My Halloween Birthday

This year I had several birthday celebrations, both on the actual day (Halloween) and last Friday. On the actual day, I had been invited to a Halloween party/house-warming, which was difficult to get to but worth it to have the excuse to wear a costume and to see some old friends. Unfortunately the point and shoot I brought with me turned out to be all out of battery, but I did take some photos the day before of my mask while I was making it.

I added some black feathers to the side/top as well, and was generally pretty happy with my handiwork. The mask was originally plain white, so everything else added is my own handiwork.

My actual birthday began in my boyfriend’s house. It was a bit strange, as it was the first time I’d ever woken up away from my parents’ house on my birthday, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. We walked into town and had an amazing breakfast of pancakes with a berry compote and crème fraiche, and hot chocolate.

I met my parents a few hours later for lunch – but not just any lunch; we went to Michelin starred restaurant for dinner, and had one of the nicest three-course meals I’ve ever had. After that we went back to my parents’ house and I opened my gifts, then I topped off a day of amazing food with pumpkin pie, barm brack, chocolate birthday cake, and champagne.

[Photographs of me were taken by my father.]

The evening finished with the party, which turned out to be a lot of fun. So all in all I had a pretty great day. Then Friday evening I had a bunch of friends over to my flat for drinks.

Unfortunately, I’ve now come down with some sort of bug, but I think the two days were worth it.

I’d also like to mention that this post marks my 100th (public) post on Sirens & Muses – some of these were posted previously on other blogs, but the majority of them were posted here on WordPress. I also hit a few other milestones recently – 200 followers, and 1000 likes. And I’ll be reaching 5,000 views sometime this month! It’s been an amazing journey so far, and has helped me immeasurably with my creative development. So I’d like to say thank you to all my followers, commenters and likers – and here’s to another 100 posts!


Halloween Preparation

I keep expecting to fall into a routine these days, but so far it just hasn’t really happened – with the result that my supposed-to-be-Saturday weekly flash fiction will be a few days late again this week. But I figured that although I don’t have the time or energy to write the piece I have in mind, I would write a quick life update.

Halloween – or Samhain, or Oíche Shamhna, or whatever way you know it best – is my birthday, and this year I will be turning 24. It seems to me like a strange age to turn for some reason. It’s a bit in-between – still not quite mid-way through the twenties, but suddenly an awful lot more grown-up sounding than 23. It’s the age that my parents got married, and although it’s not an age that people get married at in my culture any more, there still is some coming-of-age feel to it that I wouldn’t have expected.

I also feel like I have changed so much over the past two years that it really does herald a new time in my life. I feel as though my mind works in a different way now than it did. I have come into my own academically and creatively, and I feel ready to really start embracing my talents and figuring out which ones I will be focussing on for the forseeable future, and which ones I will be gently letting go.

On a lighter note, I’m quite excited about Halloween coming up because it’s my favourite holiday of the year – and not just because it’s my birthday. I don’t have very exciting plans for this year, and I haven’t put much thought into my costume yet, which is unusual. But I know I’m going to really enjoy it all the same.

Anyway, I think I’ll hit an upswing during the week, and once November comes I’ll have so much writing to do that I’ll be forced into some sort of routine! I’ve also started applying for volunteer positions. So hopefully November will be a productive and more structured month for me than October.


Under Foot

I absolutely love this time of year. Sure, the days are quickly shortening, and we have maybe less sunshine and more rain than in the summer (though this year the summer was so awful there was no perceptible change except in the temperature). But there’s something about the clear light, the crisp mornings, the autumn colours, that set my heart pumping with joy.

I was laden down with a full backpack and my camera in my handbag when I stepped out into the street on Saturday afternoon. The sun had just come out and the street was lit up, pavements covered with fallen leaves. I just had to heave everything off my back and take some pictures.

I put my camera into a more accessible area in my bag and continued on my towards the canal – the way to my boyfriend’s flat. I took a few more photos on the way.

It’s funny, I seem to always become more active at this time of the year when everything is dying and declining. There are a lot of squirrels around my neighbourhood at the moment – one particular friend hangs around in my back garden every day, burying nuts in the flowerbeds for winter. Sometimes I feel like those squirrels – a scurry of creative activity spurred by the dropping temperatures and falling leaves.

So for the moment I am very happy – I am writing more and taking more photographs than ever before, and it feels as if the rest of my life is truly starting.

Skies, rooftops and street lamps

I’ve been trying to get into the habit of carrying my camera around with me – it’s a little difficult, as I often feel like it’s an extra weight and burden that I don’t want to be carting around in my bag as I walk in or out of town. But last week, it paid off. I had been for a few drinks with an old university lecturer of mine and was on my way to my boyfriend’s flat for dinner. The sun was going down, and the light on the buildings and the colour of the sky inspired me to take a few snaps. For the first one, I really wished I had a telephoto lens on me, as I really wanted to capture the statue on top of the church with the new moon beside him. But I’m happy enough with the results.

At Peace

The panic has left me over the past few days, and I am feeling incredibly peaceful right now. I’ve just got home to the flat after spending two days at my boyfriend’s flat, and admittedly a glass of wine and other (cough) activities might have something to do with it, but I haven’t felt this happy to be coming home to this flat in a long time. I had started to find it very clausterphobic and dark, and although I signed the lease for another year, I had decided very firmly that I wouldn’t stay longer than that year.

It is a relatively dark flat – although it faces north-east rather than full north, a return at the back of the house blocks any possible direct sunlight, and the large window can only compensate so much. And I spent too much time in here over the summer, working away at my Masters thesis and feeling a bit pessimistic about the whole situation. Summer afternoons are particularly bad in here – admittedly, we had hardly any sun this summer, but the contrast between the dim light in the flat and the few bright glorious days we did have was pretty depressing.

But right now, I’m feeling much more positive about it. The size of the place doesn’t bother me, really, I just crave a bit of sunlight now and then. So I think I’m going to say to the landlords to let me know if any of the rooms on the front of the house become available – as the contrast in light between this room and them is incredible. I feel I would be happy living in one of them for a few more years.

Now, in the early evening on an autumn day, I don’t mind so much coming in from the light, as it’s getting too cold to sit outside anyway. I turn my armchair around to face the window, and it’s almost as good as being outside. From here, I write and read and do a lot of thinking. And on days like today, I feel completely happy.



I ended up staying at my parents’ longer than I thought, so I’ve yet to take the camera on an excursion, though it is now in my flat. However, I got a few pictures the other day in the garden that I was happy with. It was sadly the last day in a stretch of nice weather that we’ve had – it has since got a bit cold and cloudy. But I’m holding out for more sunshine – I don’t mind it getting a little colder, but the more sun, the happier and more creative I am.

It was quite windy on the day I took these, and Bumble was having a wonderful time sitting watching everything move about in the wind.

The fuchsia plants are some of the only flowers left blooming in the garden, but even they are falling now. It makes for some very pretty patterns on the ground, though.

I’m hoping to get some “exotic” pictures tomorrow – i.e. from my flat rather than my parents’ house. I’m definitely starting to get to grips with the new camera, but still a bit more practice to go before I’m completely comfortable with it!


Yesterday, I finally got my own camera – courtesy of my parents, as a present in celebration of finishing my Masters. The first couple of photographs I took this morning weren’t great, I’m still very much getting used to it, particularly with gauging light and using the AF.

However, you can expect lots more photographs on here in the future, I hope! I think me and my Canon are going to be largely inseparable from now on. The pictures above, taken about half an hour ago, are of a scene you might be familiar with, from my study room window in my parents’ house. But from tomorrow, my camera will be coming out into the world with me, so I’ll finally get to branch out beyond this house and garden.

I’ve been a little more slow with writing and posting over the past few days than I meant, as I’ve been trying to sort out social welfare and do other such errands. I’ve also been utterly exhausted for the past few days – I think the ordeal with the tooth pulling and Masters finishing is still slowing me down. But I’ll rest easier once all the immediate bits and pieces I need to do are finally sorted out.