This Christmas due to Mrs Canal Ways being sick with tinsil-itus we had a different sort of Christmas than normal. No sitting with family relations getting abuse about hair length, lack of job, lack of driving skill, about putting on weight, not doing a bakery course, not having new clothes etc, (well not at least until Boxing Day). No instead it was a quiet Christmas when I read a biography about cod.

There is something about the sea and trawlers that connects with me so I enjoyed the book. It was also sad at the way we have plundered a seemingly boundless ‘resource’  in the belief that nature is boundless and will always give and the way we humans don’t seem to learn our lessons that although the earth is big and has some wiggle room it is limited as well. Those who deny that the earth’s atmosphere will fix itself no matter how much we pollute the atmosphere are of a similar bent.

The Islandman

I really can’t write properly or poetically and the thing that hurts my head the most is when I try to write a review of something such as a film or a book. My head is hurting as I want to write about a book I finished reading this afternoon called ‘The Islandman’

The reason it mainly hurts my head is if I try to set the scene and remember facts about the book such as where it was set and who the main characters where. Or basic spelling. Like is it ‘were’ or ‘where’? And that is before I venture into factors such as the Gaelic spelling of  place.

Well basically it tells about life on The Blasket Islands as remembered by an islandman, Tomas O Crohan/Tomás Ó Criomhthain at the end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th century.

The thing that struck me about the book is the harshness of the life this man lived yet how content he was with his lot. There is a willingness to make the most of what is at hand, when it comes to hand.

Towards the end of the book he writes

‘We are poor simple people, living from hand to mouth. I fancy we should have been no better off if we had been misers. We were apt and willing to live, without repining, the life the Blessed Master made for us, often and again ploughing the sea with only our hope in God to bring us through….I have made no secret of our good traits or of our little failings either, but I haven’t told all the hardship and the agonies that befell us from time to time when our only resource was to go right on’

cobblestone beach

Yesterday morning I stood on the beach at Newcastle where The Shimna River meets the sea. It was a beautiful day, mild and bright.

A group of oystercatchers stood at the mouth of the river and seagulls bobbed along.
I’ve always been prejudiced againsts beach with stones on them. Simply put they are not as good as a beach with sand. But I was impressed with the stones on this part of the beach. They seemed to be tightly fitted together, almost like a cobblestone yard or street. I wonder what physical processes made them lie that way?