Off I go

18 07 2011

And off I go…tonight will be heading over to Germany for a week’s summer school as part of my funding agreement, and after that off to Malta for a couple of days for a friend’s wedding. The week in Germany should be great fun as should the days in Malta. I cannot wait to get some sunshine and also to feel slightly more productive. Perhaps  I will have some good news to tell after Malta. Will see.

Wishing you a great week.

Freebies :)

15 06 2011

Ross’ time as a guest blogger is now over (though he is welcome back any time 🙂 ), so unfortunately you are now again stuck with my ramblings. After coming back from Malta, I have been trying to get some work done on my PhD. However I am still finding some time to have fun. In particular during the past week were 2 freebies. And you know how I like my freebies, so a happy person was I.

First up was a trip to Taste of Dublin last Sunday. I won the tickets through the facebook page. I did not get the tickets in the beginning :(. Luckily for me, some people did not reply back to the email telling them they had won the tickets, so they redistributed the tickets, and WIPPIE, I got 2 tickets to Taste of Dublin. I asked around in my lab, and David took me up on the offer, so Sunday afternoon saw us heading to Iveagh gardens where the event was being held. The weather was not too favourable. The rain had luckily stopped by the time we made it there, but the place, being outside was all muddy. Oh well, we still had a good time going round the different stands and tasting some of the food on offer.

My only possible complaint about the event is perhaps the price of the event (I did not have to pay, but this i what would hold me back next time). Entry to the event is €25 for advance bought tickets (this is the part I got for free). However once you enter the event you still have to pay for most of the foods (you get some samples for free), though most were quite reasonably priced in my opinion. Unfortunately I could not stay too long, so I left David enjoying the evening at the event, whilst I headed to the end of year Pizza BBQ by the OLV young adult group, since during the months of July and August no Sunday 6:30pm Gospel Mass is said, so we met at the Parish Priest’s house for some pizza, drink and an overall good time.

The next freebie was 2 tickets to a preview of the Bridesmaids movie. I got the tickets through the seefilmfirst website. I have been registered on this website since I moved to Ireland, but this is only the second time I received an ‘invitation’, and the first time I actually went. My accompanying partner this time was Ross. We left Uni and made our way to the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre where the cinema was. After a slight detour (to see the sights heqqq hmmm) we arrived at the shopping centre in time to have some dinner, followed by an ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s (MMMMMMM) and then made our way to the cinema. The cinema was completely full (the last 2 people who came in used up the last 2 seats in the cinema…they could not even sit next to each other). But we managed to get relatively good seats I must say.

The film was really funny, and the atmosphere in the cinema was great. We all laughed, gasped and enjoyed the movie together. In some scenes it was pretty disturbing I must say (hence the 16 rating hihi). But I haven’t laughed as much in quite some time. Overall the acting is not that impressive, especially of the Bride. But it does not detract from the story. I loved the actress playing the groom’s sister. I would definitely suggest it for anyone to see.

Those were all my freebies for now 🙂 Have a good week and hope you are happy to have me back writing instead of Ross 😛


Eurovision 2011

15 05 2011

Yesterday the final of the 2011 Eurovision song contest was held in Duesseldorf. I could not watch the semi-finals since I was in Germany and was either out to dinner or on the flight back home when they were held. However I knew that Malta did not qualify :(. Although I now know that the Maltese entry was number 11 in our semifinal, just one point behind the number 10 position which got in. The Eurovision song contest is not something you can enjoy on your own so I got an invite (or asked for one myself?? :P) to go to Zahra’s house for dinner and then watching the Eurovision song contest via live streaming on the Eurovision website. Although Zahra and Ali are from Iran, they know all about the Eurovision, and know most (if not all) of the winning songs of Eurovision past.

Zahra was in the laboratory and so we walked over to her house together. On the way we stopped to buy some food to cook for dinner, and made our way home, where I helped her cook (salad, pizza and pasta). I am always amazed at how Zahra can get the simplest ingredients and transform them into a mouth-watering dish. By the time food was ready and we had eaten, the Eurovision was about to start and so we switched on the live streaming and sat down to enjoy. The conversation flowed throughout the show. In particular we found out that we use the same sounds to mean things in Persian and Maltese, which are commonly different to the Irish and other people.

I particularly liked the show this year (maybe the company?). I thought the opening act of the ‘remixed’ Satellite song was quite a good start, and the presenters were not as stilted as they usually are. Then it was time for the songs. I think they were of a not too bad standard this year, especially compared to other years, and I enjoyed most of them, even if some were not Eurovision material. I only really disliked the Moldovan song. Our favourite to win the competition was unanimously Azerbaijan. But we also would have liked Ireland to win :), just because Malta (and obviously Iran) were not in the final, so Ireland is a good alternative to support. I think that Jedward are not the best singers around, but they are good entertainers…would love to do something similar with my twin sister too (shall we Ann?), though we will probably end up killing each other :).

