Monday, 28 November 2016

DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION: MY WORST MISTAKES.



  Car accidents: if everyone gets to drive away unhurt, write it off to experience.


THE ground is frosty, as I pour warm water on my car windows and switch on the engine to drop my younger two to school.

As I've done for the last twenty years, I begin my reverse out of my narrow driveway, onto the small quiet road. As always, I inch out, stopping when I reach the pathway, checking mirrors and the car's rear-view camera, before I go any further.

But at the last moment, I'm distracted and I misjudge the angle of my turn. The front right corner of my car gets wedged in the wrought iron gate.

"Oh my God."
The middle child turns to me.
"What?"
"We're stuck."
"Mum, take it easy."
"No!"

I haven't so much as a smudged finger mark on the damned car.

It comes out louder than I intended. "No, no, no, please no." My car is only two years old. After years of driving my old one, replacing engines and gear boxes, remembering that the electric windows didn't work in cold weather, we managed to replace it.

Two years. And I haven't so much as a smudged finger mark on the damned car.
Until now.

"Oh God, I have to do something." It is a prayer.
"Well yeah, or we'll be late for school." This from the boy in the back seat.

"I'm doing something!" Panicking, mainly. I glance over my shoulder and try to continue my reverse. The car doesn't budge.

"Mum, are you having a mid-life crisis?" asks the boy.

Sweating now, I shift into first gear, rev the engine and drive forward. With a sickening clunk, the car dislodges itself from the gate and we are back in the middle of the driveway.

Shakily, I get out to inspect the damage. It's scraped, but worse, right underneath the right front light, the metal has been pulled apart. Thankfully, it's safe to drive. I get back in and start to reverse again.

"I can't reverse anymore."
The middle one sighs.
"Yes you can."
"Yes, I can."

I take it slowly and reverse perfectly. A couple of minutes later, the tears come, surprising me, as we shuffle along in traffic. The middle child hands me some tissues from the glove box, and I mop my face when we stop at lights.

"Mum, are you having a mid-life crisis?" asks the boy. I start to laugh, and it turns into hiccups.
"No, it's just shock."

"I'll drive back," I offered, "what's the worse that can happen?"

In all the years I've been driving, I've only ever had one accident. Nobody was hurt. But it was as shocking as it was dramatic.

We were taking a family holiday in Northern Spain when the children were young, and we'd hired a car and bought the highest available car insurance. For the sake of our annual two weeks' holiday, we wanted peace of mind.

On day three of our holiday, we drove up into the hills of the town, and parked behind a truck, to buy some pastries in a little bakery.

"I'll drive back," I offered. "It's only down through the town. What's the worst that can happen?"

Until now, I had left all the driving on the wrong side of the road, to the husband. I got into the car, and realised the steering wheel had disappeared. I got out again, and slid in the other side. The road looked very different. Gears looked very different, as I reached down with my right hand.

The front panel hung to the ground like an open sardine can.

"I'll guide you out and then I'll get in," said the husband. No problem. I could do this. I turned the key and then I turned the car.

I watched as the whole front right side of it disappeared under the back of the truck. What happened then is, to this day, a bit of a blur. Disbelief turned to shock, and I sat frozen, until huge sobs escaped me.

The truck driver appeared, and the husband, blessedly fluent in the language, stepped in. The police arrived. We showed them driving licences, and our 'Super Cover'.

They checked everything, got all the reports signed, and told the truck driver and ourselves not to worry. The insurance covered everyone, and nobody would be out of pocket.

The people from the bakery took one look at me, and at the ashen faces of the children, and offered lollipops and reassuring words.

When we finally managed to pull the car and the truck apart, the front panel of our rental had peeled back, and now hung to the ground like an open sardine can. The local bike-hire owner brought out a hammer, and banged the car back into some sort of driveable shape.

The truck driver shook hands with the husband, the husband shook hands with everyone else, and I managed to climb into the passenger seat.

It was my first major car accident.

It was also my first and last attempt to drive on the other side of the road.

Less than an hour after I catch my car in the gate, I pass my local mechanic in the village. I mention what happened.

"Nobody was hurt," says he. "And nobody else was involved. Your car, your gate. Metal can be fixed." And he gives me a hug.

The tension leaves my body like a physical thing.

Free lollipops...kind police...a non-shouty truck driver.

A hug.

                                                     *



QUICK NOTE:
My romantic comedy, Going Against Type (see page to the top right of this column) is on SALE for 99c/99p this weekend, until Monday, December 5th. Popping in the links:
: 99c
: 99p


                                                            *

A very warm welcome from Dublin, and I hope you enjoyed today's column.

I would be delighted if you shared it. (Check the little buttons below).

Please feel free to leave a comment - they're moderated to stop spamming, but I check every day, and I'm always delighted to publish and reply to genuine comments.


Fancy getting THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via Email? (See the Follow by Email box to the top right of this post).

What does that mean?
   1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Have a lovely week,
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.
 

Monday, 14 November 2016

EMBRACE THE COLD: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT WINTER.


                                Winter: Embrace your inner Hygge.

I KNOW PEOPLE who are counting the days to Christmas. Fair enough, you might think. It's already November 14th.

But these people have been marking off the weeks since September. Which is about as much fun as a drunk Santa. Because embracing your inner elf is not the same as embracing Winter.

Winter is a whole season: a whole quarter of the year. And in colder climes than our little island, it's even longer than that. 


Christmas and Winter become interchangeable.


There are of course lots of people who do embrace Winter. Clasp it to their woolly bosoms. A female friend of mine positively prefers it to Summer. It's a colour thing, apparently. A few years back she got her colours done with a beautician, who told her the Winter palette suited her skin. 

And no sooner has she climbed into knee-high boots, and swathed herself in warm greys, maroons and chocolate browns, than she seems to glow.

For the rest of us, Christmas and Winter become interchangeable. One minute, we're binning the carved-out pumpkins and packing away the plastic skeletons; the next we're wondering where we've put the manger and whether we fixed the wonky Christmas tree lights last January.

Not for them condensation running down the windows.

Because the reminders are everywhere, for months on end. The shops start sneaking Christmas confectionary onto their shelves in September, and by October the husband is buying mince pies, because, well, aren't they only once a year?

The stress of it all.

Our European neighbours do it all better. Britain aside (their retailers seem to be as daft as ours), most of the countries on what we used to quaintly refer to as "The Continent", seem able to strike the balance.

Celebrating Winter is something they've been doing beautifully for a long time. Granted, they probably have to. The Northern climes get a lot more cold weather, and they're almost guaranteed snow every year.

But they know how to make it fun to stay in. Not for them condensation running down the windows and worrying about leaving on the immersion after your shower.

They have houses designed to keep in heat, roaring fires, softly glowing scented candles, cosy throws, snug slippers....I've seen those Ikea catalogues.

They invest in real thermals and snow boots, so they can browse their elegant Winter markets, buying hot roasted nuts, decadent hot chocolate and home-made gingerbread.

More a philosophy than just hot drinks and mad looking slippers.

Embracing Winter is so important in countries with long winters, they have words that can't be properly translated. The Swedes, for example, have Fredagsmys, which is best translated as Friday Cosiness. It's basically staying in on a Friday night, with snacks, a movie and a decent fire.

You can be sure that this is all done in an aesthetically pleasing way. Because they're Swedish.

The Danes, on the other hand, do Hygge (pronounced Hoo-Gah). It's a sort of life-style change, a mind-set where you completely embrace everything the season offers. More a philosophy than just hot drinks and mad looking slippers, which makes it difficult for most Irish people to understand.

But you know, fair play to them.

Meanwhile, I've at least come to the conclusion that giving out about how cold the house is, is not going to make Winter any shorter.

It's time to unearth the warm jacket, go for bracing walks and reward myself with hot chocolate. And avoid shopping centres for as long as I can decently manage.

Christmas will wait and be worth it all the more, for the wait.

Because if I see another chocolate Santa this side of December, I may be tempted to stamp on it. 

Deep breaths.

Embrace my inner Hygge.


                                                                                 *


A warm Winter welcome from Dublin, and I hope you enjoyed today's column.

I would be delighted if you shared it. (Check the little buttons below).

I'd also be interested to hear how you celebrate Winter! Please feel free to leave a comment - they're moderated to stop spamming, but I check every day, and I'm always delighted to publish and reply to genuine comments.


Fancy getting THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via Email? (See the Follow by Email box to the top right of this post).

What does that mean?
   1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
   2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

Have a lovely week,
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.
 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

#AMAZON #SALE


                                                      On Sale for 99c/99p on Amazon.

Morning everyone,
A quick side step away from my normal blog, just to flag a 99c/99p Amazon SALE of my romantic comedy, 'Going Against Type' today.
To read a blurb/excerpt and see what some of the reviewers are saying, check out the Going Against Type Page in the top right hand column of this blog.
Below are the buy links.
: 99c : 99p

I'll be back on Monday, November 14 with my regular fortnightly column.

Until then, have a great weekend.
And happy reading. ;)

Hugs & xx,
Sharon.