Sunday, April 30, 2017

Books in April

A few years into our marriage, Bill suggested to me that I should write down the books I read so I'd be able to keep track. I started doing this, keeping lists in notebooks, in the back of journals, or in datebooks. As we moved from one place to another, I would sometimes tear the book list pages out and discard the rest of the notebook, but I kept the lists. I still have all of them, spanning 30+ years. I do sometimes refer to them, too. Sometimes I want to remember a title or I wonder whether I've read a book because it seems so familiar, or I want to be reminded of an author's name. I still keep a list on paper--I tried doing it in a word doc one year and found it cumbersome and I did not care for it--but it occurred to me recently that this blog would be a good place to keep track too. I've decided to make a list at the end of each month with a list of the books I've read along with a sentence or two about the book or some thought I had about the book. So here's my list for April 2017. All of these books came from my library. I love libraries!

California by Edan Lupecki--US society has gradually broken down as a result of climate change, shortages, and the resulting mayhem. Young married couple Frida and Cal leave LA for the woods where they start building a new kind of life. When Frida becomes pregnant, they decide to go to the nearest settlement, which turns out to be not quite what they'd hoped for.

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor--the title pretty much describes the book. I found it fascinating, very readable, and well written. Helen Castor is one of the hosts of the Making History show on BBC Radio 4, which I listen to and very much enjoy as a podcast.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel--Roanoke does not refer to the town in Virginia here, but is a family name. Dark things happen down through the generations of this family and it is said that Roanoke girls either die or run. Lane has run, but finds herself drawn back to the family home. It was a good, albeit disturbing, book, but I could see what the ending would be before I got there. This was a book I looked up because I'd read about it in an Off the Shelf daily email. I have found many books that way.

Lantern Slides by Edna O'Brien--a collection of short stories by one of Ireland's groundbreaking writers. I love short story collections and this one was no exception.

A Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan--this is classified as a novel, but it is written in the form of a series of interlocking short stories, each from the point of view of a different person living in rural Ireland after the crash of the Celtic Tiger economy. This was a great, if troubling, book which I liked well enough to request another of his books.

Nothing on Earth by Conor O'Callaghan--this was the Irish Times book club book for April. It is a Gothic tale with an unreliable narrator which takes place on a ghost estate in Ireland. In a discussion of the book, the author talked about the kinds of books he wanted to write in the future. A dystopian novel was on the list, but he has come to realise that perhaps with this book, he has written it.

Markievicz: A Most Outrageous Rebel by Lindie Naughton--a biography of Countess Constance Markievicz, an artist, poet, and writer who was born into a life of privilege, but left that behind to fight for Irish independence. She was part of the 1916 Easter Rising and was arrested, after which she expected to join her comrades in front of the firing squad. She was not executed and continued her work upon her release. I knew the bare bones of her story and am glad I read this book to learn more about her.

A Slanting of the Sun by Donal Ryan--a collection of short stories about people and places in Ireland. Some of the stories were unsettling. Overall, I liked A Spinning Heart better.

Four Front written and translated by various people--this was a collection of short stories that I happened to see on the library shelf a little over a week ago. All the stories were originally written in Irish and then translated for this book. All were written and translated by men. I finished the book because it was short, but it wasn't great and if it'd been longer, I might not have bothered. I cannot really recall any story in it that I liked.

Jam and Jeopardy by Doris Davidson--a  mystery that takes place in a small village in the UK, which I came across while scrolling through the e-books in the library app and downloaded. It was a good for a few hours of pleasant reading.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood--I'd heard of this book before, of course, and had a vague understanding that it was the first book of a trilogy, but had never read it. I was inspired to request it as a result of one of Quote Lady's blog posts about climate change fiction. I wasn't sure whether I would like it at first, but I soon got into the story and thinking about the issues raised by it and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I requested the next book, The Year of the Flood, but it has not come yet, so I am left with the cliffhanger ending until it arrives.

In the meantime, I have some books that did arrive to keep me occupied (as though I needed more books besides the ones that are all over this house). A couple of them are dystopias (that I read about in an Off the Shelf email), one is a trilogy (but all three books are in one volume), one is a non-fiction book about eviction in the US, and one is a collection of writing by Irish writers responding to artwork.
Evicted is due back first, so that's next. When I got it, Bill looked at it and wanted to read it. He said it was really good.

