Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pigs and Wine and Shortened Time

I have been listening to reports about research on recommended weekly amounts of alcohol. Dr Melanie Nichols of Oxford University, the lead author of a recently published paper, said: "Over 4,000 deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke and liver disease in England could be prevented if drinkers reduced their average level of alcohol consumption to half a unit per person per day - a level much lower than current UK government recommendations.” She went on to say that a half unit of alcohol would be just a quarter of a glass of wine, or a quarter of a pint of beer. These days a unit of alcohol corresponds to half a glass of wine – or a glass and a half of wine per week.

And here I am busily making wine with every possible ingredient I can lay my hands on. Right now I have 18 bottles maturing and fourteen gallons still fermenting. Oh dear. What shall I do? Should I empty it all down the jacks?

But, to look on the bright side, if we adhere to these new guidelines, the present amount of alcohol being processed should last Nellybert a number of years. I have done the math. There are 5 glasses in a bottle and 6 bottles to the gallon. Multiply that by 17 and that comes to 510 gallons. We would be drinking three glasses between us every week and at that level of consumption the wine will last us three years and three months.

I comfort myself with the thought that when the statistics are examined more closely those 4000 + extra deaths per year translates into a probability of the drinking classes living about a fortnight less than the abstainers. It being late, and me on the wine, I cannot be bothered to research this thoroughly but, if any reader is interested, the views of statistician David Spiegelhalter are worth a moment or two of your time.

Now as well as making wine Nellybert has also a freezer full of home-grown pig and I'm sorry to say that eminent researchers in Harvard have shown that those of us who eat red meat more than three times a week are also shortening life expectancy, so if you are partial to a bacon sandwich and a glass of wine you're probably going to live around six weeks less than an abstemious vegetarian. Well worth it in my opinion. Slainte! Bon appetit!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Bert!

bert and pup, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

It's Bert's birthday today. Thrifty Fee!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

We have been basking in beautiful, glorious sunshine for almost a week. Misses Martha and Evie and their parents are camping out in the fields. Between spending time with them and watering, watering, watering (thank God we have water) there is little time for blogging.

But that's all right. Must go. I have a poly tunnel to water before it gets too hot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Picture of the Day and Other Matters

Photograph of the day

It is one of my great delights to come across abandoned buildings. Especially fascinating is when the abandoned home is full of the detritus of the lives once lived there. The house I came across yesterday was such a place. I had no camera yesterday so returned today. The people who lived here were interesting folk. They studied, took and developed photographs, made things and painted. They might even have gardened although there was little evidence of it. The garden was so overgrown with nettles and brambles that it was coming into the house but I'm sure the butterflies were very pleased with it.

A fool and his finger are soon parted

This fool I know lacerated his finger on his lawnmower and refused to have medical attention. Surely everyone knows not to poke at the sharp moving parts of a machine while those sharp moving parts are actually in motion. These were my words of sympathy, "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

He pointed out that at least I wouldn't have to listen to him  playing his clarinet for a day or two. I think I'd rather have the clarinet and an uninjured Bert as not. I'll give him this - he is a stoic. He even finished mowing the lawn and it looks great.

Another worry

 My car is, in the opinion of my mechanic, not worth fixing. Apparently French cars are parcels of merde. It's true! I heard it on Radio 4. Up to three warning lights can be on its dashboard panel at any one time and according to my friend, the mechanic, the diagnostic machine indicates that everything that could be wrong with it, probably is. Or not - as the computer box is full of clothes pegs. I know. I thought that sounded a bit surreal too. The guy that sold it to me assured me that it had only ever belonged to his parents, a respectable couple of retiring age. They had wanted an estate car to transport a big dog around in. I have to say, Bert and I thought it was odd that the front seats had those little burn holes that come from smoking cannabis joints. We didn't think the oldies were the type. But maybe their dog was the same breed as Brian from Family Guy.

The joyous part of the day... still to come. Hannah is visiting and I'm currying some chicken. I haven't decided whether to buy gin or wine. I'll probably get both. It's been a tough day.

Tell Me Now

Grannymar  wanted to know....

What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? Should I take a photograph of the sunrise? I didn't.

What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

What songs do you sing in the shower?
I don't.

Do you own slippers? Yes, two pairs, both Christmas presents from sisters.

Worst injury you’ve ever had?
I am very lucky never to have had anything other than minor cuts and bruises. Perhaps my right hand, cut on glass, self-inflicted when I was a teenager.

What’s one trait you hate about yourself?
I don't hate it but I think I'm an under-achiever. I also eat too much.

What’s in your pocket right now? Labelling pen, seeds, pedometer, phone, iPod

Where would you like to go today?
Dingle peninsula

Does someone have a crush on you?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


 This has been a cold May up until a few days ago. Hardly anything has been growing and the farmers are all complaining that there is not enough grass in the fields. These overwintered calves got their first taste of the great outdoors this morning. Seeing cattle getting out after a long winter indoors is one of my greatest pleasures.

