Saturday, August 17, 2019

Anxious August

As an experiment, I am writing this on my phone. I get bloggers block when I sit at my desk, and find myself checking views on Flickr and the news instead of good, sensible blogging. 

 It has been a weird old week. I decided to cut out mid-week drinking. It was getting to be a habit and then I found myself having sleep issues and disturbing dreams.

This is a strange time in our lives.

A photograph would lighten this post but it's happening on a phone and I haven't figured that out. I'll fix it tomorrow.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Slime Time

On this day last week, I was primed for slime. Martha wanted to know if I had PVA glue. I had, somewhere. And food colouring, and shaving phone and glitter. And borax. Borax? I didn't even know what borax was. I did Domestic Science at school. Only the swotty girls did actual Science.

I allowed myself to be persuaded and agreed that we would, on Thursday, purchase the missing ingredients and we would make slime.

So, we bought more PVA glue, and shaving foam (unfair to use up Bert's supplies) but nowhere could borax be found. I still didn't know what it was. Three shops we tried then Martha said that Mummy had some in her laundry room so off to Mummy's house we trotted.

Back to Nellybert's and I printed off a quick recipe from the internet and we got started. I was nervous that they would go mad with the supplies, that it would all be a disaster and that more than a fiver's worth of slime ingredients would be wasted. And the house would be trashed. None of these things happened and some passable slime was produced.

It was a short session as I was expecting visitors and the girls took their finished slime outside and bounced around on the trampoline for the rest of the day.

On Friday I was having my cousin Kate over and before meeting her went to Tesco to buy lunch ingredients and yet more slime supplies. Clear PVA glue. Martha's suggestion. And more food colourings. I forgot the silver glitter.

On Saturday I experimented with making slime myself. Peter and Heather came over and I showed Heather how it was done. She was rather sceptical at first but was soon hooked. I did manage to drag myself away from it and did a bit of work in the polytunnel.

No sliming on Sunday as I wanted to keep the supplies for the children. Worked in the polytunnel, tied up garlic, weeded and so on, then in the evening scrubbed up and went with my brother Joe to a show in the Seamus Heaney Homeplace. Kevin Toolis, presenting The Wonders of the Wake. It was very good.

Today, Monday, made a discovery. The pigs like Haribo snakes. Who'd a guessed it? Shopped, cooked, then Martha walks through the door at two o'clock and asked me a one-word question.


The photographs tell the tale.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Martha Mary

I'm always being told at family gatherings (usually funerals) that I am the very image of my mother. My standard reply is that I am not nearly as nice as she was. This is true, as Matty was a very lovely person indeed and greatly loved by very many people.

Judging by these two pictures, the first taken in the late 1920s and the second in the mid-1950s, I wasn't as pretty as her either although we are rather alike. Her's was the soft and sweet beauty of County Tyrone. Mine the sternness of North Antrim with a hint of the Scot and Eastern Europe. Our brows and eyes were inherited from Martha Donnelly of Randalstown. Matty's great-grandchild, Miss Martha H from Leek, Dublin, Randalstown, Gortin, Feystown, and God-knows-where else has that very same brow. And what did we all keep behind that brow? Something great, something amazing. A fine brain, keen intelligence, kindliness, wit, humour. And, last but not least, a modest demeanour.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Bits and Pieces

This photograph has received over 9000 views on Flickr. My PB.


Early supper for The Haribos as Zoe, Dave and I were going to see Ian McKellen at the Braid Theatre in Ballymena. Ballymena? I wondered that myself but apparently the esteemed actor's great-great-grandfather hailed from the town and Sir Ian wanted to see the place. The performance was amazing, one of the best things I've ever seen. I'd tried to get tickets when it was first announced but they sold out immediately. A few spare tickets came up at the last minute and we were lucky enough to get them. My ticket was an early birthday present from Zoe and definitely one of the best birthday presents I've ever received.


It was Ava's eighth birthday. Other things happened, not much. The most notable happening was a phone call from Vancouver Brother. I was antsy about a trip I was planning for the following day and in the end, decided not to go.


I'd been planning a day trip to Dublin and cancelled on myself. Instead, stayed home and cleaned out the chicken house which gave me great satisfaction.


Had a day out with Martha and Evie. Portglenone playground, nature walk in Big Gortgole Wood, delicious ice cream at the Kandy Shop in Randalstown, Randalstown playground, rather boring shopping at Lidl in Antrim then back home via the A26 with a singalong to George Ezra.

Granny omitted to say, Smile Please!

A very productive day at home with lots of jobs started and a few completed. One of the uncompleted jobs was lifting the remainder of the garlic. I finished that today. Jazzer came around and we lit an outside fire and spent a pleasant evening outside.


Mooched around with Jazzer most of the day. Checked out her amazing yard transformation. A real family affair. On Saturday evening we went to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace to see the Camino Voyage. My third viewing. We were Zoe, Martha, Joe, Sinead and Ganching. Other family members attending were John and Marie, Brian and Margaret Anne, Edmund and Marie W. Martha asked,

How many cousins do you have Granny?

And I answered,


I mean to work that out sometime.

When the film was over Marie W showed me this photograph on her phone then shared it to mine. Sometimes modern technology is just wonderful.

This little girl looks like Marie's granddaughter, like our cousins in Randalstown, like my niece in Kerry, our sister in Leitrim, my daughter in Norfolk, a cousin in New Zealand, first cousins once removed in Larne and me.

It is, of course, a photograph of our darling Matty which must have been taken 90 years ago. Thank you, Marie, for the sharing of it.


I finished lifting the garlic, made chicken curry for supper and went for a solitary walk in Big Gortgole Wood where I had a little cry.

Red Admiral on knapweed, Big Gortgole Wood

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Sanitise My Ox

Or... O Miss Anxiety, or Animosity Sex.

That's three birthday anagrams for Vancouver Brother.


Ganching blogged Birthday Season this Monday past. I got a bit of a jolt when I read it as I had completely forgotten that Sunday was our late mother's birthday. She would have been 93 years old and I'd always expected that she would achieve ninety years because she seemed so strong - until she wasn't.

Birthdays I Did Remember

Granda Mick. He shared the date with Matty and it still slipped my mind.


I remembered that it was Mick's late mother's birthday on the 29th. The day after Mick and yet I still didn't make the connection.


Ava's birthday was very much on my mind. She would be eight years old on the 30th. I had a card ready and I needed to post it. I went into town to do it as I don't trust our country postboxes.

Ava (photograph by Naoise)

In town, I met a frail lady trying to push a shopping trolley back to the stand. I offered to take it for her as I was going past it anyway. She was pleased and told me that her legs were wearing out and that she would be ninety on her next birthday! I said that's amazing and thought to myself, Matty would be older than that, I wonder what age she'd be now? And still didn't remember it was her birthday.

On the way home I thought about Vancouver Brother's significant birthday and felt a bit cross with myself that I hadn't managed to send a card. Then I forgot to post Ava's card anyway and had to put it in the country postbox.

So that was Sunday - full of birthdays, Mick, Gladys, Ava and Vancouver Brother and never a thought was given to Matty's special day.

The birthdays keep coming. Harriet, Vancouver brother's daughter has her anniversary tomorrow, She's a wee bit older than in the photograph above but still every bit as lovely today as she was then.

And last, but not least - Matty with Jess

Thursday, July 25, 2019


Garden tiger, 23/7/19

On Monday afternoon I tripped and fell. There were a lot of people around but it was Hannah who came to my aid. There was a bamboo cane lying on a garden path and the tip of it caught in my Birkenstock causing me to completely lose my balance and down I went on the rough flagged path. I used my hands to save myself and it was the hands that bore the brunt. An abrasion on the left wrist, another on the right and worst of all a badly torn thumbnail. I was very lucky. But the nail. Afterwards, I thought, if ever I was really injured, in A&E say, with fractures, internal injuries and a torn nail, it would be the nail that would annoy me most.

Poplar Hawk Moth, 22/7/19

Bert spotted me on my hands and knees, among the sidalcea and the geraniums with Hannah attending me and do you know what he thought? He thought I was looking at a moth!

Elephant Hawk Moth 24/7/19

It's true that since Rachael loaned us her moth trap I have been a bit obsessed with lepidopterology, so much so that I arranged a special sleepover for Martha and Evie so they could share the excitement. That was last night. This morning we all gathered round to examine the night's catch.

Martha's specimen box proved to be a great boon for looking at and photographing the elephant hawk moth...

...which, like all the other specimens briefly captured, was returned to the wild and will be flying again tonight.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


This pertains to a conversation I had earlier today about gratitude, giving thanks and fostering positivity. I'm grateful for this conversation, especially on a day like today when the UK has had foisted upon it, a leader who seems far from being fit for purpose.

Gratitude number two is twofold. I'm glad of a friend like Rachael who encourages me to enjoy the natural world, who loaned her moth trap and gave me the chance to look closely at the world of moths. It will be ages before I learn the names of the many varieties of native moths but I know at least five more today than I knew on Friday. That's a start. Checking the moth trap this morning I discovered this one, a poplar hawk moth. I'd seen pictures before but in real life, it's a lovely creature to behold. After the release, the moth found a resting spot on our monkey puzzle and was introduced in turn to Hannah, Richard and Brendan.

Thanks to the magic of digital photography my poplar hawk moth pictures were shared with Facebook friends and the wider online world. That is another gratitude, today's ease of recording images. Beats the olden days when film processing was expensive and took ages and the photographs were far too often a disappointment.

And every day I am glad that Bert is in my life. Today he said he was 95% happy. It must have been the full 100% yesterday.

My last gratitude is still to come. As I was telling Dave this morning I have, for the longest time, on the point of turning out my bedside light and getting ready to fall asleep, given thanks for my own comfortable bed, my own safe home. This comes from years of working in residential care homes and hostels and sleeping over in situations that were all too often unsafe and unpleasant. Now I get to sleep in my own bed almost every single night. What could be finer?