Friday, December 17, 2010

A Different Kind of Build Up

Having not felt the festive buzz upto now it is starting to creep in finally. This year is different for many reasons; we wont have a tree, or turkey, or freezing weather. But mostly granda wont be at the christmas table. I'll miss shouting into his good ear over the carols while perching a flimsy pink christmas cracker crown on his head. I'll particularly miss seeing him asleep in the chair (with crown still on) flanked by an empty whiskey glass and a box of roses.
But everything marches on. In spain (granda's spiritual home) the entire and complete macalister clan will toast him; his life, his sayings, his highs and his lows. The legacy he left us.
There couldn't be a more perfect way to celebrate this christmas and new year. In its difference; it is home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Comfort

From The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

'I often wonder what kind of person I would be if I had been protected from the cold wind of fate by the screen of wealth, and my uncle's moral hand had never led me to an office in Lisbon, and I had never moved on from there to other offices to reach the tawdry heights of being a good assistant book-keeper in a job that is about as demanding as an afternoon nap and offers a salary that gives me just enough to live on.

I know that had that non-existent past existed, I would not now be capable of writing these pages, which, though few, are at least better than all the pages I would have undoubtedly have only day-dreamed about given more comfortable circumstances. For banality is a form of intelligence, and reality, especially if it is brutish and rough, forms a natural complement to the soul.

Much of what i feel and think I owe to my work as a book-keeper since the former exists as a negation of and flight from the latter.'

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Month?

Don't really know what happened there ... how did a month pass by in a couple of days?! By my new time measuring machine it will be christmas 2012 in approximately three months.
November consisted of a lot or reading and a visit to london, sickness, continued sickness and now the snow. The snow has its charms but its charms are running out. Driving to work everyday at a snails pace is taking its toll on both my time sheet and my sanity. Bring on the thaw. But I dont think im ready for the headlines that will replace the snowy ones. Will be doing my best to avoid news of the budget because right now I have a job and my car starts in the morning and while I still have the sniffles it ain't the flu.
So I will continue to hunker down with the fire blazing and a book in my paw and continue to ignore the 'real world' for as long is physically possible.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A kind of a day off

Found myself in the city centre on some work related errands mid week last week. Most of which were to be done on the north side of the city. In need of a quick snack I ducked into the Epicurean Food Hall (abbey st/liffey st).
Whatever happened to the epicurean food hall? I remember wine, bagels, fresh salads, good coffee, great people watching. What I got was a run down mostly closed down space with big screens showing football and a few students and more buffets than a spanish resort sea front. What a fall from grace. Luckily La Corte is still there so I had a panino and ran away. I ventured slightly further down abbey st and ducked into the coffee shop 3FE (in the Twisted Pepper). I've never tasted anything like it before; coffee with actual accents of fruit and dark chocolate. I recommend it for the novelty. I ordered a Macchiato which was delivered to the table and the milk was poured in front of me with a 'just say when'. Pity about the actual site though, grungy and dirty or maybe I'm just not cool enough.
Why are we so hard done by for culinary delights on the central north side?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Audience with John Banville

An Audience with John Banville
Wednesday 20th October / 7.30pm
The Library, Farmleigh

has been reschedueled : it is on tonight, monday 08/11, at 7:30pm in Farmleigh.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Autumn in Clontarf

Having missed out on autumn last year I'm particularly enjoying it this year. Last year I went from the stifling allergy inducing heat of Ha Noi to the heaviest snow fall in a decade in Beijing. So this year the colours seem particularly vivid to me. I'm also throwing myself at autumn's culinary mercy and have been making stews and soups to feed an army. My new slow cooker obsession couldn't have come at a better time.
These were taken yesterday:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

At the party

After my hangover from hell a few weekends ago my drinking volume has gone down considerably. Well make that pretty much ceased. It definitely has its advantages: it's kinder on the wallet, the waist line and the 'day after'. Sometimes though when your not drinking and your out and about conversing in pubs and parties you realise that being at the receiving end of a drunken conversation isn't always that much fun for the non drinker. Although its all worth while when you can just step outside, back into your car and drive yourself right to your own front door for free (I'm not including petrol/insurance/tax in this equation).
Anyway was at a party the other night where my roomie went off for a smoke just before we left. This left me sitting by myself for a few moments. Not having a few drinks on board I wasn't encouraged to go chatting to more drunk people just as we were about to leave. So I sat looking out the window for a few minutes taking in the halloween mayhem on the streets. Being one who is prone to writing a few words every now and then I'm not averse to spending time sitting in my own thoughts no matter where I am. And here in lies the crux: what is it that makes other people so uncomfortable about seeing a woman by herself?
A friendly enough guy approached and suggested I come over and join his group. I said oh thank you but we're just leaving now, and then a little exasperated, he said 'don't isolate yourself, just come over.' What a very bizarre thing to say. Isolate.
Maybe its because I was sober and other people weren't. Maybe its because I didn't really know anyone there and I was sober. Maybe I was indeed feeling a bit off kilter. Or maybe, just maybe, I don't mind spending a few minutes by myself while I wait for my friend.
Isolate. How strange to use that word.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The joys of procrastination

Ahh the virtues of procrastination. Great to know there are some after all. Just finished this article and felt it was kind of imperative to share it : (sorry but for some reason my hyper linking is refusing to work so its a copy and paste job....but its worth it!)

I decided to get rid of one of my obstacles to writing, the internet. Its devilish ways were too much for my attention span so it got the axe. For those of you who aren't brave enough to go that far you might benefit from this little program :

even with it gone though I still find it hard to put bum to chair. Last night I baked a potato that obviously needed constant supervision. I then went onto stew some plums in my fancy new gadget; a slow cooker. A walk was also in order.....all in all i got about about five sentences moved and a few others deleted. But even that eases the guilt. Punishment-reward, punishment-reward. Myself and my house mate have even created a little dance for it. now if that's not productive procrastination I don't know what is.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reading at 3.0 Fingal Arts Festival

I'm doing a reading at the fingal 3.0 annual writer's festival. I will be reading on the 20th of october in farmleigh house. Tickets are free but you have to apply for them. See the link at the end.

An Audience with John Banville
Wednesday 20th October / 7.30pm
The Library, Farmleigh

Critically acclaimed writer, John Banville, will introduce three new Fingal writers in the intimate library setting of Farmleigh. Pauline O’Hare, Niamh MacAlister and Brian Doherty were selected from an open writing competition initiated by artist Brian Duggan. Duggan is currently undertaking a Public Art Commission for Fingal County Council, developing a film which involves an unconventional journey and uses the Fingal landscape as its backdrop. The artist invited Fingal writers to respond to the theme, ‘3009’, and submit a piece of short fiction. The winners were then finally selected by John Banville, and will be included in Brian’s book, which will accompany his project. We are delighted to highlight the talents of these writers during Writing 3.0 and treat the audience to excerpts from the winning stories. Brian will also be available to discuss the development of his commission to date.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The birthday weekend

Is it sad to admit that the birthday bunting and balloons are still attached to the curtain poles?
One wonders what else there is to say about the birthday weekend. It really was that good-I couldn't have wished for more. People flying in from far flung and near flung places, people making and baking, getting presents (!), and of course the chat chat chatter. Its always nice to spend time with fantastic/amazing/inspiring people,
it certainly softens the blow of the whole getting older thing.

What better way to polish off such a perfect weekend than with an impromptu dip in the sea. What? yes.... as I power walked my way to the bull-wall the sun was shining and damn it that sea looked good, it had that turquoise thing going on so f@*k it-why not?! I took refuge in the first women's swimming shelter as I quickly stripped off to my undies-quickly quickly-down the steps into the water before I changed my mind. next thing I know I'm swimming towards to nana's chimneys (poolbeg power station). Well not quite that far-it was bloody freezing, oh no I mean it was 'refreshing'. A little bit out and back again. Don't know if it was swimming as much as crazy doggy paddle like movements to keep the blood running through my veins. Tentatively made my way back to my clothes and wringed myself out. Set off back to the house, hopped into a steaming shower and congratulated myself on a fine start to my thirtiness.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The impending birthday

So a landmark in the life of niamh will be reached this weekend. It's a big one, for me, its 30. I know anyone older than this is scoffing right now, in the way that I scoff at people younger than me when they complain about getting older. Let's face it no one has ever turned 30 before.
Of course the blow has been softened with some friends/family getting on planes and coming to commiserate/celebrate with me. I'm looking in your direction aoife, lara, kristin.......but don't worry ann marie nothing can fill the gap that you've left on the dance floor... slide and hand shake, shimmy and chop!
I have been having some what of a third life crisis. The proverbial what am I doing with my life question has been dominating my thoughts of late. Feel as though I'm coming through the other side of it now (don't worry crisis i'll touch base with you again in the new year). Feeling a little chuffed at everything I've managed to do and achieve in the last decade. No such thing as mistakes just learning curves. Ahem. With that in mind here's to a few more learning curves in the years to come-chin chin!

Monday, September 20, 2010


I would like to say that these tasty treats were caught by me but no. In the fishing department I am an expert tackle looser; it gets caught in rocks, seaweed and other peoples lines much to my brothers despair, as most of the tackle I loose is his. And he's still kind enough to hand over the fish that he catches-I couldn't ask for more! So these beauties were caught off the south wall on friday evening with a spectacular sunset to boot. One Mackerel, One Pollock.
Cooked with up with the help of my new roomie, Ollie. We had them with beans from my mother's garden and broccoli from ollie's old fridge-oh and a bit of wild rice too. So simple so tasty. And talk about fast food.....
Veggies look away now : if you've never gutted a fish before it really is easy. I do it in the sink under running water as I'm a little squeamish about this stuff and the water rinses everything away before you get a chance to think about it! Insert the knife in the belly (just below the head) and run it all the way down to the tail-pull 'contents' out and discard, chop the head off and viola. Its a little grim but worth it! I didn't bother scaling or filleting.

Put the fish in tinfoil with a little salt and pepper and a knob of butter: wrap up the tinfoil so its sealed completely. Put it in the oven at 150 for 20 minutes.

We cooked up our wild rice, blanched the veg added a little salt and pepper once cooked and that was it.
so simple.....catching it is the hard part.....

(excuse my steamed up picture-it was hot in there!!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My bestest friend Ann Marie wants a list of books that I have read recently / am reading, that I enjoyed / am enjoying and recommend.....get it? in no particular order:


Skippy Dies by Paul Mrray

God's Own Country by Ross Raisin

Room by Emma Donoghue

Constitutional by Helen Simpson (short stories)

Anne Boleyn A New Life of England's Tragic Queen by Joanna Denny


A Scattering by Christopher Reid

In the Flesh by Adam O'Riordan

More prose than poetry there which is better for you mahon but strange for me. Although in fairness have been writing neither of late .... the less said about that the better.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The September Issue

The biggest vogue of the year. The one the whole year revolves around. Picked up the UK issue the other day and all I can say is 'yawn'. Kate Moss on the cover-yawn. Kate Moss styles autum/winter staples-yawn. Really and truely have we not moved on from Kate Moss? Talk about over kill of her and her style; which is the same thing repeated over and over again. I see even Topshop have said thanks but no thanks for next season. It's all so very boring. Ok rant over.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Land of the School Tour....

...and our ancestors. Took a trip to newgrange recently with my visiting american cousin and his fabulous wife. We were transported and fed by 'uncle of luxurious car'. It's all change since I'd been there all those school tours ago. Official centres and buses and all. Still as part of heritage week it was free so one can't argue with that. I even took a naughty interior picture. (but as you can see I was almost outside....)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I've had these shoes for ages now but in spite of all their fabulousness they have been residing at the bottom of my wardrobe. Sadly my narrow feet can't keep them on. In a moment of illumination i thought i could attach ribbons on for straps. So i high tailed it into rubenesque in the powerscourt centre and perused the collection. I decided on cream (for contrast) grosgrain (for holding power) ribbon. Next stop the cobblers. Under strict instructions he carefully glued them in with his super power shoe glue et voila! Now all i need is an occasion......

Friday, August 20, 2010

banana bread cake thing!

i am a phase eater of the humble banana. in that i'll eat one a day for weeks on end than abruptly decide i am a banana girl no more. i just left a banana phase recently and was left with two large bananas getting blacker by the day. theres only one thing for it ....

the necessary:

250g self raising wholemeal flour
125g brown sugar
2 eggs
100g butter
2 large ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
hanful dried fruit (optional)
2 bowls and a loaf tin

get your mix on:

1- bowl one: mash the bananas, stir in the eggs, vanilla and melted butter. mix well.
2- bowl two: sift the flour, add sugar and fruit.
3- put the two together and mix well.
4- pour into a loaf tin and cook at 180 for about 45-60 mins.

i enjoyed a slice with a bit of butter when it was still oven warm!yum...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

sunday morning

no better way to start off the day than with cinnamon topped macchiato and my leftover saturday papers. is it just me or are most sunday papers not worth the paper they're written on?

Monday, August 16, 2010

saturday fishing on the south wall

whats not to love: not much chatter, the sound of the sea, the sunshine, watching seagulls and cormorants, drinking tea, eating sambos. watching the yachts on the dun laoghaire side of the harbour fall in and out of line with each other, their brightly coloured triangles mesmerisingly full of unstoppable wind.
the methodical movements: over the shoulder, under the arm and reel and pull and reel and reel..... hoping it will make it over the rocks and not get caught. that next time you'll manage to get your throw a little further out to sea. watching the man next to you bring in two on his eight feathered line. our odds are probably about even. and hoping and hoping that maybe you'll catch something other than a bit of sea weed. ok next time reel and pull. next time ....

Monday, July 26, 2010

the poetry bus

am seeing a lot about this poetry bus thing and cannot find its route anywhere. can anyone shed some light on it for me?

Monday, July 19, 2010

word: patience (as in trying to learn the art of)

[pey-shuhns] –noun

1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.

3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

4. Cards (chiefly British ) . solitaire ( def. 1 ) .

Thursday, July 15, 2010

a little conversation with a little person

was in london last weekend visiting the ikkle sis. who is now very grown up with her own little apartment and masters dissertation under way. what ever happened to shared rooms and fights over the light being switched on or off? or teddies going sailing through the night air to bring snoring to an abrupt stop? i tell ya that time marches on so it does.

we filled our (short time) with many the cultural event-a trawl of oxford. no no i jest....although that did happen a little bit. things got off to a great start at the southbank centre with a janette winterson lecture. we were even lucky enough to over-hear a conversation, conducted in perfect toffy accent, about 'provincial dublin'. what a treat that was. anyway back to the talking that was actually of interest .... winterson spoke about the impact of books in her life and shared a horrific story about her mother finding all of her books hidden under her mattress and quickly bringing them down to the garden and setting them on fire. the sheer violence of such an act seems to be inconceivable. the questions and answers section was be far the most entertaining. she quickly quietened the people that were only talking to hear the sound of the their own voices. i lost count of how many times she responded with 'so what exactly is the question?'. or how she silenced droning academics with her quick witted pragmatism. it was a joy to watch. we of course queued for a stupid amount of time to have my books signed. felt very selfish having two to be signed so sent the ikkle sis up with one (i'm a big sister to the last). after that a meander and a glass of wine was in order.

the next day we checked out the sally mann exhibition on in the photographers gallery which is just off oxford street close to the circus. (hence the oxford street trawl). although most people find her work disturbing i find it amazingly beautiful. most of whats disturbing about it is our own ideas and cultural shite forced onto the work. if you don't know her i highly recommend checking her out.
needless to say the rest of our time was filled with much drinking and eating and of course a very hung over flight home.

at which point i get around to the little conversation with the little person. as is some what of a bi-monthly ritual i meet the parentals in town for coffee. when i was leaving the house on what was a sunny sunday afternoon a little girl (age: about as high as my hip) was loitering by my house....

girl 'it's a lovely day isn't it?'
me 'hello! it sure is'
girl 'i was just playing in the park it was fun'
me 'i'd say it was'
girl 'do you have any children?'
me 'no' (very broad grin at this stage)
girl 'well don't worry you can enjoy the peace and quiet in the park'
me 'that's true i can' (even broader grin)
girl 'i like playing in the park but i have to go home now cos i have to go to the toilet'
me 'well sometimes that happens'
girl 'ok bye.'

and off she trotted to her mother who was standing across the road and waved to me. of all the talking and conversations i heard and had over the weekend it was by far the best.

Friday, July 2, 2010

word of the week: frustration

1. to upset or anger (a person) by presenting difficulties that cannot be overcome,

2. to hinder or prevent the efforts, plans, or desires of.

