Sand Dunes: that feeling of being alive

It’s autumn. Officially. The leaves on the trees are starting to turn and there is a definite nip in the air. Last night temperatures got to just 5 degrees Celsius. It can be hard, this time of year: we know the days are getting shorter and colder. Yet despite – or maybe because of – this autumnal feel, a good friend, myself and our children myself headed to the beach on Saturday.

It was the sort of day that would keep you indoors, a blanket wrapped around your feet, a good book and a bit of jazz going or an old movie on the box.


View from the sand dunes

But the minute we parked the cars and hoped out, whipped on our raincoats and declared

‘let’s go!’

the day seemed to shift.

There was a glimmer of summer, a hint of brightness still left. And the day continued that way. Threatening, occasional rain and a chill but with this an optimism, solid and tangible.

We played hide and seek in the sand dunes, watched the clouds race and listened to what the sea was telling us. And were amazed at the spirit of the children when they threw off their clothes and raced into the Irish Sea….laughed at their screams and yelps and laughs and their shivers when they ran out again.

There was something magical about the spontaneity of it all. It was that feeling you get when you’re on top of a mountain after walking for a few hours to get there: it’s the feeling of freedom. And lying on the reeds watching the clouds gave all of us just that.

In the sand dunes!

The sense of being in the moment, alive and living.

I realised while writing this piece that next week is suicide prevention week. To highlight the need to turn the tide of suicide in Ireland there is a vigil in Dublin on 5th September.  And of course September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

I think we all need to keep near that sense of freedom that feeling alive can give us. And be mindful of or help those who might be struggling.


Stuck, again? Read, again. Write, again. Right, again!

Everyone writes in different ways, at different speeds and with – at times – different motivation.

I am the type of writer who, once I begin something, fly at it. I tend to overwrite. I tend to get too emotionally involved in my characterisation and what I call the story. In other words, I get lost, lost in my own creation.

This is all wonderful, of course, and paints a typical picture of an artist immersed in their craft.

All wonderful until you’re stuck, stuck again, looking through that perspex at images of yourself at work, images of the intensity of the writing, images of the nice glass of wine or a quiet walk or a good movie or a long sleep when the story is written. Lovely.

But when you’re teeming with ideas and words the images of writing in action become unreachable, unobtainable.

I’ve found a solution.

No magic formula but something I’ve found – again, and again – that works for me.

I let go. I let the notion of writing go.

I have not added a word to one of my stories in about three or four days. I’ve had to let go.

And last night I dreamt. Dreamt of which unfinished piece of writing I need to return to. And suddenly I can see myself. Visualise myself writing. Again.

Stuck, again?

Let go. Read. Dream.

And write again.

Right, again.

Let go and it will come to you.

Cinnamon and Indulgence

I’ve been fairly stressed recently: a busy time in the university, preparing a young boy for school who veers between wanting to and not wanting to go, writing and thinking as much as I can. And I’d sort of stopped the writing in a very conscious block because things weren’t moving the way I had envisaged them and this worried me.


So today, when I came home from work I decided I wouldn’t look at any type of page or screen. I would look into the distance, focus on the far and not the near. Look at the rain falling on the marigolds; look at the grass glistening, even greener still.

I stood like that for a few seconds not really thinking at all, just looking.

And then feeling my hands twitch I knew I needed to bake. Cinnamon Rolls. Easy cinnamon rolls.

Here they are ready to go into the oven.

Baking and writing go hand in hand together. This is not something new. (I’m thinking of the writer Laura Esquival here). Yet the simple task of working the cold butter into the floury mixture renewed my energy and thoughts, or more precisely, images from a story I’ve been working on started springing to mind.

The man, I thought, doesn’t like the large supermarket because the cashiers keep asking him for the recognition card. The man, I thought, makes a big deal out of this on his first meeting with this girl.

And as I kneaded the dough I saw what he was wearing. A denim jacket, new, pressed with buttons that shine.

And as I rolled the dough out I saw them, the man and the woman meet. The shy smile. Dollops of red appearing in her face, a tad embarrassed. She’d had a dream, you see, about him, you see, the night before. She could hardly look him in the eye for remembering her dream.

And I know, now, that the block has gone, right into those rolls.

And the scent of the cinnamon spreading through the house makes me think of how indulgent this baking is, how very sensual and tempting and downright simple.

So here’s the recipe on my yummy page. I’d love to hear how you get on.

One fine indulgent cinnamon roll