Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On A Cold Winter's Evening

Always at this time of year my thoughts return to my childhood in Ringsend, Dublin where at night time my small avenue was lit by two wonderful ornate street lamps, one in the middle of the street the other at the end corner. When it was foggy, and that was quite often with sea fog and smog from the coal fires, I'd be mesmerised by the orange glow from the street light shining through the thick mist which swirled around it.

Inside my house the living room would be in darkness, the only light coming from the coal fire blazing away in the open grate. The mantlepiece was one of the old beige tiled types which you don't see much of nowadays. Another distant light would be from the kitchen where my mother would be busy cooking dinner. You accessed the kitchen from the living room down a steep step.

Winters in the 1950s and '60s were harsh and as I'd lie curled up on the sofa in that semi-darkened living room I'd listen to the howling winds whistling through the gaps in the sash window while also listening to Radio Eireann, Ireland's only radio station at the time. Once a week at around 5.00pm the voice that enthralled me was that of the late Eamon Kelly, the "seanchai" (an Irish word meaning "storyteller" or "old talker").

In his wonderful Kerry accent he'd tell you stories that would either have you falling around the place or sometimes tales that would scare the life out of you. I especially loved the creepy ones which were usually set in the middle of winter with atmospheric howling winds and lashing rain and always had some sinister goings-on in the dark lonely countryside. Every story began with the words, "Fado, fado", meaning "long, long ago" (the "a" in "fado" is pronounced "ah"). How I loved those stories that would, for fifteen minutes each week, completely captivate my young imagination.

One more beautiful memory is again of sitting in our living room, lights out and in the silence watch the coals sink in the fire grate, making that comforting sound as they'd settle. All was well on a cold winter's evening.

Above images sourced at:

Cambridge Avenue: Taken by me in 1969.
Coal Fire: eHowdotcom.
Eamon Kelly: diddlyi.com


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Solace In Familiar Places

The journey along Dublin's main O'Connell Street onto Parnell Street was an uphill struggle against battering winds and heavy rain made all the worse by the fact that I was trying to hold up an umbrella. While the end of my journey brought some physical comfort away from the atrocious weather it would not give much in the way of psychological consolation as I was to collect my husband's recently deceased aunt's Death Certificate from her family doctor. Another stark reminder of her passing.

Around the corner from the doctor's surgery stands the Dublin Writers Museum which many years ago was my old School of Commerce and Retail Distribution. There's also a wonderful little cafe in there so it's to it I headed for a much needed cup of Camomile tea (I bring my own everywhere and just ask for boiling water!) and some relaxation.

While sipping my warm brew I began to remember moments from my time as a teenager in that building. Apart from the usual classroom memories my most vivid recollection is the sound of our footsteps thundering down the stone steps to the kitchen where lunch was eaten seated on benches at long wooden tables. I clearly remember shiny tiled walls, huge sparkling stainless steel containers and the kitchen ladies who wore white coats and hair nets. As I was leaving the museum I glanced into two of the ground floor rooms where once I was taught English, Maths and Book-Keeping (the latter two holding no great appeal for me!).

From there I headed, a few doors down, to The Hugh Lane Gallery where, as a student of the aforementioned school, my chums and I would sometimes visit usually on wet days. Our knowledge of the fine arts was of course next to nothing but I did enjoy getting lost in some of the classic pieces. It was also a great place to sit quietly and finish off your homework that you should have had done for the afternoon!

Forty plus years on the gallery is much brighter, the old paintings still hang on its walls along with the many collections acquired over that time period. While there I decided to visit the Francis Bacon Exhibition which is on view until March 2010. I've always been fascinated by artists whose works have been hugely influenced by their tortured lives. Francis Bacon was one such man. Out of all the pieces from the exhibition the one that touched me deeply was his studio which has been donated to the Hugh Lane Gallery and contains its entire contents from South Kensington, London.

It's very cleverly done in that you feel you are actually stepping into the studio while in fact the only thing that separates you from the room is a glass doorway. Immediately I felt as if I were walking in uninvited into somebody's living room while they were out. I was trespassing. Gazing in almost disbelief at the arrangement of the items as they would have looked in the London studio I realised that in my sense of awe I was holding my breath. Having first felt that I shouldn't really be there I then went on to find it difficult to leave, almost as if I didn't want to abandon the artist to his chaos. I finally left the gallery feeling spiritually enriched by my experience.

The final leg of my journey of comfort then took me across the road to the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial to the people who gave their lives for Irish freedom in 1916. I was a student at the college opposite when this garden was first opened in 1966 by our then president, the late Eamon de Valera.

It was a great place to spend lunch time especially when the weather was sunny as we'd eat our sandwiches on one of the garden seats then set about once again catching up on left-over homework. We only ever got caught once doing it and that was when the geezer from the art gallery reported us to the school for which we were then hauled up to the principal's office to face the music. Whoever said schooldays were the best days of your life must have also had fun trying to get one over on the teachers! Great times!

Above images sourced at:

O'Connell Street: Wikipedia
Dublin Writers Museum: Travelwebshots.com
Francis Bacon: www.telegraph.co.uk
Garden of Remembrance: Wikipedia


Friday, November 6, 2009

After A Long Absence

Usually when something profound is happening in my life I tend to write, write, write. Over the past few weeks my husband and I have watched his one remaining aunt slowly die from Alzheimer's Disease but it was a severe chest infection which finally released her from her torment.

During that time and since her death two weeks ago I've not been able to put two words together with the exception of some tweeting.

I have not lost any of my Followers and for that I am so grateful and thank you all sincerely. Also, my apologies for not getting around to reading your posts but I will get there very soon. Looking forward to it.

Until then take care everyone. See you soon!

Above image: Ringsend Park in twilight taken by me Nov '08.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My First Visit To London - August 1973

This was my first trip abroad, first time ever to leave Irish soil and first time to set foot inside an aeroplane! Life would never be the same again.

My fiance (future hubby) and I set off on a wet Sunday evening bound for Dublin Airport. He of course had been to foreign parts many times before so he wouldn't have shared my excitement at the prospect of flying thirty odd thousand feet in the air. Only the astronauts on their first moon landing wold have come anyway close to experiencing the exhilaration I felt at that moment. That said the flight was uneventful and over all too soon.

