Grey Hair, Do Care

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So I’m 29 and the grey hairs are definitely coming in thick and fast at this point. What do we think about grey hair in women? It seems overlooked in current feminism trends. Yes, men have the luxury of being silver foxes, at any age. What about the ladies? Silver vixen sound pretty sexy. I have had a lot of time to think recently, I’m not sure I have been thinking about the right things, and I have neglected my appearance a little bit. I have been dyeing my hair, as close to natural colour as possible, for the last 3 or 4 years.(I just looked it up on instagram, since January 2015)  There doesn’t seem to be any real rush to do it at the moment, so I keep parting my hair in strange ways in the mirror to find all the white strands. Wisdom highlights, someone said on the internet. It’s fascinating in its own way. Mines are mostly underneath, below my temples and above my ears. Because I have dark hair I’m aware of them being more noticeable too. People are clearly lying when they say they can’t see them?

Anyway, I would say I am relatively low maintenance. I never bothered learning to contour and my hair skills are virtually non-existent. So it’s maybe not a major deal but I feel like grey hair in women especially is seen as unprofessional or lazy. Roots growing out are sometimes sneered at . For some reason, this line from Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal came to mind, “I caught a glimpse of her armpits which were…speckled with black stubble. I do hate it when women don’t keep their personal grooming up to scratch. Better the full bushy Frenchwoman’s growth than that squalid sprinkling of iron filings.” Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I mean either go grey completely or keep dyeing religiously. Is being in between somewhere sloppy and unprofessional? If I have job interviews is it important to not have stray greys?

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This is the dye that I use, mixed with the peroxide as recommended by Chelsea from my old work who was a hairdresser 🙂

I am a huge worrier, as everyone knows. I wonder how true it is that stress causes grey hair! Also I am 29. That feels OLD to me sometimes. Old people have grey hair. Argh.

When I think of the women I know who do rock the grey look, I am inspired. There’s a primary school teacher my brother had at least 20 years ago, and she always speaks to me, she is the most gentle person, always stylish, and her softly curling many toned grey hair is sometimes braided or pinned up and it’s just beautiful. (Shout out to Mrs Carlin!) When younger women have gone grey, they sometimes have that angelic lilac tint and its super cool. But maybe they bleach first so maybe it’s not authentic. Also I really don’t think my entire hair is grey at this point! And really it’s the transition stage that is difficult. I’m sure one of these days however I will lose patience and grab the dye and ruin another t-shirt.

Anyway, this is a little stream of consciousness, it would be nice to hear your thoughts. Any compliacted opinions on the greying of women’s hair?

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29 Things I Have Learned

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Hello, in honour of turning 29 today (what!) I came up with 29 things that I have learned so far, which may be of use to you. I’m hoping for a low-key celebration involving family, Gap coffee co, friend catch ups and hopefully cake.

