Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Catch-Up with Honky Tonk Jazzy......

Hasn't the the weather for the past ten days or so been amazing? It's like we were given a late reprieve for the appalling summer we have suffered. A last hurrah at the tail end of September before the more seasonal autumnal weather envelops us. Not that I can blame this recent lovely sunshine on my lack of blogging but I certainly made the most of it by getting out and about! We'll be long enough muffled up in dark coloured winter woollies and warm footwear, after all.

I had a particularly lovely start to this week, when my return journey home from an early morning drop-off for a friend led me slightly astray to witness these beautiful views.....

   A stunning sunrise..........

                           A much-used iconic view of the Dart through this arch

It Definitely kick-started my week with positivity I can tell you. And I sincerely hope that this late weather reprieve - which seems to have now concluded - helps these forlorn blackberries that I recently noticed to fully bloom and produce a late harvest. Here's hoping. 

Last week saw the start of a perfect techie placement for my teenager as part of his Transition Year (TY) work experience options. I have to admit at being unexpectedly a tad emotional when dropping him off on that first morning. It was like that first junior school morning and his first secondary school start day all rolled into one.  Except this was like his first day at 'work'. Yet another step on his life's journey I guess. I think TY is a very helpful step in this process. It's also a perfect year to take the time to teach another important life skill. A skill that I believe a lot of teenagers have yet to master and one that will be important in their working lives. The skill of which I speak is of course alien to most of them right now - and currently the bane of my life - and goes by the name of 'timekeeping'. I mean, we can't exactly be responsible for hauling them out of their beds when they're adults now, can we? Best to start now I reckon, and it's a skill that I'm determined to teach. It can be taught the long laborious easy way, or the short sharp hard way. I'll leave you to guess which route I'm taking on this!

The final piece of catch-up news I have for you concerns this ex-dancer who really has Gotta Dance and has been determined to do so again after a recent injury. It was part of my recovery goals you see and saw me take part in a great event last weekend. Gosh, there's such a world of a difference between both those old posts of mine I've linked to and this one! One that I didn't believe I would be able to do, and promised myself that I wouldn't even attempt! But I couldn't resist, dancing being very much an integral part of my DNA after all. There was a build up to this event with my need to return to 'proper' dance classes this summer. There are exciting plans afoot for such dance classes you see, but before I could even think of attempting those classes I needed to prepare myself with some 'easier' dance classes. Pre-dance, dance classes, if you will and dance/exercise classes just wouldn't cut it for me. I wanted, and needed to see if I could learn proper dance routines again, so I went to the only available local adult dance classes I could find and spent the months of August and September learning Line Dancing! 

I have to say that I have enjoyed these classes enormously, mainly because of the lovely ladies (and one gent) that frequent them but they were not easy! They were preparing for their event last weekend you see, a Line Dancing Marathon for a cancer charity, and were pretty much flying through their three-year repertoire of dance routines. The dance instructor kindly facilitated me in keeping up, when she could, and I pretty much picked up as many routines as I could on the hoof, whilst also doing some you-tubing at home! At least my ability to quickly pick up dance steps is kind of intact, however my ability to retain them needs some work!

The marathon last weekend was such fun. I took part as much as I could by getting up whenever a dance I knew was played, or repeated, and even staying on the floor to learn some new ones. I did mind my back by taking some time-out too though. I also thoroughly enjoyed watching the seasoned-pros in action. While we're all of similar age, some are younger of course but some of these ladies have ten years or so on me; and they are all fantastic to watch. As was a younger guy with the rhythm and feet of a dancing angel - and the rest of him wasn't too hard on the eyes either! - whom we were all watching in awe. A sea of syncopated dance movements from all. Wonderful to watch. And some much needed funds were raised in the process too.

I have to tell you that it feels really, really good to be donning those dancing shoes once more, and I intend to keep dancing for as long as I can.

I'll leave you now with this facebook photo that a good friend kindly tagged me with this week.

I share this because it's oh, so true ..... and it's a also photo that I intend to re-enact with some dancing friends some day!! 

You know who you are.... get ready now!

Keep Dancing....

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Dream Job and Just Another Panic Monday.....

I was a bit out of sorts this Monday morning. I guess another sleepless night didn't really help. I did eventually fall asleep but it was more of a drowsy half-awake, half-asleep kind of slumber. You know, the kind when you don't know which you are; awake or asleep.

