We went to Comic Con!

You may or may not know, I love dressing up. I love trying to recreate a character or celeb pic, using mostly, just what I have at home. I’ve lived in London 18 years now and have been saying for a fair few of them, that I’d go to Comic Con and this year I finally did. I gotta say though, all the times I thought about going, I never thought I’d be bringing a child, my child with me…..here’s how it went……..

We got on the tube at London Bridge, we were going to meet “Larry Croft” & friends in Greenwich to take our first trip across the Thames on the Emirates Cable Car….a day of firsts! Lots of other cosplayers were on the tube too but being that Small Man was dressed as a mini Darth Vader and looked really cute, people wanted to talk to us….Queue me nearly missing our stop due to politeness, listening to some woman go on about her first Comic Con visit. I thought we had time so I leapt up, grabbed Small Man’s hand and ran for the door. Most of me was through, bar my arm and Small Man when the door closed on me!! HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!! He was screaming, I was tryna wrench the door back open, I was sweating, he was screaming, more hands appeared in the door and finally plied the tube doors open. Yes this is up there as one of the worst parenting moments of my life! Poor child was devastated…all I could could see was myself meeting a gory end by refusing to pull my arm out and letting the door close with him inside, or possibly worse…leaving him inside a car full of strangers, hoping nobody would steal or hurt him til I reached him. Grim start to the day!

Thankfully the trip across the Thames was slightly less eventful and actually really nice apart from Small Man’s constant chanting of “we’re going to die”. Oh that and it’s kinda

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awkward when his favourite word at the minute is poo. “You’re a poohead, we’ll all die in poo, I’ll throw poo at the boats to make them sink”, ya know that sorta thing, which although is jarring is not the worst word he could be using right? Well I think so, but when the other child you’re travelling with is not allowed to use it so liberally….ugh…though gig! Bad parenting on my part again?

Yay! We made it over to the Excel centre without dying! It was hot and although we were at the Excel, you had to walk almost completely around the building to get in…musta been a mile at least. A mile is nothing really….unless you had no backup plan to your chosen costumes and had to stick to Vader and a Stormtrooper…..in 24 degree heat! FML! Still once you got in, it was aircon central…thank God, Buddha, Odin…whomever!

We went on the Sunday which is the quieter day, but there’s still a lot of people to contend with, so we lost Larry and his daughter in the crowd. We had a quick scout about at the different stalls, during which I realised I hadn’t gone to the bank. FML, yet again! Small Man also spotted the Nintendo stand. FCUKING NIGHTMARE!! He’s just getting interested in computer games and when he seen this of course he wanted to play. I managed to convince him we needed more money and got into the queue, which was short enough, but then 3 out of 4 cash machines stopped working and made our wait at least 35mins. The only break from whinging to play Nintendo during this time was when a Jedi Master noticed my little Vader and challenged him to a duel. The Force answered my plea for help here.

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Money acquired, we headed back into the sea of characters to the continuous whining to plaaaaaay Ninnnnnntennnndo! Once again though, the Force, albeit the Dark Side answered my need for respite and the “real” Darth Vader appeared. This guy was brilliant, even with the top of the helmet off he had the Vader breathing apparatus, just like in the movie. Small Man was a little nervous but stood just close enough for a pic. We ran into BB8 next, and although Small Man was only delighted to see him, he grew a bit concerned when BB8 kept following him.

I foolishly thought the Nintendo idea had been forgotten, until a break in the crowd meant Small Man spotted the big red stand and started asking to play again. You can’t explain to a 4yr old though, that the people already playing the games are most likely proper gamers and have been there aaages. Or that the people queing have also been there ages, and that us queing for him to play will be a ridiculous amount of time, most likely ending in either the shortest game in history followed by lots of crying and refusals to leave, or neither of us knowing how to play hence him dying immediately, followed by lots of crying and refusal to leave. I KNOW you can’t explain this, ‘cos when I did try, it ended in me counting to three three times without result, then me grabbing his hand to walk off but him throwing himself to the floor screaming he wanted to play Nintendo, so he ended up being dragged along slightly, when in turn led to my last resort….pretending to walk away and leave him. This also took it’s time to work. Small Man had to have a little tantrum roll around the floor whilst I threw any fcuks I had left about other people’s opinion on my parenting to the wind, and told him very publically I’d had enough and I was leaving him there to be stolen by aliens. He told me he hated me. Then he ran after me and grabbed my hand……and whinged some more. *sigh* Larry rang to say he was sitting outside with a vodka, if we wanted to meet him there….oh how I wanted that vodka but I spied a really great Bumblebee and told Small Man to get a photo with him. He was still crocodile tearing over that bloody game stand and told me was sick of photos and this was so boring. I said we’d go home so. He said noooooo! Thankfully Bumblebee intervened and managed to coerce him into a photo….without any words, or blips, or songs…why the hell doesn’t this work for me?

