Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom

Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom (My Name Is Yu Ming) is the story of a young bored Chinese shop clerk, who is disillusioned with his dead-end job at a supermarket. A fateful spin of the globe leads him to choose Ireland as the destination for his new life and further research informs him that the official language of that country is Gaelic. Arriving in Dublin speaking the language, he is puzzled when nobody can understand him.

Written and Directed by Daniel O’Hara
Produced by Grainne O’Carroll

Holland – Flower Fields And Tulips Galore

It’s that time of year again…..the lambs are making their arrival, the buds on the trees are getting fatter by the day and are about to explode open with blossom and leaves, the last of the frost is losing it’s morning battle with the Sun and the spring flowers are well and truly coming in to bloom.

I especially love this time of year here in Holland. As you may already know, the Netherlands is the largest exporter of flowers in the world. That’s not to say that they grow everything here, no. They import, auction off and re-export to all four corners of the globe (can a globe have corners?) all sorts of flowers, plants and bulbs. But their home-grown speciality are of course tulips.

The tulip was introduced to the Netherlands in 1593 by horticulturalist Carolus Clusius at the then, newly established Botanical Gardens in Leiden. These tulips would eventually lead to the subsequent Tulip mania years later, and spawned what is today one of the Netherlands largest agricultural industries.

First to flower are the various varieties of narcissus. They are quickly followed by the hyacinths and then of course the tulips. There are various places the flowers are grown, but the most well known are is that of the Bollenstreek….an area of the provinces of North and South Holland, centred around Lisse and extending as far north as Den Helder. Lately, they have also begun to cultivate the tulip bulbs on the newly formed Flevopolder, near Almere and Lelystad.

From the ground, it’s so beautiful to see row upon row of flowers in all shades and colours. Aside from the Royal gardens of Keukenhof, in some areas of the Bollenstreek you can even wander amongst the flower beds and snap away with your camera, just as long as you take care not to damage the flowers. The farmers for the most part are quite obliging, but will quickly get aggravated if you start acting the fool. And of course there are the fun flower fields where they allow you to pick as many tulips as you like for a small fee in return, such as Anne Miekes picking garden (pluktuin) in Hillegom or Tulpen en Zo in Julianasdorp.

But my passion is seeing them from the air. As a qualified pilot, a proud owner of my own little airplane, I make sure to get airborne as much as I can, whether and day-pass from Herself permitting, to see the majesty and carpet of colour that can only be found in this part of the world. It truly is a breathtaking experience, and one that has seen past passengers make trips back year after year to come fly with me and see the fields from the air one more time. We’ve even started to advertise flights for anyone else who was interested.

Of course, the tulips flowering in the fields never make it to the florists. The flowers bloom and shortly after, they are decapitated and the green leaves absorb the suns energy, putting it back into the bulbs which are then dug from the ground, packaged and sold on to gardeners the world over. The flowers sold to florists for displaying on your window sill are all grown inside green houses and will bloom almost all year round thanks to the ingenious way the growers freeze the bulbs and then plant in rotation in their greenhouses.

Spring is a thing of beauty no matter where you are, but it’s something that little bit extra special here in the Netherlands. If you’re interested in seeing them from the air for yourself, then feel free to send me a message and we can try and arrange something for you.

Schiphol Passport Control Improvements

For all the talk of the current government and their silent partners, the xenophobic PVV lead by that fake blonde, Geert Wilders, it seems the folks at Schiphol are rolling out more ways to make it easier for us weary travellers to transit passport control when entering and leaving Holland.

I have been a user of their iris scan service, Privium, for a number of years and I LOVE it. I’ve said before that there are only two Dutch companies that I would rank and which I enjoy using, and that’s KLM and Privium. I’m hesitant about fully adding Schiphol to that list (more on that later) but this latest move certainly puts them into the running.

So what exactly have they introduced to deserve such high praise from this grumpy frequent flyer Irishman?

Well, what they’ve just rolled out is a “Self-Service Passport Control” for all passport holders from EEA (that’s the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Citizens from these countries will be able to pass through these new “e-gates” using their biometric passports and facial recognition to pass through immigration.

As a current Privium user, I can’t help but think that this new e-border solution might result in a drop off of Privium clients. Mind you, the fact that almost every Privium client is a frequent flyer and that they generally have their shit together when going through the security checks means that the dedicated security screening line for Privium, along with the parking, the lounge and the friendly and efficient staff are still worth my annual subscription.

But one other thing might worry the general public, and that is the fact that anyone with an EEA passport (genuine or an extremely good forgery) can pass through immigration unimpeded. In an era where-in the Netherlands has become extremely xenophobic, the extreme right may seize upon this new initiative and try to shut it down, citing that anyone an now enter the country without any checks to determine if they are a genuine visitor. Given that fact that we Irish have been the victims of forged Irish passports in the past, and that the Irish passport is the passport of choice amongst most spooks, with Russian and Israeli spies using Irish passports to get in and out of various countries to carry out their covert black ops, it’s no wonder that people may think that this is not really a good idea, and thus roll it back.

Meanwhile elsewhere in Schiphol-land, they have decided to make the weary travellers plight even worse. Whilst speeding up our entry and exit through immigration, some bright spark has come up with a ridiculous idea which foreces drivers, who are simply picking up passengers, to use a mandatory car park, whereby they have to park the car and wait there for their passenger. OK, so they get the first 15 mins of parking for free, but you can no longer use the original pick-up area anymore. Their rationale, when I questioned them, was that this pick-up area is simply too busy and too congested. My answer to them was simple….start slapping parking fines to the wankers who leave their car and do not wait by the car. That will soon stop people from parking there for +30 mins while they wait for a delayed flight to arrive and sort out the congestion problem fairly lively.

Sadly, my suggestion fell on deaf ears…which is weird, because in Holland they love to find ways to screw you out of money. Maybe they think that this 15 mins free parking will actually result in people staying one or two mins extra, allowing them to charge you for a full hour, as is the case with almost every Dutch car park. Knowing the Dutch as I do, I won’t be surprised to find out that even when everyone clearly sees that this idiotic idea doesn’t work out, they will refuse to admit their mistake and carry on regardless.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to take the bus to and fro and try to relax in the sumptuous comfort of the Privium lounge before I have to deal with the grannies and screaming babies and the “once a year” travellers that regularly cause my blood pressure to rise as they fumble with their passports and boarding cards or their 20 bags of clinking bottles from Duty Free in the overhead bins.

Who said travelling isn’t fun? 🙂

Aussies Don’t Swear

Really? Well, the ones I know do. In fact they’d put most Irish people to shame if it came to a swearing competition. Herself made this innate observation when we would hang out with our Aussie friends (of which we have many) and noted that she once thought that I had some choice language, until of course she met her first Aussie. Seems this trait for colourful articulative language was to be found amongst all our friends from Down Under.

Which begs the question about why these TV presenters had an American styled “politically correct/potty mouth” reaction to the woman who answered, in a very normal and accepted Aussie manner, so when asked would she like to win $10,000. I can’t for the life of me understand why they looked so shocked and appalled at the answer or reaction they got from Ms. Jay Grumley, when this is in fact par for the course across Australia. Or maybe the folks in TV-land are above ever using colourful language at all whenever tasked with overemphasising their surprise and delight and winning a few bob 🙂

Maybe they were expecting her to say “Strewth!”

You’ve Seen How Old Jean Claude Van Damme Is, Right?

Getting on for 51 years of age, Jean Claude Van Damme’s latest advert for Coors beer is really showing his age. No longer blessed with the swooning good looks women used to go weak at the knees at, he is starting to look pretty wrinkled. One would think that an aging star such as himself would have gone under the knife to maintain, stretch and coax every last bit of youth from his ever ageing skin. But it seems that Van Damme has elected for the “Growing Old Gracefully” mantra.