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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Taking a Break

I'm going to be taking a short break from blogging.  I'm feeling just a teeny bit exhausted at the moment and think I need to unplug for a while.

I can't do anything about the number of hours I'm required to be at work, but for the rest I want to take advantage of the longer evenings and all too fleeting Irish summer and spend as much time as I can outside in the garden and the magical surrounding countryside.

A little while ago Megan from Storybook Love Affair asked if I write any stories besides keeping this blog.  I haven't written anything for a long time, but some of my recent posts and the wonderful people I've met through the blog have made me feel enthusiastic about writing again.  Perhaps I'll find a tree to sit under and scribble away.

I hope you will forgive me if I don't come by to visit as frequently as I usually do.  

I also hope that you will come back to visit me when I return.

In the meantime

Go dtuga Dia tú a choinneáil ar an dtearmann a lámh

The two illustrations are by the brilliant Australian illustrator Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (1888-1960)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

For the Love of Trees - A Poem

Today I'm posting a poem - not because I think it is particularly brilliant, but because of what it represents in the journey of my life.

My blog is a testament to a glorious childhood.  Many aspects of it I could continue enjoying as an adult - an ever growing paper doll collection and my passion for fairytale illustrations.

But some pastimes were - by their nature - finite.  Tree climbing was one of these.



I've always had a great affinity with trees.  When I was a child I would climb every tree I saw, no matter where it was.  The moment my mother turned her back I was already scampering up to the topmost branches.

Most of all I loved to sit above the canopy, watching the birds as they wheeled and soared across the vast blue African sky.

Every day when I returned home from school I would take our two Labradors for a walk in a green-belt near our house.  In it there grew a particularly magnificent tree that I would climb while the dogs gambolled below.

When I turned 12 realisation dawned that my tree-climbing days were almost over.  Childhood was passing me by and I experienced an acute sense of sadness and loss.  

What amazes me today is the level of self-awareness I experienced, responding to the passing of time in such a conscious way.   

My reaction was to write this poem.

Bear in mind when you read it that this is the work of a 12 year old.  As such I have never tried to change or improve on it.

It is instead a window to the past and a particular moment in time.  

My Beautiful Tree

My beautiful tree your leaves are now new
The summer has given you a fresh outfit too.
My beautiful tree you shimmer like gold
And in the sun's rays you never look cold.

My beautiful tree you are so tall
Standing beside you I feel tiny and small.
My beautiful tree you are so old
And when the world started it was probably foretold
That you would be here especially for me - 
A beautiful tree no one else would see.

But my beautiful tree I'm no longer a child
I no longer can shout or run so wild.
No longer can sit on your wide, strong branches
Now only can give you occasional glances
As I walk past you
In your outfit so new.

My beautiful tree we all have to grow older
And the child in me is now growing colder
Until at last she is dead and gone
And a new grown up person will have to live on.

Then my beautiful tree when at last I am gone
I am most certain that you will stay on.
So remember me as that little child
Who gazed up at your leafy branches - 
And smiled.

Sharon Munro - aged 12  (1971)

In 2009 when we last visited S. Africa I asked my husband to drive past the green-belt.  As far as I could tell the tree is still there.  Unfortunately I did not think to stop and take a photograph.  All the pictures in this post were taken last week at Trinity College, Dublin and St Stephen's Green.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

The idea for this post came from a wonderfully vivid comment Barbara from March House Books left on my Polly and her Playmates paper doll post.  She described the visits of rich swanky relatives, arriving in a big black car, flashing their wealth and beautiful clothes.  Of course to me Barbara had the more enviable life on a farm, with the run of wild flower meadows from which she could return laden with armfuls of bluebells.  But I suppose at the time that was little consolation for a young girl who dreamt of owning the lovely dresses her cousin wore.

The comment immediately brought to mind the stories of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.  I think they are recognisable enough that I can leave these truly delightful pictures to talk for themselves.  A few people seemed to enjoy my use of the word 'verbose' in the same post - well this time I'm showing equal restraint!

The stories were written by Barbara Hayes and the artist signed himself as Mendoza.  (I think the illustration of the auction is particularly clever as you can see he has put his name on the painting they are bidding on.)

Trees in Trinity College, Dublin

I love these flowering trees - the grow on the boundary of the square often used as croquet lawns in the college.  The flowers have almost had their time so I wanted to capture them before they are gone again for the year.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sharon's Little Sunbeam Award - Week 8

This week Sharon's Little Sunbeam shines on Donna at:

Donna's Designs

Donna has one of the loveliest blogs that I have found so far.  She literally has fairies in her garden.  Don't believe me?  have a look at this post -  Fairy Garden - it was the first of Donna's that I discovered and I have loved visiting her blog ever since.

