Monday, 17 April 2017

EASTER: PLANT SOME NEW LIFE.



                             My bid to make Easter about more than the chocolate

I FEEL there must be quite a strong urban-rural divide when it comes to feasts like Christmas and Easter.

More so when you consider farming. Despite the fact that it's dying out a bit in Ireland, there's still a fair amount of farming on this island.

Because even though people, no matter what their background, usually have more in common than not, it's hard to imagine too many farmers, painstakingly hanging dozens of decorative eggs on the tree in their garden. I could be wrong.


Farming has changed, of course. As a child, I got to spend a fortnight each Summer, sharing a massive old farm house in Cork with two other families - one of whom owned the house and worked the farm.

They strut around the garden, bullying the dog

They were the days before health and safety regulations tied us all up in knots, and when I wasn't digging sandcastles on the local beach with brothers and cousins, I was messing about a farmyard with the farmer's children.


But it's the closest I've come to real rural living. Ever.

And as I was buying a shoulder of lamb for the meal this year, it struck me how much of a disconnect there is between the farmer breeding those animals, and somebody like me buying the cut of meat at my local butcher's.


I'm not sentimental. We don't eat huge amounts of meat, but we are all happy omnivores.


But despite my city background, I know enough to realise how little I know about the realities of life at the other end of the food chain.

Which is probably why, as I get a bit older, I find myself wondering if I should make a bit more effort to grow some food.

Note I said, grow some food. Not keep animals. Friends of ours keep laying hens in their suburban garden. They have names like Flossie and Henrietta, and when they are not in their enclosure, they strut around the garden, bullying the dog, or wander into the kitchen for a look around. I'm not quite ready for that.

I don't want to boast, but I am a brilliant dandelion grower

But in years gone past, we have grown tomatoes and strawberries and raspberries on our patio. We went a bit overboard with the tomatoes, and because they were all the same variety, they all ripened at the same time.

I grew very creative. Short of bottling them - I have my limits - we ate them with everything. I think of that year as my Italian Summer.

Another year we tried to grow potatoes down the end of the garden, and dubbed them surprise potatoes, because it was a surprise when we found one.

And I swore I'd never grow broccoli again, when the slugs grew fat on them.

It's tempting to imagine though, that with a bit of work, I could grow a few easy things. Onions, maybe. Lettuce.

I was thrilled to read that dandelions are completely edible. Packed with Vitamin C, they can be washed and scattered through your salad. I don't want to boast, but I am a brilliant dandelion grower. 

And we still have rocket growing wild on our doorstep, after we planted it two years ago!

I also thought I had mint, and chopped up a bunch of leaves to fragrance the jug of drinking water on the table, at a recent dinner with friends.

It was only afterwards that I discovered that the huge plant was actually a huge - though harmless - weed.

It's not the only weed I haven't tackled: we have giant planters that once sported shrubs and flowers. They are currently a mess, but perfect for small-scale herb and vegetable growing, and less daunting than a full vegetable patch.  

So as I nibble on a chocolate egg this Easter, I know this year, I will again strive, in my own small way, to connect at a very basic level, with our food.

Cáisc shona dhiabh.*

                                                     *



*Happy Easter.

Dear reader,

Warm welcome from Dublin this Easter. 
Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.

Why not become a FOLLOWER of this blog? When I get 50 followers, I'll draw out all the names from a hat, and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. Or you can nominate a friend to receive it instead.  


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.

   1. NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Check out the witty Irish romantic comedy, Going Against Type. Sample chapters/buy links @ Tirgearr Publishing

Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 3 April 2017

TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH: INSTRUCTIONS INCLUDED



                                           The big day: couples have a catalogue of choice.                                 



AN IRISH couple recently exchanged their wedding vows in Dublin's Ikea.

There, in that vast cathedral of beautiful beds, colourful couches and flat-packed bookshelves, they stood in front of their closest family and friends, the store staff and a vast TV audience, and professed their love, devotion and promises, to assemble forever, together.

The venue for such a special occasion is the ultimate expression of reality TV, not to mention the result of leaving a vastly important decision entirely to the groom.

The Ikea couple were contestants on Don't Tell The Bride


And before everyone jumps up and down in indignation, at my apparent sexism, let me point out a couple of things.

1. Most men, are to my mind, fabulous, wonderful, caring, strong, problem-solving, supportive people. I am married to one.

2. In a million years, I would not have let him choose where and how we exchanged our wedding vows. It has to be a joint decision.

The Ikea couple were contestants on the popular Irish reality TV show, Don't Tell The Bride. The bride in question (I feel so bad, calling her the Ikea bride), apparently expressed a long-held wish to wed in a castle. Enough said.

I'm trying not to be too prescriptive. When I married 24 years ago (what can I say? I married VERY young ;) it was a traditional church wedding.

