Introduction:

"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"


- Alan Hogan



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Autumn Fair in Finland




Today I took a visit to the Autumn Fair in the nearby town of Ekenäs/Tammisaari here in southern Finland. The weather was unusually bright and warm for this time of year here. Like myself most visitors to the fair were dressed for cooler temperatures. But after only ten minutes of arriving I had to remove my jacket and 'wished I had kept my shorts on before leaving home!

I decided to let this blogpost become a photoblog as it's been a while since my last post and my writing skills are a little rusty. This is mainly due to the fact that I accidently deleted a lot of the photos from my previous blogposts on this page via my smartphone.

Anyway, here are my photos of the day.  




Jams and Juices






Hats!





Suit your #Selfie - High Fashion!





The Usual Suspects






Fancy Hats!





Italiano






East of Edam!




Suomi selection

Hello Helium!



















Local Wildlife





Balloons!





Candy liquorice





Honey






Angry Birds Top Shelf





Spacious rides!






Big Wheel!




Blood Donors Welcome!






More Candy!






Carousels!






Mr.Balloon Man!!





Maybe I'll go back tomorrow, I hear there's a beer-tent!!!




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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

                     

Thursday, July 3, 2014

From Clare to here




I just found this impressive video online today which I have to share. It shows the western part of County Clare off Ireland's west coast, featuring the village of Kilrush, Loop Head, the Bridges of Ross and the amazing Cliffs of Moher.







This video is made by Alan Magner Photography and should be watched in HD quality. It's a fine example of good photography and a nice slice of Ireland's natural beauty. This is one big thing I really miss about not living in Ireland anymore. While Finland has it's own unique natural beauty, it does not have the same geographical aspects that Ireland has to offer. Living within the landscape of another country can often remind a person of the beauty of another land which they once took for granted for so long. It's great to get back to Ireland whenever possible, and even greater if one is lucky enough to visit places such as those in this video. Being a Dubliner this isn't always possible as family visits always come first and holidays can often be too short. So it's always great to find such wonderful videos on the internet to remind us of Ireland's magnificent landscape, especially when living so far away.


Last summer I had a fantastic holiday in Ireland including the west coast. The weather was amazing and I got some great photo shots of my own. You can check out my photos by clicking on any of the links below.




























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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Love/Hate List No.1 - No strings attached please!




Love/Hate No.1

HATE - Tea-bags with strings!


People often ask me what I like or dislike in Finland. And some also ask me the same about Ireland. For example food, customs, travel, weather, pubs and so on. So a while back I decided to start a list of a few things I like and dislike. Just little things, nothing too serious.  I made a new photo album on my facebook page called my Love/Hate album. I also threw in a few items or oddities from elsewhere along the way. This blog is simply an extension of the list with more explanations and the odd dose of jibber jabber. 

So I'll begin with 
Love/Hate No.1 
- HATE - Tea-bags with strings!



Tea has been a major import commodity in Britain ever since the seventeenth century and changed drinking habits of the nation forever. It was not until 1908 however that the tea-bag was invented. And it was only by accident that it was invented in America by New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan, when he start sending out tea samples packed in small silken packages to his customers. The customers unaware that they were supposed to remove the tea leaves from the small silken-packs, simply threw the whole lot into their teapots rather than use the more common metal diffuser or tea-strainer. And thus the tea-bag was born!!! 


'Tea-time reflections' 
pencil on paper, 1988 - Alan Hogan





The humble teabag was then commercially produced with a lighter material and a string attached.
Thomas Lipton incorporated the Lipton Tea Company in 1915. Lipton Tea patented a novel four-sided tea bag in 1952 called the flo-thru tea bag. The Lipton brand is very well-known and can be easily found in most places including Finland. 






The teabag string was added primarily as an aid to draw out the flavour of the tea leaves by way of squeezing the tea-bag. A printed label with the tea brand was also attached to the other end of the string. I can't help but wonder if they ever had teaspoons back then! Nowadays the string is simply used for dipping the tea-bag into the cup as shown in the photo above. This may be suitable for those who like a light cup of tea.


