Openings ~ 22

The writing is on the wall.

No. Not this time… I went back.  I hobbled along the cobbles

to the Grand old Duke of York

The writing is on the ceiling…

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

The lines are from ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ ~ by William Butler Yeats.

The other quote is by Oscar Wilde


And Flower of Scotland the Scottish Anthem – Elly could sing that one for you, she did learn something when she lived there! ;)

Today I discovered that the owner of The Duke of York was responsible for the ‘wall garden’, He did approach the owners of the other premises off the entry, to encourage them to join in the venture, but they declined.  He went ahead and tidied his own area and has paid someone to look after the baskets and basins.  I saw evidence of this work on my latest visit.

The joy of giving

It was almost time. He sat at the steering wheel slowly smoking a cigarette, he knew the car he was waiting for.  Any minute now it would appear around the corner and drive slowly into the reserved space.

There it was. Right on the button.  Stubbing out his cigarette he had time to lock his car and walk the few paces for the quiet chat. It was a short conversation, an exchange of concerns and re assurances before the men parted, Mr K to enter the building while the other returned to his vehicle to await the outcome.

It was about 45 to 50 minutes before he heard a gentle footfall approach the car.  The young woman looked less anxious as she slid into the passenger seat beside him.  Calmly she told him that arrangements were set in place for the next afternoon.  He relaxed, turned the key in the ignition and headed cross country.  They spoke little, both had their minds fixed on the next day and how it would change their lives.

The next afternoon they were back in the same car park.  This time they walked hand in hand while he carried a small holdall. Their thoughts were a mixture of apprehension, excitement and concern for each other.  There would be tests in the next few days, to be sure she was ready and remove all fear of unknown problems arising.

Over the next couple of days the clock seemed to stand still, yet there was a routine that she quickly settled into. Meals filled the body and time, the food was unmemorable but she discovered Veda bread for the very first time, there was one slice each for those round the table to finish up the evening meal with butter or jam. It was a pleasure that would stay with her all her life.

Soon it was Saturday and she had work to do.

They came for her about 9.30.  When she entered the room Mr K was waiting. At this stage they talked as friends although she had only known him a matter of months. He spoke with great respect for her husband, they had known each other for many years. In the past they shared great sadness, and he hoped today would turn that corner and draw a curtain on the past for both of them.

Meanwhile at Wembley Stadium Arsenal and Ipswich Town were nearing the close of the FA Cup Final.    At 4.25pm Ipswich scored the only goal of the match and the crowd let up a roar of delight. He stood up, crossed the room and turned off the television.  “Time to go” he said to the cushions and he picked up the keys, looked around, and then headed for the door.

As that Roar went up at the match, there was another cry that gave delight. It was the sound of lungs expanding to announce the arrival into this world of a young lady.

Mr K who was present throughout the natural delivery checked her quickly, pronounced her perfect, and with tears running down his face he handed her to me. He could not have been more pleased than if it had been his own child.

Holding my daughter close to my chest my heart almost burst with joy.  This little bundle in my arms was ‘the spit’ of her dad, a miniature version of Jack.  The conversation with Elly began, we were in a world of our own, unaware of the needlework going on at the other end of the table.

Once Mr K was finished, Elly was taken to be cleaned up, weighed and have a name bracelet fitted.  Mr K informed not alone me, but all the staff that he was to be notified as soon as Jack arrived at the hospital.  He wanted to pass on his own congratulations.

I was wheeled to my new home for the remainder of my ten day stay. Heads lifted from the other beds and I was greeted with a chorus of “What did you get?” Cringing inside (anyone would think I had bought a penny lucky bag!) I announced to all that I had a beautiful daughter.

So while I was settling in with the hospital cure-all, a cup of tea, Jack was trundling over the hill anxious to find out our news.  Although at an age where his peers were becoming grandfathers, the world of babies was new to him.

He was an only child, had two childless marriages, both having ended with the long slow hopeless and painful journey through the curse that cancer was back then.  Mr K had been the Consultant on both occasions.

On entry to the hospital, Jack asked the first person in uniform if there was any news of his wife.  Thanks to Mr K, everyone was on alert for his arrival.

“You have a beautiful daughter, come and meet her”!

Within seconds, or so it seemed to him a bundle was thrust into his arms.  He didn’t know how to hold a baby. He worried he would let her fall. He worried he might break her if he held her tight.  Then he actually found her little face and his tears came… this tiny bundle looked like his adored late mother, Clara.

I had the joy of giving birth.

I had the joy of giving Jack the one gift he didn’t have – His own baby.

We had the joy of giving Elly life.

We had the joy of giving Elly to the world.

It was Rohit who had the joy of suggesting our topic for this week. The joy of giving. I do hope he will be available to join in the sport of writing about it. Now joyfully skip along to see what gifts the active members have in store today:- Conrad, Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Magpie 11, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit, Will Knott.

Thursday Special ~ Mrs. Ravioli

Mrs. Ravioli comes to visit her son Antonio for dinner.
He lives with a female room-mate, Maria.

During the course of the meal, his mother couldn’t help but notice how pretty Antonio’s room-mate is.

Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between Antonio and his room-mate than met the eye.

Reading his mom’s thoughts, Antonio volunteered, “I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you, Maria and I are just room-mates.”

About a week later, Maria came to Antonio saying, “Ever since your mother came to dinner, I’ve been unable to find the silver sugar bowl.
You don’t suppose she took it, do you?”

“Well, I doubt it, but I’ll email her, just to be sure.”
So he sat down and wrote an email:

Dear MaMa,

I’m not saying that you “did” take the sugar bowl from my house ; I’m not saying that you “did not” take it.
But the fact remains that it has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.

Your Loving Son

Several days later, Antonio received a response email from his MaMa which read:

Dear son,

I’m not saying that you “do” sleep with Maria, and I’m not saying that you “do not” sleep with her.
But the fact remains that if she was sleeping in her OWN bed, she would have found the sugar bowl by now.

Your Loving MaMa

Moral: Never Bulla Shita you MaMa

Brighid send the tale for this week.

At the Claremont

I watched a film last night ‘Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont’ from the book by Elizabeth Taylor.  It was Directed by Dan Ireland, and starred Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend, Anna Massey & Zoe Tapper.

I was physically tired and it was just right to help wind down for the evening.

This is not a review, more to share a few lines that stayed with me…

Destiny might lead us to the path –  the rest is up to us.

Always remember to make the most of every moment.

There are people that cross our lives for the briefest possible encounters, yet leave an indelible mark.


While looking for some information about the film I came across an excellent review of the book at Book Snob with references to the film in the comments that followed.

Food Monday ~ Caramelised Red Onion Hummus

Elly shared this recipe with me a few weeks ago and I loved it.  There is only one problem….
One taste and I keep coming back for more!

Caramelised Red Onion Hummus

2 medium red onions
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar (or any dark brown sugar)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 x 220g can of chickpeas
1 garlic clove
3tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tsp olive oil

Peel and thinly slice the red onions.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat and gently soften the onions for 10 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium and add in the balsamic vinegar and muscovado sugar, stir well and cook for 3 to 4 minutes and set aside.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a mini chopper or food processor.
Add the crushed garlic and 3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt with 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Add the red onion mixture in on top and blitz well until smooth.

Whose calling?

I’ve been here before. The coloured wall on the right is where you could learn to be a clown!  Nah, the world is full of clowns, I mean you can learn Circus Skills.

I remember walking on those cobble stones to find a penny.

It was actually to find a lottery worth of them stacked in bundles all over the street!  It was only last week, you must remember.

Did you notice the drunken angled poles?  One almost straight in front of you (pun intended) and the other way off to the left.

The Calling ~ Steel & Fibreglass
Artist ~ Paddy McCann

The Calling is an outdoor sculpture located at Gordon Street/Dunbar Link in Belfast.  This work is based on the theme of communication between people and their environment.