On landing at Heathrow we were greeted with a whoosh of warm air even though it was a couple of hours off midnight. Having just come from a somewhat wet, coolish Dublin this warmth was very welcome indeed. What was amazing though was that when I stepped off the plane a very strange feeling came over me. It somehow seemed that I'd come home, that's the only way I can describe it. It was like the environment was very familiar I'd been here before, not in the actual airport of course but just in this part of the world. I'm sure those who understand these phenomena will know what I mean.

So, into a taxi we popped and headed off to Kidbrooke where we were to spend the next two weeks with fiance's granny who wasn't really his granny but a friend of his family who was known to all as just "granny". On arrival we were met by a neighbour who informed us that poor granny had been taken to hospital so we would have the place to ourselves. We had of course to inform fiance's family back home of the situation and needless to say their anguish came not from their worry for the poor old lady but rather the fact that fiance and I would be living together, unmarried, under the same roof for the next two weeks! Later when writing the postcards I purposely decided not to use the phrase "having a good time" for fear of it being misinterpreted.

Each day we visited granny Browne in hospital which was conveniently situated on Shooters Hill Road within walking distance from the house. She was a nice lady who enjoyed listening to the snippets of news from home (Dublin) relayed daily to her by fiance. We also reassured her that her cat, Terry Roo, who we were minding during her absence was safe and well and blissfully living feline life to the full. There were the odd occasions when his life may have come into real danger and that was on the mornings when he crept under the bedclothes and nibbled my toes! Shredded feet apart, Terry Roo and I enjoyed every minute of our all too short holiday together.

Despite the intense heat in the city centre most days we headed in there via bus and tube. From memory we got the bus to Blackheath then the tube to Charing Cross. I'm so glad we didn't have a car as those almost daily journeys became cherished memories. Travelling in the tube also somewhat helped me overcome my fear of tunnels (breaking down in one would be the absolute death of me!) but I've still a long way to go.

Looking back now I wish I'd kept a diary of the visit but as time has net yet quite dimmed my power of recall I still remember my first view of the main attractions.

For instance, Trafalger Square with it famous fountain and sociable pigeons and of course one cannot forget to mention Buckingham Palace which I did photograph but it turned out too dark. (Back then I was still using the good old Instamatic with the glass flash cube which unfortunately didn't have the option to delete a bad photo!). Then there was Westminster Abbey which I also made a kibosh of photographing as I managed to cut off the top of the clock tower.

One place I used to love walking along was Carnaby Street with its psychedelic footpath and shops that sold all the wonderful hippy clothes I had a passion for then and still do. While I was browsing through a clothes rail I turned around to see a guy with one of those old cine cameras filming me, he just smiled and walked off. I wonder where that piece of footage ended up? Perhaps I'm owed royalties, hmmm!

While in Lewisham one afternoon we decided to go to the flicks where "That'll Be The Day" with David Essex and Ringo Starr was showing. What drew me to the film was not only the chance to ogle at the very handsome Mr Essex but to hear the fabulous music of the sixties in splended cinematic sound.

Finally, I can't close without mentioning once again my feline friend, Terry Roo who used to meet us each night as we returned from the pub. One night we decided to return using another route. After a while we realized that pussy was nowhere to be found until fiance remembered he'd be waiting for us at his usual spot. Like a thing possessed he took off and returned with poor Terry Roo who had been still waiting patiently for us. He took full advantage of our remorseful situation as we apologised profusely and cuddled him to death. You could almost see the smug look on his beautiful little face. I still remember him fondly.

Over the years we've returned to London and other UK parts several times and indeed to many other world locations but for me, whatever the reasoning behind it England will always feel like my second home.

Granny Browne sadly passed away during the mid 1970's.

Above Holiday Images:
Fiance and Terry Roo, Kidbrooke, London.
View from Granny Browne's house, Kidbrooke, London.
Me reading "The News of the World", New Cross Railway Station.
On train to Charing Cross, fiance's feet also in shot.
Trafalgar Square, London.
Oxford Street, London.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy

The following is a list of six things that make me happy, pretty much in order of preference although they could change from time to time but never the top one!

1) Having the whole family together for dinner.

2) The cooing of the wood pigeon.

3) The lazy sound of chickens on a hot summer's day.

4) Walking on the beach under skies of blue or grey.

5) Listening to poetry on the radio especially when the reader is Andrew Motion.

6) A phone call with the offer of exciting work.

The above image of Sandymount Strand looking towards Ringsend was taken by me in June 2005.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Study In Apprehension

Turning into the laneway
My six year old mind
Is once again filled with anxiety.
What shall I learn today?
More to the point
What will I not understand?.
Almost there now,
Past the red bricks
And the four stone slit windows
Then sharp turn left
I'm on the final leg of my journey.

To my left
The red brick building
Beckons to its charges,
The solitary cross on its rooftop
Portraying a false sense of holiness.
No going back now,
Mother's tight handgrip
Preventing all chance of escape.
Greying snow crunches
Beneath my sensible school shoes.

© Ann Brien 2009

The above sentences describe my anxiety which I felt each morning as I headed off to school with my mother. I have a vivid memory of walking past the red brick secondary school then turning left into the final laneway which took me to the side gate of my school. Always hoping for any excuse not to go, Winter-time usually granted my wish in the form of burst water pipes caused by the severe frost we encountered back then. I can still see and hear the semi-frozen snow crunching beneath my strong shoes.

The top image, taken by me last Summer, shows the first laneway before turning onto the next which I'm delighted to report hasn't changed at all over the years. Everything is exactly as it was.

The second image, taken by me two years ago, shows the final laneway to the school. Again, the only changes here are where the road has been re-surfaced and to the left, the area where once stood a small row of cottages now houses an exercise area.

Thought I'd share these memories with you.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Dad - A Soldier To The End

Recently I've been thinking a lot about my Dad who passed away just over nine years ago. Although he wasn't my natural father he was my adoptive Dad and I loved him very much. The one thing that makes me sad is that he didn't live to see his grandchildren graduate from college and grow into adulthood, I know he would have loved to have had real man-to-man conversations with them and would have been so proud of them too. I feel sad for them also that they no longer have elderly family members except for one paternal grand aunt who has now reached the great age of ninty three. (Above image: Dad on my wedding day).

I remember when I was about ten or twelve Dad telling me he'd been a soldier in the Irish Army and that he rode a horse and carried a rifle! To me that was amazing and I probably bored the socks off everyone telling them about my brave Dad and his military adventures. He even had the nickname of "Gunner". Of course he never fought in a war but knowing me I most likely invented some gruesome stories about his bloody battle days! (Above image: Dad in uniform, 1930's?).

The early life of this brave soldier was tinged with so many sad events. A few years following his death I wrote: "My adoptive father also had more than his fair share of sadness to contend with. As a baby he lost his parents and sister to illness and a tragic accident and as a result he and his siblings were raised by his grandmother. Not a great start to life.

I gather times weren't too bad during his adolescence and early adulthood although he did leave school at ten years of age. His marriage, which should have brought him the long-awaited happiness he deserved, ended in tragedy. His wife died thirty six weeks into her pregnancy from a "retroperitoneal haemorrhage" according to the death certificate. Of course, the baby died along with her.

Two years later he married my adoptive mother who sadly was not able to give him any children either. So, given all the sad and traumatic events in his life, it sure doesn't take a degree in psychology to figure out where his hurt was coming from. Still, for the most part, he was a good father to me and a loving husband to my mother...."

"....one of my happiest memories as a child was when my father, on our way home from Mass on Sunday, would buy me the Beano and Dandy comics and read them to me before dinner. It's those kind of moments that I hold dear and despite everything they were the best parents I could ever have hoped for. In some ways, they were as innocent as children themselves".

After my adoptive mother died Dad's own health slowly went downhill. Although he had a heart condition for years it was his wheezy chest that was always his problem. Still, that didn't stop him attending all of the activities that were arranged for the senior citizens in his area and even going on holidays around the country with them. He lived life to the full and was loved by one and all. At just over eighty years of age he got his first passport and flew to Lourdes telling everyone that the flight was just like a car journey!

I'm so happy that he lived into the twenty first century even if it was for only six months. His death was a total shock as he'd gone into hospital for a bronchoscopy and was expected to be discharged within a few days. Unfortunately, following the test he had some bleeding which at first didn't seem too serious. He continued going about his business as usual, watching tele and playing cards with his fellow patients in the day room. Exactly one week following the test just as he had returned from a card game in the day room and was getting ready for bed he had a massive haemorrhage which took his life within minutes. At the hospital that night I was told by the nurse that he whispered my name as he was dying. I was also told he didn't suffer and that makes me extremely thankful to God.

These days when I remember all the wonderful times we shared I consider myself so privileged to have known this man and even happier that he was my Dad. May he Rest In Eternal Peace.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Michael Jackson - One More Soul To Grieve For

I clearly remember what I was doing when the news came through of Elvis Presley's death - I was in bed listening to Radio Luxembourg. The shock and disbelief I felt that night in August 1977 was comparable to that which I experienced last Thursday when Sky News announced the death of Michael Jackson. I ask the question: What is it that arouses in us a grieving process similar to what we would feel at the death of a close friend?

After all, we do not personally know these people. We feel we know them through their music, films, reality shows etc but for most of us we've never actually met them let alone had a close physical or social relationship with them. Yet when they are taken from us, especially before their time, e.g. short illness or tragic accident, we are devastated by their passing. Perhaps mass hysteria plays a small role but I suspect it is something that goes much deeper than hysterics, something other than not being able to see or hear them again.

What was it that drew us to them in the first place? I can only speak for myself. In the case of Elvis it was definitely his music and good looks certainly in the early years because in the fifties and sixties I was too young to have any interest or indeed understanding of his personal problems. It wasn't until the early seventies when I became aware of his drink and drug habits and how he sought solice in food that I began to see that here was a real person with real sadness in his life. While I continued to love his music it was his emotional pain that reached out to me. It made his dying all the more sad in that nobody was able to save him from himself.

I was in my kitchen ironing when my son alerted me to the Breaking News on Sky that Princess Diana had tragically died in a car crash in Paris. The month was again August but this time twenty years on. Again it was not just her great beauty or the fact that both her sons were each born a year earlier than my own two boys that made me feel close to her, no in her case it was her intense lack of self confidence, the images of her looking so alone, her battle with bulimia that made me wish I could be her friend. Her death was so shocking there are still times when I find it difficult to believe she is no longer with us.

While Jade Goody's death was not exactly sudden, we had known for about two months beforehand that her fight for life would soon be lost it was nonetheless also shocking. At just twenty seven years of age and a mother of two young children she had everything to live for. (I have written my tributes to Jade in two posts, one of them prior to her death, Jade Goody - A Shining Star Whose Light Is Slowly Fading and Jade, The Brightest Star In The Sky).

For me it was not what Jade achieved in life that attracted me to her although I was delighted at her success, it was her dreadful childhood circumstances and everything that went with it that made me feel connected to her. Out of all that suffering grew a strong, independent young woman who lived life to the full and had so much love to give to those around her. Her untimely death is still very difficult to accept and painful when I do acknowledge it.

Now the world has had to endure yet another painful loss, that of the great singer/song writer and dance artist, Michael Jackson. Over the decades Michael has consistently entertained us with his unique songs and later his music videos. I was never what you would call one of his die-hard fans but I do love his songs especially the ballads but also the strong beat one like "Beat It". His "Earth Song" really tears at the heart strings.

Like so many people I always felt that Michael had a kind nature always giving of himself to those in need. So when the dreadful allegations of child sexual abuse started coming out I felt deep in my heart that he was totally innocent and would be cleared of the charges against him. Watching him having to endure that five month trial was heartbreaking. A man who sought only to bring joy into the lives of these poor children to be accused of such crimes must have felt that he had been dealt life's cruelest blow. How could you ever recover from that? It is my belief that that whole episode was the beginning of his downfall.

So what is it then that endears these people to us? Their ability to entertain us certainly plays its part but it's when their souls are laid bare before us and we witness their suffering that we really begin to connect. It's an inborn thing I guess, our need to comfort our fellow human beings in their time of need. We open our hearts to them and in doing so become so drawn into their lives to the extent that we need to know their every move, how they're coping etc. These days, twenty four hour news channels satisfy that hunger.

I once heard it referred to as "grieving by proxy" but call it what you may, it is a very real experience for some people and can be every bit as traumatic as losing a close friend. After all, isn't there a universal bond that ties each and every one of us? Perhaps there lies our answer.

May Michael rest in eternal peace and God give strength to his family and friends at this very difficult time.

Michael Jackson image: www.contactmusic.com
Elvis Presley image: www.photobucket.com
Princess Diana image: www.telegraph.co.uk
Jade Goody image: blogs.conventrytelegraph.net


Monday, June 8, 2009

Adventure At Sea Inspired By Enid Blyton!

