Monthly Archives: January 2011

Food Monday ~ Italian Fennel Casserole

Italian Fennel Casserole
Preheat oven to 200°C

3 bulbs of fennel
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped.
3 cloves of garlic crushed
14oz tin of tomatoes
Salt & black pepper
2ozs fresh brown bread crumbs
2 ozs grated Parmigiano cheese

Prepare the fennel by discarding any coarse outer leaves and the root base, then slice the bulbs very thinly.  Keep some of the feathery tops for garnish.

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the chopped onion and garlic.  Add the slices of fennel and cook these for a few more minutes, turning them over in the pan.

Empty the tin of tomatoes into a bowl and break down slightly with a spoon.  Add the tomatoes to the fennel and onion mixture and season well.  Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a greased oven proof dish.

Mix the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over the top, then bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is nice and crisp.
Serve immediately.
Serves 4

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 18

The episode today will be light as I am under self imposed short visits to the laptop until my eye has well and truly settled.  I would hate to undo all the good work.  I also want time to explore and enjoy once more, the detail in the great outdoors.


The gentle rolling hills of the SLIEVE BLOOM MOUNTAINS rise from the central plains of Ireland, forming a natural link between Counties Laois and Offaly. They are at the cross-roads of Ireland half-way between Galway and Dublin, Belfast and Cork, and Donegal and Rosslare. Their central location makes the Slieve Bloom area ideal as an interesting place to break your journey when en-route to other parts of Ireland.

Laoise was partially covered at the end of Episode 8 but I missed this excellent link first time round.

Mountmellick was a settlement in the fifteenth century. Situated on a narrow river called the Owenass (river of the falls). The Society of Friends (The Quakers) came in 1657 led by William Edmundson, they saw a future for this settlement and built it into a town. This town was to grow to eight thousand people. With twenty-seven industries which included Breweries, Distillery, Woollen Mills, Cotton, Tanneries and Glass, it was a boomtown in the late nineteenth century.  The Woollen Mills employed two thousand people, thus Mountmellick became known as the Manchester of Ireland.  In 1851 the first Sugar Beet Factory in Ireland opened in Mountmellick.

Today the factories are gone, Mountmellick has a population of circa 3,000, and the town is small enough to retain the charms of Irish rural life, while large enough to provide many “urban” services such as transport, education and sports facilities.  I may have covered Mountmellick Embroidery in the Craft work posts but here you will find information on this particular white work embroidery.

Portlaoise, is the county town of County Laois  The present town originated as a settlement around the old fort, “Fort of Leix” or “Fort Protector”, the remains of which can still be seen in the town centre.  The town proper was established by an act of Parliament during the reign of Queen Mary of England in 1557. The English renamed the town Maryborough and the county was named “Queen’s County” in her honour.

Rock of Dunamaise Portlaoisemight be worth a little time.


Tullamore, the capital of County Offaly, is the third largest town in the Midlands. The town’s name derives from Tulach Mhór meaning ‘big hill’, in the heart of Ireland’s finest grain growing region, surrounded by mountains, bogs and rich agricultural land providing both the fine barley and pure water essential to the creation of good whiskey.  It has given its name to the famous Tullamore Dew.  The distillery and the town prospered throughout the 19th century. The Grand Canal, that connects Tullamore with Dublin, was the main thoroughfare through the town and vitally important in bringing goods and materials to the town and distributing the whiskey to wider markets.

The legendary Irish whiskey can be traced back to 1829 when the Tullamore Distillery was founded in Tullamore, County Offaly by Michael Molloy.  Daniel E Williams was the major influence on the development of the distillery. His initials, D-E-W, inspired the whiskey to be named ‘Tullamore Dew’ with the original slogan “Give every man his Dew” still in use today.

There is more to Birr Castle & Gardens than it’s famous Box hedges and Giant Telescope.


Early on Wednesday Morning I had a text message from my eldest niece.  It read:

Every morning Chris Evans plays Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah at 7a.m.  It reminds me of you. 🙂
Barbara xxx

Chris Evans hosts the weekday BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show

I used to sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah to and with Barbara when she was a little girl. When we went for a walk in the park or to the village, we held hands on the homeward journey and skipped along singing this song to our hearts content.

I had forgotten.  What a memory she awoke and just at the right time.  I was humming it all morning and it was still in my head as I was in surgery having my eye sorted!

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah it was a wonderful Day!

With Thankfulness

The topic for this episode of the Loose Blogging Consortium was chosen by Conrad.


Today I give thanks for my little family.  By that I mean Elly & George.  For the second time in as many years they have come to my aid when I needed help.  A year and a half ago, it was following my hip replacement surgery.  Nurse Hitler and George were wonderful in their care for me.  Nudging me on with encouragement at every stage, yet telling me to slow down when I tried to over do things.  Thankfully I never looked back.

This week Elly came to be with me before and after cataract surgery.  We are half way there, as the cloudy lens in the other eye will also need an artificial lens implant.  At least next time we will know what to expect.  I do know all about cataracts, but that is with regard to other members of my family.  It is a very different story when it is MY eye they are poking in!

So Thank you Elly, yet again, for your love and caring and to George for holding the fort and looking after Buffy in her absence.

It was only on Thursday morning after the eye patch was removed that I discovered two major problems…..

