Saturday, October 16, 2021

Talking Dogs

Swisser called in yesterday and the conversation moved along predictable lines, our health and the health of other people. She said,

Listen to us going on about our maladies and the medication we take. We sound so old!

I answered,

We are old.

The chat moved on to the Guardian.

So what do you think of the new Saturday layout?

I don't like it! I had different places to put it all. The TV guide went beside the TV.

She continued.

Food section went in the kitchen, the magazine to my bedroom and the Review in the bathroom.

But it turns out she read the review whilst actually on the toilet. I would never do that. I read mine in the bath - it was the perfect size for it.  

Bert and Locky came in so the conversation changed. One thing we all have in common is an attachment to dogs so Swisser (not reading the room) started telling a tale of the abuses some dog breeders commit. I won't repeat it. Too horrid.

We moved on to the current fad for designer dogs and pedigree pooches. Swisser lamented the scarcity of 'proper dogs'. She meant the sort of mixed breed dogs of our childhoods when neutering was unheard of and dogs mostly roamed at will chasing cars, biting children and having sex with each other.

In those days dogs were rarely pedigree unless they were working dogs or belonged to people from the posher classes. Our sort of dogs would have been collies, terriers or other crossbreeds. Those pedigrees liked to have their fun too. A common type of dog would have been a little stiff-legged terrier, usually sandy coloured with one droopy ear and another pointing skywards.

Swisser told the tale of a colleague who acquired a dog during the lockdown, a pedigree that cost her friend a small fortune. Apparently, things are not going well and despite a further fortune being paid at dog-training classes this dog is still crazy. Swisser says it has a pointy head and is possibly brain-damaged. I have my own thoughts about this.

Swisser said,

She'd have been far better off going to a shelter and getting a mongrel or if she must have a pedigree, something small like a Lapsang Souchong.

I pointed out that that was a tea but she ignored me.

Despite all the extolling of mongrel dogs, Locky remained unabashed even though he is the only one of us with a pedigree pooch. We forgive Phoenix her papers as she is a lovely and darling husky. I've already forgiven her for killing two of my hens - murders which were committed years ago. We think she might be getting too old now for that sort of thing.

Me and my very first mongrel dog.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Autumn Colour


I'm bringing this fig (a present from Zoe) into the tunnel for the winter. I considered planting it out but have decided to give it a bigger pot to live in. 

These anemones came from the Wees. They had been a feature in his mother's garden but had to go when they built a shed. I moved then this spring and they haven't really come back from that. Next year will be better.

The begonias were a gift too. We were given so many this year that we had to share them out. A good few went to Belfast to console hard-pressed social workers. In return, I was given wine (shop-bought) and homemade chilli jelly and some other things. I like that way of doing business.  

Bert got these Michaelmas Daisies as a freebie last year when he was delivering climbers to a garden shop. They were rather bedraggled and had mould but they grew out of it. They add a nice splash of colour to the autumn garden. That's a beehive at the back of the shot. The bees are still very busy gathering pollen and evicting drones. No honey though. The beggars scoffed it all. I don't mind. They need it more than we do.

Borage is one of nature's freebies. It's self-sown and pops up all over the place.  I love its little hairy buds and it's a big favourite with pollinators.

The streptocarpus was a present from Bert's Aunt Lizzie. She told me it was difficult to keep going but, so far, I've found it easy. It spent the summer months outside. I divided it, repotted and brought it indoors. I'm very pleased with it and it is nice to have something to remember her by. The only thing is, I really hope it's not one of those plants that produces an amazing flush of flowers before it dies. We'll see.  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

But It's Only Eleven O'Clock

This afternoon, when I got back from running Martha and Evie back home I saw Karl's van in the yard. Surely it cannot be Sunday again? It was Sunday about 5 minutes ago.  It's become a regular thing on Sundays - Bert has friends around with high-powered archery kits and they shoot arrows and guns at targets in the long shed. They're using Clint's straw bales to back up the targets but he's not supposed to know that. Don't tell him. 

It must be great being a boy. All the fun they can still have in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond. I hope they are still at it in their seventies, eighties and nineties. 

