Thursday, November 20, 2014

Exiting the black hole and other reasons to be cheerful

I've been stuck in a black hole again for the past week, you really don't want to know why.  Today could be the turning point, as I'm starting to feel a bit more positive and hopefully it will continue.  Perhaps finding some reasons to be cheerful will help.  So here they are:

1. I said "no" to someone.  In the past saying "yes" would almost be a reflex, even when I knew I shouldn't.  Even when I knew that I didn't have the time or couldn't cope with the demands.

2. I wrote two very negative articles but resisted pressing "publish".  Then I wrote a third one....

3. I started cottage hunting to make my occasional runs a bit more interesting.  It's my current retirement plan you see: a little bungalow or cottage by the sea for myself and Smiley.  And the search area is only about 20 minutes away on a good day.  So I park the car, go for a run, snap the house and come home again.

I'd get rid of the cladding!

4. I stayed up late on Saturday night to watch an entire film.  This is a rare thing when I'm at home. Then Smiley only woke me once during the night and she slept in until in half past seven on Sunday, so I didn't spend the next day regretting my indulgence.

5.  My other teenager got a new smart haircut and a new pair of shoes.  Many of you will know just how significant this is!

Hopefully next week there will be more of the same.  For all of us.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Monday, November 17, 2014

Is that all there is? Because carers deserve better

When you become a carer, everything changes.  Not just your own life, but society's expectations too.  No matter what you were like before, you are immediately obliged to take on saintly qualities and become endlessly patient, loving, energetic, unselfish, undemanding and uncomplaining, with a beatific smile permanently plastered on your face.  Don't believe me?  Look at the Carers of the Year Awards.  Now obviously I have huge admiration for the winners, they really are saints, they manage the most challenging situations and care for the longest number of years.  But what do these awards say to the rest of us?

Keep your head down, keep caring and if things get really tough you might get a day out at an awards ceremony in 30 years time.

Don't complain, don't look for help, there's many people who are much more deserving than you.

You made it through the day?  Congratulations on "surviving".

Having special children makes a family special (well actually it's made me cross, fat, sick and tired).

You think your life is difficult?  Well guess what, it's going to get harder and you will still be expected to keep going.

Yep, these are the messages that we hear all the time.  They may help carers to keep going, they may find them inspiring.  I understand that, I really do.  But sometimes they just make me feel like screaming...

In the words of the song, Is That All There Is?

Is getting through another day all that we have to look forward to?  Well I think that carers deserve better than that.  I want more, both for me and for the other carers that I know.  Somewhere out there are carers whose lives do not resemble those of the award winners.  I want to hear about them.

Where are the stories of carers who have made a conventional success of their lives?
Who have careers, who set up businesses?
Who live in nice homes, enjoy hobbies and nights out, have great respite?
Whose children are settled in quality residential care, and who don't feel guilty about it and are not ashamed to say so as they know that they've made the best decision for their family.
Who go on holidays, for goodness sake?

Yep, maybe they needed a lot of help to achieve these things.  So let's celebrate the people who helped them.  The services that make a difference.  Let's tell the world that many carers need that help, very very badly.  They are not bad people.  Everyone has a breaking point.  Congratulations if you haven't reached yours yet.  But do not judge those who have.  It could be you tomorrow.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reasons to be cheerful 13.11.14

It's been another week of writer's block, which I swear set in the minute I was nominated for this year's Irish Blog Awards.  I assumed the problem would wear off once the awards had been announced, but nope, it still persists.  Part of it is lack of time.  All the extra hours - and more - that I should have gained by not working have been eaten up by the needs of my children.  One day I hope to be doing proper writing again :)

But I will carry on doing my reasons to be cheerful anyway: because if I don't support things like this that are important to me, they may not be there when I really need them.  And please, PLEASE join in if you can, it really lifts your mood.

Films and more films

Starting next week, Angel and I will be paying regular visits to the cinema to see the films we've been waiting for all year, including this one of course!

I can see clearly now

Only with my glasses, obviously.  I've still not decided what to do about laser eye surgery, especially as it seems that both my short and long sight are getting worse.  The good news is that because I don't wear full strength glasses, I also don't need bifocals yet, which makes me very happy.

Free Time

As a result of the alien mutant bug in my system, I am not able to follow my usual exercise routine, so I have a bit of free time with which to catch up on daytime TV, my reading, household admin.  Which has actually been quite satisfying, and means that those clutching fingers of panic are no longer squeezing my chest quite so tightly.   I posted a huge pile of letters this morning and was able to cross lots of things off the dreaded "to do" list.

Oh and some free time last month was used to switch mobile phone packages.  I was a bit nervous about this, but the results are in, and the overall household monthly phone bill is down by €15.  Result.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Monday, November 10, 2014


Not philosophical questions, not even intellectual questions.  Nope, the lovely Sonya from The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock'n'Roll Mum has challenged me to answer some questions about myself.  So I will totally understand if you want to wander off now.

Anyway, here are her questions and my answers:

What was the first record you ever bought?

There is no way that I'm going to admit to the first 45 that I bought, in my defence I was only 13 at the time and had led a very sheltered life up until then.  But the first LP I remember buying was the 1979 That Summer compilation of fabulousness.  I had to go for a hunt in the attic to find it, but that means that I'm going to share with you the entire list of songs, so I can wallow in nostalgia for a few minutes:

 A1 –Ian Dury And The Blockheads, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll 
 A2 –Mink DeVille, Spanish Stroll
 A3 –Elvis Costello, (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
 A4 –Boomtown Rats, The She's So Modern
 A5 –Zones, New Life
 A6 –Only Ones, The Another Girl, Another Planet
 A7 –Wreckless Eric, Whole Wide World
 A8 –Patti Smith Group, Because The Night
 B1 –Boomtown Rats, The Kicks
 B2 –Ramones Rockaway Beach
 B3 –Undertones, Teenage Kicks
 B4 –Eddie And The Hot Rods, Do Anything You Wanna Do
 B5 –Ian Dury And The Blockheads, What A Waste
 B6 –Nick Lowe, I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass 
 B7 –Elvis Costello, Watching The Detectives
 B8 –Richard Hell & The Voidoids, Blank Generation

What is your favourite biscuit?

I don't really eat biscuits any more, but if I did, I would choose Scottish shortbread eaten in Scotland after a walk on the hills.

Who would you most like to go out on the lash with and why?

This one really stumped me.  Excluding family, friends and bloggers, so no-one gets jealous, I finally picked a politician turned broadcaster who makes me laugh in the mornings, even though his politics are very different to mine.  He also has a book out right now that apparently doesn't include any really shocking revelations.  But I reckon if I got a few drinks into Ivan Yates, he'd be very entertaining, and he just might reveal a few political secrets...

Who is your blog crush?

Not being 100% sure what this means, I'm picking a blogger who inspires me with her tireless campaigning for those less fortunate.  It could only be Michelle at Mummy from the Heart.

When are you happiest?

Easy.  On the beach.  Any beach will do.  Preferably with my children.

What is your favourite word? 

This nearly gave me sleepless nights.  I'm a words person, and there are so many that I love, but have I been able to remember any of them since I saw this question?  No, I haven't.

But here's a few anyway:


Do you have a secret talent?

Does wiggling my nose count?  As a mature woman, it's not something I demonstrate very often any more.

What book would you recommend to me?

As a formerly rock n roll mum, it really should be a rock biography and I have read a few of them. And I'd like to read yours too one day.   The one that sums up the rock and roll life for me - and it's a cracking good read - is Scar Tissue, by Anthony Kiedis.


Right, now I have to ask some questions and tag some bloggers.  So here are my questions:

1. What's the first thing you do in the morning?
2. What's your favourite colour and why?
3. What did you wear to your first dance/disco/club night out?
4. If you would live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
5. If you had a million pounds/euros to spend on good causes, what would you do with it?
6. What's the proudest achievement in your life so far (excluding family)?

I'm hoping that the following bloggers will answer these questions:

The Bright Side of Life
Northumberland Mam
Midlife Singlemum

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cornflake Afghan Cookies

Yes, we STILL have a regular glut of Cornflakes here and this recipe is thanks to the lovely Bright Side of Life.  Warning: these cookies may not look like much, but they are seriously addictive.  The pile was demolished so fast that I didn't even get the chance to ice them, as suggested.  They disappeared faster than my Brownies do, and that's saying something!  So it would be a crime not to share, right?

So this is my version of the recipe:


200g (7 oz) Butter or cooking margarine
75g (3 oz) Castor Sugar
175g (6 oz) Self Raising Flour
25g (1 oz) Cocoa Powder (not drinking chocolate)
50g (2oz) Cornflakes

Put the oven on at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F)
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
Sieve the flour and cocoa into the bowl.
Crush the Cornflakes and add them into the bowl.
Put spoonfuls onto a greased baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes depending on size.

When cool, they can be decorated with chocolate icing and a walnut half. But that didn't happen here.


If you like this recipe there are more Cornflake Recipes here and here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reasons to be kind

Oh the difference that a bit of kindness can make!  This last week has been laced with kindness from wonderful friends from near, far and twitter.  I may have mentioned that I was sick: probably just a bad head cold, but I don't seem to cope with them so well these days.  The opportunity to slump wanly on the sofa watching daytime TV and glugging Lemsips just does not arise.  Besides the lovely visitors were arriving on the Sunday and staying till the Wednesday and not having seen them for a year I was determined to enjoy myself.  Germs be damned.

They were so kind.  Despite being on holiday, they made sure that I barely lifted a finger in the kitchen, fixed things around the house that I'd forgotten were broken.  Attacked the wilderness that is currently the back garden, and we still found time to do a few touristy things, including watching a pair of seals frolicking in the sea and playing peek a boo around the rocks, a couple of lovely meals out, an escapologist on Dublin's Grafton Street, and a trip to the Little Museum of Dublin (which I naively thought was free..).  Photos from these trips are on Instagram, which has become my new guilty pleasure.

The lovely visitors also helped me to finally frame and hang these pictures, which I obtained through the kindness of two friends from twitter: a word of admiration from me was followed by the offer of a print in the post.  How could I refuse?  However things that don't need to be done just wait and wait.  But it was time.  So a huge thank you to Barbara Boucher (@therextras) and Catherine Drea (@foxglovelane) for these lovely pictures, which overlook our dining alcove and mean that Smiley is no longer looking at an empty wall while she eats.

And finally I just want to mention my twitter friend Paul Bowler (@PaulWSBowler), who appeared in Dublin for one night only, in front of friends, family and an audience expecting to be entertained, as a virgin stand up comedian.  If anyone can think of a more impressive way to celebrate reaching your 40th birthday, I'd love to hear it.  I'm all fired up to do something that I find scary now... and I hope to be posting about that very soon!

Reasons to be Cheerful

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I was so ill that

I was so ill that...

...Hot flashes warmed me up.  And they felt good.

...I didn't fancy chocolate.

...I couldn't face Facebook.

...Even pharmacists looked worried at the sight of me.  Gave me anything I wanted, plus advice that I didn't.

...I broke the ruddy thermometer.

...I couldn't blow my nose because that made it bleed.  But not blowing made my ears hurt.

...Even wine was for medicinal purposes only.  A girl has to sleep!  And I didn't some of the time.

But I had the lovely guests staying, and with their help and encouragement I kept going and going, and we even went on a little outing every day.  

They've headed for Galway now, and I'm heading off to lie down.  See you soon xx