Monthly Archives: June 2014

A week of questions

What is the best part of being a blogger, writer and/or photographer?
The doors it opens for you.

When you are reminiscing with friends, what is your favourite story to tell?
The one our chatter brings to mind.

What is your favourite place in the world?
The place I am at, in the now.

When you are looking for inspiration where do you search?
I open my eyes and really look around me.

Are you a morning person, a night owl or somewhere in between?
I am a morning, noon and night person.

What animal best represents your personality?
I was once described as a gazelle.

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?
It was after my first day at school. My oldest brother who was four years my senior, asked when I eventually paused for breath, in my long monologue of the day’s events:

“Was there anyone as nice as you there?”

Thursday Special ~ Holy Water

With the precious load secured in the back of the hearse, the driver checked the rear-view mirror for any sign of the priest. The mourning coaches were nearly ready to move off. It was not uncommon in country parishes for the priest to cadge a lift to the graveyard, in the passenger seat of the hearse.

Father Joe was a regular, in wintertime. Sure, it saved him the petrol and the hearse was warmer than his own jalopy. He was a short, stout, fussy, fiddly man, unfamiliar with punctuality, who gave the impression of falling over his own feet.

Five minutes passed before the mumbling holy father fell into the front seat, the contents of his open bag spilled onto the foot-well around his shoes. Footering about with his hands, he gathered the accoutrements. There was something missing: His bottle of Holy water. Bending over, his hands went under the seat once more. He found the bottle and quickly put it into the bag.

At the graveside, the prayers were said and Father Joe splashed the Holy water liberally over the grave and the coffin in the final blessing before the body was committed to the freshly dug grave. Several of the mourners were overcome with coughing.

When all the rituals were completed Father Joe had a few words with the family, then returned to the hearse to cadge a lift home. Huffing and puffing he mentioned that the Holy water had a quare perfume to it. The driver did not need to be told, he almost choked on the fumes.



It was then it dawned on him.

Earlier that morning a package was delivered to his office. He did not have time to open it, so brought it with him to check out later. He had done so while the church service was in progress. Just as he discovered the contents, the mourning coach driver gave him the nod that the service was nearly over. He pushed the bottle under the seat. It was a gift from a grateful customer, a bottle of very expensive aftershave.

Father Joe certainly ended that funeral on a sweet note!

Based on a true story, told on RTE radio, by Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

A-tisket a-tasket

Do you remember this
And wonder what it is,

What will it be

What will it be

It changed along the way

A gadget warmer, perhaps?

A gadget warmer, perhaps?

And became….

Finished basket/container

Finished basket/container

A-tisket a-tasket
A diamond trellis basket

It was the first completed item from this crate of yarn, a gift I received from Brogen.

Box of treasure

Box of treasure

Brogen’s mum, Emma Sharma Hayes was a very talented lady and knitting was only one of those gifts. Alas she was not given time to use all the yarn in the crate above, before her allotted time among us had expired. Knowing I enjoy yarn crafts, the crate came my way.

The basket was my token of thanks to Brogen. I was so busy finishing it in the early hours of Saturday, that I forgot to take a photo of the finished item. I had to ask Brogen to email me a photo.

Now I wonder what I will make next…….?

Drimnagh Castle

On Thursday I spent the morning at Drimnagh Castle.  I had to walk through the grounds of ‘Drimnagh Castle Christian Brothers Schools’ to reach the site of the old castle.

It is a Norman castle, the only remaining castle in Ireland with a flooded moat around it; this moat is fed by a small local river, the Bluebell. Today, the area around the castle & grounds, is swallowed up by schools, industry and housing.

I did manage to take a look at the grounds, there were ducks in the moat, but most of my time was spent indoors in The Great Hall dressed like this:

Do you like my dress

Do you like my dress

This castle is OLD. Yes, even older than me!

Hugh de Berneval established a castle at Drimnagh c.1215, that is not the time, but the year. 😉 The Berneval family were in residence for more then 400 years. It was one of the oldest continually inhabited Castles in Ireland, until 1954 and is an outstanding example of an old feudal stronghold.

