Reading My Way Around the World

Tuesday 31 March 2015

5 minutes counts

Five minutes before I took these photos, the sun was shining in all its brilliance.  I was inside with a young student and the minute she went out the door I grabbed my coat and camera and headed for outside....
By the time I got out, it looked like this.   Humph.  
 Well at least I went out .... I need to play tricks on myself to make myself go out the door.  It's not agoraphobia, it's just getting absorbed in something else.  And once outside, it's fine.

The flowering currant is holding its own in the wind.   I love this plant.  Such a shame you can't bring it inside.  It smells of tomcat spray ... not nice.  So we have to go to it :)  Clever plant.

Indoors, my "Christmas" cacti are a bit confused.
Look at the bloom on this one - isn't it beautiful?   I put it up on top of a cupboard months ago and the poor thing hardly ever gets watered and look what it's done.

And the second one has dozens of buds... It'll be in full bloom for Easter.
I guess pink is dominant at the minute.

The community choir had a performance today - for the senior citizens luncheon club - all the pensioners joined in with some of our rounds and it sounded lovely.  Everyone went home smiling.  Well proud of all my singers.

If you're taking part in the A to Z challenge have lots of fun :)

If not, how's your week shaping up?

Saturday 28 March 2015

Helping Hands

A Show of Hands

I recently won a lovely prize.
A package full of Hands.

It was from the lovely Deborah at  Temenos of the Blessing Light Blog, which is one of my favourites to read on a regular basis - full of wisdom of the ages mixed with humour.  And Deborah has a great love of treasures.  
This package held such a trove of delights - lots of tiny hands, one that looks like it comes from Bali, a Hamsa from Israel, a chart on reading the lines of the hand and a book on sign language... so many aspects of hands.   I love it.  

And it came at a perfect time - when I was feeling a bit swamped.   So I've christened these my helping hands.  And they're making me feel helped everytime I look at them.  More in control.  They have a calming influence and bring a smile to my face.  They still haven't all found homes, but that'll come in its own good time.  Thank you so much Deborah :) 

A bit of palm reading anyone?
There was another little treasure in the parcel as well - which arrived incidentally on Christmas week, beautifully wrapped  - did I say that I love presents?
The only problem is I can't find it, cos I was showing it to someone else and now it has vanished - it'll be somewhere safe I know, but it's in that safe place which may take a while to locate.
The language of the hands

My husband has a theory about 'things'.   You know - the things that you simply can't come out of a shop without? ... that your life won't be the same without?  Well he reckons that by the time he (that should read I in his mind) get them home, the 'things' have turned to 'stuff' and before very long it has turned to 'junk' !!!   I have tried very hard to educate him, but it's not working and I end up going through mad rushes of chucking stuff out - at times I have to agree with him ... only at times, mind you! 

However, Deborah has a totally different view and she has given me the language to be able to defend my 'stuff' lol   

How about you?
Are you a minimalist?  Or is your house packed with little treasures?

Friday 20 March 2015

Updates from around here and the Eclipse

Taken at 9.47am
We've been running in and out all morning trying to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.   And we saw it!! Fantastic... The cloud broke twice early on and we caught a very quick look, through Tom's welding mask.   I tried to capture it on camera, but the sky is too bright or else too cloudy, but the cloud is fabulous ...

It's really eerie - the birds have stopped singing - they think it's bedtime and it got dark enough around 9.30 that the automatic lights were coming on outside.   Some a fabulous phenomena to even be able to notice if not totally witness.   Apparently there's a fantastic view up around the Faroe Islands around now.  (9.40)

Well, things have been crazy busy here - again.   I find it very hard coping when there are too many different things going on... Being busy at one thing is fine, but when it's multiples my mainframe just crashes and I can't sleep.

So I've taken a few decisions.
Firstly I'm not going to take part in the A to Z challenge this year.   I've signed up and have bits of preparation done, but it's just too much.   So i'm just going to enjoy reading as much as I can of the other participants and just try and get back to some normal blogging which has backed up on me.

Last Saturday Csilla and I launched The Emigrant Woman's Tale to a packed Book Corner here in Rostrevor - it's a tiny place and people were standing inside the doors.   It was very well recieved and people picked up on lots of themes we hadn't even considered.   Our main focus was on emigration/imigration, mainly her escape from behind the Iron Curtain.  Read more about it here.
But it also unlocked the whole feeling that I grew up with, of the silence - being afraid to speak in case people heard our accents in the 80s in England or further afield, and not being allowed to talk openly here because you never knew who could be listening or who you might offend and what they'd do if they became offended.  Thankfully we no longer feel that now, but the immigrants coming here must surely feel it.

We launched a book and CD to accompany the show .. more about that later.

Hold on - it's out again ... 9.47 - we caught it on the other side ... better pictures this time ... the green one is taken through a welders mask ....exciting start to Friday.



And the last bit of this week was the sad news that we buried one of the members of our choir ...  She was with us straight after Christmas and and died on St Patrick's Day.  We are a small group and this has hit us hard ... We sang our hearts out on Wednesday night to just get on with life.

The choir on 6th December - Brona on the left.

St Patricks' Day sort of passed in a blur ... there was a big parade in Downpatrick and another in Belfast but of course that ended up in a bit of trouble.  It's sad that our national holiday can be celebrated peacefully everywhere else in the world except here.  In our local town it's the funfare and kids running around with Tricolours over their shoulders looking every bit as bad as the kids running around with Union Jacks around their shoulders on the 12th July.  It's better to stay in and do some gardening or work.  But I hope you had a lovely day if you were celebrating for us.

Friday 13 March 2015


I love accents.  

It's one of the treats of travelling around these islands.   

Here in Ireland, the accent changes every 100yds and they're all speaking English. 

This is a cracker wee video teaching the Holywood stars how to speak with a proper Irish accent, like!

And if you drive between Glasgow and London say, via Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham and you'll be going into foreign language territory every place you go.  
Here's a speech expert talking on the BBC. 

Here it's Mother's Day on Sunday and it's also St. Patrick's Day weekend.  
Plus we're launching the Emigrant Woman's Tale tomorrow.   Nervous or what! 
Whatever you're doing I hope you have a fun weekend.   

Friday 6 March 2015

The Emigrant Woman's Tale

Csilla Toldy comes from Hungary and now lives in Rostrevor.   She is a poet and a film maker.

She escaped, or rather left Hungary illegally, when she was just 18 years old.    She and her boyfriend at the time travelled to Yugoslavia by train and then took a bus to the border with Italy (the green borders) and from there spent a day and a night on foot crossing the mountains into Trieste in Italy,   A few more train journeys, afraid to sleep in case they were caught, and finally getting to the border with France to discover that she only had a passport for the Eastern bloc countries, not for the West.   So this time they crossed the Alps on foot to eventually get into France and to Paris a week after leaving home supposedly to go on a holiday.

The Emigrant Woman's Tale is her story told in poetry and song, some of my music to her words and some of my own songs that illustrate what was going on here in my life at the same time.

We will be presenting it in the Book Club in Rostrevor on Saturday 14th March and again in No Alibis bookshop in Belfast on Tuesday 14th April.  Entrance is free.
We've also published a short book to go with it - Csilla's poems, my song lyrics, and memoirs from both of us, plus a CD of her reading some her poems and my songs from the show.  It's all very exciting now that it's coming together.

We don't treat our immigrants well - anywhere in the world I suppose.  And yet we were very badly treated when we were emigrants.

This is the final song of the piece

This Is Home (An Immigrant's Tale)

I had a dream of a place
Far far away o’er the sea
Where streets were pure gold
People opened their doors
And everyone’s free to be free

I left all I knew far behind
Family and friends and my life
With memories dear
Held close to my heart
I faced out and never turned back

So happy was I to be free
Here was a chance to be me
I never once feared
That my hopes wouldn’t be
All that I dreamt they could be

Now this is home, home is where I am
Home, home is where I’ll be
Though I’ve travelled many miles
I’m so happy to be here
This is the place I call home

But the people who live in this place
Are not happy seeing my face
They don’t like my accent
My culture, or name
I’m not welcomed, I’m told to go home

What of the times in the past
Their ancestors just like me now
People say “You’re not wanted here”
We are just to be feared
Can’t they remember the hurt?

But this is home, etc..

Wednesday 4 March 2015


This is a really short video of a remarkable woman.  
If you're doubting your own creativity have a quick peek.

And a story that goes with the picture above from the Sydney Morning Herald.

What inspires you?

Monday 2 March 2015

Back home again

Heading for home across the Yorkshire Dales
Firstly, thank you all for your get well wishes - I'm starting to feel more human now.  

I was trying to write this on the ferry yesterday, but the Internet connection was terrible and I finally gave up.   Plus the water was very lumpy and plus the rugby international was on and it was much more important to watch that - Ireland v England - and WE WON!!!!   I don't think I've ever watched a sporting event in a public bar with a lot of strangers before and it was much more fun than watching it alone at home.   I'm a sort of armchair sports fan and only really watch the big international matches when one of our teams or our guys are playing, with the exception of soccer which I can't stand.  And I've even given in and watched golf last year - 3 Northern Irish players in the top world rankings ... amazing.   Mind you I still subscribe to Oscar Wilde's definition of golf - a waste of a good walk!! 

Anyway, back to much more serious things :)  
We finished up our tour in Keighley in Yorkshire on Friday night with a fabulous room full of people who sang along with every chorus, lustily and in beautiful harmonies.   
Singing along at Keighley

This is the home of the famous Yorkshire carols and groups gather that are based around folk clubs, to do crafts, or watch old music videos, to raise funds for charities, to go camping - and all activities involve singing.  It's an inspirational place to be.   I lived in Yorkshire for a while in the 1980s and loved it.
Yorkshire dry stone walls on a misty last day of Feb

Thursday was York. And wow!   If ever a place felt like home this is it. 

If you haven’t already been there it is one of the most gorgeous cities in England and should be on everyone's visitor itinerary at some point.  Almost totally walled in, full of cute little curiosity shops and cafes.   Fabulous.

We played in The Black Swan – which is a 16th century coach  house.  

The stairs are totally off balance – you feel drunk trying to get up them!  

And the room we play in has a wonderful original tapestry in it. 

This was a brilliant tour - the gigs were great, we were well received and the audiences were fabulous.    But it was also a tough tour for me - I got sick on nearly the first day and was really bad for the whole of the second week.  

After the couple of days resting near Newcastle I felt a bit better and managed to sing ok.   But I have to tell you that I’d want to feel an awful lot fitter for future tours.   None of us are getting any younger and carrying a heavy cold does not help you feel anywhere more capable.  

So with stuffy nose, a pulled muscle in my side from coughing and an allergic reaction to an overdose of chillies that a host put in our dinner, I was not a very happy budgie.  But, today, back at home again, having seen some wonderful old friends and met lots of new ones  … I am feeling a good bit better.   Thankfully we have no appointments today so it's a chance to catch up and rest up more. 

Happy start of March - it looks like it's coming in like a lion here... Hopefully it will go out like a lamb.