Blog Tending

If my blogsite was a garden, it would be overgrown and weedy. If it was a house- it would be a pretty messy one, dishes unwashed- laundry undone. Good job it’s neither of those things. But I do feel bad that I’ve neglected it and my blogging buddies.

OK, so what’s been happening?

I’ve been a bit preoccupied. A few weeks ago, my dog went off her food. Since then, she’s been to the vet several times and had several courses of treatment. We’ve been ruling things out. And I’ve been holding off blogging because I wanted to write a nice happy blog about her recovery- along the lines of- phew, what a scare we’ve had, but all’s well now.

I thought there might be a bit of humour in there. We’ve had a lot of laughs with Willow. There was the time she ruined the kids easter egg hunt by finding their eggs before them. She even eat the wrappers! And then there was the time she eat a whole bag of frozen falafel.  And I’d probably mention what a good girl she is, and how intelligent she is, and how loyal.  And those eyes of hers- pools of hazel. We picked the wrong tree to call her after.

I haven’t tended my blog lately, but I have been tending my dog. We’ve all been showering her with love. If love could keep dogs well, she’d be mighty. But it can’t and she’s not. Turns out she’s got a tumour and it’s pretty bad.

On the positive side, she doesn’t know she has a tumour- so she’s not suffering existential angst. We’re doing that for her. She’s not suffering at all. Her form is good. The meds are making her feel OK. When things change, we’ll know it’s time to help her exit with dignity.

And in the face of life’s random blows, it’s good to take comfort in the small things-like blog tending.



Primordial Fear

Primordial fear. I still remember the first time I experienced it.

I was small. Very small. I remember going into the front room.

I’m not really sure why we had a front room cos we never used it.  Anyway. I went into the front room. I probably toddled into the front room….and there it was.

A gigantic, black, hairy spider.

I was terrified. Racing heart, shaking legs, vomiting sort of terror.  I couldn’t get out of the room fast enough.

Sadly, my language skills weren’t sufficient to convey the primordial nature of the fear I was feeling. I probably just bawled my eyes out, but I never forgot it.

What is it about spiders? Fast forward 33 years. My youngest son is sitting in his buggy in the front room of the house we are renting.  He’s a happy chappy. Fed, watered and ready for bed.  He’s watching that 90’s phenomenon, the ‘Tellytubbies.’ Dipsey and Lala are singing nursery rhymes. He loves it…until a big, hairy black spider descends over Miss Muffet’s bowl of curds and whey. And then he loses it. Bawls his eyes out.

Being a bit dim, I didn’t realise it was primordial fear. I thought it might be colic, or teething pains or possibly meningitis. I was always checking for meningitis.

I didn’t realise what was wrong until the next night when we did exactly the same thing and he reacted in the same way to the hairy black spider. Then I knew.

And I truly believe we have been hard-wired since cave-man times to be scared of things which can potentially kill us. It’s nature’s way of giving us the heads up. Getting the adrenalin pumping, ready for fight or flight.  Good old mother nature. Always looking out for us.

Nowadays, I’m not scared of bugs.  I developed an ability to rationalise. We live in a world full of creepy crawlies. Few of them can do us any real harm.

It doesn’t mean that I love big, hairy spiders but they don’t terrify me anymore. I’ve learned to live alongside them. Besides, they trap flies. We’re allies of sorts.

Today, however, I had a bad experience. It wasn’t primordial fear. It was more face scrunching, yuch inducing sort of bad.

Please don’t read on if you are squeamish. 

So, I was ironing a pillowcase. I iron pillowcases because I have a bnb and I’m expected to iron pillowcases. Otherwise I wouldn’t. I’d spend all my time writing stuff.

The pillowcase was looking lovely. Then I spotted a stain. I was fed up.  Somebody’s had a nose-bleed, I thought- on my good egyptian cotton pillowcase. How inconsiderate!

