Weekly Photo Challenge – Trio


3 Camels munch some evening food. Dubai. February 2009.




Lakes, tourists, Canadians

Introduction by MB
In recent weeks, MB has introduced you all some more to his Grange/HX homeland and to some of its scenery and characters. In a post of last week, he mentioned that his Mom operated a farm guesthouse during MB’s growing-up years and after, and that many friendships endure from those days to the present. One such friend is BC from Canada.

BC first visited Ireland in April 1976 and most recently in September 2015. She is a long-time follower of MBs HX blog and occasionally makes comment. During her recent September visit, MB had an idea to ask BC to take over his blog for one week, having a hunch that BC could write a good story. Even though she had never written much at all in her past she accepted the offer. How right MB was. Read More

Peace brothers!

Somebody asked MB today how the whole Paris thing was being viewed out here in the Middle East and was it subject of as much discussion as it is back home? Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Victory

Take a good look at the below photo.

On first impression, it looks like a photo of two of MBs shirts hanging on a door. But looks can be deceiving, as General Custer shouted to his troops when he realised there were far more Indians to deal with than he previously thought. In truth, said photo represents one of the greatest victories in the history of humankind. No kidding.

The related story involves the victory of a single Irishman over the country (almost a continent) of India. The incident in question took place in the city of Doha, Qatar in first week November 2015. The fact that the incredible victory did not make international headlines is solely due to the fact that the victorious Irishman is brimful of humility and compassion. He does not like to flaunt his victory in the faces of the vanquished.

The Irishman in question is well known to you all, for he is none other than your favorite blogger MB!



A month or two back MB got a notion to throw some business the way of a backstreet tailoring establishment quite close to his abode in Doha, Qatar. A deal was struck between MB and the tailor for just under USD 300 for a 3-piece suit of jacket, waistcoat and trousers. MB was measured upside down and inside out. The entire staff, who to a man hailed from the southern state of Kerla in their homeland, assured MB that all would be well.

And so it turned out to be. When almost complete, MB called in for a final fitting. Some minor adjustments were carried out and a few days later MB collected his suit. All good.

The tailor then suggested to MB that no hand-made suit is complete without a hand-made shirt or two to go with it. Some nice fabrics were unrolled for MBs inspection and after agreeing a price of USD 20 per piece MB ordered two shirts. The shirts were collected some days later and despite one or two small moans from MB, the shirts were, generally speaking, quite ok. So MB got talked into ordering two more. And that’s when the fun, and the international incident, started.

Having previously taken all MBs athletic measurements, and already having produced two shirts that fitted MB quite well, MB reasonably expected that two more shirts would be easy money for the tailor. Copy the previous cut, stitch it up, take MBs cash and hand over the shirts.

MB duly arrived at the shop, and despite not expecting any excitement, MB is in the Middle East for far too long not to expect the unexpected. He therefore took the two shirts into the cramped fitting room, as the Indian staff assured him that there was absolutely no need to do so, being exact copies of the previous order, and proceeded to try them on.

WTF shouted MB. These shirts seem to have been made for a mini MB. An MB about half the size of the MB who was at that moment struggling to close any of the buttons on either of the shirts. Following some brute force MB managed to close three or four buttons on one of them, but there was an imminent threat of button-pop, as MBs bulk (MB had previously, for many years, considered that he actually did not have any ‘bulk’) strained buttons and fabric, to or beyond, its limit. MBs shoulders were also putting enormous pressure on the shoulder section of not one, but both shirts. At that moment in time, MB thought to himself that he looked very like the Incredible Hulk, from that old TV series, just before his shirt rips apart and goes flying through the air.

