Friday, 12 September 2014

A Bit of a Donkey

I put this little gem on the blog almost two years ago, and stumbled upon it again just the other day. And I'm glad I did because it still gives me a big old laugh every time I watch it so here it is again....just cos it's Friday ...don't say I'm not good to you!

Donkey Derby

Tell me this, have you ever heard of donkey derbys? Being a city girl, I certainly hadn't...until I met Loverboy, and happened to one day enquire what all the trophies and plaques on his mother's mantelpiece were for. Had he a secret talent that he hadn't yet shared with me?

 Nope, turns out his family used to own a donkey by the name of Pepe, who apparently was a bit of a Red Rum in the Irish Donkey Derbys circles. These derbys took place on Sundays in fields all over Ireland during the 1980s and 90s, and I'm told were a great family day out.

I'm pretty disappointed that I never made it to a single one, especially when I watched this classic recorded in Castletown in 1994... I thought I'd die laughing...hope you do too. (Laugh, not die obvs.)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Mighty Girl

Yesterday was a gorgeous evening. I must say that I love the contrary way Ireland surprises us sometimes with the weather.

You get a few weeks when it seems certain that Autumn is well and truly here, and depressingly it's time to pack away the shorts and do a quick boys' anorak try on, when out of the blue we get summer's last Hurrah.
 It's kinda like finding a rogue twenty quid in an handbag you're about to chuck in the bin.

Anyway, the fields surrounding our house were getting their last cut, (thank God, no more slurry), and the kids were out watching the tractor mold the grass into straight lines for baling. 
Only this time it emerged that it wasn't a crusty old farmer driving the tractor with the spiky thing behind it, (the name escapes me!), but a lovely young girl.

Now obvs, this was a Girl Power photo opp that I simply couldn't miss, and so I was away across the garden,  under the wire and into the field like a whippet...or at least as fast as my wedge heels would allow. (Very nice neutral ones with a buckle, since you ask -surprisingly comfortable too.)

I admit, she DID seem a little surprised to see me as I teetered towards her, iPhone in hand desperately trying to flag her down,  but she covered it well...AND I got the pics. 
So peeps, say hello to Laura- a mighty girl farmer in a (still mostly) man's world, who also just happens to be DDG*. You go girl!

*DDG- Drop Dead Gorgeous

Friday, 5 September 2014

Friday Quicktakes

1. I'm absolutely loving 'In the Club' on Tuesday nights. I know its corny and unrealistic - the sheets stay discreetly over the mammy's knees while giving birth, and the babies all come out perfectly clean -but all the twists and turns in the tangled relationships have me hooked.

Loverboy's into it too - he won't admit it, but I've totally clocked him watching while pretending to read the BBC news website. Actually, now I think about it, he's had a wee thing for Hermione Norris since her Cold Feet days.....

2.  I must admit - the last few weeks in August were loooong-  boredom had set in, the bickering had escalated, and to top it off the weather turned a bit crap - I was SO ready for the schools to go back.

 What I wasn't so sure about was the wee man starting P1 - it's a whole new phase for both of us, and I'm ready..mostly.....far more importantly though- HE is. Spread your wings and fly, baby.

3.  We're into another new stage with our girly too. No deets, except that there's a boy on the scene and a whole lot of  hand holding going on. (No, nothing else....Loverboy has a shotgun).

But now, suddenly, there're requests for a social life to deal with, and boundaries being pushed and even more messaging on her phone.We're learning as we go along to walk that very fine line of  freedom with restrictions, trust with strings attached.

And now I'm remembering long ago discos in St Gerard's and an 11 o'clock curfew with Daddy waiting patiently outside in the car....Oh, the embarrassment of it all.

Now tonight HER Daddy will be waiting outside, and it's all come full circle.

4. Boogie in the booster -  this ones for you, big girl. Uncle Robbie says all I want to...only in a much cooler way.
My lovely, listen carefully, keep it in mind, and  you'll be grand.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Almost Time.

 He starts big school on Friday and he's all set. Cars school bag, Gruffalo flask, Mickey Mouse pencil case, all lovingly chosen. Last night I cut his hair. He's counting the days down, excited and ready, and I am too...mostly.

It's a new stage for both of us. But change can be scary too- unlike the other four, this time there's no baby coming after.
That's my baby over there with the school bag - how did it happen so fast? 

And no, I'm not broody since you ask - I'm excited about a little quiet in the mornings and maybe even some space to write and drink coffee without interruptions.  It's been a long time coming, Hell, I've even been looking forward to it ...so why do I feel the warm breath of melancholy on my cheek?

 I remember an old Irish ballad, one I learned to sing when I still wore a uniform myself, when the words were just words and they didn't speak to my heart like they do now. My Granny used to get me to sing it sometimes on a Sunday, and I'd wonder why she always wiped her eyes after. Now I know. 

Wee Hughie

He’s gone to school, wee Hughie,
An' him not four,
Sure I saw the fright was in him
When he left the door.

But he took a hand o’ Denny, 
An’ a hand o’ Dan,
Wi’ Joe’s owld coat upon him
Och the poor wee man!