(Forgive me, it’s been a long season. I’m usually more caring)

Pleased that I spotted the stain, I turned the pillow-case inside out to investigate further.

Be warned, this is not nice. 

The blood was spider blood (I didn’t know they bled?? Maybe it was just gunge)

Inside my pillowcase was the biggest, hairiest, FLATTEST spider you have ever seen.

I’d ironed the poor old boy/ girl.

Being Autumn, the time of big, black hairy spiders, he’d obviously crawled inside my washing.

He probably didn’t have time to experience primordial fear before he was annihilated by my iron. I really hope not.








An uphill struggle

healy pass

Question: Why the repetition. You posted this photo last week???

Answer: Yea (with attitude) But it’s relevant, OK??

Question: Why?

Answer: Well,  I drove along this route today in the midst of an oncoming bicycle race and it was ..horrible… there were thousands of them, all coming at me, lycra-ed from head to toe.

Question: What madness would possess you to do this?

Answer: Aversion tactics. I needed bread, milk, toilet rolls…and  I thought I’d make it home before the onslaught.

Verdict: It was a big mistake.


We have a dog called Willow. German Shepherd.  Lovely dog, good as gold. The problem is that she has spatial awareness challenges. It manifests itself when she runs at speed. In her head she wants to gallop up alongside you and be your best friend.  In reality she crashes into the back of your thighs knocking you for six and is your enemy.

And some cyclists are a bit like Willow. Having negotiated the steep climb up the mountain, they want to free wheel all the way down the other side as FAST as they can. (note how twisty and windy this route is) The problem is that they have spatial awareness problems….

And me.. a nervous driver. A very nervous driver (Picture me, crawling up this mountain pass at 10 miles an hour)

When it comes to nervousness I probably deserve a gold medal.  I spent 48 years on this planet unable to drive. This year, I took the plunge-did the lessons, passed the test and took to the road…cautiously.

Anyway back to the race. What worried me was that I had far more concern for the safety and well being of the cyclists than some of the cyclists themselves.

Why else  would they cycle two, three abreast on this road?? Why would they overtake each other in the face of an oncoming car-albeit it, one driving at snail’s pace?

Why would they take photo’s of the scenery as they negotiated the arduous climb to the top.. something which caused them to wobble precariously when they realised the approaching snail was a motorised vehicle??

And then, when they get to the top of the mountain, the euphoria made them oblivious to my tension filled hill starts as they lay, prostrate on the road,

I can’t tell you how happy I was when I arrived home.. successfully having avoided all the cyclists who hurtled themselves at my car, had a cup of tea and prepared for the second challenge of the day… donkey castration. Ah, the life of a country gal….






The Path of Happiness

healy pass.jpg

I’ve been thinking a lot about paths lately. Primarily-because my beloved is constructing a gravel path at the side of the house. Work on the path commenced two years ago, continued for about a week, then stopped and it’s stayed stopped ever since.

(The problem being that the job list is too long, the days too short and the bank balance insufficient for the various demands on it!)

During the stoppage, the route from wash house to washing line became perilous. The dug out section would fill with water in winter, becoming quite moat like at times. It all looked a bit like a building site. Very unfinished and unloved.

I have always been partial to this particular snippet of zen wisdom.

‘There is no path to happiness, Happiness is the path’

At the moment, I am taking this very literally. Happiness is my gravel path.  Every time I look out the kitchen window, I’m overjoyed. No more ankle twisting forays to the washing line for me!

There is something very metaphorical about paths. There was a time, a few years ago, that someone very close to me was sick.  They had travelled a long way down a path where the only glimmer of light to be found was at the bottom of bottle. It looked as if there was no way back.

But there was. With help and support they got back on track, kicked the bottle and found some real joy in life.

At the time, I discovered a poem by Patrick Kavanagh about a hospital, which had an uncanny resemblance to the hospital I was spending so much time visiting.

