Sunday, September 29, 2019

Evie And Nelly Go Shopping

Yesterday, Evie and I went to Belfast to visit shops such as Claire’s Accessories, Smiggle, Flying Tiger and Sostrene Grene. We took the train. Our purses were bulging with money and Evie was carrying a big shopping bag.

We had lunch in Patisserie Valerie which was delicious. Evie had two courses from the children’s menu and I had a salad.

We started in Claire’s. My logic was that we would get the worst shop out of the way. I limited her to 30 minutes browsing time. That might seem harsh, but thirty minutes in Claire’s is a long time for someone my age.

But I was so wrong about Claire’s Accessories being the worst shop. That award must go to Smiggle, which is dreadful. I have never before seen such a load of exorbitantly priced plastic tat. Apparently, the name Smiggle comes from combining the words ‘smile’ and ‘giggle’. Doesn’t that just make you want to vomit?

Yet, despite the horridness of some of the shops that Evie wished to visit, it was lovely to see her enjoy her day. I didn’t say, did I, that the thirty minutes spent in Claire’s was choosing earrings for her sister who, having reached the age of ten, was allowed to have her ears pierced?

Claire’s – Evie bought Martha earrings and I bought Evie a glittery hairband.

Smiggle – Evie purchased a drinking bottle that ‘squirts water into your mouth’. Surely they all do that? I won’t say what it cost because you might faint.

Flying Tiger – I bought reading glasses. Evie examined almost everything and bought nothing.

Paperchase – Evie played for a long time with a glittery blue dolphin but bought nothing.

HMV – I bought Evie a CD. One of those ones that has scores of songs on it. George Ezra being the track she was keenest on. She has been wanting this particular CD for a long time and I had promised I’d buy it for her when we went to Belfast.

Seasalt – Evie came in on sufferance. I bought a dress and some chocolate. Evie got a complimentary cupcake because it was Seasalt’s Belfast birthday.

Sostrene Grene – a packet of fruity sweets and a free DIY catalogue for Zoe,

WH Smith at the train station – the Irish News and the Beano.

All in all, a rather good day. We’ll do it again next year.

Thursday, September 26, 2019


I've said this before, the more that's going on the less I seem to blog.

These are the post-Ava days. This has to mean something. A wee person (I barely knew) that came to mean so much, her presence, her courage, her parent's courage, my brother's courage. It has to mean something. She was meant to be here for the short time that she was here.

Will this do? There is a lot going on, and less I want to blog.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

O Arty Hatted Man

So, Miss Martha is ten years old today. The pictures from her birthday tea were taken a few days ago as,


Wishing them both a super-exciting time and a very happy birthday to our first grandchild. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday and hearing all about it.

Monday, September 16, 2019

An Anniversary

Our father, Seamus, was born in Tannaghmore, one hundred years ago today. When he died at the age of 85, he left behind his wife, seven children and eight grandchildren. Since his death, a further seven great-grandchildren have been born. And although he never knew them, he would have adored them, every one.

Our mother, Martha did get to meet one of those great-grandchildren, our Miss Martha. That baby brought Mum such a lot of joy in the year before she died. Mum was thrilled to know that there were two more great-grandchildren on the way that year. Ava, born a few months after Mum died and then Evie, three months after Ava.

Who would have dreamed then that the next person to die in this family would be little Ava at eight years old? Brave, beautiful Ava who smiled (usually), frowned (occasionally), or stuck her tongue out (often) whenever someone took her picture. Ava, who lost the use of both legs and her right arm but who kept on painting, drawing, making and crafting with her left. Ava, who loved musicals and old films and sunflowers and cats and her beloved family. Ava, who had very strong opinions and was not afraid to air them.

Ava died in the early hours of Friday morning, fourteen months after her cancer diagnosis. She will be laid to rest today, on her great-grandfather Seamus' one-hundredth birthday.

She leaves behind the parents who adored her, her two big brothers and two little sisters. Also, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and one last remaining great-grandfather. Please remember them all today and in days to come.

These are a few of the charities that supported Ava and her family during her illness. One, in particular, will continue to support them in their bereavement and that is The Cancer Fund For Children.

Other organisations that provided support to Ava and her family are, Macmillan NI and Horizon House, Newtownabbey where Ava's wake took place.

Any of these organisations are worth supporting as the help given to Ava, her mum and dad, and her sisters and brothers, was invaluable.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Ratty Six My Axis

Jazzer never looks so beautiful as when she's baking Nelly a birthday cake.

As always, there was assistance from Martha and Evie for the blowing out of birthday candles.

That cake tasted every bit as good as it looked. Thanks, Jazzer.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Slime On My Boots

Should I, or shouldn't I? On Friday night I decided not to go. I'm a bit of a coward about these things and I don't like to go to marches/rallies on my own. And it looked like it would be a messy sort of day because the Rally for Choice was taking to the streets at around the same time as the March for Their Lives. Two opposing groups marching in Belfast city centre on the same afternoon.

