Sunday, 28 November 2010

I Was Taken Away...

Thank you all, for your warm wishes and sweet words. I've had a magical week.

Almost every day this week I was meeting with friends, breakfasting here, lunching there, being fed and spoilt, and pampered and gifted. It was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. And I'd like to dedicate this post to all those dear folk, you know who you are!

Then, after depositing the children to my most generous (and uncomplaining) parents, on Friday myself and Jay rose in the small hours of the freezing morning and drove to the airport. I had no idea, until we were at the airport, where we were going!

All photos taken on my phone as my camera was on holiday too!

A favourite place of ours, and although it's only a couple of years since we were there, it's many more since we were there without any little people along. 
And so, we spent a weekend wandering the streets, Covent Garden, Charing Cross, Primrose Hill, Portobello, Notting Hill, browsing bookshops and markets for hours.


And the highlight was a most exhilarating, spine-tingling, magical night with some dear friends, Tom  and Nina, (thank you!!!) who brought us to see this incredible performer, Jónsi, who is someone both myself and Jay love, which is rare enough! It was, I think the best show I've seen, in the best year of amazing gigs I've ever had. And the most visually stunning. Take a look here and here  to see what I mean. It was an Icelandic cornucopia of falling leaves, tidal waves, flocks of birds and butterflies, racing, chasing animals, and thunderstorms that breathlessly swept you away. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion, and the show is something that is impossible to do any justice to here. This man is a wonder. And I was left wondering just what creates someone with such vision and beauty and absolute magic that seems to explode out of his very pores.
I thought my heart would burst right out of my chest, and I was left feeling battered and bruised and elated all at once, such is the power of his music.
An amazing night, truly, and one I will never forget.

We packed a lot into our two days, and although it was cold, it was the most perfect, crisp, blue-sky kind of weather that made walking around very pleasant, once we were dressed for it!

And of course, when it's cold what do you do but eat! Which we did. Heartily. And often.
And while we didn't do much in the way of shopping, just being away, being able to sleep in, and wander and browse, is as much a tonic as anything.

...and more books!
The other highlight for us was visiting The Museum of Everything in Primrose Hill, which is holding an exhibition of the Collections of Sir Peter Blake. It was one of the most wonderful, surreal and completely Marvellous shows I have ever seen. Unfortunately photography is forbidden, with signs like "No Photography = £1000" and "No Photography = Death"! so I have nothing to show for it, and even their website, frustratingly, has no images. But it does have lots of links so if you have the time, do explore them, and be prepared to be amazed. Let's just say it is a magical, marvellous, experience, and at the same time strangely sad.
And if by any chance you will be in London any time soon, I urge you to pay it a visit.

A visit to the fabulous Pedlars shop in Notting Hill.
It was wonderful to have some quiet time to hang out together, after all the chaos and busyness of everyday-life-with-four-children and work taking Jay to the oddest corners of the world. We both agreed another two days wouldn't have gone amiss.

Thank you Jay, for an amazing weekend!

We came home to a snowy, winter wonderland, (more on that later), to happy children, to tired grandparents, and to not just a house warmed for us, but to dinner cooked for us, by Lisa. So thank you, thank you, thank you to you all! 

I feel incredibly blessed.

It was a wonderful birthday week.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Just Popping In To Let You Know...

It's my birthday.
It's a big one. 
Yep, the big 40!
(Don't I look great?)

Sorry there has been a bit of a blogging slump going on here but I will be back very soon with, I think, something rather exciting! 
So please excuse me for a little longer. I'm having a lovely time. 

I'll be right back...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Quite Early One Morning.

I took a short walk down the garden, and contemplated the arrival of Winter.

I took a few minutes to pause and breathe and wonder.

A few moments in which to gather myself.

To let go of the whirlwind of chaotic madness that took over my life for the last few days.

The running round chasing my tail driving endless forking out meeting needs hugs and kisses bumped knees shouting laughing toast and jam soup fireside stories bedtime waking up time bath time homework washing clothes friends coffee driving nagging nursing hugging walking breathing dreaming loving...

Yes. Jay is away again. And someone always gets sick!