Well I have to tell you, I awoke from this half-sleep condition in such a state. There I lay, wide awake with my eyes shut tight, in a right aul' panic.

I had to get up for work you see.

'What, you've gone back to work' I hear you ask? Yes, that's what I asked myself too. And I told myself to not be silly that of course I'd gone back to work, did I not remember?

Well I didn't really so in my panicked state I reminded myself over and over again that yes, I'd gone back to work the previous Monday  - to the job I left ten years ago -  and really liked it. Until Wednesday that is when I went out sick for three days.

The problem was, not being used to being back at work, I'd forgotten to go back once my sick leave was over!

Hence my panic.

Oh God, I have nothing ready. I have to get the teen wonder 'out of that bed..... NOW' ...... yet again!! What about his lunch? Can I get him to the bus in time for me to make the Dart? How do I explain myself in work? I'll be sacked before I've even gotten used to it once more. And how on earth do I get home on time for school finishing? I could give him a key I suppose..... and how did I manage all of this last week anyway?

Oh, my poor sleep-deprived and jumbled brain.

When I realised all that I had to do I couldn't believe that I'd actually gone back to work. What was I thinking? At that moment in time I was totally in awe of parents who do this every day, but I just wasn't used to it and had been hit unawares. So to speak.

Had I really gone back to work? I kept asking myself that question, and the answer was always the same.... 'Yes, now get the hell up and get sorted!'

So, I went to do just that and actually woke up.....  for real this time!

It took me quite a while to accept that this was all a terrible dream. A waking-sleeping nightmare really. Brought on perhaps by my recent  musings on procrastinating and middle-aged mums going back to work! And maybe also by my recent endeavours to secure Transition Year Work Experience for above-mentioned teen wonder.

Still - although there was admittedly a moment or two in there that I quite liked the fact that I was 'back-to-work' - I nevertheless breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally accepted that I was back to being a desperate housewife and my usual Jazzy Mum self.

With a coffee/tea meet up with a friend beckoning, my Monday could only get better..... right?


Well, actually make that semi-wrong. My Monday was definitely saved from the scrap heap of panic by my lovely catch-up time with the fabulous, and blissfully unaware, Looking for Blue Sky! But not before another panicky moment a few hours later.....

I was only trying to do a quick Marks and Spencer food shop before my meet up and thought I was being very clever parking close to that shop in order to save my back when carrying the bags afterwards.

It was a good plan, really it was.

Until I couldn't find my damn car with mere minutes to spare before driving closer to the coffee shop!

There I was, the panicked lady, wandering lonely as a cloud  demented, headless chicken, balanced as I was like the scales of justice - with a heavy bag in each hand and a bulky handbag hanging off my ever-drooping shoulder! So much for parking nearby!

Oh how I traipsed from lane to lane, repeatedly, desperately seeking my black automobile everywhere and not finding it anywhere. I swore blind I'd parked it in this car park in that lane that lead to that shop door that I couldn't gain access to. That was my marker see, how I knew I was right.

Well, panic was setting in I can tell you, rain was starting to fall and tears were threatening to make an appearance!

Then the cavalry unexpectedly  arrived  when the couple that had been behind me in the shopping queue, upon seeing my desperation and aimless, panicky meanderings, stopped their car offering to drive up and down all the lanes in order to aid me in my search. And when that proved fruitless they beckoned the security man for me who was approaching in his van. Such lovely people I met that morning. In the rain. In  my panic.

Then the lovely and very patient security man drove me up and down the many lanes and had 'the man' back in the control centre check the cameras in nearby car parks for my car.

It wasn't long before it was found.

In a completely different car park, and in a completely different lane!

Oh the embarrassment...... and the absolute relief to find that my car had not been permanently 'lost'.

 I tell you, lack of sleep and 'dream jobs' really have an awful lot to answer for!

However, all's well that ends well, especially when it does so with a lovely catch up  and a very large mug of tea. And cake. naturally.... I was in 'shock' don't you know and in much need of such sweetness!

As you can see I did a bit of word play in this blog post title and as a result the following song appears to have become my ear worm for the week... so I thought I might make it yours too?!  I must admit though, it might have been more of a dream and less of a nightmare had I been 'kissing Valentino' in my sleepy-wakeful slumber!

