Monday, December 21, 2009

Google Chrome Extensions: Blog This! (by Google)

Google Chrome Extensions: Blog This! (by Google)

a cool Chrome extension allows me to blog items with unnerving rapidity.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baking Xmas Cookies

Below Rosalie and Liam display their culinary skills as the family got together to bake the traditional Weihnachtsplätzchen.  Rosalie manned the Fleischwolf, while Liam was responsible for cutting off the extruded cookies at the precise length required.

From 2009-11-22 - Baking Xmas Cookies

The end results look and taste pretty good, below are the Spritzgebäck they created:

From 2009-11-22 - Baking Xmas Cookies

Monday, November 02, 2009

Páid Cassidy's 70th birthday party photos

As promised in the previous post I’ve uploaded my pictures of the evening and embedded a slideshow below…

Friday, October 30, 2009

Páid Cassidy's 70th birthday party

Below is the speech I gave last night at my father's birthday party. Pictures will follow when I get around to docking the camera.

Ladies and Gentleman, girls and boys, it’s appropriate at a 70th birthday party to reflect for a few moments on the life and times of the birthday boy.
My childhood memories of Páid are naturally coloured by the fact that I had no other father as a comparison. It only occurred to me later that when I tried to explain his behaviour to friends, their bafflement must indicate that I was lucky enough to have a very singular father.
Usually the raised eyebrows started with names. Páid has lived all his life with a double persona, Páid in conversation, then Patrick J. as legal signature. Not content with his own brand of confusion, he gave all of his children unusual names, so that we have all learned to do some explaining when introducing ourselves. I had thought nothing of the tale that I shared a name with the school he had attended as a boy, right up to the point that someone commented that he must be reliving his childhood traumas through his son.
This of course couldn’t be further from the truth. Páid was always a great father, and that’s no mean feat when you have six children to feed, clothe and educate. I’d like to thank both Páid and Rosalie for the support and encouragement that enabled all six of us to complete a university education and find our own careers.
As for his qualities as a husband, I will always recall a particular quote from my mother: “If you become half the man your father is, you’ll be doing well”.
However I have a creeping suspicion that it was as a grandfather that he has found his true calling. Now rid of the responsibilities associated with feeding, clothing and educating, he can concentrate instead on the important aspect, namely play. And with grandchildren of every age from 11 downwards, there’s plenty of opportunity for him to crawl on the floor, paint faces and otherwise live up to his official family title of “grand-père mentale”.
Apart from his success in raising his family, Páid has of course had a very successful career as a civil engineer. As kids all we ever saw of his work were photos and plans from sewage plants, nothing that anyone could ever describe as glamorous. However I’m sure all of his colleagues here will attest that his 40 odd years of contribution and expertise in the Irish water engineering industry has been immense.
Nowadays everyone talks about work-life balance. Páid has for years been balancing his successful family and professional lives with a very active sporting and social life. Not of course sports involving running about after a ball, I think Peadar will concur that that sort of thing has never been big in his life. But whether it be bridge, sailing, Toastmasters, walking, pub quizzes, and in latter years skiing and alpine mountaineering, there is never a dull moment for this particular pensioner.
At 70, many people would accept their status as a pensioner and spend more time tending the roses. Páid is of course very grateful for the free bus and Luas ticket, which he fervently uses in order to reduce his carbon footprint. He is however far too stubborn to accept the biological laws of ageing, and has for many years now made a point of being in better shape than his contemporaries. As some of you know, Dad and I will celebrate our aggregate 110th birthday by attempting to climb Mont Blanc next year. Between the two of us, the smart money is on the Kilimanjaro veteran who also has the Tour of Mt Blanc and the Chamonix-Zermatt route under his belt, rather than the 40-year-old.
I’d like to wrap up by thanking the staff here at National for being so great, and my mother Rosalie for organising this party. I know she’d respond by thanking all of you for coming tonight.
With that I’d like to propose a toast to Páid.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The kids get a new bunk bed

Liam and Rosalie were thrilled today when Dieter Schumacher of arrived to assemble their new bed. With a fireman’s pole, climbing frame, crane, steering wheel and swing attached, it’s more than just a bed for sleeping in.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Couch Surfing

I learned in the middle of this week that we would be having guests at the weekend. This is not unusual, as often I only register that a visit is upcoming when Heike reminds me. However what did surprise me is that our visitors were not previously known to us.

Heike has registered with, a site which enables guests to find hosts. The idea is classic Web 2.0 reputation management – you prove yourself worthy by inviting strangers into your home, then impose yourself on others for short stays all over the world.

So how was it? Peter and Nadine were excellent house guests: playing with our kids, tolerating our barking dogs, and giving us an insight into their couch surfing experiences in Europe, Israel and India. I definitely recommend the project, and I’m looking forward to trying it out from the guest’s point of view.

Images of Corsica

For the second year in a row we spent two weeks of September in Corsica. Last year we were in Tiuccia, this year about an hour further north near the town of Porto.

View Corsica in a larger map

The Marina Livia complex of bungalows provides simple but also charming accommodation just a couple of hundred metres from the beach at Bussaglia. This is a great location for our sort of “walk in the morning, beach in the afternoon” holiday.

One of our first walks was through the red granite of the Calanches. Just off the road and away from the tourist buses there’s a nice walk along the old mule path from Piana to Porto. The kids were happy to walk this, as long as the promised lollipops materialised.

From 2009-09-07 - Mule Path through the Calanches

From 2009-09-07 - Mule Path through the Calanches

From 2009-09-07 - Mule Path through the Calanches

Along the way people have built cairns as way markers. While some of these are mere piles of stones, some like the example below are veritable feats of balance and creativity.

From 2009-09-07 - Mule Path through the Calanches

The next day we drove north to the Fango Valley – a much flatter area than the mountainous area around Porto. Here the river gorge is famous for providing little pools to paddle or swim about in, which we promptly did.

From 2009-09-08 - Fango Valley

This was all very well for the humans, but Elsa and Tosca found the whole experience very exhausting, and just dozed off at the side of the river.

From 2009-09-08 - Fango Valley

The beach near our accommodation was pleasant despite being pebbly rather than sandy. One odd thing however was the establishment just up the road. We never figured out exactly what goes on there, but from the outside could be deduced that it is a business where camping and parking and dogs are forbidden. Not visible in the photo are the cows who grazed there, or the scrapped cars in the back. Answers on a postcard please.

From 2009-09-12 - Bussaglia Plage

The sea around Corsica is clean and warm, and the kids loved swimming there. Our guidebook complains about the fact that it gets deep relatively quickly, hence is not suitable for children. Our kids didn’t mind that – they found it all the more exciting that they could swim out to little islets in the bay.

From 2009-09-09 - Bussaglia Plage

From 2009-09-09 - Bussaglia Plage

The other good feature of Bussaglia beach are the sea cliffs which have been developed as Escalades. The kids and I spent a few afternoons climbing on these. Strangely these cliffs have been bolted, but all of the lower bolts have been removed. I’m not sure whether this was vandalism or well-intentioned removal of unsafe equipment, as the sea water makes the bolts rust fairly quickly.

From 2009-09-09 - Bussaglia Plage

Back in the Calanches we went for a walk which we had done last year, and photographed Rosalie in a cave she had been photographed in a year earlier. In case there's any doubt about her growth in the last 12 months, the right hand photo is from this year.

From 2009-09-11 - Chateau Fort

Another place we revisited was the Piscine Naturelle in the Forêt d'Aïtone. We were spared the hassle of last year when Liam managed to throw himself into the water, this year everyone stayed dry.

From 2009-09-12 - Piscine Naturelle

The water looks lovely from the picture but it comes from high up on the mountain and was much too cold for softies like us.

From 2009-09-12 - Piscine Naturelle

Back at sea level, and in water above the freezing point we decided to give snorkelling a go. For 5 Euros a head at the local supermarket, Liam and I were kitted out in snorkel and mask – we already had the flippers. What I hadn’t expected was the number of small fish which had clearly been swimming around our feet all week.