A thick layer of dust everywhere AND I suddenly noticed my face had more lines than the London Underground! 😆

It was wonderful to look out the window and really see and enjoy the view!

Thursday Special ~ Respect

An Arabic family in Perth,  Australia was considering putting their grandfather Abdullah in a nursing home.

All the Arabic facilities were completely full so they had to put him in an Australian home.

After a few weeks in the Australian facility, they came to visit Grandpa.  ”How do you like it here?” asks the grandson.

”It’s wonderful!  Everyone here is so courteous and respectful”, says grandpa.

”We’re so happy for you. We were worried that this was the wrong place for you.  You know, since you are a little different from everyone.”

”Oh, no! Let me tell you about how wonderfully they treat the residents”, Abdullah says with a big smile.

”There’s a musician here– he’s 85 years old. He hasn’t played the violin in 20 years and everyone still calls him ‘Maestro’!

There is a judge in here — he’s 95 years old. He hasn’t been on the bench in 30 years and everyone still calls him ‘Your Honour’!

There’s a dentist here — 90 years old.. He hasn’t fixed a tooth for 25 years and everyone still calls him Doctor?!

And me  — “I haven’t had sex for 35 years and they still call me ‘The  F*****g  Arab”.




Thank you my Anony Mouse friend

Being Five

I saw these Dolly Mixtures the other day and I was five years of age all over again.

Elly is coming today so I might give her share!  I am really looking forward to seeing her.

Back later if we run out of things to say, if not it will be tomorrow.

Thursday Special ~ A BOTTLE OF WINE

Sally was driving home from one of her business trips, in Northern Arizona, when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.

As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped the car and asked the Navajo woman if she would like a ride.    With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car.

Resuming the journey, Sally tried – in vain – to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman.  The old woman just sat silently, looking intently at everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Sally.

“What in bag?” asked the old woman.

Sally looked down at the brown bag and said:  “It’s a bottle of wine.  I got it for my husband.”

The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or two.  Then, speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said:

“Good trade . . .”




Thanks Ramana for this little tale.

A wonderful gift

Yesterday, Kate told a very interesting tale in her blog post.

Way back in August – my son gave me a book, it was a hardback with pages full of questions about my life. I was asked to complete it and give it back to him as a Christmas present.

The post is the story of the book.  The reliving of her life through words and photos, written in her own hand.

So many of us communicate through electronic means these days that soon there will be no trace of our handwriting.  Reading the post brought back a memory for me.  Some years ago I obtained copies of the 1901 and 1911 census forms with regard to my paternal grandparents family.

The most fascinating detail for me was that the forms were filled in and signed by my grandfather’s hand.  My father was born at the tail-end of 1911, so his arrival was too late to appear.  Eleven years later, my grandfather died.  I do have the odd photo and many stories of his life, but those forms are the only REAL link I have to the man.

The most fascinating detail for me is that the handwriting is exactly the same as my fathers!

Just think how fascinating it would be to have my grandfather here to look back at those photos and tell about them from the ‘inside’!  The day they were taken, was it a special day?  Who took the photos, were they wearing Sunday best?  What stage the children were at, how was the business doing…..

That would begin the journey to his siblings, his parents and perhaps his grandparents.  I do know who they were, I have the lists and thanks to an uncle, older than my father, some very rich tales so lovingly told to us when we were young.  Alas, all the older generation have moved on to the great family gathering in the sky.  One by one the clods of soil separated us from the older generation, and with them died the stories.  We were far to young to think of asking them to write down their memories.

Do you have children or grandchildren?  Have you thought of making a memory bank for them?  I know that Maria at Silver Fox Whispers is an avid Memory Book maker.

Details of the book that Kate used are on her Blog, but you could write your own and self publish. are easy to follow and give an excellent finish. Elly has produced several books with them, both soft and hard covered, the photos in particular are excellent quality.

Now where did I put that pen…. I wonder if I can still do joined up writing?

Food Monday ~ Vegetable & Chicken Quiche

Vegetable & Chicken Quiche
Preheat oven to 180°C

Pastry of your choice to line a flan dish ( I am no good at pastry making)

For the filling:
½ a small onion peeled and chopped
3 slices of smoked streaky bacon chopped
I chicken breast cut in strips
⅓ yellow pepper diced
6 ozs mixed cooked vegetables:- carrots, celery, corn and peas
2 ozs mushrooms chopped (optional)
2 eggs
¼ pint of milk
Pepper & salt

Fry the onion, bacon, chicken & peppers.  Add cooked vegetables and stir.
Beat the egg and add the milk.
Line the flan dish with pastry, fill with vegetables & chicken mixture.  Pour over the egg and milk. Bake for 25 minutes.
Serve with a salad & crusty bread
(or chips if nobody is paying attention 😉 )

A Tour of Ireland – Not forgotten

Apologies to all those waiting for the next episode of a Tour of Ireland.  My plans this week were interrupted for several reasons, so I promise to return to normal next Sunday with Episode 18.

This map will let you see the counties we have covered so far and those yet to be visited.

There are  seven counties of the Irish Republic to cover. five of them landlocked:

  • Offaly
  • Westmeath
  • Longford
  • Cavan
  • Monaghan


  • Meath
  • Louth shown in cream on the map.

before we move to the Six Counties of Ulster shown in pink above.