A Year On

I was fortunate enough to get to see early Spring unfold in magnificent Mount Congreve Gardens here in Co. Waterford last year before they were closed because of the pandemic.

The Gardens have long been my place to wander and soak in the glory of nature’s colours. I hope it won’t be too long before they open again but meanwhile I often take a little look at some of the photographs I took out there last year and that live on my phone for soothing purposes.

Here’s a tiny sample:

Magnolia Magic

My Place

Out along the Cliff Road, Tramore

This is a tiny piece of coastline that is extremely precious to me and never, ever disappoints. It is to the right of Tramore Bay and has threaded through my life since babyhood.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t make my way out there just to see how it’s looking. It has never yet looked the same so offers a new vista each time I see it.

The Stone Heart

One of my many eccentricities is a penchant for collecting heart -shaped stones on the various beaches I am fortunate enough to have nearby.

The other day I saw the most beautiful Turneresque stone – all oranges, reds and yellows – shaped like a heart on Tramore Beach. I felt myself stooping to pick it up but something in the very depths of my being refused.

It felt like it was wrong to move this beauty from its natural habitat. I left it there in all its magnificence and codded myself that I could maybe collect it on the way back. As if one stone among thousands and thousands would be findable, especially as the tide was coming in and my line of walking would be changed.

I also wondered if someone else would have picked it up in the meanwhile and put it in a special place where heart stones can settle lovingly.

I still don’t know what stopped me from collecting this particular stone as I have never known such a feeling before.

I wonder where it is now and if it will by any chance turn up again. I don’t think I could ever pick it up at this stage as it feels like it was meant to be free to remain by and in the soulful sea.

Six Activities in Six Weeks

A letter writer to the Irish Times that I heard about on radio the other day came up with the idea of setting ourselves the goal of doing 6 activities in our 6 weeks of Lockdown. Two that I remember are: renewing contact with 6 friends with whom one has lost touch and reading 6 books.

I have been mulling over this and here’s my list:

#Write 6 thank you letters to 6 people who have been really kind to me during my life.

#Try out 6 new vegetarian/vegan recipes

#Plant up 6 pots with shade loving flowers/shrubs to brighten a dark, dank, dreary spot at the side of the house.

#Leave out 6 painted stones with inspirational quotes along my walking routes within the 5km limit

#Read 6 books that I have put aside and never opened

#Dip into the following 6 activities:

  • Dancing
  • Skipping
  • Listening to classical music
  • Sorting my late father’s photos
  • Knitting
  • Birdwatching

What would your 6×6 be? I’d love to know.

Ireland: Lockdown 2, Day 1

Ireland began a new country-wide Level 5 lockdown for 6 weeks at midnight as Covid cases have been spiralling upwards.

The sun is blazing outside and thankfully we can exercise within 5km of home.

It’s desperately tough on many people and my thoughts are very much with those who are feeling bereft, anxious, lonely and vulnerable.

Right now, I feel like one of the lucky ones but know there will be moments of darkness lurking in the weeks ahead.

I feel that nature and the arts are going to be vital and was thrilled when a parcel of books arrived in the post yesterday from my big brother who knows way better than most how to keep me buoyant.

So, I leave you with a few lines from Sheenagh Pugh’s poem, ‘Sometimes’:

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

Imaginative Teachers

A couple of teachers that I had over the years up to school-leaving age have left a very positive imprint on my heart and mind.

One was a guy who always seemed to look for ways to make us think and not just focus on sticking rigidly to the syllabus.

One day, he arrived in with a list of sayings and distributed one to each of us. I got: ‘Success breeds success.’ I can vividly remember fumbling around trying to explain what I thought it meant but knew I wasn’t being very coherent. He encouraged me to think through what it might mean.

All these years on, it has stayed with me and it springs to mind in relation to everything from the way seeding in tennis is a prime example as is managing to build confidence from attaining what may seem like a tiny goal to others – walking 2km consistently and getting the confidence to push on to participate in a 10km or 20km walk.

