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WOMAN ON THE VERGE: So how is ‘giving up’ for Lent going?

February 24th, 2024 1:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Chocolate spread is one of the treats some children are giving up for Lent.

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As the year is flying by, our columnist has tried to renew her Lenten efforts after a bad start. Now she’s hoping to stay on the wagon (most of the time) before a St Patrick’s Day break. Was it any harder in the olden days?

• DO you know what? I can feel the year slipping away from us. Seriously! It’s like January crawled by, at times it felt like we were actually going backwards, but now that we’re midway through February, things are picking up pace, and it’s like we’re about to launch into a full-blown gallop.

Giddy up! I’m telling you, it will be the summer before we know it (still nothing booked, holding my nerve for prices to drop) and sure then it’s just a hop, skip, and jump back to Christmas again.

• What’s causing this perceived acceleration of time for me is all the ‘holidays’ that are punctuating the calendar for the next while. Don’t get me wrong, I love a day off as much as the next person, it’s just that it can be hard to find your stride on those three and four-day weeks, with a temptation to write them off entirely.

We’ve already had St Brigid’s Bank Holiday and mid-term, both of which were lovely. Next up we have St Patrick’s weekend, and not long after that we’ve Easter. Along the way there’s lots of confirmations and communions to celebrate too. Like I said, we won’t miss the weeks until it’s June.

• The weather has been brutal though, hasn’t it? That dampness really got to me last week. At times it felt like I was living in the Amazon, it was so wet and freakishly warm. I half expected to see a crocodile crawling across the patio at one point, conditions were so swamp-like. Then Sunday, totally unexpectedly, was a pet day – blue skies with actual heat.

The body warmer I’ve lived in since November actually came off! I started the day by randomly picking a few weeds and ended up spending several joy-filled hours in the garden. I’m not sure you could tell the difference, but I didn’t care as I felt great after it. Then someone burst my bubble and said we’re in with a chance of getting snow again soon. Who knows .... at least there won’t be a chance of crocs.

• Right, so how are we all approaching Lent this year? We got off to a bad start I’ll admit, with grand declarations of giving up chocolate completely, except for Nutella (smallie); or quitting bread except for toast (me! What’s life without toast?); and wine just on Fridays (and maybe Saturday; sure there’s no point in wasting a bottle if it’s open; also me!).

• We decided to regroup this week though and take it more seriously, if for no other reason but to prove to ourselves that we’re disciplined enough (watch this space). As kids, I remember Lent was a serious business. The only occasion you were allowed to break your fast was on St Patrick’s Day, but even that was regarded as a sign of weakness.

• Kids these days don’t know how easy they have it. For example my smallie promised to make her bed every day for Lent. Now for starters it’s probably something she should be doing anyway, and secondly, it’s hardly a big effort, pulling up the duvet, now is it?

I’m of the pre-duvet generation. We had a top sheet, lots of blankets (all different shapes and sizes) and then a bed spread that matched the lampshade and curtains (not as restful as you might imagine). Making the bed with all that involved was quite the job. Maybe it’s time to bring back blankets?

• Speaking of the ‘olden days,’ I heard an interesting chat on Oliver Callan’s radio show the other morning about the ‘exotic’ contents of our shopping baskets in the mid 90s. Now, I only came in at the end of the segment so forgive me if I’m a bit sketchy on details but the gist was that that was the time we started buying the likes of broccoli, kiwis, and peppers for the first time. Imagine!

• I was aghast as I regard the 90s as just the other day, but I do have some vague recollection of eating a kiwi for the first time and not being a fan. I’m still not – they’re like avocados: you’d need to be on 24/7 watch to catch them at that point where they’re neither too hard nor too soft, and if you blink you’ll miss it.

• I’ve no recollection of having broccoli for the first time but it was a great pity that the previous generation thought it had to be boiled for at least two hours to properly cook it. That lingering smell was hard to shake. I do serve the vegetable at least three times a week though. Do we love it in our house? No. Does everyone eat it? No. But it makes me feel better that I’m at least offering nutritious options, and it’s cooked in under five minutes.

• This week’s TV recommendations? There are none. I’m too bereft that I’ve finished One Day, and feel that nothing will ever hold a candle to its brilliance. I never caught Oppenheimer though, so now that Cillian Murphy has the Bafta under his belt, I feel obliged to check it out.

Cillian Murphy’s performance in Oppenheimer was recognised with a Bafta award.


The 10th series of Home of the Year is also underway. It’s more of the same but sure who doesn’t love a peep around other people’s houses? Exactly.

But for the best viewing of the week I suggest, no I strongly urge, you watch Kerry’s TikTok sensation Tadhg Fleming shove his father Derry into a balloon. Yes you read that right. You can thank me when you’ve picked yourself off the floor.

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