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.


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!


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?


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.

The End is never the End ~ Part 10

Part 10

Probate was finally completed. Alice & Morgan met with the bank manager, the account was updated and changed over to both of their names. He supplied them with up to date statements.  They now had the clearance to begin work on the estate. The bank manager repeated the suggestion made by the solicitor, to have the partnership confirmed within the law and on paper. He also urged them to update their wills.

Another visit to the solicitor was organised.

The insulation was updated on the home and workshop houses, fire and intruder alarms fitted and the insurance updated. It was now time to put them on the market.

The stable houses were updated and decorated. Beds were ordered and other furniture was expected to be delivered before the end of the week. The day had been spent in town shopping for statement pieces, bed linen, and some nick knacks for Lovell’s room.

“Lovell, you have shiny object syndrome.” teased Morgan, as he counted off all the trinkets she had picked for her room. “Your room will be fit for a princess!”

Lovell smiled. A new bed for Crumbs was first on her list and even that had a glitzy look. Never mind that Crumbs always looked like she had been pulled through a hedge backways. Even five minutes after grooming her coat was a wild mass of tangles. Lovell knew exactly where this new bed would be placed: right under the window of her bedroom, with a water dish to go in the corner.

It was good to see the excitement and sparkle in Lovell’s eyes. This move would be good for her.  Morgan had high hopes of teaching her some task, so that she could play her part in the enterprise and earn a few bob, to give her a feeling of independence and spending money to boot.

It was now a toss up between ‘Clock Tower House’ & ‘Hour House’ as the permanent name for Thudder house. The clock had the once over and ‘the Convent Bell’ could be heard clearly within and without the building. It had a musical tone that was easy on the ear.

The waiting weeks before the probate was completed, were spent in thinking, planning and quizzing Mr Yeeeeeoooo on how best to tackle the various ideas they came up with. They had grown fond of the tea drinker, and he them, he proved his worth when it came to cataloguing the library books, the art work, furniture and silver. He knew who to contact about the cleaning and storing of all the objects while work was carried on to the main building.

They had decided to retain his services to oversee a sensitive restoration programme of the house, he had the experience with old properties and was well able to suggest cost-effective and well-designed solutions to any problems the survey had shown up so far. He had come to love the old place and almost nurtured it like a child. He had contacts in every field of the work required. They also asked him to design and prepare the plans for the extension to the back of the house. He gave them a choice of two. After time for thought and consultation, a third set was prepared amalgamating the features they liked from the previous two.

The plan for this new extension was tasteful. A door under the curved stairway in the hall, would lead to a long hallway between the new and the old parts of the house. Immediately behind the doorway was a toilet block for use by patrons to the main lower level of the house. A modern bespoke fitted industrial kitchen and a large utility room (it would be necessary if we were going to hold conferences or open the house as a small hotel) was at the end, behind the oratory and close to the stairs to the cellar. It also led to changing rooms, lockers and wash rooms for staff.

A private kitchen/dining/family room for private family use was next the internal wall of the kitchen and behind the door from the hall It had French doors that would open to the walled garden at the back. Four en-suite double bedrooms, completed the rooms on the other half of the extension. The two end bedrooms were suitable for wheelchair usage with access to the car park from a doorway at that side of the house. They entered the main hall from the wide area under the curved staircase, with plenty of space, it would not take from the hall.

Eight double bedrooms and four single, all en-suite, would give them small hotel status. If they included bedrooms in the extension at the back of the house then the two stable houses could be added to the list as self catering or suitable for staff or family use.

Thus it was decided to turn the place into a small hotel and conference centre. The drawing, dining and sitting rooms, would provide an elegant suite of rooms for formal entertaining, conferences or small weddings.They decided that all six bedrooms on the first floor, the two on the attic level would be converted into en suites. The four storage rooms up there would become single bedrooms, each with a compact en-suite shower room.

