Posted on 32 Comments

More than freshly mown grass

This morning, while emptying the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen counter (yawn, yawn) I picked up and accidentally squeezed a bottle of wash-up liquid that I keep to hand for the occasional manual scrub. Out popped a few tiny bubbles and into the air they floated. Breathing in the scent automatically, for an instant I was transported back to happy, childhood times when ‘bubbles’ and a small, plastic ring meant so many things – fun, playtime… easy, innocent enjoyment outdoors with my pals. Even memories of walking behind my own two cherubs some 16 years ago while they happily blew rows of soft pink bubbles into the air rushed back in.

It made me think. I’m always amazed at how powerfully and speedily a smell or scent can bring back memories. Instantly we relive places, feelings, moods from years gone by.

For me there are some obvious and less obvious ones. The smell of freshly baked bread, ah yes, my mother and her wonderfully light, Irish soda bread. Fresh from the oven. Our bright, yellow kitchen. Melting butter on a hot slice with a large mug of tea. Strawberry jam. Joy.

Freshly brewed coffee beans? Easy peasy: Bewley’s café, a trademark brand in Ireland for many years. As an 18 year old I’d pass their Westmoreland Street shop in the early hours, en route to Bank of Ireland’s head office. My sleepy head, dulled from the long bus ride into town, would lift as the familiar, enticing aroma floated into the street and for a few seconds I’d mentally relax into the warm, cosy ambiance that is uniquely Bewley’s. Happy days.

Old fashioned Eau de cologne – a tough one to find nowadays outside France – my grandmother’s staple (and only) bottle of scent. Splashed on liberally every day, it’s fresh, zingy scent reminds me so easily of her lively presence. Amazing woman, twice married she raised two daughters independently, survived two world wars, ran her own ‘sweet shop’ for 30 years and never spent a day in hospital until the age of 92. Fabulous.

Freshly mown grass – here’s where I join Hermione Granger’s happy scent memories. My father on a Sunday afternoon, mowing the front lawn. Full of energy at the start he’d end up sweating buckets, cursing under his breath as the heavy, old mower got stuck in a clump of weeds and my mother, sister and I sniggered from behind the living room window. Mugs of tea and iced buns in our hands that same day as we all relaxed later on the freshly mown lawn. Neighbours stopping by for a quick chat as they passed by.

Of course there are a few less pleasant ones too – to this day I cannot abide the smell of cooked cabbage or cauliflower. Nor can my sister. Childhood visits to a scary and depressing old people’s hospital many moons ago is the association. I doubt this one will ever go away.

But on the whole it’s mostly happy places I’m brought back to. Maybe it’s time to make a new one, which brings me to that unopened bar of chocolate that’s lurking in the kitchen drawer.

Yum. Enough said.

Sunday afternoon
Full of energy at the start, he’d end up sweating buckets
Posted on 31 Comments

Sock it to me!

Today I decided to tackle the huge bag of odd socks that has been sitting on the floor of my laundry room – watching me ignore it – for the past few weeks. No real reason, just a rare spurt of domestic activity reared its head (the bag was ready to burst) and I finally got stuck in. As soon as I started I realised some chucking out would need to be done

Now, anyone who’s read Spring cleaning but not really will know that I do not possess the right skill set to do this job well. I spend far too long on it, overthink the whole process and end up with more or less the same pile of stuff when done as what was there in the first place. But this time would be different, I avowed. No mercy would be shown!

The thing is, most of these socks are perfectly good socks. They’ve done their bit, kept our feet warm and toasty for months on end; survived a whirlwind tumble in a washing machine and coped with hours of being spun in circles in a huge, hot dryer. Only to end up waiting in a bag because somehow they’ve lost their partner. Or their partner has lost them. Or ‘someone’ (daughter? son? husband?) didn’t keep them together when gathering the laundry.