It is still common to find tea-bags on sale with strings attached, especially on continental Europe. They come in an assortment of flavours also, which I personally hate. But that's just me and my loyalty to the plain cup of tea.

Teabags with no strings attached!





The plain cup of tea is a part of what Irish people are. There's always time for a cup of tea. You could say we're tea-mad! 





Indeed, it's a rare occurrence to step into a house in Ireland and not be offered a cup of tea. Unless you are from the electricity supply board or a politician you will most certainly experience this custom when visiting the country, (actually a politician would never ever get past anyone's front door in Ireland these days!)





It's a certainty that a packet of biscuits will also appear like magic out of nowhere after your first sip of tea. Just remember, the nicer you are to your host the better the biscuit!
And if you're ever offered Chocolate Kimberley biscuits in Ireland then you must be very special indeed!!!





In Ireland it is more common to see tea-bags with no strings as they only get tangled up with the spoon! And who needs a string when a spoon does the job perfect anyway! A waste of good string in my opinion.
The same stringless-type tea-bags are also sold in the UK, but they have their own brands such as Tetley, PG Tips and Typhoo. These brands are sold in Ireland, in fact my grandmother used to buy PG Tips when I was a kid. This was probably because I made her, they had some good gifts to be had if you collected enough tokens from their boxes. The guys at Lyons tea soon took up their own promotions. 
More often Irish people prefer to buy Irish brands if possible such as Bewleys, Lyons or Barrys Tea. There is without doubt a better taste and quality in these brands. And when the Irish public drink more tea per capita than the British public something must be right.

The original blend Lyons teabags now available online,
just click on the photo above!






It's a well-known fact that before going on holidays abroad most Irish people will take one of these brands with them in their suitcase. I have noticed a similar custom amongst Finnish people going on holidays with other products. In fact nowadays I always bring a tube of Finnish mustard back to Ireland with me whenever I visit, it's the best and I've already converted one or two Irish people!

Check out this video from the master brewer at Barry's Tea. These guys know their stuff!!!







Of course I don't travel back to Ireland as much as I used to due to the lack of airlines travelling direct. So I always pack a few Irish products into my suitcase before I head back to Finland. Once I get back they don't last long and I'm wanting more. There are a few shops were I can buy English foods here in Finland but they can be very expensive. And anyway I prefer to have some of the food I grew up with, partly because they taste better and partly out of nostalgia.
I have replaced some of my Irish diet with Finnish foods which has been a success. There are places online where thankfully some Irish products and other items can be bought for less than what I would pay in specialised shops in Finland or other countries. So now I can sometimes enjoy a decent cup of tea with no strings attached!

  



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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

                     


#mrsdoyle #rareauldtimes #anicecupoftea #U2 #barrystea #lyonstea #dublin #thegreatestbandever #hotpressmagazine #teaology #tea #ireland #haveacup #cork #irishabroad #irishdownunder #irishamericans #irishbiscuits #jacobsbiscuits #kimberley #irishproducts #ireland #lovehate


Friday, June 27, 2014

In Bono's Country!



'On the Street'
An oil painting from 1987, the year of 'The Joshua Tree' featuring the band U2 
standing outside Freebird recordshop on Grafton street in Dublin, Ireland.


I just thought I'd do a quick blog about a rock concert I attended on this day, June 27th back in 1987.
It was U2's concert at Croke Park in their hometown of Dublin, Ireland. They were touring with songs from their album 'The Joshua Tree' which had become a huge hit on the American market. 


I've never been a huge fan of U2. In fact this was the only U2 concert I'd ever been to. Indeed, I have bought plenty of their music over the years and I liked their sound a lot. I still have my old vinyl release of their debut album 'Boy' as well as other early albums and a few singles. I also have a few recent cds. I have met 'real' fans of the band over the years and some can be a bit too fanatical in my opinion. I prefer to be a relaxed and moderate fan myself. Maybe it's the fact that some of the band grew up where I come from. They feel like old neighbours or school mates who did alright for themselves. 
  