  1. Worry is pointless. Though that barely stops me. Worry unsettles your mind and really takes over. Stop worrying! Easier said than done and I struggle with this every day.
  2. In times of hard stuff, self care is important! I know it’s a buzz word at the moment. But I love when people say ‘Be gentle with yourself’ You really should. I like lattes and cake in pretty cafes, getting lost in a book, spending time with life giving people and the occasional massage.
  3. TRUST YOUR GUT. It can be hard to do, but deep down you know. Please listen.
  4. A loving family is priceless. When everything has gone terribly wrong, they are there for me. So many people don’t have that and I’m grateful.
  5. Hard and horrible life events can be overcome. Things are changing daily. Stuff is happening behind the scenes. Trust, take another step.
  6. Josh Ritter is the best songwriter in the whole world.
  7. You don’t have to be nice to men on public transport or customers in work who are being inappropriate/ in your personal space or making you feel uncomfortable.
  8. Kindness is so, so important. And you will get it back if you give it away.
  9. Reading is a magical gift. Words can soothe, distract, educate, amaze.
  10. Social media is exciting, addictive and fascinating. It can be a major curse too. A necessary evil. Be careful.
  11. It’s ok not to know what you want to do with your life. I feel upset and confused about this all the time. But enjoy the journey and keep moving forward. If you can’t see where to go next, bloom where you are planted.
  12. Grannies are so very special. My Granny Mc was my biggest fan. My Granny Breslin had the most amazing story and raised a big, beautiful family. I lost them both in 2017. But I feel them with me, and love doesn’t go away.
  13. Being a bridesmaid is a beautiful honour.
  14. If you don’t ask for and demand respect in a relationship, you won’t always get it.
  15. RuPaul’s Drag Race is the only and best trash TV that I watch (on Netflix). The transformation of men into beautiful drag queens is amazing. And it’s so quotable. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Truth, queen.
  16. The days are long but the years are short.
  17. Big families are cool. I always say it’s only good at Christmas, but I think as a support system even for future it’s a definite comfort.
  18. The truth is the truth, even if everyone else believes a lie.
  19. We are all addicted to our phones. It’s so bad for human connection. And won’t end well.
  20. Giving your time to someone is one of the most powerful and special gifts you can give. Children and romantic partners will especially appreciate it.
  21. Walking away from busy roads, preferably in nature is a zillion times better than walking along a main road, when ‘out for a walk.’ Walking is great for getting out of your head a bit.
  22. I know I will probably go on about it forever, but a personal, old fashioned letter in the post is both beautiful to receive and joyful to post.
  23. “Was she crazy? Or did he make her crazy?” Oh I hated when my friend said this, in response to how a boy I cared about described his ex. She is so right though. I have definitely acted so crazy, but only in response to upsetting and disrespectful behaviour pushing me over the edge.
  24. Going out for breakfast is such a lovely way to cheer yourself up and ease into the day. Underrated.
  25. If a door is completely shut in your face, no matter how disappointed or upset you may be, trust that God will open another.
  26. Life is a balance of holding on and letting go – Rumi
  27. If you don’t go out of your comfort zone, it gets smaller and smaller. If you step outside every day, eventually it stretches until you’re doing things you never thought possible. (I have this is theory but not often practice)
  28. I should always try to write more. I have taken to writing down thoughts and feelings, but I’d love to finally start writing something properly.
  29. I have arrived at this age, 29, feeling rather defeated. It’s been rough the last month especially. Truly don’t know where or what I would be without people who love, support and don’t judge me too harshly. I have almost descended into cliches and quotations here, but I’m taking one day at a time, trying to see the next step. I’m home again, in every sense of the word. This birthday seems scary and very serious but I’m also grateful for a new start. A fresh year, what could be nicer?

Thank you for the birthday visit! I can scarcely believe I am 29. Comparison is the thief of joy so I’m not comparing myself to any other person, at least for today. I’m healthy and I’m loved. I hope you have a beautiful day, maybe we can celebrate soon. Much love x

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A Memoir of Chaos and Grace

From the moment Laura Jane Williams mentioned her friend Meg Fee’s book on Instagram, I knew that this book would be a comfort to me. It just came along at the right time.

Places I Stopped on the Way Home: A Memoir of Chaos and Grace – Meg Fee

In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots her life in New York City- from falling in love at the Lincoln Centre to escaping the roommate (and bedbugs) from hell on Thompson Street, chasing false promises on 66th Street and the wrong men everywhere to finding true friendships over glasses of wine in Harlem and Greenwich Village.

Weaving together her joys and sorrows, expectations and uncertainties, aspirations and realities, the result is an exhilarating collection of essays about love and friendship, failure and suffering, and above all hope. Join Meg on her heart-wrenching journey, as she cuts the difficult path to finding herself and finding home.

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From megfee.com a watercolour by E. Rhondeau Morgan

Ok, this makes it sound really cheesy. But as I try to make my own way in the world, I am loving this wave of wise young women sharing the lessons they have learned. Made more exciting by the way we think we ‘know’ them from their social media and blogging presence. Also: I don’t know if it’s solely because of Royal Wedding fever but I think there is something of Meghan Markle about the beautiful Meg Fee? No?

Meg lived in New York for 13 years, since she was 18. She met a lot of ‘maybe’ men, she battled an eating disorder, she hated jobs, she lost a friend in that painful way we all seem to have suffered. But she makes every warm cupped latte and cold bitter wind sound beautiful.

