Yoga Classes in Wicklow

Yoga for Runners

Yoga is hugely beneficial to runners, or indeed anybody.

I’m a runner.  I love it (not so much when it’s raining and very cold, but I still go out).  This is why I’ve recently started going to yoga classes in Wicklow.

I’ve talked before about running.  Recently though I’ve found myself obsessing about injuries, or more to the point, about avoiding them.  This is where Yoga comes in.

Us runners are a fragile breed.  Running alone leaves you prone to injuries.  Some muscles are overly developed and others are not targeted enough.  This is why cross training is important.  For some that means cycling or swimming.  For me it means yoga.  There is sound logic behind it too.

Ask any runner how important stretching is and they will tell you it is absolutely essential.  Ask a physio how important core strength is for preventing injury and you will get a similar answer.

Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise for a runner.  There is plenty of focus on flexibility and stretching while at the same time developing core strength.  In fact it is not just runners that benefit from yoga.  Plenty of athletes from all sports now make yoga part of their routine.

Yoga opens you up.  In my case I have very tight shoulders and yoga is helping to loosen them up which in turn helps improve my movement.  That means that I run with better motion, while at the same time lessening the chances of injuring my shoulders by forcing them to do things they are too tight to do while running.

When I started running I was surprised by just how much you use your arms.  I’m not sure if that is because of the hills of Wicklow (my kingdom for some flat ground to run on!) or whether its running in general.  Either way, yoga is making a big difference to how  my arms feel the day after a run.  In fact my whole posture is improving, and not just for running.  I also don’t have any more ITB (iliotibial band syndrome) problems.  My back is strengthening and I feel altogether more robust.

It was after reading an article in one of the running magazines that I decided to try yoga.  Happily, there was an open day on in a new yoga studio in Wicklow that weekend, so I signed up.  I was a little nervous, being a man, but Claire, the instructor was brilliant at putting me at my ease.

What I wasn’t expecting from the classes was the mental side of it.  Yoga is already helping me become more focussed when I run.  I’ll never be a top athlete, but I now run with ever increasing confidence and enjoy it more.

Self Sufficiency – Keeping Chickens

With the economy in tatters, rising fuel prices, higher taxes and massive unemployment it seems only sensible to be as self sufficient as possible.

Chicken Coop

A small chicken coop with build in run like this one can be used to keep chickens in a small area. The run can be moved to ensure fresh grass for your birds.

I acquired some chickens through a long and complicated process that would be a full blog post in itself and caused some acrimony with my better half at the time.  To make the story short, I was offered two chickens (a cock and a hen) which I accepted.

I say chickens.  They are Old English Game Bantams.  That is to say, they are very small as chickens go.  The hen was once a supreme prize winning show bird (yes there are chicken shows apparently!).  She is now past her prime though which is a shame and has direct bearing on my story.  The cock is very young and if I were to be entirely honest, and I have no intention of being, I couldn’t distinguish the two when I first got them.

I’ll write another post called How To Keep Chickens in a small area at a later date for anybody who wants more details on keeping chickens.

I bought Layers Pellets (food) for the new arrivals, I bought wheat too, because they love it.  I also bought a bag of oyster shell grit, which they use to break down the other food in their crop, chickens being noticeably devoid of teeth.  I was lucky enough to acquire a small chicken run and house to go with my chickens, so my investment was only about €25 in total.  All the food items were picked up at my local(ish) Co-Op.

I feed them every day and check for eggs.  Actually I stopped checking for eggs every day.  Months and months passed and not a single egg.  It turns out that hens lay less eggs as they grow older.  They lay in “seasons” too.

Keeping chickens - Self sufficiency

This picture was taken with a wide angle lens so the egg actually looks BIGGER than it is in reality. It is small enough to fit through the egg holder in the fridge.

Of course, having a long wait before getting eggs means that it’s a lot more exciting when you finally do get eggs.  There is one thing though.  Bantams are small birds and therefore their eggs are not exactly big.  I wasn’t very impressed.  If I got an egg a day from my one hen it would take a week to make some scrambled eggs.  That is fine, and the flavour is wonderful, but it is a long way from being self sufficient.

