All the fun of the feirm

By the end of the month the majority of the family will have spent some time on a farm. If we were in an episode of the late lamented House the team would have great fun trying to work out which one of us had been exposed to badger.

The elder Nippers are both going to farms on their turasanna scoile. Nipper 2.0 has spent the day today on Glenroe Farm and his verdict is “Awesome!” His favourite part was “touching the guinea pig and the rabbit”. What more could a boy ask for?

Nipper 1.0 will be heading to Greenan Maze. We actually visited this farm last August and I only hope Nipper 1.0 has better luck with the weather this time.

And I spent an extremely pleasant morning last Saturday on Ballindrum Farm in Athy, Co. Kildare thanks to the good folks (Amanda and Gina) in Avonmore. Why you might ask? I wondered that myself. Could it be I am now considered a tweeter of some influence? It certainly not due to my blogging efforts. I suspect it might be because I’m a mum that converses with other mums online much to The Meyler’s chagrin.

Why question these things? Never look a gift cow in the mouth I say and off I took myself with a lovely gang of pop culture and food bloggers (Okay I probably fall right in the middle of those two groups. Lovely to meet and make the reacquaintance of @backpedalling @thisispopbaby @ModernFarmette

@likemamuse2bake @Smorgasblog @cakeinthcountry

@ismiseadam @Culch_ie @PopCultMonster

@mushypea007  @anthonymcg)

The raw material #peakfreshIt was a fascinating and filling morning. We were fed like kings and queens by Mary Gorman, entertained by the golden voiced Joseph Gorman (Mark my words- that kid will be a star!) and then Vincent Gorman showed us around the farm. Despite the inclement weather it was beautiful. How lucky we are in Ireland to have such luscious gorgeousness never more than an hour away. That very lusciousness (read rain), we were told, is a major contributing factor in the production of Ireland’s delicious milk. But even Vincent said you can have too much of a good thing (read rain). I have been on dairy farms before but it was really fascinating to see how technological and traceable the farming is. The farming practiced by the Gorman’s is good for the cows, good for the land and ultimately good for the consumer of their dairy products. The farm was spotless and everything was in its place.

5 day old calf @juleser #peakfreshWell nearly everything… Vincent did admit that for all their watchful care of their cows that a few months previously there had been some shenanigans among the youngsters of the herd and well, nature took its course. This meant we got to see some super cute calves though so no complaints from us!

All the Bó lined up for judging #peakfreshWe rounded off the day with some Make and Do – always a big hit with me and I think our friends in Avonmore were surprised by how seriously we all took this part of the day! I took it embarrassingly seriously. Basically Avonmore are running an online competition to celebrate the fact that one million glasses of milk are drunk in Ireland a day. (Yes! One MILLION! A DAY!) In order to encourage me to write about this they sent me (along with my invitation to the farm) a litre of milk, a glass and a kit to make my very own Bó.

My finished Bó #peakfresh #bocomp I didn't win. The guy who got someone else to knit a hat did. I'm not bitter...Now I have to say I was a little dubious about this but after seeing the way those bloggers got stuck in I’m thinking those Avonmore ladies have their heads screwed on! It’s perfect timing with the summer holidays rolling in and the appalling weather with it. You can get your own kit and find out how to enter the competition over on the PeakFresh website. You will even see my little entry over there (I did mention I took it a little seriously) If it keeps your kids half as quiet as those bloggers then you are onto a winner.

So yes this post may be proudly sponsored by Avonmore and based on what I heard and saw on Saturday I have no qualms recommending Avonmore products to you. Will I be purchasing Avonmore products myself from now on? Well with a 50c difference in price between this and the Irish produced own brand in our local supermarket, four 2 litres of milk, adjusting for holidays, means a €100.00 saving per year. Economics trumps warm fuzzy feelings every time. Sorry Avonmore.

A Beautie-ful surprise

Finally back on Irish soil after a five am start to Beauvais this morning (how bad says you). I’m sitting in Superquinn car park feeling a lot worse for wear. Himself is in the supermarket picking up the homecoming essentials with Nipper 2.0. Nipper 1.0 is awakening none too happy from a snooze and Nipper 3.0 (Beta) is kicking the bejaysus outta me after a day on the go has kept it lulled into silence. I decide to check my Twitter because that is my default activity during moments of inactivity. I am thrilled to receive this tweet:

Well done to LittleQuiz winners  @enormous and @kevism this week ::

I won €250 worth of  yet to be revealed cosmetic fabulousness as well as the Beautie Guide to Gorgeous so it’s the prize that will just go on giving. I love reading beauty tips so really looking forward to diving right in. One less thing I have to drop hints about this Crimble! Or possibly many less things – I’ll keep you posted about what I receive and what I think of them.

 I love LittleQuiz and enter it every week (except I skipped the week of the mobile phone even though I’m a big fan of LouderVoice, the company who were running it. Cosmetics I need, a second phone I do not.) I think it’s such a simple but clever idea. I get an email newsletter or I’ll see a tweet every week about the latest competition. As the tagline goes, “Know a little, win a lot.” I answer three questions, log-in and I’m done. I also always tweet about it and leave a comment on the blog because then I’m also in with a chance of winning €100 cash or a bag of goodies. If this has convinced you head on over and sign up. Although I shouldn’t really encourage you as it lessens my chances of winning all the goodies!

I’ve done well this year entering blogging, commenting and twittering competitions, having won tickets to Puppetfest and €150 from Made in Hollywood for a caption competition. Bloggers and twitterers are often given cool prizes to give away, sometimes giving items away after reviewing them. While the blogger may have reach of their own, competitions often give them greater reach as news of their “generosity” spreads. It also gives companies a boost as news of their generosity spreads and they can gather twitter followers, blog readers, site visitors, social network fans or whatever they’re having themselves. I think this is a great example of how a brand can spread the same message across numerous channels and achieve results on all of them. I also reckon you have (but only currently and not for long) a much better chance of winning a prize from a blogger or twitterer then you might in say an Irish Times phone-in competition. I have no scientific basis for assertion this but I can tell you honestly that I never won a thing in my life before I started entering competitions online. I really hope I don’t get hooked! If this is not reason enough for you to start blogging & tweeting yourself  or, at the very least, commenting, then I don’t know what is!

Social Media pays

Well it pays me anyway! I was delighted when I got up (really early) on Sunday morning to write a post for the Dublin Community Blog to discover that I had won a family ticket to see Karramato from the Czech Republic who are performing as part of the 2009 International Puppet Festival Ireland.

The thing is when I got the message first about winning, I thought there must be a mistake, as I hadn’t entered a competition. I had started following @puppetfest because I thought it might be a fun festival for the nippers. I also fanned them on Facebook because for starters I know how difficult it can be to get enough fans to get your vanity URL but also because the way I digest info on Facebook is different to how I get it from Twitter and sometimes one suits me better than the other. Anyway it turns out that they chose a random follower/fan from the hat as a winner and it was me!

When I told the nippers about our luck even Nipper 2.0 knew exactly what I was talking about. Every Christmas they get brought to the Lambert Puppet Theatre with their cousins and grandparents as a special treat. So we’re all excited!

But the Puppet Festival is not just for kids! During my undergraduate years I worked on a large production called Gilgamesh – the Epic (or Gilgamess as we called it!) which featured puppets of all sizes so I know the skill involved in creating a production like this. I worked on the “costumes” and my job included the ignominy of having to “dress” the puppets onstage during a transformational scene. I also studied non-Western Theatre during this time and many non-Western theatre forms include or solely comprise puppetry. Joyce, Brecht and Beckett were partly inspired in some of their theories about theatre by their exposure to theatre forms like this where the actor was exposed or removed. What I’m saying is these heavyweights took puppetry dead seriously so should you! Anyone who has seen a Punch & Judy show will know that even this simplest form of puppetry allows the performer freedoms that they might not enjoy as an actor on a stage.

So check out the programme and try something completely different this weekend!

Grá mo shaol

(This would work a lot better if I were a man but such is life, eh? My entry for the Flowers Made Easy Blog Competition)

Ní chuimhin liom cathain ar bhuaileamar le chéile don chéad uair ach bhí baint laethúil againn le chéile cinnte ó bhí mé ceathair bliain d’aois. Ní fhéadfainn a rá gur grá ar an gcead radharc a bhí ann ach bhí cairdeas fada eadrainn agus chuir mé aithne uirthi beag ar beag. D’imir mé ina teannta; rinneamar rince le chéile; d’fhoghlaim mé amhráin uaithi, filíocht uaithi; agus cabhraigh sí liom stair agus tíreolaíocht na tíre seo a thuiscint agus mé ag fás aníos.

Thainig deighilt eadrainn nuair a thug mé aghaidh ar an meánscoil mar a tharlaíonn go minic idir chairde ag an aois sin. Níor chaith mé ach b’fhéidir 40 nóiméad sa lá ina teannta sa bhlianta seo. Chuir mé aithne mhaith ar teangacha eile má thuigeann tú mé! Lean seo ar aghaidh go dtí go raibh mé seacht déag agus chuaigh an bheirt againn ar saoire trí seachtain le chéile i nGaeltacht Dún na nGall agus thit mé go hiomlán i ngrá léi ansin.

Rinne beart ceart dár ngrá dhá bhliain ina dhiaidh sin agus shocraíomar gur bhfreastalóidh muid ar ollscoil le chéile. Chuaigh mé ar Erasmus léi fiú agus le linn na hama sin chuir mé aithne ar a deirfiúr is ansa léi agus cairde léi ansin. Ach

Ar feadh tamaillín ina dhiaidh sin lean ár gcaidreamh ar aghaidh agus gan mórán ard tugtha agam uirthi. Bhí sé deacair orainn mar ní raibh na spéiseanna céanna ag ár gcairde agus níor thuig na cairde is mór liom í. Agus a cairde! Is minic a chuir siad soir in iomlán mé! Níor thaitin a bpolaitíocht liom nó a cgur i láthair. Bhí cairde eile aici áfach a thuig in iomlán nach leor bheith paiseanta fuithí, caithtear bheith paiseanta léithí. Ach in ainneoin sin d’éirigh mé ciniciúil agus thosaign mé ag cur críoch leis an gcaidreamh

Ach ansin chloisfinn abairt nó amhráinpíosa filíochta agus thiteann i ngrá leis an nGaeilge arís.

The irony is, of course, that the real love of my life, the man I cannot live without, would struggle to understand all of the above. 🙂

Lá ‘le Vailíntín shona libh na leannáin ar fad!