Tuesday 22 April 2008

Travel - France and Asia beckon

Have a short break in France coming up, which is a country I haven't visited in a few years. It's a work related week but will no doubt sample as much of the culture as I can. Have been sharpening up the French conversational skills and looking forward to quaffing some nice wine (although as a lover of scotch and black coffee I can only aspire to be a "tolerant" taster of wine, think I read somewhere that Asian women can be most naturally sensitive). Asia in on the summer horizon and the day I booked the tickets it has changed how I have approached the following days and weeks. I seem to be more energised and focused as I plan ahead. I've been busy (building up to excuse for lack of blog entries here)but rarely tired. As the evenings have got brighter, I have become more invigorated and any slow mornings or long days have been lightened by the prospect of balmy beaches, swirling landscapes and exotic tastes and sounds. The blogging may have slackened but I'm sure the next few weeks and months will entail that will last long in the memory.

Monday 31 March 2008

Travel - Leber, Las Fallas and another crack at Barcelona

What a week, what a country. Headed off to Barcelona again last week, promptly engaged in some mischief in the catalunyan capital before taking off down to Valencia for Las Fallas. This week long festival nearly brought me to my knees. Firecrackers, fireworks and actual fires combine for some heavily paganistic overtones in this holiest of weeks. In truth, it was a great few days with young and old mixing on generally trouble free streets without the slighest intention of doing anything during the week other than eat, drink and burst my eardrums. Our hungover and weary heads were greatly comforted along the 3 hour train journey to Valencia with our panoramic views from the train cafeteria, nursing a beer, and appreciating the orange groves, terraced hills and glistening seas unfolding in front of us. Spain, and its many regions, never fail to disappoint and I think it will be a long time yet before I grow even remotely tired of what it has to offer.

(More photos and shenanigans on the week to follow)

Sunday 9 March 2008

What I'm listening to right now - Voices to cry for

I've never been bothered by song lyrics. I admire and appreciate them but feel the power of music comes from the sound and emotions created. Bad lyrics or empty words will never make a great song but I don't think the use of one word over another can curtail the power of the truly great song.

I love voices. I love accents. I love the vocal intricacies that they entail. I love the voices that sound like they are only singing to you. Loving this singer at the moment, Luan Parle. Had caught the end of her songs several times before finding out who she was. Shes sings a great vesion of this song as gaelige as well -'Ghost' (Would love to hear this one 'live')

'Live' version of 'Free'.

Robyn unfortunately chose to release the awful, upbeat version of this song. This one has a beautifully, restrained power (could do without the psychedelics though)

Bono could be singing about house prices in Dublin here and it would still raise those lickle neck hairs.

(you didn't think he'd be able to do that, did you?)

Nick Cave on the other hand is a master word smith. Anyone that can get I don't believe in an interventionist God But I know darling that you do deserves some kudos (Ignore vid)

Any other suggestions out there?

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Shining through in Sport - Holy smokes, Joe!

There are certain times in sports when moments or a series of moments conspire to enthrall all those involved. People with any appreciation of sport can bask in these moments of history unfolding before their very eyes. These are moments that leave a glow for their privileged viewers for many days and years after. Some of these include:

Cork V Waterford 2004 Munster Final

Real fans applaud Barcelona's 3-0 winning performance in Bernabeu

Michael Jordan's 63 against the Celts

Can't think of too many other ones for the moment. Munster have a few, Keane V Juventus in Champions League Semi-Final, Paul McGrath V Italy in 1994 World Cup. Haven't been privy to too many of these days, but I was last week.

Report from Hurling Blog
"WIT have won an incredible Fitzgibbon cup final after 2 periods of extra time. It finished WIT 1-29 LIT 1-24.

Level at full time, level after extra time 10 minutes each half (0-25 to 1-22) and then into another extra time of 5 minutes each side. WIT had to equalize twice to force the first and second extra times and they were a point behind going into the final period of 5 minutes. Then they hit an incredible purple patch spurred by an Eoin Reid goal. They also needed two incredible one on one saves by keeper Adrian Power to keep then in it, one a full length reflex save, the other smothering a forward".

An incredible haul of 1-16 still didn't reap the deserved rewards for the gifted Joe Canning. His 4 sideline cuts was a feat that is akin to 2 holes in 1 in a round of golf or 4 goals from outside the box in soccer. What conventionally gifted players can only manage once or twice in game he did 4 times from incredible distances , including one on the stroke of full time which would have sunk lesser teams. Anyone not fluent in Irish will still be able to make out the word 'privileged' around 1:45

There were times when the crowd were almost giddy in anticipation every time he stepped up to hit a free, including 2 100-yarders out on the wing, or a sideline cut. Not to be outdone was the WIT net minder who showed incredible levels of bravery and telepathy to pull this save off late in the game.

Individual performances shining out from the crowd will always be what inspires and delights. Right, got to get practicing on those cuts.

Go and Do it

Tsk,tsk - only just into March and I've already broken my 1 post a week resolution. Have had a busy week or two but not really a major target to be hitting. Is it? Have an awful habit of discussing whether or not I should do something which normally does nothing but make it harder to get the something done. This internal dialogue might happen when debating the merits of getting one's lazy ass out of bed or lolling back for just one more snooze. Another instance might be deciding between aimlessly reading mails, other blogs etc., or writing my own. I've spoken before about always getting more things done when I'm busier, as I've less time to think and have no other times to allot a convenient postponement. 'Go and do it' seems to be the way to go. Might be a bit simplistic but thats all I gots for now folks.

Monday 25 February 2008

My workout at the moment is...

Gym sessions have been a bit sporadic so far this year. Have let my gym membership go as it was far too expensive (nearly 700 euros). The gym was really poor (max 10kg dumbbells, no bench press) so was just using it for the pool and sauna. Any session are now conducted in the garage which allows me to have a varied, and at times an eccentric workout). My main goal is keep in shape which improving my core strength, flexibility, burn a few calories and maintain strength. Building size or gains is not a priority as during the summer I will not have to access to a gym and will be restricted to bodyweight exercises.

Usually start off with a good dynamic warm-up with a good bit of skipping (the best way to warm up or down). Try to do at least 600 reps(have a counter on the rope) with varied speeds. Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near this guy.

Next up, Bench press 3*6 reps - only managing 50 kgs at the moment, but more than will not increase it too much more as it wouldn't lead to a balanced workout.

Any strength exercises are punctuated with various core and ab exercises.

Chin-ups (done properly) 3*7

A few more ab, back and flexibility exercises.
Captains Chair

Hamstring curl (best exercise there is for the hammers i reckon)

Pull-ups 3*4 (wide grip for the back)

Next, I start getting a little rowdy with all sorts of medicine ball slams and ab work.(Manage to keep my shirt on though)

Tricep dips using 2 chairs

Exericises to add
Generally not doing too much work on the legs at the moment, but will add tuck jumps 3*7 but would ultimately love to able to do single leg squats - a brilliantly simple but tough exercise

Hanging leg raises

Well, all I need to do now is just go and do it

Thursday 21 February 2008

Oh, Canada!

What's with those Canadians and their swirling, uplifting gems of perfect indie pop these days. Whatever it is, I'm loving it.

Stars - In our bedroom after the war (lovely stuff altogether)

(pity about a few people nattering away at the start)

Stars - The night starts here

Stars - Your ex-lover is dead

Obviously, Canada is a huge country but there is definitely a particular genre of music that many people would associate with it at the moment. Bristol was famous for producing a distinctive type of music a few years back with groups like Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead among others.

The start of this track hints at a song of understated, melancholic briliance.
The New Pornographers - Challengers

Sunset Rubdown