Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Baking Sesh

Nellybert baked three cakes today. To be more precise Nelly baked two, Bert baked one and Martha helped. At first Martha was not impressed with the process. She wanted a special spoon to stir the ginger biscuit crumbs and no spoon we could offer her was special enough.

Bert thought that a taste of Nigella's Orange-Chocolate Cake mixture would cheer her up. After all, Nigella's always licking the spoon and she always looks happy.

I think Bert's ploy worked. Martha identified the chocolate but did not pick out the orange (marmalade) flavour.

Afterwards I suggested Bert help us clear up but he demurred.

I'm away out now to dung out those calves.

And you're not expecting any help?

Not a-tall.

That'll do then.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Update

Martha and I went grocery and wine shopping yesterday. I usually hate this sort of shopping but Martha's delightful company made it very bearable indeed. Lidls did not disappoint but Asda had no stem ginger! Can you believe it? What sort of people must shop there? Later I heard that they had actually run out of Brussels sprouts. Obviously I have my own, thanks to the Springhill Gardening Club, even though it wasn't been the best year for sprouts. But imagine the people of Antrim buying every sprout in Asda? Most folks don't even like them although they are one of my favourite vegetables. Pity you can't make wine out of them.

After shopping we went to visit one of Matty's old friends. The minute I drove on to her road I felt myself well up. It was just as well Martha was there to help me keep it together. At Mum's friend's house she was a little delight. She chatted away, displayed her lovely manners and made her Granny very proud of her. We drove past Matty's house on the way home. I did not look.

Back home Martha and I decorated the Christmas tree but I sensed Martha was not impressed with it. I'm sure I heard her say it was too small.

I was back in Tannaghmore today visiting my cousin. He has not been well but his form was good and I'm sure I was there at least two hours. The craic was, as they say, mighty. I went home the long way as I couldn't bear to pass Matty's road again. She is very much on my mind at the moment - first Christmas without her and all that. But I am intending to enjoy Christmas anyway. It's the only way to go.

Tomorrow will be my baking and cooking day. I forgot to buy bread for making stuffing so fingers crossed will get that tomorrow. Bert will be sent out on that mission. The lovely Mel is coming to visit and I'm sure she'll be keen to get her hands covered in flour, chocolate and lemon zest.

And speaking of messes - I was multi-tasking earlier on. I was making mince pies at the same time as cleaning a (dogshit) soiled carpet in the wet room.

Horrors! You say. How unhygienic is that? But do not worry. I was very careful to wash my hands thoroughly as I moved from one task to the other. After all, the last thing I'd want is to get sweet mincemeat and flour on my Ikea carpet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Prep

I'm making a list of the desserts I might make for our Christmas dinners. I have chosen a tree which Bert will dig it up tomorrow. I have bought Steiff teddy bears for my lovely girls, Miss Martha and Miss Evie. I have a date with Miss Martha for Christmas shopping on Thursday.

Christmas is underway.

Spend, Spend - Hang On A Minute!

The story so far...

I left my job at the start of the year. It had become a burden to me, I had better things to do and I was not sorry to part from it. I released some savings and lived on those until last month. I also received carers allowance for a few months then, after Mum died, I got income support which lasted for six months. When that finished I noticed my savings start to dwindle dramatically. Finally I was down to my last couple of hundred and I decided to leave that in the bank to cover small necessities such as insurance policies and internet. I started to worry. Then I decided not to bother worrying. I envisaged enough money rolling towards me and that comforted me.

A few days ago I was in town on banking business and as I walked the streets I watched all the people scurrying around laden down with parcels and plastic bags. I had about thirty pounds in my purse so I could have bought some unnecessary tat if I'd wanted. I noticed that Captain Cooks was having a closing down sale and decided to take a look. Normally I am a sucker for cookware shops. I have many an unnecessary gadget in my home including a silicon rolly thing for peeling garlic and a silicon ring for making perfect fried eggs and two silicon puches for making perfect poached eggs. You notice a theme? I'm a sucker for silicon. The feel, the heat resistance, the primary colours – I just can't get enough of it. So I looked all over the shop and although everything was reduced it was still too bloody expensive. I left empty-handed. To tell the truth I don't think there is a silicon cooking aid that I don't already have.

Back on the street I realised I felt free. It was Christmas. That time of the year when the very air urges you to spend, spend, spend! And I just didn't have the spare cash. It felt great! I knew there would be money for meat and cakes and ale and that I might be able to squeeze in a few crackers and that I'd already bought most of my presents and had enough money to give presents to those that deserved them. But I had no spare cash and I could not buy crap! It was bliss.

Then I got some money...

So now I can afford things. I'm going to town soon to buy presents for my granddaughters. I have a rough idea what I'm getting them but there will be no silicon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where's Charlie?

Isn't it wonderful how a drop of the cold, white stuff helps the look of a bunch of tatty old outhouses. Judy jumps with joy at the excitement of it all and Bonnie tries to keep up. Maybe she's wondering where her morning dose of steroids are? Meanwhile Paddy hopes that the snow is improving the looks of a tatty old dog. Afraid not old son. But where's Charlie?

There he is! Doing what he does best - lurking and pissing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Those Happy Summer Days

look at my leeks, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

It's during these bleak midwinter days that I find myself remembering the balmy days and long evenings of summers past. Thinking of the days when Bert, at least, could wander around shirtless. Obviously this photograph wasn't taken last summer as I don't think he'd his simmit* off once except the odd time he was showering.

But at least the this year's crop of leeks are ready and very delicious. That's something anyway.

*simmit Noun: A large undershirt.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Pig Wins!

Bert tries a spot of pig-wranglin'. The pig wins. They usually do.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Out Of Area

An out of area call could be from my brother in Vancouver or it could be from my sisters in Real Ireland. Or. It could be from some tosser in a Call Centre being vague about who s/he is and being more than prepared to waste a great amount of my precious time.

