Thursday, August 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Zoe

Zoe, originally uploaded by hootchinhannah.

My oldest daughter's birthday. Happy birthday love. Hope you're having a great day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In The Midst Of Life

As I said I forgot all about my blog's anniversary - a trivial enough thing in the wider scheme of things.

On Tuesday morning I received two emails telling me that someone I had been close to many, many years ago had died, in his early sixties, from a heart attack. I'd only recently resumed contact (through Facebook) with his daughter and his first wife and had sent him an email hoping to hear how he was doing. I knew he was retired and, according to his daughter, was living the bohemian life in Spain.

Later that same day Matty told me that one of my many second cousins, Peter Cassidy, had been murdered in Zimbabwe. I'd never met him, not that I recall, but Matty remembered him with fondness as a small boy, during the war years, when he'd been evacuated from Belfast to the Randalstown area. She was quite upset about it. Peter Cassidy was a journalist and, according to African newspaper reports, met a truly horrible end.

It was Mervyn's death that was most on my mind even though it must be nearly thirty years since I last spoke to him. I was eighteen and straight off the farm when I met him, his then wife and their little daughter. We were all student nurses together in Holywell Hospital. I was as green as a goosegog and thought they were two of the most worldly and experienced people I'd ever encountered and consequently was madly attracted to them both. They'd met John Peel! He'd stayed in their flat in Bristol. This was before I knew that John Peel stayed in millions of people's flats. They were hippies, they drank cider, ate different and interesting food out of wooden bowls, had a great music collection, were Bohemians! Mervyn wasn't conventionally handsome but he was funny and intelligent and I sort of hero-worshipped him. Such passion usually ends in tears and we did eventually grow apart.

I still credit the both of them with helping to open my little country mind and introducing me to an alternative world. It was their relationship with their adored daughter that inspired me and got me longing to become a mother. And they even introduced me to my children's father.

I'm just so sorry that Mervyn didn't have longer to enjoy his retirement.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

There Should Have Been Seven

Family and Familiars 1, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Bert's Aunt Lizzie was disappointed that Pepe missed out on this photo call but it was hard enough getting six of them on the sofa at once.

From the left the dogs are Gracie, Paddy, Scruff, Rosie, Macy and Bonnie.

They weren't all keen on the picture being taken. Paddy felt the whole thing was beneath him and Bonnie was terribly worried that Macy was going to attack her - again.


Yesterday was my blog's third anniversary and I forgot but there's a reason for that. I'll explain later.

Still A Big Strong Healthy Girl

My Aunt Polly would never dream of calling anybody obese or fat. She'll say something like,

Not a-tall! That young girl's not fat. Sure she's just a big strong healthy girl. Fat! Not a bit of it!

What does the doctor mean that child needs to lose weight? Sure that's a big strong healthy baby! There's not one thing wrong with that child!

Meanwhile, as I mentioned previously, I'm looking for the perfect wrap dress - the ideal solution to a slowly diminishing body shape. The last one looked great in the photograph, but then what dress wouldn't look great draped round a size 10 tailor's dummy? Drape it round a big strong healthy girl like me and there's too much bosom, too much leg and not enough drape and skim over the love handles. I'll have to keep on trying. Maybe the next one will be better.

And maybe this weekend I'll keep off the wine and cake and then on Monday, maybe, I'll lose another pound or two.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Search for Paddington

After missing out on my second Paddington, to fellow EBayer Slippytit, I decided to use Bid Assistant. Then Elly told me about Auction Sniper so I signed up for that too. Using both won me two Paddingtons, which was fine, as I secretly wanted one for myself anyway.

Macy inspects Paddingtons

The first to arrive (the cheaper one) needed a new coat as his own was a bit moth-eaten . No problem as I've purchased a pattern from an Ebayer in Texas. The first Paddington also needed boots but that shouldn't be a difficulty. The second one was perfect, apart from a wall eye, and he's the one that's gone to Zoe.

So that's why I didn't do that meme Ed* was at. Far too samey when nearly all the letters of the alphabet turn up EBay sites. I'm not obsessed or anything. When I find the perfect wrap dress I'll quit. But that's another story.

*Like Ed, V turned up Caroline and Z, Zobo.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Beware The Green Butter

This guy I know, he's usually pretty clean-living, at least that's what he tells me, sorted himself some of that green butter, made himself some cookies and settled down with a nice cup of tea and half a special cookie. Thought he'd have a nice relaxing evening watching TV in the stoned zone. But things didn't go according to plan. Maybe that butter had more of a kick to it than he was expecting. First off the TV was giving him visions and fits, next thing the phone rings just as he's slipping into a pretty paranoid state. Turns out the guy ringing him up is conducting a telephone interview for a job he's really keen on. He does his best but all through the conversation he's thinking,

This person has to be thinking that I'm the most insane, loony mentalist he's ever spoken to in his entire life.

Guess what? He still got the job.

Eleven Months Later

I left Tinkerton and hostel work eleven months ago with the intention of working part-time and studying for a diploma in teaching ICT. Things didn't go exactly to plan. I ended up accepting the offer of a full-time job and keeping on with the course with less free time to study than I'd envisaged.

At one point I got so stressed that I was on the verge of quitting the course but our teacher would have none of it. So I struggled on and it was tough, especially towards the end.

Now I've got the diploma (heard today) and I've also got six months experience of a new and challenging job under my belt.

Thanks to our teacher, a wonderfully supportive bunch of fellow students, Bert for putting up with me, my family for encouraging me and CD for letting me work on assignments in quiet moments.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Ronni has been on my blogroll for quite a while now. Her post on the 20th of August is short and devastating. As she puts it, 'If you are a praying person, pray for us'

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rosie & Pearlie Got Sore Paws

Between one thing and another Bert has had a tough week. There has been a lot going on with Pearlie (she broke her wrist) and we’ve been trying to get more help from social services. On Friday, between arranging to take Pearlie to A&E and meeting with her social worker, those dirty, rotten, scunging devil-dogs gave him the slip for the first time in a fortnight. We do try to keep them from running off but they know when we’re distracted and pick their moment well.

About three hours into his hospital sit, Bert got a phone call from Alber’,

Your Paddy is running about the Lisnahuncheon Road and he’s that black with glaar you’d hardly know it was him!

There was nothing Bert could do until he got home. He went out as soon as he’d eaten and managed to gather Paddy up but Rosie was nowhere to be seen.

Paddy was in a really funny mood. He didn’t want to get into the van and when I got a hold of him he pissed himself.
We waited patiently for Rosie to return. Bert had to go out and at 8pm I set off to look for her. Up the Loan Hill, Killyless Road, Lisnahuncheon – I called for her until I was hoarse but no Rosie.

When Bert got back he went out too but wasn’t able to find her either. I was really worried thinking that she might have been hurt, or shot, maybe put her shoulder out again – something must have happened to her.

Next morning I was out again, mainly checking the roads in case she’d been hit by a car. I brought an old towel with me to wrap her in if I found her body.

At 8.30am Bert went out. Fifteen minutes later I heard him coming back. I knew he’d found her but whether dead or alive I didn’t know. But as soon as I saw him get out of the car and head for the boot I knew she was alive. His body language told me.

The poor bedraggled thing had caught her front paw in a snare and had lay in a hedge the entire night. Bert returned to the place where he’d found Paddy, walked into a field and went straight to her. He said she wagged her wet, scraggy tail when she saw him. In took a while to get the snare off but amazingly her leg wasn’t too badly hurt at all. It was swollen but started going down within an hour. She had a feed, a big drink of water and jumped on to the sofa for a serious wound-licking session. Then she slept for the rest of the day.

She’s still resting today and has only chased the cat a couple of times.

And what of Pearlie? She’s enjoying a week’s stay in residential care. She could only get a week, and so far she says it’s not too bad. She says the food is ‘alright’, the other women are ‘a bit odd’ and there’s a man she’s got her eye on. She asked Bert if he’d mind her taking up with a boy and he said he wouldn’t as long as he was a decent sort of a boy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lost Dog

Earlier today I had to reduce the number of chickens on the sidebar to 7. One of the banties has disappeared.

I'm terribly worried that I'm going to have to drop on the dog count too. Rosie has been missing since 10 o'clock this morning.

Slippytit* and the Bare Bear

I’ve got bears on the brain right now. Ever since I decided I was going to get Zoë a replacement Paddington Bear to make up for the one that I donated to a jumble sale many years ago. OK – he had spent the last several years of his stay with us as a nudist, while a panda wore his duffel coat, his hat was lost down the back of the sofa and his Wellington boots had become a part of family tradition as each daughter eagerly awaited her turn to fill Paddington’s shoes. But now that the frenzy of fundraising for worthy causes (Women’s Aid and the like) had left me, I had come to regret giving Zoë’s bear away. After all I hadn’t even asked her if I could. And a Paddington in good condition can fetch more than £80 on EBay these days.

So I decided to get an old dilapidated bear and restore him to his former glory and present him to Zoë. I spotted a shabby nude one on EBay and thought I’d try for him, decided I’d pay up to £20 and started watching him. The last twenty minutes were nail biting. I watched the auction obsessively. He was going to be mine for £16. In the last five minutes I upped my bit to £21.45. In the last seconds I breathed a sigh of relief. In the closing seconds some total bastard sneaked in and snatched my bare bear away from me for a paltry £22.45. The word ‘incandescent’ was invented for such moments.

