A belated announcement: I am packing a big yellow suitcase and I am moving to Aschaffenburg, Germany on Monday. A year exactly since I first kissed the half German.
Yes I am having leaps of excitement and waves of panic in equal measure. Yes I cried when I told my Mum, cried when I told my Dad and siblings. Cried when I left work on Wednesday and cried too hard at Disney’s new film Coco, the main song is ‘Remember Me’.
This is my second version of this blog post. In my first one I was trying to justify my decision. Because some people are looking at me like I have two heads, or telling me I’m mad. But this is my blog and my announcement. I am happy with this decision and I am excited for this new chapter in my life! My comfort zone has been shrinking lately, I have found myself in a big old rut yet again.
I’m taking some risks, and I have no idea how homesick I will be, or if it’s even possible for a 28 year old to learn a language. I don’t have a job lined up just yet.
It’ll break my heart to leave my Mum, and its breaking my Dad’s heart that I’m leaving, but I love them so much, and this is always going to be home, and I am always going to love coming back.
I’m fighting the guilt off, and I’m putting my oxygen mask on first. It doesn’t sit well with me to do something ‘selfish’ this is going to be very difficult! But I believe worth it and it deserves my very best try.
I have been shown so much love in the last few days. The cards and wishes have been beautiful, and I have had some wonderful visits and conversations. I want to keep all my precious friendships, and bring all the love and learning with me.
I am looking forward to sharing more of my adventures here, and it’s somewhat terrifying and wonderful to really not know what is going to happen next.
Please continue to read about my new adventures, KEEP IN TOUCH and look after yourselves. And keep an eye out for my Mammy and Daddy too if you can!
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)
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 !
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.
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.
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!
In -jokes and laughter by the bucket load.
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.
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.
‘Getting married’ in Camera Obscura in Edinburgh, long before her husband popped the question. We got little rings and everything!
Crying at the Europa Bus stop/ Edinburgh Airport when we are parted.
Her loving appreciation of her beautiful home city of Edinburgh. It easily rubs off to captivated visitors.
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!!!)
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.
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!
Book club jealousy. Sometimes they have cocktails at her group! No fair!
Hair tips. Volumise! And have you tried conditioner washing?
Whatsapp, email, text message, blog comments, retweets… invaluable digital support!
Really similar world views! But still plenty to dissect and chat about.
Open top tour love, and many lovely and hilarious bus experiences due to this.
Late night drive-thru Krispy Kreme runs! That is all.
A most loyal friend. Hard to find.
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.
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.
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.
Over thinking twins We understand each other as we are each as bad.
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.
Road trips, including in the party bus, Claudia and Bertha. Are the names right?
Hotel Adventures. Ten Square, Belfast gets a special mention. Beautiful setting for our chats and food!
Constantly inspired by her packed schedule of gigs and plays and events.
Book gifting, swapping recommendations, reading the other’s review and chatting about words, it’s always a pleasure and I trust her judgement.
Introvert issues. We usually have a story to tell or a quirk that’s wordlessly accepted!
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.
The German language. She speaks it brilliantly and her mother was a teacher, I want to get to that place and beyond!
Overcoming our fears. We both recognise that we must, and we encourage the other ! We can do it.
She is the most loving cat Mum of Mirren who is a beautiful girl I like to visit.
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.
Moments that we are forever bonded by : Fire friends?! And our car being attacked by zombies at a Drive-In cinema.
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.
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 ❤
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
**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!
“I just feel so proud of her.” My strong mother said through her tears as we followed the lone bag-piper as he led my Granny Breslin to her final resting place. The song was called Going Home.
90 years on this earth. 1 month and one Mother’s Day she’s been gone.
Barely 2 days she shared with her own mother, who died through complications with birth. In the last maybe 15 years she kept her close to her heart on a photo pendant my dear uncle John bought for her. My Granny didn’t really talk about her mother much until she developed dementia. But it was the biggest pain and loss in her life, and she really could not wait to be reunited with her.
“She’ll be soon after her” they said when little Margaret Burns’ mother died. But 90 years, 14 children and 101 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren later… and what a legacy, what a life.
