Friday, December 30, 2016

Challenge #1: Run 155k

I have just signed up for my first challenge of the run 155k.

Now before you think I've lost the run of myself (pardon the pun) let me quickly explain that I don't run it all in the one day!!!
It's all to do with Bressie's R.H.Y,T,H,M
Running Helping You To Healthy Mind.
You can walk/jog/run 5k a day during the month of January for which you donate E1 for every 5k. Then there is a group run on Jan 29th In Lilliput along with Bressie.
For those of you not in the know, there is a place called Lilliput just outside Mullingar. Jonathon Swift spent a lot of time there on his holliers, so when it came to writing his classic novel, Gulliver's Travels, he used its name. And NO, it is not populated by little people!!!
The total of E30 goes towards promoting mental health among young people, a very worthy cause.
And that is the reason I am packing my sports gear along with my glad rags as I head to Killarney for the New Year's weekend.
I will be running/crawling around Muckross gardens on New Year's Day if it kills me.
Now if only Bressie would be at the finishing line it might make it a bit easier to do!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What makes a successful woman?

I was delighted and surprised to be asked by Midlands Radio 3 to take part in an interview about Successful Women in 2016. I met up with the other women, all very inspiring and motivating. We had a great auld laugh.

Afterwards, seeing as I was in Tullamore, I met up with my cousin Janette. We have over a century of shared experiences between us. As the saying goes
Cousins are your first friends.

 It was only as we were talking, it dawned on me that it was really Janette that they should have interviewed. It's just over a year since her 19 year old son was killed in a tragic farming accident. In January she set up and ran an Operation Transformation group in her local GAA club which had over 80 followers. She said today that she has very little memory of that time as she was running on autopilot. However, being involved in something like that gave her a reason for getting up in the morning.

It's a year down the line and things are still very raw and difficult. But Janette has kept going through good days and bad days,
She said today that she admires me for what I have done this year, but in all honesty it is nothing compared to what she has done.
All I can say is
We definitely have a touch of Granny Keena's spirit in us!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

This time last year my cupboards were almost as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's. You would have found salt and pepper and maybe a bit of paprika.
Fast forward to this year and I have a fully stocked larder full of herbs and spices,

Jaynie, I even have Japanese Rice Vinegar in there!
And if you look very carefully you will even notice that they are in alphabetical order!

Hey, don't knock it, it makes it sooooo much easier to put your hand straight onto the one you need!
However I am getting a flashback to that scene from Sleeping with the Enemy! Maybe there is a touch of OCD!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Running on empty.

