• photographs,  Thoughts

    favourite tea mugs

    Last week I wrote a blog post about my favourite coffee mugs, so today I present the exciting sequel: tea mugs, this time it’s herbal! Over a decade ago I was a black tea and coffee drinker. I’d alternate during the day, but my black tea habit was the stronger. In Ireland I often experienced the ‘neverending cup of tea syndrome’ when I visited friends’ houses. Tea cups were constantly refilled, usually accompanied by a biscuit or apple tart, and because there’s no harm in it (as we think), I’d often depart feeling jittery. I went on a health kick and knocked all caffeine on the head. I also gave…

  • food,  photographs,  Thoughts

    favourite coffee mugs

    I drink a lot of hot drinks throughout the day, coffee and herbal teas mostly. I have a wide variety of mugs I like to use, and a couple of strange rules have arisen. First, most of my mugs are strictly divided into coffee or tea mugs. There’s no cross-contamination between the two. There is only one exception, and that’s a set of matching pottery mugs that I put out ‘for company’, and they have to be flexible. Secondly, some mugs are mine and some are Martin’s. We share a couple of them. Technically I could banish these rules and make it a free-for-all. The world wouldn’t end if coffee…

  • photographs,  Thoughts

    monochrome

    Today is one of the days where I’m just not feeling it. I’m getting work done, but it has a going-through-the-motions kind of vibe. Still, work is work, and knocking chores off the ‘to do’ list is always a simple way to alleviate the gloom a little. I thought I’d look at some of the black and white photos I’ve taken. Any picture can be transformed into black and white these days, but I still don’t do it very often. Usually a particular picture seems like it would be more evocative in monochrome, so I try it out and see if it fits. This photo was the result of a…

  • Ireland

    brilliant

    It’s the end of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, a day of celebrations and parades all over the country. It’s turning into a fun holiday, far from the pitiful parades of yore, which involved tractors with ghetto-blasters strapped to their sides blaring out The Clancy Brothers, dingy floats advertising the local supermarket, shivering school bands wearing beige blazers and plaid skirts marching in grim formation and people wrapped up in raincoats and scarves waving plastic tricolours with scant enthusiasm. Later, after we’d breathed life back into our blue fingers, we’d watch the parades in New York, Paris and Sydney on telly and wish we had something that colourful and interesting…

  • Thoughts

    memories of Japan

    In the autumn of 2007 Martin and I travelled to Japan. It was a country both of us always wanted to visit, and it was a memorable trip. My favourite part was our short seclusion in the Buddhist village of Kôyasan, which is located high in the mountains south of Osaka. It was founded twelve centuries ago, and is the centre for the study and practice of Shingon Buddhism. It is difficult to describe the majesty of its surroundings or the serenity that permeates the area. If you wish to stay overnight you must take lodgings in one of its 120 beautiful monasteries. In 2004 UNESCO named the “Sacred Sites…

  • advocacy,  Fiction

    atwood interview

    There’s a very interesting interview from yesterday’s BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour with Margaret Atwood about her seminal text, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is twenty-five years in print this year. In the past Atwood has dismayed those of us who enjoy genre writing by trying to disassociate herself from science fiction, but thankfully when the issue of The Handmaid’s Tale being within a science fiction tradition was raised in the interview she didn’t argue against it – although she seemed more comfortable associating herself with the likes of Huxley and Orwell. I didn’t read the book when it first came out, but I was eighteen when it was lent to…

  • Cooking Knitting Sewing For Girls
    personal

    cook knit sew

    My mother recently gave me a small time capsule of items from when I was a kid, including this book Cooking, Knitting and Sewing For Girls. Oh, the memories! I went through a classic Irish convent education, which meant I was in an all-girl environment and taught by nuns and non-religious teachers. In primary school (that’s up until the age of 12) There was an emphasis placed on teaching us practical skills as well as the usual maths, reading, Irish, history etc. So, I was taught to embroider, sew, knit, crochet, and I also learned to play recorder and piano. My mother did a lot of cooking and baking when…

  • personal,  Poetry

    Huguenot memories

    Yesterday I posted images to my Flickr photo stream of my recent trip in Dublin. All of them were taken with the camera in my mobile phone (a Sony Xperia X10 mini – an Android smartphone). Looking through them I thought about my time living in Dublin, and the photographs I took using my first digital camera. Back then, I was using a Fuji FinePix 2.4 megapixel camera, which I referred to as Pixie. I could take images at several resolutions, but in those days (a mere 9 years ago) if you were posting photos on the web the image quality was not expected to be high, so I often…

  • Thoughts

    moana lisa

    The above image is part of a Halloween display in a local supermarket. I assume the portrait is called ‘Moana Lisa’, well it is in my imagination! What you can’t tell from this shot is that this aisle had its own sound effects: coffin doors creaking, chains clattering and screams. When I was on the other side of the section the eerie caterwauling seeped through the canned goods and was somewhat disquieting, which made me grin. It was better than the usual muzak. It should not come as a surprise that I like Halloween, or Samhain, as it’s known here. I have great memories of the holiday as a child,…

  • News,  Thoughts

    Soho Ghost finalist

    I can now mention that my photograph, entitled “Soho Ghost”, is a top ten finalist in the Cities of Night contest, being run by ChiZine Publications. The contest was created to celebrate the release of Philip Nutman’s short story collection Cities of Night, and the brief was to supply a subtle, creepy, evocative photo of a city at night. Since May 6 CZP began announcing the finalists, one per day, and my photo “Soho Ghost” went up last night. The overall winner will be announced on May 15, Cities of Night‘s official launch date. The winner receives: A free, signed, limited edition hardcover copy of Cities of Night Twenty-five postcards…