In one of our kitchen table mammoth tea and talking sessions my sister said “Think how terrified she must have been every time she was pregnant.” And it’s true…Yet she went through it 14 times, with only two of the younger ones born in hospital, the rest at home. Such a brave and selfless woman who just used her life to raise her children with her simple faith, strong morals and a lot of laughter.
My friends, and others who had never met Granny were reduced to tears at the funeral listening to all she had overcome between Derry and Scotland. Her father, a good man, died when she was 12 and herself and her sister found him when they returned from the cinema.
She was then raised by her beloved Aunt Annie in Derry, where both parents were from. “If he’s meant for you, he’ll come into the fireside.” Annie always said. And my Granda did just that, coming into the house to wait for Annie’s son Paddy every Friday night before they went to the pub. One day he asked Annie could he take Margaret to the ‘pictures.’ “You’ll have to ask her yourself.” Annie replied. My Granny was listening on the stairs, delighted.
They lived in a little house in Creggan, paying up for groceries, battling through the riots of the Troubles, and doing a miraculous job of raising 6 girls and 8 boys without murdering any of them!
I have to say, I’m biased, they’re my aunties and uncles, but the Breslins are an absolute credit to my Granny. I’m just so proud to be part of this family, and watching as they handled themselves, their grown up children, all the visitors with such grace and dignity at the wake and funeral. They are a big loving family of absolute characters, and although it was the saddest of circumstances we were delighted to see each other. The wake at times was an almost joyful occasion, which I thought maybe would have upset my mammy but she said it’s exactly what Granny would have wanted. Some of us (mostly cousins) had a drink after the soup and sandwiches of the funeral (I was the only one to volunteer to show my family up) and now we are hoping to organise a big cousins meet-up at least once a year.
Mother’s Day was yesterday, and the first one my own mother has spent without hers. I knew it would be difficult, so I had the idea of a version of my granny’s beloved photo pendant featuring a wee song my granny in her dementia especially liked to sing.
One of my favourite stories about my Granny, and it was told at the funeral, highlights her very healthy relationship with God. My auntie Eileen once found a piece of scone far from my Granny’s chair and jam dripping from the Sacred Heart picture. “You fairly knew your own mother!” she accused Jesus. Kind of regularly, actually!
She died on 14 February, Valentine’s Day. “She’s a wee lover” my Mammy said as she left to say her final goodbyes.
It comforts us all to think of the first Mother’s Day for two amazing long-suffering women. After 90 years. That’s love.
The following is a very short piece I wrote on the topic ‘hope,’ which was the theme of the Women Who Write’s February meeting. (A wonderful monthly group that started last year.) I had been despairing on the facebook page that maybe I wasn’t a woman who writes. I began to worry and run out of time and I even took to twitter to ask people what hope meant to them. I was glad to have the discussions with people, and I ended up being really emotional in a good way! Hope is one of my favourites.
I find hope in the usual places; crossed fingers and candles for job applications, a fresh notebook, an unopened letter. First messages, meetings, coffees. Anywhere there is possibility. The new year and spring time are hope’s favourite dates in the calendar.
I’d like to deliver hope to the unusual places too. Oh, to stand at the end of the bridge like a gatekeeper. And place a little parcel of hope in the pocket of any son or daughter who feels they can’t go on. It would warm their heart and slow their feet. It would provide just enough light to see a way through for the next few hours, until the next phone call, the next conversation. It would whisper of love, family, friends and future.
My 7-year-old brother said hope is waiting for something that you are looking forward to. My colleague said hope is not quite a wish, not a strong as a prayer, but a strong want. My philosophical friend said somewhat pessimistically, ‘…of little use in and of itself: can be as stifling and paralysing as it can be inspiring to action. Grasped at in a void, you’ll probably take nothing more than self-delusion and disappointment from it.’ In these hopeful conversations, I heard the story of a young woman who died last year, after a battle with brain cancer which spanned her whole adult life. She somehow managed to stay positive through years of pain and setbacks. Ten years ago she named her miracle baby Hope. Now her friend says he can’t think of Hope without thinking of Emma.
In these treacherous Trump times lies are being told. You’re not good enough. You don’t belong. You can’t cope. A foundation of faith, hope and love is vital. Of these beautiful triplets love may be the greatest, but there is a lot to be said for hope.