How fair is that? So here I sit, surrounded by little piles of socks of all sorts and shades, deciding which ones are up for the chop or not. It’s a merciless world.

There’s a Christmas sock, bought God-knows-how-long-ago, for my daughter. Can’t throw that out, she still loves those – what if we find the other one back? (not to mention the tiny reindeers that won’t stop twinkling up at me). A pink fluffy one, perfect for snuggling in on the sofa in the evenings – surely the other will show up soon? 19 – yes, 19 – single black socks. None of which match each other. No doubt part of my husband’s campaign to buy one style sock that is recognisable as his and won’t end up in our son’s room. Hah! So much for that! Better keep all of them, he probably has the other 19 somewhere upstairs…

Ah, here’s one that can go out – small, black with stripes. A bit tatty. Be gone, sock! And another, a faded, pink and white spotted little item that’s completely lost its shape. Out you go, no guilt. None. A soft, beige and pink little item, with dog ears and a felt ‘tongue’ sticking out at the toe. Hmm. Can I really be that mean?

A Bart Simpson sock! Geez, that’s an oldie! Seems kinda mean to throw it in the bin. Eight small, white ankle socks, good for wearing to the gym. If you’re so inclined.

Slowly, painstakingly, I find a few matching pairs and build a little tower with them. Gives a certain sense of satisfaction. Then I sort what’s left into: bin items/look upstairs for a match/put back into the bag (for now). It’s enough.

washing machine
I knew there was a reindeer one somewhere in here!

Job well done. Ish.

Posted on 22 Comments

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Recently I’ve noticed new, small changes to my body which have made me pause and consider. As in, think about the stance I always had on aging. ‘Oh it won’t bother me!’ said I, ‘Wrinkles are a sign that you have lived and laughed in your life, bring it on!’.


Yes well, they ARE. And I do still agree with what I’ve always spouted about aging gracefully and refusing to walk around with skin that looks like it’s been pumped full of liquid rubber or stretched tightly over a drum.

But I must confess there are moments nowadays when the mirror asks a lot of my pure intentions. More than I expected, to be quite frank. In these moments I find myself quietly raising a finger to pull the skin above my eyelids gently upwards “just to see” the difference it would make if I were to… (what? I don’t know!) get something done I suppose, to the slightly sagging skin that is now making its presence felt around my eyes.

It’s confronting, but quietly done because I don’t want anyone to spot me being so vain and frivolous (including myself).

Then there’s that favourite black evening gown hanging upstairs which I must finally acknowledge no longer suits me. Having worn sleeveless tops/dresses for most of my adult life, I am more than a little shocked by the change in my upper arms – when did the muscles start to hang from the bone like loose meat fillets?? And why can’t I make the bodice fit snugly like it always did? Nowadays it bites into my body in strange ways. Looser skin I guess, or something like that.


Ah well, chances are I’ll never do much about any of it. I’m too chicken, too poor, a little bit too lazy and even principled on the topic to take any drastic measures but that doesn’t stop me being surprised I even considered it. When you get right down to it, I guess aging is difficult to accept no matter how ‘wise’ you’ve become. I’ve had to work my way through a fair few unexpected health challenges this past year (knock on wood) which shook the balance out of life for a while. Moving away from my private pyjama party on the sofa is a very welcome change let me tell you, with simple things like walking to the bus stop or going shopping for an hour finally back on the agenda. I’m hugely thankful for it.

And yet I can occupy my mind now and then with silly irritations about my skin losing elasticity. It’s too silly.

Maybe I need this little reminder to chill out a bit more.

I’m ready for a good year, I’ve waited and hoped for it so fingers crossed my friends and let’s all be a little easier, kinder to ourselves in 2016. Because life’s just too short for silly worries and irritations.So right now my eyes are looking pretty ok to me, and I’ll be damn happy to go out feeling fabulous in any evening dress, under my own steam this coming year. How’s that for starters!

plastic surgery
I wonder, maybe, what would it be like if I had that bit lifted??
Posted on 32 Comments

Christmas is over and the goose got very fat!

Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Did I/we/me and mine have a wonderful, joyous, celebratory Christmas and New Year celebration. Thankful I am. Grateful I am. Stuffed-to-the-gills I am. And oh-so-glad it comes just once a year!!

Truth be told, the month of December is utter madness in our home. Has been ever since my beautiful daughter decided to pop into the world two days before my birthday (Dec 5 – which also happens to be a national, Dutch Christmas Day of sorts as well). 22 years later we’re still trying to work out a way of making the month a little less… manic.

Of course it’s all good fun and there are huge globs of happiness thrown in, with both of us wallowing to our hearts’ content in what we’ve dubbed our ‘birth week’ (steadfastly refusing to acknowledge anything Christmassy until we’ve exhausted ourselves and everyone around us with birthday-making jollities). We decorate tables for early morning delights, hang up themed stringers and balloons, wrap gifts in glistening paper and do everything possible to make the days special. It’s a thrill (and hubby almost faints with relief when it’s over). But by then Christmas is gasping for a look in so I shift gears – fast – to catch up.

Lists I’ve compiled over the years with recipes (traditional, iced Christmas cake: check! Mince meat filling for pies: check!); addresses for REAL cards (I can’t stand e-ones – must get the ones for abroad into the post before 8 Dec!!) and gift ideas are yanked out of boxes covered in dust. Ribbons, gift wrap paper and pretty bows are hauled out of drawers. Candles (red of course!) – lots of them – bought in in BULK. Not to mention a thorough review of the table cloth, Christmas dinner service and glasses to see if anything’s missing or cracked and last year’s wreath for the door…

Geez. I’m even running out of breath writing this! And that’s before I started buying actual gifts – both for my own family and the extended one in Ireland. Plus surprise, small treats for those who’ll join our table over the holidays. A huge bone for the dog – wrapped tightly so he can join the merriment on Christmas Day and have his moment of ‘unwrapping’. Mulled wine and snacks for after Christmas Eve midnight mass (or was it before??!).

And exhale…

This year, because I was hugely thankful to be out of a wheelchair (knee problems a year ago), I kept reminding myself how lucky I was to be able to shop repeatedly in mega-filled streets and over-stuffed stores. Smiled as I hobbled slowly around the stores, mouthing “on my own two legs” to my mirrored reflection when my feet began to shriek in protest. I do believe I may have fooled myself quite well.

But it all came together in the end. The tree went up, glorious and golden. The turkey fitted into the oven, the ham baked divinely. We ate, we drank, we made very merry and revelled in the joy of doing so together.

Roll on next year. Who knows, maybe I’ll have grown wings by then…

Happy New Year, everyone.

image of woman with filled shopping trolley
Bread for the stuffing… where can I find goose fat… oh look the red wine’s on special offer…
Posted on 19 Comments

No, Scuba, no! (the finale)

(A wander over to the first part of this soggy tale  is probably a good idea, if you haven’t already been there).

By the time I’d flipper-flopped my way out of the pool, strapped on a weight belt and completed one more backwards-walk into the water, the group had become accustomed to sitting on the bottom. Hubby and I sank down beside them. An odd experience in itself, to be honest. Kneeling on the bottom of a pool beside complete strangers. My mouthpiece jammed securely between my teeth, every breath a loud, rasping sound in my ears.

I tried to orientate myself by focusing on the instructor, whose face was largely covered by her mask. She began making hand signs, pointing first to her mask then to each of us in turn. Suddenly, and to my horror, she lifted it slightly, allowing water to flood in! Given my lifelong fear of water covering my face (even in the shower) I could feel my heartbeat take on a rapid drum beat. As we watched, her mask slowly emptied out again. I then realised she wanted us to follow suit.

