What a Surprise

On my way to Dublin I regularly stop to stretch my legs at The Outlet Village, Banbridge.  Crescent shaped in two rows, it allows patrons to walk a wide open air pathway between the stores. Like all cities, towns and shopping malls, there are the marks of recession with shops closing. This particular outlet, dressed the windows of these empty units, taking away that depressing look.

Several units were used for other purposes to draw in the crowds.

On 10 July, I stopped for my usual walk, a coffee and a freshen up.

It was with fascination and delight that I discovered The Big Brick Exhibition in Unit 27.

Every item on display was pieced together at the hands of one young man: 25 year old Michael Finan of Banbridge, Northern Ireland.

A Collection of Lego Models, which he began at 5 years of age.

Ole Kirk's House 910 pieces

Ole Kirk’s House 910 pieces

Old Kirk’s House, was not normally on sale to the public. It was a gift for employees at Lego, but Michael was fortunate to purchase it on eBay.

I attempted to make a spur of the moment video on my phone. Alas I used portrait instead of landscape mode and it picked up all the background noise, which I am not clever enough to filter. A gallery of photos will have to suffice.

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In 1999, a Christmas gift from an aunt & uncle set him on the pathway of Puzz 3D jigsaws. Their gift: a 1438 piece 3D jigsaw of Big Ben. Feeling daunted be began with the smaller Normandy House, a mere 225 pieces. It was enough, Michael was hooked! At this stage, he has built most of the Puzz 3D jigsaws that have been produced to date.

Here is a small selection:

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The exhibition will be open to the public during business hours until 27th August 2014.

 UPDATE: I forgot the most difficult Lego model of all to make…

Voda_R202_Darth MaulDarth Maul was the most difficult to build and Michael told me it fell over at one stage during the building, so he began all over again – all 1,868 pieces. R2D2 had 2,127 pieces, but Yoda (if memory serves me correctly) had a massive 3,075!

 

Thursday Special ~ Help.

A man is in bed with his wife when they hear a rat-a-tat-tat on the door.

He rolls over and looks at the clock – it’s half past three in the morning. “I’m not getting out of bed at this time”, he thinks, and rolls over.

Then a louder knock follows.

“Aren’t you going to answer that?” asks his wife.

So he drags himself out of bed and goes downstairs. He opens the door to see a man standing there. It doesn’t take him long to realise the man is drunk.

“Hi there”, slurs the stranger. “Can you give me a push?”

“No, get lost. It’s half past three. I was in bed,” says the man and slams the door. He goes back up to bed and tells his wife what happened.

“Dave, that wasn’t very nice of you. Remember that night we broke down in the pouring rain on the way to collect the kids from the babysitter and you had to knock on that man’s door? What would have happened if he’d told us to get lost?”

“But the guy was drunk,” says the husband.

“It doesn’t matter,” says the wife. “Go downstairs and help him.”

So the husband gets dressed and goes down to help him. He opens the door, and not being able to see the stranger anywhere he shouts,
“HEY, DO YOU STILL WANT A PUSH?”
He hears a voice cry out, “Yeah, please.”

Still unable to see the stranger he shouts, “WHERE ARE YOU?” and the stranger replies…..

“Over here on your swing!”

♦ 

♦ 

This week I have Liz to thank for this rib tickler!

Meet Hedley

Fifteen days ago I shared a mysterious knitting project that I had started on cocktail sticks. It looked like this:

Cocktail knitting_3

Cocktail knitting_3

 

It changed shape and grew:

Cocktail knitting stage two

Cocktail knitting stage two

Finally the finished article….

Hedley Hedgehog

Hedley Hedgehog

Meet Hedley Hedgehog

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Missing in action.

Well almost.

I arrived in Dublin on 10 July, for a few days of Buffy sitting. It was more a case of Buffy playing and walking, and me being the ‘fetcher and carrier’ for Elly following her fall. George was away.

She had damaged two ligaments in her foot, earlier in the week and was hobbling about on a crutch. I think she was ‘hobbling more than she should and not spending sufficient time with the leg elevated. Elly is very like her late dad. In his eyes he was never ill, so he kept on his feet and active if at all possible.

She has learned the hard way, to listen to the pain warning, and rest the leg where possible. Thankfully she is able to carry on working from home.

On Saturday Morning we got word of a death in the extended family.

I am not often available to attend family funerals. But this time I joined my eldest brother, who offered to do the driving, (a 300+ mile round trip) and my sister and headed off from Dublin at 7am. on Sunday morning, to bid farewell to one of our cousins, all the way over in County Clare, at the mouth of the Shannon.

Kildysart Graveyard

Kildysart Graveyard

Once the funeral was over, we paid respects at the graves of our paternal grandparents, and three of our aunts.

Family Graves within the walls of the old church in  Kildysart.

Family Graves within the walls of the old church in Kildysart.

Then we joined the living for a meal and a catch up on all our news. We shared anecdotes and stories about the departed and news of other family members scattered across the globe.

I returned to Elly’s for a few more days, and since George would be about, I moved to stay with my sister on Tuesday.

I teased Eileen, that we had visited ‘the dead’ on one side of the family, and perhaps it was time we paid homage the maternal side. The days of deep mourning garb and widow’s weeds, have now thankfully almost disappeared. The old keening wakes with hushed whispers are now a thing of the past These days in death, we celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us with a more cheerful remembrance and plenty of laughter. It is the way it should be.

The suggested visit was really an excuse to visit the revamped Glasnevin Cemetery& Museum. In my young days, Glasnevin or as the Dubs called it ‘The dead centre of Dublin’, was a dark and dreary place. It seemed all overgrown and shrouded in tall trees and would send shivers down my spine. The place we visited on Wednesday seemed a world apart from those memories. Check out the link above. It is well worth a visit.

Glasnevin Cemetery is adjacent to and now accessible from The National Botanic Gardens.  Both have busy coffee shops, though the latter has a wider selection for a more substantial meal.
We had morning coffee in one and lunch at the other. We roamed so long that one of the grounds men that we had met several times on our travels through the graveyard, actually stopped his little van to say “Are you still here”? Later we wondered if he sent out a search party for us before the gates were locked for the night!

I unfortunately somewhere along the line of my travels, contracted a bug, that swept away my energy, leaving my legs like jelly. I have no interest in reading or writing blog posts and each time I opened the laptop it was only for about five minutes.

Thankfully the bug neither affected my tongue (for chatting) or my hands, so I kept myself busy. I finished the mysterious ‘cocktail stick’ project and decorated a hat. I’ll post the photos during the week….. when I have energy to sort them.

Worry not, I am being well looked after and not allowed home until Nurses Hitler -Mark one and Two give me the go ahead!

I am responding to good care and improving with every day.

Thursday Special ~ Oops!

 

A young executive was leaving the office at 6 pm when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in hand.

“Listen,” said the CEO, “this is important, and my secretary has left. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

#

Thanks Frank, for the chuckle!

Thursday Special ~ Shorties

A body was found in the back of an ice-cream van; it was covered in hundreds and thousands so the police think he may have topped himself.

Did you hear about the fight in the biscuit tin? The bandit hit the penguin over the head with a club, tied him to a wagon wheel with a blue ribbon and made his breakaway in a taxi! *

2 bags of crisps are walking down the road on a windy and rainy night. A police car pulls up beside them and the policeman asks, “Do you want a lift?” They both reply “Sorry mate but we’re Walkers!”

A man goes to see his doctor because he’s having trouble with his hearing. “What are the symptoms?” asks the doctor. “They’re a yellow cartoon family,” says the man.

♥ 

♥ 

This week I have Noreen to think for these Shorties, especially for No. 2 all Chocolate Bars from my childhood.*

Needles & pins

I found a pattern that I fancied. It would help lower my yarn mountain.

The item I chose was worked in one piece, using two yarns and two different sizes of double ended needles.

I needed to work out the pattern. My double ended needles are fine and 30 cms long. Remember I am practising this new pattern…

I have my needles, the yarn and the printed pattern with the picture of what I am trying to achieve…. It has no seams, in other words worked in the round.

It begins:

Using double ended needles, cast on six stitches. There is a reminder to keep all the stitches right way up. So that sounds like I should have two stitches on each of three double ended needles, with the fourth waiting to begin working the next row.

Row one: Knit.

Al-right, go ahead and laugh. Long arms. Long needles. Six stitches. I felt like I was back in Primary school learning to knit all over again. I was trying to knit in the round and it was proving ridiculous. The shops were closed, so there was no point in going out to purchase a shorter set.

Feelings of frustration were hovering about, so I decided to down the needles and make a cup of coffee. Having something to nibble on, always helped with the thinking… so I opened the pantry door.

Bingo!

I found an answer, even if only temporary.

A tube of cocktail sticks!

Stop laughing, you will make yourself sick. If my brother taught himself to knit (as I struggled) with two wooden skewers from the butchers, and a ball of twine, then I can do it with cocktail sticks!

I filed down the sharp points when coffee time was over and went back to work. It helped, but as Fagin sang…

I think I’d better thing it out again!

UPDATE 22:50 hrs

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Knitting with cocktail sticks. The little red item is a stitch marker, only there to give you an idea of size. At this stage there are 36 stitches in total, spread over three needles

Not perfect, but I know where I am going!

Eggs

Every now and then it’s good to pause
in your pursuit of happiness, 
look around,
and simply be happy for what you already have in your life.

What am I happy for right now?

Memories.

A friend of mine, over the sea and far away, posted an item on the book of face. She had a glut of fresh free range eggs and offered them to any of her friends. I was sitting down at the laptop for a rest when I saw her offer. I had come in from the garden after an hour of bentoverdoubleweeding, in my efforts to clear the wilderness that surrounds me. Hunger was tapping at my door and thoughts were turning to what I would have for my tea.

Boiled eggs.

I could see them with the tops lifted off, the whites nicely set and the yolks a deep rich runny orangey yellow about to spill out and down the side of the eggcups. Slim crisp soldiers in formation around the plate ready to be dunked Now nobody mention that udder stuff or you will spoil my meal and the illusion. Butter never melts in my mouth. Ugh! The very thought of it sends shivers down my spine.

So I pick up the phone and surprise my friend by asking if she will send me a half dozen eggs.

I could hear her and almost see her falling about her house with the laughter while wondering how she could send a half dozen fresh speckled hen eggs all the way over the sea in time for my tea!

She did actually ask that question when the laughter allowed her.

So I told her a story – a true story:

Auntie Nancy, a sister of my father, would be 104 if she was around today. She spent many years as a widow in the wilds of Co Clare. She reared hens & geese.

On regular occasions a sturdy brown postage box with the word Eggs printed on it in very large font, arrived with our post/mail. It was a made for the purpose box sold at the rural Post Office. Inside were two egg trays, and enough space for two dozen eggs. Nancy addressed the box to mammy, affixed the stamps and handed the parcel, tied with string, to the Post office attendant. Two days later our local postman delivered it to us. All eggs were intact, each one wrapped in newspaper to fill the space and protect them from moving about. Once the box was empty, mammy wrapped it in brown paper, addressed the parcel to my aunt and posted the box back. Those eggs were wonderful and way fresher than any you would buy in the shops today!

When Nancy came to Dublin it was usually for the day and involved a trip to Clerys Department Store. There she bought a complete new outfit – from the skin out. The parcels were taken to the “Ladies” where she changed into the finery, put the old clothes in the bin, before heading out to catch a bus to our house.

She always carried a leather shopping bag on these visits. It contained at least two or three-dozen eggs complete with half the hen run on them! These had been collected just before she set out on the journey. In the bag, or should I say half in the bag were two chickens. The head and necks hung out over each side while the bodies & legs complete with claws rested in the bag. Their necks had been wrung in the morning and there would be a trail of blood dripping all the way from Ennis to our house! These hens came complete with feathers and innards. Nancy’s arrival on the avenue was announced by her laughter, which was loud and infectious.

One year when we were young, mammy was ill and in hospital. Auntie Nancy was looking after us. She cooked, fed us and generally looked after us. Brother No 4 who was aged three and the baby of the family at that time, pined for mammy and refused to eat. He refused to come to the table at meal times so Nancy sat on the stairs and fed him chocolate biscuits. They were the only food he would eat for her. Her idea was that he was at least eating something.

Nancy’s daughter Mary married in Worcester, England when I was 15. Dan my father, gave her away and I was bridesmaid. We flew to Birmingham with Nancy for the wedding. It was Nancy’s first time to fly. Being the month of February the weather was rough. We hit a few air pockets and each time Nancy shouted out “Christ, we’re sinking!” and opened a small bottle and shook ‘holy water’ on herself and everyone round about us. Daddy of course was several rows away and pretending not to know us. She shouted out to him “Dan we’re sinking! Do you want some holy water? Here come and get it!

We loved to see Auntie Nancy, she was full of fun and laughter. When daddy was taking her to the train in the evenings, we all asked to go with him, wanting to extend the days of fun a little longer.