All posts by Michael Jackson

Born in Palestine many years ago, Educated? in Birmingham (West Midlands not Alabahma). Left home to join REME JLU in 1960, transferred to Intelligence Corps in 1962. Served with 13 Sigs Regt, 5 Inf Brigade HQ and Sigs Sqn, 9 Sigs Regt, Back to 13, E Troop, 14 Sigs Langeleben, roughly in that order up to March '84. Moved to Northern Ireland, to join my wife Josephine. Fell out with Brits over citizenship (bit like Spike Milligan -'cept I'm still alive - just!) and am now naturalized Irish. Have been with my present company, SOS Group, manufacturing school furniture since Sept '84.

Castello Bruno, a gem in Castleknock, Dublin 15

castleburno
Not a million miles away from central Dublin this family restaurant on the Main Street of Castleknock village was introduced to me my good friend Joe Griffin who lives a medium stones throw away in Dunboyne.

We called in for lunch in-between meetings at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in Brunswick Street North and Castleknock College; as one does!

It has a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere and a staff to match. I had intended to have a snack but the menu was far to appetizing and, on top of that, they were offering Chicken Puttanesca, breast of chicken in a piquant sauce containing chilli and anchovies (I’m a sucker for anything containing anchovies). We both chose this and added a portion of fries between us to accompany it. In for a penny in for a pound we rounded off with an excellent Tiramisu and coffees. Add in a bottle of Peroni and the bill was €53.60 – great value for money as well.

 

Market Place Restaurant, via Borsieri 21/a, Como, Italy

We picked this restaurant from a recommendation on eating out in Como in the New York Times; sent to us by an American friend.  It is not a classical Italian Restaurant by any means but the service is very good and professional and food is definitely different.  It is intimate with about a dozen tables and for this reason it is advisable to book.

There is an  à la carte menu or two “Tasting” Menus, one “Classic” and the other  “Gourmet”.  “In for a penny in for a pound” we chose the Classic: 

Market Place Menu

This started with Marinated Bream and Panzanella, a Tuscan Salad and was followed by A pochet egg (a poached egg yolk) on spinach with chanterelles and Parmesan foam. Believe it or not it was really tasty even if the pochet was lost in translation)

Then came the really Italian course: Lasagna with potatoes, leeks and a Parmesan pesto – Yum.

There was a choice of “mains”, the meat option being a rack of pork with roasted peppers and endive cream or a Trancetto (if you can find a good translation please comment on this page – my best guess is “slice”) of barbecued Umbrian fish. We chose the pork which was delightful.

To finish off there was shortbread and chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

I have included the menu above as some of the courses are, for me, quite difficult to translate, but I am sure there are some cunning linguists who can offer an explanation.

We had a very nice bottle of Italian Red, a Trentino Pinot Nero DOC 2009 “Forte di Mezzo”, Maso Cantanghel Pinot Nero which is a very fine sounding name and probably explain the price tag of €28.

The evening was wrapped up with an espresso and a grappa as usual.

An interesting experience at €110.50 but probably a little way out for our tastes.

Greenisland Golf Club, Formal 2014

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The Ross Park Hotel in Ballymena was chosen for the 2014 bash and a very good one it turned out to be.

A bus was laid on to transport us to and from the do so our evening started at the club for a couple of warmers into the bank. Amazingly enough there was no problem getting the group of some 50+ embarked on time. Or maybe they were just scared of Anne Clarke!

There was champagne, or non alcoholic punch if you like that kind of thing, served on arrival and a photographer to record proceedings – Well the early parts anyway. One does not really want a photographer recording all one’s antics!!

The service and meal, a proper vegetable soup followed by roast beef and a dessert, could not be faulted and the bar prices were reasonable. What more could one ask for a start to the main proceedings.

 

 

The group proved to be a great success so, by the time the bus arrived to ferry us home, we had danced our feet off.

Thanks to George Boyd, Anne Clarke and the organizers for producing a great evening all round.

The Ginger Bistro, Hope Street, Belfast

Ginger Bistro

Located only about a couple of hundred yards from the Grand Opera House the Ginger Bistro is in an ideal position for a pre theatre meal.

The menu which runs from 5 to 6.45 is an extremely well priced truncated version of the main menu.

We ordered a plate of breads to share which came with one of the best  tapenade I have tasted.  Oh yes; and a perfect melt in the mouth wheaten.

As mains we opted for the pies, one fish and the other a Shepherd’s.  The shepherd’s included perfectly cooked lamb, in large chunks, chorizo and black pudding. Both came in individual pie dishes piping hot.  The potato topping was nicely browned without being dried out.  Altogether very appetizing.  We accompanied them with chips and a bottle of South African Shiraz.

I took an Americano to round it all off.  Total bill £45.00.

The service was personal and efficient so we will no doubt be back.

Cambodia 2010 – The Final Days

Our last night in Siem Reap was spent at the Apsara theater where we had dinner and were entertained by the traditional Cambodian dancers. The trestles and benches, no chairs, are sunk into wells so the table top is at floor level and the dancers and musicians are on an elevated stage. Definitely a different experience.

 The following morning we set off from Siem Reap for the final two legs of our journey back to Phnom Penh. The first stage was to Kratie, a small town on the Mekong River and home to the surviving Irrawaddy dolphins.

 

Nagas a tthe high temple

Nagas at the high temple

Apart from a detour to climb another pagoda,some 530 steps up, the journey was a little tiresome.  The red dust and poor road not conducive to rest.  Probably tiredness had something to do with it.

 

We finally arrived in Kratie in the mid afternoon and were taken to the best hotel in town.  This boasted cold and cold running water, no lift and an electric system that ensured that if the fridge was on the fan (no air conditioning) went off. We settled in after a fashion.

We made an excursion out on to the Mekong to see the dolphins however they proved somewhat elusive and after about two hours of paddling up and down with ne’er a dolphin in site we returned to the hotel.

The next morning was uneventful and we continued our journey back to Phnom Penh in relative comfort.

Follow this link for a selection of photos for this part of our journey.

The Governor Rocks at Donaghadee

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We visited for Sunday lunch on a Groupon voucher. The menu was pretty comprehensive and all available.  We chose the goats cheese with parma ham and whitebait as starters both of which were very good. For mains my wife had Roast Sea Bass with prawns and capers on samphire with new potatoes whilst I had the duo of Monkfish and Mackerel with sweet red onions, roast potatoes and a massaman curry sauce (which I had on the side). They have a very nice Chablis which complemented the fish really well.  We followed it up with the cheese board.  The cheeses were ripe and tasty and served with crisped homemade bread. I do not think the prices were exorbitant given the quality and quantity of the dishes and £24.00 for a good Chablis is not over the top (we didn’t realize you could bring your own wine).  The staff were very young and friendly if not totally au-fait with the dishes but then this was not Deanes. The decor is definitely different but does not detract from the atmosphere.  An enjoyable experience and we will probably call again.

The queen crowns King Puck

Puck Fair 400th Anniversary – Killorglin August 2013

With the 401st Puck Fair already over I suppose it is about time I published my resume of the 400th anniversary celebrations in 2013!

If you want to party for three days and generally have a time to remember then Killorglin, Co. Kerry, is the place to be between the 10th and 12th August any year you choose.

Of course this year was different as an extra day was added to celebrate the 400th – yes hundredth – anniversary of the granting of a charter by James 1 of England.

Nobody is quite sure of the true origins but, for as long as anybody can remember, they have been crowing a goat as King Puck and he rules over the town for the three day extravaganza known as Puck Fair.

With John & Catherine at the Bianconi

With John & Catherine at the Bianconi

Thanks to our good friends John and Catherine McGrath we were able to get a room in the Bianconi Inn right in the centre of town.  This is the best accommodation in the area by far.

We arrived on Friday evening which was, on the whole, pretty quiet and the bars only had extensions to 2 a.m. rather than 4 a.m. which is the norm for the rest of the festivities.

Over the weekend there was the Horse Fair,

Pruck

Pruck

the horse fair

The horse Fair

Cattle Market and a myriad of events for all ages  in the square.  The evening concerts on the main stage at the top of the town were packed to capacity.

The St John’s Mill Theatre Company held performances of The Tempest at Ballykissane Pier and it was undoubtedly a perfect setting for the best amateur performance I have seen.

All the photos are at this link Puck Fair

 

 

REME Junior Leaders Reunion 2014

 REME Junior Leaders Reunion  

31st October & 1st November 2014

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Programme of the Event

  • The reunion venue The Westminster Hotel (Best Western) Chester. The booking reference detail = Best Western Hotel Chester. Booking reference LEW31104 Contact is Edel Heaney. Tel 01244 317341 Quote the reference for the very special rooms and dinner rates. More info contact Barry Johnson on 07739905261

Dinner Reception 6.30 to 7.30pm.

Formal Dinner in the Private Dining Room 7.30

After Dinner Speech’s by three attendee’s on the subject “Why I was drawn in to be a Soldier of the Sixties and my most amusing military experience”

  • Saturday morning event “The Attractions of the City of Chester” and Pub Lunch to be arranged for those staying over.

Return to Hotel in the Evening for those who wish to stay over again just as before. An informal Party Dinner with headaches to follow!.

Depart Sunday morning

Obviously some will only wish to take part in part of the Friday night dinner re-union which we all understand. But as the last time’s Saturday evening was laced with some  very funny stories, it promoted the idea of selecting volunteers for the after dinner speech sector on Friday at our next one.

Please let me have your feedback on the programme and if you would like toi take a Speech Spot after Dinner?

Knags Revisited

Knaggs

Too much trouble to cook yet again so called in to Knags this evening at around 6.30.  Good job we didn’t leave it any later as within an hour they were queued up to get a table.  As per our last visit the service was great as was the Scampi (real shellfish in crisp batter – not the usual mush in a soggy stodge) and the chicken stack.  Carrots that tasted of carrot and a very nice little side salad.  No problems getting a ramekin of mayonnaise to go with the skinny chips (you really should try chips and mayonnaise).  House red is a very palatable Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.  Rounded it off with vanilla pod Crème brûlée and an espresso.