Friday, 8 April 2016

Rise


Well now, that was a longer than expected blog break. I have to admit to spending the end of February and much of March in a kind of fug. I think I managed to catch about three consecutive and different viruses which left me devoid of any energy, so zero running for all of those weeks! Even walking my beloved dogs became a slow short trudge and my eyes would slowly close every time I sat down at my desk to do any study. Grumble.

As well as being smothered by the cold, overwhelmed by the amount of work I still have to do in the diminishing time before my degree finishes, I have also had the weight of the expectations of other people placed upon me. Why is it that those who demand such unreasonable expectations of acquiescence from you barely manage to reciprocate those very same standards? Quite depressing and infuriating.

Now that I have all that off my chest, I am glad to say I am back on top form, yay! I have two runs under my belt this week. Unfortunately, I have gone backwards a few weeks in the couch to 5k plan but reassuringly I don't think it will be too long before I can catch-up and improve. I would love to be able to do a 5k Park Run at the start of summer. In crafty news I have been finding the sockalong hosted by Christine Perry on Facebook very inspiring -just search for Winwick Mum Sockalong and feast your eyes on the amazing selection of gorgeous home-made socks that all these ladies are producing. I have made a start of sorts -after four attempts and two changes of needles  this is how far I have come.

Knitting is tricky, I can't watch TV or read like I do when I crochet but hey there is always a little bit of time to spare for a new craft! I have also just recently found the knitting podcasts on youtube -such fun. Lovin' Little Bobbins Knits and The Grocery Girls.

In other news we have had some lovely family time together over Easter, back to London for a short break too. I found some great thrify treasure which I must try and show you later -the light is very poor here today. Lots of fun and plenty of time for the kids to pose dilemma's for Mum and Dad. E who is now 9 has been asking for a phone and unfortunately I suppose she wants a smart phone. Apparently Every Single One of her classmates has a phone and she feels left out. I don't know what to do, I don't want her to have access to such powerful technology at her age, technology that will also give others access to her. I don't want to spend the money on another phone but the guilt! Imagine being the only kid without one!

I wandered past this painting in the National Gallery:

I don't know what the title is or the artist but it is a Renaissance  painting of The Virgin and Child. Just look at the expression of annoyance on her face! I think it sums up parenting very well. I love you to the ends of the earth but why won't you do as I ask? She also knows that he is going to grow up to be a handful.

Right my dears, that is all for now. Are you all enjoying these first tentative signs of spring? Maybe where you are it is Autumn? It is still quite chilly here in Ireland, damp and wet but I can feel the stirring of life. I will leave you with some beautiful Hawthorne blossom from our walk this morning. Bye. xxx

Friday, 12 February 2016

Mad Dog Lady.


 
So despite firmly insisting to my family, that we were NOT, under any circumstances fostering/adopting or buying another dog until the summer or a fairly large lottery win, when DAR (Drogheda Animal Rescue) called me up and asked if I could be a short-term fosterer to this wee guy...well how could I resist? His name is Bosco and he was found as a stray but also he was terribly bitten by what we assume was a very big dog. Look at his poor poor neck -now this is well on the way to be properly healed so I don't want to imagine what he looked like when he was first found. Now he is with a lovely foster family and is holding his own with four other dogs but his current foster family are going away for a little break so we have him for B&B.

 
You know, he is a delight to look after, placid and playful, much less demanding than our previous guest. He loves to trot around the house with me as I go about my chores and is pathetically pleased when somebody tells him what a good dog he is. He was overcome with ecstasy when Mr S let him sit on his knee for a minute. Mr S loves our dog - to the extent that Rosie gets more attention when he gets in from work that I do but he is not really a small dog person and is slow to see the lovely characteristics of Bosco, despite this of-course Bosco loves him the best! We had our first long walk over the fields today and we noticed that B is terribly frightened of high sided vehicles and he deliberately puts our big Rosie in-between himself and the scary traffic. What is his story? In one way, I am glad that I don't know.
 
