Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Fires of Hell.....

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on 30th May 1431. I knew the basic outline of her story from school. Reading over it again, her lifestory really is amazing. I love the fact that a sixteen year old girl could succeed where experienced generals had failed. There are varying opinions as to what she actually did during the battles. Some historians say she merely held the Standard and boosted morale. But others take quotes from eyewitnesses who say that she lead her troops into battle. Whichever it was, there is no denying that her tactics won the battles for the French. Like, wow!
Every woman has the problem of what to wear, even if it is into battle. Joan went for the totally functional option of male attire- armour and a short haircut. This would have also made it more difficult for her to be raped. I was dumbfounded to learn that the technical reason for her execution was that she broke a biblical clothing law. So she died because of what she wore.
What would they make of Lady Gaga?
The whole "burning at the stake" reminds me of a conversation I had during the week.
I was going into the shop in my village when I met Frank, a local farmer. We opened our conversation with the normal topic - the weather.
"Morning, Noeleen. That's a damp morning. Big change from last week".
"Sure is. Last week was glorious".
"Ah, it was too hot for me. But I suppose you loved it, you havin' lived in the desert"
"I sure did. It can't be too hot for me. You know, I think I'll get on great in Hell!"
Frank looked at me, took a drag of his pipe and said philosophically
"I bet the divil will stick you in a fridge!"
Now that would be my idea of Hell!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I'm smiling :)

I have just come back from the pool where I have completed my 80 lengths swim. I was really nervous this morning as I didn't know how I would get on. Yesterday morning when I got up, I wasn't feeling the best. Couldn't face breakfast and headed off to school. By lunchtime things had gotten worse. I was sitting in the staffroom when I began to feel really nauseous. I knew I had to get out of there and home as soon as possible.
As I was driving home, I just keep praying
Please God, let me get home before I throw up.

I really needed to stop and get petrol, but I knew I couldn't risk it. Pulled up outside my house, jumped out, into my house, up to the bathroom where I proceeded to throw up things I ate as a child! Not attractive I know. I managed to make it to my bed and slept for three hours. When I woke up I was feeling much better. Managed to drink some soup....and keep it down.
I was feeling fine this morning, absolutely starving but I just had a light breakfast. I didn't want to risk cramping, or sinking!
When I started the car to head in to town I realised that there was no petrol in the tank. Our local petrol station closed down a while ago, recessionary times and all that. The nearest one is about 12 km away, beside the pool.
I set off, praying
Please God, let me get to the petrol station before I run out.
Just realised that I spend a lot of time recently praying in the car!
Made it there safely. I signed in and headed for the pool.
There was a lane assigned for the people doing the sponsored swim. Its held over the weekend so there are people coming and going all the time. I got in and did my two warm up lengths. As I finished there was a fellow swimmer stopped at the end. Had a quick chat. He asked

"How many lengths have you still to do?"
"78! How many have you?"
"Just 2!"
I did a few more lengths and then he was waiting again. He was finished but he had waited to wish me luck for the rest of it, which was lovely.
Lengths 1-20 were really difficult. I just couldn't get in to the swing of it. Didn't know if it was because of yesterday.
Lengths 21-50 were so much easier. I was flying, I mean swimming.
Lengths 51-70. I was getting tired but knew I could do it.
At the end of length 70 I was having a little rest. There was a girl just after starting and she asked me how many lengths I had to do.
I know she said "B****!" in her mind, but thats ok, I know how she felt!
Lengths 69-80 The end was in sight and I felt that I could have done 30 more...until I completed 80 and could go no further. I hung around to wish my fellow swimmer good luck for the remainder of her swim.
I felt so proud of myself I could burst. Went straight in to the hotel to get something to eat. I guzzled it down so quickly I nearly did burst.
I called into my brother's house on the way home. My niece had a present for me....

Friday, May 28, 2010


OK. So it's not me.

I had my last training session before doing my "Swim with A Smile" this weekend. I swam 78 lengths. I could have gone for the 80 lengths but I want to wait til the actual event before I achieve my goal.

I was relaxing in the jacuzzi after my swim. There was a man there with me and he started up a conversation as you do in a jacuzzi!!!. He said that he had seen me power up and down the pool! I explained to him that I was doing a sponsored swim in aid of child cancer care aid. He was really positive about what I was doing and said that he wanted to sponsor me.

