Tag Archives: changes

And So, it Begins Again!

Forsooth, it is Monday, and I’m back at my desk again. Did I miss much?

I was away for the last few days, visiting my parents, and we had a very busy weekend. The excitement kicked off on Friday night with ‘the party of the century’ (allegedly) – a surprise birthday party for my mother, which my father, brother and I have spent the last few months organising. I’m extremely happy to say that it all went off without a hitch, the guest of honour didn’t suspect anything until we all started yelling ‘surprise!’ at her, and a wonderful night was had by all. The surprise was increased by the fact that my mother’s birthday is not actually in October; it’s in March, but a combination of other family events at that time meant that we couldn’t have a party for her back then. I have to admit that the planning of this party was extremely stressful – because, of course, we all wanted it to work perfectly – but every second of the stress and worry was more than worth it. It was wonderful to give my mother such a beautiful and happy evening, surrounded by her family and friends. We had music, we had food aplenty, and we had cake (some of which was baked by me!) My mother is a wonderful woman, of whom I’m extremely proud and who I love very much, and it made me (and the rest of the family) extremely glad to see so many people make the effort to come out to help her celebrate on a freezing cold October night. So, thank you to everyone who helped us to make the night special.

The day after mam’s party, my husband and I called up to visit my parents, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t sure I wanted to look out our back windows, out over the grassy fields that stretch to the horizon behind my parents’ house. This is because those beautiful grassy fields, in which my brother and I and all our childhood friends spent all our days playing, are no more. My parents have been keeping me up to date on the changes over the last few weeks, describing for me how the land-moving machines rumbled in to rip the fields up, and trying to give me an idea of the scale of destruction, but until I saw it for myself, I couldn’t have imagined it. It drew tears, I’m not ashamed to admit it. When I was a child, these fields not only soothed the eye, but they were also a wonderland of playing opportunities – we climbed trees, slopped around in the mud, ran through the tall grass, swung out of the gates, and just rambled for hours ‘up hill and down dale’, aimlessly having fun as only children can.

It wasn’t only my brother and me who used to play there – my father did, and all his siblings did, and my grandfather before them. There was a feature of the landscape known locally as ‘The Bog Well’ which was marked on maps going back hundreds of years, familiar to all of us living in the area – now it’s been destroyed. It’s making me so angry to know that all these memories are now going to be entombed beneath a supermarket, and it makes me twice as angry to think my parents, who are used to living with the comfort of fields stretching out behind them, will now have to live with a huge loading bay right behind their house. But what can be done? Nothing. The fields were sold, permission to build was sought and granted, and that’s that. Progress trundles on.

My father, husband and I walked down to a neighbour’s garden to get a closer look at some of the deep excavation. The machines had cut down about fifteen feet – perhaps more – into the ground, making the garden where we were standing feel like it was teetering on the edge of a cliff. It was like looking down into the deep end of a gargantuan swimming pool.  ‘You know how deep they’ve cut down?’ asked my husband. I, thinking he was talking in terms of feet and inches, said ‘no’.  ‘About five thousand years,’ he replied, looking with disgust at the history that has been lost. That really struck pain into my heart.

The rest of the weekend was great, though – we got to spend time with my family, and that’s always good fun. Today is a Bank Holiday here, so we’ve got an extra day of relaxation before the world kicks in again. After the weekend we had, with the extremes of emotion we went through, we need the extra day, that’s for sure. I hope you’ve all had a good weekend and that you’re all happy, healthy and well. Happy Monday!

Notes on the City

This morning was taken up with a journey to Dublin, a city I used to traverse every day, and a place I know very well.  For the last few weeks, however, I’ve had very little need to go anywhere near it, which I feel is no great loss.  I’ve had a mixed relationship with Dublin for years now; I went through cycles of hating the place with a passion, followed by years of utter devotion, over and over again during my adult life.  I think, now, that the fluctuations in my feelings about Dublin mapped my changing feelings about my life and myself, more than anything else.  The more secure I felt as an individual, the more I loved living in Dublin, and during those times when my confidence was at a low ebb, I couldn’t bear the pace of life there and I often felt a desperate need to escape.  I’m beginning to see that things have shifted for me now – at the moment, I’m glad to say that I feel happier than ever before about life, and I’m pretty sure part of that happiness is down to the fact that I’m not living in the city any more.

