Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Christmas Diary

Christmas Day: White Christmas! Snow everywhere! Wonderful! Got lots of nice presents, drank lots of champagne. Lots of old people here. And Hannah. Watched Annie and Happy Feet until Pearlie sat in front of TV then just listened. Full of Christmas Spirit and did not mind.

Boxing Day: Snow everywhere! Nice! Oven broke! Dinner disaster! Bert drunk! Had major huff. Got no dinner as gannet guests ate it all while I am outside in polytunnel sulking. Good bit - Martha Amy here for the evening.

27th December: Snow everywhere! Boring and disgusting! Stayed in house All Day. Ate nothing but turkey sandwiches and chocolate. Feel strange. Wonder why?

28th December: Snow still here! Hate it! Had lovely day with Zoe and baby Martha. Went shopping. Zoe shopped and I pushed pram. Junction One snow-free zone. Discovered joy of attacking queue-jumpers using pram as weapon. Had Ulster Fry! No turkey! Spent evening with Hannah and Mel. Made enormous dinner. Ate lots despite not being hungry. Feel odd. Wonder why?

29th December: Frozen slush everywhere! Am going to drive on it and don't care! Had day oot with Mel. Went to Lindsay's outside Coleraine and bought merino tops for Hannah and Snickers work trousers for Bert. Ate enormous lunch in Ballycastle and visited Dark Hedges. Hannah loved merino tops and Bert loved Snickers work trousers. Keeps discovering new pockets and says knee pads so good he could walk to Cully on his knees. Does going on knees count as walking? Despite Bert wearing work trousers all evening has only hung one picture. Tomorrow another day. Ate enormous pile of turkey sandwiches. Feel peculiar. Wonder why?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas...

A very Happy Christmas to everyone who looks in on the Garden from time to time.

That was the back lane yesterday.

That was the Head Robin yesterday. He is surveying his territory to make sure that those other three chancers stay away. He has his work cut out for him as Nellybert provide excellent bird dining facilities and other robins keep trying to muscle in.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Closer To Home Than That

According to the Daily Mail the average Christmas dinner travels 90,000 miles before it reaches our tables. Not so at Nellybert's.

The turkey will have travelled half a mile up the road from Clint's place. The ham will be our own, although it did take a detour via Stevensons and Marcus the butcher. Brussels sprouts, carrots and potatoes will come from the garden. 

I can't promise that a lot of my pudding and desert ingredients won't have covered a mile or two before they hit the kitchen island but not the eggs.  If the hens don't take fear of the snow we should get enough eggs for cakes.

Shame we can't grow coffee, chocolate and wine.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Toast to Sobriety

Well. Seeing as it's the 20th of December and Christmas and all and I've been wrapping presents all evening and got the tree decorated....

So because of all that I have toasted sobriety a whole five days earlier than I intended. Two glasses of cabernet sauvignon and I'm totally toodled. Cheers.

Christmas Begins

It snowed last night. The whole townland is a veritable Winter Wonderland. Excellent snow it is too, all deepness, crispness and evenness - the right sort of snow for building snowmen and snowball fights.

We were reminded of a guy Bert worked for many years ago. This guy was very short on sense and when the guys told him about an excellent blue movie he'd be sure to enjoy he lost no time in getting himself to the local video rental store. Back home he settled down with the Pringles, his voddy and a box of man-sized Kleenex.

Next day he told the fellows all about it.

"There must have been some sort of mix-up or there's some other film called The Snowman! It was a bloody cartoon! All that happened was they flew about and then the snowman melted! A total waste of time."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


dribbletime, originally uploaded by waveneyavenue.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Embrace The Peckishness

This time two years ago I was three stone heavier and several sizes bigger than I am today. This time last year I was, on average, 4-5 pounds lighter than I am today. That is how it begins. Weight creeps up. I got bored with watching what I eat all the time and quitting alcohol hasn't made a lot of difference. I've decided to try this alternate day diet that is much talked about.

It appeals to me in a way that other fad diets do not, as it is only restrictive every other day. Whether the health benefits that are being touted are real or not remains to be seen. I'm not convinced. However it does seem natural that a human being should experience hunger at times. After all that is how we came through the ages. Even our parents, and certainly our grandparents, knew what it was to feel hungry. Nowadays food is plentiful and many of us graze all day long. And then we wonder why we are getting so bloody fat.

The good thing about this eating plan is that I will be able to continue cooking scrummy food and making yummy cakes. I just won't eat them every day.

Yesterday was day one. I made delicious pizza and coconut tarts. Today I ate far, far less. Tomorrow I will have some more coconut tarts. I might even make pancakes. Tonight I go to bed feeling a wee bit hungry. Apparently I am to embrace that feeling. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

One Degree of Separation or Touched By Greatness

We had a visitor this evening, a guy who has been in the music business for decades. We were talking about the great performers, He told us that he shared a stage with Dusty Springfield in the sixties Said she was only a tiny little thing.A tiny little thing with a great big voice.

The venue? St Mary's Hall, Glenavy. Imagine!


Just noticed that I have 12 songs starting with 'Don't' on my iPod. They are -

Don't Be Light: Air

Don't Be Runnin' Wild (Problem Child): Ken Cook

Don't Cry No Tears: Neil Young with Crazy Horse

Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On: David McComb & Adam Peters

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood: Nina Simone

Don't Look Back: Youssou n’Dour

Don't Mash My Digger So Deep: Bo Carter

Don't Mess With The Messer: Koko Taylor

Don't Smoke in Bed: Nina Simone

Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) The Beach Boys

Don't Walk Away: Youssou N'Dour

Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O: Van Morrison, Lonnie Donegan & Chris Barber

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Happy Birthday Katy Bo!

katy in the buttercups, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

It is Katy's birthday today - and it is her last as a single lady. Hope she is wearing a happier face today.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Three Things

The kitchen island is nearly finished. The top has been tiled and tomorrow it shall be grouted. The shelves are full of saucepans and a cat. The cat thing might be a problem but we shall overcome it. I think a little water spray bottle might discourage them.