I had done a bit more driving that I had expected and so the fuel tank was blinking at me. I didn't panic as I am an expert at knowing how far I can drive on fumes! It was 6 o'clock in the evening but I decided to go to Ballivor to get diesel rather than wait til the morning.
I was driving into Ballivor, admiring the lights when suddenly.....perplunk! My car cut out and I thankfully managed to maneuver her to safety on the kerb outside the church. I knew what the problem was...out of fuel, and the ironic thing was I could see the lights of the petrol station blinking at me from just down the street.
Okay Noeleen, you can deal with this, you're an independent woman.
I set off down the footpath and entered the shop. I explained my predicament and I was soon walking back up the street with my little petrol can full of E6 worth of diesel. I poured it into the tank, turned the key and it roared into life....and promptly cut out again. I retried but to no avail.
I can manage this.
I contacted that fount of knowledge, Suri.
It didn't auger well. The first piece of information I got was that it was much harder to deal with a car that had run out of diesel, rather than petrol.
Bloody brilliant.
There were articles on how you should have used an air plunger before inserting the fuel.
Now you tell me!
But then I got the good news. All newer diesel cars were self priming and so didn't need all that palaver.
Granted, the only primer I know about is the stuff you put under your foundation to stop your make up from running!
The next bit of information got my hopes up. Let the engine turn over for a few times to get the fuel running through and then it'll start.
No problem!
Wait!The next website said
"Don't under any circumstances turn the engine over as you'll run down the battery. "
At that I gave up this whole independent woman thing and I rang the second fount of brother Finian!
In a short time he appeared. He told me to turn the engine over and after a few attempts it roared into life.
I should have risked it myself.
A few minutes later I found myself back in the petrol station. I filled up the tank and went into the shop to pay.
I was happily explaining to the cashiers what had happened when one of them said the immortal words that made my blood run cold.
"But you bought PETROL when you were here a few minutes ago!"
NOOOOOOO! I screamed inwardly, or it may have been out loud.
I had a flashback to two years ago when I was the victim of a dirty petrol scam that ruined the engine of Roxy, my Beatle convertible. Only this time it would be all my own fault.
"I'll check through the receipts", she said, not holding out much hope. It must have been my subconscious, maybe the fact that I had bought a PETROL can made me go to the wrong nozzle. As I looked out the window while I waited, I saw my brother filling up his 161 Audi from the same pump as I had used....and his car is diesel too!
Well if I'm in trouble, then he's in an even bigger mess!!!
Receipts were checked and it was confirmed...I had bought DIESEL!
The cashier was full of apologies and explained that she honestly thought I had bought petrol and didn't want me to use it before I did any damage.
That was very thoughtful of her but it would have been too late, it was in the engine already.
But I was so thankful that I hadn't wrecked the engine I would have forgiven her anything.
As I drove home I thanked my lucky stars that I wouldn't have to start the New Year travelling everywhere on a donkey!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

HOW old do you think I am???

During History we were talking about education through the ages. I was telling them about my teaching career in Baconstown and how things have changed since I started. Of course I was asked
"Miss, how long are you teaching here?"
I replied
"30 years."
I got a round of applause.

During the next history lesson I showed them the photos that were taken during our Living History Day three years ago. As our school was celebrating 175 years in existence we dressed up and spent the school day as if it was last century.
The first photo was the one of me arriving to school in full costume, on a High Nelly bike.

There was a moment's pause and then I was asked this genuine question
"Miss, is that you coming to school on your first day here?"
I am officially a dinosaur!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The third cut is the deepest....

Why is Black Friday so called? I always think it sounds very sinister and threatening.
This year I bought a set of Prestige knives for half price.
And now I realise that it was a black day for my hand.
 After a third cut today my poor left thumb is in shreds.

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's the little things....

My alarm clock went off earlier than usual on this dark and dismal Monday morning. Today was Parent-Teacher Meetings Day. We go in earlier to cater for parents who are going into work, teach our normal day and then stay after school for further meetings. Coupled with the fact that I was also on yard duty today which meant that I didn't get any break during the day meant that by late afternoon I was wall-falling with tiredness.
I was finishing up one meeting when Mam reached into her bag and pulled out
Half a dozen home made buns!
" Enjoy those with a well deserved cup of tea", she said, as she went out the door.

I could feel myself welling up and blinked back the tears.
Maybe the exhaustion had something to do with it!!!
But mainly it was because it was one of the most thoughtful things that anyone has done for me. Just when I was beginning to think that this can be a thankless job I was reminded as to why I became a teacher in the first place.
NO! It's not for the free buns!
But for the fact that I can make a difference in a young person's life.....and it is appreciated.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

52 in 52 at 52

It's that scary time of the year again, my birthday is fast approaching. And this time I will be 52. Yes, 52!!! I can't believe it either.

It's ironic that we spend the first,oh, twenty years of our lives wishing we were older so that we can do "grown up" things and spend the rest of it wanting to be younger.
·        So I can approach this milestone in my life in two ways.
A) I can spiral into a pit of depression
B) I can embrace it and put my half century worth of experience into fully living every day.
I'm going with B!

My favourite quote if from a very active 90 year old who when asked what her biggest regret in life was, replied
"Thinking I was too old at 80!"

