Our First St Patrick’s Day In Ireland


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Our first St Patrick’s Day and Ireland is in lockdown! No pubs open, no parades, only virtual ones that RD is going to watch for the marching bands. That’s something I have never shared that RD was in a marching band until he was 27, he even travelled to the USA to compete, so that part of Ireland is really going to resonate with him. Me, it’s not my thing, but I will love the atmosphere when the parades take place next year (we’re going down the positive route now!)

But sadly this St Patricks Day is a subdued affair (or perhaps a celebration that is being held behind closed doors away from prying eyes for some.) It is a bank holiday here in Ireland, but as we heard the assistant in our local Cope yesterday they will be open because ‘sure what else is there for people to do?’ A classic Irish way to look at things! Who ever thought that supermarket shopping could be so exciting!

We’re just having a quiet day, we won’t be eating boiled ham and cabbage, the traditional Irish meal for Paddy’s day,, although I was brought up with it and have converted RD. But we will toast St Paddy, and wait until next year to fully celebrate then.

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world, including Japan, Turkey, Argentina, and many more, Montserrat even has a bank holiday to celebrate (who knew!) I think it’s the infectious enthusiasm of the Irish just spreads across the world. Or as I put it when RD asked me if there were Irish in Japan: ‘Of course there are, the Irish get everywhere!’ I realised then that I have followed that tradition, being Irish by descent, and have so far been in England, France and now back to the homeland. I understand that pull to return.

St Patrick was it appears a saint that liked to have a drink or two, he sounds like my kind of man. Folkelore says that when he went into the pub and ordered a drink the landlord served his drink in short measure and St Patrick was having none of it. He was the man who introduced Christianity to Ireland, but I think the Irish respect him because he came back to Ireland after being a child slave here, to bring ‘The Faith’ to the Irish. Although I’m not into religion I respect the man for that.

Happy St Patrick’s Day folks


‘Life’ Shows The Way PT I


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I’ve had this post in my mind ever since we moved because it’s about how we look at life and ultimately how we came to go on another adventure. It’s not a post for those who want to ‘stay safe’ and thereby close their minds and talk themselves out of opportunity; it’s a post for those who are feeling restless, feel a strong urge to make change, or to just change the way they view things.

There are so many things that happened that got us to where we are today I will break them down into a series of posts. I hope they get some of you thinking. So here goes..

The biggest change to RD and I since embarking on our adventures has been the way we think. I have said for many years that ‘life will show us the way’, but our adventure in France made us see that it really did, if we listened.

When we arrived in France, in the first year we were there our Jeep broke down numerous times. No matter how many times we had it repaired something else went wrong with it. But still we persisted because we had paid over the odds for it, we liked it and we didn’t want to acknowledge that we had been ‘had’ and it was a heap of shit. Life was telling us to let it go, and each time something went wrong it was a problem that was worse than the one before. It took us two years and the wheel falling off it as RD was driving (luckily slowly at that moment in time) for us to realise that life was telling us to let it go! But that was not the end of the lessons.

Before we moved RD bought a flatbed truck, it was only six years old, but within the first eighteen months the engine blew up!

When we first moved into our house we turned the water on and it poured through the ceiling from the shower, we also discovered as winter drew in that the heating didn’t work. In the first year I wrote often of the cold, but we persevered because we had made our decision and we HAD to make it work. I did write a Post about our adventures a year in, reading it now made me smile because we had so much more to learn.

Our Old Green Door

In the March of 2016, after only seven months of living in our house, the roof blew off our kitchen. It was at that point, as RD stood at our old knackered door, where the water seeped through when the rain lashed down, that he looked out and his subconscious said out loud ‘Here we are, living the dream!’

By 2016 I had also started to read the book ‘Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life’ the book of Tao, and it helped me to keep going because I understood that where there is bad there is good, and it enabled us to keep going, because there was good, in the shape of our beautiful old house, and our surroundings; add to that our love for each other and son and our animals.

I remember now talking RD round, out of this mindset, but when looking back I can see that it was ‘life’ trying to get us to question what we had done. I even painted and tried to renovate our old door, it looked fab, but it still leaked and we still weren’t getting it!

