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Yes, I do realise I am ten days late doing my August post.  I also realise that I don’t have my usual landmark photo – to be honest, the weather has not been the best and I did not feel like venturing outside when I thought about it.  And, yes, I also realise I haven’t posted for a long time, nor kept up to date with my favourite blogs.  What can I say?  I have been really busy.  I know, I always say that, but it’s true and this time I am happy busy.  Moreover, I have been blogging, just not here.

So, what happened to me that has made me so busy you might ask?  Do you remember the animal rescue charity I was telling you about a little while ago, the Cork Animal Care Society?  I have been helping them.  Not only by fostering kittens – Daz and Suds are still with me and Leo has also moved in – but also by looking after our presence on the internet and coordinating fundraising activities.  I have thus created a blog and this is where I have been writing lately.  Oh, and guess what?  We are going to have a booklet of creative writing, called Furry Tales and Meowsings!  And we welcome submissions from anywhere in the world (hint, hint!)…  I should soon find a balance and might even manage to start posting here again before September comes.

Here, in Ireland, we would nearly forget what summer means if it weren’t for the cats who haven’t forgotten about the mating season and are having loads of kittens who need help.  The weather is atrocious and my garden is struggling, although the sunflowers have finally come out.  I hope your summer is a little bit sunnier than ours…

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It was sunny last sunday, so I decided to tidy a bit the garden…  The catnip plant was getting so big I resolved to cut it.  This is how I found Tantrum when I walked in the living room.

Look at the way his paws are grabbing the cloth!

Feeling good!

Summer?  Is it summer really?  I’m being negative, the sun actually made an apparition today.  Let’s just hope it lasts…

First of all, I’d like to wish a happy Canada Day to all Canadians stumbling on this blog.  Canada day also marks the end of the fourth Canadian Book Challenge and the beginning of the fifth edition, in which I will again take part (you can check details on John’s blog The Book Mine Set).  Like last year, I will again begin with a novel by Carol Shields.  There must be something about this time of the year that draws me to her writings!  To celebrate Canada Day, I have been posting reviews on Canadian short stories and will keep doing so during the weekend (you can find the links to all the Canadian short stories I’ve reviewed here).

June has been a strange month for me and I’ve had ups and downs.  I usually like June.  The days are long and you can chill out in the garden in the evenings; however, the weather was not too helpful.  I spent most of my time studying, although very slowly, and… looking for a job, but nothing on that front yet.  The passing away of someone special did not help to lift up my spirits.  I went to Germany for a conference, though, and that was a nice experience; I will soon write a post on this trip.

Anyhow, this is a new month, a new beginning, right?  I have decided to be positive and to make the most of it with what I have.  Hopefully, the garden will start being more productive and I might spend more time in it if the weather permits.  I also still have the two foster kittens, Daz and Suds, under my care.  I think I might have found them a forever home, but I’m considering fostering more kittens when they leave.  At least, watching them always puts a smile on my face!

I wish you all a good summer!

Can you see?  The first green bean is out!

The broccoli is getting bigger (there is a second one, but it is much smaller):

Not a red hot chilli pepper, but soon, I hope:

Most of the flowers in my garden are spring flowers, but there are still some clematis:

And these little blue flowers have come out:

And the sunflowers should be blooming soon.  Now, that will cheer me up!

I don’t think I’ve ever shown you the view from my garden…  These cows are my alarm clock!

The other day, I was attracted by some noise coming from the living room… 

No surprise there, it is Gypsy trying to catch a fly (she’s still young and gets really excited by anything that moves).  But, wait!  It’s not a fly, it’s a butterfly and a lovely one too…

I managed to take a picture before giving it back its freedom and allowing it to escape the sordid death that was waiting for it.

