The Master of All Polls

The Master of All Polls

I’ve decided to run a poll, indeed a series of polls below, with interesting questions. The results will be posted later in the year. The poll will be open for a few months so please feel free to share your views. The poll covers everything from topics in the news at the moment, to topics which people may ask from time to time.

The poll is one vote per person and Its and cookies are used to ensure a fair result. If you want to add anything to the debate or poll results please feel free to comment.

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Do you think the Irish Language is dead?

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Do you think Ireland could be tobacco free by 2020?

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What's your favourite social media platform?

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Do you believe in ghosts?

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Do you agree that those who drive above the limit should be banned from the roads for 3 months?

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Can you speak Irish to a reasonable conversational standard?

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Do you have a tattoo?

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Should Ireland Repeal the 8th amendment?

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Do you think Smoking is a disgusting habit?

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Do you think Britain were right to leave the EU?

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Can you Speak a foreign language?

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Do you think Donald Trump is a doing a good job as President?

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Thanks for stopping by and voting in the poll.

The poll results will be published later in the year.
Don’t forget to share the page on social media for others to take part.

Top things to do in Stockholm, Sweden

Top things to do in Stockholm, Sweden

Things to do in Stockholm, Sweden

I visited Stockholm in October 2016, it was my first time there and there are some highlights you should not miss.

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is part of a Baltic archipelago which has about 24,000 islands. Stockholm itself only stands on 14 of these islands. The city has over 50 bridges with cobblestone streets, multi-colored buildings and amazing architecture.

The Vasa

This is one of the Top Tips on TripAdvisor for Stockholm. The Vasa was a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. The ship sank after sailing about 1,500m into her maiden voyage on 10 August 1628. The ship was built on the specifications of a previous ship which had a row of guns. The King at the time wanted 2 rows of guns on the Vasa, This made the ship very top-heavy without any changes being made to the design. In the 1950s and 60s the ship was raised and the museum today shows how this was done. The Vasa now sits on full display, restored to its original glory. When I was visiting I thought this was just going to be a ship and a story… I was very wrong. It is so impressive to see and you could easily spend a few hours here.

If you are at the Vasa when you are in Stockholm, you might want to visit the ABBA / Swedish Music museum which is also nearby.

Djurgarten

Djurgården or the Royal Game Park is one of the mentioned islands in central Stockholm. It is easily accessible and you could easily walk it from the central train station in about 25 minutes. Djurgården has historical buildings, statues, monuments, museums, galleries and so much more. There is even an amusement park Gröna Lund. The walks through the area are very impressive and you get good views of the city from there also. It is extremely popular as a location and over 10 million visitors per year visit Djurgården.

Try Herring from a street cart

When I heard that there was a cart in Stockholm selling herring and that it was very popular I was sceptical. Firstly I had never actually tried herring. Secondly, it was from a cart. So, on trying the first bite I was hooked (excuse the pun). It is served with a type of mustard sauce and is on toast. Within a few minutes it was gone but worth trying. Since tasting the herring in Stockholm I managed to get it in Ireland, more or a Polish version, but still as tasty. If you are in Stockholm you must try herring.

View from Skinnarviksberget

In every city you will have a good viewing point. Paris has the Eiffel tower, London her the Eye and Stockholm has Skinnarviksberget. To get to Skinnarviksberget by metro you will need to get to the Zinkensdamm metro stop and from there it is only a short walk to the viewing point. There is a small climb so having decent shoes will help – heels, probably not a good idea !

Skinnarviksberget will give you wonderful views over the city and if you are a photographer, it’s very good near the blue hour!

Visit Old Town

The Old Town in Stockholm is also known as Gamla Stan. This is the historic heart of Stockholm. The Old Town is one of the favorite areas of Stockholm with it’s medieval streets and the Royal Palace. Much of this area is car free so it is a joy to walk around and enjoy. Gamla Stan is actually 3 of Stockholm’s islands, namely Stadsholmen, Riddarholmen and Helgeandsholmen. Stadsholmen being the largest of the three islands. This was one of my favourite parts of Stockholm.

