Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hee Haw!

Matty and I went to the Oldgreen Garden Centre and got ourselves some Neddy ears.

I thought they looked best on Matty. You can see by her beaming smile that she thought so too.

Photographs courtesy of Ganching.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Just Sign On The Dotted Line

Just sign that would you Bert?

(signing) Sure. What is it? Have I won a prize?

Yes. You have. A bride.


Don't worry. You don't have to turn up if you don't want to.

You'll probably drag me.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Kylie!

Baby Bert, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Kylie is 40 today! Can you believe it? She don't look a day over 30. It's amazing what a combination of good cheekbones and botox can do for a girl.

In other news, today is also Bert's birthday. He doesn't look a day over 30 either. At least, not in this photograph.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Something To Think About

I picked up an old book recently entitled Modern English Short Stories. The writing may have been modern back in the 1930s but not so much now. I found this story by Mary Webb (Gone To Earth, Precious Bane) very moving and thought-provoking. I keep coming back to it when I feel negative and scared about Pearlie coming to live with us.

Change Coming

How’s Pearlie?

She’s doing not too badly considering.

She’s been in a nursing home for just over a week now but I’m afraid she doesn’t like it. I don’t blame her because the home she’s in is one of those huge chains. Smells like pee and staff seem a bit thin on the ground. There’s damn all going on in there other than folk just sitting around waiting to die.

We decided a couple of weeks ago that Pearlie should come over into the house with us. This is scheduled to take place in 4-5 days and Pearlie says she’s ‘dreading it’.


Pearlie doesn’t want to stay on her own any longer. She doesn’t want to go into a home and Bert doesn't want it for her either.

I’m not entirely sure why Pearlie is dreading the move across the yard. What she says is that she needs to go to the toilet at around five am and she doesn’t think that Bert and I can manage it. I don’t think we can either. When I suggested that she come to us I thought the only upheaval would be that of the carers in and out all day. But since she’s been in hospital and the home they’ve been getting her up to the toilet at the scrake of dawn – or so she says.

I say to Bert – she needs two people to help her. We cannot do it on our own.

He says – that’s just them and their health and safety regulations.

I say – you were on your own with her when she fell. I’m not going to take that risk.

Pearlie’s not the only one who is worried about what’s in front of her.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Choosing His Words

Where've you been?

Making a total eedjit of myself.

What do you mean?

Well I went up to Philip McCartney's to ask if it was OK to go after those foxes on his ground.

What did he say?

Very little. He wasn't there but his wife was.


She comes to the door and she's this red-headed woman and there's all these wee red-headed weans running about the place and I opens my mouth and says to her, 'There's a wee ginger bugger has been harassing my hens', and her jaw dropped and she looks round her at all the weans and I say, 'I mean a fox! A fox has been harassing my hens and is it OK if we go on to your ground to shoot it?'

What did she say then?

She just looked relieved and said, 'Shoot away at it!'

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Omelettes Are Currently Off The Menu

Not our Foxy's offspring but of a similar age

Bert found Foxy's lair last night, saw her and her two cubs, got excited, shot at her and missed.

Alber' and friend came round this evening rigged out in full camouflage, armed to the teeth and staked her out. She was probably hiding in a gorse bush laughing her head off at them.

Did I mention she nabbed another hen? Our fences don't deter her. Our traps she easily avoids. She is, at time of writing this, still out there. Alber' and his mate got fed up and took themselves off home.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is It Wednesday Already?

Ten activities that cut into my blogging time:

1. Reading blogs.
2. Playing Scrabulous.
3. Sifting through the detritus of fifty years of hoarding.*
4. Thinking very hard about the obligations the middle-aged have towards the very old.
5. Going to work.
6. Growing vegetables.
7. Watching 'American Dad'.
8. Fox-hunting.
9. Weeshing....
10. Thinking about blogging.

Twelve 'popular' television programmes I've never watched. This list is inspired by Mr Bolan who famously avoids television.

1. Inspector Morse
2. Desperate Housewives
3. Ballykissangel
4. House
5. Supernanny
6. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
7. Grey's Anatomy
8. Prison Break
9. Scrubs
10. Heroes
11. Nip/Tuck
12. Ballykissangel

I'm not a deliberate avoider of the telly. I just can't be arsed and after a while I get bored with its offerings. I got very bored of 'Lost', bored of 'My Name Is Earl' and terribly bored of 'The Bill' (to which I used to be addicted). Currently I'll watch 'American Dad', 'Dexter', 'Peepshow' and that pillock Jonathan Ross.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

What Foxes Do

We had a visit from Foxy on Saturday morning. I'd let the hens out at about eight o'clock. Bert discovered the carnage at around 2pm. It had probably happened mid-morning. The hen run isn't that close to the house and we'd heard no commotion. The only unusual thing we spotted was Plum (the rooster) running around. In all the weeks that he has been confined with his harem he has never made any attempt to escape. He had all he wanted within the run. But when Foxy entered he managed to make his escape over the wire.

Nine hens were killed. The fox made off with four. She must have made several journeys. The remaining hens took refuge in the house. Five corpses were left semi-buried. Foxy intended to return.

This is where she got in. She dug a hole under the wire.

The remains of Morag, the Scots Dumpy.

This was one of Clint's special hens, reared from an egg.

One of the old battery hens we got from Bert's Aunie Fungus.

We've declared war on Foxy. I'd hoped to conclude this post with a picture of a dead fox but so far no luck. Alber' was to come yesterday and set a trap for her but he didn't make it. She came back last night and picked up four of the dead hens. Today there is one corpse left, Alber's trap is set and there is a bullet with her name on it waiting for her.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Not everyone in Northern Ireland follows the motorcycle racing but everyone is interested in the North West 200.

I've just caught my cousin Denver Robb interviewed on the local news about the serious crash involving Robert Dunlop. This doesn't look good. Matty and I were only talking about Robert's chances a few hours ago. Please God he will be OK but it doesn't look good.

Update: Robert didn't make it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Be Nice To Nettles Week

The sooner I get music in my car for my daily trek to work the better because the radio is starting to annoy me. I must be getting really old and fogeyish when even Radio 4 gets on my nerves. It bothers and irks me every single morning.

Take today’s offerings:

The deplorable state of the housing market That's hardly a cheery start to the working day when you work in that very field yourself. But I did surprise myself when I became exasperated enraged at a 'spokesperson' using the word ‘exasperate’ when he meant ‘exacerbate’. Little wonder the industry is in turmoil when that is the best we can do.

Then there was this:

Apparently there is a new film being made of Brideshead Revisited. This was last seen on our screens as a television series in 1981. I don’t know what I was getting up to back then but it certainly wasn’t watching that. I was well aware of the fuss surrounding it, for who couldn’t be. I just read the book. It's not one of his best.

So Radio 4 takes the screenwriter Jeremy Brock to meet with Sir John Mortimer the man responsible for the original adaptation. Aaargh! It was cringey. Mortimer is obviously mightily miffed at the film being made at all and kept saying in his querulous little old man's voice,

Just read the book.

No need for a film.

There had better be homosexuality and religion.

And teddy bears.

And why don't you write something original?

Like Rumpole.

Obviously a change of tune from when he took the gig back in the late seventies. Brock talked to Mortimer in the tones of a concerned and friendly geriatrician and reassured him that the film was replete with homosexual teddy bears. But the whole thing was just awful. I didn’t know who I wanted to shake the hardest – the Radio 4 production team or Sir John.

The only thing that was worth listening to was this story on the use of nettles. Zoë and D were out here the other week gathering nettle shoots for soup that D said was very yummy indeed. Apparently they can also be used as a substitute for spinach. I love spinach so I’d better hurry up as the nettle harvesting season is nearly over.

And would you believe that nettles can also be turned into a linen like cloth? I’d like to see and wear that. It’s not very common as hardly anyone is manufacturing it.I wonder if you can make cloth out of dockens. If so then the farmer who has the ground next to us could become a very wealthy man indeed.

Here’s a recipe for Nettle Soup. I must try it myself before nettles become all tough and hairy like a le…. No! I cannot say that. Ganching would kill me.


½ carrier bag full of nettles, tops or young leaves
55g butter
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 large carrot, chopped (optional)
2 celery sticks, chopped (optional)
1 large garlic clove, crushed (optional)
1 litre good chicken, fish or vegetable stock
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
3 tablespoons cooked rice or 3 rice cakes
2 tablespoons thick cream or crème fraiche
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Garnish:
A little extra cream or crème fraiche
A small bunch of chives, chopped
A few sprigs of wild chervil or parsley, chopped


Pick over the nettles and wash them thoroughly. Discard only the tougher stalks, as the soup will be liquidised. Melt the butter in a large pan and sweat the onion, plus the carrot, celery and garlic if using, until soft but not brown. Add the stock and pile in the nettles. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the nettles are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and with nutmeg if you wish. Puree the soup in a liquidiser with the cooked rice or rice cakes (you will probably have to do this in 2 batches). Return to a clean pan, stir in the cream and reheat, but do not let it boil. Check the seasoning, then serve, garnishing each bowl with a swirl of cream and a generous sprinkling of chopped herbs.

To serve cold:
An alternative is to serve this soup cold. After liquidising and adding the cream, pour the soup into a bowl and leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. For accelerated cooling, fill a large basin or saucepan with ice cubes and water and place the bowl of soup in the iced water. Stir to chill, adding more ice cubes if the first batch melts. Stir well just before serving and ladle the soup out into bowls. Garnish each with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives and wild chervil.

Serves 6

Recipe found on this dear old Radio 4 site

Matty's Creggan Schooldays

This part of Matty's memoir covers her time spent as a pupil of Master Duffy. I grew up hearing these stories and have always thought that Master Duffy was an inspirational teacher. My mother sat and passed the scholarship exam under his tutelage. She would have had her fees paid at grammar school had she taken up her place. Unfortunately her family was not able to afford the extras that this would have entailed. There would not have been enough to spare for school uniforms, books or travel to Ballymena. The wages that she would earn as a factory girl would have been sorely missed too. So it was that she left schooldays behind at 14 and started work in the Old Bleach in Randalstown.

Matty writes:
When I was eight years old I moved into Master Duffy’s classroom. I was a bit worried for he got the name of being very cross.

On my first day I was given a pen to write with. I had never used a pen before and the first thing I did was make a big blot on the page I was using. I was sure I would get slapped but he must have been in a good mood that day for it did not happen.
I spent the rest of my schooldays with Master Duffy and I was not really unhappy. He was a very clever man but he had a strange way of teaching. We did not have a half hour for each subject but two or three hours of the same thing. It was all right if you liked the subject but if you did not it was very boring. My favourite subjects were Geography, English and Art. Talking of art I was classed as a bit of a weirdo. When we had a visitor at the school the Master would ask me to give them a demonstration of me writing with my right hand and drawing with my left. It was all very embarrassing for me. I don’t think he knew how I had been punished and forced to use my right hand when I was a young child. History was not my favourite subject. I would sit and gaze out of the window and daydream and listen to his voice droning on and then he would shout at me,

“How many wives had Henry VIII?”

I could not answer and I would get a hard slap on the hand and it would sting for an hour or more.

When I was about ten years old we moved to a house on the Mill Road. I was very happy there for two of my school friends Betty and Lizzie lived on that road and we had good fun playing together. During the school holidays Mammy would take us for walks through the fields looking for bird’s nests and gathering wild flowers and she could tell us the names of these things which was educational for us.

On Saturdays we had to help Mammy to clean windows with screwed up newspaper, dusting and brushing below beds. My friend Lizzie would help me to do my chores so we would have more time to play.

My sister Sadie and I were the tomboys in our family and our favourite things to do were climbing trees and swinging from rafters and walking across the tops of iron gates. All very dangerous things to do and Mammy would have been very cross with us if she had known what we were doing.

In the Autumn we would gather crab apples and blackberries for Mammy to make jam or jelly. It took about two days to make the jelly as the juice of the boiled fruit had to be strained through a muslin bag but when it was finished it was well worth waiting for.

I spent some very happy times with Lizzie Boyle at the Lough Shore. She was very good at swimming but I was unable to do so. I spent the time in the water paddling and having fun. Sometimes when we were playing at the shore fishermen from other places around would come by. Lizzie knew them all by name. They would call with Lizzie’s mother who made fishing nets. I liked to watch her making them, as she was very skilled at her work. The house they lived in then was very old with cobblestones on the floor. I thought they were very lucky not to need to scrub the floor, as it just needed brushing with a broom.

One day Lizzie’s sister Teresa had gathered some hazel nuts around the shore and she was going to put them in toffee she was making. While she was doing this Lizzie and I came in and she told us she was putting dried peas in the toffee. Because she was older than us we believed her and told her she could eat it herself, as we did not want any of it.

The twenty ninth of June, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, was a special day for us children for we had a fair on the shores of Lough Neagh at Cranfield. We children looked forward to it for weeks and saved our pennies to spend at the stalls buying sweets, yellowman and ice cream. The older people would walk around the ruins of the old church and visit the Holy Well to say prayers.

Once a year we had a traveling show called ‘Sparks’ which came to Tate’s Hall at Cranfield. They put on a different show every night and adults and children all attended it. We all enjoyed it very much and were sorry to see them leave at the end of two weeks and go to another part of the country.
One winter we had very heavy frost and a lint dam in front of the school was frozen hard. A lot of us were playing on it and the ice cracked. Dan McAteer and myself both went into the water. It was lucky it was not too deep but we were wet and cold. Dan was able to go home and get changed as he lived quite near the school but I had to wait until home time. I must have been a healthy child for it did not do me the slightest bit of harm.

We had a big garden at the back of our school and when the weather was good we spent a lot of time working in it, digging and planting and then weeding. We had a lot of different vegetables growing and a few flowers. We were allowed to take vegetables home when they were ready for harvesting and they were much appreciated by Mammy even though we had a vegetable garden at home. At the beginning of the war our school garden got a write up in the Belfast Telegraph for the way in which every inch of ground had been used for growing extra vegetables. We were all very pleased at getting a picture in the paper of us working in the garden.

One day while we were working in the garden Master Duffy got a message to go home. He told us to continue working and he would be back within the hour. We worked for a little while then we started chasing each other up and down the paths and sometimes accidentally stepping on the vegetable plots. That is what we were doing when Master Duffy arrived back and he was very angry. We were all brought back into the classroom and punished and he told us we were no better than a pack of wild animals.

When war was declared in September 1939 I was thirteen years old. We had heard it on the radio that Sunday morning, as we were getting ready to go to Mass. We had three miles to walk and we were not long left home when it started to rain very heavily and in a few minutes we were drenched to the skin. It was so bad we thought it was the end of the world and we were very frightened.

At school every morning after Master Duffy had read the newspaper he would get out a large map of Europe and throw it over the blackboard. He would then explain how the war was progressing and what country Hitler was taking over. I do not know what the rest of the class thought of it but I was not very interested and could not be bothered listening. I was too young to realize the terrible tragedies that could come from countries at war.

Nineteen forty was the year our class would leave Creggan School. Seven of us, five girls and two boys, were picked to do the Leaving Certificate exam. So we had to study hard and do extra homework in the evenings. The day of the exam arrived and we had to travel by bus to Antrim town where the exam would take place. A few weeks later we got the results and five of us had passed, one of the boys and four of us girls. We were very pleased.

The following week Master Duffy invited us to his house for a celebration tea. He lived alone so we were surprised how nicely everything was set out. There were little sandwiches and cakes cut into fingers. We really enjoyed our tea and afterwards he asked us girls would we wash some dishes for him. We got a bit of a shock when we went into his kitchen and saw the table covered with dirty dishes. It took us ages getting them finished and then we thanked him for tea and went home. We were worried he might think up some more jobs for us to do.

When we went back to school after the summer holidays Master Duffy continued to keep us informed how the war was going and the news was not good.

At the end of nineteen forty I was leaving school to help Mammy look after four of our cousins who were evacuated from Belfast. Although we did not have conscription in Northern Ireland we had food rationing, we needed coupons to buy sweets, we had blackout on all windows and a scarcity of so many things.

We learned how to make do and mend – it was not unusual for girls to get coats made from army blankets – but it became just a way of life.

I was sorry to leave my schooldays behind but strange to say a ceilidh at Creggan School is where I met my husband Seamus when I was nineteen. That was fifty-five years ago and another story to be told.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

wild cherry blossom, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

1. Hand feeding vine weevil grubs to my favourite hen.

2. Having long eared owls breeding on our farm.

3. Nurturing seedlings in my greenhouse.

4. Getting a really good move on Scrabulous.

5. Spring flowers.

6. Walking.

7. Family and friends.

8. The moment the plane leaves the runway.

9. Going to bed knowing that I don’t have to get up early the next day.

10. Making lists.

I could also add Bert, chocolate, gin, Ebay, barbecues and blogfriends.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Owl Watching

Spotted this evening at around 7pm




I really love having these owls so close to the house. The adult birds are (wisely) elusive but their young, when you are lucky enough to spot them, just sit there staring back. As they mature, they too, become shy and elusive.

Obviously these pictures were taken using magnification.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

English To Spanish To French And Back To English Again

A previous post Babel'd cos I'm exhausted from hossie visiting and Scrabulous.

Miss Hannah obtained a pedacito carried far in the interweb - thought it incorporated a competition and instead of another overdraft, manner too late, which it bought really one of the too expensive books of the atlas of the way of the summary of the indicator. During this time Mrs Moser stumbled through this part of Scrabulous where you can play with the foreigners total and signed for in top for a slowed down play with Cadre. Five movements thereafter, much of head that rasguña as for because simple words as ' mode ' were not allowed, and it discovers that it plays in Italian. I think that Cadre will gain this one.

Incidentally Marco did win our game. The final score was Marco 767, Nelly 307.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Alzheimer's or Intoxication - You Decide

Oh deary me - as if accidentally playing a Scrabulous game in Italian weren't bad enough I think I might have sent a Happy Birthday Ed message to 51 of my 52 Facebook friends. If you're the one I left out please don't be offended.

And seeing as I'm not entirely in my senses I think I'll start the (true) rumour - the one about the certain person who secretly lusts after and adores London's new mayor.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Be Careful Out There

Miss Hannah got a bit carried away on the interweb - thought she was entering a competition and instead discovered, way too late, that she was actually buying one of  Sneak's Digest overpriced Road Atlas books. 

Meanwhile Mrs Moser stumbled across that part of Scrabulous where you can play with total strangers and signed herself up for a leisurely game with Marco. Five moves later, much head scratching as to why simple words like 'diet' weren't permitted, and she discovers that she's playing in Italian. I think Marco is going to win this one.