*Funnily enough the robbing bastard EBayer's handle wasn't Slippytit, but it wasn't far off it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I really like chocolate. But since I started eating sensibly at the beginning of July, the entire amount of chocolate I've consumed is less than I used to eat in a day. I had very little self-control around it, so for now, it's best for me that I rarely eat it at all.

But I still buy it - loads of it! I buy gigantic bars from Lidl's and Cadbury's and even Mars Bars. And give it all to Bert. He's not like me. He can nibble a bit of chocolate and put it down and leave it for a day, or even days - if he forgets about it. I could never do that and I never, ever forget that I have it.

So why do I buy it? I think it's because I want to control it. If I buy Bert lots of chocolate then I'm not going to be surprised by stumbling upon a bit of chocolate he's bought for himself and, of course, wolfing it down. I keep asking him how much he's got left and has he eaten any recently. Bless him for he tries to avoid eating it in front of me. So he'll go get it when I'm on the computer, or something. But I hear the rustle of the wrapping and my chocolate receptors go on full alert.

Why am I writing this post? Because it is supposed to be taking my mind off chocolate. But it's not working...I want some.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

James Blunt: He's A.....

D asked me today what I thought of James Blunt. Something happened, maybe that was when Gracie rolled in a dead fish or some such thing, and I never got round to saying. Anyway, for the record, I can't bear the wee get.

Today was one of those days when you remember exactly what you were doing a long time ago.

In 1977, on this day, I was in London. I was working as a chambermaid in the Inverness Terrace Hotel in Bayswater, living in grotty rooms in Holland Park (bet it's not so grotty now) and it was in a friend's flat in Paddington that I heard that Elvis was dead.

I must confess that I wasn't a huge Presley fan and it took a while for his death to affect me. It was 2004 before I realised what we had lost.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dodging About

Last night a few of us went to the Feile An Phobail to see Lee "Scratch" Perry. It was a good show. Mr Perry cuts an eccentric looking figure on stage. He pimps his hat, his shoes and the mike but, as I didn't bring my camera, I haven't the evidence. Probably just as well I hadn't a camera as it meant I had more of a chance to just enjoy the performance and, as Bert said,

If he'd stand still a minute 'til I get a good look at him. He's dodging about up there like one of our wee banties!

Friday, August 10, 2007


By local standards Mr Bolan would be considered a well-spoken fellow. Indeed, some Spides might even consider him to be a tad la-di-da. Yet it seems that in sunny Cambridgeshire his accent, with its thick Norn Irish brogueiness, defeats the understanding of many of his co-residents. I have an opinion about this. And this is it.

Certain peoples, and I think that the Southern English are among these peoples, consider themselves to be a cut above. It's not really English unless it is spoken by the worthy people. Accents, of any kind, are unacceptable. They cause the brow to furrow and the eye to glaze. And I think that these people who have such trouble understanding the Irish, the Welsh, the Indian, the Brummie, the Scot, the Chinese, the Geordie, all the Johnny Foreigners are simply being arrogant, up themselves and snobby gets.

I experienced this incomprehension a lot when I visited the deep South. In Mississippi and Louisiana I quickly learned not to ask the white folks for the rest room or directions of any sort. Small Mom and Pop stores were the worst. Those people just didn't understand one word I said. They looked at me with deep suspicion and not a little resentment. Instead I'd ask black women for directions if I needed to find something in a shop or figure out where the toilets where. Those women had not the slightest difficulty understanding our North Antrim accents and were more than willing to help us find our way about.

I've often wondered about it since. Were the white folks, often a minority in the rural areas, a remnant of the worthy people who set the standard on how English should be spoken, the people who shouldn't have to make an effort to understand the way that other, less worthy people spoke, or am I just a paranoid bitch?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Rich Are Different

I just watched a YouTube clip where Britney Spears hit a parked car. At first I sympathised as this was a very similar accident to the one I had that time I clipped the BMW. But the manner of the accident was where the similarities stopped.

In Britney's case the witnesses were a roving pack of paparazzi. In mine witnesses included the raging owner of the car.

In Britney's case all the focus was on her and her sports car. Nobody gave a toss about the parked vehicle she dunted.

In Britney's case she got out of her car in her skintight purple dress and showed off her knickers to the grateful paps. In my case I got out of my car in my dowdy office clothes and kept my knickers well out of it. Don't think showing them would have helped anyways.