The one that phoned this morning wanted to know what make of television I owned. I told him I didn't have one. Then he asked me what make of washing machine I owned and I told him it was none of his business. Then I hung up. Then he phoned straight back. Of course I ignored the call. Said he was from a company called DCI. What was that all about? Next time I'm wasting his time. If I'm in the mood. I wasn't in the mood this morning.

Friday, December 09, 2011

That'll Be All White Then

Whilst in Derry t'other day with Miss Martha, her grandfather (my first husband) and his lady I got into a (sort of) conversation with some other lady. Y'know I nearly sort of hate to call her a 'lady'. I'd rather call her a 'woman' or perhaps a 'mad bint'. Anyways we got chatting as I sat outside Tescos while my first husband's beloved was in there shopping for the nappies that we left behind when we embarked on our 'day oot'. So - Mad Bint starts chatting to me. I was totally not in the mood as I had just checked my bank balance and was feeling rather worried and poverty-stricken. So we're having this banal conversation about the cost of Christmas and the crazy demands made by (her) grandchildren when Miss Marthas grandfather and his better half appeared,

Well, said the Bint. No need to ask you who this is. This is your daughter. She's your spitting image.

I smiled wanly as I wished her dead.

My first husband's partner is two years older than me. So not only does she look young enough to be my daughter, she also looks young enough to be the mother of a two-year-old child. It's my white hair. It must be! That or the Mad Bint is also half-blind and thoroughly drunk or medicated. This mistake might have made somebody's day but it certainly wasn't mine.

Happy Birthday Katy!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Not Home Alone

Then you go from all that lovely peace and quiet to having both your husbands in the house and the first one is having a wee mild domestic with his partner. Thank God I'm good at the pouring oil on troubled waters thing.

And to make matters worse the New Dog has found himself a hobby. That would be pulling the stuffing out of cushions. Oh well. Cushions are over-rated anyway.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Home Alone

I'm home alone. Pearlie has gone to one of her regular respite placements so that means two whole weeks without a batallion of carers tramping in and out. And it is also two weeks without her constant griping and complaining. It is a chance for Bert and I to have a taste of what it must be like to live as a couple in privacy and peace. Eight whole weeks a year we get of this and I know that makes us very fortunate people.

As I said I'm home alone. Bert has gone off to Malin Head with a couple of friends. I hope they get reasonable weather and aren't blown off the Head. I've been left with the chickens, the dogs, the pigs and the cats - not too burdensome. Clint has been left with the cattle. I'm supposed to be watching and listening for one of the heifers 'looking away' but we're not holding out much hope. The beast has had numerous goes with A.I. and a good run with the bull and she just can't catch. Clint came in to talk about it. He knows Pearlie isn't here so I've got nobody to moan at me.

Huh! The only place that one will be looking away at is the abattoir. She's far too big a baste to be keeping as a pet.

I interpret this as a dig at the kune kunes but I do not react. He goes on.

Aye! It's the freezer for her, no question about it.

I'm sure he'd like me to get sentimental about her so he can come over all manly and practical and farmerish but I do not give him a chance. He goes on,

Did Bert ever get the bags sorted out for the butcher?

I concur that if he did, I have not been informed of it.

Huh! He's an easy-going boy waltzing off to Donegal in this weather and no worries about the butcher! And in November! Sure it's wild up there! He has little or no sense. I don't know what would take him up to Malin Head at this time of the year!

I remark that I thought the break would do him good and mention that we've got a piano.

Aye! I saw that. I don't know what you thought you needed that for. Huh! What with that oul squeaky clarinet and dinnilin' away on an oul out of tune piano that'll hardly do him much good. It would answer him a lot better to finish that ranch fencing he started.

I have to agree that Bert has a rather dilatory attitude to general chores.

Well! I'm away down to get my own livestock foddered and in before it's too dark to see.

I bid him goodnight.

When he is gone I say to the dogs for there is no one else to say it to,

Y'know – there are a lot of things that Bert is good at, that Clint is not.

And I smile a little smile to myself.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ho Hum

The President, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Is life less interesting than it was now that I don't work any more?

This I know - I don't seem to have the urge to blog as much as I used to.

I met two former work colleagues for lunch yesterday and a very pleasant two hours it was. It was really good to catch up with them but nothing I heard about the world of work made me regret leaving.

Afterwards I went to 'sign on'. My six months is up and I no longer get the 'dole'. I'm doing it for N.I. contributions now. Even so they put the pressure on as to why I am not in employment. I got ticked off for going to England. Apparently 'claimants' have to inform them if we go on holiday. And, I was told, if we go over the border we have to sign off and sign on when we return.

Don't believe that people on the dole are living in luxury. All I see when I go there are sad-faced and despondent people of all ages. Their clothes aren't great either.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Judy Goes To Norfolk

Judy's first proper holiday. I think she liked it. The Norfolk folk (that sounds strange) certainly liked her.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cowboy Boots

line dancer, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

I wonder where those boots are now?

I did, eventually, throw them out and now I wish I hadn't. Don't tell Bert!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gone Hankin'

Normal blogging will resume soon. I am currently domiciled in the fictional town of Arlen, Texas. I try to keep to a minimum of 2 hours a day otherwise Hankrot starts in.

Meanwhile I could be blogging about such interesting subjects as,

  1. My grandchildren.
  2. My dogs.
  3. My garden.
  4. The interesting party I went to on the 11/11/11.
  5. Why Hank Hill is a better man than Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin.
  6. The time I got raided by the Drug Squad.
I think I'll go for #5. What do you think?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bonnie & Fred

Bonnie & Fred, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

I wonder if it is time to get Bonnie a new kitten?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Demi John

Today Nellybert girded their respective loins and headed for the big smoke. Our destination was Nature's Way on the Upper Newtownards Road. I told my wine making chum Bilrus that we were heading in that direction and asked him if he needed anything. He did not. Afterwards he called round and was most impressed with my tableful of gleaming brand new demi johns, bubblers, corks and sterilising powders. He said.

