Thursday, March 27, 2014

Back and Away Again

I got back from Hanna's Close on Monday. The previous two times we stayed we were in George's Cottage. This time we were in Johnny's Cottage and I thought it was much nicer. George's has two bedrooms and was a bit claustrophobic for four adults and two children. Johnny's had an extra bedroom and it made all the difference. Johnny's also has its own garden with a steep slope leading down to the river. That was wonderful too. Martha and Evie bowled hoops down it and so did Granny!

Johnny's is built on a slope and is entered down steep stone steps. Did I mention the half door at the kitchen?

The girls playing with the hoops that kind Granny bought in Asda in Kilkeel.

My little room. No wriggling, snuffling little bodies to disturb my peace. At least, not until 7am when they jumped in beside me, cold as frogs, for huggles and snuggles.

It was a good weekend.

Tomorrow I go to Paris.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

NellyMoser's photostream

Judy in snowy woodsEvie Asleepasleepdavy and judyPalm House Botanic Gardensmeet mrs tiggywinkle
jigsawhistory studentbeautywatching fishhorticulture students11257376265_1efeaee6e1_c
gallery 1bedlam 3bedlam 2bedlam 1fleg protest royal avenueflegging royal avenue
breachbig flagevie making pictureshannyblossomhannah and grannyulster folk park

Carrot & Apple Wine

Started Bottled NOTES
Carrot 28/10/11 19/05/12 still very sweet on 3rd racking/ bottled – sweet & clear, good colour, cork popped Sept, 12/1/13 drank 1 bottle, very fizzy, sweet but pleasant
Carrot & Orange 10/05/13
2nd R -heavy sediment/3rd R: Heavy albumin bloom decanted out topped with cider & water
Carrot & Raisin 1 28/11/12 04/05/13 Added nutmeg, cinnamon and pinch clove, needed a lot of topping up (water) when going into demijohn, 2nd R: dry, great flavor, Bert loves it
Carrot & Raisin 2 28/02/13 24/02/14 some parsnips in mix, used demerara sugar 2lbs, nutmeg and cinnamon. Bottled 5. Yummy.
Carrot & Raisin 3 03/12/13

Carrot & Sultana 13/12/12 06/11/13 using plastic container, 2nd r decanted into glass – light flavour 3rd R: dry, clear topped with nettle
Carrot, Parsnip & Sultana 24/10/13 02/03/14 made with Tam veg. Topped with young rhub at 2nd rack

That's a little section of my wine-making spreadsheet and it's all about The Carrot. As can be seen I've made wine from carrots 7 times. Two are still on the go and 5 have been bottled. Bert and I shared a bottle of carrot and raisin (2) last night and it was rather tasty.

The first time I used carrot I stuck closely to a recipe. There must have been a lot of sugar because it was almost too sweet. It was also fizzy which means it carried on fermenting after bottling. Not a good idea! Carrot and raisin (or sultana) and less sugar produced a far more drinkable wine. I also started using pinches of nutmeg and other spices which added flavour. By the time I was on my third carrot & raisin I had stopped using recipes.

Carrot (and parsnip) wines are made with the liquor from the chopped and boiled roots. The actual vegetable is discarded. Some recipes suggest they can then be used in cooking but as I don't like my vegetables with the life boiled out of them, I give them to the pigs. Using dried fruit means that chemical nutrients aren't needed. I rarely use additives now. Just bananas or raisins for added nutrients, lemon juice where acid is required and strong tea where tannin is recommended.

Rough Recipe for Carrot & Apple & Raisin & Date Wine

Roots are easy to prepare for wine but chopping the raisins is a bit of a fiddly chore. And that is where my new Veto slow juicer comes in. I found a recipe for carrot and apple wine on-line and adapted it. I boiled the 4 lb of carrots as always then made a litre of juice using apples, carrots, all the raisins I had in my baking cupboard and a few dates for good measure. I put a bag of sugar in my sterilised bucket and added the pulp from the carrots, apples and dried fruit. Then 2 litres of boiling water and stirred it into a thick sludgy brown syrup. Time for the carrot liquor which had cooled down quite a bit. By the time I added my litre of juice and topped it up to a gallon it was exactly the right temperature for the yeast. Quick stir, lid on and that was that. Did I mention that it looked like liquid manure? Smelt better though.

So there you are. Another rough enough recipe from Nelly.  I'm sure I must be annoying somebody out there by alternating between imperial and metric measures. If anyone wants me to make it more exact I will. But perhaps better wait a few months to see how it turns out.

The Parlour Revisited

A post from September 2009. Still relevant.

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

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

Parlour? Where’s the bloody parlour?

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

You mean the room with the washing machine in it?

Yeah. That room, the – you know?

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

I never said parlour.

You bloody did.

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

  • The Woodshed
  • The Milk House
  • The Byre
  • The Cattle Shed
  • The Workshop
  • The Hen House
  • The Pig House
  • The Calf Shed
  • The Back Shed
  • The Potato Shed
  • The Turf Shed
  • The Silo
  • The Tractor Shed
  • The Tool Shed
  • Ian’s Shed

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

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

Where are my orange handled secateurs?

In the tunnels.

Which one?

The one with the clematis.

They all have clematis.

The montanas.

Big ones or liners?

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

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

I blame his mother.

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

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

And don’t get me started on fields.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Strange Days

Yesterday I went to St George's Market where I met up with Leitrim Sister and Dmitri. We then went on to the Ulster Museum where the artist Liz Cullinane was holding an open afternoon. I never seem to be out of the Ulster Museum these days. I fear I am actually becoming a museum piece as I was accused of being Leitrim Sister's mother! I'm but a mere ten years older than my sister. Galling.

Bert was in Donegal so Jazzer came over to help with Pearlie and the farming. We did such a good job of it that we naturally rewarded ourselves with a few glasses of red. This morning I got up early and decided to catch up with the recycling as I'd let it mount up in the scullery. There were a few, quite a few, wine bottles. One of Pearlie's pass-remarkable carers asked if I'd been having a party. I told her that Jazzer was an alcoholic. She didn't believe me.

It's been a very funny week. Lots of family concerns. Then a funeral on Friday. Somebody I'd never met but I know her daughter. Then, that night, news of another death, a young woman, somebody I do know. Her funeral was today. I didn't go.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Martha and Nelly's Day Out

Miss Martha and Granny are going today
To Belfast on the train
Miss Martha is fervently hoping
That Granny won't be a pain

Martha and I had our eagerly anticipated day out in Belfast on Saturday. That was three days ago and I'm only just beginning to recover. You see, I thought because Martha was a big sensible four-year-old that we could make a longer day of it. What I didn't take into consideration was how exhausted I would get. People of Martha's age have an inexhaustible supply of energy. People my age - not as much.

The Charity Shops

Martha's main aim was to replenish the dressing up box. She wanted a cocktail dress or a wedding dress and insisted that I measure these articles against her. It was difficult to persuade her that a dress meant for a tall and buxom bride was not going to do for her. And even size 6 party dresses were going to swamp a little girl. If the sparkly, sequinned dresses had only been a few pounds I might have let her have one but they were in the £6-10 range and far too expensive for dressing up. I explained that it would not be fair for Martha to take these for dressing up when there were big girls who needed them for parties. She understood.

The Ulster Museum

We went to see the Curious Beasts exhibition which is on loan from the British Museum. Martha found it a little disconcerting. Or was that me? I'm not sure.

Notions of Forever

This suited us better. Notions of Forever is a special exhibition, part of the Belfast Children's Festival. Its theme was how people's imaginations change as they move from childhood to old age. Martha and I didn't really understand it fully at the time but I think we both found it intriguing and I definitely found it moving and heartfelt.

Martha with the artist, Liz Cullinane

Botanic Gardens

A run round the big flower bed outside the Palm House.
A sniff at the beautiful flowers inside the Palm House.
A discussion about dead fish in the Tropical Ravine.
A terrifying incident when young adults dressed up as Foxes and Other Curious Beasts had a mock sword fight at the bandstand.

The Play Park

Lots of racing around and swinging and climbing and round-abouting whilst Granny had a wee rest on a bench.

The Train Home

Because we were both very good we rewarded ourselves with magazines for the train journey home. I had the Guardian and Martha had a My Little Pony magazine chosen for the quality of the gift sellotaped to its front. It was a plastic toy pink and purple mobile phone with a carrying case and a sheet of stickers. I got to read a bit of the paper while Martha chatted on her new phone. She was talking to 'a man'. The gist of the conversation was that the man's wife was in hospital having a baby and that he wanted to take photographs as it was 'coming out' and then he wanted to make a calendar featuring the photographs. He was negotiating with Martha about stickers to decorate the calendar and wanted 'baby' stickers but she told him she only had 'unicorn' stickers and he apparently agreed to this. Or so she told me. Needless to say I found all this much more entertaining than the Guardian.

