Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Hardly Recognised You With Your Clothes On

The Wee In His Swimmers
Originally uploaded by NellyMoser.
Some men are strange. I got to thinking that as I watched the piece on last night's news about the Royal Marines 'at play'. The psychologist/apologist explained it all away by saying that these extremely masculine men, highly trained and battle-hardened, need some kind of an emotional outlet when they return from the front line. And maybe they do.

But it got me remembering a crowd we occasionally socialised with around 20 years ago. There'd be house parties where the women would be sitting around po-faced discussing babies and curtains. Meanwhile some of the men would be writhing about on the floor, fondling and snogging each other. Quantities of strong drink would normally be involved. Most of the men taking part in these rituals were ruggedly masculine, ambitious and have gone on to become successful businessmen in the Ballymena area.

I would not like anyone to think that the gentleman pictured took part in any such activities but he was (briefly) a Marine.


For about three weeks now I have been working both in Spide City and in Another Place. Today I was in Another Place. I enjoy working there. It's similar work but there are different things about it that I like. It's a bigger place which means there are more staff so I'm getting to know different people and having cover for breaks so that I can Go Out Walking at lunchtime.

Today during a team meeting the fire alarm went off. And there was smoke. So the fire service were called. Because I'm not part of the regular team meant that I got designated as gofer during the meeting which is, of course, much better than taking minutes. Part of my gofer duties involved escorting the firemen up four flights of stairs. Of course I went up them as nimble as a mountain goat while the firemen lumbered up behind me puffing and panting. They said it was because of all their heavy gear and I believed them. So there's me surrounded by firemen, no actual fire and I'm thinking this is as good as it gets. My firemen were much more rugged than those in the picture above.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Comfort Food

Well if you'd had the news I got from the dentist this afternoon you'd want comforting too.

Tonight I made a chicken pie, pineapple & coconut scones, cheese scones and a cherry tart.

I have already walked close to five miles today so a bit of extra eating won't hurt. Sure I might as well. While I still have teeth.


You’re so lucky Nelly. Bert’s that easy-going. He never gets in a fluster about anything.

I’ve heard this from envious women hundreds of times. Usually I’d agree with them. Who wants to live with a control freak or someone who is always getting stressed out?

Bert takes his easy-going nature from his late father. He rarely let anything ruffle him too much. This was a very necessary character trait that stood Johnny in good stead in his dealings with Pearlie whose very favourite hobby is making mountains out of molehills.

But sometimes Bert’s relaxed attitude can be a little too relaxed.

For instance take this morning. I’d already left Hannah to the bus stop and taken Rosie on a two-mile walk. I got back to the house about nine fed some toast into the toaster and put the kettle on. Bert was still in bed but I didn’t mind that. It meant more peace and quiet for me.

I wandered into unfinished room where the computer is and started to work on my ‘Things To Do’ list. Then I heard a funny noise, sort of a scritchy noise. Must be Harry sharpening his claws on the cork notice board I thought. I looked round but Harry wasn’t there. The noise was scritchy and plinky so I had to investigate. Aargh! Water dripping from the ceiling, running down the walls scritching on rolls of sandpaper and plinking on paint tins. I ran upstairs.

Bert, Bert get up! We’ve got a flood!

He rolls over and opens one eye.


A flood! Water pouring through the ceiling and down the wall! Do something!

He rolls over again and pulls the duvet over his head.

Bert! Aren’t you getting up! Do something!

Ach! It’ll be all right for a minute or two.

I shall draw a veil over the next bit. Suffice to say the words feckless, normal (as in not) and Ian & Clint (as in what would they think about his unnatural reaction to a household disaster) were uttered.

Anyway he did get up then and immediately scoffed at my diagnosis of the cause of the problem.

How could the water be leaking through the roof tiles when the room above is dry?

He only did one annoying thing after that which was to ask me if I had done anything with the crowbar that was leaning against the corner of the dry stone wall. Bert I am a woman. I do not have any use for crowbars. But after that he was all business lifting floor coverings and floorboards and quickly diagnosing the problem as a leaking joint in the central heating system. Then he phoned the plumber and chatted to him about it in a very pleasant manner. He got some advice and went and fixed it.

Personally I think he was far too nice to the plumber but there you go. And if you’re reading this Jay you can tell plumber boy I said so.

So what was I doing while Bert was doing all this? I was drinking coffee and eating toast and cherry compote. But afterwards I did make Bert his favourite breakfast of porridge, brown sugar and cream.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Disclaimer

Bored with my Flickr badge.

So I decided to change it to a randomised one. Which means that everytime you look at my blog you will see three random photographs instead of the five most recently posted to Flickr.

But the thing is last July I was in Spide City during the Twelfth of July parades and I took and then posted quite a lot of parade pictures to Flickr. Ironically of course. And the first couple of times I checked those pictures were featured.

