discovering writing, pictures and other bloggy goodness

Jake and I are back to normal. It’s almost a school day. It’s wet outside. The others are away exploring Spurs Fan’s new classroom, wondering where he’s going to put all the boxes, and the children.

I’ve been a while playing on the laptop, with that smelly, snorey bundle at my feet. It’s how we spend many of our days.

My mind is still in holiday mode. It’s not ready to read worthy articles about rare disease, charities, event organising or patient engagement. It’s certainly not ready to actually do any of those things.

But I did have a task for today, and I’ve done it. Get me.

I have had a good old nosey round the blogs on the longlist for the personal blog category in the 2014 Blog Awards Ireland.



There are 30 odd categories in the awards- I’ll never read all the nominated blogs and I’d have no opinion on the content of Irish language blogs, the tech blogs, business or political blogs. I’ve been a judge in the past and found it challenging to judge the politics ones- just how much were my personal political opinions influencing my opinions on whether a blog was engaging?

The personal category is a bit of a catch all, but this year the organisers have stated that blogs which are mostly craft/ photography and the like should be judged in those categories; a bug bear of mine in previous years had been that the personal category was won by beautiful food or knitting blogs.

There are many beautiful personal blogs- and not just from the creative young people- and for the first time I’ve chosen to follow a number of the bloggers on Pinterest rather than follow the blog directly. I’ve got another half dozen coming to my reader, and one or two by email. So many ways to keep updated with interesting writing.

Naturally, some of the blogs don’t appeal to me, but many do. if you’re looking for some new reading material, check out all the nominations– you never know what new bloggy buddies you may meet.


everything I know about the internet I learned from

Long ago, in a world far away, I had a job. Not a career, but a job that got me out and about, meeting people and trying to make a difference. I felt useful, it paid the bills and I liked my colleagues. The time came when I couldn’t get out of bed. I missed being useful, but, more than that, I missed social interaction. Sleeping on the sofa during daytime TV for months is very isolating…

One day, I searched for something on the internet and it led me to a whole new world. I discovered, known for years round here as the ‘pink blog’. You’d think I’d avoid something too pink, but this was different. It was funny, and real, and happened to be about make up, style and how to make those work outside of glossy magazines.

I learned about brands and primer and mascara. I read hilarious reports of waxing of delicate areas or colonic irrigation, and decided never to try either of those. I won a make up bag and a packet of biscuits.  I learned that young women play tag rugby. I realised that the social aspect of the site, the Blather, had become my ‘watercooler’ life. When Kileen and I got together, we’d chat about the people on the Blather as if we knew them. Internet people became real characters that we cared about. There were blather bust ups and trolls were dealt with promptly. It was  generally a warm and fuzzy place, with common sense prevailing. Somewhere along the way I found out that some commenters had their own sites, and I started to read their ‘blogs’.


Over the years, became more than a virtual meeting place for people with a sense of humour, with an interest in looking good in the real world. It became a brand itself, with books and events. The writers branched into the national press. Hundreds of beauty blogs were set up in its wake.

Sometimes I felt too old for the blather, too far from the Dublin hub. I was really more of the ‘Mammy’ category, but why would that be a problem when Marian Keyes was writing articles?

Life took over and I moved away from the blather. I was lured away by the variety and challenge of twitter and the range of blogs I’d found.

Last weekend shut down. I was horrified, despite not having read it for months. Why was I so bothered? Because I cared about the people. Did they choose & plan to move on, or did something happen? Kileen and I exchanged theories. We weren’t happy. What about the young people? Were they going to be left with daft body images to aspire to? Who was going to let them know that feminism is important?

It turns out that fairy tales happen, even in the mysterious ether of the internet. Beautie is back. The real people made real connections and the soul of Irish beauty has been restored.

The internet is about people, it’s about communication, and personality is key. taught me how to communicate, as myself, about what interests me. It doesn’t matter what the content is, how big the audience is- it’s ok to just be me.

Bloggy buddies, you’re stuck with me. Blame Kirstie and Aisling.

what just happened? life.

Only last week, but how the world has changed. Only last Wednesday I spent some lovely hours with bloggy buddies Yvonne and Lesley. Yvonne was home from Arizona with her daughter, and took time out from family fun days to spend with two local women she’d never met. Three of us gathered round a table, strangers but not strangers, a model of the connecting power of blogging. Friends, who happened to be meeting in person for the first time.

Yvonne, Lesley, me
Yvonne, Lesley, me

Days later, Yvonne was widowed. Ken drifted off gently in his sleep. Well and good, a lovely way to go. Not so much for those left behind. Those still thousands of miles from the Arizona heat. Thousands of miles, and an eternity away from him.

Yvonne has written a remarkable post. You should read it. Hug your loved ones when you can. Send positive, supportive vibes out into the world.

Let’s appreciate our boring lives.

just deal with it

One of my favourite children’s books is I’m not cute, by Jonathan Allen. A teeny baby owl insists that he’s a big fierce hunting machine, despite the cooing and gushing from all he encounters. Look, I’ve got long claws and big eyes and huge wings. I’m not cute.

It’s interesting how we perceive ourselves. Over the past few months, two different people have referred to my blog as ‘sweet’ and, while I smiled and thanked them and chatted about blogging in general, inside I’ve turned into Baby Owl.


That’s probably better than ‘boring’, but still, sweet?

I don’t want me this to be sickly, naive, unchallenging. I can probably cope with gentle, uncomplicated, but where’s the edge? I’ve been told I have a sunny disposition. I met a former senior manager of mine a few weeks ago who told me he always remembered my positive outlook. Is it possible that I am Pollyanna? Might that not be a little dull?

I tried to consider what the blog might be, since I wasn’t content with sweet.

Oh, I’m grumpy and exhausted and I complain a lot about the government, welfare cuts, ME, services for people with rare diseases. Ha! That’s not sweet.

Um, no, but I don’t really want this to be the ravings of a cantankerous old loon either. Also, my complaining  usually consists of linking you to articles, blogs and people who can string an argument together, since I’m either too outraged or too tired to do it myself.

Alright then, what have I been writing about that has led people to think this is a world of sweetness?

Family, beaches, holidays, dogs, adventures, nights out, volunteering, caravan… Hmmm.


It seems I’m living through a, temporary I’m sure, untraumatic phase in my world. That’s a wonderful thing to recognise. Right here, right now, even if only for today, all is well.

Life might even be sweet.