A coffee shop in The Oratory, somehow seemed the right move to make and the name would not change. The stuccadore came and looked at the room before anything was moved. He made drawings of the designs on the remains of ceiling plaster. He delicately chipped away part of the stud wall, allowing them access to the original leaded window at the front of the house. The Victorian oak door with leaded stained glass panel will be reinstated to its former home at the oratory. This time it would be set into the long outside wall, at the opposite end to the lancet windows, as the main entrance to the coffee shop. The remaining stud wall in front of the window needed to be removed to open up the room to the original design. The internal door where they first entered the room, could be changed to swing doors that led to the new kitchen.

Over a cup of tea, one morning, Mr Yates reminded them that these days a house on three floors plus cellar, would need to have the internal doors re-hung as fire doors in keeping with current regulations. That was a job for further down the line, firstly they needed to decide on any internal alterations such as en-suites and converting the attic rooms into bedrooms, then once the planning permission was confirmed, to begin the foundations for the extension.

Plumbers and electricians could begin at the same time as the builders, switching to each area of the house when needed. The en-suites in the bedrooms would keep them busy for several weeks. Rewiring throughout the building for electric sockets that include phone and internet access was best done while the rooms were empty and before any decorating was carried out.  Updating the central heating, adding a new larger boiler would be an essential, when adding an extension, en suites and converting the attic rooms into bedrooms. Fire & burglar alarms would be required by law, the wiring would go in while the electricians were about, but the connections would not happen at this point.

They met with Carolyn Ashby, an interior designer, who had been highly recommended and she seemed to fall in love with the house on sight. Seeing the green leather wing back armchair with detailed brass studding in the library, she suggested a large settee to match for the other end of the room. The C shaped window seat cushions in every room at the front of the house were very badly faded and threadbare, eaten by many years of unfiltered sunshine, so needed to be replaced with matching drapes. She had books of swatches and a sketch pad where she constantly added ideas and drawings, colours that blended, not jarred leaving the onlooker to enjoy the natural charm of the place.

Alice wanted the lazy-looking half sofa, half arm-chair, that lived by the fireplace in the library, to be given a new lease of life without losing the comfortable feel it had. She was not sure whether she wanted it moved to the extension or left in the library where it somehow belonged.Carolyn suggested having a replica made so there would be one in each end of the house.

The secret room she saw as a particular delight. In neutral colours with added features in Wedgewood blue.

Carolyn had a theme for every room, including each of the bedrooms It would add a touch of class to name each room, in her experience clients seemed to prefer that to numbers.  She adored the oratory and was bubbling with ideas of how to furnish it. The pews were perfect and she had come across refectory tables the week before, so would put a holding note on them.

They were sitting at the table in the library when Carolyn noticed the old monastery painting hanging over the fireplace. Jumping up she said “This will have to go, it is not right for this room”. She tried to remove the painting, but it was proving difficult.

Morgan walked over to assist her. As he moved set his hands on the frame, he heard a faint click. The right hand side seemed to project forward like a door. “Not another secret Room?” he said. “Mind you this door is very high, so it must be a compartment”.

Alice was too stunned to move or speak. She thought she knew every inch and secret of the house at this stage. She did not. The dull painting, was camouflage for a safe. Morgan’s fingers must have triggered the catch. Inside was a box. It was old and inlayed with an intricate pattern in ivory, a replica of the one found in the bedroom half hidden under the floorboard, so many months ago. The initials were the same: This box belonged to Andrei Shuyski. Alice thought she saw a tremble in Morgan’s hands as be carried it gently over to the table and handed it to her. It was heavier than the last one. Was this the stock of gemstones given to Sidney’s grandfather for safe keeping, while the other one they found, Andrei’s loose change so to speak? The day was ageing and Alice was ready for home, so she asked Morgan to take the box with them to open after dinner that evening, when they were fed and relaxed.


Parts 1 – 9 can be found on the page of the same name in the header above.