Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Boxy Daisy Titters

Big birthday for Bert today. As is traditional, the birthday cake was served on the Monday closest to the special day, so yesterday. Zoe took the photograph. I have one almost exactly the same but this one is better.

I gave Bert a backpack as a present after the whingeing he did on Rathlin about being the only man on the island without one. He kept saying to people afterwards,

Every man, woman and child had a backpack and there's me, in every single photograph, carrying a shopping bag.

Here's what I think. (1) It was a very nice shopping bag and (2) he was lucky anyone wanted to take his picture.

Bert and his shopping bag wandering the leafy lanes of Rathlin Island

Then on Friday, I took Bert to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace to see Mikel Murfi's The Man in the Woman's Shoes. More than one member of the family had recommended that we see it at our earliest opportunity. And I will not be falling out with any of them for it was heartwarming and brilliant. Mikel Murfi was playing the companion piece, I Hear You And Rejoice, on the following night and I was sorry I wasn't going to see that too. Zoe did and she enjoyed it but said there wasn't the same hilarity in it.

So, it was a busy few days, not helped by the fact that I am still laid low with the summer cold. The kitchen got painted on Saturday, finished on Sunday. Window frames and skirtings still to be completed. It is all looking very fine.

Well, it was a Saturday night. A few beers won't do much harm.

Bert's best birthday present today? It would be hard to decide between Dawn and Les' hamper of fine cheeses and port or the return of Hannah Banana from her travels in Europe. Tough one. Ziggy would definitely say, Hannah! But maybe a small morsel of cheese too. Sorry, Ziggy. Far too good for dogs.

Saturday, May 25, 2019


No blogs posts for two days in a month when I'd promised myself a daily post. So what did I do instead?

A lot of coughing, especially during the night when I'd wake myself up. Then, to make up for that, a lot of napping during the day. I had a low-level summer cold exacerbated by hayfever and it had settled in my chest. Inconvenient and exhausting, not at all life-threatening.

Yesterday there was a little drama. After a night interrupted by coughing I was awakened by a cacophony of barking at around six. Grumpily got up (Bert never hears it) and let all four dogs out, left the door open and went back to bed where I managed to sleep for another hour until wakened again by some really unnecessary barking from Ziggy and Jess, both of whom were perched on my bed woofing away. They got a harsh telling off from me and I dropped off again. At nine Bert got up and informed me that four dogs were now five. Milling around with our own pooches was a very handsome and friendly black labrador.

No collar, full set of balls, great condition, lovely temperament. Highly unlikely that this was an abandoned dog. But where had he come from? I checked social media and no-one had reported a missing lab. We took him to the vet to check if he was chipped. He wasn't. I thought this was compulsory? Maybe it's not. The vet was really helpful, knew all the right people to call. They actually went through their own records and called all the male lab owners. We tried out names on our foundling. Are you Marley? Oscar? Bob? He did not respond. It was the call to the dog warden that did the trick.

On the journey home the council called and the dog's minder was in the yard before we'd got him out of the back of the van. Turns out he wasn't a local dog at all. The man who called for him was local and he'd agreed to look after the lab for a few days while the owner was on a fishing holiday. He'd picked the dog up the night before and he'd escaped his pen soon after. The man and his wife spent hours looking for him and had yet to inform his owner. As friendly and handsome as the black dog was we were still really glad to see him safely off the premises.

Bert said,

So what was his name again?
No! Romuld.
That's not a name.
He's calling him Roamer now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Humming Tree

The laburnum is looking very fine at this time of year. It is also the noisiest tree in the garden for hundreds of bumble bees are gathering the dark orange pollen from the blooms.

Yet another thing that cheers my heart.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Hospitals and Books

Bert had his biopsy today. We were to leave the house at half-past two for his appointment at half-past four. This was to give us time to visit a friend who is in hospital. Of course, Bert faffed around so much that we did not leave the house until a quarter to three and he still had to make a delivery of variegated honeysuckle to Montrose. As we drove he tossed me his letter from the hospital to make sure all was in order.

Your appointment is at quarter past four! We're going to have very little time to visit with M....! And you're supposed to have taken a shower. Did you?
And you're supposed to have quit smoking for two weeks before the procedure and for two weeks after. You didn't.
I forgot.

 We visited our friend. Only had about thirty minutes but that was OK because he was tired. Off to the next hospital. I opted to stay with the dogs and had two books in my bag to keep me occupied. One was forty pages or so from the end, the second one was back up in case I finished the first one.