Here's a BBC radio excerpt all about U2 introduced by Huey Morgan from the Fun Lovin' Criminals
I recommend you give it a listen! 




I honestly don't rate 'The Joshua Tree' as one of my favorite albums by U2. I personally prefer the 'Boy' album, or even 'War' or 'Achtung Baby'. 
Back in 1987 U2 were not my favorite band. That title was reserved for American band R.E.M. 
... Besides, as any Dubliner will tell you - it's not cool to like U2!! (something the Irish like to pretend is true!)
But having said all of the above I can honestly say that the Croke park concert of 1987 was one of the best concerts I ever attended and what a performance!!!




Here is a photo of my battered ticket from that concert. I keep it on my wall here in Finland alongside the rest of my small ticket collection. I never actually made it up to my allocated seat due to the packed crowds dragging me along to every single sway of the music. I made it through the entrance with my cousin, but within 10 minutes I had lost him. I eventually met up with him 4 hours later somewhere outside, at least I think it was him!!! 

I ended up jumping about and chatting with lots of strangers while listening to the support acts. At one point I even got into the VIP area upstairs with the help of my Dublin bus-pass id. Honestly, the things we used to do to impress a good-looking girl!!  I suppose those few bottles of cider I drank earlier down by the canal might have helped a little too. 
'Don't believe for one minute that it's all glamour and champagne in the VIP camp, it's not. Once I was in there I got very bored very quickly! It was actually harder getting out the place than getting in! .... Indeed the ordinary punters out on the pitch always have the best fun!

Anyway, here's a reminder of that great gig in Dublin. One of those times in life where you find yourself in the right place at the right time. ...Yep, this was certainly one of them!


        


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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

                     
#bono #U2 #crokepark #gaa #dublin #rock #larrymullenjr #adamclayton #theedge #hoganstand #famousconcerts #thejoshuatreetour #thegreatestbandever #hotpressmagazine


Saturday, June 14, 2014

World Cup 2014 ...Gezondheid!!!




Well, World Cup football fever is here and this is day 3. 
Of course it's always that little bit special when your own country is taking part, whether it be the country you are from or the country you are living in. But unfortunately neither Ireland or Finland made it to the finals this year in Brasil. Nevermind, for me being a football fan I will be enjoying all the teams in this year's tournament anyway. So far, the biggest surprise has been the 5-1 defeat to World Champions Spain by fellow europeans Holland. A rejuvenated looking Robben and a spectacular diving-header goal by Robin Van Persie destroyed the Spanish legends.






















 ...Van Persie scores!!! 
....Gezondheid!!!


I love watching great players from around the world play in this tournament, the biggest stage of them all in football. Players such as those in the Chilean team for example. Last night I watched as they beat Australia with some wonderful flowing football skills. Well, I watched them until half-time at least. By that time it was already past 2 o'clock in the morning here in Finland and my eyes were half asleep. As I couldn't see any reprisal for the Ozzies I went off to bed. As I predicted Chile eventually got another goal and won the match 3-1 anyway! ....Bravo Chile!!!



Tonight a very fresh-looking England squad play against a tough Italy. The Italians are never easy to play against, especially at World Cup level. It should be a hard game for England to deal with. Being a fan of the English league and Liverpool Football club I hope England play well and get a win if they deserve it. I know a lot of Irish don't like to support England, but I find it rather hypocritical not to cheer the same players on also at an international competition level. Unless Ireland is in the finals too I don't see why not. I know I want to see Gerrard and company do well and maybe it will help him get over an upsetting end to last season's English premiership. He's had a great career and no better player/captain to make it so. It's a very late kick-off here in Finnish-time so it had better be a good game so I can stay awake!!!   


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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     



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The Art Garage, Finland

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