Christmas Shopping

christmas_shelf

It’s that time of year again, when visions of sugar plums and Willy Wonka dance in the heads of young and old. In the spirit of the season, I decided to share some of the places where I’ve bought the best gifts. I’m getting no advertising revenue from these guys; I’m just a happy customer.

Galway

My home town has a great variety of shops to choose from.

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. Their staff is amazingly knowledgeable and helpful; all you have to do is mention “I have to buy for a seven-year-old who loves pokemon and princesses”, and they’ll find the perfect book for you. Warning for book lovers: you could spend all day browsing here.

Wooden Heart toys. Everything from rocking horses to jigsaws to tea sets to bedroom lamps.

Mishnóc. Beautifully-made leather bags that will last forever.

My Shop Granny Likes It. Quirky place for unique gifts. At the moment, for example, you can get a “Gobshite mug” or “The Ultimate Colouring in Map of Europe”.

Radisson Galway Spa. Vouchers for the perfect relaxation experience.

Online

Lego store. Everything is awesome.

Love it Love it Love it. High-quality, brightly-coloured children’s clothing. I especially love the Lipfish label.

Nosey Rosie crafts. Handmade reversible dresses. A selection is also available in My Shop Granny Likes It (see above).

 

 

 

 

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Soundtrack for an Autumn Day

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We’ve already had the Soundtrack for an Irish Summer part 1 and part 2. But now the year has moved on. Yes, it’s autumn, or fall as our American cousins would call it.*

I must confess that this is my favourite season of the year. Summer is all very well, but in Ireland it’s usually disappointing. And even when (like this year) summer lives up to its name, I feel out of place, too pale and wobbly to be a summer girl. But autumn — “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” as Keats put it — season of crunchy leaves, blackberry and apple, big boots and snuggly sweaters, children dressed as ghosts and pirates — that’s my season. I can identify with the words of Louis MacNeice in Autumn Journal:

September has come, it is hers
Whose vitality leaps in the autumn,
Whose nature prefers
Trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace.

But you were expecting music, not a poetry recital. So here comes my soundtrack for the autumn:

September – Earth, Wind, and Fire
Harvest Moon – Neil Young
Moondance – Van Morrison “Neath the cover of October skies”
Forever Autumn – Justin Hayward
Autumn Sweater – Yo La Tengo
Halloween – Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon **

These do seem rather melancholy, especially compared to the exuberance of the summer songs. But that’s okay. It’s time to slow down, taste the fruit, smell the fires. Although if you see a big pile of leaves, it’s time to jump and kick!

*”Fall” is the older word, brought by settlers from England to America. “Fall” fell out of favour in the old country and was replaced by the more francophone “autumn”, but word was slow to spread across the Atlantic.

**On this track, one of my brothers sings and another brother plays the drums. We are a talented family.

Soundtrack for an Irish Summer (part 2)

cloud-cartoon

What’s this? Clouds? Grey clouds? Grumble of thunder? Say it ain’t so!

It’s back to normal here on the Emerald Isle, ducking out of the rain and complaining about the weather. At least we no longer need to worry about drought warnings.

So, the summer soundtrack needs some additions:

Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Here Comes The Rain Again – Eurythmics
Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
Who’ll Stop the Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Soundtrack for an Irish Summer

sun

In some countries, 30°C (86°F) is a pleasant spring day. In Ireland, it makes news headlines. Seriously, this (“Hotter than Lanzarote as Ireland again sizzles in heatwave”) was one of the main stories in today’s Irish Independent.

Spotted in Salthill at 9:30 last night: kids with dripping ice creams, young women with boiled-ham shoulders, old men with trousers rolled up to their knees, teenagers sharing an extra-large pizza, and two guys practicing capoeira on the sand.

Obviously, this weather needs a soundtrack, so here’s mine:

Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles. “It feels like years since it’s been here.”
I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash. The rain has gone!
Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and The Waves. Oh yeah!
Soak Up the Sun – Sheryl Crow. Making the most of it.
Staring At the Sun – U2. Careful now.
Bombtrack – Rage Against the Machine. “Burn, burn, yes you’re gonna burn.”
Blister in the Sun – The Violent Femmes. Ow.
Summer Rain – Carl Thomas. Oh-uh.
Sunshine After The Rain – Berri We live in hope.

Yes, I know that most of these songs are at least 20 years old. Well, so am I. Suggest away if you think I’ve missed some.

Additional suggestions from friends:

Little Fluffy Clouds – The Orb. Taking off into the blue.

July – Mundy. “Oh my my my my.”

Living In The Sunlight, Loving In The Moonlight – Tiny Tim. Trippy!

Summertime – Billie Holiday. Classic.

Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks. Lazin’.