It consists of a bright red stylised human figure standing on a green chair and a bright blue figure standing on a yellow chair, calling into the distance while balancing atop extended (and angled} piston-like poles.

Paddy McCann is a Belfast-based artist, whose work encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including painting, print and sculpture. He gained an MA from the University of Belfast in 1989.

He exhibits widely throughout Ireland and internationally. His work is represented in many private and public collections including the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Openings ~ 21

The Grand Opera House, Belfast, first opened its doors on 23 December 1895. The first season included burlesque acts, musical comedies, farces and melodramas. Good job the Free Presbyterians were not invented back then or the house would have been pulled down in disgust! ;) There was also a market for classical opera and drama with regular performances of Shakespeare.

Not many people know that an unknown Italian singer named Luciano Pavarotti made his UK debut on the stage of the Grand Opera House in the role of Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly.

Designed by the prolific theatrical architect Frank Matcham, the theatre was a huge success from the outset.

Standing almost next door to the Europa Hotel – once known as the most bombed hotel in Europe – the Grand Opera House suffered damage by bombs on several occasions usually when the nearby hotel had been the target.

The theatre was listed in the 1970s and has been restored extensively since.  The crush bar on the front of the building at first floor level, was part of the restoration work and it overlooks Great Victoria Street.

Ornate ceiling

When the opera house was being restored, Cherith McKinstry, a contemporary painter and wife of Robert McKinstry, the restoration architect, was selected to re-create the ceiling’s original scene in a sympathetic manner.

An image of the interior can be found here.
The theatre continues to thrive, hosting musicals, plays, pantomimes and live music.

It has been awhile since I attended a Performance in the Grand Opera House. I see Madame Butterfly returns in March…. maybe I’ll treat myself!

Rediscovered Love/Pleasure

It is all water under the bridge now, it might well have gone down the loo, but it didn’t! We had loo paper coming out our ears! It stretched from California round to India and back to Europe.

Bikehikebabe said something the other night that brought it to mind and took me on the voyage down memory lane. I was back at the flourishing of a love affair….

You know the feeling well.

The first tentative steps into the room and the warm glow as you join the party.

Smoothly becoming part of the play or conversation, bantering with each other, all the while learning and discovering what makes each other tick.

That must have been how he felt.

He wanted the party to continue.

He wanted the relationship to deepen and grow.

To become a family and in the fullness of time develop our creativity.

We became that family.

With time we increased in number.

We watched each character blossom, but over time some reached a fork in the road of their lives, and for a while have taken that other route.  They are not forgotten.

As with all families, the travellers are remembered and missed, but the gap at the party was filled with new blood. We still share the stories and songs of our heart. We share tears, concern, hope, laughter and love.

We are a family.

We are the Loose Bloggers Consortium.

“The value of life can be measured by how many times your soul has been deeply stirred” (Saichiro Honda).

It was Paul who travelled all the way from Blackwatertown to place this topic before us today.  Do you think he is gathering our dust to use in his next venture – A Romantic Novel? ;)

Rediscovery – rediscovered loves/pleasures?

Time to dander round the room and join in rediscovering the loves or pleasures of: Conrad, Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Magpie 11, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit, Will Knott.

Thursday Special ~ Confucius

What Confucius didn’t say (but probably should have):

Man who wants pretty nurse, must be patient.

Passionate kiss, like spider web, leads to undoing of fly

Better to be pissed off than pissed on.
Lady who goes camping must beware of evil intent.
Squirrel who runs up woman’s’ leg will not find nuts.
Man who leaps off cliff jumps to conclusion.

Man who runs in front of car gets tired; man who runs
behind car gets exhausted.
Man who eats many prunes get good run for money.
War does not determine who is right, it determines who is left.
Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night.
It takes many nails to build a crib, but one screw to fill it.
Man who drives like hell is bound to get there.
Man who stands on toilet is high on pot.
Man who lives in glass house should change clothes in basement.
Man who fish in other man’s well often catch crabs.

“A lion will not cheat on his mate, but a Tiger Wood !!!!




Thank you Paddy, for the fun today.