The End is never the End ~ Part 10

Part 10

Probate was finally completed. Alice & Morgan met with the bank manager, the account was updated and changed over to both of their names. He supplied them with up to date statements.  They now had the clearance to begin work on the estate. The bank manager repeated the suggestion made by the solicitor, to have the partnership confirmed within the law and on paper. He also urged them to update their wills.

Another visit to the solicitor was organised.

The insulation was updated on the home and workshop houses, fire and intruder alarms fitted and the insurance updated. It was now time to put them on the market.

The stable houses were updated and decorated. Beds were ordered and other furniture was expected to be delivered before the end of the week. The day had been spent in town shopping for statement pieces, bed linen, and some nick knacks for Lovell’s room.

“Lovell, you have shiny object syndrome.” teased Morgan, as he counted off all the trinkets she had picked for her room. “Your room will be fit for a princess!”

Lovell smiled. A new bed for Crumbs was first on her list and even that had a glitzy look. Never mind that Crumbs always looked like she had been pulled through a hedge backways. Even five minutes after grooming her coat was a wild mass of tangles. Lovell knew exactly where this new bed would be placed: right under the window of her bedroom, with a water dish to go in the corner.

It was good to see the excitement and sparkle in Lovell’s eyes. This move would be good for her.  Morgan had high hopes of teaching her some task, so that she could play her part in the enterprise and earn a few bob, to give her a feeling of independence and spending money to boot.

It was now a toss up between ‘Clock Tower House’ & ‘Hour House’ as the permanent name for Thudder house. The clock had the once over and ‘the Convent Bell’ could be heard clearly within and without the building. It had a musical tone that was easy on the ear.

The waiting weeks before the probate was completed, were spent in thinking, planning and quizzing Mr Yeeeeeoooo on how best to tackle the various ideas they came up with. They had grown fond of the tea drinker, and he them, he proved his worth when it came to cataloguing the library books, the art work, furniture and silver. He knew who to contact about the cleaning and storing of all the objects while work was carried on to the main building.

They had decided to retain his services to oversee a sensitive restoration programme of the house, he had the experience with old properties and was well able to suggest cost-effective and well-designed solutions to any problems the survey had shown up so far. He had come to love the old place and almost nurtured it like a child. He had contacts in every field of the work required. They also asked him to design and prepare the plans for the extension to the back of the house. He gave them a choice of two. After time for thought and consultation, a third set was prepared amalgamating the features they liked from the previous two.

The plan for this new extension was tasteful. A door under the curved stairway in the hall, would lead to a long hallway between the new and the old parts of the house. Immediately behind the doorway was a toilet block for use by patrons to the main lower level of the house. A modern bespoke fitted industrial kitchen and a large utility room (it would be necessary if we were going to hold conferences or open the house as a small hotel) was at the end, behind the oratory and close to the stairs to the cellar. It also led to changing rooms, lockers and wash rooms for staff.

A private kitchen/dining/family room for private family use was next the internal wall of the kitchen and behind the door from the hall It had French doors that would open to the walled garden at the back. Four en-suite double bedrooms, completed the rooms on the other half of the extension. The two end bedrooms were suitable for wheelchair usage with access to the car park from a doorway at that side of the house. They entered the main hall from the wide area under the curved staircase, with plenty of space, it would not take from the hall.

Eight double bedrooms and four single, all en-suite, would give them small hotel status. If they included bedrooms in the extension at the back of the house then the two stable houses could be added to the list as self catering or suitable for staff or family use.

Thus it was decided to turn the place into a small hotel and conference centre. The drawing, dining and sitting rooms, would provide an elegant suite of rooms for formal entertaining, conferences or small weddings.They decided that all six bedrooms on the first floor, the two on the attic level would be converted into en suites. The four storage rooms up there would become single bedrooms, each with a compact en-suite shower room.

A coffee shop in The Oratory, somehow seemed the right move to make and the name would not change. The stuccadore came and looked at the room before anything was moved. He made drawings of the designs on the remains of ceiling plaster. He delicately chipped away part of the stud wall, allowing them access to the original leaded window at the front of the house. The Victorian oak door with leaded stained glass panel will be reinstated to its former home at the oratory. This time it would be set into the long outside wall, at the opposite end to the lancet windows, as the main entrance to the coffee shop. The remaining stud wall in front of the window needed to be removed to open up the room to the original design. The internal door where they first entered the room, could be changed to swing doors that led to the new kitchen.

