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WhinoRhino Preservation Society



"Enabling Since 1999"                                               Belfast Office



Last Build Date: Mon, 12 Sep 2011 18:26:19 +0000

 



Rhubarb Rules

Sun, 21 Aug 2011 17:21:00 +0000

The rhubarb is a vastly underrated cocktail ingredient, I have found. This weekend was a good start to putting that wrong right. As with so many of the best discoveries, necessity was the mother of this invention. It was all down to my forgetting to buy another key ingredient – the lime. You see, it is my regular summer time penchant to indulge in a good old gin and tonic come evening time, but without that all important slice of lime, this classic drink just comes up short, lacking that crucial fruit element. Enter the humble home grown English rhubarb. It has the tartness needed to compliment the gin and slightly flavour the tonic. Try it you’ll like it! Slice it up and pop that sucker in your next g&t. Or keep the stalk and use to stir like you would with celery in a Bloody Mary – very pretty. Of course it would not have been the whinorhino way to stop there. As the summer night grew dim, new and ever more interesting combinations came together. Not content with a bit of Pimms and a few margaritas, our host for the evening and a leading proponent of the rhubarb movement came up with an entertaining little beverage which I christened the“Devizies Contrivies”(for it was both cleverly schemed and took place in Devizies which is a real place!) It contains the following, well shaken, and stired – with a stalk of rhubarb of course...Devizies Contriviescointreau - a lot of it apparentlyginlime juicesodastrawberry baby food (yeah, told you it was amusing!)ice, of courseNow go forth and enjoy your summer fruits - or is rhubarb a vegetable? [...]



Royal Rotgut

Thu, 05 May 2011 15:29:00 +0000

(image) Is it too late to jump on the Royal Wedding bandwagon?

I wasn't invited, pity. In fact, I left the country to avoid all mention of the event - a tactic which failed, well, royally. But I do love to wear rediculous hats and I certainly enjoy elaborate libations befitting a queen...

This drink was apparently invented by Bacardi in honor of the recent nuptials. I'd like to give it a try but, my goodness, it looks complicated. If anyone is dedicated enough and has such an elaborate collection of ingredients to hand, do let me know how you like it!

The Kate Middleton English Rose Cocktail

Ingredients:

In a Champagne flute, add:

1 Sugar Cube
3 drops Orange Bitters
1 oz. DRAMBUIE

Slowly top with:

4 oz. chilled Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Splash Campari
3 drops Rosewater

Garnish with a thinly-sliced strawberry fanned and floated on top.(image)



Drink Invention:"Japanese Pink" or "The Pink Sushi"

Fri, 15 Apr 2011 12:56:00 +0000

(image) Last weekend's wonderous mix of sunshine, backyard croquet, BBQ birthdays and high-speed police chases (really this happened!) eventually gave way, as they inevitably do, to ill-advised drink mixology.

But that's when some of the best things happen, after drinking in the sun all afternoon gives way to creative liquor cabinet cleaning...

Believe it or not we hit on this gem the first time! Version 2 was undrinkable, even for hardened whinorhinos, and version 3 still had the aftertaste of version 2 - but version 1 was an instant hit.

I didn't have the wherewithall to actually take a picture, as I was too busy trying to remain upright, but I did write down the ingredients! So imagine this picture has watermelon bits in it instead of mint and you get the idea! In fact, I think mint would add to the overall effect nicely aswell.

So without further ado, I give you the Japanese Pink, or for those in the know, The Pink Sushi:

The Pink Sushi

Mix in a large container (we used a crock-pot of some kind) the following ingredients in whatever quantities are available:


  • Sparkling elderflower juice

  • Ginger beer

  • Vodka

  • Rum

  • Gin

  • Rose

  • Chopped watermelon pieces

  • Ice
Share with friends using a soup ladle and make sure you have soft surroundings for when you fall over backwards (Steven, this means you.)(image)




Wed, 14 Jul 2010 19:07:00 +0000

So how was your weekend?Well, unlike most people in Belfast I neither retreated to Donegal nor took part in the annual recreational rioting that seem to be the two activities of choice over the 12th of July holidays.Instead I had ...Adventures in Babysitting – way scarier than anything the kids in the Ardoyne could throw at you, well maybe not the petrol bombs, but I came through it unscathed, thanks to Gordon’s Gin and an addictive iPad game called Angry Birds. It seems Colleen’s sister went and procreated once again and while she was busy with baby number three, numbers one and two needed some adult supervision. After wearing out grandma and grandpa, Coll and I were the best they could come up with!So while my usual cohorts were enjoying the rainy delights of a rental cottage in Carlingford and what were no doubt the beery delights of various pubs, I was busy playing tag at the playground and getting fleeced at the zoo by Colleen’s nephews. I broke a life long vow and ate at McDonalds (yuck). I listened to a lengthy explanation of the Simpson’s Movie (yes, I did actually know that Bart is naked in it and you can see his doodle –a very apt term for a cartoon penis, actually.) I stayed up past MY bedtime because it is just so exciting to be at Auntie Colleen’s house in Belfast. And I was the proud recipient of a U.S.A. flag drawn, coloured in, and then taped to an emery board to be waved in my honour when it was discovered that I am in fact from America.At 6 years old, Niall is very into flags of the world. He’s got a desk map of the world complete with all the flags of all the countries which he and I studied diligently for hours, me imagining that I was passing on vital geo-political knowledge to the next generation and him planning which flags he could draw with the non dried out markers available. When he later saw a bonfire being built on Shore Road with the Irish flag at the top he was very upset that it would be burnt, not because he is a good nationalist youth, but because he really really likes flags, period.At 8 years old, Brenainn is teetering on the edge of tween-hood and damn, am I glad I don’t have to be the one to deal with that! He had a few questions about the nature of Colleen and my relationship, which he had always pretty much just accepted before – although he’ll never top the question he asked Colleen when he was about 4 years old and trying to figure out the family chain of command, “Who owns you? Healy?” Four years later it’s, “Who’s the husband and who’s the wife?” But he knew it was the wrong thing to say as soon as it was out and he quickly pretended he was talking about the game he was playing instead before I could come up with a child friendly and appropriately educational response. Luckily, for all his bravado and his “Pennyburn swagger”, he is still quite innocent and can be tricked into doing what you want him to do, as long as you have an iPad to bribe him with!Niall on the other hand outsmarted us a few times. Luckily he is very sweet little boy who appreciates the finer things – he actually complemented me on my interior design and was so enamoured with my potted plants in the back yard that we had to take him to B&Q to get his own mini lemon Cyprus tree. My favourite moment was when his grandparents (finally!) came to pick them up and he graciously asked (after hearing me say it earlier), “Can I get anyone a drink? We have lemonade!” Of course, mine was largely a gin based lemonade at this point...So we actually had fun, although I couldn’t have done it another day in a row – when do they sleep? When do they stop talking? When are they not hungry? I think we did a good job, although to avoid any conflict we pretty much let them do whatever they wanted and they lived solely off of empty calories and sugar on our watch - sorry about that, Mom. Sure it was the 12th of July, a high holiday indeed! Next year they’ll be old enough to riot w[...]



