Monthly Archives: April 2011

No singing matter!

I had nothing in my mind when I tossed this topic into the pile for the LBC, a very long time ago.


Sitting tapping my fingers on the edge of the keyboard hoping for inspiration to strike, a couple of words from a song came into my head and there they stuck like sh*t to a blanket.  Nothing would shift them. 🙁

‘Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could….’

With them I was back in the year 1966, sitting in the Savoy Cinema, on O’Connell Street in Dublin, with all my siblings and my parents watching The Sound of Music.  It was the first time any of us had seen a film on a wide screen.  The occasion was a late celebration of the 25th Wedding Anniversary for our parents and it was to be followed by dinner in the Gresham Hotel, a couple of doors away.  But I have gone off on a tangent…

“What have you got there?”  was the question that caused me to hesitate in my tracks as I ran down the garden.

“Nothing.” I replied without turning, holding tightly to my oversized jumper.

I was on a mission and I needed to keep going as fast as my little legs would carry me.

I didn’t actually find what I needed on my fast foray to the kitchen.  A hand or tea towel would be missed and anyway I would never get rid of the evidence.  Never stuck, in time of need, my solution was stuffed up my jersey!

I was actually surprised that there was no noise coming from the area where I was headed.  At my tender age, it did not ring any alarm bells for me.  In my book at that time, the less said the sooner mended.

You see, it was not really my fault.  SERIOUSLY.

There was nobody in front of me when I lifted the triangular headed hoe above my head.  I needed a good sharp blow to make a cut in the hard compacted soil that I wanted to clear.  My younger brothers were well behind me and I had told them to stay there.  That of course was as silly an idea as hoping a dropped slice of jammy bread would land sticky side up as it reached terra firma.

I didn’t hear or see the youngest one move.  He was magically there as the hoe descended full force to land on his forehead.

I had accidently split my little brother’s head open with a garden hoe!

So, as I arrived on the scene of my crime there was blood streaming down his face.  I had seen blood before, and I knew what to do.  I needed to wipe it off and I was ready!

I produced a bundle of paper bags and proceeded to mop up the blood.

It worked.

Yeah… for about two seconds, so I tried again.

And again!

“Holy Mother of all divine race horses; what is going on here?” It was mammy.  That sentence was not exactly what she said, but you get the idea.   I froze on the spot.  Partly with fear and partly with relief.  Not satisfied with my scurrying reply, she had come to investigate.

Mammy took in the situation quickly and called on a neighbour with a car to drive her to the local children’s hospital.  There were not many cars about on our avenue at that time, and daddy was at work.  She took my other brother with her…. I wonder why?  I was left in charge of the house in case anyone phoned.

The house was quiet at first, but then all the ghosts and devils of the Universe began to shout and taunt me for nearly killing my brother.  He could have been lying dead on a cold slab at that very moment for all I knew.  I couldn’t hack it any more…

I packed my bag and went in search of a new home.  There was no point in waiting until mammy came home and threw me out.

I left by the back door bag in hand, and walked slowly down the garden, dragging my feet with every step.  I crossed the fence to the house next door and asked our neighbour if I could live in her house!  She brought me in to sit by the fire and gave me a cup of tea.  She chatted away to me for quite some time.  Eventually mammy arrived to bring me home.

I wondered how mammy knew where I was?  Our neighbour had no phone, computers and  internet were unheard of then, never mind twitter; but those women had ways of communicating and they watched out for each other and all the children of the neighbourhood.  If any parent chastised us we took it on board, and in turn we could ask any of them for help.  There was no such thing as fear or inappropriate behaviour.  We were very fortunate.

Did you say something?

You want to know about my little brother?  Oh yes, his head healed, but he has never let me forget it.  Of all the four brothers, he is the only one to sport a monks haircut so the scar is visible every time I see him.  Mind you, that is usually on Skype.  He moved to Australia, well out of the reach of the garden hoe!

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My walk in the Park

I took my new camera for a walk in the park yesterday.

The river looked clear and calm.

That is a Motte surrounded by trees.

