Friday, January 31, 2014

31:01:14 RunKeeper Dilema

I'm using RunKeeper to track my walks recently. I love how it motivates me with the stats of how far I've walked and over what time and route. Does going for a good half hour walk to the pizza shop count as healthy behaviour or just straight out wrong....?!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

30:01:14 Tuna Fagioli

Now that we are home from our holidays we are getting back into healthier routines. Back walking each day and aiming for 10,000 steps and back on our 5:2 intermittent fasting.

Here's today's "under 300 calorie" evening meal from a recipe book. 
I think we probably eat more variety and healthier meals on our fast days than on any other day of the week!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

29:01:14 Star beneath my pillow

On a day I was feeling jet-lagged and not back into my normal sleep patterns yet it was wonderful to find this on my pillow...!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

28:01:14 Feck!

The word "Feic" in Ireland is actually the Gaelic word for "Look" 

Obviously it sounds a lot like a swear word and Irish people of all ages substitute the word "Feck" in their sentences to make what would be a very rude sentence somehow acceptable enough to be used by kids and grannies without raising an eye-brow! On our visit to Dublin we saw lots of places using the word to make a humorous statement. One of the funniest was seen from the top of a double decker bus. We passed too fast for me to get a photo but it was a blackboard outside a cafe claiming  to have "The best Fecking food in Dublin!" 

Monday, January 27, 2014

27:01:14 Rainbow hug

A hug from home. I bought my sister a beautiful rug from Avoca woollen mills last year as a house warming gift. When I saw her on my visit home she had a surprise in store. My own version of the rug for my 40th birthday present! Now I can be wrapped in a hug too!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

26:01:14 KaBoom!

Home safe and sound after 2 days of travel and no real sleep. The half-hearted attempt to unpack while jet lag sucks every bit of energy from my achy body.

Home again.

We are home from our long overdue trip to visit family and friends in the UK and Ireland. We have been living in Australia now for 8 years and have had many many people come stay with us for up to three months at a time. It is only in more recent years that health issues have crept in and made it harder for grandparents to come to us and so we knew we needed to to make the journey to them.

We spent most of last year saving furiously and I worked many weekend shifts to help get together the money together. Even with family and friends very generously putting us up in their homes and feeding us the actual transport costs of five flights, ferries and car rentals set us back well over $20,000. Not a trip that could be done annually!

We packed a lot into the time we were away. We started the trip in Ireland staying with my sister and parents. It was great to see them all. They are very private people and so I agreed many years ago not to put photos of them or discuss their lives here on the blog. For that reason I have kept my photos of the Irish side of the trip to ones of Byron, myself and the kids or the places we visited...

The second leg of the journey was catching a ferry to Wales where we were welcomed with open arms into the family home of Byron's sister who we haven't seen since we left. It was emotional but wonderful. We got to hug our grown up nephew Kerry and his wife Sarah  and the kids got to meet their famous little baby Oliver at long last! We also got to hug our niece Louise and her husband Rhys. There was lots and lots of food, chocolate, more food and more chocolate!
We also got to stay a night with Byron's brother and his family which was wonderful and we finished the Welsh visit with a massive Chinese takeaway with 14 of us all squished into Byron's parents living room with every chair and table in the house put together to hold a banquet of fried rice and every main meal under the sun!

I swear the poor car struggled to pull away at the end of the week with all of us squeezing in a bit more fuller figured than when we arrived.

