In the suburbs, leafy and otherwise, the only remaining evidence of The Beast from the East, Storm Emma and the little brother of the Beast are mounds of dirty, icy snow languishing in dark corners of footpaths and gardens.  Looking back, I can now reflect on the things I learned during this ‘time out’.  Little personal lessons perhaps, but ones that may come in handy if we continue to thrash our planet and so leave ourselves open to these extreme weather events in the future.

The first thing I learned is that heavy snowfall makes your garden glow at night.  I could see right to the hedge at the end of my garden in the darkness.  This light bounce coupled with the silence that a blanket of snow brings, made me feel safe.

The second thing I learned is that teenagers can watch ‘Friends’ literally all day, every day.  The theme tune to the series along with the canned laughter is a unique form of aural torture.  Joey, Rachel and the rest of them are now banned when I am at home.

Our inner child is only a heavy snowfall away.  My daughters, ages 19 and 17 were making snow angels and having snowball fights with neighbours (the oldest of whom is my age) at midnight one night.  Well, until another neighbour got a bit sassy about it.  So I guess we don’t all regress… but most of us do.

There is a wonderfully smug feeling remarking on which of your neighbours have bad insulation judging by how quickly the snow melts from their roof.  Of course, I was viewing from inside my own house and therefore had no idea how my roof was faring.  Although on Day Three of the ‘big snow’ our central heating sat down.  The fan gave up the ghost.  And so, to the uninformed, it must have looked like we had the best insulation on the road, when in reality the house was descending into the freezer.  So, there’s another lesson right there – get your boiler serviced every summer people.

If you are of a certain age, having no heating when it’s very cold outside is very nostalgic.  I regaled my teenagers (when they weren’t watching ‘Friends’) with tales growing up in a house where there was ice on the INSIDE of windows and where you see your breath when you woke up in the morning when it was cold.  The reality for us however, was that with open fires and the kindness of neighbours who supplied electric heaters, we didn’t suffer too much. One major positive of no heating when you live in a house of women (himself was away skiing during the Big Snow – oh yes, the jokes write themselves in my house) was that times spent in the shower were cut to a minimum.  A cold bathroom is a special kind of agony.  But than there were no rows about the almost always vacant bathroom either.

When I wasn’t staring out the front windows at the neighbours rooves, I was at the back windows, staring into the garden which suddenly was alive with wildlife.  Hungry wildlife.  Usually nocturnal, foxes visited during the day.  And the birds were desperate for a bite. First thing in the morning I donned my snow patrol (boom boom) outfit and crunched through the virgin snow to feed stray cats (there were two), foxes and birds.  We ran out of bird seed so the birds had a rather sophisticated diet of apple and diced cheddar cheese with some stale buns or cake. (A minor lesson is that I bake like a crazy woman when it’s snows).

I also attempted to keep some water unfrozen for my feathered friends by pouring hot water into the bird bath and then standing guard till it cooled, in case a little birdie accidently boiled itself to death. It was a serious job, looking after them all.  I felt like a proper farmer.

Domestic animals were a bigger problem though.  Well, in fairness it was just the cats that were an issue.  ‘Nice but dim’ as my mother calls our dog (whose real name is Dylan) loved the snow and bounded out every morning to do his business even though it must have resulted in a frozen ass.  And that’s the other great thing about a snow-covered garden.  Poo freezes very quickly and is easy to both spot and remove.

But I digress… the cats.  Refused to go out.  Point blank. They were unanimously horrified by the weather and so went on strike.  Being an old hand at this cat slave malarkey, I knew I had to get them over their reluctance before they decided to use some corner of the house as their new loo.  So once every few hours they got unceremoniously dumped outside, yep in the snow.  And they got the message.  Once they realised they weren’t going to die in the white stuff in the garden, they did their business in jig time and raced back indoors.

Between the domestic and wild animals, I was a busy woman.  Which is just as well, because the next truth is that I did no work.  Being confined to barracks I thought would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of words being written.  But no.  I drank lots of tea, stared out windows, read my book and ate chocolate.  And therein lies another truth.  Snow makes me crave chocolate; something I am normally not bothered about. Then disaster, we ran out of chocolate.  While others worried about bread (and readers, I bought a couple of those packet mixes for soda bread; and that’s my top ‘Big Snow’ tip right there – you’re welcome), we missed chocolate. Until, ahem, we broke into the Easter Eggs.  No, we’re not ashamed.

And that brings me onto the next and important lesson; which is that I LOVE my newspaper.  And not just because one (this one) prints my words regularly, but because my breakfast wasn’t right when I had no actual paper to study over my cereal.  Reading online isn’t the same.  It’s like books.  Kindles are just for holidays because you can’t bate holding a real book.  Now I know you can’t bate a newspaper either.

Talking of news, that was the other special torture we endured; the non-stop coverage on broadcast media.  I love talk radio but my God, the endless reports from all around the country got very tiresome.  TV it was even more tortuous by the appearance of well-known correspondents, frozen to the bone and NOT WEARING HATS as they, well, a lot of the time they kind of waffled, about snow here and snow there. I know RTE is under financial pressure but Dee, if you are reading this, maybe kit out the lads and lassies for next winter.  Big parkas and furry hats a la Will Goodbody who was the only reporter I saw who looked reasonably cosy in the snow.

So ten days post Big Snow I can say that I am a wiser woman.  I am a fatter woman.  I read some great books.  I did no work.  I realised just how much I love animals and how much fabulous wildlife is on our doorstep in suburban Dublin.  And I know that at the first mention of red alert next winter, I will stock up on a mountain of chocolate.


(Check out my twitter feed (go to media) to see some video of our visiting foxes. )


So far this winter I have spent a fair bit of time complaining about how mild it is.  We had a bit of a cold snap early December but really until a week ago it was fierce mild and pretty damp.  I am highly suspicious of mild damp winters for a number of completely illogical reasons, namely:
A mild winter will mean a mild damp summer.. in other words temperatures a few degrees warmer but with grey skies and lots of rain.  Geraniums rotting in their pots and very little eating in the garden.
A mild damp winter is very unhealthy.  I always feel that we need a crisp cold winter to kill off winter bugs (like coughs and colds and the like).  Was it only in my world that there seemed to be a lot of ill people over Christmas?  I don’t think so.
Mild winters confuse nature and so things that shouldn’t be budding getting ahead of themselves.  Confusion in nature couldn’t be a good idea.

So I have been waiting for the cold and am relieved that it is now with us.  During the last couple of days I have watched as the UK has been turned into an Arctic wonderland and have had to subdue the jealousy.  Various parts of Ireland have also had some snowfall but so far none in my corner of the world.

Today is the third Monday of January which supposedly is the most depressing day of the year due to its distance from the festivities of Christmas, the weather and extra debt.  This is baloney in my opinion – any day is what we make it.

But that said, I am tired.  What makes me tired at this time of the year is getting up in the dark.  We’ve been at it for months now and it’s hard.   So when it snowed this morning I was delighted.  “Keep it up” I whispered to Mother Nature, “and make it heavier”.  I was overcome with a huge urge to shoo the children back to bed and declare a duvet day due to heavy snowfall.  Needless to say it wasn’t to be.

We should change the way we do things in winter by working shorter hours.  Wouldn’t it be great if we began work at 10am and finished at 4pm for the months of November, December and January?  February is the beginning of spring and by then we would be rested like the rest of nature and ready to burst forth and be productive again.

So if I ruled the country I would sort out our working and school hours to work with nature and this planet we live on….. and not against it.

That done I would then move on another and not unrelated matter.  As I said I firmly believe that a mild winter means that there are far more bugs to be caught; flu, colds, coughing, sneezing, high temperature and moaning.  It’s awful being sick.  But it is almost worse to share your life and your bed with someone who is sick.

Now bear with me here… I am about to make one of my famous sweeping generalisations but I have done some research on this… with my female friends.  The result of that research is this…
Women hate sharing a bed with a sick partner
Men aren’t bothered at all.

I like my bed.  I like my bedroom.  It is my haven.  My sanctuary.  It is a place that I willingly share with himself EXCEPT when he is a coughing, spluttering mess with a temperature.  Then I hate it.