Great shop - but they're a bit snobby.

Snobby? You think so?

Yeah. Good looking dark bird was it?

Yes. I thought she was lovely. Not one bit snobby.

I thought she was a bit 'Bang-or.'

Not-a-tall. It was just that you are such a big gorgeous lump of a man. Reeking of pheromones. She was just trying to control herself. That's what came across as snobby. Me? I'm just a little old lady. She had no problem with me. Lovely girl. Not a snobby bone in her body. Mind you - I'm in there in a flash, spent a hundred quid, straight out again. Sure what's not to like about such a customer as myself?

Of course I had to check the Belfast prices with my favourite internet supplier. Happy to report that Belfast was far cheaper for good quality glass demi johns.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Five Dogs, One Ball

Five Dogs, One Ball, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

These pictures were taken five years ago soon after Bonnie came to live with us. It was probably the first time she ever engaged in play because, as I remember, she didn't really have a clue what was going on.

All those dogs, apart from Rosie the collie, are still alive but they are all quite elderly now.

Last week Bonnie had an operation to remove a growth from her leg. She seems to be doing well. Our biggest problem is getting her to rest. Given half a chance she's out in the yard or on the lawn playing and mucking about with the other dogs.

The dogs' playground is where our poly tunnel stands now. No boisterous ball fun allowed in there these days!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

First November

At last! A proper Autumn day - dry, crisp, mellow. I picked a pound of Autumn raspberries today - straight into the freezer with them. I must learn to make Pavlova. Cousin Margaret is an expert - I shall insist she gives me a tutorial.

It's been an anxious day waiting for Zoe to have the baby. Today was her due date but, so far, no action. Also anxious because Bonnie has started limping badly. Off to the vet with her this evening where we saw the same vet we saw last time we were there which was a mere month ago. Or maybe it was her identical twin sister. Last time sore on foreleg probably cancer, here's some ointment, she's too old to operate on. This time same sore on foreleg, giving her a lot of gyp, she's a fresh looking old girl, we'll operate. Tomorrow. I wonder if I'm doing the right thing?

I considered taking her to my cousin the vet but I expect he'd operate anyway. Hope I'm doing the right thing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Name Is Charlie

There has been great controversy in this house about the naming of the stray collie I found last weekend. I was against naming him to start with because that was the first step to wanting to keep him but Loveheart convinced me that he needed a name because, "What if he's off the lead and you want him to come to you what are you going to call?" So we decided on Charlie. I think Hannah chose it. I know another dog called Charlie but as we don't move in the same circles these days that hardly matters.

When Pearlie heard this she was not pleased. "That's a stupid name for a dog! You should call him Prince." She had a dog called Prince at one time. Bert told her she could call him Prince Charles if she liked but we would call him Charlie.

When her sister Lizzie heard the name she wasn't impressed either. "I don't like dogs having people's names. You should call him Rex. He's the image of a dog I had called Rex. It's a terrible nice name for a dog." I pointed out that I liked people names for dogs. After all, since I've known Lizzie, we've had dogs called Danny, Polly, Rosie, Molly, Paddy, Bonnie and Judy. And Rex is a people name. She was having none of it. "He's that like my Rex, it would be a great name for him." she said. I said, "Well maybe so but Charlie he remains until such times as a new owner might rename him." She pursed her lips.

Later on we were looking at an old photo of Lizzie and Rex. "I don't think they look alike," I said. "Rex has a big broad muzzle and Charlie's is much finer." "Huh!" says she, "He's young. It'll grow."

I said to Bert later, "Charlie's nothing like Rex." Bert says, "Sure he is. Black and white, four legs, two ears."

Charlie is making slow and steady progress. As the week has progressed he has learned to trust people more and he gets on well with other dogs. He wagged his tail for the first time yesterday. This evening he has been playing with my brother's Jack Russell terrier. He is still very timid and terrified of sudden noises. I think he is going to be OK.

Lizzie and Rex sometime in the 1940s.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oops! I Did It Again.

On first entering our house

It is five years since I found Bonnie straying on the Dreen Road and nearly three years since I found Fred abandoned outside Kells. Neither of them were as pathetic as the wee border collie Ben and I found yesterday sitting in the midst of a deluge, in a ditch near Ladyhill. He was soaked to the skin, filthy, skinny and scared. Between us we managed to get him into the car. At first I drove past him but there was a walker a few hundred yards in front and I stopped with him. He said he'd seen the dog and had enquired at a nearby house. He said the people knew that the dog was there and were 'keeping an eye on it'. He wondered if it had been clipped by a car. I decided to go back. I approached the dog and it ran off frightened. It did not look injured and did not run far. It settled itself down on the sodden ditch. Eventually between us Ben and I managed to get it into the boot of my car. I drive an estate so the wee dog was not enclosed. This meant it could benefit from the heating system and it also meant we could appreciate its stench which was very bad. I left Ben home and hurried back to Cully.

The little dog has been here over 24 hours now and has warmed up, got dry and eaten several small meals. He is traumatised but is starting to come round. He picked a little enclosed corner to lie in and I have laid blankets down for him. Last night he slept under a rug with a hot water bottle. I have been in contact with the dog warden and she told me that the place I found him is notorious for dog-dumping and that they are nearly always collies. I have offered to keep him for a while.

My daughter and family were here today and she is worried that our house is too busy for a traumatised dog and that he needs somewhere quieter. She does have a point but I think he will get used to us. In fact I think he's starting to already. He does seem to be glad that there are other dogs around. I get the feeling that, so far in his life, his significant relationships have been with his own kind and that he is suspicious of people.

My plan, if the dog warden cannot reunite him with his owner, is to settle him down, get him checked by the vet, eventually get Hannah to clean him up (she loves grooming dogs) and, ultimately, find him a loving home.