The next leg of the journey was spent in Northampton where we lived for 9 years when we were first married. We had so many friends we wanted to see that we hired the village hall for one night and sent an invite out far and wide to join us for an evening of hugs and story telling. It was a blur of friends, neighbours, work colleagues, my aunt and uncle and cousins. It was a crazy evening of unfinished conversations and hugs and "You haven't changed a bit!" in both directions.
The final destination was London. We stayed with friends who were living in Sydney when we first emigrated but have since returned to the UK. They let us use them and their home as a base to come and go into London and play "tourist" before we had to board our flight home to Australia.
I have so many wonderful memories and stories I am afraid I will forget the details of them. You may have noticed a few image posts that have also gone up today. My intention in this year of 2014 is to try to post an image every day. I think others who have done it before me have posted the images on an actual day-by-day basis. I'm playing catch up for now and will hopefully be more consistent once I make it to the end of the holiday backlog!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

25:01:14 Last night in London

Our last night. We wanted to squeeze out every last minute of it. This photo was taken as we walked back to the underground station to catch the train back to Charles and Sues house. We were happy tired. The kind of tired that makes your feet throb before your head is ready to let you call it a night. We just didn't want it to end. But like all good things, it had to. It was a truly amazing holiday. I think it has taken the last couple of days of blogging all these photos and stories to make me realise how much we packed in.

When people ask me "How was your trip"  I struggle to express the rollercoaster of emotions we went through during the three and a half weeks we were gone. Somehow I think that the photos are the best way to tell the story of this amazing family holiday.

What will the future hold for us as a family? Will there be another big trip like this where all five of us are together? With Sian already counting down to University we are aware that these last few weeks were precious, a gift we will hold in our hearts as our family life changes and grows.

What adventures lie ahead for us?

As a family we have taken chances, chased adventure and found happiness in everything around us. As long as we have each other I say..

Bring it on!

Friday, January 24, 2014

24:01:14 London Eye

Another family selfie. This time while riding high on the London Eye. Big Ben in the background, the River Thames below us and buildings as far as the eye can see. People scuttling around like ants and cars that looked like children's toys from our 135 meter high vantage point. Rhiannon showing off her Union Jack beanie hat that she bought with the last of her holiday money. We must have been in and out of twenty shops trying on various designs and sizes until she found the perfect one. Sian and myself went hatless unless it was the most bitterly cold day. We were too vain to risk getting "hat hair". Byron and Gareth both wore the same hats every single day of the holiday. They were bought as a two pack one-size-fits-all from Primark for 2 Euro in Dublin on our first day. And that my friends just about sums up each of our personalities!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

23:01:14 Buckingham Palace

It was fun in London. Being tourists. Jumping on the Underground, following maps, flicking through travel guides for what to do next. Buckingham Palace was a must-see. As we stood outside we watched a man walking out one of the side gates. He was just like something out of a movie, long trench coat, bowler hat, umbrella in one hand, newspaper neatly rolled under the other. We looked back at the gate he had just exited. A police constable looked back. The kids sidled up to him as I turned on the camera. With a stern voice he said  "Just one then. We don't want everyone wanting one, do we?" The kids gathered around him and he broke into a big smile for the photo and then walked back inside with his serious face back on! Such a simple thing for him to do but it is one of the top 10 memories the kids talk about now we are home!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

22:01:14 The Cliffes

When we left Northampton we were emotionally exhausted. So many friendships rekindled. So many goodbye hugs. We realised that we were now coming to the last few days of our trip. Our original plan was to have one night with friends who lived on the outskirts of London and then to book into a hotel for the last couple of nights so we could have time to unwind as a family. A small mini break before the long journey home.

Charles and Sue were one of the first couples Byron introduced me to when I moved to the UK. He talked them up big time, how great they were, how much I'd like them. That Charles was the most competitive person he had ever met (other than himself) and that Sue was a scientist doing research into HIV transfer between mothers and babies. Oh, and that as well as being amazingly intelligent she was witty and fun too!

I was terrified meeting them but of course Byron was right, they were the funniest and most honest people I had met in a long time. Watching Byron and Charles together was like watching two alpha male gorillas pacing around one another in a zoo. Whatever one could do the other could do better, faster and higher, and get paid more to do it! They were masters in the kitchen and each weekend we spent at each others house involved the men trying to outdo the other on the BBQ while us girls sat back and watched with a glass of wine while laughing at them.

Byron and Charles were keen and competitive badminton players. Once when Byron bought a new racquet and won that weeks game Charles went out and bought the exact same one. when Byron won the next game Charles went out and bought the exact same grip tape for the handle just so they would be playing on an "equal footing"

Our friendship with Charles and Sue survived us changing from a carefree couple to parents of a screaming newborn. On the first day Charles got to hold Sian he handed her back with a pained expression. "Byron, your baby smells of sick" We waited 4 long years for Charles and Sue to have their first baby, Ben, just so Byron could say it back!

What was going to be one night in their house became three. We felt so relaxed there and the finances were running low so when Charles and Sue's daughter Hannah begged and begged and begged us to stay longer we did. She is just about the funniest kid we have ever met. She speaks at a million miles an hour and asks a gazillion questions and has an answer for everything. She gets away with it because of her big eyes and her earnest expression. She would talk to anyone.

On our last night we wanted to buy some flowers for Sue to thank her for everything. We asked Hannah if she wanted to come with us to help us choose the best ones. She was so excited in the shop and as we were paying she smiled at the cashier and said. "These aren't my parents you know, they're not even relatives, I only met them a short time ago" We grabbed our change and receipt and pushed her out the door before the shopkeeper could ring the police on us for abducting her!

It was the perfect way to end our trip. Surrounded by good friends, good food a steady supply of wine. And of course the comfortable banter between friends...

"I have more hair than you"
"No, mine is definitely thicker"
"But I can see a thinning patch on the back of your head"
"No way mate, that's just sun-kissed"
"Sun-kissed my arse, you're going grey"
"Am not"
"Are too"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

21:01:14 Josie

"I have enough friends you know, I don't need another one" The famous quote from the beginning of another amazing friendship! I was pregnant with Gareth and had joined an ante-natal yoga class to help me to find my inner calm. There was a girl there who always had a grin on her face, who let out squeals of laughter at the most inappropriate moments, like while we were on all fours with our bums sticking up and our belly's hanging low. She always looked so posh with her bright coloured lipstick and her gorgeous clothes. She offered me a lift to and from the classes when she realised we lived in neighbouring villages.

It was on the way home from one of these classes that she said those famous words. I didn't quite know what to say back and just sat in the passenger seat and stared open mouthed until she looked over and burst out laughing. "I really have you know, but I like you!" "I'm just going to have to make room for one more" And so began a friendship with one of the most bubbly and enthusiastic women I have ever met. The friendship stayed superficial as we maintained our masks of perfection for the first few months and then came the day that we dared to lower them.

We were in a parent and child changing room in a local swimming pool. We had spent time together in the baby pool with our tiny babies and were wet and bedraggled and trying to get babies and ourselves dry and warm before they would need their next feeds. Josie asked me how I was getting on juggling life with my newborn. I answered with a bright and cheery "everything-is-wonderful-thanks" that wasn't altogether true and asked her how she was. She looked me in the eye and I watched the tears spill over her cheeks as she said that actually she felt shit, That she was tired, the house was in a constant mess, and her husband had forgotten to put the bottles in the sterilizer before going to work AGAIN. I stood there and watched as the image of my friend with the perfect and sophisticated life crumbled and what was left behind was a real, normal mum going through everything I was. The tears welled up in my eyes as I sobbed, me too. We clung to each other and cried our hearts out as our babies lay snug in their towels not knowing what all the fuss was about. The door opened and another mum started to come in with her kids and then made a hasty exit. That was enough to turn the tears into howls of laughter as we realised how crazy we looked.

Thank you Josie for being the first to take down your mask and for being an honest and real friend to me ever since.

