Monday, November 11, 2019

Old Shoes


They are in a bit of a state, are they not? I remember the day I bought them. Miss Martha was with me and helped me choose them. She wanted me to buy something fancier, light-coloured. I explained,

No Martha, the shoes have to be black because I've nothing suitable to wear to a funeral. These are to be my Funeral Shoes.

They were never off my feet for the best part of two years because they were so damn comfortable. But a time came when even the most diligent polishing did not help. They became house shoes. And by 'house' I mean outside the house, the yard.

Why don't I just throw them out? I asked myself this the other day and very nearly did. Then I didn't. Why?

I got to thinking about Pearlie who spent the best part of her life in old worn-out garments, sliping around in a pair of old deck shoes she inherited from Bert. Pearlie who had lots of nice outfits hanging in her wardrobe that she'd never, ever wear. I'm not as bad as that.

Then there was my paternal grandmother who disdained fine clothes. She'd wear the same outer clothes for months. I don't like to think of her inner garments. When she worked she wore an apron fashioned from a hessian sack. Her Sunday best was a man's grey gaberdine overcoat. I'm not as bad as that.

But I'm bad. When I'm home I wear Gap jeans and fleeces and old shoes. I wash my hair, towel it dry and don't even look in the mirror. I rarely look in mirrors these days. When I was younger I liked the person I saw there, these days I hardly know her. But I do look down from time to time and see the old shoes. Should I throw them out? Maybe tomorrow.


Three and a half years ago I wore those shoes to Sheena's funeral. She was a lady who was always well turned out. In her younger days dressed exclusively in black and white and often made and adapted her own outfits. I miss her still.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Ins And Outs


My life consists of letting hens out, closing hens in, same with pigs and in the house, it is endless with dogs and cats, in, out, in, out all day long. Then come bedtime, if a cat is outside, he or she will stand gazing at Roy through the glass doors while he barks to alert me that I must come down and open the door. Same goes if a cat wants out, Roy starts woofing so that I know to rise from my bed and let the brute out.

Morning comes, very early morning, maybe half five, and Judy wakes me with the cold nose against my cheek. She wants to go out. How do people without pets put in their time?

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong


I don't have far to travel to enjoy the autumn colour as these trees, mostly beech, are at the bottom of our lane.


Last week was a free week. The girls were on a mid-term break vacation to the Dingle peninsula so no Monday supper and no Thursday baby-sitting. I have a new regular Tuesday appointment and that was postponed due to vacation time for the other party, so free all week, lots of time to myself.

I spent it weeding, planting and mulching in the polytunnel for my section had got really out of hand. There were dandelions, creeping buttercup and nettles starting to appear. There were far too many strawberry runners and a nest of self-seeded sweet william that was beginning to take over. Over a period of five days I worked on it, lots of hoeing, digging out and raking. Garlic cloves were sown, new strawberries and broad beans planted and fresh compost added to the soil. It was so neat, so brown, so weed-free and I was really pleased with all my efforts, until - one night, about halfway through this clearance, I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep for feeling guilty about where all the beetles and bugs, spiders and frogs were going to live. The tunnel wrens appeared to have lost interest in my plot and the resident robin had moved out. It was all far too tidy.

But it won't last. The weeds will return, so will the bugs and beetles and in no time robins and wrens will be back. And, if those broad beans ever come to anything, Rusty and Lily will be crashing about in there too.


Monday, October 28, 2019

A Sequence Of Events


I bought a sourdough loaf on Saturday morning and told the man who baked it all about my sourdough starter which will be celebrating its 3rd birthday this coming March. The man said that the secret to keeping a starter lively is filtered water. Something to tell Les. Tell the truth, his bread wasn’t as good as Les’ or mine but I needn’t talk as I haven't baked a loaf in the best part of a year even though I have worked through several kilos of strong flour just keeping the starter going.

An egg for poaching

On Sunday I made poached eggs and sourdough toast. The bread was the devil to cut and a bit of it got stuck in the toaster and went on fire. I removed toaster and bread outdoors to shake out the burning crumbs and accidentally dropped the toaster on the ground. And hoped I hadn’t broken it.

Today, Monday I went into town to order floor coverings for Hannah’s rooms. As always it turned out not a simple errand and the carpet man will have to come out to measure up which saddened Bert as he wanted to fit cupboards and skirting boards and now he’ll have to hold his horses.

Whilst in town I visited Lidl to buy a few bits and pieces and as always bought more than I had bags to carry it in. In the queue, I noticed one of the Lidl staff behind me with a couple of items for her break. I suggested she go ahead of me as break time is precious. She was very gracious and left me feeling good. It’s nice to be nice and lovely to be thanked.

I had a bit of time to spare so called at one of Ballymena’s many Christian charity shops to see what was on offer. It was quiet and the lady in charge commented on the coldness of the weather. I made the appropriate responses. She said,

It’s a change to speak to someone who understands me.