Hope that wherever you are that you are having a good and very un-panicky week!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Good News Week and Other Thoughts......

Sitting here in the pouring Sunday rain I cannot help but contemplate the 'good news' week gone by and be still embraced by all it's positivity.

There were lots of little things like good weather, some ideas and projects coming to fruition, a book launch attendance  and of course there was the Junior Certificate results last Wednesday; pre-empted as they were by some mama-nerves!

I needn't have worried though, my boy put in the work and was as happy as we were proud of his achievements. I didn't share his actual very good results as I am uncomfortable about doing so.

It was however a joy to read the good news stories from other parents on social media too; mainly on Facebook. I was particularly taken by the proud updates from parents of children with special learning difficulties. These relate to children that may have diagnoses of ASD, Aspergers or Dyslexia etc. Some were able to sit all papers and some were not but all, within the realms of our education system as it is, reached their own personal potential; be that 8 honours or 2 passes, or anywhere in between. All results were to be celebrated.

I thought about all these children, and of the young adults who got their Leaving Certificate results back in August, and wondered about the pressure the education system puts on them and how beneficial that actually is to all.

Coincidentally, on the same day that my son was getting his results I  was looking through old boxes for something in particular when I came across my own school results from the same examinations, all those years ago. I won't tell you how long ago that was but suffice it to say it was so long ago that the Junior Certificate was known as the Intermediate Certificate!

I didn't do too badly back in those ancient days but my son did better than I on his Junior Certificate equivalent! And I wondered about that, as I often do......

Now I hate to sound ancient and all but, you see, back in my day 'honours' results were not the norm. We did of course work towards them but getting 8 or 10 As (or even 8 or 10 honours) really was not the norm. Nor was going to college or university. That was reserved for those families who could afford it. It was also a generational thing. Most of our parents finished school after the Intermediate Certificate i.e. at age 14, if they attended secondary school at all, and went out into the work place. Some parents wanted their children out working as soon as they could, as that was their norm. Most of us sat our Leaving Certificates at age 17, some were only 16.

Imagine..... out working by age 17. Hard to envisage these days, isn't it?

There is almost an acceptance with this generation, and the one before it, that attending college/university is a foregone conclusion.

Granted with the unemployment situation being as it has been in recent years it's probably just as well that students stay in education. But are we really a better educated people these days with honours results and a college degree being the norm? How many students actually work in the industry their college degree prepares them for? Is today's college degree 'yesterday's' Leaving Certificate?

I think it's wonderful that there are more accessing college and university places these days yet I cannot help but wonder:  Is this the only way that we can help all of our children reach their true potential and to work in the industry they wish to?

I think this system leaves some talented and perhaps less-academic students behind, and you would have to question why a degree is necessary at all for some jobs.

With that in mind I do welcome the introduction of Solas : a further education and training authority in Ireland two years ago. I have no idea how successful this authority that amalgamated the VEC schools and Fás Training centres is but it is good to know that it and organisations such as Youthreach exists.

As time has passed and the emphasis changed to getting a college degree before entering the workplace I think we've forgotten that, in some instances, learning-on-the-job is the best 'qualification' anyone can get. And in this regard I say bring back apprenticeships, which may suit some very talented and less academic students that may otherwise be left behind. I mean if it 's possible to learn 'on-the-job' and get paid, whilst also attending night classes if necessary, then why not? Although be warned, mentioning this to one of today's cossetted youths may be met with: 'but, when would I sleep'?!

It is a tough world for our children these days in some ways, such stresses and expectations to succeed so highly being heaped upon them.

That said we all want the best for our children and I will of course encourage my child to attend college, if that is what he wishes, but I will also research other potential suitable options.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Inside the Busy Mind of a Serial Procrastinator.....

I recently posted the photo below on Instagram. Admittedly it's not a particularly good photo but I wanted to show the knitting and crocheting projects that I am currently working on. Flitting haphazardly between all three as I go, on a daily basis.

My 'knitocheting' projects as I called them! Good, huh?

The more I looked at that photo, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this actually symbolised  my whole life.

This photo not only revealed my knitocheting projects, it also allowed a glimpse inside my terribly busy mind.

