Saturday

Everyone's Irish on March 17th

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There is an affiliate link on this blogpost.


Who can forget St. Patrick's Day?



I was brought up in Northern Ireland and I wouldn't forget it.


Of course I knew all about St. Patrick!


He was the guy who drove all the snakes out of Ireland so I was happy about that as I absolutely hate snakes.








He was the Patron Saint of Ireland and the missionary responsible for bringing the Gospel to the country so I was also very happy about that.

He was ....., 
                      He was .....,  
                                            He was .............


                  Well to be honest I actually wasn't too well versed on St. Patrick himself.



     I had always heard of him and knew that the shamrock was somehow associated with him, there were cathedrals named after him, and people outside Ireland thought that everyone was called Paddy because of him.


The Shamrock


     I didn't really need to know too much about him when I was young, or maybe I just didn't pay enough attention.


     When I went to University in Belfast in the late 70's I realised that St. Patrick's Day was used by a lot of people as an excuse to go and have a "Good Drink" but that didn't interest me either.


In 1992 we moved to The US to live in the state of Delaware for 3 years due to my husband's work.
All I had known about Delaware before that was the song "What did Del-a-ware Boy" that I had often heard my older sister play when I was a child.  But because we were going to live there we soon learned some other things about the lovely second smallest state in America and its great location between places like Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington DC. so people would have places to go when they came to visit us.

We loved all the new things we could experience in America, the snowy winters, the hotter summers, and the American accent.  In America our children were always being referred to as the Irish kids but after our return to NI our daughter was referred to as the American girl because she had picked up an American accent.

While we were in America we just couldn't believe the reaction of everyone to us - even strangers in the supermarket who would come up to us and say


"Oh I just love your accent, say something"

what were we supposed to say?


"Hello" ?

                                                                                                           and then what?









People would make all sorts of statements about loving Ireland and wanting to go there,
  
             or tell us they were half or a quarter or even a sixteenth Irish themselves

                            or ask us if we had been to various Irish pubs yet



                                   
While we lived in America we heard about the St. Patrick's Day parades in New York and Boston.
They seemed to be very elaborate and of course our children were hearing all about St. Patrick's Day from the kids at school.  It was rather surprising to us that Americans would be so excited about the day of the Saint of another country.  We also realised that it was much more commercialised than back in Northern Ireland.

There was so much talk about the St. Patrick's Day parades and events in America yet we had never been to a St. Patrick's Day parade but that wasn't surprising as there was not a lot of information or advertising of any parades in Belfast or Dublin before we went to live in America.

When I did some research recently I discovered that there have been parades in 
Boston and New York for many, many years. 

It is believed that the first St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston was as early as 1737
and the first in New York was is 1762.


St. Patrick's Day Parades old and new in New York


Click HERE & HERE for more info on St. Patrick's Day


However as far as I have been able to find out St. Patrick's Day Parades have only been held in Belfast since 1998


In Dublin they started in 1931 but they were simple parades 
and the First St. Patrick's Day Festival in Dublin was in 1996.


Please let me know if you have any other information that would indicate earlier parades - I feel that there may have been some smaller ones perhaps not nearly as elaborate as the ones they have now


Belfast (left)     and     Dublin (right)


Since our years in Delaware we lived back home in Northern Ireland for 9 years and then went to live outside Brussels in Belgium for over 6 years.

In Belgium it was almost like being back in the US when it came round to March each year.  Suddenly everyone was telling us about any connections they might have with Ireland and there was lots of talk about St. Patrick's Day, the Irish, and "GREEN BEER"



After Belgium we returned to Northern Ireland but moved to the town of Banbridge in County Down this time.  
Also in County Down is the town of Downpatrick which contains the burial site of St. Patrick.


 Banbridge is not too far from Downpatrick and it is also not far from the city of Armagh where I remember many years ago when I was a child spending a lovely summer's day seeing the two beautiful Cathedrals there named after St. Patrick.  

A few years ago Fred & I finally went to our first  St. Patrick's Day Parade and where better to go than to the one in Downpatrick, although I did not have the opportunity to see his resting place at that time my husband, son and I did drive back one day last year to do just that. 


