Monthly Archives: November 2011


Powerless. That is me today.  For two reasons.

  1. Essential maintenance of the local Electrical transformer and the power will be off from nine to five.
  2. It is also the day when Public sector workers across the UK are due to have a holiday go on strike.  Why?  Because of proposed changes to pensions for public sector workers, and spending cuts. It’s mainly about pensions – as people live longer, the cost of funding public sector pensions is “unsustainable”, so says the government. It wants most public sector workers to:

* pay more into their pensions
* work for longer
* and accept a pension based on a “career average” salary, rather than the current final salary arrangement which many of them are currently on

Unions, however, say the proposals will leave their members paying more and working longer for less.

There will be no buses or trains running, most schools will remain closed and hospitals will provide emergency services, while elective surgeries and outpatient clinics will be cancelled. As well as those working in health, education, transport and the civil service, workers in local councils, the NI assembly, the PSNI (Police), Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission and the Labour Relations Agency and a host of other non-departmental public bodies are also expected to take strike action.

The private sector should be working as normal, and since my electricity provider comes into this bracket, the transformer maintenance should go ahead. I was notified about the lack of power about ten days ago by letter, and yesterday afternoon I had a phone call from the company to check that I had arrangements made for food etc., for the duration.*

Anyhow, an early cooked breakfast, and a late dinner will be the order of the day,  I have a small single ring camping gas stove so I should not run out of hot drinks and I’ll fill a flask with my own homemade soup for lunchtime.  I’ll not starve by any means.

Weather permitting I’ll walk down the hill, and through the park in the morning.  I’ll have the phone and Laptop charged, so I’ll drop in at some stage to check up on you.

I have decided to toast my toes at the open fire for the afternoon.  Wisewebwoman will know what I mean when I say “I’ll try not to get the ABC’s“!  Worry not, for it is no dreadful life threatening disease. It was a condition way back in the last century, before any, never mind every home, had central heating. We gathered as a family round the fireside and watched the glorious display of flickering flames take half the heat up the chimney.

The older the women, the closer they sat to the fire. By the end of the winter their shins were burned from the heat leaving a series of small dark red rings from knee to ankle.  The men may have suffered in the same way, but since they never removed their trousers, we were never able to confirm this fact.  Houses were not so well insulated back then and drafts whistled under doors and around windows, Our fronts were roasted and our backs were frozen. The bedrooms back then were so cold the frost formed on the inside of the glass and people got dressed to go to bed!  Brrrr!

I have knitting at the ready, and a few sewing repairs that can be done by hand.  I might even find distraction with a book.  I’m hoping it won’t be another dark and dreary day.  The candles are at the ready, so I’ll come to no harm.

* Since I have a heart condition and live alone, I am on the ‘At risk’ register.  It was the electricity company that suggested I have my name added.  They  keep me informed of any scheduled breaks in transmission, and check up on me during unscheduled breaks.  The Water service now have a similar list.  I am not sure if everyone in NI is aware of these lists.

Nuala with the Hula continued….

Speccy left a comment on Sundays Post about Nuala with the Hula:

More of the story behind the angel here– I hadn’t even known her name until last week 🙂

Following her link I discovered the blog post was written by the daughter of the woman who was the inspiration of the project.  This made me even more curious to dig further and learn more about the Angel of Thanksgiving sculpture in Belfast

Click on this link for a short film about the the vision of its patron – the late Myrtle Smyth.   In the film  Myrtle tells her story about the project, from initial concept to fruition. The artist – Andy Scott, and  Michael Copeland whose company fabricated the sculpture are also interviewed.

The sculpture was inspired by Thanksgiving Square in Dallas, Texas.

Food Monday ~ Christmas Cake

I had a request on Twitter the other day for a Christmas cake recipe.  I have used a wedding cake recipe for this purpose since 1960.  I have also made at least three, 3 tier wedding cakes with it over the years.

3 Tier Wedding Cake

Cake size               12 inch           9 inch         6inch

Mixed Fruit*                50ozs                30ozs            10ozs
Mixed Peel, chopped   10ozs                6ozs              2ozs
Prunes**                      5ozs                  3ozs              1oz
Dates                           5ozs                  3ozs              1oz
Cherries                       5ozs                  3ozs              1oz
Cooking Apple, diced    1                       ½                  ½ (small)
Nuts***                        5ozs                   3ozs             1oz
Ground Almonds         5ozs                   3ozs             1oz
Nutmeg                       ½ tsp                   ¼ tsp             ¼ tsp
Mixed Spice                 ½ tsp                  ¼ tsp             ¼ tsp
Grated Lemon rind       1                        ½                   ¼
Butter                          15ozs                  9ozs             3ozs
Caster Sugar                15ozs                 9ozs             3ozs
Eggs                            10                       6                   2
Plain Flour                   19ozs                  11ozs           4ozs
Whiskey                       9tblsps                6tblsps         3tb tblsps

* I use Sultans & Raisins
** Try glazed pineapple, mango or papaya
*** I use Almonds, walnuts, pecans or a mixture of all three

Preheat oven to 100°C

Grease and double line each baking tin.  Wrap a double layer of brown paper around the outside of the tin, securing it with string.
Clean the fruit; add the nuts, cherries and peel.
Sift flour and add the spices.
Beat the eggs.
Cream the butter and sugar add a little of the egg and a spoonful of the flour and mix well.  Repeat until all the egg and flour have been added.
Add the ground almonds and mix through, then add the chopped cooking apple.
Mix in the fruit a handful at a time.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, making a slight depression in the centre.  Bake for the required time.

