Sunday, September 24, 2017

24th September

Camping at Murlough Bay was wonderful. Before we went we had supper from Morton's Fish and Chip shop. As always, it was a long wait so while Bert queued Martha, Evie and Granny went to the nearby playground. This was followed by a visit to Morelli's for four ice cream cones. Yummy. Then time to go to our camping site before it got too dark.

While I sorted out the sleeping arrangements Bert and the girls took a walk.

Evie only needed carrying for a few moments. Far more fun to be had on the ground.

They were away for ages and by the time they got back it was time for teeth brushing and on with the Cath Kidston nighties. The young misses are posh campers. Storytime next. I had to tell a lot of stories from real life. Most of them were about dogs. Bert wasn't a lot of help. Occasionally he'd fill in a missing detail. He mostly listened and I've been told he enjoyed my tales as much as the girls. Eventually, they began to drift off which was just as well as, not only was I getting hoarse, I was also running out of suitable stories. I'd foolishly remarked to Bert that the only story I hadn't told them was the one about the nights he'd spent in the cave in Marseilles and that they'd need to be at least twelve before they heard that one - whereupon Evie started to howl, crying that she wanted to hear the story about the cave in Marseilles. So, the absolute last story of the night was That Time Bert Slept In The Cave Near Marseilles.

Of course, I completely removed the part about the paranormal attack and replaced it with a sort of Princess and the Pea treatment involving buried treasure and it went down a treat. They can hear the scary version when they're older. Of course, knowing Evie she'll be sceptical. This morning, she was telling me the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and she was scathing about 'talking animals'. I think she meant the snake.

The camper van was a little cramped for four but it was lovely to watch the dawn break over the sea. We weren't paying that much attention to time but it might have been after nine o'clock that we set off for the beach while Bert snatched some extra sleepy-time.

The girls on the Game of Thrones trail still wearing their Cath Kidston nightdresses. Murlough Bay was used as a filming location for at least three episodes of the show.

After that walk, we returned to the van and the girls had a second helping of cereal, some thorough teeth brushing and a perfunctory wash before dressing for the second walk of the day. This time they took Bert to visit the bothy where the evil witch lived, the cave with her captured and chained baby dragon and the twelve, very vicious flying monkeys. I enjoyed a coffee and a read of my book and after about an hour I wondered what was keeping them. I went out to see. And met them coming back.

They'd found another beach, a secret one beyond the little cottage and would I like to see it? I would. Bert was exhausted so he went back to the van. The witch was dead, vanquished by a magic spell involving a red bucket and some magic stones so we didn't have to tiptoe going past the bothy. The flying monkeys were back in the zoo, and the baby dragon had been freed.

And the secret beach was delightful.

We played on it for ages.

That land mass on the horizon is The Mull of Kintyre.

The girls are very good at climbing mountains.

Building a stone house for a woodlouse. Her name was Alice. Alice Wood. Get it?

As we wandered back I was informed that a new witch had moved into the bothy and that the flying monkeys were back. When this witch goes to the Spar for her groceries her broomstick is parked in the air above the shop so as not to arouse suspicion. When we passed her home Martha peeked in and said she was eating her dinner. What was she having? Two roast children (Martha said) with an accompaniment of slugs and boiled grass (Evie said). 

The way out of Murlough Bay is very steep and winding and I said a prayer that the old van would make it and my prayer was answered. Perhaps I should have looked a bit further ahead as she broke down on us as we came into Ballycastle. But that's another story.


There was a happy ending.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

23rd September

Apparently, today is the end of the world. I'm trying not to worry too much about it as the day is nearly half over and there seems to be no sign of the hidden planet that is going to zap us into nothingness.

We'll still be going to Murlough Bay with Martha and Evie and I am hopeful that we'll be in time for one last supper out of Mortons in Ballycastle.

If we make it to tomorrow I'll be back in Nelly's Garden. That is all.

Friday, September 22, 2017

22nd September

If this post wasn't called '22nd September' it might well be titled 'Stuck In The Mud' or maybe 'Liar, Liar'.

Back story - the fields are wet, very, very wet. For most of the day, Bert had the pigs in what he calls the back garden. Then he decides they should go out to the fields because tomorrow we're going out in the camper van and they'll not get much of a chance to eat grass. But, this evening they wouldn't come in at supper time. I don't get to hear about this until eight o'clock.

What time did you put them out?
Three o'clock.

I say to Hannah,

Did you see where they were when you went for that walk in the woods?
They were still closed in that yard when we went out.
What time was that?
About half-five.
You didn't put those pigs out until after five. They don't think in terms of time. They'll be out there eating grass until past our bedtime.

Hannah says,

Oops, Bert. Sorry for dropping you in it.

This is Bert being Bert. He thinks short-term. Doesn't think of the bother he'll be giving himself hours or days down the line.

He says,

Sure they'll be alright. They've got access to the cattle shed. They'll come in when they're ready.

This is not likely. On previous occasions when they've been put out to grass very late they eat until they are full then lie down at the back of a hedge, Normally this might be OK but the fields are saturated, it's autumn and Rusty has a history of pneumonia. I'd rather they were in their cosy warm stall no matter what time of the year it is. So I donned wellington boots, took a torch and went out to look for them. Eventually, I found the grass munching stop outs but not until I'd lost my footing, fell over and got clarried in glaar from head to toe. Luckily I'd had a very nice dinner and a glass of wine so found this amusing.

