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  • Holidays | Writing, life and other animals
    over priced restaurants and generally spend money that could be better employed elsewhere Actually the truth is somewhere in between Fathers Day began by all accounts back in the early 20th century in America as a holiday to celebrate fatherhood and male parenting something to counterbalance the already popular Mothers Day celebrations The earliest advocate of a male orientated holiday was a woman Sonora Smart Dodd who was apparently attending a Mothers Day celebration in 1909 when she decided to hold a similar day in honour of her father the following year So on the 19th of June 1910 Ms Dodd presided over what s believed to be the first ever observance of a fathers day holiday It took some time for the holiday to become official While the concept of Mothers Day was met with universal enthusiasm Fathers Day despite being supported by influential bodies like the Young Women s Christian Association YWCA the Young Men s Christian Association YMCA and the Church was generally greeted with scepticism and amusement by the general population Slowly the idea gained traction and in the 1930s spotting an opportunity to boost commerce the Associated Menswear Retailers formed a special committee with the sole purpose of legitimising and commercialising Fathers Day among the masses By the 1980 s the chairman proclaimed the committee s mission a resounding success In the US at least Fathers Day had become a three week commercial extravaganza a second Christmas Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 16 19 Tagged with dolphins Fathers Day holidays picnic West Cork Surprised by the Costa Del Sol Children Evening Echo Column holiday 2 Responses Jun 04 2009 Image via Wikipedia Catching up with a few missed posts this one from the end of April while we were leaving Spain on our way to Morocco We re sitting on the ferry as it pulls out of Algeciras on the southern tip of Spain Our destination Cueta a Spanish port on the North African coast and from there across the border into Morocco and on to the Rif Mountains and the Mediterranean coast The crossing takes around 45 minutes highlighting just how close Europe and Africa really are So close and yet a world apart Ferries are frequent with ships from the various companies leaving approximately every hour so there s plenty of choice and no real need to pre book The girls have been getting more and more excited about the trip to Morocco as our week in Spain has progressed it s like going on holidays they said when you re already on your holidays They re turning into accomplished little travellers and I have to say that so far this trip from check in at Cork Airport to collecting the hire car at Malaga to boarding the ferry to Morocco they ve taken it all in their stride There have been surprisingly few arguments and complaints It s the same now After a brief skirmish about window seats on the ferry

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/holidays/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Kids | Writing, life and other animals
    out but we were running late for the Halloween disco So I took the kids around the neighbours houses while my wife put the finishing touches to her own ghastly outfit this is probably the only time of year I can describe what she s wearing as ghastly and get away with it The neighbours had been expecting us and had all sorts of sweet goodies at the ready By the time they d finished they d managed to accrue a fairly impressive stash despite the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere and have very few neighbours within walking distance I checked their bags to see what they d got sweets crisps bars lollipops and lurking near the bottom of each bag a solitary apple the only thing in the haul really worth eating Halloween is great fun for kids but it s a shame it s become so synonymous with gorging on sweets chocolate crisps and fizzy drinks It s yet another example of US spin warping traditional heritage and culture and turning it into so much less than the sum of its original parts It s like synergy only in reverse more is less as opposed to less is more Image via Wikipedia I can t help wondering why we re always so eager to emulate elements of American culture when in so many ways they re patently flawed But we do it time and again in all areas of life Take childhood obesity for example America has a huge problem with overweight and obese children Now thanks largely to the fact we re so quick to hop on the American bandwagon so have we I m not suggesting of course that the annual sweet and snack fest that Halloween has become is the cause of rising levels of obesity in Irish children That would be daft The real problem is the lamentable fact that this rubbish has become a staple of Irish children s diets The National Children s Food Survey found that far from being an occasional treat sweets snacks and biscuits now account for a fifth of the average Irish child s energy intake That s a staggering figure for all the wrong reasons Meanwhile researchers in Dublin are beginning to uncover a correlation between obesity in childhood and the early onset of adult diseases like cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes in Irish children Studies reports think tanks and government recommendations are all very well but ultimately it s parents who need to take a lead in tackling Ireland s growing obesity problem Looking after our children s wellbeing is paramount for any parent and their diet is a fundamental part of that responsibility It s our job to introduce children to good food and to instil healthy eating habits from an early age By all means let children have fun go a bit OTT on the sweets and run riot on special occasions just don t let it become the

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/kids/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Travelling to Morocco with children...part 2 | Writing, life and other animals
    were punctuated with impressive looking fountains now empty and idle The funny thing about water features is that they need water Nothing dates a place quite as emphatically as a dry fountain From a distance the pool looked spectacular a shimmering blue rectangle on an expansive deck of white tiles leading to the beach and the Mediterranean beyond Lovely until you took a closer look Again lack of maintenance let the pool area down and the beach which looked so inviting was strewn with all manner of rubbish The pool wasn t heated and was too cold to swim in for any length of time With things looking bleak on the accommodation front we decided to check out the nearby town of M diq At reception they told us the best way into town was to take a local bus on the road outside Four buses sailed by without stopping so packed that people hung out of their open doors and we decided to flag down a passing taxi instead That proved more difficult than anticipated but eventually we all clambered into a dilapidated old Mercedes and made the short trip into town M diq is a busy little town it s streets lined with tea rooms cafés and hole in the wall shops and stalls selling everything from freshly baked bread pastries snacks and spices to jewellery leather goods pottery coffee crafts and much more When we arrived the street market was in full swing There were people milling everywhere it was at once fascinating and threatening a completely alien culture raw and undiluted pushing me so far outside my comfort zone that I reverted to instinct my only concern to keep the children safe They of course had no such concerns and lapped up the new experience eagerly It took me longer than usual to adjust to the cultural upheaval but over the course of the week I could feel Morocco it s culture and particularly it s people gradually winning me over There were uncomfortable episodes like getting hassled by touts outside the ancient entrance to the medina in Tetouan or haggling with taxi drivers over a late night fare but the Moroccan people in general are so friendly with a ready smile and willingness to help that it s impossible not to be won over by their charm At the start of the week I was wondering if Morocco would yield any highlights in the end there were plenty Sipping sweet mint tea and watching the world go by on the streets of M diq a journey into the Rif mountains to the marvellous little town of Chefchouen and the narrow blue and white streets of its ancient medina but most of all it was amazing to see how readily the children adapted to accepted and revelled in the new experiences thrown up by a culture so very different from our own Morocco as a destination has been far from plain sailing but ultimately it has

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/2009/05/06/morocco-part-deux/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Africa | Writing, life and other animals
    meeting new people Your original experience of a place colours your perception of subsequent events The better it is the more you tend to enjoy your visit and the better the impression of the country you take away when you leave Morocco and I had got off to a shaky start The border crossing from Spain had been a nightmare the worst I ve ever experienced on this or any other continent Then our accommodation turned out to be miles from the nearest town in a moderate to advanced state of disrepair and lacking most of the facilities listed when we d booked it Spacious luxurious accommodation matched only by the warmth of the welcome extolled the details on the web page They were right in one sense the sullen jaded staff matched the run down appearance and atmosphere to a tee Shabby sans chic was how I took to describing it as the week wore on Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 12 35 Tagged with Africa family holidays Morocco Parenting Travel and Tourism Subscribe to feed Get posts in your favourite feed reader Now blogging about Ireland s Wildlife and Nature Read Calvin s writing on Ireland s

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/africa/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Morocco | Writing, life and other animals
    the worst I ve ever experienced on this or any other continent Then our accommodation turned out to be miles from the nearest town in a moderate to advanced state of disrepair and lacking most of the facilities listed when we d booked it Spacious luxurious accommodation matched only by the warmth of the welcome extolled the details on the web page They were right in one sense the sullen jaded staff matched the run down appearance and atmosphere to a tee Shabby sans chic was how I took to describing it as the week wore on Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 12 35 Tagged with Africa family holidays Morocco Parenting Travel and Tourism Welcome to Morocco Children Evening Echo Column holiday Parenting 1 Response Apr 23 2009 Morocco what can I say Culture shock doesn t even come close After a week in Spain we were all looking forward to our stay in Morocco something a bit different something to challenge our preconceived notion of the world and open the children s eyes to a completely new cultural experience Reading about other countries in books or seeing them on the telly is all well and good but there s nothing quite like visiting somewhere for yourself to highlight that despite the steadfast march of globalisation the world isn t the homogenised melting pot of western values we all too often assume That diversity is a good thing but when you re travelling with children notice we re travelling now our holiday ended when we left Spain it can be a challenge to say the least Our first taste of Morocco wasn t a pleasant one After taking a taxi from the Spanish port of Ceuta to the Moroccan border we crossed on foot Walking through a long desolate