Pirate Punch: A Recipe for...Pirates

Wed, 09 Jun 2010 16:55:00 +0000

(image) At the WhinoRhino Preservation Society, we are always on the look out for new amusing little aperitifs to wet the appetite/dance floor.

We've had great success in the past with such drink inventions as the Sun Burn Slap, the Healiam, and Hobo Sangria.

(Ok not so much with the Hobo Sangria, but those other ones were delish.)

I submit for your cocktail book approval the following "Pirate Punch".

All due credit goes to it's original inventor Chef Declan, and undue credit to the man who eventually added the "optional" ingredients which may or may not be the reason he disappeared early, our very own, Pirate Jonny.

Pirate Punch originally consisted of:

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part rum
  • 1 part "jungle juice" - pretty sure that's what the bottle said
  • 2 parts ginger beer
  • fresh sliced strawberries
  • diced mint leaves
  • lots of ice
Those proportions might be off, I didn't check with the chef, but Pirates are nothing if not experimental. We made it in a jug so who the heck knows...

Later on, Pirate Punch consisted of vodka, rum, tequila, gin, ginger ale, ginger beer, tonic water, large handfuls of unchopped mint and probably some Buckfast if I know Jonny. The picture above shows the later version...and it's effects on the serving wench.(image)



How the iPad destroyed and then saved my relationship

Tue, 08 Jun 2010 18:48:00 +0000

Technology is a wonderful thing, or so they tell me. And I'm certainly no luddite - I'm down with the email and the endless information, certainly with the online shopping and even with the excessive facebooking, but exactly how many gadgets are required to accomplish these tasks?At least 3 apparently. Probably more I don't know about.But why oh why would you want to be plugged in (or wirelessly connected, I suppose) all the time? It can start to get in the way of REAL LIFE.For example, there are people you haven't seen since junior high online, and there is your loving partner 2 feet away from you...who do you talk to?(That was rhetorical!)The lap top was one thing, and sure you need a home computer that I use too. Fine.The iPhone was issued by work and is actually pretty fun for all the family, it's small and relatively unobtrusive and can be easily hid if need be. And it has an application that tells you what drinks you can make based on the contents of your liquor cabinet. You had me at drinks.Enter the iPad.New and shiny enough to completely block out any other objects in the room (like me talking) and just too big and noticeable to quickly stash away when its owner goes to the bathroom. It seems to be a giant iPhone that does everything the same but doesn't make calls.I had already accepted (with uncommon good grace) that my ranking in the top five things that Colleen loves had slipped to number two - behind the car - but now, after the evil apple empire delivered iNemesis yesterday, I seem to have moved down again to third position.This stupid big phone that can't even be used as a phone was only in my life for few hours when I began to hate it with a passion normally reserved for sentences that end in prepositions or any character on Hollyoaks.Argh! (ooh still feeling a little piratey from last weekend's shenanigans)I was about the throw a proper strop when the damn thing accompanied us up to the bedroom. Oh hell no, I am a lady, I'm not sharing my bed with THAT!"No darling, I swear, I got this for you, wait till you see!"Hmm, I didn't notice any iAttachments...(jebus, that'll be the next thing!)Apparently, the iPad is also a great device for reading ebooks and since Colleen knows how I hate her loud reading in bed, she very considerately ran right out an got one.It's true; she turns pages in a crazy loud way and has this awful book light that is more like a spotlight that shines in my face every time she moves. It can be quite the problem - I get grumpy when I'm tired and kept from my sleep.I was sceptical but working up a giant huff is exhausting. So I turned out my light and closed my eyes and heard...nothing.I love the iPad!It provides endless volumes of identical crime/thriller/detective novels for Colleen (which won't clutter up the "good" book shelves), has it's own moderate light source, and, as long as you turn off the sound settings, is completely silent! Flick those pages as much as you want.So I don't know if this is going to be good for the relationship long term -seems like it may have taken away the need for even a shared bed time.Oh well, as long as I get my sleep I'll have the strength to fight another day.[...]



A cure?

Mon, 09 Nov 2009 10:16:00 +0000

Alert reader EE has sent this newspaper clipping in to warn the whinorhino community of this dangerous product:
(image)

If whiskey sours are wrong, I don't wanna be right!

(image) First one of the season, welcome winter....

