And so we wait…

“We cannot change the past or what today has brought, but maybe we can change tomorrow!”

horses 4

This said… we wait for the summer. And for someone like me who always loves change; even I was shocked at how many changes the weather has thrown at us over the last month.

However… its all change in this household again. From new beginnings to lets start over, as long as no one is hurt along the way she says.

I invented the life full of broken bridges and empty promises; I feel as if I patented the words, “It’s OK, we can change! Change is great!” Well it worked so far, in my life, in my loves and in my work. I can do it again. So what is it this time you ask.

Country market trading fell through the floor boards; the positive is that I can open an arts and crafts shop now with all the bits and pieces purchased that were going to be useful for something!

Shortly before the official closure of the country market for good – I was offered the leadership role…. Under wraps I now know that it was an easy exit for our president. I declined the role before the AGM, only to then discover the real situation. Officially I am now out of work but luckily not stuck with a dying project. Call in intuition?

So with spring not happening at all this year and no markets to plan towards, I guess you could have suggested anything to me and I would have given it a go. Which happened a few Sundays ago when the Irish kids suggested over lunch that a greenhouse would be fun. That was it, grass doesn’t grow under my feet; delivery is today!!

Miss Green -fingers is going to bury her disappointment in vegetable cultivation.

Plants 3

Our beautiful conservatory has temporarily been transformed into a grow room for seedlings in all shapes and sizes. It’s working so well, they have all doubled in size and had to be transplanted already!

Plants 1

My faithful patio man, Noel will organise a slab and pathways this coming weekend, then all that remains is the building of the glass house. Now no more throwing stones!

The plants are ready, I am ready but is Phil ready? Keeping him very much part of the team is the idea, but he is not enthused at all. Maybe when the warmer weather arrives he will try to get involved, which was the idea. Warm weather does bring out the best in him.

During the earlier months of 2018 I sent away to have my DNA tests and results done. After that built a family tree online and found that I have cousins in Australia and Canada, amongst other finds.

I have also had an article published in the online Irish Times newspaper. I will include a link in case any of you would like to read it. Below…..

Two weeks ago we had a house full of children, Welsh and Irish grand children everywhere. It was lovely to see them all playing and running about. ‘Cousin get-together’s ‘ are such special times in children’s lives. I can even remember mine, so far back in the days when our Rhodesian cousins visited us in South Africa every other year!

And below is a line up of  2018 cousins sitting where they were told to sit! Enough said!

Kids at grave yard

There is always something new happening in the fields around us. Yesterday two mares and their new born foals became our neighbours. One can see their different personalities already; one stands and stares a lot and doesn’t mind moving away from the mother; the other one is quite frisky, running is small circles around his mother.

horses 3

And now a new family has arrived in the field below us causing disruption and concern for the other two mothers who are eager to protect their babes.

Hurray! Phil came out today.  Out of his shell and excited to see what the patio extension will be like.  He loved watching the potting of plants and I know he likes to see me happy.  So fingers crossed, there may be hope for the greenhouse project yet!

“Everything I do…. I  do it for him!”









In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer”

Albert Camus (French Author)

When did summer suddenly become winter?  And how has Phil changed from a recluse living in silence into, happily watching TV with the sound on?  For that matter July seems to have morphed into December overnight!  Yahooo!

Well my year has flown by anyway and Christmas decorations are peering from boxes threatening to fill the “new” house very soon. They survived a year in the Leprechaun houses at the bottom of the garden with only a few casualties.


So much has happened this year and not all our healthy happy friends have made it to the end of 2017 and the festive season.  But they are very much in our thoughts and hearts.

Creativity took over my life again, and why not…. I think 97%  of my brain space is taken up with it.  Everything else is a chore!  So after beginning to manufacture … there was a problem… how was I going to sell my wares?  Well if you cannot take them to the customer, then the customer must come to you.  For a while that is what I did as well as selling online in Ireland.  But word got out and I was asked to join a country market one day in August.  By the end of September I was approached by another country market to join their Saturday market.

Baltinglass Tree

Belonging to both markets keeps me very busy from Sunday to Thursday, brain storming, sourcing, buying and making as well as up-cycling.  Cheap pick up gifts for Christmas are top of the list at the moment.  My daughters wood craft and pyrography adds to the mix and we bounce ideas from one to the other.  She still has a busy home and family to care for and I have my number one priority, Phil.  Spending time together is important but he has settled in well to the new routine that for two mornings a week I go out to “work”


Although these are only small country markets and this is a hobby…. as usual I put 100% into it.  It is a good feeling ‘to belong’ again.  One market in particular do give me credit for my life experiences in retail and display; and as my sister always said, she has to be selling something!  On another note, I have given a Health and Safety lecture already whether it was asked for or not!  Good old training!!  Strange thing I wanted to mention is… Phil may have forgotten or lost loads of information with his condition, but how to wash his hands the correct way according to training back in 2013… that is secure and he uses this procedure always!

Baltinglass centre

So these wooden items on sale come compliments of Ophelia, the end of the hurricane that was quite a whiplash indeed.  I found out the hard way, trying to catch flying garden furniture after being told by a neighbour to put everything away.  Sadly so many trees lost their lives.  Then we had no electricity for 42 hours followed by no water for another 24.  At one point it seemed like only the government were taking it seriously though, but that is the Irish way.  They make a joke about everything, especially themselves.  (Don’t any of you ‘blowins’ go laughing at the Irish, they can do that very well themselves!)  One bloke said to tell America, “If you are sending anything like this to us again, make sure it is called something we can spell, like Mary!”  Another chap said he had heard on the TV that everyone was to be sure to tie their trampolines down securely, so he went out and bought one!  “Be sure to get a front row seat; it starts at 12.30, the great trampoline lift off of 2017!” said another.

Charity shops in Ireland remind me of the way our Hospice shops in UK were run back in the year 1999 when I was starting out there.  Not much management support on the ground, no maintenance support at all and hardly any training; the managers feel isolated.  I have chatted to a few shop managers in the Carlow area and really felt for them.  They enjoyed having a good old moan and I was happy to oblige.  Where charity shops in UK have now changed and upgraded, to be able to draw the customer in, becoming “the” place to shop for a bargain; here in parts of Ireland some people won’t support them as they are still “the second-hand” junk shop, but with set budgets to achieve.

Phil has entered the world of the digital hearing aids, and is thriving with a new interest.  Long may it last!  The novelty can wear off quickly where he is concerned.


It was with great celebrations that I entered my seventieth year in November, apparently “aged to perfection”.  I have no sadness or regrets in my life as I leave the 60’s behind.  My daughters made me feel so proud of them again.  I think I’ll keep them!!  Wonderful ideas, great food and planning perfect!  Thanks again girls!  Thanks too for gifts and wishes everyone.


The country markets close in 3 weeks time and then it’s time for Christmas at Bough!  Watch this space!  And in case I don’t get to write the planned Christmas letter in time this year…

Have a Wonderful, Warm Christmas, be Happy, stay Healthy and grab the New Year, 2018, with both hands and run with it!


There is always tomorrow for your important dreams to come true !


Keeping it Country


“Once words are written down, they have a life of their own.” Carol Burnett.

Getting Our Bearings

Wow, but time flies….. even for two relatively idle people.  Nearly three months since my last letter.  The only difference in how we do things is the pace these days, which used to worry me six months ago.  But I have developed this “extreme patience” gene which sadly, I don’t think can be downloaded in App form.  The new speed has finally embedded itself in me.

But the slow pace of life that we lead in Bough does not reflect the busy fields around us.   A farmers’ work is never done and their vehicles are out before dawn and work till the light is gone some nights. On our little corner we see it all.  But for me, not having ever wanted to live in the country, it all goes over my head. Phil loves it!

Sheep- Lamb.jpg

Horses for neighbours on one side and we had sheep for a brief two and a half weeks too. Today Phil had a front row seat to watch the local farmer on his tractor cleaning up the field in the valley and planting.

Tractor Field.jpg

 Lost not Found

The Easter egg hunt for my grandsons was scheduled to take place at our house this year, because the boys had a sleep over at ours on that Saturday night; the Easter bunny would know that they weren’t at home that night, wouldn’t he?

(It must be twenty- eight years since I was last employed to do the ‘bunny’s job’ in a garden!) But seemingly my skills were excellent, so good that one poor little chocolate bunny has never been found to this day! And because of short term memory loss (ha ha) will probably be there till next year now!

Keeping busy

I am a home bird really so “wherever I lay my hat that’s my home”! There is always a project going on in my life, some that I’m sure will never be finished. But I am proud to say that my mosaic topped table has been finished at last. It was a lot of work but well worth the time.

I’m also writing again which is a good thing; but this needs long periods of peace with less interruptions which are not available every day.

Mosaic Table.jpg

UK Visit 1

First flight trip back to the UK was for a special sister’s birthday and most enjoyable. A Neanderthal theme party no less, which really took us back in time! We enjoyed a catch up with old friends and family who had travelled some distance to celebrate, making it well worth the trip.  A mini break for “Betty and Barney” too.


Garden News

The climbing roses that were planted beside my new shed have buds just waiting to open.  Yes, the garden shed did arrive eventually and is currently having a makeover. My latest project.  Watch this space!!  Once completed my shed needs a name!  Favourite plant so far this year…….


Visits to Bough

Over the last few months we have had a visit from an old work colleague, who drove all the way from Cork to have lunch with us.  So, well appreciated! Thanks!  Family from the UK visited to help celebrate Phil’s birthday this month of June too, which involved a day out at the beach and a bit of site seeing to nearby venues. Lovely to see them all and they enjoyed their stay at a nice cottage in Rathvilly area.  On the last day of the family visit in June, a lovely sunny day,  found us making good use of the new patio, outside cooking up a storm together!

Seaside- Courtown.jpg

Tractor Run

“Only in Ireland!!” My daughter said the other day, only in Ireland could there be a tractor run. Well as unexciting as it may seem to you all; almost every town and village have such annual events which are organised by schools, churches and charities as fund raisers. Farmers enter their vehicles, old and new tractors and pay a fee to drive the course which is mapped out around local roads. It’s a slow day if you get caught behind a tractor run!

Phil has a real soft spot for a tractor. Well as it happens the area of Bough had a tractor run advertised. On contacting the organizer I found out that the run would pass our front door one Sunday. It is quite a work day out for the farmers and the children ride along in the cabs with Dad. They are not too health and safety conscious here!!

I don’t need to tell you the rest! Luckily there was no rain…… Phil sat outside and cheered and waved to forty or fifty tractors as they passed.

Keeping it country alright!

UK Visit 2

Last week we once again did the flight across the Irish sea; this time to Essex for our granddaughters’ birthday. Essex welcomed us with brilliant sunshine and temperatures around 22 degrees.


The excitement escalated as we were for-warned that the M25 was blocked with Friday rush hour traffic. Why should that excite me? Not me, Phil.  Well that meant he could guide us along the country or more scenic route passing his old birth town and haunts from his days as a young man. He was in his element!

The party was wonderful, well organised and at a beautiful venue. Again we met up with old friends and family members.

Cheers from Phil and I until next time……

18th Cake

Relaxation Therapy

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers 1935 America.

Daffodils 17.jpg

Guilty as Charged

Yes, Mr Rogers, very true when linked to the line of progress and the speed at which change takes place today, right now I am in grave danger of being run over!

Just sitting there thinking about what’s to be done… choosing only to do the bits that I enjoy…and dreaming about the past… is what I often feel guilty about, or reading instead of writing that book. (That and having been in Ireland for two St Patrick days and not attended a parade yet – I’m guilty!)

Shamrock pots.jpg

The thought of Spring

As daffodils bid the winter goodbye, clustered in yellow bunches at the side of the roads for all the world, like spectators watching the St Patrick days Parade in high viz jackets, we can smell the scent of Spring in the air. Lawns are being mowed. Every sunny day finds us basking in the conservatory, not wanting to miss a minute of the glory, waiting for the rise in temperatures as the wind drops, to drag us outside to the gardening, braai fires, cold beers and wine on the patio. It is at times like this that we miss our 2 to 3 holidays abroad each year when UK weather was at a low.