And so I have a new project for my 52nd year.
52 in 52 at 52
I am going to try something new every week for the coming year. I have a few things in the pipeline, some big, some small. However I am still open to suggestions.
Just as long as they're legal!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Squeaky clean.

I was busy in the kitchen preparing dinner when I heard a strange squeaking sound. I paused with my knife in mid swing and listened again.
Yep there was a definite weird noise coming from another part of the house.
Now, it wasn't the squeak of a tiny rodent. It sounded even worse. I slowly opened the door and tiptoed down the hall. It was then that I realised I was still holding the knife.

"Well, whatever's there, I will have acted  in self defense," I reasoned.
The noise continued but was getting fainter. Wrong direction.
I headed back towards the sitting room.
Yes, it was definitely coming from there.
I slowly pushed open the door, expecting to see something from Fantastic Beasts.
Instead I found...
Andy Murray playing Novac Djokovic on an indoor court in the ATP World Tour final.
Dam squeaky trainers.
I put away the knife.....

Monday, November 14, 2016

Anyone for Afternoon Tea?

We headed to Carton House for Afternoon Tea to celebrate the imminent arrival of Ella's baby.

How terribly civilised of us!!!!

It was like stepping into Downton Abbey.
Of course, seeing as I've recently discovered my inner Domestic Goddess I couldn't keep away from the kitchen!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It only seems like yesterday.....

I was sitting in the staff room this morning, happily drinking my cuppa, when the door opened and in walked Gerry my principal with a 30th cake. My heart sank as I thought
Oh my God, it's one of my colleague's milestone birthdays and I've forgotten it!

I looked around to see who the recipient was and was stunned to see everyone's eyes on me!
I was twice as stunned when Gerry placed it down in front of me and announced
Congratulations. It was this day thirty years ago that you started working here!
Wait a minute, what do you mean? 
I quickly did the maths in my head and came to the realisation that he was right. I have been 30 years here in Baconstown. Well I have done a bit more. I lived and taught in Abu Dhabi for five years and I was out of the classroom doing Drama inservice with the teachers,
But yep, it was my 30th anniversary.
I couldn't find a photo of me in my first year in Baconstown but this is one from a few months previously, in my very first teaching job.
The feckin' state of me!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

I was asked during Operation Transformation if I have ever hosted Christmas dinner. I haven't, for two reasons
A) My house is too small for a large number of people.
B) I don't eat turkey. As a small child I saw a programme about a battery farm as to how they were reared and killed  and I couldn't eat one after that.
Now, they obviously do the same to chickens, but as I haven't seen a programme about them, I'm okay with eating that fowl. I'm shallow like that!

Anyway, that got me thinking and I came up with a solution. I'd have lots of little pre-Christmas dinners for parties of four or five. Also I sourced turkeys that had a relatively happy and carefree life before the chop. My first victims, I mean guests were my nieces.

I decided to concentrate on the table decorations for this week. It means that I can remove them the next day and I don't have to look at them for the next seven weeks! I'm very proud of my effort, even if I do say so myself.

My menu was from a variety of sources.
Carrot and coriander soup from The Plan by Aoife Herne.
Main Course:
Turkey Moussaka from Lean in 15 by Joe Wicks
Butternut Squash and Lentil Curry for our vegetarian from The Plan by Aoife Herne.
Individual Apple tarts from Delicious by WeightWatchers

See,, not an extra calorie in sight.....all the more to spend on the wine!!!

I was most excited about pulling one of my X-rated crackers! What could possibly be inside?

I was the winner of.....a minuscule notebook. WTF?
 Why did I have to be over 18 to win that???

Afterwards we retired to the sitting room to watch Googlebox. I got the inspiration for a new programme.

How's about a programme in which we watch people watching a programme about people watching a programme about people watching TV?
I think it could really take off!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

That's crackers!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a big Christmas person. I don't mind going up to the attic to get down the tree and decorations but I hate the fact that in the New Year I have to put it back up. There was the year that I had mice in the attic and I didn't bother going up in the first place!

