Sunday, May 30, 2010


Regular readers will know that I do not regularly post book reviews From My Kitchen Table. In fact I have only ever reviewed one other book, Uncut Diamonds by Karen Jones Gowen. You can read that review here.
But I have just finished one of the very best books I have ever had the sublime pleasure of reading. A book which will now definitely be on my Best Reads Ever list (which actually is not that long).

Mr Rosenblum's List (or Friendly Guidance for the Aspiring Englishman) by Natasha Solomons is quite simply a wonderfully warm, witty and engaging read. It comes very close to being my ideal book - full of vividly drawn, vulnerable, eccentric and charming characters (not an axe murderer among them). This is a book to lose oneself in. Solomons manages to create a world so real that you will find yourself totally immersed in it while reading. Along with immensely likeable characters, Ms Solomons beautiful and evocative descriptions of rural Dorset are liberally sprinkled with ancient myth and lore and a deep love and reverence for Mother Nature.

Mr Rosenblum's List was one of those rare reads - a book I hated finishing. If you prefer to be entertained and uplifted rather than educated or challenged by a book - this one is for you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The lovely Olive O'Brien, writer of children's books asked me to write a Guest Post for her lovely Blog, Write Olive. And so I did! The post is entitled My Books, My Friends. So head on over to Write Olive, have a read and leave a comment. Don't forget to tell her I sent you!

I hope you enjoy. And thanks Olive for honouring me with a guest appearance on your blog!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I believe in Karma – otherwise known as what goes around comes around.

The Mrs Blackbird – v- Kitty saga has continued apace since I posted ‘Bang Bang Birdie’ last week. Although I wouldn’t have thought it possible, Mrs Blackbird has upped her game. Kitty now only has to pass a downstairs window and Mrs Blackbird zooms up the garden, screeching bloody murder. She then lands on the patio and continues hurling abuse at a very bemused Kitty.

Kitty’s favourite daytime haunt is Mia’s bedroom, where she either curls up on the bed or sits on the window still surveying the garden. No more. Mrs Blackbird (who clearly has a powerful set of binoculars in her nest) spots her immediately and takes up position on the outside sill, yip yipping for all she’s worth.

Kitty is now terrified of going into the back garden and has taken to exiting and entering the house through windows at the front of the house. Needless to say we all think this is hilarious and have been regaling neighbours, friends and family with stories of Kitty being totally intimidated by a blackbird. “Kitty is a scaredy cat” and “Kitty’s afraid of a blackbird” echoes through the house regularly and guess who laughs loudest – yep, yours truly. What I had missed however, was the gimlet eye Kitty was throwing my way in the last day or two.

Last night, Kitty clearly decided to take matters into her own paws in order to restore her feline credibility. And so she did was Kitty does best and caught a mouse. A little field mouse, which she (brace yourselves ladies) brought into my bedroom, through an open window, at 1.30am this morning. Needless to say she had chosen her moment cleverly as my other half was away. So I woke up, alone in my bed, aware that Kitty was making odd sounds in the bedroom. I sat up and turned on the light. And there she was staring straight at me, saying “scaredy cat? Lets see who is scared now?” At her feet was the little mouse. As the implications of this situation seeped into my sleep fuzzed brain, I prayed “please God in heaven may this mouse (who was not moving) be dead”. With that the mouse took off under my chest of drawers. And Kitty decided to leave him there as she vanished under the bed. By now I was up and out of bed and lifting anything off the floor that I thought a mouse might climb into (shoes, bags etc), I then opened the curtains so that the open window was clearly visible and accessible, on the off chance that Kitty might think enough was enough and remove the mouse from whence it came. Wishful thinking all. Mouse stayed put and so did Kitty.

There was nothing for it but to leave them to it and hope that by morning Kitty would have done her worst and I could then remove dead mouse from the room. I decided to sleep in the spare bed in Mia’s room. But as soon as I lay down, my mind was full of what could transpire during the night. Mouse caught up in my duvet, taking refuge in my pillow, my dressing table being thrashed as Kitty pursued him across it, Tom and Gerry style. No, I decided I had to be grown up about this and go in and get rid of mouse. So I took a deep breath and woke up Mia.

Mia, I should explain is my youngest. She is 9 years old and she (like us all) loves animals. But Mia loves animals in a different way to the rest of us. When she was a toddler I would regularly find her barefoot in the garden with ants crawling over the legs. She loved wood lice and made homes and cities for them. She collected snails. And lately she has been bugging me to get her a pet mouse!

“Mia I need your help” Mia readily agreed to be the one to remove the mouse. I equipped her with my industrial workman gloves and got a torch and we re-entered the room. All was as before and Mia on hands and knees reported that “ahh, he’s cute and yeah he is there, under the chest of drawers”. We discussed tactics which broadly speaking involved me moving the furniture and shouting instructions while Mia calmly and swiftly cornered little mouse, cupped him in her gloved hands and headed for the window from where he was launched into the night.

Mia also intervened when I attempted to grab Kitty and launch her after the mouse! And so it was that at 3am this morning Mia and I were in the kitchen having a celebratory glass of juice and me handing over the €5 bribe reward to my darling, brave, heroic, animal loving daughter. As we retired back to bed, we passed Kitty on the stairs and I swear she was grinning from ear to ear! I don't think I will slag her anymore!

p.s. Mia's version of events is now up on her blog, Mia's Room

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


STOP PRESS: I finally caught Mrs Blackbird yelling birdie obscenities at Kitty who is getting a bit fed up of having no peace at all!!!

I am very glad that I don’t own a gun and that I live in country where it is generally against the law to own one. Because if I had a gun, last week I would have shot my dog, Dylan. He had a charming dose of the trots FOR 3 DAYS. 3 mornings of cleaning out his bed (crate) before breakfast to a chorus of “ohmygod, that’s just disgusting” from my darling precious daughters who would have run the risk of being shot too.

This week I would shoot Mrs Blackbird. Yep, that’s right. Mrs Blackbird. I would point my gun and BANG. Feathers all over the place. And then PEACE. QUIET.

Now before you rush to judgement – let me ask – have you ever heard an agitated Blackbird. They make the most annoying racket and it goes on and on and on. The problem clearly is that Mrs Blackbird is a mammy. She must have a nest full of baby blackbirds in the tree at the end of the garden. I am also assuming that this particular Mrs Blackbird was a bit sloppy when it came to doing her background research on a suitable location for her nest. She clearly saw the tree and letting her heart rule her head, decided “This is it”. “This is my tree. This will be my new home.” Had she come back for a second viewing before finally making her mind up (and had she bothered to tune into Kirsty and Phil she would have known all this), she would have realised that she was making a nest at the end of a garden belonging to four cats.

Now my cats are generally laid back, lazy moggies who venture into the garden to lie in the sun or do their business. They have a cat flap to facilitate these comings and goings. Youngest of the foursome is Kitty and she occasionally brings home a field mouse. She has never (to my knowledge) caught a bird. But anytime any of the cats venture into the garden at the moment, Mrs Blackbird comes flying out of her fabulous tree, roaring and bawling all kinds of birdie obscenities. She perches on the swing and keeps up her tirade until the cat in question retreats indoors again. But when Kitty puts one paw into the garden she goes ballistic altogether. Squawking and screeching at the top of her lungs and dive bombing Kitty as she wanders down the path.

But this morning took the biscuit altogether. I was sitting trying at my laptop trying to work on a story. I have gotten somewhat used to the incessant squawking but all of a sudden it seemed to go up a gear and get louder. “Oh shut up” I roared as I turned around to see Kitty sitting indoors on the window sill and Mrs Blackbird perched on a patio chair directly outside the window telling Kitty exactly what she would do with her if she even put one leg into the garden. I was stunned. Of course I had no camera to hand.

I will admit to admiring Mrs Blackbird’s tenacity and her dogged protection of her offspring. But clearly her hormones have gotten the better of her and I am worried for her sanity. Without a gun I am just praying that all her babies fledge successfully and soon. And that Kitty stays as lazy as she is, so we can all live happily ever after!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Yesterday I had one of those blinding moments when I was confronted by a truth that somewhat shook my view of myself. I realised that I am older than both David Cameron – the new Prime Minister in the UK and his deputy, Nick Clegg. What? Yep, both men are younger than me… and I sure as hell don’t feel old enough to run a club, never mind a big country with an economy and millions of people! Is it time for me to accept my middle age? With the benefit of my accumulated years, here are some things to watch out for, if you too are heading for ‘mid life’.

* You meet someone socially, who you automatically consider a peer, until they mention the year they were born. It is the year you left school/college.

* You are driving on the motorway and begin to wonder who owns the spotty, saggy hands on the steering wheel.

* You go to your child’s parent-teacher meeting and you look like the Teacher’s mother.

* You have to attend a medical consultant and you spend the entire appointment fighting to the urge to ask him/her if they are sure they are qualified, ‘cos they look way, way too young.

* Your ten year passport (or driver’s licence) expires and you actually seriously consider phoning up to ask if they could just amend the text and leave the photo in place.

* You realise that you are booked to go out two nights in a row and are filled with dread at the thought of just how tired that you will make you. And you realise that you will miss two nights of long bedtime reading.

