Friday, 8 November 2013


Amidst the swirling vortex of children's birthday parties, school camps, interstate school trips and sports days, and all of the requisite organisation, cooking and washing, we managed to emerge momentarily to host a rather impromptu grown ups drinks party at our place on the weekend. The night before, I may have woken up in the early I'm sometimes prone to do......and when I couldn't get back to sleep I ventured downstairs for a cucumber (sliced, of course) to take back to bed to rest on my bleary eyes. The next morning, I was greeted by a cacophony of amazed childish utterances.....'what's this doing here'.....rather than the 'wow, you look ten years younger'.....which I was hoping would be the result. Oh well.

I couldn't resist and tizzed up the house. Fresh flowers from the garden:

Spellbinding peonies from the shop:

And then I resurrected the pink lanterns that I'd used to decorate the garden for my milestone birthday....a year or two ago. This time, I hung them down either side of the front door, comme ca:

Last time, I'd hung them under umbrellas which ran down the centre of the long table:

I wish I'd taken more photos of Saturday night however in the last frantic push to get ready, I accidentally dropped my husband's phone into the I had to graciously swap. Anyway, as is always the way, the party went off in the kitchen amidst the debris of bottles, glasses and platters:

All this week, while cooking dinners and supervising homework in this very same room,  I've been struggling not to giggle at the memory of one friend who utilised parts of the kitchen decor quite creatively....she discoed with a pair of antlers pilfered from the top of the mantelpiece....while she was also wearing the cow hide a cape.

I had a new was made of tulle. I've always secretly coveted a dress made of tulle so was overcome with wish fulfilment when I found this one......although my husband quite unkindly told me the next day that it may have done cruel things to the size of my derriere with it's pouffiness. No matter, it's still tulle. I tied two Hermes scarves around the waist to fashion a sash kind of thing. I've been doing a bit of this lately....tying two scarves together that is, today I tied the same two 90 and 70 carres into a long roll of scarf to make this.....a la one of the Knotting Cards from the stack I picked up in Lyon:

Anyway, while we are on the subject of dresses, I'm still reeling from the news that Collette Dinnigan, who has made some of my all time favourite dresses, is shutting up shop at the end of the year. My phone ran hot after the announcement with friends checking up to see how I was coping. One even went so far as to give me this as a present:

I haven't quite finished reading it yet....I'm eeking out every word and picture and consoling myself with the ravishing beauty of her work and the incredible story of her life. 

Dresses are so redolent of memory.  I couldn't help taking a trip down memory are some of the Collette Dinnigan frocks which hang in my wardrobe and some of their memorable outings. 

This was the first ever dress of hers that I acquired to wear to a birthday party for my husband. I also wore it to a romantic candle lit dinner at the Ayana Resort in Bali when we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. I couldn't find a photo of me wearing it so here's one of my girls and her friend after they'd raided my wardrobe:

I bought this dress especially to wear to the Henley Royal we are in the Steward's Enclosure having lunch....while I was pregnant with our other daughter:

My husband took me to Melbourne for the day to choose this dress for my  40th birthday....and yes he endured sitting for long hours at a time in various ladies change rooms around town while a friend and I made the final selection.....although we did make sure to fortify him with a lunch....and wine at France Soir:

And here's the very same dress earlier this year rugged up with myriad layers to brave the chilly London weather for the Chelsea Flower Show

This dress was packed to take to India and here it is at the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur:

And another that I wore to Derby Day last year which was originally intended to wear to my brother in law's wedding:

And one of my all time fave's getting ready to have lunch in Montpellier with a friend.....back when we fleetingly called Uzes home:

Last but not least, here's my most recent acquisition sported a couple of weeks ago in Melbourne with fellow bloggers Heidi from Adelaide Villa and Ms Faux Fuchsia:

I am going to miss Collette Dinnigan's dresses.....yet I hope that she manages to find the family time that she's looking for. There's an anecdote in her book about her husband teasing her 9 year old daughter about taking over the business when she grows up to which Estella promptly replied 'No way, that's too much hard work'. Children are perceptive little treasures aren't they.


