Thursday, September 20, 2012

Photo of the week

Been a while since i've had a photo of the week but i saw this while walking home last night. It's a pair of crocs (am i spelling that right) neatly place against a wall on Denmark Street in Limerick. I mean loosing a single croc is one thing but loosing two is bad. It also raises other questions

  • Did this person walk home barefoot? 
  • Did they realize they were now "Croc-Less"? 
  • If they did this intentionally, what sudden catastrophy cause this person to discard their footwear on the street?
  • Did they place them neatly by the wall themselves or did some concerned passerby do this?
I know i'm definitely over thinking this but it was one of those nights

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Red Bull Bedroom Jam Final - Whelans

I wrote this review about 2 weeks ago for a Hotpress competition, seeing as i didn't win i'll put it up here. Photos will be uploaded tonight -B

After months of online voting, regional heats and festivals, three bands remained. Whelan’s was packed for this invite only gig to see which band would claim the prize of a week long recording session in Amsterdam.

Unfortunately I arrived just in time to see Walking on Cars’ final song but the Dingle based rockers really seemed to have the crowd going

Next up were Waterford outfit In The Willows who had a sleepy, low key sound that didn’t really get the audience going until the final song.

Completing the trinity, rocker band Icon on Fire couldn’t have been more different. Half of Westmeath seemed to have pilled into the iconic music venue to hear these guys blast out the tunes, including original songs and a few more well know hits.  

As the judges made their decision, the crowd was entertained by the sounds of Ham Sandwich, an indie band that just oozes with energy proving once again that they are the next big thing on the Irish music scene.

Finally, the judges announced their choice – Walking on Cars. The crowd urrupted as the winners took to the stage once more. Overall a good night’s entertainment thanks to four great bands

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

a friend in every EU country

I recently hit the milestone of having a friend in all 32 counties so my next target is a friend in every eu country

Completed (i've picked one friend so sorry if its not you)

Austria - Martin
Belgium - Shona
Bulgaria - Nikki
Czech Republic - Miko
Denmark -Andres
Estonia - Kristjan
Finland - Ilona
France - Igor
Germany - Jens
Italy - Luca
Latvia - Iggy
Luxembourg - Amandine
Netherlands - Maureen
Poland - Jacob
Portugal - Juoa
Romania - Andrei
Spain - Pablo
Sweden - Caroline 
United Kingdom - Sam

Not Completed 
Cyprus -
Slovakia -
Slovenia -

So it turns out i'm further ahead than I thought I was

Update 29/7/12 - managed to knock the Czech Republic and Portugal off the list

Update 20/1/13 - managed to knock Luxemborg off the list

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Photo of the Week

In the first of my photo of the week segments:

This was taken in a bookstore in London. Ironically this was the last photo I took before I left London

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chief Scout Award - 10 Month Review

I've been working on my CSA for about 10 months or so. At this point I thought I'd do a review of where I am and where I hope to go with it.

Community (including additional weeks)
For the last 9 months I’ve been working as a Scout Leader with the 23rd Limerick. I set myself the target of promoting the ONE Programme within the Group, with particular focus on the Adventure skills and the Chief Scout Award. I think I’ve had reasonably success with this
  •  Adventure Skills Training weekend for Scouters organised in March
  • Assessments carried out for Senior Cubs, Scouts, Ventures and Rovers
  • Individual Scouts given targets to reach higher levels and some venture scouts have started assess younger members of the group
  •  Resources developed to help Beaver and Cub Scouts to support the Personal  Journeys in their Programmes
  • 3 Beavers, 6 Cubs, 3 Scouts and 2 Ventures registered for and working towards the CSA with more expected in the next six months.

At this point I am almost completed with the 52 weeks. I have decided to use Scouting for the additional weeks. However in September I expect to have move to Dublin so I will have to discuss my goals with my mentor and new Group Leader.

I have chosen photography for my skill. I have decided on the following challenge:
  •  Join the Dublin Camera Club and take part in the Beginners and Intermediate courses
  • After the courses, I will attend the Tuesday night meetings and work with other members to improve my skills
  • Prepare a portfolio of my photography work and organise an Exhibition of my photographs (on a theme selected with my mentor)
Most of this will be completed in the next few months.

I have chosen rock climbing for my phyiscal activity. I chose this for a number of reasons. A) to get fit, B) to improve my skills and c) to get over my fear of heights. I've a few sessions done with the UL Outdoor Pursuits Club but when I move to Dublin I hope to continue with the Gravity Climbing Centre. I have decided on the following challenge:

  • Join the Gravity Climbing Centre and spend 1 hour a week climbing
  •  Take part in at least 4 outdoor climbing sessions
  • Learn how to lead
  • Be in a position to start working towards my Single Pitch Award

I’ve been looking at potential areas for my Expedition with Snowdonia being amongst the favourites. The route would take me from Conwy to Porthmadog (including climbing Mt Snowdon). Things needed to be done
  • Recruit team
  • Plan Route
  • Pick dates

 Public Transport will be used to get to and from the expedition and a full training plan will be devised for the team.

I have signed up for the Cork Scouts of the World Award team – more to come.

Adventure Skills – Camping to Stage 8
So far I have reached Stage 6 (Internal Group Assesment) and I am working my way through the requirements for Stages 7 and 8 

Adventure Skills – Hillwalking to Stage 7
I am waiting assessment on Stage 6 and have begun working towards Stage 7 having already completed the 1300m objective. I need a bit more experience in mirco navigation and I have about 10 or so hikes to log

Adventure Skills – Emergencies to Stage 7
I picked this because I would be starting from scratch. I have recently attended a CPR Courses (with a certied course due to follow next week) and I am currently trying to arrange a REC3 course for Scouters in Limerick in September. Hope to get assessed by the expert in April.

Portfolio Work
So far I have written the Introduction section and began a page for each requirement explaining my challenge and motivation.

There is significantly more work involved in this than I imagine but I am progressing along at a good pace and hope to finish on target for September 2013. 

My Saudi Experience

I wrote this report in October 2011 after returning from the International Peace in Jeddah.

When you think of going for a holiday, i'd imagine Saudi Arabia probably doesn't make most people's top 10, does it? It certainly had it for me but in August 2011 I saw an article on looking for applications for a Peace Camp in Saudi Arabia. Never one to turn down an opportunity, I signed up not really expecting to get picked.

So off myself and Noel Synott went to the desert for 10 days. Over the next few days we got to meet our fellow delegates from Georgia, Iceland, Denmark, Italy, Estonia, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Ukraine, India, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nepal, Japan, Columbia and Nicaragua as well as our hosts the Saudis. The Peace Camp is in fact several small camps taking place around the country with the largest (including the International Sub Camp) taking place just outside the King Abullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), near Jeddah.

Camping in Saudia Arabia is a strange experience. We had large tents, lined with Arabian rugs and fitted with Air Con and electricity. Over the next few days we were brought around to various places such as local Scout Campsites, Schools, Museums, a local bazaar, a (very modern shopping centre), the KAUST campus, a volcanic spring and the Jeddah City Centre. We also got to do several water activities in the Red Sea. One of the things I noticed was the difference in lifestyle between those in the countryside and those living/working/studying in KAUST. Two places only a few miles apart yet thousands of light years away from each other in reality. 

To describe it as a culture shock was an understatement. I don't mean that it in a negative way. Most people look at the Middle East as being quiet backwards and this isn't nessecarily the case. Its a different place with different history, culture, traditions etc. The people of the Middle East probably thing everything we do is crazy.

I found our hosts to be very friendly if a little too friendly. The idea of personal privacy seems to vary. We found young people were for ever coming up and taking pictures of us. We were a novelty (the token white people) and it was just something we would have to get used to for our stay. That said the people around our own age were incredibly nice, respectful and helpful. I did notice a big difference between attitudes of older people (more conservative) and younger people (more liberal, question authoring of the king) which was interesting to note.

On our last full day at the camp we were visited by members of the World Scout Foundation including the Swedish King and Queen who were lovely people. That night we were involved in the official launch of the Messengers of Peace Programme at KAUST.

On a negative note, I found the trip to be a wasted opportunity of sorts. Here you had Rover Scouts from across the world and it could have been a perfect chance to get some really amazing work done on developing MoP projects. That said, I hope to build on the connections made.

From this trip I've made some contacts and more importantly some great friends. Thanks to Scouting Ireland and the Saudi Boy Scout Association for this experience.

For more on the Messengers of Peace check out For my photos check here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Swedish Experience

Here's an article I wrote back in August 2011 about my experience at the 22nd World Scout Jamboree in Sweden.
This summer I had the pleasure of being part of the 800 strong Irish Contingent to the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden. This was my first time at a World Jamboree. Despite having attended several large national events including the Irish Jamboree in 2008 and hearing a lot of stories for last World Jam, nothing could prepare me for the experience in Sweden. The Jamboree site was a thriving multicultural city of tents with all the services you’d expect in a real city from shops and restaurants to a hospital and dentists. Every day brought new encounters with different nationalities and helped me create friendships that will last a lifetime.
My role at the WSJ was working on Waste Team 4. This sounds like a horrible job but I loved it. I got to work with a truely international group of people, I got to visit nearly every corner of the massive Jamboree site and I great sense of satisfaction knowing that with my work the jamboree could not happen.
This year the Irish were one of 10 contingents to offer a food house at the jamboree. The other nations were England, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Lichtenstein, Japan, France, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark and Austria. Despite being one of the smallest the Irish House was by far the busiest every night with good food, live music and good old Irish Craic.
The Irish apparel was the most sought after on the jamboree. Every day we had people coming up looking to swap for stuff. I was able to come home with a huge collection of neckers and badges.
One of the highlights of the site was the massive tower in the middle of the site. After a long walk to the top, you could see most of the subcamps. On my day off i got to try out the ferris wheel made out of pioneering timber. This was very well built and an enjoyable experience.
The activity of the jamboree had to be Quest which was planned, built and run by a predominately Irish Team. I was lucky to attend the IST session on quest were i got to try out the Cave (a giant maze) and conQuest- an incredible obstacle course. Definately one of the highlights.
Words cannot truly describe the Jamboree Experience. With that in mind I can only urge you all to go to Japan in 2015 if you can and experience it for yourself.
Waste Team 4

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

30 things before 30

a while back I wrote this list of 30 things i wanted to achieve before i reached 30. Some of it i've done by this stage, others i'm working on doing. After Paudy put up his bucket list, I was challenged to put up my list. The old blog ain't live any more so i'm gonna but it up here.

  1. Get the gold gaisce - ongoing
  2. Make a short fim- ongoing
  3. Reach everest base camp
  4. go interrailing
  5. Have a friend in all 32 counties
  6. Get a book published
  7. Learn to play the guitar
  8. Sky dive
  9. fly in a helicopter
  10. Be a movie extra
  11. Make the Front Page of a National Newspaper
  12. Be part of a flash mob
  13. Fly a plane
  14. Learn to drive - on going
  15. Conquer my fear of heights - on going
  16. Create a viral website - on going
  17. Get Fit (able to run a marathon or similar) - on going
  18. Take the Oz Bus - need to rethink this one as the oz bus is no longer running
  19. Drive the E20
  20. Camp somewhere nearly bizare - Cave
  21. Go volunteer in a developing country
  22. Learn CPR (properly)
  23. Visit Kandersteg
  24. Visit the Great Wall
  25. Walk the Inca Trail
  26. Go on Safari
  27. Break a world record - partially complete
  28. Visit the desert
  29. Go to Oktoberfest
  30. Do a festival tour
  31. Finish college

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Since when are they in Europe....

Well folks, it's that time of year again and whether you admit it or not, most of ye will be tuning in to see how Jedward do at some point of the week. Of course we all deny liking it or just say "well i only watch the results"

But every year I hear people give out about countries like Israel or Azerbaijan can take part in the Eurovision. So here's a little lesson on how Eurovision entry works:

Participation in the Eurovision is open to active members of the European Broadcast Union which is a big collective of state broadcasters. To join the EBU your country needs to be:

  • part of the Council of Europe
  • Part of the European Broadcast Area (EBA) 
Confused yet? The EBA is an area defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Here's the complicated definition:
The "European Broadcasting Area" is bounded on the west by the western boundary of Region 1, on the east by the meridian 40° East of Greenwich and on the south by theparallel 30° North so as to include the northern part of Saudi Arabia and that part of those countries bordering the Mediterranean within these limits. In addition, IraqJordanand that part of the territory of Syrian Arab RepublicTurkey and Ukraine lying outside the above limits are included in the European Broadcasting Area
Is that a bit too much? Here's a nice map:

  Entered at least once
  Never entered, although eligible to do so
  Entry intended, but later withdrew

So that's how it works (We'll leave out the question of what defines Europe). So on Saturday evening when you're "not" watching the Eurovision and someone (who's also "not" watching) asks "Hang on, they're not European") you can show off your new found knowledge - while not actually watching the Eurovision, obviously.