Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Woes

I notice that Ganching regularly posts on daily pluses and minuses so, as I have had a couple of days of minuses, I intend to borrow her idea at least once.


Bert broke my whizz mop. For those that do not know a whizz mop is the best way ever of mopping floors. Unfortunately, to allow them to be sold for an affordable sum, they are not as robust as they might be, I had an amazingly robust mop and bucket once. The only way it could be broken would be for a truck to run over it, or to be stamped upon by an elephant. The downside was you'd need muscles like Popeye to operate it and it slopped water all over the place.

I was eating a nice bit of crusty toast and raspberry jam and my dental plate broke. I got a temporary repair made but I'll need a new one. The new one will cost me the price of 14 whizz mops.

I put my Omron GoSmart pedometer in the washing machine. Fortunately it was a quick 30°C setting. I'm attempting to dry it out but if it doesn't work and I need a replacement and I don't win one on eBay that's near enough the price of one whizz mop.

And I have an eye infection. 


I also have gin!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Stable

Today I asked Bert where he had deposited the cardboard (for lasagne gardening) that was kindly donated by Ronnie Pet Shop Boy and he informed me it was in The Stable.

The Stable?

We have six sheds and at the last count fifteen names for them. 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
But The Stable? There hasn't been a horse about this place in more than sixty years. There might have been stables back in Master Kernohan's day but that was a long time ago. The place that Bert refers to as The Stable currently contains,

An ancient stack of turf, almost inaccessible as it has flung upon it a great amount of yellow drainage piping and...
  • An amount of railway sleepers.
  • Some coal, supplied by Frank McCooke.
  • A bit of a quad bike.
  • Some other bikes.
  • A few collapsed swallow's nests.
  • A great quantity of adult diapers.
  • A stove.
  • A quantity of Bann bricks.
  • Cardboard.
  • Various other treasure.
  • No horses.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In Which The Piano Is Rolled To The Shed

We never did get that piano tuned. There was no point anyway for I had nowhere to put it but the sun room and it was plonked far too close to the wood burning stove. Today Young Loveheart, Rod and Bert rolled it to the shed, the one I call a workshop and Bert calls the Pruta Shed even though the amount of pruta (potatoes) currently stored there only amounts to three baskets of Sarpo Mira. Miss Martha will not be pleased about the removal of the piano although she will still be able to bash away at it in the Pruta Shed.

I see from my previous blog entries that we've had the piano for three years. It was first mentioned in the following entry when I was enjoying a rare opportunity to have the house all to myself. It seems too that Bert still has the outstanding matter of that unfinished ranch fencing to consider. I'll mention it to him tomorrow.

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.

Friday, November 21, 2014

On Sisters

It is with a heavy heart that I pack my little case and head for County Leitrim to visit one of my multi-talented sisters. The reason? I've just read this. And there was no mention of me.

Sibling rivalry... it never dies.

I'm sure if she had racked her brains she'd have thought of something!

Most home-made wine in Cullybackey?
Best granny in the world?
Gets up 5 minutes earlier every day?
Awesome pastry?

Seriously though, I'm proud of them too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weekend Plans

Today I planted tulip bulbs. My sister said, is it not too late, will they grow? And I replied, they will have a better chance in the garden than in my kitchen drawer.

I'm in a reflective mood and am trying to get my life back on track, starting with getting up times. Since Pearlie died I had drifted into being a slug-a-bed and, at this time of the year when daylight hours are short, it makes sense to get up before nine. I do what I always do, set my alarm 5 minutes earlier every day. The hens are pleased.

I have also decided to eat less biscuits and take a daily walk.

In December I plan to blog every day so that my loyal readers can share in my Christmas planning. Prepare to be very impressed.*

This weekend I will be getting on a bus and travelling to Enniskillen and will be accompanied by two young girls aged 3 and 5. At Enniskillen we will be met by Leitrim Sister who will take us to her lovely home among the rushes. The older of the two girls wasn't going to go as she informed her mother that,

Teacher doesn't allow us to take holidays in term-time.

We explained that weekends don't count. Bert is not too heart-broken to be left by himself for two whole days.

*Impressed at my lackadaisical attitude.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pottery, Porcelain & Glass

Bert has been forbidden to put anything in the attic.

If you want something taken up there, leave it by the stairs and I'll take it up.

Why? Because he just dumps things there willy-nilly on top of all the other stuff and I have to move it to get to the stuff I want. He's been storing outgrown children equipment such as buggies, stair gates and so on for we're hoping for more grandchildren some day. I've been digging out china, and pretty cushions and knick knacks that have been up there since Pearlie moved in with us. For my new room you see. The new room that I keep going on about.

You can be certain sure that Bert will not pay a blind bit of notice to my instructions that he keep out of the attic. He agrees with me, then does exactly as he pleases and I have to admit I do admire him for it.

Bringing out the china has awakened my interest in it and I found myself drawn to a vintage coffee set in a Ballymena charity shop. It looked in very good condition considering it must be close to a century old.

Royal Doulton Duveen 'Syren'

Sadly I could not afford it as it was priced at £395! There aren't as many bargains to be found in charity shops these days, not since the people who work there discovered eBay and the prices that some collectors are prepared to pay.

But I did have a happy find in Portglenone a few days later. I have a few bits and pieces of Poole Pottery Dorset Fruits. It's modern but I like it. I'd been poking about and was about to leave empty handed when the nice lady said,

Do you like these plates?

Four Poole Pottery, Dorset Fruits dinner plates, the apple pattern. How much did she want for them? Fifty pence each.

Now if I only have six adults and two children for Christmas there will be plates enough. Six apples, a pear and a bunch of grapes.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I was brought up in a family where breast feeding was the norm. I had been breast fed myself, I'd seen all my six brothers and sisters breast fed and it never occurred to me to do anything else.

Back when I had my children feeding one's child oneself was not the norm and midwives did not seem to encourage it. Nevertheless I persevered and it all went well for me. There were no problems, my little ones thrived and that thing called 'baby weight' melted away in no time.

As time passed I found out more about my own and Matty's early experiences. My mother let the odd thing drop and eventually it all became clear. She had a difficult breech birth with me and did not recover well. She felt isolated and unsure of how to deal with her first child. I was very underweight and she struggled with nursing. As her anxiety increased, she neglected to nourish herself and consequently I was starving at the breast. She told me that there were fierce District Nurses who called very often such was their concern for this baby that failed to thrive.

Then my Aunt Sarah visited. She had a son six months older than me. He was a giant baby, dark curls, the fattest chubby cheeks, a great lump of a well-fed infant. Aunt Sarah was horrified to see the scrawny thing that Matty had produced.

Give that child a bottle! Thicken it with Farex. Put sugar in it.

Matty did as her sister said and I started to thrive. Got chubby. But I never, ever forgot that early starving. All my life I have wanted more food. At times of anxiety I just want to eat and I especially want to eat starchy, sugary things. I must have adored those thickened, sweetened bottles of milk.

I've been thinking about this recently for I've gained weight. Again. I can't stop eating. And that cousin? The one who never knew hunger in his entire life? You should see him now. He's as lean as a whippet and a right handsome devil.

Monday, November 10, 2014

All Dogs Welcome

Nellybert likes to give a warm welcome to dogs and their owners, even when the number of four-legged visitors may seem excessive. Today we had just the five canine callers.

photo by Zoe Bowyer

Gracie and Maya brought their entire family with them. And stayed for dinner. Gracie likes to assist me in the kitchen when I'm cooking. Her job is to deal with spills. I am a careless cook and often drop morsels  and crumbs on the floor as I go.

As well as their family, they also brought....

photo by Hannah Bowyer

Ziggy! Today is Hannah's college day so Ziggy is sleeping over. He looks rather splendid in that picture does he not?

Sadly Ziggy missed Fly's visit. He and his master had called earlier in the day.

From this picture, taken by Miss Hannah a few weeks ago, you can tell how much Ziggy looks up to his good friend Fly.

And then there was Poppy. Eight weeks old and visiting Nellybert for the very first time.

A little Jack Russell terrier who wouldn't stay still for a second. She got on well with everyone, even the cats and she peed on the spare bed, my fault for putting her on it. I do hope we will be seeing lots more of her.

Two seconds after this snap there was puppy pee on the Ikea bedspread. Who cares!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Stack Garden

Bert generally does not tell me things. So I wasn't a bit surprised yesterday when a large truck containing stones arrived on the yard. As Bert thinks receiving a load of stones an important task accomplished it would therefore be deserving of a cup of tea. When he came into the kitchen I attempted to engage him in conversation.

What are the stones for?
No. Tell me what they're for.
Just tell me. Other husbands tell their wives things.
The back garden!

And off he stomped clutching his cup of tea in hand.

Did I ever mention that he's not really a morning person?

I pondered this information. The back garden? We have various areas around the house that could be described as garden but I wasn't sure which he meant. And why would he be needing stones for it? Gardens are my department too. I deserve to be consulted.

I broached the subject again the next time he came in for refreshments (thirty minutes later).

So, exactly where is this back garden you speak of? Back of where?
I didn't say back garden. I said stack garden.
Stack garden?
Yes. Every farm has a stack garden.
Where's ours?
Round the back. Where the pigs are.
Bert – In nearly thirty years I have never once heard you call any part of this place the stack garden. Have you just made that up?

I have to say here that the naming of places is something we argue about discuss often.

Bert went on to argue that this area, which I call the pig paddock, has always been referred to as the stack garden and that if I had been brought up on a farm, as I claim, then there would have been a stack garden.

And what would this stack garden be used for?
For stacks.
What kind of stacks?
Hay! Corn! Logs!
No. We had sheds for those and the hay was baled and stored in a hay shed.

He continued to insist that all farms had stack gardens and I argued that stack gardens were all in his head or else something only hill-billies know about.

Currently his names for fields are,

The Field Across The Road
The Meadow
The Corner Field
The Hall Field
The First Hill
The Second Hill
The Third Hill
The Big Hill

He claims not to remember the names of the six fields planted in trees apart from The Whinny Field. These fields are now known as The Trees. I pressed him on this and he managed to recall that two of them had been referred to as,

The Wee Field On The March With Gregg's
The Boag Field

Boag Field. Do you mean bog?
It rhymes with doag*. So what did you ones call a boag then?
We called it The Moss and cut turf in it. We didn't make a field out of it.
Youse were that grand out at Tannaghmore.
We were.

I'm certain sure that when I met Bert he didn't speak of doags, boags or stack gardens. And he used to (I think) tell me things so when the man from the quad bike shop pulled into the yard this morning I thought he wanted to buy a tree, or perhaps he was looking for directions. But no. Bert has bought a quad bike. And never said.

*doag - dog

Monday, November 03, 2014

Happy Birthday Evie!

That wasn't a bad weekend. We had a delightful night out with the Banjos, Jazzer cooked breakfast and Banjo Man finished the decorating. We had the Little Misses for a sleepover and that overlapped with the Banjos. Evie took a great shine to Jazzer and when I was leaving them home the next day referred to her as,

My best friend Jazzer that I like.

On Sunday morning Martha demonstrated her ballet skills on the newly varnished floor while I made a little film, I cannot share as I have temporarily mislaid the lead that connects iPad to PC. Nellybert filmed both girls prancing about for exactly one minute and fifty-seven seconds and when we left to rejoin our rapidly cooling cups of coffee Martha cried,

I need an audience!

She is going places for sure.

I also made a pleasant discovery. When Enid Blyton is writing about Brer Rabbit she can be quite entertaining.

Today was Miss Evie's third birthday. I suppose in a way it still is but, as  I understand she is currently tucked up in bed wearing new birthday jammies, that is it for her until her Big Four in 2015.

Happy Birthday Evie!