Holy crap. How, what… panic raced through me as I watched the guy beside me take a stab at it. Seemed to work for him. Jesus H, I was next! My hands shaking with fear I took in a huge gulp of air and gingerly lifted the edge of my mask a fraction, praying for magical deliverance. Instantly a rush of cold water raced in, blinding my eyes. All rational thought vanished. It felt like I was drowning. I kicked for the surface and wrenched off my mask, treading water furiously.

A minute later she was there beside me, irritation lacing her features. “You are supposed to breathe out through your nose” she barked, “then the air will be pushed back out”. I couldn’t speak. “Come back down, we’ll try again” she urged. Back down I went.

Two minutes later I was again pushing for the surface, and this time the tears came as soon as I tried to speak. “I can’t do it!” I squealed, “I can’t do it!”.

“I think you need extra time with Hans” she sighed, gesturing for a young, blonde, very tall Adonis-like instructor to join us in the water. Relief flooded through me but he wasted no time, “Come, we go stand there” he said, his lithe, tanned body cutting powerfully through the water.

Stand? yeah right. By the time I reached him I was way out of my depth and had to tread water to stay afloat. For the next ten minutes we practised the art of filling my mask and emptying it while my legs cycled frantically underwater. Before long we’d both had enough.

“I’ve had enough” I gurgled up at him, “I want to get out”.

“Ok” said Hans, “why don’t you snorkel back to the shallow end and take a rest?”

Ah, snorkelling… I can do that I thought, popping in my mouthpiece before (tiredly) flopping onto my back! Needless to say with my first breath I slurped in a huge mouthful of water, and began to choke. Hans watched me from afar as I flailed around, spluttering… his face a study in curiosity.

By the time I’d splashed my way to the shallow end and lay gasping on the tiles it was clear to all that scuba diving was not going to be ‘my thing’. Time I stopped trying to be a mermaid and went back to what suited me best – a sport-free life!

scuba diver at poolside
Clearly, scuba diving was never, ever going to be ‘my thing’!
Posted on 44 Comments

Scuba, anyone??

Ok, so we’ve already established that basically, I am rubbish at sports. Always was, no doubt always will be. My sad little attempt to master the art of horse-riding many moons ago left no illusions on that score.

But despite the humiliation of that hapless endeavour, I still wasn’t quite ready to give up and just a few months later had persuaded my partner-in-crime (a.k.a. long-suffering-hubby) to join me on one more ‘fun’ sporting adventure. Scuba diving. In the city of Amsterdam.

I know, I know, perhaps a tad unrealistic given my lifelong fear of water smothering my face – but somehow, it seemed vaguely achievable. For a while.

So where to get lessons… well in those days (we’re talking 20 years ago!) it was a case of browsing telephone books and ‘asking around’. No internet, no Google! Someone, somewhere recommended a ‘PADI’ diving course to me. It sounded good. Professional. Manageable. We hopped along to an introduction day, and by the time the woman-in-charge had assured me I could always buddy-up with hubby and would be allowed to go-slow in the early weeks, we’d signed on the dotted line for their 12-week course.

Five weeks later, we headed off to the first session: theory. By now my Dutch was reasonable if not fluent, so I struggled a bit but left feeling quietly confident, this time I would not be bested! Lesson two however, the start of the ‘practicals’ was a different kettle of fish. Entirely.

In the bright lights of the swimming pool’s changing room, I glanced around at the other women, noting the athleticism of their bodies. Hmm. Slightly intimidating. Skinny (then), with muscles that knew best how to drag me out of bed and into a car, I slithered into my bikini with no small amount of trepidation.

Reminding myself that I could start slowly, I headed towards the pool, my newly purchased goggles hanging around my neck, my flippers clutched in a nervous fist, my oxygen tank strapped to my back. The whole group was waiting for me in the water, standing in a circle. No one spoke. I sat down heavily on the edge of a small wall, and tried to put on my flippers.

For some reason, the damn things refused to fit onto my feet. Shoving my toes in got me nowhere and after five failed attempts I was in danger of becoming upended from the tank on my back and my feet seemed to be doubling in size even as I watched them. I heard a shout, ‘wet your flipper, then your foot slides in!’. The group was becoming impatient. Two minutes later I was all flippered up, feeling more frog-like than any woman ever should but – hey – I was on my feet! My rubber feet. God they were huge! how the hell was I to walk into the pool??!

With all eyes on me, I took a step forwards. The flipper swayed, I wobbled precariously, took a step backwards. Fervently wished for the tiled floor to swallow me whole, then tried again. No dice. Suddenly, hubby was beside me, ‘it’s ok, just turn around and walk backwards’ he whispered. Minutes later we were in the water. Glares of irritation floated my way, I ignored them and focused on the instructor,

“we’re all going to float to the bottom now” she said, expertly popping in her mouthpiece and vanishing into the water in one smooth action. The rest followed suit. I popped in my mouthpiece but when I tried to sink to the bottom of the pool, discovered that I couldn’t. My legs kept rising to the surface and my flippers looked like shark fins, floating wildly above the waves.

Hubby was struggling equally. We thrashed around for a full minute, legs going in all directions, and I could feel the giggles rising as a realisation of what we must look like to the waiting would-be divers down below, hit me.

Suddenly, the instructor resurfaced, her eyes flashing furiously, “what’s wrong now?” she gurgled, “did you two not put on your weight belts?”. Damn, no we hadn’t. I caught his eye, and laughter burst forth. It was more than she could take, “I hope you’re going to work very hard here” she barked, making me laugh all the more, “this is a serious sport!”.

Oh Gawd. Now I knew I was in trouble!

Scuba diving lessons
My flippers were floating above the water like shark fins
Posted on 20 Comments


A word, a city which until now has conjured up countless images of la tour Eiffel, the Champs Elysee. Fashion. Style. Romance. A hint of French arrogance, according to some. Winding streets, large open spaces, artists on pavements, delicious cafés au lait and melt-in-the-mouth, crumbly croissants au chocolat.

Right now you hear it and the first thing that comes to mind is the horrific attacks from just one week ago (really? Is it only one week?). Attacks on our civilised world, our freedom of movement and expression.

The thing is… Last weekend I chose, quite deliberately, to post a blog similar to earlier ones. I chose not to focus or even comment on Paris and the awfulness of it all. I wanted to continue doing ‘normal stuff’. I felt you, my readers, deserved that too. Because holding onto what we do, what we like, what makes us laugh and sometimes even cry especially in these strange, challenging days is in itself, a strength.

But today, it feels wrong to ignore it completely. It’s just too big. I’ve read many blogs this past week, listened to so many reports that my head still spins. A lot has been said. Wise words that I can’t begin to match but I thought, as there’s so much sadness going around, maybe I can offer you a different word to move us away from despair and fear. And back towards light, especially for those living in the City named after it.


  • I hope, that as we work to put these dreadful deeds behind us, that something good can and will emerge from them.
  • I hope that Europe’s leaders can truly come together at last and find a way of dealing with the situation. Right now.
  • I hope that we, the people of Europe, will reach out to each other. Build new bridges that bring us closer together, regardless of race, religion or background.
  • I hope people will know that these attacks are not a Muslim creed or way of living. They are the actions of one group of fanatics, who seek to destabilise the civilisation we have built over hundreds of years.
  • I hope we are all brave enough to withstand the lure of mistrusting others which some would have us succumb to.
  • I hope for lessons learnt from past mistakes to guide the way forward, not backward.
  • I hope we can soon learn to see and think of the city of Paris for what it still is – beautiful. Entrancing. Magical. Ours.

I hope.

Paris, the Eiffel tower and more
Artists on pavements, melt-in-the-mouth croissants
Posted on 16 Comments

“Open wide now!”