(image)



Boss Lady: Gender roles and the workplace

Thu, 05 Nov 2009 21:33:00 +0000

Odd I should decide to write about workplace issues since I currently have no workplace, but there’s a scenario that I’m seeing crop up time and again that is bothering me. And I’m due for a rant. It’s happened to me in the past and now it’s happening to my friend Jane* for like the tenth time.So picture this: A female manager informs her male boss that her staff (all boys) are not performing up to par, not showing up on time or are pulling sickies, not doing the work as they should, etc, and tells him that she has reprimanded them for it. The male boss then tells the woman that she is being too tough on the lads; basically that she is a big old meanie. The “lads” all grumble and complain that she is on the warpath or is being a bitch. (nothing to do with this story but possibly a stocking stuffer for Jane) If the exact same situation played out but everyone involved was male, I maintain that there would be no hubbub at all. The big boss would have told the manager to make sure they get the job done and the staff members would have accepted that they need to be more conscientious.When this happened to me, the misbehaving staff was actually an outside company so I had little option but to constantly complain to them that they were not living up to their end of the contract (and yes, eventually I was finally allowed to sack them). When they let me down really badly just before a big project was supposed to go live, I let my frustration show to my (male) boss who reacted – not with indignation that we were being treated so badly by people we were paying to do a job, not with sympathy for the impossible situation I was put in, not with anger that the project was in trouble, but by telling me I was too hard on the poor guy. My own staff (all girls) who had been working flat out to get our end of things done on time were outraged at his response; we had stupidly expected him to back us up!So what I want to know is why do the boys all stick together? Even in this kind of situation, where it’s in the boss’s interest to back up the manager and insist that the work gets done?Apparently women (all women, even the butch gay ones, yeah I’m looking at you Jane) are supposed to “nurture” and support and coddle any and all men they come accross. For example, if the boys aren’t doing their work, just do it for them and tut tut in a mild way so that they know you don’t really mind. If somebody is running right over you, taking advantage of your good nature and easy going approach, you might as well just give up because standing up for yourself will upset the guy or at the very least cause him the inconvenience of having to deliver on the deal. And if you aren’t prepared to spend all your time and energy doing your job and HIS job (while he probably gets paid more) then YOU my friend, are a mean old BITCH!Now’s the part where we find a way to lay the responsibility for this problem right back on women – it’s clearly down to the way we are raised so I blame the mothers! I’d also like to work Ireland and religion in at this point since when complaining I find it soothes me to make sure those things share in the guilt, so make that Irish Mothers and we’ll let the Irish bit imply the religion...Here’s a joke that pretty much sums it up.Q: How do we know Jesus was Irish?A: Because he was 33 and still lived at home, thought his mother was avirgin, and she thought he was God.So until mothers (and fathers and everyone else ... I know it’s not really just the mothers at fault, it's society and our cultural norms yadda yadda ) stop raising their sons to be lazy bastards who expect the women in their lives, even their bosses, to do everything for them, then we’ll have to keep being nasty old bitches. Fine, it’s kinda fun. (Well, for some people. I nearly had a nervous breakdown from having to be so “mean” bec[...]



Whino Rhino Festival Review: Part 2

Mon, 26 Oct 2009 13:24:00 +0000

And now for something completely different. The Table

All I knew about this show was that is was music made using a table. And sure enough, when we entered the Baby Grand at the Opera House, all there was in the black curtained room was a table and four chairs in the middle. The audience sat all around. (Is it theatre in the round if the table is square?)

Four men dressed in black entered and sat down. And then they played the table.

(image) My friend was bummed that the table in question turned out to be modified with strings, percussive panels, and even a didgeridoo type blow hole. They used other bits and pieces like bells, water glasses, a straw (to blow bubbles of course), an egg timer, and even razor blades to scrape and twang.

Frankly I was glad because I was getting worried I was going to have to listen to actual table banging for an hour. Even though I could have done without the sound of the drawer handle being used as a repetitive squeak noise, they did make some really interesting sounds that I guess you only get with a really good table.

The effect was, well, kinda trippy. Consensus afterwards was that we would have liked it better if we were stoned. They only had one “fast” number and I was hoping for a bit more audience participation. I wanna clap and make noise too! Although some of it was intentionally humorous, (they did a version of Walk on the Wild Side) I think they took themselves too seriously for four guys who play a table. I mean at the end, they lit a candle, sailed an origami boat over to it, and then got up to leave the room one by one. Avant-garde or just poseur –y?

My verdict? Ikea has one for $49.99. Go crazy.(image)



Whino Rhino Festival Review: Part 1

Mon, 26 Oct 2009 13:13:00 +0000

Its fall festival season here in Belfast, a marvellous time of year for new woolly tights and unusual cultural offerings. Because I’m “connected”, in the know, have friends in high places, I have scored a random sampling of tickets to the Belfast Festival. Or to give it it’s full name, as I am prone to do when listening to the sound of my own voice, the Belfast Festival at Queens (although none of the stuff is at Queens) – no wait it’s longer than that now its the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens (none of the stuff is at the bank either).I’m going to 5 events which I plan to tell you all about, because frankly you could use a bit of culture.First up: To Be Straight with You. I didn’t know a lot about this going in, just that it was “A poetic and unflinching exploration of tolerance, intolerance, religion and sexuality, [incorporating] dance, text, documentary, animation and film.” So basically I was prepared for gay folks dancing around and talking about discrimination, but WOW. This was something else altogether.Using the simple first person real life narratives gathered from interviewing a range of people in the UK, Lloyd Newson has put together a performance like I’ve never seen anywhere before. It mainly focused on the way that religion is used to justify homophobia and how odd it is that religious and ethnic minorities in the UK, who often have first hand experience of racial and ethnic abuse and hatred are so willing to turn around and inflict abuse on another minority. It reminded us of the stark facts of the situation on the ground for gay people around the world using a giant globe made of light that hovered mid-air and could be “drawn” on by the actor standing inside spinning it. There was a lot going on, lots of different stories, situations, and characters who had told their stories to DV8’s researchers.Image from The GuardianA really memorable bit was the story of a 15 year old Muslim boy beaten up by his father and brother for being gay. He tells the entire story while jumping rope. Turns out this actor is some kind of jump rope champion but damn – it was like a 10 minute monologue while skipping!On a purely artistic front, it was visually amazing, the dance moves were incredible (my favourite was the Shakira number), the use of various media including a life size comic strip with live characters, the different accents, the chalk board that was added to throughout...too much to try to explain! If you get the chance – and this show is now on tour internationally – I would definitely recommend it. After the performance there was a panel discussion with the director, a Muslim psychiatrist living in Belfast, Peter Tachell, an ex-gay ministry guy, and a community activist. A spirited discussion ensued during which I learned that the pope is gay. Makes perfect sense, the big old internalised homophobe! No one on the panel walked away with a dramatically changed viewpoint, but it was a nice idea that they sat down and discussed some of the issues raised rather than casting stones...Audio from the panel discussion here.One thing that came through loud and clear from the audience was how embarrassed they were that our very own MP Iris Robinson, well-known for her outspoken views on the “abomination” that she thinks is homosexuality, had a part in the play through the words of the young gay man whose attack prompted her now famous comments on the Stephen Nolan show. (She was invited to attend the performance but declined due to other commitments apparently). Local people were sad that this is the view of Northern Ireland that will be exported to the world as this show goes on tour. But hopefully it demonstrated the link between hate speech couched in religion, even in a country like ours where homosexuality is legal, and the accepte[...]



