Kettle, dryer or oven: which will get the boot this winter?

Sir — Liam Collins’s article last week gave us great ideas on how to prepare for the cold months ahead. In preparation for this winter of constraints, I, too, have been planning, making an assessment on those kitchen friends and enemies.

learly, the cooker, kettle and clothes dryer are the chief offenders when it comes to excess use of electricity.  

So what to do?

Until recently, I had never heard of an air fryer, having relied over the years on my humble oven to serve up culinary delights. Now I look at it with suspicion as an energy drain.

I checked out my kitchen press and found an old slow cooker, looking very demure, having been relegated to the lower deck for years now. It was at risk of extinction when my young family claimed food tasted better from the oven.

I now began to line up my army — air fryer, slow cooker, microwave, rice maker and a recent gadget to make fluffy omelettes. The cooker is becoming redundant, the 10-minute spin in the clothes dryer (just to be sure of bone dryness) has been reduced to five minutes and the trial of the slow cooker is back on (but the jury is still out).

Now we come to the kettle.

I remember the day I realised there were countries where people had never heard of a kettle, which might be a bit like first hearing about Santa. I’ve been encouraged recently to boil water for tea and coffee in the microwave, but it’s a step too far for me for now.

Striding into the kitchen in the morning, still in the twilight zone, my arm stretches out to greet that old reliable.

It’s like muscle memory, something that might even happen if sleepwalking. What could be more soothing than that familiar whistle, the ritual of scalding the teapot and the delight of producing the signal to anyone around so that we could have a bit of down time.

I may well change my mind if the electricity bill starts to show earth-shattering numbers and I fervently resolve to boil that kettle just once and complete the tea-making task — but I refuse to send the kettle to the shelf previously filled by the slow cooker.

Our relationship is too firmly rooted in the present and the past, when “would you like a cuppa?” preceded many meaningful, memorable moments.

Margaret Acton, Castleknock, Dublin 15


Brighid McLaughlin’s column from the People & Culture section in last week’s Sunday Independent

Readers were failed by Fermanagh piece

Sir — My excitement on hearing your newspaper was featuring a piece on Co Fermanagh quickly turned to disappointment when I read Brighid’s Diary last week, headlined: ‘It’s grim up North’ (People & Culture, August 28).

I’ve always felt it’s a privilege to have a diary slot in a paper such as the Sunday Independent, but with such privilege must come responsibility. This piece instead represents a breach of trust between the journalist and the community she visited. Fermanagh is beautiful, friendly and brimming with authentic, high-quality places to eat. I hope readers will visit and judge for themselves.

Caroline McMullan, Dublin 9

Bias on full display in McLaughlin’s diary

Sir — Brighid McLaughlin’s column in last week’s newspaper revealed the writer’s anti-Northern bias and was completely inaccurate.

Here in Fermanagh we welcome large numbers of tourists from all across the world in a very friendly way, and the reviews in many surveys would paint a different picture to the one outlined in this article.

Sean Nolan, Co Fermanagh

Article is an insult to entire community

Sir — I wish to express my absolute dismay and disgust toward Brighid’s Diary on Fermanagh, ‘It’s grim up North’.

I am so proud of my home county, and although I have lived in Tipperary for 22 years, I love every opportunity to head home. The scenery, the people, the gentle way of life truly makes Fermanagh one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets.

Brighid McLaughlin’s piece is an insult to so many different parties. She takes a cut at the people of Fermanagh, the people of Northern Ireland, the many ‘southerners’ who regularly travel to the county.

McLaughlin finishes her piece saying: “My feelings on Fermanagh? Glad the other crowd took it.” Surely your paper does not stand over such vitriol?

Helen England, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

Lazy journalism on verge of hate speech

Sir — The article on Fermanagh was lazy journalism and bordered on hate speech against the people in Northern Ireland.

I love travelling throughout the whole island of Ireland. Fermanagh is right up there at the very top with regards to its beauty and charming people.