From 2009-09-12 - Bussaglia Plage

From 2009-09-12 - Bussaglia Plage

Because the weather was so pleasant for most of the time we often stayed at the beach until sunset. This had the advantage that we could watch a few spectacular sunsets, to which my photographic skills don’t really do justice.

From 2009-09-12 - Bussaglia Plage

The nearby town of Porto has a magnificent Genoese tower overlooking the bay, with a little museum inside. Liam was thrilled to hear that the tower had been the scene of some pirate activity, and was rather disappointed that there were no pirates in evidence as we visited.

From 2009-09-13 - Porto

The Porto beach also sports a bolted crag where Liam could try out his climbing skills again.

From 2009-09-13 - Porto

Having tried roped climbing a couple of times, both kids were insistent on dispensing with all safety equipment on the boulders along the beach. Because it was physically impossible for me to stand under both kids at all times with hands outstretched, I tried to ignore them and only pick them up after a fall. This earned me some stern looks from more safety-conscious French people, but I maintain that if I let them be silly a couple of metres off the ground, then they’ll learn not to be silly when they’re higher up. Time will tell.

From 2009-09-17 - Bussaglia Plage

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great the whole time. During the second week we saw a couple of spectacular thunderstorms, and we even managed to use some of the warm clothes we had brought with us.

From 2009-09-18 - Marina Livia

From 2009-09-18 - Marina Livia

From 2009-09-18 - Marina Livia

All in all it was a fun holiday, and despite the long and tiresome journey, Corsica remains a destination we’ll go back to in the future.

From 2009-09-19 - Homeward bound

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Text from the Augstbordstafel Pass

I received a text message from my father today – at 12:44 he was going over the Augstbordstafel Pass in the Swiss Alps. This is the last but one leg of his journey along the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.

A bit of googling told me that the location in Switzerland is shown with a red arrow here, and that it looks something like the picture below:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Homeopathic A&E

There are people who occasionally tell me I’m a close-minded old curmudgeon because I have a particularly low opinion of the efficacy of homeopathic cures. I encourage them to enjoy the video below :-)

Friday, July 03, 2009

I remember the spice burger

I stumbled across this article in the Irish Times this morning:

Spice burgers back on the menu due to popular demand

I especially like the description of the spice burger as, “one of Ireland’s few original contributions to world cuisine”, and “a delicious blend of Irish beef, onions, cereals, herbs and spices coated with traditional outer crumb”.

My old school canteen used to serve these things, and I loved them. I had no idea that

a. the spice burger was a uniquely Irish phenomenon

b. there is actually meat in those things.

I wish Walsh Family Foods well in their quest to keep the spice burger on the market.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Volkacher Lebensart

Last weekend the Heidelberg Cassidys travelled to Franconia for the Volkacher Lebensart festival. 


The idea is simple, and explained in the leaflet linked here (for German speakers). Nine wineries open their doors for the weekend, put on a different band in each winery, serve matching food and their own wine. We spent most of the evening at Weingut Erhard, and I can heartily recommend their blend of Scheurebe wine, Cuban food (tasted more like creole) and Latin American band „Frutos Tropicales“. As a result we’ve order a Probierpaket of 6 bottles which arrived today. As I write I can state that the Riesling is good too.

Some pictures below:

Richard Schlenk’s inaugural lecture

Last Friday we used the traditional German Brückentag excuse to take a day’s holiday between the Thursday bank holiday and the weekend. There was a good reason to do so as we were invited to the University of Ulm to witness our friend Richard’s Antrittsvorlesung, or inaugural lecture to celebrate his Habilitation. There’s a lively debate on LEO regarding the correct translation of Habilitation, I won’t delve further.

Rechard’s speciality is leukemia, and I know from helping him translate one of his papers that it’s pretty depressing material. This time unfortunately I didn’t get far enough into the lecture to get depressed, as both Liam and Rosalie decided that an hour of medical slides was more than they could handle. Heike reported that the talk was interesting and well received.

Our pictures from the University, celebration lunch in Butzental Biergarten and a touristy stop in the picturesque little town of Blaubeuren are shown below.


The Cassidy clan descended en masse on the town of Plestin-les-Grèves (Brittany) for the last week of May. Below are a few of our photos.