I didn't have a bad weekend myself as we had Martha and Evie for a sleepover. We debated takeaway on Saturday night but decided on Granny's home-cooked tacos and salad. I'm getting better at Tex-Mex thanks to Martha's constructive advice. Her only beef this time was that there should have been tortilla chips and sour cream.

Afterwards, we watched back to back animated films, The Willoughbys and Hotel Transylvania. I enjoyed both but it was having the girls that made it fun. I can't imagine watching those films without grandchildren. 

When the second film was over I said, 

Expect you're tired. I know I am.

And Evie said,

But it's only eleven o'clock.

Nevertheless, they were both sleeping moments after climbing into bed. So was I.

No photographs this weekend but here's one I took earlier. About eight years earlier.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Playing for Dogs


Evie sets up the cello for practice. Luckily our dogs are fond of music. 

Jess settles down behind Evie, Judy dozes in the chair next to her. That is Judy's favourite chair. Ten pounds from the charity shop that raises funds to educate (indoctrinate) children in Kenya. I should take it out and burn it except the environment, and Judy. Evie calmly continues with her set-piece. The cello is very easy to listen to. Posie looks like she is ready for mischief.

Here comes Martha, on a mission (not the indoctrination of African youth). She is looking for Posie who needs some outdoor exercise.

Maya and Rex would like some outdoor exercise too.

Evie continues to play while Posie is fastened into her harness. Posie is not (yet) a music fan.

Off you go Posie. Bert will play you the clarinet later while you bark in time and finish on a high-pitched puppy yowl. You will learn to enjoy music in time.

Saturday, October 02, 2021


Tuesday night is Bert’s music night at Les’ house (Thursday is Les’ music night at our house) and Bert will often come home with something edible as Les and Dawn love to cook. Last Tuesday it was half a loaf of fresh-baked bed and a few cubes of the fresh yeast he’d used to bake it. The bread was really delicious.

This fresh yeast had to be tried. The recipe was a farmhouse cob (found on the side of the flour packet.) The yeast was crumbled into warmish milk, added to the dry ingredients, given 20 minutes with the Kenwood and dough hook attachment and left to rise in the bowl for several hours.

Now it was time to turn on the oven. Nothing happened! I checked the fuse box, everything was fine there. Bert checked the fuse in the switch, replaced it, still no joy. Then the phone rang. It was our friend the master engineer asking if he might call round. I was delighted. Great timing, I informed him, our oven just stopped working.

Meanwhile, I headed up to the attic where I found a little mini-oven that had come with the shepherd’s hut. I’d never used it but now was the time to try it out. If it worked, great – and if it didn’t we could feed the bread to the pigs.

The first thing the master engineer said when he entered the house was,

Where’s this oven?

And he was straight at it. Ruled out a few obvious issues and decided it was all going wrong at the back of the oven. There was a burnt-out wire and he had it all safe and sorted in less than ten minutes. I was so pleased and delighted with him that I believe Bert was jealous.

And what of the farmhouse cob in the mini-oven? Baked to perfection and tasted very good. Not quite as good as Les’ loaf but decent enough. I had it for breakfast the next morning, toasted, buttered and spread with homemade marmalade. When Bert got up I mentioned again how great it was that our friend the master engineer had fixed the oven. He said,

Y’know, I would have worked it out eventually and fixed it myself.

And I said,

I know.


Monday, September 27, 2021

Better Late Than Never

Monday is the day when Zoe tends to her vegetable garden and I make supper for everyone. When Martha was old enough to appreciate birthday celebrations I'd make a cake on the Monday closest to a birthday. It's lucky that none of our birthdays fall in the winter months as that's when Zoe takes a break from gardening.

Martha's birthday supper should have been two weeks ago but then they all got Covid-19 and had to isolate. Luckily Zoe was symptomless so could continue working. She can do her job from home so that wasn't a problem. Today was her first day back at the plot and Marthas delayed birthday celebration. She asked for enchiladas and Chocolate Guinness cake (Nigella recipe) and I obliged. No expense was spared with just one exception - I recycled the extra-long candles from Robin's cake. (Dougie's Goodies, delicious.)

Evie's birthday is next. Thank goodness Martha was quick about blowing out those candles. We'll get another turn out of them yet.



