They seem to get closer and closer together, but I’m writing this with two minutes to go on the 7th birthday of my dear old blog Life Lyrics and Lemon cake ! Although we had a meagre 2017, (I lost two beloved Grannies and I met the love of my life) I’m still proud of my wee section of the internet, and I’m glad I have this platform should I see fit to use it. I have higher hopes for writing for 2018, and I am hoping to make exciting changes to my life really soon, and I want this blog to be there as a testament to that.
My writing has been virtually non-existent in recent months…years. I know that writing is something important to me, I just wish I could find my fire. Maybe I still have to do a bit of living first?! Half a shelf of beautiful blank notebooks have me thinking.
I have finished my first book of 2018- The Power by Naomi Alderman. Impressive! It took me a while to get through, mostly because of life being busy and my visitors from Germany.
I’m now reading Three Things About Elsie by the wonderful Joanna Cannon. (I’ve loved her blog since forever!) It’s just gorgeous and thoughtful so far. It also has pictures of Battenberg on the cover ! So I hope to have a few reviews soon.
This is my 218th post. I still don’t have a specialised niche. thank you for reading as always about books, letters, love, life, friendship and Josh Ritter.
Also a funny lemon cake story from last year, while in a freezing Strasburg with P in November, we went into a cafe bar for coffee and I was too shy to really use any of my GCSE French (Sorry Monsieur Gallagher). I was asking the lovely French waitress for a slice of lemon meringue in my dirty Derry accent while the half German rolled about laughing and she wondered what in the world I was talking about. I still have to work on my Universal English skillz.
I’m attempting the ‘curly girl’ conditioner-washing method on my hair for a couple of weeks. So far, oily scalp is the problem as I knew it would be, and my hair isn’t going curly very much. There were years when I was bout 16 when it really did curl up with no effort! Does anyone have any experience/advice? I wonder should I give up or try to persevere. This is random information, but since we were catching up …:)
Anyway, happy 7th birthday to the blog! Thank you to my readers. Please stay with me on my 2018 writing journey. The internet can be lovely place for creatives sometimes.
I have recently been torn about my Hogwarts House. The latest Pottermore Sorting technology puts me in Ravenclaw. Wit, Learning, Wisdom. All very admirable qualities. But I have a sneaking suspicion I’m more than a little bit Hufflepuff. (Dedication, Patience, Loyalty) Most of the people I’m close to are Ravenclaw too. So I’m glad I would have company at least, to answer the questions posed at the common room door.
I have written extensively about Harry Potter before, but as today is 20 years since the release of The Philosopher’s Stone, I wanted to say some more words about what these books have meant to me!
(Here’s a piece from 2011 I wrote for the Derry News after the final film came out.) As I say here, my Harry Potter love story began 19 years ago with The Chamber of Secrets in the Shantallow Library. I remember it quite vividly! I was 9 years old.
Hogwarts completely captured my imagination, and more. I think everyone can relate to Harry’s isolation and struggles. Harry Potter was just as much of an escape from the real world for us muggles, as Hogwarts was escape from the Dursleys for Harry himself.
I remember the giddy excitement in the weeks before a new book was released. My Dad always preordered them for me. I read obsessively on Mugglenet and Harry Potter message boards about the hilarious escapades of those across the water in the USA and England queuing for their copies. The fun! I longed to go to a midnight release party, dressed up and the geeky community of it all.
Community. Connection. I think this is mostly why Harry Potter and the world JK Rowling created is so important. My friends are major Harry Potter geeks to this day. I’m 28 now. My best friend Aisling and I call each other Fred (me) and George (her) partly because she had a phase of giving everyone opposite sex names AND we used to and still do have eerily similar things happen in life. Fred and George Weasley were the twin brothers of Ron Weasley. Hilarious, ginger, hearts of gold.
My little sister Ellen (10), who’s a ‘word millionaire’ by the way, she’s read 1 million words in books according to her school <3, and I read the beautiful illustrated editions when I remember… Bad sister!
By coincidence my colleague Charlotte and I are going to London to see the play at the Palace Theatre The Cursed Child and The Harry Potter Studio Tour this week. Leaving tomorrow! It’s been booked for 10 months or so. And now I’m writing this instead of packing. Squeeee! I’m so excited and we have bonded so much already because of HP!
I know a boy who’s returning home from Finland tomorrow. He’s studied a semester there, and has spent a large portion of the last few weeks trying to find Durmstrang Institute… Or maybe that was his magical Erasmus exhange programme from Hogwarts. I hope he isn’t too addled with Dark Arts when I see him!
My George told me to dig out this email I sent her while she was in America for the summer when we were 15/16. It’s about the sixth book, but check my enthusiasm!
On Tuesday, 19 July 2005, 19:29, <fiona—-@bt—t.com> wrote:
Ok, as promised I’ll type out the stuff I wrote in my file block!! You’ll probably get bored, sorry! And it kinda looks like I hated it, but I didn’t really, or I’d be in a state of depression now! Here goes, *ahem*
Stuff about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to email Aisling about
1. Why did Dumbledore trust Snape all these years? I was waiting to hear a brilliant reason, and thought Snape might be good underneath! I was looking forward to hearing it! Now all the years of “I trust Severus Snape” mystery was for nothing… she seemed to be building up to something there! I’m amazed Dumbledore couldn’t see through the hook nosed, filthy greasy haired stuck up evil legitimens death eater! Come on, Dumbledore was perfect, infallible, until book 6 where he acted weird then ass hole killed him. I so miss him *sob* I cried when Dumbledore said “I’m not worried, I’m with you” to Harry. Premonition he was going to die. Cried again of course when he did.
2. There was way too much snogging! Half of it could have been left out! Plus, I’m way jealous of Tonks. I love Lupin!! Hairy palms and all.
3. Dumbledore, God rest his soul, didn’t actually get around to telling the full story of his injured hand! He said once it was a great story and he didn’t have time, then he just mentioned it in passing! Say what now? I know it was destroying the ring…but still.
4. Why did Snape get the Defence Against the Dark Arts job? And we never saw him teaching a class did we? When he taught potions, nearly every class was written about! Hold on… could Dumbledore have been under the Imperius curse to trust Snape in this book and give him that job?
5. How come Lucius Malfoy’s still in Azkaban if the Dementors have left? Could he not escape. (I’m not demanding u answer these questions, by the way!)
6. Sirius!!! He was barely mentioned, I half hoped he would come back. And what about the two way mirrors?
That’s my initial thoughts anyway. I forgot about Trelawney…good point. She’s probably still standing there!! There are A LOT of unanswered questions!! But wasn’t “U-No-Poo” funny? The constipation sensation that’s gripping the nation!!! What a weird thing to happen to Bill, get your face mauled by a werewolf who wasn’t transformed… crazy!
Well, hope you enjoyed my fanatical musings, looking forward to hearing from you. Must go see if some Harry Potter message boards are open, see what other people think.
Hilarious. I will probably never grow up.
Ok, I love this story of connection. Aisling/George has recently adopted an ADORABLE puppy. His name is Harry Pupper and he has his own instagram. When she visited the family who owned the litter, she met a young girl, lets call her Katie. Katie is about 9 I think, and when she heard Aisling was calling her puppy Harry she was delighted. She is a big fan and said no one at school likes Harry Potter except her. Katie’s mum explained quietly to Aisling that Kate has Asperger’s Sydrome and children at school make it difficult for her. Katie happily renamed all the puppies in the litter, (and I was trying to convince my Mum to adopt Hagrid for a while). Katie’s dad is very ill, he has terminal cancer and Aisling could see that Katie was buoyed up by the world of Harry Potter and the connection Harry still felt with his parents even after death. Katie’s mum said Katie lit up while talking to Aisling and the world of Harry Potter really stimulated her imagination and communication. When my friend returned again to collect her new wee Harry, she came armed with some HP merchandise and handmade bookmarks saying, ‘Don’t let the muggles get you down.’ I’m not crying, you’re crying.
