Monday, 30 May 2016


                                             Wanna be an extra in something? Move to Ireland!

THERE'S a lot of movie work for men in Dublin right now. Bearded, long-haired guys with bulging biceps and tattoos. The sort you might be a bit nervous about meeting, on your way home from a night out.

Which makes them perfect as extras for the new series of Vikings, currently being shot in Ireland. 

The Irish-Canadian production is into Season 4 and seems to be as popular as ever. Doubtless, it's a huge success abroad. As for us, when we're not enjoying the blood, sweat and naughty bits, we're busily pointing out the up-and-coming actors we sort of know: 'that fellah there, he's Annie's friend's nephew', or determinedly recognising every hill and waterfall in any given scene. 

Hollywood-scale movie studio

Meanwhile, there are advanced-stage plans to build a 180,000 square foot Hollywood scale movie studio, on Dublin's East coast. Apparently the new studios would allow for at least three large-scale productions to be filmed at the same time. Even Bono is lobbying for it, so it's looking good.

The whole thing is going to have a huge knock-on effect, of course. And I'm not about to waffle about the economy, because let's face it, what would I know?

We used to think highly of banking as a profession
I'm talking about the one resource we have in plenty in this little country: our kids. To be blunt, all this Hollywood movie stuff is turning their heads. No longer do they want to be engineers or nurses or accountants. Way too boring! They all want to be movie stars.

The reason I know this, is because such news travels very quickly on the parent grapevine.
          'He's so good at science and maths, and he's so bright. I thought he'd be a brilliant doctor. But no, he wants to be the next Will Ferrell,' one mother told me recently. Her son is only 10, so his aspirations, in fairness, may change.

That's another thing about Irish mothers. We all believe our children are very bright. If they're not getting 'A's on all their school tests, we tend to think they're not working hard enough.
          'Ah she's very bright, but she can be a bit lazy.' But I digress.

Another mum enrolled her three children in one of the big drama schools and signed them to an agency for ads and 'bit' work. She's hoping they'll all work it out of their systems.

Although acting might not be considered the most reliable of careers, most of us in this country used to think very highly of banking as a profession. And look how that turned out!

We'll need mansions with swimming pools. Indoor ones, obviously.
And we forget that for a tiny country, we've produced a not unreasonable number of Hollywood actors over the decades. We don't know about the rest of the world, but we're all very relieved when we hear authentic Irish accents replace the 'stage-Orish' of many an old Hollywood movie. No offence.  

In recent years, even I can see the seduction for youngsters. Given a choice between spending their summer holiday behind a shop till, or hanging out on a film set, charging around in bits of fur and war paint, chances are high they'll embrace their inner Viking and celebrate their fifteen seconds of fame.

However, whatever about the prospect of longer lines at the till when we're buying all that sunscreen and salad for the
Irish Summer, it's the long-term outcome that worries me. 

When Hollywood finally realises that the smart thing to do is to relocate permanently to Ireland, we're going to need a proper infrastructure. Like mansions with swimming pools. Indoor ones, obviously. Let's keep it real here.

We'll also need people to put everything in place for the stars. And maintain them. Builders and electricians, hairdressers and beauty therapists, teachers for their kids (Irish teachers can pronounce any mad name an actor inflicts on their offspring, because most Irish kids already have unpronounceable names). And let's not forget doctors, dentists and lawyers. If we're to believe everything we read about actors, we'll need a lot of those.

The problem is, we won't have enough of those wonderful people anymore. Because instead of swotting the books, they'll be treading the boards. The next generation will be swopping science for Shakespeare, overalls for period costume. Why? Because Ireland is now the hottest place to be for aspiring actors and mega TV series.

In fact, if I fancy a change in direction, I might just check out some of those castings myself. Who knows, I might yet manage to land a part, playing 'astonished observer of Clooney's getaway' or 'fifth-lady-in-waiting to Anne Hathaway'.

A bit like going to a party without the booze: you know a lot of the people and you stand around and chat.

What's not to like?

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Thanks for reading,
Hugs & xx,

Monday, 16 May 2016


                                        Summer's here: Drop everything and make the most of it.

THE Irish Summer has officially arrived. And there's not a hint of irony in that statement.

In this part of the world, The Irish Summer is a thing. People talk about it in shops while they're queuing to buy their sausages for the barbeque.
"It's to clear later on, is what I've heard. About a quarter past five, that rain is going to pass over completely. You'll have about half an hour then to cook all that stuff on the barbeque, but don't even bother cleaning off the patio table. You'll be eating inside."

We did think that it had arrived about two weeks ago. But in fact, it only lasted a day. People went a bit mad. One radio broadcaster even reported that a little caf√© in a Dublin seaside town closed unexpectedly. The hastily-scrawled sign on the door read: Gone to the beach.

You'll never get a straight answer from an Irish person

We never actually say that we're having a bad Summer, of course. Unless we're really having a bad Summer. Like the year where it rained steadily almost every single day for two months.

Parents of young children spent the school holidays in the cinemas and shopping centres. Parents of teenagers almost had nervous breakdowns. Either way, it proved an expensive monsoon.

Mostly, we use euphemisms to describe our weather. We like to tell people that our climate is temperate. That's actually a word we're all taught in school, and our meteorologists throw around a lot. It means that there's no extremes.

We're never going to be dying of a heat wave in July, no more than we're going to have snow for months on end during the Winter.