Thursday, 24 October 2013


It's a red letter day in Hobart today. It's Show Day. Officially, due to Southern Tasmanian custom, we can now plant your tomatoes outside, uncovered, without fear of them being destroyed by frost. It's an idiosyncratic Tasmanian version of the Fete de La Musique which of course is code in France for signalling the real start of balmy, summer weather. Except that today, here in Hobart, Mount Wellington is covered in snow and it is all of 10 degrees out there:

My tomatoes are still being loved up and nurtured along in the artificial warmth provided by the double glazing in our north facing sunroom....maybe I'll plant them out in the veggie patch next week. Am also holding off on the four packets of sunflower seeds as it would be just too devastating if these hopeful, signals of summer were decimated by an unseasonal wintery frost.

The inclement weather meant that this morning my husband was unable to ride his bike all the way to Orford, on the East Coast. He is a serious bike riding MAMIL. I'm pleased to announce that I too have recently acquired a bike and become a cyclist......yet I'm most decidedly not a female version of a Middle Aged Man in Lycra.....apart from blatantly apparent bike colour coordinates with most of my shoes.....and has a wicker basket:

I deliberated over the choice of bike for ages.....honestly, I was thinking about it back in the mists of time when I would have needed two baby seats. I had my heart set on a Pashley Princess, much to the mirth of the chap in the neighbourhood bike shop, an English import which looks the business yet weighs a tonne. I had to compromise because the tyranny of location meant that I needed as many gears as I could get and quite frankly pushing a 30kg bike up to the top of my hill would have seen me dissolve into a puddle.....especially as most of the time it looks like this:

I couldn't help myself and my first ride after taking possession was over the iconic Tasman Bridge which links the city of Hobart with the suburbs on the Eastern Shore:

In hindsight it was a ridiculous route to choose as my bike looked startlingly incongruous next to the five lanes of traffic:

The cycleway is so narrow that if you accidentally lost control of your steering you would pitch over the knee height rail and be rendered road splat.

So, where do you go when your bike is much more suited to riding around town? Well, for starters not only did it take me up hill and down dale all the way to my yoga studio for class, it also took me out to lunch twice last week.....although I may have to rethink my cycling attire as half way down Macquarie Street (steep incline, three busy lanes of traffic) my scarf blew into my face and I couldn't see where I was going. The high heels though, were fine.....much to my husband's distain, as he would never, ever be seen dead in anything other than bike shoes with cleats.

Anyway, another exciting date looming on the calendar for Hobartians is this coming Saturday evening 6pm - 8pm at the Stanley Burbury Theatre (at UTAS) when Tim Winton will be in town talking about his new book 'Eyrie'. If you are thinking of going, tickets are $10 or $7.50 concession and you can pick them up at Fullers Bookshop in town. I've just finished reading it in anticipation, although I must admit that my head is still spinning from the intense paranoic hyper reality which is the mind space of the main protagonist......and thinking about the ending. I'm very curious as to what Tim Winton will have to say....and to hear him talk about this book in person is just too good an opportunity to pass up. I've bought my ticket.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013


I think that I've mentioned before how I'd most likely be clinically certified as insane during school holidays if I didn't have the comforting respite of a good book to see me through. Mercifully, during the holidays that have only just concluded I had a couple of fab books in which I was able to quite happily lose myself amongst the pages.

Can you believe that only a couple of days into the hols, Paul Bangay himself came to Fullers Bookshop in Hobart with his new book 'The Garden at Stonefields':

This was such a red letter occasion that I actually hosted a sleepover at my place and one of my old friends from school drove 4 hours from her farm in the north of Tasmania to come and see Paul with me:

After an informal talk, there was question time and I was able to ask Paul Bangay, in person, which gardening books he keeps stacked up on his bedside table.....his answer was anything by or about Vita Sackville West and Sissinghurst, David Hicks and Russell Page. While most of Paul's oeuvre has done time on my bedside table, I'm sorry to say, that as much as I love this book, it weighs an absolute tonne and is particularly difficult to read in bed. However that's an aside. He also clarified that the quickest way to get your hedges to join up (and this is a major preoccupation for me) is to plant from small, and water and fertilise like mad......I later read that in his own garden he dug up most of the soil in his beds and had it sifted, fed and topped up before it was replaced.....maybe that's what I'm going wrong.

Anyway, the rush of having the babysitter in for the evening may have gone to my head, the result being that my friend and I took ourselves out for a fancy dinner at was celebrity spotting heaven (in Hobart terms) as we later spotted Paul.....disappointingly having dinner at another communal table. Yet, for my friend, who quite openly admits to being an AFL footy tragic she was beside herself to discover that she was actually sitting next to a female football commentator who she idolises.....I'm afraid to say that I didn't have a clue who she was. As you can imagine, it was hard work keeping the troops on track the next day. Thank goodness I had a brief window of opportunity to slope off with a cup of tea and see the before and after of the magic that happened over 8 years in the Stonefields garden.....the immediate results being a that I've been gripped by a gardening fervour which has seen me strew sheep manure over my entire garden, plant 3 box topiary shapes and a hedge of eight 'Abraham Darby' far.

One weekend during the holidays, we took the ferry over to Bruny Island where amongst the strange isolation and beautiful scenery:

 I started to read this:

Richard Flanagan's new book 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'. I won't lie to you, at one stage....after the horrifyingly confronting and graphic descriptions of a POW camp in Burma....I had to put it down and take a mini break.

I'd been to a talk Richard Flanagan gave a couple of weeks ago and been transfixed by his anecdotes and inspiration. One story he told was about when he went on a book tour of America which coincided with the belated release of 'The Death of A River Guide' which he had written some years before. I was recounting this afterwards to my husband (who has done some work for Richard) and made it this far before he wanted to know whether this was the time 'when Richard found himself in the back of a taxi with the Beastie Boys?' No. It was the time that Richard found himself on the plane and realised that he couldn't remember absolutely anything about this particular book that he had written, neither the plot nor the characters....nothing. The book was in the hold, which was no help, so he admitted that he resorted to drink. After he landed, jet lagged and a tad hungover, he was met with the good news that he had to front up for a radio interview....and he was already running late.

I managed to summon the courage to finish 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' and I'm still digesting it. It was written in such a way that even though I didn't think I could keep going, I had no choice, as I compulsively wanted to know how it was all going to end. And nothing prepared me for how it did. I can't stop thinking about it and already realise that I'm going to have to read it all over again.

Although, before I do so, I think I'm going to have to read Tim Winton's new book 'Eyrie'. Especially as I see that Tim is bound for Hobart to talk at a Fullers event on 26 October at 6pm at the Stanley Burbury Theatre at the University of Tasmania....which is bound to be interesting.

So my children are now all institutionalised back in their respective schools. Books aside, during the second weekend of the holidays, I managed to stage an actual physical Melbourne for a hedonistic weekend of chat, food, fashion and frivolity with Heidi from Adelaide Villa, the most interesting blog commenter in the world, Pamela and Faux Fuchsia.

How fantastic are these ginger jar jeans:

They were a gift from the sartorially gifted Faux Fuchsia who was determined that I should start dressing to match my house.....although I may have already been guilty of dressing my baby accordingly......see:


Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Hello! Finally, I have emerged from the miasma of tax reporting....although not absolutely, as I still have one financial year to go.

Anyway, I managed to escape from my everyday reality for a day last week when I had a 12 hour leave pass to attend the festivities that were my mum's 70th birthday Sydney. Never have I been so lunches were packed the night before, a cake for afternoon tea was pre baked and dinner was all ready to go.....I didn't want to freak the babysitter out with the usual after school hard yards. She might never come back.

I acquired 25 macaroons from Sweet Envy:

.....which I carried on the plane as hand luggage. I donned my sparkly French Antik Batik dress:

as dictated by my mum. I still do as I'm told. Last time I wore this dress it was summertime in Uzes.....mum was visiting and she very kindly babysat our children so that we could slope off on a dinner date to Bec a Vin. Memories. This wearing there was nothing summery about the weather in was the day where it snowed in our garden. So, even though I covered over most of the dress, by accessorising with a jacket and tights.....I still I attracted some v. strange looks at Hobart International Airport at 8am in the morning. You would think they'd never seen a sequin at that time of day before. The chap manning the metal detector complimented me on my dress and then asked me to take shoes. Oh, the violation. I may have became a tad paranoid that people were looking at me and thinking that I was plying an ancient trade. If only they knew that I was a housewife with four children on a desperately needed jaunt to the big hang out at a party full of seventy year olds.

Now I know that this is a bizarre segue yet bare with me......prostitutes in the South of France, are a very common sight.....especially when you are driving along the B roads. Heavily dolled up in cliched attire, you regularly see them sitting on a chair by the side of the road, in broad daylight, waiting for business. I kid you not. There can be no denying their profession. We would flagrantly lie to our children when they asked what the lady sitting amongst the dust and litter in the middle of nowhere was doing.....waiting for.....a bus, we'd say.

Anyway, I made it to the party which was at the beautiful Victorian Italianate home of old family friends. Look how gorgeous their rambling old garden is:

Dare I admit, out loud, that I'm not such a fan of azaleas, yet I must say that planted, en masse, as they are here they really can be quite captivating. Maybe it's time to relax my azalea prejudice.

It was spooky being back at a house that had featured so prominently in my early childhood.....way back before my parents moved overseas and we landed in boarding school. On the plane, I worked out (using all of my fingers three times) that it has been a very long time since I visited last. It's funny what snippets you remember from when you were little. I remember vividly that the lady of the house (who has very eclectic taste) had just had a much lauded white bathroom installed.....complete with a ceramic zebra....this was circa 1977. The zebra is still in situ, I know because I saw it with my own eyes when I ducked off to the loo. It took me back. The same lady also had the baby teeth of her three boys, after they'd fallen out due to natural causes, mounted in gold and set on a bracelet. I distinctly remember thinking how unfair it was for the boys that their teeth weren't traded with the tooth fairy for coinage but rather became curious jewellery for their mum. Although, let me say, that now that I've had my own children I've toyed with stealing this idea for myself....yet I never followed through.

So I drank champagne with my mum on her 70th birthday. It was a wonderful day. Later in the week, it was the fifth anniversary of my dad's death. He didn't make it to seventy. We celebrated his 69th birthday with him while he was in hospital undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia. On the anniversary, I took myself for a long walk along the beach. On the way back to the car I discovered a clump of wild freesias. I've never been able to stand the cloying, overpowering smell of also takes me back to my early childhood. Freesias used to grow wild in the cemetery where my paternal grandfather was buried and mum used to pick them and take them home where they'd fill the house with their scent. Freesias, for me, will always be associated with death....a memento mori. The other day, though, I picked them:

Their perfume was strangely comforting.


PS The winner of 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' is....drumroll please....CMM! Congrats and a very big thank you to everybody who follows my blog! CMM, can you please email me and I'll get the book in the post.

Friday, 6 September 2013


I've been exhibiting behaviour verging on compulsive in the garden. I can't help myself. It's been helping me cope with an unexpected root canal (in the tooth with my one and only filling which seems just too cruel) and the fact that I have two harrowing years worth of complicated tax returns which need to be work through...yesterday. This morning, when the chap who has been helping us with various projects around the house, dropped by to present his account he found me in the back garden still attired in my bathrobe and ugg boots......yet accessorised with gardening gloves......strewing Dynamic Lifter as far as the eye could see and as though my life depended on it....OK maybe not my life directly although most definitely the life of my roses. To this vision he commented that he hadn't even bothered to knock on the front door as he knew that he'd find me out there. Maybe it's time to feel ashamed.

I have been sleeping with to the bed:

The basic premise of Steve Solomon's book is that home grown veggies produced on soil of balanced fertility can contain more than twice the nutrition found in supermarket veggies. Which is quite a scary statistic really. Especially as it is more difficult (in Tasmania) than just adding compost and manure to your backyard garden bed to have 'balanced fertility' need to follow the recipe, in the book, to concoct your own fertiliser which includes such ingredients as guano.... aka sea gull poo. So I have been doing the wrong thing by going in heavy handedly with the Dynamic Lifer.....yet I have already planted such virtuous crops as lettuce and kale. While I'm struggling to get my head around some of the more complex scientific methods for growing healthy veg espoused in the book I must say that I did find the pages about 'Hoes' and how to most effectively use them for weeding and 'Zen and the Art of Raking' strangely comforting.

My weeding frenzy has resulted in a new recipe for dinner. Double bonus. Last night, I used the plague of parsley suffocating the front beds to create a pesto sauce with garlic, walnuts, parmesan and toasted local walnuts....the children declared it delicious...and most importantly ate the lot.

I've also been reading this:

Doesn't it have a pretty floral cover....designed by Kath Kidston, no less. 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' transported me directly to a version of domesticity experienced in rural England in the 1930's and I was surprised by how recognisable the experiences were the here and now in Hobart, 2013. Except that I don't have a live in cook, a daily, one child at boarding school AND a live in French nanny to look after the child remaining at home. I wish. Anyway, as she so succinctly sums up the eternal lament....'Query, mainly rhetorical: Why are non - professional women if married and with children, so frequently referred to as 'leisured'? Answer comes there none'. I must agree, being a housewife is the hardest job I've ever had.

Yet today, I managed to have my two loads of washing on the line by mid I went out for lunch with a friend...after the stars aligned and somehow we managed to have the nine children that we have between us either ensconced at school or looked after. There may have been a scary moment when her husband materialised pushing the pram through the restaurant....yet mercifully the child in the pram went to sleep so we were able to eke out another hour of borrowed time. It was as EM Delafield would have surely described a '...sensation of leisured opulence, derived from unwonted absence of all domestic duties'.

If you are looking for a momentary escape...and be warned....Jilly Cooper wrote that when she first read this book she devoured ' in one sitting, leaving the children unbathed, dogs unwalked, a husband unfed'....then this book could be winging it's way to your place. As an unashamed ploy to try and grow my blog followers....sans guano......I'm giving away one copy of 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' (not 'Growing Vegetables South of Australia') to somebody from my list of followers. All you need to do is join....for those of you who already have, then you are immediately in the running. So, next week, I'll randomly pick a name from the complete list. As Mrs Doyle from 'Father Ted' would say....'Go on'!


Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Look what we did on the weekend:

Busy weren't we. Wallpapering. With Anna Spiro for Porter's Paints beautiful, hand drawn, 'Rosey Posey Trellis'. Notice the arch and all those door openings. All I can say is thank goodness my husband knew what he was doing.....he'd wallpapered his bedroom....when he was thirteen. We may have stayed up just a little bit late on Saturday night and at times on Sunday the pattern became almost the quest to join the dots. We got there in the end..... at around about half ten on Sunday night. I really love how it's turned out, it's totally transformed the area at the top of the stairs and it works so well with the toile sofa and Persian rugs which were already in situ.

Being just over 100 years old, our house has myriad elements which scream 'olde worlde, dark and fusty' yet cleverly, this wallpaper has taken all of that on board and now announces that it is unapologetically all of the above and that it's also the home of a 21st century family......don't you think?

I couldn't help myself and instagrammed one of the above photos.....imagine my excitement when it elicited the following comment from Anna Spiro herself....'Well look at that! I think this is my favourite use of my wallpaper yet!' Exciting.

After much deliberation, I am about to order a Designer's Guild velvet to cover the chair that I nearly had reupholstered last year in blush pink. To tie in with this space, I'm thinking that I might go emerald green with a dark blue trim (which also, coincidentally, happens to be Rupert Campbell - Black's racing colours in reverse):

Although I was also momentarily toying with mauve:

Both colours are featured in the nearby window, yet wouldn't be too outrageously matchy - matchy and would provide a pop of colour against the blue:

Or should I just go with hot pink.....Anna, if you're reading?

Serendipidously, over the weekend, I'd put the Jilly Cooper novel down and happened to be flicking through this book 'David Hicks: A Life of Design':

It is such an inspirational read when you are tizzing up your own many ideas. I can't wait to flagrantly steal this look.....when I finally get around to taking my pile of framing in, I will be asking for different coloured picture mounts.....a la David Hicks circa 1953:

This book is a visual feast of images of the late David Hicks' work, flavoured with stories about his fabulous life. It was written by his son, Ashley, whom you might remember showed our gardening tour around his parents garden at 'The Grove' back in the torrential rain:

I subsequently looked up Ashley Hicks on Wikipedia (as you do) and was surprised that it claimed that he avoided the fateful boat trip in Ireland....the one where the boat was blown up by the IRA killing his grandfather, Lord Mountbatten, his cousin and a local teenager, because, and I quote.....'I didn't go on the boat because I went to buy some cigarettes'. I wonder if it's true.

Anyway, back to the book about his father.....I loved the story about how proud David Hicks was to have his 13 year old daughter, India, participate as a bridesmaid at the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and  Lady Diana proud that he had the wreath of flowers that she wore on her head, dried, framed in perspex and put on display at his home.

I was also seriously impressed with David Hicks' drinks table...check it out:

This, in stark contrast, is ours:

It's so dry that it even has an orchid growing in the champagne bucket. Addled by jet lag, we did momentarily think about stocking up on spirits duty free on our re entry into the country, however, remembered just in the nick of time that we'd already used our booze limit to bring in Chateauneuf du Pape.

Having read what David Hicks wrote about an under stocked drinks table...'it not only looks mean, but is visually meaningless (harsh words)...I like rows and rows...and several back up bottles of gives a generous, welcoming atmosphere, and if a bus load of friends does descend on you, you are ready for them'. I might have to drop in to the bottle shop on the way to do the school run.


Monday, 19 August 2013


Hello from a wintery afternoon in Hobart.....complete with snow on Mt Wellington:

We are home. After a meticulously executed 44 hour trip from Nimes, which involved hire cars, trains, planes and pre booked maxi taxis we materialised at our front door only to discover that we'd forgotten to organise......the keys. Cue the locksmith. By this time it was dark and cold. Bleak. We had to go out again. To say goodbye to our last remaining beagle. Somehow he managed to make it to the day that we arrived home and we were able to say goodbye. Cue the tears.

The last two weeks have been a fog of jet lag and displacement....and I'll admit to also indulging in a tad of gratuitous homecoming malaise.....I have packets of sunflower seeds sitting on the kitchen bench waiting to be planted and I've been painting my toenails YSL 'Bleu Majorelle' which is the colour of the Mediterranean sky:

Sigh. So while I may have been daydreaming about our sojourn in the south of France the reality has been the unrelenting horror of unpacking the did that happen so soon.....and a never ending whirlwind of athletics carnivals, Irish Dancing Competitions, teacher meetings and myriad trips to the uniform pool. 

So, I've been trying to console myself with some soothing (although possibly manic) gardening....planting more box (because you can NEVER have too much), roses, punnets and punnets of hollyhock seedlings......and the beagles. Look how stunning this hedged rose garden in Stockholm was:

And those Danes have an incredible gift for using hollyhocks, they seem to just sprout out of the footpath:

 So beautiful. Needless to say,  I'm determined to try to achieve this effect at my house.

Things have been made to feel worse as I've succumbed to a nasty little lurgy, which has been working it's way through the whole family and has now taken up residence just behind my face. So yesterday, I had to pull out all the stops and between rain showers we all rugged up so that I could lead an expedition to the Botanic Gardens to gaze upon the wonderment that is Peter Cundall's Veggie Patch made famous on the ABC's 'Gardening Australia' programme. It's always guaranteed to make me feel happy.....however the sight that greeted my eyes was enough to make me.....almost....cry. It's been gutted:

I had no idea. 

Anyway, I've also been engaging in a spot of comforting home decorating which ultimately involves wallpaper and still my beating heart....yet to set the plans in motion it also involved getting the plasterer in, who, of course, reduced the house to an utter mess. Plaster dust = days of dusting, vacuuming and mopping. There is no way around this sorry fact. 

I keep flashing back to our road trip to Sweden, Denmark and Ireland, where everybody in the family had a turn at ticking something off their bucket list. The boys lived their dream of two days at Legoland and a night in the hotel.....where our room overlooked the magic that is Miniland and our Irish Dancing aholic daughter celebrated her 12th birthday in Dublin....complete with tickets to Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre. 

And me? Mine happened in Stockholm, when I'm not ashamed to admit that I dragged the whole family to the recently opened ABBA: The Museum:

Tick. I loved every single minute of it. How could I not....I danced on stage to 'Mama Mia', sang 'Waterloo' in the sound recording booth, sat in the 'Arrival' helicopter:

And then.....I stood in front of these:

It all came flooding desperately I coveted one of these dresses as a five year old. In fact, given the chance, I'd still love to give one a whirl on the dance floor. 

Did you know that the girl's had their names emblazoned on the back...see:

And that back in the early days of ABBA, Frida used to make their costumes. 

And my husband? He was very excited to actually drink Guinness and watch 'Father Ted' Ireland. I'm pleased to report that he did both....even on a couple of occasions at the same time:

And then, just because it was there and it had to be done, we all kissed the Blarney Stone:

 Even the baby:

I mentioned this to an Irish friend the other day at the school gate and she promptly told me that all of the local lads after closing time at the pub in Blarney.....go and pee on it. I hope she made that up.