I was reading a newspaper article today. In fact, it wasn’t even in an actual newspaper, it was in a newspaper supplement, and it wasn’t a long article either, just a short interview piece, and it wasn’t from this weekends newspaper edition, alas no, it was from May’s. That’s right. May! And from the start of May no less. It would seem I had kept this now raggedy supplement all this time because I wanted to read that one particular article, and I only managed to get to it today.Six weeks later! Now I’ve noticed I tend to do this a lot. I have a host of other newspaper bits and pieces piled about the place waiting their turn for the quick read I can afford them whenever that may come. And you see that got me thinking and brought me to the conclusion that I really miss books! In case you think I live in a house devoid of books, I can assure you the complete opposite is the case. I’ve lots of books, really, loads, and they’re all great books. And many of them are the pick up put down again types, you know, the gardening and self sufficiency ones, local wildlife and DIY, but its the other books I miss. The ones that allow you to be transported to another world. In fact more to the point, I miss the peace and quiet of time that is dedicated to nobody else, just me and my book. I can honestly say, the only book I’ve read from cover to cover since starting our family ,stopping only to make dinner,was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I remember I had one of the first copies issued as I had preordered it, but still it was nearly 2 years after before I read the thing. But read it I did. Cover to Cover.But the difference was, I couldn’t really get lost in it. In the back of my mind I was aware that there were things that needed doing in the house, with the babes, dinner to be made, animals to tend to. And as much as I wanted to lose myself, I just couldn’t turn that part of my brain off.

So today I made a decision.Next time when I’m alone in the house,or my boys are out visiting and the baby is sleeping I’m going to turn everything off. Yep. Everything! The television, radio, phone, laptop. Everything is going off. These are all time drainers I’m afraid. Hours can be whiled away on Twitter or Pinterest and before you know it the house is full of life and noise again. And I’m going to open the window and breath in some fresh air, and listen to nothing. To silence. Im going to take the time to affirm to myself that its ok to have this quiet time. That it’s ok to sit down while there are dishes to be done. That it’s ok that the clothes are out on the line and that there may be a shower coming. I”m switching that part of my brain off. Then my friends, I’m going to read!




Well dad, you know me, there’s almost ALWAYS an excuse, and this time the reason you didn’t get a fathers day card is mainly because of the crazy weather we’ve had this week (you know, island – planes – wild winds etc etc). So after you mentioned on the phone the other day how you “didn’t want any present since ‘Father’s Day’ is just a commercial day made up to make money but a nice card would do”, I decided then that even if I did end up sending you a card, it still wouldn’t say all the things I’d like to say to you. So I’m doing it here.


I remember being small sitting on your shoulders in the park, and you pretending to fall over,the utter fear as I’d grab onto your face. And now find that you do the same daredevil stuff with my children much to their delight and my despair. I remember you giving out to me the only time I ever skipped school, not so much for mitching, but for ‘doing it on my own doorstep’ (I hid in the Botanic Gardens, my school was right beside it….I obviously hadn’t thought it through), I remember the posters you used to bring me home from The Broadstone, I mean how lucky was I to have a Linda Nolan autographed picture made out to me. I also however remember the Dracula poster – not so pleasant, especially when you told me that before Dracula would appear there would be lots of eerie smoke – let me tell you, you never knew how often I thought I saw eerie smoke in my room whilst lying terrified in bed. I remember breakfast in bed, always when least expected. I remember you were with me when I went up to collect my leaving certificate results, and even though deep down I knew I didn’t do great, you said to me – ‘it doesn’t matter whats on the paper ok’ and that made me happy. I remember you covering me with the ‘tin foil’ blanket you had when we used to go to overnight fishing competitions, you always let me go with you even though you knew that as soon as it started to get dark the sandhoppers would be out and I’d be hysterical. I remember you working every day from early just to make sure the bills were paid and we never went without. I remember you made us stilts. From big blocks of wood. On top of other big blocks of wood. Not very safe, but very very fun! I remember the phonecall that told me that there was a ticket waiting from me in New York to bring me back home. I remember you removing the fuse in the house so that you could scare the life out of all of us in a game of scary hide and seek. The squeals out of us all, children and adults alike. Hilarious altogether (but not at the time…) I remember it was you who decided to ring me to tell me about Tikitiboo, knowing my heart would be broken, and how yours was when we lost Amber (Dirty Belly). I remember on the morning of my wedding before we left for the church, you told me that if I had any doubts, or didn’t want to go through with it, that would be fine, I just had to say the word and you’d take care of everything. Not of course because you didn’t want me to marry him, but because you love me and wanted me to know that no matter what, you’d fix everything and anything. And you do. Always. 

A very very long time ago, you said to me when I was going to bed one night “if anything ever happens to me, no matter what anybody says, I want you to know that I love you”. I cried that night because in my young years I thought you were going to die. You didn’t need to tell me that though because I know you love me, and I love you and you’ve shaped who I am today, and I hope that makes you proud because I’m proud of you. 