Shamefully, Ireland is the worst country in Europe for the sheer number of unwanted and stay dogs every year. We destroy over 84% of our strays and last year 38 000 animals were needlessly destroyed. We have numerous animal welfare charities all courageously doing their bit but mostly these are operating with extremely tight budgets and are at full capacity. Dublin Husky Rescue is just one organisation concentrating on one breed and they are dealing with a surrender rate of 2/3 huskies per day.  Many of our unwanted and discarded pets end up being rehomed in England, Germany or Sweden because in a county of only 3 million there are simply not enough prospective responsible dog owners to adopt. Some of our unwanted greyhounds are re-homed in Italy. Strong and enforced legislation is needed but tragically given Ireland's economic woes over the past few years and our continuing housing, heath and pensions crises, I am sure the plight of these animals will continue. 
 
Happily, little Bosco's troubles have come to an end, it is very cold and damp here today so we are all curled up on the sofa, dogs snoring, coffee brewing and candles lighted.
 
Guys, is there any chance of some room for the crochet please? No?
 
 
After an enjoyable but very busy week we are taking it very easy. I am day dreaming of a future with some more dogged company, an excentric country house perhaps with a few fields and a few rescue critters romping around. A Life in Wellies? The only downside to dog fostering is that one day, some day they will leave. When Rolo went off to his forever home, E was quite upset, she started compiling a list of parental crimes against children as perpetrated by her parents! Thankfully she has been reconciled to the idea of helping out a little dog on part of his journey. Both kids are looking forward to being outside, playing and walking with both dogs over half-term, which to my mind can only be a good thing! Thanks so much for reading Have a wonderful weekend. xxxxxxxxxx
 
 
 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Ice and Shadow.

A world transformed. Sparkling and fresh, pink and white. Finally a morning to quicken the senses, the kids played slides outside on the pavements and reluctantly went off to school, wishing for snow. The dog couldn't wait to get out. She follows me anxiously as I set the house straight and whinnies when I have the temerity to go to the bathroom after putting my boots on. Her eyebrows comically working overtime while I fill my pockets, keys, phone, treats, plastic bags, then open the door and go! Over the fields.





 

The dog takes a great leap into what she thinks is a giant puddle only to find that alarmingly it is now a sheet of ice. She practises reticence at the next great mirrored pool. These fields are not remote, bordered as they are on three sides by the ever encroaching town but are blissfully silent this morning, the only sound the satisfying crisp, crunch, crack of my boot against hard ground and brittle ice. Eventually it is time for home, time to puzzle over the structure of yet another TMA. (Tutor Marked Assignment)

 
Mum, why are you sitting down?
Oh, I agree sweet dog of mine but I am so close to finishing. I have been studying for this degree for six years now, why is it now so close to the end-only five months to go - that I find myself with zero motivation? Two rounds of coffee later and a browse through email/social media/blogs/course forum
 
settles the mind into focus.
Then sure it is just half an hour before the kids come home. Time for a crochet break.
 
 
And a walk with my newest literary crush:
 
 
I can't tell you how much I love this book, Robert Macfarlane is a master storyteller and his love of the land shines out of every page of this wonderful immersing book. His writing is exquisite, this is one to fall into only to emerge with extreme reluctance.
 
I have learned to appreciate January, even though I go into almost a semi-hibernation. These short rhythmic days of walk, study, craft, read, kids, dinner, are pleasing in their simplicity.

 
( Lovely things that I have stumbled over today:
 
 
There is an embarrassment of richness here but I LOVE Katherine Price's blog post, 'Clatter of corvids on a blustery day' and the compelling recording of Chris Yates's walk with his young son in search of a big cat in Wiltshire. 'Nocturne'
 
I have now managed to write half of my TMA and so as a reward I am going to jump into bed with clean PJ's, a hot water bottle, a huge mug of tea and listen to
Amy Liptrot's 'The Outrun' on Radio 4
 
Goodnight! xxxxx
 


Monday, 11 January 2016

Winter's Light

Sometimes, it is just a perfect day. I think Winter is my favourite season largely and contrarily because those days of brilliant crisp sunlight are so rare and fleeting.






"One of the secrets of a happy life, is continuous small treats"
Iris Murdoch. The Sea, The Sea

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Killed by Death.

 
So, today was my first run of the new year and the first, since the week before Christmas, me bad! I am annoyed with myself as I had been doing so well, practically bouncing along in my new runners and clocking up a solid 20 minute run, over halfway in the Couch to 5K programme. So then all the Christmas prep had to be done and then 'course it was Christmas and then we had to recover from all the Christmassing, the travelling, the drinking and the eating by sitting around crocheting, watching movies and munching tidying up the selection boxes. Additionally the weather was very very bad, stormy and wet, sure you wouldn't have put a dog out in that! When we did venture out I almost got very stuck in the deep mud all alone in the dusky fields. Creepy.
 
It was with great trepidation that I got ready for my run, all the bits that had been tightening up before the holidays were once again a bit wobbly and I felt so creaky and old. Even my ankles are aging sigh...but I pulled on the lycra regardless. As a tribute to the force of life that was Lemmy Kilmister (1945-2015 RIP) I had this classic on the playlist.
 
 

 
I wouldn't be a big Motorhead fan but this song is one of the best running songs ever as well as containing one of the best nonsensical lyrics in music:
 
"If you squeeze my lizard,
I'll put my snake on you."
 
I mean what other mad eejit could get away with that! As a small digression my other favourite so-bad-it-is-good lyrics are these:
 
"Put your 'lectric eye on me babe,
 Put your ray gun to my head
 Press your space face close to mine, love" Thank you David Bowie.
 
Anyways, there is nothing that gets the old adrenalin flowing that running down a steep hill with Lemmy screaming in your ear buds. I doubt that the man himself would approve though. Apparently as a sop to the Doctors advice after being told he was very sick, Lemmy good-naturedly replaced his drink of choice - whiskey - to vodka. Live fast, die old eh?
 
I didn't attempt a 20 minute run today, just 2x 8 minutes with 5 mins walking in between and you know it went ok. I did get a weird cramp across my neck at one point and my eyes (WTF!) were sore at one point but I really enjoyed it. It is a strange feeling this running business, one the one hand I feel so exhilarated and alive in kind of the same way as I used to after a great nights clubbing or a night of the best craic down the pub or having a really successful week in my old job. Yet, on the other hand I feel so in control so focused, it is unusual. I didn't expect running to feel so er existential but at the same time it is so easy. Just pop on some shoes and off you go, if not for 20 minutes, then 8 or even 2 minutes. But is it cheating to plan your run so that the majority is on flat ground and the last minute is down that lovely steep hill? ;)
 
Right now I have to go and struggle with some OU study and whether access to politics and therefor rights should or can be extended to include non-humans? These are interesting issues for sure but there is one theorist that we are reading at the moment who is so complex he makes me feel immediately sleepy as soon as I try to read the text. Yawn.
Bye for now...Lots of Love.xxx

 
 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Nollaig na mban.

Hello! Happy New Year and Merry Nollaig na mban!



I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are easing slowly back into the post-Christmas routine. After days and days of torrential rain when it seems as though the hours of daylight diminished to a few sparse minutes, it seems fitting that this morning should rise into a beautiful crisp sun-shiny winter morning. Today in Ireland is Nollaig na mban or Little Christmas/ Women's Christmas where it was traditional (in the West mostly I believe) for the women to take the day off from the grind of the household tasks and celebrate with friends and relations leaving the men behind. I must admit until moving here I had never heard of this custom, we never celebrated it in my own family in the North. This year I had forgotten about it until listening to the radio this morning.

Of - course the relevancy of this custom is somewhat suspect - shouldn't the division of domestic and the caring tasks be fairly distributed by now? However, in a world where the issues of equality and concerns of the feminist movement are still acutely relevant; I think that  Nollaig na mban still deserves special notice,  it is important to both celebrate the power of our femininity, the strength of the women who contribute/ have contributed to our lives and generally nourish our spiritual and physical selves. My little girl was very interested in celebrating Nollaig na mban unfortunately she had to be packed off to school this morning but in the future we shall take it as a day just for ourselves or get together with friends and family.