Wish us luck!

Taken this afternoon, dry, fed, watered but still unsure

These pictures were emailed to the dog warden just in case someone reports him missing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

All Fall Down

I sent Bert off to Stanley's funeral today looking very smart indeed. Actually that is a lie. I got home from my own physiotherapy appointment just as he was on the point of leaving and was able to give him a final dust down with the clothes brush and pronounce him fit to be seen.

It's been quite a week so far. Bert was in hospital on Monday having a 'day procedure'. He went there for 8am and got home around 9pm. Pearlie was her usual unsympathetic self. I told her he'd be resting (he had a general anaesthetic) and that I would be fixing her supper. She started to protest saying, "I want Bertie to make it!" I told her to wise up and she started to dry eye cry. Bert laughed and walked out of the room. Tears don't do it for him and I should know. Little wonder after half a century of witnessing his mother's crocodile tears. Pearlie got her supper, made by my own fair hands, and did not eat it. Her choice. She's an intelligent woman (if a little manipulative) and, if I say so myself, her requested supper was a delicious panada that Nigella Lawson would have been proud of.

But we were all out of sorts this week. Pearlie started her Tuesday with a big row with her carers about missing stockings and I started mine with a big row with Pearlie about the very same thing. OK - it's no huge thing that I've been doing her laundry for years now but, on the very odd occasion when something gets misplaced I do get to hear about it. You'd think I do it deliberately. The truth is she'd annoyed me the previous evening by showing Bert no compassion for his pain and discomfort and I was angry with her.

It's a rattling thing when someone you've known for years and who seems so dependable, so strong and so there, just leaves this world so suddenly. Stanley was an important part of the support system for Pearlie's sister and a good friend to very many people. He was a beloved father and grandfather. He was fit, fearless and fun-loving. He loved animals genuinely and without sentiment. His funeral was huge, even by Irish standards. We saw him every two weeks when he brought Lizzie over to visit Pearlie. He used to give us good advice about the cattle and pigs. We will miss him.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Once Again, In The Midst Of Life

How strange life is. We have just had a lovely Sunday where our house has been buzzing all day long. I have been looking after my darling Miss Martha and Raich and Sylvie came round to work on the plot. Of course Sylvie, being a little un, spent most of her time playing with Martha, leaving her mum to dig potatoes like a demon.

Building jigsaws

Meanwhile, in the background, Nellybert know that an old family friend is grievously ill and on life support.

Bert's friend comes round, He is a social worker and Raich used to be a social worker. They get talking about a scheme to introduce adolescents with serious mental health issues to the great outdoors (where Raich now works for a nationally known organisation). They swap email addresses and agree to fix up a meeting. This all takes place in my kitchen while I look on with some pleasure.

Bert receives a message to inform him that, at hospital, the life support for our friend is to be switched off.

Hannah and Jakers arrive to work on a ratty project to make the living quarters more fun-filled for their happy rodents and the social worker joins in. Hannah, Martha and I rack wine, clean up and wash dishes. Hannah and Martha see this as fun. I find that Martha thoroughly enjoys washing demi johns with bottle brushes.

The girls who never take their coats off

Then word comes through that S has died at approximately midday.

So, on this Sunday at Nellybert's, toddlers and children had fun. Social workers made plans to help the unfortunate, wine making and cooking ensued, potatoes were dug and vegetables harvested, friends conversed. People made things with wood in Bert’s workshop while Bert wandered around looking very sad, Pearlie wept, watched Noel Edmonds and did puzzles, I went to town and bought mushrooms, chocolate and wine and pondered very hard on what a complicated and poignant thing that life can be.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Looking Forward

Bert is out tonight playing the claro and the whistle with his muso mates. Pearlie and I are all on our lonesome. Pearlie is doing her puzzles and worrying that Bert isn't saved. I am making wine.

One of Bert's (muso) friends has connections with a greengrocer and he brings us quantities of fruit and vegetables for the pigs. Sometimes if the produce is only slightly sad looking I use it for other projects. Like making wine. The other day he brought us lots of carrots. And as I had already defrosted Clint's windfall peaches from the summer I had two lots of wine to make tonight.

Making wine is like planting trees in that it requires a bit of belief in the future. Trees can take a lifetime to mature, while country wines get there in a year or two. A lot can happen in a lifetime, a lot can change in a year or two.

On Saturday a family friend, a retired police officer, stood in our kitchen and explained to us why he had decided not to take up a lucrative job offer to train detectives in Afghanistan. He had grandchildren, he had sons and he had an elderly aunt who depended on him. He told us that money was all very well but how much money does a body really need? He wanted to see his grandchildren grow up, he didn't want to make his aunt fearful and unhappy. That man, who had recently passed a medical with flying colours, is this night lying in hospital after suffering a catastrophic stroke. He is very, very ill. That's the change a few days can bring, never mind a year.

Little wonder Pearlie fears for her Bertie's unsaved soul. Me? I'll carry on making wine in the hopes that we'll all be around to drink it in six months, a year or even, 2013.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ahoghill Folk

The story goes that this oul fella who ran a wee grocery shop in Ahoghill (it was a good while ago) had a smart salesman come in on him that sold him a powerful lot of toilet paper. Says the salesman to the shopkeeper,

With all these new houses going up about the village you're bound to be able to get a turn at it. And at the price I'm giving it to you for, you'll get a good turn too.

The shopkeeper allowed himself to be persuaded. But the expected sales did not come. No matter what he tried the people of Ahoghill would not buy his toilet paper.

A few months later the salesman reappeared and this time he was pushing toothpaste. The shopkeeper refused to buy saying,

Huh. Ye can take it away out of here. If the Ahoghill folk won't even clean their arses they're hardly likely going to be brushing their teeth!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Effortlessly Uncool

"Hollister is the fantasy of Southern California. It is the feeling of chilling on the beach with your friends. Young, spirited with a sense of humour, Hollister never takes itself too seriously. The laidback lifestyle and wholesome image combine to give Hollister an energy that is effortlessly cool."