This year is going to be different. I'm going to start earlier and get value out of the festive season. I've decided to buy a few bits every week so I'm well and truly ready come December. Today I picked up a box of Christmas crackers along with my weekly groceries.

As she was scanning it through the till, the cashier looked at it, looked up and me and then let a wry smile. I obviously looked perturbed as she went on to explain.
"The till has just said that it needed ID to prove you are over 18, in order to buy these crackers!"
I was getting all excited thinking about what could possibly be in that festive box,....Liquor? Dope?
The cashier burst my bubble when she said
"There's probably a scissors or something sharp in there."
Well, what did I expect for E4.99!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

When you wish upon a ......leaf?

What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare
- William Henry Davies

Today was a glorious autumnal day. I was chomping at the bit to go for my run.
However I was soon stopped in my tracks, not by tiredness or injury. Rather the tree line road was so beautiful that I kept stopping to take photos of it. 
A sudden burst of wind caused a flurry of leaves to come tumbling down. Out of the back of my mind came a childhood memory. I recall hearing that if you catch a falling leaf before it hits the ground then you will get a wish.
And so if anyone was on the Riverdale road today at around 11 am, that is the reason you would have seen me chasing around the place like a demented banshee!

Now, what shall I wish for.......

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Guess who's coming to dinner?

The day after my Battle of the Sync Stars my sister Geraldine invited me to her house for dinner. As I wasn't in the mood for cooking I jumped at the chance. My grandnieces Megan (6) and Evelyn (2) would be there.
I still had the Elsa costume so I decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss. I dressed up in it one once and headed to the far side of Raharney to my sister's.
On the way I had a  flashback to the dreaded day of the Halloween holidays when I was going to school dressed as a nun. My car broke down and a lovely old couple stopped and tried to help me. I didn't have the heart to tell them I wasn't really as holy as they thought!
Please don't let me break down now. I'll be the laughing stock of the village!
Luckily I made it unnoticed.
The two girls were ecstatic when they saw me....well, when they saw Elsa! Not to be outdone Evelyn proudly showed off her lovely pink shoes.

After all the excitement was over I disappeared to the bedroom to change into my civvies! I went into the dining room and went to sit beside Evelyn. She was distraught and announced
"That chair is for Elsa!".
She then proceeded to tell me all about the visitor that I had just "missed".
I hope in years to come they will remember the day their mad auld Grandaunt rediscovered her inner Disney princess!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Costume Drama

Showtime was fast approaching.
I haven't been on stage for a good few years and have gotten rusty. So I was delighted and panicked to be asked to take part in Battle of the Sync Stars for The Downs Ladies football club.  The next two months were spent rehearsing my dancing and miming!
Having mimed my way through about twenty musicals I felt that this was my moment!
My battle song was that classic Let it Go from Frozen!!!
I was channeling my inner Disney princess.
The week of the show I felt ready. All I had to do was collect my costume. I was told that it would be ready on Tuesday.
I rang the costume shop that morning.
"No sorry its not here yet. Ring tomorrow."
Slight panic but there were still three days to go before showtime.
I rang again on Wednesday afternoon with fingers crossed.
There was a slight hesitation on the phone and then I was told
"Yes, its just in the wash. It'll be ready in an hour",
Phew, I hadn't even realised that I had been holding my breath.

When I entered the shop, my newly washed costume was waiting for me. Happy days. The man behind the counter started to grin and said
"There was a bit of drama connected to that costume!"

It seems that the Gardai had hired a range of costumes at the weekend. All costumes were returned on Wednesday EXCEPT FOR MY ELSA DRESS!
The manager had rung them and stated that the costume was needed URGENTLY.
It was then promptly delivered to the a squad car.

Proper order. I'm sure it happens for Beyonce all the time.
Diva? Who me???

Monday, October 17, 2016

My 1/2 pound of flesh

Tarry a little, there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are "a pound of flesh."
The Merchant Of Venice Act 4, scene 1, 304–307

Ah, I remember this well as we studied The Merchant of Venice for the Inter Cert.
Now I'm really showing my age!

I have recently been haunted by my own "pound of flesh" or rather my "half pound of flesh".
For my first weigh in on Operation Transformation I weighed 11st 11 1/2 pounds.
Second weigh in: 11st 4 1/2 pounds.
Third weigh in: 11 st 2 1/2 pounds.
Great result. But I wish I could get rid of that 1/2 pound
Fourth weigh -in: 11 st 0 1/2 pounds
It's still there. a nice even 11 st would be even better.
Fifth weigh in: 10st 12 1/2 pounds.
I'll never lose it.
Sixth weigh in: 10st 13lbs
Nooooo1 I didn't want to lose it by putting it on!!!
Seventh weigh in: 10st 11 1/2 lbs
I don't care that it's back. At least I lost weight.
Eight weigh in: 10st 9 1/2 lbs
It's followed me to the end.

Now eight months down the line I have kept on track, added new exercise to my regime and continued to lose pounds and inches.
This morning I stepped on my scales and for the first time in 16 years I am in the 9 stone bracket.

Of course I am absolutely thrilled....but there is one teenie tiny niggle. If I could lose that damn 1/2 pound I will have brought my total weight loss to an even two stone. An extra lap of Joristown Park should help me achieve that!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The long Arm of the Law

The Garda Band was coming to the school to perform for us. They were to set up in the hall but were running a bit late.
One of my colleagues was passing by the hall door when she heard the sound of a ball being kicked around. Pulling open the door she announced
"You know you are not allowed to play ball in the hall unsupervised!"
She was stopped dead in her tracks by the sight of three red-faced gardai looking sheepish, while one of them held a football under his arm.
"Eh sorry", he mumbled "We're just waiting for the rest of the band to arrive!"

Glad it wasn't me who did that!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Operation Transformation 2017

Today found me heading up to RTE for the launch of Operation Transformation 2017. I can't believe that it has been a year since I filled in the application form that led to the best year of my life! It was a bitter sweet day, I was super excited about meeting up with everyone again but also I was knew our time as Operation transformation leaders was coming to an end.
First up was hair and makeup. And then it was on to the photo shoot. I don't think we've ever looked so glamorous carrying a bag of spuds!

Together we've lost a total of 11st. But more importantly we are all in a much happier and healthier  place than we were this time last year.

If anyone out there is thinking of applying for next year's Operation transformation I can't recommend it highly enough. Go to their website and download the application form. You will not regret it!

Monday, October 3, 2016


Saturday saw me up and out of bed at the ungodly hour of 7.00am. I was heading over to Navan to do the Parkrun with Lucy. This was no ordinary run, today was International Parkrun Day. Recently I've been concentrating on my cycling and have only started back running this week. I knew I wouldn't be able to run the full 5k. I'm back on running 3 mins walking for 2 mins. I was very happy to do that and thanks to Mags I made it in 36 minutes. I'll run the full distance in two weeks time!
After it Lucy and I called into her Dad's home in Grove Gardens. The place was buzzing as they were getting ready for the Halloween event Spooktacular. I was thrilled to get a broad daylight. Even then it was scary. The Terror in the Corn was very claustrophobic and I can just imagine what it will be like when the leaves are brushing against your face in the pitch darkness.
Don't get me started on the bodies on the crosses. The nearest I'll get to being on the set of Game of Thrones!

All we could scream was
Needless to say, when we got to the Haunted Village I headed straight to the saloon to calm my nerves.
I am so looking forward to experiencing it in the dark. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Real Sports Fans

In 2003 Julie and I headed to Dubai for the Dubai Open Tennis tournament.
It's not that we flew over from Ireland for it. We were living in Abu Dhabi at the time and it was just an hour up the road!
As was typical of the Arabs, they organised a world class tournament, paid the top tennis players a fortune to take part, but unfortunately overlooked one little detail. The locals had little interest in tennis and the ex-pat population was very limited. It was being beamed out all over the world, so it wouldn't look good for them if the stadium was empty. So one of the Sheikhs bought all the tickets....and gave them out for free!
Happy days.
I always find it strange that the games of tennis and cricket that need fine weather to be played, were developed in England that has almost as much rain as we have! No fear of it being "rained off" in Dubai.

