Saturday, December 31, 2011


2012 I resolve to make no New Year resolutions.

But I want to acknowledge a few things like
who had to leave school at twelve, but never stopped learning.

which abolished the Proficiency exam so all children could go to High School.

who taught ignorant young kiwis to love Maths.Science,Latin,Literature. and above all LEARNING.

which delivered my eight babies free of charge,even though three of them involved lengthy hospital stays.
who gave mothers guidance and assurance.
who set broken bones, removed ruptured appendixes, healed burns and twice saved a son's life by knowing how to treat emergencies. All without charge.

for all its faults it paid all mothers a benefit towards raising their children; delivered milk to letter boxes at 4 pence a pint; and supplied milk in schools for free; provided cheap (if not comfortable) rail travel throughout the country; allowed kids to stay at school longer, paid students and apprentices living allowances while training to provide world class housing, education, health care and social infrastructure and finally provided a modest retirement pension at sixty.

I have much to be grateful for and I am.
Now go away and have a great New Year, I want to practice on my Kindle Reader.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


It takes a long time..

Start in your youth, search for, find and marry a quy who is kind, reliable and generous.

Marry him and have lots of sons.

Bring them up the best way you can.

Make sure they marry lovely girls.

Let them mature for fifty years or more.

On Christmas Day visit at least one of them, Having mentioned on your blog that you wan a Kindle for Christmas.

And remember to thank them when you open the package.


Merry Christmas Everybody.


The best way to spend yet another birthday, one's 86th when one cannot drink alcohol or eat sweet foods? Solution, have a neighbour like my friend Don who took his two springer spaniels and me into the high country. Perhaps I should explain,Don fits somewhere between by eldest son Frank and my second son Richard He looks after my garden and I let him use my broadband. Being kind to the elderly is only one of his virtues.

On my birthday we drove through miles of lupins growing wild, explored small towns, finding settings for they current novel, lunched under pine trees by the lake at Tekapo and Don cast for trout in the rivers and canals we crossed during the day. It was idyllic.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


SATYAGRAHA by Philip Glass is a three act opera, sung in Sanskrit with no relevant subtitles. What subtitles we do read are translations of meditations.Its hero is Mohandas Ghandhi. Not an easy experience to understand and of the opera lovers in Oamaru, some twenty of us, only five people attended the screening yesterday afternoon. Of course they will all be attending 'The Magic Flute'next week, where they will be seen and recognised as culture vultures, but four hours of incomprehensible singing one week before Xmas No thanks. Well they missed a treat.

Richard Croft,sings Ghandi with his beautiful tenor voice. He begins as a young lawyer in South Africa and over three acts develops into the stick figure man in a loin cloth I remember seeing in newreels as I was growing up

The whole opers is highly symbolic, Shiva of the blue face, and Mohammed in a red fez sing a tenor baritone duet in the first act. I think they were arguing the merits of their holy books, but cannot be sure, I had to infer that from the acting.

A lot of use is made of newspaper. In the second act a choruus of South African men sing 'Ho,Ho.Ho'on one note for just about the entire act while boys in rags polish their shoes. Behind them giant puppets that look as though they were constructed of newspaper, stir the ridicule until the chorus atacks Ghandi physically, and he lies bleeding on the stage. Enter a mezzo soprano who berates the men and rescues Ghandi. All based on historical events.

In the third act, which begins with the burning of identity passes, a brilliant scene, Ghandhi and his followers prepare to march. One by one his friends are dragged away by police,leaving him alone as he sings a final meditation,

There are excerpts from SANTYAGRAHA on Google.

In the Metropolitan Opera's production there is a balcony at the rear of that stage, throughout this final song it shows a the back of a young, black man in a blue suit miming his presidential address. At the end it all morphs into the Lincoln memorial..

The whole opera is incredibly clever,visually beautiful,intellectually demanding, and musically satisfying.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Driving North on Christmas Morning

Soon after sunrise I shall drive
north on the empty highway
around bends and over bridges

through silent towns
past shuttered shops
abandoned petrol pumps

parking meters will stand
at attention along deserted streets
where I shall surf green waves

perhaps I shall see
some ecstatic six year old
wobbling on a brand new bike
across a daisied lawn

but otherwise the world
will dream in sabbath serenity
and sunlit silence until

I reach that familiar gate
turn in and stop
alone for a moment

until a medley of grandchildren
sons with beaming wives
a cacophony of dogs
will gather round the car

together we will surge
like the receding tide
back into the house

the tree the tinsel the turkey
the silly gifts all wrapped
with so much love

and Christmas will begin at last.

This poem is destined for 'Eightyfive @Fortyfive' which I did not get finished in time for publication before Christmas. I read it at the Bristol Poetry Festival in August and at Poetry Kit's World Poetry Night in Liverpool in September. And Ruth Arnison kindly included it in this summer's POEMS IN THE WAITING ROOM pamphlet.

If you would like to share it at your Christmas party please feel free to do so. Last year Waitaki Hogmannay, ('Over and Out From Down Under') was shared at New Year gatherings in New Zealand, Australia, Greece, France, Britain, and several U.S. states. The readers kndly e-mailed me ( tell me how it was received. I had to buy a bigger hat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Thus morning I did some surfing,having decided to find out more about those incredibly kind total strangers who have become regular followers of my blog. I found that if I clicked on their little icons information about them would come up, including a list of other blogs they follow.

One of these was about knitting, and posted on it was a video made by the crew of HMAS OCEAN. The story line :- They heard they were returning to Australia for Christmas, so they made a lip sync of 'All I want for Christmas is You' starring just about every crew member, so I imagine it was made for them to send to their families. The cutting and editing was really good with comic touches like the officer drinking champagne in his bath, crew members wrapped as gifts and a Xmas message spelled out by human letters at the end. It was a happy video.

So I shall sign off now because I want to look at it again, and to all those people who find a way to enjoy their lives, in spite of tough living conditions and inept governments, my very best wishes for 2012 -


Monday, December 12, 2011


C.J.Spencer is not a nice man. He got selected for the A.B.s when he was still in hid teens, married the daughter of a Rugby administrator and treated her abominably.
As his wife remarked, "Cops and rugby players are notorious wife beaters."

Now he is in a wheel chair, paralysed after a scrum collapsed, and his wife has met a really nice guy, two nice guys in fact, three if you count the Irish priest who rides a red motor bike and C.J. has to die.

How shall I dispose of him?

He could choke on a fish bone; not dramatic enough and not in keeping with the conventions of literary structure.

Some of his 'rugger bugger'mates could take him to watch a game, lose control of his wheel chair and send him plummeting off the stand.

Or the same mates could be taking on an after match pub crawl. The driver could lose control when one of them, full of beer, spews over him. The van overturns, down a cliff and/or into a rive.

Decisions decisions! I wrote the final chapter in Dublin. I just have to insert Chapter thirty one, where a nasty character who got idolised too young and couldn't hackit gets his comeuppance.

Once I kill the All Black the book will be finished.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I once heard Lawrence Ferlinghetti, when discussing Alan Ginsberg say 'His poetics are different to mine.I have no problem with that.' It is exactly how I feel about John Locke's novels. I will not become a devoted reader, but thousands of people are, so I will not criticise his writing. But 'How I sold a million e books in 5 months' is a manual for writers who want to publish on the internet and his advice is pure gold. The first step for a would-be novellist, 'Write the best story you can.' Obvious isn't it. But that does not mean following the pattern of someone else's writing; putting Pride and Prejudice into the twenty=first century, or War and Peace into Afghanistan. So I am finishing my current novel, not with 'How to Write a Novel at my elbow, but by watching my characters without thinking 'That won't sell' whenever they do something unexpected or original. Thorny Glen is a romance between Harry Field who left school at fourteen to take over his father's dairy farm and who now owns a consortium like Fonterra, and Meryn Spencer who plays rugby, was a Black Fern in fact. And I am finding that these two have a lot of friends, enemies and associates who do interesting things which I record. John Ralston Saul, in his book 'Voltaire's Bastards' talks about the writer being 'a faithful witness'and I find myself being just that for my characters. Maybe this time I shall finish the novel, publish it and then resurrect the other four that are on disk in the bottom drawer of my desk.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


When I came home in October several copies of Writers News were waiting for me. Among them a feature on John Locke. No, not that one. This John Locke is a writer who is the first self published author to sell 1,000,000, that's right,one million e books.
And he has written a book about how he did it.