Keeping small numbers of chickens is never going to save you money.  While the feed is inexpensive (there is a reason for the phrase “chicken feed” in relation to money), €25 is a lot for one small chicken egg.  This of course will not be the case as more are produced.

I am currently wavering between two plans.  One is to breed the current chickens and that will give a larger supply of small eggs, and the other one is to also get some larger birds.  This also means that there will be more than a mouthful when, inevitably, some of them need to be eaten.

Keeping Chickens may be a nod in the direction of self sufficiency, but it is really more of a hobby and something that young kids love.  We hope to have some chicks by the end of the summer which will involve borrowing a broody hen (one that sits on the eggs and won’t leave them) from somebody else or an incubator if I can’t get one.  The incubator is not as efficient.

I love being woken up with a cock crow, but if you don’t think you would then don’t get a cock.  You can borrow a cock if you need to breed, or just buy one then eat it once it’s done it’s work.  Be aware that just because you like the sound does not mean your neighbours will though!

BaByliss for men 6 in 1 grooming set Review

You know you’re getting older when you get a birthday present that includes a nose hair trimmer.  It’s a true mark of acceptance when you are happy to receive it!

BaByliss products suck

The BaByliss for Men 6 in 1 Personal Grooming Kit. All singing, All dancing, No Cutting!

BaByliss for Men Review

I got the BaByliss 6 in 1 personal grooming kit which was purchased in Boots. Yes, I know where the present was purchased, which does not bode well for the rest of this review.

Eyebrow Trimmer

I opened the box and out came an assortment of attachments.  The unit is rechargeable and comes with a docking station that holds the sundry attachments too.  So far so good, but I couldn’t identify one of the attachments at all.  It turned out to be an eyebrow trimmer.  That was not something I needed but I was amused by it.

Beard Trimming

What I was really interested in was the beard trimming attachments (which I am assured was the reason for the purchase – not so much the nose trimmer).  It comes with two adjustable combs to let you trim your beard to the desired length.  Fabulous.

I hate trimming my beard by hand nearly as much as I disliked shaving in the days when I had no beard.  This is why I was able to overlook the nasal trimmer and eyebrow trimming attachments.  I couldn’t wait to let the clipper glide over my face and leave me looking less like Grisly Adams and more like, like, like, well, more presentable than usual.

I did wait though.  I waited a full day, just to make sure that the unit was fully charged.  I made sure my beard was clean and dry before I started as suggested in the manual.  I am a bloke therefore I read them cover to cover.  Off I went to the bathroom with the BaByliss clippers confident that I was about to have the quickest and least troublesome beard trim of my life.

The Verdict

What a disappointment the BaByliss was.  It really struggled to cut.  I don’t have an overly thick beard (hair width).  I would say it is about average.  Instead of cutting effortless swathes through my growth it instead cut some hairs and not most of them.  Worse still, the adjustable comb changed length all by itself which would have left me with an uneven trim even if it had managed to cut some hair.

I persevered.  In defense of the BaByliss 6 in 1 I can say that the battery seems to last a good long time.  After a good solid 5 mins of trying to trim one half of my face, I gave up.  Surely the purpose of an electric trimmer is to make the process easier than doing it manually?  Not so according to BaByliss it seems.

I really should have taken a picture at that point, but I was too busy being disgruntled to think of it.  I had a full beard on half my face and the other half looked like I had tried to trim it using a budgie on drugs.

Nasal Trimmer

Out came the scissors and comb to make good the mess that I had previously called my face.  Now royally peed off with the product, I decided to see if the nasal trimmer was any better (not that I had a need for it of course – honest).

Oh, God!  No it wasn’t.  It seems that the best way to use the nasal trimmer is to hold one end of the hair in a tweezers and guide it carefully into the blades of the trimmer.  That I ended up going to those extremes at all should negate the need for me to expand on the process I went through further.  Suffice to say that once again a scissors would be far more effective.