The first book, We Are Not Ourselves

This is an extraordinary book, a slow starter but well worth reading.  I expect I'll finish it tonight.

The second book, Fifteen Dogs

Bert returned with a dressing on his temple about twenty minutes later so this one wasn't even opened. I'll return to it at a later date. Bert has a while to wait before he gets his results. We are not too worried. He is in good hands.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Game of Thrones

Quite a few years ago at one of Hannah's parties (held in Nellybert's home, which is why I was there), a bloke called Danny started talking about this new show called Game of Thrones. I'd vaguely heard of it. Danny had worked as an extra on it and said it was really good, he thought I'd enjoy it. I said, didn't think so as I wasn't really that keen on sword and sorcery stuff.

But I was at a bit of a loose end so I thought I'd have a look. Danny told me which episode he was in and I did a bit of fast forwarding and spotted him straight away. It wasn't hard as he was the only blond in a sea of brunettes and he was standing right next to Catelyn Stark in the close-up shots. There was a sword fight between two knights and in the end, the bigger one prevailed. Big reveal - when the helmet came off, the winner was a woman,  Brienne of Tarth. The very same Brienne of Tarth that held on to her virginity for the most of eight seasons. I might have held on to mine that long if I'd been as handy with a sword as Brienne.

Danny is the one holding the horn tankard. I believe those scenes were filmed at the North Antrim Coast.

Anyway, although I had not a clue what was going on I decided to start watching it, beginning at the very beginning. It started in a very snowy place. There was a big dark castle. Three riders passed through the gate. They seemed nervous. There was some general talk. The one in charge seemed like an arsehole. I thought, don't know if I'm going to like this show, not one of these characters appeal to me. There was no need to worry for five minutes later they were all dead. Two at the hands of the White Walkers and the one that got away was beheaded by Lord Ned Stark.

Years passed and Nellybert became very involved with the show. We met other people who worked as extras, mostly Hannah's friends. The past four seasons Martha and Evie's dad worked as an extra. He fought at The Battle of the Bastards, The Battle of Winterfell and The Sack of King's Landing.

Dave Longbeard at the Battle of the Bastards.

It's over now, we watched the last episode tonight and I thought it was good enough. And all I can say is,

Thank fuck that's over.

Where's Drogon?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Simple Things

Just a marigold, splashed with rain. Sometimes the simplest flowers are the most beautiful.

I never left the house or yard today. Just pottering around inside and out. Spoke to a few people on the phone. Some people whose lives are currently very hard. And some who just aren't getting it that easy.

We ate simple, uncomplicated food. Hardly any Haribo. I really must put that box back in the cupboard.

I sowed and transplanted annuals. And hoped the slugs won't get them. I found Madam Bianca's new nest.

Took the dogs out to Camp David. You'd never know there had been visitors there on Friday night. They left no trace.

Tomorrow I'm going to try out a couple of recipes from our supper out on Saturday. Yotam Olenghetti and Neven Maguire. Complicated recipes, not simple. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


Woke up early.

Went into Ballymena to feed a cat.

Bought The Guardian and RJ Kerr soda farls.

Met some twins coming out of the woods and fed them Cheerios and Haribo.

Ate toasted soda, cheese and chilli jam.

Sold half a dozen eggs to a good Christian man. Put in a prayer request.

Looked for hen's nests. Failed to find any. Decided hens were sleekit, cunning bastards.

Sowed runner beans and French climbing beans.

Pricked out hairy-stemmed poppies and papaver somniferum.

Went into Ballymena to feed a cat.

Ate toasted soda, cheese and chilli jam. And Haribo.

Gave second granddaughter sequinned dress bought from eBay.

Checked out Jasper Conran party dress for first granddaughter on eBay.

Ate toasted soda, cheese and chilli jam. And Haribo.

Kept tight eye on Jasper Conran party dress on eBay. 14 minutes left and going for £2.

Took phone call from friend regarding important matters,

Phone call lasted more than 14 minutes. Jasper Conran party dress re-listed.

Contacted seller, offered £1.50 more and 'won' Jasper Conran party dress.

Cut orange in half and used it to tempt pigs from field for early bed-time as Nellybert invited out to supper.

Rewarded good pigs with half an orange apiece and put them to bed with early supper.

Tried and failed to gather hens for early bedtime.

Went to good friends and served delicious supper all recipes from Yotam Olenghetti Jerusalem cook book. Felt slight frisson of guilt as was planning to boycott Eurovision Song Contest but food sublime.

Left after delightful evening of good food, conversation, wine and chocolate (no Haribo) clutching Jerusalem cookbook from which I am to photocopy favourite recipes.

Returned home and did livestock count. Foxes 0, Chickens 15, Rats 4.

Updated blog.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Camping Night

We have guests at Camp David.

We joined them for story-time.

Ziggy stole their cheese.

He was forgiven.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Swimming Day

For me, every other Thursday is swimming day. Martha is doing a life-saving course and her Dad and I take it in turns to accompany her. I pick up the girls from the bus station. Today I had an extra job when I collected an application form for Bert's 60+ free travel pass. Imagine! Bert nearly 60 years old! When he gets it we will both be able to travel free on the bus, the train and, best of all, the Rathlin Island Ferry. Good times ahead. I bought him a backpack today so he can carry all our kit when we go off on our jaunts, He's still the younger partner, not yet in possession of the enhanced travel pass that allows free travel through the entire island of Ireland, not just the occupied six.

So, back to swimming. I get very confused in the changing rooms. Been doing this for months now and still get lost back there. The girls think it is very funny. I am humiliated by my lack of sense of direction. The thing is, I learn routes, I do not instinctively know where I am. Today Evie took me by the hand and showed me where to go. She is a sweet child. While Martha is learning important life-saving lessons I read (Toni Morrison's Jazz) and Evie has screentime on my phone. She checked out her school's website today.

I'm nearly done with Jazz. Will finish it tonight. It took a while but it got right under my skin. Finished La Belle Sauvage this morning will finish Jazz tonight. Still reading 12-14 books at a time.

Joy - spending time with grandchildren, reading. the sky.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Ups and Downs

It's been a funny sort of day. Judy wakened me at quarter to six and because it was bright and sunny I got up immediately to let her and the rest of the pack out. My immediate intention was to return to bed and resume snoozing but on the way downstairs I recalled that I'd been dreaming about Nigel Farage so decided to make coffee and return to bed to drink it and read La Belle Sauvage. Too dangerous to sleep with big flappy mouth awaiting me.

When I did get up I started some gardening chores. planting out some anaemic looking verbascum phoeniceum 'Violetta' and a tray of safflower. Howard turned up and he and Bert breakfasted while I went out to try and find the secret nest of Madame Bianca (the white hen). Without any success, although I may have pinpointed the general area. After breakfast, Bert came out to assist while Howard threw tennis balls for the dogs. It was then I spotted the sick hen. I'd noticed nothing out of the ordinary yesterday but she looked like she was breathing her last today. I called Bert who said, "She's fucked." Then, "Maybe we should move her to the spare henhouse and give her a chance, see how she does." I picked her up very gently and nestled her in the crook of my arm. She seemed calm. I started to walk towards the other henhouse. Moments later a tennis ball whizzed past me, followed by three or four very excited dogs, The sick hen went frantic and tried to get out of my arms. Wings flapping, legs working. I got badly scratched. Then her neck flopped, wings and legs still going. She was dead by the time I reached the other hen run. I laid her down, wings still moving. Upsetting. I'd heard the stories about hens still moving after death but had never witnessed it before.

I was really cross with Howard. Exciting the dogs when I was transporting a sick hen. Then I realised I was actually cross with myself. She was obviously close to death when I first saw her and I should have let her go in peace rather than causing her to be terrified in her last seconds.

The afternoon was more gardening, planting out peas and a lot of watering. Also continuing to look for hen's nests. While I was doing that the hens that escape every day scraped up all of the verbascum and some of the safflower. Bert said,

You'll never be able to plant anything as long as those hens are running about scraping everything out.

And I said,

You're quite right. We talked about this last week when it was decided that you'd fix the gate to keep them in the inner pen while you raised the fence. Perhaps you could do that sometime soon?

Later on, I went to visit a friend who's not been well and when I got back I watched the new Russell T. Davies about a dystopian future. Vancouver Brother rang. He said, when I finally answered,

I thought you weren't in.

I said,

I was watching a show and Donald Trump had just nuked China and I could hardly hear the phone for the sirens.

We also watched Virtues on Channel 4 with Stephen Graham. Excruciating in parts and terribly sad. Stephen Graham is an incredible actor.

So, an up and down day. The gardening was good, the hen thing was not and the TV shows were interesting. The phone call from my brother was good, our anxious, unwell friend not so good. But the sun shone all day and a summer cold that has been working on me for a few days seems to be getting better. I'm looking forward to more Philip Pullman at bedtime and it is to be another warm dry day tomorrow.

Which means lots of watering. Ups and downs.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Day Trip to Rathlin Island

 Puffins are a big attraction on Rathlin Island. Looking down from the observation platform on Rathlin Island there are tens of thousands of birds on the ground and everyone seems to be looking for puffins easily identifiable by their bright orange feet. They were scattered among huge numbers of guillemots. I think they were guillemots and would be happy to be corrected as I have come late to the identification of seabirds.

These were the best pictures I could get. I used my long lens and cropped the image.

On the way back from the bird sanctuary we asked the driver of the Puffin Bus (yes, really!) to drop us off at the chapel so we could have a look around. I cannot imagine a lovelier setting for a church. Bert is standing close to the biggest clump of lithodora that I've ever seen.

This is the church for which Church Bay is named. The graveyard is full of sailors lost at sea, many of them unidentified or 'Known To God'.

With the help of Collins Complete Irish Wildlife I have identified this wader as a ringed plover. My education continues.

Harbor or common seals basking a short walk from the main drag. The main drag on Rathlin Ireland is barely wide enough for one vehicle. Pedestrians have to stand on verges and step over walls but it works. Bert and I sat basking in the sun and watched a group of twelve seals do likewise. We might have been there an hour or so. What could be sweeter than lying on fescue grass watching seals do very little?

A pair of eider apparently doing little. Maybe a little mollusc collecting.

Bert watching the seals from the kelp house.

This was a more comfortable spot from which to watch seals. As you will see we were a good distance from them. A decent set of binoculars and/or a camera with a bit of a lens is all that is needed to enjoy the view.

We travelled home on The Rathlin Express where we met the Spirit of Rathlin going back to the island.

Today, my peace and joy weren't hard to find. We had the best time. And are already planning our next trip.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Poor Ghost

This week's episode of Game of Thrones was shi...


At least no dragons died...


Even though the dragon was very naughty indeed...

It all went pear-shaped last week when Aegon Targaryen left Winterfell without giving Ghost as much as a goodbye pat on the head.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Joy of Weeding

This is going to be a shorty as weeding is rather tiring. Not tiresome, tiring.

Now, the title - The Joy of Weeding. Some might consider that an oxymoron. Weeding joyful? Is that not a gardener's most hated task? I disagree. I find weeding extremely satisfying. Not the fiddly itty-bitty kind of weed pulling, the sort I like is when the area is so neglected that the weeds are monsters. Big brutes that have to be worked out with a big strong fork. Then, when the area is cleared there is the planting. Lobelia cardinalis (shop bought) and potentilla 'Monarch's Velvet' and eryngium, the latter two sown and grown from my own collected seed.

A robin kept me company as I worked. Tried for a picture but it wasn't great. The bee on the borage was a better shot.

Saturday, May 11, 2019


Aunt Lizzie and Bert.

It was a very fine day. Warm and sunshiney. There were a few visitors. I gave plants away and I bought some. I only meant to spend two pounds on a packet of white Cosmos seeds. My earlier sowing produced three pathetic seedlings of which only two have survived. I actually bought even more seeds, a half price pack of lily bulbs and some bedding plants which have already been potted into individual pots and will be grown on for cuttings in a few weeks time.

That is two quids worth of verbena. Very easy to propagate. I also bought petunias and fuchsia. Decades ago I did this every year. Bought bedding plants and propagated them myself. Then got out of the way of it. But I'm trying it again, if only for the sheer pleasure of watching them grow.

Cosmos 'Purity' from a previous year.

Perhaps the best thing about today was the weather, warm, bright and dry. Which was a blessed as my great-niece Miss Ava was making her First Communion. There were some lovely photographs to look at later in the day.

And a sweet message from Hannah, hanging with cats by the Med and missing her dog.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Straightening Up

So, there I was trudging towards my long overdue hairdresser appointment and feeling the familiar shortness of breath that is most likely the first signs of angina that tormented my poor mother in the last decades of her life. Did I mention that I am turning into a hypochondriac? Then I had this thought - could it just be my posture? A thought became action as I pushed my shoulders back, thrust my chest (tits) out and felt the benefits immediately.

That was my joy today. Overcoming shortness of breath with one simple change, that and getting my hair cut.

Honesty (my middle name)

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Fake It Till You Make It

I had a meltdown last night. My husband doesn't understand me. Well, why would he? I barely understand myself. He said I don't try. That I love having something to moan about, like the new wooden worktops which are always covered in water or milk or something every time Bert has been near them.

I'm always trying. Trying to beat low mood (moderate depression). Today, after waking up and not wanting to get up I decided I'd fake it till I made it. Covers off, feet on floor.

Yay! You got up! Even though you didn't want to. You're amazing!

Into the bathroom. Someone has left parcels on the floor. Say what you like about our dogs. They use the bathroom. Even though it's our bathroom and theirs is supposed to be the very far corner of the front garden (meadow). I picked it up (using toilet paper), flushed it, washed my hands (thoroughly).

Wow! You picked up the dog shit, flushed it, washed your hands after. You're wonderful!

I made coffee, went back to bed. Read my books.

Look at you! You're awake, reading your books! Enjoying them! 

Then. Shower. Just in case I get myself together to go get my Worzel Gummidge hair sorted, soaping away.

Get you! Showering! What you like? Awesome!

And so on and so on.

At some time in the late afternoon as I trotted briskly towards the bus station, I said to myself,

There you go! Picking up the grandchildren, just like any regular granny. 

And here I am. Blogging. Faking it till I make it. Beating low mood and moderate depression into a corner. Fucking it up. Saying, what do we say to fucking low mood and depression?


Regular Granny and number 2 grandchild

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Foxgloves and Wine

In an effort to spark joy I planted some rather anaemic looking foxgloves that have been hanging around the polytunnel far too long. Feelgood will kick in if they grow and bloom and if not, I’ll have to make do, with with the thought that I have finally dealt with them.

Freezing today. The seeds that I’ve sown are making slow, slow progress. Really, I’m not enjoying the garden as much as I’d do normally.

Spoke to Leitrim Sister which was quite cheering. Unfortunately, she cannot make our long-awaited trip to Rathlin because, fortunately, she’s been hired for a long-term research post. I’ll have to make do with Bert.

My joy today has been dealing with the anaemic foxgloves and the glass of raspberry wine I am drinking and the log fire that is burning in my grate. It’s not much but will have to do.

Foxgloves of Dreams

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

A Day In May

This is a sad day. The tiny bit of hope we had for our brother's little granddaughter has been dashed.

My only positive feelings are for the courage of that little girl's parents and her closest family as they love and care for her. It is humbling. Beyond words.

Monday, May 06, 2019

That One Off The Telly

Who's your woman?

Last time you saw her Cersei had her chained in a dungeon with your one from Mia and Me.

What else was she in?

She was married to Stringer Bell but then his mate shot her.


As Hector.

Some mate.

After that, she lived in a flat in South London and guess who was in the flat below her?


Luther's mate. The one that shot her.

Did he shoot her again?

No. Frank Gallagher shot her. With a bow and arrow.

What he go and do that for?

She'd gone clean mad. She had the Queen Mother's corpse in the bath, whether she killed her or not I don't know but they'd been having some kind of abusive relationship and she'd the Queen Mum chained to the bannisters.

Just goes to show...


What goes around comes around.

Sure there is nothing as cheery as a good box set.

Sunday, May 05, 2019


Dogs make me happy. Mostly they do.

But maybe not when I'm wakened by imperious barking at five am by an old collie who just wants out to chase pigeons off the yard. That would be Roy.

Definitely not when I go to the bathroom at five am, before opening the double doors to let Roy out to woof at pigeons, and I step in a big flood of piss left by one of the bitches. I'm not sure if that is Judy or Jess but I intend to find out. Nature camera needed, or should that be a call of nature camera.

Certainly not when Ziggy decides to challenge a German Shepherd in Portglenone Forest and its owner gets really grumpy and says, should be on a lead and did you not see the signs in the carpark? Bert says we're not in the carpark which was true as we snuck in through the old graveyard having parked for free in the grounds of Aughnahoy Chapel.

Is it any wonder that we rarely walk the dogs in places where humans abound.

There were some doggy fans in the forest who didn't moan at us for our unrestrained hounds. There was little Willow, 17 months old who fell in love with Ziggy. He liked her too. She wasn't a German Shepherd. And there were two little pre-school boys who loved all the dogs and who told me that they didn't get a picnic. I said we didn't get one either. Their parents were lovely too. Seems like for every asshole we meet there are another ten good people, some of whom are very young indeed.

Saturday, May 04, 2019


What am I grateful for today? A fine day which I spent weeding. I'm always grateful for my garden even though a good part of it is wild and overgrown. The insects like it, wildlife likes it, I like it.

I have a friend who disparages gardening. She is devoted to her career and doesn't want to retire. Fair enough. However, she'll often say things like,

Oh! I'd hate to be retired. I'd hate to have nothing to occupy my time but gardening.

This annoys me. I feel as if she is putting me down. (really I should get over myself). I'll say to her, you don't have to garden when you retire. You could do anything. Work freelance, write a book, volunteer, anything.

Doesn't stop her giving off about horticulture.

Next time she does it I'm going to say,

No, you definitely shouldn't take up gardening. You're sure to be shite at it!

I really need to work on being grateful for my friends.

In the meantime, a link to our gardening successes in the year 2018.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Bert and the NHS

How could I not be grateful for the National Health Service? Ok, it's not perfect, far from it, but the benefits, the blessings it has given our family over the years are numerous.

For instance, this morning Bert and I travelled to Whiteabbey Hospital where he had an appointment with a dermatologist. He has this weird growth on the side of his face which popped up on a weird discoloured patch that has been there for years. Bert spent a good part of his early twenties in hot countries and never, ever used sunscreen. In sunny weather at home, he bared as much skin as possible and never used sunscreen. I've been chirping at him for months to go to the doctor. Eventually, he did and his GP said,

Probably just a wart but best to get it looked at by a dermatologist.

The appointment came quickly and the dermatologist said,

Probably just a wart but best to have a biopsy.

And that's the next step.

Thank you National Health Service.

Thursday, May 02, 2019


Well. Anyway. I must be feeling in much better form because I'm considering myriad and multitudinous blessings which I will instil into just one word  - bluebells.

Bluebells come just once a year, in the month of May, give or take ten days or so. Martha, Evie and I (and Ziggy and Maya) went to Portglenone Forest today. There was something new to be explored, an old burying ground right beside the forest. I'd never visited it before.

Evie was really delighted to see that Mr Ladybird (Mr?) was still hanging about since her last visit.

Always there are white sports in a bluebell field.

Bluebells and forget-me-nots, wondrous combination.

There is a gate that leads to Portglenone Forest. We explored then returned via the graveyard. On our way back, we met a young woman photographing the bluebells. I said to her, at the top of this path there is a glorious old graveyard smothered in bluebells and forget-me-mots. She followed us there. Thanked us. And took pictures.

Blessings, a lovely Spring day, Martha and Evie, bluebells, forget-me-nots and sharing with a fellow photographer.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Bert's Planting

New growth

Bert planted the wood nearly twenty years ago, a few acres at what is now Clint's place and around 14 acres here at Springhill. By the way, no-one but ourselves and a few ancient relatives of Pearlie call this place Springhill. I think the name might have been chosen by the previous owner, Mr Kernohan. He was an educated man, a schoolmaster and there might have been airs. Teaching was a very respectable profession in Ireland, in the early part of the twentieth century. I must have airs myself because I like to use the name. It is a steepish climb to our place and there is a spring although that is somewhat diminished since the mains water went in.

A neighbour once stopped Bert and asked him when he planned to cut the wood down. He replied, 'Never,' and she was less than delighted to hear it. Her house is on higher ground again and she complained to Bert that since the trees grew up she and her other neighbours have been unable to see what's taking place on lower ground. Why she should feel the need is beyond me. It's just tractors and boy racers on the road and cattle and sheep in the fields. Same as her own road.

Badger skull

I've come late to appreciating the wood. Bert and Hannah both love it and Martha and Evie's Dad has built a camp in it. He uses cameras to capture film of wildlife, mostly badgers and foxes and over Easter they all had a sleep out. Zoe said it was hard to sleep because of the bird noise.

This evening I took the dogs walking while Bert finished grouting the kitchen tiles (Hurrah!) I went into the planting feeling very frazzled and came out feeling relaxed and happy. So that's surely a blessing. The first of the month.

Tonight's sky