Saturday, November 27, 2004

Goodbye, Red Van

This post is for everyone who has ever been sailed about in the front or back of Ian's red Toyota Hiace. There is nothing like having a teetotal mate who loves driving, has a big van and a healthy disregard for policeman's rules. That van has been round some corners.

Well Ian met a man who made him an offer he couldn't refuse. He was offered a price that was not bad at all for a 1992 van. Ian's red Toyota Hiace is going to live in India. Hiaces are, according to the vanman, very popular there. God knows what he'll get for it but apparently he ships them out regularly and so must find it worth his while. No doubt it will still be on the road in 2014. Of course by that time it'll probably be held together by wire and sticky tape.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Showering Paddy Posted by Hello

Sammy 'Gorgeous' Gage Posted by Hello


There is nothing like a 24.5 hour shift in work to restore Nelly's spirits and take her mind off Christmas. The great thing about work (apart from getting paid) is that it makes being at home feel much nicer.

So I got home this evening after two excellent shifts and a fairly decent sleepover and I felt not too bad at all. Good enough to mop the floors, make the supper and worm Harry de Cat. The worming went smoothly. He is such a good cat.

Wish I could say the same about Paddy. Now I haven't disclosed that work has begun in what will be our new abode. Bert has been working up there for a couple of weeks now getting the place ready for the builders. I've been up a couple of days myself packing the stuff that his mother left behind when she moved out. Still to go is the contents of the attic. Thankfully it's a small attic and contains nothing but the remainder of Bert's toys and his pram.

The first expert on the scene arrived at the beginning of the week. That was Sammy 'Gorgeous' Gage, the diggerman. Gorgeous shifts all our earth for us and demolishes all our tumbledown structures when needed. He is an excellent fellow who is reliable, skilled and gorgeous to boot.

He doesn't know we call him Gorgeous but I'm sure he wouldn't mind if he found out. That is his real name by the way but as I only have good stuff to say about him I'm sure he won't mind. We've called him Gorgeous for years. The reason being is that one of Bert's aunts once said he had gorgeous hair. Which he had - it being blond, thick and wavy. He keeps it awfully short these days but he's wearing well in every other respect. He's a good bloke. If you're from this area and need a bit of digger work done I'd recommend him.

So he's been doing a few drains, sorting out a sewer. re-directing a spring and knocking down a few really crappy walls. And it is one hell of a dirty mess. Paddy has been having the time of his life. In his wee doggy mind he is a digger boy too and he came home this evening glar to the oxters. Which is why Bert decided to shower him. I suggested to Bert that he strip and they could shower together but then the photos would have been too saucy to post.

I'll return to the Christmas theme later. I'm feeling far too mellow tonight to spoil it.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I Hate Christmas Part 1

There are many ways to classify and divide the human race but today I am just thinking about those who love Christmas and those who don’t. I’m one of the latter.

I loved it once but that was when I believed in Santa Claus.

So pre-Christmas blues might be the reason why I’m feeling a bit down at present. I haven’t been out walking for a couple of weeks and I’m eating jelly babies by the pound. I am also spotty, pot-bellied and dull of spirit. My hair has all the shape and appeal of a whin bush and my joints ache. I can’t get out of bed in the mornings and I long for it at night.

I’ve discovered that work is perfectly entitled to make me stay on the premises unpaid during breaks. Naturally this has eroded my good will towards the org and I now take every grudging minute of my imprisoned break time instead of working through part of it, which is what I often used to do.

And I’m working on Christmas Day. And nobody better buy me any candles this year or I’ll come round to your house and use them to set your curtains on fire.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Saturday, November 20, 2004

More Pixies

Bert being a coul rife sort covers his ears in all but the warmest weathers. Ian, however, only covers his on the coldest days. Today is such a day. Both are wearing pixies.

Bert is wearing one pixie and clutching another in his fist.