In my old post I wrote with hope that we were just waiting for the insurance company to pay for the replacement, which of course they never did. It was one of our lessons about France don’t trust the insurance companies . Over the years we would come to add the un-regulated, at times corrupt banking system to a long list of what wasn’t right for us. No wonder French people protest!

We had tarpaulins on our roof for nearly three years. When it rained, and trust me when it rained it blew across the open countryside and hammered our lovely house on the hill, we had bowls all over the kitchen catching the water. But still we carried on.

We learned from it all, we learned patience, and that sometimes things we think are catastrophic are not, you survive.

Work was difficult, we were starting to realise that the English people that we had to interact with were pretty awful (I’m being polite) in fact that was a continuous lesson right up to the day we left France.

In the September of 2016 a tornado ripped through our garden demolishing everything in its path. But we persevered, we held on to what I thought was ‘hope’ when in fact it was the fear of letting go of what was not a dream, in fact ‘life’ was telling us it wasn’t the right path for us.

But we didn’t listen to the messages life was sending us, and so they got worse and in 2017 our well ran dry. We had no water, nada, none, and again RD’s subconscious tried to get him to listen and he went down. Our wonderful French friends came to the rescue again and we had water connected via Marc’s supply until we could find the funds to have water connected. At nearly three thousand euros that was no mean feat, and we lived like that for eighteen months. But again we survived, the adventure in France taught us a lesson about ourselves, and how resilient we are, as we showered each other using a watering can.

It was in 2018 that we started to read ‘The Book of Awakening’ by Mark Nepo, we would read it together and consider each lesson. We are still reading it today, and it taught us one of the biggest lessons: Let Go.

We had a fabulous summer of 2018, I remember laying on a lilo on our pool in the baking sun and thinking ‘I am in my garden’. I understand now that summer happened to enable us to love what we had, before things started to change and we became enlightened in that it was time to consider change. We thought at that time that things were getting better, but in fact all our plans fell through and by the December I was starting to understand that life really was trying to tell us something.

By January of 2019 we found ourselves with no work and no funds, chopping up falling logs in the garden to try and heat the house after RD wasn’t paid for a job he had done (a common thing in that area of France sadly where English clients were concerned). Our new roof had leaked, and one night just as we went to bed I asked RD if he thought staying in France was the right thing to do and he answered honestly ‘I don’t know.’ Then he promptly started to snore as I lay awake in the darkness contemplating our life and our future. I was afraid, but I also realised that what I was actually afraid of was letting go, and so we finally started to listen….

More to come


My Pain In The Butt has Debilitated Me


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I don’t do being ill well! I have always been of the ilk that I just get on with it whenever I can. Staying in bed when I am ill just makes me feel worse, and whenever possible I have got up and got dressed. But…..

Way back in 2014 I was walking on our decking, which was about three feet off the ground, a plank gave way and my right leg went through it. I cannot begin to tell you how much that hurt. On inspection RD could see how the plank had worn and got out his trusty tools to fix it, and I left him to it. That evening, as the World Cup Opening Ceremony was under way and RD was ensconced on the sofa with a beer in hand, I went back out onto the decking to check my baby cucumbers and went through the exact same piece of decking again! By now the pain was excruciating and when I then saw RD’s trusty tools still there on the decking I cannot begin to tell you what I called him, or should I say screamed at him but I am pretty sure that it had the word ‘fucking’ in it! I refer to this incident as the ‘the time RD tried to kill me.’

Over the course of that year I went to the Doctor at least five times and each time I explained (given that I am a qualified aerobic teacher, although looking at the size of my arse you would never believe that now!) that I thought that the injury was muscular and not joint related. But I was ignored and sent for many x-rays on my knee. In the end I gave up and put up with the niggling pain and intermittent swelling of my leg. That was until Christmas of that year when I danced a little jig and found myself in so much pain that I had to crawl up the stairs to bed that night. It was enough to drive me back to the doctors where a newly qualified doctor actually listened and referred me to a physio, hurrah!