The kind of wedding that most couples in Ireland had at that time. Those who didn't want a church wedding, got married in a registry office.

What we don't do...is hand over control for our big day to the groom


Now, thanks to more relaxed rules, state ceremonies don't have to be in an office. They can be in beautiful places like castles and public gardens.

We're still not at the stage where couples can marry in their own garden, or on a beach. Although admittedly, it's hard to see many opting for an Irish beach. Which are beautiful in a kind of wild and wind-swept way.  

But what we don't do - and I'm talking about women - is hand over complete control for our big day to the groom.

Apart from the fact that he has splendid speeches and mad moves on the dance floor to worry about, the Ikea wedding proves that men are not entirely clued into romantic venues.

I'm open to the possibility that the Ikea bride really likes Ikea

Probably because until most men actually decide to marry, they haven't given their wedding a single thought.

Most women, on the other hand - and certainly once they've decided to marry - give it a lot of thought.


They want it to be special. And generally not in an oh-my-God-they've-an-amazing-special-on-cushions-and-throws, as they walk up the aisle.


Let's leave the whole life-long walking-up-the-aisle-in-a-castle-dream, aside for now. I'm open to the possibility that the Ikea bride really likes Ikea. And you know, maybe the lovely Ikea people threw in those fab Swedish meatballs for their wedding feast.

Ikea is unlike most other big stores: it's a destination. When the Dublin store opened a few years ago, I paid a visit. Maybe two. I loved what they sell. What's not to love? You can furnish your whole house and buy cool Swedish food all under the one roof.

But once you're there, it's hard to leave. I was there for half a day: that's how long it took me to find my way out of the place.

Yes, I do have an appalling sense of direction. But I digress. 

If I were that gorgeous Ikea bride, I'd be planning my first wedding anniversary now: a romantic weekend away in a beautiful Irish castle.

My advice, for what it's worth: Don't tell the groom.


                                                                                    *

 Dear reader,

Big welcome from Dublin, and thanks a million for popping by.
Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.

Why not become a FOLLOWER of this blog? When I get 50 followers, I'll draw out all the names from a hat, and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. Or you can nominate a friend to receive it instead.  
Feel free to drop by NIUME where my blog is syndicated.

If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.

   1. NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Check out the witty Irish romantic comedy, Going Against Type. Sample chapters/buy links @ Tirgearr Publishing

Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 20 March 2017

A Saint by any other name


                                Confirmation: The one time children get to choose their own name.


WHAT'S in a name?

What about Ignatious or Gertrude, Scholastica or Hubert? Strange? Old-fashioned? Slightly religious sounding? Check.

All saints' names: none of them commonly used. Yet still chosen by Catholics for one of the defining days in their young lives: Confirmation. 

This is the season for it: a time when the majority of children aged 11 or 12, in their final year of primary school, receive the Catholic sacrament.

Earlier this month, a friend's 12 year old daughter chose the name Agnes.


It is - in this country at least - considered a very old-fashioned name. In the last 50 years, you won't find it in the top 10 baby names for girls.

But despite the fact that the average 12 year old has strong views about everything from outfits for the day, to how they'd like to celebrate this milestone, their chosen names are sweetly out of touch with modern times.

By May, lots of our boys will boast the name Francis

Popes' names tend to be popular for boys. A few years ago, there was a fair smattering of Benedicts. By May - the end of Confirmation season - lots of our young boys will boast the name Francis.


Traditionally, devotion to saints was as important in Ireland as devotion to God. Or Guinness. Our national saint, Patrick, is celebrated on March 17th, all around the world. Apparently he married a woman called Sheelagh. Another saint's name, as it happens. 

Most of the...schools are still under the influence of the religious orders

Of course, in past generations, everyone had their own special saint. If you were worried about anything, it was straight to the church to light a candle.

St Anthony: the patron saint of lost things. I have a feeling that he's a massively busy saint. St Jude: the patron saint of lost causes. Ditto, St Jude! St Gerard Majella: the patron saint of pregnant women. Far as I know, there's a patron saint for just about everything.

Devotions always seemed to matter more to women. Likely because in a society run by men, particularly by men in the Catholic Church, they probably figured they had a better chance of sorting their problems with a bit of divine intervention. 


And in 2017, the reason so many Irish children are confirmed, may have less to do with faith and devotion, and more to do with the fact that most of the secondary schools are still under the influence of the religious orders.

Whilst we have some of the most highly educated youngsters in the world, many of our schools require children to have been baptised and confirmed before admission. 


Part of the celebration is money

The right or wrong of this is a debate for another day. And don't get me wrong: we have choices. More multi-denominational and secular schools means increasing freedom for families.


Yet Confirmation continues to be hugely important in the lives of young Irish people. Not least because it's considered a day of celebration.

