Turlough Hill and Glendalough

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Turlough Hill, Ireland’s only pumped hydro-electric storage system, turned 40 this year and the ESB are celebrating by offering free tours. I’d been on such a tour in primary school so was interested to see it with adult eyes. It’s still an impressive facility capable of generating 292MW of electricity during peak demand periods. Water is released from its upper reservoir allowing it to flow through four turbines into a lower reservoir. The water is then pumped to the top lake during periods of low demand. Our guide explained how provisions and sleeping quarters are built into the station as crews can be trapped for periods due to inclement weather (8 days in his case).

Afterwards myself and the da took a walk down to Glendalough and the Poulanass waterfall. Always time well spent. Closed the day out by watching the International Space Station pass over Dublin accompanied by a supply ship which will dock it tomorrow. As Sundays go…

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Minimizing the Ticketmaster charge

Longitude

No-one likes paying extortionate booking charges and unfortunately, with Ticketmaster’s almost monopoly, you have to put up with some pretty hefty ones when getting gig tickets. In the past year or so I’ve been trying to find the best way to minimise these charges as they are simply unjustifiable. As an example, I wanted to get tickets to Ballyturk which is running in the Olympia Theatre at the moment. If you buy tickets online at ticketmaster.ie, you’ll pay a whopping €5.95 *per ticket* for a Circle seat. If that was a once off transaction cost, it would still be expensive but if you’re looking to buy for a group, it can be prohibitively so. Ticketmaster state:

Service Charge is 12.5% of the ticket face value with a minimum of €1.50 (Republic Of Ireland) or £1.00 (Northern Ireland) up to a maximum of €6.85 (Republic Of Ireland) or £5.50 (Northern Ireland) including VAT.

The solution in most cases is to go to the actual box office of the venue. There will charge little or no booking fee and I avoided €23.80 in fees when I went to the Olympia directly for Ballyturk. Some venues don’t have box offices (like the o2, festivals etc) so in that case you’re better off going to a Ticketmaster kiosk. The fees are generally significantly less than online. The last time I used the one in Jervis St, I paid €2.05 booking fee for the entire transaction (3 tickets). I can’t seem to find definitive figures on kiosk booking charges so it’s worth asking in person at a particular one.

UPDATE: As Ken points out below, use a debit card if you can when purchasing as credit cards will incur higher fees.

Smithwick’s Long Summer

Smithwick's Long Summer
Following on from the successful launch of Smithwick’s Pale Ale in 2011 and the addition of the seasonal collection with Winter Spirit in 2013, they’re adding another for 2014 in Smithwick’s Long Summer. I was sent one last week to try and I really liked it. It’s got citrus aromas with a hint of caramel, green tea and tropical fruits. Tasty stuff and a great compliment to the earlier Winter Spirit. It’s available in 50cl bottles from off licenses etc. for the next few months.