Saturday, September 25, 2021


My oldest friend just turned seventy. My youngest brother is not a kick in the arse of sixty, my oldest granddaughter has started grammar school, I'm down to three aunts, only one uncle and my toyboy husband is thinking of investing in new knees. Even my pets, pigs, dogs, cats and chickens are all ancient. Seems like Nelly is in the Autumn of her years.

But who cares! I've always loved Autumn, apart from it not lasting nearly long enough. Oops!

When I first met the Wee Manny, in Dublin, some time in the mid-seventies. 

Happy 70th birthday, Robin. I never thought you'd see it.

And an account of a long-ago adventure in which the comments have the makings of a soap opera. Well worth a read. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Panic Attack

Curtains were not my priority when we first moved to Springhill. Then Pearlie fell and broke her hip and for some reason, not wishful thinking, I convinced myself she was likely to die. And what happens when there is a death in the family? The curtains must be drawn closed. And we had none to close. In a panic, I rushed off to Dunelm Mill and bought four sets of floor-length curtains for the front of the house. Never mind, that no one would ever see them because we live up a lane on a rural road. Which was why I hadn’t actually bothered with curtains before.

Happily, Pearlie survived her fall and lived another six years. And when she did die the curtains weren’t drawn closed because who’d see them anyway?

There were two pairs, one cream coloured and one rusty red. Thirteen years later and they are still on the go. They are used in one room only, my private, secret sitting room. The red curtains are hung in autumn and winter and the lighter ones are for the warmer months.

So there I was today, standing and stretching on a step-stool, hanging the cream curtains (I’m a bit out of synch this year) when I felt dizzy, slightly short of breath, and with a tiny niggle in my throat. You may imagine what my first thought was. Especially as, only minutes earlier I’d given a couple of dry coughs. Immediately I started to panic. Corona! Maybe I hadn’t been as careful as I thought when going into town to walk the children’s puppy. Or maybe I'd picked up the virus somewhere else. For about twenty minutes I was up to high doh, wondering if I should get tested, then eventually all my ‘symptoms’ subsided and I felt normal again.

Funnily enough, as I type this, the panicky feeling is coming back. How I wish we could return to that carefree just vaccinated time when we thought our worries were almost over. Oh well. At least I have curtains, even if they are thirteen years old.

More posts about curtains.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Happy Birthday

Twelve Years Ago

Today was always going to be a busy day. We'd planned to go visit, with a view to procuring, kune kune pigs. Later we'd be going to the Wee Manny's for a surprise birthday party.

What I didn't expect was hearing from Dave that Zoe has been safely delivered of a daughter, our first grandchild. She was a week earlier than expected - the impatient little thing!

So now I must go and wash the smell of pig from my person and get myself ready to visit Zoe, Dave and daughter.


Twelve years later and Miss Martha has just started secondary school. Unfortunately, she has just missed a week's schooling due to testing positive for Covid 19 along with everyone else in her family. She wasn't too badly affected and will be back to her lessons tomorrow. Today, her birthday, was the first day she was able to leave the house. Apparently, the best thing about being in isolation was getting to watch all eight Harry Potter films again.

Evie, seen here peeking from behind the birthday girl, went back to school on Friday. She was the first to test positive and the first out of quarantine.  

I've missed our routines and am hoping that we will all be back to some sort of normality by next week. Martha has already made sure that the traditional Monday birthday meal at our house will still take place, albeit two weeks later. It's to be some sort of sour cream chocolate cake and enchiladas. We'll work out the details on Thursday. I may have to buy some more birthday candles* for I don't think I've got twelve decent-sized ones.

*I re-use birthday candles until they are about 45 mm. Shorter than that, they look really daft. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Rare Bird

It was dusk when I remembered that the polytunnel seepers were still running. Ground mist was rising in the field next to the tunnel. Taps off, I stopped to look and saw a hare, moving fast and close to the edge of the wood. It heard my noise and stopped still. I watched it until it moved and disappeared into the trees. A lovely moment.

Earlier today I came across a picture of a bird that I could not identify, not even with the help of Collins Birds of Britain and Europe.

Checked the photo info. It was taken in Norfolk, October 2017. Looked like a wader. Where was I that day? Wells-next-the-Sea watching curlews? 