* You catch sight of yourself passing a window and begin to smile in preparation for greeting your mother!

I have experienced all of the above and each event left me feeling slightly off kilter. So let me now share with you some things to balance the feeling of getting older with some of the definite benefits of reaching middle age!

* You finally realise why long scarves were invented – they add instant glamour and hide a multitude.

* You appreciate good coffee and have the patience to wait for it to brew.

* You now know that it is not a luxury to visit the Hairdresser every month for colour. It is as essential as buying milk and bread.

* You know that simple things make a huge difference – fresh bed linen, a lavender bath and a good book.

* You have learned how to say No – gently but firmly.

* You are no longer overly concerned about other people’s opinions of you.

* You understand the value of making great memories which will sustain you on long, dark nights.

* You know that life will always have highs and lows – it’s how you react to the lows that will dictate your sanity.

* You are no longer afraid to fail but very afraid of never trying!

So, whatever your age – embrace it as a positive. But beware of those sneaky moments when you are suddenly confronted with the fact that you are no longer in your twenties. And when such moments knock you off balance, re-read the list of positives and enjoy your seniority!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Todays post is brought to you by the Number 5

I am honoured to have been tagged by Patricia Stoltey. Patricia’s blog is always interesting and is wise and funny too. So if you are not familiar with her musings, do drop in and tell her I sent you.

I have to give 5 answers to 5 questions…. So here goes.

Where were you 5 years ago?
Sad woman that I am, I actually had to get out my 2005 Diary for this one (yep, I keep my diaries – which are just for appointments etc.).

1. So 5 years ago I was living in this house and about to begin some renovation work which transformed our living space.

2. Almost exactly 5 years ago, my gall bladder blew up (not literally) but I ended up in hospital for 2 weeks with a bad infection. My mother did not approve of the hospital and refused to let me have the operation there (in case I got MRSA) and so I came home and spent the summer on a low fat diet. I therefore lost nearly 2 stone. I had my gall bladder removed that September.
(BTW did you know that problems with your gall bladder signal unexpressed or unresolved anger??)

3. So 5 years ago I looked great and so did my house!

4. Looking at my diary, I was doing more Reiki than I am now.. so I need to get back to that!

5. I also found photos in the old diary. Gorgeous photos of my two youngest daughters at Glenroe Farm. Glenroe is an open farm in Wicklow where kids can get up close and personal with horses, goats, pigs, sheep, deer and small animals in the Pets Corner. My kids all loved it and we used to make a day trip of it during the summer, taking a picnic. I had forgotten how much I loved sitting at the picnic table in the sun listening the animal and small children sounds.

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

1. Well in 5 years time, my children will be 28 (?), 16 and 14. So with two teenagers in the house I suppose my hope is that I will not be in a home for the bewildered.

2. I hope that we are still in this house and that perhaps my eldest has found the independence she craves by finding a place of her own!

3. I would hope to still have my animals.

4. I would love to have had a book published. I am working on a collection of short stories at the moment.

5. I would totally love (we are into the realm of total fantasy now) to have a regular spot on radio – national radio if possible. Ha ha!

What is on your To Do List today?
Well I will start by telling you what is not on it – cleaning up after my darling dog who has the trots today. My house smells of disinfectant. So that has taken up a large amount of my time today, but otherwise:
1. Housework
2. Catch up on reading my favourite blogs
3. Draft new blog post
4. Edit short story for possible submission to a competition
5. Make dinner.

I am half way there and deserve bonus points for not shooting my dog yet!

What snacks do you enjoy
Strawberries (only Irish ones - which are just coming into season now)

What 5 things would you do if you were a billionaire
I can’t even imagine a billion euros but if I had endless money I would:
1. Make sure that every child with special needs had the education and general support they needed and are entitled to.
2. Build Foxrock Cabinteely GAA club a wonderful club house with a bar overlooking the pitch and spa like changing rooms!
3. Buy a cottage to escape to in Wicklow. It would be by a lake and although is a very rural place be within walking distance of a local village with a pub which did great food!
4. Sort out every member of my family – clear mortgages/loans etc.
5. Travel every summer to all the wonderful places on the planet I would like to see and experience.

Now all that remains is to tag another 5 bloggers with the same task. They are:

Susannah at The Streaming Now

Marie at Write Now Blog

Jane at Jane Obsessed with Jane

Niamh Boyce's blog

Brigid at Sort of Writing

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My blog has been a bit serious of late and need some light relief. My daughter, Carla is a great source of such relief, particularly recently.

For the information of my readers from outside Ireland, the GPO (General Post Office) is an imposing building on Dublin’s ‘main street’ which was the scene of a lot of the fighting during the 1916 Rising and from where the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was read. It is a building with iconic status for that reason… so much so, that you may already know all this.

Anyway Carla is my eldest. She is a bright girl, who received a good education and now has a successful career as a Travel Agent. However until last week, her work was always based in our local town, Dun Laoghaire which is a suburb of Dublin City. She is a creature of habit and a home bird and I am only now realising how little she has ventured into the city in her 23 years!

So last week she began a new job and had to find her way into the city centre, to Liffey Street (which, you guessed it, is off the quays on the River Liffey). On her first day she phoned me at lunch time to report that all was great. Her new work colleagues were nice and all was well. Then the conversation went like this:

Carla : “Oh but the only problem was that I got lost this morning.”
Me: “You got lost? How did you get lost?”
Note to reader – she really is a successful Travel Agent.
Carla: “Well I got the DART and got off at Tara Street Station and wasn’t watching just followed the crowd and ended up on some random street and couldn’t find the river”

Note to reader – the DART is the rapid rail system in Dublin. Tara Street is the only station on the quays. You could fall into the river, exiting the station.

Me: “So what did you do?”
Carla: “Oh I called Paddy and he directed me back”
Me, (thinking) I must congratulate Paddy, her boyfriend on his patience.

This morning, my mobile rang at about ten am, Carla Calling. The conversation went as follows:

Me: ‘Hiya, Wassup?’
Carla: ‘Oh my God, I have to go and post a letter at the GPO’
Me: “Yeah, so”
Carla “Where’s the f**kin’ GPO?”
Me: “You’re joking, right?”
Carla “Ah… no. Where is it?”
Me: “It’s the very large building half way up O’Connell Street. It was the scene of much fighting during the rising. Surely you saw pictures of it in your History books?”
Carla: “No. And what do I do there… I was told to post a letter. Do they do that?”
Me: “Carla – it is the General Post Office – yeah they will help you to post the letter”
Carla: “Oh right. Is that what it stands for?”
Me: “Yeah”
Carla: “OK, so I am just here. What door do I go in?”
Me: “Any door. Its just a large post office”
Carla “Oh, OK. Oh my God – it’s just like the bank in Harry Potter”
Me: “I am hanging up now Carla before I wet myself. Bye!”

I am shortly going to prepare dinner. I hope she gets home OK.

P.S. She has approved this copy before I posted it! She also has a sense of humour! She is a great girl altogether…. As long as you are not relying on her for directions!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

GERRY RYAN - Voice of a Generation

Gerry Ryan was the voice of a generation – my generation. Just a few years older than me, be began broadcasting his hugely successful morning programme in 1988, the year after my eldest daughter was born.

His often irreverent view of life in Ireland was witty and very much in line with what many of us, his generation, were feeling. But he also had great empathy with his listeners, particularly when it came to everyday stuff of family life – from crying babies to sulking teenagers. Gerry had been there and could articulate so what the rest of us were often feeling.

It was a huge shock when his split from ‘Mrs Ryan’ (as he always referred to his wife Morah) was announced because, to those of us who tuned in regularly, he was clearly deeply in love with his wife. But he never let us, his listeners, know anything about what must have been a very painful episode for him and his family. He was on air next day, referring to the fact that he himself was in all the papers but commenting no further. This gave a hint at his ability to compartmentalise his emotions. He only shared with us, what he wanted to; a trait often found in larger than life, witty, extrovert personalities. This leaves me to think that there was much more to G Ryan than the man who we listened to on radio every morning. And of his legion of ‘friends’ I wonder how many really knew him?

I was interviewed by Gerry on air, three times; twice in my role as Public Relations Officer for the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and once as ‘stay at home mom’, recently retired from the workforce. That last time, I was phoned and asked would I be OK to go on air in ten minutes time to talk about an email I had sent in to the show on the subject of working moms –v- stay at home moms. I parked the car and said ‘sure’ and waited for the call back. That morning, on a side road in Bray I spoke to Gerry for over twenty minutes (clearly some guest or other had not shown up). He had a great gift for making us ordinary people feel at ease on air and I had to constantly to remind myself I was talking to a large audience, not just G Ryan, although that was how it felt. This special gift is always apparent in his TV series, Ryan Confidential.

I am genuinely sorry that we have lost Gerry, so early. He had clearly lots more to do in his broadcasting career. I will miss his cheery voice going through our national papers in the morning and his weird accents and sometimes warped sense of humour. He was an original and I suppose we were lucky that RTE recognised his gifts and allowed him roam around our lives every morning for so long.

To his family, particularly Morah and his children, his colleagues, friends and partner I extend my deepest sympathy. May he rest in peace.

Ni bheidh a leithead ann aris.