High Jinks at the Island Wood: Update.

IMG_0890For the many people who asked if the cat was successfully rescued, he was! Last seen tearing up Scarteen Street like a rocket, trying to escape his experiences in the wood – and my good kind friend, with the Fiesta. Probably traumatised so approach with caution😂
I mean the respectable woman in Fiesta now – not the cat. Devil a’ fear of him!

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Browsing in Bantry

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Writers reading at West Cork Literary Festival

Enjoyed a lovely few days in Bantry at 2017 West Cork Literary Festival. The town was full of colour and buzzing with tourists and locals alike. Today, Friday,  there was a huge market in the square, selling clothes, food, crafts, books and also, to my eyes anyway, a whole lot of rubbish that most of us would be embarrassed to appear in public with. I stood, fascinated, behind a well dressed woman in a vivid green poncho and green toenails, as she haggled with the stall owner over a small tin of bent nails, yes, you read that correctly, a rusty tin of bent nails!🤔He wouldn’t sell for less than 2 euro, ‘a bargain at that,’ he says and she retorts that anything more than one euro was daylight robbery. When I left after a few minutes, they were still going at it like hammer and tongs. Can anyone tell me if  bent nails can, in fact, be used for anything?

I was delighted to come across Kiltrea Pottery in one of the craft shops off the square. I hadn’t seen it for years, but have very fond memories of visiting the pottery itself in Wexford with a friend, more years ago than I care to remember now. 😱So I went mad and bought a mug!IMG_0888.JPG

I was privileged to be on the company of writer, Mary T. Bradford, who was doing a reading in the library there as part of the festival. The two of us browsed to our hearts’ content and spent more money than we intended but shure…
And the downside: the absolute nightmare of

 

trying to find a parking spot😤

Above: Mary T. Bradford reading in Bantry library.

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The End Came Very Sudden(part 2)

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We started off from the back end of Castleisland town in the teeth of a ferocious gale. To be honest, the whole of Castleisland reminds me of the back end of something, though I don’t really mean to be offensive to anyone by making that remark now. ‘Still, ‘says my bould Nora, and she hardly able to get the words out of her mouth with the force of the wind,’at least, ’twill be behind us on the way home.’ Well now, I can’t say that piece of wisdom comforted me greatly, seeing that we had to cycle all the way to Ballyseedy Garden Centre before we could turn around to come back. Anyway, I hadn’t breath to answer as I was having a right job, trying to mount the bicycle in the midst of the swirling wind.

At last, we succeeded in pedalling off and we found ourselves wobbling out of town in the general direction of Tralee and trying to avoid the few motorists on the road at that time of the morning. Is it my imagination or do Kerry drivers drive awfully close to the ditches? I mean, don’t they know that a bicycle wobble is legal, and they’re supposed to allow for it when overtaking cyclists; particularly when there’s a high wind blowing? I nearly ended up in the ditch three or four times, before we made the relative safety of the open road.

Well, to say that was the most torturous cycle we ever undertook is definitely an understatement, my God, how we suffered, the two of us. There was no escaping that gale, cross winds, wind in our faces and then,  trying to control the bikes which were weaving  all over the road. It would have been far easier for us to climb Croagh Patrick, barefoot! I swore an oath anyway that I wouldn’t be caught again doing a run in bloody Kerry, what with the weather and the appalling drivers, not to mention, the godforsaken aspect of Castleisland as we took our leave of it. It truly perplexes me that they can coax so many thousands of tourists into the place. Jeez, give me West Cork anytime, at least, they can drive properly there.

At long last, just when I thought I could pedal no more, I spied that roundabout not far from our destination. Jeez, praise the Lord. We’d make it after all. I pulled in to tell Nora the good news. Her face only brightens. ‘Well, says she ‘ didn’t the end come very  sudden after all?’ I looked at her and if looks could kill! Very Sudden, I almost shrieked, shure, we’ve only been pedalling like mad women most of the fecking day. How on earth did she come to the conclusion that the End had come Very Sudden and it hadn’t anyway, shure, hadn’t we still all that distance to travel back?  Nora is one of those people that can take positive thinking to total extremes!