WhinoRhino Restaurant Review: Cracow City

Wed, 30 Sep 2009 13:54:00 +0000

Best kept secret in Belfast? Cracow City Polish Restaurant! Where else can you eat (more than) your fill, experiment with beets, and muse over interesting but as yet unidentified table chotchkies for less than a tenner each? Picture nicked from http://anotherworldradio.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/mayjune08-064.jpgNowhere in Belfast that I know about! And even though they don’t have a liquor license, the WRPS can whole-heartedly recommend Cracow City in East Belfast. (Bring your own, you lush.) I was there last night with a group of 12 and am still full of dumplings. I admit I was somewhat hesitant at first, because it required me to cross the Lagan, but you don’t find these neighbourhood gems without going into the neighbourhoods, eh? And it was Sarah’s* birthday so I go where I’m told.Anyway, the place closes at like 8pm, or some such craziness, so we were there for a 6:30 booking. I don’t know if they normally get mostly ex-pat Poles in there (the menu is in Polish with minimal English translation), but last night they pretty much got the United Nations in our eclectic grouping. Between the lot of us, I think we ordered pretty much everything left on the menu - they were already sold out of a lot of stuff that day.Big hits included the fried cheese (that’s a no brainer,eh?), the goulash with dumplings, and a hock of pork that was so big it went ‘round the table twice to finally finish it off. The side salads & soups (best Polish word on the menu - “zoupy”) were also really simple but yummy. I had the carrot and apple salad and also tried someone’s beet soup even though I hate beets. Surprisingly, it wasn’t bad! Oh and instead of just a bread basket on the table, you also get rolled ham slices with a herby mayo sauce for pre-starters – why not!The staff were really friendly and very quite accommodating seeing as we took up most of the ground floor, brought our own birthday cake for desert, and did loud poetry/performance art in Portuguese between courses. Conversation did not have a chance to lag either, because the decor of the place has plenty to remark on. On the table there were even tourist guides to Krackow just in case the dinning experience so compels you to book a trip. There was also this item:It's handmade of clay, painted or stained in streaks (on purpose or not I don’t know) with a pinkish colouring and it’s hollow on the inside. I still really think it looks like a penguin with some bottle-nosed dolphin dominant genes in its family tree. Other people had their theories. It was clearly something that someone thought was centrepiece material but really had us wondering...All in all, Cracow City was tasty, rediculously inexpensive, and interesting enough to provide ample dinner conversation for a mish-mashed grouping of people who don’t all know each other. And that is dinner party success in my book.*** Yes, it’s that Sarah – of You Tube fame! (Didn’t think I’d forget that revelation, did you? Ach, now I can’t find the link...)** I reccomend bringing your own Brazilian performance artist.[...]



Unidentified Vegetable Matter

Thu, 24 Sep 2009 11:56:00 +0000

What is this orange tuber-like thing?

(image) I've asked and asked and no one knows... It seems a very fine specimen of it's kind whatever it might be.
(image)



Whinorhino gets Arty (or “How to drink for free on Thursdays”)

Fri, 11 Sep 2009 10:38:00 +0000

Although it’s true this whinorhino is getting older, wiser and about 5 times less likely to drink box wine (directly from the box anyway), in this current economic climate, I have also grown somewhat poorer and thus have a renewed interest in partying on a budget. On someone else’s budget that is.

I’ve had to make certain sacrifices in the ‘ole booze department of late, for example, I’ve had to reduce the number of wine clubs I subscribe to (down from 3 to 2.) I’ve had to acknowledge that buying in bulk from the Makro Off-Licence doesn’t really save money (because I’ve also had to buy a much larger liquor cabinet to house my gargantuan bottles and I don’t want to further alarm the recycling guys.) The situation has become quite untenable!

Never fear, the arts council is here!

(image) Did you know about the “new initiative to encourage visitors to experience Belfast’s rich and diverse cultural life”? It’s Late Night Art “whereby many galleries in Belfast will remain open until 9pm on the first Thursday of each month.” AND SERVE FREE WINE.

That’s right cheapskates, students, and the jobless can now drink their fill and get cultured at the same time. I made the rounds last Thursday, hit five galleries, had five glasses of really cheap wine and was quite pleasantly buzzed as a result.

“But Healy”, I hear you ask, “what about the second, third and fourth Thursday’s of the month?”

