Life

Marie Louise McConville: Attic clear-out makes for emotional journey

A clear-out at home led to Marie Louise becoming emotional about some of the items destined for the dump and charity shop
Marie Louise McConville

Hindsight - it's a great thing, isn't it?

Just think how much easier life would be if we all possessed the gift of hindsight.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to avoid making mistakes, bad decisions and bad relationships.

It really would be a great help.

Take this week for instance, I had a sudden urge to do a big clear out at home. (I don't know why).

Now I should probably point out that given the fact that we have only lived in our house for less than three years, there really shouldn't have been too much to do.

However, I thought it was time to sort through the attic, the toy boxes, the cupboards and drawers and just have a general clear out.

So Darren and I both booked a day off work - when the kids were at creche - and we got stuck in.

Of course, five minutes after climbing into the attic, all I could think was why oh why did I suggest this? (This is where the gift of hindsight would have come in handy).

As I am not great with heights, my first trip up the ladder into the space at the top of the house was not an enjoyable one.

It was anything but straightforward and as you can imagine it was not pleasant for anyone involved.

Once I got there, I vowed I would just live in the attic - that was until I had a look around and saw how jam-packed it was.

Where on earth did all this stuff come from?

There were boxes and bags and toys and walkers and lamps and mirrors and Christmas trees and Halloween witches, pictures and frames and books and clothes and CDs and portable TVs packed in from floor to ceiling and I just suddenly felt defeated before we had even begun.

It really was quite a sight to behold.

However, I just took a deep breath and we both got stuck in.

We started by dumping all the empty boxes down the ladder (easy decision) but soon, it was time to have a look at all the bags of baby clothes (not so easy) and instantly I knew, I was not ready to part with them and so they were returned to their spot. (What is wrong with me?)

I sat down and got emotional as I went through all the little knitted hats and cardigans and little dresses and babygrows and I knew, I just had to keep them.

The same was said for the pram and associated carry-cots - there was to be no parting of the ways.

Next, the Moses basket went down the ladder but I decided we would hold on to the stand (as you never know). Next down the steps were the two baby walkers and then the two push-a-long walkers followed by a portable TV and bags and bags and bags of rubbish.

Soon, we were on a roll, deciding what we should dump, donate or keep and eventually, we could see the attic's floorboards again.

Half-an-hour after that however, I'd had enough (I saw a spider) and I decided to go back down the ladder (no easy task) and tackle our bedroom wardrobes and drawers followed by the toy boxes.

It was then time for the wardrobes in kids' rooms and after that the kitchen cupboards.

Darren went off to the dump with a packed car and soon returned to fill it up again.

We also did a run to a nearby charity shop where we left off many, many toys and kids clothes.

I have to say, the place looks and feels a lot better now but wow, the stuff still in our attic is amazing.

Isn't it crazy how attached we become to certain items, which we haven't seen in years and then all of a sudden when we find them they mean the world?

Of course, it wasn't all bad as I did come across a wonderful little find - a cheque - which, according to its date, had only a few days left before it would be out of date.

The clearing out was stopped while I flew down the road to the Ulster Bank.

So, you can keep your Euromillions and rollovers and raffles. Me and my £36 will be quite happy together - three to five working days from now.

#allworthit

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Competition

With the dark nights firmly upon us, life can begin to wind down ahead of Halloween – so how about a family night out in Belfast?

The English Youth Ballet is returning to the Grand Opera House next month with a brand new production of Swan Lake and I have two family tickets to give away.

Running from November 9 until November 11, the performances promise to combine tradition with reality but with particular emphasis on the rivalry between the seductive evil Black Swan Odile and the beautiful but vulnerable White Swan Odette, as they compete for the affections of the Prince.

The audience can enjoy the beautiful dancing of the swans in the Lakeside scene and the luxurious contrast of the Tsar's Palace Gardens in Act 3.

With professional principal dancers taking the leading roles, the production will also give 100 young dancers from around Northern Ireland the chance to dance alongside them in solo and corps de ballet roles.

Further information about the show is available at www.goh.co.uk

I have two family tickets, each for two adults and two children, to give away to the opening night of Swan Lake at the Grand Opera House on Thursday, November 9 at 7.30pm.

If you fancy winning a family ticket, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to competitions@irishnews.com

Closing date for entries is Tuesday, October 17 at 12Noon

(Q) What is the name of the White Swan in Swan Lake?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply

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What's Hot?

Return - Soap fans are celebrating after photos emerged of actress Alison King filming scenes for her return to Coronation Street as the fabulous Carla Connor. I've missed her and I'm glad she's back.

Gig - Former One Direction star Niall Horan has announced plans for a European tour next year and will play the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 13. The Slow Hands singer will be joined on tour by rising star Julia Michaels. Tickets on sale today.

Honesty - Model-turned-actress, Cara Delevingne has been praised for speaking openly about her battle with depression. The 25-year-old said she had months where "I didn't want to carry on". However, the star added that mental health is "such an important ... to talk about".

So Not!

Leaving - US actress Pauley Perrette has announced she's leaving her role as Abby Sciuto in NCIS after 15 seasons. The 48-year-old took to Twitter to say: "I hope everyone will love and enjoy EVERYTHING ABBY not only for the rest of this season but for everything she has given all of us for 16 years".

Theft - Thieves have stolen around $50,000 worth of jewellery, shoes and handbags from the Los Angeles home of Hart of Dixie actress, Rachel Bilson.

Delay - Game of Thrones fans may have to wait a little longer for the release of the final series of the hit show after two of its top stars, Kit Harington and Rose Leslie got engaged. It has been reported that the nuptials may cause production to be delayed.

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Competition

The winners of the Pocketful of Dreams competition are Loretta Hegarty, from Kilrea, Co Derry, Anne Henry, Maghera, Brenda Fegan, from Warrenpoint, Aileen Laird, from Omagh, and Geraldine Farrell, from Newry

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Easy Peasy Recipe

This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Plum, Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake

You will need:

175g butter

500g plums

175g sugar

175g self-raising flour

175g ground hazelnuts

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

50g dark chocolate, chopped

2 tbsp hazelnuts

2 plum jelly

To Make:

Heat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Butter and line the base of a round cake tin.

Halve and stone four plums and set aside. Then, stone and roughly chop the remaining plums.

In a bowl, mix the sugar, butter, flour, ground hazelnuts, eggs and baking powder until smooth and light.

Stir in the chopped plums and dark chocolate and then tip mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top.

Arrange the halved plums over the top of the mixture, pressing them down lightly, then scatter over hazelnuts.

Bake for 50 mins.

Allow to cool before removing from tin.

Heat the jelly and brush over the cake before serving.

Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Marie Louise McConville,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,

Belfast,

BT1 2GE

or

m.mcconville@irishnews.com

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