24 May 2018

Guernsey and its Little Chapel

Visit to the "Little Chapel" is part of a tour we did as part of our one-day visit to this island, which is not part of the UK though it uses the pound sterling, accepts most laws and standards and lets London run its foreign policy and defense.

Description of Little Chapel from the Visitguernsey website:

The Little Chapel was a work of art and labor of love built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. The version you see today is actually the third version.

The first, measuring a tiny 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, was criticized, so Brother Deodat spent the following night demolishing the building. He soon set to work again and, in July 1914, the grotto was completed and officially blessed. This survived until September 1923; Brother Deodat demolished it in that month because the Bishop of Portsmouth had not been able to fit through the doorway.

He soon set about the construction of a third chapel - which we see today. The building operation proved laborious, collecting pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine. Then suddenly the Little Chapel became famous, thanks to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Presents poured in from around the world and Islanders brought colored china to Les Vauxbelets with the Lieutenant-Governor offering remarkable mother-of-pearl.

In 1939 Brother Deodat returned to France because of ill health. After his departure, the care of the Little Chapel was entrusted to Brother Cephas, who continued to decorate the building until his retirement in 1965. In 1977, a committee was established to restore the chapel and today it falls under the care of The Little Chapel Foundation.

There is no charge to enter the Chapel as it relies totally on public donations.






Tribute to the crew in kitchens and restaurants at the end of the cruise!

22 May 2018

Smallest house in Britain, Conwy, Wales



Today I visited the smallest house in Britain. It was a real house, with someone living in it until it became a museum.

The last occupant was, ironically, a very tall man!

And to finish a walk on the "dancing bridge"

21 May 2018

Giant's Causeway at Cobh, Northern Ireland




Stop at the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland's only Unesco WHS. Rainy day but fun to see this unusual site and waves crashing on the shore!

20 May 2018

Killybegs, Ireland

Biggest hand-operated loom in the world made with Canadian pine wood. The lady said she can do 1000 knots per hour!

These carpets are in Irish embassies around the world and other major public places.

At a local pub, some musicians and crew singers from our ship fraternize.

The town sports a small "cathedral" and lots of fishing boats. A quiet walk under the warm drizzle.


19 May 2018

Isle of Skye

Some consider it the most romantic island of Scotland, and maybe it is, but kind of windy and cold for that purpose today.

We take a leisurely tour of the perimeter and soak in the landscape.

Peat cutting was a major industry for centuries, was then abandoned as uneconomical but it's been resurrected by demand of peat for whisky.

The tomb of Alexander McQueen is a highlight, the fashion genius rests here.



Royal Dinner for the wedding of Harry and Meghan



Evening "Royal" ball on our chip Queen Victoria :)

15 May 2018

Whisky Museum in Dublin, Ireland



What better way to spend a rainy day in Dublin than in the whisky museum?

Notes from a guided tour.

Uisce is the Irish word for water
beatha means of life

book of Kel 1405 first record of the word whiskey, it was then made by monks.

Was the original purpose communion, instead of wine?

Used as perfume, originally from Iran came with with moors to Spain

must be aged at least 3 years by law

Angel share lost to evaporation is about 20% per year, therefore old whiskey expensive: you pay for lost whiskey!

the more you lose to angels the faster whiskey ages

Shibeen illegal distillery in Ireland

Pogee? unaged whisky

malting, germinating by soaking in warm water 3 days, starch changes into sugar

Stop the process by drying with hot air or burning peat to make smoky flavor get grist.

Yeast to transform grist to alcohol, about 12pc beer is the result

Whiskey is distilled beer in a nutshell

In Ireland cìit is allowed to make whiskey at home but not sell or even give away because fear of methanol.

... and also because of tax revenues suffered!

There 8192 illegal stills in Ireland in 1834 , more than ten times more than in Scotland

Triple distillation in Ireland makes for smoother alcohol.

Stills made of copper

Add sulfites as in wine to stabilize

Toasting barrels just 20 seconds or so to get flavor caramel and vanilla from America oak barrels, only use barrels once.

Also continuous still, can get as much alcohol in one week as normal in nine months. Started in 1937 with continuous stills.

Learned to blend now 18 stills up from only 2 before they turned to continuous, more to open soon

no spitting in whisky tasting! must get ending with swallowing
can dilute however, only reason to swirl is to look fancy! no use...

Tasting today:

1. glendalough single grain see photo, double barrel
Smooth

2. powers gold label
malted and raw barley together
started because maltée barley was taxed more traditional
aged in bourbon barrels only
round long

3.the Irishman power reserve
70 pc single malt
spicy

4. Tullamore 12 yo
youngest whisky in bottle is 12yo.
60pc single grain 20pc single malt
smoothness because sulfites lose burn over time.

Just next  to the whiskey museum is the famous Peterson pipe shop, I cannot not go in, and after a good chat with the salespeople who give me a good discount I end up buying two pipes to add to my collection.

End the day with a walk around town looking at some typical architecture.


14 May 2018

Cork, Ireland

Took some time to get ashore as they had to check Lifang's passport. As a UK resident and married to an EU national she does not need, and does not have, a Schengen visa, which the cruise staff should know... So we had to wait for a chubby Irish official to board the ship and check the documents of all non-EU passengers and she, of course, smiled and said all is OK and we can go ashore...

Cork is the 2nd largest natural harbor in the world after Sydney, it has a huge 5m tide which requires skill to operate in. The river is navigable 12 miles up to the city of Cork. It was a poor town for a long time, lots of emigrants going from here to the USA.

Now it is doing very well. Ford established its first factory outside the USA here, but now it is Apple Computers which is the largest employer.

20,000 students at university and 25 million euro golf course bought by Chinese investors!

Only 15pc of population speak Irish as main language but all must study in school

Cork means marsh in Gaelic

Main road called Patrick, was a canal, now lamp posts like ship masts

Lots of billboards in every street for and against the upcoming abortion referendum

Interesting fish at a local market!


10 May 2018

Film review: Youth (2017) by Feng Xiaogang, *****

Synopsis

When Xiaoping joins the military, delicate dreams are dashed by the events of a China undergoing revolution. The devastating Sino-Vietnamese war crashes into 1970s China, changing the lives of the Army's young new recruits forever.

In this epic spanning several decades, Youth shows Comrades of the People's Liberation Army fight amongst themselves as much as on the battlefield – and cause as much damage as the war that tore their lives apart.


Review

Incredibly passionate and captivating historical film about life in China during the huge transformations that took place after Mao's death. A love story starts during the excesses of the cultural revolution with the "great helmsman" still in power, and the trauma of the war against Vietnam in 1979. After that, rapid reforms make many Chinese rich, and many officials corrupt, but the human story of the protagonists carries through the ages. One man's good deeds are taken for granted and not appreciated any more.

The film was supposed to be released just before the 2017 party congress but it was held up until after the congress itself for some reason. Maybe because it contains thinly veiled criticism of Mao and also raises many questions about the new system of the country.

A strongly recommended film about how China became what it is today.

See other film on China reviewed in this blog.