Friday, May 14, 2010

Twitter Hot Air: A Tweetaholic Home?

Unlike many of my twitter followers, I began tweeting as a simple social diversion from office pressures after returning to work from my home a few months ago. As my wife was away at work herself for long periods of the day, I would wile away my relaxation time by harmlessly tweeting a few 'musing and amusing' thoughts on the social web. I was encouraged in this pursuit by both my daughters who described me as the 'coolest Dad' on the web and who soon joined the Twitter web site themselves. However, what initially was only a little 'tipple' for elemental sustenance soon became a more demanding habit as the number of followers grew. I suddenly realised that I was consuming more & more tweets by the day and I realised with a shudder a short time ago that I now have a 'twink' (drinking tweets) problem. This problem has now become more acute because my 'good wife' has also decided to drink from this well of human happiness and join Twitter herself. This decision has been greeted with great amusement by our daughters who text messages such as 'Are the two of you tweeting for lunch today' or 'A tweet a Day keeps the Doctor Away', which are decidedly unhelpful. The problem is getting so great that my wife and I are competing for access to the home computer after the evening meal and I have taken to sending 'direct messages' (DM's) to her from my mobile to get her attention. We have no longer any 'apps' for housework, gardening or even cooking' and our house has truly become a 'Home Tweet Home' with a difference!

Thus i appeal to all the social gurus out there particularly in the USA to offer what advice they can before we both become tweetaholics and end of blocking each other on our respective sites. Indeed we have become so divorced from reality by our obsession with 'hot air' inconsequential characters numbering 140 at the last count that we can be said to be out on our tweet with tiredness!

Note: This is written as a 'light' confection and should therefore be only consumed with a large cup of coffee and nothing more serious!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Architect Here & Now: Notto Lotto Do?

A number of people have asked me why as a practising architect, I rarely if ever refer on my blog to architecture in general or my own work in particular. I could of course answer glibly that architecture should speak for itself and should require no explanation from me. However, this would in fact be an evasion of the truth on my part. The real reason lies with the general economic climate which has over the last 18 months decimated the building industry in general and my own profession in particular in Ireland. This in turn has lead to the closure of my own business office in Galway and a retreat to my private house where i have endeavoured to 'regroup' (if such a term can be applied to a small practice comprising only a few people) and refocus my business. I'm glad to say that our practice has now secured commissions for school, health and social housing projects which will hopefully allow my business to at least continue in existence.

Thus, i feel it is opportune for me to set down here a few samples of the work executed by my practice over the last 27 years in Galway City, including 13 years with my then partner John Yates. John has now retired but he was a great companion and talented architect during our time working together.

The motto of my own practice was & continues to be 'Managing Quality with Design' but until very recently because of the recession in the building industry, unfortunately I have not had much of an opportunity to realise this ambition. Thus, because of the amount of time on my hands i have had an opportunity to explore the Twitter social media site but I will soon have to reduce my time commitment to this tweeting activity.

Thus, the work load of my practice has gradually increased again in the last few months and I trust that those visiting this blog will feel that our practice has made at least a positive design contribution to Galway in particular and in the West of Ireland generally.

Some of our buildings are listed below:

1) The Town Hall & Black Box Theatres in Galway

2) The Galway Hospice Building in Renmore, Galway.

3) The Catholic Church in NUI Galway

4) The Cearnog Nua Shopping Centre, Moycullen, Co. Galway

5) Connemara Coast Hotel,Furbo, Co. Galway

6) Claremorris District Garda Headquarters, Claremorris, Co. Mayo.

and other churches,hotels, housing schemes and health care facilities.

It has certainly not been a boring experience to date and hopefully there is some 'water in the well' yet!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Whine of the WeeK: On the Pig's Ear!

This blog is a celebration of a 14th century painting, a lovely children's book and a fine wine! The painting is a spectacular fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti which is housed in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico. A central feature of this lovely painting is a black pig with a white stripe of the breed known as Cinta Senese which I believe can still be seen on the hills above Siena. In the painting one of these pigs is being brought to market, and this simple painting is the inspiration for a lovely children's book by Nancy Shroyer Howard called 'Mischief in Tuscany'. I bought this book when visiting there with my grandson, the lovely Sean (Giovanni), as a token of his interest in the city, its animals and indeed his own unique brand of mischief. I hope when he is older he can use the book as a catalyst for recalling his visit to the Tuscany area and especially Siena. The wine I bought to add to my own collection of distinctive wine labels as it features the same fresco and pig. While I hope to keep this book safely for Sean, I'm afraid that keeping the wine until he is 'of age' would not be practical! So, lets therefore raise a glass and drink a toast to Sean, Siena and of course the little black pig! But be careful don't get 'sow'zled'!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Going Bust in the Glass Menagerie!

My good wife & and I are getting older. No surprise in that statement perhaps as it would appear to be a phenomenon shared by all mankind. Furthermore, I hasten to add that this aging process has not quite advanced to the stage of utter senility and although we may differ in our assessment of this process, our daughters have helpfully advanced the explanatory notion that we are no longer the proverbial 'spring chickens'! However the effects of this advancing age are making themselves apparent in ever increasingly frustrating ways! For example, one or other of us is likely to misplace our mobile phone at least once a month. However, we have overcome this minor irritation by simply calling the 'lost' phone until we successfully locate it. A more serious problem however arises when we misplace our glasses. Before you deem to offer advice like:you 'should have gone to spec savers', may I saw that we have no problem with seeing through our respective glasses but rather with seeing them at all. There have been times when I have wondered how creamy the shampoo was only to find later on 'seeing' the bottle that I had been using hair 'conditioner' to wash my hair. A problem of ever greater significance came to light when my wife commented while driving that the bicycle in the distance was a bit far out on the road only to find that without her glasses she was mistaking the two wheel vehicle for a large 8 wheeled articulated truck which was heading straight for us! So in desperation we put as it were 'our thinking glasses on' and came up with a radical solution that almost made us 'bust a gut' at its ingenious simplicity. We have simply co-opted two busts from our odd ball collection (it makes a change from collecting wine bottles i suppose) and are using them as a kind of his & her glasses receptacle. Hallelujah! We can now easily locate our glasses and can see our way towards a brighter and clearer future and i think you will agree that it is worth raising a glass, or in this case two pairs of glasses, to that!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fishing with John Wayne at The Quiet Man Bridge

Bank Holiday Monday was a beautiful sunny day and so I headed to Connemara to fish beside Leam Bridge which featured in 'The Quiet Man' Movie with John Wayne & Maureen O'Hara in 1952. Although no fish were caught-too sunny, too little breeze and believe it or no, too little water in the Lake! (fishermen always have several excuses to hand to explain such a situation). The scenery there however was breathtaking and so when i had finished fishing I decided to add some photos to a blog to record my wonderful day. However, as I was leaving I found that the Tourist Board has erected a sign showing a photo of John Wayne beside Leam Bridge which featured prominently in the movie. Although a lot of people regard the film in retrospect as stage Irish Hokum, I feel that if it is taken as a simple romantic comedy it is very enjoyable indeed. Hence I would recommend seeing not only the movie itself but also some of the film locations which are still as beautiful as ever. Key among these are Leam Bridge in Connemara and of course Cong in County Mayo where a pint can still be enjoyed in the pub featured in the movie. Finally, I have added an amazon book reference below for those inclined to explore the background to the film.

Oh! You can always sing 'Galway Bay' as well!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Keep your Soul in Ireland and your Heart in Paros, Greece

My wife and I have been travelling to Greece on and off for over 30 years. In fact we spent our honeymoon on Santorini and Crete. However, during this time the Greek Islands have changed greatly, and like many other countries, much of this change has been very unfortunate, resulting largely from the ravishes of uncontrolled speculative development as seen in poor quality apartment blocks and one off houses. Thus, large areas of Crete, Rhodes and even Santorini are virtually indistinguishable from bland holiday destinations anywhere in the Mediterranean. However, I am glad to report that Paros Island has escaped much of this construction blight and has retained much of its intrinsic charm. My wife and I are therefore looking forward to returning to Paros again at the end of May and are especially looking forward to visiting Nouassa, Lefkes Village and Antiparos Island. I was wondering therefore, why Greece and this island in particular has retained such pleasure for us over such a long period of time. The answer i feel lies in the quality of the sunlight and its reflection of the white washed houses and painted doors which gives a magical brilliance to the narrow flat stoned alleyways of both Parikia and Nouassa. This is however, greatly enhanced by both the friendliness of its people and the beautiful seaside setting of the whole island. Thus, at a time when publicity for Greece is dominated by their financial woes as a nation, it is worth recalling that the beauty of it's landscape, the quality of it's natural food and the friendliness of its people still grows undiminished. Hence, I would have to say that in summer at least, I like to keep my soul in Ireland but my heart belongs to sunny Paros.