Bliss with a Twist

One of life’s pleasures is curling up with a good book to the sound of rain beating against the window pane. Bliss.

Now there are a certain few tweeks to make this pleasure absolute bliss.  Firstly the coffee it has to be a blend which you enjoy, this is definitely not the time for “it will do” blend.  Secondly the mug.  It has to be big enough to hold a warming amount of coffee but not too big that the mug itself is hard to lift.  Thirdly one has to be comfy. Perhaps a quilt to throw aIMAG1015[1]round the shoulders or over the knees.  Perhaps a throw or perhaps that old warm roomy jumper that has survived so many mishaps.

 

 

Of course the most important choice is that of a book.  This is the time for the latest book by a favourite author.  Perhaps this is the time for renewing the warmth one feels from a favoutite book read so many times that the cover has that well thumbed look.

Easter Monday dawned to the sound of rain battering the windows.  Grey skys enveloped the area cutting the house off to the rest of the world.  Small streams were already forming as yet again another year had passed and the drains had not been cleared.  Rain dripped from the forlorn looking trees.

I went through my mental list. Dinner?  Left overs from Easter Sunday Lunch. Snacks? Leftovers from Easter Sunday and Easter Eggs.  Kitchen? Spick and span.  Oh yes, mental list checked off.  This day had all the makings for an uninterupted reading day.  Sheer Bliss.

I found myself in my favourite chair, my quilt folded beside me, in my comfy clothes and footrest in place.  Not knowing quite what book I wanted to read I had a selection.  Ruth dudley Edwards “Matricide at St. Martha’s”, Donna Leon’s “Earthly Remains“, Noel Dorr’s “Ireland at the United Nations” and Daisy Thurbin’s “The Radziwll Leagacy“.

A tray beside me held toasted hot cross buns my husband had made, a sliced apple and a pot of tea being kept warm with a tea cosy.  Beside it sat a small china mug with images of the London Olympics bringing back happy memories.

Yes I was all set.  Still there was something amiss.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.   Something just wasn’t quite right.  What was preveinting me from settling into one of my favourite pastimes.  Standing up and looking at the space I had made for my reading day it took a while for the incongruity to emerge.

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I sat down a little stunned. I was reading with a pot of tea!! For those of you who may not know me I am a coffee holic.  I love coffee and it hurts when I purchase or make a bad cup of coffee.  Realisation slowly dawned upon me that since I had had a massive allergy attack I had not sipped a drop of coffee.coffee.

Yikes. Nóilín minus a mug of coffee?  What a weird notion.  But it was no longer a notion it was a reality.  During the previous thirteen days I had not had a drop of coffee but what was really weird was that I had not missed it.  Nursing a cup of tea I pondered this new situation but the call of a book soon interupted these musings.

It wasn’t long before Ruth Dudley Eadwards had me laughing at the antics of the heroine and the question of why my body was rejecting coffee for tea was soon forgotten.  The rain continued unabated while I read and savoured being warm, having books to read while listening to music of the rain on the window.

It certainly was absolute bliss but with a new twist.

I will try this book genre just one more time.

 

I love to read. I enjoy finding a new book on perhaps a subject I haven’t really looked at before and being drawn in.

There are books however that over the years I have detested.  Yes a strong word but aptly describing my feeling towards fairy tales.  Yes, fairy tales.  I can remember fairy tales being read to me, later reading them for myself and always being frightened by either the tales themselves or the illustrations.

Thinking back to those tales still sends a shiver down my spine.  I can remember receiving a book one Christmas entitled “The Stolen Child and Other Stories” by Sinéad Bean DeValera.  Although these were Irish based I was still scared.

Recently, I was given a bag of children’s books some first published in the 1970’s.  In among them  was a book ” Great Fairy Tales of Ireland” compiled by Mary McGarry.  After numerous pots of tea I finally finished the book but I never relaxed into the book.

I think I can safely say that I will not be reading any more fairy tales however, I would recommend any of the books by Sinéad Bean DeValera if you can find them.  Also “The Lucky Bag” a book of Irish children’s stories by various authors.

Another series of children’s books, set in County Wicklow and written by Cormac Mac Raois are “The Battle of Giltspur, Dance of the Midnight Fire, and Lightening over Giltspur”.  These are adventure books with gripping tales centred around three children Niamh and Daire Durkan and their cousin Rónán.  They are books which can be enjoyed by a reader of any age, yes even a sixty year old!

For those who are nature lovers then the trilogy “Run with the Wind“, “Run to Earth” and “Run Swift Run Free” by Tom McCaughren are beautifully crafted books with descriptive passages which immediately evoke images of the Irish countryside.

I am halfway through this wonderful bag of books and thanks to Marie, Sinéad and Trina I have many more hours of enjoyment ahead of me.

 

Library and Craftsmanship

As you know by now paper is important to me together with pens.  Places where the two come together hold a fascination for me.  So it is one of the reasons I love libraries.

Do you ever find that each library has its own unique atmosphere.  Okay I know if I was working in them day after day I suppose I wouldn’t be wafting on about atmosphere.  But from a purely visitor’s view so far each library I have visited is unique.

I had a return visit to one this week.  Can you imagine a library set in a house on seventy eight acres of land surrounded by  farm, sunken gardens, a lake, and a veiw stretching out to the mountains and still in a city?

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Farmleigh House, Dublin is the guest house for visiting dignatries and gusets of the Irish Nation.  It is an Edwardian Period house originally purchased by Edward Cecil Guiness of the famous Guiness dynasty on his marriage to his cousin Adelaide Guinness in 1873.  The Iriah Government purchased it in 1999.  It has since been restored and refurbished by the Office of Public Works.  The craftsmanship in the restoration has been so high.

There are many wonderful rooms to view on the tour of the house.  However it was the library which stole my heart away.  The Benjamin Iveagh Library, to give it it’s official title, is stunning.

It is a wooden pannelled room  filled with books some with exquisite binding.  It has a hidden stairs to access the upper library shelves.  And no the public cannot access the books.  Although normaly my hands are itching to pick up a book this was a time when I just gazed in raputure at the workmanship of those bindings.

In this rrom you can see the work of suthors dating back to 1280.  The work of amazing binders each binding adding to the work of the author.  Then the work of the carpenters to allow for the storage of these valuable and read works.

This room like so many other libraries ackowledges the work of so many. Yet another library very much worth a visit.

History Through Taste

I have been reading recently about food fusion and hearing about it on food programmes.  Surely this concept has been around since Adam was a boy.

Perhaps we use the style of cooking which we are used to, then move to a new location where ingredients are different but we use the cooking techniques we know, to cook with the new ingredients.  Surely people have been doing this for hundreds of years.

There are cook books abounding with the fusion concept.  The concept is not new but if it draws people into cooking for themselves I for one am all for it.

I really enjoy reading cook books especially second-hand ones.  I like to imagine those other food lovers who have read and used the recipes within.  However, it is the books which have been both loved and used which I cherish the most.

Some of my reading memories are to do with cook books and tonight not being able to sleep I started to read a cook book which had belonged to my mother-in-law Sheila and which was recently given to me.

The book is only 9 inches long by 5 inches wide with less than a hundred pages.    The cover is intact but the spine will need repairing and it is obvious that this book was used over and over again.    It is called “the Tricity cookery book”.    It is a very straight forward cook book with only 4 colour plates.    There are a few sketches but this book is all about the recipes.   Some pages were used more often than others and I love the fact that it isn’t in pristine condition.   It was a book which was used.

Right beside it on my cookery shelf, I found “A taste of Ireland in food and pictures” by Theodora Fitzgibbon.  A friend of mine Rhona, who knows how much I love cookery books, gave it to me prior to moving to Charlton near Banbury in the United Kingdom to run The Rose and Crown.  If you get a chance to visit just try the superb food there.

Again, this is a small cookery book but it has a wealth of history together with the recipes.  The edition I have ,was published by Pan in 1971.   One odd thing about the recipes is that the quantities are not only given in imperial measurement as was used in Ireland at the time but also in U.S.  cup measurements.   However, on the back of the book there is an endorsement by the Irish Tourist Board. Perhaps this book was intended for the tourist industry mainly and that would explain the use of U.S. measurements.

The black and white photographs which accompany each recipe give more information on the times and evoke a sense of times past. The recipes cover everything from toffee to cruibíns. If you ever come across this book it is well worth a read especially if you are interested in social history or cookery.

Are you a poet?

In an article for www.writing.ie “Thoughts for Budding Poets” Liz Cowley says and I quote “…poetry shouldn’t be like medicine – hard to swallow but good for you”.    I totally agree.

Liz Cowley is one of my favourite poets Her work is so accessible.   She can make the most mundane seem important.   That together with the laughter which mingles with the often-tough topics of everyday living is what makes reading her poetry so enjoyable.

Liz Cowley opens the article “Thoughts for Budding Poets” by suggesting that many people are poets but are afraid that that we would be embarrassed by our ramblings/ scribblings.  That those scribblings would not be good enough.  Perhaps she is correct and that there is a poet in all of us just waiting to get out.

 

Why Put Off Things

 

Why delay? Why put them off –

the things we could have done before?

Why is it that we hesitate

and what is it we’re waiting for?

 

Why don’t we do things sooner?

Why do we often hesitate

until the day it’s much later,

it’s suddenly become too late?

 

Taken from the book “And Guess Who He Was With” by Liz Cowley

Secret Santa

 

 

This year for the very first time I have been involved in a Secret Santa through an on-line book club which I was able to join this year.

My Secret Santa parcel arrived this morning and with it a dilemma.  As you know paper is important to me.  My present was beautifully wrapped in Art Deco type paper.  Black background with small bronze Christmas trees in a line.  The next line was bronze zig zag with angular corners.  So reminiscent of the Art Deco period.  Each bronze decorated line was followed by a pure white straight line.   The pattern on the paper was a work of art.

Oh my, but I was torn.  I wanted to find out what book I had received but I did not want to damage this beautiful paper.  A mug of coffee later and it was time.  With a scalpel, extra light on my work table and a steady hand I began the job of opening the paper.  Thank goodness, my Secret Santa had not used double sided tape.  With care I actually achieved removing this beautiful paper to reveal my book.

However, before scrutinising the book, the paper was ironed to remove the creases.  Yes, ironing it does work.  Just make sure it is a dry iron at low temperature.  I already have a few ideas for using it.  It definitely could be used as background for a greeting card but I think for the moment it will be placed in my drawer containing “special paper” to be used at a future date, possibly.

The book I received wrapped in that wonderful paper was “he said she said” by Erin Kelly and published by Hodder and Stoughton.  I would have walked past this book in a book shop.  The dust cover would not have attracted me nor would the fact that it was termed a “psychological thriller”.   Like everything else in life there are times to try something new and I look forward to reading it during the Christmas period.

Happy Christmas reading especially if it is a genre which you don’t normally read.