Friday, 7 March 2014

Life List - Figure out how to knit

When you join a ladies club where the average age is 65 years old, you're probably going to pick up some useful skills (and local gossip).  

My first attempt at learning to knit was at 8 years old with my mother as my dutiful tutor. Who was I kidding? My mother and I are far too much alike to work together in such close quarters. The experiment failed, gloriously, after a shouting match and three rows of knitting riddled with dropped stitches. 

The pink wool and needles sat in the corner of my room taunting me for years until I hid them away in the back of my closet. I convinced myself that I just didn't have what it took to twist yarn around some metal needles in order to produce items that vaguely resembled scarves or mittens. 

Some decades later and in a foreign country, I was looking to make new friends in my community and joined the local guild of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (yes, it's an actual club believe it or not). The group tends to attract ladies of a certain age with a fondness for tea and crafty pursuits so I knew I'd fit right in. 

And would you believe it, when I actually practiced twisting that yarn around those knitting needles under the tutelage of someone not my mother, it came almost naturally to me? 

Does this look like a scarf yet?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Life List - Explore the universe like it's 1785!

I'm a nerd at heart. I have geeky pursuits and I like dorky things.

Some of those nerdy things include history and science, which pretty much sums up why I love places like Dunsink Observatory.

Dunsink Observatory was built between 1783 and 1785, was once home to the great Sir William Rowan Hamilton (who, from what I can surmise, took a stroll one day and had a big idea), used to provide local standard time for Dublin and was mentioned in James Joyce's Ulysses. Who wouldn't want to visit it?

Better still, they host public open nights for free during the winter and all you have to do if you're interested in going is ask a lovely lady named Hilary. So I found myself a few weeks back at Dunsink taking in a lecture on the concept of time. What is time? How do you actually quantify it? How do we know what time it is right now?

After learning all about time and how it's actually not what time we think it is at all, we had a chance to visit the South Dome where they keep the Grubb Telescope

Beautifully crafted? Why yes. Housed in a stunning (albeit, freezing cold) dome? Indeed it is! Provided an amazing view of celestial orbs and acted as an earthly gateway to our universe? Not in the slightest. Unfortunately, Dublin is far too cloudy and full of light pollution to see much of anything but it made me feel like an early explorer all the same. If you have a chance, go visit!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Life List - Rent a surf cottage on the west coast of Ireland for the winter

Growing up I was always envious of people who holidayed at their cottage each summer (surpassed only by my jealousy of people who jetted off to Europe each July, bidding adieu and waving their passports as they skipped off to the airport - grrrrr).  While I would periodically receive invitations to join in on the fun, somehow the timing was just never right.
Would I like to join you and your family for a bonfire, s'mores and some singsongs at your lakeside retreat over Labour Day weekend you ask? Perhaps some canoeing in the Thousand Islands? No, no...I have far too much to do in my suburban paradise, thank you very much...what with working 3 jobs to pay for my overpriced university education and all. I couldn't possibly pull myself away to live the good life, even for one weekend.

And as time went on, summers came and went and somehow, my cottage fantasties remain limited to the confines of my imagination....until now...
After university I moved to Ireland which is a country that is more or less permanently devoid of warm summer weather.  However, what it lacks in sunshine, it makes up for with some of the world's best year round surfing.
So this is the year that I get my cottage. Okay, so it's not summertime...and there's not a lake in sight. But there's a view of a castle from my bedroom window and it's a short walk to the beach. That beats s'mores and singsongs in my books any day... 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Life List

Life's too short. It's time to get up, put on your best frock and dancing shoes and go have a good time.

I have a life list of things that I'd like to experience before I close my eyes for the last time...