Great.But where do you keep your money...we're semi-naked!

He said that he'd leave the money for me at reception so I gave him my name. He looked at me and said that he had known a man called Tommy Lynam. I nearly squealed with excitement and told him that was my Dad! He went on to say that he had known him well through work and that he had been a wonderful man and an absolute gentleman....all of which I know, but it was so lovely to hear it being said by someone else.

As I was leaving the jacuzzi, as wrinkled as a prune as I had spent longer there than normal, he said that I was doing something really good and that my Dad would be very proud of me.

I went and had my shower....and a little cry. I just know it was Dad's way of telling me that he was proud of me. Bring on that mile!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Girl crush!

The muse of the month is Audrey Hepburn. She is my icon, the epitome of style and elegance. She said "My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flapping out their hair, buying large glasses and little sleeveless dresses". Yeah, right.

Reading through her lifestory I was flabbergasted to learn that both her first husband Ferrer and her second husband Dotti had numberous affairs while married to her. I just don't get it. What do men want? You have the love of a beautiful, intelligent and successful woman who is adored by society, and what do you do? You screw it up...pardon the pun.

Makes me think of this era's sweetheart, Cheryl Cole. If these women can't trust their husbands, what hope have us mere mortals??


That's not your hair, Cheryl. That's your husband!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fine and Dandy.....lions

Lawnmowing season is upon us again. I managed to avoid it last year. I had surgery at the start of the summer and I had to get someone else to mow the lawn.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Then when I went to mow the lawn this year, I discovered that my lawnmower needed that was another few weeks' reprise.

When I went to mow it this week and I thought

Where on earth have all the dandelions come from?

My lawn was covered with them. They weren't there the last time I mowed it. But then again neither were Jedward the last time I mowed it!

I've since discovered that the dandelions are a result of the artic conditions we had in the New Year. All the plants ie grass and weeds that were near the surface of the ground were all killed off. But the clever little dandelion seeds were lurking further underground and escaped the frost. Then when the warm weather came, the little blighters woke up, rushed to the surface screaming "Yipee. No competition", and are now taking over the lawns of Ireland.

Anyway I mowed them out of it!

Today I was sitting in my kitchen, looking out the patio doors, when I suddenly saw what I thought was snow, floating around my lawn. It was a fall of dandelion seeds!

Oh great. There won't be a blade of grass left.

I had a flashback to the time when I thought Dandelion "clocks" were magical and were there to be blown. On the other hand, they were also known as Pisseybeds, because if you picked them later that night you would...well, you catch my drift!

I now realise that that was merely a tale made up by an old wife who was p***ed off with kids who were helping to disperse dandelion seeds all over her manicured lawn!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I've lost the plot....

After six seasons and God knows how many episodes, Lost was finally coming to an end. I was a major fan for the first two seasons. I loved how intricate it was, and felt chuffed with myself every time I noticed a teeney-weeney clue in the background. Then it got far too weird for me. All this sideways time travel was WAYYYYY too confusing. It got back on track for the last season.
Having stuck with it for so long, I had to see it through to the bitter end. Sky 1 were showing it simultaneously with American tv, which meant I had to get up at 5am...on a Monday morning. But I couldn't risk waiting to watch the repeat on Monday night. Knowing my luck I hear or see a spoiler during the day.
So 4.55am saw me cuddled up on my sofa under my duvet. It's at times like these I'm sorry that I refuse to have a tv in my bedroom...electronic emissions during the night, and all that jazz! The opening credits started and then......DISASTER. The screen went blank and the message went up Temporary Fault.
Someone in Sky must have been having a major cornory. All I could think of was that I'd gotten up at that inhumane hour for nothing. Thankfully it was restored within seconds.
I won't go into all the details. I was left kinda confused even at the end of it. It reminds me of the time I tried to read James Joyce's Uylesses. I spent ages agonising over the meaning of every sentence Many sentences later I gave up as I realised that I had no idea how these individual sentences went together to form the plot of the book!
Will probably have to get the box set of Lost and rewatch it, bearing in mind what I now know! But I won't do it this week!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Morning