None of this is true. This place is truely awful with a real sense of entitlement. Its dark, false and the clothes and entire atmosphere of the place reek of trying far, far too hard.


So sayeth Robbie B. on a discussion board.

I was talking to a young cousin of mine today. She was telling me that she had arranged an interview for the post of sales assistant at the Hollister outlet in Belfast. Obviously I had never heard of the place which is, as I'm sure Hollister would agree, the proper order. Folks in the autumn of their years knowing about such a place would never do.

Anyway - at a little before the appointed time – the Young Cousin entered the dimly lit store and approached two young fellows that seemed to be staff members,

May I speak to the manager,” says she.

Both young men stared at her. They looked her over from head to toe. They did not speak. She started again. “Might...”

One of the young men showed her the palm of his hand. They sauntered off. My cousin did not know whether to consider herself rebuffed or to laugh. She laughed. Undaunted she approached another sales assistant and repeated her request to speak to the manager. With poor grace the young woman went off to see if the manager 'was able to speak to her.' Moments later The Manager, he of the upraised silencing palm, hove into view. He gave my Young Cousin a rictus grin which, she said, seemed to cause him pain. She said, “I'm here for the interview.” He said, “Oh yes! Friday! Interview Day.” He would interview her as soon as he could find a moment and indicated the interview area which was right in the middle of the shop! The Young Cousin decided there and then that the job would not suit her and walked out.

As she emerged, blinking, into the light she was approached by another young man who, ironically, asked her if she would be interested in working for Hollisters. She replied, “I'd rather die.”

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Ride A Cockhorse

Sometime in the very early sixties

That is Bert on his rocking horse. The picture was taken in the yard. I expect he soon outgrew his toy for it spent decades in the attic of this house. Eventually, while the renovation was going on, it ended up in a shed. Then a few years ago Bert dragged it out and repainted it.

Fifty years later - Miss Martha and Cockhorse

The first time Martha played on Bert's old rocking horse I recited the following poem.

Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady on a white horse
Rings on her fingers
And bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes

I remember Matty reciting this version to me when I was a little. Bert never named his horse but Martha decided straight away that Cockhorse should be its name.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Oh October!

Oh October! How I have longed for you. No more parties, no more weddings.

The last wedding is today. I am channelling the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Watch out for my acid tongue and devastating one liners. I will also NOT BE DRINKING.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blackberry Way

I maybe got a dozen of this size

I had one of those As Good As It Gets moments this afternoon. I was up the back lane, accompanied by three dogs, picking blackberries while Robert Powell read The Well-Beloved to me.

The weather wasn't quite as fine as yesterday and the blackberries weren't as plentiful as last year but it was good.

I remember picking blackberries with Zoe a few years ago and she was carefully selecting the biggest and juiciest berries leaving the scrawnier specimens behind while I picked all within reach. She would have trouble covering the bottom of the pail with the big ones this season.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moving On

I thought I was running out of energy a while back. And I thought it was going to be forever, but I was wrong.

I have just spent time with Miss Martha for four days in a row. The night she stayed over was tiring but it did not take me long to get over it.

Since the beginning of August I have started blackcurrant, rhubarb, damson, parsnip and more rhubarb wine. All of these have been made from home-grown fruit and vegetables. It was not always me that grew them but that is no matter. I still have in my freezer enough peaches and damsons to make another four gallons of wine. Today Miss Martha and I gathered blackberries. They are not that plentiful this year but I'll get enough to make another gallon of wine. Miss Martha ate more than she picked and she asked to be carried which rather stayed my foraging frenzy. Still I carried her and it wasn't too hard – more proof that my energy is returning.

I have started to cook proper meals again.

And Bert and I have resumed watching The Sopranos. When Matty got ill we stopped watching at the end of Season 4. Said we'd start again when all was over. I only felt like again it a few weeks back and asked my darling Katy to gift Season 5 for my birthday. Just three more episodes left now. Bert is waiting impatiently for our evening's so I must go.

Not before I tell how I've resumed my audio books. Two Austens redd up and a Hardy on the go. I'm also proper reading Wuthering Heights and realise it's for the first time! I thought I'd read it but it turned out I'd just heard a song.

Still I'm overweight and haven't properly got back to walking, I have a sore shoulder and hives all over. So what! I'm on the right track.

I thought of Matty today and felt very sad that she was not here. I still miss her so much and my eyes well up as I write this. She would have loved this beautiful day, wouldn't have approved of my manic wine-making, “Why not make jam?” she'd have said. She'd have been excited about her new great grandchild Miss Ava and would have been looking forward to the new one due in a few weeks time (Miss Martha's brother or sister) Miss you very much Mammy but for now I am, and we all are, moving on. I even got my hair cut.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sleep Over

barrowful of winter pansies, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Miss Martha is having her first sleep over tonight. She chose a pig pillowcase, brushed her teeth, (weighed herself), fell off the standing stool, bounced on her camp bed, had me read the book Hayley bought her while she read Peter Rabbit, then we swapped - I read Peter Rabbit while she read Hayley's book (The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business), then I told her a story of my own invention.

With my grandchild apparently settled I phoned Zoe to tell her so.

Five minutes later a little voice, "Ganny?"

I went up. She was standing behind her little safety gate like a forlorn prisoner. "Want to get up." I told her, "No. It's sleepytime." She went back to bed. We chatted. I tried to reassure her. She said, "Mummy not here?" I told her it was so but that she would see her in the morning. Separated at night for the first time in her life - it's a big deal. Got to go now. Check she's OK.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Born To Be Sociable

Nellybert were watching clips from seventies Old Grey Whistle Test, Bert says,

Is Elton John American?

Nelly says,


Steppenwolf come on.

