for both scholarships). This usually has an annual deadline in late November and those short-listed are interviewed in December/early January. The stipend is €16,000 p.a. and fees are also paid.
The Second opportunity is the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme, more commonly known as the IRC (Irish Research Council). These scholarships have the same funding as the Hardiman/Ryan scholarships but will also pay research expenses up to the value of €2250 p.a. The deadline for this application is usually the end of January. The IRC website gives all the relevant dates including information on other funding opportunities such as the ‘Employment Based Postgraduate Programme’ and an ‘Enterprise Partnership Scheme’.
The third opportunity is the Galway Doctoral Research Scholarship Scheme, usually advertised in March/April but like the other scholarship schemes, is subject to change. These scholarships are for €16,000, but fees have to be paid out of this allowance.
Scholarships are also available under the Digital Arts & Humanities (DAH) structured PhD programme and this year the closing date was in mid-May. Funded by the Higher Education Authority the scholarships are also €16,000 plus fees paid.
More information on these and other scholarships like Bioinnovate and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme can be found on the Postgraduate research courses page on the NUIG website. There may be more funding available in the different schools that I’m not aware of, so it’s worth checking that out directly with the schools.
People are notified about the outcome of their NUIG Hardiman Scholarship application in early January as one of the conditions of acceptance is that you also submit an application to IRC, the Irish Government scholarship, and that closes end of Jan/beg of Feb. (all dates are posted on the Postgraduate Research Courses webpage). Although you may be successful in receiving the NUIG Hardiman/Ryan scholarship, by applying for and possibly receiving an IRC scholarship, your IRC acceptance frees up another place for someone else in the Hardiman scheme. The results from the IRC are usually out in late May/June and are available online. Later, they send you some feedback on your application so that you know what to work on if you apply again.
All scholarships are very competitive and so the application process is very important. The approach I took was to be honest, to say exactly how I felt in simple language, to show my genuine enthusiasm and passion for the research, and to explain the importance of the research from my own point of view. I also believed it important to maintain an authentic professional online presence, because although it’s not mentioned on any application forms, you are surely googled at some stage! As you have to include your CV on applications, another good idea is to make an appointment at the NUIG Career Development Centre where a member of staff will sit down with you and work on your CV.
I’m looking forward to beginning the PhD journey and I’m sure there will be many obstacles along the way but it’s exciting to get started (and to get to fill in the blanks below!). I’m hoping it will be a rewarding experience.
Good luck with your application!
Thanks a million for this handy ‘how to apply for a PhD’ guide Sally.
Now … must be time for a cuppa, anyone?
OH – and on a side note. First day as a lecturer went alright. I spoke too fast and tried to cram way too much into a short space of time. Today – I will practice breathing … then talking. Thanks for all the love, support, message and emails. Ye are lovely, really x
Work I hear you say?
Yes. Work. As in the kind of work that pays in cold hard cash.
But before you get too excited, it’s only a little job, with just a few hours per week, but it sure as heck makes me feel like going back to college for five long years – was totally worth it.
Today, Monday September 8th, 2014, I’ll start my new job as a part-time lecturer (of Journalism) at NUI Galway.
Exactly five years ago, to the day, I sat in a classroom scared to death of college and learning……and felt like a right eejit for following my dream.
Let this be a lesson to all you dreamers….get your ass out of bed and make it happen. Right now.
Thanks to the love and support of my Mum and my husband and my siblings and my friends, I have come through shining at the other end. I should also go on record to thank our children who, in their own endearing way have kept me motivated to keep moving forward.
My foot would not be in the proverbial front door of the university were it not for the constant support of my supervisor, who has challenged and supported me for the last five years, and the trust my new boss has in me today. They have already taught me so much, and now they trust I can teach others. No pressure there!
It was not all sunshine and roses along the way and there was at least one, if not two times where I felt sure I was dropping out. But I didn’t quit.
Excited much? Yep.
Totally terrified? You betcha.
Worried you might get fired? Of course.