Saturday morning found me in the polytunnel taking cuttings. I checked my phone, something I do often these days. A message from Leitrim Sister. You going to Belfast? I'm just leaving. Into the house, dirty trainers off, boots on, clean top, grab purse, bag, coat, call Bert,

Can you leave me to the station? I'm meeting Dede.

Twenty minutes later I'm on the train. A glance at my boots and they are covered in slime, not the washing off kind, the kind that's made from PVC glue, food colourings and borax. Thanks, Martha and Evie.

Sometimes I wonder if there is any point in rallies and marches. But there is, even if it's just the feeling of solidarity. As usual, I was one of the oldest people there. If I'd been on the other march I'd have fitted right in with the age demographic. We caught glimpses of the others, they were an older crowd, far more men than on our march, no dogs. One man stood on the pavement, beads in his hand, watching us, saying a rosary.

Just as our march completed we passed a heavily policed street, not the regular police either, the mobile support unit, armed and ready for action. At the interface. It was just in case for there was no action, just cheers and jeers from our side and stony-faced glares from the other lot.

We spent about an hour in Writer's square listening to speakers, then headed for a drink in the John Hewitt after which we parted, Dede heading back to Leitrim and me to Great Victoria Street via TK Maxx.

Every day has its highlights, sometimes more than one. Yesterday it was time spent with Leitrim Sister and hearing Bernadette Devlin McAliskey speak. And today it was Jazzer baking me a birthday cake and me rescuing a tiny yellow ladybug from a watery end.

Photo of the cake tomorrow on my actual birthday. There will also be the traditional shot of the birthday girl blowing out the candles. Really wish I'd got round to having my hair cut. I'm sporting that badgery look again, Rhonda.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Fifteen Years

Brían came round tonight. We spoke of many things, mainly politics, religion and, briefly, this blog which is a little over fifteen years old. I said, no-one ever reads it except about six people in America and around 40 of my cousins. He said the main thing is that you keep on writing it and I expect he's right. Fifteen years is a long time in blog years. Some day I expect to get an award for the oldest blog in the world. I think Ganching might be in the running for that award too.

See Brían's name, with the fada - it's pronounced Bree-an. It took me a long time to get that right. I used to call him Bri-an. But I tried hard and eventually got it right. The only thing was, the guy in my local garage was Brian without a fada, pronounce him Bri-an, except I was trying so hard to call Brían Bree- an that I started to call Brian Bree-an too. Sort of egg-shelly thing that can only ever happen in Northern Ireland as Bri-an most likely a Unionist (I never asked him) and Bree-an a staunch Sinn-Feiner.

Anyway, remembering that this blog is now in its mid-teens I looked back to a post from exactly 15 years ago. Bert was going camping with the fellows including Brían. If it hadn't been recorded I'd never have remembered it. Bert still hasn't got to grips with mobile phones. And I have no memories of that coffee morning other than I must have had two parents fifteen years ago.



Friday night. What’s happening at Nelly’s then? Bert is preparing for a camping trip up and down Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains.

He is going with Martin and the gang. The boys do these macho things every now and then. The trip will involve physical exercise, whiskey and sausages. There may well be male bonding. Someone may read aloud from Hemingway. Ever supportive, Ian has called up to make sure that Bert is properly prepared. He has reminded him to charge his mobile phone, which Bert uses about once every three months. He uses it to make calls and when he has done so he always switches off so that he cannot be contacted. This is to preserve the battery charge.

Ian and Bert have erected the tent n the kitchen. They are lying in it. It is a two-man tent and they are testing this claim out. Should I be worried?

Saturday morning. Alone at last. Bert and Paddy have set off on their camping trip. I am going to a coffee morning and cake sale at Glenkeen. Natch Matty is going too. I will keep you posted. Hah!

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

September Reading

Over the years I have gathered a number of books by Doris Lessing. They are all rather old, the most ancient, Winter in July, having been published in 1966. The freshest, The Summer Before the Dark, a mere 46 years old. Yet, until a few weeks ago I'd never read a Doris Lessing novel. Shameful, heh? I still haven't, but I have embarked upon The Grass is Singing, her first book. My copy was published in 1969. I've barely started it.

New starts since I last blogged about books are Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, H Is For Hawk, Helen Macdonald (library book), Andrea Levy's Small Island, Ammonites & Leaping Fish, by Penelope Lively, The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński (my copy 38 years old). 

The Kosiński book has been around for many years. Bert read it ages ago. When I asked him how he found it, he told me it was a harsh read. I see today that there is now a film based on the novel which played recently at the Venice Film Festival, a film so violent that there was a mass audience walk-out. The scene that prompted the rush for the exit (spoiler alert) has already taken place in my reading and it is shocking but I managed to absorb it without throwing up or panicking. All I can say about it is, cats will be cats. They like to play with their food be it alive or dead.