Friday, October 18, 2013

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Well, it's that time of year again. On the 1st of November, writers all over the world will get stuck in, trying to reach 50,000 words by November 30th. Last years NaNo was my first and I began Devil in the Clouds. This year, I have a new project. The working title is Allie's Return. At the moment, it is just a load of ideas, back story and possible hardships for the protagonist Allie.

She came to me while I was watching a movie, In The Land Of Women. I wasn't trying to think of anything, just watch the movie, but there she was, lying in bed, dying of a hangover while her boyfriend of five years stood at the door of the bedroom, breaking up with her. It's weird how characters can just jump into your head and take up residence for the duration. Closer to November, I'll post a synopsis. However, my stories always seem to take a different direction to the original plan. 

In other news, my fancy phone is broken again and, although I'm not totally lost without it, I do miss it for handiness. I can't check all my online accounts easily, like Twitter and Facebook. That might not be a bad thing, it means I'm getting more work done!

Beth started ballet lessons a few weeks ago. They'll have a Christmas Concert in December and I can't wait to see her on stage performing. I loved being on stage (acting, not dancing) and I hope she catches the bug :-)
Before her second lesson

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Beth's 4th Birthday

A week ago, my little girl turned the big 4! Beth, her dad and I went out to our favourite restaurant for dinner. She really enjoyed it. I had asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday and her reply was for the museum, library and a restaurant for dinner. The county museum isn't exactly huge but she loves it. Three levels are stationary and the top floor has temporary exhibits. The one at the moment has personal accounts from people living in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Troubles. Of course, Beth wanted to know what it was all about but I just gave a description in general terms. Four is not the age to learn about all that!

On Saturday, we threw a party for all Beth's friends (not the school ones yet). It was a Peter Pan themed party with an Indian camp outside (tee-pees), pirates in the kitchen and fairies all over the place. Beth was dressed as a mermaid. First, it was Wendy, then Tinkerbell but finally, she settled on a mermaid. I made the costume and I think it turned out ok (after a rocky, bad sewing, start). There were thirteen kids and seventeen adults. I think the highlight was the crocodile pinata. Everyone had great fun beating it!!

Took six hours to bake and ice the cake but it was yummy! I made the little Peter, Wendy, John and Michael cut outs for the top of the cake. 

It was a brilliant day!

Indian Camp

Beth having a go at the pinata

My little mermaid (Quite proud of my sewing efforts)

The cake. Wasn't a rainbow cake, just red and blue layers.

Wendy, John and Michael flying across the kitchen. Bit of cardboard and a little paint :-)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ugh, school...

I'm actually starting to have dreams about taking Beth into school late and the teacher giving out to me! She's a lovely woman so it's nothing to do with her, just all in my head. 

I was a terrible student in the last few years of secondary school. I rarely made it for 9am, sometimes not even by 10am! I'm not a great believer in formal education though, I guess I didn't know at the time why I had such an aversion to school. However, looking back now I can understand why I did the things I did. Some of it was to get attention but mostly it was to do with what I was learning.

During English class, while Ms. Rocks expounded details on Yeats and Kinsella, I read the rest of the Soundings (English poetry book in Ireland in the 1990's). I loved the American poets like T.S. Elliot and other poems she passed over, like Shakespeare's sonnets. I didn't want to stick to the regimented Leaving Cert. requirements but, of course, that's not how you get high points to get into college.

When I got my results (just scraped a pass) everyone thought I would go back and repeat, get better grades and go on to college. I did get into college anyway as I was doing all higher level subjects, even my bad grades were worth some points! I couldn't go back to another year, it wasn't for me, I had to move on. 

I loved primary school though and hope Beth will too. It's a little different to 28 years ago when I started. For one, I got hit by the teacher on my very first day! With a ruler! On my knuckles!! But I still loved it, loved learning so many new things. Even now, I love to learn new things.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

School Days

I know it is a bit late to be saying this but Beth started in her big school last Thursday! This is the first moment I've had to get on here to announce it :-) It is still technically pre-school but she has left her creche and is now in the school she will be attending until she is 11/12. She also has a little uniform!
My gorgeous girl on her first day
I was afraid I would be crying my eyes out, on the first morning, as she took little steps into a new big world. What I didn't expect was to be smiling from ear to ear as I walked away. Yes, I do feel a little sad. I feel sad because for, at least, the next thirteen years my little girl's life will be all about uniforms, packed lunches, schedules, tests, grades, P.E. (ugh!) and all that goes with school. Personally, I think our education system leaves a lot to be desired! If we lived close to a Steiner school she would be attending that instead! However, her school is said to be the best in town and we've had her name down for it since she was six months old!

The reason I was smiling was simply because she is taking that step. She's growing up, gaining more independence. Beth will always be my little girl but she is her own person too. She needs to learn and meet new friends and I'm so excited for her. I'm also thankful she is capable of making this big step, my little girl is healthy as an ox and I'm so so thankful!!