As usual in my clamour to get to the balmy spring weather, and my familiar haste at making changes, I rushed out, overlooking the fact that the weather is the boss and not the seasons. Shopping done for hanging baskets and a host of young plants all waiting for this new garden to take shape. Well, last night it snowed! They survived, luckily.

It is around this time in March, too, that my memories go back to the day Phil and I met; eleven years ago. Time for the rugby six nations matches, when Ireland played England in 2006, we watched in a pub. That night he was gutted; firstly because he found out that I was actually Irish, and secondly because the Irish beat England that night, as they did again this Saturday just passed.


Who said patio? There isn’t one at Bough. As mentioned in my last letter, it was one of the first discussions Phil started with me as we sat together one day inside the double glass doors. To make his point he requested a pad and pencil, where he drew a sketch of where the “no patio” should be! I then had to brave the rain and go outside to pace out the perimeter while he gave the thumbs up from inside.

Labrador x Golden Retriever dog pup, Remus, 5 months old, lying with head up

A regular visitor just outside the patio doors is the neighbour’s dog, who walks about the area all day visiting gardens and pavements like a nomad. Phil is a fan, and “Dog” comes inside on occasions to say hello. The day before the snow, a very nice young man spent the day creating our patio. Watch this space for changes and improvements to come.  No…. we don’t let grass grow under our feet….


Birdie Bistro

Once the bird feeders and bath were set up, with my littlest granddaughter’s help, it was many days before we saw any birds come near. Plenty of birdsong in the morning when guests were still trying to sleep! But no birds all day. It seems that the country birds are used to foraging not like the city slickers in Carlow that were on the lookout for takeaways. There the bistro was a huge hit; here an unnecessary unknown.

But four tiny birds started to come some days later, my bird book said they were wrens, soon we had finches and of course eventually no shortage of the scavengers from the sky, the crows; be they rooks or ravens and then too the magpies once the action was spotted! Pestering the little finches, robins and others. Now it’s a regular feeding hole! Bough Bistro!

Summer Projects-Keeping it country

Now that the patio is completed, all that remains is for it to be personalized. A few warm days are promised towards the end of the week. The delivery of a new shed to complete the grounds should be this week, however I won’t hold my breath; it is as if they are doing us a favour selling us one.

It took three visits to the display site to get served, then their credit card machine was out of order. The first visit – there was no one to serve me. I rang back in the afternoon only to be asked, what time I had I been there.   “Ahh, he says, I would have been havin’ me steak and chips then!” The next time – I waited in the rain for ten minutes while he chatted with a young couple with his arms folded taking no notice of me.

I know that I should be patient….and I knew that coming to Ireland would be slower….. and WE are retired…. so please take it calmly and wait… But come on! Customer service, guys!

Hey, a positive!! Could this be a new job for me! Running customer service courses, because they sure need to have a few things explained.  This isn’t the only time my impatience with country life has got the better of me, there have been many… living life the Bough way!  Let’s park it. Moan over!

No! Take parking at the local grocery shop, today…. two of the three parking exits or entrances (your choice!) to choose from; two are blocked by a truck and the third by a people carrier, parked diagonally across the entrance to the store, door open, like a getaway car.  I only want bread, orange juice and sweets.  Shall I risk it, waiting for the armed leader to make his escape?  Loads of spaces beyond but I cannot get there! Lets wait…..but it’s not like that at all, its a lady driving the people carrier and she waved to me as she left.   Smile and wave … smile and wave…


It reminded me of the days way back in South Africa when guys in bakkie’s (pick up trucks) pulled over in front of cafes to buy cigarettes and a coke, leaving the motor running and often the door open, days when to park anywhere was an option not a privlidge.  There was a space and it was yours.

Know your Neighbour

The day we met the contractor who was to lay our paving slabs, he told me all about the residents of the house next door to us, as I nodded and listened, and also the occupation and name of the people who lived two doors away, saying she is a very nice woman, you should go and introduce yourself, she works with my wife.  I met Tom and Paddy when I bought the slabs, so now I was told that their parents lived across the road and their Dad had died in December, and I was also told who owned all the surrounding land…..

Today I have been given a severe telling off by the man delivering a parcel… “Do those people there next door to ye not know ye’s at all?  Well then,  ye should get in there and introduce yer’selves!” I smiled and said we had not been here that long, but he just huffed and puffed and grumbled his way back to his van……

Guilty again as charged apparently!

More Projects

“She is making a right mess of a perfectly good table!” my Dad would have said, more because of his love of wood than my first attempt at mosaic, which I punish myself with to feed my creative side. I say punish because I just keep on keeping on……with no guidance and no idea what I will do with it in the end. But it is relaxing and also may be an amazing piece of art some day. Who knows.

Welsh Surprises

The first sleep-over visitors to Bough came by ferry from Wales. Two darling little grandchildren and our daughter. The visit was busy as usual and although we try not to plan in advance to keep the time as relaxed as possible.  Time passed in a flash, all too soon, because we still had things to do. Maybe planning is best? With all the arts and crafts that Isabelle did manage to achieve…… We. Didn’t. Do. Jewellery. Making.  No!




A Different View

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt


It’s a Gift….

We have reached the end of the first week in our new house.  If you were a fly on the wall you would have heard a lot of …. “ I know I packed it, should be in this box, it’s somewhere, yes, everything has to be somewhere!!   After all the lists and perfect organisation that was put in place; I scratch my head sometimes at the turmoil that ensues, but it is becoming home.   And on the bright side… we can laugh. This morning I awoke and laughed out loud at a thought that came to mind. (my Mother used to do that!)

A thought about the shrewdness of the lady I answered the doorbell too last Tuesday. “Good morning, how are ye, isn’t the weather dreadful today, the rain; now I’ll only take a few minutes of yer time.” It was blowing a gale and the rain was blowing sideways, so I said,

“Well then come in.” She was as far as the entrance portal and managed to get herself between myself and the front door, however, carried on speaking without a pause.