St. Mary's Church, Maynooth

One of my pupils was receiving his Confirmation this morning in the Church of Ireland, Maynooth. So I set off bright and early to attend the ceremony. I was quite excited about going there as I have never been to a service before. The nearest I got to one was watching an episode of The Vicar of Dibly.
It is a stunning church. The walls inside are unplastered so you can see the stonework. It reminded me of one of the churches in The Tudors. It was a blessing on a day like today (glorious sunshine) in keeping the place cool.
It was so unusual to have a woman in vestments leading the congregation. Catholic Church, take note! The girl beside me was so friendly in sharing her hymn book with me, I didn't have the heart to tell her that she was wasting her time as I didn't know any of them.
And boy, do they sing! What is it about us Catholics that we refuse to open our mouths to sing in church. That's a job for the choir.
But today, everyone sang every hymn and every verse of the hymns...all five of them! Thought I was now on the set of Songs of Praise.
We would only sing the first two verses and a a push!
When it came to Communion time the bishop told us that they welcomed everyone to receive at their altar, even if we were of a different denomination. The Jesus I believe in encourages unity and solidarity, so I went up to receive.
I wasn't sure of the protocol, so I followed the lead of "nice girl who shared hymn book".
Got a shock when I realised it is normal bread that is used, as opposed to Catholic unleavened bread. I couldn't understand why we remained standing at the altar after receiving the bread. Then I noticed two people with chalices coming with the wine. For a moment I thought
Why are there two chalices? There is hardly a choice between red and white.
Of course there wasn't. It was just to speed up the process.
Afterwards we filed out and the bishop shook everyone's hand. It was a lovely ceremony...and experience, one I'd definately do again. Will need to brush up on my lyrics beforehand though!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The lengths I go to .......

According to "A Girl for all seasons", the 21st May was when the American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton. So the challenge was to find a charity to support.
A couple of weeks ago I was coming out of the swimming pool when I saw this poster

I thought That's what I want to support.
My Dad died from cancer four years ago. It was a tramatic time for all of us. How on earth does a young child cope?

I went up to reception to ask about the details...most important one being, "Just how many lengths of this pool constitute a mile? "

"That's 40 lengths" said the smiley receptionist.

That's do-able. I've been doing 30 lengths for the past few months. I can surely add another 10 onto my workout.

"Oh no, wait a minute. That's for two people. It's 80 lengths for one".

Whaaa...? I'll never manage that

But then I thought about it and decided that if I was going to do something then it shouldn't be easy. So before I could really think about it I had signed up. I then started my training. I added on 5 lengths every time I went to the pool. Today I did 74. And I still have a week to go. So things are looking good.

I suffer from Primary School teacher syndrome....which means that if I have something written down, I have to do it. This is the message board in my kitchen.

Sad, I know! But it means that I will swim that mile. Will I do it with a smile??? Seeing as my face will be under water for most of it, you will just have to take my word for it!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Speaking words of wisdom....

During English lesson today we were doing very exciting (!) work on adverbs. Ben asked me
"Miss, how do you spell "enthusiastically?"
Eh, not sure, so I gave the standard answer of every teacher in doubt.
"Very good word Ben. Look it up in your dictionary".
Ben stared at me with a very peturbed look on his face.
"But Miss, how am I supposed to look it up in my dictionary when I can't spell it?"
Fair point!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Importance of Being Oirish

After the disappointment of missing Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday I took myself off to the cinema to see Robin Hood. As you may already know, I am a huge Russel Crowe fan.But after the recent controversy I found that I spent the first part concentrating on his accent to see if there was a trace of oirishness in it! There were a few suspect phrases. But then again maybe there would be a similarity between an Irish accent and one from rural 12th century Northern England. How would I know?
It seems ironic that an actor should perfect an Irish accent when he didn't intend to, when so many have failed miserably when they actually needed one. Who could ever forget Tom Cruise's pathetic attempt in Home and Away...or was it Far and Near....oh no, it was Far and Away. Woeful!
I think the best Irish accent was Johnny Depp in Chocolate. Now there is a fantasy...Johnny Depp and chocolate. Or even better, Johnny Depp dipped in chocolate!! I wonder how many Weightwatcher points would be in that? Who the hell cares....the diet can always start next Monday!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strictly Don"t Come Dancing