Tomorrow they'll be staying in the so-called back garden where the grass is sparser but I'm leaving word with Hannah that they are to have extra treats at supper time which should make up for it. I don't think she'd enjoy searching for lost pigs and falling into mudholes as much as I would.

I really should have got someone to take a picture of the state of me when I came in from the fields. Anyway, here's one of the pigs.

That red stuff is not blood. It is the remains of mashed blackberries left over from wine-making. It will be slightly alcoholic, something the pigs do not object to.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

21st September

Martha has been hinting for a while now that she wants a pre-loved bicycle to keep at our house. Her 'hints' have, in the past, involved her physically pushing me towards bikes for sale in charity stores and I have resisted, telling her that we'll think about it in in the spring. She has a good bicycle at home but it's not convenient to bring it here. Here, there is a bicycle in the shed which is supposed to be Martha's but she never rides it.

Then there was today. Evie has a pretty pink bike that Martha rides at every opportunity. Today they fought and squabbled over it until I was almost demented.

Why can't you ride your own bicycle?
Because the handlebars are too low.
 Can't Bert adjust them?
He tried but they won't move.
Let me see you riding this bike.

So she gets it out and starts riding. Her knees are practically level with her ears as she pedals. I can see why she prefers Evie's bike.

O.K. I can see that is no good. We'll look at those bikes in Ahoghill.
Can we go now?
It's too late. Charity stores close at four o'clock.
What about Halford's? It will still be open.

(Martha lives a stone's throw from Halford's and is probably very familiar with its opening hours)

Martha! Bikes at Halford's cost over a hundred pounds. You don't have a hundred pounds and neither do I.

She got it. We're going to look at bikes at the mid-term break.

On looking for a picture to accompany this post I found that I have no pictures of the girls on their bikes. This will need to be remedied. Meanwhile here's one of the parents' pictures. It's over two years old and I think she was probably close to outgrowing that bike too.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 20th

Off to Toome this morning fror a wee dander up the canal with two young friends. On the way, I passed the Moneyglass Estate where a good bit of location work for Game of Thrones was shot. There was something going on but I couldn't quite make it out. Always important to keep one's eye on the road when one is driving. But that's where the internet comes in handy. When I got home I checked this site out. Seems like Winterfell is going to be an important filming location for GOT Season 8 and perhaps there will be some extra work for this guy.

Which guy? Martha and Evie's dad. He's the good looking one with the beard.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19th

The 19th September - the anniversary of Miss Martha's birth and the sad, sad anniversary of Shirley's death. That photograph was taken more than eleven years ago when Shirley would have been in her very early twenties. If she were alive today she'd be in her mid-thirties, still young.

A while ago whilst searching on-line for Susan McKay, for I'd just read her book, Northern Protestants: an Unsettled People, I came across this article. It's a bit sketchy on Shirley's life in Ballymena but otherwise an accurate enough account of some of the events that lead to her death.

And I'll only speak for myself when I say she was let down. She became a lost soul and easy prey for the predator who ended her life. Susan McKay should have concentrated more on Ballymena for it's Ballymena that knows what happened to wee Shirley.

Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18th

Martha chose the menu for this evening's meal. She chose chilli - a new favourite and chocolate birthday cake for afters. Her birthday's not until tomorrow but traditionally (been doing it for a couple of years now) I always make a birthday cake on the Monday closest to a person's birthday.

I went to a lot of trouble with the cake. None of that bunging it all into the food processor and whizzing it up like Nigella recommends. Oh no! I'm out with the Kenwood, proper caster sugar, softened butter creamed to whiteness. Then add the (sifted) flour and beaten eggs bit by bit. Lovely stuff. Then into the tins, into the oven and I'm off for a wee break on the worldwide web to check up on the Emmys. Twenty-five minutes later Bert interrupts me.

That timer thing on the oven is chirping. I nearly didn't hear it because of the radio dinnling away.

Oh dear. I didn't hear it at all for I'm occupied looking at the fancy dresses on some women that I've never even heard of.

The cake was, of course, burned. Only slightly but enough to depress me. I shaved the burnt bits off but it still wasn't right. I decided to go again. This time I bunged everything into the processor. No caster sugar as I'd run out so used ordinary and a bit of Demerara. Bunged it into the tins, the oven and kept a very tight eye on it. Came out perfect. Then I decorated it as instructed. Chocolate glace icing, ugly orange dog, eight pink candles and green smarties to represent the grass that the dog was supposed to be sitting on. I added some pink smarties and a glittery candle in the shape of an 'eight'. It was a horror show. Martha loved it. Even though the dog had slipped back and was teetering at the edge of the cake.

Meanwhile, Bert, Hannah, the girls and six dogs had disappeared into the woods to look for fungi and fairy rings. There was some sort of tale about stepping into fairy rings and disappearing and however they managed to create this illusion, Bert was completely taken in by it. Apparently. They were full of stories about it.

It was yet another amazingly successful birthday dinner at Nellybert's. I really love being a Granny and I know Bert feels the same about being a Granda. If the weather holds we'll take them out in the camper van at the weekend. Just the two dogs though. Fingers crossed.