The new children’s playground with the damage free(for children) surface was being well used.  The swings, slides and climbing frames are all enclosed with a gated fence.  I was careful to take the photo from across the river so that there would be no objection from parents.

The camera is smaller than my last one, although from the same family:- FINEPIX J38.  In fact it is almost the size of my mobile phone!  It really does fit in the palm of my hand.  I saw it advertised in a Lidl Saturday Special sale, a few weeks ago, so I was there when the doors opened at 8am that day!

Thursday Special ~ THE TOILET SEAT

Charlie’s wife, Lucy, had been after him for several weeks to paint the Seat on their toilet.  Finally, he got around to doing it while Lucy was Out. After finishing, he left to take care of another matter before she Returned.

She came in and undressed to take a shower.  Before getting in the shower, she sat on the toilet.  As she tried to stand up, she Realized that the not-quite-dry epoxy paint had glued her to the toilet Seat.  About that time, Charlie got home and realized her predicament.

They both pushed and pulled without any success whatsoever.  Finally, in Desperation, Charlie undid the toilet seat bolts.  Lucy wrapped a sheet Around herself and Charlie drove her to the hospital emergency room

The ER Doctor got her into a position where he could study how to free Her (Try to get a mental picture of this.).  Lucy tried to lighten the Embarrassment of it all by saying, “Well, Doctor, I’ll bet you’ve never Seen anything like this before.”

The Doctor replied, “Actually, I’ve Seen lots of them.  I just never saw one mounted and framed.”

That came from my good friend David.


I love the way Google marks certain days with a pictorial header or decorated title.
Today is one such day.

I was immediately reminded of a Bell-pull that I made in cross stitch and featured in one of my craft posts some time ago.

I needed to use the search engine to discover the reason for the piece above
It is in Celebration of the 226th Birthday of John James Audubon

John James Audubon (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in a manner far superior to what had gone before. In his embrace of America and his outsized personality and achievements, he represented the new American people of the United States.

Now I am off to see if I can find some Irish birds!

Food Monday ~ Chocolate and Hazelnut Layer Cake

Chocolate and Hazelnut Layer Cake
Preheat the oven to 190°C

4 medium Eggs
110g caster sugar
110g all purpose flour
110g dark chocolate, grated.

For the filling:
200g chocolate hazelnut spread
280 mls low-fat yoghurt
Cocoa powder, sifted for dusting.

Chocolate mini eggs for decoration.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and very thick.  Fold in the sieved flour and grated chocolate.  Pour the mixture into a greased & lined, 20.5 cm round loose based cake tin.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch,  Leave to cool in the tin for 10minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Split the cake into 4 layers.  Cover three layers on one side with chocolate spread and yoghurt, then sandwich layers together.  Place the remaining layer on top and dust with a little sifted cocoa powder.  Decorate with mini chocolate eggs.

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 28

Co Londonderry

Londonderry/Derry has been chosen to be City of Culture 2013 and perhaps it may now earn a new name of… Legendary!

The City Walls of Derry were built during the period 1613-1618 as defences for early seventeenth century settlers from England and Scotland.  They are approximately 1.5km in circumference and form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique place to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day.

The four original gates to the Walled City are Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate. Three further gates were added – magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate.  The Walls vary in width between 12 and 35 feet.  The city claims to have Europe’s largest collection of cannon.  In 2005 the surviving 24 cannon were restored back to their former glory. The cannon are displayed throughout the City Walls with the impressive Roaring Meg located on the double bastion.

Fashioned in a neo-gothic style, the Guildhall is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings and is a venue for concerts, plays and exhibitions.  There are guided tours in the summer months.  The stained glass windows include a reproduction of Follingby’s The Relief of Derry; the original is in the adjacent Harbour Museum.  This museum commemorates the city’s maritime tradition.  Artefacts include the Iona Curragh, used in 1963 by a crew of clerics to replicate Saint Colmcille’s journey to Iona.

