Sep 12 2016

More ways to pursue photography

If you have enjoyed photography for a while as a hobby, you may be thinking about taking things a step further. Nicola Keegan Free photography lessonPerhaps you would like to get some qualifications and start thinking about turning your hobby into a career. There are hundreds of options if you would like to study online, but when it comes to photography, you may find it more beneficial to look at studying at a school of photography such as
Speos. Well established and respected schools such as this one give you a great grounding in your skills, as well as personal, hands on training from professional teachers. At the end of your studies you will receive accredited qualifications to help you get recognized and on your way.

Whatever form of photography you decide to explore, be it portraits, landscapes, fashion, journalism or anything else, pursuing your career through a professional school can give you the head start that you need.

Nov 7 2014

Culture Connect

Visitors to the wonderful city of Milan should consider a visit to Sesto San Giovanni, one of its suburbs. Why? Because there you will find a hidden gem of a restaurant that has received very many positive reviews (especially on Tripadvisor). Culture Connect specialise in Senegalese cuisine – Perfect if you are looking for new or exotic cuisine or you enjoy experimenting when you dine out. And if you are looking for an African restaurant in Milan and hinterland there are lots of good reasons to head to Culture Connect. But first of all, let me explain what the food from Senegal is like.

Dishes from Senegal are influenced by the cuisines of North Africa, France, Portugal and the many ethnic groups which make up population. In general you could say that the dishes tend to be spicy, and they would feature couscous, rice, sweet potatoes, blackeyed peas or lentils along with either fish, chicken, lamb or beef (pork is not part of the cuisine). You can also expect peanuts in many of the dishes since Senegal is a major producer. Various vegetables are also incorporated into the dishes, so not only is this cuisine exotic and tasty, it’s healthy too. Onions, garlic and peppers are also very much part of the flavour profile.

The chef and staff at Culture Connect really do like to interact with their diners and they will explain in detail what each dish consists of, so there will be no unpleasantly hot surprises. It’s not that the staff merely want to sell to you either; they are genuinely interested in seeing you enjoy the experience. It’s also great to see cooks who are so willing to ensure that the guests will enjoy their experience, so don’t be surprised if you find the chef wandering our from the (scrupulously clean) kitchen to see how are are faring.

Italian, French and English are all spoken fluently by the staff there, so you will definitely be able to choose a dish that suits your palate. The owner Danilo really has put together a team and venue that doesn’t disappoint. The restaurant is small (you could mistake it for a bar if walking by) and its size really does add to the lovely atmosphere.

Meat and vegetables are generally marinated or stewed in spices and herbs. Then the meat and its sauce would be poured over rice or couscous or accompanied by bread. Many of the dishes are like an Indian curry, yet they are distinct, and they have a flavour all of their own. Try the Thiebou curry – it’s really special. In fact the version with fish is the national dish.

Another cool thing about eating at Culture Connect is that the prices are very reasonable (especially if you book your table during ‘Happy Hour’). So, be sure to try an aperitif while you mull over what you are going to eat, because your bill won’t be expensive! Dessert also deserves a mention. It often consists of a combination of yogurt and couscous. This makes for a refreshing and healthy option that isn’t too sweet and that doesn’t leave you feeling too full.

It’s really going to be tough to find an African restaurant in Milan and hinterland which betters Culture Connect. For more information visit their web site. There you will also be able to make contact with them in order to make a booking, something I recommend in view of the limited number of places. I genuinely don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Feb 28 2014

A Rare Treat – The Aurora Borealis

One of the amazing things about living far up in the Northern most part of Ireland is the exciting prospect of being able to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. Last night was one of the most spectacular displays in a very long time. Some amazing photos are flooding Facebook today as photographers are sharing their pictures with the world. I ran out with my camera at about midnight last night when I first heard they were visible, but I was about 2 hours too late, and didn’t get to see them. I have been excited all day at the prospect of seeing them tonight, and have my camera and tripod packed up and ready to go. Unfortunately conditions are not favorable tonight, so I will have to be patient and wait for the next time. I am so disappointed to have missed the show last night!

But here are some photos that you might enjoy!

The Northern Lights at the Giant’s Causeway – 27th February 2014

If you are interested in seeing if they will be visible where you are, here are some useful websites to bookmark – I know I will be checking them out every day over the next few weeks!

Real time Kp numbers – if they are above 4, then there is a good chance of seeing them.

Space weather alerts and warnings – If you see green on today’s date on the G1, G2 or G3 rows, then be prepared!

Magnetic Field – If the Bz dial is showing negative numbers, then the chances of Aurora sightings are good.

Aurora Forecast

Inishowen Tourism Blog

Here are also some Donegal Facebook pages that you might enjoy if you are interested in the latest Aurora photos:

Donegal Weather Channel, Donegal Photographic Tours, Visit Inishowen, Adam Rory Porter Photography, Martina Gardiner Photography, Rita Wilson Photography and Buncrana Camera Club

Nov 23 2013

Chiptuning by RaceChip – How to Easily Boost the Power and Economy of Your Motor

What is Chiptuning?

The engines in all modern cars are controlled by an electronic control unit or ECU.  Within this unit there is a memory chip with data that has been provided by the vehicle manufacturer. The ECU uses this data to directs the operation of the engine – ignition timing, air to fuel ratio, turbo boost and more.

Chiptuning refers to the different methods that can be used to alter the data that the ECU uses; it can refer to replacing the memory chip, reprogramming the chip, or adding an additional ECU. Altering or replacing the typically conservative data programmed by the manufacturer can result in greater power output and economy, provided it is carried out properly.

The different approaches

The data which is used to govern the engine can simply be completely replaced by simply exchanging the memory chip that is in the ECU for a chip with data which allows for different ignition timing, fuel ignition etc.

Another approach, and one which has become more popular than replacing the chip, is getting the existing chip reprogrammed (or ‘remapped’). The individual carrying out the chiptuning in this way would usually reprogram the chip by using the onboard diagnostics interface (OBD). He plugs a computer into the vehicle’s OBD port and introduces the new data. These two methods can result in greater power than the third option (see below) but there are disadvantages, risk of engine damage and inability to carry out diagnostic tests.

The third way to change the data is to add another ECU (sometimes referred to as a tuning box) which acts in the same way that the manufacturer’s ECU but uses a set of data which increases power and performance. This method offers significant advantages as it can easily be removed, allowing the original ECU to take over engine control. This is useful when it time for the vehicle to be sold. In addition, with the right setup the original engine protection program that the manufacturer installed is retained, so you good a boost in power and economy without the risk of engine damage.


RaceChip are a chiptuning company based in Germany; they have been in operation for over 18 years. RaceChip only use the the third option outlined above – that of adding an additional ECU. Their systems always leave the original engine protection data in place, so there is no risk to your motor. The ECU is easy to install (you can do it yourself in 15 minutes) and there are no structural modifications to the vehicle or the existing ECU.

Their basic system – which costs a mere €129 – can give you the following benefits: up to 25% more performance, up to 20%more torque, up to 1l / 100km less consumption. Those are very impressive figures indeed. True, you may get a greater output by replacing or reprogramming the chip, but is it worth the risk when RaceChip’s inexpensive system offers so much?

Chiptuning that is not carried out properly can actually result in poor performance and economy, and even engine damage. Therefore, it is advisable to only tune an engine by use of an additional ECU, one which allows the engine to be governed by the engine protection data programmed by the engine manufacturer. RaceChip systems certainly are the way to go.

Oct 20 2013

Huggler Books


Aug 26 2013

A Busy Summer!

Phew, it’s nearing the end of August, and we have had such a busy few months!  Although we haven’t been able to travel anywhere abroad, we have had quite a few visitors, and have shared some of the sights of Ireland with them instead!  We have also made many new friends, which means that we have got more places to visit in the future!


My dear sister and family were able to visit us from the US! It had been about five years since their last visit, so it was sooo great to see them.  They came up to Donegal for a week, and we took them on a tour of our beautiful beaches, we ate fresh seafood in Malin Head, picked and cooked mussels from the beach, went to see the Giant’s Causeway, the rope bridge, and much more! We even had the amazing and unusual occurrence of some warm weather and sunshine!! It was such a wonderful few days.. We are planning a longer trip to Georgia to see them as soon as we can, so we are keeping an eye open for great flight deals with companies like US Airways!

We also had fun with a family visiting Buncrana for to months, my cousin and his wife from Wales, and a big  group of Germans from Augsburg!  It has meant a lot of trips to the Giant’s Causeway and the rope bridge, but it is always fun! And I even managed to cross the bridge once :-/IMG_6460

Travelling abroad is such a wonderful experience, and hopefully we can visit some more countries in the near future, but travelling at home can be fun too!


Jun 18 2013

You Can’t Get Fresher Than This!

One of the best things we have done since moving here is discovered the delights of fresh ingredients.  On our list of ‘To-Dos” with any visitors is going to get fresh mussels for dinner.  There is nothing quite like driving to the beach, and walking out on the sand when the tide has gone out, collecting a bucket of fresh mussels and oysters, and cooking them!  Cleaning the barnacles from the shells is not so glamorous, however, but definitely worth it!

Blurb Cookbook Mussels

We have tried two recipes – both equally delicious!

The classic mussels in white wine: Fry some onion and plenty of garlic in a shallow cast iron pan, add some white wine and reduce slightly.  Add a good slug of fresh cream, some ground black pepper and chopped fresh parsley. Tip in the cleaned mussels, put a lid on your pan, and steam until the mussels are open. Discard any that remain closed. Don’t overcook them or they will be rubbery! Serve with crusty bread and chilled white wine.

For something a bit different, and equally tasty (I have my sister to thank for this one!): Fry a chopped onion, plenty of crushed garlic and some fresh grated ginger.  Add some chopped chilli (not too much that it will take over the taste of the mussels, but enough for a little bit of a kick), and 1/2 tsp of tumeric, 2 tsp ground cumin.  Stir in 1 cup of water and 1 3/4 cups of shredded fresh coconut. Sprinkle in some fresh chopped coriander.  Steam your mussels as in the previous recipe, and garnish with some more fresh coriander.

This sounds like a bit of a strange combination with mussels, but believe me, it’s so delicious you will be spooning up the juices with your mussel shells and drinking it!!

When you try out new recipes, be sure to snap some photos of this finished masterpiece.  You can then collect all of your favourite recipes into your own special recipe book. I am in the process of putting together a cookbook using Blurb of all of our favourite family recipes. This will make a great gift for close friends and family! It’s so easy – you should try it too!!


Jun 13 2013

May & June Photos – Donegal

Apr 29 2013

A Few More..

Despite wind and heavy showers, we had a lovely morning out in the Culdaff area.. Here are a few highlights for you!


Apr 27 2013

A Spring Of Extremes!

Time to post a few more photos from beautiful Donegal! As you can see, over the last couple of months, we have had a whole range of weather from snow and ice, wind and hailstones, to sunshine, lambs and spring flowers!

As always, no matter what the time of year, its just stunningly beautiful up here!