Monday, January 20, 2014

20:01:14 The Girls

The best part of being in Northampton was meeting up with old friends. When I was expecting Sian, our first baby, Byron and I attended a weekly evening parenting group in the local hospital. Being there as a couple we were more interested in soaking up information than making new friends. We felt very young. I was 24 and at least 10 years younger than most of the other women there. My midwife encouraged me to double up by attending her weekly morning class in the local Doctors surgery. Even though the info was the same she knew it was generally attended by women on their own who were more likely to want to make friends with each other.

And so I made some of the best friendships of my life with Cathy, Zoe and Theresa. We watched and compared notes as our babies reached their milestones . We went to baby swim lessons, mothers groups and spent numerous mornings at each others houses. We celebrated each new pregnancy within our group and put together goody bags as one of us neared a due date. We became each others first babysitters, we lent on each other as life dealt us blows we didn't see coming. We drank tea, we laughed, we talked about our fears, our hopes, our dreams. We let off steam and then slumped exhausted as hugs were offered and more tea was made. We learnt to be less than perfect around each other and shattered the myths of the mothers and babies we saw in our glossy baby magazines.

These girls helped me through the hardest days of motherhood, the loss of a pregnancy and the trepidation of a subsequent one. We saw each others worst and we brought out each others best. As this photo was taken the eight years since we last sat together melted away as though nothing had changed. I know no matter how long it is until we sit together again I will always love these girls.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

19:01:14 Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves. A rarity in Australia, unless you come upon an occasional imported Maple tree in a park. All native Australian trees retain their leaves over winter and shed their bark instead. As soon as Rhiannon saw these leaves from the car window she knew she wanted to run through them and to try out her new camera she got for Christmas. She had so much fun on the holiday playing with the different settings and trying out different angles. This photo was taken by her of her own feet. It's so good watching her grow up and getting a glimpse of her talents and wondering what she will become when she is older...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

18:01:14 Ice

Gareth was entranced by ice. Testing a puddle gingerly with his shoe to see if the top layer was frozen. Watching it split and crack into a thousand pieces as he brought the weight of his foot down on it. Picking pieces up in his gloved hand and watching the heat from his fingers melt holes in it like Swiss cheese. Finding wonder in something so simple and having to remind myself that this is something he has not seen since he was two!

Friday, January 17, 2014

17:01:14 Frozen leaves

I loved the feeling of walking over frosty leaves, picking them up from the ground and trying to admire the delicate frost patterns before the winter sun melted them in seconds! The look and feel of the varieties of leaves that were once so familiar but from trees we do not have in Australia. No gum leaves to be found or scattered gum bark curled and crisp on hot dry ground. Instead we watched the dew drops soak our shoes and we left our sole prints in the damp ground.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

16:01:14 Northampton walking.

Northampton. The place that became home to me when I was 22. Newly married and living away from my home country for the first time in my life. Adjusting from being "me" to being "us". Growing to know Byron more and more. No longer just seeing each other for fleeting weekends, no cares in the world. Now we were learning how to share a house, share money, share our loves and our hates. Every day we grew to know each other a little more, we learned communicate, to compromise. We bought our first house, brought our babies home from hospital and learned how to become a family.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

15:01:14 Glum Harvey, Glum Rhiannon

Saying goodbye was an inevitable part of our trip. For all the joys of seeing friends and family came the sadness of the final hug, the promises to stay in touch, to ring more, email more, to meet again before too long. Part of my job as a mum was not to protect my kids from the sadness of goodbyes but to make sure that they were all coping in their own ways with the emotions they were going through.

Rhiannon has a sensitive heart. When she is sad she goes quiet. She melts into the background and the danger is that she will go unnoticed and won't talk about how she feels unless asked.

Out of all of us Rhiannon bonded the deepest with Julie's dog Harvey. It's like they communicated silently. Most evenings she sat next to him on the floor stroking his belly absent-mindedly as he dozed, every so often he'd open an eye to check she was still there. On the last day they were both very quiet. It was hard to put my finger on it but both of them seemed to sense that goodbye was creeping closer.

