13 April 2009

Holiday to Galway

OK, this doesn't come under any of the various categories I cover in my blog, but I had such a good time in Galway I feel I need to write a bit about it.

We travelled there by plane - I know, shock horror, I'm meant to be reducing my carbon footprint. Unfortunately my pocket won out - plane is cheaper, and so much quicker too. Plus, I'm pretty sure driving from Leeds to Holyhead, getting a whopping great ferry to Dublin then driving again to Galway would have incurred far greater carbon emissions than a drive to Manchester, a flight to Galway airport and another drive just up the road to our hotel. Plus, we flew with Aer Arann who claim to have 'the world's greenest aircraft' - which, if it was the one we went on, will be because it's so small it doesn't look like a real plane:

We stayed in the Western Hotel in Galway city, which was very nice. The staff were really helpful, the room was nice, and the breakfast was great! Our first night wasn't great, they had a group of what sounded like about a dozen staying who decided to spend the night shouting, singing and banging on each others' doors until about 5.30am - thankfully, they checked out the next day and after that we had no more problems!

Because the pound is quite weak against the euro right now, we couldn't really afford to do anything fancy, but we had a hire car so we did a lot of sightseeing. I know, I know, cars = carbon, but there was just no way of seeing all the beautiful landscapes without one, I really doubt public transport would have covered the areas we went to. We tried to make up for it by supporting the local economy - mainly by eating!

I don't think I've ever been as full as I was in Galway. We ate in the hotel restaurant on the first and last nights, and very nice it was too. In between, we ate at an Italian restaurant, a small cafe attached to a garden (which we didn't see because the admission fee was too much), a proper Irish pub, a little cafe by the coast in Lehinch (OK, we didn't eat, we just had hot chocolate to warm us up on a windy day) and a Spanish restaurant. Spoilt for choice! Everywhere we ate the portions were very generous, especially in the pub - I've never seen such a full plate! The garden cafe did organic, vegetarian food and the pub used locally sourced produce, so that's all good. It just goes to show how much variety there is in the area - we could have had Japanese, Chinese, Thai and lots of other cuisines in Galway city as well.

I really recommend Galway and western Ireland for a holiday. It is so beautiful, with lots of different landscapes to see, and Galway city is great for shopping, eating and probably drinking (not that I know, I'm practually teetotal, but there's plenty of pubs)!

Hmm, looks like I've put a 'Generous' twist on this post without noticing - perhaps it does fit into a category after all!

Stash Wars: Attack of the free but useless yarn!

Remember I mentioned that my knitting magazine sent some free yarn? Well, I got it from my Mum's a few weeks back and here it is:

I don't like it. I'm not too keen on self-patterning yarn unless the colour changes are quite subtle, and I am mildly annoyed by the fact that nowhere in the magazine could I find information on fibre content. There were six patterns to accompany the yarns but I didn't much like them either (apart from the amigurumi cat, but I think that would look better in pure black, or another more catty shade). So I've been racking my brain as to what I can do with them. It would have helped if they'd both been the same colourway, two of the same would have opened up more options. But hey, I suppose I can't look a gift horse in the mouth - even if it does increase my stash.

I have been slowly stash-busting with little projects recently. Still working on the cupcake bottoms, probably have enough beigey-brown yarn for one more. And I've been making little pink flowers to put on pins and hairgrips:

As you can see, it's not reducing the pink yarn very quickly, I may need to do bigger flowers, or think of a big-ish project to use most of it up. Hmmm.

10 April 2009

200 word Review: 'The Basque History of the World' by Mark Kurlansky

I have always been interested in European minority cultures – as a child, I attempted, and failed, to learn Welsh. When I first heard of Basqueland (in a Spanish lesson, the teacher saying their language is as different from Castilian as Welsh is from English) I wanted to know more. So when my husband got ‘The Basque History of the World’ as a present, I was keen to read it.

The book gives a complete overview of Basque history, from Roman times right up to its publication in 1999. This approach could have created a very dry, dull text, but Kurlansky’s style saves it. He uses the story of this ‘non-nation’ as a way of exploring histories from all over Europe and beyond. He peppers the narrative with personal accounts, recipes and cultural details that create a sense of what ‘Basqueness’ is. The later chapters, dealing with the twentieth century, drag a little but can be vivid and surprisingly moving. His account of the Guernica bombing nearly had me crying on my commute.

If you are interested in overlooked cultures, this book is a quirky, informative and fascinating read which will teach you parts of European history you’ve never heard before.

08 April 2009

I'm a bad blogger

I've been rubbish recently, not a single post since 20th March! Oh dear ...

Well, I've been away since last Saturday but I'm now back home and not in work til next Tuesday (yay!) so should have time to knock out a few posts. Expect a new book review, a craft update, a write-up of my trip to Galway and maybe even a bit of Generous stuff (although I've been a bit rubbish at that lately - perhaps that could be the subject of that post!)