Completely stumped I turned to social media and contacted my most bird-savvy Facebook friend and previously my A-Level. English teacher, Brian. He was quick to identify my long-legged friend as a black-winged stilt (juvenile). I was very impressed. He'd only ever seen them in Lanzarote so it appeared to have been a rare sighting. But I was doubting myself, not even completely convinced that the photograph was actually mine. (it was). I investigated further and found that the black-winged stilt had been photographed at Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham, which is practically beside where Katy lives. Not a rare sighting at all, just like if I went to Belfast and told everyone I'd spotted sun bears and meerkats without mentioning it was at the zoo. 

Perhaps you will be thinking that my English teacher, bird expert, Facebook friend must be very ancient indeed. Actually, he isn't for I was a very mature student and am older by a few years.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Walking The Dog

No family for dinner today. Instead, I delivered dinner to the door and took the pup for a walk. They are all isolating and the wee dog goes boogaloo if she doesn't get her walk.

Posie the pup. Photographed by Martha.

Another picture from a few years ago. The pre-Covid days. Who would have thought that there was going to be a pandemic and that these two little ones (and their parents) would all be affected? Answer to that question. Epidemiologists thought it might be likely.

So far, they're all well. As soon as the youngest gets her sense of taste and smell back I'm buying her everything she wants. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Eight Things That Happened Today

 It's only just gone 6pm so who knows what I might still do before this day draws to a close but anyway, it's Saturday night and I this thing needs to be put to bed.

1. Got up at sparrow's first fart, drew jeans over a voluminous Victorian-style nightdress, put a coat on, a mask, dragged a comb through my snowy mane and headed to the New Garage to buy a paper. This is not the experience it once was. No Darwin to have the craic with, just a soulless trek to the newspaper stand, then off to the self-service till, five pounds in, thirty bob out, no human contact whatsoever. It does have its charms.

2. Back to bed with coffee and the news. A ponder on my early morning dream which was all about the day before my return to university as a (very) mature student. I had two essays to write but partied instead. 

3. I'm up again and Ben emerges before I complete my 30-minute chore blitz. We chat about the previous night when we entertained ourselves YouTubing on everyone from Willie Drennan to Robert Plant and Tricia Moriarty ft. Naoise Casenove. Ben was very impressed with Tricia's music and I was unimpressed with the mullet Plant sported in his Big Log days.

4. Bert's up now and after a small breakfast, they head to the long shed to play with Bert's new air rifle. Apart from the clarinet, that's all Bert has done this week, playing with guns and bows and arrows with various of his friends aged from twenties to sixties. Adulting is over-rated.

5. Ben's girlfriend arrives then the Banjos. Jazzer is staying Marty is not. 

6. Jazzer and I inspect the meadow. It does look rather boring. Creeping buttercup making an appearance, a few docken plants coming to the fore. I scattered corn marigold seeds  around the edges. Just one patch taking hold will make me happy. I still haven't sowed the yellow rattle.

7. Jazzer has made a chilli. She has omitted beans, says she does not like them.

8. We have had the annual (?) reappraisal of our connection. There is a lot of birthday wine and chocolate. All is well.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Trawling the Archives Again

Last night Bert was trying to work out how long we've been living in our present house. He says,

I'm sure it must be thirteen years now.

And I say, 

I think it has to be more than that. We moved house not long after I began blogging and I've had Nelly's Garden much longer than thirteen years.

I do tend to use this blog as an aide-memoire, and God knows, I need one of those. I checked it out. Found out that come next month we will have been living at Springhill for sixteen years. I also realised that once again I'd missed Nelly's Garden's anniversary. Yes, folks, Nelly has been cultivating this particular Garden for seventeen long years. Of course, we all know by now that personal blogs are kind of over. It's all Twitter and Instagram now for the oldsters and Snapchat and TikTok for the youngsters but I don't care. I have a blog that's gearing up to do its 'A' levels and will soon be heading off to Uni. And if I get the chance I'll do it for another seventeen years.

Another thing I checked out while I was trawling the archives was mentions of parties and wild times. I'd assured the Wee Manny on Tuesday that I never blogged about the mad shenanigans he and we got up to back when we were young striplings in our fifties. I believed I was telling the truth. Well, turns out I wasn't and there are lots of accounts of those crazy nights. But no photographs. Glad to see I had some shreds of sense and decency.

