Friday, February 24, 2017

Every Picture: Then and Now, Curfew Tower


Curfew Tower in the olden days.


The Curfew Tower, in the centre of Cushendall village, was built around 200 years ago by the local landowner, Francis Turnly. Its purpose then was to confine riotous prisoners. The tower, also known as Turnly’s Folly is four storeys and 40 feet high. It is built from red sandstone rubble and has a medieval appearance with turrets and a narrow ironclad door.

It is currently owned by artist Bill Drummond, formerly of The KLF and the K Foundation. Famous for burning a million pounds in 1994. Since 1999 the Tower has been run as an artist residency



Cushendall and Curfew Tower now. As usual, the village is choked with traffic.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Every Picture: Cats and Dogs


Muff and Danny

If cats are introduced to dogs as kittens the cat will adapt well to their canine companion. As kittens, they will treat the dog as a surrogate mother (no matter the dog's gender) and as adult cats,  they consider the dog a contemptible creature only fit for using and teasing. Remember the adage, dogs have owners, cats have staff.


Judy and Fred

Fred is an Alpha Cat, Judy an Alpha Bitch. Fred always wins as Judy cannot climb trees.

Fred and Bonnie

When Fred was a kitten he was happy to permit Bonnie to share his food. No matter that the food was actually Bonnie's to start with. Fred was generous.

Bonnie and Holly

Bonnie's first kitten was Holly. She was very tolerant and put up with the little cat's relentless bullying.

Paddy, Rosie and Harry

Cats love to lie on people's beds. So do dogs. Paddy is resigned to Harry's presence. Rosie is thoughtful. Perhaps she should bite Harry? Harry is resolute. He's not going anywhere.


Holly and Jess

There are very few photographs of Jess in a cat's company. She's never known a kitten and the adult cats she shares her home with are not to her liking. Holly is hard to see in this picture as she has been treed. Jess needs to get herself a kitten.

Remembering Muff, Danny, Bonnie, Paddy, Rosie and Harry.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Every Picture: Buzzard's Eye View

Even though I've been living on this road for more than twenty years I don't really know the neighbours that well. Obviously, we know Clint but then we did sell him the property, the first one we had on the road. And then there is the guy that laid the lino. He was actually mid-job when he told us he lived down the road. His daughter turned up at a barbecue once and she was here for a couple of hours before I even realised she was a neighbour. And there's Mr Twinkle, the one with the boating lake but I'm not sure he even lives there anymore. There's Jimmy but sure, everyone knows him. Our nearest neighbours on the road I don't know at all, wouldn't recognise them if I met them in the Spar yet, as of yesterday, there has been social media conversation. That's modern day communication for you, it's like texting someone in the next room or Facebook messaging your daughter from the kitchen to her bedroom.

It happened like this - I was on Twitter looking for information on something that had occurred locally and I came across a snippet of film taken in the Cullybackey area. The camera man (our neighbour) had filmed it using a drone. The special thing about the film was that it was taken on a very foggy morning so was tremendously atmospheric.

I retweeted it and sent this message,


I hope Steven won't mind if I share this screen grab from his film. The foreground shows our own wee hame and the woods behind. I think the mistiness is rather beautiful.



Click to make big

I called this post A Buzzard's Eye View even though I reckon no sensible buzzard would ever venture out on a morning like that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Every Picture: All Them Weans

This is going to be an easy post. All I had to do was go through my Friends and Family/General Family file to seek out these great pictures of me being a Granny.

Granny and Martha, 2011


This one was taken at the Ulster Museum by Hannah. Martha was aged around 18 months.

Granny and Evie, 2012

Photo credit belongs to Zoe. Miss Evie aged about 6 months. We were visiting Deirdre in Leitrim.


I was in Norfolk visiting my new grandson. James was only a few weeks old. Katy was the photographer.

Grandchildren are wonderful, especially when they are wee for they hide a multitude of sins. Held in front of a chubby middle they produce an immediate slimming effect and nuzzling their downy little heads is a super way to hide a double chin. I wouldn't be without them.

But sometimes things do not go according to plan. This photograph did not turn out as well as I might have hoped.


Martha and James were supposed to hide Granny's fat tum and they succeeded in doing so. James had the added task of helping to camouflage the grandmotherly double chin. But, as you see, he was at that wriggly stage and did not do his duty. Rascal!