Turns out once you get in with these arty types, you get invited to all sorts of openings, launches, group shows, etc. And they all, without fail, have wine for the offering! And sometimes hors d’ouvres too! Finally, I understand why one should “network”. But that makes me sound shallow and self-serving - not at all - I have really enjoyed myself at these events and it’s not just because I’ve been mixing “vintages”.

I’ve even been inspired to create art myself. See my bowl?

(image) (Created before too much wine was drunk – and with no small amount of help from a professional - thank goodness.)

I also painted shoes! Fellow whinorhino Kerry and I were inspired by some custom high heels we saw at one of the galleries and decided to give it a go ourselves. Pictures to follow - they are still drying.

Thus inspired, I will continue in my quest to drink for (mostly) free in Belfast. Next up – Culture Night Belfast and my continuing amazing ability to get fed at other people’s houses.(image)



Anyone for a Pimm's?

Thu, 13 Aug 2009 15:21:00 +0000

I don’t know how have I gone this long living in the UK with having had a Pimm’s! You see that annoying man on TV all summer long telling you it’s Pimm’s O’clock, but it would never have entered my mind to actually order one in a bar. It must be the Northern Irish thing because this is definitely an English drink. I first had a taste in Wales, actually, but it was served by fine upstanding Portsmouth girls so that counts as English. They had doctored their Pimms No 1 with enough gin to call it a Gin and Pimms rather than the other way around and had enough fruit in it to count as your full 5-a-day serving. I only got a wee taste because that was the same day that the Sunburn Slap was invented and you know how that turned out! (Well I’m sure you can imagine.) (Advert near the Tate Modern, Bankside, London) Just recently I’ve had the chance to do Pimm’s properly (and repeatedly) across southern England and can thoroughly vouch for this quintessential summer drink. It’s not only quite tasty but aesthetically pleasing to the eye - and it seems to say, “Relax, it’s a lazy summer day so you might as well get pissed – but in a refined, polite, British sort of way.” Indeed it does seem to go rather well with a certain kind of environment. First, you really must be in the afternoon sunshine, preferably at a stately home wearing a party dress with a feathery fascinator on your head to complete the picture, although a more smart-casual look at a riverfront pub or seaside bar will also do. Think Four Weddings and a Funeral. (Pimm's Rhino on her 5th or 6th Pimm's, properly attired in fancy frock and English Country Estate) Now that your surroundings are established and you are dressed the part, the waiter (played by a young Hugh Grant) will serve you a jug of Pimm’s. There are debates about just how this should be prepared and what fruit goes into the mix. I liked mine with cucumber decoratively cut, orange slices, strawberries and a sprig of mint. I haven’t tried it with ginger ale yet, having been served only the traditional fizzy lemonade mixer, but I suspect that would be good too. Those who think it’s too sweet will prefer it with tonic water instead so I’ll have to give that go. And if I’m making it at home, I will definitely be taking my cue from the girls who added extra gin. Of course it really does need to be a proper summer day to make you want one in the first place so I don’t know when I’ll next get the chance – maybe that’s why they never drink it in Belfast![...]



Burning with rage

Fri, 31 Jul 2009 10:52:00 +0000

Our local miscreants are at it again, another car went up in flames last night, this time right in front of our house.

At 3 am I was woken out of a sound sleep by the loud whooshing sound that a raging fire makes and saw the flickering light of the flames outside my window. I jumped up screaming about a fire, causing Colleen to aggravate an old back injury as she threw herself out of bed in a panic over her beloved.

(image)
“It’s not yours! It’s not your car!” I cried, trying to keep her from diving out the window. (If it had been this would be a totally different story this morning, Colleen would be dead of heart-break.)

No, it was Heather’s car, and I couldn’t even take any delight in the misfortunes of my old nemesis because it is so upsetting to see this kind of mindless destruction and violence right in front of you. I was also really quite concerned about the fire spreading to the house, the heat from the fire was making my face go red just watching from inside the window and then


BANG! BOOM!


Two really loud explosions went off and I backed the hell away from the window, heart pounding and legs shaking. Meanwhile, Colleen had called 999 and very politely requested a fire truck which arrived quite quickly and put the fire out before it got to the petrol tank.

(I dunno about you, but if I was ever to call emergency services I’d be screaming down the phone “Fire! Help! Fire!” but Colleen calmly said something like, “Yes, may I please be connected to the Fire Brigade. Thanks ever so.”)

When the cops arrived we were able to tell them whose car it was (and even remembered to use her real name instead of calling her Heather) and then asked what they were going to do about it.

Short answer: Nothing.

Long answer: Clean up the debris, have forensics look at it, make a report, request resources be allocated to investigation...but honestly, unless they actually see the little shits lighting the thing, there’s nothing they can do.

This is at least the 6th car in the immediate area that’s been burnt out and now right in front of my very own home. I am mad as hell. I thought gays moving into the area is supposed to class up the area, raise property prices and gentrify the hood! We are clearly not doing our jobs...

Thus Vigilante WhinoRhino is born. Stay tuned...

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

Mon, 27 Jul 2009 11:34:00 +0000

I often lament the state of common discourse here in Norn Iron. I’m no prude, but the f-word (not Food) is so liberally sprinkled into every day conversation that I don’t think people even know they are saying it. It drives me nuts purely for the lack of creativity or variation. For some, it is literally every second word out of their mouth. Just take the bus up Antrim Road and you’ll hear what I mean. And it’s not just loudmouth teens on public transportation or beer bellied men talking football; kids grow up so accustomed to cursing that they too are fluent in fulmination from a rather disturbingly young age. Which is why it is so damn funny when you come across the occasional innocent. (Pardon my language!)

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Colleen’s 8 year old nephew was recently heard smack talking with his friends and while the other boys had the usual expletives in their arsenal, young Brénainn, in his naivety, had to be a bit more creative. His mom was telling us she was tempted to teach him some of the cleaner insults she could think of just to keep him from embarrassing himself, but I think some of his name-calling actually had some bite to it! He told one boy that he had “tiny hair” and another that he smelt like “old buttery toast” and, in what was clearly a misunderstanding of the expression “egg on your face”, he told someone that he had “egg on his chin.” (Whether the kid actually had food on his face or not I have no idea but I was laughing too hard to inquire at this point.)

I heard another gripping exchange of childhood invectives yesterday morning. You see, we have this girl gang running wild on our street (well as wild as you can when you are 7 years old and wearing a Disney princess dress up outfit while riding a pink scooter with sparkly tassels.) Mostly they ride bikes up and down the street laughing wildly about whatever it is that kids find funny, but they must have had a falling out because the hilarity had turned mean.

“Shut up!”

“You shut up, bitch!”

“Oh yeah, well...You’re a VEGETARIAN!”

At this point I fell out of bed on to the floor from laughing so I missed any further dialogue. Come to think of it, vegetarianism is quite frowned upon here in the land of meat and potatoes so perhaps that last stinger really landed! If not I’ll get Brénainn to show her how to put just the right spin on “You with your tiny wee hair!”

I’d be devastated if someone said that to me!

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Snail Watch: Mystery Solved, Sadly

Wed, 22 Jul 2009 08:55:00 +0000

I came home the other night (well stumbled home talking loudly about pot, pots and chartreuse wall paper) to find Thierry Henri, my pet snail, had emerged from the basket and was making his way back to the wall the way he must have gotten in. Clever snail! He had slithered his way out via the hanging basket arm and down the handle.


(image) Wow! I ran for my camera and captured a whole snail series which I’m sure are only of interest to me, a similarly intoxicated Colleen and, of course, snail-fanciers everywhere. But as I stepped down off the ladder I was using to capture the close-ups, I heard a terrible crunch.

Monsieur!
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Oh no. My heart absolutely sank as I realised what had happened. I couldn’t believe it. Poor Monsieur. Can a snail live with a cracked shell? Apparently not. By morning, Monsieur was just a dried up shell of his former self (oh that’s a terrible pun, I’m so sorry Monsieur!)

I couldn’t find Thierry anywhere in the morning, I was distraught! Then, as I was watering the other hanging basket, the one with all the tasty flowers in it - not one, but 2 snails suddenly fell to the ground! Plonk, plonk.

Crap. I really am a snail killer.


But wait... they’re ok! They fell over 8 feet but seem to be intact. And who is this third snail? - could it be that Thierry has rebounded so soon?


(image) The drama goes on. Thierry seems to have gotten over his loss, and is still climbing the walls happily.
RIP Monsieur

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Thierry Henri is IN the hanging basket!

Fri, 17 Jul 2009 11:12:00 +0000

“I’m allergic to all types of fur” said the ever succinct Colleen.

That remark got more than a few laughs (and some smutty remarks) and also put an end to the dog vs. cat debate. Children, sadly, are also out of the question... because I hate them.

But I’ve got love to give! (And apparently a keen observational eye or else I would not have noticed the delightful creatures leading a thrilling, if quiet, life in my back yard).

Enter Thierry Henri and his life partner known simply as Monsieur. You see, Thierry and Monsieur are snails. (All snails are French, of course, and Thierry is particularly sporty and cute so that explains the names. Also Colleen named Monsieur.) They have been crisscrossing my yard, leaving their slimy glittery trails and amusing me to no end all summer.

Thierry loves to climb the brick wall for a nibble at the flowers in my hanging basket which is a good 8 feet off the ground, très impressive, non? Monsieur is more reserved –he’ll go a few feet up the wall, but prefers to slug around at ground level – right now he is about 10 inches up, just chillin’, as one does. Thierry, however, is IN the hanging basket! But not the one with the lovely tastey fresh flowers, no for some reason he has managed to scale the wall and climb into an empty basket (save for the bit of oasis and some dead twigs).

(image) I await anxiously his next move.

Of course, he’s a snail so it could be a few days.

I don’t have a very good picture at the moment, you’ll have to trust me that Thierry is quite cute when fully stretched out and moving along at his rapid pace (truly, he can really move when he wants to!) And Monsieur pretty much always looks like this:

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Oh Monsieur, you are so droll.(image)



Drink Invention: The Sun Burn Slap

Tue, 30 Jun 2009 13:51:00 +0000

This summer's drink invention comes to us from faithful whinorhinos Liam and Colleen who both have a talent for using what's at hand to come up with a winner everytime. They were inspired by the shiny red British and Irish faces all around them on what turned out to be an extremely sunny weekend in Wales.
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Here's a photo courtesy of new friend Paul (I failed to take a picture of the actual drink, because this invention came only after the gin and pimms cocktail was exhausted.)

So with out further ado: How to Make a Sun Burn Slap.

1. Get a big pitcher and throw some ice in.
2. Pour in as much vodka as you think is sensible (or not - remember Colleen was pouring the vodka)
3. Add some lemonade and orange juice.
4. Top up with grapefruit juice to taste.
5. Add a healthy dose of Cripps Family Elderflower Cordial
6. Slice up a handful of strawberries to float on top.
7. Serve over ice to sweaty novice surfers.

I think that was it?? Did I miss anything?(image)



Stolen material

Sun, 07 Jun 2009 09:36:00 +0000

(image) An e-card for the WRP set. Pass the gin.(image)



Vampires are everywhere

Fri, 05 Jun 2009 15:05:00 +0000

It’s not just Twilight - which I read by the way and just don’t see what the fuss is all about. What a dull book! No sex, hardly any violence, and the endless boring thoughts of the main character pining after some boy - what’s the point? I have one more book in the series to go (yes, I’m still reading them even though they are dull, I have a lot of time on my hands just now) and something better happen, damn it! Anyway, as I was saying, the un-dead blood-drinkers are everywhere...EVERYWHERE!

Just this past week I have seen two new pieces of evidence:

First, the best Swedish movie I’ve seen (possibly the only Swedish movie I’ve seen – no wait, I saw Italian for Beginners in January at my parents house quite at random – that’s Denmark...close enough?) is Let the Right One In about a 12 year old vampire named Eli (“I’ve been 12 for a very long time”) and a very pale young boy named Oskar.

I loved this flick – not your usual vampire movie at all and it is scary but not the way you think, its actually kinda sweet until of course you realise at the very end what the future holds.(image) Both the characters are so vulnerable and fragile you feel protective of them, even though one of them might actually rip your head off. It’s visually very interesting - the blood streaming down her sad 12 year old face is an image that sticks with you, but the part that freaked me out best was the sound – it’s a very quiet movie (and cold – brrr, does nothing for Sweden’s tourist industry that’s for sure) but the noise of the blood being drunk and being craved is really freaky, as are the close ups of Eli the vampire when she’s very thirsty...

So yes, I do recommend it – it’s not exactly a horror flick but there is a good amount of blood and plenty of people die! Bring a sweater, there’s more snow and ice than anything else. If the vampire doesn’t get you the horror of living in a frozen Stockholm council estate will.

Second, we are being invaded and menaced here in Northern Ireland by FANGED deers!

(image) I quote from the BBC - “a Bambi lookalike with nasty fangs that can kill a dog.”

I think it’s time to panic. Swedish tweens and vampire bunnies are ok, but dog killing deers?

AHHHHHHH!(image)



Top 10 tips for putting in the day when you really have sweet FA to do

Wed, 27 May 2009 13:38:00 +0000

1. Exercise by going to the park .Apparently, this is good and good for you. I walked 2 miles today... really fast! I even jogged at one point! And it’s no walk in the park (well actually that’s exactly what it is) - there are hazards! If the randomly placed piles of dog shit or the stoop- shouldered, track suit wearing, spliff smoking, school ditching children don’t get you, the geese will. They have all recently hatched their little goslings and are feeling mighty protective. And the swans – don’t get me started, those things are huge, they’ll break your arm! (I am not a fan of anything that flies, although The Trumpet of the Swan was my favourite book in first grade). So this is a major achievement – it also counts as going outside the house. (the ducklings are cute but the geese are EVIL)2. Clean the house.Ha yeah right. I cleaned it once a month ago – do I have to do it again this month?3. Watch the Gilmore Girls.Seriously, why is this show so comforting to watch? Is it because the plot is so boring and nothing ever really happens but yet those Gilmores are growing and evolving anyway and they each own like 12 coats. It's h ard to find a nice winter coat. I think I’ve seen nearly all the episodes now except for the very beginning and the very end. It seems to be on a loop on E4 but I can’t seem to catch those all important episodes. I need to know, does Rory marry Logan?4. Make lunch. Take your time, make a really good sandwhich. This can involve chopping, grating, even sautéing if you are in the mood. Be sure to use good bread. You might have to go the bakery for some. Four hours later, make dinner. You’ll probably want to use a cookbook for this. Once you read the cookbook you will realise you have to go to the store. Good thing you still have a few hours to kill!5. Look for a job...When there are 0 jobs available this doesn’t actually take very long but apparently you have to keep doing it.6. Do all the laundry.This is both a productive and worthwhile activity and will make the house smell better. Your partner will really appreciate the clean socks and honestly, it can take all day. A day well spent I say! (But don’t iron, that would be madness.)7. Read the internet.There’s new stuff every day! Go figure. I am kinda starting to become disillusioned by facebook, but I do like to read the articles that other people suggest. Keeps me from looking at the same 3 papers and my usual blogs over and over. So thanks gang, keep suggesting things to make me a better read person – I need the help!8. Make plans with similarly afflicted jobless friends involving free things to do.Friday, I am going to the Botanic Gardens. It is free and green and has nice flowers and my friend and I will bring a picnic and some papers and possibly a deck of cards.(picture of students, slackers and the jobless on the green at Botanic Gardens)Isn’t this the sort of stuff you wish you had time to do when it’s a sunny day and you are stuck in the office? So you HAVE to do it now. It’s your obligation to make others jealous of your free time and not pity you for your lack of regular income. 9. Make stuff up.I have a rich inner world, I honestly don't get bored, but making stuff up doesn't get much done either. As soon as you find yourself not gainfully employed, everyone will ask constantly what you are doing. After using up the other stuff on this list in your response, I suggest making stuff up. You’ll need to prepare your lies in advance which [...]



