Oh man, what a week.

It's been 'one of those weeks'.

Monday tea time and a phone call summoned this worried aunt to the children's hospital.  The li'l guy (my 7 year old nephew) took a tumble on the trampoline - or to be totally accurate, some of his friends took a tumble and landed in a heap - he just happened to be at the bottom of the pile.

In theatre, he had an op to pin his arm just above the elbow and is out of action now for a wee while but being very brave.

Over the week, I've been reminded of the power of ice cream to deliver smiles.  I've also learnt that despite an abundance of technology, boys banned from football (temporarily) and tree climbing (similarly) can be diverted with a mad game of ludo.  Who knew!

On Tuesday night, I accompanied my father to a concert - his birthday gift.  The Seekers (anyone old enough to remember?) were on a 50th anniversary tour and since their music is part of the soundtrack of my childhood I was looking forward to it just as much as he was.  The concert was superb - much, much better than I'd hoped for.  Remember The Carnival is Over?    Or Georgy Girl?  Or Morningtown Ride?  We're still smiling and humming - and lovely to have 'dad time'.

Friday night and it was dad's turn to be up front.  He's having chemo treatment at the moment and energy levels are low, BUT he still managed to sing with his choir at their annual concert.  So very proud of him!

On Saturday afternoon, it was 'mum time' - her treat to take us to the Belfast Opera House to see Cinderella - the Rogers and Hamerstein musical.  It was performed by an excellent amateur group - Belfast Operatic Company - joined for each performance by two white rats and the tiniest wee white pony.  A very polished performance all round, completed with a lovely meal in a local restaurant.  Mum is on the right of the picture with her cousin in the stripy top beside her.

I'm so thankful for much this week - for having parents still around who love to enjoy life to the full; for the skills of the medical team at the Royal Victoria Children's Hospital and for an NHS that hasn't been completely stripped of resources and can still excel at doing what it does best when it gets the chance.  

As I sat with my nephew waiting for him to go to theatre, I couldn't help but reflect on the difference between his treatment and the children at our project in Uganda:  

He had a vehicle to get him to the nearest A&E, an ambulance to transfer him to the children's hospital, a surgical team to do the needful and pain medication throughout.  

In our unit, children reach us months after an accident, after village bone setters have done their best - often making bad situations worse.  The journey is long, painful and often the injury beyond resetting and long drawn out intervention is required to save the limb.

We have so much to be thankful for, and such a responsibility to share our blessings.

The Art of Celebration.

The Art of Celebration - the new album by these lovely people - the Rend Collective who hail from Bangor, Co Down (about 2 miles away from where I live).  

I love the title of the album - I've heard them describe the 'art' element as something that's both playful and something that has to be worked at.  It's all about joy - and that's a gift.

Tonight, I'm heading up to Belfast where we're recording their concert for a radio broadcast later in the year and we'll record a quick interview with them.  I've worked with them before and they're the real McCoy - joy-filled, lovely, happy, real people.  No celebrity nonsense going on here.  If you didn't catch them on Graham Norton's Radio 2 show and you like a slightly folky, slightly rocky, slightly whacky sound… have a listen to some of their sound here.  

Looking forward to this gig!

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds and bowers...

How lovely is this?  I'd been looking at some poetry online - was trying to remember the author of 'gather ye rosebuds while ye may…' 
and came across another verse written by the same 17th century poet - Robert Herrick.  

It almost sums up the photos I took on the visit to a friend today - a beautiful, sunny  afternoon when Northern Ireland was looking it's best. 
(They were taken near Minnowburn and Edenderry if you know south Belfast.)

 With the exception of the birds, I was obviously in the vibe for the verse I'd find later - and since he mentions cakes, I've added two that I did for a bride last week - not often wedding cake gets a mention in poetry!!!
"I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds and bowers,
of April, May, of June and July flowers.
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes."

In the pink

It seems large chunks of Northern Ireland have gone pink this week in anticipation of the Giro d'Italia cycle race.  (Is that tautology at work?  Does everyone else in the world know what the Giro is?)  

Anyway, on my way home yesterday from the little lump of God's own country that is the beautiful Causeway Coast, there were pink decor bikes at the entrance to every village and town - and all along the wayside people were enjoying the joke.  Wish I'd had a proper camera with me - pink tractors, pushchairs etc.  

Shop windows had gone for all pink merchandise, but taking the biscuit really was the wag of a farmer who'd pinked half his flock of sheep.  I stopped to snap a pic with the phone's camera, so it's not great quality - but by the time I'd moved off, three other cars had stopped.  I can only imagine it's a plan to pre-dye the yarn for the biker's woolie jumpers.  Bella bella!  Not a baaaad idea really.