And there's money involved. Most children who make their Confirmation, also make a few hundred euros, thanks to godparents, grandparents and various generous well-wishers.

That saint's name is rarely used in ordinary life after that. A birth cert or a passport will have a first and middle name. Nobody will ever know the person's own chosen name, unless they are told.

The Dad delights in telling people his Confirmation name: Tarsisious. But he put a huge amount of thought into his choice.

As did the child who chose Agnes. The early Roman is the patron saint of amongst other things, chastity, girls, engaged couples and rape survivors. The 12 year old who took her name, is well read and highly articulate. She describes herself as a feminist.

Whatever your beliefs, in a world where pre-teens are under increasing social, economic and peer pressures, the act of choosing a saint's name is, if nothing else, a perfect excuse for self-reflection.


                                                                               *

Dear reader,

Big welcome from Dublin, and thanks a million for popping by.
Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.

Why not become a FOLLOWER of this blog? When I get 50 followers, I'll draw out all the names from a hat, and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. If you've already read it, you can nominate a friend to receive it instead.  


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.

   1. NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a different read this week, why not try a witty, Irish romantic comedy? Check sample chapters/buy links @ Tirgearr Publishing

Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 6 March 2017

BED-IN WITH A NEW WORKPLACE PRACTICE




                             Work breaks: whatever happened to coffee?



THE SWEDES have done it again.

The Swedish people, that is. Not the rather underrated vegetable: that is a column for another day.


In a bid to keep their workers happy and productive, they recently proposed that all gainfully employed adults should take an hour during the working day to, ahem...get together with their spouse or partner.


I remember a time when the height of indulgence was an office kettle.

It's all very scientific, of course. Isn't everything? Studies have shown that a good um, relationship with one's partner is vital for one's health and well-being, and the longevity of said relationship. And happier people make happier workers.

Let's face it, it doesn't take science to convince us of that. But I'm not convinced the middle of the working day is the right time.

Don't get me wrong. I remember a time in Ireland when it was perfectly acceptable to smoke in the workplace, and the height of indulgence was an office kettle.  

But whatever about Sweden (where much is done differently), I can't really see the whole idea catching on here.

To begin with, it all seems rather unmanageable. I know people who commute two hours a day for work. No calculator needed for that maths.

I could imagine a lot of people pretending to be single.

Not to mention the fact that it's a bit unfair to anyone who's not in a relationship. Although presumably they would still get the hour off to do whatever they want.

Like go for a walk. Or a run. Maybe do a bit of shopping, or meet a friend for coffee. Given those arguably civilised alternatives, I could imagine a lot of people who might pretend to be single.

And then there's the other problem. We Irish generally don't discuss that aspect of our lives. Not with our parents or our children. Usually not even with our doctor. And certainly not with people at work.

It's not that we have any hang ups. The only reason I'm dancing around the subject here, is because this is a family friendly column. Ahem. 

But no self-respecting Irish person wants to arrive back to work for the afternoon, knowing that everyone else knows about their shenanigans during the previous hour. And knowing that their colleagues were up to the same shenanigans.

No matter that it might make everyone happier and kinder and more relaxed. Which is the thinking behind this Swedish idea.

Skiving off for a bit of personal relations is a sticky wicket.

We'd prefer our boss to see us standing on a table, screeching tunelessly at the Christmas party, thanks to seven glasses of spiked punch, than suffer the mortification of him/her knowing that we have an er, active love life.

Besides, there's far cooler workplace initiatives that we could embrace: better biscuits, hand lotion in the loos, lots of plants...we could lose the run of ourselves!

But skiving off for a bit of personal relations is a sticky wicket.
The next thing we'd know, we'd all be expecting flexi-time for young parents, or bring-your-child-to-work days.

Or bring-your-pet-to-work days, for that matter.

There's no need for any of it. Here in Ireland, we excel at drinking away our tensions and work anxieties in the pub every weekend. With the bonus of a weekend that can begin any day of the week.

Why we'd ever need to swap this, for improving our personal relationship with our life partner, is a complete mystery.

                                                       *


Dear reader,
Big welcome from Dublin, and thanks a million for popping by.
Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.

Why not become a FOLLOWER of this blog? When I get 50 followers, I'll draw out all the names from a hat, and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. If you've already read it, you can nominate a friend to receive it instead.  


To celebrate my Tirgearr Publishing's 5th Anniversary, their SALE and GIVEAWAY runs through March 8th. My Irish romantic comedy, GOING AGAINST TYPE is one of the many fabulous books reduced at Tirgearr Publishing.

Amazon USA
 99cAmazon UK   99p


***For your chance to win a #KindleFire and lots of other prizes and bargains, join in the fun at #TirgearrPublishing's Birthday Bash: www.tirpub.com/birthday.***


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.

   1. NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 20 February 2017

WHY HOLIDAYS ARE PLANE SAILING!


                      February: dreams of blue skies and sandy beaches


I HAVE absolutely no scientific evidence to back up this next statement, but anyone who reads this fortnightly column knows that's never stopped me before.

Here goes: February is the month when most people book sun holidays.


The reason is simple. It's still cold and rainy outside and here in Northern climes, we are pale-faced and seriously lacking in Vitamin D. In theory, Spring is here. In reality, every bone in our body aches for warm sun and sandy beaches.

And the holiday catalogues, slyly slipped between the pages of national newspapers or delivered weekly through letterboxes, become our favourite reading.

We pore over those perfect photos of exotic places, mentally placing ourselves in the picture, holding a fruit punch and our Kindle, sun-kissed under a straw hat.

At some stage you have to cross a huge expanse of water

That's for those of us who like to travel, of course.


And anyone living on a smallish island hanging off the far western tip of Europe, knows how important that is.


Because the problem with island-living, is that you can't just hop in a car and drive to a different country to experience their wonderful culture/food/people. At some stage you have to cross a huge expanse of water.

And for many, herein lies the problem. Loads of people hate ferries. They get sea-sick, or nervous - or they hate the length of time it takes to travel. Whatever it is, crossing the sea by ship is out of the question.

Decanted all your liquids into poly-pocket-sized bottles

Flying is a different matter.

Anyone experience the annual joy of leaving the country, via airplane, with a family?

You've spent a week rolling the minimum of clothes into the tiniest of suitcases, decanted all your liquids into poly-pocket sized bottles, only to disrobe in front of half the country's population, because even though you are wearing NO METAL, the metal detector at the airport has other ideas!

Those treats aside, many people don't like to fly. Quite astounding, but there you go.

When our offspring were little, we spent two weeks one Summer on the beautiful island of Jersey, off the English coast.

It's everything you might imagine: quaint old villages, beautiful beaches, lovely people, wonderful weather. When we were there, the speed limit for the whole island was about 40 mph.*


Most interesting, the whole island is just under 45 square miles.


Which made it more astonishing when we met one resident who had never been off the island. Ever. He was a young man, about to be married. His bride-to-be was also from Jersey.

He was persuaded to attend a one-day Fear of Flying course

As he had a phobia about travelling over water, they would spend their honeymoon on the island. And set up home there.

The Dad (my dad) also harbours a life-long fear of flying. This, despite the fact that he worked for years in an industry which meant regular trips abroad. 

A few years ago, he was persuaded to attend a one-day Fear of Flying course, given by one of our biggest airlines.

He found himself in a room with a group of people, all ages and backgrounds. All with one thing in common.

It was all going splendidly, until The Dad began to ask questions.

"Do you know that you have a far greater chance of dying in a road crash, than you have of dying in a plane crash?" the instructor said. The Dad stuck up his hand.


"Wouldn't you also stand a far greater chance of walking away from a road crash, than a plane crash?"

The thing is, I can swim, but I can't fly

The instructor smiled patiently.
"Well, did you also know that you have a far greater chance of being on a sinking ferry, than being in a plane crash?"

"I think I'd prefer to take my chances with the ferry," said The Dad. "The thing is, I can swim, but I can't fly."

All of this must have had some effect on me. I travel by plane, but I'm never too happy about it.


One year, pre-holiday, I mentioned my nerves to the sales person in my local health shop. She produced a mild, natural remedy for relaxation.

I figured it probably wouldn't help, but it wouldn't do any harm. I took it an hour before we boarded the plane.

Within twenty minutes of boarding, I was fast asleep. I woke up just as we were landing, helped to organise the offspring, collect the bags and find our rented car. We had a two hour drive ahead of us. And I was the map reader.

The husband later told me that The Eldest, who was about eleven at the time, read the map from the back seat. I snored the whole way there. He was baffled that I was so tired.

In hindsight, I should have foreseen what would happen. I can barely manage a half glass of wine WITH FOOD, and more than one painkiller gives me a disconcerting high.

When it comes to sedatives - natural or not - I am clearly a light-weight.


I still fly.

But these days, I just brace myself.

                                                             *

* I am not being paid to promote Jersey!


Dear reader,
Big welcome from Dublin, and thanks a million for popping by.
Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.

My new competition continues: simply become a FOLLOWER of this blog. When I get 50 followers, I will put the names into a hat and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. 


To celebrate my publisher's 5th Anniversary, their Birthday SALE and GIVEAWAY continues through MARCH 8th. My Irish romantic comedy, GOING AGAINST TYPE is one of the many fabulous books reduced at Tirgearr Publishing.

Amazon USA
 99cAmazon UK   99p


***For your chance to win a #KindleFire and lots of other prizes and bargains, join in the fun at #TirgearrPublishing's Birthday Bash: www.tirpub.com/birthday.***


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box to the top right of this post.

What does that mean?
   1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 6 February 2017

SPRING FEVERS




                                        Artistic endeavours always seem possible in Spring.


FEBRUARY 1st marked St Bridget's Day in Ireland. It also marked the first day of Spring.

By anyone's standards, it wasn't a bad start to the new season. It might have drizzled rain all day, but it was warm.

The fact that February 2nd was cold and stormy, is neither here nor there. It's Springtime in Ireland. And that's a cause for celebration.

It's also a time for Spring fevers. And I don't mean the type that send you crawling back to bed with hot drinks and painkillers. I experienced that particular joy for half of January!

Looking back, I know I was delusional

But with new year resolutions already a distant memory, Spring lends itself to new projects. 

No matter how mad.

One February I decided that decluttering the house AND painting all the pine furniture would be a perfect 28 day job.

Looking back, I know I was delusional. At the time, I wondered how I'd never thought of it before.

The first day was fantastic: a whole room got decluttered.

And even though nobody noticed how minimalist the bathroom was, I didn't mind.

By day four, I despaired of the whole throwing-stuff-out part of the project. It's not something I do well. I turned my attentions instead, to the painting bit.

When people enquire, I tell them it's a special paint technique

To this day, we have a strangely painted, blue mirror in the guest loo. It sports a giant, white silk flower in the top corner. The Middle One, who's very artistic, is deeply embarrassed by it. When people enquire, I tell them that it's a special paint technique.

It isn't. It's simply that I used the wrong sort of paint, and wasn't able to get the cover I needed on the wood.

I abandoned that particular project after that, much to my family's relief.

Then there was the year I thought growing mushrooms in my laundry room, was the pinnacle of self sufficiency. The kit came via a mail order company.

My excitement, when it arrived, was almost too much: the Styrofoam box filled with soil and the beginnings of a year's supply of mushrooms.

Clearly, it was a slow month.

But it got more exciting about a week later.

     "Where's those batteries I bought?" the husband asked.
     "What batteries?"
     "Pretty sure I left them in the laundry room."
     "Did you look?"
     "Of course I did. By the way, I found an old box of dirt out there."
     "You didn't do anything awful with it, did you?"
     "I scattered it around the flower beds in the garden. I wouldn't just throw it out, obviously."

Imagine her horror when thousands of small, white maggots spilled out

The best Spring project I ever heard about, also involved gardening. Although on a grander scale than growing mushrooms in a box.

A friend's husband announced that he was planning a decent-sized vegetable plot. It would be done properly. The first thing needed, apparently, was a good compost bin.

The friend paid no attention to any of this. It was the husband's project. And he was happy not to share too many details.

So when a box arrived in the post a couple of weeks later, she brought it in to the kitchen and opened it. I can only imagine her horror, when thousands of small, white maggots spilled out onto her table and all over the floor: the starter kit for the compost bin.

That evening, her husband arrived home to a spotlessly clean kitchen and a note from his wife to say she was spending the night on her own in a local hotel.

He got a week in the spare room.

Spring fevers? Like any kind, you're best to let them run their course.

And hope you'll come through the other side.

                                                          *


Dear reader,
Big welcome from Dublin, and thanks a million for popping by.


Please SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below. Or feel free to leave a comment :)

This month, I'm starting a little competition. Simply become a FOLLOWER of this blog. When I get 50 followers, I will put the names into a hat and gift an e-copy of my book, through Amazon, to 3 winners. 



If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box to the top right of this post.

What does that mean?
   1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.


Meanwhile, with Valentine's Day around the corner, why not treat yourself to an Irish romantic comedy, 'Going Against Type'?

The link below will bring you to Tirgearr Publishing, where you can enjoy some free sample chapters, and buy links for every e-reader.

Tirgearr Publishing
 


Have a lovely week, 
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 23 January 2017

YOU'RE GOING OUT LIKE THAT?

                       January nights out are more difficult when you've got Christmas baggage!

'YOU'RE not going out dressed like that.'        
'I am. What's wrong with it?'

       
'What's wrong with it? The neckline is way too low and the skirt is way too short! It's a bit slutty!'


I stare at my younger daughter and roll my eyes.


I'm still carrying all those extra seasonal pounds.    
'First of all, that's the sort of thing I'm supposed to say to you! You're not supposed to tell me what to wear.'


She peers at me over gorgeous, hipster spectacles.

      
'I have to, when you appear in something like that, Mum. I'm trying to save you from making a show of yourself.'


The husband and I are having dinner with some friends. I'm really looking forward to it. Or at least I was, until about two minutes ago.

       
Part of the problem, of course, is Christmas. To be more specific, the fact that we're barely through the other side. And I'm still carrying all those extra seasonal pounds.