Let me quote you a few lines:

A year ago I fell in love with the functional ward
Of a chest hospital: square cubicles in a row
Plain concrete, wash basins - an art lover's woe,
Not counting how the fellow in the next bed snored. 
But nothing whatever is by love debarred,
The common and banal her heat can know.
The corridor led to a stairway and below
Was the inexhaustible adventure of a gravelled yard. 

Our  hospital had a garden surrounded by a gravel path.

Walking around the garden, talking to other people in a similar boat was an intrinsic part of the recovery process.

‘The Hospital’ became a sort of mantra for me during that period, because of Kavanagh’s unique ability to find beauty, hope and radiance in ordinariness.

It was what I needed to believe in.

During visits, we too trudged around the path  enjoying the spring sunshine, the crunch of the gravel, and reflecting on the inexhaustible adventure of it.

Forgive me if this post has been a bit meandering. Paths are a bit like that. Sometimes it takes longer than you expect to get to the end of them. Sometimes you don’t end up where you expected.






Why blogging appeals to me


I’ve said it before I am a technophobe. I don’t get social media. I tried facebook, but ran out of steam. I don’t do selfies because I am inherently unphotogenic. I promised my teens I wouldn’t post pictures of them- and there are only so many flower and craft project shots a body can manage.

Words, on the other hand, are big for me. Ever since I was small, I’ve enjoyed writing. I probably spent thirty years enjoying words- surreptitiously. I remember writing a report about waste water management (yawn!!) and still thinking there was space to turn a phrase.  Put a bit of a spin on some description. Inject a modicum of humour. Sad really.

Five months ago, I discovered blogging. I’ve taken to it with all the vim and vigour of a convert.

Blogging lights my fire. IT IS MY BIG JOY!

Initially, it was the headiness of thinking that I could write about anything I liked.  Then it was the fact that somebody might read something that I wrote.  As a wannabe writer ( inured to the million rejections clause that accompany the status) the fact that real people were  prepared to  read something I’ve written and engage with it blew my mind.

Then, it got a bit deeper. I started reading other people’s blogs. Again, it took a while to find my people- but when I found them it was like a homecoming.

Other people are writing all this profound, articulate stuff about things that resonate with me. There are bloggers who make me laugh. I love their style, their wit, their sas.

And there are bloggers who make me cry. HATS OFF to the people who share their vulnerabilities. They  are pivotal in helping other people feel less alone.


I love the bloggers who are out there putting mental health on the agenda.

Painful and intense but also transient and RECOVERABLE from.

I just want to express solidarity here. I get it. I have always got it.

And then I get really excited when I find blogs about things I’m interested in-old stuff, art deco stuff, doors, words, old sayings, recipes, crafts and etc.

Then there’s mindfulness. Time after time, I read a blog and it’s just what I need to hear.  I get jolted right out of my comfort zone- and encouraged to right thinking by people who are walking the same road.

There is a lot of talk that screen time is inferior to time spent in other ways. I disagree. For me, time spent in the blogosphere is good time.

Since I’ve started doing this, I feel like I’m getting to know some really interesting, genuine, lovely people. It is a pleasure to check in with them. If I don’t see their posts popping up in my reader, I’ll go and visit. I want to know what their week has brought. I’m sorry if it has brought something difficult and happy if it has brought something good. Often, I’ll get a good laugh along the way.

So what’s not real about that? What’s virtual?

I am blessed to have family, friends and neighbours in the touchy feely world of everyday. I also feel blessed to have friends in the blog world.

So that’s it for today. Thank you the blogosphere and the people who inhabit it. Big virtual hug!!

Narry of the Bog

Driving along a country road yesterday, we spotted a grey heron. We see them occasionally. Big, flappy, ungainly birds- very prehistoric vibe about them. In Ireland they are commonly known as Narry’s of the bog.


