The Pleasure List: Two for new tea with Rooibos and Buchu
"I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea." So said Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and so say all of us.
But, what kind of tea is the question, now that just the one kind is a thing of the past? These days there are teas to revive, to calm, to cheer; for serenity, good health and even enlightenment. In this crowded market, a couple have managed to seize the popular imagination - and probably chief amongst these is rooibos, made from the leaves of a South African plant, and with high levels of antioxidants.
Buchu tea is less well-known, but has a whole series of health claims, including weight loss and the treatment of rheumatism to its name. Clever Robert Roberts then, who have combined the two into one delicious blend, with minty flavours and notes of blackcurrant. Best of all, for us Irish anyway, the tea can be drunk with milk, meaning it is a step, but not a bridge too far, from our usual cuppa.
A day at the zoo and gorillas not to be missed
Today is the day for all families and young folk to head to Dublin Zoo for the Freddy Fyffes Gorilla Rainforest Explorers Weekend. Which basically means a family-fun day with magic shows, clowns, stilt walkers and face painting, along with all the usual animal attractions. Best of all though, special keeper talks will bring the experience to life, giving information on the behaviour of gorillas in the wild and captivity. There is also a chance to see the latest additions to the gorilla troop, babies Kituba and Kambiri, if you can spot them among the luxurious vegetation of the new rainforest habitat, and the protective embrace of their mothers. These days, there are probably less than 100,000 gorillas left in the wild, and numbers are rapidly declining, mainly due to the ebola virus and hunting by humans. This is a wonderful chance to learn a little more about our closest cousins, and the ways in which they do and do not resemble us.
Cool for cats at the Kilkenny Arts Festival
Shakespeare's observation that "all the world's a stage" could easily be scaled up to read 'all the world's a festival.' Where once upon a time farmer's markets were the answer to every question of how to encourage families and high-spending singletons out on weekends and holidays, the latest thing is clearly festivals, with a new one mushrooming up every month or so.
The good news is that this means that existing festivals have to work ever harder to impress and draw crowds. It's a challenge that Kilkenny Arts Festival - until August 17th - rises easily to meet. The line-up of pieces and performers is so eclectic it practically combusts, with opera, music, art and theatre jumbled together with talks on writing, cartoon-making and poetry, into one glorious whole. Don't miss Italian folk band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, who play traditional music from Puglia - often to audiences of 100,000 - and have been going for 40 years. This is their first visit to Ireland, and the one-dancer, four-singer, seven-piece band line-up is bound to raise the rooftops.
When a watch is not just a watch
When is a watch not a watch? When it's a lifestyle statement, an anniversary gift, a celebratory birthday present, or a subtle indicator of style and aspiration. In fact, a watch is hardly ever just a watch, and certainly not now when technology keeps time so efficiently that wearing a timepiece is a kind of luxury throwback. All of which makes watch-lovers more careful than ever in their choice. Daniel Wellington watches, now in Weir and Sons on Grafton Street, are a triumph of Swedish chic; understated and elegant, appropriate on the tennis court or at a black-tie ball. Each watch is named for a British city, including St Andrews, Glasgow and Sheffield, with a choice of either leather straps or the signature colourful striped NATO strap, which originated in the British navy, when divers wore them over their wetsuits. In stainless steel or rose gold, these retro-style timekeepers are the kind of thing your grandfather might have worn, were he a gentleman of impeccable taste.
Spice up your life with Green Saffron
Arun Kapil is a chef, author, entrepreneur and regular on TV3. He is also passionate about spices - about blends, flavour combinations, practical applications and provenance. He set up Green Saffron in Cork, sourcing spices from his family in Moradabad, India and transporting them at top speed - time is of the essence with spices - to Ireland, where they are blended and combined into a variety of delicious combinations, sauces and chutneys. Now, Green Saffron have added three new blends to their arsenal of flavours. The Hot Hot Hot One is not for the faint-hearted; joining two types of chilli to four types of pepper, and a touch of ginger, along with subtle murmurings of mace, cardamom and curry leaves. The Medium Tomatoey One matches onion seeds and carom to garam masala, and the Mild Creamy One has zingy cardamom highs, earthy turmeric depths, and a little cumin and fenugreek, for fun.
Into the blue yonder at Schull
The Blue House Gallery in Schull, Co Cork, is a jolly clever idea dreamed up by a group of like-minded artists living on the Mizen Head peninsula, including Keith Payne, Ulli Crespo and John Doherty. This naturally beautiful spot has attracted fine painters and artists from all around the world, who work and live separately but also operate within a loose creative community. The idea is simply that the gallery, run as a co-op, will showcase the artists' work in the one spot, rather than obliging tourists to trek across the peninsula in search of the considerable creative talent contained on it. Colour Bound, running until 14th August, will showcase the work of painters and illustrators Alyn Fenn and Hammond Journeaux, along with ceramics by Etain Hickey, who has been exhibited in San Francisco and Tokyo, as well as many private collections. Fenn is a poet as well as a painter, something that runs in the family; her father Charles Fenn, was a playwright and novelist. Hammond Journeaux meanwhile, born in New Zealand, specialises in collaborating with writers and poets, including Derek Mahon and Aine Conor.