Saturday, April 25, 2015

Early Post

I'm posting early today because there is some sort of a 'do' happening here tonight. Not sure what it is all about but it might be something to do with Ziggy. Maybe it is his birthday? Anyway, I'm going to be busy tidying and stuff so best to get Nelly's Garden over and done with.

Great Pollet Arch, 165 views

Great Pollet Arch, Fanad Peninsula, County Donegal, 25th most interesting photograph on Flickr. The 25th most viewed is a repeat today. This picture is much better than mine. I was too afraid of falling in and drowning to get the best viewpoint.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Looking Back

24th most viewed on Flickr, 774 views

Miss Hannah from ten years ago, a photograph taken to celebrate a snazzy new haircut.

The 24th most interesting picture with 206 views

I put this one up not so long ago to mark Mother's Day. Matty is on my mind a lot right now as it is coming up to the fourth anniversary of her death. What a lot has happened since then. How delighted she would have been to know that Katy, the child in her embrace, is expecting her first child this summer. It makes me a little sad to think that Matty only got to meet her first great-grandchild, her namesake Martha, who she adored.

This is my blog from four years ago posted on the 21st April, the last one written while she still lived.

I woke just before 7am and decided not to get up. Immediately I fell into dreams. I dreamed that my mother was dying and that I held her in my arms and would not let her go. We lived in a succession of damp, dilapidated and tumbledown sheds and still I would not let her go. She got frailer and smaller and eventually she was as small as a baby. She was my baby, she was also another person called Shirley and still she was my mother. She was dying and I had to get her a coffin. She was small enough to fit in an infant's casket but I knew that because she had been a woman I needed to get her a woman-sized coffin.

These are the dreams I have without opiates. God only knows what Matty dreams. She told my sister, in one of her lucid moments, that it was like 'being in two places at once.'

Today was my Miss Martha day. We went to Matty's then out for a run with Great Aunt Ganching (with whom Miss Martha has become most enamoured). Next home to see Bert, a picnic on the lawn and a very relaxing afternoon with toys and pigs and dogs.

When Martha went home I spent a while watering the vegetables (this will be my role and it is a very important one) and then gathering sticks, a proper outdoor barbecue (no charcoal) and pork chops, spinach and baked potatoes for supper.

Another normal day. Tomorrow I go shopping for funeral clothes.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tuffets and Quilts

23rd most viewed on Flickr, 774 views 


  1. 1.
    a tuft or clump of something.
    "grass tuffets"
  2. 2.
    a footstool or low seat.

Here we have Martha sitting on a 'tuffet' in the polytunnel. The tuffet is actually the contents of a plant pot. Martha is a keen gardener to this day having been partly reared in a polytunnel.  She is still fond of sitting on tuffets.

23rd most interesting, 423 views on Flickr

Alice meets Tweedledum & Tweedledee in Through The Looking-Glass, another of A.H. Watson's delightful illustrations.

I remember Matty referring to folk as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. It was generally scathing and directed at various people of her acquaintance,  always two misguided folk who agreed with each other to a high degree. A couple of ladies spring to my mind as I remember this but I can say no more.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee also featured on a heavy patchwork quilt that was often on the bed I shared with my sister. At this stage of my life, maybe four or five years old, I was unaware of the Alice books but I couldn't help being fascinated by the patchwork pieces of fabric that featured the Tenniel illustrations. There were two colour ways, one, sunny and bright and the other, more muted with a sea-green tinge. I'd examine them for what seemed like ages comparing and contrasting. Although it was more likely moments, for little children fall  to sleep so quickly.

It was probably nursery curtain fabric and perhaps it came from the Old Bleach factory in Randalstown. It was heavy, so maybe linen. I wouldn't have known the names of fabric in those days. One thing I do know is, I would give a great deal to see that fabric again. Not because of the Aliceness of it, but for the pleasure it gave me when I was very young.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dogs And Dunminning

Dunminning Cottage, 22nd most viewed. 785 views

This picture was taken ten years ago. The cottage has been re-thatched since then and, according to the internet, it has been up for sale. Whether or not it sold I do not know but the asking price was around 60 thousand. Which seems reasonable except that it is very tiny and needs a good deal of work. It dates from around the 1830s and was originally inhabited by the toll keeper of Dunminning Bridge. Cousin Margaret says she went to school near there and she remembers it having a shop where she bought her sweets. Back in the 1950s and 60s people would have a little shop in their house selling sweets and a small selection of groceries. Agnes Hughes ran one from her house at the top of our road. I'd go there sometimes instead of our Granny's petrol station because Agnes did not moan at us the way Granny did. She did give us 20 questions as to what the neighbours were up to. I tried very hard to keep my guard up but it was difficult not to let things slip.

22nd most interesting on Flickr, 179 views

This picture was taken in November 2012. My lovely Bonnie died the following June. She was slowing down by then but still enjoying her life.

The light was beautiful and the dogs blended with the Autumn foliage. And Bonnie was having a really good day.

Another picture of those two, taken by Hannah, whose animal photography is excellent.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In Which I Obtain Smelly Compost And Zoë Becomes A Shroomer

It appears that both of yesterday's Flickr pics have dropped to the number 21 spot. So won't be shown again today.

And if any reader is feeling deprived of pictures, here is a link to my least seen picture. Taken in 2005 and only one view so far.