It is a great place to enjoy Fika which is a concept in Swedish culture basically meaning “to have coffee”. Best when accompanied with pastries. In Sweden these pastries such as cinnamon buns are often referred to as fikabröd or “fika bread”. One of my favourites was a cardamom bun or Kardemummabullar. Delicious!

Place to Stay

If you are looking for a hotel in Stockholm I highly recommend the Radisson Blue Viking Hotel. It is very central, right by the train and bus station. It also has excellent staff and the very best breakfast – a real Swedish style start to the day.  The Radisson Blu Viking is also only minutes away from all the major shopping areas such as Drottninggatan, Bibliotekstan, Stureplan and the iconic NK department store.

The Radisson Viking also has a wonderful Skybar with great views of the city.

If you have time you can also take in a ferry cruise, which will bring you around the many areas of the archipelago.

Stockholm is a wonderful city with so much to see and do. I will certainly be back and I would love to see the city during the summer as it gets quite chilly in late October.

iPhone App to help you diet and lose weight – MyPlate

iPhone App to help you diet and lose weight – MyPlate

Everyone likes to look their best but sometimes that extra chocolate bar or those movie munchies catch up on us. The extra pounds can be a lot harder to shift than they were to put on. When I noticed that I was a few kg heaver than I wanted to be I said I would do something about it but I knew my diet was good to start with.

About 3 years ago I was around 1.5 stone (or 20 pounds) heaver than I wanted to be. Thats when I started using a diet app called MyPlate to help monitor elements of my diet. I have to admit I only used it intermittently, for a few months at a time but I saw results in about a month.

The app asks you to enter in everything in your diet – anything consumed that day. It computes the calories in your diet and deducts any exercise you do. The phone will detect any walking when the phone is on your person or you can add exercises later from a very well defined list. It then tells you, based on your diet goals, how your calorie intake is doing. Your goal can be simply to maintain your weight or to lose a certain number of kg per month.

You can see the breakdown of your sugar, carbs, protein and water intake. Remembering that an increased sugar in your diet (e.g. soft drinks, sweets and cakes) will make your body store more fat, the sugar intake is the tricky one to maintain. This app can help with this.

Some initial setup is required, entering gender, current weight, height and the mentioned weight goals. After that, just start entering your daily food and drink intake. There is a huge database of foods already there or you can enter your own food. Obviously some honesty is required in order to use the app but if you use it well you will see results.

I think part of the reason it works is that you start thinking, ‘Do I really want this?’. It makes you accountable for the things that you eat and makes you think about your diet. Plus, you can enjoy the treats but then you need to work them off. So if you go 60 calories over your limit, a fast paced 20 minute should burn that right off.

 

MyPlate Diet App Screenshots

You can see the screens below on how it tracks calories, fat, sugar, carbs and weight. Overall I ended up losing the 20lbs I needed to lose and wasn’t miserable doing it (I still have a sweet tooth). It’s a very good app and if you have good will power it can help you lose weight.

MyPlate Calorie Tracker on the App Store

MyPlate is the fastest and easiest way to diet, lose weight and improve your health! Join millions who have lost weight with LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate Calorie Tracker — the most user-friendly way to track your food, diet and exercise on your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. MyPlate makes tracking calories and getting the proper nutrition easy.

Download App
The most people applying sunscreen World Record Attempt – Postponed

The most people applying sunscreen World Record Attempt – Postponed

Please Note this event has been postponed - Click Here for more information

Please Note this event has been postponed until further notice

Click Here for more information on the most people applying sunscreen World Record Attempt

With the weather getting warmer and sunnier we all need to be aware of the risks of UV rays. There are a lot more cases of skin cancer these days. You may not know this but, skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland and indeed the most preventable. Every year there are over 10,000 new cases are diagnosed in Ireland.

With this in mind there is a very novel way to get the message of sun-protection out there…. while raising funds for cancer support. There is a very unusual event taking place in Waterford, Ireland on Saturday 1st July with this in mind. The Solas Cancer Support Centre is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for ‘The most people applying sunscreen’.

Now, I was not aware that there was even a category for this. Apparently, there was already a World Record for ‘The most people applying sunscreen’. This was set in the USA in May 2014 by the Ann’s Hope Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In that world record 1,822 participants were involved.

