Friday, April 12, 2024

Durty Danny

This past couple of years have seen us get two kittens and a pup. This has been cheering and has brought a bit of youthful high spirits to the house. This is all very well except that ten years from now they are going to catch up with us in decrepitude and it seems unfair, it's already unfair to foist our old selves on young animals. We might be wiser these days but we're nowhere near as much fun and Cleo hasn't had a tenth of the experiences that Danny and Rosie had being the beloved dogs of far younger people.

Danny travelled. He was never away from beaches, was all around Ireland, and even went to Manchester to visit Katy when she was at Uni. He loved the Dingle peninsula and had great times in Sligo and Galway. He was part of the County Antrim rave scene and attended many open-air music gatherings of an informal sort. We were party animals and so was he. Rosie might not have been as sociable or as far-travelled but she enjoyed her outings too as did Paddy. 

It helped that Nellybert were outrageously irresponsible. We let the dogs loose and assumed that all would be well. Once, at the Omagh Bluegrass Festival, we lost Danny and Rosie. We were staying (big crowd of us) in two holiday cottages. The two dogs were soon found, at a barbecue, to which they had not been invited. Danny was damnable for joining other people's picnics and barbecues and somehow he always got away with it. As did we.

One of Danny's more memorable trips was to Galway City. We had rooms somewhere and Danny was to sleep in the van. No bother to him as the van was his second home. Before we turned in for the night we took him for a walk. On a lead, but he was OK about it. A small van passed us with one of the back doors open. Something flew out. Partially cooked chicken pieces. Danny started to munch.  He ate as much as he could and then gathered in his mouth what he could carry back to the van. I told you we were irresponsible. We retired to our lodgings which were cheap but not cheerful. There is nothing cheerful about slugs crawling up the bathroom tiles. 

The next morning our darling dog was still alive, very much so but for the entirety of that day, the farts coming out of him were abominable. Served us right. 

And that was just one of Danny's many adventures. Poor Cleo is already over a year old and hasn't gone a step further than Waterfoot Beach. No off-lead adventures for her either as we are responsible pet-owners now. About time.

Cleo at Waterfoot

Monday, April 08, 2024

A Late Start

Blogging-wise April has got off to a slow start - all the usual excuses. Firstly, I was too busy, secondly, too tired. 

Katy and family arrived on the second day of the month, on a visit that was far too short yet very sweet. 

I managed to get a stinking cold which set in when the fam went back to Norfolk, so that's all I'm fit for tonight apart from posting the following pictures.

Sunday, March 31, 2024


There were no beans on toast this Easter. No chocolate either. I had a toasted cinnamon bagel for breakfast,  a soft-boiled egg for lunch and Tunisian mermez for dinner. Until today I'd never heard of mermez, which is a simple lamb and chick pea stew. A good friend gave me a middle-eastern cookbook and a selection of spices (best Easter present ever) and I selected mermez because I had all the ingredients already.The curly parsley and onions were our own, home-grown, the lamb was in the freezer and the rest was store cupboard. It was delicious. 

Despite the lack of chocolate I have had a very good Easter Sunday. There was also a lack of religiosity, no harm although I did have to argue some sense into a young friend who found himself perturbed by the Ramadan lights celebration in London. His argument, that we are a Christian country, why are they doing this at Easter?. Mine. Perhaps historically, we are a Christian society, but we celebrate diversity, we try to be an open-minded and inclusive people. Also my argument - why are you allowing right-wing, populist platforms telling you what to think? 

I tried and will keep on trying. 

 Looking forward very much to seeing my Katkin and her beloveds on Tuesday. Beyond excited.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Busy Busy Busy

I've been getting ready for the visit of the Norfolkians - bedrooms to prepare, shopping to fetch, food to fix and general decluttering. I'll never get it finished. And now I've went and gone and broke my fire. Bang goes my dream of sitting with Katy in my cosy, private, secret sitting room sipping wine and watching Netflix. After the children have gone to bed of course.

The fire isn't irretrievably broken - it is just a bad crack in the glass door but it is a bank holiday weekend and the fire door shop will be closed, maybe for the entire week. 

Despite this I'm looking forward to seeing my Norfolk family and I have actually managed to prepare two evening meals in advance with another to go on Monday. One is a beef stew and the other a chicken curry. Monday's meal will be a vegetarian chilli.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I don't know what we'll have for dinner - maybe beans on toast. I quite fancy that.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Thompson Twins

 Pippin and Woody

A few days ago Woody had a big adventure. He returned to Portglenone, the town where he was first rescued by Ben and Sara. Busy shopping streets are no place for lost baby kittens. He was much safer at the vets. Except the part where she removed his testicles but I don't think he noticed. We collected him just after lunchtime and although he'd lunched at the vet's surgery he straight away had another large meal. After that he went outside to explore his favourite places and then had a wrestling match with Chico. His day continued as usual with play fights with Pippin and Cleo, a big supper and the usual bedtime.

Next day I was going into town and spotted a leaflet lying in the car, so picked it up and read it. 

Woody's Aftercare. Woody has had a big operation, the removal of both testicles. He has had anaesthesia and may be lethargic and sleepy. Small meals may be offered if he seems hungry. Rest and quiet times are important for Woody's recovery. The wound... etc. etc.

Oh dear. I forgot to read the after care leaflet. Bad cat carer. Still, he's OK. The operation didn't take a fizz out of him.

We call Pippin and Woody the Thompson Twins they both came to us from Sara T whose surname is... you guessed it.

And as Nellybert often say to each other, Sara does exceedingly good kittens.

 She's good with dogs as well.

Monday, March 18, 2024

A Man Who Loves Kittens

I have been watching a thriller about FLDS folk in Utah. In this show  there are people portrayed who believe than the Heavenly Father speaks to them directly. Apparently one just opens one's heart and listens.

I tried this and received the following message which I intend to put into practice.

Be Nicer To Bert

How could anyone not be nice to a man who loves kittens?

And cats.

And dogs.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Pig Dreaming Again


I was going to write a post about unreliable memories but it turns out I am too tired. Instead here is a recycled post about dreaming and remembering that is, I think, mostly true...

I dreamed I stole a little pig that wore clothes. Not on his nether regions of course as that would be impractical, just a little jacket and a scarf. Bit Beatrix Pottery.

Anyway, I felt very guilty that I'd stolen this pig and decided to return him to his owner Mrs Hanna, the farmer's wife who in real life always baked cakes using Stork. Coincidentally Mrs Hanna was also the mother of a teacher at Cullybackey High who was there in Bert's time and was violent and slightly insane. Or so they said.

The Hannas were a nice respectable Protestant family who lived next door to us in Cannonstown. I have some very good memories of them and some not so good.

I remember Mrs Hanna being very kind. And George, her husband was the first person who showed me the stars above and told me about the constellations. I've gazed skywards ever since.

Their youngest son Alan would invite me over to watch children's programmes on their black and white television for at that time we did not have a TV. The only programme I can remember seeing was Captain Pugwash. Those were good memories.

Then there was the time I took their grandson Samuel Alexander for a walk. I'm not sure where but it wouldn't have been too far away. But it must have been very muddy because Samuel Alexander got his bright white socks and his shiny black shoes completely filthy. George was very cross with me. I was devastated as he'd never been cross before. I realise now that he was probably going to get into trouble with his son and daughter-in-law.

Mrs Hanna had a fruit garden full of currant bushes and gooseberries which she used for jam-making. She used to give my sister and me ripe gooseberries and I thought they were delicious. Once the family had planned a day to Portrush and I, ever wicked, said to my sister that we should go to Mrs Hanna's garden and pick gooseberries. We did and ate the fruit off the bushes. The next day we had upset stomachs and Mammy mentioned this to Mrs Hanna. She said,

That will be all those gooseberries they ate yesterday.

I was mortified. It turned out that only the men of the family had gone to Portrush. Mrs Hanna watched from her kitchen window as Jean and I stole her fruit.

I was very, very young when I first encountered the future teacher. Maybe three or four and despite his chosen career path I don't think he had a lot of time for children. I was annoying, kept knocking the front door and he came out and chased me down the path. I thought it must be a game and called him a bugger, a word I was trying out for the first time. Where I heard it, I don't know, as my parents did not swear. Well, maybe Daddy did, among other men but not in front of children. Mrs Hanna told my mother who brought me home and smacked me around the legs, very hard. I was heartbroken as I didn't feel as if I'd done anything wrong. But I had. I had embarrassed her in front of her respectable neighbours.

The very worst memory was the day they killed the pigs. I don't even know why I was there. The most horrific part was how they screamed when they were being brought to the killing place. I cannot bear to write the details of what happened next but it is imprinted in my memory and will be forever.

I was seven when we left Cannonstown for the Murphystown Road. It was only a few field lengths away but I never saw much of Mrs Hanna after that. Her oldest son, the very handsome Josie, used to do contract work for local farmers and would be around our place occasionally. I had a big crush on him when I was about thirteen. The Hannas are all gone now, every one of them.

In my dream, when I took the stolen piglet back to Mrs Hanna, she listened to my apology in her quiet and familiar way then she said,

You can keep it. I don't really want it. It's far too much bother.