The points started to be called out. We were pretty disappointed when Sweden was winning, as we did not particularly like the song…I think I could somehow do that song. But things changed during the second half of the voting, when Azerbaijan started to edge ahead. We also cheered when Ireland got one of the top 3 points :). The standard of the contest this year I think shows in how close the points at the top of the table were. It has happened where the winner is winning by a mile. I was also proud with the Maltese voting…we gave 8 points to Ireland (Yeah) and 12 points to Azerbaijan. I also think that Kelly Schembri was a good choice for reading out the votes. Countries are no longer sending fuddy duddy newscasters to read the votes. I think it is only in Turkey that an ‘older person’ read the votes. Or maybe I am biased cos she was a class mate of mine in primary school.

Overall, a successful Eurovision. Thank you Zahra for having me over and well done to Azerbaijan (oh the expense for all the people travelling there next year 🙂 ). And by the way bel tornata Italy…a good show 🙂

Cabaret Revolution

8 05 2011

Every Friday I receive an email from Dublin Event Guide (for Free Events) giving an overview of all free events in the coming week happening within Dublin. I always go through it to find something I might like. There is also another section of competitions, for which free tickets are provided to 2 or so readers of the guide, for a paid event. Last Friday, there was a competition for Saturdays show of Cabaret Revolution by Rose Lawless. I sent an email and to my surprise I received a message that night whilst at Ross’ birthday party that I had won the tickets WEEEEE :).

Therefore yesterday I messaged Monika to ask if she would like to join me and luckily she said yes, so off we went to the show. We were not exactly sure of what to expect, although I had looked her up online. We got to Les Cafe des Irlandais, since the show was held in the Matchbox Theatre in the ‘basement’ of this Cafe. We had a drink (after waiting for around 15minutes at the bar…very efficient bartendering heqqq hmmm) and then made our way to the theatre once the door opened.

They had us on the guest list so it was not a problem to go in, and in we went, got our free glass of wine (included in the ‘price’) and found a seat. The theatre was organised as sort of small round tables and scattered chairs, which made the theatre feel quite relaxed and homely. Although quite small, the theatre was packed with people, and every imaginable space was occupied by someone sitting down.

The show started, and we did not have any idea of what to expect. However it was much better than I could have imagined. Rose Lawless has a really good voice, made us laugh over and over again and interacted with the audience quite a bit. Congrats must also go to the pianist who was accompanying her…Julia I think…who performed a brilliant job. Overall I really liked the show (and Monika too). Here is a short video from one of her shows:

You can also listen to some of her songs here.

Rose kept us entertained all night, and the time flew by. The only thing I did not really like overall was the invitation to a guy who worked hard on the show in the background to sing a song. His singing/guitar playing was not that bad or anything, but it jarred with the flow of the show. I can understand why he was included, but perhaps he could have done his thing in the interval or something.

Overall…a brilliant show. The only pity was that it was her last show there. So I cannot tell you to go to the next show. But look her up and do attend her  shows. Monika and I really enjoyed ourselves, and we couldn’t make ourselves leave when we should have left to get the bus, as we wanted to stay till the end. This meant that we had to run to the bus stop (a 20 minute walk or so away), and managed to get the bus in the nick of time…thank God for other people waiting at the bus stop :).

So Thank you Dublin Event Guide and Rita Lawless for a really great evening. The songs will remain with me however, as I have been humming some of them all day today 🙂 My favourite songs must be the last song (You’re the One), her hilarious rap and the Dan song.  You’re the one…You’re the one 🙂

A visit to Cork

10 04 2011

Last week, I made my first 3-day visit to Cork, as part of the ENVIRON 2011 colloquium organised by ESAI (Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland). You can find more details about the conference itself on my research blog, but this is a short account of what we got up to. On Wednesday Ann-Marie came to pick myself and David up to start our 3.5hour (or so) trek to Cork. Zahra and Ali (Zahra’s husband who was joining us for the trip but not the conference) were coming down with Ross later on in the day.

The drive down was beautiful. I got to see the Curragh again and loads and loads of sheep, cows and even horses grazing to their life’s content on the side of the road. We stopped for some tea/brunch on the way and then continued on our way to Cork. We made it to UCC and found our way to where the workshop was going to be held. After that we met with Ross et al and made our way to our hotel: The River Lee Hotel. Let’s say we were impressed 🙂 We settled into our room (after some musical chairs…cos Zahra and Ali’s booking did not go through it seems, but all was sorted out eventually).