It took us over two hours to reach the garden centre and we were only in bits by the time we bounced into the car park. We’d had to stop every so often because our helmets kept falling down around our ears, to the back of our heads and down over our eyes. From time to time, there would be a screech from Nora, and I’d risk life and limb turning around to see her wrestling with the bike like a dervish, with the helmet completely blinding her and she making straight for the nearest ditch. When we parked the bikes in the garden centre and took off the helmets, we were fit to be anointed. Worse, we found there were big pink circles around our eyes, which were only streaming water and both of us had hairstyles like Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols , all standing to one side like a drunken stalagmite! I wouldn’t mind so much but I’d got my hair washed and blow dried the day before; fifteen euro it cost me and now that money was gone down the fecking drain, shure, I might as well have burnt it.

We staggered into the coffee shop there, taking care to stop first at the ladies, to tidy our hair and wipe our eyes, so we wouldn’t be frightening the children and drawing attention to ourselves for all the wrong reasons. Then, we ordered a large pot of tea, a massive salad and sank into the chairs, nearly crying with relief at being on solid ground again, without the swirling wind and the buck lepping bicycles. We could hardly hold the forks and knives properly because our whole bodies were vibrating like a drill hammer.

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It took us over an hour to recover and we still sat there, dreading going out into the elements. At last, we had to move because the cafe was closing and we were getting some right funny looks. The only thing that was keeping us going was the thought of the wind to our backs as we pedalled homewards to Castleisland. We finally got our noses outside the door and then, Nora only stops dead in front of me, so I crash into her and we both nearly fall over.

‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ says Nora,  ‘ I don’t believe it, it simply CANNOT be happening -‘

‘What, what, ‘says I in a panic, cos I couldn’t see beyond her and Nora never swears so it must be something right bad.

‘Nothing at all, ‘ says she wildly, throwing her arms to the heavens,’only the bloody wind is after changing and ”tis going to be right into our faces the whole way back into bleddy Castleisland again’

What, what? Did I just hear that right?

IMG_0861Well, for ……….sake, could the two of us be any more unlucky?

 

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High Jinks in the Island Wood

IMG_0355When I arrived at the Island Wood for my daily walk yesterday, I was met by a very strange sight. A woman I know well, a very respectable and sensible lady, was pacing up and down beside her car, and seemed to be in the middle of some kind of emotional crisis.
When I drew up, she turned towards me with such enthusiasm that I was quite taken aback – until she saw who I was. ‘Jesus,’ says she. Throwing her arms up in despair and resuming her frantic walking ‘I’m looking for a man. Where in God’s name are all the men of Newmarket? I thought the place would only be crawling with them at this hour of the morning’
‘What man?’ says I, still not quite getting what she was on about.
‘Any man at all,’ says she, nearly tearing her hair out. ‘I’m in no position to be fussy’
Then, the awful truth dawned on me and I wasn’t in the better of it. The woman was in the middle of some desperate and overwhelming attack of sexual frustration. Jeez, the hairs stood on the back of my neck at such wantonness. I mean, I’m no prude but her behaviour.. I mean. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Even more blatant was the fact that this well brought up lady had the back doors of her Fiesta wide open. There was obviously going to be very little time spent on the getting to know you business, I thought. Still, maybe at this stage in life, it was permissible to cut through the preliminaries and get down to brass tacks immediately.
Mother of God, I thought, is this what’s in store for us all when we get a bit older – skulking in the wood, at the crack of dawn, waiting to proposition, willy nilly, any stray man that happens to appear among the evergreens.
Before I could get my thoughts together, there was the sound of a vehicle approaching and my woman only turns around with the most pitiful expression of hope on her face. It was embarrassing to see it. I didn’t even have to look towards the new arrival to see if it was a man because I could see from the expression of bliss on her face that her prayers had been answered, and that it was definitely a male who was after pulling in. Forgetting all about me, she gave a whoop of joy and made a beeline for the man emerging from the driver’s seat.
Trust me, I didn’t really want to witness the poor creature making a show of herself but I wasn’t fast enough in covering my ears nor were my legs fast enough to get me out of there. And then, it was too late and she’d opened her mouth to speak….
‘Thank God,’ says she, putting out her hands to your man, ‘There’s a cat trapped somewhere in my car and I’ve been waiting here for ages for a man who knows how to open the bonnet of a Fiesta, so I can get him out before he gets killed,or smothered or something. Shure Mary and myself are both useless. He’s after coming all the way from town inside somewhere in the car. I think he must be inside the engine ‘cos he’s not in the front or back seats nor the boot, I’ve the inside searched and I’ve opened all the doors to give him a chance to escape but…..’
I looked at her and the car and the man. A cat, a cat! Trapped inside in her car and….
Jesus I must be losing my marbles altogether. I mean, imagine me thinking what I was actually thinking about an eminently respectable woman like…..
My God, I’ve never been the same since the menopause. Maybe, I really should go on HRT, maybe…..
🙄Dedicated to the woman in trouble yesterday, with the hope that she did get cat out of car. The man, while able to open the bonnet, was unable to locate the cat so it was a case of going off to her local garage to flush him out.

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The End Came Very Sudden

Off we set this morning, Nora and myself, for our weekly summer cycling adventure, full of confidence and with the adrenaline pumping. We were feeling so cocky after surviving the first three cycles, that we decided to actually go outside the county bounds on this trip. ‘There’s a level stretch of road all the way from Castleisland to Ballyseedy Garden Centre, on the outskirts of Tralee,’ says Nora ‘and it’s only ten or twenty kilometres, we should be well able for it.’

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Well, I have to say that woman would sell freezers to the Eskimos because before I knew it, she had it all planned and ’twas too far too late for me to say that there’s a big difference between ten kilometres and twenty kilometres, and was she sure we’d survive the trek without ending up in Tralee General Hospital? I mean, I’d have sounded like a right wimp and anyway, there’s no stopping Nora, once she’s her mind made up about something. So I closed my mouth again and saved my breath for the ten or twenty kilometres cycle into Tralee.

So this morning at the crack of dawn, well ok, 11am, we’ve only to throw up the two bikes, on the bike carrier at the back of Nora’s car and we’re ready for off. Well, in theory, that’s what was supposed to happen. But that was without taking the complications of the bike carrier into account. I was under the impression that these things were supposed to make life easier for people. Well, that’s what Nora said anyway. But not a bit of it.

But what fecking sadist invented the bike carrier and why did he have to make it so bloody complicated! Just how long do you think it took two women, both with a third level qualification, to work out the conondrum, of how to position the bikes on top of that bloody contraption safely, so that it wouldn’t be a death trap to the poor innocents driving behind us?

Well, suffice to say, it seemed like half the bloody morning. We were pushing and hoisting, and gasping and pulling, for what seemed like hours. I was mortified, I mean, fair enough, if we were in the privacy of my back garden, I wouldn’t have minded looking ridiculous, but we were in full view of the neighbours(mine) They, honestly, would have been forgiven for thinking that we were having a workout in a mobile gym, with the amount of grunting and groaning and hand signals and swearing, that were going on from behind the car. I know they’re already talking about the state of my mental and physical health from the first cycle, and to see me behind the car, playing some sort of game with a bicycle is going to do nothing to improve my reputation, that much is pretty obvious.

So there was my bould Nora, holding half a dozen elastic ties in her hands and she not having a bull’s notion what she was supposed to do with them. To be fair now, I will admit that I was no help at all, because my arms were only breaking from trying to hold up the bicycle, while Nora tried to figure out what to do with the elasticated ties. Finally, someone Up There must have taken pity on us, because one of my neighbours emerged, and in an embarrassingly short period of time, the bikes were on the carrier, the ties were no longer in Nora’s hands and I could, at long last, free my breaking arms, without the bicycle falling down on top of my head, rendering me totally brainless.

By the time the two of us were inside in the car, ready for off, I was fit to crawl back into bed again, after first putting a generous dollop of arnica on my broken arms. But Nora wouldn’t hear of quitting. You know, I think in a previous life, Nora might have been a Jesuit missionary.

To be continued.

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The Decision is Made!

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It was actually Peggy who spotted the poster below in the library window, during her weekly knitting circle morning. Mavis, our local librarian is only brilliant at organising all sorts of activities for every age group in our local branch. We’ve had rap bands, writers’ talks, talks on how to grow your own yams, some sort of yoga from Pakistan, Indian meditation, Far Eastern meditation, Zen mindfulness and oh, God only knows what else. We’ve had everything in that library, bar Sliabh Luachra set dancing, psychic readings and seances. Although Peggy claims that one morning when she was doing a row of purl, the table moved. I wouldn’t set much store on that bit of information though as the whole village knows that building was thrown up in about six weeks during the Celtic Tiger years by Baldy Biggane, the Fianna Fáil TD, who’s in the construction business. Whenever anyone mentions Baldy and construction in the same sentence, Peggy nearly gets apoplectic, rolling her eyes to heaven in the most grotesque fashion and ranting on about destruction, brown envelopes, corruption and the planning system. And of course, this being Peggy,  we have to have a spiel about the brave men and women of 1916 and how the heroes above in the GPO, must be only turning in their graves, at the shoneens and the gobshites running the country now. She says all this without pausing for breath even. Jesus!

To be honest, part from swallowing mikado biscuits like she’s been on hunger strike for a week and upsetting the spirits enough for them to start messing around with the tables, I’m  not quite sure what Peggy actually does down at the library every Wednesday morning. I mean,  I haven’t seen anything like a finished product and she’s been part of the knitting group now for at least eighteen months. Wouldn’t any normal person have half a dozen blankets knitted in that amount of time, for Christ’s sake? As far as I can make out, it’s a pure gossip shop and the needles and all their talk about fancy stitches are only for show. Peggy and Lourda came near to putting each other’s eyes out only the other week with the needles, in a row over Brexit, and only for Mavis coming between them, God only knows what would have happened. That poor woman must be a walking saint to put up with Peggy and that Lourda Kennefick in the same room.

But to get back to the point I wanted to make. Ah, the point about the poster Peggy saw below in the library window, shure what other point is there? You see, Dolores’s only daughter Imelda, is getting married next year to some doctor working above in Beaumont, and Peggy, Bridie, Marilyn and myself are all shoe-ins for an invite to the wedding. Well, Peggy says that many’s the time she wiped that girl’s arse when she was in nappies and it would be a right slap in the face if she, Peggy, didn’t get an invitation. She got right aggressive, saying that whatever about anyone else, (meaning me, Bridie and Marilyn, of course)she had certainly earned her right to be there, and if she wasn’t invited, neither Dolores nor Imelda nor the fancy Beaumont doctor she’s marrying, would ever put a foot inside her door in the future, blah, blah, blah. Jesus, I wouldn’t mind, but the wedding is not till next summer, for feck’s sake. Anyway, Dolores put Peggy out of our misery by saying the whole lot of us were going to be asked. It’s going to be a right posh do, according to Dolores,  the whole thing is taking place in Dromoland Castle. Well, that got our attention alright, I can tell you. We were all in great form, sitting outside on my patio, drinking wine and toasting Imelda and Harold(the fiancé, the fiancé, shure, who did you think Harold was?) in fact, we toasted everyone in both families. I think the evening ended with us toasting the Minister for Health,  but my memory is none   too clear on this point….

It was the following morning, in the cold light of day, that the reality hit us! I was barely up when Peggy arrives in with a face on her that would stop a clock and the kettle was only just boiled when the other three appeared, looking as tragic as Theresa May on the steps of Downing Street, when she was trying to persuade the whole world that she’d won the election. It was Bridie who summed up our dilemma most clearly. ‘Jesus,’ says she and she waving the mug of scalding  coffee dangerously close to my head ‘ we’re going to be a holy show below in Dromoland Castle, in front of all the doctors from Beaumont, shure the four of us are like a herd of heifers after being fattened up to be taken into the factory.’

There was a short pause and then, all of us slowly put down the the ginger snap biscuits we were about to bite into and looked at ourselves. I mean, really looked at ourselves. It was Peggy who broke the awful silence.

‘There’s a notice below in the library window,’ says she ‘for something called Fairy Tale Slimming Camp. It said something about maximum weight loss being guaranteed with minimum pain.’

To make a long story short, the whole lot of us are going down to the community centre tomorrow night, to sign up for the classes. Shure, what choice have we? We can’t be waddling into, like, Dromoland Castle, swaddled in rolls of fat and making fools of ourselves.

I have a strong gut feeling this could be a very long year.

Vanessa

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