Bert says,

Wee Manny got that tattooed on his arm.

What! Steppenwolf?

No. Born To Be Wild.

Ha ha! Born To Have An Early Night you mean!

No! He was wild in his time.

Wild! Your arse. what way was he wild?

Well - he would have went anywhere, done anything, ceilidhed with any mob, anywhere, took any drug you would have offered him.

Huh! That's not being wild, that's just being sociable.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Monday: Every day we have Pearlie's team of carers, 3 single carers and 4 doubles. Every day. Some are quiet, some are noisy. Some come roaring through the door in mid-conversation, some slam doors behind them. Mostly they never wipe their feet. They haven't the time. I know we are lucky to have this level of care. And most of the carers are lovely people. But they are still - in my house - all day long.

Also on Monday we had Miss Martha, her dad and her grandfather (who is also my first husband) and Miss Martha's two dogs. We had, briefly, R. Bluebird, his mum and their dog. R. Bluebird calls up pretty often with fruit and veg for the pigs. He nearly forgot his dog. She's a dote and we could keep her but she doesn't get on well with Miss Martha's dog. They sort of hate each other. There was lots of snarling and snapping.

Hector called to see Pearlie. He slipped in and slipped out and I hardly even knew he was there. I wish all Pearlie's callers were like that.

While I went to Miss Martha's second birthday party in town Bert entertained his friend Bilrus. So not counting the eleven carers we had seven humans and three dogs visit with us on Monday.

Tuesday: Quieter day. Bert went out a-visiting himself so I was hoping for a peaceful day with just me and Pearlie and with nothing else to do for her but keep her fire on. Was not to be. Pearlie's niece called just after Bert left and was here until 8:30pm. There is lots of toing and froing, little delicacies being prepared, re-positioning of pencils and other business. Around seven hours of it. I go picking beans and damsons while Pearlie is pandered to. Apparently no-one can mix her laxatives like Niece, or like Hannah. Bert is useless at it. Laxative all lumpy when Bert prepares it. And me? I don't do medicines. I just do laundry and cleaning and wipe up after the carers. I also have occasional murderous thoughts but we won't go there. I offer the Niece her Aunt as full-time house guest but she declines. It must be nice to have a home you can relax in. I wouldn't know. Relatively quiet day. Eleven carers, two physiotherapists, one very long visit from Niece. No dogs. Don't be getting me wrong now for I am very fond of Niece and she is often a great help with Pearlie. It's just that I envy her the home that she can relax in.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Martha

bonnie mid song, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

The words of Bonnie's song are as follows:

Happy Birthday to you-hoo
Happy Birthday you're two-hoo
Happy Birthday Dear Martha-hooooo!
Happy Birthday to you-hooo.

Pity Bonnie is such a terrible singer. No wonder Martha and Judy look bemused.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Living In Chaos

shrine, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

According to FlyLady CHAOS stands for Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome because the damn house is such a mess.

Well - my problem is slightly different . My house is chaotic because I can't keep people from coming over and cannot get round them to clean.

But at least the attic is much more orderly since Miss Hannah and I had the massive clear out on Tuesday. We carried two car loads to the charity shops and Bert carried a van load to the recycling centre at the council yard.

Some people have said I could have made money out of that stuff and I daresay they are right but that would have been more procrastination. If I hadn't got round to selling any of it in 30 years, I doubt the next 30 years would be any different. Anyway, if I ever get the selling urge, hasn't Bert a tunnelful of clematee?

The picture above shows that I am not the only one living in clutter. Big Blessed Virgin Mary and Little Blessed Virgin Mary keep a very throughother shrine but it hasn't stopped Saint Bernadette Soubirous from calling over.


This would have been Daddy's birthday and he would have been 92. I'm glad now that he didn't make it to that age because he wouldn't have liked being so old. He enjoyed being active and getting out into the fresh air. The picture above shows him in his sixties. He was weather-beaten and gruff but always with a look of kindness. Kerry Sister, who took the picture, used to call him 'Badger'.

In the picture he's taking a bag of hand cut turf out of the boot of his car. He was never happier than when he was cutting turf and working in the moss.

Thinking about you today Seamus, oul hand.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Diary of Nelly Dismal

My 25th year found me living alone in Drumtara, pregnant, poor and lonely. I was also very bored so, to pass the time, I kept a journal. It ran to two volumes and I have to admit it was one of the most tedious, self-obsessed and whiney journals ever written. It didn't contain an ounce of humour or interest and every time I've looked at those two notebooks since I have cringed.

So why did it take me more than three decades to rid myself of these woeful books ?

Today, during an epic attic clearance, I decided the time had come to burn the dreary things and the only place in the house with a burning fire is in Pearlie's room.

What's that ye have there?

Just some old diaries.

What! Reach them to me!

They're not yours Pearlie. They're mine. Just some old diaries I kept when I was in my 20s.

Setting them carefully on the fire.

I'd love to read those!

You would not.

Piling the coal around them.

I'd have been very interested in those.

I bet you would.

I felt a tiny bit guilty depriving Pearlie of the pleasure of finding out what a shallow twat I was when I was 24 but very, very happy to be rid of the reminder. Thanks be for the cleansing power of flames.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Which I Become A Casting Agent

A few days ago I had a call from a fellow blogger. He and his lady were shooting a video in the vicinity and did I know of any young couples. preferably late teens, boy being dark and girl being fair? I said that I did not but I knew a suitable couple who, despite being well into their twenties, were still able to get half-fare on public transport if they so desired, although being good honest people always told the fare collector that they were liable for the full whack. They also wanted someone dark and mid-thirties for an older version of the boy. I knew of a fairly fresh young fellow with the mature, dark looks that they were looking for.