It was apparent that Narry was not happy. Ger stopped the car and we watched him for a couple of minutes. He made an attempt to fly off and failed. Just then a dog came bounding down to the road, barking like crazy.  So what to do next? Having stopped the car, we felt involved.

At this point, I should say that I have tried to stop getting involved in situations like this. Ever since I was small, I’ve rescued birds. Recently I connected with a former student flatmate on facebook. We hadn’t met in over thirty years. Apparently, her stand out memory of me is rescuing  a beat up, half dead pigeon that I brought home and attempted to keep alive. I think I made everyone take turns to feed him during the night!  The sad thing is, that despite my best efforts, 90% of the things I rescued died. I console myself with the thought that at least they had a happy death, knowing that someone cared. But, still and all, they ended up dead.

Given my past experience, I  was not disposed to taking Mister Nary dinosaur bird home. Did I mention his beak? It was sword like in it’s proportions. A lethal weapon for spearing fish. Pigeon rescue is easy. Rescuing this Jurassic relic took guts. And that’s where my beloved shone. He picked him up- tucked him under his arm and sat in the passenger seat. As we pulled off, the bird started squawking- raucous, dinosaur like sounds. Very Jurassic.

The grey heron  is approx 1 metre in height. His wing span is 1.6 to 2 metres. Suffice to say, he’s no pigeon. Sitting in the front seat of our car, with his mad, black, haunted eyes, he looked like a crumpled chicken. There was nothing to him under all the feathers.

Funnily enough, the grey heron has been revered in Irish mythology since time immemorial.  There’s a story about two girls, Aoife, daughter of Daelbeth, and Luchra, daughter of Abhartach. Both of them fancied  this guy Illbreac, who was a son of the great Sea God, Manannán mac Lir. Anyway, Manannan preferred Aoife and Luchra wasn’t happy. So what did she do? In a fit of pique, she turned Aoife into a heron. Aoife the heron, flew off and lived to be 200 years old. Manannan was so upset when she finally passed away that he decided to commemorate her in a very special way.

Remember Silence of the Lambs? Manannan would have loved that film.

To honour his lovely Aoife bird, he skinned her and kept all his treasures in a little bag made out of her. Ah, love’s true dream, eh?

When the Christian church hit our shores, somewhere back in the 5th century, it too had some thoughts about the grey heron. The nice thing about the early Christians was that they were very fluid in their interpretation of the way things were. Completely unphased by the strong hold of the indigenous Celtic pantheon, they simply altered some pertinent facts; inserted saints where there were previously gods and goddesses and proceeded to assume absolute control of the hearts and minds of the population.

So, the heron, once sacred to the Triple Goddess, worshipped as the keeper of secrets and shamanic travel, maintained a place in the popular imagination as a fallen sinner. Word was that if you failed to make it to heaven on account of your bad deeds on earth, you might well have to come back to earth as a heron, and this was by way of penance.

But, I digress. Back to the present day and the plight of  Mr Nary.

We came to the conclusion that we should bring him some place where he could recuperate, safe from dogs and cars. Not too far away was a  lake. Ger found a sheltered spot and we left him there. By way of remembrance,  our friend gave Ger a parting gift: a two inch scratch down the side of his face.

Who could blame him? He was freaked out, big time. The wound looks worse than it is. It will heal.  I sincerely hope that Mr Nary will recover and live to fly another day. The younger me would have brought him home and fed him worms and put him a bucket of hay.  Maybe that would have been the right thing to do. I don’t know. It’s tricky with wild things.  The shock of being out of their environment can be too much for them. Many of them don’t survive the trauma.

Anyway we drove off, went home and thought about what had happened.  Being up close to such an ancient, scrawny specimen of life was pretty special, humbling even. I love that about life in the countryside. Those rare, insider moments when you get to experience the natural world in all its diversity. Truly, we live on an amazing planet.







Unaccustomed me-time! Two hours to stroll through the emporiums of bling, maybe stop for a coffee, buy a little treasure somewhere along the way. Sounds nice?

The sun is shining, the summer sales are on:  Life is good.

So what I do actually need? In truth, not a lot.

Things are, however, a bit grim on the underwear front. I locate the nearest M&S and head straight for the undies dept.  There is a spring in my step. I feel like a six-year-old in a candy shop. I want everything…….

A whole  lot of other ladies, whose underwear drawers must be in a similarly depleted state to my own, are already hard at work.  Together we embark on a frenzied raid of the sale rails.

Some time later, the underwear has been selected and its time for coffee.  I order a cappuccino which comes in a  bucket sized mug. These days, I mostly drink herbal teas, so am not prepared for the scale of the caffeine rush. Pumped up with adrenalin, I hit the shop floor some twenty minutes later. Ready to go again.

This time, I wander into the kids department, which is swarming with people. Deep breath as I remind myself how much fun I am having!

A blond lady is perusing the PJ’s with her affable pre-teen daughter.

‘Darling,’ she says, ‘We must buy this! (holds up floral print pj’s) Even though they are too small for you, they are just soo…. pretty!’ The pre-teen emits girlish squeals of joy.

Maybe I should buy some for my  teenage daughter?  However, I really can’t buy pj’s for Jude without getting some for Iarla. But would he like stars or dinosaurs? Decisions, decisions. Maybe I should also buy some for my friend’s little girls. After all, I’ve had it on good authority that:

  • They are pretty
  • They are half price
  • Children like them

Twenty minutes later, I have selected four pairs of pj’s. My arms are overflowing with treasures, my heart with beneficence.


How much are all these bargains going to cost? I do some quick mental arithmetic and realise that I must put something back. But what? Who can I leave out? Actually I can’t  leave anyone out, so I  put all the pj’s back and hang on to the underwear. After all, that was what I came in here for in the first place.

By now, it is all getting a bit much. I am succumbing to CONSUMER CONFUSION

Doubts creep in about the selected underwear. Do I even need it? Probably not. Is it nice? Not sure. Maybe there is better, more perfect underwear in another shop. Should I go and check?

Yes-but first a little rest would be nice.

My yoga teacher has shown us all these wonderful positions you can do when you need to recharge your batteries.

Suddenly, I have a longing to do a calming position. Zone out for a couple of minutes in a Downward Dog.

An image of my teenage daughter pops into my head. She is waving a finger at me.

‘Don’t even think about it Lady,’ she warns

‘I know, I know,’ I snap.

It’s not as if I really meant to- but a chair would be nice.

Given the average age of Marks and Spencer’s clientele, I am surprised there are not more chairs around the place. By now the bucketful of coffee I downed earlier is taking its toll on my bladder. Not only are there no chairs in this emporium, there are no loo’s either.

I locate an aisle in menswear and stash my underwear under a rack of ties, promising to return and commit the final act of purchase  once I’ve found the loo.

Due to time constraints the promise is broken.  Operation UNDIE REPLACEMENT  has to be abandoned til another day.  My ME TIME is up and I’m glad.  I willingly revert back to mummy mode and scarper off to collect my boy from summer camp.




Absolute or Approximate?

white rabbit

A Spanish woman and an Irish woman are having a chat. The Spanish woman is asked to convey in one word, something quintessential about her national character. She thinks for a minute. Then she has it. ‘Manana.’

The Irish women has a long hard think, shrugs her shoulders and says:

‘We have no word in the Irish language which conveys a similar sense of urgency’ .  (HAHA!)

Do we live up to our cultural stereotype as feckless, laid back, horizontal even?

Quite possibly.  One thing for sure is that we are bad time keepers.

However, we are not alone!

My experiences as a glamping host has given me a privileged glimpse into the foibles and idiosyncrasies of guests from many different countries.

The way I see it, the world is divided into two sorts of people. Absolutes and Approximates. Let me give you an example. An Approximate will tell you that they are going to arrive at 3pm.