In a bid to become friends again, I said he could pick something to buy. He wanted a donut! A DONUT!! I made us queue 35mins to get money out for a donut!! FFS!! We found a donut stand, thank God, and all was right with the world…..til we tried to exit the building. I lost my bearings, we came out the complete wrong side of the building and had to re-enter all over again, to get out all over again. We found the rest of the crew on the steps, Larry was melting, the vodka was gone. I settled for a Twister and wished I’d bought more to shove under me armpits and down me back….the heat lads, was unreal! Small Man finally stopped complaining and ate his donut and a twister and was happy enough to pose for a pic with Rastatrooper (I had major armour inferiority complex right then lads….Me = “£50ebayeffort”, Rastatrooper = “6fansinhishelmetarmourmostlikely£700+”) and over the moon when a Deadpool hi-fived him.

Although it added to our journey home, I didn’t say no to a few beers at Larry Croft’s house.

So did we enjoy it?

“Small Man what was the best part of the day? Well let me tell you the worst part first Mammy…YOU wouldn’t queue for me to play the games. Ok, well was there anything you liked? Yeah, the best bit was the “real” Darth Vader and BB8…..and Deadpool”.

Me….. well yeah, I admired the hard work and effort of the other, proper cosplayers.I enjoyed getting us dressed up together.I loved seeing his face when he recognised characters and pointed them out to me. It made me smile when we ran into Vader’s mini grandaughter, Leia and great grandson, Kylo Ren 😀 The whinginess was ball breaking though. Makes you question your sanity in doing these things but then you think of the memories created and you strap in for the ride.

Tips for next year….consider the weather when deciding on costume. Don’t people please on the tube. Get money out the day before. Bring more snacks for small people. Look at the map….so you can avoid any computer game stands.

Have any of ye been? Tell me how ya got on?…

Love Donna x

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I’d vote YES!

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pic of badges from Together for Yes website

In just three days, The Motherland will ask it’s people to vote on whether or not to repeal our 8th amendment. The 8th says “The states (Ireland) acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

I remember at secondary school, we had some people come in to give us a talk on how abortion was basically murder. They even had little pairs of tiny, silver feet pins, we’re talking Barbie doll sized feet here, that you could buy and wear in support of pro-life. I remember leaving that talk thinking, well it’s a very simple answer, I would never do that, what kind of person would abort a child……As you get older though, you realise, there is no simple answer, it’s not just black and white. There is a grey area.

I know lots of Mammies, I know different types of Mammies. I am a Mammy. I know women who said they never wanted kids, but have them now and could never be without them. I don’t know anyone who’s first ever thought in life about pregnancy was “how shall I get rid of it?” I don’t think we knowingly plan ahead for an abortion. Most of us look forward to becoming a mother.

I now know about fatal foetal abnormalities, where the foetus may or may not make it to full term and even if it does survive the birth, won’t live very long. I cannot understand how despite knowing these things, but because there is still a heartbeat, our government insists a mother carries her unborn child until birth, allowing her to go through the trauma of knowing her baby is dying/will die but making her suffer the pain and sadness of going through the birth anyway. Can you even imagine the heartache that woman would feel?

I cannot understand how our government would refuse a victim of rape, a child victim of rape the right to an abortion. It was not their choice to be raped. The trauma of this whole ordeal must surely be unbearable?

I cannot understand how an embryo can come before a woman having life saving treatment as the drugs needed may result in a miscarriage or a FFA. How do you knowingly allow a woman with pre-existing medical conditions put her life in severe risk, forcing her to carry on with a pregnancy? I read on a pro-life site that today the abortion rate was one in every five pregnancies here in England & Wales, and that I should think about five people in my life, whom could I not live without? I don’t think comparing people I know now or even from when I was little is the same as comparing an unborn foetus to a born person. Yes, there may be brain activity but this is not the same as knowing a fully developed person.

What if a woman’s contraception has failed her, after all, no contraception is 100%, but what if you were actively doing what you can to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, but it failed….what do you do? There were reasons you were using contraceptive in the first place.

I had a look at the abortion info on the Irish Citizens Information Centre page and I find that slightly hypocritical too…..We do not advocate abortion in Ireland BUT we cannot prevent you from travelling abroad to have an abortion, we can give you names and addresses of where to go to have one legally abroad and we will give you some amount of counselling once your back. Oh by the way, if you don’t have the means to travel abroad and pay for it and we find you’ve taken it upon yourself to abort by means of pills or an extremely risky backstreet abortion, we’ll sling you in jail for possibly 14 years! Ireland should not be forcing it’s women abroad at a time when she needs it’s care and support. It should not be forcing them to extreme methods such as drinking bleach or self harming in the hopes of bringing on a miscarriage. It should not be forcing them to leave their families and their familiar surroundings to go through such an ordeal. It should not be making her feel ashamed and guilty. It should not be putting her life at risk. It should be reaching out to help her make informed decisions with the correct medical care and support.

Abortion has been around for a very long time, it will not go away Ireland, you can’t keep shipping it off to England (and with Brexit looming how much more stressful and traumatic will it become?). I believe that if a woman has chosen to have an abortion she has not done so lightly and although it is actually 14 times safer than actually being pregnant, I don’t believe it’s a procedure anyone really wants to have. We have to trust that women are doing these things for the right reasons, after all, whatever her decision, ultimately it is her body and her mind that will carry that scar forever.

For those of you who are voting no, did you step out of the black and white? I hope you considered the grey areas. I hope that you, your wife, your girlfriend, your sister, your Mam, your aunt, your daughter never have to be in any of the situations I’ve mentioned above.

For those of you thinking of not voting, you still have time to make an informed decision, but surely a vote for choice is better than a no?

Vote YES! Vote for CHOICE!

Be my yes,

love Donna x

Simple bake sale ideas.

I like the idea of baking but baking doesn’t really like me, so when Small Man’s class held a bake sale last week, I kept it nice and simple….not as simple as the classic Rice Krispie buns like, but still easy enough for the Monkey to get involved.

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We started with the tried and tested Chocolate Biscuit cake, which Small Man enjoyed making as he got to batter some biscuits with the rolling pin, and do a lot of mixing. There’s not a lot of hassle with this one, just some crushing, melting, mixing annnd waiting…..et voila! I use this Odlums recipe, as recommended by a friend, but instead of the nuts, I added some marshmallows. If you like sweet, this is the cake for you…..if you’re aiming to lose a few pounds, turn around and walk away!

As I was already melting stuff, I decided to make some Popcorn Surprise Cones. Small Man was only interested in the mixing to start and the sprinkle dipping at the end, the assembly was far to messy for his liking. Here’s what I did….

  1. Make your popcorn as normal….or buy 2-3 premade bags.
  2. Find something to hold your cones upright, if you have an empty cereal box just 180503114925punch some holes in it and sit the cones in. I placed a lollipop in each cone, ideally I would have filled them with smarties or midget gems, but I forgot to pick them up.
  3. Melt 400g of marshmallows in a pot with 2tbsp of golden syrup and a knob of butter.
  4. Pour popcorn into the marshmallow mixture and be prepared to get very sticky. You can use a spoon to mix the popcorn into the mixture but I found it better to coat all the popcorn using my hands.
  5. Now the fun begins, scoop up a handful of sticky popcorn and try to wangle it onto each cone in a vaguely “ice cream” type fashion.
  6. Once all the cones are done, dip each one in sprinkles, place back in your makeshift cone holder and allow to set.
  7. Use clingfilm to wrap each cone separately…….Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!

This recipe made about 26 cones and if you want them to look extra nice, tie a pretty bow around each.

Lastly….and this really is cheating but for all the times I bake, I find this method a lot 170730081453_wmcheaper and with less chance of burning due to me forgetting. Of course, you can bake your own cupcakes but I bought (I can feel the judgement here 😀 😀 ) a packet of plain buns and simply iced them how I liked….well how Small Man liked. We made Rainbow Cakes. I piped vanilla buttercream icing, made blue of course, onto each cake to make clouds and topped with a mini fizzy rainbow belt. Five minutes and done! I’m happy ‘cos I’ve not burned anything and Small Man is happy ‘cos he got to use the mixer and eat fizzy rainbows!

