Monthly Archives: October 2012


If you are going to a Halloween Party tonight, enjoy it. BUT….

Is this how my eldest brother sees me? He sent it to me.

Though the origin of the word Halloween may be Christian, the holiday is commonly thought to have pagan roots. In Ireland it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of ‘Samhain’ which comes from the Old Irish for “summer’s end”.  All Hallows’ Eve preceded All Saints’ Day also known as All Hallows on November 1st and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd.

Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) was the first and most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Gaelic calendar and was held on or about October 31 – November 1. Harmful spirits and fairies were thought to be active at Samhain. Wearing costumes may have originated as a means of disguising oneself from these harmful spirits and fairies.

The souls of the dead were said to revisit their homes at that time, so feasts were prepared, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them.

In my young days we always set an extra place at table for the visiting spirits on All Hallows’ Eve, my father was of a very superstitious nature, but I never heard tell of any departed souls actually joining us in our meal. If we had any living souls (unexpected guests) join us for that meal, other places would be set for them.

Halloween costumes are often modelled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, that theme has extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and even ninjas, robots and princesses.

Be very careful if you are out and about, you might just bump in to some weird characters!

Whaaa ha ha hah!

I am not the only one!

The dreaded CAPTCHA.

I read blogs for enjoyment or go to websites for information and not to be put to a test or treated like I am a robot or terrorist. If you want me to visit your blog and comment, then make it easy to do so and do not put barriers in my way. In other words make me welcome. I wonder how many visitors have turned on their metaphorical heel because of them?

Using a CAPTCHA involves looking at an image which consists of some distorted text before typing the two words that we see in a box. Today I took a sampling of a few to prove my point. They are on the image attached.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Five samples. The request is always the same: ‘Type the two words’.

  • In sample one which two words do they mean?
  • In the second, the number is blurred and the letters in the word run into each other.
  • Is there anything printed in the third graphic?
  • Number four is the easiest sample I came across today.
  • Finally in the last one is the graphic a number six, a zero or a door knocker?

Not everyone that uses the internet has 20:20 vision, some of us have embraced the silver circle and with that privilege comes the hurdle of reading small, faded or distorted print. Alas, users with poor vision or no sight at all cannot solve these problems, so an alternative called the Audio CAPTCHA has been developed. Easy, you would think?  No way. In this kind of test, the user must listen to a GARBLED voice and identify the numbers or words that are being spoken.

Computers and the internet have opened so many doors for the visually impaired these days, allowing them to play a full part in the workplace and in social media.

I heard two complaints about these audio CAPTCHAs in recent weeks. Firstly my friend Darragh Ó Héiligh otherwise known as Digital Darragh was saying how difficult it was to understand a particular audio CAPTCHA and even his sighted girlfriend Emma, found it impossible to help him.

The second case was during In Touch, a BBC Radio 4 programme hosted by Peter White, with news and information for blind and partially sighted people. A blind listener phoned in to share his frustration on accessing a Government website about disability payments in the UK. He did manage to fill in forms online, but needed to use an audio CAPTCHA that was impossible to understand. He had nobody sighted with him at the time to help.

Do you think it was the Government’s way of reducing figures for those who require help?

Food Monday ~ Steak & Guinness Casserole

Steak & Guinness Casserole
Serves 4-5

1 or 2 pounds of frying steak
1 tablespoon of Flour
8 slices of bacon
3 ozs butter
5 medium size onions
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 sticks of celery, scrubbed and sliced
3-4 ozs of stringless beans, chopped
6 mushrooms chopped
1 tablespoon of Brown sugar
1 tablespoon of Raisins
1 bottle of Guinness stout (not the ‘draught’ variety)
Some chopped parsley
Glass of red wine (optional)

Put the flour in a food bag and add the diced steak, close the bag and toss to cover the steak with flour.
Melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the steak with the bacon, and brown on all sides. Then place the meat in a casserole dish.
Peel and chop the onions and brown over a medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, beans & mushrooms and cook for five minutes then place in a casserole dish with the meat. Add raisins, brown sugar, and chopped parsley, then pour on the Guinness & wine.
Cover the dish, simmer and cook over a low heat for 2.5 hours. Add water if the gravy mixture starts to thicken excessively.
Serve with boiled or baked potatoes.

I planned to cook this the other day and was stopped in my tracks about half a dozen times. I finally had it ready for the oven quite late in the evening and was suddenly floored by tiredness. Not wanting to stay up late to remove it from the oven. I gave it ten minutes at 200C and then turned the oven right down to 110C and left it in all night. I woke to a warm kitchen and a wonderful aroma.


The aroma had me drooling, so I baked a spud and had a portion for breakfast. Well, breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day. Right?

The Alice Clock

A clock in a public place, is it sculpture, art or just a functional time piece?

I will let you decide.

The Alice Clock is located on the piazza at Fountain Centre, in Belfast. It sits over a set of outdoor escalators, which take you up above street level. The chimes can be observed dangling from the ceiling.  On this level you can find a cluster of shop fronts that are now home to a hairdressers, beauty salon, a wedding dress/cocktail frock shop, a coffee shop and a small gallery exhibition space.

Otto Buer, a family business in Lubeck Germany, was commissioned to design the quaint clock over 10 years ago, to celebrate the millennium.
Described as a Glockenspiel, with 24 bronze bells and two sets of figures moving around three clock faces to various melodies. The figures – a millennium set featuring King David, John the Baptist, Joseph & Mary and a set of ten characters from Alice in Wonderland – were expertly carved and painted in Germany.

The bronze bells play various different tunes on the hour.
Etched on the panelled glass on the piazza level that surrounds the escalators, is a  narrative to give the viewer an indication of the clocks meaning.

It vanished quite slowly beginning with the end of its tail and ending with the grin.
“Well I’ve often seen a cat without a grin, thought Alice; but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”

“Oh dear! I shall be too late!” & `Off with her head!

Surrounded by a spacious terrace with benches where you can sit and listen to the clock bonging away.  Ideal for those sunshiny moments which sometimes take you by surprise in Belfast, to people watch on the pedestrian area below.

There is another surprise, but I will keep it until next week….

Best answer to the question…..

Does my bum look big in this?

The lengths I go to for this LBC blogging lark…….

Not content in asking around myself, I enrolled Elly over the phone, to ask if she would consult with the eclectic mix of dinner guests round her table the other night. Three answers were emailed to me. I am wondering if the others were unprintable.

The three suggested answers were:

  • Have you driven behind a bus lately?
  • Only if it is 3 sizes too small.
  • Was there supposed to be an eclipse today?

I have never in fact asked that question ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ My question was more “How does it (coat, dress skirt or trousers) hang at the back?”

That Elly of mine has not always shown the full respect a poor mother deserves…

There was I struggling to climb a set of stairs for the first time, 3 weeks post hip replacement, when I heard the dulcet cheeky tone reach my ears:

Hey mum, your bum looks weird. One cheek is the size of mine and the other looks normal for you!

Of course she had a camera at the ready to record my posterior for posterity!

Lopsided me climbing the stairs 4th October 2009.

Since I live in a bungalow, I was only required to climb one step before leaving the hospital. Climbing stairs was up to me and I wanted to relearn that as early as possible, while ‘Nurse Hitler’ was still in residence with me. We arranged to visit a friend and climbed her stairs a couple of times.

Just to prove my btm returned to normal:

Back in the skinny jeans and knee boots, December 2009. 😀

Time and patience was all it took for me to manage those skinny jeans again.

I did a little research myself for a good answer to the question above, beginning with a couple of gents.

Andrew (20+): “If it was my Girlfriend, I would say ‘Absolutely!’ then walk across the room and wrap her in my arms before patting her on her bum. She knows I like her bum – in fact I like all of her!”

Dave (50 +) a customer at the Supermarket: “No! I would just say no.”

Next it was the turn to ask the girls for the best answer they had heard….

Julie (20+): “You look like the back of a bus!”

Alana (20+): “You look like a cow’s end!”

Stephanie (30+): “Well, I wouldn’t kick you out of the bed!”

Linda (55ish, a sales lady): “It makes you look shapely!”

I like Linda’s tact!

It was that young whippersnapper Paul from Blackwatertown, with the neat little derrière and no thought for my blushes, who dared to propose the topic: Best answer to the question: Does my bum look big in this? I wonder if he has returned yet from Venice to share some interesting answers? When you have checked him out – I mean his blog – I can vouch for the rest…. I danced with him, 😉 then skip on over to the other active members: Anu, Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

Thursday Special ~ Conversations

Overheard in Bewley’s of Grafton Street, while pausing for coffee and a chat with friends:

2 ould wans were talking at a table behind me…

Ethel asked Mavis “Did you come on the bus?

Mavis said “Yes but I made it look like an asthma attack!


Now that I have my bus pass…… I better be careful! 😉

Blogging the alphabet – O

O ~ Over shirt

I came across this photo in a box I was sorting the other day. I loved that over-shirt. It was a man’s blue denim shirt a couple of sizes larger than I would normally wear. I bought it to play with and play in.

The playing with, involved the use of Deka Fabric paints randomly applied onto the damp body and sleeves. I kept the collar protected so that it remained the natural colour. When the jacket was dry and the colour ‘fixed’, I added a quilted lining. Then I used a waterproofing spray so that the jacket would keep me dry as well as warm.

It was light and comfortable for casual wear and I wore it until it almost fell apart.  One of these days I must try playing with fabric paints again.

No. We were not playing in the long grass!  I was actually volunteering at a plant sale.


No. I have not fallen off my perch and cocked my toes. For the past few days I have had a semi holiday from writing on my blog and elsewhere. My hands have been busy none the less.

  • I was finishing a project that had a time limit.
  • Sorted a wardrobe and cleared out items for the charity shop, somebody else might has well get some wear out of them.
  • Dealt with paperwork
  • Arranged to have some work done in the house
  • Walked a little
  • Arranged to meet a friend for coffee.

And now back to chopping nuts….

Openings 57 ~ Round House

This round house was rather a surprise to me, the photo was taken on a Thursday morning last August. Why the surprise? The gate was locked.

If you look closely, not alone can you see the padlock on the gate, but the disabled sign on the toilet door inside.

Unfortunately it is not the first time I have come across a public loo that was locked. Thankfully I arrived into this world with a good bladder and my mother trained all of us to ‘go to the loo‘ before we left the house, but I know plenty with hapenny bladders, who need to relieve themselves almost every ten minutes.

This particular convenience was in the carpark at Crumlin Glen, where I had a lovely adventure. I walked through the woods, with the sound of rustling leaves and the running water of the river and sudden rush from the waterfall.

I was on my way to find…..

The Cockle House