Plastic Bags and Old Boots

One of the best things that ever happened in Ireland was the introduction of the plastic bag ‘tax’ a few years ago.  I’m writing about this now as a similar tax has come into operation in England this week.

Here in Ireland, we’ve pretty much got rid of the blight of plastic bags being blown all over the countryside and finding themselves knotted around branches, stuck in stone walls, floating down rivers and being washed up all along our lovely coastline.

Plastic bags have a value now and having a value is something that is hugely important in all walks of life.

Lost and Lovely

Lost and Lovely

I’m not sure why but I can’t seem to see old boots that are washed up on the beach as eyesores like those flapping white plastic bags. Old boots have a style all of their own. They also pose questions about the feet they once cushioned and the journeys they enjoyed and/or endured.

Old boots, like this one that my son, Harry, and I came across at high tide last night, speak to me of resilience and the the notion of ‘being tough as old boots.’ That’s a toughness that puts value on determination, heart and character.

Isn’t that the kind of value that matters most?

Posted in Connections | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

First Moment People

Rosa 'Remember Me.'

Rosa ‘Remember Me.’

Some of the most precious memories I have relate to first meetings with people who have been incredibly significant in my life. It always seems like an added bonus to have vivid recall of the very first moment of meeting the eyes of such a person, seeing their smile or feeling their touch.

How can we ever know that a person will go on to play a key role in our lives? I don’t have any scientific answers for this but I’ve certainly had some first meetings that have pierced my soul and have seemed determined to carve themselves on my memory.

Because of my fascination with first moments, I’ve long loved this poem:

I Wish I Could Remember that First Day

Christina Rossetti

I wish I could remember that first day,
    First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
    If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
    So blind was I to see and to foresee,
    So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
    A day of days! I let it come and go
    As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
    First touch of hand in hand – Did one but know!

Are you a ‘First Moment’ Person?


Posted in Connections, Poetry | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Celebrating the 1,000th Post on Social Bridge

Head and Heart

Head and Heart

I realised the other day that the thousandth post here on Social Bridge was looming. I was going to ignore the fact but somehow it feels like a pretty big deal now that it’s here.

When I set up the blog back in 2011, the one thing I wanted was for it to be a place of connection. I had this vision of people meeting on my bridge and taking time to stop, chat and exchange ideas. I’m thrilled to say that I feel this has happened and now there are regulars, who feel like old friends, who stop frequently. It’s also great to see newcomers stepping onto the bridge to take a look around.

This is a place where the subject matter is pretty broad. I wanted to have it that way because there are lots of diverse areas of life which are very close to my heart and I felt a need to bring them together in one place. I know this is a little unorthodox in the blogging world where specialisation tends to dominate. I used to be a rather compartmentalised type of person but I’ve come to crave a sense of integration and love the way in which aspects of life that can seem poles apart can, in fact, bring a lot to each other.

Social Bridge was born at a time just after my parents had died and their influence on it has been huge. When I come here I can’t but feel their presence and the extent to which they gave me a love of writing, social issues, nature, poetry, humour, sport, the sea, photography and a deep love of Ireland, especially my native Co. Waterford but many, many other places too.

Diaries and journals were a part of my life from when I was tiny and I like the idea of incorporating journalling in my blogging. However, this is an open book and I truly appreciate all the entries from those who visit. Comments are every bit as important as the the posts themselves and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who has taken the time to comment over the years.

A Thousand ‘Thank Yous’ to everyone who has travelled this path with me.

Path of Dreams

Path of Dreams

Posted in Blogging, Connections | Tagged , , | 50 Comments

Love, Love and More Love


This Post Comes with a Warning for Lovers

There are times poems take me over. Usually they have more than eight words but this little one, included in Penguin’s Poems for Love, has had me turning myself inside out for days and days now

What Love is Like

Love is like
a pineapple
sweet and

(Piet Hein)

It has caused me to see pineapples in a whole new light. I’ve spent hours trying and failing to take photographs of their thick skins and juicy flesh. I’ve been luxuriating in their deep scent, making smoothies with them, grazing on them, caressing them in shops and wanting to recite the poem to everyone in sight.

I’d never, ever had thought of love being like a pineapple. At least, I thought I wouldn’t have. If I’d had to pick a fruit, I’d say it would have been grapes, apples or, maybe, passion fruit.

Now, I’m hooked on pineapples.

Go on, tell me which fruit, vegetable or anything else you would substitute for ‘pineapple.’ 

Posted in Connections, Poetry | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Do You Know Where You’re Going?



I was lost in the beauty of Mount Congreve Gardens last Thursday when a couple, who were probably in their late sixties, stopped me and the man asked politely:

Do you know where you’re going?

I struggled to come back to reality and while halfway there said:

Yes, do you?

The pair looked at me as if I was a bit daft and explained that they weren’t sure which path to take to get back to the car park. I had no difficulty giving them directions and they went happily on their way.



Wandering along the dappled path, I pondered on the many layers to the question: Do you know where you’re going?

It seems to me that some people make a very conscious effort to map out their lives from a relatively young age and visualise the paths or highways that they will take. In lots of cases, their journeys unfold as they have envisaged them. Others who adopt this strategy find themselves derailed by circumstances and have to make major adjustments.