Not important-busy mind you, more of a busy-busy mind really. A mind that rarely stops running. Sure it's no wonder that insomnia constantly lurks in the background!

I can never seem to do just one thing at a time you see, or complete one task before I move to the next. When I'm knitting or crocheting I'm also watching TV or sitting in the sun; alternating between needles and book. On the rare days that the sun deigns to shine warmly, that is. When I'm writing a blog post I'm also flicking through emails, facebook, twitter etc., or even crushing a candy or ten! Especially if I'm stuck on a sentence, or on the whole damn post. When I'm swimming lengths I cannot possibly do the same stroke, length after length in a monotonous loop, I'm driven to vary it. And when I go for a walk it's like I'm squeezing it in to my day, which I am, and thinking of what's next on my list. Not necessarily jobs to be done, it could even be something nice that's next in line.

I need to live more in the moment. Enjoy what I'm doing, when I'm doing it. Like taking the time to watch the sun filter through the branches as I walk and feel the fresh air tingle my senses. Although it must be said that over the years many a blog post gets written, or a dance routine set, on these walks. In my head that is!

I need some Mindfulness in my life I reckon. And in that vein I downloaded Headspace two days ago..... I've yet to try it out as I moved on to something else and never got back to it. That right there is a perfect example of  my hectic brain! That and this rambling post.

I've come to the conclusion that it's not just a busy mind that impacts on my life but a hugely disorganised one. One that repeatedly procrastinates.

I do mean to get things done, really I do. Sometimes I even write them all down on a nice to-do list, and sometimes they even get done. Like this blog post for example, that along with others has been sitting neglected on a shelf in my disorganised mind for some time now. Sometimes I think that it's just getting started that's the issue? You know, stop thinking about it and just do it type of thing?

Sometimes I think I'm just easily bored.

Then I thought, maybe not so disorganised after all?  I mean a serial procrastinator with a haphazard brain couldn't possibly organise 120 plus Panto children into groups, choreograph and rehearse them and have them performance-ready to a deadline  now could she? I did that for at least five years and then moved onto smaller groups of teenagers.

I can organise and schedule myself to successfully promote anyone's business or charity on social media and I can even be one of Santa's Elves, if required!

Maybe I'm more organised if I have a defined job to do? A job that I'm passionate about? Perhaps I left my organisational skills behind in the office I left ten years ago, in order to more apply myself to the the most important job that I have ever done. That of being a mum. And I have definitely not been a disorganised mum, of that I am absolutely sure!

So this is where my busy mind has been going lately, and then I read Barbara Scully's piece in the Irish Independent espousing employers to grow up, that 'Middle-aged women are in their prime'! She's right too, in a lot of what she says. Some of us may have stayed home to raise our children and run our homes (I refuse to use the term 'housewife' as I most certainly am not married to my house) but our brains didn't entirely turn to mush in that time. We've kept busy with other things too and a lot of us have also involved ourselves in our children's schools and in our local communities, thereby enhancing our life's experience even more.

We certainly do have a lot of skills to offer.

Maybe I need to get myself back into the paid workforce then? Or perhaps it's enough to remind myself that I can be super organised if I really, really have to be!

I certainly need to calm my busy mind a tad, whilst also keeping both it and my body active. That's life's key I believe. Or a very large component of it.

I may also need to be a little more understanding when my teenage son procrastinates about starting homework/study and any household chores.

He didn't lick it off the stones after all!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Back To School......

With the swipe of my finger across the face of my phone, setting the early morning alarm for the first time in two-and-a-half months, the summer of 2015 was casually brought to a close. 

As simple an action as that concluded the months of lie-ins (10 am constitutes a lie-in) and the non-routine mix of lazy and busy days. The never-ending period of long sunny days that stretched out before us had..... well.... ended. The 'sunny' part of course being in my imagination. And in my pre-summer blog posts. If I ever wax lyrical about the joy of an impending summer again then you have my absolute permission to tell me to STOP! Note: If there's ever an early heatwave in April/May in future then we must treat it as our summer and make the most of it.

The dreaded back-to-school preparation has been completed. Although this being my boy's Transition Year (4th Year in Ireland) the 'dreaded' part was absent. With no books to purchase, and therefore no books to cover with the dreaded sticky-back covering that sticks to digits as well as to educational tomes, it was the easiest prep ever! Please note though that you must not compute 'no books' as less back-to-school costs. The cost is actually more. 