Roll on the weekend...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Glimmer Lantern Glimmer.

I thought I would share with you another post from our now defunct blog I mentioned before. This is something that we won't get to celebrate this year on the day as we have someplace else to be!

Tonight, my man, Jay, is having an exhibition opening in Dublin, so if any of you happen to be around then do join us! You can read about it here. So in the midst of him preparing for this we have had a run of sick kiddies and storm and flood warnings, all mixed in to the general daily tizzy and winter wildness settling in. Great fun!
I do hope to actually do this lantern a walk at the weekend, or the next. I am so mindful of all the things I did with the older two that the younger two might miss out on simply because life is twice as hectic.

So without further ado...

There is a lovely tradition we try to celebrate every year which I first came across through some Steiner/Waldorf friends. It is usually celebrated on Martinmas eve which is the 11th November, although it is a lovely thing to do once the darkness draws in and the evenings shorten, a simple symbolic way to entice the light back.
The basic premise is that the children make lanterns and then take a candle lit walk in the dark dark woods! You can either make them together as part of your evening together, or everyone can do them at home and then get together.
There are so many types of lanterns to make. What we did was very simple. 

You will need:

A glass jar for each child.
A roll of thin wire eg. florists wire.
Some sheets of coloured tissue paper.
Some pva glue in a small container like an egg cup.
A small brush for each child.
A tealight for each jar.

To begin, tear the tissue paper into small pieces.

Start painting glue onto the glass jar and press pieces of the tissue paper onto it. Continue until the jar is covered.

Once the glue is dry, measure a length of wire to form a long loop, plus extra to wrap around the neck of the jar. Secure it by twisting the ends tightly around the wire where it meets the vertical lengths.
It's important to have a long loop so as to avoid little hands getting too close to the candle!

Once everyone has gathered together outside, the adults can help light the candles. Then we can set off into the dark, dark woods.
These next few photos were taken with a flash so of course it loses the candlelit atmosphere.

It was equal parts thrilling and slightly scary, even for the older children!

They really do get such a thrill out of doing something they would rarely get to otherwise.

There are simple little songs that are traditionally sung for the duration of the walk. It helps if a few people know them to start off.  But any song that includes light or sun would do. The walk by the way need only be ten to fifteen minutes long. Believe me, after ten to fifteen minutes tripping through the darkness, their imaginations start to take off, and it's not long before everyone is ready to head indoors for some warming soup! 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The World Is Awhirl...

All day and all night the sea has pounded. And as a heavy swell is foretold, the wind and rain come in as though on winter's wings.
For the world is awhirl with tempest and storm, and crashing, turbulent wildness.

Somewhere along the coast two little houses lie side by side, look there, do you see? They lie snug in the hollow, in the midst of the squall, where the mothers light fires and tend to their sickly babes,
and always, always keep on eye on that swell.

Yes, this time of year, from now until spring, we are obsessed with the sea, with it's height and breadth and depth, for the threat of a swell is a menace, you see, as we, and our neighbours, can attest. The great monstrous Swell that has been known to rage and heave itself up out of it's bed, rushing at these little houses in formidable waves.
So we put sandbags in place, and we wait. Mindful of just how small we are to the power of the sea.

So here we sit by our fires, these faithful households who endure such peril, and all for the love of living in this place of unequaled, immeasureable beauty!
And we raise a glass, or maybe a cup of tea, to the sea, with respect. For we are at your mercy. And as we lie in our cosy beds, and the freezing rain blows in, wrapped in dreams of tossing ships and stranded strangers, somewhere in the depths of our sleep we do have one ear open.

Photo of me taken by Lisa.
Our houses lie about one hundred meters behind where we stand...

For we are always, always keeping an eye...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What The Sea Told Me...

I have a view. 
A most spectacular, ever-changing view. A view of marsh and mountains to the west of our little house. 

And we live mere meters from the sea, there it is, just to the east of us, can you see it? But no...we cannot actually see the sea from our house. For our house lies low and there between us and the sea flies the occasional train, rumbling past like a great metal horse, heading north to the city, or away to the south. 

There once were mornings, now it seems so long ago, I would take a moment to cross the tracks and have a look at the sea before my day began. Like Mole peeping his head up and sniffing the air, it was like my barometer, literally like opening my senses, yoga for the spirit, you can feel all that open sky, endless sea expand your mind. 
A great way to begin the day. And the earlier the better. 

But then a number of years ago those railway folks decided to put up a proper fence. 
So we put up a ladder to climb over. 
They took that. 
So from then on when we wanted to see the sea we had to stand on a chair, or a windowsill! Or walk to the crossing, which is fine on a fine day, but sometimes too much for little legs, and you know, it's just not the same...

But! Now I would like to share something with you. Something very special. Over the summer we acquired new neighbours. Nearest and dearest neighbours of the family kind! And oh how our lives have changed. It has been nothing but wonderful! The kind of wonderful that is the slamming of far off doors, of little footsteps running through the garden, down the new, secret path to the door. Of familiar voices ringing in the distant air, and sweet faces peeping in the door. 

And they have something. 
They have a most marvelous attic, and they have a view. A truly spectacular, ever-changing view of the sea! And yes, I am somewhat green around the gills! So finally, after months of brow-beating I have persuaded the lovely Lisa that she has to do this...

Photo of our sea by Lisa.
Taken from her attic window.

A new blog. And she has called it 'What The Sea Told Me.'

A sister blog to my view to the west. There is now a view to the east of this little bit of paradise. So do please drop by and say hello.

Photo of our sea at sunrise by Lisa.
Taken from her attic window.
I cannot tell you how this gladdens my heart...

Monday, 1 November 2010

Lord Of The Fires.

Thoughts following reminiscent conversations with friends.

When we were young Halloween night held a wildness to it, a lawlessness that shook the trees and sent an unruly wind snapping at our heels, a dark and sinister sky closing in like a cloak, some looming spectre just beyond the gloom.
For weeks it was building. And it was the bonfires that did it.

For in the months leading up to this most wicked of nights, in suburban Dublin every housing estate became a military-like scene of organisation and strategy, of planning and plotting.
Us against Them.
For there is only so much wood to be had in a given area.
Who would get it first?

We would start by asking parents and neighbours, knocking on doors and begging for any old bits of furniture that was no longer needed, anything wooden that could be burned was taken. Then we moved further afield, knowing the estates that had grown older, the children now moved away, or the houses that always had a yard full of junk out the back just waiting to be pilfered. And in someone's garden or yard nearby we would build our stash, accumulating a growing pile that needed guarding and protecting from poachers!

It was gang warfare. And we meant business...

I remember so many standoffs between gangs of children from neighbouring estates that the rest of the year we got on fine with, and some we didn't. We found ourselves face to face with gangs who were much more used to confrontational behaviour but we always amazed ourselves at our own newfound tenaciousness!

No one was going to take our fire!

And the satisfaction when the day came and we built our fire in the field at the end of the road. Dads passing on their expertise on bonfire building, the whole road coming out to lend a hand.

Hands down best costume last night!
And then home we went for colcannon with money hidden inside it, and brack with a ring in it, for our homemade costumes made out of old clothes and a mask, or if you were lucky like us and had a mother who sewed, something more elaborate.

Snap Apple!
And there was Snap-apple and Bobbing-for-apples to be played, and then off we went into that dark and scary night, knocking on doors with a chorus of "ANY APPLES OR NUTS?" And that is all we got!!

Bobbing for apples!
Coming home at the end of our journey we emptied our bags on the floor, sure there were one or two sweets lurking somewhere in amongst the mountain of nuts, and maybe even a 50p! And we were the lucky ones, because our mum made TOFFEE APPLES, so we were always sure of callers in their dozens, eager to hunt down whatever sugar they could.

And at the end of the night we had the bonfire to look forward to, and oh! how wonderful and marvelous that was. Creatures looming out of the darkness, voices we knew but faces unrecognisable, and everyone riding on a wave of chilling thrills that pushed the energy of the night somewhere into another realm of danger, of electrifying spookiness, rousing us like no other.

To this day a most very favourite night of mine!

What did you do?