Saturday 25 November 2017

The pleasure list: Bendy Em is one fine act knot to be missed

Bendy Em, a contortionist known as the 'Human Knot'
Bendy Em, a contortionist known as the 'Human Knot'
Solomon gallery
Dog Trust

David Bowie's farewell to the spirit of the 1960s is a poignant reminder of all that was good about the era of free love and hippy values.

Luckily, these have not entirely disappeared, as proven by the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular, celebrating its 10th birthday today in Merrion Square, Dublin, and next weekend, July 18 and 19, in Cork's Fitzgerald Park.

This has grown year on year, from relatively humble beginnings, into a remarkably energetic, family-focused event, full of action, noise and colour. Acts are highly polished and professional, and include a 34-time Guinness World Record-holding sword swallower, a metal bar-bending strong woman, a fast-footed football freestyler and children's workshops in science, theatre, music and art, along with bands, food, happy yoga and a whole lot of games and custard-pie-throwing.                   

We're particularly keen to see Bendy Em, a contortionist known as the 'human knot,' who can angle herself in most extraordinary ways, including fitting herself into a 16-inch perspex box, and who  starred in the X Man Origins movie alongside Hugh Jackman. Whatever the weather, this is worth a detour.

McCambridge's serve up tasty birthday treat

Yes, the modern world is a transient, fast-moving place, but even within the rapidly-spinning whirl, there are examples of the best kinds of traditionalism to be celebrated. Among these is McCambridge's of Galway, a family-owned deli, food shop and restaurant, serving gourmet food and wine, chocolates, confectionery, Irish jams and preserves, chutneys, sauces and cheeses, sourced locally and internationally, and now 90 years in business. Set up in 1925, McCambridge's is an institution in Galway, based on Shop Street, and still run by three generations of the family on a daily basis. For those grabbing a lunchtime sandwich or the makings of dinner at home, as much as those with time for a sit-down lunch, this is the place to eat and shop.

And for all things celebratory, McCambridge's hampers are a hard-to-resist selection of deliciousness.

Solomon's double opening

The dynamic Tara Murphy, owner of Solomon Fine Art, has lined up not one but two summer shows. One, the annual group show, takes place in the gallery itself, and features gorgeous paintings, sculpture, glass and print, by a range of wonderful contemporary artists, including John Behan, Orla de Bri, Ana Duncan, James Hanley, Laurent Mellett, Patrick O'Reilly, Anthony Scott, and Fiona Smith Darragh's (The Blackbird above).

At the same time, over the way in Portfolio@Solomon, the new gallery space at the main entrance to the Westbury Mall, is an exhibition of Textiles, Paper and Calligraphy, in conjunction with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, Irish Design 2015 and The Doyle Collection, by a range of artists including Denis Kelly of Ceadogan Rugs, Agnes de Vlin and fashion designer Helen Cody, selected for this year's prestigious Portfolio 'Critical Selection' publication. Both exhibitions run until August 22nd, and are not to be missed.

Paws for thought ... Dogs Trust opens doors and hearts

Dogs Trust proud and impressive boast is that they never destroy a healthy dog. Instead, they work hard to rehome them, fitting abandoned and stray dogs with the right kind of owner to ensure a happy outcome for all. Since their launch in Ireland in 2009, Dogs Trust have rehomed many thousands of puppies and adult dogs - some 4,500 last year, alone. Now, this Tuesday (July 14), the charity will throw open the doors of their state-of-the-art Rehoming Centre in Finglas, Dublin, for their annual open day and, this year, a Superhero Pawty. The Pawty is an extra-special thank you to the thousands of adopters and supporters, and is free although spaces are limited, and should be booked in advance. Dogs are welcome, of course, but they should be well socialised, comfortable with other dogs and familiar with large crowds of people. Some 208 abandoned dogs are still looking for their 'forever homes,' so this could be an opportunity to take the first step.

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