“This is my ID and I work for *…$…%..&..^, (and a string of acronyms that meant nothing to me), it is a little survey that will only take up 5 minutes of your time, God it’s cold; now I can do it right here it won’t take long…”.

“Oh no, come inside!” I say, “excuse the mess we have only just moved in 3 days ago…..”

“Oh no!… sure I shouldn’t impose on ye then, it wouldn’t be right, but it’s only fair to ye, that everyone has a say!” She was still talking but already sitting down between Henry the hoover and the boxes before I had closed the front door in the hallway.

Now I pride myself on being able to give the door to door salesmen and Jehovah’s witness knockers a cold shoulder so what happened here! She had a gift, as well as the gift of the gab. And it seemed I had made the right decision; the short survey (that took all of 15 minutes!), was about those with disabilities and fair treatment in Ireland. And I had my say- mostly good.


Glorious Sunshine…

Today is another day of glorious sunshine, yes, we have those too in Ireland! But we appreciate them more than some other countries. It makes up for the fact that we have no internet yet and that we are still getting used to the heating system in the house. Two of my bad temper things… don’t take my broadband and don’t take my heating away. One of my girls had a little snigger when I couldn’t see a photo that she had sent me on WhatsApp; she said, Oh, I forgot you were on ‘dial up’ now. Remember those days!

The horses in the fields at the end of our garden were out on the frost covered grass at sunrise. Two young ones frisking each other and romping about. Phil was up early too, waiting for his breakfast and watching the horses from his chair. He is much more independent now and has a new confidence moving around on his own. Now that is a positive slant on leaving Homefield! I hope his boredom doesn’t return too soon. His new interest is thinking/preparing outside area for barbeque time which we still have plenty of time for, I know, but it is great to see the positivity in him.

A New Line of Attack …

Downsizing when moving house is never easy. Getting rid of clutter often breaks off little pieces of ‘yourself’; these are thrown away with the ‘so called’ trash. It’s as hard as that for me. You would think after 28 moves I would have it down to a fine art. What didn’t come to Ireland would not be needed, until that fateful day when you have searched every cupboard saying I know I packed it only to realize you did give it away at the last minute in desperation (space issue).

Downsizing for real has been a bit of a shock. There is less space in Bough, well less space in the wrong places. We need a few new plans. A new line of attack, a little retail therapy also works…….

Phil did laugh when he saw me packing the iron… I suppose he has a point, we could have lost that one without a backward glance! One nearly new iron, anyone…?


On Wednesday I experienced an unusual pang of nostalgia. A longing that’s hard to describe, as I stood outside a closed second hand shop peering through the windows at all the antiques and ornaments. I didn’t know how much I missed the basic floor work of my job at the Hospice. The shops. I longed to get in there and sort the place out! “Open Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays only” it said on the door. Sells second hand and new furniture.

Mmmm, I said to my daughter, maybe I could get a little job here….. I would love to tidy it and do the window display. Open the doors on a Wednesday for them maybe…

“It has been like that for the last 10 years, Mom, they like it that way!” says my daughter beside me.

I suppose she is right. But… it is just down the road on the corner …. and it’s Saturday today! I will be paying a visit.


One week later…………………………….

Feeling at home…

Our living area is homely and comfortable. Routines here have started to fall into place; which is good, they allow the creative mind to concentrate on other things and the confidence grows.

But I do miss Carlow, which is now 18 kms away! It was so handy to be 5 minutes away from any shop you wanted. So…with that I give the game away, am a city girl really. But Rathvilly isn’t ‘down on the farm’, we have the best of both worlds.


Rathvilly is small village (definitely not a one horse town) with one general grocery shop, a post office, two take always, a few churches, hairdresser, betting shop and a grave yard etc. Everything closed last Friday for three hours for the funeral of a well known gentleman from the town. For banking you need to go 10 kms to Tullow, which has all the named shops like Tesco, Aldi and Supervalue and other smaller interesting shops. In the opposite direction the road snakes to Baltinglass, with farm lands and a beautiful mountain backdrop to your right.


We have also had a “getting to know your country” trip out, when Phil becomes the silent satnav and I get lost! He loves the farmlands and the scenery.


I did pay a visit across the road and down a bit, without Phil, as walkways in the shop are too cluttered.…. It is apparent, that the lady is firmly attached for life! and so is half the furniture, the dust and the clutter; most of which I think would only sell if moved around and displayed. Another thing that I noticed is that her prices are very high. There is a constant flow of regulars who all seem to be on first name status. I was however greeted and welcomed to the area.

In fact my sister found out yesterday that the proprietor has owned the shop for 21 years.

Nostalgia – 3

Paid a third visit and wow our lady had her little man polishing! A sure sign it was a quiet day for business, as one of my past shop managers said, there is nothing like the smell of furniture polish to make them buy!  She was right behind me all the time I browsed and during conversation I pointed to something that I found attractive.

Sure enough before I had left, it was outside on the forecourt to attract buyers! I still have the gift!

Silly thought…..I might volunteer to do her windows if I get to know her better one day…… Shhh


Making New Memories

“Be patient with yourself, nothing in nature blooms all year……”


Out with the old, in with the new! Am I too late to say Happy New Year? Oh, …and have you started your Happiness Jar yet?

It’s a new year and new “2017 things” are about to burst into our daily, boring life style, creating lasting memories. We cannot possibly expect to still get excited about old stuff like moving to Ireland and living in Homefield! Ireland is our home now, we know our way around a bit better, so, it’s time to move on to pastures new to create these memories.

All that Glitters….

