Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday

Bargains Galore (Not)

Bert took a trip to Ballymoney today to Pollocks (horticultural supplies), his mission to acquire big black pots in which to plant trees. When he got back I asked him if there were any Black Friday bargains on offer. His answer, "No". It seems that pots and planters and bags of compost have a price and that price will not be lowered under any circumstance. I guess that Killyless Stores (farm supplies) will have had no exciting reductions on pig meal or Dunlop wellingtons, nor Hayes Garage, a price drop on diesel or potato bread. When it comes to essentials the price is the price.

Black Friday

The over-hyped nonsense that is Black Friday has only been around for six years or so. It's an American import that makes no sense at all as we don't celebrate Thanksgiving so are not on holiday the day after. Anyway, we're thinking about Christmas and there's an election coming up.

Election Posters

And speaking of the election, a recent visit to Larne to see cousins was greatly marred by posters of Sammy Wilson leering from every lamp post. At least he was covered up.

Thinking About Christmas

Very much on my mind this evening, especially the bottle of Baileys I'd stashed in the cupboard to be enjoyed nearer the time. Seems I'm not very good at delaying gratification.

Dunlop Wellingtons From Killyless Stores

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Queen

Bert and I have been watching (and enjoying) The Crown on Netflix. Olivia Colman is terrific in the role of the middle-aged monarch. It’s a fiction loosely based on fact yet it does have its surreal moments, the Duke of Edinburgh attempting to fly a plane to the moon, the Duke of Edinburgh baring his soul to a group of C of E priests, one of whom a dead ringer for Freddie Garrity of Dreamers fame. But one thing has struck me, inspired me – the Queen’s wardrobe. Not her evening gowns or her colour co-ordinated out in public costumes – what I want is her day clothes, the outfits she wears whilst hanging around the palaces, the plain dresses, the well-cut wool skirts, the silky high-necked blouses, the cardigans, the pearls, the court shoes, and the always present handbag. If I had those clothes I’d feel so smart, so ever-ready, and so royal.

Still thinking about it this morning when I realised it wasn’t the Queen’s style I wanted to channel – it was my Aunt Sadie. Sadie, unlike those other scruffbags I mentioned in the Old Shoes post, was always smart and tidy and her hair always 'done'. The addition of an apron or nylon overall helped to keep her clothes clean as she cooked, cleaned and looked after her family for, unlike the Royals, she managed her own house.

Today I am wearing some really scruffy jeans, a Fatface stripey top, a burnt orange M&S jumper worn back to front and an old pair of Superdry boots. I have not combed my hair. 

The Superdry boots, despite their name, do not cut it in the soggy wood and are quite unsuitable for splashing in muddy puddles, something I still enjoy despite having graduated from primary school many decades ago. I used to wear dark purple Hunters but have now settled on sensible Dunlops from the local farm supplies shop. The Hunters are still around, purloined by Hannah, whose slim pins are more suited to them than my sturdy calves.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Every Picture Tells A Story

I like carparks with more than one exit, especially if they are small. Obviously, the person who parked this car agrees, for what space could be more convenient than right bang in the middle of one of the exits? Ideal for a quick getaway. Convenient for one driver only.

Most mornings I am rudely awakened by a big cold nose pushing into my face. And whimpering. It's not Bert, just Judy the Senior Dog wanting to go outside for a pee. It always feels too early for me but sometimes it's worth it when I get to see the gorgeous morning sky. And I say, thanks Judester. You're a doll.

We always have a birthday cake on the Monday nearest to someone's birthday. Entranced by the glow of the candles, father and daughters are completely unaware of the cameras trained upon them. Yeah, right! For they are all perfectly accustomed to cameras. Especially Dave...

who is in there somewhere. Sort of like a very dark Where's Wally.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Other People's Jobs

In the early 1970s, Matty worked in the dispatch department of an electronics factory. I was at home with my baby girl. When she got home she'd tell me all about the goings-on in the lives of the team she worked with. At first, I found these stories tedious but listened to Mum anyway, just to be a kind daughter. Then, as time went on, these tales from the factory floor began to engross me and sometimes I found myself waiting impatiently for Matty to come home so I could hear the next instalment. She'd be taking off her coat and I'd be saying,

How did wee Una get on at the fertility clinic? Did the doctors give her any hope at all?


So! Did Davy gamble his pay again this week? He did! Poor Josie, she'll never be able to afford that holiday.

Since then I've always been interested in other people's jobs, which always seemed more engrossing that one's own paid employment.

For instance, this Thursday, we had someone round who works behind the scenes at big events, concerts, festivals and the like. he mentioned that he'd been working the Cher show at the SSE Arena.

Over 70 and you should have seen her go. Amazing! All those costume changes. I saw her coming offstage and she was totally wrecked. They had to carry her off.

A conversation ensued then about just how so many venerable old rock stars are still giving it welly.