Now, we didn’t actually use this recipe this time round, 180503115032as we did it for his little Christmas party (they looked like snowballs), but these No Bake Cookies from IslandPicnic.com are yum! They are super easy to make, the only help Small Man really needed was with measuring.

Drop me a line if you decide to have a go and most of all have fun!

Love Donna x

 

 

The Glass Case of Emotion

180328121125_wmYou may, well hopefully you’ve missed me enough to have noticed an absence of posts here recently and although the following is not really an explanation, it may give an inkling as to why. I never wanted to write, a sort of dismal post on my blog, but this is life and this sort of portrays my current mood inside. I don’t like this inner turmoil, I feel it doesn’t suit me.

I’ve never written a poem before, in fact I left out a whole section on poetry in my Leaving Cert (still passed though…phew!). I gotta say though, although it breathes feelings of forlornness, on reading it back I’m actually quite proud of it. Anyway, away we go……

The Glass Case of Emotion
It is a s
ound proof box
You stand inside it screaming
Behind a door that’s tightly locked

You’re banging on the windows
Your eyes are scared and wild
The glass looking in is rose-tinted
So they can only see your smiles     
                                                                                               
The Glass Case of Emotion
You pace around it every day
Looking for a crack of hope
To help aid your breakaway                                                                                                              

Sadness and despair creep over you
You can feel yourself ripping at the seams
Your inner light is being tested
It’s trying to quell your hopes and dreams

The Glass Case of Emotion
Is an unsettling place to be
It’s just like floating out in space
Nobody can hear you scream

Donna xx

Beauty bites 2

Hey peoples! I haven’t wrote anything in a little while, I had a few posts lined up….in my mind…I’m not very good at actual drafts, so here I am catching up.

Now as you know, one is not a beauty type blogger, but I still like to share an opinion on if something is worth it or not……

Misfit Cosmetics Blackhead Extraction Paste ; I have pretty porous skin and of 171120110504_wmcourse my nose always suffers, despite using all sorts of bitty scrubs I still always have a bit of a subtle strawberry effect going on. I’d seen this particular mask advertised on FB and as it was originally £18 (on special offer at £5) I thought I’d try it. I’d also seen some promising, and painful looking videos all ending in super clean results, never the less, I thought I’d chance it. I followed the instructions…cleanse face..blah blah…apply and wait 30mins. Grand! I was a little nervous about actually pulling the top layer of my skin off on removal, as it’s pretty sticky stuff, but it came off pretty easy. I AM so glad I didn’t pay the full whack for it, as my skin is either alot cleaner than I thought, especially my nose area, or it was actually a bit of an anti-climax. It didn’t pull my skin off…thankfully, but it also didn’t remove any deep rooted blackheads, and I’ve tried it twice now to be extra sure. It did, however, leave my skin feeling really soft and if you enjoy pulling dead skin off…ya know when you get sunburn…well peeling this off will help curb your winter sunburn peeling needs.

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Rimmel London Magnif’eyes shadow & kohl; I lovvvve an eyeflick but by jayzus aren’t 171121120545_wmthey a pain in the hole to achieve? You end up with one perfect and the other looking like your 6 year drew it, which in turn leads on to you having a slightly pink tinged eyeball from rubbing it out and starting again, leading onto the “feck it I’m not going now, my life is ruined” hump! Anyway, I seen this in Superdrugs on a BOGOHP offer so I picked it up. The eyeshadow end is lovely with a glittery sheen to it and the kohl was actually pretty easy to apply too. It just seemed to glide on pretty smoothly. The “knib” does sorta lose its point slightly so it’s not ideal for really fine lines after the first few uses but otherwise I liked it, plus it’s everything for a smokey eye one one place.

 

Hot Pink Hair; Last November, I had my hair done at home in Shaz’s. Kim put a gorge little section of rainbow colours in at my request and I’ve been reluctant to say goodbye to it. As I was going to a festival in September and couldn’t really afford to have it done properly, I took matters into my own hands. Luckily for me, my home hair dying went so well, I had several random people stop me on the street to ask what salon I’d gone to. 171120110748_wm#delira . How did I achieve this level of gorgeous hairness, you ask….well read on… Firstly, about a week before the pink, I dyed my hair brown, using an Olia dye. Now as my hair is brown anyway, kinda like what it’s been dyed to in these pics but with more grey, the BBlonde bleach worked quite well in it. If your hair is very dark brown verging on black, it may turn kinda orangey like my SiL’s did…be warned!! The BBlonde powder bleach and peroxide cost just under £6 and easy to make up. The hardest bit of what I was trying to achieve, was trying to bleach and even slice of hair, when I couldn’t see it.(I didn’t want clumps of pink on top of my head but peeping out from underneath, with that said, as it’s underneath, it was easier to hide the uneven section.) I just pulled out the bits of hair I wanted to bleach and tied everything else up out of the way. I cut some tinfoil in strips, alá the hairdressers and used them to keep the bleached bits separate from the rest of my hair. Once the bleaching was done, I let my hair dry and used tinfoils again to apply and keep separate the Schwarzkopf Live 093 Shocking Pink dye I then put in to get the end result. Et voilá….pink hair, don’t care!! Costing roughly £11.

 

**Obviously, I would have much rather have gone to the salon to have me hair done, but on this occasion I had neither time nor money, and I think if you were planning on doing your entire head, most certainly go to a proper hairdressers.

Anyway guys, I hope ye found this useful and stay gorge ’til next time,

Donna xx

 

 

That time I had a baby & almost lost my s**t.

I had planned on doing a book review, but for the day that’s in it and I’ve always planned on writing this post at some point, let me write it and see how it goes. I’m also writing it as this could be you, you may relate and you’ll find you’re not alone.

I like to think of myself as generally a happy person, of course it’s not 100% of the time but enough for me not to consider depression. Roll on August 2103, one month post baby.

When the Small Man was born, I had my Hubbalump and my Ma with me. Hubby had taken a week’s paternity leave. Mammy had come over from Ireland for this momentous occasion and I had her with me for a glorious 3wks. I also had my sister up for a few days. They left, and my bestie came over from Ireland for 10 days, I think. I was surrounded by people constantly, with the drop in visitors too. Then they left and the drop-ins had fizzled out.

Then I was alone.

Well, not alone alone. I had a spanking new baby and Hubby wasn’t put off enough by the whole spectacle to leave me, but otherwise, I was alone. Hubby, obviously, still had to go to work, so myself and the Sprogladite were on our own. My Ma would text me nearly every day, as did my sister and Ash, but a text was not the same as a physical being. I have friends here, of course, but my friends here tend to be a lot older than me (I blame this on the fact i used to work in a pub…with love of course 🙂 ) and they’re done with babies, their kids are all grown up. They work long hours and then have long journeys home, to their own families. My friends my own age…well I left them in Ireland and the commute to visit regularly would be a bit much. The people I thought, would definitely be there, physically and emotionally, who unequivocally said they would be there, like I had always been for them, weren’t.

I felt let down, lost, confused, excluded and alone.

I felt sad for my little boy, like he didn’t matter enough.

Our mornings started early..ish and they were kinda set. I’d be up in time to watch Lorraine with the first feed, Small Man would go back to sleep, Hubby would ring, I’d wash bottles, have brekkie, tidy up a bit, then scroll through FB to see what my friends were up too, this was my new lifeline to conversation. This Morning would start. Small Man would wake, the cycle would start again only with lotsa cuddling and talking to a little man who can’t yet reply. I wasn’t a total hermit, we did go out for walks and to the shops etc, but mostly it would be just me & him. I would crack sometimes and my need for company would take to those who I felt forgot me, and I would be happy and I would be happy for my boy, ‘cos ultimately the love was there. It just seemed that if they couldn’t see us, we didn’t matter. I remember once the Small Man had been a bit ill, and for 14 days, nobody checked in on us, by any means.

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I smiled though, because I was happy, delighted in fact with the new man in my life. I smiled because, generally, I am a smiler and I felt like that is what is expected of me, jayzus, shur I expected it of myself! I smiled because isn’t that what people expect when you have a new baby?! Secretly though I cried, I cried alot. When Hubby came home to find me crying, I’d tell him, I’d just had a baby, I was allowed to cry for no reason. I couldn’t tell him, that when the baby was asleep I’d spend a lot of the time crying, or that I’d get dressed just before he came home. I couldn’t tell him that I felt like that narrow piece of wall, dividing our bedroom and sitting room, seemed like a really good place to bang my head ’til it bled. I couldn’t worry him like that. It would be selfish.

