Tag Archives: writing

What deadline?!

I am due to present my first research paper in just under three weeks to a potential audience of 100 people. Among those attending could be some of the leading academics in my field. So, no pressure! Although I am nearly ready with my paper, there have been prolonged bouts of procrastination! You’d think I would have learned by now, at this stage of my academic life, but sadly not. I remember many a late night spent panicking, trying to throw together an essay or cramming for an exam. Even though I have put many hours into this paper, there have been days and nights when it has been difficult to focus and I thought that I would never reach my deadline.

Here are my top things I do when procrastinating:

  1. Make copious photocopies of periodical articles and highlight paragraphs in said articles until look like they have been assaulted by a five-year old with a highlighter pen.
  2. Organise notes and articles. Do a general clean up of thesis papers from the last two years. This includes files on the hard-drive.
  3. Wander aimlessly through the university library, browsing through books. Perhaps have a little snooze on a comfy couch, if another procrastinator has already stolen a spot. This usually kills a few hours.
  4.  Write a blog. Check site stats. Check site stats. Check site stats.

    I am sure this does not just apply to me!

  5. Go on Facebook and press the refresh button every five minutes, almost willing people to upload photographs!
  6. Spend time with the children because I feel guilty they are going to forget who I am if I am not at home.
  7. Bake, cook, garden. Take photographs of it all and post a blog on WordPress.
  8. Clean the crap of the bookshelf which acts as our repository for bills, important letters etc. which has accumulated for three months. It’s not like it cannot wait another few weeks, right?
  9. Clean the walls and skirting boards. Somehow procrastination makes me see all the streaks, dust and dirt in the house and I MUST clean it.
  10. Go to bed. I blame this partly on my children waking me at 6am every morning. So my excuse is that my brain does not function past 9pm.

My research desk - note a WordPress blog on the computer!

Then the guilt overwhelms me, the panic sets in and I throw myself into it. Back to reality…

What do you do to waste time when you should be doing something important?

10 Comments

Filed under research

Bloomin’ marvellous

This Bank Holiday weekend saw Bloom 2011 take place in Phoenix Park, Dublin. So we packed up the kids, snacks and teddies and went along on the last day. After getting the train, tram and shuttle bus, we arrived to the buzz of thousands of people attending. We were not alone!

Arriving at Bloom

Upon arrival we quickly made a bee-line through the Victorian walled kitchen garden and were made jealous of their perfect crops of potatoes, strawberries, onions etc.

Seren climbing up to the sky

The first port of call was the massive playground to tire out the kids. We were lucky to get there early on in the day before the crowds came so the kids got a turn on the swings and had plenty of fun running around, climbing, jumping without bumping into other little ones. Olwyn loved the bug slide and went down it about fifty times and in the end was just as happy climbing up and down the step. Seren had a blast joining in with the big kids on the climbing frames. 

Olwyn loved the bug slide

Once we had sufficiently ran the legs off the girls, we grabbed two sausages from the nearest vendor and sat in the walled garden to eat them. We were a bit dismayed not to have brought a proper picnic. The sausages cost 6 euro each and to be honest were not worth it. Peter’s could have done a few minutes extra on the grill.Oh well, it gave us sustenance and the girls enjoyed the bread! Now that we had full tummies we were ready for the madness of the show gardens…
 
It was difficult to tackle the crowds with a double buggy! But nothing  that a little patience helped with. Although some people seemed to fail to notice the giant buggy and tried to plough straight through it! Some of the gardens were really inspirational and a real delight to look at.
Foxgloves galore!
I loved this garden for the shere amount of foxgloves dotted throughout the garden. It was magical and the photograph doesn’t do it any justice. I think foxgloves were highly fashionable this year as we saw lots of people carrying these plants around, after having bought them. However I thought to myself “would they actually survive the trip home”? My favourite garden was designed by Anú Green and Hortisculptures, but unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to take a photograph of it. This garden was aiming to promote conservation of Ireland’s unique boglands and incorporated moss and lichens into the sculptures. We even got talking to one of the designers, who was very cool and a pleasure to chat to.
 While Peter went to help out a friend who had an exhibition stand, I took the kids to Hamley’s kids corner. This was such a huge hit with Seren and Olwyn. Seren got to pet a real snake and she didn’t blink an eye in fright. There were two baby dinosaurs too and their keepers were brilliant with the children.

The dinosaur keeper!

 Next it was down to some serious business doing colouring in!

Do not disturb!

There was great excitement in the area when the Hamley bear appeared out of thin air. He was surrounded by children. The girls were real lucky though as they got story time with the bear and they got to sit right on front of him. It was so much fun observing them. Olwyn was nearly beside herself with excitement. Here are some photographs of their joyous moments.

Story time with Hamley bear

Big bear hug!

Next it was off to make some bird feeders out of peanuts, which I ended up making myself. But it was nice to just sit down in the sun for a minute, hee hee.

Clearly enthralled in the art of making a bird feeder - not!

Then it was off to the chill out zone where the kids got to laze on gigantic bean bags and listen to someone read stories aloud. Seren was enthralled.

My little bookworm

 Seren had been going on about having an ice-cream for about two hours now. Not only that but it had to be a vanilla ice-cream, not chocolate! So we eventually gave in and got her a cone. Pure bliss and …silence!

Happiness is....eating ice-cream

 and coffee for mum and dad – phew

A bit of r&r

So now that the kids were happy, we went to the artisan food stalls and got to pick on lots of yummy samples. We couldn’t resist and bought some Bluebell goat’s cheese and a jar of ginger and chili jelly, which we devoured once we got home. The trip home was a mammoth task in itself. The women’s mini-marathon was on that day also. So all the public transport was packed. But we made it without the kids having a meltdown! We were so happy to be at home at last after a great family day out for all the kids (big and small).