I think Harry Potter is so long lasting because it’s a story in these hard strange times where Good prevails. It’s a tale of hope, courage and friendship. And who could do without those right now?
Perhaps it’s a bit like my interest in The Walking Dead. We are drawn mor eto the lives and interactions of the characters and their lives than the magic, per se. Although the magic helps!
I have a funny story from work this week. Because of the anniversary we have some pretty nice merchandise like cauldron bowls, muggle studies notebooks, Gryffindor common room signs, cute mugs etc. There are also posters, one of which lists spells and charms and illustrates the wand movement required… So on a late Wednesday night, no customers about, I whip out a rolled up poster and start practising my REPARO wand movement. (Quite swirly) My friend/colleague Chelsea rounds the corner. ‘Are you…dancing?’ No, Chelsea. It’s worse than that… Please don’t tell every…Oh, never mind. Ha!
I would say my favourite book is The Prisoner of Azkaban maybe it’s because it’s the book before they start getting super dark. But also Harry meets his Godfather Sirius. Which is fraught with terror for a while until he understands. Also time travel, I have discovered is one of my favourite themes.
My favourite character is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. He is like Atticus Finch where wisdom is concerned. Gentle and twinkly, brave and always there… All the best quotes come from him, too.
Congratulations on 20 years, JK Rowling. You’re a real hero of mine. Lumos ❤ Keep being a light to children and big children everywhere. And thank you.
20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others. It's been wonderful. Thank you.#HarryPotter20
“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.
I am proud and amazed to note that today January 27 marks the SIXTH Anniversary of this blog, Life, Lyrics and Lemon Cake. I can’t tell you the comfort and connection I have received from writing and getting feedback from my little thoughts and words. Thank you so much for reading, whether you are old or new! It’s meant so much.
I have talked about it before, but I still remember clearly the ‘launch’ of my blog in Melrose Street 2011, my second year at Queen’s University. When my housemates (and besties!) were so supportive and meticulously went through and commented on all the blog posts I had been secretly publishing.
I have never had a ‘niche’ for my topics. It’s made it harder but I just try to be honest and maybe write something that will help someone, or make them think ‘me too.’ So it can be difficult if I’m feeling a bit down or not myself. My lovely good friend Ruth mentioned that I hadn’t been blogging much lately and I voiced my fear that I didn’t want negativity to leak into my posts. I like to be positive and helpful and I didn’t really feel up to it. I hope that can change soon! The writing sometimes helps in and of itself.
I was so inspired by female bloggers back in the day, and as a person who really wishes to WRITE blogging seemed attractive. I’m glad I did it.
My friend Aisling suggested I choose 6 significant posts. I had a little wander down memory lane. It’s strange as always to see mentions and traces of old flames, for example and I almost have the urge to purge like one does with facebook! But this is all part of my story and perhaps better to be preserved in full. Do you know I have had a few recent requests not to be written about recently too. Ooh the power!
I didn’t put too much thought into this, just trusted my gut and highlighted 6 posts that I feel proud of or are worth a mention again. Also those archives are vast! And a little scary, ha. 6 posts for 6 years!
This is an article that almost broke my rule of no ranting. But I think it’s very appropriate in this week with all the amazing feminism examples around us. Just really about not having to be nice to creeps when they have you cornered! I have linked to an excellent article by Daisy Buchanan.
I like to read, and therefore write book reviews, and this was one that really stood out last year. I still have a quote pinned to my wall. ‘But sometimes what choice have we? Life conspires to plant us in the funniest of gardens, where the trees need an especial form of tending.’ Beautiful book by Sarah Hall
There are actually several posts regarding one of my favourite subjects and past times, snail mail! Really enjoyed collaborating with Zoe on this. See? The friends you make through blogging. Like minded letter writers!
An important time in my life, that NCTJ accredited Journalism course that I left my job for in 2013. A lot changed for me that year. I got to test out my writing skills in a different way, I drank an awful lot and I made a few firm friends.
