Holi One Colour Festival


IMG_20140816_145754_1Ridley: Latimer and I went to the Holi festival that was held yesterday in Kilmainham in Dublin!IMG_20140816_145745_1 We had a fantastic time chucking around our coloured powder, more often than not you’d have heard one of us shout, “Close your eyes!” before there’d be a face full of powder and you’d become a large puff ball of pink or blue.

We loved mixing the colours in the one bag, it was just so pretty! Like those old bottles filled with coloured sand in different layers, I remember I used to have one as a child!IMG_20140816_145314
IMG_20140816_145924IMG_20140816_144750 Of course, we also shared our powder with others, both by throwing it up in the air during the count down from the musicians on stage, and then one guy who had been watching us mess fight with the powder for ages, eventually plucked up the courage to ask if he could ‘have some too’, so as I happily said ‘of course’, Latimer was already lining up a handful of orange powder toss to onto his head, he even bent down so she could do it properly!IMG_20140816_145515

He wandered away well chuffed with himself. We later saw him arm in arm with a new girlfriend, though it was possibly one of those ‘just for the day relationships’ 🙂  but we both nodded in satisfaction that the oranging of his head had done wonders for our powdered friend! 😀 After all, the whole point of the festival was to promote ideas of togetherness and to have fun and bring colour to your every day life! IMG_20140816_152624

The festival itself, while not religious in any sense, was originally inspired by the Indian Holi festival, which is a Hindu festival of colours. It is a celebration of love, of triumph of good over bad. People hug and wish everyone a ‘Happy Holi’.pb-130322-india-holi-nj-03.photoblog900Everyone runs around tossing coloured powder and water at each other and into the air. Really it’s a free for all. I love the idea that there’s a specific festival in India that is as colourful as this and celebrates togetherness of friends and family. It makes me want to visit there one day and take part! As it was Latimer and I had a fantastic time at our own smaller version!

“If wishes come in rainbow colours then, I would send the brightest one to say Happy Holi!”

IMG_20140816_201558

A Chinese St Patrick’s Day

giphy (1)

Latimer: I know Saint Patrick’s day is long over, but this year was the first I’d spent ‘off world’ and it was a little out of the ordinary!

I didn’t really expect to see any Paddy’s Day stuff in China and just as well because I didn’t. I had to explain Paddy’s Day to my Chinese guide. In primary school we all learned about Patrick from An Bhreatain Bheag (Wales, that’s what we were told anyway), and how he was kidnapped by the Irish slaver Niall of the Nine Hostages and taken to Ireland.

I got a bit of a way into this story and paused.

‘Well, Saint Patrick’s day itself is more about celebrating your Irishness’; the guide looked confused, so I carried on, feeling the weight of the whole of Ireland bearing down on me. ‘It’s for the people that went away’, I smiled, ‘you know like in China when people leave and then they want to feel connected to home?’

He nodded. I’m not sure I explained it well enough in the end!

It’s just an Irish holiday to celebrating your culture and where you come from, or just having fun (or craic – Irish for fun)!

I spent the day in a monastery! I had fun letting everyone back home know I was in a monastery on Paddy’s Day!

20140317_152842 20140317_153338 20140317_153646

20140317_151524

During the day I climbed the Giant Stone Buddha at Leshan, looking for any ‘signs’ of Paddy’s Day –  haha, which I didn’t find!

20140317_120125

20140317_121246

20140317_123114

There were no signs – no green, no shamrocks, nothing… BUT! When we got to the monastery to check-in we were introduced to our local guide.

Aside here: in China, people take Western names (like Tom, John, Seamus, Charles) so it’s easier for Western’s to say their names (their parents don’t actually call them John etc). These names are usually given to the Chinese people by their English teachers.

The local guide introduced himself; “Hello, my name is Patrick!” And I just started laughing. Brilliant.

patrick

 So that was my Paddy’s Day in China – a simple name had me smiling all day!

20140317_182958
My Bailey’s Irish Cream drink 🙂

Holiday Eats and Paddy’s Day

Latimer eating
Food, glorious FOOD!