Where was the video shoot to take place? Why - on the farm of Joe Bloggs who lives very close to us, practically beside us. The young actors made their way to my crib and at five minutes before the appointed hour we set off to Joe Bloggs' place. I have to admit that I was surprised it was going to be at Joe's as he is rather a taciturn fellow, hardly the type to get mixed up with media, arts and Country & Western types. The yard was deserted. Back home to phone Joe Bloggs only to find out they'd never heard of such a carry-on. Maybe it was the other Joe Bloggs who lived a mile up the road? So off me and my car-load of budding actors went to the other Joe Bloggs who lived opposite The House With A Beard on the Killyless Road. Mrs Joe Bloggs was most bemused and, natch, knew nothing of a video shoot. She thought, and it took her 10 rambling minutes to tell us so, that the action was probably taking place at The House With A Beard. Miss Hannah went in to enquire and it took the Man Of The House With A Beard 10 rambling minutes to tell her that it wasn't happening in his crib. Maybe it was the other Joe Bloggs who lived on the road to Ahoghill.

By now I was in despair. We were communicating through Bert on the landline back at our place because, believe it or not, all this had been arranged on landlines and nobody had anyone's mobile number and there we all were 'on location' or 'trying to get to location' without any way of getting in direct contact.

Eventually Bert saved the day. He'd taken a call from the main people and they were at Alec Bloggs who he knew well (everyone knows him) and it turns out he had a brother called Joe. We went back to our house, Bert took over the driving (for I was a nervous wreck) and drove us straight to the right place where fun, frolics and hilarity ensued.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Despair Of My Hair

martha in the garden, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

I had a similar issue with my hair but, unlike Miss Martha, I lack the necessary cuteness factor to carry off the hair fountain look. I had to rely on pinning the offending hank back with clips and grips. But it would come down and tickle me horribly. Most annoying.

I lost patience with it last night, grabbed the nearest pair of blunt scissors and whacked it off. Feels great.

But what does it look like? It looks like this!

Of course I haven't the sideburns.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Idle Thoughts

The alarm goes off at 7am and I hit the snooze button.

7:05am RINGGG! I'm wondering what to do about the vintage Orange Order collarette in the attic. I hit the snooze button.

7:10am RINGGG! Trying to figure out the names of Adam Lambsbreath's cows in Cold Comfort Farm. Let me see - there's Pointless, Aimless, Feckless and what is the other one called? I hit the snooze button.

7:15am RINGGG! Pondering the minister's reading at yesterday's funeral service. Dorcas/Tabitha. Would those be good names for girl twins? Technically they are the same name just as Zoe and Eve are. I hit the snooze button.

7:20am RINGGGG!!!! There's this clairvoyant in Randalstown I'm going to later. She channels through an eel. Holy shit! I'm dreaming! Time to get up.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


I'd always thought that a former boss of mine had a very poor style of writing, so in an idle moment I decided to lift a sample of his prose from the internet and run it through one of those grammar-testing sites. Sure enough he only scored 43% and the prognosis was 'weak - needs revision'. Hah! thought I. Now to try me. Result! I got 73% and the comment 'adequate - needs revision'. Of course I had to run my greatest rival Ganching and she got the same comment as me but 7 points more - 80%.

Then I wondered - how would Charles Dickens score? I copied and pasted a paragraph from 'A Tale of Two Cities' and was astonished to see that he only hit 31% and the comment 'poor - needs revision'. Dickens failed majorly on wordiness - imagine! I then ran a passage from 'Mansfield Park' through. Jane Austen did rather better than Dickens as she scored 61% and got 'weak - needs revision'.

So Final Scores were:

1. Ganching - adequate
2. Nelly - adequate
3. Jane Austen - weak
4. Former Boss - weak
5. Charles Dickens - poor

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Sally, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Bert's Aunt passed away in hospital today after an epic fight for life following a car crash 12 days ago.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Zoe!

D'ye know if you upload a photograph to Flickr and tag it 'pregnant' loads more people look at it than if you didn't? What's the big deal? That is what I ask myself. There are a million-zillion people on this planet and each and every one of them represents a pregnancy and a birth. It's not as if it is a 'miracle' or anything. Pregnant-schmegnant! Big whoop!

Except - unless it's me or mine. I got pregnant when I was 20 and about 10 days before I was 21 I had a daughter. That was Zoe and it's her thirty somethingth birthday today. Big whoop!

And even better! She's pregnant! Another big whoop!

Happy birthday Zoe! Love you and love your bump and all belonging to it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday

This blog is seven years old today! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!

In Which I Am Rather Peeved

Above - an item from the country's most expensive lending library courtesy of the British Heart Foundation. Charge £2.50 for a crappy book then ask you to bring it back! This irritates me. But then I am rather easily irritated.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Posterise Martha

Posterise - a fun application on Gimp.

The Women In White

Earlier today a few of us were discussing the apparent lack of innocence in today's children. I opined that there seem to be very few young girls around between the ages of 11 and 15 - not because they have all been imprisoned in nunneries but rather because they have taken on the appearance of girls of sixteen and older. Young boys don't seem to be able to pull this trick as easily.

Children really do seem to grow up fast these days. It has been reported that more than 40% of young internet users over 10 have been exposed to pornography and you can be sure that it is a lot more extreme pornography than the likes of my generation ever caught sight of.

I remember listening uncle telling my father a joke when I was about eight years old. I was smart enough to pick up that the punchline of the joke involved a word that ended in 'uck' but was not the word you'd expect it to be. I vividly remember walking through Paddy's Field on the way to my Granny's shop and reciting this list of words to see if I could identify what this word could be, buck, cuck, duck, fuck, guck, huck, juck etc. etc. Nothing seemed to fit the bill.

It was three or four more years before I heard the F-word courtesy of a fellow pupil in St Louis Convent Grammar School. The same girl brought tampons into class for our edification and education. I was most bemused. So that's what Tampax were for!

I'd spent my entire childhood pondering the magazine advertisements, looking at those pretty and lively women in pristine white clothes and wondering what Tampax could be. I searched for clues in the text and being a real innocent had no idea as to what 'internally' or 'applicator' might signify. I made up my mind. It was obvious really. All the ladies in white were healthy, active and sporty so Tampax must be some kind of aid to sportiness and vigour.

Oh innocent days. I was over sixteen before I sampled the product myself, only got it halfway in and waddled about in some discomfort through two periods of Anatomy and Physiology at Antrim Technical College. Ironic or what?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Little Children

Nellybert has been getting out and about recently, taking advantage of the esteemable Pearl-Ri being in The Home For Crabbit Oul Dragons for a fortnight. Of course, anyone else would have taken a holiday but, what with the Martha sitting, the signing on the dole and the hospital appointments, we hadn't a minute.

So we took a 24 hour break to the Inishowen Peninsula at the end of last week and today we went to Derry City on the train.

Let the train take the strain. Hardly! For some reason the world and his wife was out today with all their whinging, squalling bratlings in tow. A young one screeched its head off from Ballymoney to Derry on the way down. I was harbouring nasty thoughts. Then when we got off I saw its wee face and it looked so miserable that I felt bad for wanting it and its Ma thrown off the train. But here's a thing - during the entire journey, during its intermittent yelling and screechings the mother never once spoke to the child or tried to comfort it. Expect if I'd been it I might have hollered my head off too.

There were more monsters on the way home. A wee lad, probably about 4 or 5 wailed himself into sobs and hiccups for twenty minutes steady. I think he wanted something he didn't get. Once again there was no interaction from the parents. The child was completely ignored.

I'm sure it's not universal but I do notice that lots of parents do not give their children any time or attention when they are out in public. Even the seemingly good kids get ignored. There were three generations sitting opposite us - a little girl of about eight, her mum and the granny. Mum and Granny had a continuous and very repetitive and dreary conversation for nearly an hour. The child was hardly spoken too. When she got excited about something she spotted from the train window she was roundly ignored. Wise up adults! Children, if you give them a chance, can be interesting too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Miss My Baby Owls

baby owl springhill 2009, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

For the second year running there has been no long eared owl babies at Springhill. I miss them very much.

We think that buzzards took over their nesting site. Last year there were at least three young buzzards reared on our land. Buzzards are OK but I'd much rather have owls.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brass Bed

window, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.
I've had that old bed for nearly thirty years and I paid thirty pounds for it. The woman I bought it from was moving to Kuala Lumpur. There is an interesting story around her move that involves art thieves, drug dealers and dodgy barristers but it is not mine to tell. She was a generous woman that had the brass bed before me, for, with my thirty pounds in her pocket, she took me out to the Golf Club where we drank gin and bitter lemon. That was as far as it went for it turned out I wasn't her type. Not butch enough.

Bert and I dismantled the bed today. I'm turning the spare room into a little office/workroom. It will be good to gather all my paperwork and hobby kit into one part of the house.

What shall we do with the bed? Traditionally, in rural areas, old bedsteads were used to plug gaps in hedges. And we do have a couple of heifers with the wandering inclination.

It would be an ignominious end to a 19th century bed originally hailing from County Donegal. People probably died in that bed, for sure they were conceived and born it. I'm sure more than fifty people slept in it since I've had it. Those notable folk singers Tommy and Colm Sands were among them. And Hannah began in it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Pigs

Duroc Boar (below) Pietrain Boar (right)

new pigs, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Eight new pigs for fattening up. Lily and Rusty were most unamused. But if they knew what the newcomers' fate was they might think differently.

These ones were sired by Duroc crossed Pietrain. Bert said he was the most aggressive pig he's ever come across. I hope the younguns don't take after Daddy.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Back on the drink again!

28 days off the sauce except for last Thursday which was exceptional circumstances. I still don't know for sure if I'm an alcoholic but rest assured the situation is being closely monitored. At the first suggestion that I am edging towards having 'Bert' and an outlined denim pocket tattooed above my left breast I'm checking straight into rehab.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Hannah, Martha and I visited two toy shops today. In the first one Hannah fell in raptures at the Sylvanian Animal families. They didn't have meercat families in her day. Martha was very keen on a pink scooter but it was a little bit advanced for her. What we were really looking for was a wheelbarrow. Martha already has a green bucket for egg-collecting and lots of gardening tools but she has no wheelbarrow and she is very fond of toys with wheels.

The wheelbarrow in the meercat and scooter shop was a bit flimsy so we had to go to Camerons. That's where I always bought my girls their Christmas toys. They had some great barrows there. Martha picked a red one and, although I preferred the green, it was her choice. Back home she was aghast when she realised that it was in bits and in her view 'Broke!' but that's whan grandas are for. Bert sat himself down in the polytunnel surrounded by a gaggle of girls, average age 18, to watch him build the barrow. As one of those girls was me and another one Martha you'll know, if you're good at sums, that Sylvie and Maggie are still a fair bit off their teens.

Martha was delighted with Wheelbarrow! And solemnly set off on her maiden voyage. She happily transported an empty eggbox to the henhouse and an eggbox containing one egg from the henhouse to the kitchen. She then carried a load of grapes from the house to the pig pen and watched while Sylvie and Maggie fed them to the kune kunes. On the way back from the pigpen Sylvie's mum threw a weed in her barrow and Martha said nothing. As soon as Sylvie's mum was out of sight she took the weed out and gave it to me. It seems that Wheelbarrow! is far too posh to carry dirty weeds. It was raining and Wheelbarrow! was getting wet so she brought it into the house where she made a thorough inspection of its underside. She was distressed that some German Shepherd fluff was stuck to its wheel and this had to be removed. I did this. Then she anxiously pointed out more hairy mess and I had to clean this too. The barrow then had to be polished with a tea towel. I wonder if Martha really understands the purpose of Wheelbarrow! But it is very red and shiny and new. So who can fault her?

Saturday, August 06, 2011