A somewhat scary, raw one for me to post. But I had to do it. Some of it maybe is too much, and things have changed a little, but this lesson was a hard one learned over many years of trying and failing to be happy within relationships. I really hope it was able to help someone!
Are there any posts that have stood out to you? Is there anything you would like to see?
So, lets all have a slice of lemon cake and a coffee the next chance we get, and thank you sincerely from my heart to yours for your support for these 6 years. It means the world to me when people mention my blog in ‘real life’ or even old fashioned comments. And I feel better for having this little corner of the internet and a connection with you.
A whole month since Christmas today. ‘It’s as far away as ever.’ as the Derry saying goes. I have just finished reading my second book of the year. I was totally blown away and I wanted to share it.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) has created a wonder in ‘Big Magic.’ To
be honest, we have it in work and I picked it up a few times but I don’t think I would have chosen it myself. So I would like to thank SongBirdSignBird for the wonderful Christmas present. She wrote inside (my favourite, book inscriptions) that it helped her, and a little birdy (pardon the pun) told me she’s been writing nearly every day since reading it in November. I’m hoping it has that effect on me! I feel like it does.
I’m in an emotional place at the moment, the book made me cry three times when I’m not sure it would have that effect on anyone. But my overwhelming feeling is of RELIEF. No it’s not too late to get back to writing (if I ever started), it’s allowed to be fun, who cares if you’re not successful, do this for you. I can’t even tell you. Self-help books I avoid partly because ironically they are usually full of pressure. You must do this, you must spend this long exercising, how are you going to write if you don’t put in this effort. Big Magic is the opposite of pressure. There’s bits about fear and how that stops people. There’s a permission slip of you’re waiting for one.
Anyway, I think I will give you a few examples. If you ever wanted to write, make art, create anything (which, Gilbert points out, is all of us) I urge you to read this book.
The first part of the book is Courage. We hear of the legacy of a poet named Jack Gilbert (no relation) who once said to a young poet in his class after hearing she wanted to become a writer, ‘Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping that you will say yes.”
She writes of the burden of genius and the obsession of getting and staying at ‘the top’. Harper Lee, Gilbert wishes, that right after To Kill a Mockingbird and her Pulitzer, she had ‘churned out five cheap and easy books in a row.’ She could have tricked us all into forgetting, herself into forgetting she was Harper Lee. ‘It would have been a gift to the world. And it would have been a gift to her, as well- to have been able to remain a writer, and to have enjoyed the pleasures and satisfactions of that work for herself. (because in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.)
I’m afraid to give too many secrets away so I think you should read it! Yes, some of her ideas about Inspiration and an idea ‘moving on’ to someone else and even the Trickster thing kind of weirded me out but over all the book is a little miracle.
Highlights for me, which I have diligently post-it noted for this occasion are:
Here’s a trick, stop complaining
Day job- there’s no dishonour in having a job. What is dishonourable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence.
Done is better than good.
Nobody’s thinking about you.
A beautiful story about perseverance. That made me cry.
An exquisite tale of painting stars on children’s bicycles that had me cry just now like a crazy person while reading aloud to my Mum.
I’m forever changed by this book. I feel the permission, the freedom, the lightness and pressure free chance to write. To make art. Creative Living Beyond Fear as the lovely book boasts.
P.S Thank you so much to Laura and Eoin if you’re reading for really cheering me up on Friday. You’s made my night! Thank you for the blog support 🙂 Means a lot.
As the aeroplane took off, leaving the wondrous city of Prague behind, the two passengers either side of me retrieved journals and new notebooks from cabin luggage and began writing furiously. One happened to be my handsome happy man (who was using my pen) and had an idea for a novel based on the 14th, 15th, 16th Century architecture and churches we had soft-stepped into, open-mouthed in wonder. I had taken to praying for my nearest and dearest in each magnificent structure whereas he had eyes only for the art.
The lady in the pretty Aztec dress and South of Ireland lilt to my right bent over her journal, covering it with her hand any time I as much looked out the window. She crunched an apple and seemed to be filling in diary entries or appointments from several months before. I wondered.