The physio was great, pronounced that I had basically squashed my psoas muscle, pushing it up my leg and he gave me a set of exercises which I promptly did. He was brilliant and also gave a fab arse massage, much to RD’s distress who asked my friend Mary if he did the same to her when she visited him, and when she said ‘no’ RD looked at me as if to say ‘see he doesn’t massage her arse!’ It might have had something to do with the fact that she had a shoulder injury. 😂

Alas I had to leave physio after only three months because we moved to France to our beautiful but wibbly wobbly garden on a hill. The unevenness of the garden combined with lifting heavy loads then proceeded to aggravate my leg more and more as each year went by. I found I couldn’t walk down the stairs unless it was sideways like a crab, but I put up with it and just sucked it up, trying to ignore that it seemed to be getting worse and worse.

Eventually I looked up why I had such a pain in my butt every time I walked down the stairs or stood up, and found that it was highly likely that I had not only damaged my psoas but also my piriformis, one of the smallest muscles in the body and one of the most painful if it is damaged. The good old piriformis runs across the sciatic nerve, or sometimes the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis, but needless to say when the muscle swells the pain is excruciating. Carrying things aggravates the piriformis, heels aggravate the piriformis, uneven ground aggravates it, in fact sitting aggravates it, walking aggravates it, basically if you have piriformis syndrome (and all my symptoms pretty much tick all the boxes) your well and truly up shit creek without a paddle.

Like I said I don’t ‘do ill’ well, so I just got on with it, looking up stretches which helped and just soldiering on. But then the move from France to Ireland was basically a game changer what with lifting heavy items, and going and up and down stairs with them; add that I then I decided to get fit when I arrived in Ireland: walking at least a mile and a half a day (who wouldn’t with the fabulous views around us?) I basically pushed the injury too far.

I was losing this fight, but still I carried on: I bought a hiking stick to try and help when we had to just step onto the beach, because I couldn’t even step on the beach! Something that RD found so hilarious he took photos of my trying to climb up onto the dunes.

A few weeks after these photos were taken I actually bought myself a walking stick in Lidl because I couldn’t walk around the shop I was in so much pain, and I’m not going to lie at that point it started to get to me.

That’s why I haven’t been blogging or writing in any way, because in the end the pain was constant no matter what I was doing I couldn’t actually think straight. I couldn’t even walk my beloved puppies around the garden. Add to this RD got a short term job and wasn’t here so I persevered hoping to God that the dogs didn’t pull me because they would simply pull me over! Poor RD he was working all day, driving a long drive to and from work, doing all the shopping and then walking the dogs.

For me the biggest thing was how much chronic,constant pain begins to affect you mentally. You literally cannot focus, terrified to move but still in pain anyway and I began to feel old, and trapped, despite the excitement of our new adventure. Out here on a peninsular with no car, not even being able to walk outside my own front door, was awful and I thought of a lovely lady I used to care for who was in a wheelchair and I understood how important her daily trips were to her more than ever. It was an eye opener for me, of how people live with this all their lives, and I was grateful for my strength and counted my blessings that I would fight this.

Ever proactive (I won’t be beaten, although there have been times over the last four weeks when I thought I was) I looked up more stretches and exercises, and despite the pain I was in I made myself do them three or four times a day. I sat on a hot water bottle, religiously, and I booked an appointment with a chiropractic, who although she was incredibly rude and a bit dodgy she massaged exactly where the pain was radiating from and over the following few days the pain began to subside. I took note, and now I get RD to do massage the same place, now his job has ended, and he realises that the physio was doing exactly what he was meant to do.

I am now eighty per cent better. The pain is not constant, but I persevere with all the exercises and stretches and know that this is what I will have to do from here on in, as well as attend a chiropractic probably once a month, or at the least a masseuse ‘. I still cannot lift anything even remotely heavy, or walk my beloved puppies, because it may well aggravate the muscle again, and my hamstrings and knee ligaments are sore from the pain that had been radiating down the back of my leg for let’s be honest at least the last three months.

I am going to try as of today to walk with the dogs whilst RD holds the strong little buggers, wish me luck.


More to come now I can think straight

The Glens…And Harley Pup


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A frozen glen in the Derryveagh Mountains 2021

There are thirty mountain ranges in Ireland, with glen’s running down through them. The word glen comes from the Irish and Scottish word ‘gleann’ and means a narrow valley, more often than not with water cascading down through it cutting through the rock as it goes. We are currently living near the Derryveagh Mountain range in Donegal. My understanding is that it is the Bluestack mountains that we will be able to see from the house we are hoping to buy, which is good news as far as I am concerned.

I have written before of my love of the glens. When I was a very young child we would visit Ireland on holiday, and whilst my dad helped his brother on his farm I would play with my cousins in the glen that run past the side of their farmland. There was a small stone bridge that straddled the freezing cold sparkling water as it ran down from the mountains to meet the sea, and we would all congregate under the bridge on warm sunny days catching tiddlers and then letting them go. It is one of my favourite memories of my holidays in Ireland.

The glen of Aherlow which run past my uncles farm

Ever since then I have always been fascinated with the beauty of the glens, as they catch the light and take it with them to the sea.

The last time I was in Ireland before moving here, was thirty-six years ago when my dad brought the whole family, including boyfriends of the time, to visit his family. I can remember walking up what I think were the Galtee Mountains and along the edge of the Glen of Aherlow; the further you walked up the mountain the bigger the glen was in places, sometimes a raging torrent angrily hurtling down the hills, as if it really didn’t want to leave it’s surroundings but compelled by some sort of magic to keep going anyway. The sun was shining and the glen was at it’s most magnificent, a watery jewel that only nature could create.

The glen of Aherlow in the mountains

My partner at the time had a terrible wound on his hand, he had caught it with a grinder and took layers of skin off and it just wouldn’t heal. My dad told him to place his hand in the freezing pure waters of the glen and hold it there. His hand was healed before the holiday was over.

My Beautiful Boy Harley

For those new to my blog, of which there seem to be quite a few so welcome, our Welshie Harley has always loved water, and especially the light that sparkles on it. There was never a moment of peace when our pool was in place for the summer, no laying in the water and relaxing because Harley would just be stood up beside the pool barking incessantly until you splashed him, and he would then chase the sparkling droplets all around the garden. It was the same with the hose, he just loved it.

Harley at the Pool
Harley chasing sparkling water courtesy of daddy

It was one of the things that broke our heart when we took it down for the last time. But we comforted ourselves that he would love his life here.

Harley had a terrible health scare back in 2017 when he nearly died. Since then we have always been afraid that it would have affected him in other ways, add to that he is not getting any younger and it is always a worry.

Towards the end of last year we had another health scare with him, which resulted in me being in tears for a whole weekend until we decided to ‘wait and see’. But one of the things that I said at the time, through the tears was that I just wanted to get Harley to Ireland, and for him to see the beaches, and more importantly the glens, with their sparkling magical light that I knew my boy would love.

I was not wrong.

Although we have not been able to go into the mountains for walks due to the dreaded lockdown we have been able to experience some of the glens as they finally meet the sea; and Harley, like his mummy, has absolutely loved them.

We have visited a town near to us where the glen finally runs free into the sea, gurgling hysterically as it’s journey finally comes to fruition. Harley could not resist getting closer to take a look.

A few weeks ago we went to the long beach near to us, and there was a small glen trickling down to freedom, because we have not been able to get into the mountains we showed it to Harley, it was one of those moments that makes you smile.

I cannot wait until we can go into the mountains and my boy can finally stand in their healing waters. More to come on this subject.


It’s Just A View….


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Dunmore, Donegal, Ireland January 2021

Only recently someone said to me that ‘Yousure know how to find a view’. I thought of it the other day as I was pegging out my washing in the blustery winds and suddenly stopped and looked at this…

As I turned and found myself looking at this on the other side, It did just make me stop and think of that conversation.

But I was also reminded of a conversation I had last summer with an elderly lady that I cared for. She had the most amazing view from every room in the home she had lived in for over fifty years. When I commented on the view she said ‘Yes, it’s a view!’ I understood exactly what she meant, a view is a fleeting thing, something that holds you in awe for a time and then it becomes like the sideboard, something that you take for granted, something that you have seen over and over, it no longer makes you go ‘wow!’ Unless you stop at times, and look out and remind yourself of how lucky you are.

When we first moved to Montaigu in France the view across the valley literally took my breath away.

I would stand at my washing line and look across this valley and remind myself ‘I live here!’ In the same way as I would look out of my bedroom window at the hay bales as summer drew to a close and marvel at the colours, and nature.

As time moved on although we never really tired of the view I can’t say that we were ‘in awe’ any longer, not unless we made ourself stop, and count our blessings.

But every morning if I was up early enough to see the sunrise I would rush out in my jymbi jambes and slippers and take photos of the sunrise, because no two were ever the same, all truly breathtaking. We count that view as a blessing, something in our memories for the rest of our lives.

Now I find myself here in Donegal Ireland, surrounded by mountain ranges and beaches, it is the most atmospheric place that I have ever lived.

As I walk to the beach the colours change over and over, as does the weather with the sun, wind and rain.

I think it will be impossible to become bored with this, but I also think that’s because we try to always focus on the here and now, never take anything for granted, and count our blessings. One of those is that I have a view, but is it in the perspective? Can we not see something beautiful wherever we are? I don’t know I think I’ve been blessed.

More to come.


Invigorating Cold Atlantic Winds


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Kincasslagh Donegal Ireland

The cold is here in Ireland, along with most of North West Europe, but so far we have had only a flurry of snow.

Today RD had an appointment and I was here with the puppies, meaning we walked down to the beach alone. Well apart from the little Jack Russell, who I have nicknamed Fannie Annie, who has decided that she wants to walk with us most days. Wiglet tried to bite her initially, as is normal for our insecure little dog, but Fannie Annie was far too fast for her and in the end our little fat-arsed Oompa Loompa gave up and called a truce.

Wiglet with Fanny Annie,, whose keeping a safe distance

There is nothing like walking in the biting wind, the kind that stings your face, to wake you up and invigorate you.

Winter On The Beach In Donegal

Nature really is a fabulous thing.

When we arrived on the beach the tide was out, and I found myself surrounded by stark winter colours everywhere.

With the dunes taking the brunt of the wind the beach felt calm and the sun was warm on my back, a timely reminder that despite this cold Spring is on its way.

Winter in Donegal

I count my blessings every day.


Making A New Life: Home


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Our possible new home, and yes the land comes with it!

Buying a house was one of our priorities after arriving in Ireland. RD and I have always been home makers, we don’t do well without a house that is ours. Many years ago, just after we married I had to sell my previous marital home and we moved into rented accommodation. Luckily our landlady was a gem, and allowed us to decorate and make some changes, but it’s not the same as being able to make big changes or hanging pictures, or shelves.

Luckily we were blessed enough to have a guardian angel who allowed us to buy her house at a time when prices were rising faster than dough. Trust me I am grateful for that every time I buy a home. But that’s not to say that we haven’t worked bloody hard renovating properties, and making them our own, to get us to where we are now.

We love to pull things together and even now we’re not afraid of hard work, but we also know that we’re not getting any younger so with this in mind and due to my leg injury we both agreed that this time we wanted single floor living.

In the early autumn we sat down and each wrote our idyll of what our next house would be, it was a helpful thing to do, enabling us to stay focused this time round and not allowing the romance of a building take over our decision making.

Learning from previous decisions we wanted somewhere that was in a quiet location but within walking distance of community and the pub (of course!) In addition we didn’t want too much land. So by the fifteenth of January we put in an offer for the semi-detached bungalow in the picture at the beginning of this blog, and it was accepted!

It is a tiny house, but has plenty of potential with a half acre paddock at the side, a courtyard and scope to develop if we want to. Situated in a small community it is also only two kilometres from a village with enough pubs, shops and amenities that we can walk to; it is also only seven kilometres from two large towns, and half an hour from the biggest towns in Donegal, whilst also virtually on the border to Northern Ireland, meaning more job opportunities.

In the beautiful county of Donegal and only thirty five minutes from the beach, it holds all we need, we knew that location was essential. We have loved living near the beach, and so have the Welshies, so easy access to the beach at weekends is important for us, but it was also important to be in a quiet place, but not too isolated.

The deposit has been paid, so hopefully all will go smoothly and quickly. It will be the smallest house we have ever lived in, but we know it will be home.

Watch this space. But for now we will be enjoying the here and now.


Taking A Spiritual Day


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We have lived here in Ireland just over a month now. Even though we arrived on the 31st given the Journey we had we technically didn’t start living here until the 1st of January, and how time has flown what with all the things we have had to, and still are, sorting out. So much so that I have not given myself that ‘time out’ that I need to ground myself again.