Monday, June 28, 2010

night time on the farm tenuta di spannocchia

workshopping at tenuta di spannocchia

this was only my second time in italy, don't know how i've managed that. i was paying kitty (flat mate extraordinaire from college) a little visit and while there giving a poetry workshop. she now lives and works on the farm tenuta di spannocchia, which is a place that 'encourage[s] global dialogue about sustaining cultural landscapes for future generations through the example of the tenuta di spannocchia.' kitty is their education director and a fabulous job she does too. i not only had my own personal tour guide for the farm but i did a salumi tasting (all products made in situ) and an olive oil tasting.

most of my time was spent kicking back enjoying the food (everyone on the farm eats dinner together at the main villa), enjoying the wine (they produce their own), the sunshine and the lovely lovely quietness. I managed to read two books between food and napping: the infinities by john banville (thank you jamison) and on chesil beach by ian mcewan (thank you kitty).

in terms of books about tuscany though everything that you've seen, read or heard appears to be true. full of its own cliche's and importance it's still hard not to be charmed by it all. any writing i attempted though was riddled with terrible predictability. even on my return home its hard to write about it with any sense. speaking of writing, while i was there i gave a creative writing workshop to some very enthusiastic farm interns; 99% american and 1% australian. they were an amiable bunch considering only two or three of them had ever done a workshop before.

we started out by having a general discussion about poetry. turns out its not just irish schools that ruin it after all. after which we looked at some food related poems primarily the fish by billy collins and clearances by seamus heaney. it took them a while to warm up but once they got going they couldn't be stopped, finding meaning and similarities all over the place. it was quite enjoyable to sit back and watch it all unfold. after all of that excitement we went about writing a little something. 10 lines was the goal or the limit (depends on your frame of mind). turns out i couldn't even churn out more than 8 lines about a pepper (it's hard to write on demand!). they did well, there were some beauties about cutting bread and preening plants. i live in hope that i have converted at least one of the non-believers to the merits of poetry.

work done it was back to the food, wine and laughing. with many the new pound filling my jeans i headed homeward. but lets face it a holiday is not a holiday without some bad airport food. menu tuscan from mr panino was without a doubt the best finish to a holiday anyone could wish for.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

long weekend

i always feel that a long weekend should be marked with a culinary treat. jamison was paying me a visit and accompanying me to various dublin writers festival events including a reading by paul lynch (falling out of heaven) and paul murray (skippy dies) which was pretty great. by the way if you haven't read skippy dies yet-get thee to the bookstore. i really can't recommend this book highly enough. at nearly 700 pages its not short but it moves at a terrific pace. i'm tempted to go on but i won't-just buy it. we also attended the 40th anniversary of the gallery press. all the big names were there: heaney, mahon, carson, montague, mcguickian, ni chuilleanain and alan gillis to name but a few. i also have to note that gillis is my new poetry hero-what a legend (a new collection is forth coming, september i believe).
but back to the culinary treat. i opted to go all out with matching wines and everything (all the wines are from o'briens and less that 15€ each). the food theme was vaguely frenchy surf and turf. i even prepared a little amuse bouche. good lord. i was definitely having a serious rush of blood to the head.
heres the low down:

amuse bouch: vietnamese (was once a french colony....) inspired crab.

1 tin of white crab meat
half teaspoon granulated garlic
about 6 mint leaves chopped finely
drop of nam pla
tiny sprinkle of chili flakes
1 teaspoon cream cheese
salt and pepper

mix and put on mini crackers

wine match: la pieve spago frizzante, italian.

starter: mussels in a white wine and cream sauce with baguette

i'll be honest i don't know what the weight was of the mussels. i do know that i had to discard about half of what i bought because they were already open. it cost my 3€ if thats any help....

1 shallot, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
half glass of white wine
glug of regular cream
1 packet park baked baguettes

i sweated the shallot and garlic until soft. while that was going on i rinsed and de-bearded the mussels and then threw them into the pot. then put in the wine and put the lid on. gave everything a shake. as it was the first time i've ever cooked mussels i took the lid off several times to take a peak at what was going on. if memory serves me correctly it took about five minutes (i'd like to say at this point i did have a half a bottle of prosecco in my blood so this is a little bit of guess work!).
after they appeared to have all opened i took them out with a slotted spoon and put them in the bowl i was going to serve in. then i reduced down the liquid that was left to about half. when it was reduced i added in the glug of cream and poured them over the mussels. oh-forgot to say that while all of this was going on i had the part baked bread in the oven. i tore that into pieces and served it with the mussels.

wine match: 07 schloss schonborn riesling trocken, german.

main: marinated steak served with a puy lentil, rocket and toasted almond salad.

so the marinated steak is my own interpretation of a nigella lawson recipe that recommends marinating the steak while its resting rather than before cooking.

1 piece rump/sirloin steak (again i don't know the weight it was about 7€ worth)
olive oil, for rubbing and marinade.
3 stems lemon thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed.
juice of half a lemon.

i coated the steak with olive oil and seared it on a griddle pan for about 3 minutes on each side then transferred it to a large dish where the above ingredients were ready and waiting. i left it in the marinade for about 3 minutes on each side and then sliced it and put in back in the marinade again for one last little toss.
i toasted the almonds, dry, on the pan. i cooked up some puy lentils and opened a packet of rocket! combined those on the plates and topped it with the steak.

wine match: 07 norton barrel select malbec, argentina.

cheese course

1 piece of cashel blue with many crackers

wine match: m.chapoutier muscat de beaumes de venise (not bought in o'briens)

desert: chocolate sauce with strawberries

1 big bar of bournville
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons cognac
1 packet strawberries

melt the chocolate and add the cream and cognac. serve in bowl and dip the berries in!

wine match: whatever is left over.....

all in all: yummy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

a word: anticipation

an•tic•i•pa•tion [an-tis-uh-pey-shuh n]–noun

1. the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated.
2. realization in advance; foretaste.
3. expectation or hope.
4. previous notion; slight previous impression.
5. intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience.

Monday, May 31, 2010

corkscrew summer wine tasting fair

well its all in the title really. in the westbury hotel from 1-6pm yesterday there were 100 wines to be tasted. so me and andy donned our 'study hats' and trotted along. france, spain, portugal, italy, new zeland and south africa were all pretty well represented. round one was the whites. a break for lunch in the green and it was round two to the reds. on our final tally we had tasted 61 wines. that's not a misprint - 61 wines. i didn't even know i had it in me. andy did break and started to spit towards the end. in fairness eventually they all start to taste the same. i had a very curious side effect later that evening, sore teeth. random but true.

the photographic evidence:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

oh! i forgot to mention ....

i don't know how that passed me by but the old wine results are in and are as follows: pass avec merit! wahhoooooooo! that means i am now certifiably qualified to drink wine. yes. bring on the bottles!

Friday, May 21, 2010

the reading

so last tuesday evening i did my first official poetry reading. it was part of the poetry ireland introductions series 2010. i didn't trip up on my way to the podium so i would say overall it was a success. i read 10 poems and came in under my assigned fifteen minutes (of fame). i read with andrew jamison, simon leyland and connie roberts with all of us being introduced by the director of poetry ireland joe woods.

myself and jamison enjoyed a little pre-game glass or 3 to calm the nerves. on the way into town via taxi we chatted at a higher decible than normal about reading and poems to such an extent that the taxi man chimed into the conversation. he wanted to know where we were going. when we told him that not only were we going to a poetry reading but we were going to our own poetry reading, his response was ....

'poetry.....thats kinda goofy isn't it?'
what can one say in the face of such eloquence.
'goofy.....yeah i suppose it is.'
'the stoney grey soil' in a quivering voice was his next gem.

He went on to tell us how he hated poetry in school. how the teachers had beaten it all into them. at that point i thought it was important to reassure him that i had also disliked it in school. i saw its possibilites but they were roughly snatched away with a very strict dictation of what everything meant. and there in lies the root of the problem with poetry - school ruins it. once scarred one rarely tries again, and its such a pity because when its good its the most amazing, moving, inspiring and exciting way to experience words.

i think most people who write poetry are fully aware of the lack of interest out there. for the most part we keep it as a dirty little secret. if you do share you usually get the 'oh right' blank look into middle distance response. possibly followed by 'do you have a book?' or the aformentioned 'jaysus, i hate poetry, when i was in school ..... '. its hard to fly in the face of about 10 years institutionalised hatred and equally hard to explain that no i dont have a book but i have been published in a little magazine that you've never heard of and are unlikely to buy. ahh the joys.

and all of that is why the introduction series and my course and any workshop i've ever done; you realise i'm not alone in the goofy world of writing poetry.