After Rhiannon had finished packing her bags she went off to find Harvey who had gone to sit in his chair in the corner. She sat there with him quietly, forehead to forehead. Quiet moods and sad eyes.

This photo speaks volumes. It sums up the mood of the final day in Wales. Julie says that Harvey was out of sorts for days after we left, pacing the rooms we had stayed in and sitting in his chair watching out the window...

Someone over here misses you too Harvey. She doesn't say much but I can hear it in her silence...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

14:01:10 Three men and a pint

A rare moment. Byron, his Dad and his brother spending time together over a beer. The three faces side by side, seeing the character of one person reflected in another. These are the days we will look back on in future years and wish there had been more of. Always time for "One for road" As they say in Eire, and in Wales too I am sure!

Monday, January 13, 2014

13:01:14 Robin

One of my things I hoped to see while away was a robin. I remember as a child sitting quietly by the back kitchen door watching the bread crumbs I had scattered on the frosty patio slabs and waiting, waiting, waiting patiently for the robin to come down from the tree to eat them. Such a tiny bird and such a beautiful red chest. I was really happy when I managed to take this photo of one on an early morning walk.

There is an Irish Folk tale about how the robin got his red breast. I found a version of it online which I will share with you here...

How the Robin Got His Red Breast (based on an Irish folk tale)

retold by Cathy S. Mosley

Many years ago, late in the year, a cruel wind brought biting cold weather; making the night more bitter for a father and son who had traveled far, and still had farther to go. They had sought a cottage, a barn, or even a tree - anyplace they could seek shelter. But there was nothing to be seen or found, except for a bush, and at last the father built a fire and told his son to try and sleep a little. And when the father's eyes began to droop he woke his son,and bid him watch the fire. Oh how the boy tried to stay awake! But he hadn't really slept while lying on the frozen ground and he was still exhausted from the walk. His eyes got lower. His head got lower. The fire got lower. So low in fact that a starving wolf began to inch nearer the sleeping pair. But there was one who was awake. There was one who saw everything from amidst the barren bush; a little bird who was as gray as the brambly wood. The bird hopped down and began fanning the flickering embers until the flames began to lick out hungrily; nor did the little bird stop, despite the pain on his breast, until the flames were dancing with strength. And from that day on the Robin has proudly worn a red breast.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

12:01:14 Blue-Biiiiiirds!

Byron has been a passionate supporter of the Cardiff City football club, the "Bluebirds" since childhood. His weekend moods can dramatically raise and lower depending on the results of his teams current match. He has supported them through thick and thin and has bitten his nails and agonized as he watched them climb the league table over the last few years. 

This year they made into the top division and they are playing against the royalty of the football kingdom. It has always been a dream of his to see them play in their new stadium and when this trip was first tentatively planned he was already checking the 2014 season schedule to see if his dreams were about to come true. 

The benefits of playing such high profile clubs are many but there are drawbacks too. Ticket availability is very tricky. Tickets usually get released to season ticket holders first and only the remaining tickets (if any) will get released to the general public. Byron's nephew Kerry has now elevated himself to hero status as he managed to get his hands on SIX tickets to the game the weekend Byron was in Wales. 

Kerry, Byron, Byron's father Den, brother-in-law Huw, and nephew-in-law Rhys made up five seats and there was one left over. Gareth was chuffed to bits when he was given the final seat. A day out at the football with all the men in the family! I don't know who was the most excited getting ready to go that day! The girls were all dropped in Cardiff and the men then carried on to the football ground.

In Byron's words "Happy Days!"

Saturday, January 11, 2014

11:01:14 Cousins

The girls have a cousin of a similar age to them in Wales. Last time we saw Jasmine she was only a young child and it has been hard to imagine what sort of a teenager she is growing into. Birthdays and Christmas gifts can be a bit hit and miss when you are buying for someone you last saw in a pink barbie dress!