MB departed the fitting room wearing one of the shirts which more resembled a tight fitting wetsuit than a hand-made shirt, or any shirt for that matter. “WTF” said MB to all the assembled Indians, and to the few Indian & Arab customers who happened to be in the shop at the time. The tailor didn’t bat an eyelid and his usual smile never left his face as he confidently approached MB.  Grabbing the bottom edge of the shirt, the tailor gave a gentle pull in a downwards direction, as it such a maneuver would miraculously increase the shirt size by the required 75%. Failure. “Very sorry Sir for our mistake”, said the tailor to MB, “we will make new”. MB has had too many dealings with Indian rascals in his years in the Middle East and he knew full well that “we will make new” meant only if we absolutely must after trying every trick in the book to avoid doing so. So MB laid down the law even before the “we will make new” commenced. “My friend” said MB, “there is not enough surplus materials in the seems to restitch this shirt to make it fit. So please ensure that you do actually “make new”. “Of course Sir” replied the tailor to placate MB and get him out of the shop as quickly as possible, lest he lose all his paying customers who were listening intently to the whole encounter.

A few days later MB arrived back to collect the “we will make new”. MBs suspicions arose immediately he was handed the “make new”. They looked suspiciously like the “make old”. And so it turned out to be. A little restitching here and there, and some other applied tricks of the needle had failed to find the necessary 75%. Another large failure was the inevitable outcome. MB again emerged into the middle of the shop in his ‘Incredible Hulk’ outfit and launched into an Irish tirade against the entire Subcontinent. “Sorry Sir, Sorry Sir, Sorry Sir” said the apologetic tailor, in front of yet more open-eyed customers.

MB called in again on following week. This time, thankfully, there was no drama. The tailor actually did “make new” and handed MB two of the finest shirts that MB is ever likely to wear. MB did, of course, try them on before he departed. But all was well. MB paid the balance due on both shirts, accepted the many humble apologies of the tailor for all the drama of the previous visits. “No matter” said the victorious MB, “only the end result is important, and thank you for two great shirts”.

Both men smiled, happy in the knowledge that this particular passage of their lives would now move behind them and both could move on.

The end!

A little bit of history – Part 2

MB recently recounted the story of the shooting of the Mayor of Limerick from almost one hundred years back, as witnessed and told by his wife. The mayor hailed from the same village as MB back home, a village called Grange. This week MB wants to tell you some more of Grange. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ornate


Made in an intricate shape or decorated with complex patterns. elaborate, decorated, embellished, adorned, ornamented, fancy, fussy, ostentatious.

MB is back in his favourite Grange Stone Circle in HX again. It’s Summer solstice morning, 21st June 2015, circa 5am, and the sun is not yet risen. MB is wandering around the circle taking shots of anything interesting that catches his eye in the pre-dawn light. Some visitors have left fruit on some of the stones during the night, as offering to the rising sun. One person has left an ornate (slightly) mini-sun.

MB gives you the mini-sun:


F.A.Q. About the Saudi Women Driving Ban


MB is often asked about this subject when he is home. This Saudiwomen’s Blog provides most of the answers.

Originally posted on Saudiwoman's Weblog:

Today, November 6th, is the 25th anniversary of the first protest against the women driving ban in Saudi Arabia. On this occasion, it’s apt to answer all those questions Saudis usually get when the ban comes up:

Why is there a ban on women driving?
Any answer is pure speculation. The government arrests and/or punishes not only women who drive but also anyone who attempts to raise this issue. Simultaneously, all official statements concerning the ban relate it to be a societal issue that the government does not want to interfere with. The Minister of Foreign Affairs insisted that it is a societal ban and not governmental when asked by British journalists in 2007.

It has no basis in religion. Even the most extremist interpretations of Islam such as ISIS’s do not ban women from driving. Even if an Islamic reason is forced, that does not lead to a government…

View original 615 more words

All Hallows Eve

Did you know that the traditions and feast of All Hallows Eve originated in HX? Seriously. MB would not tell you all a lie. MB, as ever, speaks only the truth. But maybe you need to see some more proof before you are convinced. Seeing is believing, is it not, Mr Thomas? Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Treat

The challenge this week is ‘Treat’. Like having a treat – to eat (MB seems to be a poet, and he didn’t even know it!)

Anyway, MB was back in the homeland in June and was in the Grange stone circle on the morning of the Summer solstice sunrise. Where else would he be on that morning?! Heard this lady play an Irish air on her violin while standing in the middle of the circle. Was truly stunning. A real treat. MB did not know her personally, she was not local. Seems she was/is a member of the Irish National Chamber Orchestra and had traveled from afar to play.

The Irish air she played was/is called ‘The Chulainn’, which MB is almost 100% sure is written about a warrior from Irish mythology called Cu Chulainn. Must investigate that some more at another time.

The Chulainn air: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mwxga8udIio



Rock me mama!

Back home in HX, the two favourite types of music of the natives are: country and western. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Careful


Michelle’s photo challenge this week:

This week, show us something careful — a photo taken with care, a person being careful, or a task or detail requiring care.

‘The Sideline Cut’
MB returns to the Irish sport of hurling for this week’s challenge, and specifically to an aspect of the game called ‘the sideline cut’.

When the ball is knocked out over the sideline during the course of a game by either team, the referee awards a ‘sideline cut’ to the opposite team. It’s a bit like a golf shot but much more difficult to execute, given the nature of the implement with its broad edge (a hurley). Even in top games the amount of fluffed shots is very high. To get it exactly right requires great care and skill.

Execute the strike poorly and the ball will dribble embarrassingly along the ground for just a few yards. Hit it correctly, at the precise point required underneath the ball and at exactly the correct angle with the hurley stick, and watch the ball soar majestically into the air and into the far distance. At approximately the same angle as a well-struck 8-iron in golf.

MB caught this player taking a sideline cut at a recent game when he was home in September, just as the hurley is about to make contact with the ball. Can not remember how it turned out.



I know them

Like many, MB has watched the refugees streaming into Europe on his TV screen over recent months. He didn’t realise until today that he actually knows some of them personally.
Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – (Extra)ordinary


Cherri is asking for unexpected ‘interestingness’ in this week’s PC. MB has selected a shot from trip to Goa, India, in April of this year.

Went for short walk one night and encountered this scene on the street, that all but MB seemed oblivious to. Interestingness with a capital ‘I’ for MB – but not for the locals. The two guys standing next to the cow just sum up how little notice the locals actually take of a cow sitting on their street at night.


A little bit of history – Part 1

MB once read an article on Ireland by an English travel writer. The writer described Ireland as the country with the greatest abundance of history per square mile on the entire planet. In the opinion of MB, the description is probably true. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Happy Place

Happy Place. 

Regardless of life or work or travels, MB is always back home in HX for the Summer Solstice Festival. The home locality is always a happy place in the opinion of MB with its stunning green landscapes around ever corner, but during the festival weekend it is particularly so.

One of the festival events introduced in recent years is ‘The longest walk for the longest day‘. It entails a 2 to 3 hour guided walk around some section of the local lake or adjacent localities, on 21 June, the day of the Summer Solstice, the longest (daylight) day of the year. Regardless of weather, and it was a rainy wet evening on 21 June just past, there is a great sense of happiness & feel good during the event. The below photo was taken by MB when the walkers reached the summit of Knockfennel, the highest hill adjacent to the lake, and the happy smiley faces are a give-away.

For those who may be interested in gaining everlasting youth (everlasting youth – really MB?), the hill in the background of the photo (on the other side of the lake) is called Knackadoon. Knockadoon hides one of the four entrances to the fabled Irish Land of Everlasting Youth (a really happy place), called Tir Na N’Og in the Irish Gaelic language. Each of the four provinces of Ireland has one entrance, and the province of Munster has it’s entrance at the hill of Knockadoon at HX.

The tale of Tir Na N’Og is well known to every Irish schoolchild who reads of it during school years. Many believe that the story is just some old Irish mythology blarney. But HX locals know better. And if you ever caught sight of MB and his youthful looks, you would certainly agree that there must be some truth to the tale. MB is one of course one of a few village elders (even though MB is far from an elder) entrusted with the exact location. And only those most deserving, after a lifetime of good deeds and faithful HX service, are taken at dead of night and totally blindfolded to the entrance cave to arrest the ravages of declining years. But as ever in HX land, MB and the elders are sworn to secrecy. So very sorry dear followers that MB must cut this story short and move on.

The walkers on the Longest Walk For The Longest Day – 21 June 2015, at the top of Knockfennel:



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