In recent years (the tropical chapter), the week before Christmas each year, my next door neighbour, Carol, would play festive tunes. Classics from a bygone era, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, etc would delightfully waft across the garden.  It was a magical time of the year. I miss my very good friend, and her kindness. Beers on her terrace at sunset, my two cats back then (Fluffy and Tiger) sitting beside us on the terrace railing.

Thinking back to Eden Road. When I was young, Christmas was always a special time.  My parents would put up a small Christmas tree in the front porch of our remote farmhouse.  From our bungalow, no other house was visible.  You could see, across the flatlands, for over 10 miles, to the distant mountains above Maghera. 

The red, blue, green and blues of our Christmas tree lights, were very vivid to my young eyes. They shone as a little beacon of cosy hope, against a seemingly endless backdrop of darkness across the fields. I never forgot the contrast (nor the vivid colours).

This time of the year, is always a period for reflection. I find myself singing (to myself) the old John Lennon classic.

“And so this is Christmas,
And what have you done,
Another year over,
And a new one just begun.”

Sometimes even the original public domain tune gets an airing.  ‘Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he was mine’

For some reason, unknown to me, another tune has been dominating my tuneful thoughts across this festive period, Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ (from 1986).  It brings back memories of times spent in Kilrea, as well as driving home, to Eden, from university near Belfast, in the late 1980s.

Driving home for Christmas
With a thousand memories
Driving home to Eden Road, after 1986 and 1987, was very different, and was to be dominated by reflections and memories.

Chris Rea’s fantastic ‘Shamrock Diaries‘ album, from a year earlier (1985), got a lot of airplay in my car. A classic collection of songs.

Three Cool Cats

Thank you for all the comments about the new cat, in the last article.  Baby (a temporary name) is slowly settling in.  Lucy and Roxy are slowly coming round. The new girl is emotionally intelligent and very sensitive.  So I have to be careful and not be too loud during moments of annoyance.

Thanks for the ideas re a name. Still undecided, but considering Star, Storm, Precious, Special, Angel, Chrissy (thanks Anje).

Here are two photos from this morning (Saturday, new year’s eve).

all the love in the world


making friends this morning with Roxy

Things are very dark. We can only hope that the new year will bring some light, and greater awakening, into the world.

Here is an old poem, from well over a hundred years ago. It encourages us to ‘throw away’ our past regrets and worries, and instead focus on self, and the future year ahead.

It’s almost 10pm here.  Only two more hours left of 2022.  I will watch, with friends, from our mountain vantage point, the midnight fireworks going off, along the ocean, some 12 miles distant. 

I am about to open a bottle of red wine.  All my very best regards to you all.  May you, and your loved ones, have a healthy and prosperous 2023.



PS – Stephen Burns, who has kept the streets of Portglenone clean for the last two decades, has been awarded an honour in the New Year’s Honours list. Wonderful to see local people get the recognition they deserve.

New Year

As the old year sinks down in Time’s ocean
Stand ready to launch wish the new,
And waste no regrets, no emotions,
As the masts and the spare pass from view.
Weep not if some treasures go under
And sink in the rotten ship’s hold,
That blithe bonny barques sailing yonder
May bring you more wealth than the old.

For the world is for ever improving
All the past is not worth one to-day,
And whatever deserves our true loving
Is stronger than death or decay.
Old love, was it wasted devotion?
Old friends, were they weak or untrue?
Well, let them sink there in mid-ocean.
And gaily sail on to the new.

Throw overboard toil misdirected,
Throw overboard ill-advised hope,
With arms which, your soul has detected,
Have self as their centre and scope.
Throw overboard useless regretting,
For deeds which you cannot undo,
And learn the great art of forgetting.
Old things which embitter the new.

Sing who will of dead years departed,
I shroud them and bid them adieu,
And the song that I sing, happy-hearted
Is a song of the glorious new

E. W. Wilcox
An old poem, reprinted in Londonderry Sentinel, 1st January 1946