I was staring at the carpet in the lounge on the 28th of December, thinking how much glitter I could see on it; when the phone rang. For a while there back in December, everything had glitter on it, even Phil’s nose and the kitchen table. It was our Homefield agent on the phone to say that they had secured a sale on Christmas Eve; and we needed to look for a new place to live. You could say that the glitter was knocked out of my world momentarily, but not for long. This had been expected. Once again we would begin the search for a needle in a haystack; a suitable bungalow, for Phil and I. Plans swung into place. But now, I can say 16 days later, lists are getting frantic and packing is half way completed and we have a new home too! Well as my sister in law says, a house; it is the people who live there that make it “a home.” More news to follow….


Snail mail

I was thrilled and surprised when I opened a Christmas card just before Christmas day, to find a letter inside it. I had known the handwriting before opening it. It took me back to the days long ago when Christmas post was always exciting; when your cards that came from afar always had letters in them updating family and friends about the past year’s news. How lovely to sit down that day in the last month of 2016, cross my legs and feel like I was in the same room as this young lady and old friend; sharing so much with me! My only Christmas letter! Thank You!

Then I wondered about something else. Do the younger generation of today even know what love letters’ are? Or is life really only in pictures now. A love letter was good for the heart and the soul, the most intoxicatingly powerful read known to man or woman; they were made for keeping. Tied up in bundles to read in years to come.



I still cannot believe it is 2017, when as a young woman I struggled to see past 2000; when the world might end; or daily space travel was the norm; or aliens ruled our earth. We laughed at the very thought of being able to actually see the person we were phoning still in their dressing gown; and in another country, impossible!!. We stood in queues to use a public call box when away from the home telephone, never called a “landline” then.  It was the only line.  If you were lucky to have one in your home.

Before Christmas I discussed my past life in South Africa with a young man who was on holiday in Ireland from there.  We chatted about the Orange Free State long ago where the family lived for a while, and did cover the telephone exchange system in the OFS and how it worked in those remote areas.

The switchboard operator knew more about your life than you did yourself!


But 2017 it is…

Its in the Genes..

Now the search for a house was interesting and many different family members and friends had their own ideas about what we should be doing; method, system and what our future should be looking like! My daughters too; who not so long ago, were three little girls, who took instruction, some easier than others I must say, but have all grown up into wonderful women, with their own personalities, priorities and views. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way; so, my way of dealing with all suggestions was to listen, analyse and do what I wanted to do and what was best for us. A lot of the genes are mine anyway, so all suggestions went into the pot!

Rathvilly is our new village and our new home to be….. and we have the KEY! So must say good bye and get packing!!



A Yuletide Message

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see…”


Hello Everyone, Christmas already…

I don’t believe it!! Quite scary, nearly a year in the new house and new country. I am sure some of you also feel like this year has flown. I hope so, or am I just running away with life? Sadly, not all good things happened in 2016. Over events like this we have no control. We lost many famous people this year and above all one special honorary family member so dear to all my family’s hearts. He will be sorely missed this Christmas in Cape Town, but with us in spirit.

Thank You…

Thank you to all of you that have emailed me from time to time, sent watsapps and rang to up date us on what is happening in your lives. Everything moves on.  We do love to know how things are back home, so to speak.  I have an email or two still to answer.  Gossip please!!


For the First Time..

2016 has been a year of first times for us, especially for me. Change is good for the soul and it is one of my pet “flogs” to encourage others to embrace when the mood is low. BUT.. and there is a but.. when you get to our age and every other day is a ‘new time’, it sometimes takes a lot of courage and confidence to go out there and get things done, alone. Daunting!

Oh, but a first Christmas at Homefield, that won’t be daunting at all, I can do this with my eyes closed. And the exciting thing is that I have a brand new empty slate to design on; no previous years plans to follow or maintain. The New Design Christmas! And I do love a challenge. As last year we were in the throes of packing, this will be our first ‘close to normal’ Christmas for many years, since 2012!  The Finlay Christmas- it was so special!!

Family time this year..

Phil and I wish you all a lovely time over Christmas and the New Year. One special wish I have for you all…. is one I would like for myself too; try to relax and make it a “go with the flow” time, rather than a “must do this, must do that” time. Take time to sit and think, and, also, to share stories of the past with each other from Christmas’s past. Remember the good times with loved ones not with us any more. Make your few days together with friends and family count this year. Happy Christmas!

Light up..


Now the Christmas tree lights, that’s always an issue… always the man’s job in the home. It has been in my lifetime. The untangling, bulb replacement and safety testing?!!! Back in the old days there were small explosions from time to time, it was normal; the ‘Elf an Safety boys weren’t around much then. Repairs were done to make them light up,  no matter what. New plugs wired in, lots of tape and more tape; and I even remember strange tasks been performed with matchsticks! And miraculously, the lights were up!! Phil still feels he needs to be involved here as instructor, and believes I haven’t a clue. Mr Health and Safety is his other name!


And Christmas is his time, always has been since the day we met in 2006. Phil watches the dates on the calendar and keeps me up to speed with planning ahead. He loves to choose food from the store catalogue’s and always picks his old traditional favourites. Some days it hurts like mad to live with this man, knowing the way we were; even more so for him, watching him still grapple for understanding over what he has become, trapped, frustrated and angry inside. I have to leave the room so that he doesn’t know how I feel. An emotional time, Christmas, it always gets to me in December, when I stand in one of the big stores, peoples shopping all around and Christmas music playing, I’m thinking; then the tears come. But onwards and upwards!

Has Nothing changed..

One thing that certainly has not changed is the kitchen battlefield when it comes to his boiled eggs. I only fought that war once in 2006 and then it was over to him to sort out his picky preferences which were extra specific, hard to believe all for a mere egg! But now it is down to me to get it right. It’s the timing, the exact chopping and chipping and the bread for the dipping processes. I try. The best praise I ever get is a sad shake of the head, or a mumble, “S’alright.” All in a day, hey!

On Starlings and crows


It seems the starlings are not the only bird species in Ireland to swarm in great numbers during winter when the European blowin’s add to starling numbers. The crows around here are gathering in huge murders, because that is what a flock of crows is called. A Murder. Or is it? No one is quite sure why. Crows are scavengers. A difference of opinion says that it is a flock of crows, and a murder of crows is a relatively new collective expression for effect and does not date back to 15th century. Then again, since crows have recently been demonstrated to be capable of advanced reasoning and even tool-making, maybe they actually did plot a few murders back in the 15th century.