Our friend had also been around after a Rod Stewart show and saw Rod completely wrapped in a space blanket and tottering away, supported by assistants. All that was visible the spiky tips of his famous barnet.

Then, last night the Master Electrical Engineer called with his fix for the moth trap. He stopped for coffee and a chat and eventually the talk came round to work. We'd been discussing the unwanted critters that sometimes find their way into our homes. In my case it was slugs. Yes! They are back! It's been four years but this time there have only been five infant sluglets. In our friend's case it is mice but he's dealing with it. I thought perhaps some sort of cunning electrical gadget that dispatches them to mouse heaven as painlessly as possible but he's using old-fashioned spring traps.

The work connection? A while back our friend worked for a big multinational telecommunications manufacturer. And they had a special room where they kept exotic creatures, spiders, beetles, lizards and snakes, that sort of thing. Sounds strange? I thought so. But, because the company was global there were crates coming in from all over the world and sometimes those crates were carrying passengers.

Looking for a four-leafed clover. (Even tho' it's not clover)

This woman had a mouse jump from her pantry cupboard on to her head this week. She handled it well. Yet once, when she spotted a ladybird on the dashboard of my vehicle, she panicked and shrieked and I had to pull up, rescue the ladybird and remove it to a place of safety.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thinking About Christmas

If there was one thing my Granny Mac got right it was passing on to her children, her love for gardening and the natural world.

If there was one thing that Matty got right it was encouraging us to appreciate nature, particularly wildflowers and hedge birds.

And I encouraged mine, as they encourage theirs.

And then there is this,  Zoe's Etsy Shop.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Old Shoes

They are in a bit of a state, are they not? I remember the day I bought them. Miss Martha was with me and helped me choose them. She wanted me to buy something fancier, light-coloured. I explained,

No Martha, the shoes have to be black because I've nothing suitable to wear to a funeral. These are to be my Funeral Shoes.

They were never off my feet for the best part of two years because they were so damn comfortable. But a time came when even the most diligent polishing did not help. They became house shoes. And by 'house' I mean outside the house, the yard.

Why don't I just throw them out? I asked myself this the other day and very nearly did. Then I didn't. Why?

I got to thinking about Pearlie who spent the best part of her life in old worn-out garments, sliping around in a pair of old deck shoes she inherited from Bert. Pearlie who had lots of nice outfits hanging in her wardrobe that she'd never, ever wear. I'm not as bad as that.

Then there was my paternal grandmother who disdained fine clothes. She'd wear the same outer clothes for months. I don't like to think of her inner garments. When she worked she wore an apron fashioned from a hessian sack. Her Sunday best was a man's grey gaberdine overcoat. I'm not as bad as that.

But I'm bad. When I'm home I wear Gap jeans and fleeces and old shoes. I wash my hair, towel it dry and don't even look in the mirror. I rarely look in mirrors these days. When I was younger I liked the person I saw there, these days I hardly know her. But I do look down from time to time and see the old shoes. Should I throw them out? Maybe tomorrow.

Three and a half years ago I wore those shoes to Sheena's funeral. She was a lady who was always well turned out. In her younger days dressed exclusively in black and white and often made and adapted her own outfits. I miss her still.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Ins And Outs

My life consists of letting hens out, closing hens in, same with pigs and in the house, it is endless with dogs and cats, in, out, in, out all day long. Then come bedtime, if a cat is outside, he or she will stand gazing at Roy through the glass doors while he barks to alert me that I must come down and open the door. Same goes if a cat wants out, Roy starts woofing so that I know to rise from my bed and let the brute out.

Morning comes, very early morning, maybe half five, and Judy wakes me with the cold nose against my cheek. She wants to go out. How do people without pets put in their time?

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong

I don't have far to travel to enjoy the autumn colour as these trees, mostly beech, are at the bottom of our lane.

Last week was a free week. The girls were on a mid-term break vacation to the Dingle peninsula so no Monday supper and no Thursday baby-sitting. I have a new regular Tuesday appointment and that was postponed due to vacation time for the other party, so free all week, lots of time to myself.

I spent it weeding, planting and mulching in the polytunnel for my section had got really out of hand. There were dandelions, creeping buttercup and nettles starting to appear. There were far too many strawberry runners and a nest of self-seeded sweet william that was beginning to take over. Over a period of five days I worked on it, lots of hoeing, digging out and raking. Garlic cloves were sown, new strawberries and broad beans planted and fresh compost added to the soil. It was so neat, so brown, so weed-free and I was really pleased with all my efforts, until - one night, about halfway through this clearance, I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep for feeling guilty about where all the beetles and bugs, spiders and frogs were going to live. The tunnel wrens appeared to have lost interest in my plot and the resident robin had moved out. It was all far too tidy.

But it won't last. The weeds will return, so will the bugs and beetles and in no time robins and wrens will be back. And, if those broad beans ever come to anything, Rusty and Lily will be crashing about in there too.