Friday, February 16, 2018

What I Did On My Holidays

The main thing I did on my holidays was fall madly in love with my fourth grandchild, Emily. She fell asleep on me a lot and there is a part of me, my left side from my shoulder down to my breast where she has left a psychic imprint.

The next big thing was immersing myself in the world of trains with James. I have probably watched at least half of the available episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine by now and together with James I watched hours of YouTube videos of steam engines in America. These films are surprisingly soothing and proved very much so the day that James had the vomiting bug. His psychic imprint is on my right side, where his hard curly little head dug into my shoulder. These were my best times.

Of course, I got sick myself. There was the watered down Bert Flu I brought with me which lasted the entire ten days and which I still have although it paled into insignificance when I got the vomiting bug. I wasn't much use to Katy and family that day.

Another highlight was my three sightings of a Little Owl hunting on Sculthorpe Airfield. There were no photographs as it was dull and rainy on each occasion. I'd never seen a Little Owl in the wild before so it was much more interesting just to watch it rather than fiddle about only to end up with a mediocre shot.

And that is pretty much how I spent my ten days in Norfolk. Owls and babies, babies and owls. What could be better?

Saturday, February 03, 2018

One More Sleep

At last, the morning of the big push to Norfolk. Achievements so far,

Bought Guardian and paracetamol for the grievously sick husband.


Early afternoon now. Not one single thing of mine in the suitcase yet. All James and Emily. The polytunnel has been watered and the poorly sick husband is up and about wearing complete rig out of farming clothes, big boots, boiler suit, beanie hat, heavy fleece jacket. He won't take them off as he is "too cold and miserable". I'd be miserable too if I was wearing all that stuff.


Late afternoon - inundated with visitors. Polished my shoes while I chatted with them. I do like a bit of multitasking. Have already walked Jack Byrne in icy rain and had plain lunch. Bert still very sick man. One of the visitors said Man Flu is really a thing and if Bert needed sympathy give him a call as the poor fellow was obviously going to get no kind words at home. Not true! I made him a cup of Earl Grey and reminded him to take his paracetamol.


Evening. Packing completed. Husband still sick. Polished my handbag and watched an episode on Inside No. 9. Feeling very excited. Hope Bert is fit enough to take me to the airport tomorrow. I took a photo of him sleeping on the sofa but it is too sad to show. Instead, here is one of Jack whose people will be collecting him tomorrow.

It might be a day or two before I get back to the Garden. See you!

Friday, February 02, 2018

Two More Sleeps

Today was supposed to be a day of preparing for the Norfolk trip but instead it turned into a day of two breakfasts, a trip to Ballymena with Leitrim Sister and Yer Man and a lot of chillaxing in front of an open fire and a glass or few of Lidls finest (and cheapest) Merlot.

All I have to do tomorrow is get up early, buy the Saturday Guardian (still can't get used to new format but at least Stephen Collins is still there), tidy and water polytunnel, fill suitcase with stuff for Emily and James and perhaps find tiny amount of room for a couple of changes of clothing for myself.

It was good to spend an hour or so with Deirdre and Nick and I'm almost certain I told Hannah that they'd be staying overnight. She did get an awful shock when she charged into the spare room at daybreak looking for clean socks. She met Bert on the stairs up for his early morning old-man pee and asked "Who are those people in the spare room?" so perhaps I only imagined I told her.

Still, as I always say on such occasions,

At least nobody died.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Three More Sleeps

The next two days will be spent sorting things out, watering the polytunnel, leaving Bert instructions to keep things alive,

the hens
my sourdough mother
my chili seedlings

And packing. I have so many presents for James and Emily that there will be hardly any room for clothes for me. But not to worry, for Katy has a washing machine.

Then on Sunday, I leave for Norfolk and the start of a new journey when I fall in love with Miss Emily Anne.

This is the little person I will be meeting for the first time.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Today was one of those days that reminds one of how sad life can be. We went to the funeral of a man in his early fifties who had died from a brain tumour. I didn't know him well but I knew other members of his family, his older sister in particular. This man had spent his entire working life in a local tobacco factory which, up until recently was one of the most important employers in the local area. Between 2014 and 2017 everyone who worked there was made redundant. Many of those attending the funeral today were ex-workmates of Hugh. No problem getting time off for a weekday funeral - they all had time on their hands.