I am astonished the piece was allowed to go to print. It must be so demoralising to read for all those fantastic people who make Fermanagh such a magnificent place to visit.

Brian Keown, Killeeshil, Co Tyrone

We did not get a kick out of this column

Sir — I was intrigued by the headline on Brighid McLaughlin’s column, ‘It’s grim up North’. A youth appears to have kicked her car. Having read the stream of invective, I can almost understand why.

Brian Stewart, Inishowen, Co Donegal

Printing balderdash like this is baffling

Sir — On reading Brighid McLaughlin’s recent column on Fermanagh, I can only assume she was so bereft of ideas for content that she resorted to a combination of xenophobia, fake cliches and fabrication.

That the Sunday Independent saw fit to allow such balderdash to go to print is baffling.

Thankfully, anyone who has visited Fermanagh knows the truth about this beautiful county and its inhabitants.

Anne Brace, Garrison, Co Fermanagh

We’re sorry for your troubles, Brighid

Sir — I am sorry for Brighid McLaughlin’s troubles. Her recent trip to Fermanagh must have been very hard on her, especially when she had lobster waiting for her in Dalkey.

She seems to have stumbled across the most miserable lot, which makes me think the people she met were blow-ins —they couldn’t be natives, as Fermanagh people are pathologically cheerful?

“It’s grim up North,” she said. It can be, I’ll give her that. Decades of trauma tends to do that to a people. Not to mention all the rain we get. But the grim bits taught us that we’ve got to look up and out, be inquisitive and open.

Being such a fan of folklore, Brighid must appreciate how intricately the past is woven into our present. It’s there, so we may get on with it, whether we like the colour of the flags or not. If she dropped whatever bias she’s carrying and looked around, she’d find the beauty and warmth of this little county is spectacular. I bet she’d be all the richer for it.

Come back to Blake’s of the Hollow, Brighid, with a different drinking partner this time.

Who knows, we might even find you a latte.

Sinéad Tinney, Co Fermanagh

Dana snub by RTÉ is all kinds of insulting

Sir —Whether the controversy regarding Dana’s exclusion from the upcoming RTÉ Concert Orchestra’s show celebrating past winners of the Eurovision Song Contest is resolved in time for her to participate or not, the question must be asked: Who in RTÉ made the decision not to invite Ireland’s first winner to the party?

Everyone in the business knows that the excuse RTÉ offered — not being able to contact Dana — beggars belief. So RTÉ needs to come clean and apologise to hera.

Has the decision to not invite Dana to join other past winners of the contest in the forthcoming celebrations been motivated by religious discrimination?

When I first released my song, ‘The Voyage’, as part of Family Album back in 1990, a booking agent I had hired to organise a tour to promote the record dropped me. He maintained it was impossible to get promotional coverage in RTÉ for a product that was out of tune with the times.

He said someone in RTÉ told him: “The family is a dead institution. Tell Johnny to find something else to sing about.”

Thirty-plus years later, that same RTÉ executive might like to know ‘The Voyage’ is still riding high in the iTunes singer-songwriter top 10.

I’m no admirer of the Eurovision, but the blatant bias that RTÉ displayed against Ireland’s first winner cries out to the heavens for more than just a vote recount.

Johnny Duhan, Co Galway

Relationship is far from bog standard

Sir — Our relationship with the bogs was summed up by the late Sean McCarthy. “The bog isn’t a place,” he wrote. “The bog is a feeling. You don’t grow up in the bog, you grow up with the bog.”

Mattie Lennon, Lacken, Blessington, Co Wicklow

Media’s McIlroy call is south of order

Sir — It makes me chuckle how irate your journalists get if a UK publication claims a sports person from the Emerald Isle as their own, while they constantly claim Rory McIlroy as Irish.

McIlroy proudly states he is from Northern Ireland and as such should be described as a “Northern Irishman”.

May I also take the opportunity to congratulate my countryman on a great year.