Latimer: Where am I now? I’m not too sure really, but I bet I am eating my own weight in noodles, at least I hope so or I will be so very disappointed in myself! (Don’t disappoint me future self!)

IMG_20130820_123835

It’s also Paddy’s Day today (Lá Fhéile Pádraig) – the first one that I’ll be spending off of the auld sod! It’ll make me smile if I see some shamrocks and a bit of green in China today!

Hope you all have a good day 🙂

st-patricks-day-dublin-green-trinity-college


Dracula and Bram Stoker

What’s Bram Stoker got to do with Dublin?

Latimer: I admit that up until a few years ago, I didn’t know that Bram Stoker was Irish (maybe you do and you are gasping at my ignorance right now). It was actually a bit of a shock to me when I found out.

He is, for some unknown reason, not a writer we often talk about. He passes unnoticed.

While we wax lyrical about Joyce and Wilde, we never mention Stoker.

Another famous son 🙂

While vampire’s and vampirism literature were around long before Stoker’s time, he is now remembered as the creator of vampire lore. It just goes to show the power of his story-telling. He never even visited Romania.

Bran’s Castle, Vlad the Impaler’s castle

Bram Stoker started life as a very sickly child, spending his early years bed-ridden (up until the age of 7yrs). People say this is probably what led to the development of his fantastical imagination. Bram himself remarked later; “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.”

When he grew up, he left the sick-bed behind. He attended Trinity College Dublin (TCD 🙂 ), played rugby and was a fantastic athlete like many other members of his family.

But, why am I talking about Stoker?

Recently I attended a talk about Bram Stoker’s medical family. And at this talk, I learned that this year is the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death and Dublin is readying itself to celebrate its, bizarrely overlooked son, with the first Festival of Bram Stoker, which will be held in October.

The Stoker’s shaped Dublin in many ways and were very influential at the time in Ireland.

They were a very well-to-do family. They lived in many grand houses dotted around Dublin. If you’ve ever been to the city, you’ll know there are lots of old Georgian style town houses around the streets. Bram Stoker’s family home is preserved on Kildare St (which is very near Trinity College). 

They were an intelligent family; there were 4 boys, including Bram, the 3 other brothers became doctors. And they had 9 cousins that also became doctors.

Sir William Thornley Stoker, President of RCSI

Bram Stoker’s brother, Sir William Thornley Stoker, was the former President of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI). Because his cousin William Stoker, was also a doctor, Sir William went by the name ‘Thornley’. I think that’s a cool name, Thornley Stoker… sounds, strangely enough, like a vampire hunter!  

Bram wasn’t interested in being a doctor. He studied mathematics in Trinity. He was also an active member of the University Philosophical Society. He petitioned for a young Oscar Wilde to join the society. He would eventually end up marrying Florence Balcombe, Wilde’s childhood sweetheart. When Wilde realised they were engaged, he left Ireland more or less for good, only returning twice more in his life. But, when Wilde was living in Europe (after his release from prison), Stoker would often visit him.

Lyceum Theatre, London

After a few years working in Dublin, Bram moved to England to become the manager of the Lyceum Theatre and of Henry Irving (the most famous and best actor of the day).

Bram also got to work on writing Dracula. He was a very methodical writer. He had a book that contained all of his notes, and timetables of events in the story. He would write down train timetables, to make sure that when trains appeared in his book, they ran according to the correct schedule. He also often wrote to his brother Sir William and would ask his medical opinion on any such events in the book. Sir William would write back and tell him, ‘yes, if he is hit here, this will happen’ and what pressure points should be detailed.

Brams notes

There was speculation that Bram got a lot of inspiration for the Dracula novel from stories his mother would tell him about the cholera epidemics in Sligo (where she was from). She would tell him stories about people being buried alive (which apparently they often were during the cholera epidemics).

Events and stories were noted in his notebook, along with newspaper clippings of strange events or interesting things that happened around him.

Dracula was published in 1897- and a first edition of the book, today is worth 250,000 euro!!

Original cover

The Bram Stoker society in Ireland is trying hard to get Stoker more recognised as an Irishman. They are collecting money to commission a statue of Bram Stoker to be put on display in Dublin.

The city is known for its statues… we have a lot!

Patrick Kavanagh, on the canal bench
Oscar Wilde in Merrion Park
Brendan Behan, Royal Canal just off Dorset Street
James Joyce, North Earl Street just off O’Connell Street
Children of Lir, Garden of Remembrance Parnell Square
Irish Famine statues, North Quays

Joyce and Wilde are happily on display… the poet Patrick Kavanagh sits (unhappily perhaps!) on a bench by the canal; but no Stoker!

Dublin is trying to reclaim Stoker- and why not? Hopefully it works; I think it would be nice to have a statue of Bram Stoker in Dublin. It was really interesting hearing about how his family shaped various parts of Dublin.

Myself and Ridley are primed and ready to go to the Stoker Festival! Stay tuned for that post 🙂

Bram Stoker Festival 2012 Post

 

It’s Hard to Dance, with A Devil on your Back

It’s festival time- whah-hey!

Latimer: I’m not a festival goer- let’s just say that straightaway.

I’ve been enjoying a few gigs, here and there. I like the intimate setting of a small venue. But the first and only major music event I attended was when I was a wee child of fifteen. Ridley was there too. It was Slane castle; we went to see The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Myself and Ridley were well out of our depth. We were lost on a hill with heavy drinkers, heavy party-ers, no tea and most importantly no creature comforts.

She won’t like me saying this, but we spent hours on that parched hill, in the blistering sun, wondering, when, when could we just go home! It was torture. While our other friends swayed, we guarded bags. I remember someone actually came into our protective circle, picked up my friend’s bag and walked away. Determined I plunge after her, and nabbed it back (sounds more forceful than it was, I literally just took it back!).

The sad thing about this is, we actually got so annoyed by being there that we both left before the ‘Chilli’s’ even started. Ridley does find this a bit cringe-worthy to this day. It’s not a story that would make music-lovers treat you well!

So, the Phoenix Park was, ‘ding-ding’, round 2 for me.

First off, the Phoenix Park is a very nice park in Dublin. Though Sunday was a very grey and rainy day, so picture quality was limited.

Phoenix Park is where our President lives, in Áras an Uachtaráin (‘house of the president’). As we walked in, I was asking ‘is this the Áras? Is that the Áras? Where is the damn Áras?’ to which a mutual friend of mine and Ridley’s, Orbie, said, ‘it’s over there! I was in the Áras once, I shook Mary Robinson’s hand.’

I gaped at her, I had known her years and never once heard this story. Why I pressed? Why was she in the Áras?

‘I was at a Saw Doctors concert in the garden’. That was plain weird. Now, I wanted to know why were the Saw Doctors playing a concert in Mary Robinson’s garden?

It was a pretty rainy day. We were kitted out in cheap welly-boots bought in the Irish retailer of Primark goods (Pennys) (probably the equivalent of Wall-MART, though I’m only guessing at that, as I’ve never been inside a Wall-MART before… though for some reason, I want to go to one!).

We were all moving in a pack. It seemed like everyone was going to the concert. Everyone knew each other by their wellys and rain-jackets- basically everyone was a walking Penny’s advertisement. I saw my boots repeated too many times to count over the course of the day.

By the time we got to the concert, we were already talking about how great our wellys were and how we were ready for muck-war. And muck-war we got. I have never experience such a vast amount of muck before in my life. We were herded into the main arena, through cattle gates. Patted down and checked for alcohol. I snapped a picture of a girl dressed as a cow going through the gates.

I found out later that said girl was stowing lots of bottles of vodka in her udders, and was subsequently ejected from the arena.

Once inside the arena, I scouted the field- food, check, toilets, yuck, check… massive stage dominating the skyline check! Hurrah, we’d made it!

We staked out a spot by one of the massive hoists near the stage. A meeting spot if anyone got lost. The concert started with The Temper Trap- they were good, but not as good as I thought they’d be. Somehow I don’t think I’m feeling their new stuff.

But I love the old album… when they played Fader, the crowd surged!

Afterward, we waited for Florence and the Machine to set up. That was taking a while; Orbie decided she wanted a drink. So I went with her to the O’Brien’s sandwich trailer. As we waited to be served- Florence appeared on stage.

Orbie looked back at me, her face panicked, “NO!” she mouthed as Flo started singing. I waded back into the mud, to look up at the stage.

When Orbie got her drink, we struggled back to the stage. But people were surging forward now, a massive crowd. We ducked and wove through them; we couldn’t move too quickly because the muck was sticky and I was panicking over what would happen if I fell out of my boots!

I wove through a huddled circle of people- protecting their drinks between them.

I overstepped them, Orbie hot on my tails. Orbie raced up behind me; “They were so mad at you! They pushed me back!”

“Stupid place to leave their drinks!” I declared continuing onward. No one would stop me from seeing Florence! Bah, I thought, Bah to them… (yet, I’m still thinking, oooppss maybe i shouldn’t have done that!)

Florence was an angel. She jumped, and floated around the stage like a force of nature. There was something very ethereal about her. She’s a free spirit. She wore a flowing dress and gliding down to slap the hands of her adoring fans, who were straining to reach her.

One banner read ‘Hey Flo, want to shake it out with me later?’ another stated ‘Flo! Marry me!’.

When Florence asked people to get up on each other’s shoulders and sway- they did. When she asked people to jump, to sing- they did! It was like for that split moment we were her giant, multi-person-ed, puppet.

And of course when she sung Dog Days the crowd almost imploded in on itself…

Her set reminded me how great her Ceremonials album is… wow..

Once Florence disappeared, telling us repeatedly how much she loved Ireland, and therefore us (we took it with solemn nods, with accepting, slight shrugs, ‘but of course Florence, of course’). Orbie and I raced off to Wok n’ Fry for some Pad Thai noodles- for which we waited at least 40mins. By which time Snow Patrol (who I was repeatedly referring to as Snow Play) had appeared on stage. I looked at Orbie and said, “I want my Pad Thai though!”

Pad Thai in tow, we stumbled back to the stage; mud wrestling had started up and various drunken girls and boys had started to toss each other around the field.

Myself and Orbie stood with our Pad Thai and watched Snow Patrol, happy smiles on our faces as the world turned to muck around us.

Snow Patrol were brilliant. While I preferred Florence’s music, I found that Snow Patrol got the crowd going in a way Flo hadn’t. But then, maybe she had warmed us up?

I’m not a massive Snow Patrol fan- I don’t even have one of their albums, however, everyone knows Chasing Cars, and when it started, I swayed, gobbling down my yummy noodles (with wedge of lime and heap of coriander- the ‘crowd divider herb’ I’m starting to realise- Orbie despises it- but I think it’s KING of herbs).

We had been in the park since 5pm. It took us about 2hours all in all to get to the stage from town. It was Sunday evening, my back and feet were killing me. The rain had left us in a murky haze for the entire day. But it was all somehow very cool.

Like a crowd of confused zombies, we waded out of the muck and started the walk out of the Park at 11pm. By this time, the crowd was full of drunk people- to be honest a lot of people were drunk going in- well, listening to people talking got to be very funny… one conversation;

Man: “Stop talking to me like I’m stupid… I’m not stupid… I pick up languages like a tick picks up *BLEEHH!*” (wherein he, well, got sick)

Woman to the above man: “AHHH! I thought we’d gotten rid of you!” Which begged the question, had they come to the Park just to lose him?

The woman and her friends started singing a song; like they were racing on horses, the ‘na na na nananananananahhh nanananana ananah’. It has no words, it’s just sounds.

Man (same as before) chirps up again: “Ah, is that Spanish? Are you’s speaking Spanish?”

I nearly died laughing.

We finally plodded out of the park and passed this interesting piece of graffiti on the way. The book spines were left blank and a message had been left on the bottom, stating ‘add your own’. So people had written their favourite books names on the spines- there was even a Chinese one there, which was pretty cool.

When we got home again, we debated what to do with our mucky boots as we have no outdoor space. We left them soaking in a basin and went to bed at 1am.

The following day, the dreaded Monday, I was so tired I wanted to cry.

But all in all, a very cool Sunday!