Hope you have some great reading in your pile, too.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

It's Still Only April

I've written before about the issues we had in our apartment and the health issues I've had over the past several months as a result. I am happy to say that things are so much better since we have moved into this house. I am sleeping again, which is huge. I wake up every morning grateful that I was able to sleep for several hours straight. I will never take sleep for granted again! The Bell's palsy issues with the right side of my face are mostly gone. It no longer droops, and is no longer numb, but I do have occasional burning. The Raynaud's is much better now that I am not standing on tile floors all the time. The feet issues around that are taking longer to clear up, so I still cannot walk for long distances. I also have very little stamina. That is perhaps the most frustrating thing.

In other circumstances, I would have whipped through this house as soon as we moved in--or even perhaps while we were shifting stuff from one place to another--and gotten everything put away. I had no energy for that kind of thing this time, so we did the living room, kitchen, and bedroom and let the rest sit. I finally got my stitching supplies organised this past weekend--and I found something I'd been looking for, which was great. That was the big project I had left, so now there is just a little bit of other stuff to put away. I have lacked creative motivation lately and that hasn't helped my mood. I've thought generally about various projects and not settled on where to start, so I have spent way too much time playing Tripeaks. This morning, though, I glanced at an afghan and the project idea just fell into place. Now that I know where my stuff is, I can start swatching today.

Since it's spring, I have no idea how much of my tiredness and lack of energy is due to what came before or because it's April, and it's time for my annual crud to start. I am a bit concerned about how this summer will go, because normally at this time of year, I am just starting after feeling good over the winter. I did not have my usual 'good' part of the year, so I am already starting at a deficit. I feel like I usually do in August. Since it is only April, that does not seem like a good sign. But there isn't much I can do about it, except do what I can do, muddle on, and make the best of it. There are some good exciting things to look forward to this summer, so I will focus on those and do what I can each day to help build my stamina back up. And I will keep on being really happy about living in this house, which I love.

We went up to the garden this morning to water and saw a hopeful sign of what might be coming!

These are our first tomato blossoms, on a plant of the 'Tumbler' variety. Yay!

I picked more fennel and some coriander (cilantro). I thinned the radish sprouts and will use them in salad later.

For now, I am off to make lunch. Hope you are having a lovely day!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jalapeno Cheese Rolls

I fired up the bread maker this afternoon to make some dough for jalapeño cheese rolls. I used the same ingredients and amounts that I use to make the wholemeal pizza crust, and added red jalapeños from a jar and some cubed extra mature cheddar cheese. When the dough was done in the machine, I kneaded in a small amount of dry jumbo porridge oats before forming the rolls and baking. They are delicious!
 The rest will be handy for breakfasts or lunches. They're big enough to be used in small sandwiches too, if we want them that way.

I have some leftover potatoes that will be handy for supper tomorrow--might turn them into potato pancakes.

We picked up a new-to-us kind of biscuit this afternoon and we will try those with a bit of the lemon pudding I made this afternoon.

I had to actually plan supper today, after having lasagna for the last few nights--made a pan and had the leftovers to heat and eat.
It's always nice to have stuff in the fridge ready to go or to use in something else. It's also really great to have freezer space again after having just a tiny compartment in the under-counter fridge that was in the apartment.

We are supposed to have a few cooler days with a chance of wintry showers. Might be some soup in our near future and some more rolls to go with it!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day!

Enjoying some wee bits of Mother Earth's beauty on the short walk to and from the community garden this morning.

This little snail is celebrating the day in an artichoke plant.
Hope you have a beautiful day, wherever you are on our beautiful little planet.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spuds and Salad

We went up to the garden this morning, just to check on stuff and water the plants in the hoop house. We'd not been since Saturday. We'd planned to go Tuesday and then yesterday, but the days got away from us. When we arrived, there was someone already there. He said he'd watered our plants because they looked droopy. That was nice of him! Turns out he is the fellow who decided to try growing lettuce through the winter in the hoop house. He was successful. There s a lot of lettuce. He offered us some and gave us two heads. I asked him if he needed any cabbage plants, since we had extra. The only ones we could buy came in a pack of 10 or something. I planted 5 and that seems like plenty. As it happened, he was just going off to buy cabbage plants when he was done at the garden, so he was pleased to take them. He told us he had extra spuds ready to be planted if we wanted some. At first, I had no idea where I would put them, as it seems like all our space will be accounted for, but then I decided we might as well plant a couple, so we did. I can figure out places to put stuff as we go on.

At the moment, most of the stuff going outside is still in the waiting to sprout (courgette/zucchini), just sprouted (chard, spinach, broccoli) or will-be-planted-when-warmer (beans, carrots, lavender) stages, so there is a lot of free space.

Inside, the tomato plants are growing like mad, the French breakfast radish seeds have sprouted, the coriander(cilantro) and lettuce seeds that sprouted last week are growing, and the fennel is taking off, as is the parsley. Things seem to be going well--at least well enough for me to pick some stuff to go with the lettuce for a salad.
. This was the base of my lunch salad--lettuce, parsley, fennel, and basil from the garden, along with scallions and celery from my pots at home. I added a few other things to this, so it is not completely home grown, but those fresh greens were so delicious!

What a nice, unexpected treat! Hope your day contains some happy surprises too!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Keeping the Needles in Motion: Knitting and Tatting

A week or two ago, I finished a pair of socks and wondered what I would make next. I was getting antsy to start a new project, but nothing seemed quite right, so one night, I picked up a patchwork tatting project I have ongoing and worked on that. I got enthused about it and have kept on working on the rectangle that is in progress.
For this large project, I am using navy blue linen thread that I have left on the huge cone Bill got me a year and a half or so ago. I used a bunch of it to make this shawl, but there is still plenty left on the cone.
So the blue will be the main colour and I have various bits of cotton thread to use for stripes--I am making rectangles consisting of 4 strips of navy blue and 3 strips of various colours. Right now I am thinking that I will crochet around each rectangle and join them into a vest, but if I get a better idea, I might change my mind.

When I mentioned on Facebook that I wasn't sure what my next project would be, someone asked if I'd made a pussy hat. I was thrilled to see that question (thanks, Deidre!) because it reminded me that I had thought about making one a few months ago, but I was working on something else at the time. By the time I'd finished with that project, we'd unexpectedly looked at this house, decided to move and I was packing, so the hat idea was forgotten. Seemed like a good time to start one, so I went through one of my stitch dictionaries and chose an Irish net stitch. I wanted to make a lacy one out of cotton since it's getting warmer. I chose green for Earth Day. Guess I'd better get going if it's to be done by then!
The net stitch has pulled it in a bit more than I thought, so I've considered ripping it out and starting over with more stitches, but after setting the project aside for a few days and thinking about it, I think I won't. Since this will be a simple rectangle that gets seamed up either side, I have decided to see whether I need it wider or not, bearing in ind that cotton does not 'bounce back' like wool does, so I don't want it too big. If I do need a bit more width, I will do a few rows of garter stitch or a slip stitch crochet rib along the sides before seaming. That would give me narrow panels of stretchy fabric, which would probably be a good addition.

I also whipped up a couple of little dishcloths over a couple of nights while listening to an audiobook of Winifred Holtby short stories.

Yesterday Bill requested another pair of lightweight fingerless gloves, so I decided on which yarn to use for those and got my needles. That'll be a good project for next to the couch--he keeps his other pair down here and I can measure against one of those as I knit the first of the new pair.
I have a few more projects in mind too, so it looks like my idea drought has ended--and I am so glad! I always feel like something is wrong when I do not know what to stitch or what book to read. Things are back to normal now.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Planned Leftovers

Last night for supper I made cheese sauce with broccoli, onion, and garlic and cooked some wholemeal pasta. I made extra so we could have the same again tonight--just heat and eat.
Lunch will be leftover bean burgers topped with avocado mashed with scallion, tomato, parsley, garlic, smoked paprika and a sprinkle of chilli powder.

Aaah, simplicity! 😋 

Saturday, April 15, 2017


We walked up to the garden again this morning to check on things, to water the stuff in the hoop house, and to plant some seeds in pots. The stuff we've planted so far was mostly looking good. A couple of plants were a little battered from being shoved in a bag and carried home from Buncrana, but there is new growth coming, so they should be OK.