Boots Sell an Inferior Product

I frankly couldn’t believe that a shop with a reputation like Boots could sell such an inferior product.  I take it the Boots buyers never actually got a demonstration of the product in action.

Rejecting a Birthday Present

Then came the really awkward part.  How to tell my other half that the present she had lovingly bought me was a stinking pile of defecation that was about as much use as a bunch of daffodils when it came to actually trimming hair.  I just had to bite the bullet.  It was that or pretend that I was using it, leaving it on the bedside locker to mock me for my lack of guts and allowing the makers to believe that they had a happy customer.  No, No, 1,000 times No.

Is there no quality control in BaByliss?  Do they not want customers that will write positive things about their products in reviews rather than ones like this?

I appreciate that BaByliss products are not exactly at the top end of the market.  Surely though, there is some law somewhere that prevents the sale of such snake oil?  Aha, the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services act!

Goods must be fit for purpose (to paraphrase the legalese).  Once I explained this to my better half she felt a little better about returning it to Boots.  She had been worried that they would not take it back because it had been used (although used implies that it worked when it didn’t).  It was also preferable that she returned it rather than me, because she was much more likely to be pleasant about it.  This is conducive to being well received.  I appreciate that fact, but find it hard to adhere to it in situations such as this.

Boots, as it turned out did not question her at all.  This got me thinking…… are Boots used to getting returns of BaByliss products?  Are they selling products that they know to be substandard through the number of returns, but are willing to sell them anyway because not everybody returns them and they have a good returns deal with BaByliss?

At least they refunded rather than offering a replacement.  I have every confidence in my assertion that any replacement would have been no better unless perhaps they replaced it with something made by Braun perhaps (Braun may make donations for this mention if they wish).

Low price point products have a place in the market certainly.  Goods that are not fit for purpose do not.  I have bought many products that were cheap knowing that I could have got something better if I was willing to pay for it (my old Mazda 121 being a prime example).  However, that old car worked and passed it’s NCT.  Unfortunately there is no NBTTT (National Beard Trimmer Test).  If there was then the BaByliss Grooming set would not be passing it in a hurry.

BaByliss Website

I went to the BaByliss website.  There is no mention of this product, since they have since brought out a 10 in 1 product.  I wonder if they dare send me that to review?  Is it 10 things to go wrong instead of just 6?

Wicklow Accent

Wicklow Accent caused by weather

The Wicklow Accent Explained

I’m a bit of a blow in to Wicklow. The accent fascinates me though. I’m talking about the real Wicklow accent here, the one that pronounces it Wickleh. This is very different from the South Dublin influx into parts of Wicklow where the accent has more in common with Foxrock than Redcross.

Today I realised the trick to talking with a wicklow accent…  You simply don’t move your face.  Not one little bit.  You can’t even move your lips.  Imagine if you will that you have dipped your whole head into a big bucket of botox.  Then speak in a slow and measured way.  There you have it in a nutshell.  This is Wicklowese.

I won’t be popular with this post.  But I’m not slagging the Wicklow accent off.  On the contrary, I fully understand how it came about.  Wicklow is cold and exceptionally windy for much of the year.  Bitter winds rip up the verdant valleys and numb you to within inches of hospitalisation with hypothermia.  Over years this numbness affects your ability to keep your face mobile.  This is the botox effect.  Botox is in the halpenny place when compared with the permanent effects of a Wicklow winter.

Wrinkled face of Wicklow man which affects accent

Unlike botox, the Wicklow weather does not reduce wrinkles, but it does affect the accent.

Rather unfairly, the Wicklow weather does not have the same wrinkle reducing features as botox.  Instead the biting wind and inclement atmospheric conditions lead to faces that closely resemble the hilly landscape.  At least though the hills of Wicklow, the garden of Ireland, are gentle and not the craggy landscape of Donegal.

Hold on a minute there Ian, did you just mention Donegal?  Don’t they have even worse weather up there, and their accent is nothing like the Wicklow accent?

