Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece (Mary Howard’s Pub)

Mary Howard’s Pub, Bruff, County Limerick, Ireland.

Met Mary at home few weeks ago. She informed MB that she had seen the pic of her pub posted by MB last Christmas. She proudly informed him that she had engaged a colour consultant to chose the colours for the external refurb, prior to arrival of Caroline Kennedy (daughter of JFK) to the village few weeks back in late June (see previous blog posts relating to CK visit).

Anyway, Mary challenged MB to post a ‘Before’ & ‘After’ pic when he got the chance. And when MB saw today’s ‘Photo Challenge’ the conversation with Mary immediately came to mind.

If you are ever around South West Ireland MB strongly urges you to take a trip to Bruff to say hello to Mary who will be serving you behind the bar. According to local Guinness drinkers you are assured of the finest pint of the black stuff on the entire island of Ireland.

Congrats Mary – you have indeed produced a masterpiece!




The lady herself – Mary Howard

Quick Wits & Dimwits

Greetings to all HX Dimwits
Greetings from the Middle East lads where it’s hot and steamy. Hot as in hell. And steamy as in humid. With a capital ‘H’. MB was in Dubai few days back and couldn’t see diddly squat when he went outside as his glasses kept fogging up. With steamy humidity, not fog. MB would trip over some kerbs or cats in the car park as made his way to the car, and would then wait for the AC to clear the steam. Clear glasses = safer driving. And you just can’t be too safe out these parts. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

3 From Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Bread bakes inside a mud oven, Afghani restaurant


Lemon juice is drizzled over the roast chicken, Indian restaurant


A farmer sells his produce before Friday prayer outside mosque in Northern Riyadh


World Listening Day



Greetings to you all lads and the blessings of Ramadan be upon all your heads
We are at end Week 1 of the holy month, and the entire Middle East is full of hungry thirsty Muslims trying to get through each 45C day without food or water between sunrise & sunset. That’s approx 4.00am to 6.30pm out these parts. Sex and smoking are also forbidden during those hours but it’s far too hot for it anyway. The smoking I mean!

MB fasted for the first two days for the crack, just to see what it was like. You really don’t want to be talking a lot as your throat gets dry and there isn’t a drop of moy-ya (arabic for ‘water‘) to be got anywhere. MB did cheat a few hours in the morning by taking the porridge & honey breakfast at 7.00am, but apart from that he stuck with it. But after day 2 the novelty wore off and he decided to revert to the ways of the infidel, even though MB, like most non-Muslims, does not eat or drink in their presence during the day, just to show a little respect and not to be torturing them.

Traffic accidents increase a lot  during the month, in particular in the evenings, as many people are driving home too quickly to get to the food after long hot hungry day, and/or they are tired from no food & drink since sunrise and they are falling asleep at the wheel. There are many warnings from the police each year  in all the media to drivers, but human nature takes over and the hunter gatherer has to get some food in his body asap when he has gone long period without. Hence the accident rate goes up.

It’s also a time when all Muslims should think of those less fortunate than themselves and they are expected to give generously to various charities. The police warn the public about not giving any money to street beggars who miraculously appear during the holy month and disappear when it’s over. The authorities are constantly saying that the dastardly beggars should not take advantage of the generosity & good nature of the average Muslim and prey on his generous nature during this time of the year. But on balance its a good time to be a street beggar, if you have to be a street beggar, as generally the religious duty to be kind & generous wins out.

Just like the custom back home at Christmas, it’s also the time of year when companies throw their annual party, which is always held, obviously, at the time of the breaking of the fast in the evenings. The evening meal which breaks the fast is called ‘Iftar’ – which translates, strangely enough, as ‘breakfast’. Approx 6.30pm ish is generally the Iftar time, when the mosques give the call to prayer, and then you are free to get stuck into as much food as you can consume with relish. No pork of course lads (God help them) but everything else imaginable. They love their salads out here and the food tends to be mixture of meats (often mutton), rices of various varieties, fresh juices (no wine or beer, as alcohol is forbidden) and numerous types of salads. The first course is usually dates, very often three dates as this is how the Prophet (PBUH) allegedly started his meals after fasting. All finger lickin’ good, as the Colonel might say.

