Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best Bits

Of course 2010 wasn't all doom and gloom. There were some happy times. Katy and Mark's wedding in June was one such occasion. Matty's absence made for some bitter-sweet moments but despite this it was a lovely break from every day life. It just wasn't long enough.

2010 was certainly the year of the wedding. Other marriages we celebrated were Les and Dawn, Billy and Rachel and Declan and Laura. Those last two got busy pretty quickly and are expecting their first baby this coming February. Something else to look forward to.

At last! I got my kune kune piglets. Please to meet (again) Sperrin Awakino I and Sperrin Tutaki II, otherwise known as Lily and Rusty. We had a bad scare in August when Rusty contracted pneumonia but with the help of the Clough vets he recovered and, fingers crossed, hasn't looked back.
Then Bert bought this really crap van. It went through many mechanics before he returned it to the vendor and said, "Money back please!" It was a stressful time but one of the mechanics had this litter of collie-labrador pups and before we knew it we had ourselves a Pooper Pup. She's nearly trained now and has been a great source of comfort, amusement, joy and torture ever since.

Then there was Miss Martha who was always a delight, always a joy. I went part-time a few months ago to help her Mummy and Daddy get their work done. I haven't regretted it. Money is nothing compared to a grandchild.

And there was my family, my darling girls, Bertie Boy, my siblings and my friends. I don't know how I'd get on without them.

Although 2010 wasn't all despondency and gloom it did manage to give the family one almighty kick in the teeth soon after I wrote last night's post. My mother's youngest sister, only in her early seventies and stressed beyond imagination over all that has happened to her family since January, suffered a coronary. As I write this she's making some progress and I wish her a speedy recovery. Bring on 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Hold Things Back

I was going to write a post about how 2010 has been a really shit year and how I'll be glad to see the back of it. My reasons for thinking this? Well – for a start there has been too much death and illness in my family. And I have been under a great lot of stress which has impacted on my work life and consequently I am no longer happy in my job. Added to this I have lost my health and fitness mojo, haven't been doing as much walking as I'd like to and have been comfort eating which has resulted in a weight gain of 14 lbs and the relegation of lots of my clothes to the back of the wardrobe.

But then I had to reconsider – was I being unfair to 2010? For it did have its good times and Miss Martha has been a constant source of joy throughout the entire year.

So how did the year pan out? What were its ups and downs?

The downs are easy to remember.

In January Matty's only brother Dessie died the day before his 80th birthday. Matty was, at that time, complaining of stomach pain but wasn't keen on seeing her doctor. Looking back, we can see that for Matty this was odd behaviour. She finally allowed herself to be talked into it. I was sure it would be nothing.

In Spring Daddy's sister Mary went into hospital. She had cancer. Somehow I convinced myself that if Mary had cancer Matty couldn't possibly have it too. But I was wrong. Mary died in May and I was privileged to be one of three nieces at her side. Her passing was peaceful but previously her suffering had been immense.

It was after Aunt Mary's funeral that my three youngest siblings went to receive the news that there would be no treatment for Matty's illness.

Then in November Aunt Josephine died. She had been ill with dementia for a long time. Matty was in hospital when Josephine died, she was recovering from the after effects of a pulmonary embolism. We brought her home on the evening of the funeral and she now requires a serious amount of care, help and looking-after. After seven months of round the clock care from ourselves we, as a family, worry how long we can carry on with it.

I'm not great with stress. It must have been June when things started going wrong at work. I couldn't concentrate and, at the back of my mind, I couldn't convince myself that work concerns were actually important. Of course this is wrong thinking because one's employers don't approve of their workers taking this view. And I knew it was wrong thinking but I couldn't shake it off. Then the stress, the lack of sleep started to impact on my actual performance and it all turned into a vicious circle. Still spinning around in it to this day although it has got slightly better. I still feel as if I stand at the edge of a whirlpool of negativity and disaster. Expect I'm depressed.

It doesn't help that I often feel I'm waiting (impatiently) for all to be over. And not just Matty, Pearlie too and that makes me feel like a really bad person. I wait for my old people to die and then I'm old people and there are people waiting for me to die. Yep. I'm depressed.

Tomorrow I'll write about the best bits of 2010. They deserve a post of their own and pictures, lots of jolly pictures.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

St Stephen's Day

Miss Katy and Miss Martha

For a while now I've been waking up at 3 or 4am and have not been able to get back to sleep. Some worry or other will come into my mind, usually something to do with work such as, will the Whoevers get the dents in their fridge freezer sorted out or will the Somebodys get their central heating fixed? And what about that franking machine - will we get it up and running? Will we ever find the black biros again?

Being on holiday I worry about other things. Is the turkey overcooked? Will there be enough room in the oven to cook the Yorkshire Puddings? Does Bert really, truly love me?

After the usual four hours tossing and turning I got up this morning at 8am and made a plan of work. I cooked beef and ham and brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds. I cooked carsnips and mushy peas. Bert and I had previously prepared a Norfolk Bronze turkey with stuffing, a tiramisu and a London cheesecake. Swisser made mustard mash and beetroot. Interesting. Zoe brought chocolate orange cake and home made ice cream.

All my daughters were there with their boys, their dogs and Miss Martha. We had Ploppy and Jenny and the aforementioned Swisser. We missed Mel very much.

Miss Martha had baby-sized Man Flu but bore it stoically. We had a lovely evening.

And now I believe we are going to play Texas Hold-Em.

Just in case you were wondering there wasn't enough room in the oven for the Yorkshire Puddings.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

I was going to say tomorrow it will be Christmas Day but it's today. Happy Christmas everyone. I've spent all evening making alcoholic desserts and I licked the bowl. Cheers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dead Computers and Rancid Cars

This post is not about Christmas. No sir!

My PC died a death on Tuesday evening. Dave may bring her back to life again with transplant surgery but there are files I may never see again. Oh well. Hardware isn't what it used to be. I remember in the olden days of Spectrums and Commodores you could have beaten someone to death with your machine and it still would have worked perfectly.

Then there was the stink about the car. I first noticed the niff about ten days ago. I thought I might have spilled milk whilst transporting groceries. Today I bit the bullet and gave that car a good cleaning out and it was there, under the baby blankets, gilets, cowboy boots and assorted unnecessary paperwork that I found it - a tupperware container of rancid beef stew wearing a long blue beard. It was only the icy conditions that prevented it from taking legs and walking. At least it wasn't milk. I'd never have got rid of that smell.

It all brought back a feeling of deja vu.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A List

So. I did this application thingy on Facebook which computed the words I used most frequently in my 2010 status updates.

It was interesting.

  1. Bert. Which is just as it should be. Blood ties mean a lot, an awful lot. But one’s life partner is the most significant tie of all, most especially if it’s somebody like Bert.
  2. Martha. Back to blood ties. One’s children are delightful but there is a freedom and a delight about grandchildren that is different. Miss Martha – the most adorable, delightful person that I have met this century.
  3. Bees – they are sleeping now.
  4. Sleep. Something I don’t think I get enough of. Apparently people who sleep a decent amount are generally not as fat as those who don’t. Yet again that could be the junk food. I’m sure that eating properly would help me to sleep better. Hopefully will do better in 2011.
  5. Honey. I do like honey but after two years of beekeeping still haven’t got any.
  6. Forward. Only way to go really. In 2011 I am all for moving forward. This will mean leaving some folks behind. Somehow I think they will manage without me.
  7. Pigs. What can I say? They taste good, they are good. To Zoe, Katy and Hannah my apologies for casting Swine before Pearls.
  8. Love. I do. Love you. I do.
  9. Hannah. And no mention of the other two despite Katy giving me a son-in-law in 2010 and Zoe a grandchild in 2009. See 8. Hannah was here. She got mentioned.
  10. Evening. I’m normally a morning person but mornings were generally taken up with certain folks who paid me to give them up. Hence evenings were better, Roll on a time when Mornings are Mine!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Brushed My Teeth

There are people who do not approve of 'social networking'. At our work dinner last Monday, my manager indicated his disapproval of Facebook and Twitter by suggesting that a typical update would be, "I brushed my teeth." I mean - who'd be interested in that?