Nearly three and a half years ago, when I started this blog, Beth was only seven months old. In two weeks she will turn four! Everyone remarks how time is going so quick, but I don't like to think of it like that. I'm loving every stage that Beth has gone through and, even though she can be a right wee madam sometimes, I love this stage she's at right now. I don't like to think of the years as flying by. Today is a day of possibilities, as is tomorrow and every day that comes to greet us. The past was great, the future will be brilliant but what I love is right now, and making the most of it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

London with young kids is possible but, if you can, leave the buggy behind!

On the 14th August, Beth and I went to London to stay with a friend of mine. We met almost ten years ago when he joined Ryanair and started on the same shift pattern as me. With all that has gone on since I left Ryanair I haven't had a chance to visit so this was a really welcome holiday.

We left Dundalk on the Wednesday morning and arrived in my friend's flat that evening after a bus, a plane and three trains. We were not too tired. Beth was great, she's a seasoned traveler at this stage. 

On Thursday, we got up late (9am is late for us) and didn't leave the flat till around midday. My friend and his partner were both at work from early morning and had left a spare set of keys for us. The nearest tube station was three minutes walk and on the Piccadilly Line. For those of you who don't know London, the tube is the underground rail system. Each of the train lines has a different name and a particular colour. Luckily, the Piccadilly Line (purple) runs through all the major sightseeing areas. We just rode the one line the whole time. 

Our first day, we spent at the Natural History Museum. It is a free attraction and has more things to see than you would get to in a few days! We also went on Saturday to visit the live butterfly exhibit and the dinosaur exhibit inside. Watch out for crazy queues, have snacks and distractions for young kids. We play eye-spy with colours instead of first letters.

We saw lots of bones here

She loved these phones. They were giving info about the stuff you could see in front. I think this one was about plankton

She cracked up with this one

Beth hates tigers, really terrified of them and this guy was so life like. We didn't stand here too long

Main hall of the museum

Elephant's foot

Life size replica of a blue wall. I couldn't fit it all in the one picture!

Can't remember what this guy is

Watching a video on perception 
On the Friday, we went to Buckingham Palace, St. James' Park, Piccadilly Circus and, of course, Hamley's Toy Shop! The palace was a bit boring for Beth. There was no changing of the guard that day as it only happens alternate days in August. Beth loves animals so St. James's Park was a must see. They've something like 50 types of water fowl and even grey squirrels. I had my anti-bacterial gel for little hands after feeding the squirrels! Piccadilly Circus wasn't a hit for Beth but then we went to Hamley's. Word of advice... Don't visit Hamley's unless you plan to buy something (be warned, it's expensive!)
War Memorial for Canadians who fought in the World Wars

Buckingham Palace in the background

The gates facing Buckingham Palace

Friendly ducks

The squirrels

Beth chatting to the Hello Kitty rep in Hamley's
On the Saturday, we went to the live butterfly exhibit, the dinosaurs and the Science Museum. We left the last place around 5.30pm. Try not to do this. The crowds in the tube were crazy! In fact, try not to travel in rush hour at all (8-9.30am and 4.30-6.30pm). The tube is an awful crush and I wouldn't suggest it if you have young kids with you. 
Natural History Museum

Butterfly exhibit
Life size robot T-Rex
And again, this guy was fantastic!
Beth's favourite part of the whole trip. Looked like it was floating and spinning by itself. It had recent images from space projected onto it.
Look at the planes!
The cars were cool too. Beth taking a break
This was the length of the huge room. It had little circles of different colours floating around and then joining together to form words and pictures
Sunday, we went for a lovely picnic in a nearby park. The English love their parks and they are very well kept with fantastic features. In London, the majority of parks have toilets. Brilliant if you've a little one not long out of nappies!

Monday, we traveled into the city early to meet my step sister and two of her kids. We walked down through Kensington Gardens to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. If you are going to London with kids and the weather is even half decent this playground is a requirement. It has everything. We waited twenty minutes in the queue to get in! It's free and the staff and security is second to none. They have first aid people on all the time. You can't access the playground unless you have at least one child under 12 with you. Inside, there are swings, slides, log play houses, outdoor eatery, but the best bit of all is the pirate ship in the middle of the biggest sandpit you've ever seen. They've also got water and rock features. So many things for little ones to explore and play with.

The Albert Memorial. Beth and her step cousins, Angel and Jaeden

Four of us on the carousel

The pirate ship!!

She didn't know what to play with first

Treasure chest

Crocodile on the right

Making sand angels

Even tractors 

More water fun
It was a fabulous trip. Can't wait to do it again!! London can be expensive but kids have free travel and if you get an Oyster Card for yourself it can work out much cheaper than buying a ticket everyday. I felt sorry for anyone with a buggy. London is so busy it's hard to get down a footpath with one and you can forget about lifts in every station! Handling a buggy and Beth on those steep escalators with people running past you on the left hand side would have been a nightmare!!