Having no use for my pen, my ideas seeming to have dried up this long, long time I began reading my novel ‘In the Name of Love’ by Patrick Smith. Said handsome man looked up from his backwards notebook (leftie) to comment on how fast I was flicking pages. In this time of confusion and felt stagnation I am soaking up words all the faster in order to arm myself.
The first three days of my six day trip to Prague were spent worrying. Worrying about going back, my career non-starter, my decisions, my still living at home, people’s opinions. I think my friends want to shake me I have been in this boat forever.
I lit candles in the Sedlec Bone Church and took a pew before the Child of Prague. I bantered about teaching and other sensible steps I have no urge to take with my travel partner and tried to see what I wanted to be.
I gave up and tried to count my blessings which are many, I appreciated the cobbles, the huge Cathedrals and rich cemeteries. I enjoyed the holiday canoodles, the mini apartment we shared with a bathroom each, our balcony with a view of red tiled towers and roofs. We had a go at the Czech cuisine of Beef goulash and Fallow deer and potato dumplings galore. We took a train and a tour, we shared a carriage with a Canadian girl and an Australian couple whose travels were far greater than ours. But willed the loud Australian not to probe on ‘what I did.’
I listened to stories and history and gazed at beautiful things, tried and tested and sipped, smiled and laughed and whispered and hoped. I think I might be coming across self obsessed and whiny and that so isn’t my aim. I’m trying to reawaken my blog and get used to writing again, also keep my eyes and my heart open and hope.
I was sad to leave the beautiful sun soaked cultural Czech Republic and I am craving a return already. So as I tuck my trusty bum bag away until my next trip (!) and smile at my trinkets and photos, I take this last unexpected day before returning to the bookshop where I work. I try to get my thoughts in order and my heart in the right place. I ask you to be patient with me. I’m experiencing and living and slightly restless. I will get there or at least find the words use my talents and enjoy the journey.
Yesterday, my little corner of the internet turned 4. Four! So I’m feeling all inspired to breathe some life back into her! It does NOT seem like three years ago since I ordered those cupcakes to celebrate a year of blogging.
Life Lyrics and Lemoncake has been a great comfort and outlet for me. At the time of taking the plunge I was living with my besties in Melrose Street in Belfast, starting the second semester of second year at University. I was obsessed with blogs, and loved creative and personal writing from Dooce, Ernie Buffalo, Keris and Fluttering Butterflies to name a few. I loved book blogs and insights into inspiring women’s lives. (I’m only noticing the fact that I love blogs by kick ass women and this delights me.) I began on January 27, 2011 but kept it to myself for a month or two until I had published several posts and had something that people could sift through a little. I remember clearly sharing the link on social media one night and A and C sitting on opposite sofas as they did, reading and commenting and supporting me. Happy times. Thanks girls.
When I feel that a career or even significant writing step is far away, blogging is always a silver thread that connects me to the art, however loosely. I have never felt under pressure by my blog or stressed about producing something. Maybe I should be stricter in order to have a more regular output, but there is something comforting about just being my own boss and only writing about something I feel moved to.
Blogging has allowed me to have interesting conversations, make several great friends in all kinds of surprising ways, take part in features and events such as the current #sendsomehappy with Zoeprose, boosted my confidence at any recognition and allowed me into the exciting and lovely community of bloggers.
Sometimes my mammy says to me when I am despairing yet again that my English degree and my Journalism course hasn’t really led me anywhere … that maybe my job isn’t going to be writing, it could be something I do on top of that, and I think I would be happy with that. I just want to make my writing stronger, more regular and more creative. I have this itch to write and achieve something in writing. And if I can continue to make connections with readers and fellow bloggers then that is wonderful and worth it all.
Thank you for reading and supporting me at any stage of these four years, I have a fire in my belly about a new start and lots more words for us to share. I’m on my fourth book of 2015 and have seen some brilliant programmes and films recently so perhaps some reviews at least are in order?
As a present for my fourth birthday, do you want to win some handmade earrings and snail mail paraphernalia? Check out my previous post and my Instagram. #sendsomehappy