I can be quite driven (I may have mentioned that before) it is one of the things that made me ill years ago, and despite having many processes available to me to slow myself down, like journalling, and reading Mark Nepo or M Scott Peck, or Byron Katie and many more, or allow myself time to just sit and embroider, the urge to create our ‘new life’ has overtaken me and I haven’t done nearly as much of that as I should.

We do take the dogs out every day, and the beautiful scenery around me and watching Harley turn into a puppy again when he hits the beach and Wiglet turn into King Canute, barking at the waves has been a joy; but it still hasn’t stopped my ‘drive’ and I am acutely aware that I need to reign it in or I won’t be able to give myself space to understand what we really need.

Welshies loving The Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal

Yesterday we were busy still trying to open a bank account (ID in any country is just a nightmare, it really is a ‘computer says know’ thing), ordering essentials for our new life, and shopping, when I realised when I got home after a busy day that I was spending too much time watching TV, or searching the internet for information that we needed, and hadn’t been giving myself that ‘time out’ that we all need.

January on The Wild Atlantic Way Donegal

So today I said to RD that I am having a spiritual day: reading Mark Nepo, blogging, reading last Saturday’s newspapers, doing some embroidery staying off searching the internet for ‘stuff.’ My brain needs a time out from trying to control my new life, and thereby allowing my new life to come to me.

So we are off for our hours walk down to the beach, the fire is already lit, and Mark Nepo is waiting to be read. And RD has decided to join me.

Beautiful Donegal Ireland

It’s so easy to be driven, especially when you’re trying to set up a new life and your thinking of the million things you need to do, so I am reminding myself today that what will be will be, and to live in the moment.

This will be my next writer to read.


Ireland: Making A New Life in a new country during a Pandemic part I


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I have said many times before that when I started this blog it was to encourage, or help those who wanted to change their lives by reading about our story and thinking ‘I can make change, they did!’ But it’s not easy.

I suppose the best place to start is how we have had to learn to let go of so many things including the houses we have renovated and loved, our jobs, of our knowledge of where we are, of the all the visual triggers for our memories. I know in the last few weeks at Montaigu I had strong memories of the fabulous summer of 2018, of three Welshies running round our garden, of Oscar joining in the fun.

I remember laying on a lilo in the pool on a baking hot summers day and looking up at the endless blue sky and thinking ‘I am laying in a pool in my garden’; the memories of friends who have visited, and looking out across at that fabulous view.

Sweet memories.

Then there is the logistics of just making the move, like we have, twice!! It is very stressful when you have two cats and two Welsh Terriers in tow.

But, it can be done, nothing is insurmountable only sometimes illness and always death. I learned that a long time ago when my mum was told that she was dying of cancer.

Once arriving in your new country there are all the things you have do when you move to a new country, add the pandemic and lockdown into the mix and it isn’t easy at times, this is my experience so far….

I have explained in a previous post that because of Brexit if you are resident in Eire (Ireland) you can no longer drive here on a UK driving licence, it has to be exchanged. But there is more to this, in that despite both of us getting our eyesight reports finally signed off you cannot get the licence without a PPS number. So that was my next point of call…

I applied for our PPS numbers, but to do that I had to register us both on MyGove.ie. This I duly did but to get a PPS number I needed proof of address which is difficult because we are renting an airbnb! So I changed our address on one of our bank accounts to this address but then I had to wait two weeks until a statement was available to download. That done I applied for both of us remotely because due to Covid the normal face to face interviews are not taking place unless in exceptional circumstances.

This in itself was a time consuming task because of numerous problems with the documents going wrong in their system when trying to send electronically, but eventually a lovely lady used her initiative and called us, then emailed us and bypassed the obviously useless system! Three days later letters arrived with our PPS numbers. ‘Fabulous!’ I thought. ‘I can apply for our driving licences now.’ But noooooo…..

To apply for a driving licence you have to enhance your Mygov.ie account, and to do that you have to have a PPS card, and the only way to get a PPS card is to have a face to face interview!

So I am back to square one, and now our signed reports are out of date, as you only have twenty-eight days and we will probably have to pay again!

Today I am contacting the office near to the house we are hoping to buy to try and arrange interviews! It’s all part of the process, and there is more to come, but it’s all part of the adventure, thank God I was a civil servant in a previous life!