This is correct.  But in the case of deepest Donegal the weather is so much worse as to be incomparable to the weather in Wicklow.  A seasoned old man in Donegal has deep ravines carved into his face that rival the depth of the Mariana Trench.  When they talk in Donegal they have to get the words out quickly to conserve as much warmth as possible, but even then it hurts enough to put a wobble into the pitch of the voice.

Donegal Accent comes from harsh weather which leads to extreme wrinkles

Donegal weather is clearly much worse than that of Wicklow. This explains the differences in accent.

We in Wicklow and the rest of the country try to make them feel better about their strange accent by calling it a “lilt”.  The reality however is that it is based on actual pain as a result of some of the harshest conditions on this little island.  A wicklow man may feel a bit like an Egyptian Mummy, petrified by the cold and releasing sentences that sound like a low moan with some semblance, or attempt at diction.  A Donegal man is hurting. The wind rips through the thickest of trousers and while they say that testicles are supposed to be kept at a lower temperature than the rest of the body, this does not mean the extremes that your average Donegal man is subjected to.  Remember getting your finger stuck to the freezers in Dunnes Stores as a child?  Well it’s a bit like that.  It’s hard to talk evenly, in a measured way, without a “lilt” when your body is exposed to such radical experiences.

This of course does not explain the city dwellers with the same accents.  The explanation is simple.  Children learn from their parents, who in turn have learned from their parents and so on and so forth.  This probably means that the average, tenement apartment dwelling, negative equity victim who has only ever driven through the countryside at speed rather than lived in it, but who comes from a Wicklow heritage is genetically conditioned to survival should they be released into the wilds of Glendalough.

What is your accent?  Comment for a full in depth analysis of similar quality.

 

Christmas Wreaths

We have just completed making our Christmas Wreaths!

Christmas Wreath hanging on Door

One of our Luxury Christmas Wreaths

Christmas Wreaths have become a trend setting item this year.  Perhaps it’s part of the whole nostalgia that a recession brings.  There are lots of different types of wreaths available throughout the country at the moment.  We saw what was on offer and decided to go for a look that can only be described as decadent!

Our wreaths have a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of €33, but we are selling them at the market in Laragh, Co. Wicklow tomorrow (11th December) for just €25. We will also have table centerpieces with candles available at the market and individual sprigs of holly.

All our Christmas Wreaths have been handmade in Co. Wicklow.

Christmas wreath with dried fruit

Christmas Wreath with dried fruit, cinamon and Wheat

The base is made of moss on a wire frame.  This is then decorated with spruce and holly, pine cones, Christmas baubles, ribbons and even dried fruit and wheat in some cases.

We have seen wreaths similar to ours sell for nearly €60 so be sure to get to the Christmas Market in Laragh and get yourself a real bargain.

If you are interested in stocking our wreaths call Ian on 086 – 381 7149.

Christmas Memorial Wreaths

Christmas Wreath for Graves

Memorial Christmas wreath for your dearly departed's graveside.

We also have a small number of wreaths suitable for the graves of your dearly departed available – see picture.

Dog Kennels Wicklow

Boarding Kennels Wicklow

Picture from the website of Sugarloaf Boarding Kennels Wicklow

I’ve just collected my dog from a Dog Kennels in Wicklow.  I was away for 3 nights and my dog (a border collie cross) is too much of a handful for any of my family to look after. He has only just turned one and has LOTS of energy.

This was his second time in a dog kennels.  Both of them have been in Wicklow since that is where I live.  I thought I should write an independent review of the kennels he has just been in since I was very pleased with the service.

The Kennels are the Sugarloaf Boarding Kennels in Kilmacanogue Co. Wicklow.  The owner, Andy, is an extremely affable man who really cares about the dogs.  He only opened up this summer and has gone to a lot of effort with the setup.

Dog Kennel Area

The kennel area is all tiled.  This looks a little austere, but it means that it is extremely hygienic which is a must for any kennels.  Vaccination certs for jabs and Kennel cough do not certify that a dog is flea or worm free for example.  The kennel spaces are large enough for my reasonably big dog to be happy in and there is even an infra-red lamp to keep the dogs warm at night.  That’s better than my dog has at home where he often chooses to sleep out on the stones at the back of the house rather than in his kennel (weather permitting).

