Saturday, April 30, 2011


As I had decided to host a Royal Wedding Coffee Morning on Friday, I was running about whipping cream and boiling kettles as guests were arriving at Westminister Abbey. But I did manage to catch what I thought was probably the most poignant moment of the day for me – and that was the arrival of Princes William and Harry.

As the young men they now are, they carry so much of their mother’s energy. They have benefited greatly by having such an openly emotionally relationship with their mother, albeit one that was tragically cut short. Walking into the Abbey, William looked nervous, wringing his hands but I am sure that there was no one else he would have preferred to have by his side than his brother. Diana would have been so proud of her beloved boys. And I don’t doubt that she would also have heartily approved of William’s choice of bride. Unlike his father, William has married for love and not for duty. I just hope that all the love and optimism we saw across the water yesterday augers well for their future together.

If that was Diana’s legacy yesterday what then of her oft partner in crime, The Duchess of York – Sarah Ferguson? Was it her influence that led her two daughters to make such appalling fashion choices? We were all struck dumb in horror as we watched her girls emerge from the car at the Abbey. They were like cartoon characters. Comparisons were made with the sisters in Cinderella. The outfits were bad and the hats showed an appalling lack of taste. These royal sisters painted a stark contrast with the elegance and timelessness of the Middleton girls. Was this Fergie’s revenge? Or do Beatrice and Eugenie have no one in their inner circle who tells them the truth? Have they no one to advise them? They are still young and the coverage of their outfits must be hurtful today. Surely this could be avoided.

My favourite moment was later in the day when, led by an Air Sea Rescue Helicopter from his base at RAF Valley in Wales, Prince William took the wheel of his father’s magnificent Aston Martin to drive his new wife the short distance to Clarence House. It was class and it was cool. Long life and happiness to them both!

And thanks Great Britain for cheering us all up with such a splendid display of pageantry and ceremony!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Sometimes you just gotta write a little poem!

The memory of the morning’s heavy downpour clings to the stones.
The garden refreshed by the rain,
A freshly painted landscape.
The air is full of the fluttering of bird’s wings
As they skitter back and forth.
While others perch on branches,
Captivated, as am I
By the simple beauty of my suburban garden.
Their spring songs dance upon the breeze
The scent of lilac ebbs and flows
At once all is tranquil and yet busy.
Unseen tiny animals go about their day,
Burrowing and working
A swallow dips and swoops low over the grass
Summer is just beyond the blue horizon

Monday, April 25, 2011


So here we are.... Royal Wedding Week. Across the water, William and Kate host the biggest Reality TV spectacle of the decade on Friday. I have no problem in saying that I will definitely watch the wedding – perhaps not live – but I will not miss all the hoopla as the British Monarchy embark on the latest chapter in the story of the House of Windsor.

We in Ireland have long been fascinated by the British Royals – not everyone I know, but I would hazard a guess that most of us have an interest in goings on of the UK’s top family. And we here in Ireland have the comfort of being able to have front row seats for their unfolding dramas without having to bother with wondering if Monarchy is a good idea or worth the tax payers money. We get the entertainment without the moral dilemma. And let’s be honest the British Royals provide far more glamour than an episode of either Coronation Street or Eastenders.

There have been a few Royal Weddings since the 29th of July 1981, but none matched the spectacle of Charles and Diana's nuptials. At the time I was working for JWT in their office at the bottom of Grafton Street. My manager was determined that although we were working we would see the Royal wedding. Now (for young readers) this was way before computers and live streaming! What to do? Being a very resourceful woman, my manager reapplied her lippy, gave herself a quick spray of cologne and off she went up Grafton Street. About 15 minutes later she arrived back with a nice young man from Radio Rentals (or some such shop) who was clutching a TV and rabbits ears. We were all set. It was a bit fuzzy but it was colour and it was live. We missed nothing.

Diana and Charles wedding was very much of its time. She arrived looking nervous but ecstatic in a huge creation of taffeta and ruffles with a 25 foot long train. Watching the footage of that wedding, we can see where the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings took their inspiration from!

From then on, people all over the world were fascinated by Diana. Her vulnerability which was so evident on her wedding day never left her. But she learned quickly to couple it with a savvy understanding of how the media works and she used both attributes to great effect. Her influence shook the British Monarchy to its very core. Her impact was immense.

So as I settle down to watch the Big Fat Royal Wedding on Friday, I will be wondering what Diana is making of it all and wondering what effect Kate Middleton will have on the family Diana used to refer as The Firm!

Bring it on!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Isn’t the weather here just wonderful at the moment; lots of blue skies and bright sunshine. Lifting the colours of our world and taking our spirits with it.

Last Sunday, wishing to take advantage of the sunshine, I mooted the idea of heading out for a walk. I was dreaming of losing ourselves somewhere in deepest Wicklow, but we are slowly realising that our girls are now at the age when heading off to ‘the middle of nowhere’ holds little appeal. After some negotiation they agreed to a walk on Dun Laoghaire Pier. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but it was a walk! ‘Dylan da dog’ would be happy.

I generally avoid the pier on sunny Sundays as it tends to be very crowded. It was indeed busy but the sun sparkling on the water, the schools of tiny yachts bobbing about as some junior sailors learned their craft and the odd seal popping his head out of the water, was all enough to keep me sufficiently distracted. We waited at the end of the pier to watch the HSS slowly make its way out of harbour, mouth open – a giant pacman about to swallow up the tiny craft in the bay. The notes of a busking mandolin player fell about us as we watched the ferry head for the horizon.

As we turned around to face back to ‘shore’ we were all feeling hungry and so decided to head down to The People’s Park where a wonderful ethnic food market takes place every Sunday. We spent the next hour sitting in the sun, on the grass munching on Thai treats. The park was also very busy, we were surrounded by families, kids, couples and dogs. But there was a great happy buzz about the place.

My husband is generally a man of few words (he gave up trying to get a word in edgeways, years ago) but he sagely remarked “This is great. Look around you. Does this look like a country on the verge of total collapse?”

And you know what? He was right, it didn’t! Must be cos it isn’t.


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mind is a Powerful Yoke!

During my personal healing journey through Reiki I learned just how detrimental fear can be to our well being. Fear is wonderful if you find yourself in the jungle staring into the face of a hungry lion, but in our day to day lives fear can often paralyse us or lead us into making decisions that are definitely not in our best interests. In fact at one workshop, fear was defined as False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words many of us spend quite a bit of our time worrying about stuff that is never actually going to happen. Worrying about ‘what ifs’.

On Saturday I was driving to collect my 12 year old from football (they lost by one point – tragic). As usual I was a bit late and was dismayed to find traffic backed up on a local road not far from the GAA grounds. As I waited I couldn’t see what the problem was. But a woman who was walking her dog on the footpath, stopped and tied her dogs lead to the railings and ran ahead down the path and onto the road.

Immediately my brain went into overdrive. “She must be a nurse. There must have been accident”. I turned off the radio and opened my window. Above the sound of the dog who was whining at being tied up I could hear children screaming. By now I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as my brain told me that it must have been a child who had been knocked down. At this stage I could see two men were also in the road with the woman.

I looked around in panic wondering if I could make a u turn to get away. I couldn’t help. There were plenty of people about. I didn’t want to see a child on the ground covered in blood. I was really beginning to stress when I looked again and the men and the woman had moved to the other side of the road. I now had a clear view of what they were doing.

They were escorting a family of ducks across the road.

Yes, a mammy duck and about 8 little ducklings who were making their way to the local (and newly established by the council) pond in Kilbogget Park.

I smiled as my brain attempted a quick catch up and change of action and tears pricked my eyes... I don’t know if they were from relief or the realisation that this world is peopled by far more good people than bad. People who will stop 3 lanes of traffic on a busy Saturday to ensure that Mrs Duck and the little ducklings can safely make their way home.

I was still smiling when I reached the football pitch – where although they lost, my daughter had scored 2 goals!

By the way – the screaming kids were coming from an adjacent garden where a birthday party was in full swing!

Fear – False Evidence Appearing Real – beware of it, I tell you!

Photo by Wollombi on Flickr

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Readers of my blog and tweets will know that I regularly contribute to East Coast Radio's Morning Programme with Declan Meehan. The programme is produced by the effervescent Claire Darmody - a powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm. Along with producing 3 hours of live radio every day, she also is instrumental in organising East Coast FM’s Wicklow Wide Coffee Morning in aid of the Cancer Support Services in County Wicklow and the Wicklow Hospice Foundation. As someone who spent nearly ten years organising the Alzheimer Society's Tea Day, I have some insight into just how much hard work such an undertaking is. And raising money for such a worthy cause as Cancer Support needs our support. So let me tell you what Claire and East Coast Radio are doing.

On Friday 8th April coffee mornings will be taking place all over Wicklow to raise funds for cancer support. There will be 10 large events taking place simultaneously around the county between 10am and midday. Declan will link-up live to each venue a couple of times throughout the Morning Show as well as interviewing some celebrities that will be showing their support to the event. Already confirmed to take part on the day with appearances and/or performances are; Musicians; Bagatelle, The Dublin Gospel Choir, Luan Parle, The High Kings, authors Cathy Kelly and Emma Hannigan, Sports personalities Shane Byrne and Mick O’ Dwyer, TV personality, model and author Amanda Brunker and award winning celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio. The coffee mornings will take place in;

  • The Martello, Bray

  • The Beach House, Greystones

  • The Buttery CafĂ© at Fishers, Newtownmountkennedy

  • Avoca in Powerscourt, Enniskerry

  • The food court in the Arklow Bridgewater Shopping Centre, Arklow

  • The Grand Hotel, Wicklow Town,

  • West Wicklow House, Blessington

  • Kavanaghs, Vartry House, Roundwood

  • Avondale Sports, Rathdrum Main Street

  • The Park Pavillion, Aughrim

The event is being promoted across the station, who are suggesting that people who can’t attend one of the East Coast venues might consider organising their own coffee morning.

The Coffee Morning is to raise money for all of the cancer support centres/services in County Wicklow and also for the Wicklow Hospice Foundation. In the last two years this event has managed to raise over €50,000, last year over €30,000 was raised in just two hours and we are hoping to make this years Wicklow Wide Coffee Morning an even bigger success. So there you are...... What can you do? Well if you are in or near Wicklow, have a look at the list of venues and round up a few pals and drop in for your cuppa and donate a few euro. Myself and some of my girlfriends are going to drop into Avoca in Powerscourt (hardly a hardship) to do our bit... care to join us? If you can't drop in and would like to help you can donate online by going to the stations website here1

Good luck Claire and good on East Coast FM for such a great initiative.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


This morning on my slot on 4FM with Gareth O Callaghan, I talked about books and the joy of escaping into a well written book. I am not one for thrillers, true life crime or gritty reality. No, my favourite type of book is a well written story full of quirky and well drawn characters. Bearing that in mind I mentioned some of my all time favourites, which are:

This is a great book especially if you own a dog. It is narrated by Enzo the family dog who is in his twilight years. Enzo is a wise old soul, who believes in reincarnation (he can’t wait to come back as a man with thumbs) and loves to watch motor racing on the TV. But this isn’t Marley and Me. Enzo tells us the story of family who deal with love, loss, trauma and illness. It is beautifully written and really gets under your skin as a story. You will laugh and cry and in the end you will look at your own dog in a whole new light.

This is a very charming book which tells us the story of Mr Rosenblum and his attempt to become the perfect English Gentleman. As you might guess the Rosenblums are German Jews and Mrs Rosenblum does not share her husbands obsession about becoming English. She works hard to remember where they have come from and protect their culture. But her husband leads them on a wonderful adventure in a rural English village which is comic but ultimately poignant. A great story, gently told. Takes a wee while to get started – so bear with it for the first couple of chapters.

I bought this book on a whim as a gift for a friend and borrowed it back as soon as I could. Set in the deep south of America it tells the story of the two Waverly sisters who live in a big house that has been in their family for generations. Magic is all around as the garden blooms all year around and has a particularly special apple tree. Claire Waverly is a caterer who makes treats and cakes using ingredients from her magic garden – so that her confections can have strange affects on those who eat them. Their perfect life gets somewhat ruffled when a new neighbor moves in next store and ivy starts to grow in the garden. A book to curl up with and dream about later.

A prolific writer Alexander McCall Smith is a charming Scotsman who only began writing after a long and successful career in law. To date he has written about 60 books and is probably best known for his No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which is set in Botswana. However I love his Scottish books particularly his Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher who edits a monthly journal and is hugely interested in people and in moral dilemmas. This can regularly lead her to get involved in other people’s issues more than she probably should. These books are set in Edinburgh, McCall Smith’s home town which he clearly loves. The descriptions of the city and the gentle pace of these books make them such relaxing reads.

So these are some of my very favourite books. If you like the same kind of books I do, I would love your suggestions for my reading list!

And don't forget to tune in every Saturday to 4FM for Gareth O Callaghan's 'Anything Goes' programme - a great magazine programme for a Saturday morning.

Photo by Raider of Gin on Flickr