DING- That for me is now cast in stone. I will organise my day to the Nth degree to be here to welcome them at 3pm.  However, for an Approximate 3pm is a rough guideline. What it really means is that they will turn up at any point from 12 noon to midnight. I kid you not.

The most favoured time for Approximates to turn up is dinner time.

Again, dinner time is one of these cast in stone family ritual things. I cook, we sit together. The fiery one’s fight. The peacekeepers peace keep. We eat. It causes me actual physical pain to leave the dinner table at 8.30 to welcome my 3pm guest.

Absolutes, on the other hand, relate to time in a very literal way.

Let me give you another example. An Absolute will do everything in their power to arrive at the assigned time. If they are held up, they will send  multiple texts informing you of their progress.  When they do arrive, they will apologize profusely. It upsets them to be late. They do not willingly mess with the sacred cow of time. Needless to say, these are my people. I don’t mess with the sacred cow either.

A recent discussion with another Absolute confirmed for me how deeply we revere the cow.

She recounted a story in which she was kept waiting for over thirty minutes. In all seriousness she said she felt the only reason someone could be this late, without texting was sudden death.

Breakfast is another potential minefield. Do you know how long it takes to soft boil an egg? 5 minutes. Not 3, not 8. Precisely 5.

So, when I ask guests, ‘what time would you like breakfast?’ I mean this in a very literal sense.

It should be simple. The guest names the time. I deliver the breakfast.

But no, an Approximate will find any way possible to wriggle around and violate the cow!

Some  Approximates won’t wake up.  Precious moments are lost whilst they scramble into their clothes (uh, hum, or not…) then the half-door of the gypsy wagon is flung open as bleary eyed, they receive their congealing breakfasts.

More insidious,  are the Approximates who disappear into the shower at the appointed breakfast time. What is that about?

No shadow of doubt that an Absolute will be ready on time for breakfast.  On a fine day, you will see them sitting out at the picnic table, showered and dressed, napkin on lap at five minutes before the appointed time.

Given the security and sense of well-being I experience when I am with my own kind, you will be very surprised to hear that I have married into the other camp. My beloved is an Approximate of the highest order. The king of Approximate and I am the queen of Absolute.  Opposites attract and all that…

Do you think the cosmos is trying to teach us both something?





A faux pas…on fashion friday

dress code

I started my first ‘proper’ job  when I was 26.  The office was a  chic, caffeine fueled sort of place.  People worked long hours, had dark rings under their eyes… when asked how they were, they claimed one of two things.

Either they were  ‘UP THE WALLS!!’ or ‘UNDER PRESSURE!’

I watched, I learned.

Nowadays, I would identify the prevailing dress style of my colleagues as designer casual. At the time, I just felt it was all a bit nondescript. Boring even. The one thing everyone had in common was spectacles and those dark rings.

I drank lots of coffee and worked on my own dark rings.  After a while I was asked to attend an evening meeting with some colleagues from another research centre. It was a Friday night.

After the meeting, I planned to hit the pub  with my  buddies. The pub we frequented was a biker joint. Lots of loud music and long-haired bikers. My usual pub attire consisted of  Dr Martin boots, black leggings and a mini skirt. On this occasion I decided to tone it down, on account of the meeting.  I settled on a black vest and harem pant- probably the most respectable outfit I possessed at that point in my life.

I wasn’t exactly late for the meeting, but I wasn’t early either. When I walked in, everyone looked up. My immaculately groomed and dressed boss beckoned me to my seat and introduced me to all the other immaculately groomed participants as his research assistant. Needless to say, they were all wearing suits….

After that episode in humiliation,  I was consumed with longing for a BRIEF CASE.

I located, ‘the one’ after much searching.  Of course it was beyond my budget. A small obstacle, I threw caution to the winds and blew my savings.  Then I blew some more savings on shoes and a suit. The shoes were a novelty. Proper lady shoes complete with little heel.