Oh London... I miss you already xxx

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Don't Stay Away Too Long

It's been a while since I blogged. I have been busy but that's no excuse! I need to stay regular with my blogging or I get out of the habit of it. If I stay away too long it can be hard to get back into.

News with me... Well, first off, Beth and I are heading to London next week and staying with a friend of mine. We met when I worked in Ryanair ten years ago, we've lots of reminiscing to do :) I'm planning to take Beth to the Natural History Museum, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, maybe to Kensington to see if we can catch a glimpse of the new prince ;) I'm so excited, London is a fantastic city.

It was my birthday last week. I turned 32 and it feels no different! But, I had a lovely meal out with my family on the day and a great night out with friends at the weekend.
My little princess and me
Weight loss:
Well, I did lose 1.5lb last week but at my weigh in yesterday I had stayed the same. I'm actually quite glad as I did over-indulge for my birthday! So...
Current weight: 10st 6.5lb
Total loss: 5.5lb
Goal: 10st

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Great Start

I was at my Weight Watchers meeting this morning and I am down 4lb. I'm delighted. It's a great start and I hope I'll be able to keep it up.

I didn't starve myself, nothing like that. I was just careful not to over-indulge and my portion sizes went down a bit too.

Currently: 10 stone 8 pound
Loss so far: 4lb
Goal: 10 stone for the moment.

It's my 32nd birthday next week so I may have a few pound on the week after. I'll try not to go too mad but we will be having a family meal in my favourite Italian restaurant on the Thursday and then, a night out on the tiles on the Saturday night. I'll have to be very good the rest of the time!

No other major news. Still working on DITC. I've decided to do up the house a little (along with the garden). I'm going for a Cath Kidston kind of style. I will post photos when it's all done. I have been buying bits and pieces for the last few weeks. Want to have it nice for Beth's birthday in September!

Weather is still really good but the blue skies are set to break today. No sign of the rain yet though :-)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Back on Track

I did it. I finally plucked up the courage and went back to my local Weight Watchers meeting. Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be!

It has been one year and three months since my last weigh in and I have put on, roughly, a stone. I'm now 10st 12lb. I've 10lb to lose to get back to my free gold membership but I'd really like to lose about a stone and a half.

I hadn't weighed myself in a very long time. I just knew from my clothes that it was time to do something. I'm going to try to get back to jogging and get my food intake under control!

Today's menu consists of vegetable soup for lunch, chicken, broccoli and pasta for dinner. Snacks will be fruit.

I've no time frame in which to lose the weight. Slow and steady wins the race. I'll try to do a weekly weigh in every week and share any recipes I try out.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Burn out

I'm afraid I burned out after I finished Devil in the Clouds. Trying to get my writing/blogging back on track now. I'll hopefully finish editing by the end of this month. There are a few things I want to put into the novel and lots of polishing to be done. It's funny how I know the differences between two words that sound the same but when I'm typing quickly my brain doesn't register and I spell something wrong. I'm forever finding 'here' when I mean 'hear' and visa versa.

The weather here in Ireland is fantastic! I've all the windows in the house open, a load of washing on the line, another in the machine and I'm sweating in my t-shirt and shorts (reminds me of the phrase "women don't sweat, they perspire"). Anyone reading who is from a country with reasonable weather won't understand the fascination we Irish have with good weather, it happens so rarely. There are so many sun burnt people going around it is crazy. When the good weather is in, sense is out! I was badly sun burnt when I was 11, I take care of my skin now. I've had a mole removed from my back, not cancerous, but it was removed 'just in case'. I've a few on my neck that cause me worry but the doc just says to coat them in factor 50 whenever I go out in the sun. I never tan anyway. I'm as white as the day I was born! My Sicilian friend is always laughing at how white I am, he can't get over it :-)

The garden is coming along nicely. I planted a few shrubs this week, the cornflowers have come out in beautiful pink, purples and blues and I have gotten rid of loads of weeds. I'll be putting up before and after pictures when it is all finished.

In other news, Beth and I went camping in Slane, Co. Meath last week. We stayed in at Slane Farm Hostel and Cottages. We had a wonderful time. The staff were so friendly and we had full use of the fruit, veg and herb garden. We were also allowed to collect our own eggs in the chicken coop. We will definitely be going back before the end of the summer.
Beth in the chicken coop

Up close and personal

Our tents with the chicken coop and garden in the background

The two of us at the Hill of Slane

The Tower

Beth and the donkey
It may not be everyone's cup of tea but we really enjoyed it! It has left me refreshed and ready to get back to writing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Well, I completely lost track of my goals for May. Very bad!