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/morocco/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Welcome to Morocco! | Writing, life and other animals
    earth we were doing There were no signs to point us in the right direction no indication of where we should go or what we should do We were simply carried along human flotsam on a purposeful tide of bodies The Moroccan side of the border was a maelstrom of people vehicles and uniformed officials Horns blared voices were raised and amidst the confusion a huddle of people gathered waving their passports above their heads in the general direction of one of the vehicle check points This it transpired was the queue for pedestrians crossing the European African frontier When I say queue what I really mean is a chaotic milling mass There was nothing organised enough to be called passport control just an unwieldy melee of pushing shoving elbowing and jostling for position People were joining the scrum from all angles striving to get their passports stamped as quickly as possible The result was predictable Tempers frayed and with startling swiftness the crowd became a seething mob I ushered the children to the periphery while my wife held her ground at the centre of the fray Suddenly the notion of experiencing other cultures first hand was feeling a little bit too real Standing there in the heat and dust trying to keep the children out of harms way while my wife battled amidst the ebb and flow of bodies I couldn t help but think we d have been better off watching a good travel documentary Crossing the border took more than two hours Welcome to Morocco The girls amazingly took all of this trauma in their stride It seems that as long as they re with us they feel safe and secure wherever they are Children are much more resilient and adaptable than most adults give them credit for They re more open to change than grown ups less set in their ways which is why exposing them to new things while they re young is so important That was something I d be reminding myself of constantly over the coming week When we finally cleared the border we arrived at what looked like a Mercedes graveyard Closer inspection revealed it to be a taxi rank As we climbed into the nearest cab a quick glance at the clock told me it was pushing an incredible half a million miles The term still going strong would be something of an overstatement but as the driver gunned the car onto the highway it was patently still going Our Moroccan adventure was just beginning looking out of the taxi s grubby window I realised that while the children were soaking up the experience I was already having second thoughts and struggling to keep an open mind I wondered what the week ahead would bring Be Sociable Share Tweet Share this Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Google Opens in new window Related Posted by Calvin at

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/2009/04/23/welcome-to-morocco/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Border Crossing | Writing, life and other animals
    our preconceived notion of the world and open the children s eyes to a completely new cultural experience Reading about other countries in books or seeing them on the telly is all well and good but there s nothing quite like visiting somewhere for yourself to highlight that despite the steadfast march of globalisation the world isn t the homogenised melting pot of western values we all too often assume That diversity is a good thing but when you re travelling with children notice we re travelling now our holiday ended when we left Spain it can be a challenge to say the least Our first taste of Morocco wasn t a pleasant one After taking a taxi from the Spanish port of Ceuta to the Moroccan border we crossed on foot Walking through a long desolate no man s land of concrete and razor wire I started to wonder what on earth we were doing Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 14 14 Tagged with border crossing Ceuta holiday Morocco Spain Subscribe to feed Get posts in your favourite feed reader Now blogging about Ireland s Wildlife and Nature Read Calvin s writing on Ireland s leading Wildlife and

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/border-crossing/ (2016-02-15)
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  • A new year, pointless research and other such nonsense | Writing, life and other animals
    s response to the do you see the glass as half full or half empty question is typically What glass It s hard to pinpoint why but I m sure 2009 is going to be a really wonderful year Bizarre I know but there you go you heard it here first One of the things I m sure will endure into the new year and for many year s to come is the tendency to conduct completely useless research that reveals absolutely nothing of any tangible value Why do we keep pumping money we can ill afford to spend into studies that we really don t need One that came out Christmas week for example proclaimed that children born in the summer have poorer literacy skills at primary level than those born in the winter What a load of old codswallop and I don t care what the statistics say What happened to intelligence reason and plain old common sense Who commissions these things in the first place and why On spelling the summer born children irrespective of whether they were the oldest or youngest in the year group did the worst proclaimed one of the report s authors a psychologist from Queens University Belfast no less There seems to be some biological weakness in children born in the summer months Yeah right But it gets worse these far fetched findings were published in the illustrious tomes of the British Journal of Educational Psychology How is anyone supposed to take anything else in the journal seriously when it s published alongside such meaningless tat Some of the other pearls of wisdom to emerge from the hallowed halls of third level research establishments in 2008 are students who watch lots of adverts for junk food are more likely to eat unhealthy

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/2008/12/31/another-one-bites-the-dust/ (2016-02-15)
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