And my, my, if you stand in our garden and they descend onto the roofs and telephone wires and trees in their hundreds, with all that raucous noise, I get to thinking that they may be planning a murder and it could be mine! Inside quick!

On weather and weather..


Wow! it has been a cold start to December; all started the last week of November. Ice on the car in the morning— but not having much effect on the retired people! After snapping these pics I got to thinking….Do Spiders migrate to warmer climates, or crawl into little spaces and wait for the warmth to wake them up? In fact Spiders do not feel the cold. They live for between one to three years. And spiders don’t die during winter months, outside or inside; after their mating season in Autumn, they do things slower and slower as it gets colder until they are dormant during winter.


Frosted webs.


What a lovely idea….


Recently I read a post on facebook about sharing the love over Christmas, and this is very close to my heart. I believe that at this time of year we should think of others less fortunate than ourselves. All over the UK in towns and cities people are tying unwanted scarves, and some that they have knitted or made especially, to trees and telephone poles, for the homeless people or those in need to take home. Some have messages on them; I am not lost, take me if you need me. God bless you! What a wonderful idea, in this cold time. I am going to try it in Carlow!

What else am I up to..

Currently while not preparing for Christmas I have a new hobby, designing home décor and planning room layouts. Trying to improve my talents and earn high scores. It is relaxing and rewarding too.

Garden talk


2017- Happy New Year

I leave you with a little thought on New Year resolutions. There may be practical resolutions; useful or essential changes that you would like to make to your life next year; all good. One that I have been promising to do for two years is defo going to happen in 2017.

Find a pretty pot or jar with a lid. Pretty, only so that it looks good where ever you put it. Into this jar you place writings (folded up bits of paper) of all the good and happy stuff that happens all year round. Lest we forget!  Little things or big important positives (positives only!) Then in a years time, on New Year’s Eve, you open the pot and read through them all, rejoicing in how blessed you were in 2017.

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!


An Autumnal Arrival

“Peace is when time doesn’t matter as it passes by.” – Maria Schell

I feel this peace.



October Blow-ins

Bright crisp mornings have continued for most of this week in October, without a cloud in the sky. Before sunrise on Tuesday there was a lot of thumping and bumping on the house roof drawing me with some haste from a cosy bed to the window. It was still dark but the faraway sun was reaching out fingers of light behind the big Christmas tree on the front lawn.  Outside on numerous telephone wires and the house roofs across the road too were dozens and dozens of birds, squawking and chattering.  More birds than I had ever seen in one place.  They moved about and swapped places all the time as though mingling with others to get a word in.  Networking.  They were back again on Wednesday for more discussions. Then they flew away when I stepped out the front door trying to take a photo for evidence.


Ahhh… I thought, it’s the pre -meeting before migration to ‘summer camp’ to escape the Irish winter. But once again after googling I was surprised to find out that our resident starlings in Ireland do not migrate! Huge flocks in their hundreds, up to half a million in all, come to Ireland for the winter from colder areas in Europe; Lithuania and Scandinavia being two countries picked up from tagged birds by bird society’s. So, they were using our road as a pit stop or an arrivals lounge after the flight.

Just more Blow-ins as the Irish call us immigrants!


The picture above is of starlings over Brighton, UK.

Web site quote: “Huge roosts are a spectacular sight in the winter, when at dusk massive swirling flocks form prior to settling down for the night. Roosts in urban situation such as old buildings and piers and in the countryside in reed beds, woodland and on the coast. The majority of the visiting starlings arrive in October.”


“Having entertained us throughout the winter, starlings will return to their breeding territories during February and March.”


On emigrating…

I am sure emigrating at retirement age must be far more difficult than at a younger age. Apart from being set in your ways by then; your life itself is entering into a time of change, which involves loads of decisions about bank accounts, money and pensions and where to stay. It seems my lists of paperwork for each day is continuing; explaining, writing and filling in forms to one or other of the two countries continues…..

After Autumn – will come Christmas…

Changing colours of autumn move on to all the pretty new stocks in shops for Christmas, red, white, gold and silver; some snow-like and some edible! Stollen bites from Germany were a must buy for me yesterday. “But what about Halloween, let’s get that out of the way first!” said a volunteer in one of my charity shops some years ago, as we loaded the shelves with Christmas items to raise money for the Hospice. It’s all about sales in retail I said, sadly if your goods are not on display people will buy from the shop across the road. People complain every year saying it’s too early for Christmas shopping, but they buy anyway! So, the shelves are stocked up for Christmas here too!


Anyway Halloween is not really my cup of tea at all, and here in Carlow I think they are more crazy about it than in UK. Whole departments in shops have been filled with all things scary, in orange, black and sinister purple. Our Carlow newspaper had a front page spread last week about men dressing up as clowns with scary masks and actually terrorizing people in town after dark. Threatening to stop cars said one person, and it was reported by another woman that they were carrying baseball bats. This I think is a bridge too far. So, Carlow people have been warned to call the Garda, as all threatening behaviour, even for fun is against the law.

Where have we been…

Just drive…. Is what Phil wants me to do some days. One day we took the road out between the farmlands from our blackbog road and I tried to remember landmarks along the way so that we would not get lost, all the while thinking what I would rather be doing at home.  Just like window shopping I hate pointless driving!  I repeated the landmarks like a mantra, while he says (or does not say! But point, left or right) Tammy calls him the silent satnav. Luckily we came to a road that said Kilkenny left and Carlow right and I knew exactly where I was!  Not lost that time.

One of our more structured drives led us to Blessington lakes, but it is so frustrating for me the driver when there is nowhere to pull over to take pictures of the best views!  A morning drive was the plan, but when I turned to go home, he points to the range of mountains in the distance; oh no!  I despair.


We have also visited Leitrim Quays with the family for the weekend, where a boat ride was on the cards as well as a couple of nice pub evenings.


And what’s next….