Drimnagh Castle

Drimnagh Castle

So why was I there all dolled up in a floor length dress? I hear you ask.

To answer that question, I need to go back in time.

NO! Not almost eight hundred years, but to my last visit to Dublin during the month of May 2014.

It all began when my friend Elfrieda Carroll posted a link on facebook:

Mind the Gap Films
12 May

CASTING CALL! – 3 female extras, playing age 70+, no tattoos, dyed hair or piercings. Email by 1pm on Thurs 15th May.

Being in a giddy mood, I shared the link with the comment: ”I could do this without the make up! Pity. I go home on Sunday”.

Padmini Natarajan, a well seasoned performer of stage and screen, way over in India, jumped in with a comment: Postpone your return…apply now.

My reply to her was: “ No can do, Major appointment booked for 21st & elections on 22nd.

Elly chipped in with: ‘…no tattoos, dyed hair or piercings’, Mother (she never calls me Mother.) that might mean appearing in the altogether!

Well, I would not do that. Not because I am prudish, but because my body goes dangerously cold at the speed of light. Even in this glorious weather, I bring a jacket to the supermarket.

I did a little investigation and discovered:

Actors & Extras needed for history/comedy sketches in the Dublin area in June. Adult men & women of all ages required. We also have two roles for male teenagers. Sketches will feature in a new series for RTÉ. Please send your CV & Headshot to by 1pm on Thursday 15th May. NB: As these sketches are history based we cant cast anyone with tattoos, hair dyed unnaturally or piercings that cant be removed.

Nurse Hitler need not have worried.

Over a cup of coffee and a chat with Buffy, I composed my email…

Hi Fran,

I saw this call out on Facebook this morning. I would love to give it a shot.

My name is Marie Parker

I am sixty seven and could well fit your bill without the make-up! LOL.

At five feet six inches I am considered to be of slim build about 9½ stone in weight. The once glorious Auburn tresses, nature has seen fit to turn silver

In Dublin until early Sunday Morning, returning home to County Antrim, where I have engagements booked for 21st & 22nd May.

Enclosing two photos:

1. With make-up and wearing glasses


Attempt at Selfie- wearing make-up & glasses

Attempt at Selfie- wearing make-up & glasses

2. Without make-up on a bad day.


Me on a bad day without make-up or glasses

Me on a bad day without make-up or glasses

I await your reply with curiosity.

A reply came winging my way:

Thanks so much for getting in touch. Could you come in to audition at 11.10 on Friday? I’ll come back to you to confirm that as I just need to check it with the Director but it looks good to me.”

So that is how I ended up sitting on the banks of the Grand Canal, by Baggot Street bridge with a Toyboy. I was early for my appointment, so sat down to rest and calm my fluttering heart. The audition seemed to go well.

When I switched on my phone, after the very important appointment on 21st May, I found an email:

Dear Marie
Thank you for auditioning, we’re delighted to offer you the role of xxx. Shooting is provisionally scheduled for Thursday 19th June but may change so please keep your availability flexible for those weeks (3rd -6th and 16th – 20th June) or inform us as soon as possible of any conflicting commitments. Shoots will take place in or around Dublin, locations to be confirmed, and will require availability during business hours.

Could you please provide the following details for costume purposes:
Shoe Size:
Dress Size:
Shirt Size:
Trouser Size:
We look forward to working with you and will be in touch very soon with further details.
Kind regards

I wrote back again.

Hi Fran,

Since Thursday 19th June was mentioned at my audition, I rearranged my appointments, and moved them forward to the first week of June, leaving the other dates free on the off chance I might be successful in the allocation of parts.

They accepted that, and I was given the details for the Shoot.

Thursday 19th June
Call time: 09:05 – 12:00
Hair/makeup/costume approx 09:05 – 09:45
Shoot approx 09:45 – 12:00

The shoot went well, and we wrapped about ten minutes before noon.

By the way….


A busy week

It has been a long week. So long, it had two Saturdays, two Sundays and two Mondays. Alas, to day it comes to an end and I head for home.

Saturday: We made Christmas puddings – You already know about that.

Sunday: We had a visitor for morning coffee. After lunch the landlady walked the legs off me. We dandered to the Basin.

Blessington St Park

Blessington St Park

We watched a mammy duck teach her three tiny balls of fluff, no bigger than cotton balls, to swim.

Learning to swim

Learning to swim

Their tiny legs were going a mile a minute under the surface of the water, until….. a large bird swooped down…. Then there were only two balls of fluff for the mammy duck to quack instructions at, to swim faster than time to the protection of their hidden nest on the island in the middle of the lake.

The island

The island

When we left the basin, we passed the Black Church  where legend has it that if you run around the church clockwise three times, then enter the church and stand by the altar, you will see the devil.

The black church

The black church

I never quite had the courage to test that theory when I was young. The building was deconsecrated in 1962, and is now occupied as offices.

The Black Church is mentioned briefly in the novel Ulysses by Irish author James Joyce, in the chapter entitled ‘Oxen of the Sun’, as the location of one of Bello’s many sins: He went through a form of clandestine marriage with at least one woman in the shadow of the Black Church. Joyce lived for a few months only yards from the Church in Broadstone, at 44 Fontenoy Street, one of the Joyce family’s many temporary homes around Dublin. He stayed there with his son Giorgio from July to September 1909 and again alone from October 1909 to June 1910 while trying to set up the first cinema in Dublin.

Monday: Did I mention James Joyce earlier? Well, on Wednesday I met him! Honest. Here is a pixture to prove it:

He called me Nora

He called me Nora

He even called me Nora!

It was Bloomsday.  In Dublin, Joyceans in full Edwardian costume mark June 16th 1904 literary events of ‘Ulysses’ We met them on the Dart,  on the Streets and in the shops. Eileen and I went to Dún Laoghaire. They were there ahead of us.

Joyceans on way to Sandymount

Joyceans on way to Sandymount

I have to tell you what happened on the Dart. You will never believe it. Eileen, nudged me with her elbow and said “That guy over there winked at me!” I looked at the Toyboy and said, pointing at my sister “Did you wink at her?” He nodded. I looked questioningly and asked “Where’s my wink?” Grinning, he winked at me. Holding up my mobile phone, I asked if he wanted my number. He burst out laughing. With that, the engines started and we were moving…. Our Dart moved south, and his on the other track moved north!

No visit to Dún Laoghaire is complete without a visit to Teddy’s for a 99 – a whipped ice cream cone with added flake chocolate.

The evidence

The evidence

Eileen with ice cream cones.

The view while we eat 99sThe view as we sat and enjoyed our treat.

Tuesday: I spent the morning in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, with my eldest brother. We saw a Viking House

Viking House

I suggest scrolling to the bottom of the link above and working upward to follow the work in progress. I found it fascinating. I am trying to image life in Dublin 1,000 plus years ago.

'Gro' the Viking Boat

‘Gro’ the Viking Boat

I also saw a replica Viking boat ‘Gro’ on display. It was constructed from Irish oak in 2006 at the Irish National Heritage Park by Danish boatwrights using techniques employed in Dublin 1,000 years ago, the boat is on loan from the Ferrycarrig Heritage Park.

I drove my sister to Howth for an early dinner, which was delicious, and we were home in time to see one of the Football matches.

Looking down on Howth from the Churchyard

Looking down on Howth from the Churchyard

Wednesday: We were entertained to lunch by Brian, who sent us each a text as we were leaving home to say, he had just realised it was forty years since we first met, so a good job we looked like we did all those years ago! Is it really forty years since I was given the handle Grannymar? Yes, it is.

Thursday: I visited Drimnagh Castle, but that adventure is worth a special post. I hope to have it ready for Tuesday.

Drimnagh Castle

Drimnagh Castle

Friday: was a rest day, playing with Buffy and finishing a project that I was working on. I forgot to take a photo of the finished item, so when I get that photo, I’ll write about it.

