Park. Life.

I have been following the developments in Granby Park with interest thanks to an invitation I received from Springwools to donate to their yarnbomb in their park.

In their own words:

Granby Park, is an urban, ‘pop-up’ park in a currently vacant site in Dublin’s inner city. It is made from up-cycled, recycled, donated and found material and features some of the city’s most talented artists, architects, performers, planners etc. It will have an outdoor cinema, a theatre made by kids from palettes, an education zone, exhibitions, a play area, a café, art installations, and lots, lots more!

Situated just off busy, commercial Parnell St. it is in a prime city centre location surrounded by some of some of Dublin’s iconic Georgian houses, social housing from the 50sish and swish new apartments which should make it a very attractive place to live, full of diversity. But with this enormous hole right in the middle of the community I imagine it’s a little difficult. So somehow or other the local community has commandeered this wasteland and turned it into a wonderland.

#thingsifoundtoday Two bags of #crochet motifs. My next project!

Sorting out the #crochet motifs #thingsifoundtoday

I was really happy to be able to donate some of the motif’s I found in my godmother’s house when we were clearing it out last year and I think she would be pleased they found an amusing end. I’m only sorry I didn’t donate more. Maybe I’ll pop over and bomb some more onto the railings! I would highly recommend a visit: it’s open from 8am til 7pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 7pm weekends until September 22nd 2013. Word to the wise: the coffee shop hadn’t opened by the time I left at 10am last Monday. Below are some shots I grabbed of the Nippers enjoying the various installations and areas in the park. There is also a library – maybe bring a book to donate!

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.

Information a great antidote to oinking

When pigs fly...Unless you have your head stuck in a bucket you will know two things 1. there is currently an outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) in Ireland and 2. I am pregnant. Not maybe of equal importance to you but fact no 2. wins in my book. Mind you if you have your head stuck in a bucket chances are you know all about swine flu already, ye poor aul thing! Photo right owned by merfam (cc)

The second fact puts me firmly me in the at-risk category and I have decided because of the public facing nature of my job that I will get the vaccination.

A couple of weeks ago I had an antenatal appointment in the Coombe where I asked for information about the vaccination. It was the day after Prime Time on RTÉ had focussed on the issue with pre-recorded interviews with at risk patients and other stakeholders and a studio discussion. My midwife told me that the Coombe were advising all pregnant women to get the vaccine but she did not have any further information for me. No leaflets. Nothing. They were also not administering the vaccine and I should ask my GP to do that. Being on combined care (where the hospital and your GP share the antenatal care – a step in the right direction!) that suited me fine as my next appointment in 2 weeks was with the Practice Nurse in my clinic. My GP had actually appeared on the pre-recorded item on Prime Time complaining about the slow reaction of the HSE to this looming health crisis. Therefore I figured I wouldn’t be getting massively impartial advice from the clinic but at least I’d get it sooner rather than later.

When I rang to make my antenatal appointment I asked could I be immunised at the same time and was told no, they had a waiting list. I figured fair enough and was actually reassured by this because it meant there was demand. When I went in on Tuesday for my antenatal appoinment I mentioned this en passant to try and gauge what sort of wait I was looking at. To be honest, I’ve been keeping public appearances to a minimum thinking I would imminently be immunised so it was important to me to know how long this personal policy might have to be kept in place. The nurse immediately told me that I would have to go to a HSE Centre in Ballally. The clinic only had the vaccine with the mercury in it which they were not giving pregnant women but I could get the other non-mercury one from Ballally. I asked her if she had a number; she took out a leaflet which looked like she had printed from somewhere herself, with a list of all the centres and narry a phone number to be had.

Luckily the receptionist had the number so I rang this morning and left my contact details. They got back to me pretty much straight away. When I asked if I could get the non-school going Nipper 2.0 vaccinated at the same time they said no. I explained that I worked full time and would prefer not to have to take time off twice, they still refused. Real caring HSE there, eh? So I said that I would come in anyway and they offered me an appointment next Monday. Coincidentally I have the day off so I said grand. However when I mentioned my address she told me that they were not our centre and I would have to go  to Tallaght. I asked her for the number and she said, “We’re a hotline, we don’t give out numbers. You’ll have to look it up.” 2 points for customer focused helpfulness racked up NOT!

So I looked up Tallaght Hospital and rang the general reception because their shocking bad website didn’t have any specific information about their immunization programme. The woman who answered told me that the Education Centre where they were doing the immunizations didn’t have a phone. I said “But how do I make an appointment?” She said on the website I, of course, had my browser open in front of me so I asked her where on the website because the expected big obvious Make an Immunization Appointment button wasn’t leaping out at me. She didn’t really respond. I said do I click on “Find a Health Service” she said yes. I said then what and she said, (brace yourself) “I haven’t seen the website. We don’t have internet access.”

My reaction? You need to ask! (After expressing my disbelief I said thanks that I’d work it out. Not before she said “I’ll have to let you go. I don’t have time to discuss it.” Apparently no-one does.)

How on earth are frontline information staff supposed to do their job if they have never even seen the website that they are advising enquirers to access?  Are the HSE staff not considered potential consumers of the information on which incidentally and very confusingly is not in fact a website dedicated to keeping the public and HSE staff informed about the virus; it’s a redirect to a page on


Once you do find the link to book an appointment, there is no clarity that if like me you choose the wrong clinic that they will not give you an appointment at that clinic. No specific areas or zones are mentioned in the information. However as I already knew I was not permitted to go to Ballally thanks to my earlier mistake I picked the correct clinic for my area and was brought to a calendar where I could see the available times and dates and sign myself up for one that suited me. That’s my lovely morning off gone. However at no point was I asked to confirm the district I was in or my postal address so really if it suited me surely I could book into any clinic as long as there was space available. Also while there is a warning that only at-risk patients and pregnant women are being immunised I was not asked to confirm this information when booking. Looking for this confirmation will not stop the committed hypochondriac from booking but it might slow them down.

This calendar idea is brilliant (however it is really ugly and if you press F5 it seems to book you in again although so far I have only received one confirmation from SuperSaaS! EDIT: I just received confirmation no. 2. Hmm maybe I will bring Nipper 2.0 with me…) and I just wonder why all health services and practitioners don’t offer and promote similar. However one only needs to look at a few hospital websites to realise that this kind of client empowerment is a long way off.

Just watch this

It’s on lots of blogs, Facebook profiles, tweets all over Ireland this week but I think it’s very important that everyone sees it.

How is something so senseless made right? Heartbreaking.

He works for you

You should be very grateful.

John Handelaar and some of his friends have created something very special for the people of Ireland. He has created, a site where you can read and search all of the business of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Not only can you do that you can get email alerts or a RSS Feed for your search terms. This is exciting. So say you really care about the Irish Language, for example, you can get an alert every single time the heads in the Dáil mention the Irish Language. You can even see that Ó Cuív is busting a gut ar son na cúise with nearly ten times as many mentions of the language compared to Mary Hanafin in second place. Maith thú, a Éamon!

kildarestreetcomSo that’s pretty cool.

But even cooler and better still a lot of the time in the Dáil is taken up with Question Time. So a TD asks a question and generally the minister or tánaiste or taoiseach or whoever answer them. Or do they? Now you can vote whether you think the question was answered or not.

Democracy: welcome to Ireland!