Reading My Way Around the World

Friday 26 January 2018

January 2018 Scavenger Hunt

Oh dear - I had totally forgotten about the Scavenger Hunt, until I went to my Reading List today and saw all the tantalising headlines.  I had to discipline myself not to look, while I hastily pulled my images together for the first list of the New Year which Kate at I Live, I Love, I Craft, I am me thankfully shortened for this month :)
If you fancy playing along the link up is here.  


The sky never fails to fascinate me ... the reds of the beautiful sunsets, the sparkle of the stars or the watery colours when there's snow in the air .. I spotted this yellow in the sky a few weeks back when I was out for a walk - a harbinger of early daffodils.

Starts with an O

... or in this case .... looks like an O.  
All over the north of Ireland our local councils are working hard at improvements to help attract tourists.   Newry has both a river and a canal and a few years back they add these gorgeous fountains to the canal - I thought it would fit O very well.


My friend in Denmark sent me one of these lovely star lights last Christmas and brought the second one during the summer.   I haven't taken them down yet cos they're so atmospheric. 


A while back I was looking for an outfit for a photograph and found this skirt in a vintage shop in Belfast.   Thing is, I forgot that I can't have sequins while there's a guitar on my knee! and at least 3 times I've gone to sell irt on but I just can't bear to part with it.   Maybe it'll finally get worn this year.


While looking through photos from the last couple of months I found lots of colour around Christmas, but when I looked a bit further back this just jumped out at me - a dahlia in a pot outside my back door.   The colour was so intense and now that the light is growing again it makes me think of warmer days to come

My Own Choice

This is certainly not my favourite photo of the past year, but it is most certainly the memory that brought me most joy. ... our very tiny wee caravan which I cannot wait to get back out in again this year.   Really we need something a tad bigger, but we couldn't get anything bigger down our drive so our tent on wheels is going to be staying for another while .... Can't wait ... :) :)

Thank you Kate for continuing to put inspiration into the Scavenger hunt .... I'm off now for a browse at everyone else's images.  

Belfast communities come together for carol service #WATWB

Last year I really enjoyed taking part in the We Are The World Blogfest
The idea was, and still is, to flood the internet with good news stories at least once a month.  
This is now the 10th month and I'm happy to add my name to the group of people from all around the world who are taking part.

* * * * * * * * * *
We're well into the new year now, but I want to refer back to something that made the news here over Christmas.   As you know, I live in Northern Ireland where years and centuries of division have made for a very conflicted community and at the moment a very fragile peace.  

This story really gave me hope.  

I want to give a cheer and a shout out of well done to two communities in the Ardoyne area of Belfast who for the first time in more than 40 years have come across the so called Peace Wall to have a carol service together.  Lead by two children, one from each community, this is the most beautiful scene we could imagine for the end of this year of division.  The British government has promised to bring down the peace walls by 2023 (there are over a hundred of them, built to keep opposing Catholic and Protestant communities apart, who live on streets that back on to each other).

"An incredible step forward, where the impossible has become possible".

The cohosts for this month's We Are The World Blogfeset are:  Shilpa GargSimon FalkLynn HallbrooksEric LahtiDamyanti Biswas and Guilie Castillo.   

Please take a look at their stories, or check out the Facebook link where lots of people are adding their contributions ...  

Until next month I'm sending peace and love and light to your corner of the world.  

Thursday 25 January 2018

Bookshops and new projects

Coming up from Dublin the other day I had a quick run into the shopping centre and just couldn't go past Waterstone's Book Shop.   An invisible hand pulled me in.   I swear I had nothing to do with it :)

What is it about a book shop?  It just fills me with delight and excitement - touching all those covers with stories inside - voyages of discovery to take.  People to meet.  Battles to fight, to be won, to be lost, and to travel in my mind to all those wonderful places.  Tom usually has to steer me out with the shakes if I don't actually get to buy something but I escaped from him today ... Mwahahahahaha

Anyway, I came away with two lovely looking new novels to keep me quiet in between getting stressed with a brand new project for Singmarra (although I later realised that East West STreet is actually a biography - not sure about that ... see!  way too eager to just get a book in my hand without paying much attention to what was inside it).

So yes, a new project for Singmarra

I do mainly secular music with my choir - folk, pop, African, songs in different languages.  There are a lot of church choirs in the area and I wanted a space where non religious folk were welcomed as well as church goers.   As a non church goer myself I recognise the benefits of people singing together that would traditionally have only happened at religious services and I know that many people miss that feeling of joining in.

