Growth Spurt

It is very hard to believe that the teeny weeny cygnets of just a little while ago have become all grown up and are even showing a bit of white.

I could have spent the day just watching them and I get the feeling that they know how much they mean to me.

Here’s how they were looking this morning:

And, remember there was a time when they were like this:

What magic!

A DIfferent Kind of Sadness

A recent visit to the swan family revealed that one of the four cygnets was missing. I knew in my heart that the rest of the family would not have just left it but still lived in hope that maybe a miracle might happen. Alas, no, and the family is now reduced to three cygnets being very closely guarded by their ever devoted and vigilant parents:

Yesterday, it seemed like the parents were having a tete-a-tete as their babies waited patiently.

The scene had me thinking about the laws of the jungle and about the otters I have been seeing in the general vicinity of the swans. Maybe I am being harsh on the otters but I couldn’t but wonder at their size, power and speed.

The swan family with the three youngsters reminds me of our family all those years ago.

I am an absolute expert at dividing by 5 and by 3, as I have two sibs. Mother used to let us divide goodies from a very young age and then say: Which piece would you like? I fell for her question for years, always pointing to the biggest piece or the one with the extra strawberry on top. She would insist that I give that to one of the others.

Strange how the mind wanders off and finds its way to places that haven’t surfaced either ever before or for ages.

May the swan family stay safe and well and as beautiful as ever. I wonder how they are coping with their loss.

Soaking in Nature

The last few days have been all about being with nature for me and I have spent hours just watching birds, waves, flowers, trees …

The Nesting Swans

I’m told by a watching farmer that the cygnets are due this coming Thursday so it’s all very exciting.

The experience of being out and about in lovely natural places made me think very much of the following poem:


-Wendell Berry-

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free

The Heron

Magic in Co. Waterford

Today was the big day in Ireland when the 5km restriction lifted to allow travel within our county.

I went to my old haunt, The Anne Valley, on the Copper Coast. It was divine and I spent a good deal of time watching the precious swans out there. The main pair have built their nest so all seems well with their world.

I had just read a little piece about magic that is on the trail:

Anne Valley

As I was standing very still admiring one of the swans, a woman pushing a child’s buggy passed by and told me that someone wanted to give me a present. An adorable little girl had a dandelion in her outstretched hand and I was quite overwhelmed at her generosity and lovely smile. I thanked her profusely and smiled at the mother before returning to the swan. The mother called out that someone else had a present for me and a tiny tot was behind me with another dandelion.

The wild flowers or weeds to some might as well have been big bouquets they were such a surprise.

Perfect Gift

I certainly plan on keeping a close eye on the swan family which has been such a part of my life for years now:

On Guard

Hopefully, I will get to meet my new found magical friends again who brought such unexpected human joy:

Wildflower Children

Magic Things in Co. Waterford

I’m still keeping a close eye on the swans and their cygnets out around the River Anne and I simply had to check on them as evening was closing in today.

There were all sorts of surprises awaiting me:

An Old Friend on Golden Waters

Folded Note

Fairy Correspondence

Burnished Dunhill Castle

Watchful Eye

New Lovers

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. 

(W.B. Yeats)

This is for Me

There’s a family of swans out on the Anne River that I’ve been watching for months now.

The seven cygnets have got very grown up and I know that one of these days they will have flown away. This makes me think of W.B. Yeats’ poetry.

Today, the swans were waiting for me so I clicked record, just in case.

Here’s how they were:




My Breakthrough!

I find it hard to believe that I invented the word Phunning back on August 14th ~ just over three months ago now.

Lest you’ve forgotten or didn’t see the post, this was the day I made a commitment to myself to get back to running before it was too late in my life. However, because of a whole wadge of past injuries and illnesses (one of which banjaxed my back for an agonising four years and made walking up the stairs seem like climbing Mount Everest), I decided that I’d have to take it nice and   s  l  o  w  l  y  and have plenty of  fun and photography along the way.

My big ambition was to get to be able to run the Anne Valley Trail that links Dunhill Village here  in Co. Waterford to the stunning ruins of Dunhill Castle that is said to predate even Waterford City itself (and it’s the oldest city in Ireland).

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.

The trail is 2.2km each way so the aim was to do up and back ~ 4.4km. It started with far more walking than running; walk 30 paces, run 10 paces; walk 20 paces, run 20 paces. In the early days, the counting was key!

I’ve been hammering away at this on a fairly consistent basis and have seen the Anne Valley Trail in all weathers, at all hours and move from Summer into Winter.

About two weeks ago now, I went out there on a damp, misty day and started from the castle end. I didn’t even have the camera with me as the vision was dire. I ended up running the whole way to the bottom of Dunhill Village. I was so delighted with myself, I headed up to Harney’s Pub for a snack and found myself in the middle of a pre-wedding gathering at 12.45pm. The wedding was due to take place in the nearby church at 1.30pm.

Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.

Sustained with good coffee and the perfect ham sandwich, I made my way back down to the trail and with thoughts of weddings and romance bobbing around in my head, found myself jogging all the way back.

As you can imagine, I was was pretty stunned and nearly afraid to go out there again in case it had all been a figment of my vivid imagination.

Dunhill Castle of my Mind
Dunhill Castle of my Mind

The great news is that I’ve now run the 4.4km on two separate occasions (without making the detour to the pub.) It feels like a huge thing to me (and it is!) but I realise that it’s a far cry from the marathon I’d really love to run one day.

The wonder of it all was sealed for me the other day when I found that the swans I have long associated with the Anne Valley had come back up-river to where I feel they belong.


So, now it’s all about keeping it up and making sure to keep the fun and relaxation built into this personal endeavour.

Little wonders will never cease!




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.

Secrets of a Happy Life ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 323

One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats. (Iris Murdoch)

Swans in the Anne Valley, Co. Waterford
Swans in the Anne Valley, Co. Waterford

Swans never fail to cheer me and I went in search of them today on the calm waters of the Anne Valley. There they were ~ tranquil, perfect soulmates melting into each other and their calm waters.

What are your small treats, dear friends?