P.S. I actually love the picture and James will be back in April so we'll give it another go. Strive for perfection. For me anyway. All them weans are perfect already.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Every Picture: Wish Lists


I would really like to make this sweet rustic flower bed with the logs. I'm thinking trailing fuchsia and lobelia at the front and the Emily McKenzie Crocosmia as the main feature. And how about one with spring bulbs? Miniature narcissi and primroses. Would be divine. That would be on my wish list for sure.


And what about some guinea fowl when this damned avian flu restriction is over? Every time I see this photograph I'm reminded that guineas have been on my wish list for a very long time. They were Johnny's birds and lived here a long time ago. He let them run around and eventually Foxy took them all but I'd take far better care of them. Probably.

Both of these pictures would feature on Bert's wish list too for he yearns for great lumps of wood and logs. He'd have my rustic bed dismantled and on the fire, before you could say 'primula auricula' and as for the guinea fowl, they'd have nowhere to clamber and perch once Bert got the chainsaw out.

I keep reminding him he has a wood but he says it's too far away. It would take him ten minutes to get out there and he'd need a donkey to haul the wood back. I keep reminding him he has a quad bike and a tractor but, come to think of it, I've actually always wanted a donkey.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Every Picture: Camino By Sea



We watched this really interesting programme on TV tonight about these four guys from Kerry who rowed a traditional Irish rowing boat, a naomhóg, from Dublin to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. They were following the ancient route taken by Irish pilgrims on the way of St James, also known as the Camino. I've been following this tale myself for several years as one of the pilgrims is my brother-in-law, Brendan. He's the smiley one with hair. 

All these fellows live by the sea and are keen boatmen. 

I've heard a lot about the trip but it was sobering to see them in their tiny craft in those big waters. Thankfully, they were accompanied on the first leg of the journey by a support craft, a yacht, and it was just as well as the sea became very rough on the crossing to Brittany and they needed its help.

All the men said that they learned a lot about themselves on the journey. I may have learned something myself. When life doesn't go to plan just keep moving forward and things will probably work out just fine.

Second part tomorrow.

From the Irish Times

And a snippet from the film


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Every Picture: Hideaway


It was around half-three this afternoon that I pulled into a little supermarket on the Cushendall Road that I realised I had been up for over ten hours. I'd just got back from Cushendall where I'd dropped Hannah, Ziggy, guitar, walking shoes and assorted reading material to the house pictured above where they planned to spend two days reading, making music, walking and general chilling. I, on the other hand, was having to do stinking grocery shopping as Bert had requested 'nice soda bread' to eat with his haggis.  Ah well, when I'd got that done I could go home, spend a while setting the house to rights after the five girls dressing up and messing about session the previous evening. Then I would chill, enjoy some peace and quiet, just the two extra dogs to look after. Sure, five dogs aren't that many.

So I went into the shop and was immediately angered by its air of crappy hopelessness. And the only soda bread on offer was Ormo which does not meet Nellybert's standards and the milk was over-priced. I was so annoyed that I refused to do any shopping there and walked out past the surly check out lad in glowering, stompy silence. At least I would soon be home. A quick stop at the garage for the necessities of life and where I got teased for my R.J. Kerr soda farl addiction then home where I was enraged to find that the gates were shut. Had to stomp out to open them, drove into the yard, saw two cars where no cars should be and saw and heard at least two small boys roaring through the garden. There were even smaller children in the sun room so I went in the back door, sneaked up the stairs and began gently banging my head on my bedroom window. I stood like that for about five minutes, decided I wasn't going back downstairs to fail miserably at pretending to be pleased to see people. So I got into bed with the Guardian and waited for them all to fuck off. There were door slammings and the sound of small children being toileted and all sorts of disturbing noises which stressed me out but still I stayed in bed. And eventually, maybe an hour later, the house cleared.

I got up and enquired of Bert who the second car had belonged to and it turned out that it was another young couple with two children (there had been six children down there!) and this young couple I'd asked around (anytime) the last time I'd seen the Daddy in his shop. Oh well.

It's been a stressful few days. So, if you're reading this, and you know me and you were thinking of dropping over tomorrow. Don't!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Every Picture: Not On Call


I had this little lot for a play date this afternoon and the two to the left of the picture (darling and well-beloved grandchildren) I had for a sleepover. Did I say sleep? There was precious little of that to be had. Thanks to some bad management by the older folks in the house on the previous night, the wee folk went to bed in a state of over-excitement.  Consequently, the one with all the hair crept into my bed 'for a cuddle', waking me up at around one a.m. while the one in the braids wanted to go downstairs to watch television at two a.m. Both girls thought they'd been in bed for hours and it was morning already. I've been tired ALL DAY.

It's an all too common mistake that grandparents make for we should aim to be as boring as wise parents are after the hour of six o'clock.

I often think as I go to my own warm and peaceful bed of the many nights I used to spend doing sleepovers in the hostel in Spide City. Back then I'd long for the evening to end, so I could climb the stairs to the staff sleepover room and wind down from a very long day. Each night on going to that little single bed I'd hope (even pray) that the night would be uneventful but there was that phone next to the bed that the police could ring, that social services could ring, that another damn hostel could ring and I'd pray every night that no-one would ring. And then there was that intercom outside the bedroom that residents could call if any concerning issue should arise. Oh Lord! I prayed too that it would not buzz. And since then, almost every night that I go to my own dear bed in my own wee house I feel a deep delight that I an not on call. I'll appreciate it tonight that I can sleep all night, not on call until 5:20a.m. when Youngest Daughter wakens me to drive her to work. Bliss.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Every Picture: Hair Cut


This picture shall serve as an aide memoire for I really must get my hair cut. It is becoming so unruly. I don't have a fringe (which Americans call bangs) but when the front bit of my hair grows long it falls over my brow in two corkscrew ringlets which would be cute on a two-year-old but less so on the holder of an over-sixties travel pass.

We have the young ladies here tonight and they were very hard to settle. I blame Bert for indulging them with far too much horseplay, swinging them by the ankles, which they love, but which causes the blood to rush to their heads and the over-stimulation of their young brains.

One reading of Charlie and Lola was not enough. I also had to tell them the story of Aunt Jean's three imaginary friends Dogie, Simplit and Doodle, then the one when I went to Portrush on the Parish Excursion, felt it was far beneath my dignity to go on the helter-skelter and ended up wetting myself laughing at Jean when she did.

It still wasn't enough. Martha needed to hear the one where Tricia spent so long in hospital after her appendix burst that her hair started to grow and afterwards she was allowed to have it long. That led to a discussion about great-aunts' current hair colours and do they dye their hair? I said I never really noticed these things and she could ask them herself. Evie was dozing off but Martha still wasn't satisfied. I finished off with a long story about my great-grandmother, their great-great-great grandmother.

Granny: More than a hundred years ago!
Martha: A hundred years...

She could barely fathom it. The story was about widowhood, clever sons, Spanish Flu and the perils of amateur tree surgery. Moral of the tale - never stand below a tree when it is being pruned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Every Picture: Pig Walks

Holly is in this picture too

Ah... the memories. When Rusty and Lily were little pigs they would go for walks with me up the back lane. They associated Nellybert with food and would follow us anywhere. Obviously, we wouldn't take them off the property as pigs cannot be moved without forms being filled out and permission granted etc. etc. Imagine having to apply to the government every time you wanted to take a dog for a walk.  They still hang out that back lane and the fields and woods that the lane leads to but no further than that as they are good and law abiding pigs.

I took a walk there yesterday with Ziggy, Roy and Holly de Cat. We tramped around a field, explored the wood for a bit and I took a few photographs. We spotted the pigs in the distance but they were their usual boring, grass munching selves so we paid them no mind.


Roy had important things to do and kept his distance. I don't think he actually approves of cats coming on walks.


Ziggy did not mind Holly being there

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Every Picture: Valentine's Day, No Picture

When I left my bed this morning there was a tiny red, glittery heart lying on the floor. Where did it come from? No idea, but an ideal token to press into My Love's palm.

We were asked for dinner to Les and Dawns. Sublime first and second courses then four, FOUR desserts involving intense chocolate and champagne.

Needless to say. this has been a very enjoyable St Valentine's Day. Thank you, Les and  Dawn.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Every Picture: Dressing Up At The Ulster Museum

Looking at these photographs reminded me that it has been far too long since I took the girls to the Ulster Museum. Maybe, when their cousin James is over in April can have a big family day out. I'd love to see what James makes of our museum. I'm sure he'll enjoy the interactive children's room but am not so sure he'll enjoy dressing up as much as Martha and Evie do. We'll see.


This is Martha's favourite outfit, the one that delights her every time she gets to wear it. The skirt has a big hooped petticoat under and she loves to swirl around in it.


Evie tries a hooped petticoat for size. She also loved the painted wooden clogs which were a perfect match for her woolly cardigan.



On this occasion, one of the museum staff (we asked) had taken the blue gingham home for laundering and Miss Martha was a little disappointed. Then she found this pinafore and all her Kate Greenaway fantasies were realised. Sitting on the bench beside the mirror is a wonderful vantage point for a granny to capture great shots of the darling grandchildren posing in those old time costumes and, there is the added advantage of getting a wee rest. Now I've made myself really excited for our next trip to the Museum.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Every Picture: Pre-Schoolers


This picture is from four years ago before the girls started primary school. Those were excellent days when there was no collecting from the school bus and no homework. Now Nellybert only has a few hours on a Thursday afternoon to put them to work enjoy their company. Thankfully it's mid-term break next week. Those drains could do with another good clean.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Every Picture: The Band and the Critics

Band practice night in Springhill. Well it was. It's over now and they are listening to YouTube. We had Odetta and now Barrington Levy (who he?).

Earlier there were critics in, four year-old twins. The band played The Ziggy Song and Jeanie pronounced it "Awesome... and odd."

Flushed with success the band played the twins The Potato Song. Jeanie said it was "Awful... and stupid." William agreed.

Band

Seems like I'm getting a reggae education. We are now listening to a song called zungg uzungguguzungguzeng.

Critics

Friday, February 10, 2017

Every Picture: Box Barrows and A Windmill

I have sat up in the other sitting room with Bert and Brendan and Howard and the craic, as they say, was mighty. It always is when Brendan's in the room for he could talk for Ireland, and often does.

Conversations ranged from politics to box barrows with the windmill at Knockloughrim somewhere in the middle.

I asked everyone who was the first politician you became aware of as a child. Howard said Shirley Williams, Bert admitted to Georges Pompidou (because he had a funny name), my picks were Nixon and Kennedy and Brendan claimed that his first memory of a politician was Bernadette Devlin. That struck me as odd as Brendan is around the same age as she was when she was elected to Westminster. I recalled that the day after the election the Daily Mirror had a front page picture of her sitting on a swing and I thought it was extremely patronising of the paper.

Anyway, Brendan admitted that he remembered the news coming through about the Kennedy assassination. He was at a dance listening to the Grafton Showband when the band was asked to stop playing and the announcement was made from the stage. The show was pronounced over and everyone went home.

Other politicians and advisors discussed and dissected were Obama, Clinton, Reagan, Ahern, Adams, O'Neill, Poots, Trump, Foster, McGuinness, McCausland, Bannon, Campbell, Givan, Nesbitt, May, Brokenshire, McGuinness and Kenny. Few were spoken of admiringly, perhaps three or four.

We moved on to dead comedians. Brendan confessed a liking for Tommy Cooper, Howard said he always enjoyed Dave Allen, I spoke up for Groucho Marx and Bert said he still liked Benny Hill. I lit on him for this and said he needn't think he was going to trick me into divorcing him as I intended to stay married to him until the day he died.



One thing led to another and someone mentioned Knockloughrim. Howard said the windmill there was falling to pieces. The structure has experienced a fair bit of wear and tear since it was first built in the latter part of the 19th century. It lost its sails and roof in a storm. The current roof is a replacement and although some say that the original was also onion shaped, there is no proof. The windmill has had many uses one of which was a meeting place for the local Orange Order.

When Brendan got on to the box barrows that his granda used to make in his blacksmith's shop I made my excuses and left. I had heard the tale before but I left happy in the knowledge that Howard hadn't. And I had a blog to write. And stewed fruit and plain yoghurt to eat.

If anyone knows what a box barrow actually is I'd be pleased to know. I really should have listened to Brendan. Maybe Bert will know.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Every Picture: Off to Casualty

I am still finding it hard to dash off these daily posts despite my so-called bright idea of basing the post on a picture. Sure, I do that most times anyway except in reverse, write a post and choose an image or images to accompany it.

In the meantime I am considering bigger and better posts such as the one on old Ballymena and the one about dogs based on Brian Sewell's book, Sleeping With Dogs. The thing is, these are pieces that cannot be dashed off because they need a little bit of thinking about and also some research. I'd like the history piece to be as true as it can be and I'd like the dog piece to be as honest as can be. Meanwhile, I'm addicted to online jigsaws though hopefully have now scundered myself.

But old pictures spark memories (which was my original intention) and this one is no exception.


It is a scan from a polaroid taken by Mick, my first husband and the children's father. It was taken before we got married. Mick was living in England as Englishmen often do and I was back home in Ireland, living at home with Zoe, our daughter. He came over as often as he could and when he did, Daddy handed over the keys to the car and we went on lots of jaunts. Every time, it seemed that one of those trips would be to A&E or Casualty as it was then known.

The picture was cropped and the person cropped from it was Kerry sister, then aged about fifteen because she was 'ligging about', pulling faces and ruining the good photo. Polaroid film was pretty expensive back then. But, oh! what a novelty to have instant photographic gratification. We take so much for granted these modern days with our digital cameras.

Anyway, a short time after this picture was taken Kerry Sister must have 'ligged about' just once too often for she sustained a bad cut and, of course, it was off to Casualty, Mick driving. You know I cannot remember where or how she lacerated or punctured herself but I do remember seeing from underneath the curtained cubicle her trousers drop as the nurse administered the dreaded tetanus injection in the bottom.  Another thing I recall is that we were in and out of that hospital department in far less than an hour. Maybe we didn't have all the exciting technological gadgetry back in the 1970s but there was no hanging about in Casualty.


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Every Picture: There was a wee doggy called Ziggy



Yikes! Less than ten minutes to write my daily blog post. Last night while Hannah was shopping online and I was doing a jigsaw (also online) Bert comes barging into our private. secret sitting room to read aloud from Yeats, and then wanted to discuss poetry. Honestly! You never get a minute's peace in this house.

Still, if I've only got eight minutes it will have to be poetry. It's the only thing I can dash off.

Here goes,

There was a wee doggy called Ziggy
Who grew most tremendously Biggy
No more does he Fly
You might well ask Why?
It's because he did scoff like a Piggy.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Every Picture: Mossy Tales

God! This daily blogging is tough. So hard to think of a fresh idea. I have been working on a post about living beside the moss but it needs a bit of research, especially as I cannot even find what the bloody place is even called. I have a faint idea I might have researched it before and that it might even be on this very blog! Time to research Nelly's Very Own Garden.

Just took a break to drink tea, eat a pear and watch Archer. But before that I researched my own blog to see if I could find out the actual name of our very own homeplace bog. Didn't find it. But I did find these pictures....


It was 2006 and I was taking a walk in the moss when I discovered a miniature rhubarb plant. I was astonished as I'd never before seen rhubarb growing there. Surely the growing medium would be far too acidic. Bert didn't believe me so next time we were in Drumkeeran we went searching for it.


Bert has a little nibble. Definitely rhubarb. I never saw it again and it remained a puzzle until, six years later, I met Bobby.


Bobby is Lord O'Neill's man on the ground, the mossy ground, to be precise. The day I met him he was admiring a patch of narcissi that he'd planted the previous autumn. He told me that his wife was throwing the bulbs out so he thought he'd plant them in the moss to see how they'd do. Now, as far as I know, he just got the one year out of them as I never saw them again. I did ask him If he'd ever tried rhubarb and he said he had but it hadn't made much of a plant. The mystery solved!

The next picture has absolutely nothing to do with horticultural experiments in peat bogs but it was taken in the moss, not Lord O'Neill's side but Paddy Heffron's.


Kerry, a sweet little dog that belonged to our friend John F. She's long gone now for this photo was taken in 2004. It was one of a number of pictures taken around that time that disappeared in a computer crash. I'd forgotten it was stored on my blog.

Here's another that I saved taken that same day.


Kerry and Paddy, Heffron's Moss, 2004. Kerry was such a lively little thing.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Every Picture: Freddy Fat Cat


The internet is a weird and wonderful place what with cute kittens, grumpy cat and pictures of giant moggies. So, last Sunday we decided to create our own big cat picture. It helps that Fred is already a big fellow and that Hannah is slender but Fred is not quite the giant that he seems. Still, a far cry from the day that I found him, a little ginger scrap of a kitten, abandoned on a busy road near Kells. He's grown some since then.

