Tacky Light Run

Christmas lights

A typical Irish home on a Tacky Light Tour

One of the most rewarding aspects of  2013 was that Teen Girl joined me on weekly runs around town.

At a time in our lives when we don`t always see eye to eye, we at least share an interest in running. And I am glad of it.

Variety is the spice of running, especially for teens. They have a low boredom threshold at the best of times, so we use this time to explore a different part of town every time.

And we added a little extra element to that yesterday evening, by taking the Tacky Light Tour.

Yes, Christmas lights are still blazing here in Ireland. The Twelfth Day of Christmas is on January 6th, when the Three Wise Men reach their destination, so many people will keep their Christmas decorations up until then.

When the Teens were the Toddlers, few things thrilled them more than seeing Santas clinging perilously on chimneys, luminous Snowmen waving from gardens, and ropes of coloured lights blink furiously from gutters and downpipes.

Children flit easily between the worlds and reality and fantasy. And, I imagine, the frenzy of coloured lights and figures can still take Teen Girl back to that wonderful world.

Luckily, she is more than happy now, to do the tour on foot. And so we combined it with my Janathon Day Three  trot.

And trot we did, just for a one and half mile ramble around the town.  The pace was slow and easy, giving us ample opportunity to appraise the tacky lights.

Oh, I was tempted to whip out my iphone and take pics. Just for your further edification, you understand. But Teen Girl has a more finely honed sense of embarrassment than I. Bad enough to be running beside a totally uncool and seriously untrendy mother, but for said mother to be cheeky enough to take pics of other people`s homes. Well, that would be just too much.

And, besides, it would be a tad insincere of me. Tacky lights bother me. I plain don`t get why people would go to all that effort. Sure, the environmental aspect is a worry. There`s all that light pollution, the added burden on our collective carbon footprint and the sheer burden on the national grid.

But, mainly, it`s because I`m a cheapskate. I`d neither spend the money on the oversized ornaments, or want the electricity bill at the end of the season.

So why take pics if I am really mocking and judging?

I can enjoy in my girl`s delight, however. And I enjoyed the banter about the various decorations as we trotted around the town.

She loved the carolling dolls in an upstairs bedroom window. In plum velvet bonnets and gowns, each porcelain face was frozen in a singer`s “O” as they brought us back to Christmases past.

A favourite of mine was a very simple crib. Set inside the front window of an old cottage, it was simply lit with a red bulb and reminded me of  my childhood Christmases when decorations were low tech and Christmases were too.

But, despite my tacky light reservations- and partially because of them-I thoroughly enjoyed this Janathon run. Distracted by the lights, and enjoying the company and chat, I didn`t think about my time or form or what a lousy runner I am.

As we headed for the car, we were both startled by a life sized, waving Santa standing in a nearby garden. The house was in darkness making him seem a little more ominous in all his bulkiness. We laughed when we realised who he was.

We swiftly agreed that it was time for him to catch the next sleigh ride home.

Just as it`s almost time to leave this Christmas with the ghosts of Christmas Past.

Picture Credit: Journal.ie

Been Sitting Around Too Much?

Lussac Saint Emilion

Too Many Cosy Nights on the Sofa?

Had your fill of this annual Munchfest?

Been laying about sipping too much red wine, eating too many mincepies, and watching too much Downton Abbey?

Well, here`s a little vimeo clip to give you pause. The dangers of sitting is something I`d looked at in 2012 and shared them here.

But this little clip sums it all up very succinctly, and with great humour. It`s just shy of three minutes long, and is very entertaining. And informative, of course.

Please note that it is sponsored by an office furniture company! But a lot of it`s information ties in with the research presented by Dr Michael Mosley in BBC`s “Trust Me I`m a Doctor” series.  And Mosley`s central message of standing, and moving, as often as you can is very much endorsed here.

Right, I`m going to watch the rest of Downton Abbey from a standing position at the ironing board….


Vimeo clip is by flikli.com

Christmas Day Run

You all know how I hate to brag… still, it`s Christmas, so I`m going to allow myself this one exception…

I ran five miles today. Yay! Christmas Day run done!

Perfect running weather. Temps just hovering at freezing point, which made the road  a little hazardous in places but all that crisp air and silence-oh, boy the silence!-made for a perfectly relaxing run down by the river.


Experiments with my new iphone camera weren`t quite as successful as I`d hoped. Still, it was cool spotting this grey heron and running beneath these blue skies


River Vista


And really, really cool getting home to this big bird….

Turkey 2013

… and for this, my most favourite dinner of the whole year…

Christmas Dinner

Spot your red cabbage, Sharon?

I realise this mix isn’t to everybody`s taste. But I could eat it for two weeks straight. Which is just as well, because, with all that`s left over, it`s likely that we`ll get the next few dinners out of it!

Crash time, now. I`m glued to the sofa about to dig into some of my Christmas reads. I got two brilliant books to add to my stash this Christmas.

But more about them in another post. Hope you`re enjoying the down time, and the running time in your place!

And So This Is Christmas?

Forget Bethlehem. It`s the 23rd of December 2013, and all roads lead to Tesco.

By the time I arrive, the armoury of trolleys is severely depleted. This hints at the crowd within. And within is war.

People, tense, tired and unsmiling are scurrying about in all directions. I dive down an empty aisle to revise my battle plan. Vegetables. Prawns. Stocking fillers. If I got the ham, cream, whiskey,cloves, wine, brown sugar and more wine, all would be right in my world.

All hands are on deck now,as Tesco staff replenish empty vegetable racks. It is trench warfare. As fast as they are being filled, a mob arrives to heave them all into loaded trolleys. I congratulate myself on my revised battle plan but feel a tad uncertain.

Could Armageddon be around the corner? Are these people filling nuclear shelters in their gardens? I feel like I am not in the know. It is as if there has some coded message being sent out among the masses and I am excluded.

I scurry on. Ah! Ham! From the crowd swilling around the aisle I know I am in the correct refrigerated section. I charge down the aisle on a white griped ride with my trolley. Surely a three kg ham wouldn`t be that hard to find?

But there is barely the makings of a whole pig in the place. Three large smoked legs, to be precise, and lumps of bacon begging for a place on some poor Christmas table any place.


Ok then. Cloves. I barge past the little kid reaching up for the chilli flakes. (Chilli flakes? At Christmas? Surely, not?) and bag my supply. I throw a second one in. Well, you never know. I may not have my ham but I`ll have plenty of clove flavour.

I leave the little kid sobbing and double back to the cold section for cream.

Scanning the dairy shelves now, I am met with all sorts of creams. Whipped cream, pouring cream, Bailey`s flavoured cream, double cream. But not the cream I`m after.

Uh-oh hold on… I find a solitary carton of Tesco`s best single cream. But the lid`s damaged. Hmmm. Reach down a bit…. yes, there at the very back of the bottom shelf… if I stretch right back I might actually… yes. yes, there got it! One of five. I resist the urge to take all five, and, proud of myself, hold the prized cream aloft to a round of applause from the other shoppers.

Then they too dive in after the remaining cartons.

Somewhere in the crowd a  child is wailing.  His name is not Jesus. The sound is relentless,  ear crunching and annoying. I glower at a near by security man. Do something, I urge, but plainly telepathy is not his strong suit. And years of working in Tesco have left him deaf to the antichrist.

Luckily, Antichrist`s mother intervenes and tells him in no uncertain language to shut up. I round the corner just in time to witness this and I stop short of congratulating her. Instead, I smile at the stunned Antichrist a little too triumphantly. And hear my halo clatter to the ground.

War makes mean people out of all of us.

Bob Geldof and Co are asking  “Do they know it`s Christmas time?”`and down at the drinks aisle they are all very sure about the answer to that one. The clinking of bottles landing in trolleys is as regular as the pop pop pop of machine gun fire.

This is no time for the careful selection of best Bordeaux. Nor even time to consider the prices. Just bag a bottle or three of anything. Don`t forget to pull a  bottle of whiskey for the postman. Any whiskey. He won`t mind.

I feel a little sense of panic then as I rush down the baking aisle for my final purchase. Brown sugar. There are people loading factory made sponge bases and packets of trifle mix into their trolleys. You call that dessert? I sniff. At Christmas? I stop short of actually saying this and barge swiftly on.

My last prize is easily found. I bag two packets, because, well, you never know. I may not have a ham but I have plenty of cloves and brown sugar.

The final battle is on and I take the spoils of war to the check out. Everyone seems to have had the same thought as I have and I brace myself for the ensuing meaness. I am not selective with my check out. I just find the first queue and am not in the least surprised when another woman steps in front of my trolley to claim the space.

In fact I am determined to enjoy the calm of standing there waiting. Then, glancing over at the flower section I realise I recognize someone. He is anxiously scanning the buckets of red roses. He looks pale and drawn. With a young family and wife who is ill in hospital, I know his Christmas will be a fraught one this year.

Bing Crosby is singing “I`ll be home for Christmas” and in between telling him where to stuff his song, I`m wondering if I really should abandon my place in the shopping queue and go over to my pal.

Maybe he`d rather not meet anyone” I reason ” And, anyway, I really do need to get out of this darned supermarket”

But my pal decides that for me. A sudden smile of recognition lights up his face and I wave back and steer the wretched trolley into a quiet corner.

He is full of the joys of the season. His wife has been released from hospital. Family have all rallied around to gather Christmas together for their small kids, his workplace have given him extra time off. Clutching his cellophane wrapped red roses, he reassures me that all`s well in his world.

I realise Bing had it spot on, after all, and maybe others are not quite as full of the Bah! Humbug! spirit as I am.

Heartened by the good news, I bid him and his family a wonderful Christmas and skip back to the queue.

I leave the battlefield with a lighter heart, a little more Christmas cheer and no ham.

And I am not going back to Tesco to get it.