That's one thing.

Another thing is that I took Miss Martha Christmas shopping today. We had a nice time. She mostly slept and I mostly spent money. We're thinking of doing it again next Sunday.

That's two things.

And the last thing is - I got an email asking me to place an advertising link on the blog. Something about sport and betting. I declined. They would have paid me. I don't care for sport and I wouldn't want to encourage gambling. Did I do right?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Well I Never!

I called round to Martha's house the other day and discovered that her mother has taken to wearing the child! According to Zoe, Martha was enjoying this very much and, from what I observed on the day, I'd have to agree.

You can see from the expressions on their faces, as they admire their reflections, that mother and daughter think they suit each other very well.

But I wonder if Martha noticed the spare baby hanging in the hall?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Dead May Go Unmourned By Me

Well for feck's sake!

Since Matty got a bit forgetful I've got into the habit of regularly checking the Irish News death notices, just in case a neighbour or far out relation popped their clogs and herself forgot to mention it to me. What could be more excruciating than bumping into an old school chum and blithely enquiring after the health of their aged parent, only to be informed that said aged parent passed away several weeks ago?

This afternoon I attempted my usual log on and found that the Irish News had removed their free access to the family notices and replaced it with a subscription only service. I suppose journalists and newspaper workers need to earn a penny too but I'll not be subscribing. Far better, if I must, to buy the bloody paper then I'll at least have something to line the compost bin with. 

Couldn't someone, anyone, get our Aunt Em, who is sharp as a tack and an avid Irish News reader, on to the web and then she could provide us with an email service, alerting those who live far, far away  in the wilds of Cullybackey, Dingle and Vancouver to bereavements in the community. I think that would be an excellent idea. A laptop in Aunt Em's Christmas stocking Mr Santa - if you please!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oot and Aboot

One of the many interesting items to be seen at Articlave

Despite the hugeness of our kitchen I have very little workspace so, after many months of nagging, Bert started to make me a kitchen island. We discussed it for hours and I was confident that Bert knew exactly what I wanted. I was sadly mistaken.

Now Bert is an excellent carpenter and he really enjoys getting into a new project. He works a lot with recycled wood which is both economic and green. Where he falls down is in his ability to explain what he is doing and what he intends to do. This is why I ended up with what is essentially a huge table. Albeit a beautifully made huge table with a floor made out of the upstairs ceiling in the old derelict house at Clint's place. All that was needed to complete it was a tiled top. Or so Bert thought.

The unfinished kitchen island

He has been gently persuaded that a kitchen island needs shelves and cupboards and places to hang tea towels and utensils. It is not just a huge table with a tongue and groove floor for the cat to sit on.

But anyways - we decided to go to the reclamation yard at Articlave to see if we could find any old tiles for the worktop. That has to be one of the most interesting reclamation yards in the country. It was full of stained glass windows, jaunting cars, church doors, mangles, bangor blue slates and Bann brick, huge oak beams, radiators, Britain farm animals, ornate carved thrones, lamp posts, fireplaces and a thousand other things. Everything really but the sort of tile we were looking for.
Bert tries out throne for comfort

It was still a damn fine afternoon out. We'll get those tiles somewhere else.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


cauldrife [ˈkɔːldrɪf]

adj Scot

1. susceptible to cold; chilly

2. lifeless

[from cauld + rife]

My mother-in-law has always felt the cold. She liked to keep herself ‘well happed-up’. Indeed, so susceptible to chills was she that I don’t imagine she ever suffered herself to be naked from the day of her birth until about a year ago when the carers wheeled her, roaring protest, into our wet room for a nice warm shower bath.

Mind you, this house was, before its renovation, a big cold barn of a place with just one heated room. That was where Pearlie spent most of her time, roasting her shins in front of a big turf fire.She was a great believer in layering. She always wore two vests, three sweaters, a cardigan, a petticoat, two skirts, tights, men’s socks and an apron. The apron was very important to her. When her house-working days were over I asked her why she still wore the apron. She said,

I’d be cauld without it,

I wondered how she could find warmth in a faded square of patched cotton but she maintained that it was terribly necessary to her comfort.

In bed Pearlie had an electric blanket and used two hot water bottles. At bedtime she divested herself of the skirts, the tights and one cardigan. On very cold nights she tied a headscarf Queen-style to keep off the chill. This routine continued even after this house was being renovated and she moved to a cosy and fully central heated mobile home. She missed the open fire in the moby and often had the oil heating at full blast, an electric fire and a gas heater all going together. You could see the heat haze rising from the roof on mild days. Bert eventually disconnected the electric fire as the carers and other callers were suffocating in the high temperatures. Pearlie claimed to feel no great heat. Even then she continued to wear a headscarf in bed. Occasionally, if she had misplaced her headscarf, she’d go to bed wearing a big pair of knickers on her head.

Her present room has an open fire and it is kept alight summer and winter. She gets very cross if Bert doesn’t keep it well stoked up. She doesn’t wear knickers or a headscarf any more but she asks for and gets lots of hand towels and she makes herself a little nest because her arms get cold and if she gets too warm it is easier to remove the towels than take a cardigan off. She goes to bed with a crocheted blanket round her shoulders and if the carers take it for laundering she is very indignant. Mostly they don’t but there is one…she only does it to annoy. Nowadays Pearlie wears a pair of thick brown tights tied round her neck to keep off the 'cauld' and I think it can only be a matter of time before she starts wearing her knickers as a hat for she tells us that there is a draught coming through the light fitting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Think Bike

Most evenings, on the way home from work, I collect Hannah in Ballymena and we continue on our way towards Cullybackey. I don't drive that fast, it's a B road, pitch black so maybe I do 45mph tops. This evening we came across a cyclist riding without lights, without reflective clothing, the only thing drawing attention to his presence the tiny little reflective strips on his pedals. These caught my eye but not until I was almost upon him. I was able avoid him by pulling out at the last minute and, thankfully, no vehicle was coming towards me at the time.

I was quite shocked. Another moment and I might have knocked him down. It's a fairly narrow road. All the way into Cullybackey I wondered, should I turn, should I tell him that he was in danger? I didn't. What stopped me? Fear of being seen as interfering, fear that he might not speak English and wouldn't understand me, fear that I'd have to go the whole hog and drive him and his bicycle to his destination.

So if a cyclist is injured or killed on the Cullybackey or Kilrea road tonight I'm afraid I will be partly to blame. What should I have done?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Effect of Office Mint Yoyos on the Older Shoulder

I'm confused. Some research, recently in the news, suggested that alcohol can actually be beneficial to one's health. It shows that men benefit more from alcohol than women, which is bloody unfair but does help to explain the continued survival of the Wee Manny and others like him.

Now in the three weeks since I've foresworn alcohol I've been feeling decidedly under the weather. At first I thought I was getting the flu but that turned out to be a cold (the first since I gave up smoking several years ago) and then I got the runs, which lasted the best part of a week and now I've got The Shoulder and a vague, fluey, tired thing going on. And I'm wondering to myself if it wasn't the gin that was keeping these plagues at bay.

I mentioned it to the postman this morning,

Y'know something Sven? Since I quit drinking I haven't had a well day.

Says he,

That'll be the toxins leaving your body.

This is what I'm wondering. Is my current poorly form the result of toxins leaving my body or, did the gin actually provide a health benefit? There is only one way to find out. I shall have to continue with this experiment in abstemiousness for a longer time.

One good thing is that I've lost three pounds since taking the pledge. But then, a couple of days ago, I fell, like a savage, to the office mint Yoyos. I thought they might ease The Shoulder. They did not.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Older Shoulder

You know you're getting older when little niggles and aches take far, far longer to go away. I have a sore shoulder. It doesn't sound like very much but I am finding it terribly bothersome. It is only with a painful shoulder that you'll realise just how bloody heavy your arm is. 

It serves me right for not sympathising appropriately with Pearlie and her sore neck.

She told me she had a pain in her neck and all could I think was, well - you're a pain in mine. My just desserts are here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

There's nothing wrong with having a plan, is there? So far I have....

1. Had annual conversation with Matty about how much she is not looking forward to Christmas and how much she hates the thought of it. (Told her to wise a bap, whatever that means)

2. Informed several people (again) that I do not send Christmas cards.

3. Ordered free range turkeys from Clint.

4. Informed cousin Margaret that no - indeed I will not be buying Miss Martha a Santa Claus outfit.

5. Decided to stay off alcohol, at least, until Christmas.

6. Experienced slight frisson of dread at the thought of New Year's Eve party that Hannah is planning at Nellybert's.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Suffering Grandmas!

I am greatly maligned.

Firstly my youngest daughter informs the entire world that I might know what snot tastes like. As if!

Then the oldest daughter photoshops my thumb to make it look as big as a house. She must have done for there's no way my digit could ever look that gigantic.

Miss Martha

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Where The Dead Things Are

Some might say that I’m a morbid person because of my keen interest in road kill. It’s a fascination that stems from my childhood. Doesn’t everything?

In those days I had a favourite cousin who truly was a mine of misinformation. We were visiting her house one day and she says,

There’s a dead RAT stuck in the hedge down the lane. Do you want to see it?

Oh yes!

It’s really rotten and it’s stinking too!


C’mon then…

We headed down the lane.

We’re coming near it now.

Where? Where?

It’s down there under that tree. Now hold your nose.


Because if you breathe in the smell of it you’ll DIE!

On we went, me holding tight to my nose and not daring even to open my mouth. My face was purple and my eyes were popping with the effort of holding my breath. I tried so very hard to see the dead rat but it must have been covered in long grass and I was frightened to get too close, so never got a glimpse nor a whiff of it at all.

Of course I passed this interesting information on to my other cousins and my brothers and sisters.

You must never breathe in the smell of a stinking dead animal, or you'll DIE!

They weren’t as gullible as me for we all walked to and fro school along the Lisnevenagh Road where the Burnhouse trucks with their loads of dead animal carcasses passed often enough, leaving behind a miasma of putrid reek that hung in the air long after the lorry passed and none of us ever died of the stink of dead animals, not even one of us. So far.

This photograph taken on the Pipe Road during the 2009 Spring heatwave

When I was a child I'd have walked five miles to see this dead lamb melted into the tarmac. I still would. And I'd take a photograph too.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

We'll Be Old Ourselves Some Day

Poor old Matty does not get it easy with her arthritis. It is only in her hands, mainly her thumbs, but she seems to suffer a lot from it. The only treatment her GP has ever offered her is painkilling medication but doesn’t seem to help much. She recently had an x-ray carried out and I have made her an appointment to discuss the results with her doctor and it’s not until the 16th November. I really want to tackle this with the doctor, make sure that everything that can be done is being done. With this aim in my mind I asked her not to confuse the issue by discussing any other ailment she might have during her consultation. This was over the phone and I got the impression that she was a little deflated at the prospect.

Well. Is there anything else you’d like to see him about?

Well, you know how I’m tortured with my eyes.

Can you not leave your eyes until another time?

They’re driving me mad with the itch and the water pouring out of them and I’m always rubbing at them.

