an attempt to spend some time on me

Textures on a Laneway

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Autumn, and particularly October is one of my favourite times of the year. Despite the days getting shorter and the inevitable wind back of the clocks, it is filled with colour and the feeling of rustling leaves underfoot.

There was a 30 minute window of opportunity today that I could have used to do one of a thousand other things I should have done, but instead I took my camera for a walk. It was going to just be a walk, but I couldn’t pass by the colours and shapes of rosehips in the hedgerows without going back for my old friend, Olympus E420. I also took a colander with me for the blackberries…

Lorcan and Cormac demolished the contents of the colander when they came home from school. Here’s the contents of the camera!

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By Seamus Heaney 1939–2013

for Philip Hobsbaum

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

Written by Anna

October 24, 2015 at 1:02 am

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Vibrant Steel

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It’s not always easy to stay positive and upbeat, but it is without a doubt one of my strongest coping mechanisms. I firmly believe that if I didn’t try and find the silver lining to a situation, I would have given up long ago.

That was also the reason behind taking my camera to our closest playground which is shunned by many as it is considered unkempt and “vandalised”. Not that anyone ever does anything about it. The expectation is that someone else will. That imaginary, virtual and non-descript other entity. It is a perfect example of “anything collectively owned is collectively abused”!








It might seem that the images are negative, but that gives an even starker contrast to the fact that there must be a point in our lives where we stop seeing the good and start focusing on the bad in a situation. Not quite sure when or why that happens…

In the meantime I will persevere in trying to convince Dublin City Council that it is worth putting some time and effort into a local amenity that still has potential to be a great playground. One of my favourite things about Cherry Orchard Park is that it seems to reflect the neighbourhood – steely and strong, with vibrant colours!

In between writing this, I came across a recent article in The Irish Times  and what rings through is the positive humour that truly does keep most of us going even through greyer days. If it is an “Irish” thing, then nature has truly won out over nurture in my case, as I am under no doubt that positivity generates positivity. And be damned the be grudgers, I plan on continuing to generate as much of it as I can this year!

Written by Anna

January 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Best intentions…

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What happened to making sure I had some of that elusive and highly valued “Annatime”?

I still remember the thoughts for the post I had planned last Christmas, which was going to be themed around “senses, scents and sense”  the need for common sense to prevail during the festivities that can become a little stressed even for the most organised. It will still be relevant again in a few months I suspect.

So what happened? A notion to get fit or at least try and manage to run a reasonable distance without collapsing into a puffing panting wreck is what happened. The annual quest for New Years Resolutions led me to consider the Operation Transformation 5km training schedule, and even a notion to enter an 8km race with some friends. Ultimately I was aiming to do the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon 10km and in my head I had a traget of doing it in less than an hour.


This was going to be my only charity fundraising event this year, but more on that later. I spent evenings in January and Februay walking and running the times and distances prescribed by Karl Henry’s 5km training. The run associated with that programme was fully subscribed by the time I tried to sign up so I completed the 5km route around Parkwest along the Canal. I also got a number for the “Run with Ray” event in the Phoenix Park, and that was my very first “proper” race in the Park. Little did I realise how many more of these I would end up doing…

By March the Mini Marathon training programme came out and soon I found myself happily trotting for 30 minutes clocking up 5km withouthaving to stop to walk or catch my breath. If you followed the last link, you’ll have read a bit more about how I picked Crumlin’s Children Hospital as a worthy charity. And it was their Kilometres for Kids  which planted the somewhat crazy notion in my head…

It mentioned the Dublin Race Series, and I thought something along the lines of “well, sure, why would I stop running now, I may as well keep goingand if I want to keep going I need some sort of goal or target” And given that the Race Series consisted of a 5 mile, 10km, 10mile and half marathon, I reckoned the worst that would happen is I mightn’t do the half marathon. The other distances were all very doable, and gave me an incentive to keep getting out on an evening and getting half an hour of excercise and head space. And as I said, there was no need to even worry or think about doing anything that involved the words “marathon” or “half-marathon”…

Exceot that one thing led to another or moreover the Dublin Race Series website was actually the Dublin Marathon website. Which made me wonder what Marathon Training would look like. And given that I had signed up for the half-marathon, even notionally, I should at least look and see if the training would be of any use to get me to the distances of the race series.

That was back in June. And believe me I was very very cautious about even considering signing up for a marathon. I spoke to Alun about it back then as I suspected even then how much time it would take to ensure I didn’t insure myself by following a gradual training programme over a long period of time.

I didn’t even mention the word marathon to anyone else until after I had completed the half marathon, and completing the half marathon was never a fait a complis. I just quietly kept following the training site that was suggested on the Dublin Marathon site and sure enough, much to my genuine surprise, I began managing longer and longer distances. I completed the Irish Runner 5 Mile, the Fingal 10k, Frank Duffy 10 Mile and developed a love-hate relationship with Chesterfield Avenue.

The arrival in the post of the race numbers about 2 or 3 weeks before each race made each event more real, And the arrival in the post of the half-marathon race number made that event suddenly real, but the training had already included a 20 mile “long run” at that stage, so that mental hurdle was no longer the daunting task it had seemed to be in June.

And now here we are, less than a month away from the Dublin City Marathon. I signed up for it after I finished the half-marathon and even then it was still an ambitious target that I whadn’t told many people about. That was for two reasosn. Firstly, I felt that in case I didn’t actually feel that I was prepared enough to start it, I didn’t have to tell people I wasn’t actually doing it after all. But secondly, I didn’t need people telling me that I was doing somnething that was utterly insane!

Today I’m thinking that maybe I was right on both counts, but have got this far so now going back now! Whilst my “tapering” has sadly almost turned into “stopped” I hope to pick up the last week of training again and be at the starting line today week. I would really really appreciate your support, as I will need every ounce of motivation and encouragement finish the route.

Here’s what you can do:

1.     Pick a mile

just post a comment below with whatever mile you want me to finish for you, and I’ll be thinking of you – possibly not thinking nice things mind you, if it’s in the late tweens! I’m not expecting any monetary donations, but if you feel so inclined I am hoping to raise awareness for the new Lutherhaus (St Finian’s Community Centre) or whatever charity you feel deserves a contribution and there are so many. Please do name it in your comment and it’ll make me even more determined to make that mile for you

2.     Follow me on

If you befriend me you can even send “peptalks” that I’ll hear en route. You can also see how woeful the last months training has been, but that until then I was doing pretty good. Apprantly I’ve run almost 600km since I started training, my PBs are 10km in 56:19 and half-marathon in 2:21:31… If I manage to keep up with the 4:30 or even the 5:00 pacers on Monday I’ll be thrilled.

3.     Cheer me on on the day!

Definitely let me know which mile your gonna be at and pick that mile as per No. 1 above! Apparently Dublin is the friendliest marathon city in the world, so it should be a good buzz in town that day. Have a look at the route map – it looks like it runs past every house in Dublin, so if I’m passing your front door cheer me on!

4.     Sponsor the new Lutherhaus

I didn’t set out to complete the marathon for any particular charity, and still feel strongly that only if you can afford to, to donate an appropriate amount to whatever charity lies close to your own heart. Just let me know if you are as per No. 1 above so I have that extra incentive for your mile!

However, the one fundraising effort that is on my mind the last few months is the new Lutherhaus at St Finian’s Church on Adelaide Road. Those of you that know me know this is where I was confirmed, married and Aoife and Lorcan were christened.

I’ve spend many happy Friday mornings at the german toddler group and more recently enjoy singing with the gospel choir. Someone recently pointed out there is something on here every day of the week, and as you can tell from the facebook page,  it’s probably true. It’s such a warm friendly city centre community that deserves all the support it can muster, so if you do want to help, either donate through by “buying a brick” or even some time as the ‘old’ Lutherhaus in particular needs your skills and attention. You could help with assembling IKEA kitchen elements, various painting jobs, all kinds of cleaning and tidying up. If you can offer some of your time, any time, please let me know – Hours are as valuable as Euros!

Best intentions and all that…

Written by Anna

October 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm

A Day in the Life…

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Somehow September has passed by in a blur and October isn’t far behind. My ambition to make some “annatime” is becoming equally blurred and I’m wondering if there’s a connection…

As my almost three year old is growing up on a minute by minute basis I realise that whilst we do have our moments, mostly I want to spend time with her and see her experience the world with an enthusaism I find breathtaking.

On Fridays we have our fun-day and I brought my camera with me end of Septmber to capture a day in the life of said three year old. In someways, bringing the DSLR with me was a pathetic attempt to take some “annatime” even if I was with the kids! But sometimes you just have to make or take these opportunties.

The day started off with a trip on the 79A bus through Cherry Orchard, a walk up Grafton Street, through St Stephens Green and on to german toddler group. After lunch we passed the regular art exhibition on the Green, took another bus to Dublin Zoo, saw a newborn hippo baby and other animals before hitting Temple Bar for Culture Night.

This involved painting on Curved Street, an early bird dinner at Bruno’s, listening to dazzling fiddle player and violinist Zoe Conway and John McIntyre (The Revs) in The Ark’s gorgeous child size theatre, visiting “Small lives: Childhood in Ireland, a glimpse from Photographs” at the National Photographic Archive, and last but not least exploring Christ Church Cathedral with pealing bells…

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I had wondered that day and afterwards if it was possible to overexpose a child to a myriad of experiences. Not long after I heard George Hosking explain on Morning Ireland: “In the infant brain, synapses – or connections – are being formed at the rate of one million per second. Those connections are made based on the experience the infant is having at that moment.”