But a friend here, who's husband died several years ago, approached me about Singmarra taking part in a musical for Easter that her husband had written more than 30 years ago.   It's called Three and Thirty Years, the life of Christ, and is a modern musical or cantata based on the Easter story.   It will be a huge amount of work and I hope my lovely singers will enjoy it - they'd all expressed an interest before the holiday, so we made a good start at our rehearsals over the past couple of weeks.  The show will last for 75 minutes and the chorus are in most numbers as commentators.  In between thinking 'this will be fun' I'm thinking what have I done!!!

This is a dramatic change for us, going from a non performing group to doing a massive project like this - I have to say I'm very excited about it though.  After an initial production meeting panic really set in, so now it's time to go step by step.

This would be  suitable show for children or for community choirs right up to professional musical organisations. Great songs, funky rhythms, and a great challenge.

Monday 22 January 2018

Foggy Days

We've been really fogged in here over the past few mornings.  After all the wind and storms it seems very silent, like everything is wrapped in a cocoon.

 The other shore disappears and even the drips of water on the ends of branches drop off quietly.

I love those days.  It's a bit like Keats mellow mists of Autumn have got misplaced somehow or the calendar is out of sync with itself.

But then the day opens up ... the last snow is still on the hills (we've not had much snow down here) and there's a wonderful colour in the sky.

A mist lifts off the mountain - it's almost like the trees are steaming

I hope all's well with you

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Until We Meet Again

I wrote this wee song last year ... a wave, a thank you and a hello for all the friends we've made on our travels, both literal and virtual.

Best wishes to you all.

Sunday 14 January 2018


Isn't that a great word ?   Rumbledethumps ... makes me smile every time I say it?

Well, this is the reason ...
Turnip or Swede?

Whether you call it a turnip or a swede (here it's turnip, over in England it's a swede) ( I think it's also called Rutabaga ) this is a staple root crop at this time of the year and in our organic veg delivery we get one at least every other week.   And I get very bored with it.   So today I went in search of something else to do with it and came up with 


 .. a recipe by Sue Lawrence on the BBC Food website
It sounds like something out of a fairy tale forest.

Basically you just boil potatoes and turnip, separately cook some kale or curly cabbage in butter, then add to the spuds and turnip and mash together.   Season, top with some cheese and put in the oven for 30 minutes covered and another 15 minutes uncovered.   

And it was yummy.

Have you any other nice suggestions for this?  

Thursday 11 January 2018

A day to be outside

We had a full day of fog yesterday - it's ages since I've seen that - everything was very damp and closed in.  But then today was glorious.   Proper gorgeous Winter weather.   The mist was still hanging around the sea though and not quite getting away.

I love the way the sun shines on the rock pools and the jagged rocks.  Not quite frozen today

 It was good to be outside

How's your start of year shaping up?   Are you getting any time outside? 

Sunday 7 January 2018

My Fiddlers Green Challenge

Yesterday was Nollaig na mBan - Women's Christmas or Little Christmas .  I wrote about it here a few years ago.  It's a great way to finish up the holiday and I spent not one but three evenings in succession in the company of women friends.  

After all of that it was time to get out for a good walk today.  

My breathing is still recovering after the bout of pneumonia last spring and during the Christmas pageant I was really struggling singing as we walked up the hill.   So I'm on a mission to improve my fitness this year.  I've challenged myself to walk up to Fiddlers Green at least once a fortnight and do shorter walks in between.   

Fiddlers Green is a clearing half way up the the oak forest and it's a real hike to get to.   I thought I'd need oxygen lol ....   So Him and Me headed out this afternoon.   And we made it and I'm delighted with myself.   Mind you the legs and thighs are complaining mightily.

Fiddlers Green is the name given to Fisherman's Heaven.   John Connolly from Grimsby wrote a great song about that.  The chorus goes:

Wrap me up in me oilskin and jumper 
No more on the docks I'll be seen 

Just tell me old shipmates 
I'm taking a trip, mates 
And I'll see you one day in Fiddler's Green 

Fiddlers Green clearing
It's thought that our Fiddlers Green was a crossroads at one time and perhaps the fishermen met there.   Our annual folk festival is named after it and starts in the clearing there, and many local songs have been written about the place.  

Anyway, we struggled up the hill 
I love mossy logs

It was a beautiful afternoon and lots of folk were out and about, well wrapped up.   It's freezing cold, perfect winter weather.  

Beautiful blue sky

Looking down to the Lough from Fiddlers Green
 We decided to come down another way - at least I thought it was all downhill, but lo and behold, more climbs ... And cyclists ... There are lots of cycle trails in the mountains and they're not supposed to be on the walking paths - Don't say anything, mutters Tom, knowing me far too well ... but I kept quiet for once.
Afternoon sun

We came back down by the Glenshee river - which translates as the valley of the fairies - or the Fairy Glen. The water was running hard and beautiful.  

 And on a side note - this is my first attempt at Brioche Knitting - delighted with the result.  The model was taking another video.  The scarf is the second brioche one.

What a surprise to see some blossoms

And new life already on the way

So once we were down again this was the reward ...a beautiful sunset on the lough. 

So this is where we were - half way up there - in the middle of the oak forest.   
Maybe in a few months I"ll be heading up to the top. 

The white building at the end of the photograph is a car showroom and will soon be turned into an (unwanted) apartment building and old folks home - there's a lot of consternation about it as the Council planners turned down the application - not once, but 4 times - and still the councillors voted for the project to go ahead.   It will impact hugely on the forest as it will be more than 4 times higher than that building is now!!  Anyway, that's a story for another day.  

I hope you've had a lovely Sunday and that the first week back to normal will be fine.


Fiddler's Green

Author: John Connolly
Copyright: World, March Music Ltd

As I went by the dockside one evening so fair
To view the still water and take the salt air
I heard an old fisherman singing this song
Won't you take me away boys my time is not long

Wrap me up in me oilskin and jumper
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates
I'm taking a trip, mates
And I'll see you one day in Fiddler's Green

Now Fiddler's Green is a place I've heard tell
Where fishermen go when they don't go to Hell
Where the skies are all clear and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away

Where there's always a breeze and there's never a gale
And the fish jump on board with a swish in their tail
and you lie at your leisure, there's nothing to do
And the captain's below making tea for the crew

when you get to the dock and the long trip is through
There's pubs and there's clubs, and there's lassies there too
and the girls are all pretty and the beer it is free
And there's bottles of rum growing from every tree

I don't need a harp or a halo, not me
Just give me a breeze and a stiff rolling sea
And I'll play me old squeeze box as we roll along
When the wind in the rigging will sing me this song

Friday 5 January 2018

Resolutions and mobile phone

Calm sea this morning after Eleanor passed
I don't normally make New Year's Resolutions.

But this year I've been held to task ....

... about my Mobile Phone....

I hate the things - or should I say, I hate using them as a phone lol

I have an iPhone which I use to take photos, to listen to music, to do my voice exercise from, to record melody ideas and lyric ideas, to check my email, to keep a shopping list and a dozen other trite things throughout each day, especially when I'm on the move, or mobile (there's a clue in the name).

However, if you want to phone me and you call me on my mobile you have about a 1 in 10 chance of catching me.  Because the phone will either be in the other room, be on the charge, be out of charge, be switched off and in the other room, be in the bottom of my handbag ....

My take on it is if you want me urgently phone me at home.   If there's no answer then try the mobile because I may actually be out and have it with me.   If it's not urgent send me a text or an email and I'll get back to you.

So my new year's resolution is to give in and start gluing the stupid thing to my pocket and keeping it with me at all times.

There's one mailing list that I need to send a newsletter to from time to time - there's about 15 people on it.   Last time I had to send it via email, text, messenger and what's app and there was still someone didn't see it!!!   I give up.

How do you manage?   Do you still have a landline?  Does anyone call you on it?  I'd love some tips, because I'm losing friends by snapping at them when they say "you're hard to find" and I retort "don't phone me on the mobile!"   Oh dear.
The offending article.
Now that it's sitting here beside me, no-one will call, or text..
Talking of telephones, I read a great book recently by a local Northern Irish writer, Bernie McGill.   It's called The Watch House and is set on Rathlin Island when Marconi's men were setting up the first trans Atlantic phone experiments.   Great read, well written and very well researched.  

Monday 1 January 2018

Happy New Year

Oh the blank page of a brand new year ... and it starts on Monday lol
I love beginnings.   I've never really done resolutions, but this year I'm being more open to intentions and plans that may or may not happen... nothing set in stone apart from work commitments and some delightful tours to look forward to but lots of wishes.  The top of my list is energy and health - sometimes my head wants to do much more than my energy will allow and then it's much more appealing to fall in a heap in front of the tele - and that's the big thing that I want to change.

I wish you and yours a beautiful New Year filled with peace, joy, good health and happiness.

There will be lots of adventures, ups and downs, roads to travel and songs to sing.   Perhaps our paths will cross in the real world, but if not, then I certainly look forward to meeting up with you here from time to time.

Blessings and lots of love.