Over a cup of tea, one morning, Mr Yates reminded them that these days a house on three floors plus cellar, would need to have the internal doors re-hung as fire doors in keeping with current regulations. That was a job for further down the line, firstly they needed to decide on any internal alterations such as en-suites and converting the attic rooms into bedrooms, then once the planning permission was confirmed, to begin the foundations for the extension.

Plumbers and electricians could begin at the same time as the builders, switching to each area of the house when needed. The en-suites in the bedrooms would keep them busy for several weeks. Rewiring throughout the building for electric sockets that include phone and internet access was best done while the rooms were empty and before any decorating was carried out.  Updating the central heating, adding a new larger boiler would be an essential, when adding an extension, en suites and converting the attic rooms into bedrooms. Fire & burglar alarms would be required by law, the wiring would go in while the electricians were about, but the connections would not happen at this point.

They met with Carolyn Ashby, an interior designer, who had been highly recommended and she seemed to fall in love with the house on sight. Seeing the green leather wing back armchair with detailed brass studding in the library, she suggested a large settee to match for the other end of the room. The C shaped window seat cushions in every room at the front of the house were very badly faded and threadbare, eaten by many years of unfiltered sunshine, so needed to be replaced with matching drapes. She had books of swatches and a sketch pad where she constantly added ideas and drawings, colours that blended, not jarred leaving the onlooker to enjoy the natural charm of the place.

Alice wanted the lazy-looking half sofa, half arm-chair, that lived by the fireplace in the library, to be given a new lease of life without losing the comfortable feel it had. She was not sure whether she wanted it moved to the extension or left in the library where it somehow belonged.Carolyn suggested having a replica made so there would be one in each end of the house.

The secret room she saw as a particular delight. In neutral colours with added features in Wedgewood blue.

Carolyn had a theme for every room, including each of the bedrooms It would add a touch of class to name each room, in her experience clients seemed to prefer that to numbers.  She adored the oratory and was bubbling with ideas of how to furnish it. The pews were perfect and she had come across refectory tables the week before, so would put a holding note on them.

They were sitting at the table in the library when Carolyn noticed the old monastery painting hanging over the fireplace. Jumping up she said “This will have to go, it is not right for this room”. She tried to remove the painting, but it was proving difficult.

Morgan walked over to assist her. As he moved set his hands on the frame, he heard a faint click. The right hand side seemed to project forward like a door. “Not another secret Room?” he said. “Mind you this door is very high, so it must be a compartment”.

Alice was too stunned to move or speak. She thought she knew every inch and secret of the house at this stage. She did not. The dull painting, was camouflage for a safe. Morgan’s fingers must have triggered the catch. Inside was a box. It was old and inlayed with an intricate pattern in ivory, a replica of the one found in the bedroom half hidden under the floorboard, so many months ago. The initials were the same: This box belonged to Andrei Shuyski. Alice thought she saw a tremble in Morgan’s hands as be carried it gently over to the table and handed it to her. It was heavier than the last one. Was this the stock of gemstones given to Sidney’s grandfather for safe keeping, while the other one they found, Andrei’s loose change so to speak? The day was ageing and Alice was ready for home, so she asked Morgan to take the box with them to open after dinner that evening, when they were fed and relaxed.


Parts 1 – 9 can be found on the page of the same name in the header above.

Thursday Special ~ The Stranger

When I was a teenager, my Dad invited a stranger into our home. We were all fascinated with this enchanting newcomer who soon became a central part of our family. We never questioned his place in our household. In our young minds, he had a special niche.

My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught us good from evil, and Dad taught us to obey. But the stranger… he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If we wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took us to sports events. He made us laugh, and he made us cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn’t seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honour them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home – not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our long time visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned our ears and made dad squirm and mother blush.

Dad didn’t permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.

He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing..

I now know that our early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked … And NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents’ den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?….

We just call him ‘TV.’

Yes, I agree with Frank who sent this to me, we were about the same age.

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?”

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.