But that’s why they’re annoying you because you’re always rubbing at them. I’ll see if I can get you something at the chemist.

I got something from the chemist before and I couldn’t see for half the day.

OK. We’ll talk about it later.

I went to see her at lunchtime with the utterly useless potion I got at the chemist. I found her engaged in cleaning out drawers whilst bent over at the waist in that very position that always brings on her angina pains. I made her stop it and told her to take some of her spray before an attack came on. Thwarted out of an angina episode she made the tea while I finished tidying her cupboards. Her new cleaner was coming at two and she wanted the place spick and span before she arrived.

We sat down to a cuppa and I started talking about what I hoped to achieve with the doctor. But all she was interested in was her itchy eyes and her itchy knee and her itchy fingers.

The doctor says it’s just dry skin.

Do you not use moisturizer a-tall?

Ach sure I was never used to moisturizer or anything like that.

But you’re in your eighties now! You used to have fairly oily skin. Now it’s dry. You need moisturizer!

The doctor gave me a big jar of stuff once. I forget what you call it.

Why don’t you get some more?

Sure I still have it.

Well why don’t you use it?

I’ve had it about three years.

Jesus! Don’t use it! Throw it out.

I decided to change the subject to take her mind off her itch. Perhaps my choice of subject was not ideal.

Pearlie is complaining of a very sore neck.

Is she?

She said the other night that she wished she was dead.

I can understand that. All old people wish they were dead.

Do they? How awful. Even the jolly-natured ones?

Maybe not them so much. They just persevere and don’t let anything get them down.

So it’s just the miserable ones that wish they were dead?

I dare say.

Monday, November 02, 2009

My Obsessive Compulsive Walking Habits

Warning! This post contains at least twenty uses of the word 'I'.

Since the first of November 2005 I have kept a walking log. Obviously this means that I have been using a pedometer for just over four years. There are 32 days unaccounted for due to broken pedometers or computer screw-ups.

I've clocked up 17690642 general steps... of which 5152690 aerobic steps.
The amount of time spent on aerobic walking was 44115 minutes. That's 735 hours, or 30 days. It doesn't sound nearly enough. I am such a slacker!

The 17690642 general steps amount to 7076 miles or thereabouts. I wonder how far I'd have got if I'd just kept going?

The most steps I've ever done in one day was 28187 in June last year. That was the day I climbed Mount Brandon in County Kerry and then took a long beach walk in the evening. That was the day I broke my last camera by sitting on the damn thing. And I was so high on walking I didn't give a damn.

I could do better than this and I'd like to. The current recommended amount of steps per day is 10000. That's not enough on its own to promote health and fitness. I believe 16000 a day would help with weight control and general fitness. For me, finding the time is the difficult part. A winter's day spent at a desk does not allow many spare hours for walking which is why I try for a constitutional every single lunchtime.

So back to the obsessive walking log - it's a bore sometimes filling it in, but between it and this blog I've got a fairly good record of what I've been up to these past four years. And if nobody else cares, I do.

In other news - I've decided to stop drinking.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Piglet Joy

Remember this little kune kune sow? We went to visit her and her best boy Boris the Boisterous on the very same day that Martha was born. What we weren't sure about then was that she was in an interesting condition herself. All being well there will be piglets by Christmas. And this time they're for keeps!

Boris done good.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ulster Museum Says No!

Closed on Mondays

Young Martha had her first train journey today and her first visit to Belfast. Her entourage numbered eight and consisted of a parent, grandparents, a brace of aunts and the ultimate uncle. Her intended destination was the newly refurbished Ulster Museum.

Now if you have clicked on that link, and I hope you did, I would like to inform you that the report is misleading. Perhaps dozens did turn up, if you number dozens in double figures. During the short time that we were there I saw nearly a hundred people come to the entrance door to be disappointed. We certainly weren't the only party to have missed the memo about Monday closure. But the museum will not be closed on Bank Holiday Mondays. You'd think that they might have considered that people would be keen to visit during half-term holidays as well.

I will go again, but next time I'll be consulting the website before I buy a train ticket.

And how did Baby Martha handle her disappointment? She displayed great forbearance and stoicism.


Since writing this, it appears that the Ulster Museum people acknowledge that today was a bit of a debacle. Among the people I chatted to outside the museum today were tourists from the United States who were tremendously disappointed to find the doors closed. We Ulster people can come again any day (other than Mondays) but it was their one chance as their itineraries are set.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Martha and Martha

Martha and Martha, originally uploaded by ZMB.

I just like this picture very much.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Shirley, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

I was a little taken aback, last night, to see this photograph on the front page of the local paper. It was taken in our kitchen when Shirley was staying with us. The paper stated that it was a picture 'taken in happier times'. She was quite happy that day, getting ready to go out to meet some friends in Ballymena. There were also lots of days when she didn't appear so happy.

Ballymena was where Shirley made her home and it was where she made the few good friends who loved her, but it was also in Ballymena where she was cruelly mistreated and abused by some others who were not her friends and, finally, where she was callously murdered.

Today her murderer has been found guilty after a long trial.

Sometimes I really do hope that Hell exists. For there are others who have never been brought to justice for the crimes they committed against this vulnerable young girl. I really do hope that there will be a Hell for them and that they will roast in it for ever.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I May Have Omitted To Mention

Barnaby Rudge and Grip the Raven

I finished listening to Barnaby Rudge and I have to say I enjoyed it very much. I particularly liked that illustration as it fitted very well with the image of Barnaby that I had in my mind.

I have changed my car. I now drive a Peugeot 307 estate and Matty is very pleased with it. Bonnie does not like it as much as my VW Polo as she has been confined to the boot so far. It's a very big boot but it's still a comedown for her.

My granddaughter is one calendar month today. She is even more beautiful than she was. I really do hope she doesn't peak too soon!

We are looking forward to having Katy and her fiance come to stay. We expect there shall be a great deal of talk about weddings. We shall try to bear it.

The pigs went away a week ago today. They will be coming home in the form of sausages and other yummy things in the very near future. There has been no word of the Kune Kunes but - trotters crossed!

We brought a little light into our lives with the help of Pascal the Rascal. (This is cryptic and will only be understood by a very few, mostly called Joe)

Hannah has discovered a new fascination for the natural world. She still can't tell a plant from a tree but she's very keen on parasitic wasps.

There are some other things going on which are not a matter for levity. As always, in the midst of Life....

And that is all.... for now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Desprit Hoor For The Culture

Tonight Bert and I went to Ballymena and found ourselves in an entirely spide-free zone. And it wasn't even a church! We went to see the Lyric Players perform The Beauty Queen of Leenane in The Braid. We thoroughly approved. Sure what else would a body be doing on a Thursday night? Watching The Sopranos and drinking gin? A change is as good as a rest, as they say.

Recently we've been having a fly at Kurosawa's The Idiot. Dem heavy going we thought. We were glad to get back to The Sopranos.

Bert says,

That Tony Soprano's a whingeing bastard.

D'ye think?

Mind you I wouldn't like to tell him that to his face.

Other cultured things I've been doing include listening to Barnaby Rudge. You know, I'd never even heard of the Gordon Riots before! But does listening to audiobooks count? Although I always have the hard copy to hand to properly read parts I sort of missed out on because I saw an interesting bird or the cat did something funny or Bert tried to engage me in conversation.

I've been doing some proper reading too - Flann O'Brien, the Ikea Catalogue and the discusion boards on Lexulous and Wordscraper. Some of the discussions on those last two are a horror movie. I can hardly believe that adults say that sort of stuff to each other. Little wonder they need alter egos.

Off to bed now with a Killer Sudoku and the NME death issue. This culture stuff can be very tiring.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Matty: You know, you left your Tescos receipt here the other week...

Me: Did I?

Matty: I had a wee look at it.

Me: Did you?

Matty: That gin's wild dear.

Me: D'ye think?

Matty: I nearly fainted when I saw the price of it!

Me: It was probably a litre bottle.

Matty: A whole litre!

Me: Aye. Mind you that would probably do me about ten days. (thinks - more like seven)

Matty: Just you yourself drinking it?

Me: Oh no! Me and Bert both. (thinks - he might be so lucky)

Matty: Oh well. That's not just as bad then.

Me: it's better than wine. Don't drink as much of it and it's not as fattening. (thinks - I need a drink)

Matty: That's not so bad then.

Me: (thinks she's thinking - Nelly's an alcoholic)

So on the way home I stopped at Tescos and bought some buttermilk and mozzarella and... cheers!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Charlie bit my finger - again !

According to an article in today's Independent this is the most viewed video on YouTube with 126,143,311 views. And now that I've watched it - is now at 126,143,312 views.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Big Business

I mentioned the other night that my boss would be going to a breakfast meeting on the following day.

"A breakfast meeting!" snorts Bert with that peculiar mixture of sneering contempt and personal shame that he generally displays when he thinks of the poor unfortunate creatures who have to get out of their beds of a morning. "How posey!" he added.

"Not a-tall," says I. "It's a very good time for busy people to meet. You're just jealous because you don't get to have breakfast meetings."

"Well. That's just where you're wrong," says he. "For I had a breakfast meeting with Wee Les this very day."

"Did you?" says I. "And what business deals did you cut?"

"He gave me a bag of piri-piri chillies and I gave him the last of the damsons and a bunch of scallions."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Playing the Game

This internet is a rare and wonderful place. There was I, playing Lexulous and Wordscraper like a demon and I had NO IDEA, no idea at all what a vicious arena it had become. Occasionally people would get rather sniffy if I played a word that they found unfamiliar. These words would usually be botanical or horticultural. I'd generally ignore their sniffiness and carry on.

Obviously when choosing games I'd avoid (like the plague) male players looking for sexy/pervy chat. Funnily enough these sort of players tend to have low stats. I expect it must be hard to concentrate on wordplay when the blood supply has deserted the brain and headed for the groin area. Once, in a daring mood, I accepted a game from a punter who declared that he'd only play females who told him their bust measurements. I messaged 'probably bigger than your head Sunny Jim' and he deleted the game immediately. Pussy-wuss!

Recently I noticed a few players were warning others about a certain Canadian chappie. I investigated further and found that he is a hot topic in the forums. Groups have been formed to denounce him and he likes to take an active part in these very same forums. The level of abuse they measure out to one another is alarming. These people taketheir word games very seriously indeed.

Enough of word games. I'm off to bed now with Flann O'Brien. Don't tell!

Saturday, October 03, 2009


lookingattheworld, originally uploaded by waveneyavenue.

Martha's own Daddy's photographs are the best so far. Her Mummy is too busy doing Mummy things to take the pictures.

It's time now that I introduce her to the Garden.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Poo Poo

My granddaughter Martha Amy is 12 days old today and it is nearly a week since I held her in my arms. She has two very adequate parents and a host of other admirers so I do have to take my turn with her. I called with her last Friday but her doting grandfather from England was over and he had to take precedence. I called again on Sunday bearing presents of food (any excuse) and I found Martha's father in an exhausted sleep and Martha just nodded off so I had to tiptoe and whisper a bit. Zoe said,

"You don't have to whisper. She's used to noise."

And I said,

"I know. But her father's not."

But today, when I called, I found Martha lively and full of beans and busy about a baby's business which meant I got to change her napkin. What a thrill! Zoe supervised and I have to say that her arrangements are much better organised than my own were. Martha roared like a bull stirk throughout the whole procedure but Zoe said that is what she usually does.