(Left image taken by me in 1968 shows the white structure in the centre which was earlier the concrete foundation slabs that our boat rowed over).

Summer in Ringsend, Dublin during the late 1950's and early 60's was pure magic. For me it was something to do with the sounds of summer. Living so close to the sea, my most cherished memory of summer was listening to the dredger cleaning the bottom of the river on a warm sunny day, that sound always signified summer holidays! The other sound was of course the cry of the gulls. These magic moments I've written about in a previous post called A Touch Of Nostalgia. It was during those childhood years that my imagination was probably at its wildest.

(Left image taken by me in 2001 shows Ringsend Library).

I was about twelve years old when I joined the local library. Books like the Richmal Crompton "Just William" series and other suchlike stories where the central character could always be trusted to get into some sort of mischief by the end of the day were my favourites. Later I began reading the good old spy stories set in the then Cold War era not to mention the wonderful crime novels in which the Chief Inspector nearly always had marriage problems which he dealt with by consuming vast amounts of bourbon and smoking cheap cigars while at the same time managing to solve the many varied mysteries his daily work presented him with. Heavy stuff for a young teenager but it all went over my head.

It wasn't until I began reading Enid Blyton's "The Famous Five" series that my imagination really took flight. For those not familiar with the stories each book, twenty one in all, told of the adventures of four children and their dog. The children were two brothers, Julian and Dick, their sister, Anne and Georgina, their cousin, or George as she preferred to be called along with George's dog, Timothy. To make a long story short every adventure the children had involved them at some point heading off in George's rowing boat to either Kirrin Island (George's island!) or some castle in search of horrid gansters who they (the children) would round up with the help of Timothy and hand over to the local police for locking up. Each story always had its happy ending.

(Image, Enid Blyton sourced at Wiki).

A few years later with my imagination still fuelled by these fantastic escapades I decided one summer evening to have my own exciting experience. As my friends consisted of two sisters, their brother and their dog we seemed the perfect combination for our own Famous Five team.

Less than a five minute walk from my house and literally just across the road from my friends' house was the slip-way where small boats including rowing boats would rest against the sea wall until their next venture out onto the ocean waves. On this particular evening a young neighbour of my friends whose family was very much involved with the sea happened to be in the vicinity and the fact that one of the rowing boats was conveniently lying by plus he was an excellent rower was enough to make me persuade him to take us out for an evening cruise. Bearing in mind that this young chap was only about fourteen or fifteen at the time and I was the eldest at sixteen made this venture an extremely dangerous one. In the end only one of the sisters and her brother, plus a couple of very young children, the boy who owned the boat and myself set sail. The dog had more sense and remained on the slip-way.

The boat owner and myself took the oars and with a little coaching from him I managed to row without spinning the boat around or horror of horrors, dropping the oar into the water. After a while we were really on our way out to sea and I was beginning to pretend that we were heading into our own Famous Five adventure. By now the clouds had begun to darken and brave as I had been earlier I was now quite scared as were the younger kiddies. We decided to turn back. While on our return journey we noticed waves bubbling around the boat and wondered where they could have come from. Just then I looked up and saw in the distance a giant passenger ship heading straight for us! Definitely one of those times when your life flashes before your eyes.

(Right image taken by me in May 1969 shows to the left, after the bus-stop, the slip-way. You can just about see one of the rowing boats).

With shouts from the boat owner of "Row, row", I worked the oar with all the strength my little arms could muster. In our state of terror we'd completely forgotton about the enormous concrete foundation slabs barely visible beneath the water (these were the beginnings of what would later become the massive re-development of our Docklands) so the scraping sound of the boat's bottom (sorry I don't know the terminology) against those stone monsters sent us into hysterics.

As we approached land we could see that the tide was going out and that we would have to walk the short distance across to the slip-way. We didn't really care as we were so relieved we'd made it in one piece. I was able to walk across carrying the smallest child on my back with the boat owner having to make several return trips for each of the other passengers! If we thought that was bad worse was still to come as our parents stood anxiously waiting for our return. I got into the most trouble simply because I was the eldest and was repeatedly told I should have had more sense. The fact that only two of the people in the boat could swim didn't seem to deter us in the least.

I should at this stage point out that I do not ever recommend anyone, children or adults alike, to go out into the water without proper safety measures in place.

Oh! well, looking back it was one of the greatest adventures I ever undertook but also one of the most dangerous, well maybe not. There was the time I convinced my friends to accompany me on an underground journey through sewer tunnels that possibly led out under the sea. Lighted candles were used! Maybe for the next post!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ireland's Shame - Someone Should Have Spoken Out

As an Irish citizen and Roman Catholic I feel compelled to voice my overwhelming anger at the horrific atrocities carried out in our Industrial and Reformatory Schools across Ireland over a period of nearly sixty years. The perpetrators of these evil acts of mental and physical torture were not WW2 concentration camp guards but men and women of God, namely priests, nuns and Christian Brothers. Those were the people supposedly responsible for the welfare of these vulnerable children some of whom were placed in the institutions simply because a parent had died. What God in Heaven could have allowed this to happen? I never thought I'd hear myself ask that question.

The very houses set up in the mid-nineteenth century as places of refuge were to become akin to prisoner of war camps, their staff inflicting such appalling abuse to their young charges that words fail to describe. Punishments is not the term I'd use in this case as the children did no wrong but the acts of violence include; rape, horrific beatings, starvation, not allowed a drink of water from mid-day onwards so forced to drink from toilets, humiliation. The list is endless and far too harrowing to describe in detail.

Although the physical scars may have long since healed the horrendous emotional abuse these unfortunate children suffered at the hands of those bastards will surely have left them with scars no amount of counselling may ever heal. For them, the recent so-called heartfelt apologies by the representatives of both the clergy and state must have served to drive the dagger even deeper into their wounds. Words are cheap. Justice is what these people need in the form of acknowledgement of and apology for the wrong doings directly, where possible, by those personally responsible followed up by appropriate financial assistance from the religious orders concerned. The men and women who carried out these atrocious acts should be named, shamed and brought to justice regardless of their seniority.

What also disturbs me is the fact that our State has no plans to clear the "criminal" records of those youngsters sent to Reformatory Schools whose only crime was petty theft. What kind of mentality could continue to impose such cruelty on these unfortunate individuals? Has their suffering not served many times over as their sentences?

I feel I should point out that there were also acts of kindness by members of staff towards the children. One woman recalls being given a sweet once a week by a nurse. These kind souls it appears were also terrified of their evil colleagues as the gestures were made in secret.