I'd hate for anyone to think that I am an Orangey because I'm not. They wouldn't have me anyway because I am a Catholic and even though I'd have a little bit of time for them, in the name of multiculturism and all that jazz, I still feel that they are a sectarian organisation.

Incidentally I got Banana Girl to put a Flickr badge on her blog too. She's got some interesting pictures on there.

Teething Troubles (More Misery)

Misery One

An abscess under a tooth .

Misery Two

My Dentist is wonderful but a million other people think so too and I could not get an appointment. Just a prescription. I thought it was working but the abscess seems to be bigger and stronger than the antibiotic.

Misery Three

Then I lost my denture and had to go to work with a gappy smile. But given my current form it was more like a gappy snarl. I told my colleagues that I couldn't wear it because my mouth was too sore but that was a lie. It is thoroughly lost. I look like a bag lady.

And tonight I must sleep yet again in the high bed in the clouds.

Bright Side

It will be better than the vile bed I slept in last night.

Last Night In Spide City

Wakened at ten past three by buzzing noise. I thought it was the emergency phone and staggered out of the vile, spongey, single bed to lift phone. Hello, hello.... Nobody there. The buzzing continues and I realise it is the front door. It might be the police so I lean out the window which is on the same side as the staff flat but quite a distance from the front door. It is not the police but a wee spidey shite in a baseball cap who is leaning on the doorbell. I say,

What do you want?
He looks at me amazed. As far as he's concerned I'm three doors down. What can this wild-haired madwoman with the gappy snarl want with him?

I said what are you doing ringing that doorbell? What do you want?

I want in here.

Well you can't come in here.

Is that here too?

Aye it is. Who do you want?

I want to speak to Ivan.

Get a grip on yourself. There's no Ivan here. Now clear away off.
And he did. Sometimes I wonder why these young men aren't much ruder to me but no doubt they are afraid that I will mount my broomstick and fly after them.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Reasons To Be Cheerful, Reasons To Be Blue


My long awaited new bed was delivered yesterday morning.


It's much bigger than it looked in the workshop. I hate it. I shall need a footstool to climb into it.


It's actually quite comfortable.


It feels strange. I nearly broke my neck getting out of it to go to the loo in the early hours. Afterwards I lay and seethed and wanted to go back to my own house. The one we sold to Clint.
I hate the new bed. And the new house.


Rosie likes it. She lepped on to it like a young thing and slept cosily all night.


Paddy isn't limber enough to get up there. He hates it too.


I suppose I'll get used to it. It is comfortable. And new.


It makes me feel old not being able to lep into it like a young thing. And my bedside table is about a foot lower than it. I'll break my neck....


Hannah says I'll get used to it.


Bert thinks it's funny that I hate it. He says, "You liked it well enough in the shop."


I've got a better view from its heights.


My view is of the turf shed.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Post Number 666

blakebeast2bg.jpg (JPEG Image, 470x581 pixels) - Scaled (90%)

Nelly Recommends

I’m going to make a rare recommendation here because I think El Capitan has a pretty good blog. I particularly enjoyed his recent post on the politically correct Royal Navy and I think you would like it too because you’re such a fan of the modern take on PCness and Health & Safety. El Capitan likes cats but I don't think we can hold that against him.

While I’m in the mood I’m also going to exercise sisterhood and flag up ol’ Ganching who has decided to offer us the benefit of her great wisdom by offering lifestyle coaching on her blog. She has already given Mr Bolan from Fenland some very strict and no-nonsense advice. I see a media career looming as Ganching has all the charm and firmness of Trinny & Susannah mixed with the astringency of Janet Street-Porter. She should go far.

Which Musician (or Group) Shares Your Taste in Music?

The Cure Shares Your Taste in Music

See their whole playlist here (iTunes required)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Heigh-Ho Neddy!

Earlier today Bert requested that I 'get off my high horse.'

I told him that the only reason I was on a high horse was because he was on a particularly short-legged donkey.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sunday, Ginday, Good Day...

Day off today. I wasn't looking forward to it because it was just one and one does not feel like enough. And I had a lot to do. But I have had a good day and this is why.

Got up early and fought my way through two sets of school traffic to take Hannah to work. Did not get road rage even once although I did note that there were several idiots who were out and about in thick freezing fog with nary a light to be seen. Cretins.

Drove carefully to Matty's and did some cleaning for her. She is getting her cataracts done at the weekend and will notice things like dirt and dust so best make sure there isn't any to annoy her. Poor soul cannot tell whether she's looking at a blue tit or a chaffinch these days so will enjoy having keener sight.

Then took her to Randalstown shops. We did not see Goth wearing python. Probably too cold and foggy to take python out.

Observed accident on A26 on the way home. Recalled Matty saying that she felt a bit selfish only praying for Bro and Nelly's safe journeys. Decided not to tell her that her failure to pray for entire driving population of Norn Iron had resulted in mishap for someone.

Went for walk with Paddy in People's Park. Got yapped at by park official as per usual for walking Paddy into children's play area. Smiled a saintly smile and thought that if my job was sweeping up leaves on a freezing morning, I too might yap at general public to relieve tedium and frustration.

Resisted urge to go to T.K. Maxx.

Went home and found that Bert and Jamie had managed to drag themselves from their pits. Allowed them to laze about all day whilst encouraging them to believe that they were helluva dudes. Jamie helluva dude for making lots of coffee, fixing speakers on PC and employing feng shui on kitchen furniture. Bert helluva dude for hanging picture and oiling kitchen table and stapling lace to bathroom window so that McSquirter will never again see Nelly at her toilette.

Collected prescription from chemists and took Rosie for a walk.

Did housewifely tasks and collected Hannah from train.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Saturday, Sunday, Ginday....

The title sets the tone for the post. One of the good things about working shifts is that, like students, one can take to the drink on the less obvious days.

Straight after work I was up at the Moat Bar's off-licence where I purchased one bottle of red wine and one bottle of gin.

Reason? Hannah's boyf was making supper and I didn't have a clue what kind of a fist he would make of it so I thought to myself, 'Hey! At least if he's a crap cook and the meal is inedible I'll still be smiling.'

And guess what? The food wasn't half bad and now I'm smiling squared.

And one of our good friends the Shinner social worker turned up. He shared a glass of wine with us even though I tried to put him off by telling him I'd purchased it in an ultra-loyalist bar. "Cheers," says he. "Just goes to show what a multi-culturist I am."

Overheard today in Harryville -
Is it right enough that Geordie Best got thon new liver of his of the DHSS?
Just imagine a queue of DLA-entitled drinkers at the broo all applying for new livers.

How's about ye mucker? Ye in for a crisis loan?

Naw. I'm in tae see aboot gettin' mesel' a new liver.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Not Social Workers

You may already be aware that Mr Gerry Anderson, the much-loved Radio Ulster presenter, is a former Social Worker. Last week on his show I heard him describe some of his former colleagues as ‘not of this world.’ The best example he cited was of the just graduated Social Worker who asked a Belfast mother if her son ‘accessed his external environment’ only to be met with total and utter bafflement from the mother until Gerry translated this as, ‘Does he go out much?’

In my experience there are two kinds of social worker. These are the goody-goody social worker and the druggy-druggy social worker. Goody-goodies are usually greatly resented by their clients whilst druggy-druggies are often admired and respected. Unfortunately most of the druggy-druggies spend half their time out on the sick suffering from stress because, as Richard Ashcroft so eloquently puts it, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work.’

My colleagues and I may work in the social care field but we are Not Social Workers. We don’t have the professional qualification that brings in that extra several grand per annum but often the Not Social Workers are educated to a high degree. Among the Not Social Workers that I have known and know are holders of degrees in Archaeology, Media Studies, English, Journalism and Philosophy. In those rare quiet moments when we can tear ourselves away from discussions on how best to improve the levels of care and support that we give our clients we can, thanks to our educational qualifications, hold some very intellectual and enlightening conversations.

Why only the other day I was hearing all about La Tene scabbards found in riverbeds in Ireland and then a critique of the later novels of Philip Roth. I found myself at a disadvantage with the Roth discussion, as I had never progressed beyond Portnoy’s Complaint. It was suggested that this was probably for the best, as I’d likely find his later works far too shocking and offensive owing to my advanced years. It is a well-known fact that the older one gets the more tender one’s sensibilities become and the more easily shocked one is.

I myself hold a B.Sc. (Hons). in Social Administration & Policy but this is a very boring subject and no one wants to hear a thing about it. So for non-work related convo topics I have to fall back on things I read about in Heat and tales about the ‘Olden Days’. Funnily enough I’ve never yet encountered any Computing-type degree holders among the Not Social Workers. So while we former Philosophy, Journalism and Media Studies students are cleaning out cupboards, doing shift work and being verbally abused by the dispossessed all the computer wizards are sitting in cosy warm offices, minting money and writing their blogs in work hours. Sigh!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Saint Patrick, You Blert, We Need You

Young Rainey called round this evening. He told us the following tale.

Young Rainey: I was in the Mace in Randalstown today and this hardcore Goth girl came in and you know what she’d got around her neck?

Hannah: A collar?

Young Rainey: No! A snake!

Nelly: A plastic snake?

Young Rainey: No! A real live snake! And you know those women who work in the Mace – they’ve been there since the Mace was built…

Nelly: You mean since Randalstown was built?

Young Rainey: Yeah right! Anyways they say, ‘What’s that you’ve got round your neck love?’ and the wee Goth says, ‘It’s a snake.’ And they step back and go ‘Aaagh!’

Nelly: What kind of a snake was it?

Young Rainey: Oh maybe a bull python or a rock python.

Hannah: And did she have a collar round her neck?

Young Rainey & Nelly: No! A snake!

Nelly: Can I blog this story?

Young Rainey: Aye, if you want.

Nelly: What shall I call you? Young Rooney?

Young David Rainey from Randalstown: You can call me whatever you want.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Kitchen Goddess

What’s that you say? The Domestic Goddess thing? Did I keep it up?

Well – last week Zoë took me to Captain Cook’s (all things cooky and kitcheny) and I bought an array of excellent cake, bun and pie tins.

Then last night I had another go at the pineapple and coconut scones. But I have not yet got to grips with my new oven. And so I grilled them instead of baking them. They turned out a bit flat but were fallen on with gusto and glee despite their pancakish appearance.

Tonight I have baked an apple tart and while I had the surfaces all messed up I thought I’d make another batch of scones. Hannah showed me how to work the oven and they have turned out well appearance wise.

Mind you I did get a bit involved in blogging and nearly burnt them.

It’s Thursday night (music night) and apart from Bert, Hannah and myself we also have Jamie & Glen & Johnny & Billy. I’ll have to see if I can unload some of my goodies on to them.

Be Careful What You Wish For

About a week ago I had a bit of a whinge to my line manager about not getting enough additional hours. Today I was offered seventeen straight shifts in a row. I turned down two of them. Who needs that many days off anyway?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Matty Sorts It Out

Matty says she is definitely getting smarter since she started doing Soduku puzzles.

I think this incident proves her point. We were walking through the Castle Centre car park in Antrim today when a woman of grandmotherly age called to us.

“Excuse me! I wonder if you could help me?”
I was a little dismayed as I saw she was struggling with one of these modern baby push chairs and I have no hands for those things a-tall. But not wishing to be surly I went over to help her.

“It’s my grandson’s push chair. It folds up flat but I can’t get it to fold and if I don’t I won’t be able to get it in the car. It’s this lever here - if I pull it can you push it?”
I took her word for it and got ready to push while she pulled. I’m seriously clueless with things like that. Then Matty steps forward.

“You pull that lever there.”
It wasn’t the one the woman was fiddling with. Matty reaches over and pulls the correct lever and the pushchair immediately folds flat. The bloody woman didn’t even say thanks. I think she was flummoxed that a woman of great-grandmotherly age was the one to solve the problem. Matty didn’t even notice her lack of civility. She was far too busy being chuffed with herself.

The Return of Pisher McGee aka Harry de Cat

Poor cat, poor cat, don’t lie to me
Tell me, where did you piss last night?
Nelly’s bed, Nelly’s bed
All over Nelly’s legs
Then I shiver’d the whole night through

Poor cat, poor cat, where did you go?
I went where the cold wind blows
To the sheds, to the sheds
Where the sun don’t ever shine
And I shiver’d the whole night through

Old Nelly was a hard working woman
She was fast asleep in her bed
I pissed all over her feet & her legs
Then she fecked me out to the shed

Poor cat, poor cat, what did you do?
Did you piss on Nelly last night?
On her bed, on her legs
Then she fecked me outside
And I shiver’d the whole night through

Oul cat, oul cat, what did Nelly say?
She said ‘You fecker, you’re getting dumped,
In Portglenone, Portglenone,
Where the sun don’t ever shine
And that I’d shiver my nine lives through

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Oh Superman Am I Really That Old?

Last night we watched a programme about John Peel and his special box of records that he took everywhere. Various people, including some of the musicians featured on the records, were doing their talking head bit. I was doing my usual showing-off thing of knowing who everybody was and what bands they had played in etc. etc. Well they were mostly oldsters - the youngest talking head was Jack White.

Then the first couple of bars of 'Oh Superman' started. I go,

"Ooh Laurie Anderson!"

Bert says,

"Laurie who?"

"Laurie Anderson."

"Never heard of him."

"She. She's a woman Haven't you heard of her? That was a really big hit."

"Never heard it before in my life.When was it out?"

"Oh it's not that long since. Maybe 20-25 years ago. You'll have been lying about Berry then by the dried up bed of the River Murray drinking cheap port with Uncle Lushy and the rest of the crew."
Laurie Anderson's 'Oh Superman' made number two in 1984. Not that long ago a-tall.

Chocolate Is Slimming

Spotted yesterday in Harryville

At lunchtime - several groups of dangerously obese people waddling from all points of the compass towards the Bluebell Cafe where, no doubt, they intended to consume a 'big feed'.

Afternoon - a group of slender young men 'fashionably' dressed in tracksuits and baseball caps and accessorised with glue bags, who were getting seriously wasted on waste ground.

My Conclusion

The Bluebell Cafe is fattening.
Sniffing glue is slimming.

I may write a diet manual some of these afternoons. I hear they are a licence to print money. And Swisser can help me. After all she is some sort of a food scientist. She'll not be able to be name-checked as the book could destroy her academic reputation. So I get all the dosh.

I think I shall steal one of her ideas for a chapter. The one where she insists that chocolate is a slimming agent. I think people would like that. And it's not even as if there will be any comeback from the punters for diets and diet manuals never work anyway.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

How Scary Am I?

You Are Not Scary
Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?
How Scary Are You?

Found at Ed’s

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

I'm going to write about Thursday Nights because Saturday Nights are not where it's at in Spring Hill. For instance last night... Oh God I forgot! I'm sworn to secrecy. All I can say is that it involved a late evening dash to the pharmacist, Swisser being silly and Ian being stoical.

But Thursday nights - they're much better for Thursday nights are music nights. At the moment the group consists of stalwarts Bert and Glen, usually Ploppy Pants, Billy and Johnny . Then there's Hannah and whichever of her chaps she brings along. Very occasionally Joe comes and things get serious when he's around. But Ian has moved on to a band that actually gets gigs. And that would be Banjo Man's band.

Now the Thursday night thing has been mainly bluegrass from the start although people have brought different things to it. Joe, for instance, can play anything. He used to be the saxaphonist in a showband many years ago. He is really into teaching music and currently coaches an Orange band and another class that is being funded by some of that cultural money that is floating around. He and his wife also teach ballroom dancing but there's none of that (yet) on Thursday evenings.

Bert's not so crazy about the bluegrass stuff. He likes traditional Irish as he finds it more intricate and challenging. Glen likes anything with a folky tinge. Well he does play the mandolin. Ploppy Pants, another banjo man, is a bluegrass fan. The rest of them (the guitarists) just seem to be happy to play anything thats going on. Just to get the practice in y'know.

Hannah doll told me on Thursday that she had asked one of her mates along. I says fine but kidded her a bit that if she keeps bringing mates along the next thing everybody will be sitting around learning Nirvana songs. She pooh-poohed this.

Several hours later I entered the room to a chorus of 'in the pines' in the pines' as they were going over the good old Leadbelly song (in Nirvanesque mode) and how I chuckled. Especially at the sight of Ploppy Pants (a hillbilly to his very soul) sitting there clutching his banjo and glowering. Fruitlessly I tried to explain to him that the songs Leadbelly performed formed part of the roots of the music that became bluegrass etc. but he was unmollified.

Maybe this from Bliss will cheer him up. I had a lot of trouble sorting out those links. There are other good ones that are aimed specifically at banjo players but unfortunately I may have to 'phone in stupid' today as inspired by Marc and some others.

If y'all do manage to get to the amusements on The Strait of Messia remember that a lot, an awful lot, of hillbillies came from around these Norn Iron and Scotland parts. That's your cousin you might be chortling at.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Cult of Pedometers

Recently in comments Ed referred to 'the cult of pedometers'. Yes! I have to admit that I am indeed a part of The Cult of Pedometers. And just for the laugh I'm outing Yerwoman as a fellow cult member.

See that picture up there. That's mine that is. But like everyone else I started on the soft stuff. Got one in a cereal packet. Got hooked. Soon the cereal packet pedo was not enough. I moved on to the £4.50 model but it was no time before I was using nine quid pedos. It's been nearly three years now and I've got a pedo habit costing me £20 a go. I'm averaging 16,930 steps per day, 7305 of those aerobic and at a rate of 116.7 steps per minute. I'm currently walking aerobically for over an hour per day.

There is a good side to this addiction . I'm not as fat as I used to be but all that walking makes me hungry so I'm no waif. Other good parts are that my knees don't hurt any more and I reckon I'm a lot fitter and I have more energy.

But there is no getting away from it. I'm a pedo addict. I'll have to join one of those 12-step programmes. Except of course I'd need a 12000-step programme. Give me 12000 steps and I'd go twice a day.

More Neatette

I was meaning to look for Neatette information on Google and now Mikeyboy’s recent question in comments has spurred me to do so. Of course the first two hits were for my own blog but then to my delight I discovered this article from the Guardian.

The Fowler family home is an inward-looking affair of ageing artefacts and shabby furniture. The kitchen is a mishmash of scuffed 1970s units and a 1980s fridge that would probably chug audibly in the background if it were ever switched on. There are encrusted spice jars of celery salt and time-bleached rosemary and a back door that's seen more action than Janine Butcher. Faded postcards, pinned on the mantelpiece, date back to 1983, when the series began. The crockery cupboard (brand name Neatette, a product of the 1940s, like Pauline Fowler herself) stands in the corner, stacked with the sort of blue and white china that is the staple of the pound store.

I’ll be watching Eastenders at my next opportunity to see if our Neatette is nicer than Pauline’s.

Then I found this:

Hello, Does anyone know of an auctioneer/auction house that specialises in the sale of CC41 furniture. I have been instructed to sell a 'Neatette' kitchen cabinet/dresser, which is in fantastic condition, and really need some professional advice. Hope someone out there can help, if so contact me via email. Thanks, Sylvia.

Found here at a site which celebrates the 1930s and 40s lifestyle.

I just knew Neatettes were special.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

810 Steps

Today I had a training day in Loughguile. I drove from my house to work. I picked up a colleague. We drove to the venue. We parked outside. We went in. We sat down. We had a break. I walked to the toilet. I walked back. We sat down.

We walked to lunch. It was next door to the conference room. I walked to the hatch and got a plate of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese and three scoops of spud. I ate it all. I walked to the hatch and collected a plate of Pavlova. I ate it all. I walked back to the conference room and I sat down.

At the end of the day I walked to the car. I drove my colleague back to Ballymena. I drove to Cullybackey. I came in here. I drank coffee. I chatted to Bert. I walked to this desk. I sat down.

So far today I have walked 810 steps. My daily average over the past week has been 17500. I'd need to walk seven miles now to make my average. Oh dear.

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

1. Drive to the brightly light streets of Ballymena and trudge (with Rosie) around its streets for 55 minutes. (6500 steps)

2. Trail youngest daughter out of Fair Hill Bar. (On a weeknight! Honestly!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Baking Mad

The ‘Neatette’ Press

Bert spent many happy hours sanding down the ‘Neatette’ and now we’re so bloody posh we even got a professional decorator in (Banjo Man) to paint and Fablon it. Banjo Man was that particular he took three hours to decorate it. Mind you he was drinking Jameson’s at the time Previously I’d hunted the length and breadth of Portglenone for just the right retro-style Fablon. Truthfully I found it in the first hardware shop I went into. For those of you who don’t know Portglenone be advised that everything sold there is retro-style.

When I got all Bert’s Stuff out of my kitchen cupboards and into the ‘Neatette’ kitchen press I was able to put all my baking paraphernalia into the cupboards he’s been clogging up with manly things like yard lamps and Swiss army knives and balls of string.

Then I went out and bought lots of flower and butter and Demerara sugar so that I could start baking.

The Apple Tart

The first thing I baked was an apple tart and it was very good. I have inherited Matty’s way with pastry. Making pastry is like dancing. You either can or you can’t and I can’t dance. So I was absolutely full of myself and reckoned I was the cat’s pyjamas. But one apple tart does not a Domestic Goddess make as I discovered when I made the scones.

The Scones

The scones were mostly coconut and pineapple but I made a few traditional currant ones for Pearlie and Lizzie. They tasted nice enough and I should know for I ate plenty of them but they did not rise as well as they should have. It was that oul Morton’s flour. Matty says Morton's makes ‘heavy bread’. She recommends Neill’s flour so I’ve stocked up on that for another go.

But nevertheless when Pearlie called round on Saturday morning I proudly presented her with a plate of currant scones. She took them then peered at the contents as if I’d handed her a plate of cat shite.

Fruit scones. For you and Lizzie.

She handed them back to me.

Oh I wouldnae eat them. I dinnae like them.

I’m crestfallen but I persevere.

But maybe Lizzie would like them?

No. She disnae like them either.

It would be true to say that I was raging at her but I held my tongue. Later after Lizzie arrived I told her all jolly like that I’d gone and made her scones but hadn’t realised she hated them. Ha ha! How daft am I?

Scones? I niver heared tell of any scones. Pearl niver said.

Meanwhile Pearlie is hanging back looking really shifty. She had the demeanour of a twelve-year old caught smoking behind the bike sheds.

Did she not? Do you not like scones?

Oh aye. I like scones all right.

So the scones were proffered again and, according to Bert, Lizzie liked them well enough but Pearlie never lipped them.

The Pumpkin Pie

Zoë makes a delicious pumpkin pie and I hear her pumpkin cakes are to die for. Katy goes one better because she grows her own pumpkins then makes pie and soup. So it cannot be that hard. I got a recipe of the Internet. I ground my own spices. The recipe said canned pumpkin but I had two fine specimens scored from Fred the Organic Gardener. I cooked the pumpkin and mashed it up and put the whole sugary, eggy, spicy, pumpkiny mixture in a delicious home made pastry piecrust. And I baked it and I baked it and I baked it. I suppose it tasted OK. It was really a bit too sweet for my liking. But it looked horrendous. All lumpy and scary looking. Zoë’s was all smooth and gorgeous and looked like she’d bought it in Marks & Spencers. Hang on a minute… maybe she did. But mine looked like something the dog threw up.

Did I give any to Pearlie? Most certainly not. I can just imagine her on the phone to Lizzie.

Did Nelly make you any more scones?

No. But she sent over this oul tart. It would have scundered ye. And she must have run oot of apples for she made it oot of turnips. I couldnae eat it and the wee dog wouldnae lip it nor the cat nor the banties. I threw it oot in the yard anyway and maybe the crows’ll ate it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Visitors

Marty & Neatette
Originally uploaded by NellyMoser.
And what a lot of them we've had this weekend. We had five Banjos who stayed Friday and Saturday, Mel who stayed Friday and the Wee Manny who stayed last night. Non-staying visitors were Ganching (twice) and Matty once.

We cooked, we baked, we mopped, we walked and we shopped. We talked and sometimes we listened.

We girls and Ben 'did' Portglenone. What a town! Erin and I went to the Ballymena Saturday market which was wet and windy. We bought fish and smelly cheese for Bert and Irish apples for me.

Marty put the finishing touches to the 'Neatette' kitchen press which was found in a shed. You wouldn't believe the stuff you would find in the sheds around here. Why only this morning Ganching found a collection of hand-stitched handkerchiefs and a flowery soap bag that she got very excited about. I found some rose-printed linen curtains.

But I digress. Ben showed Bert how to operate an Xbox (whatever that is) and Erin and I hiked down the river path hoping to find the bloated corpse of a dead sheep. We didn't see it but we thought we smelled it.

We ran out of bread and Jazzer made pancakes, soda farls and potato bread. I made coconut and pineapple scones.

Miss Banjo ate huge quantities of Werther Originals and raspberry ruffles and lost a filling so she wasn't too happy. But hey - 100% happiness is hard to achieve.

Small snag - Ganching and the Wee Manny overlapped for a while, which was slightly unfortunate as she finds him rather wearing.

But all in all it was a good weekend. And Ganching - I might have given you that pruck if you hadn't peeved me by saying my blog was inconsistent. Inconsistent? Me? Petty? Yes!

I'll give it to you next time you get back to your roots.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cruel and Unusual

The Banjos are staying with us this weekend. It’s their first proper visit since we moved in. And the first time we’ve had all six beds on the go. Miss Banjo and Erin slept in the high room. The high room was formerly known as the attic but we thought the attic had scary connotations that were best avoided.

Before they came Bert said, “I’m going to tell the kids the house is haunted.” Have you ever heard the expression ‘I went down his throat for a shortcut’? That is just where I went. I explained to him that the last thing we needed were kids screaming the place down in the middle of the night just because The Beast of Springhill (Harry de Cat) had jumped on their bed.

When they got here I couldn’t get over Jazzer and Miss Banjo’s curly blonde hairstyles. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Miss Banjo with curly hair that I’d forgotten she was a curly top. Since she first got her hands on a set of ceramic hair straighteners she has been obsessive. Not one tendril of hair has been allowed to kink or curl but there she was peering in the mirror and carefully straightening it out again.

She’s fifteen now and well into the middle of her teen rebellion. There have been sanctions and there have been groundings but Miss Banjo has continued in her defiant ways. That is until Jazzer hit upon a most cruel and unusual punishment. This is what happened. Miss Banjo had been grounded but when left in the house by herself had made her escape. Despite many phone calls from her mother she refused to return home. Eventually all her friends were in for the night and still she refused to return. It started to rain. She stood on. Eventually she relented and returned to the warmth of her cosy home. Her hair was soaked and was starting to frizz. Jazzer said nothing for she was hatching an evil plan.

The next morning Miss Banjo woke up her head a mass of glorious golden curls. She looked for her hair straighteners. Aaagh! The plug had been cut off. She looked for the spare set. They too were plugless. With no means to tame the frizz she set off for school looking like Bonnie Langford. It was a cruel and unusual punishment indeed. Apparently she’s been good as gold ever since. For who knows to what lengths her fiercely strict mother will go to next?

Miss Banjo is not the only one to have recently suffered the Wrath of Jazzer. There is a certain person who has learned that just because it’s a Halloween fancy dress party does not make it all right to be looking up the skirt of the young blade in the PVC nurse’s uniform. Jazzer packs a hefty punch for five foot nothing. And that certain someone has had an excellent opportunity to assess the paint job on the ceiling.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Beware of the Sheep

That is a fine example of a Zwartble ram standing behind the middle ewe.

I wouldn't fancy going head-to-head with him. Would you?

Zwartbles 2, Rottweilers 0

Cast of Characters

Fred. An Organic Gardener
Millie. A Dog Owner
Spider. Millie’s consort
Constable Peter. A PSNI Officer
Constable Paul. Another PSNI Officer

The Scene: A small market garden. Adjacent to the market garden is a meadow where a small flock of sheep are grazing peacefully. Fred is tipping a barrow load of compost on to a heap when he sees Millie who is just outside the market garden gate. She is unfastening the leashes on two large and rather fat Rottweilers.

Fred: Have I not told you before about letting those dogs loose near those sheep? Can you not see that sign I have up?

Millie: Why don’t you mind your own business? My dogs’ll not go near your oul sheep.

Millie is wrong about this as the dogs are already running into the field with the sheep. The sheep are cornered at the bottom of the field. The dogs are barking and snapping at them. Then out of the huddle comes the ram. He is a fine large specimen of a pedigree Zwartble. He lowers his head and rams the nearest dog right between the eyes. The dog runs off stunned and whimpering softly. The other dog goes for the ram. The ram undaunted charges into its side and it is obvious that this dog has been hurt. Millie starts screeching.

Millie: Luck at my dog. That dog is hurt. You owe me a lot of money mister. There’s going to be big vet’s bills to pay. That’s if the dog doesn’t die. That dog’s worth a fortune. He’s got a pedigree as long as your arm. You are going to be paying me big money mister!

Fred: Money you say? Aye maybe I do owe ye a lot of money. And maybe I don’t. What do you say we get the police here and hear what they have to say?

Millie: You get the police if you like. I’m ringing my husband. He’s going to have plenty to say to you about this let me tell you!

Ten minutes later. The stunned dog is hiding behind Millie. The hurt dog is lying on its side panting. Spider arrives. In the distance a police car is slowly approaching.

Spider: What the fuck is going on here? What have you done to my dog?

Fred: I’ve done nothing to your dog but the ram has probably cracked his ribs. I’d get him to a vet pretty quick if I were you.

Spider: The vet? Aye and you’ll be paying the bill!

Fred. We’ll see.

Spider: You will. Let me assure you, you will pay for this. One way or another.

Millie: Aye you’ll pay. We know boys who’ll make you pay. Don’t we Spider?

Spider: Too fucking right. The main boy in Harrykeel is a very good friend of ours. We’re very well connected.

Fred: Well that’s very nice for you. Here’s the police. Let’s hear what they have to say.

Millie: This boy here is keeping a dangerous animal in that field and it has half kilt our dog. Luck at him lying there!

Constable Peter: You had the dogs off the lead.

Millie: Aye but that’s not the point…

Constable Peter: And Mr Carr has a big sign up on the gate warning people to keep their dogs on a lead.

Millie: Aye but the dogs were off the lead outside his place.

Constable Peter: But they ran straight into the field where the sheep were. You hadn’t those dogs under control. I don’t see how Mr Carr could have done any more to protect your dogs.

Millie: But that’s ridiculous.

Constable Peter: Tell me Mr Carr, do you have a shotgun?

Fred. No I don’t.

Constable Peter: Well you’d be entitled to have a shotgun. And then you’d be able to shoot any dog that worried your sheep.

Millie: (screeching) Whaaaat! That cannot be right!

Constable Peter: I assure you it is. Isn’t that correct Constable Paul?

Constable Paul: That is correct. And Madam I’d advise you take your dog to a vet immediately.


What Happened Next

There was no word of the injured dog. Fred hasn’t seen Millie, Spider or their dogs since.

Fred did not lose much sleep over the promised visit from the Head Man of the Paramilitaries.

He decided against getting a shotgun. The Zwartbles can take care of themselves..

Tarting Around

It must have been all that cupboard scrubbing at work got me in the mood, or maybe it was the approaching visits of Mel, the Banjos and, most importantly, Ganching that has had me spending many happy hours scrubbing, tidying and sorting Springhill.

Meanwhile Bert has been banished to the Wash Hoose to work on a kitchen press for use in the kitchen. He is going to keep his Stuff in it. Previously his Stuff was kept in other kitchen cupboards but as I have become A Domestic Goddess I now need these cupboards for my flour, raisins and baking trays.

Matty allowed me to gather some windfalls from her apple tree yesterday. She was a bit grudging about it as the crop was poor this year. But if it had been her eldest and much loved grandchild Zoë I think she would have been more generous. But then Zoë is always bringing Granny little bits of home-cooked deliciosity while here in Springhill my apple tart was fallen on by a pack of ravening wolves (Nellybert, Pearlie and The Visitors) and not even a crumb was left.

Since I have been A Domestic Goddess (Tuesday) I have made bread, pizza and an apple tart. Today I am going to make Coconut & Pineapple scones.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Too Tired To Blog...

...which is what happens if you don't leave off the hard labour on the Sabbath Day.

I laboured mightily at the coalface Monday and Tuesday. And I walked hard as well. On the second walk (Cullybackey to Gillies) I spotted what looked like a drowned sheep on the riverbank but I did not investigate further as it was nearly dark. Bert was cooking leg of lamb last night and this sighting took the edge of my appetite. Swisser joined us for supper so there was definitely going to be no blogging. After we'd eaten Bert, as usual, was fishing for compliments and it was only then he told us that the leg of lamb had belonged to one of those gorgeous Jacob's sheep. I don't know if I'd have eaten it if I'd known that.

Afterwards Young Loveheart turned up. He was looking pretty skinny and was sporting a neat wee beard. I thought he looked like a male model. Sort of pale and interesting. First thing he said was "I'm dying. I have a brain virus." It's not often I'm rendered speechless. Just what do you say to a 26-year old who has just announced he's terminally ill? Anyways it was quite a relief when we established that 'dying' was a figure of speech and what he actually meant was that he'd been rather poorly.

Natch Young Loveheart's pale and interesting look intrigued Swisser who hadn't met him before. "So who's Young Loveheart then?" she coyly enquired. I answered, "Old Loveheart's son," and left it at that. Then the next thing she's quizzing him about his recent illness and trying to pass herself of as a real doctor. But I soon put the young fellow right by telling him that she's only a PhD with a midwifery qualification and not to be paying any heed to her.