Is it the fact that the chair goes completely flat, and you lose perspective on the room? or that huge, glaring light that burns into your eyes? What about those shiny, metal instruments that lie in wait, a mere six inches from your nervous, salivating gums?

I know, of course, that it’s one of those things we have to deal with, every six months. And that when it’s over and done with, the next visit will seem light years away and can be shoved back into the drawer of items-we-don’t-talk-about-for-now. But the minute that small white card plops onto the doormat, we gasp with collective horror for the dreaded half-yearly dental check-up has arrived! Yikes. Here we go again.

The thing is… I just can’t stop being fearful of going to the dentist. Even for a check up. Wish I could. Some people are far less bothered and I’d love to be one of them.

It all started when, as a child, I decided to “pull a fast one” in school and on impulse, told teacher that I too had a check-up which (coincidentally) meant leaving school at 10am to head across with my best friend. Dental check-ups, in those days were rare, you see. There was no such thing as ‘going every few months’, still isn’t really, in Ireland. You went to the dentist only when there was an urgent need to do so and your mother’s whisky-soaked cotton wad had failed to rid you of toothache the night before.

Having watched various school pals take entire mornings off, for ‘the dentist’, I decided I wanted in on the act. And in on the act I got. By the time the hopelessly old-fashioned dentist had shot my gums full of anaesthetic with what looked and felt like a monstrosity of a needle, then left me shivering in a freezing waiting room for half an hour before drilling ferociously into two teeth – I had moved firmly into the camp of dentist-haters. And there I have lived, ever since. Dreading each visit, postponing it if feasible and thankful that I’ve seldom needed much done.

By the time I had children, I was determined not to pass on my fears. Cheerily leading them in, I smiled as best I could, tried not to gag at the medicinal smell and told them they had nothing to worry about. But fools they are not, and although they’re less nervous than I am, it stays a challenge, when all is said and done.

Last week was ‘check-up week’. My son, who frequently needs teeth filled, manned up to ‘going last’. My daughter and I go in together. Strength in numbers. By now we have our own code: if she needs me to kick in with moral support, a well timed interruption or mild objections she’ll move her left foot twice.

As the dentist worked his way around her gums, I stayed alert. With maybe three teeth left to check we heard some of the dreaded words from behind the scary mask, “M3, distal, make a note for next time”. The left foot stayed still but the right one twitched. I held my breath and readied myself for battle, “but I think we’re good for now” he finished.

And exhale. For six more months.

Image of nervous patient in dentist chair
Is it the fact that the chair goes completely flat?
Posted on 22 Comments

Walking is good too…

I’ve had many unforgettable moments or minor dramas in my life. Usually they make me laugh, cry or see life differently for a while. This was one of those.

Hubby and I were relaxing into week one of this year’s jaunt around Europe in the trusty camper van. With plenty of laughs, wine, good meals munched lazily in the fresh, open air and carefree indulgence doing… as little as possible!

We’d driven through Germany and were now parked before a beautiful lake in Switzerland. The sun was blazing in the sky and the air was still. With mountains on every side – that looked as if they’d been vacuum-cleaned – all we needed was the purple Milka chocolate cow, neck bell a-dangling to complete the picture.

We decided to go for a short cycle. A courageous move on my part, given the knee problems I’ve had all year. But hey, we were on our ‘hols’ and what could go wrong I reasoned.

With hubby leading the way, I slowly and steadily puffed my way up the hill, towards the road. It was a tad steeper than I’d imagined, and the higher I got, the slower I went. By the time I’d almost reached the top I was practically at a standstill, sweat was dripping down my back and the front wheel was wobbling in every direction. “Focus woman, focus” I told myself, “you’re almost there”. I could already see the main road, just one last effort and I’d have made it…

Suddenly I heard a shout from up ahead, “stop! There’s a car coming!”. I panicked. Unable to put my ‘good leg’ down at that exact second, I lost control and crashed to the ground, the bike straddled across me, my legs askew to minimise the fall.

Shit!” I shrieked, top of my voice, “Shit!! Shit!!”.

Are you alright?” yelled himself from across the road.

No, I’m bloody not alright” I hollered back, “I can’t get the bike off me!”

Bent forward, my legs clamped in and my eyes glued to the ground, I suddenly realised a pair of sandaled feet had come to a stop beside me. The ankles were bare, and as I lifted my head I saw to my astonishment that a gown-clad, Tibetan monk was standing right beside me. He reached down and began pulling at the bicycle, trying to lift it off. Terrified that his skinny arms would snap in two, or that he’d mangle my already-aching knee in the process, I gestured wildly for hubby to come help, my eyes berating him for the huge grin on his face.

Three minutes later I was free again. We all shook hands, it seemed a good thing to do. Recovering my equilibrium I talked, quietly, calmly with this gentle man. He advised me to let go of my cycling efforts, saying, “I was watching you go slower and slower, (ouch!) walking is good too“. Told me he’d lived and worked in Asia for 30 years, but was now home to recover. I asked from what. He gestured to his face, “cancer”. I asked if he was getting treatment. “Not the usual kind” was his reply. He’d returned to spend time with his sister.

It was an unusual meeting. Later that evening I held my head in my hands (while my husband laughed out loud) to think, with no small amount of embarrassment, that I’d yelled ‘shit’ in front of a Tibetan monk. In the Swiss mountains. And not just once.

Swiss mountains biker
“Shit!” I shrieked, “shit! shit!”
Posted on 13 Comments

Last call for flight EI607…


For some reason I tend to view money spent at airports differently to the dosh I hand over on a more normal, spending spree. I still see it as a way of “using up” spare cash, taking clever advantage of the special offers that shine and shimmer at me from sparkly glass cases. As I did years ago when duty free really offered you a bargain.

Logically of course I know that nowadays the whole duty-free lark is far less meaningful than it used to be. The prices aren’t all that great unless you’re travelling long distance, and treating myself to a new foundation/lipstick/perfume or expensive face cream is – at the end of the day – pure (happy) self indulgence and nothing more.

But the thing is… logic doesn’t really come into it! As soon as my feet have carried me past the passport check, a sense of euphoria enters my body and bubbles its way down to my toes. Like a well programmed robot I quicken my step and speedily find my way into the first, brightly lit shop, my boarding pass at the ready. Just for a quick peek you understand.

Yeah right. Quick or not, I know very well that there’ll be no plane boarding for me until I’m armed with a pretty, plastic bag carrying at least one, but more likely three, joyous little items. Including – if it’s a trip to Dublin – a good perfume for my sister. Just one of the little things we do for each other.

You see, I’m a bit of a shopaholic. Maybe even more than a bit. When that film “Confessions of a Shopaholic” came out I sat entranced, loving, appreciating and recognising the joys, twinges of guilt and total addiction that every woman/girl (who enjoys shopping) is familiar with. The satisfaction that comes when you’ve made your final choice and head towards the cash register, your purchase-to-be clutched firmly in one sweaty little hand. The rush of blood that warms you later as carefully you unveil your new item to the oohs and aaahs of those around you (or even just your own – equally good!).


I’m not really sure why airport shopping feels that bit different, or loosens the rules a little more for me. It just does. Perhaps it’s the time pressure – mustn’t miss that flight! Or the perfume-scented, brightly lit atmosphere which this happy little “in-between world” literally oozes. I’m also fairly sure that echoes of the old, pre-Euro need to “use up these left-over liras” still live inside my head because I’ve fed and watered them so well.

Oh well. I will probably always feel less guilty spending money there than anywhere else. So I’m sticking with that for now and off to compile a nice list for my next gallop through Schiphol. We’ll call it… good preparation!

Duty free shopping
If I run a bit I should just make it to the gate!