We went to one of our local garden centres with a delivery. The guy that owns it is a very gregarious chap and always tells the best stories. Local folk probably know who I'm speaking of. While our friend was giving Nellybert (the gardeners) a talk about the local council he received a phone call. It seemed that he was, at that very moment, supposed to be giving a talk to the local council about gardening. I never knew he could move so quickly.

After the deliveries were made, and an Ulster Fry consumed, we made our way to the local council yard to collect some of their free and evil smelling compost. I intend to use it to mulch my old perennial bed which has become a disaster area. I've laid cardboard down to suppress weeds and over this will go the minicipal compost. I'm doing it despite hearing horror stories. Young Rainey said his father's gardener used it on his beds and everything died. The internet says it is full of weeds and plastic. Don't know about the weeds but there is plastic.

Zoë had an interesting find yesterday. She was pulling up last season's chard in the polytunnel and found she had pulled up an unusual mushroom.

She checked it out on the internet and thought it might be a morel. Today she told me that she had sent a photograph to the NI Fungi Group and had it confirmed

It is a morel and good eating! One of the most expensive mushrooms around, but very rare in Northern Ireland.

So I'm to keep my eyes peeled for more of them. Zoë thinks it might have been transferred to the tunnel from under the beech trees as she had been using leaf mould as a soil conditioner and mulch. I checked out the NI Fungi Group myself and apparently there has only been three reports of morchella in Northern Ireland.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Today;s Flickr theme appears to be sisters. The 20th most viewed photograph features Martha and Evie carrying buckets of frog spawn that they found in the woods. They look really delighted with themselves. 811 views in a matter of weeks but Martha is wearing wellies. 

Since that day the girls' first call on arriving here is checking on the tadpoles. I'm keeping an eye on them too. Soon they will have to be moved to a more frog-friendly part of the property. 



The 20th most interesting picture is a scan of myself and Leitrim sister. She's the one in the stripey jumper which I might have knit but I'm not certain about that. It was taken around thirty years ago in the days Before Bert. I just cannot believe those bushy eyebrows. 

Nineteenth Flickr Breakdown

I have spent the weekend building my new garden and, every so often, I'd say something like,

Well, that's everything planted now except for those five.
Then I find a dozen more sitting around. I think all that is left is five campanula looking things, some yellow crocosmia and about ten sweet William. No doubt there will be something else lurking in a corner that will have to be squeezed in. 

We have had Ben here for two nights and his mum for one. Ben has proved very helpful carrying heavy paving stones to the new plot and Jazzer has made sure that our glasses brimmed full. I was doing Saturday night's blog when she appeared in my secret, private sitting room and started rummaging in a sideboard. I looked at her curiously.

Bert asked me to get him a beer.

He keeps his beer in that other cupboard.

I quickly published my blog and went to join them all in Bert's public sitting room and was just in time to catch her pouring his beer for him. He said,

But that's water!

I realised what had gone wrong.

It's not even water. It's Holy Water from the monk's special tap in Portglenone. I got it to fill up the Holy Water thingy I got from Matty's so I could bless myself every time I went into my private, secret sitting room.
We had a good laugh about Bert nearly drinking Holy Water and decided that he should learn to bless himself as well although he wasn't much good at it.

Moving on to Flickr pictures.

811 views and it's only up about a month

It was these pictures that got me interested in Flickr again. I'd been off it so long, flirting with Instagram, that all my pictures had taken great leaps in their viewing figures. And I could see patterns. Flickr viewing figures have, in general, shot up as the site has changed the way views are counted. For instance, if a person types in the tag 'wellies' vast amounts of pictures appear in front of the wellie-fancier and each image gets credit for a 'view' even if it is barely glanced at. So, these days, numbers of views don't mean much at all. I had noticed that the tag 'wellies' got viewing figures up so I experimented with it. There are other tags too but 'wellies' seemed fairly innocuous. But who knows what goes on in the mind of a wellie-fancier?

 591 views, taken 10 years ago in Ballymena

This picture was taken at the time the Orange Order was trying to rebrand the marching season, calling it Orangefest. It didn't really work out for them. Trying to turn the Twelfth into a jolly time for all did not sit well with fighting and rioting against Parades Commission decisions. These two children (adults by now) are dressed as William III and Mary II. The man in the hat is dressed as Oliver Hardy but he doesn't know it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Eighteen Pig Gardens

Another super day, literally not a cloud in the sky. I made great progress with my new perennial garden, with only a dozen or so more to plant. And a path to lay. Fitting then, that the eighteenth most viewed image on my Flickr today is one of my old perennial garden which was taken seven years ago. Between one thing and another that old garden got out of control. When Matty was sick I neglected it and it only takes a couple of years of neglect to create huge problems. Last year I painstakingly cleared it of pernicious weeds, mainly bindweed and couch grass. Then Bert suggested rotovating it. This was a really big mistake for the bindweed spread. It only takes a smidgin of root to start it off. I got disheartened, too disheartened to replant. My current plan is to lay cardboard and mulch and then only plant huge sturdy plants and shrubs. I'll start on that project when the new perennial garden is finished.

Nelly's Garden 2008, 850 views

Lily, 305 views

The eighteenth most interesting picture is the young Lily gazing up at the photographer and wondering when the next tasty titbit would be coming. That was five years ago and she was still a stripling. Still looking for tasty titbits. If the pigs don't get a treat as they enter the grazing paddock they break out. Give them half an orange or a carrot and they graze contentedly until bedtime. All is right with their world. Sometimes I wonder if it is actually the animals that train us.