Monday, August 30, 2010

Road trip through Ireland Part 3: From Cork to Limerick

As I warned you in my previous post, this is going to be a post full of complaining. Why? Because our time in Cork was definitely the low point of our holiday.

We left for Cork in the rain, and it was still pouring down by the time we arrived there. Up until now we had been staying in nice hotels, but for Cork we had picked a Guesthouse. That was a bad idea.

A REALLY bad idea.

When we got to our room we noticed the window wouldn't close and that it wasn't very warm. Luckily the window got fixed, but with the rainy weather we'd been having, a little bit of warmth would have been nice.

Still, we tried to make the best of it and we did not fully realize how bad things were, until that night when the upstairs guests took a shower while I was laying on the bed. Can you guess where this is going?

Water came pouring through the ceiling, all over the walls and onto my face! We went to the night guy to complain. When he came with us to see what the problem was, he didn't even look surprised.

He asked us if we wanted to have another room. As if we would've stayed in a room with a leaking ceiling and a wet bed! I couldn't believe they would knowingly give someone a room with a leaking ceiling, but at least we were happy to get another room.

Ierland 2010 - 0506Boring, rainy Cork

The other room was slightly better, bigger and warmer. Only slightly though. We tried to make the best of it, but it was hard as the bathroom was so clammy, the towels and toilet paper were never completely dry.

Worst of all, our wet sneakers were just as wet the next morning. It's not the best way to start your day, but wearing two pairs of socks kind of helped.

Because our room was so crappy we were all for exploring Cork, but it turned out there really wasn't that much to explore.

Beforehand we had read that the people from Cork love their city and think it should be the capital of Ireland, instead of Dublin. We honestly couldn't figure out any reason why they would feel this way.

Cork is just a big, grey, average city, with little charm and little to get excited about. Granted, it didn't help that it was raining non-stop the entire time we were there, but still. If someone reading this is familiar with Cork, please tell me why it's supposed to be so great.

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The Cork Butter Museum

We tried to pass the time by doing as many indoor activities as possible. Not an easy task. We ended up visiting the Butter museum, which is probably one of the most boring museums I've ever been to.

We learned all about how butter is made, including a 10 minute demonstration video that made us think we were watching butter porn (Don't ask).

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The most exciting thing in Cork

The only good thing I can think of when I think of our stay in Cork, is the Italian food we had on our first night, which was really good. I had one of the nicest pizzas ever.

Luckily, after two days we could leave the horrible city of Cork for our next destination, Limerick. By the time we left Cork the weather had improved somewhat (of course!) and we could enjoy "summer" again.

On the way we paid a visit to Crag Cave, which is probably one of the most commercial caves I've ever been to. It had this huge gift store and lots of lights inside of the cave.

Still, it did look very pretty.

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Ierland 2010 - 0603 Ierland 2010 - 0649Before we went into the cave we had some lunch in the form of a chicken Panini….with fries. You get fries with everything in Ireland. Not that we were complaining.

Ierland 2010 - 0589 Lunch

Read previous parts here, Limerick and Galway adventures coming soon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Studying LesBians: Are we happy to be single and/or hoping to find true love online?

Studying LesBians is a monthly column in which I discuss recent and not so recent research involving LesBians or the LGBT community as a whole.

This month I want to talk about a study that was published this week that shows lesbians and gay men are happy to be single. At least, that's what the headlines in the queer media say.

Qoud.TV a website that offers queer TV channels and movies on demand, together with Stonewall, conducted a survey among over 1,000 gay men and lesbians about their relationship status and how they felt about it.

It showed that 61% of all single people questioned said they were quite happy to be single. I think this result is not very surprising, as these days we're no longer all sitting at home desperate and lonely, waiting for Miss Right to come along.

Still, as a researcher I cannot help but feel these numbers are a little misleading. First of all, when you only ask single people how they feel about being single you don't get the whole picture, because it just might be they are happier and more able to be single than those in relationships.

Secondly, just because you might answer you are happy to be single, doesn't mean you are not secretly hoping for that one perfect girl to share your life with.

Another part of this survey that I found interesting was that 51% percent of queer respondents thought they could find true love on the internet, compared to 36% of straight respondents. I think those numbers are pretty high for both groups, but it's not that surprising it's a lot higher for us.

