Category Archives: travel

The Return

The city awaits

Like a held breath and butterflies.

A longing of which

The anticipation is half the pleasure.

Familiar territory made strange by absence,

Laden with memory,

Exotic with change.

I will come again to your streets

Much-paced,

Long-lingered,

Where I will be free once more

To lay bare the secrets you once exhaled,

Whispered to a younger soul

Much lighter than mine.

My feet are no strangers to your streets,

Nor my eyes to your sight.

But who it was that took them there is a mystery

That I alone cannot fathom.

Change, when it is not height,

Can only be measured

By omniscience and eternity.

And so it is that I come;

An estranged wife,

A tourist in my own hometown,

A vagabond who dropped something

And came back to search.

There are glimpses of me

But only as I see her:

T-shirt in winter

And him:

Hairwaxed swagger

And them:

Wizened hands sticky,

Still fishing, still selling,

Unchanging.

Change, when it is not height,

Can only be measured

In light of the

Unchanging – not because it is simple,

But already taller than height,

Wider than width,

Deeper than depth –

Perfection.

And so I leave those streets behind.

There where the unknown meets the unseen,

The is meets what has been,

And what will be, will be…

I Am.

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Filed under beauty, change, France/French, home, poetry, random, story, travel

Choose Your Own Adventure

1. Your ship is sinking… Do you…?

a) Jump ship, you have no obligation to stay.  Go to #7

b) Stick around, but deny the fact that you’re all sinking.  Do your drills, make the calls, carry on regardless.  Go to #2

c) Do everything you can to make things better for those on board.  Go to #4

2. Water is starting to seep through the cracks.  Do you…?

a) Start carrying a mop around to tidy away the mess before anyone sees.  Be sure to smile and nod a lot. Go to #3

b) Start screaming “We’re sinking!!!” at the top of your voice.  The sooner everyone knows they’re in trouble the better.  In fact, the more drama you make, the more sympathy you’ll get.  Go to #4

3. The mop isn’t working anymore and your feet are getting wet.  Do you…?

a) Pretend that everything’s normal – this is actually what sailing is meant to be like. Go to #6

b) Start blaming other people for the situation and make sure everyone knows its not your fault. Go to #4

c) Face up to the fact that things might be changing and start taking realistic stock of the situation.  Go to #5

4.  People are starting to see that this ship won’t make its destination.  Do you…?

a) Ignore their questions about the escape plan and say ‘I told you so’ until the bitter end. Go to #6

b) Stay out of trouble, find a lifeboat and get outta there while you still can.  Go to #7

c) Quietly make preparations for evacuation.  Buckle up your lifebelt, talk people through the procedures and show them the lifeboats.  Go to #8.

5. Start showing people the lifeboats and do what you can to make to make the transition to the evacuation procedure easier.  Go to #8

6. Salute and go down with the ship.  A slow and painful ‘Game Over’.

7. Game over.  Your heart is still beating, though others weren’t so lucky.  Find another ship, you’ve still got places to go.

8. You’ve done all you can to execute a successful escape plan, now its time to go.  Don’t worry about going down with the ship – its nothing but an empty shell of wood and stuff – the most important thing is the Destination.

 

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Filed under change, fear, perspective, questions, random, story, travel

A Paris

Tonight je suis allée ‘boire un coup’ on the Pont des Artsà Paris!  It was a bit classier than drinking on street corners… But only just…!  I love travelling, what an incredible experience to se promener at night with people who are fast becoming friends even after only 4 days.  Okay, we might never see each other ever again on earth (a realist of a dreamer, moi), but it’ll be cool in eternity to be like : “aww, remember that night on the Pont Des Arts à Paris?”…

c’est trop cool… 😀

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Filed under France/French, friends, happiness is, story, travel

Ce n’était pas moi qui le lui ai donné…

 

 

 

Il est très facile à tomber amoureux de la France.  Le plus difficile, c’est de convaincre la France à t’aimer en retour.

 

Elle est fière, la France ; la fille ainée de l’Eglise catholique, la bien aimée de la Raison…  Elle est bien consciente de ses fautes, ses faiblesses, mais elle se cache devant les étrangers – non pas en dessous de la table comme une fille petite et timide mais elle se cache en se vantant en toute sa splendeur : l’histoire, l’intelligence, la mode ; Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité… Mais elle cache son vrai cœur.

 

Au cœur, elle est perdue.  Elle se batte comme un oiseau qui s’est entré par la fenêtre et n’arrive pas à la retrouver ; elle glisse comme une araignée qui s’est promené dans le lavabo.

 

On m’as dit  « Merci d’avoir un cœur pour la France ».  La vérité ?  Si mon cœur appartient à la France, ce n’était pas moi qui le lui ai donné.  Si c’était à moi, j’aurais le garder de toute ma force.  Pourquoi donner ton cœur pour quelqu’un qui ne le veut pas ?