I'll just throw this one in there. Some of the musicians (Bert is the one with the clarinet) that played at my birthday party eight years ago. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Garden Safari

There was a time when if I took a photograph of a flower and there was an insect on it I considered the picture to be marred. What was I even thinking about then? For pollinators make a flower picture. They are meant to be together. Take today. I was sitting on the step with my phone in my hand and decided to take a photograph of this bindweed bloom at my side. Just as I pressed the button this flew in.

One of the hoverflies. Just look at its delicate wings, and the elegant markings. The shot is greatly enhanced by its presence.

As the evening wore on I wandered over to see who was feeding on Bert's unsold buddleias. It was mostly small tortoiseshell and a few peacocks. The small tortoiseshells are doing really well this year. 

As I was taking pictures a small green fly landed on camera. Way to avoid having its image recorded. I watched it for a time then transferred it to a buddleia leaf and got my shot.

It's a beauty but it does have a dark side.

The common green bottle fly, Lucilia sericata (Meigen), formerly Phaenicia sericata, is a common visitor to carrion, feces, and garbage. Lucilia sericata, is also one of the most common species in the genus (Whitworth 2006). This blow fly is a member of the family Calliphoridae, and like many of the other blow flies, L. sericata plays an important role in forensic, medical and veterinary science. In forensic science, the larvae or maggots help to determine the period of insect colonization as it relates to the time of death, aiding law enforcement in their investigations.

An insect yet to be identified, feeding on corn marigolds.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Tuesday Catch-Up

I had an unexpected day off from cooking for the family yesterday. The call came just as I was popping the meat and vegetables into the slow cooker. So we have a rather large Chilli-con-Carne to polish off this week. The reason for the cancellation was one of the children in my grandchild's school class had been in contact with a positive Covid-19 case which is rather unfortunate as the entire class has been sent home, not to return until they have each had a negative test result.

I also heard about four members of the same family, all strong evangelists, who are out at services all day Sunday singing and praising the Lord. No masks are necessary as God will protect them. All four were hospitalised, one is still in intensive care and one has died. 


I'm slowly working my way through Modern Nature by Derek Jarman as I wanted to read about his garden. But it's about much more than the garden, describing his work, relationships and his illness. Jarman could be harsh about people he didn't like and I was struck with his comments on the journalist Julie Burchill who he described as 'ugly', 'po-faced', false and homophobic. I enjoyed Burchill when I was young but I'm not much of a fan these days. 

So I wondered what Ms Burchill had to say about Derek Jarman and, as always, the internet obliged.

Julie opined that visual artists just cannot write (making an exception for Tracy Emin). She herself, wouldn't dream of 'downing the typewriter' to make 'a daubing' and she goes on to sneer mightily at Jarman's literary output. Ah well. She is a critic after all and is absolutely entitled to her opinions. Maybe Jarman's writing is a tad on the clunky side and there is no doubt that Ms Burchill does have a flair with words but, guess what? I'd far rather read Jarman's honest words than anything by Burchill.



Gloriously warm and balmy day. We had visitors, very old friends and it was great to see them. There was much conversation about our young days and all the crazy gatherings we had and it seems that even though I despair of my memory I have better recall than anyone. 



Sunday, September 05, 2021

A Nice Afternoon In Town

 Bert and I went to town yesterday to shop for my birthday present. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

It was anything but. The town was horrible, far too many people, too much traffic. I got him to drop me off outside Sammy Moore's in Ballymoney Street. 

You'll never get parked close enough. Just do the circle and I'll be waiting for you outside.

I was in and out in five minutes. The service in Moore's is the best in town. I stood there with my very big package and waited for Bert to come round. And waited. And waited. 

Ten minutes later he appeared. I got the box in the back of the van and jumped in. 

What happened? I thought you'd be here before now.

Why didn't you have your phone?

I didn't think I'd need it. Why?

I found a really great parking space and phoned to let you know. 

Why didn't you just keep to the plan?

This is not an unusual thing for Bert to do. We make an arrangement and then he goes off-piste.

Anyway, he kept going on and on about me not having my phone and I pointed out that expecting me to lug a huge box to wherever it was he'd parked wasn't on. And the whole thing turned into a row with me doing all the yelling. Saturday afternoons in Ballymena can be so stressful.

