Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry
Between Killarney and Kenmare

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I have a book out - the second this year!!

It's called EverydayEats and I am one of the food reviewers. See it here:

The other book is the Good Pub Food Guide 2011 and I am one of the reviewers for it too!!

Lots of eating and drinking in 2010 which I am now trying to get my body to forget!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Last Day at Varuna

I have been in a cave for a couple of days, which is a good thing.
Have written more than 90 pages now and feeling much better about how things have gone. Got over my ADD and that superglue from the hardware really works!

The one thing I'll miss from here is the evening dinners with the four other writers. They are all working on books and are such a diverse and interesting mix of folk.
On Friday night, we read to each other from our work. This gave the greatest insight into each of us. Biff is writing a memoir about her parents - her mother suffered from schizophrenia and her father was an academic and writer. Her work is delightfully poignant - I can't wait to read more.
Anna is an intellectually gifted concert pianist. She is writing her second memoir, about pregnancy and childbirth. She writes with subtle humour and great realism.

Gary is a Scot, originally from Glasgow, but he is writing a fictional piece about three generations of a Polish family. His writing is rich with description and texture.
David is a very warm and funny man from Melbourne and his work of short fiction was layered with rich visual imagery and mood. All so wonderful. Beats TV anytime!

So much talent in one room - I feel truly privileged to have shared time with these marvellous people - all of whom are just like you and me, dealing with families, the daily grind, work commitments and our own limitations - but still managing to create.
My own work has some way to go but was received enthusiastically by the others - the one remark I treasure was that "it reads like a film - I can see it". Noice.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Funny dreams in the Mountains

I have been having bizarre dreams. Night before last I dreamt I met Steve Martin - in my dream he was extremely tall, young and wearing a bright yellow shirt.
Last night woke up after dreaming that vampires were coming to get me. Too weird. Perhaps they were. I went back to sleep.
It's not in any way a scary house - it is just a roomy and very quiet place. Have written more pages..and done a lot more research. Read all about the industrial disputation at the opera house today. Jack Mundey - he of the famed green bans of the early 1970s, was orginally a scaffolder on the Opera House - so he had a lot to do with leading strikes for better wages and conditions. Very interesting.
I had breakfast at the Common Ground cafe in Katoomba this morning - very good coffee in quirky, earthy Rivendell-like surrounds - it is run by a cult after all. But the food's good. Three sisters this arvo as it was the most perfect Autumn day - glorious. Yesterday was just misty, foggy, light rain all day - great for writing.
Banjo playing has slipped as feel pressure to play softly (so as not to disturb anyone) - and that just does not come naturally!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 2: Am I in prison?

Minor freak out. Why are all the other writers so diligent and quiet? They all seem to be hunkered down in their bunkers - in my case a small room with a table and chair adjoining my modest bedroom, looking out over a delightful garden - working away studiously. Am I the only one with ADD?
Usual modus operandi when writing fiction is to set myself a manageable goal - such as, OK I'll write 5 scenes - and then I'll make a cup of tea. Or OK, I'll map out five scenes and then have a cup of tea, or OK I'll go for a brisk walk and then I'll read some more and then I'll have a think and then I'll have a cup of tea.
This results in some writing, some pondering, lots of gazing out the window and lots of peeing.
Being confined to bedroom-cum-study overlooking pretty garden feels too stifling.
Have resolved to take laptop downstairs into delightful roomy loungeroom or sitting room tomorrow to push on.
I wrote eight pages today - in fact, developed a sub-plot which involves two young people falling in love and then having their hearts broken as circumstances force them apart. The sub-plot intersects with the major narrative plot at the denouement and also (I think) will end the film. So, in fact, I might have written the final scene of the film today. Very moving - tears. Dinner time now. More writing tonight (I hope). By the way, writers have approved my playing of the banjo (quietly) in the evening. Hoorah!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Back at it again

Well, about seven months has lapsed since my last post...and the screenplay has stagnated. But, true to form I am back at it now.

I am in Katoomba at a writer's retreat for a week to try to finish this thing off.

I have arrived at the 1930s? home of Eleanor and Eric Dark - she was a writer, he a doctor - to simply write my life away and nothing else - not even music - unless it's with headphones on!!

As I was driving up here from Sydney, an enormous thunderstorm with pounding rains poured down at Wentworth Falls. I was snugly inside a cafe eating Barramundi at the time but when I finished it was still bucketing down so I took my refuge in an antiques store while I waited for it to ease long enough for me to make it to my car. The only thing really startling about this antique store was a giant moosehead which was mounted fairly low on the wall, so not long after you cruise in you are literally staring this very large, lifelike stuffed creature in the face. It was mean.

Perhaps a fitting start to the week as the Dark's house is all very original (kitchen, decor, musty books, floral carpet, patchwork quilts - you get the picture) and, as it's necessarily very quiet (there are only 5 of us here) - I feel like I've stepped back into pre-war times. Sago pudding anyone?

Too bad I'm not working on a war-era piece. Still, lovely to have all this time to indulge in the world of my screenplay again. How lucky am I. Oh, and did I mention it has a winding driveway, tree-lined driveway....just like Manderley...(sigh)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ahhh Malaysia.