I thought I was going mad. This was not me. This was irrational. There is no way I…ME…I could be depressed. I googled postnatal depression. Everything fitted. Ash could tell from just texting that I wasn’t right too, but I wasn’t ready to admit “happy Don” wasn’t quite so happy, and I felt guilty and stupid for feeling this way. Hello!! Didn’t I just have a perfectly healthy, little boy, who in the grand scheme of things, I’m told by my Ma, is a pretty good baby!

I took Small Man for a check up at our surgery. It went well, he was perfect. Dr Herzmark asked me how I was and I cried. I cried, I talked, she listened and made notes. She seen me once every 4wks for 6 months, to ask how I was and to listen. Dr Herzmark never mentioned the words postnatal depression to me, but I had a sneaky look at her computer screen one day, she had me down as border line. Half way through this time, she said to me, I’m not going to prescribe you anything because I know you can pull out of this yourself. I didn’t want anything anyway, her time, those 12 minutes were enough to help me find my usual get up and go. I began to get my groove back and started going to local baby groups and meeting new people, new friends.

I will always be so, so grateful to Dr Herzmark for her time.

Although, I was never officially diagnosed as suffering from postnatal depression, the roots were there and I think my loneliness fed these roots, if it wasn’t for a small “how are you” it may have festered into something worse. Sometimes a bright smile is just an illusion.

The only advice I can give you is, if you are suffering, take the advice YOU would give to somebody else and don’t be too proud or ashamed to use it on yourself. You don’t have to make like the new baby made life perfect. The Perfect Mammy is a myth.

#itsokaynottobeokay

#worldmentalhealthday

Love Donna x

 

 

 

 

 

The Legend!

I’m writing this post so it’s here for the future should the Small Man ever choose to read my writings and in case my memories ever start diminishing. It will probably be uninteresting reading to most of you but shur what about it?! I’m going to write it as if talking to my boy……

So who is this person that warrants such a title as “The Legend”, I hear you ask. Who is this person that is so important they need writing about and cannot be forgotten? Well he is…..was my Grandad, your Great Grandad, Tommy O’Connell, one of the coolest dudes I ever knew and a man I constantly miss. Today would have been his 93rd birthday.

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Firstly, let me tell you this fun lil fact about my family name, as it all starts with him….So Grandad was actually Thomas Oliver Connell, some of his official letters used to come addressed to Thomas O. Connell, which over time a clerk somewhere decided that that little dot should have been an apostrophe, and with that we became O’ Connells. This will come in very useful should you ever be involved in an O’ Connell family history quiz….make note. 😀

Anywho, let’s get on with remembering the man….

Grandad had great time for me and I loved him to bits. When I was little, we lived in a mobile in his garden ’til I was two. I don’t know how true this story is but Grandad used to tell me, he’d open his back door some mornings and find a ghostly looking child in a long nightdress just standing there waiting…it was me, sleep walking to, well, I guess my best bud.

There used to be a picture of Granny and Grandad on their wedding day, hanging on the kitchen wall. Grandad was wearing a proper uniform with one of them peaked dress cap thingys. He used to tell me he flew an airplane during the war and he’s take Granny for a spin in it. I used to think, wow, how cool is that. Turns out he used to tell Da, your Grandad, he drove tanks during the war. 😀 He didn’t do either but he was part of the Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil (FCÁ), the local defence forces during WW2, hence the dapper uniform. I guess it was a bit like the T.A now. (Another bit of family trivia, Grandad’s brother Porrie did fly for the RAF during the war, as a tail gunner in a Lancaster bomber). It makes no odds to me, his coolness has not decreased, but you can imagine from that how good his stories were…..