My heartfelt admiration goes to Christine Buckley and all the other victims of abuse who have so courageously brought this litany of evil into the public domain where it is now in a five-volume Report, evidence that their stories are real, they were not imagined as some people cruelly insinuated.

For all those who suffered in the dark I pray their stories will light the way towards a brighter and safer world for our children and those yet to be born.

Should you wish to read the Report it can be viewed here The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

Above image sourced at http://www.childabusecommission.com


Monday, May 18, 2009

Connemara Revisited!

Our arrival (hubby and I) a little over a week ago in Spiddal, Connemara, County Galway was greeted by warm sunshine along with a gentle breeze blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed summer had finally arrived on Ireland's West Coast.

(Above: View over Spiddal Quay, Connemara, County Galway)

Not too much has changed in Spiddal since our first visit exactly thirty seven years ago when we, along with a group of friends (most of whom we still meet up with fairly regularly for a few scoops) arrived in Spiddal in the lashings of rain looking for a suitable field to pitch our tents. Oh! those were the days when slogging it was the only way we knew for none of us even had the price of B&B accommodation let alone possessed a car!

(Above: Sunrise over Spiddal Quay, Connemara, County Galway)

Another area we visited was Carraroe. In 1972 we spent a wonderful week there with friends this time in more upwardly mobile accommodation, a caravan!

(Above: Coral Beach, Carraroe, Connemara, County Galway)

(Above: Rugged Landscape, Carna, Connemara, County Galway)

Of all the locations we visited the one place I was really eager to see again was Clifden, Connemara's largest town. Again, back in 1972, we spent a week there long before the developers were given the go-ahead by greedy politicians to build structures not in keeping with the surrounding landscape.

Walking down Clifden's main street brought back the memories of all those years ago but something was not quite the same. It didn't take too long to realise that what was ruining the street was the car parking on both sides. Every inch of road space was packed with high-sided SUVS and vans making it impossible to enjoy what is left of a one-time beautiful, easy-going thoroughfare.
[Above: Main Street, Clifden, Connemara (www.travelireland.org)]

Times change and populations increase but that's no reason to forfeit the beauty of an area when all that is needed is some good common sense planning. I was heartbroken to discover that the holiday chalets (where we spent that wonderful week in 1972) with the remains of the old railway station building in the background have all been replaced by a shopping complex and apartments. If I had been in charge of planning my main requirement would have been that all those buildings be just two storey in height with similiar brickwork. I'm amazed the Galway County Council didn't insist on it but then I'm no expert on such things.

(Above: Holiday Chalets/Railway Station Building in background, Clifden 1972)

(Above: Beach Road towards Clifden, August 1972)

(Above: Another view from Beach Road towards Clifden, August 1972)

Overall, development disasters apart, we had a most enjoyable holiday in one of Ireland's most scenic locations and to add to the joy we were blessed with five continuous days of glorious sunshine, almost unheard of in these parts. Hopefully we won't wait another thirty seven years to return.


Friday, May 1, 2009

"Atishoo, Atishoo We All......."

In recent days I've been remembering my adoptive father telling me about the 1918 Spanish Flu to which, as an infant, he lost his mother then one week later his sister.

His grandmother, who later reared him following the death of his father in an accident in Wales, told him that his sister was actually the first in the family to contract the virus. As her mother would have been her sole carer it's not surprising that she too would eventually succumb to the infection given that hygiene conditions back then would not have been at their best. What I find amazing is that none of the other family members were infected.

As a youngster it was quite frightening listening to Dad talk about what sounded like a deathly plague from the Middle Ages so last week when I first heard the news reports of a possible flu pandemic it immediately sent a familiar shiver down my spine.

My feeling is I don't think we have to panic just yet, if at all, because this time around we not only have the treatments but thanks to modern technology and twenty four hour TV channels we now have up-to-the-minute information on how the virus is being transmitted, whether those affected are coming from Mexico or person-to-person plus simple hygiene precautions to prevent its spread.

The 1918 flu pandemic claimed up to fifty million lives, I hope and pray that those statistics remain well and truly confined to the history books.

I thought this link might be of help to anyone wishing to read up on Swine Flu: NHS Swine Flu Q&A

*The above image, sourced from Wikimedia, shows American Red Cross nurses tending to 1918 flu patients in temporary wards set up inside Oakland Municipal Auditorium.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Ode To The Humble Bread Soda!

As this is the season of Spring and all thoughts are turning to household cleaning (mine haven't moved much beyond the thought stage yet) I wonder if I might share with you this tried and tested tip for both cleaning and deodorizing. It's cheap, non-toxic and kind to the environment - it's none other than simple baking soda or bread soda as I know it.

Although I'm sure it can have many different uses the main ones I use it for are cleaning my sinks and keeping my washing machine and the clothes I've washed in it smelling good. With the exception of when I use the 60 degree wash for towels and sheets I always put 3 - 4 teaspoons of bread soda in alongside the washing powder in my 30 degree washes. The clothes come out smelling like fresh air and the fragrance remains in the machine, particularly important especially when washing running gear!

Another area I find the old soda very good in is cleaning sinks and taps.

I rub a tablespoon of dry soda on the draining board and in the sink and a small amount around my kitchen and bathroom taps. After giving the surfaces a good rub I then wash it off well with warm water and dry to prevent any streaks and above all to promote a good shine!

While I think of it, instead of spraying my rooms with chemical air-fresheners I usually place a small container of soda in an inconspicuous area such as behind a couch or suchlike. The rooms smell slightly like you've just been baking. So, maybe the next time you need your house smelling wellcoming and you don't have time to bake, place a little bread soda in your hoover bag, get hoovering and your guests will truly enjoy that bakery aroma!

Above images via Wiki.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Good Office Job!

I was just under thirteen years old when I had my first typing lesson. I'd become a student for a year in the Holy Faith Convent School in Clarendon Street, Dublin and the reason I got to do typing was because shortly after I started the term I developed pneumonia and so missed out on a lot of class subjects particularly algebra. As I was hopeless at even basic arithmetic it was decided I should enter the typing class while my other classmates slogged at maths. I was thrilled!

To this day I remember the teacher drumming into us the "home" keys of the typewriter from which you moved onto every other letter. (See image below)

As I'd taken to the typing like a duck to water my parents were delighted as they always wanted me to have "a good office job" as they described it. I would be set up for life, I'd meet people from an educated background and hopefully one day marry one of them! After Clarendon Street I spent two years in the School of Commerce and Retail Distribution, Parnell Square which now houses the Dublin Writers Museum.