 
 

6 Comments

Filed under Family

Letting go…

When I was pregnant I did not realise that I would go through a process of missing my bump once the baby was born. Well, I did. Even though I had a beautiful child in my arms, I missed the presence of my bump. Little did I realise that this was the beginning of many steps throughout life, separating from my precious baby. A continuous weaning of sorts until she reaches womanhood.

Looking into the future

Tonight is the first night that my child is spending away from our home. Seren is staying with her grannies’ (yes, that is plural and that story has enough material for ten blogs!) and her excitement at her impending first sleep over was a joy to experience. She is three years and three months now. Seren had her bag packed yesterday, toothbrush and toothpaste and all, including ten random books. Some motherly intervention led to a more sensible bag being packed. 

Seren’s grannies were as just excited and off I sent them in the car like giddy school kids. Seren is going to have so much fun and freedom in their house. What child wouldn’t like to stay in an artist’s country retreat, surrounded by an oak wood, wild stream, acres of meadows, and an enchanted castle next door.

Still, the house is so quiet now without her smiley face. It makes me think of what other moments in her life I will have to let go… the first day she goes to school; the first night she stays at a friend’s house; when she goes on school trips and the day she finally says she is moving out and starting her own life.

The act of letting go for me as a parent is not just associated with physical acts of separation, but also with allowing the development of oneself as a person. I, as a mother, am going to have to cope and deal with Seren growing up and forming her own ideals and opinions. I know that coming from a different generation I will probably not always agree with what these opinions will be but that I will have to accept and respect them.

Anyway, Seren’s little sister Olwyn misses her big sister. Every now and then we hear “where’s Sewen?”. Although Seren and Olwyn share the usual quibble found between siblings of that age, normally concerning who gets to play with Anna the doll, they are like peas in a pod. Olwyn misses Seren but at the same time she is relishing the undivided attention of her mother and father. I can only hope that we teach our daughters to always love and appreciate each other and help build a strong foundation in their relationship.

Say cheese! Our attempt of taking a photograph of two toddlers while smiling.

What steps of separation have you gone through with your children growing up? How have you coped as a parent in the act of letting go?

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Motherhood

Food for thought…

Flavour thesaurus

 

The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, Bloomsbury, London, 2010

I got this book for Christmas as a gift and I think I have a crush on it. I secretly get butterflies in my tummy when it is time for bed because I get so excited at the prospect of reading about mad flavour combinations. The only problem is I usually get hungry at the thought of all this good food and end up having dreams about asparagus or something.

This book is great for the amateur who is afraid to break free from recipe books and trust their own instincts. However, it is also brilliant for those who have an appreciation for food, like me. In my opinion, this is just a good read let alone a wealth of knowledge about the food world.

The author, Niki Segnit, has a good sense of humour and is not afraid to say if something sounds disgusting if she finds something so. Although in her introduction Segnit does state that everyone’s taste buds differ and that your cultural background also determines to an extent how you sense and describe flavour. I thought this to be very perceptive of her as a writer catering to a wide audience. This is reflected in the selection of recipes and foods in Segnit’s book. They vary from American to Chinese, to Japanese, to French etc. Segnit makes the book accessible for those who may not be master chefs and familiar with the lingo of the kitchen. She also gives recipes of her own. But she does not shy away from recipes of renowned chefs, such as Nigel Slater, Ken Hom, Antonio Carluccio and Nigella Lawson, either.

The book is informative and gives the history of certain foods e.g. how the bulking out of chocolate with ground hazelnuts eventually led to the invention of Nutella. Each food is given an introduction which gives a general description of its appearance or taste, titbits of history and how to prepare it. Included in the rear of the book, as well as a general index, is a pairings index, which I have found most helpful to glance through, when I am looking for some quick inspiration.

What have I learnt from this book? Trust your instincts (and taste buds) and don’t be afraid to experiment with flavours.

5 Comments

Filed under food, Recipes, research

Whispers

I work in a most amazing place that is steeped in history. It is a house that has been standing for two centuries and has seen people from all corners of life walk through its doors.  I feel like I walk among ghosts when I wander through the endless warren of corridors. In its youth, this mansion was full of grandeur, entertaining the wealthy and beautiful lords and ladies of Dublin in the early 1800’s. The architecture suggests affluence and the grounds are extensive. There is a walled-in Victorian garden at the end of the property where a curvilinear glasshouse still stands. It is my dream to have this restored to its former glory. I think it dates back to before 1850.  There are magnificent views of Dublin Bay. The grounds outside the estate were popular with the gentry of that time for hunting. This is a sketch of the house, dated 1867. The original house can be seen on the right hand side. It had a massive conservatory which housed many exotic plants, but sadly no longer stands there today. A viewing tower was constructed as one of the lords who occupied the house was in love with the scenic views. 

In 1863, a religious order took ownership and it became a school and convent. The nuns constructed the left-wing, which was attached to the original house. The following  photograph is of one of the ladies who attended the boarding school, taken c. 1870. The school was originally a poor-school but it soon became popular with the higher classes in society as the quality of education given by the nuns was excellent. It was not long before the daughters of the rich began attending. This is evident from the school registers which record the addresses of pupils at that time.

The voices of the nuns are now also but a whisper, just as the  occupants before them.  The nuns have moved out of the convent since 2007 as the house was too big for them to manage. They are a dying breed unfortunately. Many of them are quite elderly now. The school has taken over the use of the convent, holding lectures and meetings there. The house still preserves the smell of history and the shadows of eras gone by.

3 Comments

Filed under research