View from the Hotel Lift

View from the Hotel Lift

Then it was back to UCC for a wine reception (I had more cheese etc than wine, cos I only had a sandwich all day that day) and the opening talk. However we were still famished and so back at the hotel we found the last restaurant open and had dinner. I had a Chicken Ciabatta, for which my expectations were not that high…but alas, I was  mistaken MMMMMMM 🙂 By now it was getting late so off to sleep we went.

Cork University...a taster

Cork University...a taster

The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. I am so glad I asked for hot chocolate rather than coffee and tea as was being offerred, as I got the most delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows 🙂 We went up to UCC to start the day of presentations. I also had to give a 1 minute presentation on my poster, which I think went well enough. It also generated quite some interest during the poster sessions. After the long day at presentations, we went back to the hotel and decided to go for a swim at the hotel pool. Swimming is an overstatement, but we did enjoy the sauna, jacuzzi etc 🙂 We then quickly changed and proceeded down to the Wine reception and conference dinner, which were being held within the same hotel.

Dinner was really delicious. We had a choice of 2 options for each course, and although everything was good, I believe I made the right choice everytime. I had duck starter, lamb main and the most delicious chocolate brownie for dessert. I simply could not move afterwards, but alas off we had to go. The organisers had organised a Casino night for us. It was set up in one of the meeting rooms at the hotel, and we all got chips and we got to play blackjack and roulette. It was really interesting and fun to start with, however due my attention span being that of a fly I quickly got bored and therefore I wandered around a bit and chatted. However I really liked the idea and got chatting to some people I would not have gotten to otherwise.

Casino Night

Casino Night

After the casino night we had a DJ playing songs in the same place. Most people made their way out at this point, but our lab and another group of people held the fort up. Included in this group was a guy I thought was Italian, and Ross thought was Greek (and on retrospect he looked more Greek than Italian). But it was not to be. When we asked him…he was from Galway…Galway!!!!!???!!! Oh well, we had a good laugh over it. We were the last people on the dancefloor until the basically stopped the music (I also got the Venga boys as a song, when I requested a classic 90s song haha – can still remember the words weeee). By this time we were knackered, and went up to sleep.

The next morning, no particularly relevant sessions were being held in the morning, so after breakfast Ross and I went for a short walk around Cork city. It looks interesting enough, but the fact that I was really really tired and most places were still closed, I feel I should go back to see Cork again 🙂 We went back to the conference after our walk and attended some other presentations until lunch, when the closing session was held and then started our drive back to Dublin.

The ever gracious Ann-Marie offered to stop at the Rock of Cashel on the way back, and it was magnificent. We went through the complex and watched a short movie on the place. It is located in a site with breathtaking views and the enormity of the building is really amazing.

View from the Rock of Cashel

View from the Rock of Cashel

Walking up to the Rock of Cashel

Walking up to the Rock of Cashel

The Ruins

The Ruins

Finally, we were back in Dublin, and whilst I was sad that ENVIRON 2011 was over, I was glad to be home and get a good night’s sleep 🙂 Environ 2012 will be in Dublin, so no fancy hotels 😦

Happy Birthday Zahra :)

27 03 2011

Yesterday we celebrated Zahra’s birthday. Celebrations came a bit late, since her birthday falls on the Iranian new day, and so most of her friends (and herself) were quite busy celebrating their new year. However she decided to celebrate her birthday nevertheless. So she invited a couple of her friends to her house, where she prepared a banquet of Iranian food, washed down with some Iranian dancing.

All the people from our lab and Monika were to meet outside my apartment building (since I was the only one who knew where she lived, having been there before). I got dressed (bought a new dress in the morning, when I was shopping with Monika…was not planning on buying it, but saw it, liked it and decided to buy it on a whim…not so sure why cos I am not a dress girl, but we will see…I will probably see the photos now and say noooooooo what did I do, but anyways).

Surprisingly enough, everyone made it within 5minutes of the planned meeting time, and we made our way to Zahra’s house, which is a short 15 or so minute walk from where I live. Once we arrived, we were some of the first people there, but being a group of 5 people ourselves made for a merry group. The other people soon started trickling in, and the chatting increased. This time, we were the only non-Iranians there, but they always make an effort to speak English to us, so we still feel part of the group (or perhaps I just bother them too much asking what does this mean in Persian that they just don’t bother…but my Persian vocabulary is increasing 🙂 ).