At the Heritage Tower permanent exhibitions include The Story of Derry exhibition and the An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera exhibition.  The museum also plays host to a range of other temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

The Museum of Free Derry focuses on the civil rights campaign which emerged in the 1960s and the Free Derry/early Troubles period of the early 1970s.  It is the people’s story of the civil rights movement, the battle of the Bogside, internment, Free Derry and Bloody Sunday.  Most of the 25,000 items were donated by local people.

St Columb’s Cathedral was built between 1628 and 1633.  The elegant tower and spire, can still be seen for miles around.

The Amelia Earhart Centre, a small interpretative centre is located on the outskirts of the city within the beautiful Ballyarnett natural park. The centre includes a recently renovated exhibition detailing the local aviation history, with particular reference to Amelia Earhart, who landed on the site in 1932, following her pioneering solo Trans – Atlantic flight. Visits are normally by appointment. Free Admission

Prehen House commands stunning views of Derry, the river Foyle and the hills beyond.  Records reveal that it was inhabited by 1640; in 1738 the Knox family began their great association with Prehen when Andrew Knox, the MP for Donegal married Honoria Tomkins, the Prehen heiress.  In Victorian times the colourful Colonel George Knox was one of Derry’s most eminent figures. But with World War I looming his grandson Baron George Carl Otto Louis von Scheffler Knox was put under house arrest. Soon after the 3,641 acre estate was seized as ‘enemy property’.

Magilligan Point guards the mouth of Lough Foyle and is home to Lough Foyle Ferry and Martello Tower.  There is a short beach walk through a National Nature Reserve which provides opportunities for visitors to explore the beach or spot birdlife and sealife.

Mountsandel Fort, is located just outside the town of Coleraine. It is the setting for the remains of one of the earliest known hunter-gatherer settlements in Ireland, dating from before 7000 BC.

Hezlett House built in 1691, is a long thatched cottage.  It is important because of its construction.  It was made with ‘crucks’ (frames of curved timber) which act as upright posts, and sloping rafters set straight on to a foundation of rock.  This was a quick of building in the 17th century.  Sometimes Planters brought the frames with them, ready for assembly – and we thought that flat pack was a modern invention! 😉 The house is restored and now opened to the public.

Mussenden Temple is located in the beautiful surroundings of Downhill Demesne.  Originally built as a library and dedicated to the Earl Bishop of Derry’s cousin, Mrs Mussenden, the Temple perches dramatically on a cliff top.

The Roe Valley, Limavady was the territory of the O’Cahans, and the O’Cahan’s Rock is one of the landmarks of the nearby Roe Valley Country ParkThe Londonderry Air was first written down here by Jane Ross, when she heard it being played by a street fiddler.  Limavady was the birthplace of William Massey (1856-1925),Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1912 to 1925.

Dungiven Priory is an Augustinian priory with a 15th-century tomb of Cooey-na-Gall, an O’Cahan chief, who died in 1385. Free access to the priory. On the east side of Dungiven (A5) it can be reached on foot down a lane passing a wart well and rag tree.

Banagher Glen nature Reserve is one of the oldest ancient oak woodlands in Ireland. Located three miles from Dungiven it promises spectacular views whilst hill walking enthusiasts will enjoy a challenging 14km circular walk through a magnificent lake and forest.  The steep sides of the glens are clothed by mature trees, mostly oak and ash, as well as rowan, hazel, hawthorn and holly. Ferns and mosses thrive in damp shady nooks along the river banks.  It also contains Altnaheglish Reservoir, used for the supply of water to the surrounding area.

Garvagh Museum is situated in the walled garden of the former Garvagh Estate, the museum’s collections cover many aspects of rural and domestic life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Also blacksmith’s shop and displays of horse-drawn agricultural machinery. Stone Age artefacts from the Bann Valley. Boat from nearby eel fishery and farming implements. Jaunting car and Victoriana.

Tirnoney Dolmen, Archaeologists are to dig out a portal tomb in Northern Ireland for the first time in 50 years.  The collapse of Tirnony Dolmen near Maghera has produced a rare opportunity to discover what lies beneath — and exactly how old it is.