Downpatrick Parade



So no matter where we go in the world we meet someone who claims to be Irish, 
                   
                   or that their great great great grandmother was Irish 
                                      
                                     and also appear to know more about the Irish than the Irish people do themselves.







We always hear others talking a lot about St. Patrick's Day and now everywhere I go on the internet, especially at the moment on Pinterest and hosts of US blogs there are recipes and greeting cards and crafts and printables and clipart all with more than a "Hint" of GREEN  


But there seems to be so much confusion between St. Patrick's Day and some myths about Ireland with lots of rainbows, pots of Gold, and leprechauns appearing in the parades and crafts and printables. 

These things make it more commercially appealing; but at the same time a lot of the St. Patrick's Day things are now omitting the man himself and the reason he is our Patron Saint, he brought the Good News of God's Salvation to the country of Ireland.

See more info on St. Patrick here


 But how can anyone forget 17th March?

Banner Thanks to Free Downloads from InstantDisplay.co.uk

Well not even Commander Chris Hadfield could forget it while up in space taking and tweeting all his great pictures of the world.  He took a great shot of my home town of Londonderry and of course he had the "Touch" of GREEN as well.



Commander Chris Hadfield & Londonderry

I had never seen a greeting card for St. Patrick's Day or buns (cupcakes) with green colouring added to the icing etc. specifically for St. Patrick's Day until I became a blogger and now it is hard to miss them with such a variety of ideas for crafts and recipes.

My husband suggested I add my own St. Patrick's day recipe but really he was just thinking of his favourite "wee green things" which is his name for the Peppermint Chocolate Tray Bakes I make for him.
I have to admit they are so yummy that they are quite addictive even for me and I am not usually keen on mint. 

If you are interested in St. Patrick and would want to learn more you may find some interesting books Here on Amazon

And even some books for kids about St Patrick  Here on Amazon



Oh, and just in case you still don't believe me that everyone is Irish on March 17th then what about this



Caption found in A Guinness Storehouse


Disclaimer:
If buying through Amazon I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.


Tuesday

Death in the Clouds - Book Review


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There is an affiliate link on this blogpost.



I am reading through the novels of Agatha Christie in the order in which they were written and writing a review on each one.








Death in the Clouds



1935



Description



A woman is killed by a poisoned dart in the enclosed confines of a commercial passenger plane…
From seat No.9, Hercule Poirot was ideally placed to observe his fellow air passengers. Over to his right sat a pretty young woman, clearly infatuated with the man opposite; ahead, in seat No.13, sat a Countess with a poorly-concealed cocaine habit; across the gangway in seat No.8, a detective writer was being troubled by an aggressive wasp.
What Poirot did not yet realise was that behind him, in seat No.2, sat the slumped, lifeless body of a woman.






My Thoughts



This is the 24th book by Agatha Christie and the 11th Poirot Mystery

I love this one.

I know I have said that of others and it is true but then I do love so many of her books.

This one was written so carefully and well that the second time I read it I still got the murderer wrong.  I thought that I had remembered it so well that I remembered the correct murderer, but I was wrong.  I was actually still being mislead by the clues the same way as I had been the first time I read it so that to me makes a really good book.

Because this takes place on an aeroplane we have that added intrigue of the contained space like the locked room in so many stories.  Then because it takes place many years ago we have the added intrigue of the confined space full of people as the plane is small.

This one as many of her other novels have different nationalities involved so does this lead to misunderstandings because of different languages and cultures?

Also a young woman is there to help Poirot as in some of the other books based around him but does she help or hinder?

Now for the big question some of you may be asking because you know I love to have Hastings in the Poirot mysteries.
Is Hastings in this one?
Well you will have to read it to find out for yourself because this time I'm not giving you any clue on that important fact.



If you would like to know more about this book then click on the title or picture above.


 Here is a link to a list of her novels on Amazon
Books by Agatha Christie


If thinking of reading this book in the future why not pin this pic to go back to later.














Saturday

10 Gift Ideas for a Guitar Fanatic - Need Help?



Well ok my husband is not a guitar fanatic!