In Britney's case she then swanned into a health food shop, surrounded by sycophants, gay admirers and snappers, and bought a load of vitamins. In my case I trudged dejected and alone into Kells Centra and bought a tub of cottage cheese. Nobody cared enough to put me on YouTube and I had to give that tosser £530.

And I know I'm the last person to give driving advice, but - honestly Britney! You'd handle that car a whole lot better if you'd get that effing Yorkshire Terrier out of your arms!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Food, Glorious Food!

I've lost 15 lbs. It's taken 5 weeks to lose, which is maybe a bit too fast, but I can't help it. I'm not starving myself.

Here is The Diet

Lots of - porridge, fruit, vegetables, lean meat, fish, Ryvita, cottage cheese, eggs, natural yogurt. coffee, tea.

A little of - milk, honey, gin, nuts, olive oil, white wine.

None of - cheese, bread, shop-bought biscuits/cake.

I'd be lying if I said I was being a total purist but that's about it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


The Wee Manny and Mrs The Wee Manny were here for dinner last night. As ever, it was a crazy evening. Craziness and the Wee Manny go hand-in-hand.

Among the many tall tales that he told was the one about the woman who got drunk at a training day and showed some of her work colleagues her 'Brazilian'.

And you know what a Brazilian is, don't you Nelly?

I have a pretty good idea Wee Manny.

It's when a girl shaves her pubic hair into the shape of the map of Brazil.

Is it?

By the look of that map I'd say she'd want to be encouraging the growth in the region of her right groin area Say round about the Peruvian and Colombian borders.

Swisser says she's having hers shaved into the shape of the map of Ireland.

Ploppy Pants says,

North and South?
Swisser says,
All of it. I believe in a united Ireland.
Ploppy says he's getting his shaved in the shape of Ulster. And that'll be the six counties Ulster. Of course.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Advice Not Taken

We were all given a great bit of advice the other day. I did not take it.

I went to work yesterday morning with a bit of stomachache going on . Naturally I put it down to something I'd eaten and soldiered on. Unfortunately by lunchtime it was quite a bit worse and I mentioned to one of the site foremen that I was feeling yuck. He diagnosed wind and recommended a good gallop around a field. But when I turned grey and went into cold sweats they hauled me off to A&E.

I have to say that, despite their newness to the job, the medical staff treated me very well. Perhaps Katie wasn't too adept at the old needle into the vein thing and Alicia hadn't a clue how to adjust the trolley bed but apart from that and the long wait it wasn't too bad. My heart was fine, and so were all the other tests. I think that site foreman's original diagnosis might have been correct.

Thanks to my boss, CD, who took me to hospital and waited the whole time I was there. He's off to climb Mont Blanc this morning. You take care of yourself up there CD.

Friday, August 03, 2007

It's all My Fault

Cadbury Schweppes say that the current downfall in profit margins are down to the rising cost of milk.

Some financial commentators are saying that the company expected too much from the new markets opening up in China. Seems the Chinese just don't care for chocolate.

I'm saying that their profit losses must have something to do with their extra added ingredient - salmonella.

But Matty says it's all my fault! It's true. I've not had chocolate for nearly a month now. I'm turning Chinese!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Artist Currently Known As 'Gorgeous' Gage

The orchard before

This morning Bert had to get up at 8am because Sammy 'Gorgeous' Gage was coming to level the orchard. Bert hates an early rise at the best of times but when the digger man comes, not only does he have get up, he also has to work like a navvy the whole day.

Of course it was raining, which didn't help his mood. It was only a fine mizzle but Bert didn't like the look of it. He's like a cat - hates getting wet.

How come when Clint had Gorgeous in, it never rained?

Because Clint's a good man who says his prayers every night.


The orchard has been a bit of a disaster area for some time now. When we were having this house renovated all the rubble ended up in it and since then Clint's been dumping stuff there as well. When you climb over the rubble there are two poxy apple trees then there's a low bit with six foot nettles. It's a bit of a wild life haven - mostly rabbits with myxomatosis so hardly worth preserving. It has to go!

Gorgeous arrived bright and early and I headed off to work leaving them to it.

At lunchtime I set off for a brisk walk to the graveyard. When I'm working I try to walk for at least half an hour every day. As I've said before the village hasn't many good walks. And you have to watch your step as it's the dogshit capital of the borough.

In the graveyard car park I saw this poor remnant from a cockfight. I find it hard to understand how people can take pleasure in breeding fowl just to watch them tear each other to bits. And, call me pi if you like, I thought it was disrespectful to use church property for such a purpose.

The orchard project: Day 1

Home again and I take a few minutes to watch 'Gorgeous' at his work. As I remarked to Bert, that man is an artist with a digging bucket.

Then I went out for a bike ride and managed to ride up one of the hills! So pleased.