Most of what we've planted so far has been in the hoop house. In the outdoor bed, we have some cabbage plants at one end along with a few cauliflower seeds (we will plant more of those next week) and a couple of strawberry plants at the other end. Inside, we have 6 tomato plants, two basil plants, 3 strawberry plants with one more in a pot which will have to go somewhere, a celery regrowing from an end, some fennel that has taken off after wintering on our window ledge at the apartment, and a bunch of parsley, one or two plants of which might be repotted and plunked out back of the house if I end up needing the space in the bed! I've planted seeds in the beds--French breakfast radish, leek, lettuce, and coriander (cilantro) and in pots to start--chard, spinach, broccoli, courgette (zucchini), bell pepper, and jalapeno. The last two will be planted in the hoop house if they come up (I have never had really good luck with peppers). The rest will go in the outdoor bed, but I just left the pots inside for now, hoping they'd germinate faster in the 80 degree heat of the hoop house than they would outside. Also going outside once it is a little warmer will be carrots, beans, and lavender.

The apple trees in the garden area are blossoming--so pretty.

I also have some stuff growing out back of our house. I like having stuff in pots and I have to get some bigger ones and some more dirt. I am also considering trying to lug home a big bag of dirt or two, cutting holes in it/them, and plating directly in the bag, letting the plants cover the bag. I have lupine seeds and want to get more flowers and other plants, but I am waiting until I get some help from someone who knows what they are doing (hi, Karen 😊). I will also plant some of the lavender here. I have oregano seeds to plant as well.

For now, the stuff that is already there is coming along. The wild rocket seeds I planted have sprouted. The chocolate mint and lemon balm which died back over the winter have started growing again. The parsley that wintered on the window ledge with the fennel is growing. My scallions are growing and I have more ends in water inside the kitchen on the windowsill, along with rosemary, another celery, and more parsley, all of which are growing.

When we went to the garden centre a few weeks ago I got a tray of pansies to put in a window box on the front window ledge. I had one that would not fit, so I planted it in a pot out back--I like looking at it as I work in the kitchen. I love that purple!
On one visit to the garden, someone gave us some lettuce. The roots were still attached, so I put them in water, used the leaves, and planted the rest out back. They are growing nicely, as is the parsley. The only available parsley plants at the garden centre came in a pack of 8, so there is plenty. I use it a lot though, so that's OK. Pics are out of focus, but you get the idea.

Growing, growing, growing. Won't be long now before I have a salad made mostly of stuff that has been growing right here in our wee pots and plots.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Oatmeal Almond Chocolate Chip Muffins

Last evening, while making supper, I got some jumbo porridge oats (old fashioned oatmeal) soaking in milk. I left this in the fridge until this morning, when I used this to make dark chocolate chip almond muffins. This is simply a variation on the usual soaked oats recipe that I use a lot. The original recipe is called Lynne's Muffins and is found in The New Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook. I first discovered this around 30 years ago (!!!) and have made so many variations since (here's a banana version). I love the recipe because the muffins are great--not greasy and sickeningly sweet, but delicious, full of good stuff, and lend themselves well to so many different additions. They are the kind of food that feels like a treat, but are still nutritious.

For this variation, I put 2 cups of jumbo porridge oats (old fashioned oats in the US) in a container, added 1 1/2 cups of milk, put the lid on, and stuck in the fridge overnight. This morning, I dumped this mixture into a bowl and added 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of demerera sugar (you could use 1T if you wanted less sugar and you can use brown sugar or plain white sugar if you prefer), a little coconut, and a splash of almond extract, all of which I stirred in. Then I added 1 cup of wholemeal flour, 1 teaspoon each salt and baking soda and mixed that in. Finally, some flaked (sliced) almonds and some mini dark chocolate chips were folded in. I baked these at 180C in a fan oven for about 15 minutes, but I should say that every oven I have had here in Ireland (this is my 4th!) has been different, so I adjust temperature and time for each one. When I lived in the US, I baked these at 400F for about 20 minutes.

There were 14 muffins, so Bill and I had to sample them to get it down to an even dozen. 😊😋 Yum! They are so good! We will probably eat these warmed for dessert over the next few days.

Hope your day has some delicious moments! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday in the Slow Lane

Yesterday was one of those days when I was reminded of how amusing life in a small rural area can be and why I love living here.