Any chance at all you might feel even a little bit proud of this accomplishment? Ok…yes, if you insist.
And before I sign off…this you should know. Having a blog was instrumental in keeping sane while enduring my years of study at NUI Galway.
Meeting new friends, on and off line, and listening to your feedback on all my daft stories propelled me to just keep going. I am certain that my digital profile was studied hard before anyone approached me with this opportunity and I want y’all to know…I love you.
Wish me luck….even though you know as well as I do, none of this can be attributed to the ‘Luck of the Irish’ …. It is all down to hard bloody work.
So…. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go….teaching 2nd yr Journalists a class called ‘The Journalists Web’……
I’m sure there’ll be Tweeting … You can find me @WiseMona and the hashtag is #TeachN’Tweet.
My day starts so calmly. The most beautiful sunrises can be experienced in Ireland as soon as Autumn’s first blush occurs. A life-long early bird, I usually stumble out of bed somewhere between half five and six o’clock every morning and assuming there has not been a deluge of rain throughout the night and carried over till dawn … this image above is typical of what greets me daily at that hour. We are noted in these parts for having beautiful sunsets … you have surely heard the song, no? Well, I think it is high time someone wrote a song about our sunrises too.
Blackberries have been ripening in our back fields since the last week in July. We have picked and packaged them lovingly in the freezer and have a few more weeks of preserving ahead of us. We will be making chutneys, jams, jellies and lots and lots of pie filling. I think it’s time for a bigger freezer!
We have had an excellent summer. Sure, I was bogged down for several weeks finishing up my thesis for college, but the last few weeks, before the kids went back to school were just bliss. We spent a lot of time traipsing about meeting old and new friends for fun frolics about the countryside and even squeezed in a spot of fishing with family.
Now that the weather has turned, and Autumn is well and truly here to stay, all the colours around me seem richer and filled with flavour. The markets and grocery stores are still heaving and groaning with a bounty of fruit so time to get out and load your shopping basket with it all while it’s still in season. See the next issue of Nuacht Chlair for a gorgeous recipe for a late summer Clafoutis.
Now that you have your ducks in a row and your basket is brimming with berries … I think it is time for a little reward. Earlier today, I shared a photo of a Blackberry Bourbon Old Fashioned .. and was bombarded with emails and notifications requesting the recipe. Here’s the thing guys and dolls, especially when it comes to drinks … if you taste it and like it, its perfect. Keep that in mind when you foray into the world of lovely libations.
Blackberry Bourbon Old Fashioned
Makes one drink (but who likes to drink alone?)
2 oz of Bourbon
2 tsp brown sugar or honey (honey dissolves quicker)
1 Tbsp Blackberries, more if you like the fruit
2 dashes of bitters (I love Rhubarb bitters)
2 slices of orange, saving the rest of the orange for juice
Lots of ice
First, macerate the blackberries in the brown sugar. Dump them into a glass and add the slice of orange and muddle it all together. Drop in a few dashes of the bitters, add your Bourbon and stir. Squeeze the remaining orange juice and stir. Taste and adjust sweetness or citrus as desired.
Fill the glass with ice. All the way to the top. Stir and then drink. Use a spoon to eat all the blackberry bits once you get to the bottom of the glass and always, always, always eat the orange slice. It’s chock full of Vitamin C after all.
One small note to make here. This can be made with Irish Whiskey too and it tastes equally delicious but quite different.
And in a few weeks, I’ll be making the exact same drink only with boiling hot water, to ward of any colds or hint of flu that might be threatening and goes hand in hand with the change in the seasons.
Ok … enjoy every bit. If, like me, you have just surveyed back-to-school chaos, you deserve it. And on a parting note … one more photo to help you settle in to your weekend slumber …. just watch the sunset right outside our door.