There was a scheme in our school where kids in their final year were paired with a teacher to help out with the younger kids.

I was paired with my Success breeds Success teacher. One of the assignments he set me was to give a 20 minute talk to a group of 12 year olds about how technology was likely to impact on all our lives in 50 years time.

I didn’t have Google to help me but tried to let my imagination run wild. Computers were the size of houses back then and we were still in the era of telephone operators and black and white televisions. Robots were central to my talk. I think Dr. Who was my inspiration there. I certainly didn’t foresee the massive impact of the internet and virtual world.

But, almost every day, something from the life lessons taught by this teacher flash into my head.

I hope you were fortunate to have at least one teacher who left a lasting, positive impression on you?

Hasta La Vista


My Garden of Eden, Mount Congreve, is closing on Sunday for the Winter. As regulars here on Social Bridge will know, the world famous garden, which is just a few miles out the road from Tramore, is a precious haven of mine.

I’m very fortunate to have been able to visit Mount Congreve every week throughout the season and savour its ever-changing colour and light.


Today was bliss but tinged with a sense of melancholy as I wandered through the walled garden and then the glorious woodlands. Much has happened in the period since the Gardens opened back in March and I’ve done a lot of contemplating, celebrating and pure ‘being’ in this place that never, ever fails to bring colour, calm and awe to my mind and heart.

Here’s a glimpse of what drew my eyes out there this morning on one of those ‘pet’ days that you always hope for as September draws to a close in Ireland:

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Pause, Paws and Mischief

Me and Jean went to the beach today. The tide was miles out and, if I’m honest about it, so was Jean’s mood.

She was raging over some horrible stuff she said she was eejity enough to read on Twitter, whatever that is.

Anyway, it was nasty comments about people who aren’t white and she said that they may as well be kicking me, in all my blackness, around the place too.

It seems potty to me that someone could think that a white dog is somehow ‘better’ than me, based just on our colours.

I’m not going to take this too seriously cos I have friends who are all sorts of colours and I know that colour has nothing to do with whether they are kind-hearted or good fun or anything really.

I couldn’t resist having a go at painting the beach red but I look like an odd kind of red setter perched on my rock:

Redder than Red

So, I’m going back to my blackness and the ‘moody’ kinda pic that Jean likes.

Black Me!



Seeing Red in Tramore

There’s times when I feel I’ve got rose-tinted glasses on and yesterday evening was one of those occasions.

I was out around Newtown Cove bringing Puppy Stan for a walk on what was a lovely warm, sunny evening and here’s what drew mine eyes:

Anyone for Ice-Cream?

On the Way!

Perfect Balance




What Colour is Pain?

I banjaxed my back on Friday and am way out of my comfort zone, to say the very least. There was a time when my back was bad, bad, bad for years on end and I became quite an expert on every conceivable kind of therapy from the very orthodox to the wildly alternative.

In the middle of that period my mother quipped that the pain was such a constant companion that I’d miss it when it was gone. Of course, she knew that once it had gone that I would very quickly forget those nerve jangling efforts of trying to turn in bed and the wobbly walks measured in half paces with breath held braced for the next muscle spasm.

Of course, what I miss in the throes of this latest ‘episode’ is having Father arriving up to the house with ‘meals on wheels,’ carefully wrapped in Mother’s love and emphasis on eye appeal.

‘Eye appeal’ generally meant a sprig of fresh parsely or maybe an edible nasturtium.

One of the most important things that I learned back then about pain was the importance of leaning into it rather than fighting against it and one way that I tried to make friends with it was through colour.

I think I must have had a premonition about the back caving in on Thursday last when I was out in Mount Congreve because I got to wondering about ‘blues’ and low mood.

Anyway, here’s the colour of my soft-tissued pain as I’m perceiving it now:

Pom-Pom Pain!