We went to Buncrana yesterday, leaving on an earlier bus than we usually do. We'd discovered that there is another bus company that goes through Buncrana on the way to Moville and it would get us home at 3ish, so we figured we'd take that one home. On the way, we had to stop for a minute or two on the main road in Clonmany to wait while a frightened cow made her way off the road where she was running back and forth. Fortunately, she was not injured.

I finished the library book I was reading (Lantern Slides--a short story collection by Edna O'Brien) just as we were arriving in Buncrana, so the first stop was the library, where I returned it.

When we'd turned the corner on Main Street to head down a side street towards the library, we passed a window full of delicious looking baked goods, including some blueberry scones. It was not too long before we found ourselves back there buying a couple of scones to eat right then and a caramel slice to bring home. It's a pretty big one, so we will share it tonight. I do not recall seeing The Corner Deli before and it is relatively new--it opened last August and we only went to Buncrana once after that, until last week. We agreed that we will go back again the next time we are in town. As we were leaving with our goodies, the young woman behind the counter called out, asking if we did not want butter and jam. We didn't. She seemed surprised. 'Are you sure?' she asked. Those scones were so good just as they were--they didn't need anything extra.

We called in at the butcher, where we'd gone for the first time last week. We wanted to find some good sausages that were made with good ingredients and not full of a bunch of fillers and stuff. I cooked the chilli coriander sausages we got last week and we loved them. Bill wanted to get more for the freezer, so we did. We were chatting with the young man behind the counter and mentioned that we live in Moville. His face lit up. 'Moville! That's where I'm from. Nice little village. Moville, born and bred.' We told him how much we liked the sausage and he was pleased. He told us that they are made with the butchers own animals and don't have artificial casings or other junk in them.

We did the rest of the stuff we went there to do and we headed back towards what we assumed was the bus stop. We had a little time, so we sat on a wall to wait. We did not know exactly where the bus would stop, since the schedule just said 'at SuperValu.' We knew it would be across from SuperValu, because of the direction of the traffic, but the other buses all stopped down the road a short way and we did not know if this bus would too. Usually there are other people around waiting, but there was no one else there. We were prepared to flag the driver down. As we sat there, a guy came up and asked if we were waiting for the bus.  I said we were waiting for McGinley's. He said it came at 1:30. I said the schedule said 2. He was glad he hadn't missed it. He walked further down the road and waited. Other people started arriving to wait. He got tired of waiting and left, saying he'd be back. At about 1:50, a small NW Busways bus pulled up. This is the bus we usually take, but we knew that particular one did not go all the way to Moville. Turned out that everyone else who was waiting wanted that bus, so within a few minutes, we were once again the only ones there. Soon the guy came back and asked where everyone had gone. I told him the NW Busways bus had come and everyone had gotten on it. 'That was probably the bus I wanted,' he said. I told him about McGinleys and he asked if it went through Ballyliffen and Clonmany. I said it did. he kept asking me questions, so I told him what I knew about it--it started in Dublin and ended up in Moville, making some stops along the way. He decided that it probably would not come and if it did, it would not stop for us. He decided to wait for the 4:20 NW Busways. We told him that's the one we usually take. He told us we should go get a cup of tea while we waited for it and he would probably see us then. He was off to kill time. By then it was 2:05. Within 5 minutes, the bus came around the bend. I flagged it down and we got on. There were just a few people on it. Since no one ws getting off at Buncrana, I suspect he would not have stopped if I hadn't waved at him. If the guy had only waited a few minutes more, he could have saved himself a couple of hours!

The last people besides us got off at Carndonagh, a town about 15 minutes away from Moville. The bus driver left the bus running and the door open while he went into a shop for a couple of minutes. Then we were on our way again. Shortly before we got to Moville, we saw cows on the road again. Two large cows and a calf were walking along the road, with a car alongside. The driver had the door open and was waving at them. The bus driver pulled up behind them, diagonally across the road to block their way. The driver of the car, who I assume was the farmer, got out and was able to get them through the gate. Then he gave a thumbs up to the bus driver and we proceeded to Moville. Later I was thinking that if he was the same driver who started in Dublin, he'd had an interesting mix of driving experiences that day, from the crazy drivers and traffic of Dublin to helping herd a few cows on the edge of Moville..

photo by Bill Burke

Sunday, April 9, 2017

After the Socks, What Next?