And there are others who don’t have a set vision of where they are going but decide as they go along. Yet again, this approach can have mixed outcomes and probably involves a fair bit of going off the beaten track.

Pathless Woods

Pathless Woods

I’ve come to the conclusion that I certainly don’t know where I’m going nor am I fully sure how I’ve arrived here. But I’m definite about one thing: there is a glorious magic associated with embracing uncertainty.

Magical Moments

Magical Moments

Posted in Connections | Tagged , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

How Can I Describe This?

I said ‘Goodnight’ to the calmest sea imaginable last night. It was like she was a sleeping baby snuggled up in light blue and pink.

Garrarus Beach at Sunset

Garrarus Beach at Sunset

What I woke to this morning was a different sort of child ~ dark and moody but with a glint of hope in her eyes.

Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford

Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford

I made for Newtown Cove doubting that a swim would be possible because of the rising tide and choppy waves.

What greeted me was a packed car park and when I looked down I saw that there were lots of people swimming in the sheltered inlet.

Newtown Cove, Co. Waterford.

Newtown Cove, Co. Waterford.

Some of the better swimmers were diving in towards the open sea:

Ready, Steady ...

Ready, Steady …

Seeing the swimmers was one thing but joining them was quite another. The sense of togetherness was palpable. Friends, acquaintances, strangers … it didn’t matter. Everyone was chatting to everyone. This was a moment of communal love and respect for both the sea and those who crave it.



All the talk was about how warm the water still is; how a swim sets you up for the day; how Ireland should beat Italy in the Rugby World Cup …

See, it’s not all about appearances. It’s about embracing and enjoying nature and connecting with kindred spirits in the process.

How was YOUR Sunday Morning? 

Posted in Connections, Tramore Co. Waterford | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

How Do You Write a ‘Best Blog Post?’

I bring you the good tidings that my precious post, Reflections on the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Crisis, has progressed into the Finals of  the Blog Awards Ireland 2015 in the ‘Best Blog Post’ Category. All the posts are now to be judged by an Expert Panel and the winner will be announced on October 22nd.

While I’m delighted that the post is moving forward (and many thanks again to all who voted for it over the last few weeks), I am now in pause mode thinking about ‘Best Blog Posts’ and what makes them ‘best’ or even ‘bestest.’

Pause Mode

Pause Mode

I can think of various posts that I’ve read over the years that I have absolutely adored and I think that Best Posts are ones that stay with you in the same sort of way that favourite books, poems or movies do.

The thing is, though, that what will stay with one person forever may never have touched a chord with someone else. So much depends on the personality, interests, experiences, leanings, baggage … of the reader.

On the other hand,  the blogger can play a fairly big part in drawing readers in or turning them away. I’ve been surprised, for example, at how some bloggers have managed to draw me into reading memorable posts about subjects which I would have said were of absolutely no interest whatsoever to me. They manage to do this through obvious passion for their subject, striking images and smooth flow of writing. (I tend to like a blast of humour thrown in as well, though this isn’t a necessary ingredient.)

I’d love to hear your views about ‘Best Posts’ and what has made them them ‘Best’ for you as either Writer or Reader? 

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , | 43 Comments

The Glory of Tramore at High-Tided Sunrise


The Promenade, Tramore, Co. Waterford.

This was the delight that greeted me when I arrived back home to Tramore this morning after a very early and rather grumpy trip into Waterford City.

What heaven!

Posted in Ireland's Beautiful Places | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments



Swans glided into my life in the Autumn of 1980 ~ thirty-five years ago now.

That was the year that my sweetheart was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given just six or eight weeks to live. He died on January 5th, 1981.

We got the chance to walk by lakes, rivers and the sea where we talked very openly of life and love but only in a veiled way about shattered hopes and dreams.

Wherever we went, there were swans; elegant, white companions who seemed to understand all our bittersweetness and melancholy.

That was a time to live in the present and savour each precious moment. The sun shone for us as the leaves turned  like setting suns and fell to create a crunchy carpet.

William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney have written about swans in ways that suggest they understood how these magnificent creatures can linger in the heart and memory forever and ever.


And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open

(Seamus Heaney)

Thirty-five years may be a long time but an Autumn has never passed without the arrival of the swans back into my world in late September. I glimpsed them the other evening as I drove over the little bridge at Annestown here in Co. Waterford and yesterday I spent a few happy hours just watching them as I soaked up the hazy sunshine.

Swans 2

These lines from W.B. Yeats’ Wild Swans at Coole kept floating into my mind:

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

Time is a healer in many ways but there is something about lost love that simply isn’t about ‘healing.’ Rather, it’s about remembering, celebrating and incorporating into the tapestry of living, learning and continuing to love.

Posted in Connections, Grief, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Sundowning with Stan

Watchful Eye

Watchful Eye

There’s a magic about September sunsets, especially those spent at the beach with a bundle of spaniel energy called Stan.

Stan 3

Shadowing Me

Is there time for one last dance with the waves?

On the Edge


Another day draws to a close; a day of puppy fun, frolics and fondest unconditional love.

Stan 4

Tomorrow is another day!



Posted in Connections | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments