Monday, August 23, 2010

Brussels - a novel shop: Ruby Tuesday

For more Ruby Pictures, or to join in, click on the Ruby Slippers above, and go to Mary T, who kindly hosts the meme.

Our one outing in Brussels was really lovely.
I found lots of rubies too!

We went to a bookshop with several restaurants in it! The complex also has a few apartment blocks, and I thought it would be a lovely place to retire in- just nip down to the bookshop for meals and entertainment, all you need is lots of money!

It's called Cook and Book, and I think this is a brilliant idea. I've always liked the idea of a coffee shop within a bookshop, but a restaurant is even better. And the food was very good.

The shop also sells nice food items, flavoured oils and drinks. All beautifully packaged.

There are several eating areas, and several book areas

the books arranged by topic and language- here is the English area-

Some of the book displays are unusual.

I really liked this black cow holding a tray of books on his head.
Seems like a good offering.

I hope he doesn't find it too heavy!

There were lots of books hanging from the ceiling, suspended on string.

Children loved climbing into this old car!

It was on display in one of the eating areas.

Ais got tired and sore after a while of sitting, so they went home, and I had a little while exploring the shop on my own. I selected this book from the English section and settled down with a cup of coffee for a closer look. I did return it to the shelf, reluctantly, because I have so many chocolate cookbooks. Now I'm sorry I didn't buy it. Next time I won't be so restrained.

I have one other picture of a fireplace at the entrance, but I'm saving that for another Ruby Tuesday!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Stock Sunday

Somehow, a boat trip always says summer to me.

This is from my recent visit to Porto. They do a boat trip around the harbour, which lasts about an hour.

I like the swell behind this little boat - makes it look brave, setting off on its journey!

Robin at AroundTheIsland hosts Summer Stock Sunday, and there are a few weeks to run---good, cos I've a few more summer pics to share!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Last trip of summer

This week, we made one last trip, before school starts again, and we're caught up in homework, activities, routine.

I flew out to Brussels on Saturday to see my friend Cee and her daughter, Ais. I wrote about Ais and the operation here. We had a lovely two days together, timed so Ais was home from the rehab unit for the weekend, and I could give her a massage as promised. Ais is doing really well, she walked 15 steps, on her own . It's still awful to see her struggle so much to make just one step, remembering how she would run around, and it's hard that she needs a wheelchair for outings, but it's a big improvement in a short time. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for her, and kept them in your thoughts.

We chilled out, our only outing to a bookshop-cum-restaurant. That's a whole other post.

When looking at the return flight, I just couldn't face the "silly o'clock"/ 5am at the airport" start. Ryanair had lovely, cheap flights to Madrid from Brussels, so I decided to make a detour on the way home. The girls flew out from Dublin to join me- their first "alone with no adults" flight.

We loved Madrid!

Perfect weather, friendly people, and lots of good food

- all the ingredients for an enjoyable break.

We didn't do a "whirlwind", preferring instead to savour fewer activities and leave some for a future visit.

But we did do the bus tour, just to get a flavour of Madrid,

and we saw what I think is the most beautiful train station in the world

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Porto please!

So, here's the port cave. Calem is the company- the times at the Sandeman one didn't suit. Calem was started as a family business, but is now owned by a Spanish bank!

Our tour guide was one of the best I've ever seen- she was so knowledgeable, articulate, and well-spoken, it was a pleasure to be in her company.

This is one of the barrels where they let the port mature- just sniffing the air in the cave was intoxicating...ooh I could have stayed there all day!

The "barometer" shows how much port is left in the barrel.

The cave has been flooded badly on a number of occasions, and Jessica showed us marks on the wall where the tide had been, several meters high.

The good news is that the port wasn't damaged at all- those barrels were waterproof. Phew!

The bottom number here is the number of litres left in the barrel,

the other one is the capacity.

I must apologise for the shine on the photo- I promise I hadn't been drinking port when I took this- the tour was so fast-moving that I had to just point, shoot, then move on so I wouldn't miss any of the interesting stuff.

At the end, we got to taste two (large) samples of port, one white, yummy, and one tawny red. I had never tasted white port before, so that was interesting, and I would definitely be game for that again!

I don't drink red wines, so just took a tiny sip of the red one.

These are the kind of boats that would be used to transport the fermented port from the Duoro Valley to the cave-warehouse in Porto, where it is left to mature in the huge barrels.

They are no longer used, this one if just for show. Trucks are faster.

The most interesting thing I learned was about the little barrels. They are used first to mature table wine for 3 years, then the port house gets them, and uses them for 50 years. The port loses its colour as it matures, bleeds it into the oak of the barrel.

The barrels are then sent to Scotland and used to mature whiskey. The whiskey is naturally clear, colourless liquid, but as it matures, it takes the colour back from the oak.

Porto Yard Art on Thursdays

This was a view from the river boat ride in Porto, where I nipped off for a quick break this week.

It's unusual yard art, but I think it qualifies. Hope you agree.

Porto is a lovely place for a city break, with value Ryanair flights. The tour of the port house caves was lovely, I'll post about that tomorrow.

For more Yard Art, click on this picture for the link to Mary T's place.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Birthday Boy

Sorry that I haven't been around to visit for the past few days- I was away at a birthday celebration, here:

My brother turned 50 at the weekend, and the family gift to him was a get-together, and a game of golf (his favourite) here:

While the golf was on, my sister and me walked and walked all around the estate, then had a coffee in the Manor drawing room. A lovely treat.

The four of us, 2 brothers,my sister and me, stayed in nearby Limerick.
What I love most about these get-togethers is that from the minute we meet, it's laughing, joking, good-natured teasing, fun. We know each other so well, for such a long time, that we are all completely relaxed in each others' company.

But the sad part comes when we have to say goodbye, and I hate that part. I always part with a horrible feeling that sometime it will be the last time that we'll all be together and the magic will be broken. And I hope so much that this is not that time. I hope that with all my heart.

On another note, for anyone who missed it, here's a link to my interview in the Sunday Roast over at Eddie Bluelights. Eddie has a very funny blog, and he does a superb job of the Sunday Roast, so if you have a minute, please, please pop over and leave a comment. I was really worried when Eddie told me that, inspired by my French Horn, he got "creative" with this roast, but in fact, I had such a laugh at it that my sides are still sore. LOL Eddie!!
I'll be round to comment again tomorrow, till then, hope you're all well and having a good summer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hot Spit Roast

You know Eddie Bluelights?


Well, he got his lassoo, swung it over the Irish Sea, and I tell you, he's some shot!

He caught me, and is Roasting me over his famous

spit this week, in the Sunday Roast. (photo from

It's online from 12GMT and you can get it by clicking on this image

Please come over and make him turn down the heat...pretty, pretty please?
P.S. Eddie just told me that he got "creative" with this Roast, inspired by my French Horn.
Now, I'm really worried.