My favourite thing about Easter is the hectic schedule of masses … the longer the better! Only after putting down a gruelling few days at devotions do I feel I properly deserve to crack open an egg or two … or six!
• SO that’s a wrap on Lent for another year. I may not have quite managed the full 40 days of denial but there were definitely some sugary sacrifices made over the past few weeks so you’ll find me mainly in the company of creme eggs this weekend. To be honest I found April Fool’s Day almost more painful than all of Lent. From early on April 1st (I should point out it was a Saturday) the younger folk in my life were trying to catch me out with shrieks of floods in the kitchen, flat tyres on the car, RIP dogs, fake blood oozing out of veins and the like. The theatrics were something else and playing along got a bit exhausting (note, I did not say tedious). My one and only attempt at retaliation was to pretend we had got the day wrong for a birthday party and that we had missed it, which backfired and resulted in tears and chastising that I had ‘gone too far.’ Jeepers, was I happy when April 2nd dawned, even it if it was Palm Sunday and the long gospel.
• I have to admit, though, that I love the pomp of the Easter ceremonies – that’s what my Easter memories are all about, not the chocolate at all. It was, and still is obviously, a big week on the liturgical calendar. Between getting in confessions, various masses, stations and devotions, it’s full on – you’d nearly need to go into training to make sure you last the pace. Easter Saturday mass was always the highlight for me when you’d get to light your candle and do your best not to drip wax all over the pew (I favoured a cardboard disc to the more commonly used egg box compartment). I also loved Good Friday. You’d have be in the church well ahead of kick off to be sure of a place and the excitement when you’d find out who in your community was reading the parts of Pontius Pilate, Judas and co was epic. What can I say? I’m a simple creature. The choir was always on full song, too, belting out ‘were you there when they crucified the Lord?’ and we’d all join in for the ‘tremble, tremble’ bit. On the down side, all you’d have to look forward to when you got home after the full three hours, feeling a bit light-headed, was a grim salad. A bit of beetroot, half a boiled egg maybe and a tomato. Not even a slice of corn beef. We took the fasting fairly seriously. And the film about the resurrection that was on RTÉ before you left would still be on with lots of scary looking thorns and nails and the like. Jesus wept. Literally. Sure now there’s Easter Egg hunts after Easter Sunday mass! Kids these days have it too easy. They don’t know what they’re missing!
• This is also the time of the year where it becomes impossible to ignore the state of the garden any more, and trust me I’ve tried my best. There’s no more closing the curtains of an evening and pretending that the wilderness beyond doesn’t exist. There’s nothing for it but to get stuck in. The good thing about attacking the garden, though, is that it means an excursion to the garden centre. Garden centres are effectively nightclubs for people my age. It’s where we get our kicks, only we don’t have to take to the bed for three days to recover. It’s a huge business now and most garden centres have a coffee shop or even full blown restaurant, some furniture/lifestyle sections, as well as the plants. The operators are clever, and know their clientele are people who don’t get out too often, and that we’re complete pushovers. I can spend the equivalent of a fancy weekend away in 30 minutes flat in a good garden centre. I’m always tempted to buy a chicken coop and I don’t even have chickens, and exotic looking plants that I’ve no idea what to do with and probably won’t even work in my soil. Then typically I’ll take it home and leave it all sitting on the patio for a week as I come down from that buyer’s high, and then start nagging the husband to ‘sort it’. It’s a bit like when you buy a butternut squash with all the best intentions of making something interesting like a risotto, but the challenge of cutting it up is too much of an evening so you just ignore it and it ends up in the compost. Every single time.
• Whatever about squash, I’m gone absolutely mad for aronia berries. Ya what now? They’re like blueberries except they’ve three times as many antioxidants (I knew that would get your attention!). They’re being grown on the hills of West Cork by a chap called Dr Steve Collins who I interviewed (see page 15). His enthusiasm for the super food was so infectious that I went out and bought a load of it in juice format, and whether it’s a placebo or not I honestly feel I’ve a bit more pep in my step. If I were an influencer (I’m not), I’d point out that I’m not getting paid to say that, but yeah, I’m chugging it back. I’ll be ready to do battle with the garden in no time at this rate. Or at least get myself along to the garden centre.
• Finally, my small screen recommendation this week is Wellmania on Netflix. I abandoned it after five minutes as it’s excruciatingly annoying to start with, but on a friend’s recommendation I gave it a second go (I don’t have a lot going on in my life right now, so what?) and turns out it’s actually quite funny, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some proper weepy ones. There’s only eight episodes in the series and they’re quite short too. If your brain needs to decompress a little at the end of the day, you’d still be far better off going to bed, but if you struggle with that notion like me, sure give it a watch.