I changed a baby's napkin and it was, by far, the nicest thing I did all day. Even nicer than taking photographs of the Mayor of Ballymena which I also did today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Face Only A Nelly Could Love

Old Map of Cullybackey

This map was drawn by the Rev. Jonathan Townsley who was the minister for the United Free Presbyterian Church in Cullybackey. Click map to enlarge.

From 'Random Rhymes frae Cullybackey' by Adam Lynn, 1911.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Boris the Boisterous

My new role - pig scratching post. Boris actually swept me off my feet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Catching Up

It was three days since I'd last set eyes on my grandchild and I just could not keep away for another moment. Hannah and I called in for ten minutes after work. It was a lengthy ten minutes. How fascinating this little human being is! And really, all she does is nurse and poo and burp and pull the most peculiar faces. I'm told she cries but, so far, never in my presence.

She is, of course, far more beautiful than the normal run of babies. She is, which goes without saying, already displaying signs of superior intelligence. And, for a creature barely a week old, she is amazingly strong and active and alert.

Am I besotted? I think I must be.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Best News In The World

Today was always going to be a busy day. We'd planned to go visit, with a view to procuring, kunekune pigs. Later we'd be going to the Wee Manny's for a surprise birthday party.

What I didn't expect was hearing from Dave that Zoe has been safely delivered of a daughter, our first grandchild. She was a week earlier than expected - the impatient little thing!

So now I must go and wash the smell of pig from my person and get myself ready to visit Zoe, Dave and daughter.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Rich Are Different

Gorgeous woman, perfect pins, beautiful smile, gifted actress, my mother-in-law's fucking crocheted blanket...

Give it back woman, Pearlie's knees are foundered!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Saturday in Edinburgh

While we were in Edinburgh we couldn't have wished for a better tour guide than our adopted fourth daughter, Miss Mels. When we weren't out people-watching, fudge-eating, ghost-touring, gig-going, tartan-shopping and gourmandising we chilled in her flat for a time.

Mel lives in a very lovely part of the city. It is jam-packed full of interesting specialist shops selling things like paraffin lamps, old-time gramophones and delectable smelly cheeses. The charity shops were to die for. I spent a very enjoyable afternoon shopping for second hand books while Bert was falling in love with an Irish barmaid in one of the local pubs. Afterwards we went back to Mel's for coffee and a listen to her old gramophone records.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gone Tourin'

Going to Edinburgh to see Mel and Mikey and castles and stuff.

Back on Monday. Burglars beware! Nellybert's will be looked after by Bonnie (scary-looking), Paddy (really scary), Jakers (vicious) and Hannah (really vicious).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Come Into My Parlour

The other day I asked the household where some kitchen gadget had got to. Bert says,

The last place I saw it was on the sill in the parlour.

Parlour? Where’s the bloody parlour?

I never said parlour. I said…you know…that room out there.

You mean the room with the washing machine in it?

Yeah. That room, the – you know?

The scullery. Or utility room if you like. Where did parlour come from?

I never said parlour.

You bloody did.

It’s a big problem for me this shifting of place names. The outside is a nightmare. The sheds are referred to something like this -

  • The Woodshed

  • The Milk House

  • The Byre

  • The Cattle Shed

  • The Workshop

  • The Hen House

  • The Pig House

  • The Calf Shed

  • The Back Shed

  • The Potato Shed

  • The Turf Shed

  • The Silo

  • The Tractor Shed

  • The Tool Shed

  • Ian’s Shed

Of course we don’t have fifteen sheds. We have about six shed-type buildings and each one has at least three names depending on which decade Bert’s mind is settled on that particular day. For instance, if Bert refers to the Turf Shed, will he be speaking of the shed which currently contains turf (unlikely) or does he mean a shed that was used for turf storage twenty, or even forty years ago. This is not much use to me as I don’t know where they kept the turf during the Swinging Sixties.

It was no better in our last place where we only had a garage and three polytunnels.

Where are my orange handled secateurs?

In the tunnels.

Which one?

The one with the clematis.

They all have clematis.

The montanas.

Big ones or liners?

Och you know. The one with Denise’s potting bench.

She has two bloody potting benches! Here they are! Why couldn’t you just have said the middle tunnel?

I blame his mother.

When this was her house there were three rooms referred to as The Scullery and two known as The Pantry and two called The Good Room and two more called The Front Room. Upstairs was The Room, Bert’s Room, Lizzie’s Room, Uncle Andy’s Room, Our Room, My Room, The Good Room, The Room With The New Window, The Room With The Broken Floor, The Cupboard, The Back Room, The Room With The Good Bed, The Front Room, The Big Room, The Wee Room, The Best Room and the Attic. As far as I know, The Toilet and The Bathroom were never called anything else but I could be wrong.

There was none of that nonsense in our house. Upstairs we had 4 bedrooms which were named according to the persons who slept in them, downstairs was The Kitchen, The Scullery, The Room, The Bathroom and The Room Before The Bathroom. It never changed downstairs. Outside sheds were named and stayed named. You knew where you were in Tannaghmore.

And don’t get me started on fields.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Air Show From Afar

C47 Dakota, originally uploaded by Paul S Wharton.

I was Pearlie-sitting yesterday and didn't make the Portrush air show but whilst, Cinderella-like, I was hanging out a lineful of Pearlie's grannypants, I heard the sound of old-style propellers, looked up and saw this fellow fly right over my head. It was flying low so I got a right good look.

Then, this afternoon, while Bonnie and I were braving the drizzle on the riverside walk we heard and saw the Red Arrows flying home. That put a huge smile on my face. I do like seeing sky machines. And have liked it ever since those far-off days when I would skip school to hang around Aldergrove Airport. Such days!