Bookings are open for visits next year!! No sign of the house being sold although another viewing is happening tomorrow. In a few day’s time the family will descend on us from the UK for the weekend. All our girls under one roof for a while, babies and all! Can’t wait! Don’t mention this to Henry, he will probably throw a sicky AGAIN. Yes, I talk to Henry the hoover; Phil watches and smiles as he knows we have a close bond, really!

Wedding Bells….

Last night Phil’s nephew from Monmouth married his Princess in Vegas. We watched it on Skype. Very different and quite untraditional, and the bride looked stunning.  The bridegroom didn’t look bad either!  Scary to think that the world has become such a small place.  We can be touched by the feelings of others; be they happy or sad so far away,  as to almost seem impossible…

Garden Talk…

Winter berries are filling the creeper on the garage walls, and our birds who will soon be lining up outside waiting for seeds and fat balls as the colder weather approaches.


On life and living…

Have you ever been asked something right out of context, and not got the point at all? Or am I just slow…. I was shopping at Peacocks once and went to the counter to pay for my items, the smiling assistant looked at me with wide eyes as she scanned the items and said:

“What are you wearing!”

I looked down at my tee-shirt and blouse, and thought in that split second, I didn’t know there was a dress code to shop in Peacocks. The next second she laughed… (she saw my thoughts….my face never lies)

“…no! your perfume!”

Silly woman, who? me or her!










A Summer Send- off



Youth is wasted on the young!” quote by George Bernard Shaw.


I wish…

Wishing for time to pass is ignoring the beautiful day we are in today. We are all guilty! Excitement leading up to the start of a special event can sometime get us doing just that. Two year old’s want to be big.   When we are children we want to be teenagers, when we get there we wish we could be independent or drive a car; and leave the annoying parents who have the last say in everything! The parent who actually thinks they know everything!

We listen with half an ear to the stories of ‘the olden days’, glad that we didn’t have to walk miles to school because there was no bus or have to put cardboard in our school shoes until there was enough money at the end of the month to replace the ones that had a hole in them. We refused to believe that we were actually having a great time with hardly any hardships. Teens today think their life of technology is perfect ….but only if they had the latest smart phone and not this year- old brick!  Never satisfied..

Those years that you wished each day would pass, when your brain was a huge empty sponge, those teenage years, could have been better put to use soaking up parents ramblings and stories. Today I wish I had listened more, and talked less about what was important to me then! Today I know that within each person there is an important story to tell, we only have to listen.

Walking the same streets that my parents had walked long ago in Waterford a few weeks back, passing their old haunts, crossing the same stone bridge; how I wished I had listened more….. it’s too late now…

Thank goodness I have Dad’s diary!



An awakening…

The other morning I woke to the sound of rain battering the window panes and felt the chills of autumn run through my veins, this kept me under the duvet for way too long. (I thought longingly of my old Indian appliqued gown in the wardrobe and how glad I am that Bon eventually allowed me to pack it and that it was not thrown away!  Even the charity shop would not have wanted it.) The rain reminded me of the dark red oak leaf that I had stooped to pick up outside the doctor’s rooms just the day before in brilliant sunshine. Only a small hint that we will soon be experiencing our first autumn in Ireland. The leaves are on the turn…


Summer is hinting that it is drawing to a close, just as the wonderful visit from family members from afar, Cape Town, London, Mallow, Castledermot, Cork and Gory, has drawn to a close too. Sisters together…



We celebrated a very special family anniversary too, toasting missing loved ones.  And we talked, and we shared….


Ireland pulled out all the stops once again and produced amazing sunshine for the occasion. Much dining alfresco was enjoyed!! Sight-seeing and a nostalgic visit to Waterford, our birth town, together was enjoyed too.


In Waterford, as we left William street and moved on like an obedient tour group, the well planned itinerary was thrown to the wind when Phil pointed out a small shop window and requested a visit. One hour later, with various sizes of Irish green shopping bags filled with curios and lots more. we left, empty of pocket but with shop assistants rubbing their hands with glee.

Must make a mention of Waterford castle too, where you have to cross by car ferry… Beautiful old hotel now… yummy food too!


Then on to Kilkenny…



Before the rains….

It has been so obvious that local farmers are in a rush to get fields harvested, hay baled and stored for animal fodder in the winter months. The roads at the moment are filled with tractors pulling heavy loads, harvester’s and farming equipment being towed about, the likes of which I certainly have never seen before. A busy time before the rains come…. But we have had some wonderfully warm days to hang sweet smelling washing on the line in the welcome sunshine. How blessed are we!



No sign yet of a buyer for our house, which to us is another blessing. I love my home, even down to the drawing of the curtains every morning, when I am once again grateful for the chance we had to make this move to Ireland.

Phil has taken to doing some pencil sketching at his own request and is not doing too badly at all.

Keeping safe…

The courage to try new things is often harder as we grow older, ‘we have to want it more than we fear it’. But I find mountains sometimes look insurmountable until you’ve done them once! I learn new roads each day, and am loving the challenges, but still double lock the doors!! An old memory about this was when Phil and I first moved in together; he could not understand why I locked the door each time I came in from the back garden and complained about this constantly. It was a well learnt habit, from my South African days ….. I explained …. hard to break….. he still smiles today as he sits having his breakfast when I lock the back door by force of habit! Guess he remembers the stories I told him in 2006 about ‘izigebengu’, (pronounced: iscabanga) and how we have to make sure the izigebengu’s don’t get in! (Zulu for thieves)


Garden Talk

Magic in the garden last weekend produced a mushroom fit for a king or a Leprechaun house! It grew and grew…. And we were waiting for the explosion, when our gardener arrived unannounced and pulled it out today! We also have a fairy ring of mushrooms on the lawn, which I am sure will be demolished when the mower comes tomorrow, as it will.



Reading up on the internet about fairy rings only depressed me, as the real reasons they grow like that, apart from being bad for the lawn, is far too scientific for me, and doesn’t involve fairies at all. It’s like finding out about Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny! Dam internet, too much information.