But my husband does love to play the guitar and to go to music shops to look at guitars and try out new ones.







Years ago he would be tempted by many a nice-sounding guitar and for a while we had several (and I really do mean several) guitars in our house.  Well you always need a 12 string as well as a 6 string acoustic and of course you need an electric and you can't forget about a bass as well.  Then even when you have a really good guitar that you love, you also need to have another semi-acoustic to always be sitting near at hand to pick up and play or teach someone else the basics on.


As it is coming up to his next birthday Fred chose to get another guitar


Now I know there are many people who often find it hard to buy gifts for people especially guys.
So if the person you are thinking of is a guitar lover then hang on in here and see a few ideas for gifts  for them and if not a guitar lover then you might find some helpful ideas for some "hard to buy for males" over at 10 Gift Ideas for Brothers etc.



If you want some more info on any of these ideas just click on the titles of the item or on the pictures.



#1   Guitar Racks






To help store his guitars I suggested to Fred many years ago that he get a guitar rack which he eventually did but even then there were others sitting around in different rooms because he had so many.  Now he has sold some & given some away so most can go on the rack.


This is also a gift that everyone else in the house can appreciate because it helps to keep the home tidy.

I think this is the one he got



Kuyal Guitar Stand,Multi-Guitar Display Rack








#2   Guitar Stands


Playing the guitar is actually a nice hobby to have and I like to hear Fred sit and play and enjoy seeing him play & lead worship in church which he has done for most of the time I have known him (and that's a very long time).

For anyone playing outside the home then they need to have a good stand to rest the guitar on in between sets (oh listen to me with my music language!!) and Fred has a few of these folding A Frame stands for use in church and elsewhere  -  notice the folding bit of the description because they are then so easy to transport.

He likes the ones that will suit all types of guitars like this one below.



NEUMA Guitar Stand Folding Universal A frame Stand for All Guitars








#3   Guitar Picks  &  Strings


He started learning to play the guitar when he was 14 and even though I had started to learn when I was also 14 years old from the time I met him I knew I could never play as well as he could; possibly because I can not play by ear and also because my fingers are short but those were really only two excuses because although I liked the guitar I didn't love it as he did.

So you can imagine that Fred has used many, many guitar picks over all the years he has been playing.  Having just got this new guitar he started to think of what he might need to go along with it and he even thought of picks - his choice is shown here below.



Dunlop 44P.73 Nylon Standard





Yes he does have picks in cases of guitars and sitting around near his guitars and in his pockets but he will always say you can never have too many of them.   If the guitarist has a sense of humour maybe some fun picks would be nice like these





Any serious guitar player will know the importance of changing the strings on the guitar regularly (depending on how much you play it of course) so that you always get the best sound.


However over time each guitar lover will settle on the type of strings he really likes for each type of guitar so it might be best to make sure you know the type they normally get or ask them what they would like before you buy.

Or have a look inside the guitar case because many of them keep a packet there.




Need Help? 10 Gift Ideas for the Guitar Fanatic.





#4   Capos


When I saw him looking around for a new capo to have for this new guitar I was tempted to say "another one?"  but then I realised that he probably likes to keep a capo on the end of each guitar or like the picks, near each guitar (and yes I have even known him to have one in his pocket).

He saw this one and thought the colour would tone in with the new guitar but it is available in more than one colour.



Premium Deluxe Guitar Capo for Acoustic and Electric Guitars 







#5   Strap Locks


The new guitar arrived this afternoon.

Out it came straight away - I admired the nice case it came with and then admired the guitar as well - but there was something missing which I assumed was on all guitars until Fred explained that I was wrong.

Apparently the metal thing to which the guitar strap attaches (a strap lock) sometimes has to be bought separately so that was another thing he was looking for today not sure what his choice for the new guitar is going to be but he does have one like this on another guitar.



MusicNomad Acousti-Lok Strap Lock 







#6   Straps 


Of course a new guitar merits a new strap too.

I tend to favour a patterned strap especially in blue because that's my favourite colour










 but Fred has always liked a reasonably dark plain leather straps so that was another thing to start looking for and of course he has one all picked out now.










