Monday, March 30, 2020

A Life

For two consecutive nights, my dreams have featured feral children.


In these dreams, I have tried and failed to contain the children. Which is a rather obvious analogy for Covid-19.

Earlier today, Bert and I were having a conversation about stupidity. We came to the (obvious) conclusion that the most dangerous people in the world are the stupid, those so stupid that they think they are clever. Can you think of anyone?

Someone called to our house this evening. He didn't get to come in and when I came to investigate I found him standing less than a metre away from Bert. I said (not joking)

You're too close.

(I know, it is so weird. We'll laugh about it afterwards.)

He said,

Ach. That's a lot of nonsense.

I said,

You might think so. But we don't. So respect our opinion.

He was stung. Not used to outspoken women. (I don't care.)

These are strange, strange days.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quiet Saturday

 Crocus in the garden, with monkey puzzle in the background

I was awakened by the dogs at ten past six, then waited until seven before going to get my Saturday Guardian. I buy it once a week at my local garage, and the rest of the week I read it online. There were more people around than usual, one man doing a fairly big shop. I filled a basket too, milk, 4-pack of toilet roll, bleach, cheese, chocolate. Life's neccessities. I sidestepped the other customers as much as I could and kept a very decent distance from Hans.

The tightening of restrictions in the sensible part of Ireland was mentioned and it was said that it might be time for a proper lockdown here too. There are a lot of people who are flouting the advice/rules, whatever it is.

Bert has been ever so slightly getting on my nerves these past few days and I'm sure I've been getting on his. But I had a thought, this...

If I have to be closed up at home with one other human being, Bert is a good one. He is patient, kind, funny and so what if he doesn't put the milk back in the fridge or the lid on the tea caddy? To show my gratitude I baked him a cake and didn't use a recipe. I put apricot jam in it and plain yogurt and it was lovely.

 A patch of wood anemone in Bert's wood

The first few days of staying at home were unsettling. I spent far too much time online, scrolling through news sites, coronavirus updating and Twitter. I exhausted myself so much that I could barely read for pleasure. These past few days I've been spending less time online and more time gardening, walking and reading. And weird tasks like degunking the shower outlet.

And I've pulled a chair over to the window in my bedroom and sometimes I sit there, reading, or just watching the chickens. It's very peaceful especially as there are far fewer vehicles on our road.

Bert has just called me to watch the final episode of  This Country. Stay safe everyone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Life Interrupted

In the polytunnel, today. 

Going through my seed boxes today and found that I had no ordinary peas or spring onions. And all the gardening outlets are closed. The Range is open but they are only permitted to sell cleaning products and hardware. Montrose Garden Supplies have shut their doors. I suppose it makes sense. You know what gardeners are like. We'd be defying government advice and queuing up to purchase pansies and compost.

But there's always online. My favourites are Real Seeds and Chiltern but both companies are experiencing unprecedented demand and neither could deal with my order. I don't trust eBay for seeds and I try to avoid using Amazon so that's out. Eventually, after some trickiness with changing passwords, I managed to place an order with Mr Fothergill. And Zoe will be glad to hear that I've reserved a bag of multipurpose compost from the local garage. Only one per customer.

But these are small difficulties compared with what some people are going through in these awful times. We're observing social distancing, as are all our friends and family and we remain tremendously grateful to everyone out there on the front line, the carers, health workers, retail staff, community workers, police. You are all heroes. If I was having to go out there every day I'd be needing a big hoard of toilet paper which I haven't got. And if I had, I'd swap it for compost and seeds.

I was cross when I heard all the hoo-ha about Prince Charles and the Duchess in social isolation. Really? There is no way he'll be on his own. There is bound to be at least six flunkies running around after the pair of them. It's got to be quite an honour to be infected with a double-strength dose of the Royal virus that has already been through Prince Albert of Monaco. This will be a whole new level of six degrees of separation.

So who'd you catch it from? 
Idris Elba. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Zoom Lens

I got to see my two oldest grandchildren today. I didn't get to hug them or to come any closer than 4 metres, twice the recommended social distancing length, and they didn't come into the house. I took this film of them on their beloved trampoline.

Using the zoom on my camera. I stood well back.

It was odd.

This is our day for eating together as a family, We won't be able to do that for a while.

I made a fish pie and a steamed pudding this morning. They got their share to take home and eat in their own house. Miss Martha said, and I quote her mum, that

...everything (Granny) cooks is amazing. Even the things I don't like.

So I assume she doesn't like fish pie, except for mine* of course.

*Thanks also due to Mary Berry for the recipe.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Who Is It This Time?

Bert thought this might be a fox hole and maybe it once was. He said it's been around for years or since he was a wee lad. That's decades, half a century's worth.

Ziggy decided to investigate. That's the last picture I took as the noises that emanated from that tunnel were worrying. He was barking and something else was chittering. He emerged, arse first and the something else was right behind him making frantic chirping noises. It was a badger. Out Ziggy came and made then moves to go right back in again. We tried to discourage him and eventually had to pick him up and carry him away from the area.

Checked YouTube when I got back home to make sure that the chittering noises we heard were badger. I had no idea how many and varied are the sounds that badgers make.

And there was me always used to think that they spoke like this,

"Now, the very next time this happens," said a gruff and suspicious voice, "I shall be exceedingly angry. Who is it this time, disturbing people on such a night? Speak up!"

During these strange times, I'm feeling rather badger-like too. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


It occurred to me this morning that if I should slip this mortal coil long before my time, that there are still quite a few items in my wardrobe that I have yet to try out. So, why not use this time of 'cocooning' or to put it another way, 'social isolation' to experiment with 'looks'. After all, who is even going to see me?

Take this skirt, which belonged at some point to someone from Bodenland - then they flogged it on eBay and yours truly paid good pension money for it. It's never had an airing.

I teamed it with a wee linen matchy cardi from Alex &Co and a Fatface teeshirt I usually wear in bed. Then cowboy boots (what! cowboy boots?), which are years old  and a scarf I bought on Rathlin Island, back in the days when you could go places.

When he saw me, Bert said,

Are you going out?

And I said,

What! Looking like this?

And he said,

I dunno. Looks good to me. Though maybe not the teeshirt.


To anyone who reads Nelly's Garden. Like everyone else, I'm stressed by what is going on. A bit scared too. But I'm not going to use this blog to dwell on it. Instead, it will be a bit of distraction for me and for you.

Keep yourself safe and others too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Playing School

Holly giving her presentation

Bert wasn't at home when the girls arrived today. They were out of school early and had their homework done and despite the heavy rain there was no mention of Netflix. It was straight under the stairs to pull out the dressing up boxes. Favourite outfits are a cross between Jane Eyre and Little House on the Prairie. Today they were playing school and were all over the place looking for folders, pens and vintage books. Martha has always preferred "old books with tiny writing" and Evie's choice would be pocket-sized volumes from The Observer's range.

Then Bert came back. They were at him immediately.

Bert! Bert you're playing with us. We're playing schools. I'm Sunny and Evie is Holly. We're head girls! You're Bud, Bud Sorenson and in this game, you're not stupid, you're clever, You're head boy. We're going to do projects and then we're going to do a presentation!

He was allowed to have a coffee before the game began and from then on it was upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber. While all this was going on I was making food.

Bud and Sunny await their turn

Listening to them was great entertainment. Martha, a born performer, played the kazoo and tap-danced. Bert discussed the book he had 'read', E. Nesbitt's The Wonderful Garden,

I read this book. It had nice pictures. I liked it very much.

It seemed to please them enough. Sadly, I did not hear Evie's presentation which occurred moments after I took the pictures as I'd gone outside.

Playing school might be a popular game in the coming weeks as they are likely to be off and will be missing the real thing. We're living through a rare time. It will soon be time to hunker down and isolate.

Friday, March 13, 2020

No Joke

It is no joke being a reluctant hypochondriac during a global pandemic. I never wanted to be the kind of person overly concerned about health and well-being. My mother was, lots of her sisters were. I thought it was dreary and self-defeating and swore it would never happen to me.

But it did, it crept up on me, especially in the middle of the night when sleep wouldn't come. I try hard to resist it. I fight it all the time.

That pain in my chest. I just slept awkwardly on my tit. Not the beginnings of pneumonia.

That cough. A tickle, just the common cold.

That fever. We had an oil delivery. I notched the heating up. And I'm wearing a particularly cosy cardigan.

That urge to self-isolate. I'm just fucking sick of callers. It's an excuse not to socialise.

I was OK until Wednesday. I wanted to go shopping in town, to visit TK Maxx, Camerons, all (nearly all) the charity shops in search of something new. I was discerning, only bought one coat for me (Barnardos) and one jumper for Bert (Marie Curie) and was heading back to the van. There was a group of young men walking in front of me. One lad pulled a big wad of kitchen roll from his pocket, snottered into it, threw it on the ground and spat. I froze. Slowed my step, made sure I was at least ten feet behind them. We all got to the next set of crossing lights, they stopped, I started walking backwards, the green light comes on, we all move forward, me maintaining ten-foot distance, they turn left, I turn right, big sigh of relief.

I couldn't get over it, told everyone about how spooked I was. Next morning I wake up with the cold and convinced myself I had the virus. For about twenty minutes. All that rummaging through clothes rails, God knows who else had been there before me, God knows where they'd been, what they had wrong with them. That new (to me) Zara coat will be the death of me.