Andy had provided bedding for my dog, but I asked him to remove it because my dog would have just eaten it.

Secure Kennels

The kennels were very secure.  There was no way that my clever dog was going to be able to work out a way to escape.  Andy also makes sure that dogs that play together are housed next to each other which again helps them in a new and strange environment.

Excercise and play

Obviously if you have a bitch in heat it is going to have to be kept separate from keen admirers. Other than that the dogs are allowed to exercise and play together, which makes it a fun experience for them.  The outdoor exercise field has plenty of space and is completely fenced in.  The dogs receive individual attention throughout the day too.

Dog Food

Bring your own dog food.  Sugarloaf Boarding Kennels can provide food but they encourage you to bring your own food so that the dogs are not getting a different diet from their normal one.  This presumably means more work for staff but helps the dogs settle better. I felt that this was indicative of the level of care I could expect for my much loved mutt.

Boarding Kennel Rates

At present the rates for boarding are only €15 per night!  This is a full €10 less expensive than the last boarding kennel I put my dog in.  There are also discounts available for long stays etc. While I wasn’t going to argue, I would have been happy to pay €20 a night and would have still felt I got really good value for money over the last place.  I would expect boarding rates to go up because it is a new business and there is probably no need to undercut the competition to that extent when the service is so good.

Kennel Location and Directions

Sugarloaf Boarding Kennels is located right on the Sugarloaf.  You have to drive up a very steep hill (Red Lane) to get there from the N11

Travelling from Dublin

Follow M11 to N11, take left exit  R755 for Glendalough/Roundwood, stay on R755 for approximately 3KM,  take 1st left exit  (for Sugarloaf Mountain) continue for approx. 1.5KM, after passing the Sugarloaf Mountain exit. Sugarloaf Kennels is the third dwelling exit on the left.

 Travelling from Wexford/Wicklow

Follow N11 until you pass through the village of Kilpeddar, take the next left exit for the Glenview Hotel, at T-Junction turn left, take the second exit for the Red Lane (secondary road adjacent to hotel entrance), continue for approx. 1Km, take a right turn at “Y” junction, then travel for another 1Km. Sugarloaf Kennels is the 7th dwelling exit on the right.

Summary

If you need somewhere to board you dog I can’t recommend Sugarloaf Boarding Kennels enough.  They even do day boarding (if you are going in for your Christmas shopping for example).

You can contact Andy on 086 3005 212 or by email at andy@sugarloafboardingkennels.com

What does a tooth fairy give for teeth?

Amy Winehouse missing tooth

Tooth fairies are not interested in adult teeth. A wrap of smack will not be the reward for putting one under your pillow!

This is a question that should probably be asked before the tooth comes out.  Lets face it, there is plenty of wobbly warning most of the time.  Tooth fairies have been around for ages too and they probably gave you something for your teeth.

Here is what the tooth fairy just left my daughter who lost her tooth last night:

  1. Real Money: 3 euros (just over 4 dollars).  This was probably too much.  I may steal some back later.  A six year old doesn’t really have any concept of the value of money.
  2. A chocolate coin.  She announced that some people in school had got chocolate coins.  Luckily I had bought some the day before (I think tooth fairies only use things that are in the house.
  3. A note thanking her for her tooth.  It seems that her tooth fairy’s name was Tinkerbelle.  It must be a popular fairy name, like Sarah or Anna in the human world.  This is very unusual and only happens for very very special children.

What to do with a tooth so that the tooth fairy can get it and leave a reward.

My daughter has been talking about the tooth fairy for at least a year.  Her mother told her that the tooth  fairies bring you something that’s not bad for teeth, so she was convinced that she was likely to get a yoghurt or an apple or something. This is why she was beaming when I produced an eggcup for her to put her tooth under beside her bed.  There was no way a yoghurt or apple was going to fit in that!