The weather for this Saturday looks to be very good and hopefully there will be a good turnout for this Sunscreen World Record attempt. It would also get the Solas Centre and their great work into the news and on the map.

For more details or to register to take part in this free event please go online to www.solascentre.ie . The Sunscreen World Record event is taking place in WIT Arena, Carriganore, Waterford, Ireland on Saturday 1st July 2017 and participants will need to arrive at 10am. Once registered you will receive details about the Sunscreen World Record attempt and you must bring this confirmation email with you on the day.

Only preregistered participants will be able to take part and as the Sunscreen World Record terms asks that participants must apply their own sun screen for 2 minutes we ask that children taking part be over 5 years of age.

Sunscreen World Record Attempt by the Solar Centre Waterford, Ireland
Top 20 Glastonbury Festival Tips – Get the Most out of your Glastonbury Festival Experience

Top 20 Glastonbury Festival Tips – Get the Most out of your Glastonbury Festival Experience

I have been to Glastonbury 3 times, 2013, 2015 and 2016 and I even played 2 of the official stages in 2015. The Glastonbury Festival is an amazing experience and lack of pre-planning can affect your enjoyment. These are my Glastonbury Tips for before, during and after the Glastonbury Festival. There were 18 but I have extended them with 2 great additional tips.

1) Bring the Right Stuff

The gates to the Glastonbury Festival open early on the Wednesday morning of the festival. Before you get to the gates you should have a think and plan your packing.

These are a few items you should think of bringing to Glastofest;

  • Good fitting wellies  : If it rains the areas become very muddy quickly. Invest in a good pair of wellies which fit correctly. However, based on the current weather forecast I cannot see any rain issues affecting the Glastonbury Festival this year. (unlike last year)
  • Bring Hiking Boots or Hiking Shoes also :  If it is sunny you don’t want to be dragging your feet around in warm wellies.
  • Phone PowerBar : You will need to charge your phone, 3 or 4 fully charged power bars might get you through a few days.
  • Torch : When it gets dark, certain areas of the site are unlit and a torch will help you find your way
  • Sunfactor and after-sun : You are standing outdoors most of the day waiting for your favourite band, don’t get burnt! You will need sun factor this year! Last year I brought it and never used it, as the weather was so wet.
  • Wet Wipes : You may not have a chance for a shower but at least you can be fresh-ish!
  • Sandwich Bags : These can help keep your phone and other items dry (should it rain)
  • Black Bin Liners : Can make for a quick and cheap poncho
  • Transistor Radio : Get one for a few quid so you can enjoy WorthyFM the Glastonbury Festival radio station.
  • Batteries : Bring some batteries for your radio and torch.
  • Toilet Rolls : If you are camping, this is a vital accessory … bring 3 or 4 each in a small plastic bag to keep them dry.
  • Hand Sanitiser : A useful and cheap alternative to soap which is not something you find in the drop toilets here.
  • Bring Layers : The temperature could be 27C and sunny or 12C and windy in the evening, so be prepared.
  • Tickets : Don’t forget your tickets as you won’t get in without them … no matter what the excuse.
  • Don’t bring anything you value … it will probably be ok but don’t risk it!

Also, this year with the extended security searches everything will be searched. So if you can buy it, (e.g. beer, snacks) don’t bring it with you. There will be extra long queues on day one as a result so be prepared for this.

 

2) Download the Glastonbury Festival Smartphone App to schedule your week in advance

There are over 100 areas where you can catch a band, everything from a small stage in the corner of the site to the impressive Pyramid stage. The official Glastonbury EE smartphone app has the full listing for all the main stages. You can also plan your trip by marking the bands or events you want to see. This way, you can identify clashes. If you do have a clash I would recommend going to the band which either are harder to get a live concert of or the one which is more unusual. In the past I have seen the Moody Blues when there was a clash – I felt it was a once in a lifetime chance to see them live. I have used the smartphone app every year and it certainly helps – there is even a Glastonbury site map to help you get around.