Have a lovely non commercial Father’s Day dad, and enjoy your chocolate.

Aunty Francis

Photo: MVTimes

going back to my roots, for just a moment…

A couple of weeks back, myself and Bug headed to Dublin for Bloom.


The last time I was at Bloom, I had a toddler in a buggy and was expecting my second baby, and my mam and nephew came too. I remember thinking that I’d have to come back in more relaxing circumstances because let me tell you its no easy feat trying to get around with buggies, bags and babies.So thats what I did. My little man was great company and my mam and sister joined us for the day. We set off early in the hope to avoid the major crowds, and really when we hauled ourselves out just after 3pm we were glad we did, as the place was absolutely packed. But I must say I came away a little disappointed. I found that there was a lot more commercialism in it this year, which seemed a little bit too tacky, like infomercials, with people demonstrating in that ‘Cilit Bang’ accent how ‘This Super Mop will suck water from your floor like a camel in a desert’ kind of thing ( I really did hear him say that!!!) There were over priced dodgy clothes and handbag stalls, and a few selling plastic junk that was mildly garden related. Regular flower shops and DIY stores were well represented, but really what I wanted was something more natural. Now don’t misunderstand me, if you bypassed that particular area of the festival and headed across to the craft and food arenas, you were into something completely different. Wonderful talent and wonderful foods on show, most with samples, but you’d have to fight your way into those tents, such was the demand. The showgardens were very lovely of course, but way too perfect for me – I’m a permaculture kinda gal and really hate lawns and manicured areas – but thats just me. I liked the Fairy Garden, but only because I wished I could live in it, that it was life size or that I was fairy size – either would suffice. And the Invasive Plants garden grew on me, the concept was very good. We signed up for a years membership with An Taisce and got some sound advice on beekeeping from The Federation of Irish Beekeepers Association. And I enjoyed the Community Garden involving Greenside Up, with its ‘yarnbombing’ and plastic bottle cold frame. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

It was only when I got home and had a cup of tea and pondered back over my day that I realised that I had gotten more pleasure from the natural surrounds and environment of Bloom rather than Bloom itself. The magnificent ancient trees of the Phoenix Park, The Walled Gardens with rows and rows of fruit and vegetables, the old building structures, the sounds from the nearby Dublin Zoo. The vast space and fresh air, the birds and the bees – all this wonder right in the middle of the city. To be enjoyed by everyone and anyone, everyday and any day, if only we just stepped outside.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been out of love with Dublin for a long long time. Living now in such a beautiful place, seasonly quiet, very safe and peaceful, I found myself looking on Dublin with distain. I grew up in Dublin, happily I might add, but it started to wear me out. I remembered the library right next to our avenue, where I’d happily wile away hours ‘studying’ ahem….more likely reading Judy Blume or the like, I remembered playing down in the little park beside the old prison wall, having a game of tennis with my best friend against it and just about managing not to hit it right over – but the prison officers always used to give them back to us if we did. I remember hanging out by the Royal Canal and crossing the locks, I remember it being sunny and I remember it being safe.I remember that people used to smile and say hello to you ALL the time,  But not over the last number of years. Maybe its a case of rose coloured glasses, I’m not sure, but it really has changed for me. Its noisy, full of traffic, full of people and then there are the ripped bin bags, the signs of antisocial behaviour dotted all around the outside of pubs and the 24 hour shop, often a bit smelly and very very impersonal. I visit regularly enough but after a couple of days, I just can’t wait to get away again, back here to my haven.

However this weekend was a bit different. After Bloom, we all headed to the Porterhouse North for some yummy food – hot chicken wings, nachos, tobacco onion rings (don’t even ask) and Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer! YUM. My best friend and her little 2 month old called into my parents that night and we sat chatting and catching up and drinking copious amounts of tea and eating a fair bit of chocolate. The following morning, Sunday, myself and my sister took Bug to Blessington Basin Park. I wasn’t sure about it at first, fearing gangs of drunk (or worse) youths just waiting to cause trouble. But no. It was beautiful. And peaceful. The flowers and trees were all in bloom, the football courts were full with young people playing, who stopped when we were walking past with the little man so that he wouldn’t get frightened if the ball hit the rails, the playground was full of children from all places happily playing together, whilst the adults caught up with each other about whatever was important. There was gentle banter with passers by about dogs and weather, and when we went into the basin itself, a little boy offered mine a slice of his bread to feed the ducks. We paid that forward by giving half the slice to a little toddler out walking with his dad. We admired the old black and white beamed house beside the gates, as I remembered going to school with a girl who used to live there. After pausing to look at some wonderful art along the walls, we headed for home and met an old man on a bench with the tiniest dog in the world – Coco – I think he said her name was. She hopped and pipped about and we played with her a while. Picking some bluebells to bring home to nana we stopped for an ice cream and then returned back to the house to pack up. Lunch al fresco in my sisters house – next door to my mams -finished off our weekend. It was a weekend of the Dublin I remembered from old, and I liked it a lot.