Anything that can happen at that speed is a little bit terrfying. It put my compratively slow mind at ease about whether it might all be too much for my almost three year old!





George Hosking on Morning Ireland –


Written by Anna

October 22, 2011 at 12:26 am


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I don’t do shopping. Maybe one of the few creatures with XX chromosomes that doesn’t. Not for clothes, shoes – not even the groceries.

But I relish browsing and have developed an unhealthy habit of ordering products and services online. Maybe it’s because there is no pressure to buy,  no expectant sales staff and it presents all the information you need in one place aswell as a click to door service. Perhaps it’s because I consider shopping as being a necessity – it’s for food that is needed for the week or I haven’t anything left to wear and if I don’t succeed in getting what I think I need there are unpleasant consequences.

Similarities between online shopping and the farmers markets that have mushroomed around the country aren’t  immediately obvious , but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that my preference for on-line shopping might not be so unrelated to the pleasure of browsing a “traditional” market with real people and real products and nothing virtual at all. The photographs I shot on a recent holiday to Cork reminded me of that real feeling…

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Here, as is the case on-line, there is no sense of urgency or rushing, and a comfort in knowing a lot about the product you are going to buy. With the variety you tend to get a detailed specification and plenty of time to read reviews and research before you proceed with any purchases. At a real market you get to meet the person who has grown or made the produce and can get a very good sense of what exactly you are buying.

I do have an ulterior motive for exploring the whole organic & “artisan” market scene, and it’s becoming more and more clear that strange as it may seem, the age-old business selling of ones wares at a stall is an unlikely bed fellow of the 21st century on-line phenomenon.  Next thing to figure out will be how to actually turn egg money into real money…  (check out the blog roll!)

Written by Anna

August 8, 2011 at 12:34 am


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Water, water, everywhere…

When I thought of starting a photo linked blog, I thought that water would be a fabulous theme.

All those light refracting images, catching droplets as they sparkled in the sun, waves on the west coast. Nice idea.

Didn’t think that June would be so so busy that whatever about having time to think about taking pictures I’d actually have time to take any!

One of the intreresting things I found myself thinking about was the different words we use to describe the sounds and sensationof water…

as Dr Seuss wrote “dibble, dibble, dop; dibble, dibble, dibble, dibble, dop dop dop” … cascading … gushing … dripping … flowing …. trickle … quenching … refreshing …

Every sense is excited by it, the sound of a roaring waterfall, the smell of the sea, the taste of a cold sparkling water. The sensation of submerging in a blissful bath, the view over an ocean.

So now we’re half way through July and it’s really time I at least post some of the thoughts I had, and dig out whatever images I did manage to take with this water theme in my head.

Not so many, but the short three day break these three pictures were snapped on was long yearned for time by the sea.





Maybe I’ll make the time to come back to this and add the images that are in my head…

… of the water flowing down the steps beside Sysiphus …  of lock gates along my cycle to work with water droplets gleaming in the morning sun … of a christening …  of a surfer catching a wave on a wild beach at sunset … of my next dive, which seems so far away but can’t come soon enough …  of Lorcan’s waterbirth … of one of those really really wet days when it feels like you’re wrapped in a cloud … of dew caught in a spiders web  …




Written by Anna

July 16, 2011 at 12:14 am

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May has been a real month of contrast. After over half a year being focused on being Mum, I’ve re-entered orbit and am back in the working world, at least for four days a week. The other half of the week I get to turn off my work mobile and live life through a two year old and six month olds eyes. I’ve always thought of myself as being a more of a glass half empty kind of person, but the last few years I suspect I may be undergoing a change in perspective.

This is where I live. The facade closest to the big electricity pylon. Just behind the protected water beds which are home to rare species of moth, herons, fox and a whole load of other critters.

From my kitchen table I can see a round tower, the M50, the Dublin mountains and very good detail of an electricity pylon. As well as all those critters I mentioned above.

There is an inordinate amount of things that one can and does complain about. And then again, there is an awful lot of surprises that lurk beneath the surface, and are so easily missed if you don’t let yourself see them. The challenge this month was to capture two images standing in the same location that emphasised the contrasts of Park West,  West Dublin… So I went for a walk with my camera along the canal between the and this is some of what I saw…

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For more information on the Green Route along the Grand Canal, have a look at SDCC’s publication 3rd Lock, Inchicore to 12th Lock, Lucan-Newcastle Road

Written by Anna

June 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm