Thursday Doors


Before the big snow arrived and smothered Ireland to a standstill, I managed to capture some Thursday Doors shots of a lovely, characterful business premises in my native town of Blackrock. Belles Tea Rooms has two floors where you can sit and have a nice cup of coffee or tea, while looking out over the beach across the road. They have an unusual front door, with a mermaid on it and I love the colour they chose.


A few years ago, I launched the first book of my historical fiction series in the upstairs room of Belles and it was such a fitting location. Many of the events in the saga take place by the beach in Blackrock.


Here’s a photo of the main street taken from the top end of the village, with the sea lapping up against the wall.


The tide always goes out a great distance from the shore, which is a pain in the summer if you’ve come to have a nice swim. It’s a long trek out to find water deep enough to paddle in, let alone do the back stroke. Of course, if you live there, you’ll see the tide coming in twice a day, like any other coastal area. There is a large sandbank that can catch the unwary by surprise when the sea comes in around them. This has caused quite a few rescues and unfortunately some drownings over the years.


There used to be an outdoor sea water 50 meter pool in the village. It’s where I learned to swim but it was replaced by an apartment block some time ago. I suppose the indoor pools a couple of miles away in Dundalk offered a bit more luxury. Who wouldn’t prefer a warm swim in a cold Irish summer?


This is an old photograph of the main street and beach. You can see that some of the roofs are still thatched. I wonder was that fishing boat carrying any of my relatives, as we have fishermen on my mother’s side of the family going back as far as the late 1600’s. In the upper right hand corner of the image there appears to be some wooden swing boats. I remember as a child my sisters and I would pile into a brightly painted swing boat whenever the funfair came to Blackrock. In recent years they have been back there again and we’re hoping to have another ride in one this summer, although I doubt the four of us will be allowed in the same boat this time.

Well, that was Blackrock, past and present. Thanks for stopping by and taking an interest. If you would like to see a few more Thursday Doors, swing by Norm’s blog.

Posted in boats, books, food, History, Ireland, photo challenges, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Thursday Doors


Ballycastle is featured once again in my Thursday Doors post, there is such a great variety of old properties there. Of course that means a nice selection of doors, too. No, I didn’t photoshop the sunshine into these images – it was actually a very sunny day.

Forty shades of grey or green seem to be popular hues here, but I did find some nice colourful doors in the main street. The Indigo shop caught my eye not just because of its colour but because my nail salon was called Indigo Nails. I had really lovely clients who were more like friends, they had been coming to me for such a long time. I don’t miss the work but I do miss them.

This is one of my favourite properties in the town. There’s a nice walled garden at the back and it’s just a few minutes walk from the beach (and ice-cream parlours).


I’ll take some more photos of Ballycastle doors on my next visit there but in the meantime I captured some nice shots of Blackrock and it’s lovely shopfronts, which I’ll be featuring on next week’s Thursday Doors. Thanks for stopping by this week and don’t forget to check out what Norm (the founding father of Thursday Doors) has featured on his blog.



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Thursday Doors – Chillin’

It’s a snowy Thursday Doors post this week from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland, where I’m chillin’ (literally) with family. Here’s a few photos I captured from inside the house, where the temperature was much higher than outside.

We had a heavy snowfall overnight and next morning the sunrise was beautiful, I almost didn’t photograph it, I was so busy admiring the scene.


Even the sunshine later on didn’t melt the snow and it remained like this for the next few days.


I know all of you who live in colder climates will laugh at the few inches we call a snowfall, but as we’re not used to having the white stuff dress our landscape every winter, when it does so, it’s a big deal. Even The Gaffer thinks so, as you’ll see from his reaction in this video.

I was worried his poor old paws might not take to such a chilly surface (after all, he was born in Spain) so I didn’t let him spend too much time outdoors. Our walks lately have been infrequent and very short. There’s nothing like a nice warm bed beside a radiator on days like this, wouldn’t you agree?


I took some nice shots of Ballycastle town during my visit, so I’ll feature them on the next Thursday Doors post. It was great to have you chill out with me and The Gaffer this week and if you’d like to see a few more doors from around the globe, you’ll find them on the link at the end of Norm’s post. Enjoy.


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Thursday Doors


This green Thursday door belongs to the Ancient Order of Hibernia hall in the seaside village of Blackrock, where I was born. One of my mother’s relatives was contracted to build it in 1919 at a cost of £2,500. The hall, with its dance floor and gallery, was a favourite for local and visiting dancers, and a venue for theatrical performances. Today, it is no longer in use but there was talk of it being made into apartments some years back. I would like to see it being put to good use but I hope it keeps it’s original appearance.


Source 1


When the weather gets nicer I’ll spend a day capturing Blackrock’s lovely doors but in the meantime, this is a sample of some of my favourites. Although it’s on the east coast, the village gets some amazing sunsets.


But I took that photo a few weeks ago. The days have been quite grey and full of sleet lately.


This is a photo of the buildings on the main street looking out over the sea. It’s where I spent my childhood summers, staying with my grandparents in the white house on the left-hand side of the image. Even on a grey rainy day, this place appeals to me. As a child, I loved listening to the sea as I lay in bed at night (whenever the tide was in) and I still find that sound so relaxing. Now I bring my own grandchildren here to play on the same beach and they enjoy it at any time of year.


Here’s what the village looked like in the past when some of the roofs were still thatched.

Blackrock Hotel scaffolding


I hope you enjoyed our trip to Blackrock this week. For a great selection of interesting Thursday Doors, surf on over to Norm’s blog and click on the blue ‘frog’ at the end of his post.

Source 1 Blackrock Village Heritage


Posted in Historical buildings, Ireland, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 33 Comments

Thursday Doors


Here’s a nice red door with matching snow speckled car to start off this week’s Thursday Doors. Although we’ve been having very cold weather, some days are dry enough to bring Tino, aka The Gaffer, out for a walk. Lately, he’s been on a break from house renovating and doesn’t seem in too much of a hurry to return to Cavan right now. We have been staying in Blackrock, a lovely seaside village in County Louth, known as the Wee County as it is Ireland’s smallest county by area 826 km2 or 319 mile2. I was born here and lots of relatives and family members still live in the area. According to the records our roots go back to the sixteen hundreds, so I love spending time here, in the place where many of my ancestors lived, worked and are buried.

Guess which wall The Gaffer prefers. He has the same taste as me, so the old one won ‘paws’ down. My mother took me on a walk up this road, which was surrounded by fields when she was growing up, and pointed out places of interest along the way.


For instance, this house is said to have a haunted room. Sure enough, the white shutters are closed over on the downstairs room to the left of the door. Guess what? It’s a red door. Have a closer look.


Apparently, those shutters have remained closed for many years. When my mother was a young girl, she knew a woman who worked in that house as a cleaner and at times the job required that she stay there overnight. While in her room she could hear crockery breaking and the sound of objects being thrown around but when she checked next morning, nothing was damaged and everything was in its place. It could have been the owner letting off some steam but you can see from the photo how that room downstairs is the only one with the inside shutters drawn. Sorry I couldn’t get any closer with the camera.


Although the house looks to be in good condition, some of its surrounding stone walls need a bit of attention. It looks like this big old tree is threatening to push a section of it over.

My favourite wall along this road is this one, by far. It’s a dry stone build and the stones are placed vertically instead of horizontally. I was so focused on the wall, I didn’t even notice my shadow selfie until later.


As a teenager, my mother ran through this entrance with a boy she was out on a date with, to hide from her older brother, who was following her. I asked her if the walls were the same then as they are now but she said she hadn’t paid much attention to them at the time, even though she was hiding behind them. I guess she didn’t get to do too much courting on this road as, on another occasion, she was in my father’s car (she thinks they were married at the time as her brother wasn’t with them as a chaperone) and as they drove past one of the fields, a big black bull jumped over the wall and chased the vehicle down the road. She was grateful that they were not on their bikes at the time. Maybe he was spooked by the haunted house 😮

Thank you for your company on this week’s Thursday Doors. There’ll be more from Blackrock next week but in the meantime, have a look at the blue frog link on Norm’s blog to see a great selection of doors from around the world.


Posted in History, Ireland, society, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Thursday Doors


Here are a few more Thursday Doors from Clevedon in Somerset, England. This is the last lot that I photographed but there are so many more I’ll make sure to capture them on my next trip over.

Of course I managed to spot a couple of red doors, too, but blue seemed to be a popular colour in Clevedon.

There are two lovely cliff walks that lead into Clevedon, Poet’s Walk and Lover’s Walk. Here are some shots of garden doors in the huge wall along Lover’s walk, next time I’ll take the former one as we didn’t have time to do both.

The wall got higher and higher as we went along.


I wonder if these gigantic ‘rivets’ are helping to keep this wall standing.


At least it didn’t fall down while I was there. Thanks for stopping by this week’s Thursday Doors. Norm has a link on his blog post to more doors from all over the globe.

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Thursday Doors – Clevedon


While in Somerset for our son’s wedding at Walton Castle, we took a walk into the town of Clevedon and ended up on this Victorian pier. From the end, you get a great view of the town.



The restored 1869 pier  is one of the earliest surviving examples from the Victorian era and has a Japanese pagoda with a glass restaurant, where we had a delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows to warm us up. There are some more photos of it in this slideshow.

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I love the architecture in Clevedon, most of the older properties are very well preserved and cared for, from the small cottages to the imposing townhouses.

I still have a few more doors of Clevedon to post but I’ll save them until next week’s Thursday Doors. I hope you’ll join me again but in the meantime, why not have a look at what Norm has posted on his blog this week.



Posted in Britian, Historical buildings, History, nature, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel, victorian society | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Thursday Doors – Walton Castle

In December 2017 we stayed in a fabulous venue for a family wedding and it was the perfect place to capture some Thursday Doors. Walton Castle was reconstructed from the ruins of a 16th century structure and what a setting it made.


The wedding party rented the castle and its surrounding turrets for the weekend. Mr. R. and myself had our very own en-suite turret to sleep in. There was also an underground heated swimming pool that I’m sure wasn’t part of the original build.

The wedding ceremony took place under the arch in the courtyard and although the weather was cold the sun shone all day.

Of course there were some very interesting doors to photograph.

The windows were lovely, too.

The theme for the wedding was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which explains why the meal was eaten in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – and the food was out of this world. We had partridge for our main course.


Some of the characters in the grounds around the castle looked a bit strange.

The Grenaways, a Celtic alternative folk band from North Cornwall, provided some fabulous entertainment for the evening. Here’s a sample of what they sound like. This video is from a festival they performed at in 2013.

Thanks a million for joining me on my first Thursday Doors of 2018. I hope the year ahead is a good one for you and your loved ones. If you’d like to see a great selection of doors from around the globe, have a look at Norm’s blog and click the blue froggy link at the end of his post.

Walton Castle

The Grenaways


Posted in Britian, castles and ruins, entertainment, Historical buildings, Music, The Good Things in Life, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 49 Comments

My Dad


Jack Parker (1933-2017)

I’m sorry that I’ve been neglecting my blog these past few weeks but on Thursday 21st December 2017 my dad, Jack Parker, passed away. He went into hospital for a day and ended up staying for almost three months. A few days before he died, the doctors were hopeful that he would be home for Christmas but that was not to be. My mother and I were with him at the time, so thankfully he was not alone when it happened.

My father was a voracious reader and I have him to thank for my own love of books, which ultimately led to me becoming a writer. Every time he read a new book he would pass it on to me, anything from Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods to James Plunkett’s Strumpet City – one of our favourite books. He told me that as a child, Jack London was his favourite author and The Call of the Wild was a much loved book. He fished and hunted duck and rabbit and many a time my parents would tell us the rabbit stew we were eating was chicken because of the fuss we kicked up over the ‘wee bunnies’ hanging in the shed.

Dad was a great sportsman, from his school years right up to the week he went into hospital. When we were children he was a goalkeeper for various football clubs and also a fantastic darts player. He even wrote a book on how to play darts but never published it. In those days, golf was his favourite pastime and he won five scratch cups over his lifetime of playing, I think if he didn’t have the responsibility of a family to provide for, he would have become a professional golfer. He was a coach builder and carpenter by trade and very good at his job.

Chess was another game that my father loved and he would teach anyone who wanted to learn. My sisters and myself have known how to play since we were very young and would set the pieces up for our parents whenever my father managed to talk my mother into giving him a game. In their later years they both took up bowls – indoor and outdoor – and were quite competitive, especially when playing on opposing teams. My dad was never a bad loser, except when the winner was my mum, but he always said ‘you play to win’ and his motto was to practice, practice, practice. I was very proud of him when, in his mid seventies, he studied to become an umpire/referee in bowls. He passed his exams and was well known and respected in many clubs over the years. At his funeral, which was on Christmas Eve, some of his bowls friends formed a guard of honour while his grandsons carried his coffin to the hearse.

Although he hated flying my father decided in his seventies to visit places that had been on a wish list for most of his life. He took a short flight to St. Andrew’s golf course in Scotland, one of the oldest in the world, as a practice run for a much longer trip to Poland. It was the first time he had been to mainland Europe and we were quite concerned about him as he was travelling alone. However, there was no need to worry, my dad had it all sorted. In case he got mugged, he had photocopied his money and put it in his wallet, while carrying the real notes in the shoes he was wearing. We were terrified he would forget and pay for something with the fake money by mistake and end up being arrested for passing on forged notes. He tried hard to blend in by dressing like a local in Warsaw, hoping to avoid pickpockets who targeted the tourists and was amused to find other tourists giving him a wide berth – I can’t blame them when he described what he was wearing.

One particular place that dad wanted to visit was Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. He was twelve when the second world war ended and the concentration camps had left a deep and lasting impression on him. From Warsaw, he took the train to Berlin but didn’t get to spend as much time at the former site of the Berlin Wall as he would have liked, as he had to catch a plane to Alicante in Spain. We were living there at the time and he stayed with us for a week, soaking up the sunshine and swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. I’m so glad I have the memories and photographs of that time we spent together. He will be sorely missed. R.I.P. Dad.


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Thursday Door – More from Castlerock


Still in Castlerock for this week’s Thursday Doors and if you love stone buildings and old stone walls, this is the place to see them. They’re everywhere.


Some of them even have red doors.


How could I take a shot of this old wall and ignore that view?

Some of the newer buildings are designed along the same lines as the older structures, which makes them fit in nicely.


Whoever is building this one is making sure the house blends in well with the older buildings by adding some lovely period features. With an entrance like that, maybe it will be a guesthouse or a small hotel.

Thanks so much for stopping by and to view more wonderful (and sometimes weird) Thursday Doors, have a look at what Norm has posted on his blog – he may have gone a little ‘off the rails’ this week. 😉

Posted in Ireland, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments