a girl free zone

What with the ME, small children, and Spurs Fan working all the hours, we’re not in the way of going out much. But the children aren’t small any more- they’re well able to go abroad to show off their Irish dancing with their dance school, and be briefly featured on Polish TV.

Spurs Fan, Jake, and I were home alone for 10 days, during school summer holidays. There was painting and furniture assembling, sitting reading on beaches, and generally enjoying time in Donegal.

We came back to join Awesome Academic in celebrating her marriage. Ditsy led us astray with directions, but the regular reader expects no less.

Spurs Fan is a primary school teacher. He is fortunate that parents and some colleagues like to acknowledge his work with small gifts at Christmas or the end of the school year. I am fortunate that I get to share some of these gifts (chocolates, wine, book tokens). From time to time a number of tokens gather up and much fun can be had. We spent one Saturday afternoon in the fancy hotel in town, having afternoon tea.

Any amount of hot drinks, sandwiches and sweet things, with silver acoutrements and musical accompaniment. Seriously civilised. Doggie boxes were available. Thanks to all those who donated to the vouchers- it was a fabulous experience.

We spent some time at a Hockney exhibition I draw, I do, enjoying skill, challenge and humour.

And, and, there’s more… we went to another concert in a church. Nick Lowe of the wonderful voice and incredible songwriting talent. He was fabulous. We even had free tickets, thanks to Claire’s prizewinning ways.

I was entertained by the fact that the location of the event had to be changed at the last minute so that this song, and others, wouldn’t be drowned out by traditional NI marching bands. Peace, love and understanding are still often wanting in these parts.

Girls are home from all the gallivanting. The summer holidays are drawing to an end. My brain is working itself clear of fug and mush. I always need more sleep, but I’m getting ready.

I might even return to blogging…


I was 15 when John Lennon died. I remember the shock, sitting on the bed with my oldies, listening to the morning news with disbelief. No, surely that’s not possible? Dead? That doesn’t make sense.

This morning, Spurs Fan woke me with the news that David Bowie has left us, and I felt just like I had 35 years ago.

I wasn’t a Bowie fan when I was 15- that came later. I met JWN at university and we combined our record collections; my Beatles, Springsteen and Ultravox to her Bowie and Velvet Underground. I learned a lot, and loved it all.

Bowie was there, always, it seemed. Where there was creativity, theatricality and fun, there was a hint of Bowie.

Of course, Bowie’s influence is beyond music- Caitlin Moran calls it…


But where to start today? I’ve spent hours with 6Music listening to much wonderful music by Bowie, influenced by Bowie, and which influenced him. I’m hearing old interviews, and bereft broadcasters and listeners sharing tales of humour and kindness. A man who did things his own way, and enabled others to do the same.

Thanks, Bowie. The stars will look very different today.








I love those moments of discovery

You know the moments I mean. Happening across something that makes you stop in your tracks. Something which puts a new spin on the familiar, which challenges you to see the world differently.

Moments that make you sit up straight, put down the book, and then wiggle in a old person dance style.

Bloggy buddies, met my new enthusiasm, Rhiannon Giddens.


Christy Moore is more likely to make me cry than dance. There’s room for both


Thanks to tv coverage of the Cambridge Folk Festival


in which everybody wins

We were in England recently, staying with Nana & Grandad. As well as the magic of Harry Potter, we did a lot of family stuff, just spending time together. Sitting out in the garden (an impossibility in Belfast due to the on-going November weather), leisurely lunches, catching up.

Spurs Fan took the girls and Grandad on a tour of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, which was, apparently, wonderful stuff. He’s a proper responsible grown up, but an excitable wee boy when it comes to football and his team. Second only to THFC in his affections are musician Paul Weller, and specifically the music of The Jam.


Imagine his excitement to see that there was an exhibition, The Jam: About the Young Idea– film, posters, memorabilia- during the time we were near London.  And so, one Monday morning, he joined scores of middle aged men at Somerset House, reliving their youth. I found the coffee shop, wifi and free exhibitions, but don’t doubt I might have enjoyed it too.

Happily, Somerset House is handy for one of the bits of London that I like to spend time in, the South Bank. Westminster in one Direction, Tower Bridge in the other. London landmarks everywhere. Lots going on. Moseying, lunch, watching the boats & the people, exploring small shops and the giant Tate Modern, spotting wild birds. Pottering across the footbridge to St Pauls. In the middle of things, without pressing crowds, enjoying the river- its history, crime novels, and modern busyness.

A day of nothing in particular, but full of difference and discovery. A great holiday day.