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Look up

Actually stuck with the plan and have been “running” nearly every morning. Barring market days – which are a very credible excuse – I have been out every day. I walk/run to “the tree”, a tree about one mile away which has forever been the minimum measure of any outdoor activity in this family. “I’ve been “to the tree” covers anything involving movement. So “the tree” is the aim as I persevere to try and turn the walk into a run with today possibly the first day where the run element was longer than the walk and ‘meet neighbours on the road and gossip’ element. Anyhow, we’re on track to survive moving for 10km and new runners have added a huge element of bounce that I thought was gone forever.

Also, the famous van has been bought and has arrived. Actually it has not really been bought, it has been signed for and will be mine in about 5 years time all going well. It is brilliant and thanks for your advice, the five seater van it is and the most useful car I ever had it is also going to be.

After the bread round took the new van to Limerick on Monday to take some measurements for a kitchen that will require a trip to IKEA over Easter. Driving on the motorway takes on a new dimension in a new car. No more listening to the engine making funny noises or the left front wheel rattling or wondering if the boot unlocked itself again. Basically, you have more time and leisure to look around and people/car watch which is a great hobby of mine. I love to watch and guess who does what why and who with and I would love to be able to write stories. I am a great fan of the late and amazing Maeve Binchy who did just that with amazing skill. So anyway, traveling on the M7, there was car stopped on the hard shoulder going the other way and a couple in a big white wedding dress and tux where there with their photographer posing for wedding pics. Now, apart from it being illegal, why would you do that? Boring stretch of road, no county boundary – or was it the boundary between Offally and Limerick? Was he the AA man and they met here when she had a break down? Did they crash their cars here and are now married? Did she have a break down and he stopped to help or did he have a flat and she stopped to change the tyre – and two years later to the day , they come back on their wedding day? See, the story is there to be written, I am just not good enough to pick it up. So frustrating and so annoying that I don’t actually have the nerve to stop and ask. Maeve Binchy apparently once fell off her chair in a coffee shop because she was leaning into the conversation at the next table. I have not quite done that yet but I would love to know the background to these many snapshots of other people’s lives that we see around us every day.  “Look up” is the name of a video widely shown on Facebook to illustrate what you miss when you permanently look into your own playdevice. It’s a great video, look it up and look around you and please , if anyone should know that couple on the M7 heading Dublin way last Monday, why the picture on the hard shoulder????? Maybe her parents house stood there before the motorway got built….. maybe they met there 10 years ago demonstrating against the new motorway…… please does anyone know??

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Easter in Limerck

Sitting in Jack Monday’s coffee house at Thomond bridge in Limerick. After a great weekend in a building site in Limerick and in the Burren in Clare, it’s time for some paperwork – Bank holiday or not. The rest of the family is still asleep in the building site or walking the river so I left cornflakes and orange juice amongst the mattresses and left to be civilized on my own…..

Just to give you the running update, I “ran” the three bridges in Limerick yesterday and today and even though I still walked large parts, I ran more than half and when I ran I actually moved forward rather than backwards and am profoundly grateful to have done the miserable “first time running in two years” wobbles in the privacy of my own back roads rather than on the ever so sophisticated river walk in Limerick city. 

Much as I love living in the countryside with the amazing fields of rapeseed all around us, I do love the city as well. The building site is right in the city centre, across from John’s castle and is suffering the first wave of gentrification which is lovely to see. After a long day in IKEA thinking kitchen worktops and presses, we arrived on Saturday evening with a trailer full of goodies, unloaded, spread the mattresses and admired the building works in progress. Unpacking the amazing Caesar salad from Glasrai and Goodies in Gowran ( the good traveler comes prepared!!), we sat down for dinner – the good traveler also brought some Costellos from home and planned the weekend. In the city, you don’t even have to figure out when mass is on Easter night, you just leave the house when the bells are ringing. So come quarter to nine, we were literally called out and joined St Munchins parish for Easter night and as luck would have it, joined one of the best Easter night ceremonies I have ever been at. A lovely choir, an honest and meaningful ceremony that adapted the old and infused with new. Admittingly I was probably not fully awake after the old testament readings in the dark but when the Gloria was sung, when the lights sprang on and the bells rang, I jumped to attention and did believe that he truly is risen and that we might still have a chance in this church, which I stubbornly refuse to give up on.

Easter Sunday saw us in the Burren, which was home for 5 wonderful years. Once a year at least I have to see Mullaghmore and walk the Cregg road at the foot of the mountain. Once a year we try and get everyone together in this place. It is a place where I come for the big decisions in my life or if I need peace I cannot find anywhere else. If landscape holds magic as the late John O Donohue so often said, it holds it there and seeing the children that used to play there when they were children, when I had to help them over the walls and butter their breads for the picnic – seeing them nearly 15 years later still falling into the water, still messing, still pushing each other, still not happy until everyone is wet has a certain bit of magic as well – especially when they turn around to me to say “careful Mama”, as time slowly turns the tables and I sincerely hope I have another 15 years until they actually have to help me over that wall.

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Cars, cars, cars……..

After the bread round, I came out of the bake house, having done the evening prep to three boys in an open shed surrounded by cars and car parts, one shouting across the yard to the other” you can’t race, you can’t afford fire proof underwear”. Really?

It’s good to know he can’t race – because he’s only 14 –  but weird all the same that all three are car fanatics, driving up and down our lane for years until such time as they can get their liscence to drive the road. The oldest, finally heading for the dream and studying motorsports technology in Oxford, is just planning to buy a rally cross car. Apparently this is the best way to get the finance for Oxford together and give him the much needed experience to built an engine. Other people, I say, just work and put the money in the credit union. Not so, in this house as I  keep my fingers crossed that some other fanatic will actually buy that car off him when he is finished. For the purpose of building this rally cross car, the ancient mini ( that the other chap bought 2 years ago) is pulled out of the shed and put under tarpaulin outside. That too, by the way, was “an investment” and was going to be sold off at a profit when done up and driving. It has been done up to a point but is still far from driving and everyone is ignoring the fact that you cannot insure a classic until you’re 25 ( a long way off for all of them!)

In the process of convincing me that I wanted another dead car in the yard, the promise was that “we’ll dismantle the helmet and the mini can have that space”. A helmet in any other house, is a thing you put on your head – preferably when you are cycling. In this house it is a soap box – in the shape of a helmet – that was built last summer and pushed down St Patrick’s hill in Cork when the boys, together with some equally mad friends joined the Red Bull Soap box race. The Headcases was their team name and headcases they are. Needless to say, the helmet remains undismantled as the mini joined it in the yard and the only open roofed space that we have – which, while the kids were small and reasonable, housed my outdoor washing line – is now being got ready for the new member of this car family – with the 14 year old saving for fire proof underwear……

While the jury is still out whether being such a push over is good parenting, I head off for my run to the tree. Made it all the way there and back in reasonably fast pace and thinking I might be able to at least run half those 10km in June. While running, I think and make plans ( I cannot abide loud music on my ears) and dream again of the next plan of having a mobile van on the road, a beautiful old bread van, branded as “Speltbakers on the go” and serving all the villages and countryside long left without a bakery. The sun is shining and the plan is good. The boys always say they can design or refurbish something for me. The Mini-man, who is studying for the leaving, is even talking about joining the business for his gap year but really – a betting woman would put money on that Logo going around on a rally car with some son in fire proof underwear or there was a plan of a “Speltbakers mini pizza”. You figure that one out and watch this space.