Iftar is also very much a social meal/occasion and often involves extended family, friends, or maybe the whole village in certain places. So invites to Iftar parties are commonplace. MB received one such invitation this morning and dined this evening in the presence of two Muslims from Tamal Nadu in India. Great food and MB enjoyed it no end.

Attended company Iftar party earlier this week, which was held in the courtyard of a hotel. Was pleasant evening, and of course took a few shots with the camera to give all you kafeers back home a chance to see what the Iftar is all about.

As MB is presently working in Saudi Arabia, you will not see any females in the photos. As mixing of the sexes is not permitted, there are no females working for the company on a project that employs some 5,000 workers. All admin roles and every other function is carried out by men. Strange lads but that’s the way of things in Saudi. I mean, if the women are not allowed drive cars out here, they can hardly expect to be coming to the Iftar parties. But seriously lads, MB did attend a number of big company parties last year which were open to family members, male & female, and hotels always cordon off a ‘family section‘ for those who want to bring the missus or the daughters along. Outside of Saudi Arabia it would be unusual not to see females at an Iftar party, and there  would not be any separate ‘family sections’. The Saudis have the separate sections on account of the much stricter version of the religion that they practice.

And that concludes the Iftar blog lads. All pics this week relate.

Ramadam kareem to all.


Food prepared by the Tamal Nadu boys for MB


Potato, chopped chicken & onion cakes in a crust of whipped egg and crushed rice from the Tamal lands. Deliciously awesome!


The Iftar starter


The company do:


















Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

3 from The Grange Stone Circle on Summer solstice morning. 21st June 2013.




A surprise wedding

Morning boys and girls
Hope all enjoying the glorious sunshine back in Ireland at the moment, or if you’re in the Middle East that you’ve got plenty of moisturiser slapped on your face and a decent umbrella for added protection. Interesting to see all the pics on facebook from Ireland during the week as natives try to adjust to very rare hot weather. Lack of practice I guess means that the look just isn’t quite right, and the occasional bright red all-over sun burn (tan) just proves the point even more.  Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Local saying back home – ‘I doubt it said Croker’.

Lord Croker was lying on his death bed when someone tried to console him with the thought he was going to a better place. His looked up and gave the immortal response – “I doubt it”.

The ruins of Croker’s mansion are across the road from my parents farm at Grange, County Limerick, Ireland.


Me & Caroline

Morning lads
Inshallah you are all smiling brightly this fine July day. I see on the net you are getting Middle East type weather back home in Ireland with highs of 25C expected. Now you all know how we feel in the middle of winter out here.

MB has now arrived back in the Middle East after the most exhausting 10 days of his life back home. Was just far too much going on and MB was stuck in the think of all the action as you can imagine. Far too many topics for one blog so MB will confine himself to one topic this week – Caroline.

Caroline with dad JFK, on board the yacht ‘Honey Fitz’. August 1963. MB did not take this photo.


Yes lads, the only living daughter of JFK was back in her ancestral homeland of HX last week and what a week it was. She brought along the husband and 3 kids Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

Horses @ Lough Gur, Ireland. 21 June 2013.


Photos from HX

Heading back to Middle East tomorrow night. Some memories of my trip home:

























Trip Home: Photo of the day (6) – Graves

St John’s Church Knockainey, Limerick, Ireland. Graveyard tour 27 June 2013. Earliest graves date from the 16th century. One headstone states that John Murphy, deceased, lived 219 years.


Trip Home: Photo of the day (5) – Invaders

Invading walkers pass by under watchful gaze of two ‘locals’. Lough Gur, Ireland. 21 June 2013.


Trip Home: Photo of the day (4) – Sunrise

Two ladies watch the sun rise at Grange Stone Circle on solstice morning. 21 June 2013.


Trip Home: Photo of the day (3) – Family Day

Lough Gur Festival – Family day by the lake. 23 June 2013.