By the time the next meeting came around, I was ready.

OH YES.  Never again would I turn up to a meeting in harem pants. How ridiculous! What could I have been thinking of?

This time the meeting was about drug prevention.

I had to fly to Amsterdam. ON MY OWN

It was a big deal. The stuff of stomach ulcers (sadly, I kid you not)

After a sleepless night in my hotel bed, I got up. Showered. Put on my spectacles, and sombre black suit. Stuffed my paperwork in to my new briefcase.

Ah the gravitas of that bag!  Seriously grown up.  Deep breath.


I strolled into the meeting room, intentionally early and fiddled with my paperwork.

Twenty minutes later, there was no sign of anyone.  More deep breaths.

Eventually my colleagues filed in. They were assorted youth workers, night-club owners and people recovering from addiction.

This time,the only suit in the room was my own.

Everyone else was pierced, tattooed and colourful. Mega cool. In fact, they’d have fitted right into my pub of preference back home.

Personally, I’d never felt so uncool in my life. Wrong footed AND those bloody lady shoes were killing me.

I would like to tell you that was the last time I got it wrong, but I would be lying. On a more positive note, I don’t have to worry much about transgressing dress codes nowadays as I live on a farm.

So that’s it for fashion friday. Have you ever made a fashion faux pas?









Things that keep me awake at night….


A Sunday morning lie in is one of life’s little pleasures.  These days I seldom get a lie in. Most mornings will find me up bright and early, scrambling eggs and making porridge for guests who want to be on the road at first light  (you’ve got to admire their enthusiasm!!)

Yesterday evening, our guests asked, would I mind if they had a late breakfast. Late being 10a.m.

MIND? Certainly not. I actively love the late breakfast brigade.

I allowed myself to stay up later than usual, on account of the lie in. Took my time, read a book and drifted off to a blissful sleep.

Until….  I woke some time later feeling half cooked.

I threw off the duvet and opened the windows. We are having a heat wave.  Heat waves are a pretty rare occurrence here in Ireland. Far be it from me to complain about a bit of sunshine, but the unaccustomed heat has it’s draw backs. The biggest of these being the swarms of small biting insects which appear out of nowhere and feast on  blood.

Quick as a flash, the small biting insects spotted the open windows and came to dine on me and my beloved.

We sweated and itched. My beloved snored. I prodded him.

Some time later there was a prolonged blood curdling bray. It wasn’t my beloved. It was just the new donkey being a bad ass.

Recently we acquired a donkey which badly needs gelding. He’s suffering from his hormones and nightime is kind of hard on the poor guy.

I itched some more, before drifting into a half sleep.

The next interruption came from what sounded like an old man standing outside my window and shouting his head off. What was he shouting?


My first thought was that it must be a distressed guest, but no, it was a sheep.

Have you ever listened to sheep? They really do sound like grumpy old men.

My German Shephard had a big old bark round about 3 a.m. She had been stationed in the vegetable patch with a brief to scare off the marauding deer who had eaten my chard the previous night. She performed admirably. GOOD GIRL WILLOW.

Mother Nature then roused me from my slumber with what sounded like a very loud ratchet. It was a magpie.

This is what google has to say about magpies.

The magpie is a distinctive looking bird, with glossy black and brilliant white markings. Its sound is nearly as striking, famously noisy and almost jarring. This has led to another meaning of magpie, someone who talks obnoxiously.

The obnoxious chatter continued for some time and then my own thought process kicked in.  So I lay there pondering life; the exams my two teenagers are going to sit on Wednesday- the fact that they haven’t studied enough;  the list of jobs that are awaiting me…the bills that need to be paid…

Then I woke up. Realised that it was 9.40. GASP! That I only had twenty  minutes to deliver breakfast to my guests-with the standard, cheery greeting:

“Good morning- Hope you slept well!!”