 He cut the quarest figure, 
More stout not thin:
An’ trotting right and steady
Wi’ his toes turned in.

I watched him to the corner 
O' the big turf stack,
An' the more his feet went forrit,
Still his head turned back.

He was lookin' would I call him,
Och my heart was low,
Sure it's lost I am without him,
But he be to go.

 I followed to the turnin’ 
When they passed it by,
God help him he was cryin',
An', maybe, so was I.

Elizabeth Shane

Monday, 1 September 2014


I heart coffee, I really do....in a 'I can't live without it and don't want to anyway' kinda way. A friend  once told me  'Don't be a snob about anything...except coffee,' and I absolutely agree.

The truth is, I'd rather drink tea than instant coffee now, (and that's saying something), even though I guzzled that shit down for years.

Maybe its a bit like the rank wine we happily knocked back, luke warm, from plastic cups as students - Blue Nun anyone? We just didn't know any better and let's face it, alcohol was alcohol but once I discovered Villa Maria, I could never go back.

Anyway, over the years we've tried every coffee making device known to man - percolator (great for serving big numbers), cafetiere (good quality but way too much waste), filter machines (okay if you like it brewed to death), and finally last Christmas, after poring ('scuse the pun) over 'Which' online we bit the bullet and went for a Gaggia ...just like Starbucks, only smaller.

But, erm,.....call me a dizzy ginger, but I haven't actually learned how to use it yet. It's got an instruction booklet like an encyclopedia and somehow I've never been arsed found the time to read it. Anyway, it's really Loverboy's baby and to give him credit, he does make a mean cup of coffee complete with a lovely foamy milk on top.

I know I shouldn't say this but *whispers* it all seems like an awful lot of bother to me - all that rinsing and filling and clanking and banging metal attachment thingies against the sink, and don't get me started on the (inevitable)  sprinkling of coffee and little brown puddles on the worktop. (He'll deny that of course, but we all know its true.)

Then this summer, I threw myself into finding a Caravilla coffee solution. Cafetieres were our previous option, but there was always way too much coffee if I made a big one, and nowhere near enough with the small one AND it cooled down really quickly regardless.

So yet again, I hacked into my Dad's online 'Which' account and began my research. An hour later and I'd sourced, selected and bought a dinky little Dolce Gusto pod coffee machine - and the truth is my life is now complete. How I have lived until now without this beauty, I simply don't know. In fact, I've now become so attached that I had withdrawal symptoms when I last left it at the Caravilla, but blessedly it's now happily tucked in beside Himself's big brute of a thing at home.

I love it so much that if our house was on fire, after my family, and my leopard print spiky shoes (obvs), it would honestly be the first thing I'd save. Coffee to die for, easy peasy to use, and lots of choice, I ask you, what's not to love?
(PS Just a thought but I could SO go on TV and sell this baby. I'd be cheap too-they could pay me in coffee pods!)

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Valid Question

Listening to music in the car, an inquiring Rory voice pipes up,
'Mummy, What's rehab and why doesn't that lady want to go there?

Son, I only wish she had.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Reluctant Reader

We really try and encourage reading in our house- we've got shelves heaving with books for all ages and stages, and I've read aloud to the children since they were no age at all. That said, I've usually found that a child usually only chooses  to read after checking first that the iPad, the DS, Minecraft and the TV are all off limits.

Why? Because they're the easier, lazier option, requiring no real effort at all.  I have to confess that they can also be really really useful, and I'm as guilty as anyone in relying on them when it suits me, but deep down I know they're no substitute at all for reading.

As a child, I loved to escape into books (and my Granny's Women's Own magazine) but then again, I didn't have all those other distractions vying for my attention. In recent years, I've read less than I should - less time to sit down is the official reason, but zoning out on the iPad  may be the more truthful one. In regard to the former, I finally discovered audiobooks, so now I download them on my iPhone and it's such a luxury to be read to while walking, cleaning or driving. But is it multitasking at its very best, or the absolute height of laziness? I can't decide.

Of the children, some are naturally drawn to the books on their bookshelves, while others (well, one in particular) would rather do almost anything else -for example, a recent excuse was ' But I can't read now, I have to cut my toenails.' A surprising choice I thought, given his usual complete disregard for personal grooming of any type.
Believe me,  finding books that appeal to this particular boy is a real challenge, and then last week while tidying and rejigging the shelves, I came upon an old favourite that had belonged to his older brother. My Dad - an old pro at choosing age appropriate books had bought it for him a few years back and I'd forgotten all about it.

It's called 'The Rover Adventures' by the inimitable Roddy Doyle- this copy has three books in one. Perfect for boys because it focuses a lot on dog poo, it's a whole lot of fun, and for the first time ever, his response when I ask him to read  isn't a deep groan or a 'Nooooooo!', or a 'Can't we do it tomorrow instead?'

 It's original, funny and clever, the pictures are fabulous and importantly  it has really short chapters - this boy checks the chapter length and initiates negotiations on number of pages he has to read before he even gets started.   Best of all,  when my boy's reading AND smiling, I know I'm on to a winner.