May Goals:

1. Finish The Devil in the Clouds - This one I did complete last Friday. Editing starts today.

2. Get out on the road (waiting for provisional license) - Nope, still don't have my learners permit yet.

3. Lose 7lb (about 3kg). I fell by the wayside during all the weddings, time to get back on track - Have no idea what I weigh but my jeans are still tight!

4. Clear garden. The front garden is almost done but a lot needs to be done on the back garden. I took 'before' pictures and want to do an 'unveil' here during the summer when all the flowers are in bloom - Still in the process of doing the garden. We're only starting to get good weather here now so I can finally get into the garden.

5. Read The Quiet American by Graham Greene and The Famished Road by Ben Okri - Only started The Quiet American. I did read The Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde though.

I have lots of excuses but not very good. I focused so much on finishing the book that I put everything else on the back burner. 

This month, I hope to edit Devil in the Clouds, get out on the road and finish those two books! Hopefully, I'll do better this month. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So cute...

Beth will be leaving her creche to go to preschool in September. They had a photographer in a few weeks ago to take pictures of all the kids and put robes on the ones 'graduating' to the next school. Here is Beth's photo...
So cute :-D

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I've been taking my writing seriously for about a year and a half now. In that time, there have been short stories, articles, blog posts, one completed novel and one in it's first draft. I have notebooks everywhere; beside my bed, in every bag (yes, I have many!), on the kitchen table etc. The reason for this is I like to have them on hand whenever I get an idea. In truth, I have been keeping a notebook handy for longer than I can remember, long before I ever thought writing could be my career.

I try to keep certain notebooks for specific types of writing, e.g. newspaper pieces, blog posts, novels or themes like romance, sci-fi, drama, and so on. I try... Of course, I'm completely unorganised and a lot of the time just grab the nearest one to me at any given time. This is because I know inspiration is fleeting. As any writer will tell you, inspiration can grab you at any time; walking for the bus, in a waiting room, having a drink in a bar or coffee shop. However, the one time (for me anyway) that most of my inspiration comes, is at night, in those moments before sleep comes. Many times in the past I've sketched a whole novel in my head and thought, I'll definitely remember that in the morning. Do I? Do I heck! I can't even remember the basic premise. Usually, it only takes a few key sentences in the notebook to help me remember the next morning but, without that, the story would be gone.

Now, of course, for the time when there's no inspiration... This usually happens when I sit at my computer, ready to start a new chapter/paragraph. What do you do then? 

If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter. ~ Dan Poynter

You just crack on with it. The first few sentences might not be very strong but that's what editing is for. You push through that barrier. Everything needs a push to get going and once you're going you keep going, for as long as possible. Even if the day outside looks like this...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Goals for May

It's May Day, the start of summer. Although, the weather has been a little better here, it is still not great. Very chilly but bright.

I'm doing some goals for May in the hope of actually achieving something by the end of the month. I've been drifting a lot lately and it's time to knuckle down.

May Goals:

1. Finish The Devil in the Clouds.

2. Get out on the road (waiting for provisional license).

3. Lose 7lb (about 3kg). I fell by the wayside during all the weddings, time to get back on track.

4. Clear garden. The front garden is almost done but a lot needs to be done on the back garden. I took 'before' pictures and want to do an 'unveil' here during the summer when all the flowers are in bloom.

5. Read The Quiet American by Graham Greene and The Famished Road by Ben Okri.

I think that's enough for now!

Hope your May Day is going good :-)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blue Skies

Not sure what to write today. Haven't planned anything so will just wing it.

Outside, the skies are blue but it is still a little chilly. It's nice to see a bit of sun though, I might spend a bit of time in the garden later after I do a good bit on my MS. I'm finding it tough to finish. I don't know why exactly. I suppose it's to do with all the distractions lately, there has been so many! I was writing in my notebook mostly. Have to type it all up now but at least I'll catch mistakes easier.

I did a reading during the Dundalk Book Festival at the weekend. I really enjoyed doing it but the chapter I read had a mistake in it. So annoyed about that. I guess reading it a million times and sending it out to be edited still won't catch everything :-/
Doing a reading of Bleeker Avenue in The Panama Cafe, Dundalk
Last Tuesday, we got a dog. We are fostering her for three weeks before we can officially adopt her. Her name was Pep before she came to us, Beth has renamed her Pepperoni Pink Flower. She is a large Jack Russel Terrier and is so cute, she was even house trained!
She loves Beth and Beth loves her
It's been a bit of an adjustment but not completely different to how it was before. Just out in the park everyday, standing in the rain while she does her business, no major changes. She wants to sleep in Beth's bed every night but I'm not letting her. Would be afraid she'd scratch her by accident or Beth would wake her in the middle a bad dream and Pep would turn on her. 

A few little white fluffy clouds have appeared in the blue. Now, for a bit of writing...