Monday, September 19, 2022

A Momentous Day

This morning I woke up early this and finished reading my book on Princess Margaret.*  What a dragon!

There were two Chocolate Guinness cakes to make and the house was a mess because I'd had a busy couple of days. 

Me doing absolutely nothing. Except for drinking and it's not even dark outside.

I was making cake for a special day and as I started to gather the ingredients I watched the State Funeral. Watching TV whilst baking is not something I'd normally do but, y'know... history, pageantry, human interest, military bands, Princess Charlotte, the Duchess of Sussex,** and Michelle O'Neill. 

The cakes turned out fine and at last, the special guest arrived, Martha the Teenager! As well as Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake we had Spaghetti Bolognese made with some very ripe tomatoes that Bert poached from Clint. It was good. 

Something tells me that I will remember forever what happened on the 19th of September 2022. 

* It's been that kind of week.

** Oxford comma placed in solidarity with the NHS.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Mind You Don't Hurt Yourself

 'Mind you don't hurt yourself', were the very words I spoke to Bert when he announced that he and Les were going to fell a dying beech tree.

He had everything ready, long ladders in place, just waiting for the right fellow to assist him in this manly task. Unfortunately, on the previous evening, the ladders had to be re-deployed as Pippin the kitten had got herself into a bit of a pickle. She has a passion for climbing trees and had got herself stuck in a big hawthorn. Her ascent was easy but the way down was difficult because of the thorns. The meows were piteous. All her biggest fans (Hannah, Martha and Evie) were distraught and Bert was nowhere to be seen. Hannah had found a short step ladder and tried to persuade Pippin to come down. Instead, the silly cat went further up.

Then Bert, the hero of the hour arrived, and the big ladder was put in position which Bert ascended whilst getting a jolly good telling off from Martha for attempting the rescue in unsafe Crocs but he paid her no mind. Pippin ( who likes Bert better than anyone) was brought down but not before there was a very scary, jiggly moment with the ladder. There is really nothing much in a hawthorn tree to lay a ladder against.

Today, when Les arrived the ladders had to be brought back to the beech trees. It's really a two-person job handling a long ladder. Bert informed me what they were going to do, I asked him to be careful, and he said I could take photographs but I was to stay at a safe distance. 

The old tractor was used to keep taut a rope intended to encourage the tree to fall without damaging any of the other beech trees. I stood at a safe distance and waited. And waited. And waited.

Then came the crack. The distance I stood at was so safe that all I saw was the rope slacken and the top branches crumble to dust as they fell. 

It would have been far more dramatic if I'd been observing from here.

On the wander back to the house I picked some tomatoes.

And took a fairly decent photo of the mina lobata.

Another one of this veronica, throwing out the last blooms of the season. I've already collected seed and hope to have it again next year.

And this pretty clematis flowering along with white bindweed. One to be prized, the other despised. 


Thursday, September 08, 2022

8th September, 2022

In my late teens, I took a job in the sewing room at the Old Bleach Factory in Randalstown. I didn't stay long as my sewing was abysmal and the wee forewoman despaired of me. All I had to do was hem linen tea towels. It wasn't that hard. Even so, my efforts all ended up in the reject bin.

The 'girls' in the sewing room were a mixed bunch. All ages, all persuasions and all female. The only 'lads' were a couple of mechanics who were supposed to keep the machines running smoothly. From what I could see, that looked like a  very cushy number. The fellows seemed to spend most of the day hanging over the big cast iron radiators eyeing up the talent.

There was a group of young women from Toome who befriended me. Their leader, Marian came in one morning telling everyone how the Brits had smashed in their door while it was still dark and lifted two of her brothers. I was amazed that she had still bothered to come to work. If that had happened in our house we'd all have been bad with our nerves for weeks. Marian must have thrived on the excitement as a year or so after I left the job I read in the paper that she was up in court for hijacking a bus.

Our forewoman, whose name I cannot remember, was a small thin woman, probably in her late fifties. Her office, a roughly partitioned-off area, was covered in Union flags and pictures of the Royal Family. And even though she seemed a mild-mannered and unthreatening person I still felt uncomfortable with this display for she was marking her territory and asserting her superiority over the RCs.

So, although I did not have any issue with the Windsors it was made very clear to Catholics that they were not for the likes of us.

Fast forward to 1977. I'm in London for the summer and it's the Silver Jubilee and the place is decked out like the Twelfth with bells on. The Queen was out and about, she's all over the place and I never saw her once. My sister claims to have spotted her on several occasions but I had to make do with Connie Booth from Fawlty Towers, spotted buying calamine lotion in a Holland Park pharmacy.

It took another 34 years before I got the point of  Elizabeth II. I was in Donegal, recovering from a bout of food poisoning and the only TV channel we could get was RTE. And all that was on was coverage of the Queen's State Visit to Ireland. There she was, speaking a bit of Irish at a state banquet, attending a ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance, where she laid a wreath in memory of those who gave their lives fighting for freedom from British rule. And then, making a visit to the National Stud in Kildare, and just standing there quietly as a massive stallion reared up only yards from her. I have to say, I was impressed.

Monday, September 05, 2022

Liz Saves The Day!

 It seems that sometime today Liz Truss will become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and, like many others, I have been dismayed at the prospect. 

However, I have changed my mind as it seems Liz has had, all along, a cunning plan. She has been busy. This energy crisis that threatens our way of life will disappear, or at least, be alleviated. The projected fuel bills, unpayable for most, were just meant to frighten us. We will all be so grateful that we are only paying twice what we paid last year that Ms Truss will seem like our saviour. 

I have no doubt that the new PM will have found the time to have a few late-night calls with Jeffrey Donaldson. The DUP will return to Stormont. I cannot imagine what this will entail but her handlers are a clever lot. They will have thought of something. Maybe a nice backhander and/or a peerage, something like that. Possibly a climbdown on the First Minister and Deputy First Minister thing. Jeffrey's party may well have thought better of that one.

With the energy crisis and Stormont solved the new PM will ride on a wave of approval. For a while, anyway.

For myself, I'm sad I came late to the white trainer/older woman thing for Liz has put me right off them.

I may throw mine in the Lagan.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

I Assumed He Knew What He Was Doing

I've just been out to close in the hens and their shed appears to be on fire! Thankfully it wasn't.

I spoke to Hannah.

Do you realise he's got a bonfire going a metre from the hen house?

Yeah. I assumed he knew what he was doing.

Bert spoke to me.

Why are you taking pictures?

So if the hen house burns down I can blog about it.

Sure, what do you know about bonfires?

Not much. I've little experience of them. It wasn't me burned down next door's garage*.  Anyway, stop adding stuff to it.

I thought you wanted this area cleared.

Me? Not really. Think of all the poor wee invertebrates dying in there. They thought they were living their best lives. 

That stung. I could see the look of regret on his face. He'd forgotten about the beetles and earthworms etc. I was nearly sorry I'd brought it up.

Anyways, I decided not to close the hens in after all, just in case.

A Postscript

* For fear of retribution Bert did not admit that sixteen years ago, on a very windy evening a stray ember from one of his bonfires might well have blown over to the derelict property beside us. It might have settled in the eaves of the garage (stacked with empty and half-empty paint tins). Maybe there was an old bird's nest in there, that caught alight,  maybe it dropped to the floor, found some dry timber, started a blaze.

Doesn't matter now, especially since that garage has since been demolished by a passing vandal with a mini-digger. We'll never know. It's a mystery.

Now there are rumours that the property has been bought by a developer in which case we might eventually have close neighbours. Ugh! Bert says,

You never know. They might be the best neighbours in the world. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Frothy Goat Deity

 Happy Birthday, Zoë. 

Conversation with Martha at the supper table.

Granny, remember how your cakes used to be like biscuits?

I do. I remember you telling me so.

How come they're not flat any more?

Your mother told me about baking powder.

Previous birthday cakes that demonstrate varying levels of flatness.

Sunday, August 28, 2022


I have just got out of bed and am still feeling tired

Such a busy, busy week but not so busy to justify having to go to bed at 5 o'clock on a Sunday evening. The weariness had come upon me an hour earlier and by five o'clock  I just couldn't take it anymore. It had been a very pleasant afternoon doing some light gardening chores, seed collection, watering tubs and cutting back perennials. Then exhaustion hits. Is this it? I'm still in my sixties and am seriously depleted of energy. 

It was a full week. I went to a wake on Monday morning. My Aunt Bernie, Uncle Shaun's wife, a strong and steadfast woman, widowed for almost 50 years.

In the afternoon  I cooked for family - then on Tuesday went to the funeral which took a full day.

On Wednesday I went to Ikea with Jazzer. we made a mistake, we should have gone straight to the marketplace. Both of us knew what we wanted - and we did not need that energy-sapping zig-zag through the showroom.

Thursday was the girls. I took them for breakfast at Middletown and spent a small fortune on things that were supposed to be breakfast food but were basically luxurious desserts. That was them. I had bacon and tomato on sourdough. Back home I had a bit of housework to do as I was expecting Leitrim Sister, her hubby and her mother-in-law (another inspirational 90-something) coming off a late flight from Corfu. I stayed up until they arrived. Odd thing for me these days as I'm usually in bed before 11pm. 

Friday morning was my Corfu visitors then some other people dropped in. I think I might have watched three episodes of the final season of Breaking Bad. That was it. I was weary.

On Saturday I took lots of butterfly pictures. Small tortoiseshell are the leading lights this season, peacocks second and red admirals are scarce. They were all feeding at a bunch of buddleias that Bert didn't sell this year. I think I'll be planting most of those in the garden, Between our profusion of nettle patches and our buddleia we are quite the butterfly haven. 

Then Bert went out for an afternoon gig in Ahoghill and I didn't. Swisser called around for a couple of hours and we thoroughly depressed ourselves talking about the state of the world and the state of Liz Truss. Did I mention that Leitrim Sister brought Gin, Tracey brought Port and Swisser Prosecco? Bert asked, 

'D'ye think people think you're a lush?'

I did not respond.

Later on, I drank some port, finished watching Breaking Bad and started watching El Camino.

I finished watching El Camino this morning. I wonder if it is Vince Gilligan that exhausts me so?