Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Olden Days Revisited

Last day of the month and, boy, was it a stinker. Lashing rain, sleet and high winds. thankfully, apart from a little bit of yard work, I was able to stay indoors for nearly all the day. We had few callers (yippee!) just my brother and partner collecting their Jack Russell we'd been minding while they had a little break. And Clint but I managed to avoid him as I was watching House of Cards which is beginning to find its form after a slow start.

Tomorrow is the first of April so there will have to be more seed-sowing action in the poly tunnel. There are a few bits and pieces sown but the to-sow list is rather long.

Today Flickr's 31st most viewed picture is this house in the olden days.

Springhill in the Sixties (596 views on Flickr) 

The 31st most interesting picture is of Nelly in the olden days. The long hot summer of 1977, my first trip to London. Still rocking plaid flannel shirts. 288 views on Flickr.

I remember the photograph was taken by Margaret Donnelly, a young innocent  from County Kildare. She confessed to me that the reason she befriended me was because she wanted to learn how to drink alcohol, smoke cannabis and have sex. On our return to London we wrote for a while. Imagine it! The days of writing letters. She was planning to enlist in the RAF and, eventually, I lost touch with her. No Facebook, y'see. Those were certainly the days.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Wall

Katy, Hannah and Zoe, sometime in the 90s. 365 views so far...

...and the 30th most interesting photograph on my Flickr account on 30/03/15. That's my three girls in Dreen, perhaps taking a break from a game of rounders. Clint has all those trees cut down now and cattle sheds where they stood. In my uni days I used to walk up the road from the train and look for the first glimpse of the trees and feel so proud that I lived in such a wooded place. Clint said the trees were diseased but what really bothered him was the amounts of leaves that dropped in Autumn. The trees were a delight but, it has to be said, his cattle sheds are very fine too. He cut down the trees and dismantled the dry stone wall that Bert's father built. Said it was 'full of rat's nests'. It wasn't.

Johnny building the stone wall

 Summer wall

Winter wall

I was so cross with Clint for getting rid of that wall but it's been a long time and I had to let it go. I have the photographs and my memories.

 And Finally.  Look! Those girls were only following in their mother's fashion footsteps with that flannel checked shirt look. It wasn't the Seattle grunge scene a-tall.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Damp Sunday

When I opened the door of the chicken house this morning the new hens, all seven of them, flew into my face. It was rather worrying. Now I know how Tippi Hedren felt.

We have Martha and Evie here on a sleepover tonight. We sowed seeds, baked biscuits and watched Puss in Boots. I got them off to bed in good time so Nellybert could watch Poldark. At around the three-quarter mark the two girls trooped into the kitchen and on to my lap as bright as two buttons. And there they stayed until the show was over. Evie remarked that Poldark 'looks like Fergus'. I must remember to tell Auntie Hannah that one.
Baking biscuits

Tonight the 29th most viewed photograph on my Flickr is one that the Kerry Sister took many years ago.

Seamus and Katy

This must have been in an odd-shaped frame at some point. It is one of my favourite photographs of Daddy and has been viewed 615 times. My other favourite picture of him was also a Kerry Sister picture and it hangs upstairs.

The picture of Evie and the stuffed hedgehog has moved to 29th most interesting so I won't use it again. I often wonder how Flickr decides these things.

So, that was my damp Sunday, the first day of Spring, brightened only by grandchildren, Poldark and a lovely phone call from Katy. Tomorrow will also be a rainy day. I'm not sure how I shall spend it apart from grandchildren and making food and poking around my photo archives.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Forward

The clocks go forward tonight and, apart from taking note of that momentous fact, I have very little to write about. Except....

We introduced the new hens to the old hens. The rooster was beside himself to be presented with seven virgins. He literally did not know where to begin. So far they all appear to be getting on well, but knowing chickens there will be at least one in Coventry tomorrow.

The house is full of men playing banjos, guitars and clarinets. I fed them mince and onion pie and and steamed syrup pudding and now I'm ignoring them.

I'm slowing plodding through House of Cards Season 3. What is Doug up to? Will Freddy get his revenge?

I have fallen in love with Flickr once more and to celebrate that and March 28 here are some pictures.

Number 28 in the most viewed category. 631 views so far. Using 'wellies' as a tag increases hits.

Number 28 in the Interestingness category. Evie meets Mrs Tiggywinkle in the Ulster Museum. Now must goe show my face in the music room. House of Cards isn't really grabbing me this season.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On Reading Books

One great disadvantage of a rural childhood was not having access to the public library. There was a library of sorts at our primary school but one large cardboard box would have held all that it contained. Our teacher Cassie was horrible and we only got to read occasionally. I don't remember being allowed to choose the books either. She'd just give one to us and that was that. The only book I remember from school was The Wind In The Willows and I recall being really confused at the part where Pan appears to Mole and Ratty and feeling much easier when the story returned to the adventures of Toad.

At home there never seemed to be enough books because we all read them so fast. I usually got first go at fresh books because I was the oldest. Our mother must have noticed this. She returned one day from shopping in Ballymena with a book for my younger sister, also a voracious reader. The book Matty brought for Anne was My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara. She informed us that Anne would get to read it first, then it would be her turn and, after that, the book was up for grabs. I could hardly bear having to wait but wait I did. Matty stood firm. My Friend Flicka was the first book in a trilogy and Matty also bought the next two, Thunderhead and The Green Grass of Wyoming. Anne got first dibs on those as well. They were a terrific read and well worth waiting for.

Christmas time brought great reading opportunities. Everyone got one or two books at Christmas, usually Puffin or Armada paperbacks and these would be hidden away with the other presents. I'd search the house until I found the stash of books, usually hidden on the high shelf in her wardrobe. For several days every chance I got, I'd be up there, standing beside the wardrobe in our parent's bedroom reading hungrily, nervous, praying not to be discovered. And I never was.

Of course when Christmas Day arrived I hadn't a thing to read and I used to look jealously on Anne as she sat there enjoying her new books. Much later when I confessed all to Matty she said it explained a lot for she could never understand why I showed so little interest in the Christmas books.

It's often a thankless task being a parent. Imagine my poor mother carefully picking out my books only to see me ignore them. I hadn't even the sense to pretend to read them. I wonder would she have preferred to know then that she had reared a sneak without a notion how to defer gratification despite the lesson with the Mary O'Hara trilogy.

Sometime soon I shall explain why it is that I particularly love dusty old books. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Buzz About Buzzards

About this time nine years ago I was obsessed with buzzards. Here are two of the three posts I wrote on the 23rd of March 2009. The third one was more about eBay and computer problems and missing out on a buzzard print so I haven't included it.



Originally uploaded by Wyrd.
Bert! What's a honey buzzard?

You don't get them here. They're mostly Southern English. Maybe the odd one passing through but not generally.

So what do you call the ones we have here?



How do you spell Colin? One L or two?

I was only winding you up.


Suppose I'd put that in my blog and made a right fool of myself!

Buzz, Buzz, Buzzard

There are a pair of buzzards are living near us and they can be spotted most days. Today while Hannah and I were driving down the road we saw one swoop down on prey in the corner of a field just beside the road. I was delighted to get such a close view. I said to Hannah,

Wow! We were lucky to see that.

Wasn’t so lucky for whatever it was got caught.

Oh well. That’s nature. Poor you moving to the town. All the wildlife you’ll see there will be mangy cats, scabby pigeons and rats.

Don’t care.

When Katy was little she asked Bert this,

Why do they call them buzzards? Is it because they make a buzzing sound?

If we’d have been decent parents we’d have got the bird books out and arranged a visit to the Natural History Museum, stimulated the child’s interest and stuff like that. Instead we laughed our legs off at her, gave her a complex and slagged her about it to this very day. My idea of a fun natural history lesson was telling Hannah all about the savage child eating bears that lived in the (local) woods. May God forgive me for I doubt the weans ever will.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St Joseph's Day Eve

Yesterday was St Patrick's Day and this Irish woman was exceedingly underwhelmed by it all. It means very little to me these days.

Bert and the Wee Manny were returning from Fanad and Bert was outraged to discover that Kilrea was blocked off and he had to take a detour through Ballymoney to get home. The Derry branch of the Ancient Order of Hibernians were marching and he would have had to wait 30 minutes for the parades to pass.

And did it ever even occur to you to park the van, go up the town, get yourselves a pint of Guinness apiece? You might have got the barman to draw a wee shamrock in the foam and you could have watched the parade go by.

I had never heard of the Hibernians until my cousin Joseph joined the White Hill Accordion Band. They weren't much chatted about in Tannaghmore. Anyway, after Mass on a rainy St Patrick's Day way back in the 1960s, Daddy took a couple of us to Randalstown to watch the parade. I was very excited. I imagined it would be full of pomp and glory like the Orange Parades that we weren't really supposed to like. It wasn't. Just a dozen or so little grey men with solemn faces and bunches of shamrock pinned to their lapels, two carrying a small banner and the White Hill Accordion Band. Cousin Joe never even looked at us. It was most disappointing.

Tomorrow is St Joseph's Day. Not a lot of people pay any attention to his feast day but I intend to celebrate it. I'll do something with wood. Chop it into kindlers maybe. Get some fig rolls in. Open a bottle of wine.