#7   Guitar Leads


One thing I know for certain we are not short of in this house is a lead for anything (the boxes of them are the proof of this) but although Fred does not need one for his new guitar he did suggest that other people would and so he recommended one with "a silent plug" for those times when our favourite guitarist is on stage and doesn't want to make a horrible noise when they detach their guitar lead.














#8   Guitar Tuners


Some guys are really good at tuning their guitars because they have such a good ear but even those guys will probably want a tuner to get the job done quicker.


As well as buying tuners to keep in their guitar case nowadays they can buy apps for their phones that will act as tuners.

As far as I can see from Fred, Korg is a pretty good make to go with.




Korg TM60BK Tuner Metronome







#9   Wall Hooks


When our second son was a teenager he was very keen on the guitar and wanted to keep one in his bedroom to play there.  His bedroom was the smallest room in the house so we came up with the idea of hanging the guitar from the wall and that was a great success and he thought it rather "cool" at the time.

So for anyone short of space to store guitars why not get them a wall hook - if it's what the retailers use then why not us.

This would be my choice - I like the idea of the wood.

Plus who couldn't resist the idea of the way they have incorporated the guitar shape into it.



Guitar Wall Mount Hanger Auto Lock







#10   Kids Guitars


One of the nicest things someone can do for others is to pass on their knowledge and expertise and love for a musical instrument.

If a guitarist has a son or daughter they should be encouraged to instil a love for the guitar in them as well so some ideas for helping the kids become guitar fanatics are my last suggestion.

Many years ago we bought a 1/2 or 3/4 sized guitar so that Fred could teach our 3 kids to play and now even though they are all in their 30's they each enjoy music of all types and play the guitar.


This would be one example here which actually has the guitar and practically everything else you would need.



Classical Guitar Acoustic Guitar 3/4 Junior Size 36 inch Kids Guitar for Beginners 6 Nylon Strings Guitar Starter Kits with Waterproof Bag Guitar Clip Tuner Strap Capo Picks Wipe










Above are examples of some of these items that can be bought on Amazon but there are also many music websites to order from or shops to buy from.




In fact part of the gift could actually be taking some time to go with your guy to some music shops for him to choose his gift (and have a wee play at some guitars while he's there).



Just one word of advice

Take a book or Ipad or something to do with you 
because I remember the times I would go to music shops with Fred 
and I was glad I had taken my book to read!!!








Disclaimer:
I am not an Amazon affiliate and do not get any compensation for my suggestions here.










Monday

I am not Dropping the EASTER! - Coffee & Conversation


Yes it's an Easter Egg - I am not dropping the EASTER!






What is a chocolate egg without Easter?

We would not have had chocolate eggs if it had not been for Easter.


Now the chocolate companies want to drop the Easter in Easter Egg and just have an egg, will it sell more because it will be seen to be more PC?

But it will not be an Easter Egg to many people.


A few years ago I was introduced to "The Real Easter Egg" which is produced 
by Meaningful Chocolate.

I was attracted to the eggs because of the fact that they are fairtrade and because they don't just provide a chocolate treat for children (and the rest of us) but they have a booklet (new one each year) for the children as well which teaches them about The True Meaning of Easter in an interesting way.





We have bought them for the kids at our church and we have enjoyed them at home.


But the main thing about these eggs is the fact that along with the chocolate egg 
is the Real Meaning of Easter.


When many other Eggs are going to be sitting in our shops this year without the word Easter on them, this is an egg that still proclaims the real meaning of Easter which is the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus who is the only Saviour of the world and the only one by which we have a way to God.






You can read my review of The Real Easter Egg Here.



Then why not check out the website here for more info and details of  the other eggs they offer and the shops that stock them but because Easter is early this year orders online need to be in through the site before 6th March to have them delivered on time.


As I said at the start of this post
 "I am not dropping the EASTER" 
and this applies to Easter as well as to eggs.  
Our special times of the year all seem to changing to "seasons" or  "holidays" now but I'm still a Christmas and Easter supporter and I will not be dropping either.


Yes it's an EASTER Egg! - I am not dropping the EASTER!