The garden is where I think and where I try to put negative thoughts to bed…

I have a tree growing in my garden christened the ‘tree of love’. It was planted as two small saplings and when the bark was young and still flexible, I twisted their skinny limbs around each other and left them to it. Over the past couple of years, with the amount of hugging that’s gone on, the saplings have merged into one and in so doing have become a talking point for passing walkers on our country road. People ask …

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Dealing with the menopause…

At the age of thirty-seven I had not anticipated being thrown into the menopause practically overnight. The ‘change’ was something that I had always associated with much older women but I felt that when the time came, I would take this natural part of the ageing process in my stride. Perhaps I would not have been quite so smug if I’d known what was just around the corner. My menopausal journey really began when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. …

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No one is safe until we’re all safe…

When a friend asked me to write a piece about Covid-19, I was reluctant. Apart from a short poem I’d written very early on in the pandemic, I found it difficult to pen additional thoughts in prose, for how could I add to what had already been said? But all of us have a Covid-19 story and perhaps it’s edifying to take time to look back and appraise our experiences thus far. So here is part of my story – …

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Technology and me…

I know that what I’m about to confess may shock a lot of you. I know because I’ve seen the look of horror on people’s faces for quite some time now, so here goes – I don’t use a mobile phone. The retorts of disbelief when I utter those magic words range from, you’re joking and I don’t believe you, to the more often accusatory, what’s wrong with you? as if I’m some sort of aberration. That’s okay – each …

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As the pace of modern life gets quicker all the time, poetry provides a much needed pause…

“My favourite poem is the one that starts ‘Thirty days hath September’ because it actually tells you something.” (Groucho Marx 1895 -1977) I know I’m treading on precarious territory here with that one word – poetry. There. Many of you will have zoned out already but I hope you’ll stay with me for a little longer as I try to untangle my thoughts on a subject that seems to divide so many folks, in so many different ways. But before …

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Anyone for carbonara?

I was never very good in the kitchen. Despite my own mother’s ability to magic the most wonderful culinary inventions out of a simple pressure cooker, her skills were sadly to remain in the annals of our family history, for they never arrived with me. These gastronomic inadequacies are never more apparent than when my now grown-up children return to the nest hoping for a bit of cosseting but never (ever) assuming it will be of the foodie variety. They …

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Dementia and my family…

It’s impossible to pinpoint the moment my father began to suffer from dementia. Nobody in the family questioned any momentary lapses of memory from time to time and even when these became more frequent I don’t think any of us really understood the significance of what was happening. Certainly, that word dementia was far from our thoughts at that stage. When dad retired he and mum had gone to live in a small Fermanagh village close to where dad had …

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Cancer and Me – A look back with candour…

It’s time. Time to look back with candour on the thirty odd years since my breast cancer diagnosis and time, too, to write it down the way I experienced it, warts and all. But let’s start by getting one thing straight – I have not been on some kind of ‘journey’ cancer or otherwise; nor have I been fighting some almighty battle that is somehow meant to define my strength as an individual. I have simply been getting on with …

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Some thoughts about countries in the Middle East…

None of us are going to be travelling too far afield any time soon and, even when the lockdown eases, land, sea and air travel will be something to think differently about in more ways than one. Our heads are in another place now and I suspect the prospect of holidaying abroad is the last thing on most folk’s priority list. Having said that, foreign holidays have an importance and value of their own, not least of all to extend …

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Memories of Iran…

Iran is in the spotlight again thanks to Mr Trump’s measured and articulate twitter comments over the past few days. Not really. And no, I have no public opinion on that except to say that I was in Iran during a similar situation a few years ago that involved British/Iranian confrontation in the Persian Gulf and, let’s just say, I witnessed the story from both sides through various media outlets. I’m not a political commentator nor an academic and generally …

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Integrity. It’s a dying word…

I suppose one of the definitive aspects of being a parent is the acceptance of who our grown-up children eventually choose as a partner. In an ideal world we might have in mind someone with the qualities each of us might espouse: honesty, kindness, empathy, tolerance perhaps, with a sprinkling of humour and intelligence thrown in for good measure. We can all make our own list, most of which is wishful thinking considering that realistically stuff like that is mainly …

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Change

New beginnings are frequently influenced by what has preceded them – the stuff you or someone else has tired of, become bored with, resented or wanted to be free of.  Seldom are they the consequence of something positive yet we as human beings, are reticent to welcome change because of the uncertainties it may involve. After all, there is a certain safety is sticking with what we know despite its staleness.  There’s also something rather precarious about beginning anything anew …

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