On the train home wearing new tiara found in a charity shop

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Becoming Like Matty.

All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.  No man does.  That’s his.

So goes Algernon's memorable line from Oscar Wilde's 'The Importance Of Being Earnest'. Although Wilde was not writing of a physical resemblance, that is what I took from it when I first heard the lines, and I heard the quote long before I heard the play.

I'd been told for years that I looked like my mother and in my extreme youth this did not please me. After all, I was as lovely as the bright new morn and she was a wrinkled hag.  She would have been in her early forties then.

As I grew older I learned to appreciate the compliment for Matty was winsome enough as a lass and I had no doubt I was being compared to the younger version. But as I grew older, and ever so slightly wiser, I realised we did look alike. It showed in age. The first time we were taken as sisters was devastating. She was 28 bloody years older than I was!

This coming April Matty will be gone three years. And Daddy is nine years gone in June. I feel different now, far more aware of my own mortality and the ageing process. I look at my darling grandchildren and know that I'll never see them begin to age unless I become a centenarian. Perhaps I'll live long enough to become a great-grandmother. That would be a wonderful bonus.

My mother was a generous, caring and kind woman and it showed on her face. People liked her, she liked people. Children really liked her. She really liked children.             

Now when I look in the mirror and I see her face and it unnerves me. But you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to try and be a kinder person and I'm going to accept the ageing process and every time I feel like I'm becoming a wrinkled old hag I'll grin from ear to ear because that makes the wrinkles all friendly and jolly and kind instead of miserable and grim. Sure I might as well!



Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Merger

Just over a year ago I started another blog about wine making. I intended it to be a fairly light hearted take on one of my favourite hobbies and it started off well. But, sadly, I've been too busy making wine, drinking wine, hanging out with my grandchildren, writing this blog, going on free train rides and looking after Pearlie and the pigs to give Nelly's Rough Enough Guide to Making Wine my fullest attention. I mean, 23 posts in 13 months? How bad is that? And it is pitiful to have to begin posts with phrases such as. "I'm afraid I have been rather neglectful.." and "Yet again, I have been remiss..." There will be no more apologies. I am merging  the Rough Enough Guide with the Garden. So, every now and again there will be wine making and wine drinking updates on this blog. I will then copy them to the other blog. It's not lazy! It's clever. I promise that the content will not be dull and it might even encourage some of you to actually join me in this wine making adventure.

Jazzer And Nelly Drinking It Young

Recently I've been clearing the freezer of all last season's fruit to make way for this season's harvest.

There were a lot of blackcurrants in there. Since I last updated the Rough Enough Guide I have started 11 gallons of wine and six of them have been blackcurranty.. Two plain old blackcurrant and the remaining four blackcurrants mixed with,

  1. blackberries
  2. damsons
  3. apple
  4. strawberries.

Way back in August 2011 the first wine I made was blackcurrant and it disappointed me. Dry, dry as a bone. I think that was why it took me two years to attempt blackcurrant again.

Then Jazzer presented me with the entire crop from her solitary blackcurrant bush and we had another go. We started it together and I continued the racking process myself. We used less sugar and Young's Super Wine Yeast Compound. It finished really quickly and, needing something bottled and Jazzer very keen to see it in bottles, we went ahead. We bottled five and polished off the last bottle from the flagon. It was surprisingly delicious considering it was only 6 months old. Jazzer wanted to get stuck into another one but I explained to her that it would not really be properly ready until next August.

Can I take it home with me?
You can take your two bottles if you think it's wise.
Two bottles? But...

Her face fell.

Did you think it would be all yours? The deal is, and I do this for anyone who provides me with ingredients, if there are six bottles I keep three. For I do all the sterilising and racking.
She saw my point and she got her two bottles.
You know you should really keep them six months.
I'll drink one and keep one.

She drank them both and now she has the wine making bug, rang me tonight looking for a bit of advice on her first batch which she is making using frozen blackberries and raspberries from Tescos. Interesting. If she keeps this up she'll be in rehab before long.

I'll try to keep my three bottles of the Jazzer Blackcurrant until August but it is rather good. No doubt, next time she's here we will fall to it with gusto.