  1. Be an expat
  2. See Roman Holiday on the big screen
  3.  Appear on a radio show
  4. Create my own alter-ego
  5. Vroom! Vroom! Get my Irish driver's license
  6. Travel an entire London Underground line
  7. Have a deluxe picnic in the Iveagh Gardens
  8.  Find a job where I can cycle or walk to work on a daily basis (or better still, do in my pajamas)
  9. Say yes to every opportunity for one week
  10. Make the perfect playlist for every situation and mood
  11. Eat in at least 15 Michelin star restaurants
  12. Transfer all the old family movies and photos into digital format
  13. Write a bedtime story for the girls
  14. Build the world's coolest snowfort
  15. Build a sandcastle that's bigger than me
  16. Throw himself the best 30th/40th/50th/60th/70th/80th/90th/100th birthday parties possible
  17. Watch a summer sunrise over Grampie's pond
  18. Pick strawberries at the U-Pick and make strawberry shortcakes for dessert
  19. Make up a dance routine with Dann & Eric (preferably to a song from one of the two cassette tapes we owned as kids and used to make up our own musicals to)
  20. Watch "Power, Passion, Murder" with Eric again and see if we laugh as hard the second time around
  21. Make the biggest chocolate chip cookie that can be cooked in my oven
  22. Throw an old-fashioned tea party complete with handwritten invitations
  23. Unplug and live a Walden-like existence for one month
  24. Build a really cracking bonfire and make smores
  25. Live a bi-continental lifestyle for at least one year
  26. Paint a decent watercolour of a sunny destination
  27. Make my own unique flavour of homemade ice cream
  28. Ride a tandem bike - weee!
  29. Do an annual cartwheel
  30. Outdoor yoga in St Stephen's Green
  31. Do a 20km Volksmarch (ideally finish with a bratwurst and chips mit curry ketchup und einen Bier)
  32. Take a long bike ride by a beach
  33. Have a pint of Guinness at an early house
  34. Watch every single Hitchcock film
  35. Build a maze out of cardboard boxes and challenge my friends to go through it after many cocktails
  36. Create a fun fair in the back garden for one of the girls' birthdays
  37. Design a house that is Frank Lloyd Wright-esque
  38. Drive a vintage VW bug (or bus, I'm easy)
  39. Make a breakfast egg mcmuffin on a camping stove on the beach
  40. Throw a cabaret
  41. Make up a really killer verse for "The Auld Triangle"
  42. Discover an undiscovered artist and buy some of their work
  43. Go skating as far down the Rideau Canal as possible
  44. Scall all my letters from Pappy that he's sent me since I was 8 years old
  45. Host the perfect BBQ
  46. Act silly at every opportunity
  47. Take fancy dress for Halloween VERY seriously
  48. Own a house by water
  49. Build my own walled garden
  50. Soak up Europe by Interrail
  51. Visit Shakespeare and Company in Paris
  52. Show himself how much fun Oktoberfest can be
  53. Raowr! Go on the Viking Splash Tour!
  54. See a musical in London's West End
  55. Go to a London Blitz Party
  56. Go lawn bowling and drink Pimms in the sunshine in summertime London
  57. Have Afternoon Tea at Claridge's
  58. Rent a surf cottage for the winter
  59. Explore the universe like it's 1785 at Dunsink Observatory
  60. Be Quasimodo and ring the bells at Christchurch Cathedral 
  61. Travel to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with 2 of my favourite boys
  62. Go to the airport and take the next available flight outta here
  63. Get on a bus going to an unknown destination
  64. Visit Central Park
  65. Take the overland/water route from Dublin to continental Europe
  66. Do a wine tasting tour in Napa
  67. Visit the artist colony in Deia, Ibiza
  68. Go sailing in the Mediterranean
  69. Spend a summer in a cottage in the 1000 islands
  70. Go camping in Corsica
  71. Document visits to 100 Carnegie libraries
  72. Cross the Atlantic by boat
  73. Go surfing in Hawaii
  74. Cross my own country sea to sea - Oh Canada!
  75. Discover what's left of Route 66
  76. Travel in style on the Orient Express
  77. Cross at least 3 countries on foot
  78. Perfect my French and German language skills
  79. Have a conversation entirely in Irish
  80. Build a reperatoire of cocktails - at least 10 classics
  81. Learn how to swim without a noseplug
  82. Join a chess club
  83. Learn how to play guitar
  84. Learn how to drive the 4-wheeler and take it for a spin in Grampie's woods
  85. Figure out how to knit
  86. Hit the bulls-eye in archery
  87. Take a dressmaking course, design and make a frock that Audrey Hepburn would be proud to be seen in
  88. Make the perfect apple pie
  89. Learn to make homemade pasta
  90. Master the waltz
  91. Have a tea party with the girls using Nanny's baby pink art deco teapot
  92. Start the Blackrock Artist Colony
  93. Open my own vintage clothing business
  94. Renew our vows in fancy dress...
  95. Make a bed so a quarter can bounce off of it
  96. Ride in the sidecar of a vintage motorbike
  97. Never go to bed angry
Photo credit: Conor Buckley