Monday, 24 April 2017


Last day of the Easter holidays... a picnic at Castleroche and a walk up Slieve Gullion. I say that breezily but I'm not a natural mountaineer (apparently it was a hill I was climbing as Hugo kept annoyingly pointing out but it truly felt like a mountain) and even though I was encouraged to channel my inner mountain goat I fully insisted on not doing that, but instead used my small reserves of energy for complaining. Kevin wondered did I not feel a sense of accomplishment? I looked up from my 'yay, I haven't had a heart attack on a mountain-side' bar of restorative chocolate and said no, no sense of accomplishment just do not ask me to do that again. Needless to say the boys loved it and, with a sinking heart, I began to feel very out-numbered...

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Easter ~ hazel tree branches with glass eggs and paper chickens, cakes and tulips at Burtown House, walking along the River Barrow in the sleepy village of Graiguenamanagh with my sister, magical Huntington Castle, egg hunting and coloured bunting, home to the garden and weeding and planting. 

Spring ~ a time for growth, not always easy because sometimes growth means moving away from what you knew before and going in a different direction where perhaps the way ahead is less clear, and possibly even difficult, but somehow better for you. Have the courage to grow, even when it's hard.

Monday, 10 April 2017

primroses and crocuses

I love the work of Debbie George - her paintings are quiet and peaceful and always beautiful. Her spring flowers are just perfect - there are plenty of crocuses in our garden and the primroses are making an appearance in the banks along the lanes but I've yet to see any cowslips. This reminds me so much of posies picked by tiny hands, one or two flower heads to be put into the smallest of vases or perhaps an egg cup, a small token of love.

You can buy Debbie George's work here

Tuesday, 28 March 2017


It was nice the other evening to walk to the lake. That extra hour meant there was enough light to be outdoors well after dinner time so the dogs and I strolled to the water's edge. We watched as the blues faded to greys and the shadows grew longer and the landscape seemed to settle in on itself, apart from the odd melodramatic blackbird dashing from the hedgerow. The last few days of settled weather has meant spending hours outdoors - eating, playing, reading in the garden and, at the end of the day after we've tidied up, watching fiery sunsets.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Moon light and morning light

We are slowly stepping into the light and warmth. Yesterday we had lunch outside in the garden. There's a sheltered nook in the front where the wind doesn't quite reach. So there we sat eating a cheese and pesto sandwich and sunning ourselves for a few minutes hoping that this weather would continue. Nothing very big. Nothing very special. Just a sandwich in the sun. The first outdoor lunch at home this year.

Friday, 10 March 2017


Not for the first time I have wintered well due to books. We have far more than we read, to be honest. But it's such a comfort to have a bookcase full with ones that are dear friends and others that are not yet known to me. I have just finished Thin Paths by Julia Blackburn. It's a lyrical meandering tale of life in the mountains of Northern Italy, part reflection on life, part nature writing, part travel writing. The tales of village life are captured beautifully and simply, although what is being recounted (hardship, poverty and atrocities of the second world war) is not easy reading. I'd first come across Julia Blackburn on Radio 4 reading Murmurations of Love, Grief and Starlings, her poem of loss written after the death of her husband, Herman. Thin Paths makes her life with him come alive and shows that our paths intersect and weave alongside others' paths, creating beauty even in the simplest of lives lived. 
I am always trying to understand our son's autism. I want to understand his brain, how he thinks, how he processes information. Of course I can't do this anymore than I can with my other boys, or my husband, but there is always that hope that somehow by reading all that I can about autism I will get in there. I read a lot, ranging from the serious, academic stuff to the practical advice giving blogs. In the beginning after receiving the diagnosis that changed our lives forever I did an enormous amount of reading as though words, explanations and theories would somehow soothe and calm me. In fact it did the opposite. I quickly became overwhelmed by all the information when all I wanted was to fix things. There is no 'fixing' this but there is understanding and now I choose much more carefully what I read. Oliver Sacks' book An Anthropologist on Mars is a series of essays about people with different neurological conditions (including autism) and opens a door into that wonderful thing - the brain - and the complicated beauty of life.
Which brings me to Gratitude. Not 50 pages long here are four short essays written by Sacks as  he faced illness, old age and death. Sometimes I find comfort when I'm not looking for it. And here it is, on the last page... "And now, weak, short of breath, my once firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life - achieving a sense of peace within oneself."

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


There are signs of Spring for sure. Today has been the warmest yet. Blue skies and none of the damp grey drizzle that had seemed to settle so firmly over the hills. Hellebores, crocuses and the dwarf tulips are out and the daffodils aren't too far behind. The wild garlic is doing well and we're already looking forward to making pesto with it. However March being March means that the fires are still lit everyday and the wood pile must be tended to as there's still that chance of frost and winter weather. Today though we are in Spring, and glad of it.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Thursday, 9 February 2017

signs of spring

"Snowdrops and Winter Jasmine" woodblock print by Matt Underwood
snowdrops and winter jasmine 

"Spring Blackbird" woodblock print by Matt Underwood
spring blackbird

"Crocus Egg Cup" woodblock print by Matt Underwood
crocus egg cup

It was winter out there this morning. No frost, just biting cold and grey skies. It almost felt like snow weather. We are keeping our eyes peeled for signs of Spring. The snowdrops are up and so are the crocuses. Blackbirds dash from the hedgerow and there are three robins who vie for food at the backdoor. It's too easy to stay indoors, warm and mollycoddled by the fire but it's where I want to be. At least these woodblock prints by Matt Underwood are chanelling Spring even if the weather isn't quite there yet.

Monday, 6 February 2017



We are still in winter. I know that February is the beginning of Spring, but in name only I think. There are snowdrops and crocuses out in the garden, and little green spears of tulips and daffodils pushing up from the cold earth but there's also days of frost and other days of fog. Every day though there's a walk, regardless of what the weather's doing. And there's fire. It's one of the best things about winter. The fire is lit first thing in the morning and by the afternoon a second one is humming in the sitting room and then it doesn't matter what's going on outside, for inside we are warm. And we are glad of it.