That’s all for now guys and dolls …
I’ve had a little time on my hands these last few days and have put pen to paper – with the help of three terrific Irish Food Bloggers – to give you a little insight as to what kind of work is out there for food bloggers in Ireland today. I know it is a .pdf and this might not be suitable for a lot of you on your mobiles … but it is pages and pages long – a very interesting Q&A with the three bloggers I interviewed. Maybe table it for later … with a glasheen of wine or a lovely craft beer?
Totally worth your time if you are a blogger or especially if you want to hire a blogger to do a bit of writing for you.
The kids are back to school this week on Thursday. I will cherish the silence in my house and I will think of you all, fondly of course, as I resume life as a stay-at-home Mum eating bon bons and drinking excessive amounts of Nespresso.
I’ll be back to blogging on a more regular schedule too I reckon … so brace yourself.
Ok – clicky down below the image for a bit of a read … and feel free to leave lovely comments in the box when you have finished digesting it all. All the nasty comments will be printed out and sent off to be laid to rest on the men’s room floor in the local pub – where they belong.
That’s all I got for now,
Click link below for a read …oh and if it brings you to another screen where you have to click the .pdf again…just click it!
Go figure..pain in the ass, I know.
Weeds. They are the most annoying thing, even for gardening experts. Even those with the greenest of thumbs will curse the blasted weeds that – at this time of the year – rule the ridges of the garden or allotment.
Mary from Athlone was asking exactly how much ‘gardening’ has to be accomplished for the 3 month duration of this little competition we are participating in. Mary mentioned I was very fortunate to have a husband who is not only green-thumbed but also very capable of turning all he sows n’ grows into something lovely for supper.
I do like to be reminded on a regular basis how lucky I am, and occasionally I feel like I should remind himself of just how lucky he is. You see – I have a confession to make. I am an absolute nightmare to live with these days.
In the throes of wrapping up a 15,000 word thesis I find myself waging a war with procrastination (hence the excess blogging). I have resorted to extreme measures here guys and dolls – I am sewing. Like, buttons on shorts, darning socks, holes in t-shirts that should be tossed but there are ‘my favourite shirt maaaawwwwmmmm’ … hows that for avoidance?
It is like the last five years of learning how to write and then learning how to be a journalist all comes down to this last bit of writing …. and I’m as blocked as a port-let at the races.
Today, he just got home from work and is, bless his lovely cotton socks that have been bleached white and darned perfectly, going to take the kids to the park to fly their kites … far far away from me and my laptop.
In an effort to show my appreciation of his willingness to give me a few hours of quite ‘writing’ time … I pottered about the kitchen this morning and made a late lunch for everyone.
This might seem strange that I am even mentioning it .. but truth be told, I’ve done very little cooking these past few months as I have been buried alive in books and newspapers and writing assignments ….
Jack, aged 9: “Mom, can you even cook?” and a slight look of worry overcoming his always hungry little face.
Lulu: “Are you cooking weeds?”
The thing is …. I’m a shocking bad gardener. I do excel in weeding and lawn mowing skills though. But when it comes to green thumbing it .. well, all I usually have to do with the plant or seed in question is ‘get involved’ and it will surely meet its untimely demise.
So now that we have a few GIY projects on the hop, I am finding that I have to work closely with the kids and having a gardner advising us … is no bloody fun. He is also certain I will kill his vegetables.
Today I decided to cook my weeds for our lunch. Just to show that even if I do unavoidably kill all our growing projects….I can still feed the kids a nourishing lunch.
Nettles are so easy to cook. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with a teaspoon of salt. Dump nettles into the pot and turn the stove off. Leave for ten minutes. Strain into a colander and remove the largest pieces of the (now softened) stems.
Chop the nettles roughly then add butter, salt and black pepper.
Now, while this is lovely on its own just like this … I suggest if you are trying to get your kiddos to ingest it, best to add it to the mashed potatoes. They will eat it, they will love it and they will all be back looking for more.
When I was plating up our lunch earlier today I had trouble making everything look good on the plate and I am a firm believe that if it looks like you made an effort then the complaints from the peanut gallery will be less … so I had slow cooked Pork, which was brown and slathered in a green marinade (horseradish leaves, leek stems, garlic, parsley, nettles) which had turned a dirty looking black green …
The cabbage, pears and onions I had cooked earlier too, as a side dish, looks gorgeous when you start off the cooking process, but the reason it is so good (just sautéed onions, cabbage and slices of pears in a little olive oil, salt and pepper) is that once it starts to sizzle on the pan you turn the heat down, cover it and let it cook down to nothing … it even caramelises a bit.
But then it goes from looking lovely (like the above) to turning, you guessed it, brown.
So, I had a lot of brown on the plate and was sure, due to the lack of salad on the plate, that the Chefs discerning eye(brow) would be raised .. happy and all as he might be that I had made the effort to cook for him.
So I worked a little harder …
It reminded me of a couple of blog posts (or maybe Tweets) I had seen a few months back from another busy Mum (Sineád over at Bumbles of Rice). She called them #Barefaced dinners and it shed light on what she served her family for supper every night for a few weeks.
I know from personal experience impression that (as a food blogger) many readers presume us to be eating gourmet food every night. So she uploaded her week of evening meals in photos and encouraged her readers and fans on Facebook and Twitter to join in the fun. At the time I was unable to join in the fun because of a shoddy internet connection … but I have since followed up and read the blog posts.
Food is huge part of our WiseWorld here in Galway. We grow it, raise it, chase it, kill it, cook it and eat it and then we do it all over again. While I do have a chef-in-residence to do the cooking, the flood of photos in my Instagram feed is what sustains us … and I am the one that takes the time to arrange it on the plate…and trust me … I spend very little time arranging.
OK – back to the
sewing Thesis writing … and I’m sure I’ll be back soon again as I still have 15 more days to procrastinate!
PS – in an effort to be truly #barefaced here … Ron decided against the park and kite flying plan because he did not want to fight any #raceweek traffic, so he stayed at home all afternoon with the kids and I have been banging my head against the wall trying to get a bit of peace and quiet around here. Best laid plans and all that ….
Summer is in full swing here in Galway. Our little city is heaving and groaning under the weight of holidaymakers as they fill and fuel our city for the annual Galway International Arts festival.
This week, we were the lucky recipients of an electric vehicle! It’s only for a three-month test drive period and there is a small competition attached to it. Renault Ireland has teamed up with GIY Ireland and they are working together to help promote the notion of cleaner greener living. Renault has provided electric vehicles to four recipients dotted about the island and GIY Ireland has handed out several growing projects to us drivers and we have all agreed to share our experiences to the best of our ability online and in person.
At the end of the 90 days, one lucky driver will get to keep their car. Can you say ‘in it to win it’?
Needless to say the competition is fierce.
If you want to keep track of it, so you can enter for next year, then link up with them here on their Facebook pages – GIY Ireland and Renault Ireland – and follow them on Twitter @RenaultIreland and @GIYIreland
It is not everyday you get the chance to win a shiny new car!
The first thing we noticed when slinking off into the sunset on day one, and it as just myself and himself, is how deliciously quiet this car is.
No sound at all from the ignition when it starts up…just a little green light indicating it is time to click into drive and ‘Go’.
The range is 80km – 110km depending on:
a. how fast you are going,
b. how much weight you have in the car,
c. if the windows are rolled down,
d. whether or not you are charging your iToys…sheesh…
I was starting to panic after the first 5km thinking we would not make it home across town on a busy mid-week afternoon.
But we did, and then some.
ESB came out to the house a few weeks ago and installed a charging point for us, and we have already seen a massive savings to our weekly spend on diesel as the Renault Fluence costs only €2 per full charge/80km and if you are charging it away from your home…it is free. Yes. No charge at all public access points.
Our first real jaunt in the car the next day took us from Galway to Rossaveal (80k round trip) as we headed to the Aran Islands (Inismór) for the day on an EcoTour.
The day was lovely and the desire for a cleaner-greener lifestyle is slowly being churned out on the Islands. I’m looking forward to following their progress over the next few months…but that story will have to be a separate blog post.