Saturday: Was the longest day, so where better to be than on the Hill of Tara,  Home to the High Kings of Ireland. The panoramic view in my Header is from the hill at Tara. We were there to celebrate the life of Emma Sharma Hayes. It was a beautiful day, the sun shone and nature’s choir of bird song & gentle breezes sang around us for most of the day. We picnicked outdoors

Lunching Ladies with Vijay Sharma

Lunching Ladies with Vijay Sharma

and I found a very comfortable seat to rest my legs before we climbed the hill.

Tractoring Grannymar

Tractoring Grannymar

I nearly got a job too! One old guy asked if I would plough his back field? I told him I was busy and it would have to be next week!

Sunday: I went to work! Really. You have heard of ‘Bring your daughter to work days. Well this was a bring your family to work day, at Intel. Do you like my outfit?

Intel Open Day

Intel Open Day

Grannymar in a Bunny suit! These are actual uniforms worn by those who work in the clean-rooms. Buses took us on a tour of the site and we had a window tour of a clean-room. Elly showed the corridor she walks everyday, at least twice. It is a mile in each direction. We were introduced to the gym, where I could not miss an opportunity to sit on the equipment. I tested a massage chair, it felt like Ramana Rajgopaul’s masseuse was dancing on my back.

The staff looked after us royally and had fun & games for all ages. Thank you everyone for making us so welcome. Now the holiday has come to an end and I am homeward bound once more. I am covered in a healthy outdoor glow and my legs must be at least six inches shorter from all the walking. It was a wonderful week.

The End is never the End ~ Part 9

Previous parts can be found listed in the Header page

Alice was playing with her ‘possibility’ lists as she waited for Morgan to arrive. He sounded rather serious on the phone. Was he about to tell her that he wished to step back from the project? He had been so generous with his time so far. She hoped his business had not suffered neglect because of her. The lists were a light weight distraction until he arrived.

Names for Thudder house:

A gem of a place
Alice’s retreat
Clock tower House
Hour house
Lovell Love it.
Mor-gone than help
Mystery House
Slythe Tower
Sylvester’s Place
Triple S Gems.

Uses for the house:

Coffee shop
Conference centre
Cookery school
Murder mystery weekends
Private home
Residential health club
Residential weekends for short courses
Retirement Home
Sanctuary for Rehabilitation
Weddings & Receptions
Writer’s Retreat

If we do go down the coffee shop road, what do we call it?

A little Gem
Birdsong Café
Coffee O’Clock
Coffee, Cake and Crumbs.
House of surprises
Inheritance Café
Leaf & bean
Oh Crumbs!
Sweet’s n’ Treat’s
Tastebud Tempters
Tasty Crumbs
The Chiming Clock
Tolling Bell Coffee House

“What are you up to now?”

Alice was clicking ‘sort’ on the last of the three lists when Morgan breezed into the room.

“Lovell was on the door step to greet me, she told me you were in here. Good job I had treats for her and some for Crumbs. This one is for you.” He said, handing over a bottle of wine. “Now that you own a priceless cellar full of liquid gold, we need to learn more about it. If we share a bottle a day, we might be expert enough for the ‘hen’s teeth variety’ in about twenty years time!”

“Morgan, at this rate, in twenty years time I’ll be a very merry 75 year old woman! Here, you have me giggling like a school girl before I have my first sip of the day.”

“Then we better up it to a two bottles a day.” Said Morgan. “After all I will hit 49 before the year is over. Now let me get two glasses, I have something important to tell you.” With that he was off to the kitchen.

Alice, set the laptop to sleep and relaxed into an arm chair by the window. She could see Lovell happily playing with Crumbs on the lawn.

“I had a meeting up near Thudder house yesterday, so I called in to look over the outbuildings.” Morgan said as he poured and handed Alice a glass of wine.

“The Outbuildings must have been part of a stable block at one time. One gable wall has a large horseshoe pattern in-filled with bricks. Perhaps it was home to a forge before conversion. The Cottage at the far end has a kitchen, dining room, sitting room with fireplace and in the small hallway, a spiral staircase leads to the first floor, which has two bedrooms a bathroom with bath, shower, loo and airing cupboard.

The second cottage, with the green door, has a hall and kitchen on the ground floor. Again a spiral staircase leads to the first floor where a long landing leads to a sitting room, 3 bedrooms, airing cupboard and a bathroom with bath and over-bath shower and separate room for the loo.

Beside the green door and below the upper floor of rooms, are a range of three garages with concrete floor, electric lights and individual up & over doors. The third one has an inspection pit and workshop, ideal for working on cars!”

I also discovered a useful secondary driveway leading off to the laneway. You know the laneway we wondered about, where it let to etc. If we did decide to use the house as a business, that lane and gateway, would provide a goods entrance to the back door and not interfere with the parking or driveway at the front.

“Goodness, Alice, you collect houses like others collect stamps!” He said, dropping down into an armchair at the far side of the window.

As he dropped into the seat, the tension in Alice evaporated.
“That sounds like you will be around to see the project through. I worried that you were ready to back down in order to concentrate more time to your business.” Said Alice.

“I did want to talk about my business.” He said.

“I think I told you I bought out my partner’s share about fifteen years ago, he wanted to emigrate to warmer climes. Client numbers have almost tripled since then. I was at the stage of taking on another one if not two accountants. Mind you, the work lost the excitement for me, it had become rather mundane. I was glad of the distraction of Thudder house. You must have realised that.

Well, two month ago I was offered the opportunity of a buy out. I decided to say nothing until I was sure of the outcome. Negotiations went too and fro, I did not want to let the years of slogging slip away for the first offer. We came to a final agreement last week and I happily signed on the dotted line. Alice I want to throw my lot into this adventure. I mean, put the money from my business into it, become a partner.

That is, if you will have me as your side quick!”

“Hell! Fish in butter, as you say Morgan, why not? It is better than a poke in the eye with a rusty nail any day?” Grinned Alice. “Now, I am even beginning to talk like you.”

“It will take time to get Thudder house into the condition we want, but we are wasting time, money and energy travelling up and down that road, while paying rates etc on all the houses. Why not renovate the stable block first? You and Lovell move into the three bedroom one and I’ll live in the other one. Then we can put the Home house and the Workshop on the market.”

“I get it now. You only want to be able to play cars all day in the garage pit!” Teased Alice. “I suppose it would also mean we were on hand to oversee the renovations. Then when the house is ready, we move in and have the cottages for staff or rental. Good idea, partner.”

“Right then Boss, I am away to the work shop. I need to spruce myself up for my date tonight”

“You have a date?” said Alice. “I think that is a first in a long time.”

“Yes. I have a date with two women tonight and a reason to celebrate. Now off you go and round up Lovell, you two need time to titivate. I like my women to look beautiful. Now don’t be late, I’ll collect you both at eight.”

Lovell was excited about going out for a meal. She insisted on wearing her new dress. She was very fond of Morgan, but then he was the person who found Crumbs for her. He in turn, had great patience with Lovell and she was responding well to the tasks he was teaching her. Alice could see her sister was becoming more outgoing as the weeks and months went by. Even at the restaurant, Lovell now had the confidence to order what she wanted to eat and drink, with no prompting needed.
She even entered into some of the discussion at the table, which pleased them both. After a couple of visits to Thudder house, she looked forward to bringing Crumbs to walk in the gardens, hopefully by the time they were ready to move, she would be happy to live there. Time alone would tell…..

Thursday Special ~ Mowing the Lawn

One day, shortly after joining the PGA tour in 1965, Lee Trevino, a professional golfer and married man, was at his home in Dallas, Texas, mowing his front lawn, as he always did.

A lady driving by in a big, shiny Cadillac stopped in front of his house, lowered the window and asked, “Excuse me, do you speak English?”

Lee responded, “Yes Ma’am, I do.”

The lady then asked, “What do you charge to do yard work?”

Lee said, “Well, the lady in this house lets me sleep with her.”

The lady hurriedly put the car into gear and sped off.


This tale came from the old spade, Ramana, who has no lawn to mow!

I’m very busy.

I think I told you that I might be busy this week. Well, that is a bit of an understatement. My little car and I had a long drive on Saturday, only arriving at my first lodgings in the early afternoon. The landlady was at the door to meet me with a very welcoming smile. Out she comes to the car, taking a wee nosey into the back seat, and asks: “Do you want to unpack now, or lock up and have a cup of coffee first?”


I had two bags on the back seat of the car, so I said I would bring them in with me and leave the rest for later, safely locked in my boot/trunk. One of the bags on the back seat had been driving me crazy for the past couple of hours of my journey, so much so, that I nearly pulled off the road to devour a fresh loaf of Veda bread, a malted bread sold in Northern Ireland. In another cake box was a still warm experiment (cake)* that I had made that morning. I needed to open the box and allow it to cool properly for an hour.


So, I was welcomed indoors. Before I had reached the kitchen with the goodies, yer wan, the landlady, says to me: “I have a job for you”.




There was I thinking I was on my holidays. I’m telling you, I nearly took my three loves of Veda bread and one hot cake back to the car to find another guest house for the duration. But the other residents pleaded with me to stay. They danced rings round me and told me not to go. So I took pity on them and stayed. Over the very welcome cup of coffee, which came with Danish pastries, I was told about the job in store for me.


On one side of the kitchen was the greatest collection of saucepans/pots lined up in a row. On the opposite side were eight bowls standing like soldiers on parade, lined up from the largest to smallest. It almost looked like a factory production line. The largest bowl was covered and I realised it had a wooden spoon under that cover, my beady eye saw the handle sticking out. I also noted the new box of greaseproof paper, a scissors and a large ball of string and a bottle of Guinness! Now, being the month of June and not yet the longest day of the year, I was a little confused. Had my long drive brought me forward in time as well as miles? It could not be October already – The sun was shining! A mighty army of pots, boiling kettles, bowls and the other paraphernalia could mean one thing: Puddings. Christmas puddings.


Yes! I got it in one. My landlady, I discover, had never actually made Christmas puddings from scratch before in her life. Why would she, since she was the baby in the family and she had a mother & big sister who chopped the peel and grated the breadcrumbs and half their knuckles with it, every winter in order to feed the hoards on the big day, New year’s day and don’t forget the pudding for St Patrick’s day as well. So here was my landlady, read sister, attempting the puddings for the very first time. She had mammy’s no suet pudding recipe, and had it almost ready.,


“The whiskey is in.” says she, “But I was not sure about the Guinness, I have no idea what consistency the mixture should be.”


I gave the mix a stir and said: A pudding mixture should be much softer than a cake, so pour in about a third of that bottle of Guinness and we will see how it feels. Remember, any remaining stout is for the cook! She poured and I mixed, I let her have a go so she would get the feel of it. We added a little more, not as much as last time and it was right for our quantities. Eileen was using double the ingredients of mine in the link above.


We filled the seven greased bowls (she worked, I supervised) leaving space for expansion. I showed her how to prepare the greaseproof covers with pleats in, and how to tie them well before adding a handle. Fair dues to the sister, making puddings on a warm sunny day was not so daft after all. The windows and doors were all open and the extractor fan did the rest. It was possible to put them on to boil, set a timer and go off to enjoy the garden. By dinnertime, four of the pots were ready to come off.

puddings boiling

puddings boiling

The baby one, read tester, was ready to eat for dessert – part of mammy’s tradition.


Minding dessert

The other three would be cooked early the next morning. And all would be given another boiling closer to the day they were needed.


* The cake experiment was a variation on my Lemon drizzle cake.  You can find that recipe under cakes in the Recipe page up in the Header Bar. This time, I made the mix as normal and when putting it into the baking tin, I dotted small spoonfuls of lemon curd randomly between the cake mixture.