From Winterval to Wonderland

The Green Car

The Green Car

I’m a sucker for old toys and more or less ran into the Toy Musuem the first morning it opened as part of this year’s Winterval Festival in Waterford.

In among the dolls, teddy bears, board games … was a rusty green car that drove me right back to the big hall in my grandmother’s house in Co. Meath and the car that had lived there since my mother was a child.

Visiting Granny’s was a huge adventure as she had a farm and lived just across the fields from our three first cousins who were almost identical ages to us.

Even though the cousins had daily access to the car, it was the vehicle that brought us together on  wintery days as we pushed each other up and down the hall and plotted and planned our adventures like the kids in the Enid Blyton stories to which I was addicted.

I think I’m going to have to go back to the Toy Museum and find out about the generations of kids who played with that well-used, shiny and proud looking green car that looked like it was waiting for someone …..










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Help! Parenting and Learner Driver ‘Children’

its ok to ask for help

Sometimes you have to send out a global call for help because no amount of books, Google Searches, chats with friends, acquaintances have been of much help.

Nub of matter: Son (19) is all set to take to the road in a car. We’ve moved on from bikes with stabilisers, racing bikes, scooters … to the real McCoy ~ C A R.  In addition to lessons from a qualified instructor, the law in Ireland states that all Learner Drivers must have a person with a full driving licence for at least two years sitting with them in the car up and until they pass their driving test.


It transpires that I’m the person who is the obvious candidate for this role. BUT, even thinking about it gives me the complete and utter heebee-jeebies.

I remember all too well what I was like as a learner driver ~ and I was fortunate enough to have the love of my life sitting beside me ~ apparently nerveless as I rolled halfway down Constitution Hill (the steepest hill in Ireland); bombed along the road from Clogherhead to Drogheda at about 150 mph, sailing into orbit as we hit the humpback bridge at Termonfeckin,  after he’d commented that it wasn’t very sensible to indicate to the right when I intended to turn left and there was a tractor in the mix.

My limited experience with my father sitting beside me was a nightmare. On our first day out, the accelerator cable snapped and he was screaming at me to get a move on while I was trying to tell him that the accelerator was lying in a heap on the floor. He couldn’t hear me because of all the hooting horns from the two-mile tailback behind us.

So, how does one cope with this ordeal as the ‘passenger?’ Are we talking fistfuls of Valium, self-hypnosis, Reiki, having blaring music on to drown the shouting; finding religion …..

Please tell me the secrets to success ~ if you’ve discovered any!


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My Beloved Co. Waterford ~ Thanksgiving

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Ballyscanlon Lake, Co. Waterford

Ballyscanlon Lake, Co. Waterford

November seems to be a month for deep reflection. It feels like nature strips us bare and dims the light so that we are forced look to look inwards.

At the same time, however, Mother Nature, opens up new spaces and patterns as the leafless trees allow us to see the skies ~ especially the starry skies on clear frosty nights.

Bareness and space feel unfamiliar after the lush growth of Spring and Summer and the colourful tapestries of Autumn.

But this is time in which we should seize the apparent quietness and work away within ~just as nature is working beneath the soil ensuring that the spring colour of snowdrops and crocuses will re-emerge with vibrant hope and promise for the onward journey.



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Silly Ball Games or Character-Building Activities?

Switzerland winning the Davis Cup and its obvious significance for the great Roger Federer got me thinking, yet again, about different perspectives on sport.

Victorious Swiss Davis Cup Team. Photo: AFP

Victorious Swiss Davis Cup Team.
Photo: AFP

For some, like a late aunt of mine, sports like tennis, golf, soccer, hurling, rugby, snooker … are perceived as ‘silly ball games’ and we all know Mark Twain’s quote:

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

Sport, for me, is one of life’s greatest pleasures and I also believe that participation in it can be one of the greatest teachers about life.

Among the lessons I’m talking about here are:

1. Hard work is essential for success, even for those with lots of natural talent.

2. Life is about winning and losing and today’s loser can be tomorrow’s winner.

3. Experience is fundamental and we have to be prepared to take what may feel are very hard knocks to gain this.

4. It’s crucially important to be prepared to change a losing game.

5. Life is about teamwork.

6. The ponds of life vary in size and so do the fish.

7. Loss or success in a particular sphere do not define the ‘whole person.’

8. Major societal divides can be healed through universal passions.

9. Physical fitness enhances mental agility

10. Resting is every bit as important as hard work in mazimizing potential.

What are YOUR views on sport? What, if any lessons, has it taught you? 

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White Houses in November

I saw the White House in Washington DC for the first time on a bright sunny day in November 2010. I only learned later that it was designed by an Irishman, James Hoban, from near Callan in Co. Kilkenny.

The White House, Washington, DC.

The White House, Washington, DC.

The elegant building left a lasting impression on my mind and I’m very glad that I actually saw it with my own eyes.

This November, I discovered a White House here in Co. Waterford that has also captured my imagination with its sheer charm and attention to detail.

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November Colour on the Copper Coast

Today was a perfect day here in Co. Waterford ~ a day to soak up sun, swim in the sea and draw energy from the vibrant colour that lasted from sunrise to sunset.

Colour in a picture is like enthusiasm in life
(Vincent Van Gogh)

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