So I downloaded a free Kindle Reader and bought the book. (How I sold a million e books in five months.)

I also bought two of his novels. One is a western called 'Don't Poke the Bear' about a Dodge City sheriff and his animal loving sweetheart who manages a string of prostitutes. 'The Love You Crave' is a thriller about a CIA assassin called Donovan Creed. Locke himself says they are not great literature. I would class them as Penny Dreadfuls. But they are competently written, have some original characters, like the post rapture security guard,who offers, for a fee, to look after pets for the good people who will leave earth when the Rapture begins. But at $0.99 each the cost equates to buying the daily newspaper. As Locke himself says they reach a niche of readers who want to be entertained.

But "How I sold a million...." is worth every penny of the $2.99. His style of writing is informal, rather than declamatory as in recipe books, almost like a newsy letter from a friend. Its introduction is entertaining and encouraging to unpublished writers.

His business plan is explained in a methodical, but entertaining way.

And I have now downloaded two more e books 'How to Publish and Sell Your Article on the Kindle' by Kate Harpwe and 'How to Format your e Book' by Paul Salvette, and all five books have cost me less than $10!

The free Kindle reader is great for reading at my computer, but I am now saving up for one that I can slip into my pocket when I travel. Big expensive airport novels have become outdated. When my son Frank and his wife went on their world tour recently they took e readers, loaded with dozens of books, and it weighed less than one conventional airport novel.

Please Santa Claus, you know what I want for Christmas!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I heard someone say that people spend more time choosing their new car than they do voting for their government. They probably do. But if I am to believe my neighbours there are two sure ways to cast one's vote effectively. They are

1. Vote for the best looking candidate. Last election I heard a lot of young voters (female)say they voted National because 'John Key is so nice looking.'

2. Vote against the most experienced candidates. "Oh, she was all right, but it's time for a change."

My letter box has been stuffed with cards and fliers and leaflets from minor parties, and they raised some interesting issues, not the text of the leaflets, but the meaningless generalities heavily laced with weasel words, designed to attract voters without informing them of attitudes to issues or giving any hint of who, or what interest paid for it.
In fact, any electioneering printed on expensive paper automatically loses my vote.
Doesn't leave much choice does it.Perhaps I could do a 'write in' vote for a candidate who made us proud to be New Zealanders, who lead his team with modesty and panache, and it better looking than our current P.M. who?
Richie McCaw of course!

Friday, November 11, 2011


George McDonald Fraser was a screenwriter and the author of THE FLASHMAN NOVELS, a series of picaresque comedies using the amoral character from Tom Brown's Schooldays as the narrator.
IVAN DUNN is a New Zealand journalist. He describes his nove
as a work of 'faction' a mixture of fiction and historical trutch.
'what might have happened on the 1924 tour'.
Remember 1924 of course not, Not even I was born then, but if I say 1924, the INVINCIBLES tour, anybody who knows what an egg shaped ball is for will say,
'1924 of course THE INVINCIBLES tour of England Wales Ireland Scotland and France, they went through unbeaten.' Yeah Right!
IVAN DUNN, who knows his rugby, and its history, has invented BEAU BAXTER, eighteen years old and son of a Cherokee Indian who is snatched from a labouring job in a timberyard to play rugby, gets selected to go on tour with Waaka Nathan, the Brownlees and all that crowd, visits a stately home and learns fox hunting, dines with Royalty. The blurb on the back says, 'more sex and less etiquette than Rugby historians would have us believe.'
BEAU BAXTER is a joyful romp, in the most hilarious Flashman tradition. I can't wait for the film to come out and I do hope Ivan Dunn writes more novels.

THE LEGEND OF BEAU BAXTER by IVAN DUNN ISBN978-1-86950-823-4 pubolished 2010 by HARPER COLLINS

PELE'S CHILDREN by JAN VERNON is a chapbook by reclusive Temuka author and poet Jan Vernon. It is a poem that tells a story of Pele and Merlin, obsessed with volcanoes, and their children, not forgetting the tuatara. Jan shared it with some of us, privileged to be her friends, and we all responded in the same way, 'THIS HAS TO BE PUBLISHED'in fact another writer friend sent Jan an e mail that said 'Don't you dare die before this is published.'

Easier said than done as Jan is not young and was awaiting hip surgery.But Jan Hill did the editing, another friend painted the illustrations,and the result is

Now I am not going to tell you any more of the story, or comment on the strength of the poetry, but I shall reiterate what we have been telling Jam,

this is a significant piece of work, a new direction is New Zealand writing.' Some time in the future it will be a classic.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I moved down here from Wairarapa in 2001. When the carrier delivered my seventeen cartons of books and carefully bubblewrapped box of pictures this was among them, obviously left in the packing of someone else's belongings. How to find the real owners and return their treasure? I scrolled through the every internet page I could think of, but got nowhere, put it carefully away and forgot about it because I was getting ready to visit Turkey and Greece.
So now I am trying to clear my house so my daughters in law will not have too much clearing up to do when I finally leave it.

who were married on
APRIL 24 1993

I would like to return your beautiful stitched wedding souvenir to you.

I hope you still love and cherish each other as the panel suggests and if you will ring me at 03-431-3911
and give me an address I shall pack it and send it..

With apologies for not returning it sooner.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I have been reading

ULYSSES by James Joyce and it's a great book; that is a great book for sending me to sleep at night. Conor Kostick at the Irish Writers' Centre told me to read it for the humour, well I have not found it all that funny. But in spite of knowing the locations Joyce talks about, I find myself yawning. Oh dear, I am evidently a lowbrow in spite of all my efforts. and I shall whisper this very quietly


The editorial snoop on this site has just tole me AMPERSANDS are not allowed. Yah Boo!
The weather is still cold and wet!

And for the three people who have read my other blog (or maybe one person three times? there is another 'editor regrets' on Waiata's Witterings. It's about small town New Zealand, written years ago after spending a weekend in Pleasant Point and thinking, 'What would this place be like if it was by the sea?'

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I stood all the way from Peterborough to Waterloo. Everywhere there were hoardings showing Taine Randall leading the haka. No doubt about it, the All Blacks were going to bring the Rugby World Cup home.

Four years before we had watched the unthinkable happen as they had staggered about losing to South Africa. This time would be different.

Youngest son Ivor met me at Waterloo. He hopped on and off the escalator with the ease of a seasoned Londoner. I clung to the rail, white knuckled. At Waterloo East Ivor's cell phone rang.

"Hello, Ivor Davies. What? Nah, you've got it wrong." He disconnected with the look that Australians term 'stunned mullet.' and looked at me.
"The All Blacks lost."
"No! You must have heard it wrong."
"I'm telling you. The Bloody Frogs beat us."

We stared uncomprehending at London gearing up for the twenty first century; the highest ferris wheel ever built, the OXO tower, Londoners riding the train, reading their papers, unconcerned.

Up until then English newspapers had been full of the awful things those perfidious French did. The fed their cows and pigs on unmentionable fodder made from sewage. They blocked imports of healthy British products. Overnight British perceptions changed, they became Europeans. Girls from Cockfosters to Cambridge were seen wearing French Rugby shirts.