To download the Official Glastonbury App powered by EE visit http://ee.co.uk/why-ee/tickets-events/glastonbury

 

3) Expect Delays

If you are driving to Glastonbury for day one you will encounter delays. Last year some people were in the cars for up to 24 hours coming from London. Ensure you have enough petrol, water, snacks and patience when you are getting there. Don’t worry it will be worth it.
Every year we go, we always stay at a nearby town called Nunney the night before, in a lovely pub/hotel called the George at Nunney, this is only 30 minutes from the Glastonbury Festival entrance. Its a handy tip to get a bit closer to the event in advance.

Also, don’t forget the extra security which will be in place this year as mentioned in point 1 above which might cause further delays!

 

4) What to expect when you arrive at the Glastonbury Festival

Once you park your car or disembark your bus you will need too queue for entry.  There will be a long queue and last year it took us 45 minutes to get through around 11:20am but it might be a bit longer this year. Present your ticket and you will get an wristband which must remain untouched on your wrist for the duration. You will also get the Glastonbury magazine and a lanyard with information about the acts etc.

Now if you are camping, quickly go find a good spot.

 

5) Pitching your tent

Obviously you have to select an area to pitch your tent. Ensure to try get an area which is uphill, so any rain won’t accumulate in your area, also not too near the path, so you don’t get trampled on in high footfall areas. If you have a pole or flag, this can help identify your tent amongst the thousands in the area. If you don’t have one, just identify some other landmarks or flags to help you.

We decided not to pitch a tent but to have one pitched for us – the Pop-Up Hotel is the ideal way to do Glastonbury if you prefer not to go down that route. The facilities include a really comfy pre-erected tent or yurt, security, electricity WiFi, dining options, hot showers, nice toilets, music and a great crew of friendly staff to help you at all times.

Glastonbury Festival - Top Glastonbury Tips

6) Arriving on the Glastonbury Site on Day 1

I would recommend on day 1 getting to the Stone Circle as soon as possible. There’s lots of song and laughter in this area, we enjoyed a very “earth-song” like rendition around midday with lots of people holding hands, and a real throwback to the Glastonbury of the 70s.Very enjoyable just to sit and relax … you’re here !

After that, I recommend walking the site as much as possible to understand the areas like the Park, The Glade, Green Futures, the Healing fields and how to navigate between them. If you know where each route leads, should you need to get from the Pyramid Stage to the Park Stage in a hurry, you will know the route without looking it up on the map or reference the Glastonbury App.

 

7) Understanding the Limits of Glastonbury

There are a few things which you will find about the Glastonbury Festival and some home comforts which you won’t have. These are a few which the first time visitor may encounter.

  • You probably won’t have a phone signal all the time – you will be off the grid sometimes (or at least I was)
  • Toilets are a luxury and you can forget any thoughts of having a pine scented bathroom to enjoy (Try the long drop toilets)
  • Showers are a real luxury (unless you’re lucky enough to be glamping), get your wet wipes for that or queue for a shower in the early morning.
  • There will be a lot of walking, ensure your footwear is good.
  • If it rains – it gets muddy very fast. Check the forecast for each day ahead if you can so you are prepared!
  • There are a lot of people so just remember to be patient and just go with the flow.

 

8) Grab a spot for a wonderful Sunset

At the end of day 1, climb one of the hills, such as the one with the Glastonbury sign on it – This is a good spot to watch the sunset.
As long as it is not raining! You really could sit here all night.

Glastonbury Festival - Glastonbury Sunset

9) Don’t just limit yourself to one stage

The music at the Glastonbury Festival starts on the Friday and it is worth getting to the first act on the first music day. You will always remember the thrill of saying, it has started – Glastonbury Festival is on!!

You now have 3 packed days of music and around 100 stages or areas to try visit. I would recommend trying to visit all the major stages from Pyramid to West Holts and the Other Stage to the Park. You will enjoy a great variety of genres and even a few bands which you may fall in love with. I recall seeing bands like Haim, First Aid Kit and Rudimental for the first time – all great acts.

 

10) Expand your tastebuds

There are some spectacular food options at Glastonbury. Yes, you can get burgers, chips and hot dogs but there is a lot more to enjoy. I recommend going to places like Greenfields for a veggie option or over near the Double Decker which serves tea there is a wonderful seafood kitchen where I got the most amazing crab dish. I also remember overdosing on Tom’s Pies somewhere near the Pyramid stage. The final recommendation is Pachamama, go there and try the Tibetan soup and other delicious options.

 

11) The Circus Fields … not just for children

You really should spend some time in the Circus fields. Many people overlook this area of the Glastonbury Festival. Last year I saw some of the most amazing acrobatics – one of the acts included a drummer playing with a band who was on a bungee cord. You will get exactly what you though, circus acts but you will also see many walk-about acts, comedians and a few musicians just to keep the Glastonbury feeling alive in that area.

 

12) Push your Limits, Open Your Mind

There are some amazing venues which may (or may not) push your limits. These include areas such as the Unfairground, Block9 and Shangri-La. I really enjoyed areas like the Cave, Glasto Latino, The Common, and Copperdollar (my favourite). These areas at night become like a scene from a post-apocalyptic world like Mad Max. After 11pm these areas are very popular and you probably will see very big queues.

 

13) Watch the Arcadia Spectacular Spider awaken from its slumber

On Thursday evening at 10pm the Arcadia Spider dress rehearsal takes place. This is your chance to see the whole show before the official start of Arcadia proceedings on the Friday night. If you miss the Thursday rehearsal then just make sure you get there early on Friday to get a good spot. The arcadia spectacular is amazing.

The Arcadia Spider at Glastonbury Festival

14) Chill Out

If you want to chill out there are a number of areas you can do so. I like visiting the healing fields and the craft fields. Last year in the healing fields I got a gong bath which is 2 gongs being banged for 30 minutes – sounds terrible, but I fell asleep and felt great after it. You can also do yoga, meditation, reflexology and much more in the healing fields area.

The Craft fields are great for trying something new, everything from axe wielding and ring making to wood work and silversmiths. I made a ring for £20 – a very enjoyable 3 hours silversmithing. Try visit the craft fields on the Thursday as the music has not yet started.

The Peace tent near the stone circle is also another amazing spot to visit. The flame in the centre was (apparently) lit from the embers of the flames of the bombed Nagasaki. Very moving area to come and meditate.

15) Find a random piano

There are a few pianos dotted around the site and as a piano player I get to one each day for a few minutes. A good crowd will draw and my favourite moment in 2016 was how 2 or 3 people turned into about 50 or 60 as I played Bohemian Rhapsody (I will edit the post in the at some point to share this)

16) Get a view of the Glastonbury Tor

The Glastonbury Tor can be seen from some locations but the iconic ancient building a few miles away is often captured by the BBC in their coverage. Find it and grab a photo of it for yourself.

17) Climb the Ribbon Tower

There will be a queue for this iconic tower but the views are worth it. You have probably seen this on BBC coverage or Glastonbury images. The ribbon tower gives great panoramic views of the whole Glastonbury Festival site.

18) Board the Double Decker Bus for Tea

Yes, there is a red double decker bus serving tea and crumpets (and a lot more). Located not too far from the pyramid stage this bus is always busy. With comfy seating it’s a great place to go after you have been standing for 4 hours watching your favourite headliner. The simple things in life often bring the greatest joy, and you can relax onboard the double decker and take in some well deserved treats. There are cakes here too and they are great.

19) Listen to the Glastonbury Festival Local Radio Station

Tune into WorthyFM for the very latest news about the festival plus some secret gigs. In 2015 we were listening to WorthyFM and heard that the Dali Lama was going to be at the stone circle. Only for that we would not have been at an audience with this great man. Tune in to Worthy FM at 87.5MHz.

View from the Ribbon Tower at Glastonbury Festival

20) End as you started – at the Stone Circle

End your visit to Glastonbury as you started it, at the stone circle. This spot at around 3am early on Monday morning after all the music has ended is a very fitting place to be. Song, laughter and a very relaxed feeling over the site.
It’s over for another year – but you were there.

Enjoy Glastonbury!
Don’t Pee on the Land and Leave no Trace !

 

My Glastonbury Festival Photo Gallery