The dress - the little black number that I've had, since my offspring were too young to notice what I wore - is stretchy. Which is why I'm wearing it tonight.

         
And I've dressed it down. This is a casual enough get together with friends, after all. I'm wearing a skinny black top underneath, so her accusation that my neckline is too low is a moot point.

Ditto the hemline. I'm wearing ribbed tights. With boots! It's all very Boho.

         
'Have you a nice skirt and top you could wear, Mum?' Her tone is the same one that the husband uses when he's asking the eldest if she'll be warm enough, as she heads out clubbing.

I'm wearing this. Get over yourself.

Just before he tries to persuade her to wear a cardigan.


The fact that she looks exactly the same as I used to at her age has completely escaped him.

         
'I'm sure I have a nice skirt and top,' I tell our middle child. 'But I'm wearing this. Get over yourself.'

        
'Fine.' She goes upstairs. Bloody cheek, I think. I look....great. And my hair is definitely working. I had it professionally styled yesterday. No, I look grand. Really.

The husband appears, jacket on, car keys in hand.

       
'You right?' says he.

       
'We're off, you lot. See you later!' I check on the boy, who's curled up in front of the TV, being minded by the eldest. The middle one comes running down the stairs, just as we go to leave.

         
'Wait, Mum. You're going to need this.'

       
'What is it?'


She thrusts something soft, long and floaty into my arms.

         
'It'll look great with that outfit,' she says. Her eyes plead with mine.


I sigh, and take the damned cardigan.

                                                           *


* Dear Reader, this column first appeared in This Funny Irish Life in Jan 2016. I have been sick, and was unable to write my column for this Monday. My column will return to normal for Monday, Feb 6. 

To share my column, please check the sharing buttons below. Or feel free to leave a comment :)

If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box to the top right of this post.

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   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.


One last thing: If you're looking for a light, fun, romantic read this new year, why not give my Irish romantic comedy, 'Going Against Type' a try?

The link below will bring you to the page at Tirgearr Publishing, where you can enjoy some free sample chapters, and all the buy links for every e-reader.*

Tirgearr Publishing
 


See you next time with a brand new column,
Hugs & xx
Sharon.

Monday, 9 January 2017

12 New Year Resolutions

                                                 
                                                    New Year Resolutions: Make a List!



SO HERE it is. After all the hype, all the weird and wonderful of 2016, the New Year has arrived.

And in the spirit of all that is new and fresh, I have decided to make a list of resolutions.

I know a lot of people make lists. Some people even stick to them.

But apart from scribbling down daily reminders of what I need to do in a desk diary - and believe me, if it's not in the diary, it doesn't get done - I tend to avoid them. 

However, 2017 is a new me. And so to my list.


1. Get to bed by 10.30 every night.

It might not seem like a big deal. Actually, it is. This is because some strange part of my brain tells me that the night hours are an excellent time for cleaning the kitchen or doing the laundry.

For some reason, I get a burst of energy, just when other people are powering down. It could be guilt. Who knows?

On occasion, I am also glued to a movie. Sadly, this is sometimes a horror movie. I say sadly, because I end up watching it BY MYSELF. Afterwards I am too terrified to move.

Especially up a dark stairs and into a dark bedroom, in a bid not to waken the rest of the family. Unless of course they've already been woken by my shrieks of terror as I watch the TV.

Plus, if I manage to get to bed by 10.30, I have some hope of getting up early the following morning. I am not a morning person.


2. Eat a better diet.

In my dreams I bounce out of bed, after a perfect 7 hours' sleep, to eat a breakfast of home-made muesli, tonnes of fruit and a mug of green tea.

In reality I drag myself out of bed to force down some packet muesli or eggs (fried!), followed by my morning coffee as soon as I can get it.


3. Eat less cheese.

I'm not cheating by making this a separate point. I love cheese in the way other people love chocolate (I love that too, but let's not get distracted).

I read that you can become addicted to cheese, in the same way you can become addicted to hard drugs. It's a possibility I'm willing to consider.


4. Lose Weight.

Says practically every woman, every year. What can I say? See 2. and 3.


5. Live in the moment.

Rather than in denial. I do denial extremely well. Like being completely unprepared for Christmas a week before Christmas. Because I have a whole week!

Or knowing I will lose a stone in weight for a wedding. When the wedding is less than a month away.

Denial: not just a river in Egypt.


6. Plan better.

Which, at a glance, seems to be the opposite of living in the moment. My theory is that if you can plan that moment, you can live it better. At this moment, that makes perfect sense to me. Moving on.


7. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Like the time I accidentally dropped a casserole dish on the kitchen floor and it smashed and cracked a tile so badly, we still have tape over it.

The tiles cover the whole floor and the cracked tile looks awful. I got more upset about the broken casserole. And the dinner I'd just made in it.