The other day, I finished the second sock of a pair. I'd kept them downstairs by the couch so I could pick them up and work on them here and there.
They're made with a wool/cotton/nylon sock yarn that I got at Lidl last year. I used size 1 (US) needles for the 2x2 ribbed cuff and switched to size 0 for the rest of the sock. I cast on 68 stitches, so instep was worked over 34 stitches in a 4 round repeat--rounds 1 and 2 were purled across the instep needle and rounds 3 and 4 were k1, p1 across the needle. I like the texture that resulted.

Since I finished these, I have been adrift when it comes to my stitching, unsure of what to start next. I hate it when that happens because I end up going through my days with a constant, vague feeling humming away in the background that reminds me that something is not quite right.

I have picked up a couple of ongoing modular/scrappy projects in the past few days and worked on those for a little while, but I really want to decide what the next project is going to be. I made a few starts with some cotton that I have left from another project, but nothing was working out well, and I have started and ripped out a few times with that! I did some tatting last night on a scrappy patchwork piece I am making and that was enjoyable, so I might keep going with that for a while as my upstairs project. I am having a few ideas about some other things, so maybe one of those will work out. I know that if I am patient, inspiration will strike.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Now the Quiet

This seemed like a busy week, especially the last few days. We went to Buncrana on Thursday. Yesterday morning, I helped someone finish her first crocheted hat at the library--she was so pleased and that made me happy. Last night we went to a party at our next door neighbour's house. A bunch of musicians came over and played for hours. It was a fun evening. I went to bed at 2:30ish, but could not fall asleep until after 4 and then I kept waking up. At 9 I figured I'd better get up and have something to eat and some coffee before we left for the community garden get-together at 11. We met some regulars we'd not yet met, planted a few cauliflower seeds, watered the plants, and chatted over tea and scones. It was very pleasant, if a bit warm.

One woman spotted this rock in one of the flower tubs and she gave it to me.
People are at various stages in their garden plots. Plants are going into some and compost being put on others in preparation for planting. One guy has an entire plot planted with spuds. As you would expect, that is a popular crop here. Onions, leeks, and cabbage are also in many beds. I was pleased to see that the lettuce and coriander (cilantro) seeds I sowed in one of our hoop house beds have sprouted. The fennel that used to live outside the window in the apartment has been transplanted there as well and seems to like it well enough--lots of new bright green growth.

The blueberry bush in the berry patch has little flowers and a pretty companion.
We went out briefly again after lunch and I picked up some seeds for beans and French breakfast radishes. Then it was home for the rest of today and all of tomorrow.

I'd been looking forward to that moment when I knew I was home and did not have to watch the clock and make sure I was wherever I needed to be. There is nowhere I need to be except right where I am. 😀 I have plenty of coffee and tea, a novel that I have only just started, a tatting book I requested from the library, an audiobook in progress, a collection of podcasts downloaded, a few artist talks bookmarked on you tube, and a new stitching project or two to decide upon and start. Those things will keep me happily occupied for the next day and a half.

I am settling into the peace and quiet. Hope there is some of both for you this weekend too.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

On the Road Again

We decided to head to Buncrana today, so we hopped on the noon bus and off we went. We had not been there in about 6 months, but wanted to pick up some stuff we cannot get here.

It's always a nice view out of the bus window.
near Culdaff
I enjoyed the flowers--especially the purple ones!

We had time to stop at the library and look around.

Cute wreath on the door:

 It's part of the Donegal system, so we can check things out there and return here.Bill found several that he was interested in, but he did not want to carry a stack of books home. He already had a book from a charity shop in his backpack. So he wrote down titles and authors so he can request them and have them sent here.  I could not resist checking out a book.
I am looking forward to learning more about Countess Markievicz, who was an important woman in Irish history. On the back of the book I read, 'Countess Constance Markievicz--one of the most remarkable women in Irish history--was a revolutionary, a socialist, and a feminist, as well as an artist and writer...a woman with a huge heart, battled all her adult life to establish an Irish republic based on co-operation and equality for all.'

How could I resist that? Truth be told, they had me at 'a most outrageous rebel.' 😁