Bake 12 inch cake for 6 hours
Bake 9 inch cake for 4-5 hours
Bake 6 inch cake for 1hour 45 minutes

Towards the end of cooking time, test the cake by inserting a skewer into the centre.  When it comes out clean, the cake is ready.  If the top of the cake starts to become too brown, cover it with a double thickness of greaseproof paper.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
Prick top or cake and pour over the whiskey, wrap in greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil.  Store in a tin with half an apple.  The apple will need replacing after a couple of weeks.

Nuala with the Hula

Thanksgiving Sculpture ~ Stainless Steel & Bronze
Sculptor ~ Andy Scott

Sculptor Andy Scott graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1987. He is a figurative sculptor who works in steel and bronze, combining traditional figurative symbolism with contemporary fabrication techniques.

This sculpture measures 19.5 metres & is made of stainless steel and cast bronze. It celebrates the spirit of thanksgiving and regeneration. The female figure holds a ring of thanksgiving and the globe at her feet refers to universal peace and harmony, it has marked on its surface the cities where the people and industries of Belfast migrated and exported to.

As with other public works of art in Ireland the sculpture has been given several nicknames. These include the Beacon of Hope, the Nuala with the Hula, the Bell on the Ball and the Thing with the Ring.


Perhaps it has something to do with the American Thanksgiving holiday, that drew Conrad to choosing this subject for today.


For family and friends, I am blessed.
For a roof over my head, fire in my hearth, food on my table and a comfortable bed to lay my weary bones, I am grateful.
For the opportunity to have known great love, may I be forever thankful.

I am grateful because the best things in life are not things.
In my book, the best things in life are friends.
So many of you have come through my fingertips at this keyboard,
The best gift we can give another human being is Time, and you have given that to me.

Big Time!







The Loose Blogging Consortium active members at the moment are: OCD writer Conrad, Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Magpie 11, Maria SilverFox, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit, WillKnott, & Little old me. We try to go live with our topics on Fridays, but life sometimes interferes and prevents posting until later in the weekend. That way you have an extra excuse to relax with coffee and enjoy the offerings.

Thursday Specials ~ The Wife from Hell

Police officer: ‘ I clocked you at 80 miles per hour, sir.’

Driver: ‘Gee, officer, I had it on cruise control at 60; perhaps your radar gun needs calibrating. ‘

Not looking up from her knitting the wife says: ‘Now don’t be silly, dear — you know that this car doesn’t have cruise control.’

As the officer writes out the ticket, Driver looks over at his wife and growls, ‘Can’t you please keep your mouth shut for once!!?’

The wife smiles demurely and says, ‘Well dear you should be thankful your radar detector went off when it did or your speed would have been higher.’

As the officer makes out the second ticket for the illegal radar detector unit, the man glowers at his wife and says through clenched teeth, ‘Woman, can’t you keep your mouth shut?’

Officer frowns and says, ‘And I notice that you’re not wearing your seat belt, sir.  That’s an automatic $75 fine.’

Driver:  ‘Yeah, well, you see, officer, I had it on, but I took it off when you pulled me over so that I could get my license out of my back pocket.’

Wife:  ‘Now, dear, you know very well that you didn’t have your seat belt on. You never wear your seat belt when you’re driving.’

And as the police officer is writing out the third ticket, the driver turns to his wife and barks, ‘WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT UP??’

The officer looks over at the woman and asks, ‘Does your husband always talk to you this way, Ma’am?’

Scroll down

Wife: ‘Only when he’s been drinking!!!’

Thanks Paddy for this weeks contribution

Ireland as I could never paint it

Eolai ag obair

Ireland as I could never paint it – 350 images from Eolai’s Painting Tour collection.

3000+ kms around Ireland, while painting, taking photos, blogging, twittering and updating his Facebook account, was no mean feat.  There were many pockets around the country that suffered from a major lack of internet signals.  This meant that uploading photos was sometimes random, therefore the photos are not in any particular order.

I suggest you do as Eolai/Liam does – boil the kettle and make a large pot of tea; then sit back and enjoy Ireland from your armchair.  The larger the screen the better.  You won’t be disappointed.

The hard work of cycling may be over and the body recovered, but some paintings need finishing and some are yet to be started.   Several paintings for hosts will not be completed – by agreement – until after Christmas.  I have told @eolai not to worry about my painting until I am sixty five. The subject of the painting…. I left it up to him, to pick his favourite from the places we saw over the days we spent together.

I look forward to the surprise.

Did you see the legs?  In the bath.  Yes in the bath!  That is not my bath, sure you know the colour of mine and have seen it before.

Food Monday ~ Chestnut Meringue Cake

Last week Nancy asked for a sugar rush, so here goes….

Chestnut Meringue Cake
Preheat oven to 180ºC

8 egg whites
1lb caster sugar

For the filling
14oz unsweetened chestnut puree
3ozs dark chocolate, melted in 1 tsp water
3ozs dark brown sugar
½ pint cream whipped
Icing sugar to sprinkle

Cover two baking sheets with parchment and mark into 12in rounds – I often use an oval shape.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then add the caster sugar one spoon at a time.  Continue whisking after each addition.  Spoon the mixture onto the prepared trays to fill the circle or oval shapes.
Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown.  Cool.

Beat the chestnut purée, melted chocolate and brown sugar in a bowl and, when smooth, fold in the whipped cream.  Remove the meringue from the paper and place one layer on a serving plate.  Spread with the chestnut filling, then put the other on top.  Sprinkle on icing sugar and serve chilled.
Serves 8-10