It was there I excelled at the old typing coming first in every exam much to the horror of my fellow classmates who felt I had an unfair advantage having already had one year's experience behind me. Maybe they were right!

In the summer of 1967 I began my working career firstly as a clerk typist using a typewriter that would now be considered by the young as an ancient relic. It was an old Remington similar to the image below.

Over the course of four years I belted out letters, statements of accounts, credit notes and receipts on that sturdy monster of a writing machine that sometimes left you with aching fingers as a result of the sheer physical effort required to hit each key. Other drawbacks were having to change the spool ribbon when it wore out and if you hit the wrong letter the only way to erase the mistake was by using a piece of Tippex paper inserted behind the thingy that the key struck against. Hitting the key against the paper removed the offending letter whereupon you then typed the correct letter. God, how time-consuming!

The following five years saw me working as a book-keeper (what was I thinking?) for various establishments but thankfully for the final seven years of my working life I was back at the old keyboards again. This time it was an up-to-date twentieth century machine, an IBM electric golf ball typewriter, later to be replaced by the IBM self-correcting (one letter at a time if I remember correctly).

Looking back now I often wonder how us office workers managed without our high powered computers. I suppose like everything else, what you didn't have you didn't miss. You just got on with it.

Above images sourced at: Wiki, Travelwebshots.com, The Classic Typewriter Page and Typewriter Museum.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Jade, The Brightest Star In The Sky

Yesterday morning I woke to the news that I'd been dreading yet that was so inevitable, Jade Goody had passed away peacefully in her sleep. We were given the precise time of her death by her Mum, Jackiey, 3.55am.

As with any death no matter how long it's expected when it actually happens it's a total shock to the system. The passing is difficult to accept. For me it's the finality of it all, knowing that I'll never see that person again, that's the hardest part. Every time someone dies who meant something to me it takes me right back to the awful emptiness I felt at the deaths of my mother and father.

This morning is rather strange for me. My routine is slightly different. For the past seven months every morning I've been checking the online newspapers to see how Jade was doing even though in recent weeks the headlines and images that accompanied them were painful to view. This morning I did check the papers but this time to find out where Jade's two little boys had spent their day yesterday. Seemingly they were with their Dad, Jeff Brazier, who had the profoundly sad task of breaking the awful news that "Mummy's in Heaven, she's with the angels now". Those must be the most difficult words any parent will ever have to say to their child. I don't know where that strength comes from but I guess it comes from a combination of God and the loved one who has passed on.

Jade, please forgive my selfishness but I'm not quite ready to let go of you yet, my sense of loss is too raw but the memory of your beautiful bright eyes and that gorgeous smile makes it a bit more bearable. I hope with all my heart that is the image your family, especially your beautiful boys Bobby and Freddie, will forever remember you by.

I chose the above image of Jade that I've now named "Princess Jade" because that is what I see when I look at it. I see beauty and innocence but above all I see the little girl that perhaps once dreamed of looking like this when she grew up.

Jade, you told your children that when they are missing you that they should look up and you would be the brightest star in the sky looking down on them. Somehow now I imagine I too will be looking skyward from time to time. May you rest in eternal peace.

Above image sourced at: LivingTV.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Touch Of Nostalgia

I'm putting it down to the beautiful sunny weather we've been experiencing over the past few days. Yes, it's always the sunshine that triggers them. Memories.

Happy childhood recollections from a time when playing games didn't involve sitting at a computer monitor. No, these games were purely physical in nature. Skipping, playing ball against your house wall (one, two, three o leary!), beds (nearly every street had the chalk markings where you hopped from number one to number eight kicking an old polish tin, Nugget, I think the makers were, which you'd filled up with gravel to give it some weight), chasing, oh! the list goes on and on! All of that along with walking to and from school every day definitely meant you got all the physical exercise you ever needed.

Above is my avenue where my pals and I played all of the above games. Taken by me in 1969.

You might also notice from the above image that not many of my neighbours had cars. Only the families where the husband had any kind of a good job were the ones privileged to own such luxuries and some of these people even had a telephone installed in their hallways! We had neither car nor phone but what you didn't have you didn't miss.

One of my nicest memories of my summer childhood was when I'd be watching out for my Dad to arrive home on his bike just after mid-day for his dinner, yes, back then we had dinner in the middle of the day and tea at between five and six o'clock. While I'd be waiting for him the bread man, driving a Kennedy's electric van, would hover up the avenue to deliver his freshly baked loaves and pans but not to our house. We only got white bread from him on a Saturday as a treat because during the rest of the week my mother baked her own brown bread. Being a country woman my mother only approved of white bread being eaten in small amounts. What she didn't know was that sometimes my friends, when they'd go in for something to eat, would bring me out a jam sandwich or nicer still, a mashed banana and sugar sambo. I can still feel and hear the sugar crunching between my teeth! Sadly my molars' sorry state still bear testiment to those moments of Heaven.

Another treasured memory is again during the summer months when the monotonous sound of the dredger cleaning the bottom of the sea (my avenue faced onto the sea wall) and the subsequent cry of the overhead gulls looking for food would take me into a very relaxed state of mind, it was almost hypnotic. I still long for that sound. Those were moments I usually enjoyed by myself without the constant distraction of conversation. (You can view some of my Ringsend photos on: My Flickr Photostream) As a kid I was very aware of the sounds around me e.g. traffic in the distance (thin on the ground in those days), again the cry of the gulls first thing in the morning and on a winter's night the fog horn, its eerie signal guiding the ships home through a dense sea fog.

Above was the view from the end of my avenue. Taken by me in March, 1981.

It was wonderful living so close to the sea and of course we also had Sandymount strand on the other side, sure we were blessed! My dream is to retire back there some day. Some of the sounds may have long since been silenced but it's still a magic place no matter.


Monday, March 9, 2009

It's About Belonging

I am not good with gardens. In fact, I have not the slightest knowledge of how to create and maintain even the simplest little patch of blooms but there is something I do have an understanding of. I know that if a sapling is planted in poor soil and not tended to regularly it will not grow into a strong healthy tree. It will always be weak and at the mercy of the elements. I think the same applies to humans and animals.