An eggcup is the tradition in my family.  In other families the tooth seems to largely be placed under the pillow (usually in a tissue or something of that nature).  I would warn against putting the tooth under the pillow since this creates a dangerous working environment for the tooth fairies.  In the past there have been fairies who have been suffocated when a child rolled in their sleep.  Even without the health dangers, it can be difficult for the fairies to get at the tooth and leave payment without waking the child.

An eggcup beside the bed serves several purposes.  Despite their small size tooth fairies have great ability with eggcups, they can lift them easily and very quietly.  Most importantly though, the eggcup limits the size of what can be put into it.

What did the tooth fairy leave you and your children?  Have you ever seen one?

Leave your comments on this post and I’ll edit the post to reflect any trends.  What did the tooth fairy leave you?

Medical Jobs

I have just finished working on a Medical Jobs website for Irelands best Medical Recruitment Agency, Jackie Brown Medical.

Recruitment is a really interesting vertical to work in when it comes to web design.  Since the business exists nearly entirely online, SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) is crucial to the success of any recruitment agency.  This is no less true in a niche vertical like medical jobs.

Screen shot of Jackie Brown Medical website

Inviting Colours, movement and "activities" are all important to the success of a website. So too is SEO. These are things that help Jackie Brown Medical stay at the top of the Medical Jobs market.

Getting the balance right between the user experience and pleasing the search engines is never easy.  In theory, there should be no difference.  Just designing for your users should be enough to ensure success.  In practice however, it is necessary to keep in mind the differences between real human beings and search engines.  In particular, the different way an algorithm sees a website to that of a human perception.

People are image driven.  Google can’t see images.  People like movement and action.  Google likes text, and plenty of it.

With the new design for Jackie Brown Medical I have kept a balance.  Using animation keeps the site fresh, while allowing me to put in more text without it being annoying to human visitors.  In fact it should add to their experience.

Designing for Jackie Brown Medical is a tough job.  They are the leading Medical Jobs recruiter in Ireland and they have got there because they have extremely high standards.  The website had to reflect those standards.  Functionally, the website had to be as good as the big job boards, but with a more friendly and approachable look.

Jackie Brown Medical Wanted to get across that they are different to other Recruitment Agencies in the level of care they give to job seekers and employers.  Building a website that delivers on function, with the ability to post medical jobs, integrate with social media and be coded with standards compliant code are not enough.  The look is very important.

The colour scheme for the site was taken directly from the Jackie Brown Medical logo.  This is very important for building branding.  Colour association is a great tool for any business.  The font size is bigger than on a lot of sites too.  While this is a bit of a nightmare for a designer, it makes the site more legible for the people who really matter… the users.

Have a look at the site and feel free to leave a comment here with any feedback you have.  There is no such thing as bad criticism.  Lastly, if you want to work with a really good recruiter for your medical jobs, then I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Jackie Brown Medical.

Piles are a pain in the ass!

Hemorrhoids are a pain in the ass

Apologies to Caroline Wozniacki for using her picture in this post. I could have put up a useful picture of piles to illustrate my piece, but I wanted to make the point that not all bums are bad.... just mine right now.

A huge number of people have Hemorrhoids or piles as they are often known, but not a lot of people talk about them.  Much to my displeasure I have discovered that there are two types of Hemorrhoids; internal and external.  Further to my discomfort I have discovered that I have both. What a pain in the ass!

Actually it turns out that internal hemorrhoids are usually painless.  The only sign that they are there is often bright red blood on your toilet paper.  By the way, if you have any bleeding from your rectum it needs to be checked out, particularly in men because it can also be a sign of something more sinister; Prostate Cancer.  Not that I heeded that advice. No not me.

I have put up with the occasional discomfort for a few years now without ever mentioning it.  By “a few years” I mean over 10.  But last week I found my life being disrupted by them and decided that even if my doctor is female, it was time to bare my sole (not that I am sure that my sole resides in that area of my anatomy).

I said piles are a pain in the ass and I meant it.  External hemorrhoids can be quite sore.  I have a further problem it turns out.  I have prolapsed Hemorrhoids.  What are prolapsed hemorrhoids?  They are when the hemorrhoids become so distended that they protrude outside the anus.  This has a really awful side effect…. lack of full control over bowel motions, or to put it bluntly, you can start to leak a bit.  Arrrgggghhhh.

