Archive for April, 2009


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This one is mainly for TB!! πŸ˜€

PS Sorry for lack of blog activity- work is frantic!!



Dinner & Danny Schmidt at Crusoe’s, Castlerock

I’ve just had a lovely weekend staying with my Aunt in Coleraine. I mean, it may be some time before my pickled liver recovers, but it was most definitely worth it!

I had been invited to go with my Aunt to Crusoe’s Cafe in Castlerock for dinner, with the added bonus of music in the form of Danny Schmidt.

Crusoe’s is a new place to me- but came very highly recommended. They are mainly a daytime destination, and I understand that they make the best cappucino in the world! πŸ˜€ They run special evening events from time to time, and this was one of those. They provide a gorgeous meal, wineΒ and music. I gather that these evenings are heavily subscribed and eagerly awaited by the population of the North West!

My first impressions of Crusoe’s were of the warmth of the staff. You almost feel like you’ve arrived at a friend’s house for dinner, they are so welcoming. We were seated at a very pleasant table in the corner and brought some wine.


The room itself has a strong nautical theme, lots of great big windows and a very high beamed ceiling. The room is, however, dominated by the kitchen, which takes up a corner of the room and looks very homely. I really like the notion of being able to watch my food being prepared, and it says a lot about the team that work there that everything seems so calm, efficient and amazingly quiet in there!

Our starter was lovely- fresh, warm bread rolls served with little pots of seafood cocktail, foie gras and a gorgeous tapenade which had both black and green olives in it, as well as sun dried tomatoes. All of this was outstanding, especially the tapenade (which, by the way is somethingΒ I’m quite fussy about, as it consists of all my favourite ingredients!), and I was excited to see what would come next!

I wasn’t disappointed. We were served with the most delectable venison pie, slowly braised with, I believe, chocolate and chilli in the sauce. I’d never have put chocolate in something like that, but am absolutely intrigued now because the sauce was absolutely out of this world. This was accompanied by perfectly cooked root vegetables and some tasty cauliflower cheese. It was seriously one of the nicest main courses I have had for a while, and I am, as you all know, not all that easy to please! πŸ˜€

Pudding (though I was already struggling!!) was a cup of coffee flavoured caramel topped with chocolate sauce, not overpoweringly sweet, which was a good thing, and really delicious. It was served with homemade shortbread which I was devastated not to have enough room for! I should have asked for a doggie bag!

Just when we thought we’d burst, they then brought out a cheese board! They source their cheeses from the Fivemiletown Creamery and they were perfect, but I couldn’t possibly have finished! The cheese was served with delicious home made pickle.

I have to say it was one of the most yummy and satisfying meals I have had in a long time, plus mind blowingly good value for money. If you picked this place up and set it down in Belfast, the queues would be out the door and down the street. If you’re in the region, it’s most definitely worth a visit!

One of the things, however, that really made the evening, was the quality of the live acts who played. Both of them were quite a lot in evidence before they played and seemed like very cool and relaxed guys, so I was able to check if they minded me taking pictures of them for my blog. Kindly, they both agreed! I’m a terrible photographer as regular readers know, so I hope they won’t get too pissed off if they ever happen upon these! I was using Ricky’s camera and couldn’t work out the settings, so poor Al unfortunately got hit with the flash once before I managed to change the settings. Ironically, that was the only photo which really came out… πŸ™‚

First up was Al Brition, who hails from Coventry in England. He had such a sweet, melodious voice that the whole audience was captivated by the end of the first few bars. Simple, soulful music that was perfect with the relaxed atmosphere. I very much enjoyed the subtlety of his guitar playing too. Really beautiful. Inexplicably, I can find no reference to him online at all, and I wonder if I have got the spelling of his name right. If anyone out there can correct me, please do so! πŸ™‚ He is definitely someone to watch!


Danny Schmidt, hailing from Austin, Texas, was the main act, and he took everyone’s breath away. It’s not just his gorgeous voice and guitar playing, but the lyrics of the songs too. I was particularly moved by his song “This too shall pass”, which he told us was about a time a few years ago when he’d been unwell, and a friend had made him a ring with those words enscribed. From listening to the lyrics of the song, I hope I’m not inferring incorrectly that he must have been suffering from a cancer of some kind back then. Obviously, having been going through my own battle recently, this really touched me and the words will resonate with me for a while to come. Haunting. Other songs had an irreverence which I think unfortunately may have been a little over the heads of some of those present, but I really enjoyed all of it. I will definitely be going to see him again next time he’s in Northern Ireland.


All of this added up to being a really special night out. The evening was Β£35 per head including wine- stupendously good value. Thanks so much to my aunt for inviting me, and to both Crusoe’s and the musicians for making it a truly memorable night.