I wasn't that concerned about Australia winning the cup. After all one of my grandfathers was born in Echuca.

Monday, October 17, 2011


A Southerly squall has spent last night and to-day racing up from Antarctica and making a nuisance of itself here. Even the cows across the road look cold and miserable.

But one event has turned my day to sunshine. A friend sent an e mail.



My grand daughter in Canberra disapproves of shouting on blogs, but this is an occasion .
Somebody has read my other blog!!! So for you, Ruth, I have posted another 'editors regret' a short story I wrote twenty years ago. And I hope you enjoy it.

If anyone else likes outrageous tales my other blog is WAIATA'S WITTERINGS.
I am going to sit by the fire and do some knitting. That's a nice, calming occupation for a cold day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


If you want colour, spectacle, drama and music go to the opera. Last year I seriously thought of cancelling my trip overseas and enduring a Waitaki Winter, because if I took off to Crete I would miss the final three productions of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera Season, and one of them was Das Valkyrie, second in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

In Oamaru? Exactly! The Met films its operas so skilfully that I believe we get a better view of everything that the actual audience at the Met does.

When I returned to my crib after four months overseas I found the booklet for the 2011-2012 season on my table.(Thank you Glennys) This season will show eleven operas, most of them classics like Mozart's 'Don Giovanni';Verdi's 'La Traviata'; Wagner's final two from the Ring Cycle, Siegried and Gotterdammerung; but also new opera like Glass's Satyagraha, it's about Ghandi.

So this year, every three weeks or so, I shall be at MOVIE WORLD 3 in Oamaru. If enough people book seat I shall be watching grand opera on a huge screen and listening through a magnificent sound system. Otherwise I shall be in a comfortable arm chair in their drawing room cinema watching a smaller screen, but still worth while.

ree programme booklets are available from participating cinemas. I have already alerted sons in Petone, Paraparaumu and Sumner. The operas will be shown in small towns, like Arrowtown, Geraldine and Martinborough.

Maybe one day somebody will make a grand opera out of the Rugby World Cup, before Jonas Kaufman gets too old to sing Richie Macaw.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I have been having fun reading
WRITING particularly interviews with

JOHN lOCKE sells novels on KINDLE for 99cents per download

He is selling them by the million.

And he kindly shares his business format with readers of Writing Magazine.

So I did some research on e books in the wonderful
published by A&C Black,

and as often happens I ended up reading widely on all sorts of other things, in particular an article on WRITING A BLOG

If you want to have a look at he result go to my other blog
I have re formulated the short story I put on there with

lots of white space throughout,


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Allow me to introduce Rosemary and Audrey, two women I met at the Citihostel in Dublin. Audrey is Irish born, but lived in Canada long enough to develop an accent. She told me her daughter is studying for a masters degree in music performance at Trinity College and Audrey is concerned, to the point of obsession, because her daughter is diabetic, needs special diet, and Audrey feels she is not getting the guidance with her studies she should be. Her field is the concertino, a lively little folk instrument which I remember from childhood. No matter what topic began a conversation Audrey would always work it around until we reached her daughter's problems. She has a kind heart though, After I left Citihostel, following the episode of horizontal P.E. mentioned in an earlier blog, Audrey trekked across Dublin to bring me a book she had found in a charity shop, written by an English woman who had cycled from England to India in the 1960's. It made fascinating reading.
Rosemary was approaching forty and had recently split up from a relationship. She had no job and was hoping to train as a volunteer in a charity shop. Evidently this is the first step in Ireland for getting back into work.The first time I met her she was mid epileptic seizure in the hostel kitchen. She later told me that as a child she had been given the wrong medication and it had left her epileptic and without short term memory. She was a pleasant girl until she found hair in the bathroom basin. That was her fixation. The hair was not always there but if she thought there was that would set off a tirade.
But what concerned Audrey and me was seeing her each evening scanning the pages of the newspaper and ringing 'businessmen' who promised to find work for her. And almost every week end she would iron her blouses and set off to meet a 'business man.'
Here was a forty year old woman with the naivete of a fourteen year old.
Talking about it to friends in Liverpool later I was told that people like Rosemary were often dumped in hostels by welfare agencies because there was nowhere else for them to go. Sad, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Last Saturday I arrived home from four months of peregrinations. Son Terry drove me down in his cute little company car, cheeky and bright red. In my carport was a silver grey Mitsubishi Gallant which my neighbour Don had located for me, reasonable mileage at a reasonable price. On Sunday I rearranged four months of dust cleaned the windows and got rid of the mountain of mail waiting on my table.

ON monday I set off to Oamaru to put the price of the car into Don's bank account, renew my A.A. membership and buy things I could not possibly do without for one more day, like Vogels Bread, lambs fry, real Marmite (The Irish version is revolting). Then I realised I was now driving a car which did fewer k's to the litre than my former car, a little Ford Festiva, so I began thinking tactically. If I called at the AA office on my way in to town I would not have to cross all the traffic lanes in Thames Street, no waiting at lights, engine idling and drinking gas. So I stopped at the A.A. office, renewed my membership and returned to a dead Mitsubishi. The A.A. mechanic arrived in seconds and diagnosed a flat battery. One hundred and twenty nine dollars later I was on my way, did all my errands in town and called at the B.P.station to fill up. Ouch! of course the Mitsubishi is bigger than my
ford Festiva but $89.00 was a shock. I shall not be dashing in to Oamaru to pick up a paper, or to explore the bookshops in town in future. Trips to town will be carefully monitored. It's all about saving the planet.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


No picture. I have been busy dusting, vacuuming and clearing a mountain of mail off my table. Son Terry drove me from Christchurch to home. I found a Mitsubishi Gallant in my carport, so I am mobile once more, thanks to neighbour Don. Also, thanks to Don my back yard looks much more like a garden than it did before I went away. Lettuces, silver beet, radishes, and all sorts of things growing in orderly rows, my precious Loganberry vine taking possession of a frame, and a walkway cut from pieces of discarded plastic laid to keep my boots out of the mud.
Terry brought in armfuls of firewood. It is still cold here. So now I am removing four months' dust from everything while I listen to a wonderful Jazz DVD called 'Greenwich Village' which was waiting with the post. It features Dave Amram & Friends performing live at the Cornelia Street Cafe and it begins with 'Take the A Train', continues through improvisations of 'Splendour in the Grass' then a Collaboration titled 'Pull My Daisy' featuring Amram improvising to readings of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Cassidy. There are jazz tracks by musicians I am unfamiliar with, (but Frank nodded knowledgably when I read them out to him.} and it finished with twelve minutes of 'Meanderin' in Mandarin' A wonderful home coming surprise.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Stuart is an English poet his wife Lesley a 'retired'teacher of dance. I stayed with them in Chipping Sodbury, a beautiful English town near Bristol. Their idea of being retired is they now have time to help their community. As well as being a prize winning poet Stuart is an official starter for athletics. He was on duty for the Bristol Half Marathon when I was there. He and Lesley are very much involved with encouraging athletics. Lesley is one of those unassuming, but enormously capable people who make everything easier for other people. I saw her welcoming some shy newcomers to the Yate Athletic Club, making them feel welcome, without appearing to make any effort. It's a rare gift.
Thanks to the3m I have seen Bath, Bristol. the Forest of Dean, the Saracen's Head on the river Wye and Tintern Abbey. This picture was taken at an arboretum near where they live, planted two centuries ago and now a breathtaking place of forested walks.(The name escapes me and my notes are in my suitcase. I shall get back to it).

And they have a beautiful garden, full of interesting flowers and plants, in particular a David Austen scented rambler named 'Jude the Obscure' the perfume is wonderful.

Next time anyone makes comments about 'Poms' I shall think of Stuart and Lesley, or Jim Bennet who gives enormous amounts of time to the Poetry Kit website and its attendant magazines, Poetry Kite and Caught in the Net, Angela Keaton, experimental poet who drops everything to show me around Liverpool, and dozens of other wonderful people who made my latest journey memorable.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Sorry, no photographs, I am using the computer at the |bris Hotel Liverpool and can't browse my photos.
However. liverpool is still my favourite English city. Chipping Sodbury is my favourite English town but liverpool is quirky and its architecture imaginative.
And of course the people, though different from Irish people are helpful and friendly. I HAVE WORKED OUT HOW TO CATCH THE TRAIN FROM lime street to MANCHESTER Airport next Sunday. so the last part of my four montgh 'Escape the winter and the World cup' is beginning.
I shall post my photos when I GET HOM


Saturday, September 17, 2011


After my 4 a.m. adventure, (it turned out they were not even hostel residents) I moved for one luxurious night to a single room in the Arlington Hotel on the bank of the Liffey For an extra 30 euros I could dine in dim Victorian light and watch Irish dance and listen to Irish folk music. The three young Dutchmen in the picture were my table companions, over for the weekend. The dinner was excellent, and the dancing exuberant, especially when the dancers got three diners to join them on stage in an Irish square dance. The Folk music was great, traditional toe tapping fun.
Next day I returned to Abraham Hostel on Lower Gardener Street, Less aggressive plumbing and better breakfast than that available at citihostel, and because I agreed to share an eight bed dorm much cheaper. When people start ranting about "To-days's Youth (as they have been doing since Adam was a teenager) I want to tell them about the girls I shared my last days in Dublin with. Two French 2 German a Spaniard, a Brazialian and a couple of Irish. They were Trinity College students hunting for accomodation and helped each other search. In the dormitory they were quiet, courteous, and along with the other young people I met on this tour, made me feel very confident about the future of this world.
Friday, I had booked a seat on the bus to the airport, and found I was the only passenger on the minibus. The driver was from Bulgaria,conversed in English and was very helpful with my luggage.
I landed in Bristol and followed the arrows from plane to baggage claim. Incredibly, my case made its entrance through the curtain on to the carousel like a veteran actor. I followed the pointers to customs and then thought,'I'm not an EU citizen and I haven't been through Immigration,' so I asked an airport policeman.
"That's all right,'she said and I walked out of the airport to greet Stuart, (the sort of friend every one should have) who took me to his home in Chipping Sodbury where I was cossetted by Stu and his wonderful wife, Lesley, for the next five days during which I visited Bristol, Bath, a Saturday market, The Forest of Dene, an arboretum and Tintern Abbey. Whew!
More about this later, and more about out Poetry Kit evenings. Nxt Sunday I fly out of Manchester and come home. That is if nobody questions me about being in England without an entry stamp in my passport.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


4a.m. Revelers were spilling into the streets and making a huge racket.
"H ere we go again," I thought, turning over in my bottom bunk. It had taken me until after midnight to fall asleep.
The dormitory door openedA strong smell of alcohol and tobacco preceded the two shadows who slid into the dorm. TWO SHADOWS?
The girl, in dark pants and horizontally striped sweat shirt was definitely 'tired and emotional as a newt.' She leaned against her companion, so he picked her up and lifted her into the top bunk.
That's nice, I thought, he's seeing that she gets to her bed safely. I waited for the door to open and let him creep out. It didn't.
Twenty minutes later I had to get up and go to the bathroom. Carefully I stepped out of my bunk and nearly fell headlong over a pair man size jeans and size eleven sneakers discarded on the floor.
'" Well they were discrete and quiet. Good luck to them I thought and pretended to be asleep when he crept out of the top bunk and slipped out of the room.
But her next visitor was neither discrete or quiet. Maybe it was the same guy and he had gone out somewhere for a condom. What they are doing is one of my business,"I reminded myself, until our bunk started rocking and creaking. Less than a metre above my head the 'horizontal P.T.'got noisier and more vigorous. I was wondering what would happen if the welding on the top bunk gave way. But it all settled down and he crept out. A few seconds later she came down her ladder and sat on my bed, on my left leg in fact.
"Hey, I;m awake."I said quietly.
She climbed back to her upper bunk. Five times between 4.40 and 7 a.m. she crept down, went to the door, opened it, closed it and returned to her bunk.

So I decided enough was enough,I have booked a single room at a hotel where I can get some sleep.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


This photo was taken outside my favourite cafe at the junction of Harcourt St. Harcourt Rd. Victoria St and Charlemont St. The pantechnicon parked on the footpath opposite is unloading furniture into the building on the corner. The first sign of life I have seen there in two months.And it started me thinking. Traffic pours around this junction all day and all night, noisiest time is about 4a.m. when the party goers congregate under my window waiting for taxis. There are taxis, private cars of every kind, about one in ten passing vehicles is a van and very occasionally a large lorry delivering bread to the supermarkets BUT I HAVE NOT SEEN A PETROL TANKER. Nor have I seen a petrol station selling BP or CALTEX or SHELL I keep a special watch now when I go for walks or bus rides.
Any Dubliners who know why I am not seeing cars pulling in to fill up, or the big signs showing the day's petrol price please post a comment.

aMy e amil is currently refusing to send anything. I don't know why, but Stuart, if you are reading this I shall be catchinbg the 3.00 flight from Dublin to Bristol next FRiday. Mary Ivor Tollah is your cousin Ivor and Lynn who is about to embark on her firsgt trip out of the States TRAFFIC IN BRITAIN DRIVES ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE STREET. so watch it.


and night


After two months in Dublin I am still making discoveries. The city authorities have, for some reason, changed the bus routes. 19 and 19A no longer runs down Camded Street through the city centre and into Parnell Square. So when I set out on Tuesday evening I asked the Driver,
"Do you go to the City Centre?"
he harrumphed and it was not until he turned left at the Connolly Street Bridge I realised that for him the City Centre was Trinity College, not the Spire. And the next stop was a long way down the quay, past the Halfpenny Bridge, past the Millenium Bridge.
I knew I was going to be late for Connor's lecture on writing about sex (don't ask!) but I was also going to have to walk through a part of Dublin I had not seen before.
On the way I found this pretty sculpture of a Viking Longboat. My guide book says is is by Betty Maguire and was erected after the 1079 discovery of the first Viking settlement.
I walked over the millenium pedestrian bridge. The tide was out and the Liffey was a series of puddles around flat black rocks between concrete walls with reminders of previous centuries, like steel ladders, and mooring rings long abandonned. On the other side of the river market stalls were closing up, people were hurrying along to bus stops. I walked past the General Post Office, the spire, on past Abbey Theatre, the blue steel gates of the Garden of Remembrance were locked. I haad to wait at both crossings and finally I tramped up the elegant georgian staircases at the Writers Centre to the third floor and crept in with whispered apologies.
WriConnor's examples from literature were definitely from a male point of view, and I thought he was brave even tackling the subject in only one hour. And because I was late I did not hear what he said.
It was very dark when we finished, so John hailed a taxi for me. This involves standing in the middle of the roadway and hailing approaching headlights. The driver was a cheerful Irishman called Oliver who told me about the resurgence of Camden Street from a derelict slum to the busy, interesting village it is to-day.

Settlement site. I crossed the Liffey on foot over the millenium bridg.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Over the past two months I have felt privileged to have access to the Irish Writers'Centre, and not just because of the strength of their coffee. For the last seven Tuesday evenings I have been part of Connor Kostick's group of people who are finishing their novels. Conor has been patient but demanding; who is our intended reading audience, where is the story going, how about this character, why is he in the story. Each week the first hour was studying some aspect of novel writing as dealt with in great literature; Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Heart of Darkness, and others.In the second hour half the group reads from work in progress and we discuss points raised. Once I got used to the Irish voices, (soft spoken and rapid) I was fascinated by the very high level of work presented. I am sorry I will not be in Dublin for the final three sessions because the stories are developing; last night I heard about a servant girl summoned home not knowing her young sister was to be married. That probably happened often in the days before universal literacy and postage. I heard the final chapter of a detective story, a clinical psychologist's report, and others read by people with madonna like faces and names like Clodagh and Nu sala and Maighred. I don't know if all this effort is because of the coming 'Novel Fair'planned for the centre on March 10th 2012, but they would all gain a high placing in any Novel Competition.
The concept of the novel fair is brilliant. A Novel Competition will close on November 11th and is designed to give 'novelists q chance to by pass the The terms and conditions of this opportunity are on the centre's website Oh how I wish I was sixty years younger and Irish by birth rather than ancestry.
As well as learning the structure of novels, I learned a great deal at Charlie Connelly's Travel Writing course, and met his wife, swapping reminiscences of the Blue Hotel in Methven.
Fridy afternoons is Ink Slingers, a group of writers who meet at the Centre under the inspiration of another angelic colleen who poses suggestions for us to write about. I am going to miss them all when I leave next week, even though I shall be with my old friends from the Poetry Kit list and of course I am looking forward to seeing them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


THE number 19A bus no longer runs, so this morning I decided to go exploring, using my bus card which permits unlimited travel. The first bus at the stop was an 88 somewhere or other via City Centre the sign said. My plan was to stay on that bus until it got back in to town. It headed North away from the Liffey and into suburbs, housing estates and new towns. First we drove through streets lined with plane trees and Victorian brick mansions; an early 'stock broker belt' semi detached villas of brick and stucco, tudor windows still sparkling but the paint work looking decidedly scruffy. Then concrete and timber 'eighties functional' stacked like boxes'; housing estates; a university village; motorways and waste ground. Then far away from anywhere a huge concrete building with I.K.E.A. painted on it.
Good, I thought, now we will turn around and go back. But we didn't. The bus joined several dozen other óut of service'buses in the Dublin Bus yards. The driver was nice about it and showed me where to catch the next bus back to the to city.

I must confess I was relieved to see the spire when it came into view.

Monday, August 29, 2011


TV channels have been showing the violence in Tripoli until yesterday when preparations for Irene became news. Before then it was riots in London. The general impression being that violence and mayhem is all that it happening worldwide.
Yesterday evening I sat under a tree in Parnell Street watching people returning from a football match. Near me, on the grass, some young folk were sharing take aways and beer. Groups of people, families, couples, friends, in yellow and green strolled towards the city centre as did similar groups in blue. A passing nine year old in yellow turned jubilant cartwheels.
"Ah Donegal was looky," called one of the young folk. The nine year old, and his family waved before getting into their estate car and driving away. The banter continued as other groups strolled past, then the group on the grass gathered their wrappings and beer cans and continued down the hill. No confrontation, no abuse. It was wonderful.
At the Writers 'Centre Fergal poured me a cup of his special coffee, guaranteed to keep Sleeping Beauty awake for a hundred years. The second floor had been transformed into a 'Poets'Pub. this being the night people came along and shared pieces of their own work. It was a very high standard indeed. First a man sharing his work in progress, a stream of consciousness in polished prose,James Joyce would have enjoyed it; then a young woman poet, followed by a balladeer who read a rant about Dyslexia from his newly published book and sang songs accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, reminding me of Tony Chad . Another older man also played guitar but he played, as opposed to strumming a beautiful melodic tune. High point for this bracket was not the elderly New Zealander who felt completely out of her depth, but the ordinary looking, auburn haired, middle aged woman who read excerpts from her book about surviving chemotherapy, in Irish. The audience obviously understood her, they listened with that special silence which shows people are engaging with what they hear.
That was the first bracket or performers, two more brackets to come. But it was nearing ten o'çlock and although Fergal's coffee was keeping my brain spinning my physical body {especially feet in new shoes) kept nudging me and pointing to the clock.
As I tried to sleep I thought, 'Maybe this is what the world is really like? Not the bloodshed and mayhem hyped up by television, but people sharing what they are with each other.' Must have been the caffeine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


To day I planned to use my bus card to travel randomly on Dublin Buses and see more of the city. Fate, or more the state of my internal regions decreed otherwise. Dublin certainly is a lively place, especially when one can't sleep and lives on the edge of the club belt, full of less than sober revelers hailing taxis, talking politics in incomprehensible languages, saying good night to girlfriends in the next county, and the girls shrieking responses. I finally got to sleep about five and re-surfaced at 10.30. Too late for breakfast at the hostel, so I set off to O'Brien's cafe where Laszlo and Kristina (thanks to their friend who sent me their names) filled a sesame sprinkled bagel with bacon, egg. tomato and relish, and served it with their strongest coffee. Fortified, and feeling much better I continued my walk. Harcourt Road connects Harcourt Street with Camden Street. It is now a one way double lane with double yellow lines down both sides sod there is absolutely no where to park. The the little shops that once flourished there are now boarded up or are clinging on to existence. I find that sad, because little shops are part of Dublin's appeal.This morning I walked a left handed circuit from the hostel, turned into Harcourst road and again turned left before I reached the junction at the top of Camden Street. There I found a real fruit and veg shop, and a lovely little curio (not old enough to be antiques) store with a model phrenologists head in white china, a set of Astrologer's character reading charts hand painted on vellum, and a beautiful little sextant in a case with the basic knots surrounding it. Next left turn brought me to the housing estate in Charlemont Street but I turned right this time and reached a row of pretty houses facing the grand canal.
The photograph at the top is looking down Charlemont Street from the hostel. There is one house that might be a relic of Georgian days, but is, I suspect, a 20th century copy, and the rest of the street is definitely Functional Modern. I wonder, in 200 years time will students lead a protest to prevent their demolition?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


At present I am living in one of Dublin's many hostels, I share a dormitory with three other women, a passing parade of nationalities who are all very kind to me because of my great age. There were the two French girls who have the same baptismal names as two of my grand daughters, Rosemary whose broad Irish brogue makes her harder to understand than Livia, the Brazilian girl currently in one of the top bunks.
The hostel is clean and safe but the plumbing is dire, especially the showers where one cowers in a corner and punches a button which sends a torrent of ice cold water everywhere, including the dry towel rail. Just as the water becomes bearable it all shuts off. I endure this because the staff,Brazillian, Spanish, French and Moroccan are outstanding.
BUT THE INTERNET ACCESS IS HOPELESS. My in box is full of messages from Kaye in Darwin, Jan in Temuka,Stu in Chipping Sodbury and when I try to download them I get a message rhat something seems to be wrong etc. Worse than that, I am supposed to send and receive chapters of work from the novel writing course I am mainly here for.Last Tuesday, after a week of trying to send text and getting a 'we are sorry connection appears to be broken'I took my lap top across town, sorely termpted to toss it into the Liffey as I crossed. A technician in Moor Street said it was a virus which he could clean out for 40 euros.
At the Irish Writers Centre in Parnell Square I logged on, downloaded my e mails, sent the homework I was expected to share with the novel writing group, Everything worked perfectly.
So Kaye, Jan, Terry, Stu, Lesley Tammara in Israel and everybody, as well hunting for Vogel's bread,which Mimi tells me is available in Dublin (not in Camden Street Tescos though) I shall lug my laptop across town on a 19A bus and read and answer your e mails.
That is after I have braved the shower.


maTwo years ago my sister's daughter and I came to Ireland hunting ancestors. In the taxi from Dublin airport Mary talked to the driver about her quest to locate her father's mother who had migrated from Dublin more than a century ago.
"She was a Miss Ennis." Mary told him.
ÉNNIS? Then she would have lived in Moor Street. The Ennis's were baker" the driver replied. So yesterday I went hunting along Henry Street until I found Moore Street a rather dilapidated area full of market stalls with fruit at half the price of Tescos. I bought a box of grapes for 1euro.


