Tuesday, August 28, 2012

From The Garden Archive

I found these pictures of the beginnings of our garden at the old house, the house that we sold to Clint. I'd never had so much room for a garden before I came to this country and I hardly knew what to do with all that space. I started with a flower bed while Bert concentrated on vegetables. I was very impressed with his skills as I'd never grown vegetables myself.

I seem to have a lot of wallflower here. It is a very long time since I've grown wallflower. I mean to every year but never seem to get round to it.

I have always been very keen on foxgloves and here I had them in profusion. They are a poisonous plant but I've never seen anyone try to munch on them yet. I love the way they add height and structure to a flowerbed although I'm not always keen on where they decide to sow themselves. Bert's vegetables are coming along well.

It's high summer now and the nasturtiums are beginning and Bert's vegetables are ready to harvest. I've always had nasturtiums - they are among my favourite flowers. I took that series of photographs from an upstairs window and looking back at them I wish I'd kept it up. Yet another thing I didn't get round to.

The next year we planted potatoes where the vegetables grew and then we planted a lawn. Bert's father surrounded the garden with a beautiful stone wall which Clint pulled down. He said it would be full of rat's nests, He also knocked down the old house and built a couple of agricultural sheds. He fenced the garden area and filled it with honking, shitting geese. Ah well. Each to his own.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Joys Of Motoring

How long ago is it, when you would be visiting friends or cousins in a residential area, that there would always be at least one car sitting outside a house with the bonnet up? And some bloke would be tinkering with it and he might even be underneath it and there would usually be at least two or three other fellows standing around discussing the problem. At some point they'd get it sorted out and off they'd go in a reek of blue exhaust smoke. You don't see that any more. Because nowadays cars are so complicated and so electrical that only skilled mechanics with diagnostic machines can fix them. And at great cost too.

Take my rotten car. I've only just spent £300 plus getting some electrical problem sorted out and  I had hoped that I might get a few months of  problem free motoring. But no. The other day the wipers came on and I couldn't get them to go off again. It was a fine dry day too. The whole wiper unit was loose and wobbly. After much trial and error I got them switched off. Told myself that Young Loveheart would sort the problem out. I mentioned it to him. He knew the problem. Could he fix it? Not easily. That's a whole new comms unit that will cost at least £300.

I have asked Bert to buy me a pony and trap.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Social Networking Gone Wrong

When the comedian Russell Brand was married to the pop singer Katy Perry, he took a morning photograph of her that showed her all bleary-eyed, tousle-haired and cosmetic free, and then he posted it on Twitter for all the world to see. It was not a flattering picture. I dare say Brand found it hilarious at that moment but he quickly thought again and took it down. But it was too late. By then the world had got hold of it and Brand had shown us all that Miss Perry looked pretty ordinary without the slap and that he was a first-class pillock. He shouldn't have done it. He betrayed his wife's trust. It's all too easy with instant networking to do the wrong thing, to make a fool of yourself, to trample over your own and other people's privacy.

Like lots of people I have friends on Facebook who aren't really friends. They are people I might have known for a long time that I don't see much of these days, people who I might stand and have a quick chat with if I meet them at the supermarket but not really people I yearn to socialise with. These are people whose numbers are not in my phone. And now I know too much about them.

Take the woman whose husband has left her - she goes on Facebook on a Saturday night, probably with a bottle of wine in her, and she has a ill-written, misspelt rant about him. She is addressing him directly and what she is saying is not for the eyes of  her Facebook friends. They might judge, they might decide that perhaps her ex was well out of it. They might cringe. And afterwards they'd feel soiled that they read this, this thing they never should have read. The next morning the rant was gone but it was too late.

Then today I saw a photograph on Facebook of a woman asleep. Her partner had published it without her knowledge. It was not a flattering picture. It was cruel of her partner to have posted it and I told him so. Soon afterwards I got a private message from him. It was rather cheeky. I used the private messaging to tell him exactly what I thought of his actions then logged out and went to call on a real friend, a friend who wouldn't have a clue what social networking is even though she's only 78 years old. I told myself if my Facebook 'friend' responded to my message in a rude or uncaring manner that I would banish him. I was looking forward to banishing him. When I got back I took a look and he appeared to be repentant. The photograph of his partner had been removed. But it was too late.

He didn't get banished today. But he will.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yeah, Jackie

This lady will be 91 years old in November and this is a recent photograph. She's had a bit of 'work' done recently. At the very least she has had her lips plumped up.

This is what I think of Jackie Stallone.

Firstly, there is no way I'd ever dream of emulating her. That attention to image and appearance is not something that matters very much to me. But - I truly admire her. I admire her spirit, I admire her tenacity, I admire her lust for life.  Ninety years of age and she is out there, getting work done, getting her face on, living her life. Way, Jackie.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sunshiney Day, Making Hay

At last we've had some more fine weather. And there have been lots of outdoor activities. We've weeded and picked and gathered and sowed. And we've made hay - the old-fashioned way.

Martha is not watching Bert plant a tree. She is attending the burial of the big hen that Foxy tried to take a few weeks back. That hen was not itself for many days after the attack and although I thought she had recovered her spirits she died yesterday. Maybe it would have been better if the fox had finished her off at the time.

Later on Martha and Judy had fun playing in the hay

Today was beautiful too. Maybe a wee bit too warm but we shall not complain. Leitrim Sister came up to stay last night and today we went to St George's Market with Zoe and the girls. Dede and I went on to Ikea and Martha came too. Amazingly I only spent £12.65 in Ikea. This austerity drive is working well. When we got back Bert and Clint were baling and bringing in hay - the old-fashioned way, the way Daddy used to do it. A good day.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Country Living

Old photographs can make an excellent aide-mémoire. Looking at this one from 1992 I realise that we've been living in the country for over two decades now. Miss Hannah was still at primary school (St Mary's in Ballymena, now demolished) and her headmaster, who lived in Portglenone, would pick her up at the end of our lane in a big station wagon crammed to the doors with his own children. Those where the days when child seats were not compulsory and youngsters could bounce around in cars largely unrestrained.

Without this picture I would not have remembered that the last time I made wine was 20 years ago. Unfortunately I don't remember what I made it from or if it was any good but I'm sure it was. I'm sure too that we didn't give it much of an opportunity to mature because 20 years ago I still wasn't fully mature myself. And, it seems, according to my children, I still have some way to go.

The chair Bert is sitting upon and the sofa on which Hannah perches upon a heap of hideous mismatched cushions are long gone. The table is still around. The house that Bert built, and the table I bought for it belong to Clint now and he uses it as a potting bench in one of the poly tunnels.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Guess Where Ireland

The eldest daughter has been sorting out my paper photographs for me. Honestly - I don't know when she gets the time. The other day she presented me with about eight boxes of photos carefully sorted by date. Since then I've been looking through them and I'm often puzzled to who, why or where.

Here are a couple taken when Bert, myself and Danny (the best dog ever) were touring about. Neither of us has a clue where they were taken and Danny is no longer with us, so he cannot help! Any ideas?

Thursday, August 02, 2012


redshank, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.
I moved to Drumtara in 1978. The house was newly built and I was its first tenant. Reader, I had nothing!

Well - I had a child, another on the way, several hundred books, a bed, a toybox full of toys (but that wasn't mine) and a couple of chairs.

Word soon got round that I was in need of household effects and furnishings and friends rallied round to help. I soon had more furniture and bits and pieces than I needed. I never said no and that is a habit I have to this very day.

The house sorted, I began on the garden. I'd never had my own garden before and I was very excited. With help from my father I began to create a lawn for the children to play on. It was hard work breaking the soil, getting the stones and builder's rubble out and raking and finishing. At last Daddy pronounced it ready for sowing and gave me a plastic bag of grass seed. I scattered, sowed and waited with mounting anticipation.

It wasn't long before the first green shoots appeared. At first it was only a light green haze but as the days progressed it became greener and greener. My father came to look at it. There were a lot of areas where the seed hadn't taken. He said, "Don't worry. They'll fill in."

The grass continued to grow. It actually started to look quite lush. Except... except it didn't really look like grass. Daddy said, "Redshank." I was very disappointed. My first attempt at sowing a lawn and I had created a weed patch. A lush and green weed patch but a weed patch all the same. I asked my father what I should do. He said, "Just cut them back, don't let them flower, the grass will come through."

I didn't even have garden shears so I tackled my weed patch with the kitchen scissors. It took a long time and I got blisters. But the grass came through just like Daddy said. Of course the kitchen scissors proved impractical when that needed cutting and I acquired garden shears from somewhere and used them to keep the grass in check. To tell the truth it was never much of a lawn but it was good enough for my children to play on.

Nowadays I have a lawn and a ride on mower and a man to cut the grass for me. It's not the best lawn in the world but it's certainly good enough for my grandchildren to play on.