If the school has a good Transition Year programme (and ours does) then this gap year can afford wonderful opportunities to our teenagers who at (or almost at) 16 are on the brink of adulthood; so close you can sniff it in the atmosphere. 

With work experience opportunities being currently - and frantically - sourced this can help them with future study and career choices; it may even help provide a future part-time job. It can also, equally as important in my opinion, reveal to them that what they think is their true calling might be more difficult to achieve than they realised. An important lesson and one that has the potential to inspire when they commence 5th Year. 

Transition Year is an adventure with lots of opportunities, outings, projects and assessments. It is not a doss year.... to a certain extent it can be but shhhh - we must not say that within their hearing!

They will get out of this year what they put into it.

I filled my son's head with some of these thoughts as he went in for registration today. 

And these were the thoughts that filled mine as I mused about what being back-to-school meant to me....

  • The  daily 'Get out of that bed..... NOW ' 'conversation' still takes place but at a much earlier and ungodlier hour!
  • New rules apply for the almost 16 year old:  1) No breakfast or a cold and/or soggy one if he doesn't come down on time. The choice is his. 2) As this is a less pressured year and there's an excellent bus service daily school pick-ups are no longer required and are therefore reserved for the odd treat.
  • Earlier bedtimes are back so midweek Netflix 'Breaking Bad' binges are limited to one episode only, and viewing must end by 10 pm.
  • Not only does the teenager get routine back into his day but so do I. I never thought that I'd celebrate that but I do. I like lazy days, don't get me wrong, but I dislike the mess they can create, particularly when they become the norm rather than the exception! Some daily routine, which also allows some laziness, brings order to my day..... ending with a delicious and a deeper night's slumber. I can but hope! 
  • The daily responsibility for alternative activities for a teenager's mind and body are someone else's issue.
  • Some more time may be found for writing more blog posts?
  • Morning meet-ups are finally back on the agenda, in the midst of other commitments, and I can see some mega catch-ups in my future!

I was going to add 'Freedom!' to this list but really I can't. I've enjoyed this summer with him. He's fun to be with and fairly independent. 

I am glad that he too will now have more structure to his day again and I'm excited for what this year can mean for him.

Good luck son!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Curious Case of the Invisible Visitor..... and the Incurious Cat!

We  had become aware of the presence of a visitor in our house recently. A mysterious type who left little signs of their occupation, in one spot only, whilst remaining totally anonymous and utterly invisible.

The ripped plastic rubbish bag under the sink, a couple of mornings ago, was the first sign. Was that Pretty Cat of ours rummaging where she shouldn't be again, we wondered? Hmmmm.... a possibility, I guess. I will admit to an immediate suspicion lurking in the back of my mind, one that I did not want to come to the fore, but if I was right it would be best to know for sure - right?

'Only one way to find out', I thought to myself as I gingerly placed three cubes of cheese in the contained under-sink area - before quickly slamming the doors shut! 'Eeek' ..... a sound uttered silently by me..... and not so silently by our visitor some time later upon devouring said cheese!!

It was official - there was a mouse loose about our house.

With a disinterested Pretty Cat snuggled up in her favourite daytime snuggly place, and no sign of  her moving - ever - it was up to us to sort things out, it seemed. I was not impressed I can tell you. This is the same cat who insists - insists I tell you - on bringing home a menagerie of critters, sometimes on a daily basis, for our approval. There have been birds, some of whom were almost as big as herself, teensy frogs and meeces of all sizes. There was even almost a squirrel to present to us one day, only I helped save it from her clutches. And dare you toss away any of her 'play things'? Why, she'll go over the back wall to retrieve it, bringing it back in through the window and laying it joyfully at your feet once more! Numerous times!

But a mouse loose about her house? Couldn't give a care...... curiosity suddenly being very dangerous for cats!

So we used a mousetrap instead and came down the following morning to an empty trap.... that had been triggered. A bit of a Houdini was our invisible visitor.

Subsequent cubes of cheese strategically placed in various locations over the next night, with Pretty Cat locked in the same room, were left untouched. Which begged the question: had our visitor departed of it's own accord? Hardly. They can burrow anywhere, right?

Okay, at this point I have to stop for a minute to tell you that I am shuddering as I type this and my skin is veritably crawling! But I must continue, for there is more..... are you ready?

Last night turned out to be a bit of a sleepless night for me, yet again. One of the many such nights during what has been pretty much a sleepless, and sunless, summer. So down the stairs I crept, book, glasses and phone in hand at about 5 am to be met at the door by our Pretty Cat; who was looking especially pretty and adorable as she wanted some food. 'Food for you and tea for me',  I mumbled as I put the kettle on. Then as I reached for her food I saw her suddenly taking an interest in the area behind the kick board .... near the sink. I'm shuddering again! Aha.... there ya go pretty girl! I'll get that kick board taken away when everyone is awake, I reckoned, and she can have at it.

Oh, how naive am I? Like, having finally taken an interest she's, like, gonna wait?? Really??

So, in my innocence, I snuggled down on the sofa, head buried in a pile of cushions which lay on the arm rest, reading my book and drinking my tea. Tiredness was hitting ..... eyes were closing .... closing ..... closed. Briefly awaking long enough to put the book away - with eyes still closed, it's my latest sleep-trick - only to snuggle deeper and to fall into a gentle slumber.

'What was that noise', I thought to myself as something tried to break through my slumber? 'Get off the fish tank' I sleepily admonished Pretty Cat, without even opening my eyes. Mistake #1.

'Oh,' I muttered a short time later as I felt a weight landing on the arm rest behind my head. 'Ah, Pretty Cat finally coming to settle down beside me for some cat cuddles' I thought. Only 'she' never got any further than the arm rest. I half opened my eyes to look but upon seeing nothing I settled down for some more glorious sleep. Mistake #2! I really, really am shuddering here!

The background noises continued, then came one noise that I simply couldn't ignore - the inevitable, undeniable and very audible 'eeeek' of a mouse VERY loose about my house .... with a Pretty Cat finally giving chase!

Oh my goodness did I leap off that sofa! And leaped about the room with squeals of horror and 'go do your thing pretty girl', in equal measure!

What happened next can only be described as the most unusual cat and mouse routine that I have ever witnessed; though in fairness 'Tom and Jerry' cartoons are my main comparison. And speaking of that cartoon, much favoured in my childhood home, I must tell you that I was only short of hopping up on a chair, donned in a dressing gown as I was, with my broom in my hand!

Although she'd obviously kept at it while I had dozed, and wouldn't let it out of her sight, our cat only seemed interested in catching the mouse if it ran. Definitely a play thing to her it seemed, I shouldn't have fed her!

So I 'helped' by gently 'encouraging' the mouse to move with my broom - with accompanying yelps of course! - before leaving the two of them alone in the room, with the back door open, while I made my escape to another room. Ooh... the noises, the squeaks and squeals that came from that room!

Eventually help arrived and our no longer invisible visitor was 'moved' out into the garden. Our cat was then joined by another, much younger and definitely hungrier, cat. Things were really getting interesting. I swear watching this trio in action was like watching a David Attenborough programme or taking a field trip in the Serengeti National Park!

Our cat lost interest but wasn't quite sure if it should let the other cat, a regular visitor here, hunt her play thing on her territory! So there were a few half-assed hisses and swipes at both visitors before she took a back seat to watch the proceedings. It was hilarious! The younger cat didn't quite know what to do with this indomitable play-thing of a tutter that just wouldn't give in, or run away. In fairness it was injured but I swear to you it faced up and fought back! Astounding.

Eventually both cats walked away leaving an injured mouse behind, but before we could dispose of it the younger cat crept back about ten minutes later and, like the robber's dog, swiped the mouse, quick as you like, and away with her over the neighbouring rooftops!

And just like that it was all over and our visitor is no more.

I'm just hoping there are no 'relatives' left behind?

And I will be checking my pillows before I sleep!

How about you?

Sweet dreams!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer Bucket List 2015: The Burren

We have accomplished a couple more trips since our Glasnevin Cemetery trip to add to this year's Summer Bucket List in the last few weeks. Unfortunately due to a misplaced camera connection I have been unable to update you on our travels. However as this has since been rectified  I am now delighted to be able to finally share our experiences and accompanying photographs with you!

This was a very much looked forward to, special trip, that I have nicknamed my 'Good Karma Trip' - the reason for which shall be revealed shortly. It involved two friends, who are also related, and their two fifteen year old sons heading off to soak up the scenery and atmosphere on a section of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way for a couple of days; just after the August Bank Holiday weekend in fact. And after our experience I can assure you that, although thankfully the rain held off for our only touring day, the Wild Atlantic Way most certainly lived up to it's name!

The Burren is a fascinating area of great geological interest in Co. Clare containing limestone pavements, among other things, and is one of Ireland's National Parks. An ideal location of great interest for teenagers, families etc to explore. Confusingly there are two Visitor Centres for The Burren - one in Corofin and the other in Kilfenora - and we mistakenly visited both! You see unlike other Visitor Centres these ones are not in situ - there is a ten to twenty minute drive to get from them to explore the limestone pavements of this karst landscape. After watching an informative, albeit twee and rather old, video in the Kilfenora centre and viewing their interesting display we headed off with directions in hand to embrace this fascinating region and its wondrous sights.

We walked the area surrounding the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb

The limestone pavements of The Burren stretch for miles and miles and we explored this relatively small area of it.

Marveling at the interesting shapes...

And at the vast and varied flora growing between the pavements. It is said that all sorts of flora, including Alpine and Mediterranean, grows here.

We could have spent far longer here but we had only one day to see all that we could. If you visit here for a few days you could go on one of the organised walks, or get the directions for one, at either of the above Visitor Centres. For us however it was time to move on as there were more sights to see.

The Burren area also has many caves, one of which is open to the public and was very nearby, as one of the signposts declared. Off to Aillwee Cave with us then so we reckoned ..... and off we went!

This was an interesting stop and well worth a visit. Again we were stuck for time so couldn't enjoy all that this had to offer. We bypassed the Birds of Prey, the lovely looking 'forest walk' and went straight through to see caverns filled with stalactite and stalagmites, an underground waterfall and the remains of bears long departed from this earth, and this region! It was an interesting thirty minute visit enjoyed by us all.

We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the atmospheric cafe here at the Aillwee Cave and admired the panoramic view of the limestone pavements which lay all around for as far as the eye could see.....

Naturally we couldn't come all this distance without visiting the famous Cliffs of Moher, therefore we immediately embarked on an hour long, extremely scenic, journey along the coast road. This took us through Ballyvaughan and Doolin, allowing us to admire the limestone pavements that spread from the hills and mountains we had just passed through right down to the shore, until we finally arrived at our destination. We had heard much about the 'astronomical' cost of parking at the Cliffs of Moher but as it turned out there was no charge for the boys and it was just €6 per adult, which included access to the Visitors Center for all four of us and therefore worth it, in our opinion. And this centre was perfectly, and environmentally, located right on the cliffs so that we could enjoy the science and informative part, followed immediately by the wonderful view of these majestic cliffs. A wild and windy day it may have been and although that did dictate where we allowed the boys to walk it did not take away from the stunning views.....

It was an incredible day filled with magnificent views that we will remember for a long time to come, that said I think the Cliffs were the highlight of our day.

For the two days we visited this area we were based at the Inn at Dromoland which is located on the ground of the very upmarket Dromoland Castle. It's poorer sister it may very well be but we'd definitely recommend it! It's very reasonable and it's location is ideal to access from Dublin, is perfectly placed on the edge of all the places we visited and allows for a shorter journey back to Dublin on departure than if you stay closer to, say, Ballyvaughan. The food in the hotel restaurant and in the bistro bar is plentiful and splendidly presented and the Games Room was ideal for our teenagers. Tip: give the pool area a miss and take a walk through the grounds instead ;)

And the 'Good Karma Trip' part? Well, this trip was originally planned for last summer but due to my back injury and subsequent hosptialisation on the August Bank Holiday Monday in 2014 we had to postpone. The day we left on our adventure in 2015? Why, it was Bank Holiday Monday of course. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate a years anniversary of being unable to walk properly for such a long time then embarking on such a trip!

I cannot wait to see where we visit next year. I'll be sure to tell you all about it!

As this post involves getting teenagers out of the house and exploring nature and our wonderful Irish scenery I'm linking this with Fiona's #CountryKids over at Coombe Mills .