Laura Jane Williams, a feminist whirlwind I love to follow on Instagram @superlativelylj was email friends with Meg Fee for several years before they finally met in Paris. They shared the most intimate things across the Atlantic Ocean. I love that. And it gives reminds me of Time to Talk Beauty and I! (Irish Sea… met in Belfast, still!)

“This is a missive to and from the muddled middle.”

Each chapter is a place in New York, the West Village, The A Train, West 10th Street. She plots disappointments and her own mistakes, she doesn’t dwell on work, because it’s not important. I love how she writes. There’s one chapter, ‘On Home’ and she writes ‘And when I call you in hysterics, when I collapse into you undone by something you think small and ridiculous, just the moment before your impulse to fix everything kicks in, give me three words: I hear you.’

Reading between the lines, I don’t think she’s met the man of her dreams just yet, but she’s ok with that. She’s often overwhelmed by how much there is to look forward to. Most of the women I have read, shared, sent the link around to friends recently, the ones writing most truthfully and relatably about love are alone.

Maybe the danger is Meg’s chaos and grace are not as chaotic and a lot more graceful than mine. Briefly I worry that my misadventures and wasted time and indecision are a lot more damaging than hers. But this is not the point.

It’s a book you want to underline and memorise passages from, and I just love that so many women are sharing their favourite lines online. I was crying by the end. There’s a lot of wisdom here. I was annoyed LJW picked out a line in the foreword, ‘I am every man who has hurt me, and the quiet hope that we’ve only got to get it right once.’ Because what a cracker of a line, and I was waiting for it throughout the whole book.

‘The year leading up to my 30th birthday was astonishing. Mostly in it’s ability to wound. It was a year of so many What Ifs and blind curves on unlit roads. A year in which, just as soon as I thought I knew where the story was going, the ground would shift beneath my feet.’

I think anyone who is struggling with their twenties will get something from this book. I have read it twice already. Hold fast to hope, as Meg would say.

Miss G is 40

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Today is a very special day. One of my most loved friends is 40! I am thinking of her all day, we are separated by some distance Derry- Edinburgh and I’d give anything to be giving her a big birthday squeeze and maybe clink a couple of cocktails. I tried to think of something a little bit special for her, so I came up with ’40 friendship things’ about her and me to celebrate the occasion. We have a special link to WordPress. We have been talking for maybe 6 years? And met for the first time IRL in 2013. Anyway. I know she is sometimes quite shy on social media so I hope this is cool, but she is someone so special to me, and my little way of marking the day. So, Happy Birthday my beautiful, loyal and generous friend. I love you very much. Please celebrate your 40 wonderful years with your whole heart, until we meet again!

40 friendship things

(A friendship that started on wordpress)