Doesn’t this look like a summery view of my stretch of road to you?  I agree, it is not that bright, but the sun was setting down at the time…  In fact, today was the sunniest and warmest day of the year.  It was lovely after so much rain and wind during the month of May…

As you might have guessed, May was as busy as June for me.  There are many things I’d like to post, but I haven’t had a minute; no worries, it will eventually happen.  Meanwhile, you can have a look at the conference blog in which I was involved: http://bookendsucc.wordpress.com.

June looks a bit quieter, but I was saying that about May, so who knows…  I have a trip planned to Marburg in Germany.  I have never been to Germany and I look forward to it.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a word of German.  I bought a phrase book, but I have no idea how to pronounce the words!  At least I know how to say thank you, so I can be polite…

I used to love the way June used to be synonymous with longer days (still is) and the arrival of the summer.  Nowadays, you just don’t know if you will actually get a summer!  The summer solstice is also the occasion for celebrations and, when living in France, I used to go to see “les feux de la St Jean”, which were parties of pagan inspiration involving dancing around a fire, eating earthy food and fireworks.  Apparently, such celebrations are still taking place and, next year, if everything goes according to plans, I should go back to where I spent many a 21st of June in Brittany.  This year, I will have to contend myself with looking after the garden so I can enjoy eating lovely veg during the summer (I’ll post photos soon).

I wish you all a great month, enjoy the long and, hopefully, warm evenings!

“En Mai fait ce qu’il te plait!”

This is another French idiom, which means that in May one should do whatever one likes!  I might not be able to take this idiom too literally as I must get back to my thesis after a month spent travelling, going to conferences, catching up with family and friends and doing some work in the garden.

As you can see, my stretch of road is becoming quite green.  The weather has been lovely here and the flowers are blossoming.  The air offers so many fresh smells of flowers; it’s delightful.

The clematis in my garden

As today is the 1st of May, I offer you all a stem of Lily of the Valley from my garden, a traditional lucky charm given in France on this date.  I brought back the offsprings from my grandfather’s garden two years ago and this year I am glad to have got three stems.

Enjoy the sunny days of May!

This tree looks really busy, as is my life at the moment.

As I had anticipated, I have not been able to post much this month.  This blog should resume its normal activity shortly.  Meanwhile, there is still a couple of days left to participate to the giveaway.

“En Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil.”

This is a French saying meaning that in April one should remain wrapped up.  By the look of my monthly pic, which looks very wintery, it seems true.  The sunshine is there, but evenings are still chilly and I still have to turn on the heating at times.

I can’t believe that the month of March has already come and gone.  The beginning of the month was really busy, with World Book Night and then my trip to Spain, and I haven’t yet managed to catch up on… on everything.  I haven’t even finished writing one of my papers for the next two conferences and I’m going away on Sunday.

Yes, April should be another busy month, but I think I will be able to slow down a little towards the second half of the month.  I must say that life has been quite exciting, so I am not complaining! 

Have a wonderful month!

This is what I feel like doing: take a coffee break with an eclair and a book…

The prospect of spending eight hours in Gatwick airport while waiting for my connection to Madrid was not too tempting, so I decided to catch a train and go to Brighton. 

I had never been in Brighton and enjoyed my walk on what seemed to be the main street and on the seafront.  Brighton’s seafront is very similar to seaside resorts in the North of France, such as Deauville (from what I have seen in films anyway).  It looks like a place that must have seen better days and that must have been trendy a few decades ago.

Seafood joints on the seafront

I found the architecture in Brighton quite interesting.  The buildings’ facades are varied and often have a certain grandiosity.

Buildings on the seafront

The weather was mild and it was pleasant to chill out in a town I did not know for a few hours.

A walk by the sea

After eating a plate of fried seafood, I still could not resist going in this cute French patisserie where I enjoyed a coffee éclair while reading a book.

Too cute and appeatising to resist

A book, a coffee, an éclair

But the clock was ticking and I had to get back to the airport to catch my plane to the next destination.

Brighton train station

Here is the whole set of photos:

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