When he is sick I spend the night hanging off my side of the bed, facing away from the overheated mess beside me who is contaminating the bedclothes with his germs.  And who is oblivious to my discomfort.  And who, I might add, if the roles were reversed would have no problem sharing the bed with me.

So…. my second task would be to make a law that sick men who share a bed with a woman should make alternative arrangements when they are sick.  They can sleep in their car, the shed, the bath or go to a hotel or hospital…. but matrimony does not confer the right to their female partner’s bed when they are ill!  Love is NOT HAVING TO SHARE YOUR BED WITH A SICK PARTNER.

Finally and again on a not unrelated subject I want to know who was the bright spark who decided that bathrooms should also house the toilet?

I grew up in a suburban house which was built in the late 50s and we had a separate toilet.  Bathroom housed the bath and wash basin and the toilet were next door.  Now I will admit that there was no wash basin in the loo but that was before we were so fussy about washing ones hands.  But broadly it was a far better idea.

A bathroom is where one makes oneself clean..  It is where one showers or bathes for long periods of time.  Is should be a place of scented candles and bubbles AND SHOULD NEVER SMELL OF POO.

But worse that all this is that I recently learned that every time you flush the loo thousands (or maybe millions) of bacteria and germs splash back invisibly all over the bathroom.  Onto your fluffy bath towel, into your bath BUT WORSE OF ALL ONTO YOUR TOOTH BRUSH…  AGGHHHHH

A toilet should be just that.  In a room by its very own self.  With a small washbasin purely for washing paws. And if I was in charge I would immediately offer a grant to anyone who wished to have their toilet separated from their bathroom.

 I am sure men are behind the toilet and bathroom all together thing!  They haven’t a clue.

Well that’s made me feel better… my perfect world coming more into focus…

I hope it may have cheered you up on this most depressing day of the year!!  I’ll let you know when I run for office!!!


It’s been a funny old New Year. It began wonderfully on New Year’s Eve with a good fall of snow which is perfect when you are home, with plenty of food, wine and fuel and no particular place to go. Along with the December Blue Moon, there was magic in the air in the infant hours of 2010. New Year’s Day was a Friday and so we rolled into the weekend in a lazy, locked in kind of way.

However by Monday I was hoping to begin to establish a bit of routine back into my days leading up to Thursday when the girls were to go back to school. But more ice and snow put an end to that and gifted the kids two extra days holidays.

And so I found myself somewhat stalled, paused in a frozen limbo. Days merged into each other so that I felt a little disorientated. Is it Tuesday or Thursday? But yesterday (and it was Wednesday) I realised what a pleasure it has been to have been given a slow and relaxed start to 2010. I usually race headlong into the new year (and any new project) like the proverbial bull at a gate, tearing down all signs of Christmas on January 1st and setting my face firmly to the coming twelve months. This year has been all so different – thanks to Mother Nature.

And so on my usual quest for the meaning of life, I am wondering if the Universe is saying to me “relax, be calm, all is unfolding as it should” in a voice that is reminiscent of the Cadbury’s Caramel Bunny!

Anyway – therein lies my resolution for 2010 – I shall go with the flow, give up trying to exert control all the time and trust that all is happening exactly as it should. And that sounds just fine!

What about you? How does the Artic weather affect you?

A Year’s End

Christmas always begins with the children’s concerts and nativity plays. Roisin ”I don’t do singing’ is a member of the school choir below and Mia (above) was cast as an Angel this year!

Christmas Eve Mass was made all the better by Cumann Naomh Brid Traditional Musicians who played. Mia is on tin whistle on the far right!
My dear old dad used to always say that ‘kids knock more fun out of the box that the toy that came in it’… you were dead right Dad!

We finally got our wished for snow on New Years Eve, making it magical! The next day Simba ventured out and got pelted with a snow ball. His face says it all!!!!

You need snow in the garden to make a Christmas Tree complete!

And so the sun sets at the end of the first day of a brand new year and new decade.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE….. May 2010 be as magical and perfect as its first few hours!