So, what did Bert buy me for my birthday?

A carpet cleaner. Come Christmas he's going to buy me a carpet.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Sowing Yellow Rattle


Before I went to Norfolk I harvested yellow rattle seed from the meadow, The plants, hand sowed last year had grown well as I got a good yield of seed with plenty left to self-sow.

This little triangular scrap of a field has always been called The Meadow. Our place is on the left of the picture, the field on the other side of the road is also part of our farm while the ground adjoining the meadow is not. A stream runs by the side of it. The wooded area is where Zoe grows willow for basket making and other projects. It is our dream to make this little place live up to its name.

Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) is an annual, completing its life cycle in one year. In early spring the seeds germinate and grow quickly. As their roots develop underground they seek out the roots of plants growing nearby, especially grasses. Once contact is made the yellow rattle draws water and nutrients from them, suppressing the growth of grasses by as much as 60%. In the resulting space, other flowers have room to grow.

The meadow in June. There is still a lot of ryegrass coming through. Clint kept it far too well fertilised when he had the run of it. Hopefully, the rattle will diminish the ryegrass vitality.

It's July and the rattle is flowering. 

So, this day - I sowed more yellow rattle in the patch outside my window and tomorrow I will go into the meadow and disperse the remainder.  I'll use my metal hoe to scrape the ground. Clint cut and lifted last week so the field will be in good order for sowing. When the corn marigolds and cornflower set seed I'll sow them around the edges of the field but what I really want to see are the seeds that lie dormant coming forth. I want cuckoo flowers (cardamine pratensis) more than anything, and orange-tip butterflies. Just like there were in Paddy's Field fifty years ago. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Ten Things I Did Today


1. Got up ridiculously early thanks to Big Fat Fred who has worked out that if he races up and down the attic stairs, scratches all the bedroom doors and mee-yows piteously, that I will then rise raging and shouty from my bed to feed him/let him out and that he, caring not a damn about my noise and fury, gets everything he wants.

2. Returned to bed with coffee and finished  Muriel Spark: The Complete Short Stories which was mostly wonderful. I'd read lots of them before but it was a long time ago and I'd forgotten. Also, some things read in one's teens and twenties aren't properly appreciated. This is great because then they can be re-read and relished in one's later years. If this offends younger readers, too bad, you'll realise I'm right some time in the future. 

3. Checked the moth trap. Realised that I love beetles as much as moths and butterflies.

I believe this one is Nicrophorus Investigator. It eats dead things which makes it very useful.

4. Went to town with the aim of perusing the charity shops for something new to wear. The only pretty things I found would have pleased Miss Emily more than her Granny. Returned with four plates and two books.

5. Sorted seeds and sowed wallflowers and Sweet William - far too late but why not? They are seeding themselves at this time of the year anyway.

6. Received the illegal garlic cloves I ordered from eBay. They look alright. 

7. Ripped asunder my horribly rootbound monstera deliciosa, took cuttings and may well end up with eight new monsters. At least I can now sit on the upstairs bog without being smothered in big holey leaves.

8. Helped Bert make a pizza. All he did was top it and put it in the oven. OK, he picked and cooked beans and served too.

9. Watched the first episode of Vigil and liked it. Suranne Jones is incredibly real and beautiful. No wonder all the girls think she's so fine.

10. Remembered I hadn't closed in the hens. Did that thing, gazed at the stars and peed outside. Goodnight.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021


The picture bears no relevance to what I am about to post. It is here because I like it. The post is about people I know. I've changed all their names.

Bert had a haircut today, his first in a very long time. The little trim I gave him a while back doesn't really count as he was still able to put his hair in a ponytail. He looked very sensible afterwards which makes sense as his hairdresser, a fan of long tresses in men, asked him if he was sure. He said he was. And how did he want it? And he said,

Good sensible oul boy hair.

We were chatting afterwards and he told me the hairdresser is an anti-vaxxer,


She said it hasn't been properly tested. She doesn't trust it.

What about Hubby?

He's against it too. As is their son. We do seem to know a lot of people who haven't had the jab.

Do we? I suppose there's Ford. He's a bit of a libertarian.

Stan and his lad are refuseniks.And Eric is dead against it.