As we headed back home we decided to stop at The Twelve Hotel in Barna and met up with a friend of ours for a drink and a chat while the car charged.
Two points to note here:
1. It takes ages for the car to charge. This is not like pouring petrol at the pump guys and dolls. At least an hour for a 1/2 charge. Don’t be in any hurry.
2. The charging points were very easy to find (and easy to use) but guess what? There was another non-electric vehicle parked in one of the charging spots. I did not take a photo of the car/licence plate this time …but I reckon if I come across another one of these I’ll be naming and shaming…..
Once we made our way back to the house, and to be fair we trucked along at speeds of no more than 100k as that is the speed limit on the road, we both felt that this first little jaunt was a ‘safe’ one and we will be a little more adventurous next time….there are several apps to guide us to all the charging stations around the country and I’m on the look out for ‘fast charge’ charging points in Galway. Do you know of any?
We spent the evening grinding up a bit of Turkey meat now stored in the freezer and I’ll be posting a recipe for Turkey Jambalaya in the coming weeks. With all the birds we raise for the table around here (Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Guinea Fowl) I have to say Turkey has the best flavour and the volume of meat produced from one bird makes raising them very worthwhile.
Righto….that’s all the news I have for now. We are headed out for the evening to see our friend over at Bía Oisin … He has a few seeds and seedlings to give us for a few of our growing projects. Wish us luck….The kids are already complaining about all the weeding they will have to do!
Fun for the whole family and all for free – right here in Galway.
With school holidays in full swing I am guessing that ‘Mom, I’m bored’ is a commonly used phrase in many homes around the island. Keeping a brood of children occupied for eight weeks of school holidays can be a constant challenge. While we are all too familiar with all the activity camps kids can avail of during the summer, coming up with the money can pose as a challenge for many families.
Keeping the budget-conscious family in mind, I met up with Jill Holtz, co-owner of www.MyKidsTime.ie, to get her advice on ‘things to do for free in Galway’ and she was more than happy to recommend a few of her favourite places. Many of them are perfect day-trip locations so get the picnic basket out of the attic and enjoy the summer holidays right here in Galway.
A fairy walk at Knockma in between Claregalway and Tuam is a great way to start the summer holidays. The enchanted circular walk through Knockma Woods is magical. It is rumoured that Queen Maeve is buried at the top of Knockma Hill and Finnbheara, the Fairy King of Connacht, is also said to have built his fortress among the moss-covered rocks and trees. There are several fairy forts at the top of Knockma and, on a fine day, the view from the top is gorgeous. Make a stop at the Fairy stall at the Saturday Market in Galway first and bring along a few fairies to surprise and delight the little ones.
Coole Park, now a nature reserve, is one of those densely wooded walks you can take even in the rain. The paths are well maintained for buggies and there are even (very basic) toilets along the way. Once the home of Lady Gregory, dramatist, folklorist and founder of the Abbey Theatre with William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, Coole Park is one of those places that reminds us of our heritage. Stop down to the lake for a few photos of the swans before finishing up at the Coole Park Museum, and if time allows pop in to their cafe for a bit of Blackberry crumble. Make a creative day out of it with the kids and encourage them to write little poems about their ‘day at Coole’.
A walk in foggy woodlands, leads to the swan-filled Lough of Coole.
A pause in hectic living, a break from work or school.
Nourishing the Mind, the Body and the Soul,
A glimpse of Irish living, the park in which we stroll.(by Móna Wise)
Have you taken the bikes (or buggies) to Portumna Forest Park yet? Covering almost 450 hectares of land, this is an excellent day out. The forest offers many habitats from lakeshore to turlough and the kids will be able to spot a large population of fallow deer. Other species, pine marten, fox and badger, might be a little more difficult to find but they will have no trouble spotting the red squirrels that also call the forest home. There are four looped trails in the park and one of them (1.4km) is a multi-access boardwalk trail suitable for all. There is also several little bird watching areas so bring the binoculars.
How about a day at NUI Galway? Start by taking a few minutes to burn off a bit of excitable energy over at millennium park – suitable for all ages with the skateboard area in the back – then make your way, via the new suspension bridge, to the Dead Zoo, located on the ground floor of the Ryan Institute. The animal specimens showcased here can be traced back 160 years.
Next stop should be a visit to the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland on the first floor of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway. This museum is open to the public from 10:00am – 5:00pm (on weekdays only) during the June – September period. If you want a guided tour you should book in advance otherwise you can just walk in and have a look around. Website: www.ComputerMuseumIreland.com
While still on campus why not take a walk afterwards (or bike ride if you have the bikes with you) all the way up along the river to Dangan sports grounds. There are picnic tables at your disposal or if it is a rainy day you could always pop in to the Dangan Tea rooms for shelter.
Geocaching has been around in Ireland since late 2003 and the older kids will love this modern day technology-guided treasure hunt. Geocaching is just like a traditional treasure hunt, but instead of using a paper map with an X marking the spot, ‘cachers’ use a GPS to locate the position of the treasure on the earths surface. First, to find out what Geocaching is all about, click on their website at www.GeocachingIreland.com and get familiar with where all the treasures are hidden, then download the Geocaching App, create an account and then get out there and have fun. This is something you can get hooked on very quickly and, as it is a global game, you can even go geocaching on your next holiday. The really cool thing about this activity is that you can connect with your friends too!
If planning a drive out Connemara way, why not slot in a trip to Coral beach in Carraroe? Also known as Trá an Dóilin, this is an area of great natural beauty. The beach is lifeguarded and has public toilets open during the summer months. There are a lot of rock pools to explore along with good snorkelling and is usually less busy than the city beaches. Even on a rainy day, a walk on the coral sea shore is a real treat. The kids can gather a few interesting pieces to use as a decoration in their room – a lovely souvenir of summer.
Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height! That is entirely possible if you take the kids to Renville Park this summer, or anytime of the year. Whether you decide to walk out along the point or decide to do the inner loop through the woods, making the mandatory stop in the walled in playground, it is highly recommended you spend the day at this park. With built in BBQ’s and on site toilets (port-o-lets right now as they upgrade the loos), Renville is one of those places every family loves to visit and it affords kids of all ages the freedom to ride their bikes, rollerblade, and fly their kites.
Salthill is still a favourite of many families, be they tourists or natives. Aside from the fact that there are immaculate blue flag beaches safe for swimmers of all ages, you can also find three Fáilte Salthill Family Activity Trails available to download (for free) at www.MyKidsTime.com/3-family-trails-to-enjoy-in-salthill-galway. The three trails are designed to make it easier for parents to plan a family day out in Salthill, with each trail being a loop featuring family-friendly activities, restaurants and cafés, shops, nappy-changing facilities and playgrounds. So, find your bucket and spade and head to the shore.
Free ‘First Wednesdays’ – The Office of Public Works continue to offer free admission to Heritage Sites managed by the OPW. A list of all sites you can slot in to your exploration calendar can be found at www.HeritageIreland.ie. The Galway locations are well worth a visit and include Athenry Castle, Aughnanure Castle, (Oughterard), Dún Aonghasa, (Inishmore, Aran Islands), Portumna Castle and Gardens and Patrick Pearse’s cottage (Inbhear, near Rosmuc).
While it is virtually impossible to take advantage of an entirely ‘free’ day, a little bit of organisation can go a very long way when planning day-excursions with the family. Packing a picnic and having plenty of bottled water and a bag of apples or fresh raw veggies on hand helps avoid impulse buys to placate a hungry or thirsty child.
You will most likely experience some form of travel costs, whether you have to pay for petrol or use public transportation, so factor this in to your budget too.
Spending more time with the kids, outdoors allowing them limited access to their communication toys, as many of these areas are dead-zones, can give you all a break from the depths of the doldrums most kids sink into by their second day of school holidays. No sense in bailing on your plans if it rains either, just get the wellies and raincoats out and make the most of it.
We have our health insurance coverage through Aviva and I gotta tell you, I have never had better health insurance; not in the US nor in Switzerland. This summer, Aviva are running a competition to give a lucky family a €2,000.00 vacation voucher and they asked me to share a link to their FB page. Have a peek and throw your name in the hat. You can follow them on Twitter using this hashtag #AvivaSummerFocus and @AvivaIreland and the link to their FB page is right here .
‘For the chance to have family fun this summer, check out this great competition by Aviva Health: You can enter to be in with a chance to win a €2,000 family holiday voucher to celebrate our great offer: Children aged 5-17 cost only €150 on Hospital Focus from 1st August-30th September 2014 – that’s a saving of 58 %!’
And remember … Sometimes we plan and plan and plan and a lot of times, especially with kids in the mix, things don’t go according to plan. I have found that the less the kids are scheduled during the summer months, the happier they are. Spend time with the kids this summer….focus on them first and the fun will follow.
AND as I am still trucking along on work placement at the Connacht Tribune they have offered to advertise (for FREE) any events you might have popping up over the summer that cater to the whole family. Drop me an email if you have something exciting happening in your neighbourhood at MonaZWise@gmail.com
Thanks for reading along.
I am not even going to try to hide the fact that this is a press release down below.
If you are wondering which movie you should go see during the Galway Film Fleadh .. this one is right up your alley if you are working in the service industry or just happen to enjoy your wine. Read all about it … then as long as you abide by the rules down below you can enter a drawing to win TWO TICKETS to see the movie AND thanks to our good friend Peter Boland at Cases Wine Warehouse over on the Tuam Road in Galway, you also will get to drink the wines. Perfect way to spend a Wednesday evening methinks!
I know … I know … I know …. another giveaway … Galway peeps … we love ya …
‘Somm Night’: Wine tasting with Master Sommeliers at Galway Film Fleadh
The 26th Galway Film Fleadh, in association with wine merchants Cases Wine Warehouse, are delighted to present an innovative sensory screening of Somm, a unique documentary which takes the viewer on a humorous, emotional and illuminating look into a mysterious world—the Court of Master Sommeliers and the massively intimidating Master Sommelier Exam. This will be the first festival screening of Somm in Ireland.
On Wednesday 9th July at 8pm, ticket-holders will sample wines as they are discussed on the screen, in the Veranda Lounge of the Radisson Blu Hotel. The screening will be preceded by a brief introduction to the wines from Peter Boland of Cases. Somm has won multiple film festival awards and all the wines set for tasting are top-end examples of their style so the night should prove a thrilling experience for wine lovers and film buffs alike.
Somm is the story of four friends attempting to conquer an exam with a failure rate of 90% – the prestigious Master Sommelier Exam. This is a test that can cover literally anything to do with the entire world of wine and that’s only the beginning of the challenge! In over fifty years, fewer than two hundred people have ever earned the title of Master and the ones who succeed have risked their personal lives, their wellbeing, and often their sanity to achieve this feat. Known for its secrecy, access to the Court Of Master Sommeliers has always been strictly regulated and cameras have never been allowed anywhere near the exam until now.
Tickets are €30 including wines. Spaces are limited so early booking is recommended. Further information and ticket booking is available at www.galwayfilmfleadh.com.
AND – the very (very) generous Peter Boland from Cases Wine Warehouse has just given me TWO TICKETS to offer our readers for this event next Wednesday, July 9th, 2014.
Throw your name in the hat by leaving a comment below … the usual rules apply:
1. You must be a registered reader of our blog – signup here for that and
2. Tell me why you want to come see this movie
3. AND also tell me … where is Cases Wine Warehouse?
I will pick the winner at random on Sunday evening (July 6th) … and that will give you enough time to get your ducks in a row.
Thats it for now folks … may the 4th be with you … sorry … could not resist …’tis the 4th of July after all!
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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