Because we're all so used to this half-hearted weather, you'll never get a straight answer from an Irish person about the Irish weather.
     "The wife and I are thinking about coming over to your gorgeous country next May. What will the weather be like?" I heard an American man ask an Irish woman in an airport queue last year. From the woman's accent, I knew she was from Cork. They tend to get slightly better weather down there.
     'Where would you be thinking of going?' she asked.

There was a slight pause, and then the reply.
     'Well, we're planning to see the whole country. We'll have four days.'
     'You'll hardly see the whole of Ireland in four days, but usually the South-East gets better weather than the rest of the country. Although if you're up in Donegal, or out on the islands, and you get a bit of sun, you could be anywhere.'

The Irish Summer is always "middlin"

Two things. First, any Irish person will look at you as if you've grown another head, if you announce that you're going to see the whole of Ireland in four days.

Second, The Irish Summer is always middlin'. We're very cagey. God forbid that we'd lead you astray.
Prospective tourist: 'What sort of weather did you have in Ireland last Summer?'
Native: 'Middlin'.'

When pushed, we might be persuaded to say 'middlin' good' or 'middlin' bad'.
You will, of course, be left none the wiser.

So, here's the truth. If you're thinking of coming to Ireland this Summer, on any given day, you'll need the following:
1. Waterproof shoes.
2. Sandals.
3. Rain jacket and umbrella.
4. Sunglasses and possibly sunhat.
5. Warm fleeces.
6. T-shirts, shorts & sunscreen.

We don't, however, boast 40 shades of green for no reason. The weather service here is affectionately known as "Wet √Čireann." This was Irish reporter Teresa Mannion's recent water-cooler moment.*

But right now, on Monday, May 16, the sun is shining. The sky is blue. Irish people the country over, are dusting off last year's sombreros, and exposing blue-white limbs.

The land of shivering saints and freckles beckons.

See you on the beach.

* Credit: RTE News.

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Have a wonderful week,
Thanks for reading,
Hugs & xx,

Monday, 9 May 2016


GOOD Morning, everyone,

I'm really excited today, because instead of my usual fortnightly column, I'm starting a week-long blog tour, with a $25 #Amazon voucher #GIVEAWAY.

I'm doing something very different at each stop - so I hope you'll drop in during the week. The winner of the Amazon voucher, will be chosen via the simple Rafflecopter. So the more times you enter, the better chance you have!

I'm popping the dates and all the links in below.

I'd love to see you at some stage, and look forward to chatting to you.

Have a lovely week,
Hugs & xx,

9th  May
10th May
11th May
12th May
13th MayJenny Kane's Blog

Monday, 2 May 2016

*Guest author Melanie Robertson-King.*

GOOD morning everyone, and happy Monday.

MY GUEST author this month is Canadian writer Melanie Robertson-King.
I first met Melanie through Facebook, when she very kindly agreed to throw a Facebook party for me on St Patrick's Day 2015, where we chatted about my debut - and tons of other things.
Melanie knows how to throw a party!
I hope you'll all feel free to chat to her here today - and to share details of her latest novel via the social media links at the bottom of the page.
I'll be back next week, to start a blog tour. In the meantime, I'll hand over to Melanie.

Thank you for reading,
Hugs & xx

Hi Sharon. Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog to talk about my latest book. Before I show off the cover, let me tell you a bit about it. The house actually exists. I first laid eyes on it in 1993 when I went on a school trip with my son to Quebec City. From that initial sighting until now, that image has played in my mind.

 The book began as my NaNoWriMo project last November. I wasn’t out to achieve the 50,000 words in the month, but to use it as an exercise in discipline to get me writing each and every day. It worked. When I finished, the book came in at about 44,000 words – about twice as many as I thought it would.

 In November 2014, my husband and I returned to Quebec City for a vacation and on our last day before coming home, we drove out to the house so I could take more pictures. I like the black and white effect but decided there needed to be something more, so I found a stock photo of a full moon and cloudy sky and layered them together.

So I had the cover image. I had the story. I didn’t have a title so I ran a contest on my blog during the month of March. In the end, 23 people came up with 109 suggestions to choose from! In the end, I whittled it down to 2 and the only way I could decide was to see which one I liked best with the cover image.


And here is the finished product.



Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.

Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.

Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.

Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel The Secret of Hillcrest House?

 Melanie Robertson-King's latest novel serves up a delightful blend of the supernatural and spicy romance, Lynn L. Clark, author of The Home Child, and Fire Whisperer & Circle of Souls: Two Novellas of the Supernatural, & The Accusers

Intrigue, dark buried secrets, hot romance and a neat twist in the tale make this riveting reading, Sheryl Browne, MA Creative Writing, Choc Lit Author

A fun read that keeps you guessing right up to the surprise ending, Dayna Leigh Cheser, Author of Janelle's Time, Moria's Time, Adelle's Time, & Logan's Time

Find Melanie's latest book:

About the author


Melanie Robertson-King lives in Eastern Ontario, Canada, within sight of the St. Lawrence River. She has always been a fan of the written word. Growing up as an only child, her face was almost always buried in a book from the time she could read. Her father was one of the thousands of Home Children sent to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland, and she has been fortunate to be able to visit her father’s homeland many times and even met the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at the orphanage where he was raised.

Find Melanie:


Celtic Connexions Blog:

Facebook Author Page: Melanie Robertson-King Author

Twitter:  @RobertsoKing