Friday, September 04, 2009


big'un, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

...I will be mostly making Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Soup.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Baby Handling: The Early Years

zoe and katy, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Katy may look a little grumpy in this picture but she was only out of hospital (day before Christmas Eve) and those SCBU nurses had her spoiled rotten. Four year old Zoe takes it all in her stride. Just look at that calm expression.

Zoe is going to be the greatest mommy.

This month! I'm so excited!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Listening Not Blogging

Thoughts on Blogging & Audiobooks

The last time I blogged about audiobooks I'd notched up six books. Since then I have listened to
the following works -

  • The Wind In The Willows
  • Don Quixote (Volume I)
  • Queen Lucia
  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Tess of the d'Urbervilles
  • David Copperfield
  • The Quiet American
And I'm presently nearly finished with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But there is a snag with all this book-listenin' and it is this:

All that time, all those hundreds of hours whilst I was driving, or walking, or doing mundane tasks I'd have been thinking, and while I was thinking I'd sometimes get ideas for blogposts. Now I just listen. And listening is very different from reading and it is very different from just thinking about whatever comes into my head. Listening is good. But is it as good as reading? I'm not sure.

That is part of the reason why my blogging has become sketchier. A lot of my thinking time is taken up with listening. I still think a lot but they are important thoughts, personal thoughts, maybe not for general sharing. I think about work, ageing, Zoe's pregnancy, my mum, my family, Katy's wedding, Bert's cabin fever, the dire-dish-of-the day prediction of imminent global disaster, the weather, Hannah's general happiness, food and whatever book I happen to be listening to.

Things I Bought Today

Today I bought a vintage postcard portraying nasturtiums which I did not need. I also bought six tins of dog food which the dogs needed. Or so they said.

What I Did Today

Dirt Bird came for her tea and I made a vegetarian pasta with vegetables freshly harvested from the garden. I also made buttermilk pancakes to please Bert as he does not relish pasta. I discovered that Dirt Bird could eat her way through the Cave Hill if it was made of pancakes. In honour of our guest (to be renamed The Pancake Queen) we drank our tea from my vintage nasturtium-patterned teacups.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Zoe: Into The Wildnerness

Zoe: Into The Wildnerness, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

It is Zoe's birthday today. Whilst looking through my archives for a suitable picture to mark the day, I came across this one and it struck me how little she has changed over the years.

She still has that fabulous smile, she still loves hiking about in the wilderness and she still has her own quirky style. You'll note she's wearing short shorts over tights - a look that's taken the fashionista three whole decades to pick up on.

Those are Paddington's wellies she's wearing. She and her bear shared those boots for months. She was working that festival look long before anyone else.

And this is what she looks like these days. (photo courtesy of dave)

Happy birthday Zoe.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

When Townies Met Piggies

I replaced the silly link with the ackshual video. For some reason (gin?) I couldn't get that to work fror me yesterday evening.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bert Does Not Get It Easy

Bert has been stung by his bees many, many times. He usually gets attacked about five times a week. He has been stung on the face, the neck, the arms, his bum, and his ankles. I asked him,
Is there any part of your body that you haven't been stung on?
He answered,
My penis.
He has been pretty stoical about it, which I didn't expect, as he can be very babyish about nettle stings and whinges for hours after.

It's not just the bees, for our pigs are also proving hazardous to Bert's health and well-being. They can be very rough with him. He has a great bruise on the back of his calf where one of them bit him. He reckons it thought he was taking far too much time getting the scoff out to them. So far, the worst thing that has happened to me was last time I fed them whilst wearing one of my good red Monsoon skirts (I have at least three red ones) and got it all clarried with muck and pig drool what with them snurfling and crowding around me. I'd be too scared to go in with them now.

Still - if they're going to cut up rough with us we'll feel far less guilty when they're sausages. Unless....unless they eat us first.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Forty Years After

I catch that Woodstock movie every ten years or so and each passing decade brings a different reaction. I was fifteen (almost sixteen) when Woodstock happened and at that time I would have liked to have seen Arlo Guthrie, because he was so pretty, Joan Baez, because Daddy liked her too, Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix because I loved them.

Back then I wasn’t that enamoured of Ten Years After or Joe Cocker and the Grease Band mainly because I didn’t fancy Alvin Lee or Joe Cocker. Alvin might have been greatly talented but he had a chin like Bruce Forsyth and I couldn’t imagine myself walking hand in hand with him through a cherry orchard in full bloom. Likewise Mr Cocker – great to listen to, but so sweaty, so rough, so not a Jackie pin-up.

Last night though told me a different story – there were Alvin and Joe, their sweet young faces, so soft, so unlined, and so young. How could I ever have thought they were hard or manly? They were darling, clever, brilliant and talented infants.

Then Santana came on. Now I have never been much of a Santana fan, nor did I ever care much for drum solos – but talk about babies! You should have seen that drummer! A cherub! I said to Bert. Look at him. He’s a baby. You wouldn’t get anyone as young these days, who’d be as skilled as that (correct me if I’m wrong). They wouldn’t put that effort into learning their craft. So spake the fogies of the Woodstock generation.

Later, I turned to Wikipedia to find out more. Michael Shrieve was that young drummer, he was only twenty, and he was the youngest performer to have played at Woodstock.

Here’s a link to the performance.


