Do you remember those days at school when you had to memorise your times tables, the counties of Ireland, your spellings, your teacher’s favourite poem? It seems a long time ago.

Tomorrow is the 1st of September, and my two children will go back to school. For a week now they have been taking out their school bags. Checking and double checking they have all the books on their list and the specified number of copies. Their pencil cases are filled with freshly sharpened pencils, pristine erasers and bright twistables. Everything has a name label,  declaring ownership.

On the kitchen table the lunch boxes lie waiting to be filled. Upstairs new uniforms, one size bigger than last year, hang neatly pressed on hangers.

Tomorrow after the pandemonium of getting them out in time, I will sit and listen. But the house will be silent. No howls of laughter, no shouting, no issuing of instructions. The toys too will lie silent; no having to bring home hay, the toy horse will not have to give birth to another foal, the man with the missing leg will not be taken to the hospital, the dolls will not have to get dressed, the lego will lie where it is on the floor. It has been a soap opera of events and goings on, a riot of imagination.

I love listening to their imagination run free. Deep down I know that this time to be themselves will be more valuable than anything they can learn by memorising things at school.

I will miss the both. But I will try and remember that exploration of their minds that I have been privy to for the last few weeks.  Because in that time they have been who ever they have wanted to be, in what ever way they wanted to be. And that, in my opinion, is worth a whole term of school work.



Daily Prompt: Memorize

Always have the key

Everyone was outside, making the most of a late summer evening that was dry and not blowing a gale. The kids were playing on their bikes. Mum and Dad were painting the garden gate, a rich shade of chocolate brown. Before anyone knew it, it was bedtime.


Four year old Belle did not want to go to bed.

“I’m not going to bed, it’s too early. I’m having too much fun!” She stamped her foot on the ground.

There was no reasoning with her. She ran back to the house in a huff. As Mum followed after her Belle banged the front door closed. Looking out the glass window of the door she looked at her mother approach and then locked the door. So there they were – Belle on the inside; her Mum, Dad and brother on the outside!

“Let us in Belle.”

There was pleading, threats to remove treats, gentle coaxing. Everyone tried. But no amount of persuading would get Belle to change her mind. All downstairs doors and windows were checked but everything was sealed and there was no way of getting in.

Belle, ignoring all pleas from outside, went upstairs and refused to come back down. There was no point shouting – she couldn’t hear, or at the very least would not listen. Mum and Dad pretended to walk away down the road, sneaking back along the garden fence; they tried ringing the house phone. But nothing would bring Belle back downstairs.

Eventually after half an hour Belle appeared at the front door again. Through the window they could see her tear stained face. She unlocked the door. Everyone let out a sigh of relief. She was contrite. She knew she had done wrong. She promised not to do it again!

That night, when the kids were safely tucked in bed,  her parents laughed at her cheek, even though they had been a bit scared at the time. It would be one of those family stories that would be told again and again – “do you remember the time Belle locked us out of the……”


(Inspired by a true incident and the Daily Prompt – retrospectively funny)

Weekly Photo Challenge – A Good Day

A perfect day for me is one spent on the coast. There is usually time to go for a walk and take some photographs.

The kids (and I) love playing in the sand and messing in the water.



Any sometimes I even find a nice bumblebee on the way home.

Red tailed bumblebee

Red tailed bumblebee

To end the day a bit of playing with the photographs to see what can be done.

Old coastguard station

Old coastguard station

Check out more perfect days at this week’s photo challenge – today was a good day.


Childhood and nature

There are things that I remember from childhood: mashed bananas sprinkled with sugar; my mother’s freshly baked rolls with butter melting and running down my fingers; and her mouth watering Danish pastries that she stopped baking because we liked them too much. Then there was wandering barefoot through fields recently cut for silage; building stone dams in the stream at the bottom of the road; hours at the coast on warm summer days, either fishing for crabs on the pier steps with bits of blue baling twine tied around the remains of a limpet or just rock pooling among the boulders.

Yesterday, I saw a lovely quote ( It made me think. It said –

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in. ― Rachel Carson

And I wonder am I succeeding in giving my kids some memories and keeping alive their sense of wonder? Will they remember things we have baked together, places they have played, experiences they have had?


I don’t want to bring the kids to Disney World. I don’t want to buy them computer games. I want them to see the world but through their own experience of the natural world. Am I old fashioned?




You took my hand,

walked through that door and

begged me to stay just a little bit longer.

For two whole weeks you begged me

to stay a little bit longer.

Tomorrow you will walk through that

door one last time,

you will play with your friends

listen to story-time, eat you snack,

enjoy circle time, run, hop and skip.

Then there will be hugs

and kisses

and tears –

not yours, but mine

and theirs

your teachers.


In September

there will be ‘Big School’

and for a whole morning you will

be gone from my life.

I’ll hold you tight

unwilling to let you go,

just yet.






My heart broke today when I saw your fear. We’d been pussy–footing around the issue for days and when another day dawned and it was yet another fight to get you to school, and I finally said it out loud. The thing that I feared.


Are you being bullied?


And the answer was “yes”.


Not bullied, being hit in the playground.

Not bullied, being teased and taunted.

Not bullied, in name calling.




It was the emotional sort of bullying.

The “you are no good at that” sort of bullying.

The “you’re so slow at your work” sort of bullying.


And I cried with you then.


Because of all the things that happen in the world the last thing I wanted was to see you the victim.


When I was small, I witnessed bullying at first hand. Not me, but my older sister. I used to try and stand up for her. I remember one day shouting at the girl that bullied her. I remember the bully telling me “don’t tell the teacher”.

And I didn’t.

But I wish I had.


So today the first thing I did was tell the teacher. When I left you in her care I wanted to know that you would be safe. That you would feel safe. And you did.


And tonight you told me you’ll be happy to go back to school tomorrow.


And I hope that when tomorrow dawns you will go smiling and happy.


Sample image

Happy St Brigid’s Day

In Ireland, the first of February is Saint Brigid’s Day and seen by many as the first day of spring. Brigid is one of Ireland’s patron saints and was also known as a fertility goddess in Celtic mythology. Her day falls on the day of a pagan festival known as Imbolc, which celebrates the longer days and first signs of spring. Imbolc is one of four ‘fire’ festivals celebrated in Irish Mythology – the others being  Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. St. Brigid is also know as “Mary of the Gael” and she was the founder of the first Irish monastery in Kildare.

Over centuries, people have made St Brigid’s crosses from rushes. These were traditionally made on the eve of St Brigid (31st January) and were hung in people’s house. The crosses were thought to protect the houses from evil, fire and hunger. Sometimes crosses were placed in the cow byre to protect the animals and to keep the milk flowing. For some, the cross was a symbol of peace and good will, and was offered as peace offering after a local quarrel.

There are a couple of different designs – the one I have photographed below is one I have made since childhood from rushes that grow wild in the fields. It is probably the most common design. There is also a three-armed one (one suggestion was that this was the one hung in the cow byres). If you are interested there is more information on

Copies of the various crosses can also be seen at the Country Life Muesum in Turlough (

Brigid's Cross

Brigid’s Cross

I would not describe myself as a religious person. But I love the culture, folklore, traditions and stories that surround many of our saints. That is why tomorrow I will be spending some time with some local children helping keep the tradition of making the Brigid’s cross.