  1. Discovery through our blogs, she has a kick ass, impressively regularly updated beauty blog, that she can choose to link you below if she wants to! Inspiring, helpful and impressive stuff. Blog hero. I think she was the first to start leaving comments for me, from her blog to mine, maybe searching NI !
  2. Which leads me to… Love for NI, Belfast, and maybe someday Derry! We have had so many wonderful times here due to this, including at least 3 outings to Belsonic, a brilliant bus tour of the Causeway Coast, (I had never been through the Glens of Antrim) days and nights in Belfast, so much fun and discussion.
  3. Cocktail appreciation, homemade mojitos in East Lothian, and fancy expensive ones in the Europa hotel, where we felt scraggly and under dressed but happy, not to mention creating wonderful cocktails behind the bar at a beautiful bar in Manchester with her lovely hens.
  4. Snail mail, including postcards from places we have visited without each other, and lots of long letters when we were getting to know each other. She even asked me an important question by post which was a beautiful surprise!
  5. In -jokes and laughter by the bucket load.
  6. Breakfast discussions over coffee and sugary cereal. Mostly when her and her now-hubby are generously hosting me in lovely Scotland. But sometimes over hotel breakfast or that amazing apartment in Belfast. And oh how we miss each other in the first days back to reality, after.
  7. Music and lyric appreciation. The first dance at her wedding by the National was a killer ! “you know I dreamed about you/for 29 years before I saw you/ You know I dreamed about you/I missed you for 29 years.” – (Slow Show) I also in turn torture her re: Josh Ritter who she has seen live too! Coincidentally.
  8. ‘Getting married’ in Camera Obscura in Edinburgh, long before her husband popped the question. We got little rings and everything!
  9. Crying at the Europa Bus stop/ Edinburgh Airport when we are parted.
  10. Her loving appreciation of her beautiful home city of Edinburgh. It easily rubs off to captivated visitors.
  11. She;s my so called ‘Catfish friend’ – because we communicated through twitter and wordpress only for so long, I was vaguely nervous about meeting in person in Belfast in 2013. My mum was convinced she was a ‘big man’ and my brother was on standby (Sorry!!!)
  12. For some reason we had many an important life discussion in Pizza Express in Belfast. Boyfriends were voted out indirectly and wants and needs came into focus.
  13. A natural beauty with the best figure, this girl has a dressed down, relaxed style generally that actually makes me feel so much more comfortable being around her and allows us both to focus on the priorities!
  14. Book club jealousy. Sometimes they have cocktails at her group! No fair!
  15. Hair tips. Volumise! And have you tried conditioner washing?
  16. Whatsapp, email, text message, blog comments, retweets… invaluable digital support!
  17. Really similar world views! But still plenty to dissect and chat about.
  18. Open top tour love, and many lovely and hilarious bus experiences due to this.
  19. Belsonic freezing happiness! Suade, Stereophonics, Foy Vance.
  20. Late night drive-thru Krispy Kreme runs! That is all.
  21. A most loyal friend. Hard to find.
  22. We both went the journalism route at one stage, we both blog and we both want to write. I’d say we both have a flair! Her most definitely. Scribbling sisters.
  23. Luca’s ice cream sundaes. Belly bursting but in the idyllic town of Musselburgh and sometimes bittersweet a few hours before I went to the airport.
  24. We both have the most special Grandmothers in heaven whom we continue to love always, and who had a positive and meaningful impacts on our lives.
  25. Over thinking twins We understand each other as we are each as bad.
  26. Coffee appreciation.
  27. The patience and encouragement I feel from Edinburgh. Even when I feel my life is stagnant or I might be doing something crazy, she is calm and understanding. I only hope I even partly return the favour.
  28. Road trips, including in the party bus, Claudia and Bertha. Are the names right?
  29. Hotel Adventures. Ten Square, Belfast gets a special mention. Beautiful setting for our chats and food!
  30. Constantly inspired by her packed schedule of gigs and plays and events.
  31. Book gifting, swapping recommendations, reading the other’s review and chatting about words, it’s always a pleasure and I trust her judgement.
  32. Introvert issues. We usually have a story to tell or a quirk that’s wordlessly accepted!
  33. That hen do. A special little happy weekend of new friends, old friends, relaxing and escaping, city life, drinking and eating and shopping and pretending it’s #notahendo to the Airbnb man in Manchester.
  34. The German language. She speaks it brilliantly and her mother was a teacher, I want to get to that place and beyond!
  35. Overcoming our fears. We both recognise that we must, and we encourage the other ! We can do it.
  36. She is the most loving cat Mum of Mirren who is a beautiful girl I like to visit.
  37. Social media queen. Always handy with a hashtag and good photographic evidence of the event! I’m definitely partial to social media myself, heck we met here! But she does it so much better.
  38. Moments that we are forever bonded by : Fire friends?! And our car being attacked by zombies at a Drive-In cinema.
  39. The age she got married at. What a beautiful wedding, inspiring bride, gorgeous speech, breathtaking venue…Krispy Kreme donut cake, view of Edinburgh castle, walking to the chapel, being led by a big Piper, and best of all standing beside her as a bridesmaid, I couldn’t have been prouder! And so grateful for the beautiful honour that it was.
  40. So, on your 40th birthday my dear friend, I am so sad not to be there and I do hope you understand, but more than that I am so happy our digital and then real paths crossed, that we trusted our friendship senses and set out on this slightly long distance adventure. When we see each other the words tumble and the tears of laughter roll, we take life by the horns and we don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I love it! And I truly do appreciate all your constant generosity and surprises, your support and your checking in with me through all my real trials and my over thought dilemmas. It’s truly my honour to know you, be inspired by, celebrate and cry with you and look forward to the future of our friendship.