We spent a day at Byron's brothers house and got there shortly before Jasmine was due out of school. She wasn't expecting to see us till she got home but we decided to walk up to her school and wait outside the gates for her to come out. As the school emptied there was a steady stream of girls and boys, all wearing the same uniforms pouring out the different doors of the school. Almost every girl had hair down past their shoulders and we scanned back and forth with no idea which one was her. Finally her mum spotted her and pointed her out to us while she was still a bit away from us. Our girls walked bravely through the school gates and towards her. Seeing the puzzled look on her face and then the smile of recognition was so good! They walked on ahead of us as teenagers do talking and catching up as we walked behind laughing at how similar they all looked.

I think seeing all the kids on this holiday has been one of the highlights. No matter how many emails pass between myself and my friends or between Byron and his brother it is simply not the same as seeing them face to face and getting to know who they are now and not who we remember them to be from 8 years ago.

Friday, January 10, 2014

10:01:14 Nanny Ponty

An important item on our To-Do list while in Wales was to visit the crematorium where Byron's Nanny Ponty's ashes are buried. Nanny Ponty was a one of a kind. She was fiercely independent and to the point. What you saw was what you got. I met her during the last decade of her life and she was an amazing woman. The stories I have heard about her life are as colourful as she was. She used to visit Byron's family home every weekend and would climb the steep hill to their house with heavy carrier bags full of magazines and sweets. She wouldn't let anyone help her and God forbid she would be offered a lift!She was independant to the last.

She loved playing Bingo and every time I saw her she would be talking about the big prizes she was close to winning. She always had a lottery ticket ready to check and we would make a very dramatic and false fuss of her telling her how much we loved he over and over. The bigger the jackpot the more we would take her coat and fluff up her seat cushions for her. She would look at me with a wicked glint of humour in her eye and say "Oh ay, you'll keep!"

The girls have memories of her but Gareth was only a toddler when she died. Even so all three kids helped to look up and down the rows of flowers until we found her plaque. They cut roses and put fresh water in the vase and we stood in a circle around her talking of all the funny memories we have of her.

Sian said she heard an expression that people die twice. Once when their heart stops beating and again when someone says their name for the last time.

Nanny Ponty, you will always be spoken about in our home. We will laugh at your stubbornness and feel humbled by your strength. We will never forget you. xo

Thursday, January 09, 2014

09:01:14 They call it puppy love...

Walking Harvey the boxer dog was one of the highlights of our time in Wales. If I'm honest we were a little nervous about the idea of being in the same house as such a big dog. We've never owned a dog ourselves and the kids have usually been a bit timid around them in general. We shouldn't have worried. Harvey was just the softest, loveliest dog ever. We all fell in love with him and fought over who's turn it was to hold his lead on some beautiful crisp cold walks he brought us on. The walks gave Byron a chance to talk to the kids about his childhood and to show them places he used to play as a kid. It was real family bonding time. I loved the chance to stop and take photos of the trees that I was so used to seeing growing up but of course do not grow in Australia. Holly trees, Oaks, Sycamores. And of course little streams that had to be explored, fence posts that needed to be sniffed and puddles of rain water to drink!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

08:01:14 Julie

It's 8 years since the kids have seen their Auntie Julie. Byron's sister is a few years older than him and has always been the person he turned to for help or advice. She is the most genuinely sympathetic and empathetic person I know. If you are sad she is sad. If you are happy she is happy. She ran around preparing for our visit making up "care packages" in every bedroom with toiletries, treats and chocolate, loads and loads of chocolate!!! There was a tin next to my bed filled with bars of Cadbury's chocolate bars. Crunchies, flakes, twirls... what to choose each night as I sat in bed! We were made to feel ridiculously welcome and she has set the bar VERY high for a visit to Australia that she promises will happen at some stage in the future! She will have to give us plenty of warning so we get our spare room as inviting for her as she made hers for all of us!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

07:01:14 Duncannon

Duncannon. Our last night in Ireland before catching the early morning ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard. When we arrived in Duncannon it was in the middle of one of the worst storms in two decades. The house was out of oil to heat the radiators and the water. We were freezing and lit a roaring fire and thawed out in front of it. Rhiannon was mesmerized by the flickering flames and took charge of keeping it topped up with peat briquettes. It was wonderful to have a quiet night as a family after the emotional goodbyes to my parents in Dublin. We needed a little space to catch out thoughts and process the sadness we were feeling before the next leg of  our adventure.