After all, if you're gay it's much easier to meet someone online than it is in every day life. Unless, of course, you have lots of queers at work, at home and everywhere else you go.

It's a shame the results are not divided by gender, as I am pretty sure gay men score higher on being happy with being single than lesbians. I also think that more lesbians are in relationships than gay men are, but unfortunately I couldn't find any comparable studies to confirm this.

So what does this survey really tell us and how representive is it for all lesbians everywhere? I think it tells us that many of us enjoy spending time online, and because we do we also think it's not too unlikely we'll find a girlfriend there.

However, I do not think the majority of lesbians is happily single, or they might be quite happy, but they would prefer to be in a relationship. Or am I just thinking of stereotypes?

When I look at my personal situation, I know that I was single for a long time, and I was quite happy with this fact too. But then I met the love of my life online, and I have to say, it's made me so much happier than I ever was.

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What do you think of the study results and if you are single, what's your answer to the question Are you happy to be single and/or are you hoping to find true love online?

Read previous Studying LesBians columns here.

This post was first published on eurout.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Take That 20 years later: Shame by Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow

It's interesting to see how time changes people, yet part of us always remains the same.

When I was a little teen, I went through quite the boy band phase. It lasted for a few years, during which I did many embarrassing things in the name of fandom.

I was mainly into Bros and New kids on the block (I can never quite decide which is worse or more sad), but around 1991 I was also quite taken by Take That.

I wasn't a fan for very long, but long enough to buy their album and see them in concert, and all that other stuff you do when you like a boyband.

I was quite interested (and my 15-year-old self got a little excited too!) to hear Robbie Williams and Take That lead singer Gary Barlow have recorded a duet together.

I kind of like this song, and the video, but the main thing I'm thinking is about how we all get older.



Sure, they still look good, but compared to the young, squeaky clean twenty-somethings they were during their early Take That years, it sure makes a difference.



And I guess they are not the only ones who've gotten older. I am certainly not the same as I was two decades ago.But I like to think I haven't physically aged that much yet. Oh well, give me another decade and we'll see...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Road trip through Ireland Part 2: From Waterford to Cork

Our first night in Waterford we left the hotel to explore the city. Little did we know that the city centre of Waterford is so tiny it only takes about an hour to see everything.

It was quite enjoyable though to walk around there in the drizzle. Some of the highlights? Well, we discovered an actual sand marina. I didn't even know such a thing existed, but I guess sometimes you need to have a little sand with your boats. Or something.

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A sand marina

There were around 30 swans swimming in the marina/lake in front of our hotel who were a lot of fun to watch, as you usually don't see that many of them together.

The only other highlight I can think of was the Thai restaurant across the street from the hotel. We ordered some to take back to the hotel with us and it was really very good.

So all in all Waterford wasn't a very exciting place, but that was ok because we had a nice hotel to stay at and lots of stuff in the surroundings to go see.

We went to see the Rock of Cashel, which is an old rune on top of a hill, hence the name I guess. Cashel is a lovely little town, and since we were there just before the tourist season started it was mainly just us and the locals.

One of the things that the locals like to do is shoot stuff. It was quite a surprise to us as we're from countries where hardly anyone owns a gun and even when they do, there really isn't that much to shoot.

The Irish, however, have nothing but stuff to shoot. Or perhaps they just want to shoot everything. It was very weird coming across nature resorts which had big signs saying "No shooting." Seriously?

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Gun stores are everywhere

We also came across quite a few gun stores where you can go and get yourself a gun or some ammo. This is probably totally normal to the Irish, but for us it was a little strange.

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Rock of Cashel

Anyways, the Rock of Cashel was quite impressive and we spend quite some time looking at it and the beautiful view of parts of Ireland you had from there.

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More Rock of Cashel prettiness

Unlike what the receptionist at the hotel had told us, the weather was quite nice this day. It was so warm and sunny that when we arrived at a local beach all of the locals were there sunbathing and swimming. I guess if you're used to Irish temperatures 21 degrees Celsius and sun qualifies as summer beach weather.

Ierland 2010 - 0399We thought "When you're in Rome…" and decided to have a walk along the beach. No swimming for us though, but we did dip our feet in the water, which was freezing cold!

We also collected some pretty shells and rocks, which looked much nicer than the stuff we usually have on our beaches. And like everything in Ireland, the beaches were also very beautiful.

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The next day it was time to move to our next destination, Cork. We drove along the coast for as much of the journey as possible. We stopped at a few places where it looked like it might be beautiful.

Yes, that were quite a few places, but not as many as you might think. I guess you get used to the general prettiness of a place.

Ierland 2010 - 0459 Ierland 2010 - 0462It also didn't help that it was raining. A lot. Like pouring down. That's also how we arrived in Cork, with cold, rainy autumn like weather. That wasn't even the worst thing about Cork. Yes, prepare yourself for a post full of complaining next.

Read Part 1 of the road trip through Ireland here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Road trip through Ireland Part 1: From Dublin to Waterford

Last month my girlfriend and I set off for a little 10-day road trip through Ireland. More precisely, we covered everything south of Dublin starting out there and travelling clockwise until Galway, after which we headed back to Dublin again.

We started our holiday just as there was a heat wave in the Netherlands/Belgium, with temperatures being above 30 degrees Celsius for a week or two. This was in stark contrast with the weather in Ireland, which was pretty much between 15 and 21 degrees, including lots of rain.

To be honest, it was my decision to take a summer holiday in Ireland, especially because of the not so tropical temperatures, as I am really not very good with heat, to put it mildly. In other words, I was well aware of the kind of weather we would be having, but it was still a surprise and of course I managed to complain about it quite a bit. On the other hand, we did discover that even 18 degrees and a little bit of sun is enough to wear shorts.

I hope all this weather talk doesn't bore you, because I am sure I'll be talking about it a lot more in the upcoming posts. For now though, I want to share with you some of the stuff we got up to the first few days.

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The view from the plane

We travelled by plane to Dublin and arrived at our hotel in the evening. We were happy it was a very decent hotel and also not such a long walk to the city centre.

I'd been in Dublin about a decade earlier, but it was Unfolder's first time. We spent our first day doing the touristy thing, walking around the city centre, shopping for souvenirs and looking at the sights. Beforehand I found it strange I couldn't remember any of the sights from my previous trips, but being back there it made a lot of sense as they weren't very memorable.

Don't get me wrong, Dublin is a great city, with nice shops, pubs and restaurants. They also had a nice park, and plenty of other stuff to entertain you. Exciting sights just isn't one of them. We first discovered in Dublin that every town has a "castle" but they are hardly ever very impressive.

Ierland 2010 - 0103 O'Connell Street in Dublin

We did enjoy some very good food while we were there, including some lovely salads, sandwiches and baps. I have to say, Ireland's great if you love bread and having sandwiches, Panini's or Baps for breakfast or lunch. I also loved their coffee. Hot, strong and lots of it!

In Dublin I also had my mandatory pint of Guinness. I am not a really big fan of Stout, but I felt I had to drink at least one while I was in Ireland.

On our third day we picked up our rental car and travelled to our next destination Waterford. We hadn't really planned anything and just decided to look on the map and drive from A to B, which we did along the coast.

This was quite an adventure as neither of us was used to driving on the left side of the road. It was quite a weird experience, and my girlfriend had the hardest time keeping the car in the right lane. Apparently, it was especially hard to guess how much space the car took up on the left hand side, resulting in us driving into a few hedges and almost hitting an older woman.

Ierland 2010 - 0189 "Regular" Irish roads

Just on day one, after that the driving went just fine. That's easy for me to say though, because Unfolder did all the driving. And Irish roads are something else. There are hardly any freeways, and all the regular roads are very small, curvy and going up and down hill all the time. In fact, it felt pretty much like being on a rollercoaster and I had to take some pills not to get any motion sickness.

The roads might have been bad, or at least a challenge at times, but it was definitely worth it for the beautiful surroundings. Everywhere you looked there was green…green grass, green trees. Lots of meadows, lots of hills and even mountains. Very pretty.

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Pretty scenery

We also stopped at the coast a few times to enjoy the views there. It was all very nice, beautiful even, and at that point we didn't even know yet what was waiting for us on the West coast.

I was reading the road map along side the navigation system we were using. When we were almost in Waterford I pointed out to Unfolder that there was no road and a lot of water the way we were heading.

Just as we were curiously wondering and speculating how we were going to get across (Unfolder suggesting "bridge" hopefully), we found out just how we were going to have to cross the water: by ferry.

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Uhoh, a ferry crossing

The funny thing is is that the navigation system never gives you any options or a warning. You are just driving along the road and all of a sudden you are in front of a Ferry and it says "Drive onto the Ferry." At that point there really isn't anything you can do but drive onto it. Seeing it was only the second time in her life Unfolder had been on one, it was quite exciting. Needless to say, we did make it across the water in one piece.

When we arrived in Waterford it was raining and the receptionist let us know the weather would pretty much stay like that for the rest of the week. Oh well, at least we had found another great hotel to stay at, overlooking the marina.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Irish road trip.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lists Are Hot: The women from the Independent's Pink List

Lists are hot is a monthly column for all those of you that love lists. This time I want to share with you the women from the Independent's Pink List.

Last week the Independent published its annual list of what they thought were the 101 most influential gays and lesbians in Britain. These people were selected by a jury consisting of well known and unknown Brits, including TV presenter Clare Balding and Jane Czyzselska, editor of Diva magazine.

Of course, with all of these lists the men are always in the majority, but still I think with 31 entries we didn't do too bad this year.

There's already been a lot of discussion about the list, mainly about why some of these people should or should not be on it, but I don't want to add to that conversation.

Instead, I want to tell you a little more about some of the awesome women on this list. Unfortunately, 31 women were too many to feature them all in detail and with a photo, but I tried to share a little bit about each of them.

 

2. Mary Portas

Mary Portas is a well known name in the British fashion industry and she can also be seen on television with her fashion programme Mary Queen of Shops. This year she received a lot of publicity (also on eurOut) for her civil partnership with fashion journalist Melanie Rickey.

Before this, not many people knew about Portas's sexual orientation, but since making a commitment to Rickey, Portas is ready to tell the world.

5. Carol Ann Duffy

Author and poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy is another much featured name on eurOut. She is the first lesbians (and even the first woman) to be chosen to be the official poet for the Royal Family. Yes, before last year when I first heard about her new title, I didn't know the Royal Family needed their own poet either.

10. Sue Perkins

Sue Perkins is a British comedian and writer, best known on eurOut from ley's great post Dinner with a dozen British queer women from last year. To the rest of the world, or Britain at least, Perkins is known as a comedian, as well as a TV and radio presenter. She currently has her own radio show Just a minute on Radio 4.

22. Phyllida Lloyd

Phyllida Lloyd is a film and theatre director, who has been directing a number of big theatre plays since the mid nineties. However, she is best known for the film adaptation of Mamma Mia! She will also be working on a movie about Margaret Thatcher entitled the Iron Lady.

26. Sarah Waters

A list of influential lesbians isn't really complete without a mention of author Sarah Waters. I think most of you know who she is, but in case you have been hiding from the lesbian world for years, she is the author of great books like Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith.

28. Fiona Shaw

I'd never heard of Fiona Shaw before, but when I looked her up I realised I had seen the movie and theatre actress before. Even though she's been acting in theatre plays for many years, we all know her better as Petunia Duffeling in the Harry Potter movies. She's in a relationship with director Deborah Warner, who can be found at number 43 on the list.

30. Margot James

I like how this list is so diverse! At 30 we find Margot James, the vice-chair of the Tory party and also the first openly lesbian Tory candidate. She is currently in a relationship with TV presenter Jay Hunt.

33. Dawn Airey

Dawn Airey is another name on the list I didn't know, but apparently she's the CEO of TV Channel 5, but later in the year she will join TV Channel RTL instead. She's currently in a long term relationship, and she and her partner have a 3-year-old daughter.

35. Eileen Gallagher

There's another CEO at number 35. Eileen Gallagher is the founder of Shed Media and currently the CEO of Shed Productions. In case that doesn't ring any bells for you, Shed Media was responsible for that great prison drama Bad Girls.

40. Heather Peace

Actress Heather Peace is known for her roles in The Chase and Blue Murder, but what we care about most is that she also plays in the upcoming BBC TV series Lip Service. She is also a musician and can be seen playing the British Pride events this summer.

41. Dame Janet Paraskeva

The next entry is of a woman who is not really publically known, but is a very influential lesbian nevertheless. Dame Janet Paraskeva is a civil servant, who sits on the board of the Serious Organised Crime Agency and used to be the First Civil Servant Commissioner (I don't know what exactly that entails either).

42. Angela Eagle

Angela Eagle was the first MP to come out as a lesbian and also the first lesbian MP to enter into a civil partnership, which we told you about in 2008. She is currently a shadow treasury minister.

43. Deborah Warner

Deborah Warner is one of the UK's most respected opera and theatre directors. Her productions include works by Shakespeare and Berthold Brecht and she is currently in a relationship with actress Fiona Shaw, who can be found at number 28.

50. Allegra McEvedy

Chef and broadcaster Allegra McEvedy can be found at number 40. She participated in a series called Economy Gastronomy and currently has a weekly cooking column with the Guardian newspaper.

51. Mandy McBain

You might never have heard of Mandy McBain, but you should! McBain is the most senior openly gay officer in the British Royal Navy, where she has worked for over 20 years. She was also responsible for the Navy's first LGBT forum.

53. Sue Sanders

Sue Sanders gets described as a Human rights activist and I guess that's very fitting, seeing she's worked on projects like LGBT History Month and Schools Out that help make the LGBT community more visible in education.

57. Jean Osborne

Jean Osborne is another woman on the list who isn't very well known, but does important work behind the scenes. Osborne is a domestic violence expert, who spends her time raising money for projects like a domestic violence crisis centre at British police stations.

61. Val McDermid

At 61 we find another eurOut favourite, crime author Val McDermid. She's written many, many great crime novels, and one of those even inspired the awesome crime TV series Wire in the blood.

63. Clare Dimyon

Clare Dimyon is an activist for LGBT rights and has mainly worked in Eastern European countries, where basic LGBT rights are not met yet. She is most known for getting British embassies across Europe to raise rainbow flags to raise awareness of the bad situation for the LGBT community in Russian states.

66. Stella Duffy

Stella Duffy posed last year for Stonewall's Some people are gay, get over it campaign. When she's not doing that, she's known as an author of lesbian detectives as well as a playwright. She is in a civil partnership with a fellow playwright, Shelley Silas.

67. Susie Orbach

Susie Orbach is a psychoanalyst and a writer, writing about many feminist issues, including the book Fat is a feminist issue. She is currently in a relationship with author Jeanette Winterson.

68. Hope Powell

Hope Powell used to be a well known football player and is currently the coach for England's women football team, making her the first fulltime coach ever. She led the team to the final of the cups in both 2007 and 2009.

71. Alison Goldfrapp

Alison Goldfrapp of music duo Goldfrapp announced a few months ago that she was in a relationship with a woman, which was enough to land her on the Independent's Pink list. Of course, it also didn't hurt that she's an accomplished musician.

72. Jacky Kay

Novelist and poet Jacky Kay can be found at number 72. She's mainly known for her poetry, but she has also written a number of novels as well as nonfiction stuff. In addition, she's a Professor of Creative writing at Newcastle university.

81. Tris Reid-Smith

Tris Reid-Smith is the editor of both the Gay Times and PinkPaper.com, two of the major gay publications in Britain.

83. Jane Hill

Newsreader Jane Hill officially came out this year, which earned her the number 83 spot on the Pink list. When she's not reading the news for BBC News 24, she spends time with her partner, who's a camera operator.

86. Alice Arnold

Alice Arnold is a Radio 4 announcer and she is also a newsreader on Today. In addition, she's the girlfriend of TV Presenter Clare Balding, who's one of the judges of this list, but apparently, this shouldn't have affected her being on this list.

88. Nathalie Gamber

Nathalie Gamber is a lawyer with an expertise in fertility law, something us lesbians care about a lot if we have to believe most storylines on TV.

90. Femi Otitoju

Another activist can be found at number 90. Femi Otitoju has a diversity training consultancy and is also responsible for an e-learning package called Same difference.

98. Julie Bindel

Julie Bindel is the founder of Justice for Women, a human rights group against violence towards women. She's also a journalist, writing about topics like sex trafficking and feminism.

99. Sheila Shulman

The final woman on this list is Sheila Shulman, a Brooklyn born Rabbi, who moved to the UK in the Seventies and opened the first synagogue for Gays & lesbians there. I told you this list was diverse.

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So what do you think of this list? Is this an impressive list of queer women or what?

This post was first published on eurOut.