He had a big garden and behind it they had some fields which at the very bottom included a small wood, a.k.a The Woods. At the time it seemed huuuuge. Grandad used to bring me for walks to the woods, helping me jump the ditches or carrying me across. One wintery day we went down there and Grandad was telling me about The Badgers, who would bite your leg off. He showed me how to keep them away by breaking thick twigs in half as we walked, so they thought is was your bone snapping. I dunno how true that twig snapping story is but at the time I was constantly breaking twigs for fear of losing me leg to a badger. There were wood chopping expeditions to the woods too. Da (your Grandad) and Uncle Mike would go down to chop sticks and Grandad would sit there, give orders and supervise. As I got older,  we discovered some fallen trees that made a really cool fort, that Grandad supplied all the old pots and pans for (probably nicked from Granny’s kitchen). He couldn’t fit in but he’d sit outside. 😀

When they had the big new shed built in the garden, Grandad let us kids use the old shed as a babby house. He hung a swing up for us in there, your Auntie Sarah and Uncle Phil split the back of there heads open falling off it a few times. Grandad would sit there with us, in his deck chair pretending to drink endless cups of coffee made from turf mould and water. Sometimes he’d nod off and me and Sarah would pee ourselves laughing, whilst stealing the biggest logs we could from the stick pile, walking right across in front of him whilst he snoozed. He always approved of the little gardens we’d create next to the babby house.

Grandad loved flowers, he had a great garden. He’d trim the hedges into castle or horse shapes. He showed me what flowers were what…daffodils, tulips, snowdrops, roses, sweet peas and sweet williams….sweet williams and daffodils always remind me of him. There was a field across the road, Grandad would take me into and it was full of cowslips. You never see them anymore. 😦 There used to be a little Robin that hung out in the garden, we’d put out a bowl of bread for him. Grandad used to say he was watching out for us.

When the road was empty, Grandad used to take me onto it and we’d pretend to be driving imaginary cars, him using his walking stick as a steering wheel. Sometimes we’d walk as far as the Thatched Cottage to nose if the Yanks were in or pick the bluebells out of the hedge opposite. Sometimes we’d bring Sheba for a walk up to the canal and watch her swim. During the summer Grandad used to hold my hands whilst I stood on a big stone in the water, dipping me toes in the deeper bit.

Ugh Small Man, I wish you could have met him and him you, ye would have loved each other. I wish I had more photos to show you….you know he was a bit of a photographer too. He’d take pictures of us and send them into The Topic for our birthday’s. I remember him developing photos in the bathroom and hanging them on the line over the bath.

One of my fav memories of Grandad was the night we watched a very satanic Christopher Lee movie (no, there is no way I should’ve been watching these movies at my age, at that time of the morning but Grandad was a rebel babysitter) so I was pretty freaked out going to bed. It was summertime so the windows were open in the kitchen. Anyway I’ve gone in to get a drink before bed and there was probably about 10 “Clocks” (beetles) around the kitchen floor, of course 10 looked like 100 at the time and I started bawling for Grandad. He rushed into the kitchen to see what happened, I was crying over all these clocks so he began standing on them. Oh if you could have seen him in his trousers and vest with his braces on, Grandad looked like he was doing a jig around the kitchen tryna kill all these little beasties. 😀 😀 Uh, I loved staying there, even though the house was a bit isolated and the long hallway creeped me out. In the mornings, I’d get into bed bedside Grandad and we’d do our arm exercises, arms up, arms out. We’d get up and listen to Radio 3 or Grandad would play records. He used to love a bit of Jim Reeves and would play “But you love me Daddy” for me.

So there you go, I could go on with little titbits of memories forever but this is just a taste of Grandad…The Man, The Beetle Killer, THE LEGEND! (Your Grandad has big shoes to fill 🙂 )

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There’s a sad end to my memories of Grandad though, I never got to say goodbye…….Auntie Ina had moved home with our cousin Monica and was living in Granny and Grandad’s. I was jealous. I thought Grandad didn’t love me any more, as he had Monica there all the time now. I remember my 11 year old self telling him this and telling him I wasn’t talking to him. I was going out to Nanny Mooney’s a few days later, and although we stopped at Grandad’s on the way by, I couldn’t get out like I wanted to to say goodbye and tell him I was sorry. We carried on to Nanny Mooney’s. I knew when I woke up the next morning, by the look on my Ma’s face that he had died that night.

So my little Mandingo, there’s an important lesson to be learned here; never be cross with somebody you love and if you have to leave them, even for a short amount of time, tell them you love them and say goodbye.

Love you always my Baby,                                 Love you always Grandad,

Mammy xx                                                                               Donna xx