On life and living…

Plodding along and letting the days take their course, while avoiding those irritations sent to try us can be difficult some days. But life is what we make it, and what we make of it. Said by me.

Poem below: Written by R L Sharpe.


Isn’t it strange

That princes and kings

And clowns that caper

In sawdust rings,

And common people

Like you and me

Are builders for eternity?


Each is given a bag of tools,

A shapeless mass,

A book of rules;

And each must make-

Ere life is flown-

A stumbling block

Or a stepping stone.



A Wales of a Time

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we get done the day before a vacation!” quote by Zig Ziglar,

Ferry good…

A ferry trip instead of flying is a great alternative and far more relaxing. And this was our choice for our first visit back to the UK, to Wales. And being able to do retail therapy while sailing is far superior to just sitting in a row next to some stranger trying to stop your elbows from touching. Got a fridge magnet! (new family joke)

Green field

Driving away from the ferry harbour at Rosslare coming back home, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast: the softness in the lines of the landscape and the green rush of fields falling away on either side. Home to the gentle feel of Ireland…. but let’s not forget the holiday!!!

Wonderful Welsh Welcome…

Six days of amazing weather in Wales together with a warm family reunion which made our holiday the best! More than half our clothing remained packed, and jackets were carried back and forth but never worn. Super sunshine for the grand children to enjoy as they played together till late in the evening. Baby cuddles were enjoyed by all, as the little 6 week old treasure was taken everywhere that we went, hardly making himself heard at all.

6 weeks

An interesting find in the ‘baby home’ was a bottle of Gripe water, I had to smile, open it and take a sniff. Of course gripe water today is alcohol free.. but it still smells the same. Whoosh… my mind was back to my girls as babies. And what a good baby my first little girl was. Dipping dummies in gripe water was the perfect way to soothe her off to sleep. And why not! Gripe water helped some mothers to relax too during the late night feeding blues.

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Seeing the sites together…

A visit to Rhondda Heritage Park Colliery…


No, Phil and I did not do the whole mining thing and go down the mine, which I am sure was very interesting; but we looked at the exhibits and also did retail therapy here, with coffee and cake. Although I am not good at reading all the history the exhibits have to offer, the way Phil used to do (he would have spent all day there in the old days), I did learn this; Rhondda is steeped in heritage and is the perfect place to explore the roots of the industrial revolution. The first mine was sunk in Rhondda by Walter Coffin in 1812 which changed the landscape of the valleys forever. And we got another 2 fridge magnets!

Coins have never been just money….

They are heads or tails, given as a celebration of a baby’s birth, finding coins in a Christmas pudding, put a coin in a brides shoe for luck, saved up in piggy banks and so much more… collectors spend time, money and travel far and wide for special coins…

Royal Mint Experience – And what an experience- firstly I never knew that the British Royal mint was in Llantrisant in Wales a stone’s throw from where my daughter lived. Loved the knowledge gained so much…. I simply have to share and hope I don’t bore you. Apart from making all UK coins, it is the largest exporting mint in the world, exporting blanks and struck coinage to some 60 countries around the world.

During the gold rush in 4 countries long ago, the mint had 6 branches which made sovereigns for general use with special marks on depicting where they were minted. Proud to say Pretoria, South Africa was one! So sovereigns marked with a small P were made in Pretoria, and S for Sydney and B for Bombay… and O for Ottawa…

We each got to strike our own £1 coin to keep!   Fact: 750 coins are struck every minute.

The Mint Experience 001

The mint was moved from Tower Hill, London in 1968 when the UK decimalization changes set for D Day in 1971 caused a storage problem. The building on Tower Hill had been home since 1810, before which coins were made in the Tower of London.

During the Second World War, Iceland was cut off from Denmark where their coins were minted, so turned to the Royal mint for help. After a bad night of bombing in London, in which the windows and roof of the mint were damaged, it was business as usual: “Striking began at daybreak; a glacial wind whirled around the coining presses to inaugurate the minting of the coinage of Iceland.” This was the beginning of a 76 year relationship, still ongoing.

From War Medals, to Olympic medals to the Great Seal of the Realm, they are all made here.

All counterfeit coins are returned to the mint for reuse, but not before the metals in them are analysed and investigated, and police are informed, which allows them to pin point where coins were made across the UK and track down suspects.

Sir Isaac Newton was Master of the mint for 30 years. “He was no stranger to working closely with police in tracking down and punishing those making counterfeit coins.” The words around the current £2 coin are his from his saying: ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’  And we posed with Her Majesty!


Llantrisant will be adding on to their building soon to accommodate the new £1 coin to be introduced in 2017. Twelve sided. Storage to launch this coin is the issue.

Something amusing the guide said – different countries have all sorts of preferences as to how their coins must be dispatched and in what containers. One African country’s request: they don’t care how it is packaged as long as it is too heavy for one man to carry… you had to have lived in Africa to appreciate this! (It is a bit like “finders keepers” pick it up and run – joke.) And got another fridge magnet!

Let us eat….

So they survived the holiday week… born in a grow tunnel in Castledermott, weaned in our conservatory, then thrown out to face the elements of Carlow weather in the hopes that there would be some rain to water them. The lettuces are looking lush! First one ready for the table.


Home is Happiness…

And after all this excitement, we are happy to be home as hotel life is not ideal. Phil missed his routine and his sleep pattern, so it was with great joy that he dozed the day away after we got home. Some garden news is – I found something bright pink behind the trees at the bottom of the garden and thought it was a trespasser at first. Then to my surprise I discovered it was this beautiful plant that had been completely concealed for all these years behind large shrubs and trees.  Seeing the light of day, since the garden clearing job last month.


Pots of Colour

Work needs to begin on the pottery and patio again. Some plants looked up at me rather sadly after been neglected for a week, others had given up all hope of my return and of been fed and watered again.

This is all part of the preparation for the royal visit later in August. No, not the queen, but close!  My big sister is visiting us from Cape Town! It is more than six years since we last met, so there will be talking!

It is a well-deserved holiday for her too and we are all super excited!

That’s your lot today!