 The gardeners are getting busy too. This lot are putting in potatoes. Again, far later than usual but what can you do?
I finished my day by taking a walk up the back lane. We're having campers at the weekend so I wanted to see if the proposed site was all that they'd want. I kept my eyes peeled for a sighting of Foxy but he was keeping well out of the way. Probably scared of my feline companion. Because, strangely enough, not one dog accompanied me on my walk. Charlie was around but he kept a distance. Holly de Cat walked with me every inch of the way meowing piteously if I got too far ahead of her. She loves to take a walk up the back lane.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Day With Martha

And then Miss Martha says, "Put the camera away Granny and come and play."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Sometimes when I am watching old film footage from the sixties, say at a festival or a Rolling Stones concert and I see all the hairy hippies and flower children and I find myself thinking how old they must be today. And I hope that they are coping with this thing we call 'old age'. And that if they have reached the stage of their lives where they need people to help them that those people are kind people who live up to the title of 'carer'.

I once knew a lady who had lost her legs due to diabetes and she told me that her carers threw her about “like a bag of corn”. She said that the young ones would be helping her and all the while they’d be talking about what they’d got up to on a night out. My friend complained that she crtainly didn’t want to know about how how drunk they'd got or who had got off with who.Young girls can make wonderful carers but often they patronize the elderly people they look after. They can find it hard to fathom that old people were once young and vibrant and full of vim and vigour.

In a Ballyclare home there was a lady in her mid-fifties who was suffering from a degenerative disease. She had lost the power of speech and was unable to feed herself. I watched a carer spoon food into her mouth all the while conversing with a colleague and never once speaking to the person she was feeding.

Then I worked a couple of shifts in a care home in Ballymena. It was tremendously well run and luxuriously appointed and the standards of care were very high. One evening towards the end of the shift when the work was all done and carers were waiting to go off duty, to pass the time, I went over to chat to a bright nonagenarian who came from my part of the country. She had attended the same country school as my father and was full of interesting stories. When I returned one of the permanent staff said to me, “Why were you talking to that old bore?” I’d previously spent my tea break in the company of this particular staff member and had found her very dreary. All she had wanted to talk about was her Christian faith and to criticise other staff members who didn't live their lives according to her high standards.

Carelessness happens here too. Pearlie's carers came in the other morning chattering nineteen-to-the dozen. It was all “she said and then I said and she said and if they don’t like it and imagine putting in a complaint and Jill said to Nancy that Lorna said and I said and then I just said and she goes and…”
And by this time they were in with Pearlie and I heard the clank of cot sides going down and the conversation never stopped. No “Good mornings, how are you today’s?” to the lady in the bed. They continued with washing and changing Pearlie and never lost their momentum or missed a beat.

Then I heard Pearlie pipe up,

Can you turn out the light again?

And this reply…

Just wait Pearlie. Can you not see I’m doing something else?

Then (rather shortly)…

There that’s your light off.

No goodbyes, no see you laters. Just out the door with them.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quiet Night In

Our first visitor came at just after 10am. He and his friend arrived moments after Bert got up. I'd been up and around for a few hours but was not quite ready to start the day. Oh well.

After H & D left I went out for an hour or so. On my return the yard was full. Rod and his mum, Les showing us his amazing cauliflowers, Aunt Lizzie and her new dog. I started to make lunch. We were just about to serve when Young Rooney and his young lad turned up. The boy headed straight for the sand pile and began digging. Young Rooney came in to oversee our lunch. He did not stay long but before he left Young Loveheart appeared. Rooney and Loveheart used to be close friends but they're odd with each other these days. Bert and I don't mind. We're used to people being odd with each other at our place.

I had a phone call from Swisser. We chatted about this and that. she said she thought she might call up. I agreed that this sounded like a good idea. Loveheart and Bert were working in the polytunnel, Lizzie was stroking about with her new dog. The phone went. It was Jazzer. They were thinking of coming up. Why not says I, just the two of you? No Erin and Ben and the dog. Sure. Why not? It'll only take a moment to change the beds.

Jazzer wanted to cook but I dug my heels in. I care too much about getting vegetables to let Jazzer cook so we spent half a week's grocery money on an Indian take-out from the Khyber. Bert went to fetch it and said he'd seen Mel in town although she hadn't seen him. Then I got a phone call. It was Hannah. Are you at home. Oh yes. Jakers, Mel and I are thinking of calling out. Sure that will be lovely, see you soon.

So - 17 people and 2 dogs. Just another ordinary day at Nellybert's.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Disgusted of Cully

In the early days of Flickr I routinely accepted contact invitations from people I did not know. These days I am rather more suspicious and check a prospective contact's photostream before agreeing. This came about a few years back when I noticed that a perfectly sweet and decent photograph of Pearlie and Aunt Lizzie had attracted a lot of interest. I checked the commenters' profiles and got a horrible shock. I regret to say that these were men with a special interest in the elderly. Each to their own, as the saying goes, but not on my photostream you won't!

Then there were the specialists who took, in my view, an unhealthy interest in some pictures of my friend's horse-trodden toe. I had to block toeamps99 - the weirdo.

