The lost generation

Is Generation Lost like this old typewriter? Perfectly functional but unusable?

Is Generation Lost like this old typewriter? Perfectly functional but unusable?

My very first full day’s work started at 7am, in the cold clinical lighting of a giant underground kitchen. I was using a large butcher’s knife to chop a full-bodied, cold, slimy calamari into tiny dices for the lunch buffet of a prominent 4 star hotel on the outskirts of Paris’ CDG airport.

Fighting nausea, shock and homesickness, I was also being yelled at by the head chef for not cutting small enough dices and not going quick enough. By the time my work experience was done 6 months later, I had brulee-d the tips of my fingers with a crème brulee dish, spilled a lobster into a customer’s lap during an ill-fated understaffed seafood themed night and been told in no uncertain term by a senior male supervisor of the front desk that if he saw another un-made-up rosy cheek or a whisp of unruly hair escaping, he would fire me on the spot. Read more of this post

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New projects for 2014

Detail - Douglas Donkey. Acrylic on canvas, approx 60cm x 72cm. Price: €120.

Detail – Douglas Donkey. Acrylic on canvas, approx 60cm x 72cm. Price: €120.

So 2014 is starting off busy here. I’ve got a handful of projects on the boil. One of them is still top secret but very exciting and all will be revealed soon…. The others are not top secret but just as exciting. First up, I’ve set-up a technology blog to centralise all tech news that I see every day in my job as a freelance tech journalist. I’m fairly immersed in some pretty cool technology and I wanted to have a place to centralise it all and make some sense from it.

So without further ado I unveil my sister blog, TechByHeckhttp://techbyheck.wordpress.com. Feel free to nip over if tech is your thing, like it, follow it, subscribe to the Twitter account (@TechByHeck) and let me know if there’s anything you would like to see covered.

And now for something completely different: I’ve also launched an art venture called LeKrazyZoo, where I paint and sell colourful animal paintings aimed at little (and big) kids and generally deal with all things fluffy and colourful. Feel free to join this wee community on Facebook and help me get inspired to keep painting animal portraits of all kinds:) https://www.facebook.com/lekrazyzoo

Happy New Year to you all!

IKEA: a customer service tragedy in 4 Acts

ikea-logoSince I have genuinely tried to sort this out with IKEA and am getting nowhere and it’s costing me time and money, I will put this out there in the hope that someone up in the arcanes of the company will realise what a mess their system is when the “Computer Says No”…. It may even give you a laugh on a dreary Monday morning.

I hereby introduce my IKEA saga: “A customer service tragedy in 4 acts.”

ACT 1: I tried to purchase an IKEA conference table from the IKEA show floor in Dublin, ref number xxxxx. It was out of stock. I was told to call and check its availability as they were due a delivery between November 18 and 24. I called back on the 18th and was informed they had 13 in stock. Read more of this post

First day at kitten school

He jumped like a spring, claws akimbo, to hang from the tree like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. His fur the colour of skimmed cream and his amber eyes as wide as saucers, he moved in jerky, playful  crawls infused with the panting headlessness of youth.

The creak of a door, a human step and off he shot, up the bark and into the branches like the devil himself was in pursuit, hoping to spear a feline delicacy for lunch. Higher and higher he clawed, first in blind panic and then stopping at intervals in the arms of the tree to paw a branch.  Read more of this post

The first time gardener: Swiss Chard

Swiss chard grown in Dublin, just cut and ready for dinner

Swiss chard grown in Dublin, just cut and ready for dinner

This year’s new project was to create a kitchen garden in my back garden in North Dublin city. The magnitude of this project can only be comprehended when seen through the prism of my illustrious botanical CV.

Previous experience with growing living things involved killing anything with leaves within a 2m radius, including two cacti. Apart from one hardy cheese plant I inherited from a departing friend, which has inexplicably survived for a decade despite sometimes not seeing water for 6 months at a time, I have managed to keep alive a grand total of zero plants.

Therefore, it is no mean feat for me to announce that today for the very first time, I harvested and ate something I grew myself. In my back garden. In Dublin. That beautiful thing is called Swiss Chard.  Read more of this post

The first time gardener

DaffodilHeuston, we have a daffodil! One single, lone daffodil. It popped out of the earth like a curious alien and unfolded its golden shade last week, the sole survivor of my first questionable gardening experiment, which involved the hurried planting of half-sprouted forgotten bulbs in early April. That was never going to be a downright success, which makes that lone daffodil a symbol of hope for my project of the year: to grow a veggie garden.

A proper garden with flowers and vegetables, which I can magnanimously pick when visitors drop by on bicycles with wicker baskets and rustle into healthy soups and tasty sides to serve to friends and family. Aaah, I can picture myself already come September, rosy-cheeked in a spotty blue apron and my hair in an effortlessly chic bun, picking spotless carrots out of the ground with one hand and feeding the birds with the other. A modern day Cinderella without the stress of the Ball. And the mice. Read more of this post

I need a dollar

Dollar bill I was nine. He was geeky, shy and a tad strawberry blonde. It was after gym class in a small Swiss village. We were all outside the hall, heading home one early autumn day. Suddenly, a crowd gathered around him excitedly. Pascal was his name. And in his hand was something I’d never seen before in real life: a dollar bill. One whole dollar!

Only that one time in my life have I ever wanted to rob someone blind. A veil descended on my brain as I was taken over by the animalistic urges often seen in wolf packs or lion prides, where the strongest eat and the weakest die. Without any qualms or care for the morals of the situation, I was obsessed by the thought, stuck in that moment:  to take that dollar bill and run, making it mine forever.

I hasten to admit that I am not proud of that. Before and since, I have been a relatively upstanding citizen. One who has dutifully avoided the practise of armed robbery or ATM mugging and always hands back money that falls on the floor to its rightful owner. But in my defence, I was labouring under certain misconceptions about the value of money at the time. Of the dollar, to be precise. Read more of this post