Celebrate you as hard as you can! I hope we can have a cocktail soon. So much love rushing to you in Edinburgh, and hopefully a little box in the post too ❤

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How to Be Champion

I love Sarah Millican. Yes she’s a ‘dirty bitch’ as my Mum says (she loves it!) But she’s also so real, wise, FUNNY and is outspoken about the world’s beauty standards/ sexism. She maybe doesn’t match up to what is deemed beautiful or fashionable by the Instagram generation but she has learned not to give a crap (except literal IBS craps that she describes in detail!) and she encourages all of us to do the same.

My International friend (ha) Caoimhe and me saw her live stand up, two years ago? In our hometown and we loved it! Her honesty about her marriage breaking down, her dividing us into flowers or pets, her ACCENT, and bravery all make me love her. Also her sharp risqué wit that had me laughing til I cried.

 

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I’m a proud member of Standard Issue, the online magazine, now podcast Millican started in 2014.

In September, 2014, Standard Issue launched as a smart and witty online magazine for women by women, covering everything that interests women – ie everything. No celebrity tittle tattle, no photo shopping, no calorie counting, no cellulite circling. Just honest, good, interesting and funny writing from a bunch of cracking broads.

Standard Issue will never tell you who to be, what to wear or how to look. We believe that every woman should feel empowered to simply be herself.

I was excited when I saw she had a new autobiography out, How to Be Champion. I devoured it, with plenty of tea and coffee and cake as prescribed, in a couple of days while not wanting it to be over.

Sarah’s description of school was similar to mine, I always felt extremely ugly and I would melt if anyone asked if I had a boyfriend. She was studious and interested and got picked on for that, the reason people are in school!

She’s obviously worked SO HARD to get where she is, and I enjoyed reading about all her different jobs. Even though I still feel like I was stuck in her 19-year-old job at age 28!

Sarah got married at age 22 and the marriage broke down after 7 years. She was absolutely floored, really hit rock bottom, moved back in with her parents, became deeply depressed, but somehow started finding funny elements of the situation and worked on her writing, and somehow stumbled into stand-up comedy which she was made for. She’s wise and smart about the divorce. I think it would be very helpful for someone going through the same thing.

Her achievements are amazing, and she really deserves her success. I hope I can somehow channel her enthusiasm and willingness to work hard and sleep on people’s sofas for maybe writing a novel someday. She somehow gives people extra permission to be themselves while being HILARIOUS of course. I love a book that makes me literally LOL.

She has her priorities right, and in so many ways the Internet…the world does not, and this book is a breath of fresh air for women especially.

I almost did a cry as Sarah would say, when I finished the book. I read someone’s tweet that said ‘It’s a rare thing to find a book that feels like a friend.’ @NaomiPanter

I feel like that too. I just kind of wish she didn’t tell me the thing about hotel kettles. Can’t stop thinking about it.

Granny Mc

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Mary Mc Gowan as she was then, around 16 years old. 

My Granny Mary Mc Callion, my beloved ‘Granny Mc’ passed away on Friday 15th September at 4.am. She was 87. We weren’t ready.

It remains surreal, over a week later, and we passed through the wake and the funeral as if in a dream. Thankfully, miraculously, great peace was felt by all after the beautiful funeral ceremony.

My Daddy, brave but devastated, asked me to write something for the newspaper. He wanted people to know about my Granny, and also for them to know how beautiful the funeral was.

It appeared in the Derry Journal one week later. (Thank you) I wrote something like this:

Wee Mary, our Granny Mc.

 

By Fiona McCallion

 

‘A wee woman, but a big light.’ How Fr Joe Gormley described Mary McCallion, who died on Friday morning. She knew it, in the end it seems, but she still sent her family home with reassurances, from Altnagelvin hospital, where they had been at her side since she was admitted on Wednesday.

The visiting priest who was visiting on Thursday night, to bring her Communion was a friend too. He was rushed away early by doctors before he could do a little job Mary had asked him to do: write a love note to her husband of 57 years, Jim.

There was shock and numbness when the call came in the night and the rush to the hospital for her five children. She was 87 years old, and up to a few weeks ago full of life and joy. She was full of love until the end.