Today I brushed my teeth, both the ones that God provided for me and the plastic ones I gave good money for in Magherafelt.

I also spent the day with Miss Martha who gave me as much pleasure as she usually does. She is currently developing her vocabulary and it would be no lie to declare that I hang on her every word.

We visited Matty who has taken another rally. There she was sitting with her legs crossed handing out the advice like the sage she is. Zoe's godfather was also visiting and he was telling me about his recent operation. It was a nose job. He said the surgeon was a 'great girl'. Said he had women all round him on the day and they were all great, but the head girl, the surgeon, she was the greatest. Wouldn't it be a rare thing if she should read this?

I'm back on the audio books. There was a while there when I was giving them a miss because I needed no distractions when driving because of the snow and ice and, for that same reason and others, I've been doing very little walking and listening. I'm currently listening to A Room With A View which is rather funny.

At home I'm working my way through Season 4 of King of the Hill and am a big Bobby fan. He reminds me of our godchild Ben, although Ben is much more handsome. But then he would be with a dad like Banjo Man.

Christmas? The Hell with it! It'll happen. Somehow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chillage Village

I was a long way from Chillage Village on Thursday evening. With the help of a sweet young woman I found my way back.

Today I nearly completed my Christmas shopping. Antrim. Junction One. I waited in many queues and chilled. I did not panic. I did not get cross. I was sweet to the people who served me.

Tomorrow we move office. We go go-kart racing. We go to dinner. God help and protect me. It will be fine. I live in Chillage Village.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Busy Day (by Martha H.)

When my Mummy went back to work I realised that I too would have to get a job. The trouble was that I didn't have a lot of experience in the working world so I had to play to my strengths. There was one area where I knew I excelled and that was making old people happy and luckily, I know quite a few elderly folk so it made perfect sense to go out a couple of days a week and entertain the oldies. Thursday is Nellybert day. Nellybert to you that is. To me they are Granny Mary and Granda Bert. Today was hectic for I had an extra oldie to contend with as Auntie Hannah was there too. First thing on the agenda was to get all happed up and check on the outside world.
Those pigs are doing well. To tell you the truth I'm a wee bit apprehensive around them for they are rough. They always assume you've food on you and would walk through you to get at it. Still as long as they don't think I'm the food I'll be doing all right.

I've my wellies on and my snowsuit and the garden looks lovely and all but if Aunt Hannah thinks I'm tramping through it she can think again. Snow's nearly up to the top of my boots. It's like walking on the moon. Think I'll just sit here on this log.

Yes. I like this log.

I found this brush in the kitchen drawer. Just the job for grooming Fred.

I like Fred better than Holly. So I'll cuddle him.

Lunch time. I feed myself mostly but it pleases the old people to let them help. That is Aunt Hannah steadying my bowl of Popeye Pasta. Yum. My mummy is a wonderful cook.

Those bears never get a walk unless I take them. I expect Granny thinks she's got better things to do. But I care, even if she doesn't.

I like hats. If it pleases Granny to take pictures of me trying on new hats that's OK with me.

Then I have to feed Judy. It's pretend food but she likes it.

Granny looked a bit flat towards the end of the day. Thought a bit of art would liven us both up. She's got a lot to learn and I'm going to teach her.

Happy Birthday Katy

Katy through the years.
Happy Birthday darling.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Bert puts in a time of it looking after the 'bastes'. He has all Clint's to do these evenings for Clint is out driving milk tankers 'til all hours.

He has to fodder the kune kunes and the hens and then there are the three dogs and two cats to feed too.

Then he goes down to Clint's and feeds and puts in 16 geese and 30 turkeys. Clint's dog Lucy helps him to get the fowl in. She is very good at it. He then has to feed Lucy, two goats and four young cattle.