Monday, January 06, 2014

06:01:14 The Hook

The Hook Lighthouse in Wexford. A magnificent building that has withstood the harshest of storms over hundreds of years. The lighthouse we walked around on new years eve 1999. Pushing Sian in a buggy, six months pregnant with Rhiannon and waiting for the news that my beloved Grandmother had died. She didn't want to see a new millennium. She had lived a life of love and laughter, firmness and prayer raising her family and had long expressed the desire that God would take her up to heaven so she could be reunited with my Grandad Luddy. We returned to The Hook 6 years later. It was our last night in Ireland before we emigrated to Australia. We did not know it but as we arrived there was an amazing outdoor classical concert about to start. The theme of the concert was emigration and was to recognize all the Irish people who over the years had left Ireland to start their lives in distant lands. The coincidence wasn't lost on us Granny, we do think you and Grandad Luddy may have had a part in that!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

05:01:14 Avoca

Outside Avoca. A beautiful cafe and restaurant with gift shops, home made delights and just about everything you didn't know you needed until you saw it! It was cold as we waited outside for everyone to catch up and go in. Coffee and Hot Chocolates were needed to warm us up and a hug from Dad had to do for now!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

04:01:14 Bewley's cafe

Bewley's cafe on Grafton Street. A place I first tried to look grown up and sophisticated while making a small coffee last an hour as a teenager. Often I walked in shivering because I had ignored my mothers advice to put another layer on as I left the house to catch the bus to town on a chilly winters day. I wouldn't admit she was right as I cupped my cold hands around a steaming cappuccino and spent the next hour people watching as busy shoppers walked up and down the street. I pretended to be Maeve Binchy as I made stories up in my head about their imaginary lives. The girl who looked like she was off to a supermodel shoot, the smart dressed man with the newspaper tucked under his arm that was on his way to close an important business deal, the tired mother who pushed the screaming baby in his stroller home to a messy house with a bare fridge...

Friday, January 03, 2014

03:01:14 Beginings

St Stephen's Green. The park bench Byron and I sat on in 1997 and watched our hands shake as we pulled a pregnancy stick out of its wrapper. A stick I had peed on in the nearby shopping center and had hurriedly stuffed back into its box so we could see it's results together. Yes, there were two blue lines! The beginning of a whole new chapter in our lives. And here she is on the same bench 16 years later!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

02:01:14 Clarendon Street

A beautiful moment caught in one simple shot. Lighting candles in Clarendon Street church. A hidden gem nestled behind the hustle and bustle of Grafton Street. A place my family has always had a special connection to. A church that I have gone in to light many a candle for a special intention that is sitting heavy on my heart. A church whos cool and silent interior gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat. When anything is unsettled in my life it is this church that my mum will often send me a text from telling me that one of the bright flames dancing in front of Our Lady is lit in the hope that smooth times will return.... and in God's own time they do. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

01:01:14 Selfie alert!

A family selfie! The first of many we took while we were away. This one was taken on O'Connell bridge with the river Liffey running fast underneath us. A place I used to wander as a teenager as I went from Henry street to Grafton street looking in all the shops and wondering what to spend my pocket money on. A bridge that often had a musician playing sad Irish melodies on one end while a bunch of skinny wanna be U2 teenagers belted out "With or without you" on the other bank. It was surreal to be here so many years later with teenagers of my own to nag and embarrass with pleas for just one more selfie....