I found myself planning my days around toilet access like a junkie planning my next fix.  I was restricting myself from travelling too far from a toilet in case of emergency.  It was only when I absolutely needed to go for half a day without a toilet that I decided that enough was enough.

That probably sounds ridiculous to most people reading this, but I’m a man and that’s how I roll.  I will take part in adventure sports, risk my life in the name of entertainment, but ask me to show my ass to a doctor and I’m just not going to do it without more than a little provocation.

What the hell are hemorrhoids anyway?

Glad you asked.  hemorrhoids are actually supposed to be helpful little vascular structures which help with stool control.  In other words they are little lumps filled with blood vessels that help you keep your shit together.  They become piles when they become inflamed and distended.

How do I get rid of Piles?

How do I get rid of piles is a bit of an obvious question I suppose. Well, this is the bit I really really don’t like.  If I had been lucky enough to only have external piles (yes I said lucky despite the fact that they are the sore ones), then I would just have to rub on some cream 3 times a day.  With internal ones I have to use suppositories.  I am amazed at the self restraint of my doctor for not telling me to “take these and shove them up your ass!”

If the lotions and potions don’t work then the other option is surgery.  Last night, as I found myself with my finger up my ass trying to get a little wax torpedo to stay in, I wondered why that isn’t the first option.  Frankly I’m writing this post to put off doing it again tonight.  You all remember the scene from trainspotting where Renton, having taken two morphine suppositories says

For all the good they’ve done me I might as well have

stuck them up my arse.

Remember the expression on his face as he inserted them? Well that’s going to be me in just a few minutes when I run out of words!

It’s not like I’m an old man or a junkie.  I’m 38 years old. Piles should not be happening to me right now (or back then as the case was).  I blame the hard living during my 20′s mostly.  Either way, it is high time that they ceased to be part of my life.  I know I’m going to feel slightly less than clever for not doing something about it years ago when I get over the sticking things up my bum part.

By the way, the doctor never even asked me to take off my trousers, let alone bend over. She diagnosed by my descriptive language alone.  If it doesn’t clear up in a month its in for a colonoscopy with me.  Hmmm, I think I’ll put up with the little tiny pointed sweeties going up my back passage if it means avoiding a whole bloody film crew.

Hemorrhoids.  I never even wanted to be able to spell that word.  Piles of discomfort for years and all it takes to get rid of them is a little debasement, a little dent to the ego, a little poke in the ass and there I am getting the problem sorted out.

If you suffer from piles, then don’t delay, go to your doctor today.  They won’t laugh at you.  They will just help you get rid of them so that you can go back to living a life with one less embarrassing secret.

Restaurant Review – Pebbles Cafe

Pebbles Cafe Restaurant in Greystones

Pebbles Cafe, Blacklion Retail Park (where Lidl is), Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

I know the words Cafe and restaurant do not normally belong together, but Pebbles Cafe have actually managed to pull off being both.

Evening dining is just starting this week and this review is as a result of being invited for a preview evening.  These are the evenings where things usually go wrong if they are going to, but I have nothing but good things to write about Pebbles Cafe after my dining experience.

The evening menu is decidedly different both to their daytime menus, but also to any of the existing menus in Greystones.

I started with their Ginger Sweet Potato Spring Roll with sesame fried York cabbage and chilli coconut cream.  Divine! The chilli was not overpowering, instead allowing the full subtleties of flavour to delight my tongue.

When I think of spring rolls I automatically think of those small things full of bean sprouts you get from your local chinese.  Beautifully presented resting on a bed of fried cabbage which in turn sat amid a sea of coconut and chili sauce on a rectangular plate, this spring roll was much larger than I expected.  In fact portions in general were very generous.

My dinner companion had a Goats cheese salad as a starter, and it too was exceptionally generous.  It was also extremely tasty.  I am not a fan of walnuts, but there was none of the usual bitter taste, which seemed to be subsumed by the other ingredients.  My lasting impression of it is of a delicately balanced dish.