Today has been a very idle day. Took a phone call from Martha who had a school report to do on the sort of toys the older generation played with when they were children. I told her about playing with Bunty paper dolls and we have decided to make some when next she is over.

Evie wanted to talk too. I asked her if she'd been anywhere at the weekend.

Yes. We went to Belfast. 
Oh, that sounds fun. Where did you go? 
We went to a Build-a-Bear workshop. 
Lovely. Are you going to get a Build-a-Bear? 
No. 
It sounds like a great day. 
I protested against Trump.

I hardly had words. She was so matter of fact about it. I'm sure I didn't know any political figures when I was five. But then, back in my day, celebs didn't become politicians.

When I was five Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President of the United States, Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister, Éamon de Valera  was the Taoiseach and Sir Basil Brooke was the leader in Stormont. I think I might have heard Dev talked about but not the others. Then, when I was seven, JFK became the President and I certainly remember that. He and Richard Nixon were the first politicians I was properly aware of. Just think, Evie's first is Trump and she's already out protesting. You go girl!




Sunday, February 05, 2017

Every Picture: Bloody Chickens

 Because of the avian flu outbreak, The Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland has decreed that all poultry and other captive birds are to be kept housed until further notice. Failure to comply will lead to fines and the possibility of birds being gassed. Or so I hear. A dead swan was found near Lough Beg (not that far away at all) tested positive for the virus. So it wasn't the best time to have seven new hens that needed to be housed separately from the main flock. Luckily we have two sites and it was decided by The Chief Hen Keeper of Springhill (me) that the new hens would go into the main house and the old hens would go into the old house. First I cleaned the new house which meant letting them out for a short time while Bert, Hannah and Fergus and all the dogs stood minding them and chasing away all those evil robins, wrens and thrushes. Then we got the new hens into the new house and started to catch the old hens. The five non-bantams came quietly and were transferred without incident but the six bantams and half-bantams went completely crazy, flew over all fences in all directions and it took us a long time to catch them. Bert and I both sustained injuries. The grown rooster pecked Bert's hand and drew blood and I tore my little pinky nail trying to catch one that was beating itself between the chicken wire and a row of Christmas trees.

Hens are actually quite evil. There is always one that nobody likes that is bullied unmercifully by the chief hen and her favourite friends. That is the chief hen looking at you right there. The new hens are still very young, only a few months old yet as soon as the got here six of them formed a gang and wouldn't let the seventh cuddle with them at night. Horrible creatures.


The one with the bedraggled bum was attacked by a Jack Russell and lost her tail feathers. She is much better now. She is the Chief Hen's best friend. the tiny little brown chick in the background (Fudge) is now a big rooster and the one who pecked Bert's hand. Bad chickens.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Every Picture: Happy Birthday Dede


Today's post is all about Dede whose birthday it is. Dede is number six in our family of seven and the youngest girl. I cannot conceive what it must be like to have four older sisters but this I know, Miss Dede was well able for the role. No chance that anyone, in any family, would ever overshadow the Ginger Mouse. That was Daddy's pet name for her but she was no mouse. Anyway, in Daddy's book, mice were toughies.

Interestingly, Dede was the only girl in our family not to get through that silly 11+ exam, not that it ever worried her. Before long she achieved qualifications in catering, worked her way around Australia, ran the Regent's Park Open Air Cafe for several years and got into location catering when the Irish film industry was at its peak. Then she headed back to college, got herself a First and, more recently, a Ph.D. To say that I admire her and am immensely proud of her would be a huge understatement.




To add to her achievements she's also a dog lover.


Well done Dr Dede. 2016 was a bit of a stinker of a year but at least we had Sligo. Happy birthday love.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Every Picture: Cross Cat


I have been feeling rather out of sorts today and, as the evening has worn on, have become downright irritable. Firstly because Bert was being so glib about Trumpishness, and then we had a caller who goes on and on about his appalling work colleagues to the extent that I start to think he should either hand in his notice or go postal on them, although perhaps clearing off might be the far better option.

When I'm grumpy my patience wears thin and I become the sort of person I really don't like. For instance, the old, old woman who jaywalked in front of the van yesterday. When I'm feeling OK with the world I'd be admiring her spirit, feeling glad for her that she was still active but when I'm grumpy - well not so much. Then there were the two blades who parked on a double yellow line causing a traffic jam on Linenhall Street because they were delivering donations to the pro-life charity shop, the one with all the posters of dead foetuses in the window. I hated those smug old bitches so much. The horrible person that is me wanted to shout abuse at them but made do with glaring instead. The righteous hags never even noticed.

I was reminded of an incident that occurred when I was working in the Henry Street hostel back when the anti-abortion shop was next door. A couple of our clients came to the office to tell me that there was an old fellow collapsed on the floor of the charity shop and that the door was locked. I went to see and sure enough there he was stretched out unmoving on the floor. We banged on the door but there was no response so there was nothing for it but to call the emergency services who had to force the lock only to discover that the man was dead drunk. He refused to go to hospital which was pretty decent of him as the NHS had, even back then, enough to be getting on with. He and the folk that ran the shop never spoke to me again which suited just fine.

So, because I am cross I thought I would look for a picture of a sweet little kitten to lighten my mood and duly opened the image folder on my external hard drive that is titled 'Cats'. I thought that one was more appropriate to my current mood. It was a feral cat we saw whilst exploring Pearlie's homeplace a good few years ago. We had the dogs with us and she didn't like dogs.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Every Picture: God Knows Where


This picture was created with a negative scanner and I have no clue as to where it was taken. I do know that it was taken by me as other pictures on the negatives are of our old dog Danny. At first I thought the picture was taken near Caledon in County Tyrone and went off researching the area. And learned a lot of interesting stuff about Caledon, facts such as the 4th Earl of Caledon keeping American black bears on the estate. 

I posted the picture to Flickr and Oul Gundog thought it might be Mountpanther near Dundrum in County Down but I'm not convinced. I don't recall ever being in Dundrum but it was more than twenty years ago and the memories do fade.

I do like the picture, especially the shape of the tree. An oak perhaps? I might need some help with the tree too. A pity it wasn't Caledon because I researched the shit out of Caledon. Maybe some other post.

Tonight, to take my mind off Trump's threat to the Johnson Amendment, I am drinking a glass of rhubarb wine and it is lethal. I'm trying to recall if I didn't perhaps tip a cup of poitín into it before I bottled it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Every Picture: Spring Squill

I'm going to blog every single day in February be it short or long and the theme shall be 'Every Picture Tells A Story' which is a blog title I've used on three separate occasions. 

It's been a difficult three months only alleviated by friends, family, food and Christmas. The thing is, I got very caught up and upset by the Trump thing and still am. And I hadn't even recovered from the Brexit thing and now there is the ongoing Trump and Brexit thing and the Stormont thing and it looks like the vote in North Antrim might be split and not in a good way. But at least I'm used to disappointment in Northern Ireland politics.

To ease my agitated mind, I've become obsessed with my photo archives, the animated series Archer and low-brow novels that I pick up from a charity table in Tesco. Also alcohol. I'm sipping on a wee Laphroaig as I type this and very soothing it is too.


Spring Squill

So, moving on. The first pictures in the Every Picture blog series were taken in Anglesey in May 2009. Bert, Clint and I had spent a few days at the Royal Welsh Smallholder and Garden Festival in Builth Wells. At the time I wrote a blog post about how Clint fell out with the entire Welsh population but revisiting my picture archives reminded me of another aspect of our brief time in Wales. It was as simple as this - if all had gone Clint's way we would have sped our way from the Marches to Holyhead but it was not to be and we missed our ferry crossing by about five minutes and had several hours to kill. Downtime rarely happens in Clint's company so that was a bit of a treat. We ambled around Holyhead for a while then decided to go check out the coastal area, At some point, we found ourselves close to RAF Valley where Prince William was stationed for a while. No sign of the prince but we did see some very fine jet planes. Bert and I had a wander around the little stony beaches. And it was there on the dunes that I saw, for the first time Spring Squill, scilla verna, a beautiful little coastal plant. I've since found that it grows in some parts of Ireland and is actually the county flower of County Down. I really should try to track it down this spring. 


A pebbly beach

Now I'm off to watch another episode of Archer.