In the past two days I've had two new contact invitations both from middle-aged, podgy men. One had only a few photographs up. They were of his wife, who looked a lot like Marcia Falkender. He seemed to welcome salacious and creepy comments from other men about how beguiling she was. Aaargh! Begone horrid man. And then another unwelcome invitation today from a goofy French-sounding man. His entire photostream consisted of five unflattering pictures of a male person, I assume to be himself, with greasy hair, wonky teeth and fat slug lips. His interests he stated to be swingers and teen moms - the brute! Blocked.

Does anyone else have this problem? I do have pictures of elderly ladies, I do have pictures of sore toes, I do have a few pictures of young women holding babies - none of whom are teen moms. They might be teen aunties, or teen big sisters, or teen the girls next door, or even moms that look a bit teen but aren't and are me many, many years ago.

Perhaps I should stick to posting photographs of Slemish and gardens and flowers as these seem not to attract weirdoes. I can't even be sure that there aren't people out there getting off on my photographs of dogs. I am also going to have to consider changing my Flickr icon as it makes me look far too free-spirited and fun-loving. Which I'm not.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Sunday Morning Musings

Our telephone display lets us know if the call is coming from outside the UK. The display will read 'OUT OF AREA'

These calls are almost always from call centres and are very, very irritating. Often, the moment I speak, the call is terminated. I can't not answer them because I have family living outside the UK and I am always very keen to hear from them. I have now come up with a new tactic, which I hope annoys cold callers as much as they annoy me. I don't speak so this keeps them on the line a little longer - then they hang up. I get a little burst of pleasure thinking of their frustration.

Realistically though, they are so thick-skinned (they'd have to be) that they will hardly give a toss if the call doesn't work out for them.

Bert is hanging about this morning waiting for the AI man to call. The AI man, for those not familiar with the term, sells and administers sperm. The AI man looks like Henry VIII as  portrayed in that famous Holbein portrait although nowhere near as well-dressed. Henry VIII is coming to see if the heifer took from her New Year's Day insemination. We are not hopeful as the procedure has failed with her before. Her friend (and half-sister) the other heifer has a sweet little calf already and this will be the first time the AI man will set eyes on her. I said to Bert,

D'ye think when Henry VIII sees the wee calf he'll glow with paternal pride?

Pearlie has returned from a two week respite visit to the Home For The Bewildered and Sometimes Belligerent. She is in her usual good form. Not. I had her best eiderdown in the wash and got her a new wastepaper bin and she was not best pleased. I was that annoyed with her this morning that I left the crusts on her bread and butter. But we'll get used to each other again and get to rubbing along just fine.

You know what is the best bit about her not being here? It's not her not being here. It's her carers, her district nurses and her visitors not being here. There is a lot of footfall through Pearlie's part of the house and it is sometimes hard to put up with. There are days when there will be up to seven lots of people in the house. I do get fed up with it. And although I know we're lucky to have the care team I'll not be sorry when the day comes that we don't need them.


It is with great pleasure that I can announce that the New Year's Day insemination has worked. The heifer will be calving some time in September. Yippee! This means she will not be going to market for slaughter.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Gardening Leave

 A work in progress

I've been busy.

I've been busy with the business of marking Matty's first anniversary and busy in the garden.

If a garden is not maintained, if it is not cared for and looked after it will return to wilderness. Here at Nelly's Garden we, and Bert's bees, like a certain amount of abandonment but if there is too much of it there will be few delicate flowers survive and there will be hardly any fruit and vegetables. During the early spring of last year the flower garden was not cared for or looked after. I tried to keep it going during the summer months and it looked well enough. But pernicious weeds, particularly couch grass, gained hold and only the strongest flowering plants survived.

In the past past few weeks, in the run up to her anniversary, I had been in the doldrums. It was as if I was waiting for the twelve month mark to pass before I could concentrate on the future. There were some things to do, the most pressing being the arrangement of her memoriam cards. Other members of the family helped with this and between us we chose the photograph and prayers that would feature. I  used the printing press at the Cistercian Abbey in Portglenone and they were great.

On the day of her anniversary Leitrim Sister came up and we spent a lovely day together, first meeting with cousin Joe and his family, then visiting Mum's grave. We couldn't go into the chapel to light a candle as a wedding was taking place there but we did meet Father F. who had been so good to her during her illness and who had been with her when she died. LS and I spent the rest of the day together and I finally got a hold on that Puerto Rican chicken and rice dish I'd been trying out. It was my third go at it. Getting the recipe helped.

Several people said to me when I mentioned that the first anniversary was coming up, “It doesn't seem like a year.” Well it did to me - exactly. I counted it week by week, month by month, season by season. I can stop counting now and next year I will be surprised. Two years already!

So I've spent most of the time since in the garden pulling it back from the wilderness. I have lost a lot of plants but I do not mind. They might flourish elsewhere in wilder parts of the garden and the space that they leave will give me room for new flowers and plants including some that came from Matty's Garden.