Do not come to Pebbles for food in the evening if you are in a rush. This is not because service is slow, it is not.  Rather it is because you should leave yourself plenty of time to really savour the flavours.  The service and atmosphere lend themselves well to a leisurely dining experience.

I have to admit that I was somewhat reticent about the idea of eating an evening meal in a cafe premises.  Those thoughts were unfounded.  Once seated the music, lighting, staff and decor all combined to make me very relaxed in my surroundings.  My company was good too and that always helps!

Moving on to the main course, my partner had a Roast Chicken Breast with lemon stuffing, garnished with roast courgette and carrot puree with tarragon cream.

The roast chicken was slightly crispy on the outside and wonderfully juicy inside, with the lemon stuffing permeating the meat and helping to create an overall impression of lightness in what was, once again a very generous portion.  I love tarragon with chicken and the courgettes and carrot puree were, I felt,  an interesting choice to go with the chicken.  It worked beautifully.

I had opted for the Grilled Rib-Eye Steak for my main course.  I partly chose this simply because there was no pepper sauce option on the menu.  While I’m sure I could have had some if I wanted it, I took the opportunity to have the accompanying bearnaise sauce as a change from my usual rather predictable choice.  My steak was cooked to my specification (medium) and I was delighted to see that it actually was a medium.

People say that you should not order steak if you are trying to assess a chef because anybody can cook a steak, but in my experience that is just not true.  I have had plenty of rubbery experiences.  This steak was cooked perfectly though.  Succulent and tender enough not to require a steak knife at all.  I will not be so quick to chose a pepper sauce in the future as I was in the past.  The bearnaise sauce let the full flavour of the meat meet my taste buds uninterrupted by the harsher pepper flavour I am more accustomed to.  There was also a slow roasted tomato with my steak.  This was the least exciting element.  If the steak had been dry I would have been glad of the moisture, but it was not and to my mind the tomato added colour to the meal, but little else.

The crowning glory of my main course was the homemade chips.  They were simply fabulous.  Chunky, and cooked to be neither too crispy or too soggy, we ate more of them between us that either of us really needed.

In fact we ate enough chips to have to pause before moving on to our deserts.  This gave us time to finish off our house wines, which were a good choice, since I would not have chosen better myself.

I settled on a Chocolate Brownie with Hazlenut Ganache (glaze or icing to you and me).  It was very different to what I was expecting.  Rather than being extremely stodgy and heavy it was instead extremely light and more lightly chocolate flavoured than that sort of sticky goo that I had in mind.  Had I known I may not have gone for it, but once I had I really appreciated it.  It seemed to me to be the perfect way to end my meal, whereas a heavier, gooier brownie would have been at odds with the rest of the dining experience.  I would opt for it again had I not tried the Eton Mess that my partner had.

Eton Mess, for those of you that don’t know (as I didn’t) is essentially a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream.  I have never seen it on a menu here ever, but it should be a staple on all dinner menus because after a large meal it is extremely easy to eat.

I have mentioned a few times that the portions were generous.  I think there are two extremes that Irish restaurants tend to find themselves at – either having portions so small that a tall man like myself leaves still hungry, or so heavy that you leave feeling almost immobile.

At Pebbles Cafe, they have struck the balance well in my opinion.  I would rather leave a little on my plate than go home still hungry, and as it happened I cleared every one of my plates and left without feeling hungry but importantly without waddling!

I have eaten in all the Restaurants in Greystones and felt that Pebbles Cafe would have a hard time keeping up with the overall high standard in the town.  It was a great pleasure to find that they had no problem in not only keeping up with their competition but in defining and carving out a new niche for themselves.

I think they have priced themselves very well too.  Mains range from €18 to €22 which is excellent value for the quality of food that they deliver.

Pebbles cafe truly is a restaurant on a par with the very best of what Greystones previously had to offer in the evenings. I have heard good things about their daytime offerings too, and I will post about them when I have had tried them myself.

For reservations call: 01 2016594

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