“Jaysus Man, how many pixies do you need?”
“What? Oh I’m weerin’ me inside pixie. The other wan’s me thick knit outside pixie.”
“That’s not a very good system. You should do what I do – wear two. My inner pixie is fine knit and stretchy and I pull it down over my ears. my outer pixie is thicker and I put it on over the thinner one when it’s very coul like today.”

Bert being a man of few words has only this to say.


But if he is impressed by Ian’s system he will say at some point.

The next time yer in the town will ye get me a fine knit, stretchy pixie?”

I must have been the best part of an hour photoshopping Bert’s teeth in that picture to bring them up to an acceptable shade of pale moss. He’ll have to stop smoking that cheap tobacco and the pipe.

To ‘Unka’ Roderick and Traci-Lou – nice scones. Was it a Jenny Bristow recipe? She gets her messages in Leonard’s, y’know.

The Pixies  Posted by Hello

Friday, November 19, 2004

Out and About

Is it grim up north? Not on your Nelly. On Tuesday morning Bert and I took the van over to collect a load of young trees and bushes from Yorkshire Plants. I’ve visited the Doncaster area in South Yorkshire and we went to Holmfirth once while visiting daughter two when she lived in Manchester but I’d never been to North Yorkshire before.

We decided to go the scenic route, which took us through some beautiful forest in West Scotland and through part of the Yorkshire Dales. It was very dramatic and beautiful countryside. I was impressed with the buildings and dry stone walls made from the local stone. Not a hideous modern bungalow to be seen anywhere. Steen from Yorkshire Plants told us that local planning regulations are very strict. It makes for beautiful, unobtrusive buildings and restorations but the downside is that young locals are priced out of the housing market. Add to this the amount of housing that becomes weekend and holiday homes for well-off city dwellers and the result is that local communities dwindle and die.

We visited Ripon and had excellent fish and chips in a little café filled with pensioners who came in and asked for “my usual please”. Their talk was of double-dealings and back-stabbings at chapel. In Yorkshire this means the Methodists. We arrived in Ripon at school home time and parked beside the bus station. I’m sad to report that school children in Ripon eff and blind as much as they do here.

I was struck by how friendly and civilised people in Yorkshire are. I also found that drivers in particular are much more mannerly both in Yorkshire and Scotland than here in Norn Iron. Maybe Ganching has a point about that after all.

On the way home we stopped in Castle Douglas for some refreshments. Bert had a haggis burger. He also stocked up on haggises or should that be haggii? The crossing from Cairnryan was pretty rough but we made it safely home. Did I mention Paddy dog? I did not but he was an ideal travelling hound and a well-behaved angel with wings. I shall definitely be returning to North Yorkshire in the future and for a longer time.

I heard today on the news that the road from Brough to Scotch Corner was closed because of heavy snow. We made it back in the nick of time.

Rosie and Herman Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Hypochondriac Mouse

Bert has got a sore bum and has been looking for some suitable cream to apply to it. Whilst rummaging through our medicine cupboard (which doubles as a meter cupboard) he came face to quivering, bewhiskered face with a mouse. And what had the timrous, cowering, sleekit, wee beastie been sustaining itself with? Why it was treating itself to Pripsen worm powders and Mrs Beecham's cold remedy. I wonder had it been reading my blog re rodents and worms? And of course it is coming up to that sniffly time of the year. Talk about self-help!

Later we went for a walk in the Ecos centre and afterwards went to Tescos. Bert had never been to Tescos before and was very impressed with the range of goods on offer. When Bert goes to a big supermarket he never thinks of normal basic foodstuffs. He only buys things he can't get in the local Spar. Today he bought mussels, fish sticks and dates. He was actually looking for haggis. I enquired "What has put you in the notion of haggis?" and he replied "I was reading Rabbie Burns."

Friday, November 12, 2004


The other day Harry de Cat produced 6 inches of finest tapeworm. Not long afterwards Bert came retching into the den saying that Harry had jumped up beside him while he was on the phone and the next thing he knew there was a disgusting roundworm slithering about making faces at him. Something would have to be done.

So we banished Harry de Cat from the house, I parazoned all the surfaces and then visited the local Pet Shop. The Pet Shop Girl bounded out to meet me, as keen as several barrels of mustard.

“How can I help you?”
“It’s my cat. He’s got worms.”
“Tape or round?”
“Right. I have the very thing.”

She then proceeded to tell me more than I wanted to know about the process of infestation. Cats who hunt are very prone to getting worms from their prey and it seems that birds are the worst offenders.

“Lovely looking, but riddled with worms.”
“Riddled. Alive with every sort of worm going.”

You’d wonder how they get them fitted in.

A mine of information this PSG. All I wanted to know was the chances of me getting them. I know I could do with losing weight but I’d rather be fat than riddled with worms. But I was reassured that it would be very difficult for a human to become infested with cat-type worms. Wrong kind of worms, apparently. She didn’t say but I got the impression that I’d actually have to lick the cat’s anus. As if!

She goes on…

“How are you intending to get the tablets into your cat?”
“Well the last time I tried to give him tablets I put them in his food and he totally refused to eat it. This time I’m thinking of wrapping him in a towel and ramming the tablets down his throat.”

She nodded wisely.

“It’s the only way.”

The PSG had advised me to weigh the cat and give him the dosage appropriate to his weight. He was 12lbs. I requested Bert’s help to administer the dosage and he was filled with delight. He has a love-hate relationship with Harry (who used to piss on him) and relished the prospect of a bit of ethical cat-annoying. I wrapped and Bert rammed. Harry de Cat was outraged but soon recovered his equilibrium. Immediately afterwards he jumped on to a chair and sat there flicking his tail and grooming himself. “What could you do to really annoy that cat?” Bert asked. “Set his tail on fire,” I suggested.

He is to get another dose next Friday, then another the Friday after that. Shall I take photographs?

Harry de Cat Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Good Works

I return to work today after 10 days off. Lordy, Lordy, how will I cope?

Yesterday was spent entirely doing good works. I wasn’t quite as good as I could have been to Bert, but by that time he was pretty tired too.

In the morning I shifted pine boards and other items from the soon-to-be-renovated house. Afternoon was spent taking Jazzer to Toys’R’Us for more Santa presents, and then I called with Mum and took her to visit Dad. He was a bit grumpy. I put it down to him being tired. She put it down to him being cross because his solicitor had earlier served papers on him in relation to his affairs being taken over by the Office of Care and Protection. Somehow I doubt this, as he did not recall a visit from the solicitor. But she could be right. It might have upset him even if he did not remember why. Then I went home and made Bert his dinner. Sanctification must be on the cards.

Good news about Kerry. John F is even more besotted with her. Mrs John F is less keen thanks to the little parcels and puddles Kerry produces. John has got a little whistle he is using to call her with. He says it’s a shepherd’s whistle. When he blows it all the shepherds from miles around come running, crooks aloft. Kerry, meanwhile, completely ignores it in favour of licking her bum.

So off I must go to get ready for work. A whole two days of it face me then at least three off after that. I’m killed, am I not? Little wonder I have plenty of time for good works.

Monday, November 08, 2004


Bert thoroughly enjoyed his camping trip to the County Down. Man and dog returned Sunday evening tired and happy. His 1000 mile socks were a great success as were his new hiking boots. I thought 1000 mile socks meant he could wear them that long without washing them but Ian said no, he can walk 1000 miles in them without getting a blister. However on the 1001st mile his feet will be in juggins.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Rosie and I set off for a day at Swisser's. We all walked the clifftop walk from Portballintrae to the Giant's Causeway. It was wet and warm and far too misty for photographs. I too returned tired and happy.

I walk every day now and I think it is beginning to have an effect. I've stopped weighing myself but my clothes are fitting better. I'm back in my normal bra size and no longer have a monobosom. There are obviously two of them now instead of the mammary shelf I was sporting at 40EE. Now I'm 38E. Yippee! Still got a spotty chin though. I use tea tree oil on them which is quite effective. (Spots not breasts)

Good news on the Kerry dog front. John F is besotted with her. She was here today and in very fine form. And she'll be here tomorrow too.

Bert said I'm to have my walk at the old house tomorrow. The builders should be starting after Christmas and he has started to strip the pine tongue and groove from the bathroom and toilet (for recycling) He thinks it will be jolly useful if I carry it away from about him as it is starting to pile up. Should be better exercise than I get toodling around with Matty.

Portballintrae to Giant's Causeway Posted by Hello

Slieve Donard Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Kerry in the Moss Posted by Hello

Of Pups and Weathermen

I feel really sad. As I wrote before Mum found she couldn’t cope with the pup any more and she asked me to take her until something was sorted out. She had been here since Wednesday and was really well settled. I was awfully tempted to keep her myself but John F spotted her on Thursday and on hearing her story, wondered if he could give her a home. He and his wife had been looking for a dog for a while now.

Let me tell you about John F. We’ve known him for over 10 years since he advertised in the local paper for a plot of land to rent. He wanted to grow hedging plants. Bert contacted him, they got on very well and he has been here ever since.

John used to work for the Met Office and spent a stint working as a weatherman on local radio. Whilst working for the Met in Libya pre-coup, he claims to have met Colonel Gadaffi, Retired now, he can still be found gazing skywards and reading the clouds (from his pipe). I call him the Resident Weatherman.

After consulting Mum and Tricia, who gave Kerry to Mum, and getting their agreement, I told John he could have Kerry on a trial basis. He collected her today and part of me hopes she’ll be back. The sensible part hopes that her new home will be a success for Kerry’s sake. One good thing is that John will bring her to the plot with him and we should see her regularly.


Friday night. What’s happening at Nelly’s then? Bert is preparing for a camping trip up and down Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains.

He is going with Martin and the gang. The boys do these macho things every now and then. The trip will involve physical exercise, whiskey and sausages. There may well be male bonding. Someone may read aloud from Hemingway. Ever supportive, Ian has called up to make sure that Bert is properly prepared. He has reminded him to charge his mobile phone, which Bert uses about once every three months. He uses it to make calls and when he has done so he always switches off so that he cannot be contacted. This is to preserve the battery charge.

Ian and Bert have erected the tent n the kitchen. They are lying in it. It is a two-man tent and they are testing this claim out. Should I be worried?

Saturday morning. Alone at last. Bert and Paddy have set off on their camping trip. I am going to a coffee morning and cake sale at Glenkeen. Natch Matty is going too. I will keep you posted. Hah!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Best Rainbow Ever

The NIE notified us a while ago that our electricity would be off for most of today so I decided that this would be an excellent day to take Matty out for a good, long run in the car. She has been feeling a bit low-spirited since she gave Kerry up.

The plan was that Kerry would come with us so that Mum could be certain that she was making the right decision. As I was about to leave Paddy was looking like he wanted to come too, so that was two dogs I had with me in the car. Rosie stayed home to keep Bert company.

Our first stop was Dad in Glenkeen, who deigned to eat the ice cream I brought him. He was watching This Morning with great enjoyment. We didn’t stay too long as we were mad to get on our way to Maghera. The approach to Maghera was via Cargin and Toome. As usual that road got Mum reminiscing. Today she was recounting all her cycle accidents and incidents. It was most entertaining. I managed to get through Toome without incident or accident and soon we were in Maghera at scones and coffee. Pretty good too, as I’d not had my breakfast coffee thanks to the non-electric situation.

Revived we drove on to Limavady. Mum has never stepped the streets of Limavady so that was something needing a remedy. The verdict was – a nice wee town, shiny, happy people and good charity shops. Mum bought a beige anorak* in a Salvation Army shop and was very delighted with it. I bought a John Irving, a Barbara Trapido and a turquoise linen shirt. And it is true what the Knowhere Guide says. Limavady is coming down with coffee shops, traybakes and wee buns.

Leaving Limavady for Coleraine we saw a wonderful rainbow. Matty said it was the most beautiful rainbow she’d ever seen. Which is some accolade as that is nearly 80 years worth of rainbows she’s talking about.

Coleraine was good too. We had a late lunch there and a peruse around the charity shops. I bought a tin tray for 50p. Very Cath Kidston. We promised ourselves to get ourselves back to Coleraine very soon.

Then home. I found that despite having driven over 100 miles, and walking through three towns that I’d only clocked up 885 steps for the day. After coffee and a chat with Mum I set off for home. After coffee and a chat with Bert I took the dogs on the river walk (in the dark!) and bumped the pedometer up to nearly 7000. Food for thought there. Walking with old ladies is only the gentlest of exercise. Cannot wait to get her into a wheelchair so I can get toned!

Tonight Rosie, Paddy and Kerry were attempting to get into the Guinness Book of Records by seeing how many mongrels can fit unto the passenger seat of an Astra. It will only be a matter of time before dogs are required by law to wear seatbelts. That will be damnable, as I will have to invest in a bigger car.

*She is nearly 80. She is allowed to have a beige anorak.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

My New Slippers Posted by Hello

What's Up, Nelly?

So what has been happening in Nelly’s Garden? Nothing untoward. I worked, I drank, I ate brownies, I went for long walks and visited friends and parents. Now I am on holiday again.

So what is new? Well if Kerry were a person instead of a dog she would be homeless under the 1994 Housing Act. I called on Matty yesterday and she was up there about high doe saying that Kerry was too wild and was going to be responsible for giving her a heart attack. Seems Kerry has been trying to round up Cousin John’s sheep and this has been causing Mum a lot of problems. I was instructed to take her away with me.

The dog is amazingly easy to train. Less than 24 hours after coming into this house she is trained to the sofa and the bed. She is well versed in cat harassment and has grasped the rudiments of postman chasing.

We went to Gillies last Sunday night. Swisser, Bert and I walked over. It was a strange experience to go on the very familiar river path in the dark. The smells and sounds were very good. A smell of damp vegetation and a hint of curry. The sound was of the river and distant, exploding fireworks.

We met friends in the bar including Mad Dog who was looking uncharacteristically smart and clean-shaven. He confessed that he was fed up of drinking in Ballymena as he was always abused about his appearance. “Before I shaved it off I had a real Taliban beard going and the last time I was in the Fair Hill Bar I got told to get back to Serbia. I decided to ignore the arsehole but he kept going on about it. Eventually I cracked and asked him what his problem was – I didn’t come from Serbia. He says where are you from then, and when I said Portglenone he said, might as well be Serbia.”

So no more town for Mad Dog. He finds it particularly galling as he no longer has dreadlocks and has generally cleaned himself up. He said that when he had the locks people would say to him “Hey! Bob Marley! You want to fight then?” He said they’d be taking off their coats and rolling up their sleeves. He said he often wondered was there some part of Marley’s career he had overlooked, like the time he was a boxer.

Monday was seeing Mum and Dad and taking Kerry for her last injection. On going into the surgery we met Our Cousin, The Vet and happily jumped the queue and got free treatment. Matty was very well pleased with Her Nephew, The Vet.

Yesterday Jazzer and I set off for Toys,R,Us in Whiteabbey. Jazzer did the directions which were hopeless and we got lost. Typical Belfast-bred and she hasn’t a clue how to get anywhere. Before we found Toys.R’Us we found Woolworth’s where I bought a DVD player and some kitchen scales. I have decided to become a champion baker of cakes. We did find the shop eventually. I cannot say what was purchased, as to do so would contravene The Santa Act, 2004.

Which reminds me – Hannah has got another job. She isn’t going to work in Toys’R’Us (Stoke branch) anymore. She has got a job in a department store as a Christmas Elf. At least she is staying in the field.