Monthly Archives: July 2018

Splashing in Puddles

“My son and his wife encourage the grandchildren to be free, like when they want to splash in a puddle. Whereas I would say ‘Don’t go in that puddle!’, because I was conscious of the washing that would engender.

I’ve often thought that if I were to do it all again, I wouldn’t be so strict – I would let them splash in puddles.”

…from Celebrating Grandmothers

One of the many unexpected side effects of being a grandparent is watching your own children bring up their children. This can prove both a joy and a challenge.

Attitudes toward child-rearing change over time, so we grandparents have to expect some changes. And modern circumstances are also very different – there were no complex computer games, no mobile telephones and none of the other electronic gadgetry in our day.

Some grandparents are clearly concerned about the way their grandchildren are being brought up. They say that the children have too much ‘screen time’. Some feel that their grandchildren are being spoiled with too many things or not sufficiently encouraged to take risks.

And they feel there is very little they can say. “Every grandmother has to be issued with a zip” as one grandmother said.

But others are enormously impressed by the child-rearing efforts of their own children. They look back with some sadness at their own lack of awareness of what they were doing, while applauding their son or daughter’s wisdom at finding the right balance.

Childrearing is one of the harder things we do in life. We rarely feel that we got it right. We mustn’t be too hard on ourselves. But we can reflect on what is best for the children – and, as the grandmother quoted above said, let them splash in puddles!

This was originally published by The Grandparent Hub (see


Celebrating Grandmothers: grandmothers talk about their lives is available as a paperback or ebook on Amazon



When I went to the Dublin Writers’ Conference, I was asked to take part in a podcast interview for the Irish Writers Podcast.  This has now been aired.  I talked about all three of my books for about eight minutes.  See


Do you like to swim? Do you really like it, or do you just do it because you know it is good for you? I am in the latter category. I find it a kind of work.

Keen Swimmers

I know there are many avid swimmers. They’re in the pool or the sea every morning – and sometimes again in the afternoon.

A friend who is 93 swims every morning without fail. A colleague of my husband, now age 71, who recently had a knee and hip replacement at the same time, says she is to be found in her local pool at 6 a.m. every day.

I have nothing but admiration for these people.

Dutiful Swimmers

I am more of a dutiful swimmer. I know it is good for me, but I find it hard to get enthusiastic about. I manage roughly once a week and tend to think I should do more.

Ever since my nearby pool closed, and I must travel a distance of 15- to 20-minute walk to get there, I find it even harder to get motivated. I know other people make much longer journeys, so I shouldn’t complain.

There are loads of things I don’t like about swimming. I hate all the fuss with clothes off and then on again. I have never been very good at drying myself and therefore tend to end up with slightly damp clothing for the rest of the day.

There is something rather boring about swimming up and down a lane, although it is sometimes made a bit more challenging by someone swimming too fast in the slow lane or too slow in the medium one.

I try to count the laps and sometimes skip ahead by accident and then don’t know where I am. Nothing very serious – just dull.

Playful Swimmers

Of course, there are also playful swimmers, although not many in public pools, aside from some parents with their children.

My father, who thrived on fun, used to take the family swimming, and his main aim was to set up water fights. He had a very good method of squirting water up with his fingers so that it got you on your head. For him, it was what swimming was all about.

Unfortunately, when he moved to a continuing care community in his later years, he found that his fellow swimmers were not very enthusiastic about such antics. He said he couldn’t bear to swim laps and never lasted very long in the water.

Swimming Feels Good

For me, the main point of swimming is that I feel good afterwards. You go to all the trouble of getting there and changing clothes and swimming, but yes, you do feel a whole lot better.

You also meet people. I have had many conversations in changing rooms that might lead to new friendships. You just never know.

One time I even saw a life guard in action. I was swimming along with my thoughts far away, when I realised that there had been a loud splash and felt – almost immediately – something moving very fast underneath me, like a very large fish.

I was very disconcerted until I realised it was a life guard rescuing someone in trouble. The deftness, speed and accuracy of the man was impressive.

Swimming and Thinking

But the best part of swimming for me is that it releases ideas into my brain that I never seem to get elsewhere, aside from a bath or shower. I thought I read once that being in water is good for the brain, but some quick investigation on the net has elicited no such research.

Yet I have had many new ideas for projects or how to phrase a difficult concept or even books I might write, while swimming.

Because I have a terrible memory, I used to carry a little notebook with me, so that I could write such thoughts down as soon as I emerged from the water. Unfortunately, that was not a success as the notebook became too sodden.

I now try to remember my new thoughts until I get home.

This was originally published by (see