Sunday, December 22, 2019

On the first day of Christmas....

Ornithophobia, or fear of birds, can take many forms. Some people  fear only birds of prey, such as vultures, while others are afraid of household pets like parakeets.

Or in my case, I get nauseous even when I see bird ornaments. In fact Mammy used to have to take the fake robin off the  Christmas wreath when I was a child. I couldn't stay in the same room as it.

So you can imagine how I felt when I got a fabulous hamper from my pupils and this little fe**er was peeping out at me from among the boxes of Quality Street and Roses!

But seeing as I am now a mature women in her mid-fifties I decided that it was time to get over this phobia. In the interest of saving the planet I have decided to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle as much as possible.

 I used the wrapping and ornaments from the hamper to make a Christmas display for my bathroom. I've just discovered that not only is it festive, it is also very functional!
You know the way all the rich food at this time of the year can give you a case of
Christmas Constipation?

Well, that's not going to happen to me this year. Every time I see his beady little eyes looking out at me, it frightens the sh*t out of me!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 1, 2019


We were talking about Advent in class during the week. The kids were all excited about opening their advent calendars and getting their chocolate treat each day.
Well I bet none of them is as excited as I am about the advent calendar!
I was lucky enough to get one of  Marks&Spencer's The Gift of Beauty boxes.

I bought it a few weeks ago but I managed to resist opening it. Today being the first of December it was time to surprise myself.

And first up...

Hair we go! I'll be fab-u-lous by Christmas Eve!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Putting my foot in it

There was a lovely older teacher that used to do substitute teaching in our school a few years ago. One day she came to school in two different shoes. Nothing ever phased her and she just passed it off by saying
"Girls, just you wait 'til you reach a certain stage of your life and your brain turns to mush  because of a hot flush, then you'll  think of me".

Years passed.
I thought of her again today when I arrived into school and Mr Potterton kindly drew my attention to my feet.

I'd like to say that it was because of the dark morning and I couldn't see properly. And in my defense they were both the same height so I had no reason to look down.
I tried to pass it off to my class as a fashion statement, but no luck!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Don't speak too soon.

It's always hard going back to school after a break - for teachers as well as for pupils.
I have been teaching for 35 years and I still can't sleep the night before school starts again.

Today, however was a particularly good "first day back to school" day. We got stuck into our work, while having a fair bit of fun. The highlight was when several groups of kids came up to me with pictures they had drawn with lovely little messages written on them for me.
So it was, that at home time when everyone was lined up at the end of my classroom ready to leave, that I was feeling particularly happy with myself and thinking
"You know, I think that after all this time, I have things under control"
It must have been the universe warning me not to get so sure of myself, because one little lad came up to me and said
"Miss, I don't feel very well".
And before I could do anything, the poor little mite proceeded to projectile vomit over the floor, himself and me!
I managed to send the rest off to the school gate before they too heaved in sympathy.
I got him sorted out, cleaned myself off, got him to the school gate and then back to clear up the trail.
Ah yes, I figure it was karma coming back to bite me in the a*** and to let me know that as a teacher you can never get too comfortable in your ability. There is always something unexpected just around the corner.
Bring on tomorrow!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Northern Star!

I am so happy to be taking part in Killucan-Raharney's fund raiser "A night at the Oscars". Last night was the night when we discovered what film we would be doing and who our fellow cast members would be.
I'm delighted to be part of....Derry Girls!
Still don't know what part I have...but I better start brushing up on my Norn Iron accent!
What about ye?

Saturday, August 3, 2019

A very special mam

Today is Mam's birthday. I went into the shop to get her a card. as usual!
I searched among the "Special Mam" cards to find a suitable one. I particularly liked the sentiment on this one.
....a blessed day,
because it is another one for us to share......

I have just had a message from my sister , who was visiting Mam this afternoon. It was a photo of my card and a question!

"Noeleen, should you have gone to SpecSavers?"
I guess I should have!!!

Friday, August 2, 2019

You're never fully dressed without a smile.

I was paying at the till in Marks and Spencer's.
"Here's a voucher for 20% off Men's".
"THERE'S 20% OFF MEN!" I exclaimed.
"Oh I wish!", she replied.
We were having the craic when the cashier beside us looked over, did a bit of a double take and asked
"Weren't you on Operation Transformation?"

I got a shock as it's been three years and I figure people have forgotten it by now.
"Well, yes", I replied.
"I thought so", she said. "I recognised your smile and your laugh!"

I got a touch of the fuzzy wuzzys! I mean, if that's what I'm remembered for, well...

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fair exchange is no robbery

I was delighted to meet up with Lucy, my fellow Operation Transformation leader.

As proof as to how much the show changed us, I brought...
homemade Oaty Banana buns.

In return Lucy gave me home grown potatoes from her garden.

We couldn't have done that pre-OT!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Add to cart

I went into Woodie's Home Store and More to get two door knobs for my bedroom door.I came out with....

  • a wipe clean table cloth
  • a rotary chopper for vegetables
  • an electric kettle *suddenly remembered that mine gave up the ghost this morning
  • four drinking glasses
  • two toilet seats *well, they were half price and I feel my old ones need replacing

  • a plunger

You may have noticed that the one thing that missing from that list is the door knobs. They didn't have the ones I wanted.
So now I'll have to risk going into another hardware shop and be confronted by all the things I didn't realise that I needed!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Summer solstice- woah, we're half way there

Well, I'm certainly not surprised.
Stood on the scales this morning and I was 3 lbs up.
Actually I'm surprised it wasn't more!

I had a fabulous weekend in Killarney, eating and drinking my way through the AIMS weekend. But that wasn't what did the damage. If I had come home on Sunday evening and said
"Right, that's it. Weekend over, now lets get back on track".
I would have dropped those pounds like I did the previous week.
But no, it was like the dam burst. I ate anything that wasn't nailed down! I couldn't get motivated  at all.
Luckily it was the summer solstice.
What has that got to do with it? I hear you ask.

My friend Fiona was having a special yoga class out by the lake in Belvedere house on Saturday morning. In honour of the longest day of the year she was concentrating on our solar plexus (!) which I am reliably informed, is located behind our belly button and is the centre of our determination and confidence.
It is literally "the fire in our belly"

I was a bit worried that all those happy vibes wouldn't be able to penetrate the extra layer of  fat that had deposited itself in my belly since last week, but I decided to give it a go.
And guess what, it worked!
For me, the most powerful part was when we were doing "The Warrior". As we stood, tall and proud, pointing out over the lake, Fiona told us to look down our middle finger and concentrate on what we wanting in our future for the next six months.
To get back to my comfortable weight, get back to my comfortable weight, get back to my comfortable weight,  I chanted.
* Posed by a model...not me!!!

So now I'm very much fired up and ready to go. This week I intend to have more fire in  my belly than sugar!

This is still my favourite part of the class...time to relax!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Well.that backfired

Not being organised this morning, I had to pop into a local shop to get my lunch for school. There was obviously a school tour happening as there was a queue of kids also buying their provisions for the day.
One little lad at the top of the line had over-stocked a little bit.
"You owe another 60c", informed the shop assistant.
His crest-fallen face meant he didn't have the money.
"I'll just ask me mam", he replied, and ran out.
I had reached the top of the queue and was getting my change, when he returned.
"Me mam says that she doesn't have the money with her and she'll pay you tomorrow."
The sun was shining, I was in a good mood, so I replied.
"Here, take the 60c out of my change."
His face lit up and he thanked me profusely.
I was feeling very Mother Theresalike as I left the shop, just behind him.
A woman came storming in.
"Who do you owe that 60c to?" she asked.
"It's okay, Mam, the lady paid for me".
"WHO?", she demanded.
"Her," he said, pointing to me.
I smiled and said
"It's okay. Pay it forward." and waited expectantly for her thanks!
"No, here you are", as she pushed it into my hand. "I'm not owing anyone money."
I was a bit taken aback at her aggression.
"And as for them in here. He's late for his school tour and they know that!" she shouted, glaring at the shop assistant.

My inner teacher wanted to scream back
"It's not their fault. How on earth are they supposed to know when the local school tour is leaving?  It's yours for not having his lunch ready or getting to the shop in plenty of time."
but I didn't! I wanted to survive the day.

I walked to my car, feeling deflated.
So much for my good deed of the day. I felt like a total bitch for trying to help.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Arrested development

LMVG headed off to Killarney this weekend for AIMS - Irish Musical Societies Awards. On Friday night we had our annual pub crawl. As we had done The Full Monty as our musical , we went with the "police" theme.

Being the actress that I am (!) I got completely into character...okay, maybe I got a bit carried away.

But hey, the streets of Killarney are a safer place tonight because of me!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

It's a weighting game.

I've lost two pounds this week!
Wait....before you rush to congratulate me, might I just add that I've lost the two pounds that I put up over last weekend n Clare. So yes, I weigh exactly the same as I did last Friday.
So I can look at that two ways.
Firstly be annoyed that I haven't lost any weight this week.
Be a bit happy that I've lost that two pounds and am not two pounds heavier.
Yesterday I was talking to a friend on mine who said
"Do you know that you've motivated me?"
"Yes. I've been trying to lose weight with no success. I was just about to give up when I read your blog. The fact that you were so honest about putting back on weight but were determined to lose it again gave me the kick to keep going myself."
And do you know what? She motivated me right back!

i'd love to be able to say that I'll be totally focused this weekend....I won't! A gang of 1,000 of us musical heads are heading to Killarney for the AIMS weekend....kinda like the Tony Awards for Irish amateur musicals. It will not be a self-controlled type of weekend. Once again it's about damage limitation.
I do have my lunch ready for the train so I'm not dependent on the trolley food.However, after that, it's a mine field.
But I am not throwing in the towel. I'll be back next week, be it heavier or lighter.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Getting there by degrees.

Where does time go?

The photo on the left was taken at my graduation from Carysfort in 1985.
Look how young and innocent I was then!
The one on the right was taken at my graduation from Maynooth this year.
There have been many changes in those 34 years.Some for the better, some not so much.

The message behind those two photos is that it's never too late to learn, especially if its how to work a hair straightener!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A weight off my mind!

Today was weigh-in day and I ......LOST 3 LBS!!!
The reason I have no photographic evidence is because I left my phone/camera in school last night, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Even though at 11st 0 lbs I'm still in the 11 st bracket, I'm delighted with how I did this this week seeing as it included

  • dinner in the Park Hotel with the Raharney women.
  • a night on the town in Galway
  • spilling rain, which messed with my exercise schedule.
My motivation is still at an all-time high so here's to the coming week. My target is still to get into the 10 st range.
Seeing as I'm heading to Co. Clare with the family for the weekend, it's not going to happen before Monday!
Have a good one!

Sunday, June 2, 2019


"Are you mad? Starting a diet on a Saturday.....of a Bank Holiday weekend!!!"
I've heard that a few times over the past few days. But I don't think I'm mad.
And that's the first sign of madness!

Firstly, it's NOT a diet. It's a healthy lifestyle, and that's for every day, not just Mondays!
Secondly, I'm a real 1st person. So i'm most motivated on the New Year's Day, the first of every month, or in this case, the first day of 90 days of summer. If I waited til Tuesday 4th, it just wouldn't work for me.
So here I am, ready for a roadtrip to Galway. Yipee!
My friend Emer is dropping her son down to the Gaeltacht (Irish college) and then we're having a night out in Galway city.
 I've no intention of eating lettuce leaves and sipping water all night but I'm taking steps for minimal damage!
I started off this morning with Cinnamon and yogurt pancake topped with berries and honey. Ymmm

I then retrieved my OT fitness kit from behind the couch where it was gathering dust, went on the Operation Transformation website where all the plans are still up, and got my ass in gear again!

And finally I got my snack ready for the journey down. Hopefully it will ward off the munchies.

So here's hoping I can have a whale of a time without ending up feeling like one!

Go n'eirí and t-adh liom!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The curse of Dementia

Last week my brother Finian and I were bringing Mam to see the doctor. She was  very worried about going there and she said something that broke my heart.
"I was trying to pray last night but I can't remember how to."

Mam still knows who we all are (in fact sometimes she remembers too much !) But out of the blue she will say something that will stop us in our tracks. There are ever widening gaps in her memory. The fact that she couldn't remember her prayers is a biggie. Irish Catholics of Mam's (and my) generation learned our prayers before we even learned nursery rhymes.If there's anything that is ingrained in our brains its a litany of prayers. But now they are locked away in Mam's memory and she can't get them out.

This morning I went up to her nursing home after breakfast to get her to come to mass with me. Now, I have had my issues with the Catholic Church for the past few years and am not a mass goer. But I figured if we tried to pray together then some of them might come back to her. Also Dad built the church in the nursing home and if ever I want to talk to him I go there not to his grave,
Mass started and Mam remained silent. However during several parts of the mass Mam joined in with the correct responses. Happy Days.

When mass was over the priest turned on the CD player and suddenly the hymn Queen of the May came blasting out. Mam was always a lovely singer and she began to sing along with gusto. There were four long verses and she knew every word of them. But what was every bit as amazing was that....
I found myself singing along even though I didn't remember ever singing it before. But singing that hymn with my mam (even though I haven't a note in my head) is hopefully a precious memory I will have forever.
When mass was over we got talking to my old primary school teacher. I was telling her what had happened. She looked at me and said
"Noeleen! Every May in school ye all knelt down in the corridor, said the rosary and sang that hymn. That's how you know it."
And that's about forty five years ago!
Isn't music magical. The words were locked away in both of our memories and all it took was a few chords to bring them all flooding back.

Back in the Saddle

I consider this to be the first day of summer and before you jump on me to ask if I'm on holidays yet, the answer is NO! I still have four weeks of schooling to go. Believe me when I say it will be a LONG four weeks as the kids already feel that they are finished and it is nigh on impossible to reign them in.
Anyway, I digress! I figure I have 90 days of summer to live and I intend to do so. In my quest for health/fitness/weight loss, I dusted the cobwebs off my bike and headed for the open road.

I planned on doing 11k, as far as Ballivor bog and back. (well I didn't want to overdo it on my first outing. I might pull a hamstring or something!)

 However when I got there I was only getting into my stride and decided to keep going. I might have been a bit ambitious as I was flagging on the way back. I spied these two little dotes and contemplated getting a bareback ride home butI figured my knees would be trailing the ground..... and I'm only 5' Feck all "

I made it back home in one piece, tired and thirsty but delighted that I'd taken the first step...or should that be, pedal.

Friday, May 31, 2019

I didn't pull a fire truck for nothing.....

Well here I am, back in a place where I swore I'd never be the 11 stone weight bracket.

In 2016 I was chosen as a leader on Operation Transformation, the TV programmme that focuses on getting normal Joe Soaps off the couch and onto a healthier life's path, and in so doing, inspiring the rest of the nation to get off their asses and do the same.
When I joined the show I was 11st 11 lbs, far too heavy for my 5' 3" height. Through healthy eating and exercise I got down to 10st 9 lbs when the show finished seven weeks later. It didn't end there. I continued on myself until I reached 10 st 1 lb. I think that was the first time in my life that I was actually happy with my weight, even though I would have weighed much lighter at times in the past. I maintained this for two years.
Over the past year my exercise regime has dwindled off and my weight has crept back on. Of course I know exactly what I should be doing to get back on track, but pass me the box of chocolates while I plan it out!
Well, enough is enough!
I have been trying unsuccessfully to get back on track since the New Year. I'm good for a few days and then....WHAM! I lose the run of myself (without any actual running being involved!)
 I've tried doing it myself, joining a slimming club, taping my mouth shut (well, not quite, but it's an option!) All to no avail.
I'm the type of person that needs to be accountable to someone for my actions, hence this blog. I feel that if even one person out there is vaguely interested/curious about how I'm doing, then I'll

So here goes. My first goal is to get back in the 10st bracket.
 Wish me luck!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Choose your words very carefully

In my quest to declutter my life, I went for a pamper spa day in Bloomfield Health and Leisure centre in order to detox my mind and body.

First up was a massage. I wrapped myself in my very fluffy robe and went into the treatment room. The very nice masseuse explained that I was to lie face down on the bed, over the patterned blanket but under the plain one. She then left for a moment to allow me to  settle myself, which I duly did. 
She came back into the room very quietly and explained that she was about to start.

"Have you anything on?" she inquired.
I had a moment's panic.
Do I say "Knickers" or is that too common?
How about "pants" or "underpants"? No, too masculine.
In the end I stuttered
"Just a pair of panties."

 There was a moment's silence, followed by
"No, I mean, have you got a special occasion coming up?"

Needless to say, it took five minutes to get the massage started, as we were both in hysterics. At least she got a great story to tell her colleagues at lunchtime.
"Wait til ya hear what yer wan said to me today...."

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Let it go

I have decided to declutter my life starting with my house. I ordered in a skip to help me in my momentous task.

I consulted with Marie Kondo, the queen of organisation, in order to do it properly. She recommends holding each item in your hands for a few moments and if it doesn't spark joy in your heart then let it go.

And do you know what , it really works!
So far I've gotten rid of...
my alarm clock,
bathroom scales
and the New Primary Language Curriculum!

I feel SO much happier already.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A great show

What to do on a Bank Holiday Monday???

  • Free Day
  • Glorious sunshine
  • Unable to be on my own
So off I went to Clonard GAA pitch to meet my niece and family, to engage in my favourite activity.
No, not hurling or football.

They were having an outdoor screening of The Greatest Showman.

We sang and danced along. Well we just sang. Evelyn got up as and danced as if no one was looking. I just wish as I could be as uninhibited as that lil' drama queen!

What more could you ask for?
Oh yes....
The Easter Bunny.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Put one foot in front of the other.

A new day dawned, which didn't seem right, but it did. I'm old enough to know that even when the bottom falls out of your world, the world keeps on turning.
At eight o'clock the sun was streaming in my window, telling me to get up and not waste a single minute of my life. Time is precious.

I did have a mission in mind. I had to walk the 8km back to Nanny Quinn's Bar and Restaurant where I had left my car the night before, after Ger's funeral. We had given her a good send off, one that she would have loved. But it had resulted in me not being able to drive my car home!

So off I set. It was a bitter sweet walk  as it was the same route that I had taken just over a year ago when I was trudging through the snow to meet Ger in the pub. Every step brought back memories of that walk. This time however, the weather was decidedly better.

Kilcolum cemetery looked less bleak.

Snowdrop season was over, but there were lots of primroses and purple flowers (that I don't know the name of!)

Buds were bursting into life.

Then I encountered some crosses. As it was Good Friday, there was a local procession to remember Jesus' final walk to Calvary. I said a prayer for Ger as I passed each one.

 I came across the second most beautiful scene of the day......

The birds continue to sing. This lone swallow sat waiting for his companions. He can't make a summer on his own.

I continued on, my legs were beginning to scream by this stage. Finally I encountered the most beautiful sight of the day....... car waiting patiently for me outside Nanny Quinn's, unvandalised and unrobbed! 
Boy, was I glad not to have to walk back home.