I found this an odd remark and asked her what she meant.

She said,

Well, you know, speaking to someone who isn’t - ‘foreign’.

This sort of thing happens to me a lot. People, mostly women around my age, say something vaguely xenophobic and seem to invite me to agree with them. I must have the appearance of a racist.

I said,

Well, you must agree that the people who come here from other countries are very supportive of our local charity shops.

And she said,

Yes, they are. But they’re always trying to get things for less than the price.

I said,

You just need to say that the price is the price.

Then added,

And, as you know, God loves everybody, no matter where they come from.

(Left unsaid) Even those of us who were not born and reared in Harryville.


I paid the asking price, no quibbling

Back home, I made poached eggs and sourdough toast. With some difficulty as the toaster was broken. I had to hold the lever down which defeats the purpose of a toaster.

After breakfast I changed into old shoes and yesterdays jeans intending to do a bit of grubbing about in the polytunnel.

And then changed back into today’s jeans and Dune boots when Bert asked me to accompany him on a sanitary ware buying expedition. We bought a wash hand basin and toilet and then went to Tesco to buy a new toaster. This job done I returned to the van to find that Bert was unable to start it. Some sort of flat battery issue. Guess what? Neither of us had our phone. Yet Tesco isn't a bad place to be phoneless and broken down for along came Young Rainey’s even younger and more beautiful wife who gave me a lift home where there were lots of phones and numbers of people (Carlo) prepared to drive into town and get Bert on the road again.

Young Rainey’s lovely wife said,

You’re not blogging so much these days.

I said,

I know. But I’ll do one for you this evening.

And this is it. Thank you again, Sarah.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

In Praise Of The Master Electrical Engineer

Rachael loaned me a moth trap which is mine for an indefinite period, the only condition being that I must use it, record and report my findings.

I am notoriously afraid of new technology. I am the person who buys a new printer and keeps it unopened in the box for three months or more, before finding the courage to unpack it and try it out. This has happened more than once during my lifetime. A new phone? It will be weeks before I figure out all the amazing stuff it can do. Skype? A lovely idea but it frightens me. What's App calls? The stuff of nightmares. Eventually, I get there. When the stars are correctly aligned, when I can gather the necessary pluck. And so it was with the moth trap. I've had it for nearly two weeks and the only moth I've trapped was a little green and bronze one in the van yesterday. It has been photographed and has yet to be identified. Not even sure if it was a moth.

Rachael, not knowing the extent of my craven cowardice, did not help when she said,

Be careful how you move it, it's a bit delicate, hard to put together again if it falls apart - and the battery is a bit flaky. Might need a really good charge and then perhaps, another one.

Way to put off a technophobe.

I don't actually understand batteries, I know it is something to do with electricity which I also don't understand. Despite this, I decided today to charge the hell out of that flaky battery and get that moth trap on the road. So I did and when I connected the possibly charged battery to the unit that lit the fluorescent light nothing happened. Was it the charger? The battery? The bulb? How was I supposed to know? I hit Google.

The charger retailed at around £150. The battery? How much might that be? How did it all work anyway? I didn't mind spending some money. But how much? And on what?

Then in walked a Master Electrical Engineer. He didn't even get to sit down. Come here, said I. Showed him the moth trap, All he said was,

Can I have a star screwdriver and your reading glasses?

And then,

You should have said. I could have brought my *magical special instrument that solves all electrical mysteries*.

It was amazing. With the aid of my star screwdriver and my reading glasses he took everything apart, showed me how it all worked, told me about the light sensor and transformers which I didn't even know existed and offered several solutions to my problem which will involve no spending on my part. This man couldn't tell a moth from a midge yet he was ablaze with ideas as to how to actually activate a camera to take pictures of moths as they entered the trap.

I really must introduce him to Rachael.

I wish there was a decent photograph of that greeny bronzey flying creature I trapped in the van but all my pictures were terrible. Instead, I offer a snap of the garlic I sorted for seed and that I planted yesterday.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Just Another Saturday

It was quite the day today as far as the Brexit negotiations went. Earlier this week I thought I might sit glued to the Westminster channel for most of the day but, in the end, I decided not to. Our elected representatives would do whatever they thought they ought whether I was paying attention or not.

Instead, I went out to the polytunnel, dismantled my bean poles, fed the remainder of the broads, runners and French to Clover the cow and her friends, chopped up the sunflowers, dug up nettles and creeping buttercups, hoed, mulched, watered and wheeled many barrow loads to the compost heap.

Then I came in to check Guardian Online to see what those rascally parliamentarians had been up to.

And read,

MPs have inflicted a humiliating defeat...

Another one! It's been one humiliating defeat after another since our present PM took over. He must be getting tired of humiliating defeats, just as that other blond across the pond gets tired of winning.

Then I checked out who voted for what and quelle surprise! My elected MP had voted for the first time ever just as I might have urged him to. What a turn up. I'm still not voting for him next time. He'll still get in.