 

« Que votre attitude soit identique à celle de Jésus-Christ : lui qui est de condition divine, il n’a pas regardé son égalité avec Dieu comme un butin à préserver, mais il s’est dépouillé lui – même… jusqu’à la mort… »  Philippiens 2 :5-8

 

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Filed under culture, fear, France/French, heart, love, random, travel

And then Tuesday came… (a.k.a The Great Crash of January 2008)

There have been several posts brewing in my illustrious mind in recent days and there may well be a sudden blogging boom in this small corner of the ‘parallel universe’.  This one, however, is most unexpected – or at least it was until it began to brew as I sat in the office today.  Who knows where it will go?  Who knows when it will stop?  Watch for the sign of the lollipop…

Last night at approximately 16.47, I was in a car accident.  From henceforth it shall be called

“The Great Crash of January 2008”.

Panic not, I am – as you can (hopefully) tell – still alive to tell the tale (soon to be the only 365-able part of yesterday). So, in true anything-and-everything-is-blog-fodder style, we must go back to bygone days of yore in order to set the scene for said Great Crash…

 *cue wobbly flashback screen*

I remember my friend Roberta and I taking a notion to cycle a couple of miles downhill to the local leisure centre when we were about 13.  Great idea at the time, not so good when going back UP the hill (the road with the graveyards if anyone is familiar with the Valley Leisure Centre).  It was half way through the uphill homeward slog that we composed our should-have-been-a-hit-record “Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo I wanna car” (I still remember the tune!)Do you remember being 13 and the driving test glory days of 17 are a million years away?  Painful.  I longed to drive ever since that day.

Eventually the day of my test rolled round.  I passed.  First time.  Oh the freedom!  Oh the joy!  Oh the days of two years free insurance!  It was wonderful.  I bought sunglasses, I made mix tapes, I sniffed magic trees… and a passionate love affair with driving began.

So, for two happy, happy years I trundled away in a little dark blue Corsa with ne’er a scare nor bump.  Then the free insurance ran out.  The first quote we got was actually in the region of £5000.  I artistic-license you not.  Crazy.  We shopped around and around to try and get a better deal, but – alas – no affordable insurance for little 19 and a half year old me.

Thus began the Driving-less Years.

The human spirit is resilient and so my life went on.  I became accustomed to my lack of freedom and social life-less existence, sometimes aided by car-insured friends, sometimes dependant upon moody-driver-always-late-when-its-raining buses.  But – oh! – how I always longed for those heady days of “mumsie-pays-for-my-petrol” splendour.

Three long non-driving years ensued.  It was only when considering a second year at Bible College that I began to pray seriously for the miraculous provision of a car.  Four bus journeys a day and no mates had really begun to wear thin!  For ages I hummed and haa-ed whether to do another year at Bible College or to move to France.  (Who needs a car in France?!  Its only in Northern Ireland that a fifteen minute drive on clear roads takes one hour to travel on two buses.)  I finally made my decision and informed the college registrar that yes, she could tear up the one-year certificate I’d already received at my graduation and start writing the two-year diploma one instead – I was coming back.  She said: “Oh great!  It’ll be good to have you around.  You don’t happen to need a car do you?”

Whaaaaaaaat?!?

“Yeah, I got a phone call from a man who wanted to donate his son’s old car to someone who needed it.  Do you want it?”

Does a bear…?!?

(“I saw a bear once”)

Thus began a beautiful relationship with a lil red escort called Samuel (which means ‘asked of God’).  This is Sam:

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Isn’t he lovely?! 

For 18 wonderful, free-and-independant months, Sam and I (and sometimes Daisy, but that’s another story) chugged merrily all over Ireland (well, the North and Sligo- do any other parts matter?).  It was so wonderful! *sniff, sniff*

Then disaster struck… Sam one day began to choke (she conveniently applies artistic license in omitting to tell the reader exactly why he began to ‘choke’) and nothing could be done to save him from a scrap yard fate.

Well done, good and faithful steed, well done and fare-thee-well…

(moment of reverent silence)

 The period of mourning over and a brief flirtation with a red Corsa later, the search began for my perfect car: a Ford Focus.  Not exactly the stuff of dreams I hear you cry, but I didn’t want anything too flash (only partly because of money issues!).  I wanted solid, reliable, quietly attractive with room in the boot for a guitar.  Several debates took place as to whether I should be waiting for the much-desired Focus or just test-drive whatever came along in the meantime.  Yes, many drew the obvious parallels to the husband/wife search.  Honestly, can’t a girl even get a car without people over-analysing?!  Gosh.

Then I saw him… the One.  A sleek, affordable Focus, all mine for the taking!!!  His name shall be call-ed Milo because… well, because girls have to give their car a name.  Its, like, the law.