I caught myself on. Went for a walk (in a graveyard, poignant) met the grandchildren, helped with homework, baked biscuits, forgot I was dying and so on...

Then, later, just after Martha and Evie had gone home, Banjo Man calls in, watery-eyed, streaming with the cold and freshly sent off a site in Dublin town for coughing too much. The site foreman had asked him to get checked out and let them know if he was OK but testing is suspended here so all he can do is self-isolate, just in case, while we all build up our herd immunity. Apparently 20 cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland but if testing is suspended it is bound to be many, many more.

Then this morning I woke up convinced my cold was something worse and it was more than an hour before I caught myself on.

Bert went shopping in Lidl and there was no toilet roll and no butter. Also, no maple syrup which is a great shame as I had accidentally dropped our practically full bottle on the tiled floor - huge mess to clean up. And me not well.

The Zara coat I risked my life for. I have requested if it should end badly for me, that I am to be buried in it.

Monday, March 09, 2020

The Woman In The Mirror

I have a wardrobe crammed with clothes. Some new, some very old indeed, some unworn and some worn out. And yet...when it comes to it, I sometimes feel there is nothing I want to wear.

Home clothes are easy. They are comfortable, lots of layers, suitable for working in (pottering, really) inside or out. I find it harder to decide what to put on when I'm going out and seem to go to the same few items again and again while other garments hang neglected. I decided a few weeks ago that I am going to wear everything, even if it is only for the time it takes to photograph myself in the wardrobe mirror. This is where it started.

The wardrobe in these pictures is not where I keep my clothes for it is far too small. It does have a decent mirror and the light in that room is good. The yellow jumper outfit is going out (lunch with Jazzer) the other three are home clothes. I am wearing four items from eBay, one gift scarf (thanks, Kerry Sister) and three charity shop buys.

Pictures one and two are for another lunch with Jazzer. Three is home wear and four is trying out. Bert was disparaging about four. Said something sneery about kilts. That dress was £20 in a charity shop in Stoke Newington but when new would have cost more than £100.

I've yet to wear those wide-legged trousers out. Bargain in TK Maxx. I wore outfit 2 to the shops and 3 & 4 were for hanging at home.

More stay at home outfits. Number 2 was today's clothes. I might ragbag the shirt. I caught it on a nail and don't care for it enough to mend it.

Going by that selection my wardrobe is 42% new clothes, 18% from eBay, 36% charity shop and 3% gifted. Seems about right.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Silly Spring

Merzy dotes and dozy dotes
And little cavvsy divy

A bird'll eat peanuts too,
Wouldn't you?

Dance like no one is watching
Play like no one is blogging

She said to him,
The Bann is great
It's not too late
To learn to swim

He said to her,
I would not dare
For I don't care
To wet my fur

What Chickens Think

There's a quare stretch in the evenings

It's nice to see a wee blink of sun

I wonder will the woman bring pizza again?

What Robins Think

Gardener - dig!

Any other robin comes near me I'll rip his head off!

Only 292 days to Christmas.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

We Are All Old Now

I thought that when old Roy died that life with just two dogs, two cats and two pigs might be easier. I thought wrong. Roy might have been the oldest codger in town but he wasn’t the only one.

For Holly de Cat is thirteen and Big Fat Fred just a year younger. Judy will be ten in the summer and Jess eight in October. Rusty and Lily are ten this year too. They must be two of the oldest pigs in County Antrim. Bert and I both have our bus passes. Nellybert’s is no longer a Party House. We’re a Retirement Home!

Reason for this moan? I am rudely awakened every morning by the dogs needing to go pee. This morning it was six o’clock when Jess was headbutting my bedroom door. Then, when Big Fat Fred sees me he makes it clear he is ready for breakfast so I give him a little something in his bowl and return to bed for horrible anxiety dreams.* When Fred has finished eating he stands at the bottom of the stairs and gowls to be let into my private, secret sitting room. I prefer to keep that room closed as a dog (probably Judy) has a liking for peeing on my antique carpet.

Although Judy has been having fewer ‘accidents’ since the vet put her on the amazing tightening up the urethra drug. It’s also noticeable that her coat is glossier and she seems to have more energy. I’m seriously considering taking this medication myself as I too would benefit from a glossy mane, extra energy and a better functioning urethra.

The oldest pigs in the parish

*This morning's anxiety dream was all about Zoe having coronavirus and Bert and his friends using my best vintage china for ashtrays.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

A Leap Year Wedding

I do not recall who might have called at Nellybert's this day twelve years ago. But, whoever they might have been, they would have been regaled with the pleasant news that we were planning a wedding.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Last-Minute Proposal

Well, maybe not exactly the last minute but at around ten to midnight last night I asked Bert to marry me and he said yes. I wonder how he'll wriggle out of this one?
He didn't renege on his promise. We'll be married twelve years this coming August.