There is a great emphasis on dancing in the May section of "A Girl for all Seasons". It is Fred Astaire's birthday on 10th May and there is also a step-by-step account of how to do the Michael Jackson's moonwalk.
This is going to be a piece of cake, I thought.
I LOVE dancing. I was even a chorus girl in an earlier life, like when I was in my 20's......or even my 30s! I get it from my parents who were great dancers.
My mam and I are glued to the tvs every night when Strictly Come Dancing is on. It's the combination of the dancing, the music and the costumes. I must admit I don't like the American version Dancing with the Stars, as it is too showy for my liking. I could swear I saw someone doing a cartwheel during a Viennese waltz! That would never happen on Strictly.
For Mother's Day I bought Mam(and me) tickets for the Sunday matinee show of the professional tour. We have been looking forward to it for months. Finally the weekend arrived. Mam even got her hair done yesterday especially for the big day.
Being Little Miss Organised, I had filed the tickets away in my filing cabinet under "Tickets". On Sat afternoon I took them out. I glanced at them...and my heart nearly stopped. The date on them read Sat 15th 2.30pm
Thats wrong. I bought them for Sun 16th. I even wrote it in my diary.
I looked at them again and again and again. Nope it still said Sat 15th. I ran down to the kitchen to check the calendar. There it was in black and white. Sat 15th and Sun 16th. I had gotten my dates mixed up and missed the show! How could I have been so stupid? I was hoping for a
Lost: Season 6 moment. You know, when there is a blinding flash of light and everyone is transported back into the past. Just one day would do me fine. But no such luck. I was stuck in the present.
I was gutted for myself and even more so for Mam.
When I told her she was disapppointed for a moment and then she said philosophically
Ah well. There is a reason why we weren't supposed to go.
To top it all, I have just received an e-mail entitled
Don't miss Strictly Come Dancing, returning in January.
Rub it in, why don't you?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

That's the spirit!

It's Confirmation season again. My 6th class have been preparing all year and I can't believe that the time has arrived. Despite knowing the date of the event all year, there was still a bit of a panic getting the school poster ready on time. As Baconstown school is relatively small, we join with two other schools for the ceremony. There is always a bit of (healthy) competition over whose display is the best!
This year we used a picture from the children's book, projected it onto the chart paper and all the children either drew (ie traced) or painted a character. So it was a nice communal effort.
On the afternoon before Confirmation I carefully loaded the poster (which was quite large) into my car and headed off to the church to put it up. DISASTER!
For some unknown reason the red and blue paint had flaked off in transit! Maybe it was old these recessionary times schools use whatever we have. Whatever the reason, some of my apostles had lost their robes and were now in the nude! And as you can see we had managed to slip in a few females into the picture as well. Hey, if Leonardo da Vinci could get away with it in The Last Supper why couldn't we? And if Dan Browne is reading this he might get inspiration for his next novel...although The Baconstown Code doesn't have quite the same ring to it, now does it???
However, a teacher is always prepared. I whipped out a red and a blue marker and did a bit of doctoring up. Bet you can't tell from the picture!
And so a scandal was averted...which the Church can well do without at the moment.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No Cannes Do!

Relaxing in Cannes.......ok, so it's Athlone.

According to "A girl for all seasons" I should be in Cannes for the Film Festival.... I wish! Especially as the opening film is Robin Hood, and I heart Russel Crowe!!!

I did make it to the next best thing, the All - Ireland Drama festival in Athlone. Our play made it through the preliminary drama festivals to reach the final nine. However our winning streak came to an abrupt ending. The adjudicator didn't like the actual play and so didn't give us a

look-in in any category. We didn't even get a nomination : (

There is a tentative link between Athlone and Cannes..apart from the fact that they are both situated near water. One of the backstage crew has a brother who is working as a bodyguard in Cannes this week. Although I was told that the correct term is "Personal Security Guard". It seems that the term "bodyguard" is too much like "bouncer"!

The weather was glorious. Anne and I sat outside the Olive Grove restaraunt on the banks of the Shannon sipping (ok, it was downing) our vodkas! We actually could have been in Cannes, minus Russel unfortunately.