After some initial nibbles, came (at least my) the favourite part of the night…Iranian food, which Zahra had lovingly prepared. Others in my lab have heard me rave about it, and Zahra certainly did succeed. She had told us to come on an empty stomach, and even though we ate and ate, there was still some leftover hihi. I had the lamb and rice, which I knew were delicious from last time, tried some new types of rice, and had the most mouthwatering sort of stuffed baguette thing with beef…MMMMMMMM. We HAD to go up for seconds hihi 🙂

After the food, came tea and then obviously the DANCING 🙂 I had had my first experience of Iranian dancing during Roya’s birthday, and knew what to expect. This time I was happy to see that Monika dived right in to the dancing, with Ross joining soon after, and then David. Basha had already left home, so he did not get to experience this :(. Well, what we did might not really be called Iranian dancing, cos in no way can I emulate what the Iranians manage to do so effortlessly. But we try (and provided comic relief to the Iranians there).

After round 1 of dancing, came more tea and the cake. And with the cake comes obviously (I am learning now) the Iranian knife dance. This time, I got to have my own dance (Marzieh and Sahar…grrrrrrrr…and Sahar did not even do it herself). However these people had seen me make a fool of myself all evening with my dancing, so whats a little more. Monika did the longest knife dance, and I think she was quite good. I just did the bare minimum and passed it on to the next person 🙂

Here is my favourite Iranian happy birthday song 🙂 It has good bits in English so you should be able to follow. I want it sung at my next birthday 🙂 Cos it is so nice and cute.

After the delicious cake, came more dancing and fun. However by now time had passed (it was after 1am by now, and Ross still had to drive all the way home…a 50minute or so drive). Other people were starting to say their goodbyes, so we decided to join the group, did our goodbye dance and made our way home. Monika and myself embarassed Ross all the way home with our dancing in the middle of the road and singing all the songs from the 90s (though Ross seems to be really handy with all the Spice girls lyrics haha).

Once I got home, I tried to sleep, but I was still on a high from the party, so I watched an episode of a new series I am watching and slept in the middle of it 🙂

Overall a REALLY ENJOYABLE evening…will post photos once they become available.

Thank you Zahra for inviting us to your beautiful home: TAVALODET MOBARAK AZIZAM 🙂

Sampling the Wonders of Kildare: Day 1

23 03 2011

Last weekend I finally got to see the wonders of Kildare 🙂 Ross, who is one of the people in the lab and one of my closest friends in Dublin, invited me over to his family’s home for the weekend. I immediately agreed, and after some postponing due to other things coming up, we finally made it. So Friday evening, after Uni, we collected our bags and off we went to the tiny village (it is a village cos they have a pub I was told) that he calls home.

His mum had prepared a lovely dinner for us (I guess it is called Irish stew), and I got to sample his mum’s apple pie (she prepared it knowing it is one of my favourite) and rhubarb pie. I had never had any rhubarb pie before, but I must say I liked it. So I am glad I went with the option of having a bit of both for dessert. After that it was off to watch some TV, chat and relax, before going to sleep.

Saturday morning I woke up bright an early (compared to them hihi) and tried to tiptoe out of my room to the living room to read a bit without bothering them. But alas a quiet gal I cannot be 🙂 So Ross woke up, we had breakfast and planned our day. Seeing as it was a beautiful day we decided to go for a walk to Glendalough. I am glad we got to make it there, cos it was beautiful. The walk we took (going up along the path and the slightly more adventurous non-pathway way down, where we crossed over the waterfall/stream and went down the other side) was really good exercise and the views were spectacular.

First up was a visit to the round tower and the graveyard there, and then we made our way to the Upper lake. We walked by its side and then proceeded to go somewhat to the top between two mountains (Wicklow mountains). I was going to give up a number of times, but my competitiveness did not allow me to stop midway up. So up and up we went. Here you can see the beautiful photos from the day.

Me at Glendalough

Me at Glendalough


Climbing up to the top

Climbing up to the top


At the top of the waterfall

At the top of the waterfall


Spectacular view before starting the way down

Spectacular view before starting the way down


On the way down we saw a number of cute mountain goats, and on the way back the presence of sheep was certainly not missing. By this time we had been walking for around 2.5hours or so. So we were quite tired and hungry (though Ross took the walk slowly enough for me to keep up 🙂 ). So back to Ross’s house we went through the beautiful scenery of the Wicklow mountains for some well-deserved lunch.

After lunch, we went for another short walk with Abby the dog to the Curragh. Unfortunately no photos were taken here 😦 However you can find a photo I found on the Internet. But the area is even more beautiful than that.


Sheep on the Curragh

Sheep on the Curragh


It is a green area, with quite flat land where the sheep roam free. They have priority and can get onto the road whenever they want to. Motorists beware 🙂

By then we were well-tired. So off home we went for some dinner. After that we plonked ourselves in front of the TV. I found out I know most (or all probably) of the top songs that we are embarrassed to say we like. We chatted in front of the TV till it was time to say goodnight and plonk ourselves to sleep.