(again conveniently omitting the exact details of this naming process for fear of being deemed completely bonkers.  The Daisy story is definitely worse, though…)

That was 11 months ago and Milo and I have been very happy ever since.  Bit of a wobble with a recent screw loose (!) but otherwise, great.

And then Tuesday came…

There we were, driving from the North Coast to the Glens of Gormley (or the Rock of Fergus to be more precise) when all of a sudden a numpty – SMACK! – bangs into the back of us at a roundabout:  My neck!  My CAAARRRR! MY goodness – its pouring out here!  Neck and shoulder banjaxed, a new bumper required.

*cue vast waves of sympathy*

We’ll survive.

You know, I envisaged this blog to be about the annoying-ness of the current blame-and-claim culture; the paranoia that makes you wary of saying anything more than ‘Give me your contact and insurance details, mate, then nark off’.  But telling a random story about the cars in my life so far has been much more fun.

For me 🙂

The moral of the story is, don’t expect anything more intelligent from a self-confessed un-intellectual.  At least until the whiplash goes down…

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Filed under blogging, dating, freedom, friends, grace, happiness is, love, perfect love, random, relationships, story, travel

If I ruled a country… (inspired by a true story)

Its amazing the things you learn from students.

Sometimes its about Irish politics, sometimes its about psychology, sometimes its about God… But today I learnt about Sealand.  Sealand is a unique country (or principality actually – though I didn’t learn enough to work out the difference between those two terms) ruled by Prince Roy (is that why its PRINCE-ipality and not a kingdom?  Nope.  Still don’t get it.).  This guy Roy is a genius.  Let me tell you why…

Once upon a time in WW2, the British built an off-shore aircraft landing training site, 7 nautical miles off the East Coast of the UK. 

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 The training base was basically big enough to house quite a few soldiers and trainers etc and its skyline included a Fortress.  After the war ended, it was basically abandoned by the British and became derelict as you would expect.

Enter H R H Roy.

royofsealand.jpg

Basically this guy has a few chats with some pretty smart lawyers who fill him in on all sorts of delightful little laws that he realises give him a great opportunity to go on a pure power trip for the rest of his (and his descendants) living days.  He packs up his family and belongings and sails out to this disused man-made island, pretty much sticks up a flag and flips the proverbial bird at Britain by declaring it his own.  Makes himself a Prince, creates a currency and designs passports and then starts shooting at any intruders.

Genius.

Like, seriously.  The “country” has its own newspaper.  Its own National Anthem.  Its own BAFTA equivalent awards.

Its own currency:

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Its own stamps:

sealnd13.jpg

Its own flag:

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Even its own flipping football team!team.jpg

 Well, apparently its actually a Finnish team just named after Sealand, but still!

Seriously, there’s a LOT of info on this place.  What a crazy world we live in.  But it got me thinking again about what I would do if I ruled the world…  Most of the things I wrote in that first post would probably remain on there but now that I’ve got something to compare it to here’s a few more things to add to the list.

I’d make sure my small corner (ha! see what I did there!?)…

…had a more imaginative name than ‘Sealand’.

…was off the coast of somewhere more exotic and sunny than Britain.

…had more trees and pretty things to look at.

…had much more space, and many more inhabitants.

…people couldn’t buy status in my land for £20.

I’m sure there are many more things to go on that list, but frankly I’ve already spent too much time writing this post.

The good news is, apparently all of Sealand would only cost $750,000,000…

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easyGrace.com

Having managed to survive the crush of over-eager travellers “queuing” to get through the flight gate, I walk, somewhat dishevelled but triumphantly and in an orderly fashion toward the plane door. In my peripheral vision I see a pristine traveller with BIG hair and manicured talons strutting her way up the left hand side of the queue. Bare-faced cheek!

Cue slow innard boiling…

With a nonchalant toss of her bleached hair, she thrusts her over sized tote bag back and her heavily padded chest forward as she slinks innocently up the queue without even a wobble on her impossibly high stiletto heels. But I – in the latest imitation Converse trainers, a Mark de Pri backpack bursting inelegantly at the seams and a top stained by lunch (this isn’t just a food stain, this is an M&S food stain…) – I am Unintimidated. Many years of silent queue battles have prepared me for a time such as this.

Eyes narrow, heartrate quickens, insides burn…

Almost imperceptibly I angle my body so as not to meet her icy ‘Dare-to-challenge-me’ stare, and, making my body as wide as possible: hip to the side, foot forward, elbows firmly out, I rise to the challenge. I anticipate her every step: sidestep, baby step, left block, hip shift right, gentle nudge… Justice will prevail.

Moments later, I – Conqueror (disdainful and unspoken insults blistering my tongue) – step onto the plane. Selecting my seat, I settle down for the flight, congratulating myself for handling the monstrous ordeal with such silent grace…

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