I went for a quick walk in the early evening. Now that the days are lengthening it is possible to do that and I'm grateful for it. Ziggy and I weren't even five minutes from the yard when I spotted a thrush lying at the side of the road. I thought it was dead but when I looked it was still moving. I picked it up and returned to the house and left it in the greenhouse. I expected it to be dead when I got back. Ziggy and I walked for thirty minutes and when we got back the bird was still alive. I made it as comfortable as I could and left it. Thirty minutes later Bert returned from visiting his aunt. He looked in on the thrush and said it was getting very cold. Fifteen minutes later it was dead, I was racked with guilt. should I have interfered? Should I have hastened its end? And if so, how? I wouldn't have the courage to do anything violent for fear of increasing its suffering. After it died I felt its little body and it seemed to have a chest injury. No doubt a blow from a car, one of those bastard cars that drives far too fast on our B-road.

Peter called round after work and he told me that a friend of his says that the best way to hasten a small suffering animal's end is to wrap it in kitchen roll and place it in a freezer. I don't know. That wee thrush took a long time to die.

Ziggy, my companion on today's walk. His little face reminds me that life is not always hard to bear.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Scent of Witch Hazel

That Paulo Coelho piece on washing dishes has stayed with me. The thinking can be applied to any minor annoyance - for instance, it's a pet hate of mine that Bert gets toothpaste juice all over the mirror almost every day of his life. But why fret? It only takes moments to clean and I'm much better off pondering on how lovely it is to have the company of a funny, kind man even if he is a bit throughother in the bathroom and everywhere else.

Last autumn he planted a hamamelis (witch hazel) in the garden. It will flower in the winter time, he said. And it's scented. The smell will be glorious.

It flowered just before Christmas. Wait until we get a balmy day, he said. Wait until you smell it then.

So the balmy day came. Can you smell it, he said. Isn't it lovely?

I couldn't smell it. Not even when I got right up beside it and buried my nose in its flowers.

What does it smell like?

Flowery. Like Zoflora.

Like Zoflora?

I couldn't smell a thing. Was he gaslighting me? Yet, I worried. Am I losing my sense of smell? He smokes, I don't. It should be me that has the keener sense of smell.

Later that day I accidentally broke a bottle of Zoflora. I could smell that. Bert is sitting in the next room, smoking.

Can you smell that?

Yea! Zoflora.

I walked into the next room and I couldn't smell anything. Worrying. Yet when the cat shit in the wet room I got that whiff. Of course, I looked it up on the internet. It could be a cold. I haven't got a cold. It could be nodules. No thank you! It could be something totally drastic the same as the person had whose funeral I am going to tomorrow. Or Bert could be gaslighting me. But he hasn't the imaginative powers to do that. Nor is he mean enough. And he could smell the Zoflora from the next room.

I wonder what the hamamelis does smell like.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Scrambled Eggs

Bert said something terrible to me this morning. He didn't know it was a terrible thing. In fact, I'm sure he that he was just making me a kind offer. This is what he said,

Do you want scrambled eggs?

I said,

No! I don't.

I did not explain. I did not say 'No thanks. I had sourdough toast and brie for breakfast.' I just thought, why not boiled, why not fried, why not poached? Anything but scrambled. Why scrambled when you, my dear husband, have probably cleaned scrambled eggs from a saucepan less than ten times your entire life.

Every time I get this way I am reminded of an awful Jilly Cooper book that I read centuries ago where the romantic lead dismissed an ex as 'one of those girls like scrambled egg, amazingly easy to make, but impossible to get off the pan afterwards.' Such a cruel remark. I never did like any of the characters in Jilly Cooper novels.

I was still feeling discombobulated about Bert's breakfast choice when Hannah got home and told her about what was annoying me and she said that Paulo Coelho had something to say about that. Well, he usually does. She gave me the gist of it and I immediately felt better about the whole thing. I checked it out and it goes like this,

'When you're washing up, pray. Be thankful that there are plates to be washed; that means there was food, that you fed someone, that you've lavished care on one or more people, that you cooked and laid the table. Imagine the millions of people at this moment who have absolutely nothing to wash up and no one for whom to lay the table.” 
― Paulo CoelhoThe Witch Of Portobello

So there you go - if you want a guide to decent living Coelho trumps Cooper every time.