I am going to put my feet up, drink some coffee and reacquaint myself with the lives of some incredible Irish women. This year is the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the nascent emergence of Ireland as an independent nation and the beginnings of a century of great change in the lives of many women. Some women did not wait for change they pioneered it.

Maud Gonne: Political Activist, Irish Nationalist, Spiritualist, Actor and Muse of W.B. Yates. The Woman's Peace Committee. The Women's Prisoner's Defence League.

 
Countess Markievicz: Revolutionary, Socialist, Suffragette, first woman to be elected to the British Parliament, formed the 1st Dail Eireann, Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic, Artist, founded Fianna Eireann, joined Irish Citizen Army, key activist in the Rising and on the Republican side in the Civil War.
 
 
Hannah Sheehy Skeffington: Teacher, Suffragette, Irish Nationalist, Political activist, founding member of the Irish Women Worker's Union, assistant editor of An Phoblacht.
 



1916 was also the birth year of a very important woman in my life, a woman who did not break out of the conventions that the patriarchy and indeed sectarianism that (Northern) Irish Society had set down for her but a remarkable person nevertheless, at times infuriating but with a fierce love for all her family. She held a profound faith but had a sharp realism about the sexist confines of Catholicism . She left school at 14 and became a mill girl but wrote secret lines of poetry and reminisced fondly about being told that she could draw very well. She brought up six children and partly one grand-daughter for whom she would buy great piles of second-hand books out of her sparse pension.

J.H. 1916-2010.

Happy Women's Christmas to you all! 2015 was a very good year for our family and I am really looking forward to whatever 2016 will bring. What are you hoping for this year? Who was inspired you thus far? Bye for now - here's hoping my blogging will be a tad more regular. ;)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Interlude

 

Hello, isn't this just a crazy film? I was going to post up the old faithful of the potter's wheel especially as I have been considering running off to study ceramics after avidly watching the Pottery Throw down programme but the Daleks and mad bad baby doll won lands down. So sorry to have been awol for so long but I have been just run off my feet and have fallen so far behind in my Open University studies I feel as if I am never going to catch up!
This is my final year and while I am quietly elated just to have gotten this far, I am also fairly overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work I need to complete before June. Taking a whole week off to tour around beautiful West Cork at half term and yet another weekend to visit family in London was such brilliant fun but I'm left with a bit of a pre-Christmas panic. So much to do so little time! So I am going to have to put my little blog on hold for a just a couple of weeks just to get my head above the water once more.

I have to confess to feeling a little sad with the growing discrepancy between what I have to do and what I need to do. I'm sure that we all feel like this from time to time. I also have a lovely long list of half-completed crafty projects and really-need-to-do-very-soon crafty projects...
As sweet golden Autumn has turned into dank grey November, it is quite onerous to have to apply oneself to the rigors of Political Theory instead of curling up beside the fire with a good book/crochet/knitting or quilting. I have been peeping in at the wonderful socks that have been curling off the needles at Winkhan Mum's sock along on Facebook and really really want to join in. I have also joined up with Netgalley and want to bring you some extra book chat as well as showing you all the completed (hopefully!) crafty and Christmas projects.

Just to tie up a couple of loose ends, we found a lovely new home for Rolo, in a dairy farm by the sea! Apparently he settled in quite well and has three other dogs to play with. It was quite upsetting at first to part with him but at the same time, yet so rewarding to play a little part in a happy ending. I'm still running - just. I completed a 20 minute jog, which was unbelievably difficult and totally exhilarating and started to see a slight shrinking in the waist. But, my runners need replacing and I'm experiencing sever pain in my feet due to the lack of support so it has been too easy to put off the runs till tomorrow. So, a significant investment in both runners and walking boots has to be made this week and a significant investment of time has to be put towards my degree. Thanks so much for reading this far and I hope to be back very soon. Take care. xxxxx