Saturday, July 19, 2014

Night Vigil

I plan to stay up all night.

Pearlie has taken another slump. She is vomiting blood every three or four hours. It started 24 hours ago. We decided not to phone an ambulance. Early this morning we had Doctor On Call and Pearlie informed him that, despite the risk, she did not wish to go to hospital. He agreed with her wishes and only administered an injection to stop the vomiting. It did not work.

Bert stayed with her last night but even though I got to go to bed I only slept for about an hour. I had two hours this afternoon which helped.

Pearlie sleeps a lot but insists on having a pen in her hand and a puzzle book in front of her. She is unable to concentrate on the puzzles.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What I Ate When Bert Was Away

Monday was a bank holiday in the occupied six counties. Bert sat sighing with this gloomy great cloud of despondency hanging above his noggin.

Tracey wants to know if you're going to Fanad.
I don't know.
Rod would love you to come.
I don't know if I can be bothered.
What else would you be doing?
Don't know. Nothing I suppose.
I think you should go. It would be good for you. I can hold the fort here. Go there today, come back tomorrow if you want to, stay an extra night if you're having a good time.

Then there was a great deal more of prevaricating nonsense from Bert to which I replied...

You know how I always know what's best for you and you're always telling me so? Well, this is what is best for you now. A break, a few hours away from all the grimness that is going on here. You'll come back far abler to cope. Just grab your clarinet,  a sleeping bag and a toothbrush and go! The dogs want you to go. They need a break too.

Long story short, he came to his senses, took the advice of a wise woman, got his ass into gear and packed his clarinet,  a sleeping bag and a toothbrush (the dogs packed themselves), got in his van and went.

Alone at last. Except for the cats, the pigs and Pearlie.

A person eats differently when they have only themselves to think of. For dinner I had a Cheese Dream. I first discovered Cheese Dreams in Bristol in 1971. It was the first time I had Been Somewhere Different. My friend Natalie and I hitch-hiked to Bristol, where we stayed with Miss Fiona Cornish of Montpelier. Miss Cornish, Bunty to her friends, ran a boarding school  for children with special needs. I do hope it is OK to say 'special needs' these days for it is hard to keep up with the correct terminology. In return for helping out with general everyday chores we got free board and lodging. Some of these days Miss Fiona Cornish deserves a post all to herself so, for today, will just concentrate on the Cheese Dreams.

Fiona Cornish's Cheese Dreams


  • 2 slices of buttered white bread
  • cheddar cheese for filling
  • lard


  • frying pan
  • stove

Sophisticates might like to adapt the basic recipe. I like to add tomato, sliced onion and seasoning. I also prefer to use hemp or rapeseed oil instead of lard. But basically it is a fried cheese sandwich. Bert dislikes Cheese Dreams very much so I tend to eat them when I am on my own.

The next day I had muesli for breakfast and another Cheese Dream for lunch. Bert phoned to say he was having a fantastic time and he'd like to stay an extra night. I said, no problem, so happy you're having a lovely relaxing break. I was feeling guilty about eating Cheese Dreams all the time so for dinner I boiled a free range egg and steamed some chard and broad beans and had that. It was grim beyond belief. For a late night snack I had muesli and ice-cream. I wouldn't recommend it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shiny Stones and Vintage Dresses

Hannah and I took Evie and Martha to Belfast on Thursday. We visited lots of charity and vintage shops and Martha got this...

I think it was probably a dress worn by a flower girl at a wedding. It cost £4 which I thought very reasonable and we purchased it at the Rusty Zip on Botanic Avenue. Obviously Martha wore it home on the train and the next day she wore it with her tiara to Springhill. She wanted to wear it all day but I chatted her out of it with stories about how she might like to pass all her dressing up clothes to her own daughter some day and that the new (to her) dress was far too old to be washed in the machine.

Imagine if you were picking blackcurrants and got purple juice on it. That would never come out.
It would be alright if I was eating baked beans and spilled some because the dress is the same colour as the beans and it wouldn't be noticeable.
I expect you're right. Baked beans would be fine but blackcurrant juice would be a disaster.

The blackcurrants have been wonderful this year. I have picked pounds and pounds of them and if it isn't raining a deluge like today I'll pick pounds more tomorrow. The other currants, red and white have been average. it is a race to get to them before the birds. Gooseberries were OK too. Need more bushes! There will be enough goosegogs for a few crumbles and pies. Les, who gave us the bushes, came out to pick berries we helped him. The next day we got a jar of delicious jam!

Back to Belfast. While Martha got a vintage dress and some flowery jim-jam trousers (£1 from Oxfam) all Evie wanted was a shiny polished pebble from the shop at the Ulster Museum. And a Pear Picking Porky.

For me the very best bit of our day in Belfast was having a picnic in Botanic Gardens and watching nearly tame robins and blackbirds squabble over our leftover crusts. There was a lot of resting (for Hannah and Nelly) and a lot of crazy running about (for Evie and Martha). Perfect!

Monday, July 07, 2014


So there was Nelly, wondering if she could get away with not cleaning the curtains before the wake, and there was Pearlie, off her meds and existing on a few sips of water a day. Then on Saturday night she asks for a cup of water. This is a woman who hasn't willingly touched water since the last day she worked in the moss, probably about a quarter of a century ago. It was a tradition among the Orrs to quaff large quantities of sweet spring water on the return from a day working with turf. T'was handy that they had their own spring. You'd be thinking about that first drink of water the whole way home from Craig's Moss.

So, she asks for a cup of water,

....and a cup of warm tea. And apple juice and Lucozade. Have you any orange squash? And if there's anything else you have about you.

Since then she has been drinking well. And do you know what? I think she might be on the mend.

Friday, July 04, 2014


I hardly know what to write any more. On the surface things go on as normal. We had a weekend away. The first time we went anywhere together for more than a year and it was lovely. The music sessions continue, there are visitors, family and friends. We garden, the grandchildren come and life goes on.

But there in the background Pearlie is growing weaker. I suppose we are waiting for her to die but that will be in her own time. And this strange thing is happening for as she declines she becomes sweeter and more contented. All her crankiness has gone. She doesn't do puzzles any more, nor does she read or watch television. I think she spends a lot of time having interesting dreams.

And she barely eats and hardly drinks and cannot swallow her medication. The doctor is coming to visit her today.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Working Clothes

Now Ben isn't the only one who does a bit of work about this place. Miss Martha gets home from a hard morning at nursery school, eats a bit of lunch, shucks off the school uniform, changes into her work gear and strides out to pick up litter, burn rubbish and feed pigs.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Work Experience Report

Ben shovelling manure

Our Godson has been doing work experience with us this past week and has carried out a wide range of tasks willingly and enthusiastically.

This is my report.

TIMEKEEPING: Student has risen promptly each morning before 10:30am.

DEMEANOUR: Pleasant and respectful at all times. To me. Rather less respectful to Bert but this is down to the natural 'banter' and 'horseplay' among men in the workplace. The student has been advised that owing to advancements in political correctness and Health & Safety that this behaviour might not be as acceptable in the 'real' world. Bert has been advised to 'catch himself on.'


TREE SURGERY: The student assisted Bert in the task of removing a large branch from a tree. He demonstrated an awareness of basic Health & Safety guidelines, advising Bert that Crocs and a straw hat were not the best choice of clothing when up a 20 foot ladder brandishing a chainsaw.

CARING: The student had the opportunity of helping look after both pre-school children and the elderly. He showed patience and kindness to each group. The elderly pronounced his tea-making and pillow arranging skills exemplary and the preschoolers high-fived him.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY: Helping out with feeding dogs, cats, pigs and hens. Throwing balls for dogs, stroking cats and assisting in the castration of calves.

FARMING: Bringing in the hay. We had a lot of visitors that day and Bert made them all go to the hayfield with them. The baler couldn't keep up with them.

GENERAL MAINTENANCE: Cleaned, sanded and varnished my shoe shelf. Removed the stairs and landing carpet using his bare hands. These were the same hands that Bert had said were 'all soft and girly.' Folded carpet and removed it for disposal then hoovered stairs and landing without being asked.

HORTICULTURE: Wheeled barrow loads of well rotted manure 'til the cows came home. Literally.

COFFEE: All the time. Whenever we wanted it.

CONCLUSION: An excellent student and  a wonderful Godson who blesses our life.