After about 16 hours in transit from Dublin to Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, I am in the Pan Pacific Hotel at Kuala Lumpur Airport. I usually try to stop overnight to break the trip as I rarely sleep on flights and need to at least lie down for a few hours to try to make the whole schlepp bearable. (My daughter hates it when I use the word schlepp – but I love it – feels good to say, you know what I mean.)
This hotel is attached to the airport, so you just take a golf buggy with your luggage and wham – two minutes later – you’re checking in.
It’s lovely – has all the great accoutrements of a business class hotel – grand lobby with impossibly high ceilings, columns and potted palms. A pool, gym, sauna, room service, good air con etc etc. I intend to just stay here and get back on my plane in the morning. I got in around 3pm local time and am on a 9am flight tomorrow.
In fact, I don’t even intend to get the local currency – the ringet – my room is prepaid and I will just use my credit card for the rest.
Too bad I was so tired that I failed to get to the pool, gym or sauna and the in-room massage which looked wonderful, would have taken too much sleeping time.
So I shower, order a Nasi Lemak: coconut flavoured rice accompanied with beef rending, fried kerisi fish, fried egg, onion sambal, cucumber, anchovies, acar rampai and peanuts (RM41.00). Yum.
After two plane food meals, the dinner being Sweet and Sour fish (the fish was cubed!) and breakfast cubed fried potatoes and scrambled eggs with cheese and a remnant of a tomato – both bland and tasteless beyond belief and only sampled by me – I needed something good to bring me back some joy.
By the time I ate the food around 5.30pm, I was ready to conk out. Tried to contemplate a swim and/or massage but my body wouldn’t let me. Zzzzzzz
Woke at 2am local time. Hmmm. What to do. Pool closed. Massage not available till 9am. Bummer.
Dozed for two hours then got up and had tea, repacked bag, did full make up for final leg home. Dressed etc...now just waiting till 6am so I can head down for some fruit and yoghurt. They do great buffet brekkies in these hotels and, even though they will serve food of some description on the plane, I can feel happy that I have nourished the body before leaving for the day. Australia here I come!

Drunk Irish man in Kerry

My mum, big sister, daughter and I went on a road trip to the Dingle Peninsula. We left Galway in the morning and headed down to County Clare to see Aughenure Castle, the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher on the way and then decided to leg it as far as we could before stopping at a B&B.
You see, it doesn’t get dark in Ireland till about 11pm in summer – even then it’s not super dark. Daylight starts 4am.
So, with Ireland’s known preponderance of B&Bs, we just thought we’d stumble across one at the right moment. About 9pm.
I was driving, sister and daughter were in the back reading and my mum was upfront with me. We were all happy (I think).
We crossed the Shannon River on the car ferry near Kilrush and that was fun. When we got off at the other side, we could have stopped there – there were quite a few B&Bs...but I felt fine – the sun was still shining – so we drove on to Listowel (Irish pron: Lis-tool).
This is a largish town in Kerry – not far from the capital Tralee. Surely there’ll be loads of great B&Bs there? Wrong. For some reason, tourism has forsaken Listowel – and while there was a largish hotel in the town centre and some rooms above several pubs, Listowel just didn’t have the nice rural B&B we were after. By this time I think it was 9.30pm.
My mum had a lonely planet with three B&Bs listed that all sounded good – two problems. The Lonely Planet was from 2006 and the phone numbers seemed incredibly short. Also, I had forgotten my Irish sim card. Doh! We tried the local phone but it wasn’t letting us through. So, my mum asked three Irish ladies as they were passing if they had heard of this place.
They were women of action...they whipped out the mobile and called the first. No, the number’s disconnected. OK, let’s try the second. They got someone, but the place is not a B&B anymore. Irish practicality to the fore – do you know of another? Yes, they do. Yes, here’s the number. Is it a good one – we are assured it is. OK. She rings the 3rd – so generous – speaks to the lady, we get directions. The three women reconfirm the directions and we’re off to Nora and Jim’s B&B. Thank you delightful Irish ladies.
Let me explain something. Nora is a lovely lady and a great cook. She immediately offers us apple pie and tea but we haven’t had dinner. So Nora offers to drive us back into town so we can eat dinner and then, afterwards, there’ll be pie.
Ah the Irish hospitality.
We head to a pub which tells us it’s only the bar menu available now (about 10pm or so). However, this menu is huge. So, we have our chowder and other bits and bobs plus our Guinness with blackcurrant cordial (my mum introduced us to this one) and are stuffed totally full at 11pm.
We’re about to head to the ATM to get come cash when a young, drunk Irish man with large ears and a broken arm comes around the corner and immediately wants a chat. This guy is drunk...staggeringly drunk.
And he’s trying to be clever and guess where we’re from. First he tries English. We’re not really interested. Then he thinks we’re German and that we just have really good English. We do not enlighten him and also we see that he’s going the way of the ATM – so we don’t want to go that way either. He makes some joke which we don’t really understand about how to pull a Kerry man – use a hurly and a soccer ball or something. This puzzles us – I know that in this part of the world to “pull” someone means to get lucky – but I don’t think my sister, mother or daughter know this – and it just sounds – well – lude.
So, eventually we extract ourselves from this big-eared fellow and go to be collected by Nora who drives us back to her B&B. Just a ten minute drive.
The views from our rooms are lovely – out over the pastures, with a great view of the cows.
Then it’s homemade pie and homemade black forest cake and tea made with fresh water from the well, which is on the brother’s farm. Accompanied by Jim’s delightful Kerry brogue and charming commentary which is hypnotic – no matter what he says.
We roll off to bed too full to function and laughing at the wildly varying experiences we’ve had with the Irish today. Did I mention it’s midnight and still not quite dark....