Despite the fact that tickets were free, the place was still practically empty!
The last player on court was Roger Federer, hence the grainy picture. Imagine what we'd pay today to see him.

Thirteen years have quickly passed by. Julie and I are still attending sporting events but perhaps in not as glamorous a setting. We both took part in the Great Dublin Bike Ride this year. This time I had to photobomb to be let in the shot with herself and her Dad!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Out the door.

We had the principal of a local Secondary school in to talk to the senior pupils about choosing a school for next year. He led a very interesting discussion with my class about all the new and interesting things they would experience in their next step in education.
He then asked them what they thought would be the best part of Secondary School.

One eager fella had his hand up.
"Yes. What do you think is the best thing about school?"
Without batting an eyelid he said

Given that I am writing this on Friday afternoon after they have all gone home I cannot disagree with him!

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Wake Up Call

My alarm started to thrill and I slowly opened my eyes. I squinted at the phone screen. What I saw made me do a double take. My phone calmly told me
You can be home in 57 mins.
As I looked around the room at my familiar walls, curtains, lampshade and duvet I thought
SO, WHERE THE F*%$  AM I ?????

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What a ride!

I wasn't hopeful.
Friday's weather was terrible, wind and rain. Saturday was warm and dry but Sunday was promised rain. Not very helpful for my first 60k bike ride!
When Cycle Ireland had approached me at the start of the summer and asked me to be their ambassador I jumped at the chance. After all I had loads of time to train. Summer came and went. Yes, I did get on my bike and had several 30k under my belt, but that was no where near the full mileage.
I slowly came to my senses at the ungodly hour of 5 am. Before I even opened my eyes I listened for the sound of rain on the roof. Nothing! That was a good sign. Before long I had loaded my bike on the back of the car and off I sped into the darkness.

Being a real culchie my major concern was not the bike ride...but parking! The gods were on my side I got free parking right beside the starting line.
Soon the sun came out and it was ready for off. Panic time again. They wanted photos of me on the starting line but I had visions of the 5099 other cyclists behind me taking off at high speed and Id be run over! Thankfully we were split up into 100k and 60k cyclists and I didn't start until Wave 3!
The first 30k went by without a hitch. The roads were closed for us and we coasted along the coast road! I have never seen Dublin looking so well. The stage was made even easier as I met up with fellow cyclist Laura and together we talked our way to the first stop in Swords.
After a fix of sandwiches, banana and energy bar we were on the way again. However we had been lulled into a false sense of security. I'm talking HILLS! We puffed our way up the inclines and then freewheeled down. But our exhilaration was short lived as we knew another hill was in our sights!

Eventually we arrived at the next stop in Santry.I was never so thankful to see another banana stall in my life. We thought we had done 15k but it turned out that it was really 20k!!! I don't think I've been so excited since the Christmas that Santy brought me a Sindy doll! And even better, we were told it was nearly all downhill.
That gave us renewed energy and off we sped. And yes it was downhill but one negative was that this time we had to stop at the traffic lights. Have you any idea how hard it is to keep restarting when your legs just want to fold?
But suddenly we turned the corner into Smithfield, did a lap of honour and it was all over.
I had done it!
Every now and again I do a double take when I realise how far I have come in the past nine months. I thought I was fit but now I realise that I was fooling myself with my thrice weekly strolls.Now I have my first 5k run, 10k run/walk and now a 60k bike ride under my belt. I feel fitter and healthier than when I was in my 30's, which is probably because I AM fitter now than I was then.
This medal is as precious to me as an Olympic one!
So now, what's my next challenge???