Category Archives: Fun

What a Surprise

On my way to Dublin I regularly stop to stretch my legs at The Outlet Village, Banbridge.  Crescent shaped in two rows, it allows patrons to walk a wide open air pathway between the stores. Like all cities, towns and shopping malls, there are the marks of recession with shops closing. This particular outlet, dressed the windows of these empty units, taking away that depressing look.

Several units were used for other purposes to draw in the crowds.

On 10 July, I stopped for my usual walk, a coffee and a freshen up.

It was with fascination and delight that I discovered The Big Brick Exhibition in Unit 27.

Every item on display was pieced together at the hands of one young man: 25 year old Michael Finan of Banbridge, Northern Ireland.

A Collection of Lego Models, which he began at 5 years of age.

Ole Kirk's House 910 pieces

Ole Kirk’s House 910 pieces

Old Kirk’s House, was not normally on sale to the public. It was a gift for employees at Lego, but Michael was fortunate to purchase it on eBay.

I attempted to make a spur of the moment video on my phone. Alas I used portrait instead of landscape mode and it picked up all the background noise, which I am not clever enough to filter. A gallery of photos will have to suffice.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In 1999, a Christmas gift from an aunt & uncle set him on the pathway of Puzz 3D jigsaws. Their gift: a 1438 piece 3D jigsaw of Big Ben. Feeling daunted be began with the smaller Normandy House, a mere 225 pieces. It was enough, Michael was hooked! At this stage, he has built most of the Puzz 3D jigsaws that have been produced to date.

Here is a small selection:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The exhibition will be open to the public during business hours until 27th August 2014.

 UPDATE: I forgot the most difficult Lego model of all to make…

Voda_R202_Darth MaulDarth Maul was the most difficult to build and Michael told me it fell over at one stage during the building, so he began all over again – all 1,868 pieces. R2D2 had 2,127 pieces, but Yoda (if memory serves me correctly) had a massive 3,075!


Have you ever been on the Box?

I had five minutes of fame way back ……..

It was Wednesday, 5 November 2008. I had been invited to take part in RTE Television’s Afternoon show to share my household hints and tips.

Then on 1st April 2013, I made a ‘Don’t blink or you will miss me’ appearance, again on RTE Television with the programme See you at the pictures, a nostalgic look at our cinema-going past & the impact that cinema has had on Irish culture down the years.

Third time lucky, they say…. So this time I got to dress up and tread the boards… Like a REAL actress. Stop laughing and sniggering back there, Grannymar is game for anything…. Well almost! 😉 I think I mentioned it here.

Yes, another ‘Don’t blink or you will miss me’ moment in a sketch for a 4 part historical fun series for RTÉ2: Holding Out For A Hero and this time I think I said two, three, four or was it five words?

Sure who’s counting?

I had a fun day watching wardrobe & make-up artists at work before meeting the director and his team again. There were four of us ladies in the scene, the other ‘gals’ were well used to the smell of the laughter and the roar of the greasepaint….. or is it the other way around? I was fascinated at the way the camera crew brought an old building to life. We all had fun.

Neil Delamere, the leading actor (he took the day off when I was there), is determined to uncover the truth behind 4 legendary Irish heroes of yore. Neil will be treading the boards with a stand up comedy gig as part of the programme in Vicar St on Saturday 2nd August at 20:30.  He’ll be showcasing all-new material based on everything he’s learned about our four heroes – Red Hugh O’Donnell, Grace O’Malley, Cú Chulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill. The gig will be recorded and inserts included in the programme, and the whole project should appear on TV between late August and December.

Now I need to check my diary… Do I have anything on for 2nd August….

Apart from clothes! 😉

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?”

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.

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.

Planning & Scheming


Has wheels will travel:


Betty Rubble

Betty Rubble

Betty Rubble image credit to:

One event booked I know the ‘when and where’.

A ‘Phone me when you are free, and we will meet for coffee’, I know the where. Last time we met at 11:30 and several coffees later we parted at 16:30…. not quite hoarse!

Lunch engagement – know the ‘who & where’ but not yet the ‘when’.

It all depends on the main reason for my visit…

A total new experience, but I have yet to find out the ‘where and when’.

Blogging might be light next week, so please forgive me.

Dashing away with a smoothing iron.

On Saturday, in a light hearted short post, I admitted that I had been wrong to iron my clothes. The graphic I produced told me the freshly pressed clothes showed up the crease lines on my face.

The comments were fun.

Col asked: “How can you steal hearts away if you don’t go dashing away with a smoothing iron?”

Immediately I was back in the house of my youth with a mountain of shirts, blouses, sheets, pillowcases, half a dozen linen tablecloths and napkins, tea towels and a mound of handkerchiefs…..

Sitting by the fire was my granny singing this little number:

I replied to Col, with: “I have evidence of one young lady who took that idea to the extreme! Watch out on Monday”.

So here is the evidence.

Elly taking housework seriously. ;)

Elly taking housework seriously. 😉

Elly ironing on the Giant’s Causeway!

I had to go digging to find the photo and while there I reread the post that went along with it A Political Guide for Tourists to Ireland written four years ago. It applies even more so today, I think you might enjoy reading it.

The ‘E’s of life

My friend Padmini, posted this on Facebook the other day, I wanted to share it here with you.

‘E’ … is the most eminent letter of the alphabet.
Men or Women don’t exist without ‘E’.
House or Home can’t be made without ‘E’.
Bread or Butter can’t be found without ‘E’.

‘E’ is the beginning of Existence and the end of Trouble.
It’s not at all in War but twice in Peace.

It’s once in Hell but twice in Heaven’.

‘E’ represents Emotions.. hence all emotional relations like

Father, Mother, Brother, Sister have ‘E’ in them.

‘E’ also represents Effort, Energy.
Hence to be Better from Good,
two ‘E’s are added.

Without ‘E’, we would have no Love, Life, Wife or Hope

Without ‘E’ we cannot See, Hear, Smell, or Taste.

Just as Eye, Ear, Nose and Tongue are made of ‘E’.

SO Go with ‘E’ but without EGO.

Eeh by gum this ‘ere E is right for me!

Reflecting reflection

Working in my kitchen one evening last week, I caught my reflection in the back door.

Reflecting reflection

Reflecting reflection

I do enjoy my new phone, but the quality of photographs is not good. It makes me want to rub my eyes to clear them – a reminder of pre cataract surgery days.

Two pet days of calm, dry and 5°C sunshine were just a tease. I managed to go for a walk, stop for a coffee, was introduced by a very proud Dad to his new three week old daughter and then had my thatch chopped.

Today, it is back to the dreary rain soaked greyness. It rained all night and still pours down around me.

watering the garden

watering the garden

Needing distraction I went in search of a new business card…..

New Business Card

New Business Card

My new Business card came from here.


UPDATE: Al thinks (in the comments) I am adorable! I wonder  if this is what he means: