Friday, June 28, 2019

Bringing in the Hay

Bringing in the hay always used to be a fun time. Old style balers, old style oblong bales, stacked in nines and as many hands as possible to get it on the trailer and back to the shed. Old style balers are not so common these days but Clint has one. The field, the one in front of the country housing estate used to belong to Johnny, Bert's father and Bert said that when he and Johnny went to bring in the hay at least ten or more youngsters from the estate would appear just for the fun of the thing to help and to get a ride on the trailer. Nowadays that field belongs to Clint and the young ones aren't interested in riding on trailers and bringing in the hay. The only helpers Clint could get tonight were over sixty.

Bert knew it was coming up. He warned Clint.

I don't know that I'll be much help to you. My knees are murdering me.

Clint said,

Huh! We'll be some crew. Murray's got a bad heart, I can't get a breath and you can hardly walk.

The call came and it was the loveliest evening. Balmy, a slight breeze, a promise of rain to come. I was tempted to join them. Decades since I helped to bring in hay but I remembered it as being enjoyable.

Bert said,

Are you sure? You might hurt your back...

I decided against it.

Then Banjo Man turned up. Needing to speak to Bert about getting the shed delivered. We drove down to the hay field. I tried a bale. Not too heavy. We gathered a few, Banjo Man and I. He was worried he might break a nail on his picking finger but he didn't. Shed talk over we dismissed him. He had been working hard in Dublin all week while the rest of us (not Clint) were lazing in the sun. I stayed. Murray and I soon realised at 65 and 73 respectively that working together we achieved more than struggling to lift heavy bales on our own.

It was so satisfying and all finished well before nine o'clock. A field of bales gathered and loaded. There was a time when I'd have expected a lot more of a Friday night than an hour or two of hard physical work. But... when a body is 65 or older the pure joy of it is still being able to do it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Blue Sky Day

A shortie with photies. Nellybert took the dogs for a walk on the beach at the gloriously, beautiful Whitepark Bay and Bert used his backpack, a backpack so sadly missed on our trip to Rathlin Island. In it, he carried a bottle of water, two mandarin oranges and binoculars. And, whilst on the beach, a pair of Converse and some stripey socks.  

Here Bert throws a stick for the dogs. I told him that his stick-throwing is of a standard that is positively Olympian. For husbands with dodgy knees need to have their spirits raised.

No sign of sore knees here although none of this pack are getting any younger.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Early summer is usually a very positive time for me what with longer days, warmer weather,  growing things and observing wildlife. It's not been like that this year for I've been feeling a bit rough, a bit elderly these past weeks. There was a viral infection followed by another viral infection and my chronic Brexititis. Sleep patterns were disrupted and I was feeling well below par. So I sought medical advice and today I had my final results.

The good stuff. I am not pre-diabetic, my thyroid activity is normal and my blood pressure is excellent. I was measured and have not shrunk. Still exactly the same height as when I was eighteen. 5 foot 2 and a half inches. I always stressed that half an inch.

The not so good stuff. My cholesterol is slightly higher than it should be although I do have lots of good cholesterol. Who knew there was such a thing as good cholesterol? I got weighed and I'm obese. I suspected that anyway. So now when people lie to me, saying

You're not fat.

I shall counter this by saying,

You are wrong for I have it on the best medical authority that I am actually obese. But, hey, who cares! At least I haven't shrunk!

It's one of my favourite things telling people that they are wrong. That, and still being 5 foot 2 and a half inches.

And this.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Catch Up

Wednesday: On this day I was supposed to keep Hannah company as she travelled a job interview in a far away town. This was cancelled due to her being offered another job in a nearby town. So I went to the Tannaghmore funeral with the young brother. The man whose funeral it was came from a big connection. The priest who conducted the funeral Mass was from the United States, a friend of the family, his people originally from Ireland. Father Pat Universal. That is a name with a ring to it. The service was beautiful, very life-affirming. Nick Cave said recently that atheism is bad for songwriting. I get that. Cave goes on, "It doesn't matter whether God exists or not - we must reach as if he does." That resonates for me. I don't know if God exists, but I want to live as if he does.

Thursday: Roy was poorly so we took him to the local vet in Portglenone. What was wrong with him? He was spooked, edgy, couldn't settle, wanted to be outside all the time, wanted to be given a lot of attention. Not himself. The vet gave him a thorough examination. The only issue was a raised temperature, and him being a big fat boy. The vet thought he might have a high temp because of inflammation in his joints and gave him a shot of something anti-inflammatory. What about his weight? Should we put him on a reducing diet? Oh no. There is no point, he is too old. What about treats? Should he have less treats? Oh no. Give him a couple of treats a day. I love this new vet. The shot worked its usual magic and old Roy is back to normal. Often I think that animal medicine is much better than human medicine. We should all go to the vet.

Friday: I worked in the garden and enjoyed it very much. My energy levels are back to normal. Those blood tests I took? The only thing mildly problematical was my cholesterol levels. I have an appointment to see the practice nurse on Tuesday for blood pressure and advice.

Today: More garden work and I cooked a leg of lamb. A few slices for supper and I shall make curry with the leftovers. And always - checking out the pollinators.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Today was interesting, at least what passes for interesting in the Nellybert household, for I had Things To Do. The first thing was the purchase of two Mass Cards from Portglenone Abbey for Jazzer and I were going to a wake. The man whose wake it was, God rest his soul, had no need of Masses but it is a nice thing to do for the family and the gratuity given to the monks helps them in their work. Whilst at Portglenone I also bought a rather woody bacopa for £1.99 which I straightaway took cuttings from and, if all goes well, the grace of God and all that, I should finish up with about twenty quids worth of bacopa.

I then received a call from Jazzer who informed me that she had a fourth grandchild safely delivered, a boy, who might be called George, or Luke, or Jude. I hope it is Jude as I am feeling very Catholic today and there are always desperate cases and lost causes to worry about, Brexit never being far from my mind.

This newly arrived boy, George, Luke or Jude might look something like this.

This is a photograph of his mum when she was a baby and the very first picture I ever took of her. She was and still is a character.

Such a busy day yet I had dinner plans. We'd have the leftover and very excellent Fish Pie with extra vegetables. I forgot to inform Bert of this plan as I was busy. Busy as a bee.

Time to go to the wake. I picked Jazzer up and off we set. Wakes in the afternoon can be rather laid back for that is when all the old people go, all doddering around on sticks and so. Not that Jazzer and I are doddery, the timing just so happened to fit with our busy, busy day. Jazzer busy welcoming a new grandchild, me busy taking bacopa cuttings.

There is a notion that strong drink is taken at Irish wakes but that is not usual in the community I come from. Our wakes are famous for tea, sandwiches and traybakes. I was rather looking forward to that as I hadn't had much lunch. But when the nieces came round with the teapots, the good china and the edibles I was chatting to one of the brothers and before I could respond Madam Jazzer had indicated that we would not be taking refreshments as she (and I may have referred to this before) has a horror of eating anything that she has not prepared herself. I could have choked her. I did manage to get a cup of tea, and very delicious it was too, but hadn't the face to tramp into the kitchen demanding egg and onion sandwiches. Still, as I said to Jazzer on the way out,

Sure it will give me a better appetite for the Fish Pie.

She said,

How much do I owe you for the Mass Card?

I said,

A bottle of wine should cover it.

Mrs Banjo Woman delivered home and then the long drive home for me. (I went by Kells.) All the while pondering on which vegetables we should have with the Fish Pie. I was almost decided on frozen petit pois.

Home. At last. And there is Bert setting off for his evening walk up the back lane, four dogs at his heel.

I called,

Shall I heat up the Fish Pie?

Bert isn't that keen on leftovers but I was determined to sell it to him, knowing he'd enjoy it. I had already decided to tempt him with Maris Piper chips if he demurred. I'd not have chips, just the petit pois and the leftover carrots and broccoli slices.

He answered,

I ate it.


All of it?



I could have choked him.

But I consoled myself with the thought that I can make another Fish Pie. And after I supped on bread and cheese I ate both of the tiramisus that I'd bought in Lidls on the way home. They were very nice but not as good as the Fish Pie would have been.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Greedy Bees

It's almost fit to be seen. Just need the pictures up, the cat's footprints on the sills sandpapered and retouched and an oven glove that isn't red. We had our first family meal in the newly decorated kitchen this evening. Fish pie (Mary Berry recipe) with hard-boiled eggs, just like the Chamberlains do it. All agreed that fish pie must always and ever more contain hard-boiled eggs. Dessert was raspberry and apple crumble with custard. Evie helped Bert make the custard then dished up, a job she enjoyed very much.

Meanwhile, out in the garden, I noticed a big dark splodge on new flowers on my Cephalaria gigantea. Closer inspection showed the splodge to be three bumblebees feeding. Three hours later they were still there partying away drunk on pollen, or nectar or something delicious. I checked the flower out on the RHS site as this is my first year with it and it is an absolute bee and beneficial insect magnet. I am delighted. Also, it self-seeds readily. Prepare your plots, nearby friends and family for this is a plant I intend to share.

Six o'clock

Nine o'clock

It's nearly half past ten now and they are still there. But it's getting too dark for a decent photo so you will just have to take my word for it.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Shed Building

Bert and Ben spent most of the weekend building a garden shed for Jazzer. They make a good team. Meanwhile, Marty finished painting the kitchen while Jazzer and I went to the garden centre. I was too weary to do anything else. I look at other people and wonder where they get the energy from, for mine is seriously depleted.

They just fitted it together to see if the roof and it will be dismantled and transported to its new home by lorry. Jazzer is very excited and is already choosing curtain material. Curtains? I don't even have curtains in my new kitchen.

New kitchen photographs? When I can get it shipshape. Then there will be photographs.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Oh To Be A Bumble Bee

I spoke to my GP this morning. She is a brisk lady and I like her yet if I meet her outside the doctor/patient sphere I generally pretend not to have seen her. Reasons to talk to GP?

Feeling tired most of the time.

Virus infection that has lasted more than three weeks.

Have no clue what my BP, cholesterol levels are or whether or not I'm pre-diabetic.

Recent reduction of sugar and alcohol. Yes, doctor, I was stress eating and drinking too much and when I stopped I felt great for about two days, then slumped into lethargy.

Panic attacks. Mild enough but horrible too. The last one was Saturday when Swisser was going on (and on) about all the health issues she has and that I might have too.

So the GP asked me to call to the surgery for bloods. I did and got a slightly dour nurse. She laid out four little collection tubes and I thought I was going to be injected four times. Seems like I' m thick as well as sick. She said,

Just a wee scratch.

I said,

God! You're good at that!

She was dour no more. And she was good at it.

Swisser says that sugar is good and doesn't make anyone fat. I said,

I prefer my opinion to yours.*

She's not even a nuclear physicist. Merely a professor working in the food science field,

Yet were I a tired and lethargic bumble bee, sugar would be just the thing to cure my ills.

When I came in from the garden yesterday this one was clinging to my sweater and hardly fit to move. A few drops of sugary water and its energies were restored. If only that would work for me.

*Chernobyl, Sky Atlantic. Very good.

Sunday, June 09, 2019


The trip to deepest, darkest Norfolk went well. My daughter's house is currently a building site as they are having an extension built. What could be more pleasurable for an almost four-year-old boy?

As for Emily, she is standing but not yet walking. Crawls like an Olympian and calls everyone Dad.

Their parents are kept very busy and barely get a minute to themselves. For ten years it was just the two of them, then two babes in three years. Still, judging by these pictures I think Mum and Dad are quite delighted with their curly-haired rascals.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

All Being Well

All being well, this time tomorrow I will be in deepest, darkest Norfolk where I am intending to spend a few days with Katy and family. It is unlikely that I will be blogging much while I am there as it would be difficult to compose witty posts whilst spending time with small, delightful and unruly children. I'm looking forward to it.

Since Bert's birthday I have been on a sugar detox as on the night after his birthday tea I thought I might die from a poisoning. Sugar is a poison y'know, especially when consumed in industrial quantities. This detox also includes alcohol as it too is very sugary. I do feel a lot better for it. I may eat a biscuit or drink a small glass of wine whilst in England but intend to be moderate.

I spent a good deal of time today working in the polytunnel. Mostly dealing with seedlings and young plants that Bert might neglect. As usual, I have grown far more plants and flowers than I have room for.

Tonight, Zoe and I are going to see The Unthanks at Seamus Heaney Homeplace. All being well.