Sunday, 25 May 2014

Vantastival At Bellurgan Park

May is almost over and I'm only now catching up on blog posts. As fate would have it, I had plenty to blog about but no time to sit down and create posts.
Vantastival took place in the wonderful setting of Bellurgan Park over the May Bank Holiday weekend.   Just down the road from where I live, it means I can enjoy all the fun of a music festival yet come home to the comforts of home cooking and a warm bed.

It's a family friendly, dog friendly music and camping festival. 
Many came with their   VW camper vans
and had  their own cookout competition
There was lots and lots of music

It's all  very laid back and relaxed
Dogs are welcome
Festival fashion - silly hats and wellies

Art for sale
Late night shopping

Thursday, 22 May 2014

What I Read in April

I am woefully behind with blogging so I'm only getting round to posting my reviews of my April reads.
And I haven't even started my May book which may turn into my June read.

Just as  Roddy Doyle's description of Dublin in 'The Commitments' might have been at odds with what Bord Failte  (the Irish tourism board)  was trying to promote, so too his portrayal of Ireland's fight for freedom isn't one that you'd find in most history books.
The central character is Henry Smart, who right from the moment he is born is a second class citizen and a painful reminder to his mother of her firstborn, the Henry of the title.
Henry grows  up in a Dublin of grinding poverty and slums, of men and women old before their time who find solace in alcohol. His mother never recovers from the loss of the babies who became 'stars'  in the night sky while his one-legged  father is a hitman providing security for one of the city's most popular brothel. Soon Henry and his younger brother are fending for themselves on the streets.
By the time Henry is 14, he's fighting with the Citizen's Army in the GPO during the 1916 Easter Rising and the description of Dublin under siege is superb. He later joins the Irish Republican Army and becomes one of Michael Collins' right hand men during the War of Independence. Doyle pulls no punches in his account of  the bloody nature of war.  There's a sense of disillusionment  also, as Henry realizes that some of those fighting for Irish independence will, in their own way, become a new ruling class and the rights of the plain people of Ireland will once again be ignored.
Henry's romance with Miss O'Shea is another thread in the story, with the passionate teacher refusing to  remain in the background making tea.
Altogether a most enjoyable and insightful read.
The other book I read was 'French Women Don't Get Facelifts' by Mireille Guiliano, the author of the hugely successful 'French Women Don't Get Fat' and 'French Women for All Seasons.'  If you've read her previous books, you will be familiar with her mixture of anecdotes  and helpful hints, this time repackaged for an older market. Subtitled 'The of aging with style and attitude', the book dishes  out a lot of common sense about eating, exercise, drinking lots of water and a little wine, taking vitamins and planning your wardrope so that you don't end up looking like  'mutton dressed as lamb' as my mother used to say.  There's probably nothing in it that you wouldn't find in magazines but Mireille writes with a beguiling tone and gives advice like an old friend.

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Backward Glance At April

April already seems so long ago. Those mostly perfect Spring days have been replaced by a miserable start to May, especially this Bank Holiday weekend.
This year's Spring was particularly pleasant, with lots of blue skies and warm sunshine, and who cared if there were a few showers. Hey, April wouldn't be the same without some rain.
The air was filled with birdsong with a songster in every tree and bush. There was the sweetness of spring flowers - the blackthorn blossom was really spectacular this year, and, of course, the sweetness of chocolate eggs at Easter.
April was also a month of firsts, the first swallow, the first butterflies, the first bees, and the first ladybird, all milestones to be marked as welcome signs that winter was well and truly gone for another year.
We got out in the garden and enjoyed seeing how the work which we had done last year was bearing fruit (figuratively if not literally). Plans were made for new projects for this year  and the pets loved the freedom of joining us  outside.

Friday, 2 May 2014

April Scavenger Hunt

Joining with Greenthumb for the monthly scavenger hunt  once again. Struggled with a couple of images this month but made it in the end!

A is for Abandoned

No one lives in this pretty little village of former workers' cottages

Where  you'll sometimes find me on my coffee break.


Pebbles and sea glass worn smooth by the waves


Fish scales - marinated salmon for dinner

Decorative tiles on a traditional butchers shop in Castlebellingham, Co Louth


Logo on my husband's Fender stratocaster


Traditionally patchwork quilts were made from scraps of material, like this family heirloom.


Matching carving on the gateway to Bellingham  Castle


A path through the gardens of Ballymascanlon House Hotel, Co Louth


Misty layers in the background across the Castletown River as it flows into Dundalk Bay.


Fudge loves to retrieve  his ball and carry it back for us to throw it again and again and again.


I ran out of inspiration for this one when I discovered we no longer had toy trucks in the  house so ended up playing around with this in Picmonkey.