Friday, May 14, 2010

crosswords -v- poems

For me finishing either of them is much the same. You fill in what you’ve got. Look at it, mull over it and leave it. Then upon return the words that should be there jump off the page with their obviousness. Unfortunately sometimes it goes the other way, the end seems so tantalisingly close-4 letters out of the 8 and you still can’t see the answer. Even when you go back to it the next day or the day after that-the letters just stand there in defiance; unyielding. At that point its time to admit defeat and give up.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Andrew Whelan's Haiku

Here are some lovely Haiku by my good friend Andy. They are part of a small collection written by him recently. Am very glad to share on his behalf-Enjoy!

Poem collection may 2010
by Andrew Whelan

'There's Spring in my step',
A worthy poet noted,
And a text from you

Travel trés aimé:
100mls of shampoo
Terrorist ads.

Baby bird feathers
Among the deadest of leaves
But then,which fell first?

Sink-wreathed Floss with Hair
On an unspecific day.
Mop it up baby.

Cast on the iron fence.

Harmonic punks need
Finite coffee and milk swirls
As universe turns.

A minature litter of cats,
Siphoned off the runty muscat
Of the night before

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

dear blog

it's so easy to neglect you when my head is all a muddle. i feel like i've words coming seeping out of my pores with all the reading i'm doing and yet i feel as though i don't really have anything to say. curious.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

glasses ..... really?

Oh how I love thee TK Maxx. When 'I did darken its doorstep' last Sunday afternoon I wasn't expecting anything much but low and behold like a beacon in the night-there they were. Now most of you will probably think my excitement was unfounded. I will admit to being highly caffeinated at the time; but when I saw those black boxes with that white lettering spelling out that wine lovers dream 'Riedel'; who was I to say no?
I very excitedly picked up the boxes to see what was on offer.
Two Chardonnay/Viognier glasses: MINE.
Two Shiraz glasses: Ahh MINE.
Two Pinot Noir glasses: Oh, well, ehm....MINE.
In my excitement I contacted everyone I thought might also want in on the bargain. That was two people: Andy, my fellow wine course attendee, and my father. I live the high life I do.
Now I feel like I've graduated my course (even though I still await my results) with honours. Although I wonder would I also have been as excited pre-course?
I sampled my wares last night with a very tasty Cote Du Rhone (mostly Grenache, so very easy, pleasant drinking). And even though it was accompanied by a chick flick and a bowl of popcorn, with glass in hand, it was all very fabulous.
Check them all out :

Friday, April 23, 2010

a cauliflower and some 'wilted' spinach

Upon arriving home, post work, yesterday I looked into my fridge in a vain hope that what was inside had differed to what was inside it yesterday. Unfortunately, no. All of my decent left overs and been scoffed leaving me with half a head of cauliflower and half a bag of wilted spinach. For the love of peat- what the hell am I supposed to make with that?
It was at that moment that I remembered reading a comment made in a cookbook I bought recently- that the cauliflower is actually a great vegetable that is much neglected. Hmmm. I took it out of the fridge and opened the Ziploc. Firstly I was hit with a smell that can only be described as cauliflower. I gave it a quick rinse and the smell subsided. Maybe cauliflower doesn't like fermenting in its own juices in the bottom of the fridge.
I heated up the char grill and took a deep breath.

Cauliflower and Spinach Pesto

pine nuts
olive oil
salt and pepper

1- Heat up that char grill and toss the cauli in olive oil and salt and pepper
2- char grill it to your hearts content until its got those pretty lines on it.
3- meanwhile in a mixer (i have one of those hand mixer attachments) put in the wilted (read past sell by date) spinach, a clove of garlic, a few pine nuts and a cube of Parmesan, pepper. whiz whiz.
4- top the cauli with the pesto. not bad! i might even just be a cauliflower convert now. its surprisingly rich, i couldn't even finish mine.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


So I managed to travel world, spanning four continents, in six months and never I never lost a sock. Not even one.
I live in my current abode for about three months and I have six lonely and unmatched socks. I repeat SIX. How is that possible?
Answers on a post card.....

Monday, April 19, 2010

bray to greystones and back again

The task is in the title. Me and ninja Caroline started off in Bray and continued along the coast to Greystones. We arrived in Greystones sooner than expected so we had a snack in the very lovely happy pear and walked back again. Unfortunately I forgot the spf and ended up a little pink.

it was a case of first things first

then we were off

de-rocking the field

a lost toy!

happy snacking

the way back

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