Bellaghy Bawn a 17th century fortified house and bawn (the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house), it was built by Sir Baptist Jones around 1619.  Bellaghy Bawn was opened to the public in 1996. Resources on site include a film made for the bawn, as well as a collection of exhibitions on local natural history, local history, and poetry by local Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney.

Moneymore Model Village is complete with figurines set in landscaped surroundings. The village depicts life in rural Ulster at the time of the plantation.

Playing truant

I feel like I was playing truant today.

Sleep eluded me last night and eventually realising that I was fighting a losing battle and needed distraction, I ran the various programmes to clean up my computer.

I brought breakfast back to bed at 6.30 and rested my heavy head for some while longer.  The lure of the coffee pot saw my feet touch the floor for a second time, but I again took the coffee back to bed and duly fell into a heavy sleep.

I awoke to the sound of the phone and discovered it was 11.30 am.  My sister had half her garden dug and I was a lie-a-bed!

Time has taught me to listen to my body and go with the flow.  Tomorrow will be a better day and I will hopefully get twice as much done!

I don’t promise to be up in time to see the sun dance in the sky whatever about washing my face in the dew!

Am I Sane

Good King Conrad had the chore of picking the topic for today.


Part of being sane, is being a little crazy ~ Janet Long

Sanity is a madness put to good use ~ George Santavana

“Is that ‘Mad Granny’ you are talking about?”

This is a question that I often hear Elly ask.  It usually follows some tale I have told about my childhood.

Mad Granny (MG) was my maternal grandmother and I loved the bones of her.  I was not alone, my siblings and all the neighbouring children round about us, loved to see her come and visit too.  She lived off the South Circular Road in Dublin from the day she got married.  She came every Sunday for lunch and stayed until well after the evening meal.  Although she had seven children, ours was the house where she felt most at home. In the latter years she would arrive several times a week and on occasion would stay over night.

MG talked of the ‘coal hole’, although all fuel for the fire was kept in a shed built for that purpose in her back garden.  Mentioning it now, tells me something about myself, and my asking a young Elly to bring me (insert product name) from under the stairs…. The madness runs in families they say!  This house has no stairs and the house I remember MG living in had no coal hole.

The house where MG was born was mid terrace, all the houses were built by her father.  In the street outside there was a circular manhole cover in front of each dwelling.  Once lifted it allowed the coal man to drop the weekly order down into the cellar.

MG was a woman before her time, wearing bright yellows when many women her age wore the widow’s black.  Her Lisle stockings* were frowned upon by my other granny.  She had her troubles in life – found her husband dead in bed one morning – leaving her with a family to educate, yet she did not let her grief overtake and hinder the enjoyment of her grandchildren.  There were with time 27 grandchildren for her to spoil.

My eldest brother was the first of his generation on that side of the family.  A quiet child with a mop of blond curls, he did not like to get his hands dirty.  One summers day MG arrived (so I was told) and the young toddler was sitting in the playpen half way down the garden.  Down she went to say hello and handed him a bar of chocolate.  Leaving him to discover the pleasure of it, she returned to my mother in the kitchen.

The kettle had hardly boiled when she looked out through the window and began to laugh.  My brother was looking at his hands in horror, they were covered in chocolate.  On more careful examination he was covered in the stuff, on his hair, face and all down his front.  MG laughed and laughed.  She had never seen him with a hair out of place or with a speck of dirt on his clothes until that day!

If you were sitting beside her at table, she might tap you on the furthest shoulder and as you turned away to see what the tap was for, she would use her other hand to lift the last treasured bite of a sweetmeat from your plate!  With MG we could not be cross for long.

When we as youngsters had cleared the dining table and were running the hot water to wash the dishes, granny would appear, pushing up her sleeves and donning an apron from the back of the kitchen door.  As she reached the sink she would pause and say “I don’t fancy washing up tonight, will we just chuck them out the window?”

We loved her fun and to this day I miss her.  I only hope I inherited her madness, because if I did, I know I am quite sane and can come to no harm.

* Lisle was a fine, smooth, tightly twisted thread spun from long-stapled cotton. The fabric knitted of this thread was used especially for hosiery and underwear.

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