Monday, August 22, 2011


Modern buildings have FOR SALE or TO LET or LEASING NOW signs all over them. Cars are either silver grey MERCS or bright red AUDIS (I want one).
Girls look as though they are auditioning for RIVER DANCE. They wear jeans under their dresses, and they walk about holding their hands to their ears talking to themselves. That Red headed colleen in the cafe is actually Russian and her boy friend is from Brazil.
When people here talk about 'football'they mean some peculiar game with rules as esoteric as Aussie football. New Zealanders get a far away look in their eyes when we mention Molenberg or Vogels. The bread here is awfyl. I look at the Braeburn Apples in Tesco's and wonder how far from Glenavy they grew.
When I cross on a red light waiting motorists smile and wave! The protocols for road crossing are sensible.

One of the Porters here who reminds me of Le Beau in Hogan's Heroes (remember Le Beau? Pocket sized and gorgeous) has just shown me how to clean the inside of my computer. I take it to the nearest petrol station and use their free air pump to blow all the dust etc that gets lodged under the keyboard.
In just two weeks I head for Bristol, Liverpool and then home at last. C'est la vie!
My first purchasw when I get home? After a car that is,A loaf of Vogels bread.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


O'Briens cafe and the Kebab/hamburger joint both close on Sunday so I strolled into town and had an Irish beefburger at another favourite eating place in Camden Street. The Irish are famous for tall stories, but you should have seen how tall this beefburger was! So I went for a walk afterwards to burn of some calories. St Stephen's Green is everything a city park should be, a whole city block surrounded by railings, and full of walks and statues. At one entrance Wolfe Tone surrounded is by granite plinths. I stopped beside the pond to see a variety of gulls swimming and flying above the water. At the main entrances a notice board advertised what attractions were in the park that day, including 'Romeo and Juliet'. I am afraid I have never changed my opinion since one of my fourth form English class told me, 'If I was her mother I'd smack her bum!' and I had to agree. I was about to head out of the park and find another walk when music stopped me in my tracks. It was a band, a Brazillian band, drums, maraccas, whistles, guitars and a vocalist singing in Portugese. I tried to get close to take some pictures, but half the population of Dublin was gathered around listening and responding to the music.On the grandstand the drummers, to one side a community choir, led by a girl in green parading with an emerald and silver banner. And giving the beat for the audience a tall girl wearing a Brazillian bikini, (3 postage stamps and a couple of bita of string) with high heels on her feet and silver plumes in her hair, and Dublin was dancing along with her. I tried to get a shot of a very respectable looking dad holding his toddler above his shoulders as he dances, and Irish matrons dancing for the joy of it. Alas I could not get near enough, but it was wonderful.
The fences around St Stephen's Green were hung with paintings. The artists sat on camp chairs at the edge of the pavement, ready to talk to customers. There seemed to be every level of achievement, from very skilled botanical studies, through landscapes, seas scapes, copies of old masters to impressionis to traditional modern.
Luckily I still have to watch my weight, keep my luggage down to 20 ks. so I know I can only look and admire.
Livia from Ceara in Brazil, one of my room mates, has just come in. She saw Romeo and Juliet this afternoon and was impressed with the beautiful modern costumes and acting.

Bur Sunday in Dublin is quite marvellous, believe me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I usually call in to O'brien's the little cafe on the corner of Charlemont Street and arcourt Road, about 2 p.m. One of their sandwiches and a capucchino, or a frappe in hot weather, leaves me satisfied for the rest of the day. The picture above is what I have been raving about.

I called in to-day and as well as the usual sandwich and coffee, you can have a bagel if you'd rather, I was treated to a a showing of photographs, ferns, flowers, birds and butterflies taken on a recent trip to Jamaica.

I still don't know their names, but it does not matter. They told me they have only been in business here for two months,and they are incredibly grateful that I have publicised them. I don't know if 30 New Zealanders hitting on my blog is going to send a rush of customers to O'Brien's in Dublin. But anyone looking for a nice place to eat fresh food try O'Brien's or tell your friends.


Meet Frank, photographer for the Irish Times Magazine. He took hundreds of pictures of me when he came to the Irish Writers Centre, a nice professional man, and as I told my friend Rita who was helping me focus, where else could an 85 year old have a good looking young man kneel at her feet?
So this morning I Went down to Camden Street early and bought this Saturday's Irish times. On the cover a celebrity woman golfer, pretty with a frangipani blossom in her left ear which used to be a signal as to one's nuptial state. I forget which ear meant the wearer was single. Sinead Gleason,s article about me was on page 6 with a photograph of a batty old wrinkly that turned out to be me. Reading interviews about oneself is a truly ego depressing experience, no reflection on Sinead's or Frank's competence of course.
But on page one of the weekend review was an account of a six year old girl who was asleep when her foster father came home at midnight and beat her te death. This was the report of a 1968 court case, where the jury had decided it was all right for a carer to beat a child to death. The foster father was sentenced to 12 months in goal.To-days article points out that 'horrible things'were still being done to children, but now such events 'évoke horror', showing a shift in social attitudes. I hope so.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I have been travelling for nearly three months and often meet people who have only a hazy idea of where New Zealand is and what it is really like. For Loyalty's sake I smile and agree that it is a lovely country full of intelligent people and sheep. I am tempted sometimes to say what I really think. So here goes, and I hope I will be allowed back in the country when I come home in September.

On the surface New Zealand is a pleasant society, founded by idealists who wanted to build Utopia. But New Zealand has a brutal understructure. It runs by male values for the three Rs, Rugger, Racing and Rooting. The rich guy with the best P.R. gets the top job Yes we have had Female Prime Ministers,Governors General, and Chief Justice, but listen to the undercurrent, Fred Redneck drinking with his pals and Lucy Loudmouth in the coffee shop. Do these achievements earn respect? Of course not, High achieving women are lesbians who have slept their way to the top. Good old Fred knows somebody who drives a taxi in Wellington and they should know. Or Lucy's daughter is a hairdresser in a salon on Lambton Quay, and one of her clients works in the Prime Minister's Department and told her.
What worries me is that Lucy and Fred and all their connections get to vote. They have only a vague notion of how the country functions, but they cast votes. After Helen Clarke was defeated I asked several friends and aquaintances why they had voted the way they did, Common replies were, 'Ít's time for a change'but no idea why they thought that. 'John Key's a nice looking man,' So if masculine good looks is a qualification for high office I should nominate Justin Beiber for Pope.
But New Zealand is a great place to bring up children. Really? That sad little roll call, Lilly Bing, Delcilia Whittaker, Coral Burroughs, James Whakaruru, the Kahui twins, and so on, tell a different story.
Of course Lucy Loudmouth KNOWS these things are done by non white solo mums with unemployed boyfriends.Well the probloems of bullying and violence is spread a lot more thickly through all classes of New Zealand society.I saw that in my teaching years and it has been going on for a very long time.
And then there is the habit we have of cutting down tall poppies. Helen Clarke had been Prime Minister 'Long enough', when two women in Masterton won Lotto there was an outcry, 'It was too much.'our guardians of public virtue cried. It was exactly the amount prescribed by the rules of Lotto.
I read in the news that the Government is planning to issue coupons for unemployed under eighteens which can only be redeemed for food and clothing not cigarettes or alcohol. How sanctimonious! May I suggest that the authorities then modify petrol pumps so that farmers can only fill their tractors with tax rebated petrol, not the family car, and while they are at it they should modify cash registers so that farmer's grocery items are not classed 'dog food'regardless of the vintage.
So Fred Redneck and Lucy Loudmouth open your eyes, and your minds, start putting your brains into gear before engaging your vocal chord. But neither of you read my blog do you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I don't know their names, the young couple who run O'Brien's coffee shop on the corner of Harcourt Road and Charlemont Street. I dashed in there one holiday lunch time because the Kebab shop I usually patronise was closed. The couple in the Cafe were about to close, but they stopped putting chairs up and made me a snack to take back to the hostel;hot cappuchino and the best sandwich I have eaten in a long time, hot bacon, sliced tomato and red onion in fresh wholemeal bread.
Their premises are so small it has more tables on the pavement outside than in, but everything is scrupulously clean. She makes the sandwiches,the fillings are on display in a glass cabinet. He makes the coffee and handles the cash. But the nicest thing about the whole set up is the way these two treat their customers. When I go in they remember me, the way I like coffee, and that I prefer wholewheat bread. My sandwich comes cut into little triangles, and there are some potato crisps on the plate too, plus a little square of dark chocolate in the saucer of the coffee cup. And there is a copy of the day's paper for customers to browse.
There are many good eating places in Dublin, O'Brien's is one and an unexpected pleasure.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


No photograph to-day. I logged on to Yahoo news and found tributes to Sir Paul Reeves, ex Anglican Bishop of Aotearoa, former Governor General who never seemed to play politics, or race. A decent man, and I have only a vague idea of what his political affiliations were.

Then I read that 'óne in four New Zealand children are living in poverty.' Well I wish someone would define poverty, because in my years of teaching I have seen children whose parents were short of cash, but the quality of their living was rich. I went to school with kids who had bare feet, and their fathers were out of work, but those father's grew vegetables and caught fish while their mothers knew how to sew and knit and make the most of what they had.

And I do not believe that throwing money at Barnado's will cure poverty. What will help is decent people being acknowledged, regardless of their income. Decent people make a decent society.

Friday, August 12, 2011


In the 1940'S a member of the Guinness family married and she was given eight square miles of Irish countryside as a wedding present, including a castle. two lakes, forests with foxes, badgers and other Irish wild life(Celtic Tigers excepted). My eldest son, Frank wonders if she was a stout bride. with a dowry like that would it matter?
Joe, our encyclopedia of Irish knowledge and bus driver-tour guide, told us that Guinness is no longer owned by the Guinness family. It was taken over by a French consortium. I don't know who owns the Guinness Estate, all eight square miles, but it was a fantastic spot to look at from the hill tops. Joe also kindly took pictures of us with our own cameras so we had a souvenir of the day, plus proof we had been there.
It was while staying on the Guinness Estate that Paul McCartney composed his song, "Yesterday" That to Joe's generation is ancient history,


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Yesterday I at last got my bus tour sorted and enjoyed a great day with a driver called Joe. He looked like Rod Stewart would have before he got so dissipated and he sang a great deal better, was a great story teller as well. WHEN I get my pictures down loaded I shall write more about Irish scenery that looks like Otago without the dairy cows, where Paul McCartney struck lucky with scrambled eggs, a young woman who runs marathons to raise money for cancer research and the village where Ballykissangel was filmed.

In the meantime I gave up trying to book a flight on the internet to get from Dublin to Bristol, The web page advertised flights from 5.99 euros. I tried to find out what the luggage allowance was and got locked into a mass of non information. So this morning I walked down Camden Street until I found a real live travel agent. Yes, he could book me a flight to Bristol, cost 138 euros. He showed me the print out, luggage, taxes, airport charges, probably donations for Ryan air's grandmother's birthday, and use of the on board toilet, swelled the cost from 15 euros to more than 100.

So I have been thinking, would it be possible to travel the world like I do without any luggage? I wouldn't mind trying it. I once spent a week in San Francisco with only my carry on bag. I could stow knickers and toiletries in a large handbag. On arrival at each destination I would visit the local op shop, kit myself out and leave it all behind when I leave. How;s that for a reality show? And it does make sence The shorts and T shirts I wore in Crete are just so mch dead weight now, and I had to find some warmer clothes in Dublin. I would rather like to challenge the airlines at their own game, fly round the world at minimum cost and still be well dressed.
Watch this space.


One of the nice things about being a lone traveller is that other people share their stories. On the bus tour to Wicklow we stopped at AVOCA the village where Ballykissangel was filmed. It all looks very familiar, especially Fitzgerald's hotel and the police station.
"Are you on your own?"asked an unmistakably English voice, "Come and eat with us."
Lisa Dawn and her mother are from Jersey. Her husband died last January and she now runs marathons to raise funds for cancer research. She ran the London Marathon, a half Marathon in Italy and has run to the top of Mount KIlimanjaro in Africa and down again. By running she has raised more than 15,000 pounds for Cancer research.
The service in Fitzgerald's is slow, it took us nearly an hour to even have our order taken, but the food was good. I had fresh vegetable soup with new baked soda bread. Lisa Dawn had Guinness stew and her mother lasagne. We all had a slice of rhubarb tart to finish and it was delicious.
We then visited the oldest woollen mill in Ireland for a guided tour. Guided as in footsteps painted on the floor and notices on the wall above the various machines.
Some men were weaving cloth on the hand machines and in the inevitable shop we saw examples of clothes made from the cloth. Beautiful but I have to watch my weight, luggage weight that is.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Who remembers Madge, (You're soaking in it)? who sold Palmolive liquid on TV a long time ago. I liked Madge because she didn't put on any airs, she just told viewers why Palmolive was a good product. She was not young, as T.V. celebrities go, but she had an honest sort of charm about her, Well I met Madge's Irish equivalent on Friday, Her name is Bernie, she would be about the age Madge was when she sold Palmolive. How did I meet her? A nice Irish voice telephoned me. Could he please come and take some photographs for the Irish Times Magazine article Sinead Gleeson was preparing. We agreed to meet at the Irish Writers'Centre at 3 oçlock, I have reached the age where make up is irrelevant, it doesn't hide the wrinkles, so I don't usually bother. But in a photo I would look like a beacon.
I called into a pharmacy near the Dublin Spire, seeking something to kill the shine. I wanted something I could brush on. Bernie saw me browsing and asked how she could help. I explained what I needed, and that it was for a one off photo shoot. My daughter-in-law, Jo is an Avon lady and every Christmas stocks me us with products from her range. Bernie understood immediately and tested my skin tones, then filled a small bag with sample sachets from her range.
Now, for anyone buying cosmetics in Europe I want to make a recommendation. VICHY COSMETICS are sold only in pharmacies, and they are good, as in soft on the skin, and sold by knowledgable people like Bernie.
The photoshoot went well, the photographer look a lot more pictures than I expected, and I shall see the result in next week end's magazine.


VOYONS MES AMIS! Here are the two honorary grand daughters who shared my dormitory last week, Anna Ise is the blonde with glasses and Rhiannon is the brunette. They were delightful company, as have been all the girls who spend a night or two at Citihostel before moving on, or returning home.

Yesterday I listened as a tall, dark, Spanish girl and a petite blond from the Czech Republic sorted out plans for visiting the Irish National Museum. They did this in English which is their common language.

I am beginning to feel like a Dubliner. Yesterday I walked down Harcourt Street to St Stephen's Green and a woman approached me. Could I direct her to Camden CCourt Hotel? It was a pleasure, straight along here to the next set of traffic lights, turn right, walk up Camden Street until you come to the Bleeding Horse. Camden Court is right next to that. It's about a five minute walk. I've done it! I have actually given someone directions for reaching somewhere! And just now I was able to direct the little Czech girl to Adelaide Road.

I just hope I can find the bus stop for my day trip to Wicklow to-morrow, Last Thursday I followed directions to the letter, finished up asking directions from the wrong 'bus company and missed my ride. They were very polite about it, so I hope I get to and from Wiclow without trouble. I shall see the pub where Ballykissangel was filmed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


THE IRISH WRITERS'CENTRE is a marvellous resource in Dublin. It is opposite the garden of remembrance in Parnell Square, next to the Irish Writers Museum. On the ground floor is the administration and a room where writers can sit, in really comfortable chairs, and drink the best coffee I have drunk since coming to Dublin, made by two leprechauns in disguise, Fergall and John. The bookshelves are lined with Irish Literature.
On the second floor is a meeting room where "A Twitter of Wit' a brilliant Pastiche from Irish comedies is performed several times a week by two actors.. Then on the top floor are the classrooms. I go there every Friday afternoon for 'INKSLINGERS' a creative writing group . I also climb those three flights on Tuesday evening when Conor Kostick teaches us about writing a novel. It's worth the climb every time.
The photograph was taken from the third floor window, and was of a very noisy, but disciplined anti abortion rally. We had to close the double glazed windows in order to hear Charlie Connolly deliver what we had paid to attend, a workshop on travel writing. Later, as I waited at the traffic lights for the procession to pass I thought back to the time when world news was aghast at the plight of 'X' fourteen years old, raped by her father's friend, stopped from going to England for a termination recommended by doctors and psychiatrists.
So last night I sat in the third floor room again. Each Tuesday five people in Conor's class read a thousand words they have previously distributed by e mail. Conor then asks questions, making us justify details of the plot, characterisation, use of metaphor. He is a tough teacher. One of the extracts last night told of a fourteen year old girl in a Catholic school whose teacher, a nun, tried to have her class discuss the question of 'X's' dilemma, It was brilliantly written,showing the teacher nun's embarrassment, the uncaring inattention of most of the class and the bigotry of a few.
Another writer's excerpt was the start of a mystery novel, and opened with a priest taking the last confession for the day. And to my surprise I discovered that most of the group were not practising catholics. They had only hazy notions of what went on during confession.
Interestinger and interestinger!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011


And I am not going to try and post any photographs, of course she is gorgeous, like her mother and father. However there is a multilingual wave of congratulations floating through the hostel since the e mail arrived.

Let me see, the receptionist is Spanish, as is one of the ladies who cleans like the proverbial white tornado. The this morning there was a couple in the corridor reading a play in Italian. A young man here in the dining room is calling someone in extremely fast French on his computer, Audrey, who is into alternative religion and has been sending positive prayers for your well being is Canadian.The girls who shared my dorm last night are German.

Occasionally I here Irish spoken,and Rosemary the other long term resident in my dorm has a beautiful Irish brogue. Now Stephanie Helen, with your mother's command of Swedish and all these good wishes washing over to you it seems inevitable that you too will become a world traveller, able to converse in any language. Which is just as it should be.
Much love to you
from your Grandmother Davies (Your other Grandmother is a great lady too.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


My camera has run our of battery so I regret no photo this time.
Last Sunday afternoon I went for a long walk around where I live, particularly to The Bleeding Horse tavern in Camden Street. It is mentioned at least twice in Ulysses and they have quotes set in concrete at each entrance. A board outside advertised what was available and at the end was a note:- Writers'Night To-night 8 p.m.' so I walked in to the bar and asked about it. The barman was a pleasant young man with red hair and designer bristle.
"The writers come to-night to read their work, Any one can come'" and he showed me the space, unchanged since 1904 when James Joyce wrote about it. And at the back the very benches where Joyce and later Brendan Behan had sat.
Ï'll be here,'I promised myself and dashed home to the hostel to change, slacks and T shirt did not seem appropriate for meeting the ghosts of Joyce and Behan.
Shortly before 8p.m.I walked through the bar to the 'Writers'space' A notice hung on the railing 'This Space Reserved @ 8p.m. I ordered a glass of wine and waited, and waited, and waited. On the wall near the bar was a notice BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS AND LOOSE WOMEN. I looked around the bar, full of little spaces, and stairways leading to balconies overlooking everything.The afternoon shift had gone, the bar staff flitted busily. I could not see my red headed friend anywhere. Finally qabout 8.25 I asked
a barman, probably Romanian, 'When will the writers night start?'
He looked bewildered, asked a rapid question of a more senior bartender.
Neither knew of a Writers'Night.
An Irishman came in and began setting up a sound system on the little dais which housed the benches Behan and Joyce had once sat on.
Writers'Night? He had never heard of a band called that.
So I came home and spent the rest of Sunday listening to an Australian motorbike fanatic from Perth and an Irishman called Brendon who rode a beautiful red Honda.
And I pass the Bleeding Horse every day when I walk into Camden Street, but I have not seen that red headed bar tender since.

Friday, July 22, 2011


There was I seated on the bottom bunk of dormitory 317 on Citi hostel. A knock at the door and in walked two beautiful young back packers from France. We introduced ourselves, one is Anna Yse and the other Rhiannon, quelle coincidence marveilleuse! Two of my grand daughters are Anna Lisa and Rhiannon. So while these two stored their luggage we discussed, without mentioning the mentioning the Rainbow Warrior, Rugby, and French movies, their favourite being Énsemble, cést tout, which is the film made from Anna Gavalda's marvellous novel, which we call 'Hunters and Gatherers. Personally I thing Ensemble cést Tout'a much better title.
They have headed out now to do whatever young people do on a Friday night, I have forgotten, it's so long ago, but they have promised to be quiet when they come in.


There was I seated on the bottom bunk of dormitory 317 on Citi hostel. A knock at the door and in walked two beautiful young back packers from France. We introduced ourselves, one is Anna Yse and the other Rhiannon, quelle coincidence marveilleuse! Two of my grand daughters are Anna Lisa and Rhiannon. So while these two stored their luggage we discussed, without mentioning the mentioning the Rainbow Warrior, Rugby, and French movies, their favourite being Énsemble, cést tout, which is the film made from Anna Gavalda's marvellous novel, which we call 'Hunters and Gatherers. Personally I thing Ensemble cést Tout'a much better title.
They have headed out now to do whatever young people do on a Friday night, I have forgotten, it's so long ago, but they have promised to be quiet when they come in.
Now that is why I prefer hostels when I am travelling. Such a meeting just would not happen at the Dublin Hilton.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


For some reason this piece posted itself on line before I had written more than the subject line. To-day was the sort of day I came north of the equator to avoid, cold and wet. Cars had their lights on all day, and we could hear tyres squishing on wet roads as they passed the hostel. And I shivered. I brought cotton blouses and Tshirts with me so about three oçlock in between showers I dared a break in the showers ans headed down Camden Street where there are four very good charity shops. By spending thirty euros I came home with a smart warm coat which I shall wear for years to come, two warm blouses and two pullovers, so I am no longer shivering.
In Talbot street near the 'Prick with the stick'statue of James Joys I found this pavement artist, An artist certainly, but at the end of each day he rolls up his canvases, returning the next day to stick them down again with duck tape. Ingenious.
There is a trombonist busker near him who plays Irish blues.
Dublin is indeed a vibrant city, but perhaps because it developed from a riverside settlement I don't think there is one uncurved street, and streets change their names every two or three blocks. They d0 have a sensible rule for pedestrian crossings. Painted on the road is 'Look left'even if the little man in the traffic light is showing red if nothing is coming pedestrians may cross. then from the centre another sign says ;'look right'and the same rule applies.
But I still would not like to drive here.