Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day Out In Belfast

I wonder if you might guess from which Belfast station I alighted from this morning?

When I had done with all that I walked to a cinema in the Dublin Road to watch No Stone Unturned. It was an afternoon showing so the audience was small. All, apart from one young man, were middle-aged or older and afterward, it was noticeable just how affected everyone was as they left,

There was an hour to spare after that and I just walked. Walked and walked and walked. That may even have been the best part of the day.

Monday, November 13, 2017

All The Flowers I've Never Grown. The Himalayan Blue Poppy

Meconopsis betonicifolia

The beautiful Himalayan Blue Poppy is a plant I have long yearned for. Yet it's not entirely true that I never grew one as just once I started them from seed - Thompson and Morgan seed. They are famously tricky to germinate and I only managed three pathetic specimens. The best of them grew to eight inches tall and produced one flower after which it wilted and died. The other two expired without flowering. I'm not sure what went wrong but I never tried again.

I had convinced myself that they just wouldn't thrive in the soggy Irish climate until this one time I passed a shady garden on the Hillmount Road near Cullybackey carpeted with beautiful blue poppies. I never saw them again. Occasionally I see the Blue Poppy at garden shows but they are always expensive and I'm loth to part with my hard cash as one plant would not be enough. Six would still be niggardly. There would need to be, at the very least, a dozen to make a half decent show and that wouldn't leave much change out of a hundred quid. And then they'd probably die after one season.

Maybe I should try again. After all, it's been more than twenty years since that first bitter disappointment. Since then more than two decades years of growing experience gained and nothing to lose but the price of a packet of seeds. Keep you posted!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Just Like A Pig

Could Bert be trying to tell me something? The other morning he told me this really cute story about the pigs…

Y’know, every morning since the apple harvest I’ve been giving Rusty and Lily a big Bramley after I take them out to the field. They get it just after I shut the gate and Lily always takes her apple to a special place beside the hedge and Rusty, well he just stands there and wolfs it down wherever he’s standing. This morning I got distracted before I shut the gate and the pair of them must have turned back to see what was going on. Well, they found the apple barrels and Lily, she lifted one and took it to her special place and was eating it as dainty as you like. Meanwhile, Rusty was snout-deep in the apples munching away without a care in the world.

They have such different personalities.
Yeah. They do. Tell me this – which of the pigs would be most like you, Lily or Rusty?
Lily, of course. She’s a girl, I’m a girl.

OK. Lily’s most like me because she’s a lovely pig and Rusty is like you because he’s a rough, scruffy brute.
No. Not that!
OK. I get it! You think Lily’s like you because she’s such a dainty eater and Rusty’s like me because he’s a greedy pig.
Yes, that’s what I was thinking.

 A dainty eater

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

When I'm Sixty-Four And A Half

I've been thinking about this Senior Citizen thing coming up next March and it seems I should be making some lifestyle changes.

I say to Bert,

When I'm an Old Age Pensioner I am going to have ROUTINES. For instance, I'll always go shopping on one particular day. And I'll start liking Marie biscuits.
Oh yes?
And I'll have a regular shampoo and set and wear lilac cardigans and suede sandals from Hotter.
I'll watch the soaps, Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
You should.
I'll start going to church.
Oh yes. And Daniel O'Donnell will be my new favourite singer and I may even learn to perform a gentle jive.
You're on your own with that one.
I'm taking up crochet. I'll make crocheted blankets for my even older friends.
Good idea.

Later on, as we breakfast on boiled eggs and toasted wheaten bread I say,

Another thing. When I'm an OAP I shall eat like a bird. Old people do that.
What do you mean, what? How come you were able to accept all the other stuff I might do and not that I could become a light eater?
Well. I could see you having a regular shampoo and set and starting to crochet but I can't imagine you ever losing your appetite.

Cheeky bugger.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Looking Forward

In around four months time I will be, at last, in receipt of my State Pension. I'm rather looking forward to it. It's not a fortune but it will bring me a bit more financial independence. I won't be getting the full amount as there are some gaps in my National Insurance record. But not to worry, for if I buy credits amounting to around £1,800 I can increase my pension by £1.13 per week. which means that by the time I reach my 95th birthday I'll have broken even on the investment. Yay!!

Not going to do that.

While I was doing these calculations I also worked out how much I lost out on because the government raised the pension age. Almost all my life I expected to retire at 60. If everything had stayed as it was I'd have pocketed around £35,000 by now. But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining as I'd probably have spent it foolishly anyway.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Seasonal Bleatings


The first day of November and autumn must soon be over. Then it's winter - but that is good because it brings spring closer. But first, there is Christmas to be contended with.

Hannah and I were discussing that today and it turns out we'd both like to ignore Christmas but that won't be possible. At least, not for me. I don't want to that curmudgeonly grandparent that won't do Christmas. There are things about the festive season that are unavoidable. We are working on a strategy though.

First thing - there will be no gift opening ceremony. No more will everyone have to assemble and unwrap presents together. This Christmas we'll open our parcels whenever we feel like it. I might open mine one at a time every few hours. That way I'll be sure to remember who gifted me what. Bert will probably open his on Boxing Day.

Next rule - we'll drink alcohol at breakfast time. Champers instead of coffee and Bailey's Irish Cream on the porridge.

All the year round - who can be bothered with decorating trees but the children like it. Why not keep a bush in the corner at all times? We could ring the changes, something with catkins in spring (Corylus contorta), flowerful in summer, autumn foliage then an evergreen. Festoon with fairy lights and festive season all year long. Job done.