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Roll up, roll up

Ricky’s nursery school are having an “exotic fruit” day tomorrow, and they each have to bring in an exotic fruit to show the class.

I do believe Ian has outdone himself this time.

Who can tell me what this is?


I had no idea. I will reveal the answer, if noone gets it, tomorrow. Winner (if applicable) will win…nothing…well, kudos? Does that count? My unending respect for being so knowledgable about fruit and veg??? πŸ˜€

I am feeling sorry in advance for Little Jimmy Brown, whose parents will have forgotten, and who will be sent in with a mouldy apple which will be the only thing left in their fruit bowl… πŸ˜›

PS- if this kind of fruit is really common in the States, I am going to be very crestfallen!!!!! πŸ˜€


From the journey home…

I had a gorgeous weekend with my Aunt, and have a post ready to go for tomorrow about our evening out, which was fantastic! I just need to finalise a permission or two and it will be good to go! πŸ™‚

I got a mixture of bus and train home today. I sat at the top of the double decker bus, and the view was wonderful though the day was cloudy. We were diverted up this little back road, though, and to say it was bumpy was the understatement of the year! That road was not designed to take a bus!!

The mountain you can see in the distance is Slemish, where St Patrick allegedly tended sheep in his formative years-


On the train, coming into Belfast- the Cave Hill is in the background (can you guess why it has it’s name? Someone must have spent YEARS naming that place. So original. πŸ˜› )


Belfast is really a city on the up- as you can see from all the construction that’s taking place. The city is almost unrecognisable from fifteen or twenty years ago, when pretty much none of the buildings you can see here existed. Lagan Weir is in the foreground.


More building work! You can see the Albert Clock on the right hand side, which dominated the area when I was a child, and was a local hang out for hookers… πŸ˜€ It now looks so tiny, but it’s about the only non modern construction you can see, as it dates back to Victorian times and is named for Queen Victoria’s husband.


Could this post BE any more random?!

Better things to come during the week, I promise! πŸ™‚


Another random post

I haven’t got anything of great importance to say today! So, here’s my random news. Nothing very major to report.

Robbie has his first girlfriend, at the tender age of not-quite-two. πŸ˜€ When I got to daycare yesterday to collect him, he was sitting on a bench with this little girl. They had a book on their knees, he had his arm around her and was singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to her whilst playing with her hair. What a ladies man!!

Ricky hasn’t been doing so well with being dry at night. The past two nights, he’s had an accident, and ended up in bed with me and Ian. With Ricky and our preternaturally large cat, Max, in between us, with their arms and legs spread out as far as possible, Ian and I have been perched on the outer limits of the bed, which is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. The random “knee in the kidneys” that Ricky seems so good at delivering isn’t helping either.

We didn’t expect him to get it right all the time, but he couldn’t WAIT to get into bed with us last night, and I worry a bit that it might become a habit, and that it might not be as big an accident as he’s letting on. He was totally dry for about two weeks before we went on holiday, and then ended up in our bed a few times when we were away. I wonder if he’s realised it’s warm and snug in between us… πŸ˜€

We’re going to try lifting him out of bed and onto the potty before we got to bed in the evenings, and see if that helps. He’s been doing so well, and we never expected that he’d get it right all the time.

I’m going to stay with my Aunt in Coleraine tomorrow night (always a treat as you all know by now!!) and we’re going out to see Danny Schmidt at a place called Crusoe’s. I don’t know much about him, but gather he’s along a similar musical genre as Leonard Cohen, so it should be interesting.

Ian is being left home alone with the kids, but my brothers and Dad are taking them out in the afternoon. Ian claims that he will be using this time to make several runs to the dump with general gubbins from our garden, but personally I will eat my headscarf collection if this actually happens. It is much more likely that he’ll relax with the rugby, and do you know what, I won’t care at all. He needs some time off. πŸ™‚

Finally, we had so much fun in Donegal that we’re going back up there next weekend for the May Day break. Traditionally, our May here in Northern Ireland tends to be the best weather we get all year. We all joke that our summer is the first two weeks in May, and then it’s back to porridge!! I hope the weather will be nice. I wasn’t expecting such lovely weather in April when we were up there last week, and hadn’t brought any swimming costumes. Then it was lovely and all we could do was paddle in the sea, to the kid’s disappointment. Of course, by bringing the costumes with us this time we will be guaranteeing bad weather, but that’s sod’s law for you!

I probably won’t be around much until Monday, when I hope to post pics of my evening out with my Aunt. Have a lovely weekend everyone! πŸ™‚

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