Paul hasn't had it but then he can't organise anything for himself. Even when his ma arranges appointments for him, he forgets or sleeps in.

Young Lothario says he doesn't trust it but I think it's because he's afraid to go out of the house.

And Robby says they are injecting tracking devices into us. 

The Super Marios aren't having it. Giovanni has done his research, says it's dangerous.

His arse! Thirty minutes on his smartphone is all the research he'll have carried out!

So, how many is that? 

About twelve. What are the stats on unvaccinated adults in Northern Ireland?

Slightly over sixty per cent fully vaccinated. Lower than the rest of the UK.

So, if that lot represent forty percent of all the people we know then we only know thirty people. Looks like our friends and acquaintances are mostly sensible folks.

Did anyone notice that all but one of the aforementioned doubtful are male?

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Elephant Hawk-Moth

Found by Bert today in the middle of the yard. We're not sure where it was heading. The willowherb is not as fresh as it was so we placed him in a fuchsia bush. We might meet again next year when this happens.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Hear Me Roar

When we were young and all living at home there would often be shouting matches. Our mother was affronted at us and would say,

They'll hear you at the line!

The 'line' was the road between Antrim and Ballymena but it wasn't passing motorists she was thinking about, it was all the relatives that lived at the public house on the line that she was worried about. For some reason, she did not want Granny, Aunts Mary and Bernie and Uncles Shaun and Kevin to know that she was rearing a crowd of wild, unruly children. 

So yelling and shouting was a big no-no in our house as were the wearing of trousers by girls and/or female whistling. 

Every time you whistle, you make Our Lady cry.

Is it any wonder that I grew up loth to be anything other than gently spoken in public places? 

That has been changing recently and I'm feeling so much better about it.

It all started in Cambridge. I disembarked from the King's Lynn train with only a few minutes to spare to change for the airport train. But I misread the platform information and headed over the bridge to the other platforms. It wasn't easy as my case was very heavy, it being full of all the handmade baby clothes I'd been instructed to share with new and expected family members so I arrived on the other platform, slightly out of breath and, to reassure myself, enquired of a guard if I was on the correct platform and then he said,

The Stansted train is on platform 1, it's over the bridge, and it's just about to leave.

I turned on my heel, dragged the heavy case up the iron steps, over the bridge, down the other side. There was the train and the doors were closed. I pressed the button, doors opened. I didn't dare step inside in case it was the wrong train. Instead, I roared through the open door,


And a young woman replied mildly.


I jumped on. It was at least ten minutes before my heart rate returned to normal.

There was another roaring incident yesterday. Martha and I were sitting at a window seat in Middletown enjoying a coffee and cinnamon rolls and people watching when I leapt from my seat, ran out the door, picked up two tenners from the pavement and yelled at the young man carrying a baby who had just dropped the money from his pocket.


He stopped and I gave him the money. He thanked me. I'm sure he thought me slightly mad and I did not care. It was more about me than him. For I got to move fast, do a good deed and I got to ROAR. It felt so good.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Garlic Tears and Shiny Bales


This was a crop from a previous year. It wasn't so good this year even though I started with fresh cloves. Normally I'd have covered the beds with fallen autumn leaves to keep weeds down, last year I didn't bother. Mistake. So here I am with a poor crop and am unable to buy new bulbs from GB because of the protocol. I did (whisper it) chance eBay. The sellers on there don't do paperwork but I'll not be counting garlic cloves until they're hatched. They might be crap.

Today I'm going to look back to my recent visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk. It was just Katy and myself, James and Emily. James was supercharged that day. He loves everything about Pensthorpe and never stopped running. The water, the birds, the play park, the water, the gift shop. the water - he was soaking at the end but there was a change of clothes so no problem. I didn't buy anything in the gift shop, too busy minding the children while Katy had a look around. The books looked interesting though. It was good to see our own Dara McAnulty in fine company.

The hay was lifted from the meadow today, and it's all bare and scraped back and ready for next year. I might scatter a bit more yellow rattle seed near the stream and I am considering starting some patches of corn marigold at the sunniest edges. But mostly I am hoping to see what the seedbed will bring forth. Exciting times. No pictures though as there are four big shiny black bales plonked in it. And I thought it was to be baled the old-fashioned way. Embarrassing.