Dublin’s not a huge city, by any means, but when I was new to it I felt like it was the throbbing heart of the universe.  I’m a little more blasé towards it now – these days the streets of Dublin have more to say about poverty than they do about power.  Walking through the city today, I was struck by how much deprivation I saw.  There are far more people living on the streets than there were when I first moved there, and the air carries whispers of sadness and desperation – the whole place seems on edge, like a dog waiting for the next blow from a cruel master.

But perhaps I’m being over-dramatic.  Ireland, as a whole, is suffering economically, so maybe it makes sense that its capital city – where the majority of the country’s population lives – displays a huge portion of the pain.  All I know is, when I’d finished my business there, I couldn’t get myself to the train station fast enough.  The further away I got, and the greener the view from the train window became, the happier my heart felt.  It’s funny to have such a strong relationship with one’s capital city – even though I don’t live there, it still casts a long shadow over how I feel about my life.  Once upon a time, the journey to Dublin felt like freedom; now, leaving it feels like coming home.  I guess I’m just a small-town girl at heart…

In case you’re wondering, I was in Dublin today to drop off my entry to the writing competition I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts.  It feels good to know my entry has been submitted and that my journey – away from Dublin, perhaps, but toward my new life – has begun in earnest.

Changes…

I promised yesterday that I’d blog about the weather today, so here goes.  It doesn’t hurt, of course, to have a David Bowie reference (sort of) in the title of this post, either!  Any excuse for the Thin White Duke.  As I write, it’s dull outside, and the trees at the end of our garden are waving, quite pleasingly, in the breeze.  It’s a cool day out there, too – you can feel the teeth of winter starting to tighten over our little part of the world.

And I couldn’t be happier.  I love this time of year.  For a person who doesn’t deal too well with Change (Capital Ch… Ch… Ch…) I am obsessed with the times of year when the seasons begin to melt from one into another.  My favourite time of flux is this one – late summer to autumn to winter.  I spend all year looking forward to those days when you can walk out the door and be kissed with that particular, refreshing, brisk air you only get when winter’s coming, and go for long walks wrapped carefully in your woollens.  I love scrunching through piles of leaves, and not only because it makes me feel like a little girl again (but mainly, that’s the reason).  I love the colours at this time of year – the reds, oranges, yellows and golden-browns speckling the trees like a pointillist painting; the low, honey-coloured sun which seems so much brighter now than it ever did in summer; the particular slate shade of the sky.  I love the feeling that the world is beginning to pull its blanket over its head, ready for its long hibernation.  It makes me feel like everything has a cycle, and so it’s okay for me to sometimes feel tired, or in need of renewal.  Strangely, though, even though I know that nature is preparing for its time of rest, the whole world seems so alive and invigorated, to me, at this time of year.  Perhaps its the chill in the air which gets the blood moving that bit quicker – I don’t know.  I just know I can’t wait for October and November.

The love I have for this time of year might be something to do with the fact that seasonal change is completely outside of my ability to control, but it does feel as if someone is looking after the whole show.  The gradual swing from season to season is going to happen whether I like it or not, and all I can do is sit back and watch it, marvelling at how well organised the whole thing is; it’s like a perfectly controlled orchestra, whose conductor is out of sight.  Change, as manifested in the average human life, is sometimes quick, unexpected – even painful – and it can seem sometimes that no-one, and nothing, has any control over things that happen to people.  I, personally, find changes in my life very frightening, and I hate the feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen, so it soothes me to watch seasons change, knowing that it’s all unfolding just as it should.

I hope you get out in the weather today (well, those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, at least!) and take a wonderful, refreshing breath, and revel in the changes being wrought by the onset of winter.  Whatever you do, enjoy yourself.