Antony Diamond, Co Kildare

New rules could revitalise football

Sir — Joe Brolly and Colm O’Rourke both made valid points about the GAA rulebook in last week’s Sport section.

The main problems with the game, as I see them, however, arise from four things: the tackle, the hand pass, illicit holding of the ball and the number of players on the field.

So, to the tackle. A mixture of a maul and a brawl, the tackle includes punching the ball in the player’s possession and sometimes punching the player. The hapless possessor often drops to a kneeling position, surrounded by three or four opponents.

A one-on-one shoulder charge and attempts to block the kick should be the extent of a tackle; otherwise, the player in possession gets a free. Non-GAA players compare the tackle unfavourably with rugby and soccer tackling.

The hand pass should be fisted, not slung or slapped. It is getting very close to the basketball style decried by the old players.

The three steps rule on carrying the ball is, to quote Hamlet, “more honoured in the breach than the observance”. The breach causes a lot of frustration. Referees must enforce the rule.

Finally, player numbers. Many problems result from overcrowding on the pitch. Players nowadays are bigger and stronger than they were when the GAA was founded a century ago. Teams of 11 or 13 would allow space for tactical and open play.

I played at club, university and county levels at minor and senior grades (both Sligo and Mayo!) and hope to see rule changes before next year’s championships.

Colum MacDonnell, Glenageary, Co Dublin

Gaelic games break a blunder by top brass

Sir — Here I am in Mayo, it’s Sunday, August 28 and I’m listening to two ladies discussing the rules of Gaelic football on RTÉ Radio 1. The sun is shining.

But I’ve just looked through my Sunday Independent Sport section and the first nine pages are taken up with English soccer, then four pages of various sports before there is even a scribble about Gaelic football.

Club games in Mayo don’t start until next weekend, there’s no game on telly, no game to attend.

Congrats to the GAA administrators. They really know how to kill our once great game.

Martin Concannon, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo

Sporting revolution to save Sam Maguire

Sir — Another inter-county football season has finished and another name is added to Sam Maguire’s roll of honour. But what will the season be remembered for?

Certainly not for nail-biting games and close finishes. I think it will instead be remembered for fear — fear of giving away possession with a misplaced pass, fear of taking on a score because the player was not 20 yards from the end line. And God forbid he might miss.

What happened to the glorious uncertainty of a high 50-50 ball or a pass down the wing that a forward had to contest?

Teams winning five or six titles in a row with formulaic football is not what the GAA was supposed to be about. And in case anyone has forgotten, it is, after all, sport. Sometimes I cannot help but feel a little revolution might not be such a bad thing.

Bernard Campbell, Ballinagappa, Clane, Co Kildare


Amber Reilly, from Swords, and Cliodhna Cole, from Malahide, both Co Dublin, wait on a bus for Electric Picnic. Picture by Brian Lawless

Electric Picnic serves up some welcome joy

Sir — The magnitude of the inflationary earthquake hitting Ireland seems to have no end. We’ve been told by ministers we could face blackouts. There will be fuel poverty.

Even though we are a small country on the periphery of Europe, we are part of the European project and we are going to suffer as Russia maintains its aggressive stance.

On a brighter note, this weekend sees a different type of electric returning. The Electric Picnic in Stradbally will bring joy and happiness to many people as they soak up the music — hopefully not too dampened by the torrential rain.

Seamus Holian, Rathduff, Balla, Co Mayo

False widow spider needs real squishing

Sir — Wasn’t it wonderful to watch on RTÉ during the week the representative from NUI Galway demonstrate how to capture a false widow spider to release back outside unharmed?

My wife, who had no fear of spiders, recently received a severe bite from one of these — and bearing in mind the money spent to eradicate non-native, invasive species of plants such as Japanese knotweed and giant rhubarb, surely the way to deal with this non-native, predatory and dangerous creature is to stand on it? What good is it doing our ecology?

Brendan Hogan, Kilmore, Co Wexford Kettle, dryer or oven: which will get the boot this winter?

Fry Electronics Team

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