I see the family as the soil. If we are born into a secure environment, our needs taken care of and are loved and nurtured by the people caring for us then we have a pretty good start in life. In other words that beginning, with our roots firmly planted and constantly showered with love and affection, will in times of upheavel and insecurity provide us with a strength strong enough to weather even the most violent storm.

Above images at: www.photosearch.com


Monday, February 23, 2009

Hysterectomy Anniversary - Cause For Celebration? - Yes, I'm Alive

I'm writing this post in the hope that it encourages those of you who've been putting off seeing your doctor for fear of examinations or whatever to seek advice and not continue to say "maybe it'll go away".

For the most part that's exactly what does happen, it does go away but there's always the danger that the next time you may not be so lucky. Leaving persistent symptoms of any kind to sort themselves out is really taking an unnecessary risk with your health and even your life.

In my case, thank God, the outcome was very positive but had I neglected my symptoms for much longer, who knows where I'd be now.

Eleven years ago today, by day and date since I had my Total Abdominal Hysterectomy & Bilateral Salpingo-oopherectomy, in simple english, removal of my womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes. I also had surrounding lymph nodes removed as a precaution because, as had been explained to me on the morning following my operation, had I not had the surgery when I did I would have ended up in a pre-cancer situation. (Copy of hospital letter to my GP following my discharge mentions "adenomatous hyperplasia" which I discovered is a crowding of glands which are irregular in shape and size). I also remember, groggy as I was, the surgeon telling me that my life expectancy had now gone from possibly six to eight years at most to living into my eighties! That was a shock and a half.

I was totally stupid in not doing something about my intermittent bleeding during the few years prior to my hysterectomy. Seven years earlier I had two small cysts removed from my cervix and twenty years earlier again I had a huge cyst removed from my left ovary and a smaller one from my right. I knew this bleeding was serious but I kept saying it would go away. It didn't and it got worse. After almost three weeks of continuous haemorrhaging which left me totally drained and feeling like death I eventually contacted my Haemophilia Society (I am a member because of a bleeding disorder) questioning whether my prolonged blood loss could be associated with my disorder. I was immediately ordered to head to my hospital where I received my intravenous treatment which only gave me cover for about ten hours.

However, the following evening I became quite ill, severe nausea, terrible weakness and I was bleeding yet again. As I'd been asked to return to the hospital if I'd any problems my husband and I decided it would be best to check out what was happening. To make a long story short I was admitted and remained there for six days during which my blood loss greatly increased. The resulting D&C confirmed I had a problem with my womb (including a large fibroid) that required a hysterectomy as soon as possible. I was put on the urgent list.

The following are snippets from my diary of my sixteen day stay in hospital following my hysterectomy and second operation to remove blood clot. Along with the painful, in every sense, stuff there are some very funny moments that happened along the way.

Monday, 23rd February, 1998:

"At 6.30am I was gently eased out of my slumber by some kind nurse who gave me my second pre-op antibiotic (again, up my bum)...

..It was around 8.00am when what seemed like the entire Gynae team plus the Haematology people descended upon me - one lot to go through all the gory operation stuff while the other lot chased after my blood!...

...At close on 2.00pm, the theatre trolley arrived up and as usual my nerves had to endure the short wait while my ID was being checked out. With the reassuring words of "best of luck" from my three room mates and a final wave from me to them, I headed off down the long corridor feeling how I can only imagine the condemned prisoner feels when facing the lethal injection.

When we eventually arrived on the surgical floor, I was taken to a "holding bay" area where I got the shock of my life when I saw all the other sleeping bodies on the trolleys, all looking very much like something out of a science fiction film. I honestly thought they were dead. In fact, we were all waiting our turn to be taken into the anaesthetic room...

...By the time I arrived in the operating room I was pretty much a nervous wreck, talking rubbish ninety to the dozen and generally trying to sound really funny (this is my usual way of coping with nerves). The remainder of my waking moments is somewhat blurry but I do remember having the little monitor attached to my finger, talking to the professor and receiving the muscle relaxing injection through my IV. Now it was time for me to go sleepies. Just before the syringe delivered the liquid that would finally render me senseless, I suddenly needed to remember what is was like to feel a complete woman.

Sometime between 8.00pm and 9.00pm: Arrived back on the ward (no beds in the ICU). Opened my eyes and ears to the sounds and visions of people preparing to transfer me from the trolley to my bed. I screamed out in pain each time they moved me even though they pumped me with some morphine from the machine I was attached to. Fell alseep. Woke to the sound of the professor's voice then passed out again...

Tuesday, 24th February, 1998:

There was no official waking up time. The morning continued from the night before with me still holding on for dear life to the morphine plunger, my "little friend" as I nicknamed it and slipping in and out of consciousness...

...Every so often I was aware of the nurses emptying the two drains which were coming out from both sides of my wound and also the urine bag which was attached to the catheter coming from my bladder. I was also on a saline drip through which I was receiving two antibiotics. Sometime during the evening I decided I felt like taking a short walk to see how I was doing. Very slowly, supported on either side by a nurse, I made my way from the bed to the door and out a little bit into the corridor. Painful as it was, it felt such a wonderful achievement to be able to walk at all. I was thrilled with myself and so were the nurses and I also got great cheers from my fellow room mates.

Wednesday, 25th February, 1998:

Woke up at 2.00am in absolute agony. Had to have an injection to ease the pain because, as the nurse discovered, my catheter had become blocked. It felt like my bladder was going to burst.

It was around 8.00am when I again woke up in excruciating pain, this time it was a crushing pain across my chest, shooting up into both shoulders. The nurses got me to sit out while they made the bed and it was then that I nearly passed out with the pain. Got another injection...

...I sobbed my heart out, pleading for relief from anyone who came near me, including my favourite cleaning lady. A while later the pain relief kicked in... Later on in the morning I had my catheter removed which wasn't at all as uncomfortable as I thought it would be...

...It was early afternoon when one of my haematologists informed me that my blood count was only 6. He said I was extremely pale and needed to rest and that they were organising a scan and blood transfusions...

...By the time they were ready for me I felt really sick and light-headed but that was nothing to the agony I experienced trying to settle myself on the scanning table. During the painful process the end of my left drain opened which resulted in its contents spilling out all over the floor. My night dress and dressing gown were absolutely soaked. Each time the radiographer pressed the scanner into my tummy I yelled out in pain. Within seconds the scan revealed a massive blood clot lying on top of my bladder. I remember the guy exclaiming "God, it's huge" to the nurse beside him...