The wake took place in High Park, where Mary’s devoted daughter, also Mary, lives. It was the house she raised her five children (she lost one more as a tiny baby) through the Troubles, the street full of loving neighbours and friends, a place brimming with memories.

The rain poured but the people streamed through the door, tears and laughter, lives touched by goodness. Pain shared, support lent, stories traded.

The former Tillie and Henderson ‘factory girl’ had friends far and wide.

‘She was a wee saint.’ People spoke of the way Mary talked to them, holding their hand, deeply interested, placing value on them and making them feel special. She made everyone feel like they were no. 1 in that moment. ( I always thought it was just me!)

Generous and always providing, her son Jim observed, ‘She’d give you her last and make you feel like you were doing her a favour taking it.’

Mary’s other son Joe called her ‘a daughter of compassion.’ She never turned anyone away.

The day of the funeral on Sunday dawned glorious, bright and warm. A big change from the wintry, dark days before. Butterflies were seen during the familiar walk from High Park to St. Mary’s Church, Creggan. Sons, grandsons, her brother and friends carried Mary to her beloved Creggan chapel. There was a poignant pause outside Mary and Jim’s home of 68 Iniscairn Road, where many people stood at their doors.

‘Faith, family and fun.’ Fr. Joe Gormley, a relatively new friend of Mary’s, spoke of her beautifully, her love, dedication to living the Gospel and her lifelong preparation for this day. He said she is a great loss to the community of Creggan.

Tears flowed in the packed congregation. But peace was felt and love pervaded the church.

Mary’s husband Jim, never seen without her at daily Mass, was solitary but strong and composed as he sat beside his wife for the final time.

Many lessons of giving and selflessness were learned and will be learned.

23 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren to celebrate her life and pass on her messages.

The graveside was peaceful, beautiful even, flowers and family under the shining September sun. A new plot beside the Lecky Road, Mary’s first home. Jim sat in a chair as the final prayers were said. The family held hands in composure and love.

Her death is still surreal for those that loved her. She will leave a huge gap in this life, and many hearts are heavy and a little broken.

Her family feel blessed that she reached the age of 87. Her example of  love will live on through them and the hundreds of hearts she touched in her humble, giving way.

My Granny Mc is survived by her husband Jim, her daughters Catriona, Ann and Mary and her sons Jim and Joe. 26 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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The wee photo of my Granda Jim and Granny Mary Mc Callion, taken a few years ago. It appeared in the paper too. 

I have an image emblazoned in my mind of my brothers Jimmy (27) and Jacob (7) hand in hand in the dying sun, carrying a wreath of flowers towards my Granny’s final resting place just before Jimmy helped carry her coffin there. Jimmy in his shirt and tie and Jacob in a full suit bought for a wedding. Jimmy bent to speak to Jacob. When they came back they told us that they carried the wreath from my mother’s brothers and sisters, quite by coincidence.

One of many beautiful moments from a day that I thought would be close to unbearable.

Also, can I just say that I thought it was heart-warming that my Mum’s whole family were there to support my Dad. Especially after losing their own Mum, our darling Granny Breslin just 7 months and 1 day before. People are so kind, in general actually. And people’s presence and care and warm words mean the world, and I’m so glad for my Daddy that people have been so kind.

My Mammy’s big brother Eddie wrote to me yesterday, ‘ Mary didn’t do miracles for all to see, but a saint she’ll always be to me.’

I wrote most of my newspaper piece opposite the chair my Granny always sat in when she had soup and tea and cake in my house a few days a week. How utterly strange that she won’t sit there again, I won’t speak or listen to her wise words and kindness again.

My sister Clare cried as Granny won’t be there at her upcoming wedding. But she will be, C. In all the ways it matters.

I keep saying that I have lost my biggest fan, I really could do no wrong in my Granny’s eyes and even when my life was not going anywhere near how I hoped, she would heap the praises on me and I would feel a million times better about myself. She prayed for me everyday and I know it really helped me in my life, I can only hope she has a little more influence in the prayer department where she is now. Awk, I didn’t deserve it ever and we really didn’t deserve her.

My Granda has lost his ‘sweetheart’ and I can’t imagine what he is going through. He is blessed to have caring and loving children, I hope they can all find the solutions together and be comfortable and find peace.

Everyone can learn a lesson about what is important from my Granny Mc, and she will live on in many, many hearts. Not least mine.

Trying to #KeeptheSecrets

Almost a month ago now I saw ‘The Cursed Child’ the much discussed ‘eighth story’ is the Harry Potter series. I am so grateful I got to go. And if it hadn’t been for my friend Charlotte online-queuing for tickets TEN MONTHS before, I never would, so thank you C!

It’s in the Palace Theatre near Leicester Square in London. As is my life at the moment everything is happening at once, and I was only home from my good friend’s wedding in Scotland the week before, so I was a little bit stressed about it but it was SO GOOD.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan at all, and the wizarding world has meant anything to you, I urge you to go and see it if you can.

 

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Buoyed from the Warner Bros Studio Tour (excellent! Almost cried in the gift shop wanting to buy everything). We had chosen the two night option (The play in its entirety is about 5 and a half hours long and divided into Parts 1 and 2), you can also choose a Matinee performance and a night-time one. Because we were visiting London, this meant we could sight-see and manoeuvre the Underground successfully on Thursday and Friday visiting the British Museum, eating a very expensive chicken burger, Covent Garden, Westminster, Houses of Parliament, St. James’ Park, Hyde Park and Camden Market. We were knackered. Getting the ‘London Legs’ as my friend Caoimhe aptly called them!

There’s a buzz of excitement around the theatre and a queue forms down the side of the building. About an hour before it begins we have our bags searched and are allowed in to the historical and grand Palace Theatre. It’s impressive in gold and wood and beautiful inside. We sat in the bar area and waited for the doors to open.

I was like a ‘wide eyed child’ from beginning to end as Katie says in her review. The sets, props, MAGIC, choreography and costumes are amazing from the get go. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was totally transfixed from beginning to end.

As I discussed with friends, the plot IS pretty far-fetched even for the Wizarding World and something about it just isn’t true JK Rowling, despite her name being there as a writer beside Jack Thorne and John Tiffany ?

However, if you are in any sense a fan of the Boy wizard, you will love this play. It’s like nothing I have ever seen, and the true essence of the world of Harry Potter is really respected and celebrated with enormous talent.

The original cast had just changed merely weeks before we attended, I am sure the play will run for years and years and have many casts…  The character of young Scorpius really stole the show. I’m doing my best to #KeepTheSecrets here, but I thought Samuel Blenkin as Scorpius was charming, nerdy, and his comic timing was ‘on point’! My other favourite was probably Thomas Aldridge as the ever-lovable Ron Weasley. Rakie Ayola had poise and grace as the wonderful Hermione Granger.

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**PLOT SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ ‘THE CURSED CHILD SCRIPT’**

There was magnificent use of characters facing the audience while confronted with a wondrous sight that we could not and did not need to see. There’s probably a theatrical name for it. Such as Hogwarts in the sunrise, the dragon task of the Triwizard tournament and  Harry’s heart-break as he watches Voldemort enter Godric’s Hollow on 31 October 1991.

People appearing in portraits was done with comedy but also high emotion. Dumbledore is one of my favourite fictional characters of all, and I will admit to crying several times.

There is something of community about The Cursed Child, you almost make friends with your seat neighbours as you sit beside them a second night, ‘Keep the Secrets’ badges are distributed after Part 1, and the internet surprisingly has respected this plea for no spoilers and #keepthesecrets hashtag!

A time turner is vital to the plot, and I always say Prisoner of Askaban is my favourite book because of the time travel aspect. They do this SO WELL in the play. And I suppose all this ‘Nineteen years later’ business (when the play was set. 19 years after the final Harry Potter book, THIS year actually, 1st September 2017) gives a feeling of time travel mixed with nostalgia for the fans.

I finally decided to finish writing this today, as it’s J.K Rowling and also Harry Potter’s birthday today! 31st July, 52 and 37 respectively. Happy Birthday to a woman who created a very happy magical space for me to escape to, and fictional friends for me to love, and to a boy who inspired me and kept me company for a very long time!

#HappyBirthdayHarryPotter