Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Daily Photograph 17 and 18

Banjo Man!

I am cheating today. There was no daily photograph blog on the 29th April because this crazy guy turned up accompanied by his wife and their youngest son.

There was quite a bit of this kind of behaviour...

and camera shake was rife. Which is why Bert's left ear is so big. But he doesn't care.

I really need to get to grips with the camera settings.

Jazzer's photo face

An unhealthy snack

Then another guy turned up at 11pm, en-route to a session. The men packed up banjo, guitar and clarienet and headed off into the night to play music, while Jazzer and I had the early night. I'm told they didn't get in until the wee small hours.

So what will I blog about in the month of May? What about Daily Annoyances. I fancy a bit of a regular rant.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Daily Photograph 16

Today was rather mixed up. Snow again this morning! I don't approve of this kind of weather at all. Then Clint called for Bert at a quarter past nine, his first words,

Is that brute still in his bed?

Apparently the vet was standing in Clint's yard ready to start testing cattle and Bert had promised to be there. Now if I knew I was likely to get a call first thing I'd be ready from dawn but not Bertram. He always reckons another few minutes snoozing will work out OK for him. I was doubly not pleased with my husband because he'd not told me about this and Thursday is my day for making two runs to town to pick up the girls from nursery (late morning) and primary school (early afternoon). I coped by walking down to Clint's, where they were all knee deep in milling cattle, throwing the house keys at Bert and stealing his brown dog and his van. I even had enough time to walk that brown dog for half an hour before collecting Evie who made me listen to Downtown radio on the way home. A far cry from the days when I could lull her to sleep listening to Radio 3.

Back into town for Martha at two. I had Ziggy to deliver to Hannah and Martha and I went upstairs to inspect the beardlessness of Fergus for such a thing might never be seen again. Martha persuaded me to go to her favourite charity shop as she needed a new onesie. There were two. Martha preferred one, I preferred the other. We bought my one. It's miles too big and I'm to take it up. Job for the weekend.

I was, this afternoon, in what Matty used to call 'a bad twist'. For why I'm not certain. Because it was so cold? Because I was being bored to death by someone and tangled up in dogs. Perhaps because I was cross with myself for thinking mean thoughts about the someone and his dogs. I need to do something about this but I'm not sure what.

Anyways girls get collected, high-fives all round and I knew I had to take a photograph and I couldn't think of anything I wanted to photograph and I needed to put the strap on the camera and I couldn't get it right, so....

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Daily Photograph 15

Quick post tonight as I am tired. It was Matty's anniversary today (five years!) and I spent in a way which she would have approved. Gardening. Sowed leeks, cauliflower, French marigolds, sugar peas and kale. Planted out lettuce and a couple of stray brassicas, haven't a clue what they are. Watered everything and started weeding the garlic.

The day didn't start well with hail, snow and power cuts but it faired after lunch. Still cold. I was all layered up.

And I photographed the pigs. Kune kune means fat and round in the Maori tongue and this picture illustrates it very well. But before the animal welfare people report me, let me stress they are not quite as fat as they look - it's the camera angle.

They are coming in for what they hope will be a delicious supper. All they care about is food.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Daily Photograph 14

Freezing cold day. It is supposed to be Spring dammit! My poor Thalias were cruelly buffeted by Arctic winds and blasted with sleet. Needless to say I did not do much in the garden except a bit of watering in the tunnel, a bit of basil potting on and, as always, made a list.

The pigs were only out for a few hours. They hate cold weather and would far rather lie snuffling in a bed of straw in their cosy warm shed. So no photograph today.

Just tunnel pictures. Here they are...

Kale. Going to seed. We feed it to the cows when it gets like this.

 Honesty. On Zoe's bit of the tunnel.

 Peach blossom beginning to fade. The pollinators were in so fingers crossed for a better crop than last year.

List of recent sowings.

Zoe's bit. The willow twigs are to keep cats and dogs off.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Daily Photograph 13

The thing about this daily photograph is that it is supposed to be taken with my new camera and as today was just a wee bit hectic I just went over to the corner of this room I'm sitting in and took a picture. That's a spare office chair which Les donated to the hoard and it's covered with a hammock I bought from Lidls many years ago. The cushion was made by Leitrim Sister and the bear was purchased in Burnham Market the year Katy got married.

Martha and Evie were supposed to have a sleepover on Friday evening but it was cancelled because Sheena's funeral was an early start on Saturday. To make it up to them I said I'd make a special meal today. Monday is Zoe's gardening day and I always make supper. Because Evie missed out on the funeral (too young) she got to choose the menu.

Martha had particularly enjoyed the funeral reception. She never knew there were so many chicken goujons in the world and even went up for a second helping. Of course, she went home and told her sister all about it and poor Evie was raging that she'd missed out.

Zoe told me that they both really loved hot dogs with ketchup and Heinz tomato soup so that's what I prepared. But Martha was miffed. Apparently the menu consisted of Evie's favourite foods and not hers. She didn't like soup out of a tin, she only liked home made tomato soup. And she didn't want hot dogs. So we had a chat. Next week she gets to choose the menu and we're having pepperoni pizza and, for pudding, cake with white icing and sprinkles. I'm adding salad and garlic bread to the pizza and custard to the cake. The week after that it will be Zoe's turn to choose, then Dave's, then Bert's. I know what Bert will choose - mince and onions with spuds. When it is my turn we're having beans on toast.

Tomorrow I hope to get gardening and I might even take a photograph of the pigs.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Daily Photograph 12

Above - some of the firewood that Evie, Martha and I collected from under the beech trees on Thursday. I was far too tired today to even take a single photograph never mind gather wood. That is what comes from attending two social gatherings in one day coincidentally both at the same hotel. The midday funeral reception were taken at the Dunsilly Hotel outside Antrim. The evening found us back at Dunsilly for a  wedding party. First go round we went in the front door, later on through the tradesman's entrance for we'd got a lift with the band. The backs of hotels are a lot different from front entrances I can assure you.

Sheena's funeral was very traditional, and very Tannaghmore which is just how she'd have wanted it to be. The choir sang all the old hymns, even a beautiful rendition of Tantum Ergo, a hymn I have always loved and which brought back memories of all the Benediction services we attended as children.

In the graveyard the subject of this blog was raised (it often is at funerals) by one of the cousins, who made sure to tell an old school friend all about its delights. This made me feel a bit worried as I was back in a comfortable way of thinking that there are just the three readers, GanchingGrannymar and Brighid. And this oul blog is just a bit of nonsense I keep up out of a sense of duty.

The school friend asked,

How long have you been doing it?

And I replied,

Ten years, maybe eleven. 

Then I added, rather sadly,

And I never got offered a book deal.

And I thought to myself,

Nor even got short listed for the Irish Blog Awards. Hell damn the Irish Blog Awards. But at least I got to be part of the UK Web Archive. Then I noticed that even they stopped archiving The Garden four years ago. That must have been when I got boring. Sigh.

But back to the Dunsilly. The wedding party was excellent, lots of sparkling alcohol and nibbles. There were people of all ages from three months old to older than me. The craic was mighty. There were awkward moments. One when I'd just got myself a finger of wedding cake and then struck up a conversation with a very tall young man. I did not like to stuff cake into my mouth as I gazed up at him so held it casually in my hand. Then it started to melt. What else could I do but accidentally drop it on the floor and kick it under a chair. Actually there were probably a lot more sensible things I could have done but when the sparkling alcohol is in, the wit's out.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Daily Photograph 11

Today's post is all about the memories. Sheena, you will be missed so very much.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Daily Photograph 10

I didn't do as much gardening as I'd hoped to but I did some.

My house is still a mess.

I wasted time on the computer.

I felt hollowed out inside. So I ate. Too often and too much. I'm not bothered about it for I know why I did it and I know it is temporary.

I went to Portglenone Abbey to buy a Mass Card and that is where I bought the tray bakes. Cistercian Fathers - they were not good tray bakes. Still, you did not twist my arm to make me buy them.

Tomorrow the funeral, then later on a wedding party, which is a lot more than I usually do on a Saturday.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Daily Photograph 9

Wouldn't it be a fine thing to have even a quarter of that energy?

I was weary today so I just had fun with the girls. 

Sheena passed away shortly after midnight.

I will spend tomorrow in the garden.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Daily Photograph 8

Blue, blue sky, a beautiful spring day all tinged with sadness. I spent the evening at the nursing home. My friend still breathes - but hardly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Daily Photograph 7

A good day should contain dogs, family and forests. 

A clean, clear river is a boon when one's paws become muddy.

 A piece of woodland sculpture enhances any portrait.

Spot the heron.

A touch of kitsch.

We were in Glenarm. We were also in Carnlough where we lunched at the Harbour Lights Cafe and had Maud's ice-cream. Both very good.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Daily Photograph 6

Off to Antrim this morning to visit my friend in the nursing home. She is still very low. Her niece told me that the staff there said they rarely see someone receive so many visitors. Afterwards Judy and I took a walk in the Castle Grounds.

It was cold and dry today and the grounds were thick with primroses. I liked to think that Judy was enjoying their delicate scent but, being a dog, she was far more likely to be inhaling the delicious aroma of some other dog's urine.

I'm getting to know the Grounds really well, almost as well as I did forty odd years ago when I was mitching school. It will make such a difference when Garden Show Ireland is here, the third year running in Antrim.  I hope to be there with Zoe and the girls but not Judy. Too many people and dogs and I'll be needing both hands free for my camera.

Mr and Mrs Mallard, Long Pond, Castle Grounds, Antrim

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Daily Photograph 5

Quiet, quiet day in which I caught up with laundry, gardening and dishes. Leitrim Sister left mid-morning but not before we took a walk along the riverside path. LS was particularly delighted with the banks of wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) which reminded us both of our childhood playing in Paddy's Field. The bluebells were beginning to show themselves but it will be a few weeks before the banks are truly blue. I took this picture of one of my favourite spring flowers, Caltha palustris - we called it kingcup. It still grows beside the little stream in Paddy's Field.

I didn't take many pictures on the walk as I had that villainous rascal Jess to mind. She likes walks and sticks and muddy puddles but doesn't like joggers, other dogs or cyclists. 

Portglenone wood anemones

Leitrim Sister left to visit our friend, who happens to be the daughter of Paddy, the previous owner of that well-remembered field, and she found her slightly improved from yesterday. All being well I'll get over to Antrim tomorrow. 

From a previous post

What's your fondest memory of childhood?

Playing in Paddy's Field near our house. Paddy's Field was actually four small meadows with a hazel wood and a good sized stream running through it. There was a wooden bridge, three cows and a little wooden gate just wide enough for a cow to pass through. The meadows hadn't been tilled in over a hundred years which meant it had every variety of wild flower. That sparked my interest in horticulture. The fields (and cows) were owned by Paddy, a great friend, who was happy to let us run wild in his fields.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Daily Photograph 4

Katy and family left to return to Norfolk this morning and I would be bereft if it were not for knowing that they had a wonderful wee holiday and that I will see them all again soon. Katy called this afternoon to inform us that they had arrived home safely and that James was racing around in his baby walker with a new appreciation of the saying, East, West, Home's Best. I think so too.

Leitrim Sister and I went to Antrim to visit our friend and found her in poor spirits, laid low with another infection. Afterwards we walked in Antrim's pretty Castle Grounds where we climbed the motte.

 I took this photograph from its side. Apparently it is parts of the stonework from one of the original castles. I'm not entirely sure if it is the one built in the 17th century or not. There are bits of ruined castles dotted along the banks of Lough Neagh all over the place;  it seems that the Lords O'Neill were very unfortunate in their housing situation what with an accidental fire in the late 19th century and the IRA attack in the early 1920s.

Not much remains of the castle in Antrim but one solitary tower, but way back in the 1960s the ruins were more extensive. I saw my first flasher there. He must have heard myself and my school friend Sylvia stumbling, chattering in his general direction and as we turned a ruined wall there he was -  all phallus erectus, and an uninspiring sight if ever I saw one.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Daily Photograph 3

It is not often that I have my entire family around me but today I did. Here they are looking through some of the family photographs.

It was special today because this is the first time we have had Baby James in the family group. These are all my descendants so far. I took lots of shots but it was difficult to find one where each family member looked their very best. I chose this one because these three dogs were looking well. Although, maybe not Jess (the black and white one) who looks her usual sleekit self.

The reason for the family gathering? My youngest daughter's birthday. Happy birthday Hannah Banana. We all love you.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Daily Photograph 2

This one is so cheaty because it was taken with Katy's camera, which is also a Panasonic Lumix, one I gave to her quite a few years ago after she dropped her own camera into a pint of beer at a village fete. As you would.

This is the first published photograph of Nelly with all her current grandchildren and she is very excited about it.

Then there are the photographs, the pictures taken today with the new camera. I'm pleased with these two...

Close up of Judy with zoom.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Daily Photograph 1

So, the camera came and because I was really busy there wasn't a chance to properly get to know it. Bert said it is hideously ugly and that is true. It is not as aesthetically pleasing as my Canon. It is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 and there are lots of features I've yet to find out about. I intend to feature a photograph a day until the end of April.

Zoe took this one. I tarted it up a bit as we haven't found the best setting for indoor, middling light. The little man I'm holding was the main reason there wasn't time for footering with new cameras. Too much cuddling to be getting on with.

Day 2 with the new camera. I find out about the zoom. It's a bit flat. I cropped it a little as there was too much dockenish field.

Tom, Evil Edna, Patricia and The Quiet Cow

I also took this one. Low point of view. And it was hell getting up from the floor.

James and Giraffe

Tomorrow all the grandchildren will be here so that is a photo opportunity not to be missed. Please watch this space.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Waiting For Jessops

There will be more posts (I promise) when I get my new camera. That would be the one I ordered late in the evening before Easter Sunday, two weeks ago today! Jessops promised next day delivery but I didn't expect that, not on a holiday weekend. It might come on the Tuesday or Wednesday. I was very excited. Still waiting and the amount I've spent on ringing up and giving off has probably cancelled any savings I made from buying on-line.

One of the customer services people assured me that the problem was they couldn't send the camera direct from a shop because it was being 'delivered to Ireland'. This was most amusing to me. I know this is Ireland, my heart tells me so, but politically and postally we are  part of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Another customer advisor assured me it would be delivered yesterday and it wasn't. Then a sweet girl said she was sorry for the mix up and promised me it was being sent from Belfast this coming Monday and I should have it by Wednesday. Belfast! I've been in Belfast twice since I ordered the damn thing. I could have been out there snapping away for over a week by now.

Still, as they say, a first world problem. I still have three cameras although two of them are shite. The one that isn't shite is an iPad and I only like to use it at home as it is unwieldy.

But it would have been nice to have had my new camera to take photographs of our solitary chick, the one that was part of a clutch that the two bantams, Honey and Flour were fighting over.

Co-Clockers, Honey and Flour

On Easter Monday morning Flour left the clutch, to eat and drink and Honey got on the eggs. I thought nothing of it and went to an eye appointment in Belfast. When Bert picked me up a few hours later he said there had been a calamity. He'd heard angry squawking coming from the inside and found Honey and Flour fighting viciously. The first egg had hatched and they appeared to be fighting over the chick. It was bloody and injured. Bert removed it and brought it into the house where it cheeped plaintively. It was marked on the back and near its eye and we thought it would probably die. Meanwhile out in the house the eggs had been abandoned. The bantams were separated. I considered hand rearing the chick but decided against it. Too much time and effort for a poor return. We offered it to the quarantined Honey who tried to peck it. Honey was put back with the flock and Flour put in the spare hen house. We tried the chick with her and she raised her wing and accepted it. And that was nearly two weeks ago.

An Only Child

A lesson has been learned. Next time they go broody we'll separate them from the flock and each other. That way there will be no adding to the clutch and no fighting. And maybe, next time, there will be more than one hatched. I still don't know if it is boy or girl. If it turns out to be a rooster Leitrim Sister might take it. After such a poor start it deserves a crack at life.

And that was another place where I could have used my new camera. Three days in Lovely Leitrim (and Sligo) at the beginning of the week and nothing but my ancient Canon for company. I did take pictures but they didn't delight me. But Leitrim, Sligo and Enniskillen did, that and the company of Leitrim Sister* and Yer Man**.

Pickles at Strandhill

*   Since February 2016 Dr Leitrim Sister.
** Evie's name for her Great-Uncle Nick.

Friday, April 01, 2016

East of Eden

I got back into walking and listening to music and audio books. Dug out the iPod, it still worked but I'd totally forgotten how to use it. Thank Google for the internet. It taught me all I needed to know. First day I had it out  I couldn't even remember how to shuffle and was condemned to listen to a lot of Massive Attack. Got bored with that and re-learned how to load music. I don't do iTunes, hate how it's always persuading me to buy stuff. Uploaded the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Odetta. Blown away by Odetta.

Audio books. Wolf Hall. I have the book in the house, Bert loved it but I just couldn't get round to it. I enjoyed listening to it. Next was On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Never read it, although it's been on my shelves for a very long time. On The Road  put me in the mood for Steinbeck. But first I listened to Jane Eyre which I'd read as a child. I started with a Librivox edition, volunteer recordings. As always with Librivox, some of the readers were dire and there were ridiculous and irritating pronunciations. Who wants to listen to an American college girl pronouncing Hebrides as Heb-Rides. Not I. I found I'd already got a better version on my hard drive and abandoned Librivox. Then Bert had been reading (for the first time) Steinbeck's  East of Eden and he loved it. I'd read it twice before. The first time I picked it up was when I was still in primary school. My Uncle Desmond had a big collection of Reader's Digest condensed novels and I used to peruse them looking for the ones with pictures of animals or children. East of Eden appealed to me. There were illustrations of Cal and Aaron Trask as babies being bathed out of doors by the Chinese servant Lee. It got even better when the girl child Abra was introduced. I read the whole thing even if most of it flew over my head. Abridged novels usually leave out the juicy parts. My lord! I had no idea what East of Eden was leaving out. I read it again (complete version) in my late teens and could hardly believe that I'd read it as a child.

I always knew I'd get back to it some day. Listening to the novel has been exhilarating. I remembered a good deal of it, especially the parts that related to children. I knew that Abra was going to throw that rabbit package away. Back in my young days I really felt for Aaron and thought Abra a brat but now I understand her better. Today as I Dutch-hoed and prepared beds for Spring planting I listened to Lee tell Adam the story of his beginnings. That was a rough, hard story. It went over my head as a teenager. I couldn't have comprehended such an atrocity at that stage of my life.

I was first attracted to the book by the illustrations and descriptions of children. Now in my mature years I am delighted by the older characters, most particularly Samuel Hamilton and Lee, I even have a soft spot for Liza Hamilton who took to drink in her later years after a life-long abhorrence of alcohol. It turned out that it is OK if it is medicinal and is taken with a tea spoon.

I've read nearly everything that Steinbeck wrote. Notable exceptions are The Pearl, The Log from the Sea of Cortez and Travels With Charley. I have them all sitting waiting for me. And there is still the last part of East of Eden which, happily, I don't recall apart from something regarding soggy lettuce. And I'm hopeful of a miserable ending for Cathy.