...By the time I arrived back I was in agony and exhausted. Shortly afterwards I was hooked up to the first of four blood transfusions which were to make a new woman of me...

Thursday, 26th February, 1998:

Felt so much better after my four units of blood. Later I was taken down for a chest X-Ray... ...At around 1.00pm the theatre trolley arrived to once more take me to theatre to have my blood clot removed...

...Once again I found myself in the "holding-bay" area but this time I knew all those sedated figures on the trolleys were alive... ...As like Monday, my first waking memory is of being transferred from the trolley to the bed. I remember moaning a lot and wondering why I was covered with aluminium foil which must have had me resembling a turkey coming out of the oven! Slowly I began to hear a lot of machine noises around me, one of which I recognised to be an oxygen tank. A nurse told me that I needed help with my breathing as I had two anaesthetics very close to each other. The pain was dreadful even though I was once more rigged up to my morphine "friend".

At some stage hubby was sitting beside me and I was hallucinating. I could vividly see a cleaning lady, scarf on head with bucket and mop trying to clean around my bed and I actually asked hubby to move aside to let her through!. The next second she was gone... ...The remainder of the night is almost a complete blur except for the fleeting moments of consciousness when my only means of knowing I was still alive was hearing the incessant rhythmic gurgling of my pumps and a fellow patient's agonised coughing.

Friday, 27th February, 1998:

...Very soon I discovered that once more I was peeing through a tube, had two new corrugated drains in situ, was still receiving my medication through the IV and was also still attached to my morphine "friend"...

...At around 7.00pm hubby and the children came up to see me. It was only one week since I'd seen the boys but it felt like an eternity so I treasured every minute and was proud to introduce them to my room-mates.

Saturday, 28th February, 1998:

The early part of the day is a complete blank except for the time when they removed my catheter and disconnected the drip. Now I was a free woman again...

Sunday, 1st March, 1998:

...Just after tea-time we had a new lady admitted. She was a great talker but sadly (for us) she also had a bit of a hearing problem. One of my room-mates's reaction to her constant chatter, not to mention her flicking through the TV channels, had to be witnessed to be appreciated. For me, it was the best tonic ever...

...In the evening a couple of friends called in and said they'd been to see The Full Monty and strongly recommended seeing it as it was hilarious but I knew it would be some time before my newly acquired wound would allow that kind of laughter... ...Later my bowel was again in uproar. Between the post-op pain, the soreness in my bladder and the wind and continuous cramp in my gut, I was in horrendous agony...

...later conversation with my two other friends was hilarious with me wondering if my hormone implant was really a tracking device or worse still, the surgeon who implanted it was probably an alien who was researching how us human beings function (no doubt the double lot of morphine had taken its toll on the old brain!).

Monday, 2nd March, 1998:

On waking, felt very nauseated along with terrible wind pains in my lower tummy. At one stage I was actually crying with the discomfort and asked the nurse for anything...

Tuesday, 3rd March, 1998:

When the nurse went to remove one of my corrugated drains it was missing!. My own feeling was that it had made its way inside me because it had not been secured on the outside... ...If the whole thing hadn't been so very serious it would have been extremely funny. By now the nurse, doctor and myself were searching the bed for the elusive drain, with suggestions of its whereabouts coming thick and fast from all concerned. Panic was beginning to set in as the doctor informed us that if it had made its way inside me then I would have to have it removed under local anaesthetic! This I was not looking forward to so desperate measures were now called for.

After doctor went outside, nurse returned and we frantically searched the bed again but to no avail. Having decided that it must be in my belly she proceeded to clean the wound in the usual way. As soon as the scissors holding the piece of gauze moved across the drain site, she could feel something hard underneath. Relief, followed closely by terror, would aptly describe my reaction.

Nurse asked if I would like if she tried removing the drain and without hesitation I gave her the go ahead. Anything, to avoid going through another, even if very small, surgical procedure. So, with me desperately trying to distract myself by intently watching Sky News and gritting my teeth, nurse, quick as a flash, whipped out the mislaid drain.

Wednesday, 4th March, 1998:

After breakfast I decided to chance taking a shower as my hair was in a dreadful state. My favourite nurse came in with me and set things up. I was absolutely terrified the wound would open but she was brilliant and helped me overcome my fear. She stayed with me 'till I got used to the water then left me for a while but checked in every couple of minutes.

One of my room-mates got the news she'd been waiting for - she was going home. Dancing around the place like a two year old, she had everyone falling around laughing and within jig time of getting her news, she was dressed and rearing to go. We were all so happy for her... ...By lunch time I was beginning to feel anxious about losing my friend as she had become a mother figure for me...

Thursday, 5th March, 1998:

As per usual the phlebotomist had a dreadful time trying to get my blood because of my awful veins. By now my hands and arms were black and blue, both from IV lines and blood tests... ...I'm not sure if I became exhausted because of the operation or because I was feeling a bit depressed but I just wanted to be left alone to rest.

Friday, 6th March, 1998:

Another battle with my veins. The poor phlebotomist was more upset than I was because by now there didn't seem to be a vein left anywhere that could produce blood... ...I was delighted to see hubby as by then I was feeling very insecure and lonely for my "old" room-mates...

Saturday, 7th March, 1998:

...When hubby arrived at around 2.00pm, I was all excited about going home the next day... ...Before he left I decided that I wanted to see if I could walk up and down the stairs, so we went out onto the stairway and I managed (very slowly) to scale the dizzy heights of one section of steps without any serious damage to the body...

Sunday, 8th March, 1998:

...While I was waiting for the doctor's discharge letter I packed the remainder of my things then began saying my farewells to my new room-mates and during all of that, hubby arrived.

On reaching the nurses' station I couldn't wait to hug my favourite nurse. She'd been so kind and sympathetic just when I needed her. She was indeed a true ministering angel. She organised my letter and antibiotic prescription and gave me some antibiotics to keep me going for a couple of days plus a bunch of sterile dressings for my wound. My haemotologists were also at the desk and wished me all the best.

While slowly making my way down the corridor with hubby I was aware that I was still wearing my slippers simply because I didn't fancy having to get into a pair of shoes. I waited in the hallway while hubby drove the car up to the door and during those couple of minutes I thanked God for this moment because, if it hadn't been for the prompt action of the haemotologists, circumstances might have been a lot different".

When my hormone implant ran out one year later I decided not to have it replaced or to take HRT. Instead I relied solely on my Evening Primrose Oil of which I increased the quantity to 2000mg daily.

Above image via Wikipedia.