Old photos

img081 (2)A cousin asked me to look out some photos for her… I got slightly side-tracked as I always do when I’m looking at old pictures. I know we are approaching Easter, and these photos are of a Christmas party, but it just gave me such a sense of fun, and love for my family to see these photos, especially since Santa bears a striking resemblance to my dad!

Bushmills revisited

After a very enjoyable, but less than successful quiz night at the Dolphin with our chums, it just might be time for a little whiskey… Here is something I wrote a while ago…

Bushmills whiskey… Bushmills is so called because it is a town which grew up by the river Bush where there were as many as seven mills in the past, including a spade-mill.


Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, founded in 1608,  and it makes a range of wonderful whiskeys. Irish whiskey is spelt with an ‘e’ and Bushmills whiskey is triple distilled…. smoooooooth! The whole process from the malted grain to the bottled spirit is all carried out here at Bushmills… no wonder it is so good!

I hope they enjoyed their visit to the distillery!


Apart from the skill of the distillers, the crucial element is the water, from the beautiful River Bush:

This bridge features at the climax of my book about the Portbradden clan… at night and the river in full spate! In my imaginary world it is the River Hope, not the River Bush!

The river is still, but a moment after I took this photo a fish leapt, a salmon or trout!





My aunty who was a secretary gave me a typewriter for my twenty-first birthday present. I was so thrilled because even then, my handwriting was pretty illegible. It was a really neat little thing with a case so it was portable but actually quite heavy. I used it so much and wrote my first couple of not very good novels.

One was about a woman whose cousin confessed to killing a man she was dating; the cousin never lied and there was the dead body so it seemed obvious that she must have done it… except the main character just can’t believe that her cousin would do such a thing… Another was about a brother and sister in their twenties who go on holiday together to the south of France, and come home to the farm where they live with their father and uncle, bringing with them their new-found loves… this was a novel all about family relationships as you might gather. I also wrote an excruciating story about a young woman who was in love with her step-father… it’s almost embarrassing to remember that one! I also wrote a number of short stories, four of which were published in a magazine called ‘Honey’…

So well done my type-writer! However… now we have word processors and I really wonder how I ever could have written novels – the editing alone was such hard work! I would type out my novel, I would edit it and type it out again, and then maybe again… If I wanted to rearrange any passages I might actually cut the pages up into bits and pin hem together with paper-clips and use different coloured inks to show where the different parts should be inserted. If I found a mistake on one page and retyped that then maybe the new retyped bit wouldn’t fit on the page, being too long which would mean typing the next page or pages, or too short which would leave a gap at the end of the retyped page…

How easy lives are now with modern technology. I’m editing my next novel, ‘Raddy and Syl’ and although I am working hard on it, it is so much easier. For example, I found that a character called Charles Henry had sometimes lost his capital H and became Charles henry – easy to correct, ‘find and replace’! I found I had used the word ‘lovely’ about a million times (OK I exaggerate) so I just hit ‘find’ and go through and check which ones need changing or deleting.

I was so pleased with my typewriter, it served me well… but I am so glad I now have a computer!



Sometimes when I’ve reached a bit of an impasse in my writing, I confess, I do play a couple of simple games on the computer. I like games which have an element of skill, even if it is at a rather low levels, and one of these is Word Rage.

Word Rage is an anagram game, where you are given a set of letters and you have to make as many words as you can of three or more letters, in a set time of thirty seconds. It starts of fairly easy with five letters, but then as you progress the number of letters increase and the list of possible words also increases. each stage allows for a certain number of words – I’ve been a little frustrated at times when I know there is such a word as I am spelling but it is obviously not on the list. I also have to remember to use American spellings!

As for ‘rapty’ for some reason on the thumbnail of the game hat is the word exhibited… so how many words can I make from those letters?

  • rap
  • tap
  • yap
  • rat
  • pat
  • ray
  • pay
  • apt
  • art
  • try
  • pry
  • part
  • trap
  • prat
  • tarp
  • tray
  • pray
  • arty
  • party

Um… I think that’s it!!


IMG_20150330_223733306As a kid we used to go to the movies quite a lot – except we would be going to the flicks, not the movies! I did occasionally go to the Saturday morning children’s films, but not very often. I really began to go regularly when I went to Manchester, to the Poly and then most weekends, if we weren’t a ta club we would go to the midnight movies – but we did go to see the latest films too, Midnight Cowboy, Myra Breckinridge, A Clockwork Orange, Cabaret… so many great films.

For some reason I  don’t have the same interest in films, but I do watch some DVDs, most of which are TV shows, as you can see from the picture above….

Why you may wonder do I have four DVDs of Hot Fuzz… I actually am not sure why… it is a good film though!!

An escargatoire of snails

Snails, tree, and cake-01

I wonder if other languages have as many collective nouns as English does – and sometimes there are several collective nouns for each group of whatever it is. For example what I might have called a clump of snails when I saw this pile of molluscs in the car park is actually an  escargatoire of snails… but it could be a walk of snails or a rout of snails.

I had to look this up, I confess and came across some love collective nouns for other animals… If you saw a lot of zebras, you could correctly call them a herd, or even a cohort, or be adventurous and call them a zeal of zebras; but the best collective noun for them has to be a dazzle, a dazzle of zebras, how perfect is that?! Turtles… a nest, a dole or a bale? Tigers – is this really true, is a collection tigers really called an ambush or a streak? Really? There are twelve different words for a group of swans, eleven for ducks, and there are even ten for sheep… what’s wrong with flock, or even herd? I’m not sure there actually is a bike of hornets… that does seem an invention too far… and a congregation of alligators – are they all dressed in their Sunday best?

The thought of gold

A hungry dog, a miser, hidden treasure, digging for gold, death, a glint of gold… these little scenes are drawn in a mere handful of words by the master of imagery, John Masefield.

He is writing once again about beauty and about desire, but the pictures he creates for us within the fourteen lines of a sonnet are of little stories with character, plot, place, pace… he is a master indeed!

Each greedy self, by consecrating lust,
Desire pricking into sacrifice,
Adds, in his way, some glory to the dust,
Brings, to the light, some haze of Paradise,
Hungers and thirsts for beauty; like the hound
Snaps it, to eat alone; in secret keeps
His miser’s patch of consecrated ground
Where beauty’s coins are dug down to the deeps.
So when disturbing death digs up our lives,
Some little gleam among the broken soil
May witness for us as the shovel rives
The dirty heap of all our tiny toil;
Some gleam of you may make the digger hold,
Touched for an instant with the thought of gold.