More WhinoRhino goes eating: Daft Eddie's - Sketrick Island

Wed, 27 May 2009 12:53:00 +0000

I must be getting old (ok, there has been recent actual calendar proof of that as well) because my nice little blog about drinking is slowly turning into a blog about eating – mind you there was abundant drinking too, don’t worry about me just yet! Sunday was a loverly sunny day, the type of which we only get about 3 of in Northern Ireland so we were definitely going to do SOMETHING...besides sit around the house narking at each other. That’s why we have crazy Kerry... Kerry will tell us what to do! So we went to get Kerry and sure enough she told us about this great little restaurant on an island in Strangford Lough near Killinchy so off we went to Daft Eddie’s. (photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26568506@N05/2494725572/ )This place has everything one could want on a summer’s day (and by summer I mean it must have topped about 15 degrees Celsius – break out the bikinis!), a nice big deck overlooking the harbour full of sail boats, a friendly bar fully stocked, and a menu comprised of battered fried things. There was even some nice ruins of an old castle on the island to look at and you know I love a good Irish ruin! I didn’t have my camera but thanks to flickr here is someone else’s shot of where we were sitting. I had the scampi (fried) and criss-cuts (quite fried). Also on the table we had the fish of the day (fried), chicken gougons (fried), chips (obviously fried) and garlic chips (well duh). Oh and a side salad...something to cleanse the palate between fries. It was here that I was introduced to the gin and tonic’s flirty sister - the pink gin. Loverly to meet her! All you do is add enough bitters to make the drink look slightly pink – colourful and you don’t get sick of the tonic taste like you can after a few too many regular G&T’s. Perfect summer cocktail. The gorgeous view did tend to put us in a rather dreamy mood though (or was it the gin?) and by the end of lunch we had plans to buy a 30 ft sailboat and possibly a nearby cottage. I think we might have to scale that back to renting a sun fish or two one afternoon.Afterwards we took a trip up the coast to Donaghadee for what we are told is the best ice cream around at the Cabin (vanilla only – but very good indeed!) and the oldest bar in Ireland, Grace Neills (est. 1611). I thought I had already been to the oldest bar in Ireland when I was in Cork – what was that called? EE back me up here...something about a potato?*So an ice cream, a walk on the beach, a sing song with the locals and one guy from Amsterdam in the pub, and several pink gins later it was time to go back to boring 'ole Belfast with a slight sun burn and the calories for the entire week ahead already consumed. Swell day out.Epilogue: I was tired; I went home and sat on the couch. Crazy Kerry (her official title), born in the same year as I was, made plans to go out drinking some more that night because Monday was a bank holiday and she is a true whinorhino and thus obligated to get one more night's partying in – I might have to change the name of this blog, I am falling down on the job.*Update: I have chatted with EE and yes we did go to a pub in Cork that claimed to be really old but Grace Neills definitely wins. I was thinking of An Spailpín Fánach in Cork (which means The Potato Picker - see I knew it involved potatoes) but that is a just a newbie in Irish pub terms - est. 1779. I also recall The Gateway Bar est. 1698, but still we have a winner in Grace Neil[...]



WhinoRhino Restaurant Review: No. 27 Talbot

Wed, 20 May 2009 10:43:00 +0000

I’ve wanted to go to this newish Cathedral Quarter spot for a while now, having heard good things, and turning a year older finally provided a reasonable excuse for a nice meal out.The decor was modern, clean lines, chrome and black leather in the bar and dark wood tables in the main dining area with somewhat random, mix-matched art on the walls and a partial view into the kitchen. I liked the blue ceiling and the effect of the yellowed dimmed lights – not exactly romantic but atmospheric of some kind!I had read a review that said the tables were too close together so I was a bit nervous (see previous bad experience with this!) but we were seated at small round table for two at the side of the room that didn’t look as if it would have this problem. I could see how the tables down the centre of the room might be at risk from neighbouring diners though. At 7:30 there was only one other table occupied on Tuesday night but by 8 the place was packed, still there was a sufficient buffer zone around me so that's ok! Coll was in cheesy music heaven as we sat down to the early 90’s crooning of some defunct boy band or other. At one point they played the song from Twin Peaks prompting me to try to explain that whole phenomenon (I was obsessesed with that show in high school) and why it freaked me out to hear that music in such an unlikely place.But the food! Oh the food... well first of all the drinks. They had a few fancy cocktails on the menu so we had to indulge – I had the Elderflower Collins (Bombay Safire, elderflower something and sugar – yum!) and Colleen had something called a Grande Cosmopolitan (I don’t know what made it grande – maybe just a whole lotta vodka, but it was good too). I was going to order a bottle of wine but, as usual, we couldn’t agree so I just ordered a glass of red to go with my main and left Colleen to her Sauvignon Blanc. But I needn’t have worried as the glasses held a very generous pour and it was more than enough to get me through dinner after a couple aperitifs!I craved every single appetizer on the list but I also wanted the steak so I didn’t want to fill up too much. We split the goat’s cheese salad starter and it was loverly, but I could smell the scallops that I really wanted cooking and regretted being sensible momentarily - until my steak came. It was massive and topped with a giant glob of flavoured buttery calorific goodness. Cooked perfectly, medium rare, it was tender and juicy, melt in your mouth delicious. I’ve been on a bit of a vegetable kick of late and haven’t had a proper carnivorous feed of red meat in a long time and damn it felt good. There were also red roast pepper slices and fresh spinach leaves hiding underneath the steak and it came with pomme frites that must have some secret ingredient in them – I consider myself quite the chip connoisseur but these were something special! Anyway, I was glad (ish) that I had split the starter ‘cause I couldn’t quite finish the steak, it was so large. Colleen had the lamb and said it was really good too, but I was too busy slurping up my food to notice what hers was like (I would normally have stolen a bite or two to sample but I completely forgot to!)Of course, it being a birthday occasion, I had to get desert (and another glass of wine), and being the traditionalist that I am I got the crème brûlée which had real vanilla bean flecks in it and although it was of mercifully small pr[...]



North Belfast Paradise

Thu, 23 Apr 2009 14:43:00 +0000

It's been 2 years and the back yard is still kinda a tip, but it's a darn sight better now for my recent paint job. The original plans called for the works: a deck, a patio, landscaping with trees and climbing vines, a funky corner shed, garden mirrors, lighting - it was gorgeous (on paper).

Fiscally prudent person that I am (and unemployed), I think I'll wait a bit (or win lotto) before getting the builders in. I've already knocked out the shed that was there (including deluxe outdoor toilet) and moved the oil tank, replaced the boiler etc, so there is some space now for sitting outside if one was so inclined. No one was though cause it was disgusting.

BEFORE:
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So I've taken a few days out from my busy life of curtain-twitching and laundry-doing and I cleaned it up and painted the walls. Put a few plants in pots and voila!

AFTER:

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Not exactly club med, I am aware, but once I get some hanging baskets and some lanterns out there and ply myself with copious amounts of wine, I might just believe it's starting to be the city garden that's in the plans.

BONUS BEFORE SHOT OF LUXURY OUTDOOR TOILET:

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