8. Use a bell.
It will mean less shouting at the offspring. Note I didn't say NO SHOUTING at the offspring. This is a list of resolutions, not miracles.

9. Exercise more.

This may appear to be part of the whole losing weight plan, but in fact I just need those extra endorphins. If losing weight is a side-effect, I'll take it on the chin. Or you know, off my hips. Whichever is more convenient.


10. Learn yoga.

I have a confession. I'm less interested in the whole mind-body-spirit thing, and more influenced by somebody I know who actually teaches yoga.

She is older than me. She still looks about 30: at a push. So the yoga aspiration is pure vanity. Now you know.


11. Declutter.

Be honest, if you've read my column before you knew this would be in here. Sometimes (late at night when I should be in bed) I declutter a small space.

Then I stand in that space and breathe. I'm convinced the air is different after I throw stuff out.

The possibility of decluttering the whole house is mind-blowing. Which might dove-tail nicely with yoga. I'll find out.


12. Stop making lists.

They're exhausting. And a bit scary.

                                                          *


A very Happy New Year to everyone. I'm looking forward to 2017, with a host of new columns, each of which will appear, as always, once a fortnight. 

If you'd like to share my column, please check the sharing buttons below.

Please feel free to leave a comment, I'm always thrilled to hear from readers around the world. 


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, go to the Follow by Email box to the top right of this post.

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   1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.


*If you're looking for a light, fun, romantic read this new year, why not give my Irish romantic comedy, 'Going Against Type' a try?

The link below will bring you to the page at Tirgearr Publishing, where you can enjoy some free sample chapters, and all the buy links for every e-reader.*

Tirgearr Publishing
 

Health and happiness for 2017,
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.
 

Monday, 26 December 2016

BREAKING THE ICE: BLADES OF SHAME.

                                   
                               Frozen wonderlands: but some of us should never skate!      


THE MIDDLE one bounces home from school, just before the Christmas holidays, with a big announcement.

"We're going ice-skating," she says. I look at her. No we're not, I think. The last time somebody in this family went ice-skating, he broke his elbow. He's still doing the physiotherapy exercises.

"With my year in school," she says, correctly reading my mind.

"Oh, right. When?"

"Tomorrow. Can't wait! I've never been ice-skating."

There is a good reason for that, but I decide to keep my negative thoughts on snow and ice to myself.

Where everyone dresses up and girls get proposed to...seriously romantic.

"You know, I don't know why we don't have permanent ice-skating rinks in Ireland. We could get in practice, then. Oh, you know what would be brilliant? A huge frozen lake like they have in New York at Christmas.

"Where everyone dresses up and whizzes around in circles, and girls get proposed to, and there's restaurants and cafes all around it, and you can drink your hot chocolate and look out. Seriously romantic, Mum."


Seriously unrealistic. Unless we undergo monumental climate change and have below freezing temperatures during the winter.

Clearly she's watched too much Frozen. I decide to offer some practical advice.


"Wrap up warmly."

"We're allowed to wear our own clothes, so I'll be wrapped up like a snowman."

"They're usually naked, except for a scarf."

I had to be scraped off the pavement by a colleague.

She rolls her eyes. The following day, she arrives home, limbs mercifully intact.


"How was the ice-skating?" I ask.

"Horrendous. I'm completely traumatised." She has a tendency for drama.

"What happened?"

"It was horrible, Mum. Everyone else was out there, scooting around, linking arms with their friends. One girl was skating backwards and doing turns! And I was holding on to the edge, because I knew I was going to die."

Melodrama aside, she may have learned an important lesson. In a small country, with a temperate climate, we don't have access to ice rinks and frozen lakes.


With the result that the small number of man-made rinks which pop up at this time of the year, tend to be sites of a ridiculous number of daft injuries.


It's the same way that most Irish people will never ski as well as say, the Swiss. Who all probably receive a miniature set of skis from the government when they are born.


But I say none of this to the distraught middle child. What I say is:


"Did you get out there at all?"

"Eventually," she says. "And then I fell. Really hard! On my bottom!"

Whoever came up with the idea of attaching knives to your feet to slide around all over the ice?

I can empathise. I even find it difficult to walk in the snow, when it starts to freeze over. I clearly remember crossing the river Liffey years ago, on my way into work.

I slipped on the icy bridge, ended up in the splits, and had to be scraped off the pavement by a colleague, who wasn't sure whether to laugh or commiserate.


"Your bottom is a good place to land. Did you go out again?"

"Why would I do that?" There is indignation in her voice. "Whoever came up with the idea of attaching knives to your feet to slide around all over the ice, is a complete..." she trails away, frustrated.

"So, will you have another go at it, do you think?"

"Never! I mean, I thought it'd be like Blades of Glory, or something." She starts to laugh at the admission. "You know the worst part?"

I think I can guess.

"There was this boy working there...."

My daughter. The ice queen.

Or not.

                                                                                  #

A very Happy Christmas to all my readers, and a huge thank you for visiting my blog this year, to read my fortnightly column.
If you'd like to share my column, please see the little buttons below.

Please feel free to leave a comment, I'm always thrilled to hear from readers around the world. 


If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every fortnight, please go to the Follow by Email box to the top right of this post.

What does that mean?
   1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.


*If you received an e-reader this Christmas, and are looking for a light, fun read over the holidays, why not give my Irish romantic comedy, 'Going Against Type' a try?

The link below will bring you to the page at Tirgearr Publishing, where you can enjoy some free sample chapters, and all the buy links for every e-reader.*

Tirgearr Publishing


Enjoy the rest of the holiday season.
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.
 


Monday, 12 December 2016

*Christmas Telly: Tune in Together*


                    Remember when the only screen in your home was a shared TV?


I'M GOING to go out on a limb here and declare that Christmas is the best time of the year for telly. 


There are tonnes of reasons why the advent - pun intended - of seasonal movies and fun quizzes, bring a warm, fuzzy feeling. 


And they're not what you might imagine. For a start, I'm not actually a telly addict. In fact, days might pass where I don't even switch it on. Those days, admittedly, tend to be a bit of a blur, but I digress.


Watching TV by oneself is never half as enjoyable.

Nor do I cheat by tuning into other screens. I don't have Netflix (yes, I know), and I don't know how to stream movies or series. Is that even legal? I haven't a clue.


Because for me, part of the enjoyment of watching TV, is the ritual. It goes a bit like this:


1. Choose the programme.


2. Get the work/cooking/running around after family/ordering around said family, organised in time to watch the programme.


3. Ensure the fire is lit, the room is tidy and the lighting perfect. Think warm glow of table lamps; none of your 'big lights', thanks very much.


4. Boil the kettle and make tea. Popcorn desirable, but not essential.


I'm a simple person.


TV time meant the whole, rowdy family sitting in the one room.

But it's not quite enough. And here's the crunch.
Watching TV by oneself is never half as enjoyable, as watching it with other people.

As a child, watching TV by oneself was rarely an option. There was one screen in the house. It came with a maximum of four to six channels (but only if you lived in Dublin). I know a lot of people who grew up in Two-Channel-Land: our national stations.


TV time meant the whole, rowdy family sitting in the one rom, arguing with the chat show host,  shouting encouragement to the hero in the thriller, squirming at the kiss-y bits in the romance, as our parents carefully avoided eye contact.


Now, the sight of a whole family coming together to watch the same thing on TV, is so rare, that it's not just a thing, it's a phenomenon. It has a name: shared media.


Which brings me back to Christmas TV. And why its importance in this part of the world, can't be overstated. Well, it can, obviously, but bear with me.


Unlike many of our European neighbours, Irish people get substantial Christmas holidays. Of course, these exclude our fantastic essential services people (Gardaí, medical people) and rather sadly, retailers, who barely get a break at all.


TV programmers tend to put a lot of thought into their scheduling.

But our schools break up around December 22. The new terms don't begin until after Little Christmas on January 6.


Most industries break up around the same time as the schools, and generally speaking, people are off until January 2.


So TV programmers tend to put a lot of thought into their scheduling, with the result that you'll get a fair mix of old favourites, new movies and plenty of Christmas specials over the period.


And there's more of a chance that I'll get The Eldest, The Middle One and The Boy to sit and watch with me. Even if it means that the older two are also on their phones, chatting to friends on Facebook.

Usually about whatever lame movie from the dinosaur era that their mother is making them watch. But I'm a patient person.


Last year, I managed to persuade The Boy to watch It's A Wonderful Life. I watch it every year. The Boy didn't quite get it: it didn't make a lot of sense, he said. I'll see if he'll give it another go, this Yuletide season.

I spent the first few weeks wondering if I could hide it behind a bamboo screen.

Another year, the husband bought a new telly just in time for Christmas. In fairness, our old TV had had its day and was almost walking to the recycling yard by itself. But our new TV - our current TV - is massive.

Men love it, of course. They wax lyrical about how great the sport looks on a big screen. Women give me knowing looks and shake their heads in sympathy.

I was so astounded at the size of the thing, that I spent the first few weeks wondering if I could hide it behind a tasteful bamboo screen.

But at Christmas time, even I love it. There is nothing like the joy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, or The Wizard of Oz, watched on a big screen. 

Bring on the Christmas telly and those warm, fuzzy feelings.

I'm not beyond bribing the family to share it with me.

                                                          *


A very warm December welcome from Dublin, and I hope you enjoyed today's column.

I'd love if you shared it. (Check the little buttons below).

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Have a wonderful week,
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.