It starts with a shot of some fat, bare asses, a beautiful collie dog, then a guitarist with the best ever red hat, Carlos Santana and his amazing sinewy arms, some naked guy acting messianic, guy pubic hair shots, some blonde librarian type looking like she’s having an orgasm, lots of silly hippies, more fat bare asses and the amazing Michael Shrieve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You Should Have Seen It

Bert tells me that he can get the spotty pig to collapse in an ecstatic stupor just by rubbing its belly. That sounds like a good opportunity for a comical mini-vid thinks I to myself. We go out to see the pigs. Maybe our timing isn't the best for they are due their evening meal in half an hour or so. When piggies see Bert coming out they get excited. I start filming... or so I think. Pigs are in no mood to be having their bellies stroked, they want them filled! They are very rough with Bert. The spotty one nibbles him, our one bites him. Bert tries to rub tummies but they are having none of it. They give him a hard time. At one point Spotty sticks her head between Bert's legs and almost knocks him off his feet. The look on his face - you should have seen it! I'm delighted. I switch off the camera... or so I think, and I make enthusiastic noises to Bert.

He goes off to feed them and I go off to upload my mini-movie. Well blastnations! I discover that I actually switched the camera off when the fun began and switched it on when it was over so my film only consisted of a brief, blurred shot of Bert climbing out of the pig run while I'm heard saying, "That was great! Wait 'til everybody sees this! They're going to love it!"

And you would have loved it. Duh!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hair He Always Wanted.

Same guy, different hairstyle, features less contorted. Much better. I think he has a seventeenth century look going on here.

Who Is This Handsome Fellow?

His mother told him that one day the wind would change and his face would stay that way.

He didn't listen. He never does.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Matty informed me that she had what she believed was a mini-stroke on Thursday. "I've had one before," she informed me. I'd taken Matty on her weekly outing to Tescos on Thursday evening and she never mentioned the mini-stroke. She did say that her wrists were very sore. I resolved to give her plenty of help whilst shopping. We started off at magazines, My Weekly and The People's Friend. I glanced quickly at the books then caught myself on, remembering the height of my 'to read' pile. Matty was wandering up the household goods aisle. I tried to keep her in sight. She darted off, then I lost her. I searched up and down the aisles and found that she'd backtracked. I waited for her then became distracted by the office supplies. It was only for a few moments but when I turned round she'd disappeared. Up and down the aisles I went before bumping into her in fruit and veg. I swear she was trying to shake me off. "Wait here," says I, "I'm going to get some onions." I was quick as I could be but of course she hadn't waited. She never, never does. I had another searching match for her with no success and after throwing a few bits in my trolley I decided to call it an evening and tried to catch her before she got to checkout. She'd got there before me and smiled triumphantly as she took the last item out of her trolley. At least I was able to pack for her while she went off for a scratch card. I'd exhausted myself looking for her and didn't get a quarter of the things I needed but, thanks be, I did get the gin. In the car she winced at the soreness of her wrists but never mentioned the mini-stroke. We talked about an appointment with her GP to discuss pain relief.

On Friday I phoned her from work and she said she wasn't feeling that well so I went to visit her during my lunch break and made up a bed for her and put together a rhubarb crumble. She was expecting Ganching for the weekend. She seemed perky enough. No mention of the mini-stroke.

On Saturday I went to the car boot sale at Dunsilly and was sitting in Matty's at eight o'clock. Ganching had to pick up a hire car so I said I'd take Matty to Randalstown for a coffee. She'd already had her usual toast and tea breakfast. She was keen as mustard and we went to the Forge and had Ulster Frys. Matty ate everything except a tiny bit of bacon and pronounced it very enjoyable. I wanted to go to the charity shop to see if they'd sold any of their high-priced books. They all seemed to be there, the book on the 19th century religious revival (big chapter on Kells & Connor, 55 pounds) and the book on Winston Churchill (12.50) , and the Arthur Grimble (17.50) and one at 75 quid, damme if I can remember what that was, but it was in very middling condition. Matty complained of not feeling great while she was there so we didn't stay long. When we got home I made a cuppa and she told me about the mini-stroke.

When I got home I looked up mini-strokes on the internet and I really don't think she has had one. There are no obvious symptoms and apart from her complaining, which is usual, she seemed well enough, with a good appetite, talking normally, no real difference in her movements or appearance.

If a doctor in a hospital once told her that she had suffered a mini-stroke I would think that he/she may have been (a) talking shite, (b) she didn't hear them properly, (c) she imagined it, (d) he/she was thinking of the woman in the next bed or (e) she really had one.

But Matty is a panicker when it comes to her health. Her GP once told her, maybe 25 years ago, after she presented him with a host of vague symptoms, that he was going to test her for Multiple Sclerosis. She told me that she fully expected she'd end up in a wheelchair. I have other stories like that but I'm not going to tell them right now.

I'll never forget how upset I felt when I heard that. Then I felt angry that she upset me because she didn't have MS, no wheelchair was necessary. Matty, when she's in good enough form, is a great woman. She has many wonderful qualities and I'm glad she is my mother. I love her. I do not love her preoccupation with illness and I feel that it has blighted her life. But now that she is over 80 and she does have angina and she does have painful arthritis and thyroid problems and I don't know how I should deal with her. I try to be supportive and I worry about her lots. But if I'm honest, I have to say that I find her never-ending preoccupation with illness hard to handle. I used to try all kinds of strategies when we were both younger such as ignoring her, jollying her along (I still use that one), reasoning with her, getting cross with her but now she is very old I have to find new strategies.

What do you do with a mum who has had hypochondriac tendencies all her life and then she gets really old and she does have health issues? Maybe there's a simple answer. I've got a feeling somebody out there might have it.

We are going to the doctor tomorrow and I'm going in with her. That's a start.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Bert Is A Tosser

Bert went to the fridge on Saturday night and pronounced it a 'bad fridge'. I asked why. "Because there is nothing good to eat in it." I told him that this was errant nonsense and that a fridge containing the ingredients for pancakes was a very good fridge indeed. And I did make pancakes, and Bert tossed them and they were delicious served with honey and creme fraiche.