Sunday 30 August 2009

Milano in Galway - not their finest hour.

I have now seen it all! A supposedly Italian restaurant that can't produce a bowl of plain pasta for a child!

My family and I went to Milano restaurant in Galway last week while on holiday there. After being left waiting for approx 10 minutes for a table in a half empty restaurant, because it looked like the staff were more interested in getting their tasks done than in what was happening to us.

Eventually a very gruff waitress showed us to a table, threw some menus down and took an order for a bottle of water.

When she came back we asked for a bowl of plain pasta for our young daughter to be told we that couldn't be done. No explanation, no apology , just a shrug.

When we pointed out that it was supposed to be an Italian restaurant and said we couldn't stay if we couldn't get plain pasta we got another shrug and a "Fine" from the waitress who then simply walked away to another table.

As I waited to pay almost €5 for the privilege of a half drunk bottle of still water other staff gave half hearted excuses including the appetizing explanation that "all of our pastas already have sauce on them. We can't cook any more.". I paid for the water and we left.

I don't know where to start on what was wrong with all of this.

Firstly there was the waitress's attitude which was basically "take it or leave it".

Then there was the complete lack of any sense of apology as two very hungry, disappointed and confused kids had to put their coats back on and leave.

Then there was the charging for a bottle of water despite not being able to provide a meal to go with it.

Then there was the comment that we could complain on the website if we wanted to, the subtext being the staff couldn't care less.

Then there was the admission that a Milanos doesn't actually provide fresh food at all! Maybe we had a lucky escape on that front.

Ironically they say on their website that "What sets our restaurants apart is our people". You can say that again! Rude, gruff, disinterested with a "couldn't care less" attitude.

Needless to say we'll be giving Milano a very wide berth from now on.

BTW we went around the corner to Fat Freddys and had a lovely meal, including plain pasta, obviously cooked on site and served with a smile. They even gave the kids colouring books and crayons to use while they were there.

Saturday 22 August 2009

A little knowledge...

I got a bit annoyed tonight listening to the radio. The guys on "Off the Ball" on Newstalk started talking about the fact that Lance is here for the Tour of Ireland this week and how low key it all is given we don't get global sporting legends (their words, not mine) competing in this country too often .

They reckoned that journalists (ie them!) might have cared a bit more if he'd actually won the Tour, but since he didn't... who cares!

They proceeded to mention Mark Cavendish and how he won "a few" stages in the Tour and how he got "put to the back" for "something or other" but didn't win Green because "the other sprinter" was more consistent. Then, inevitably, they turned to doping since that's the only subject they think is worthy of a mention when cycling is discussed. After playing an interview snippet of Cav where he spoke about "the cheats" they guys tut-tutted a bit and sympathised with him and previous interviewee Nicholas Roche for having to take part in a sport "riddled with drugs". Oh yeah, Kohl got a mention to prove that cheats don't get caught.

Now am I being defensive when I say that it's surely not too much to expect a journo to actually read up a little about a sport if he intends laying in to it? But then Ger Gilroy's always been among the more cynical second rate hacks on our airwaves, in my humble opinion.

To cap it off, they later read a clarifying text from a listener who informed them that Cav got "put to the back" for not holding his line, which they found hilarious, and that "TOM Hushovd" was the winner of the green jersey!

Friday 21 August 2009

Nice Bike ....

So there I was, almost home after a 45 mile spin, feeling good and relishing my new-found fitness.

I see two kids on a bmx coming towards me, one riding and one standing on the back. As they pass on the footpath the one riding shouts at me (in best Dublin accent): "Noice Boike". (English Translation: Nice Bike)

"Yeah", I think to myself. "It's not bad".

But young lads don't give without taking back. It had to come.

Little lad on the back adds the killer blow: "Yeah, noice boike ..... fa-ee!!" (English Translation: Nice Bike, FATTY!)


Monday 17 August 2009

Paul Healion - RIP

I was truly shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of Paul Healion, announced on the radio today.

I didn't know Paul, but I saw him race on a couple of occassions and would have been aware of his results via the internet and the press. The impression I got was of a rider who didn't chase the glamour his talent might have gotten him. Instead he appeared to be a man who's ambition was to be the best he could be in whatever branch of the sport his talents led him to, however unheralded.

His commitment to track racing at a time when it wasn't clear that an Irishman could make a real impression internationally was commendable. That he and his teammates did break through, to be counted among the big nations, is a tribute to their dedication and commitment. I recall seeing David McCann and Tommy Evans in the lonely departures hall of Cardiff Airport once, hauling their bikes and gear through the check in area after a training session in Newport. No support staff, no fanfare, just their own graft. Paul Healion was one of those guys. Sweat and commitment was never in short supply.

The sport needs people like Paul Healion. His passing will be a big loss to Irish cycling.

May he rest in peace.

Saturday 15 August 2009

The hills are steeper now

When I was a teenager all I wanted to do was ride a bike. I was an enthusiastic but distinctly average under 16 and Junior rider in Dublin, but that didn't matter. So long as I had a clean bike, some cool gear (remember gold Sedis chains!!) and could get out with the lads as often as possible that was me happy. Being the resident authority on the career of Sean Kelly at school was at least some kudos for someone who couldn't kick a ball.

Then college came along, then girls, then travel and then a wife and kids and several stone around the waist. So the bikes got consigned to the Da's attic, except for the bits that mysteriously ended up on his bike! I still rode to work, kept an eye on the results and saw as much of the Tour each year as I could, but that was about it.

Then last year, in my 40th year, I had a minor heart issue out of the blue. Nothing too serious but enough to bring on the start of a mid life crisis! It was time to sort out the kitchen pass, dust off the lycra shorts and join the fat, middle aged men on the roads around the north Co. Dublin coast. Then the Bike to Work scheme brought a nice mid range road bike from Cyclelogical and a Road Warrior was reborn.

Now, it's late summer and I've done one sportive, ridden to the brothers in Kildare (and back) and can cruise 40 miles and still be able to talk to the kids when I get home. Having said that I've also cancelled another sportive when the back went into spasm and had endless tinkering with my new SPD shoes to kill the knee pains but that's just the body reminding me I'm not a junior any more.

Is it just me or is the Nags Head longer and steeper than it used to be?