Donna makes the most beautiful handmade cards.  Many of her posts contain the results of her handiwork.and they are truly stunning.  She tells us exactly how they are made and even lists all the materials, stamp designs and ink colours.  As tempting as it would be to try my hand at this art form myself, for now I just enjoy looking at the results and marvel at how she puts all the different elements together.
It goes without saying that Donna is as nice a person as her blog is beautiful - as everyone who is familiar with my sunbeam award knows by now - that has become one of my foremost prerequisites!

A little while ago I was the winner of a giveaway Donna held to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  I have never won a giveaway before and found it a lovely experience.  This post gives me a chance to show in detail what Donna sent me - 

My gift was wrapped in this pretty, lightly embossed wrapping paper and came with this very elegant card.  

The giveaway was a CD of Music played aboard the Titanic - contemporary music of the time creating a compilation that is both moving and atmospheric.


With it Donna included one of her own cards.  (I hope you don't mind Donna that I am showing it here.)  The subject perfectly compliments the CD.  I love the colours and the play of light.

And finally a poem with the most beautiful words about angels.


Thank you Donna.  I though this combination of items was very special and that's how I've come to think of your blog too.

The first two pictures in this post were previously used in a post called Fabulous Fairies

Past recipients of Sharon's Little Sunbeam Award:

Storybook Love Affair

Lucy Violet Vintage

Sharon's Little Sunbeam is my own personal 'no strings attached' award.  It is my way of thanking some of the wonderful people who enrich my blogging experience.  The recipient is introduced in a post like this one and a link to their blog remains on my sidebar for a week.  There are no conditions attached to the award.  The recipient does not need to answer any questions, pass the award on or even acknowledge that they have received it.  All they need to do is bask in my little sunbeam and enjoy it!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We're Living in a Modern World

A few weeks ago my son sought me out brimming with mirth.  He had just seen something while watching an 'old' movie on TV that he thought was wonderfully funny,  He could not wait to describe the object of his amusement - it was as if he had just discovered some ancient and marvellous artefact brought up from the ocean floor and wanted to share this fascinating find with me.

What was it that he found so incredibly humorous?  .... a Walkman!
'You put those old fashioned cassette tapes into it!' he chortled, both amazed and impressed by the ingenuity of a primitive age.  

Every generation likes to think it is at the forefront of technological sophistication.  I loved being a part of the 60's (after all it was the decade that put man on the moon.)  We believed we were very modern.  One of the most popular features in children's books were pages like the ones below that compared the contemporary world with the quaint old-fashioned curiosities of a bygone age.    

 Today Mrs White's shop looks just as nostalgic and out-dated as Granny White's shop did when the book was published.
(Both sets of illustrations are from the Playhour Annual of 1968.)

Fast forward to the 1980's - hard to believe I was already an adult when homes looked like this!  Who remembers Space Invaders?! - I used to play it for hours on a Spectrum Sinclair - the first home 'computer' I owned.    

I love the detail in this living room.  Look at the TV, the big bulky video machine and of course the stereo with a record player on top.

Something my son did react to with great reverence was the discovery of my LP record collection.  We have not owned a record player since before he was born, but my records are all packed away very carefully in a crate.  My son came across them when we were unpacking after our recent move.  He thought they were fascinating - he exclaimed over their size and the covers, especially those that opened up or had a booklet with the words to the songs inside.  My whole life up to my 30's in music is documented there - from the records I had as a child to my first tweeny LP (the soundtrack to the film 'Melody' by the Bee Gees) and the first 'adult' record I bought (the Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter Live Concert).  He was amazed at some of the albums I owned - 'I never knew you liked that!!'  Suddenly he realised Mom was young once!

(These illustrations were taken from a book called 'My House' published by 'My First Library' in 1984.)

Children's publications also liked to look back at the past and how life has changed.  I've always enjoyed the next illustration that charts the lifestyle of boys and girls across the ages: 

A collection of toys from long ago:

Contrasted with toys from the years of my childhood.  So familiar to us at the time, now they belong to a distant past.  (Illustrations taken from Once Upon a Time Magazine)

Before we know it the next generation will react to the iPad in the same way my son responded to the Walkman.

It will happen sooner than you think!    


When I listed My Favourite Things last week I was going to include flowers as well but decided I had to call a halt somewhere.

Whenever I see them for sale I always buy Proteas.  They are South Africa's national flower so it is my little bit of nostalgia.  They come in different forms - when I'm feeling particularly extravagant I splash out on the big King Proteas, otherwise like this time I settle for the smaller ones.  A bunch of Cape flora will keep for ages.  When I buy something like this I know I have an arrangement that will last for at least a month!  (Apologies that the photos are not all that great or in focus!)   


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