After all that he has to go back home and feed Pearlie and then he feeds us. Tonight we had carry out from the new and rather excellent Indian takeaway in Cullybackey.

Last night at Clint's he was missing one of the Hereford heifers. After a long tramp he found her in a faraway field keeping company with a young bull. She refused to leave her new lover. The bovine equivalent of the morning after pill will be needed.

Bert said to me,

How long do you think I'd have to stand in the middle of a snowy field before some young thing would crash through six fences to get at me?

A long time Bert. A very long time.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Travelled home tonight at 30mph on the A26, 10mph in town and village and 15mph on the road to Cullybackey. Before that I got layered in the snow at Matty's and had to be helped out by Cousin John and Brother Joe. London Sister can't get back to London and Kerry Sister wrecked her car trying to get to Matty's.

Ain't snow pretty?

Meanwhile Matty is quite poorly with a kidney infection and cannot get out of bed. And she only got one visit from the carers today instead of the four she's supposed to get. Pearlie just got one visit too.

Ain't snow pretty?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

All The Fun Of The Snow

All last week I was late for work. No matter what time I left I was still late. I could have left at a time, say 7am-7:30am, that would have got me in on time but then I'd have been really early and that would have been even more time to freeze my ass off in our not fit for purpose office. We're moving to a new one soon but it'll be a week or so yet. So I was late Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. No one said anything. I spent a lot of time at Matty's too and each evening I was getting home late. I'm behind with everything at home.

On Thursday morning it took me 40 minutes to drive from home to Zoe's to pick up Miss Martha. It usually takes around 15 minutes. We spent the morning at home and the afternoon at Matty's. I left Miss Martha and Miss Hannah home, spent a couple of hours at home then drove out to Matty's on Thursday evening. I was there until 7pm last night.

Then I had a pleasant evening at home with Bert. We tried the new Indian takeaway in Cullybackey which I'd recommend. That and a couple of bottles of wine put the evening in nicely. This morning I had a long lie in, then got up, had breakfast, updated my Wordscraper and Lexulous games, did some washing and took the pigs for a walk up the back lane.

I'm waiting now for the call back to Matty's. Kerry Sister set off from West of Dingle this morning, hit black ice three miles from home and put her car off the road. It's unlikely she'll make it to Matty's today. Must go now and have a shower and see if I can find some clean clothes to wear.

It's been quite a week. A fine week to find out on Monday that some dirty, rotten bastard used my debit card to treat themselves to 490 quid's worth of goods at Asda Direct. I wonder what they bought?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Reply From Wendy Scudamore

Remember the man from Fermanagh who wanted to buy my Lily as a Christmas present for his son, the man who said Wendy Scudamore 'let him down.' Well it seems it was the other way around. This is what Wendy has to say.

(Man from Fermanagh) rang me weeks ago and wanted two piglets. the second piglet will not be weaned until early January so when he said he wanted them for Christmas I told him it wasn't possible to get them to him in time. He then wanted me to forget the second piglet and bring just the one but I told him I couldn't possibly travel the one piglet all that way on its own - too stressful and it would have no company when it got there.

I am pretty angry actually as I have another customer in N Ireland waiting for her pigs in Jan and I was splitting the travel cost between them . i cannot at this late stage let the lady down so I will probably have to shoulder half the cost of the journey myself - more than the profit from the pigs.

If you know anyone else in N Ireland who wants any, the journey cost is £300 and I have some super little breeding piglets for sale,

Best Wishes

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Return of the Scunging Devil Dogs

Paddy and Judy disappeared today. The call of the snowy wood proved too hard to ignore. Dogs love snow because it intensifies smells and smell is how dogs experience the world.

They were only gone ten minutes but that was long enough to worry Bert. And it worried me too. I don't think I could bear another pair of scunging devil dogs.

We said to Paddy,

Paddy. How could you do this? At your time of life?

He looked at us sadly from his favourite spot on the leather sofa. We said,

Paddy. How can you do this to us? At our time of life?

He sighed, tucked his head between his paws and paid us not a bit of mind. I hope it was a one-off.




to explore; wander about in the countryside