Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ungava by R.M. Ballantyne

I do like poking around derelict and abandoned homes. Once, a good while ago, I found some old damp books in a derelict farmhouse and I removed these illustration pages from one by an author I was familiar with. R.M. Ballantyne wrote about a hundred books but the only two I'd read were The Coral Island and The Dog Crusoe and they were old-fashioned even when I was reading them. Today, whilst sorting out my filing cabinet, I found the pages mouldering in a sad and forgotten file called Hobbies & Home. So I scanned them and stuck them on Flickr. I even checked out the book on-line. I might have enjoyed it if I'd come across it in 1965. There was even a girl in it!

Link to my Flickr

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Weekend of Pies

These past weekends have been busy, busy and yet, I barely left the house. My first husband and his beloved were here this past weekend and stayed with Nellybert on Thursday night. The beds cooled on Friday then we had Jazzer and Ben on Saturday. Bert went to a bachelor party (Young Rainey is getting married!) and Jazzer and I drank wine. I'd been at that oul craic on Thursday too and sure it tires a body out. Tonight I drank no wine but racked a rhubarb and a blackcurrant. Had tastes (as one must) and found the rhubarb to be good and the blackcurrant a tad on the sweet side.

On the Thursday I made a cheese and onion pie as Mick doesn't eat meat and it went down well. the pastry was delicious. On Friday we had a lot of visitors and as the last one was gathering up to leave I said to Bert,

Any thoughts about supper?

And he said,

I just put a pie in the oven.

Which was all very well except it was a stinking pie for one he'd bought at the garage earlier in the day.

So what am I going to eat?
Sure you went out for breakfast this morning with Mick and Linda.
Breakfast? That was nine hours ago. And you were invited too.

I was raging. So while he helped himself to a factory made pastry and dog food pie and a slice of bread and butter I made myself a proper dinner of chili sausages, garden peas, onion gravy and mashed potato. Boy did I take trouble over that one spud, mashed it and buttered it to perfection. My plan was to eat it in front of him and take great pleasure in his dinner envy. I was going to serve him a couple of Rennies as those shop bought pies can be indigestible. In the event, I shared my lovely supper with him even though he didn't deserve it. I'm far too soft-hearted

Then next day it was Jazzer. She is always planning ahead when it comes to eating and likes to take control of the cooking as she is very particular about her food. For a start she doesn't like cooked vegetables. She fancied steak pieces and I suggested a pie. She cooked the filling. It was good enough but she has a heavy hand with the Oxo cubes. The pastry, delicious as always, lightened it. Jazzer always serves potatoes with pie. I would never do that as it is double carbs. Not that I care about the calories - it just seems a bit stodgy. I prefer vegetables or salad. And Jazzer's mash is scary. I think she puts about half a pound of butter in it and you  can feel your arteries furring up with every forkful.

So pie and mash will be off the menu for a day or two. Tonight it was home cooked soda bread and butternut squash soup, tomorrow spaghetti bolognese. No wine until the weekend. I'll let you know how I got on with that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back To My Fifties

A recycled post from November 2005

Not Social Workers

You may already be aware that Mr Gerry Anderson, the much-loved Radio Ulster presenter, is a former Social Worker. Last week on his show I heard him describe some of his former colleagues as ‘not of this world.’ The best example he cited was of the just graduated Social Worker who asked a Belfast mother if her son ‘accessed his external environment’ only to be met with total and utter bafflement from the mother until Gerry translated this as, ‘Does he go out much?’

In my experience there are two kinds of social worker. These are the goody-goody social worker and the druggy-druggy social worker. Goody-goodies are usually greatly resented by their clients whilst druggy-druggies are often admired and respected. Unfortunately most of the druggy-druggies spend half their time out on the sick suffering from stress because, as Richard Ashcroft so eloquently puts it, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work.’

My colleagues and I may work in the social care field but we are Not Social Workers. We don’t have the professional qualification that brings in that extra several grand per annum but often the Not Social Workers are educated to a high degree. Among the Not Social Workers that I have known and know are holders of degrees in Archaeology, Media Studies, English, Journalism and Philosophy. In those rare quiet moments when we can tear ourselves away from discussions on how best to improve the levels of care and support that we give our clients we can, thanks to our educational qualifications, hold some very intellectual and enlightening conversations.

Why only the other day I was hearing all about La Tene scabbards found in riverbeds in Ireland and then a critique of the later novels of Philip Roth. I found myself at a disadvantage with the Roth discussion, as I had never progressed beyond Portnoy’s Complaint. It was suggested that this was probably for the best, as I’d likely find his later works far too shocking and offensive owing to my advanced years. It is a well-known fact that the older one gets the more tender one’s sensibilities become and the more easily shocked one is.

I myself hold a B.Sc. (Hons). in Social Administration & Policy but this is a very boring subject and no one wants to hear a thing about it. So for non-work related convo topics I have to fall back on things I read about in Heat and tales about the ‘Olden Days’. Funnily enough I’ve never yet encountered any Computing-type degree holders among the Not Social Workers. So while we former Philosophy, Journalism and Media Studies students are cleaning out cupboards, doing shift work and being verbally abused by the dispossessed all the computer wizards are sitting in cosy warm offices, minting money and writing their blogs in work hours. Sigh! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Cannot bring myself to change my Facebook picture to the blue, white & red that so easily, and so superficially indicates that I am appalled by the horrible events in Paris that took place on Friday the 13th, November 2015. Because horrible things happen every single day.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Achievements - Day 1

It's true that I seem to be getting lazier as time goes on. Perhaps I've been beating myself up about it too much. So I decided that now and again, to encourage myself, I would list my achievements. Today wasn't exactly hectic but I did drive to Coleraine, picked up my friend's son and drove him to Antrim so he would be in place for his grandfather's funeral tomorrow. It was a lovely drive down. I went by Kilrea and drove alongside the Bann into Coleraine. The autumn colour was glorious and the river placid and swollen with all the heavy rain we've had recently. As always, when I pass that way I think that some day I must park up and go walking in Castleroe wood. I've been thinking I should do that for more than twenty years.

Then when I got home I threw together two gallons of wine made from raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and elderberries. I'm expecting it to be delectable.

And that was that. The sum total of what I achieved today. Except for writing this post and being truly lovely to Bert for the entire day.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

In Which We Go To A Hooley

Last night found Nellybert at the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine at a Declan Nerney show. This time last week I was unaware of Mr Nerney's existence. In fact, when Brendan Quinn (who was guesting) offered us free tickets I thought he said Declan and Ernie and imagined some obscure folky duo such as McGlynn and O'Flynn or Cooney and Begley.

It was like being transported forty years back in time and not in an interesting way. Nerney was like a cross between Gene Stewart and Gerry Marsden. I'm sure he'd take that as a compliment. Best part of the night? Overhearing a punter saying that Brendan should have worn a cowboy hat and that he still had a great voice for a man that must be near eighty years of age.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Strawberry, Blackcurrant and Elderberry

All this week, whenever I've thought of updating my blog, I've thought - I updated it a day or so ago, no pressure. Then I looked and it's been a whole week! So, here goes...

It's been a good week. Really enjoying my new eyes. I expect I've been so busy seeing stuff, no time to be writing blogs. I had a check-up on Thursday and apparently all is well, eye healing well and given the go-ahead to drive without spectacles, I am, officially, no longer myopic.

Tonight, looking forward to a quiet night in with the ridiculous Downton Abbey and the outlandish Homeland. Phone goes, Rod and Tracey are calling out. Excitement! Haven't seen Tracey in ages. Time to break out the best of my wines. I chose an Elderberry and a Strawberry and Blackcurrant. The craic was, as they say, mighty and the wines went down a treat. It's nights like this that I'm glad I make delicious alcoholic drinks and that I have good friends to share them with.