Monthly Archives: February 2012


This week I goofed.

Yesterday I wanted to make Chicken Portella, I have made it many times over the years, but not in the last six months.

It is an easy one, almost like an ‘all in one’ cake mixture. I no longer need to look at the recipe to check the items needed.  When on my own I don’t use cream and usually portion the left overs for my freezer.

I was a little distracted as I gathered my ingredients together on this occasion. I chose my oven-wear dish, emptied in the yoghurt, tomato chutney and then it was down to the spoonfuls, dry first…

Three teaspoons of….. wait now… that is the wrong colour! I had a small square stackable storage box in my hand. On the side in my OWN handwriting it said dry mustard. 😯

Three teaspoons of English mustard sitting on top of my chutney and yoghurt when it should have been three teaspoons of curry powder. I scooped off about half of it and added the curry powder. I added the mayonnaise and the dash from ‘the bottle’ was a little heavier than usual.

In for a penny, in for a pound! I gave the mixture a stir, then cut and stirred the chicken into it, put the lid on and stuck it in the oven.

Result?  It was gorgeous!

What was that about the man who never made a mistake?

Some mistakes are an adventure! 😀

Food Monday ~ Roast Butternut Squash

Roast Butternut Squash 2
Preheat the oven to 180C.

1 Butternut squash
large pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
handful of toasted pine nuts

Peel the squash, cut it in half long-ways, remove the seeds and cut the flesh into 3 cm chunks. Spread them out on a baking tray or in a roasting tin. Sprinkle with a little salt. Spoon over the butter, syrup and ginger. Roast until the tips of the squash chunks turn golden brown. Scatter the pine nuts over the top and serve with any roast meat.

The Massereene Wolfhound

On that infamous day last September, I took my camera for a walk.  I began at Antrim Forum leisure centre, in search of some sculpture. The piece I was looking for no longer existed, but I found this fine fellow:-

The Massereene Wolfhound

In the early 1600s Antrim Castle was home for Sir Hugh Clotworthy and his young bride, Lady Marion Clotworthy. It was surrounded by a beautiful woodland estate on the shores of Lough Neagh. It may well have seemed an idyllic home for Sir Hugh Clotworthy, but he was often absent on military business. I am sure that Lady Marion found life at Antrim Castle a lonely and miserable existence. She whiled away long hours wandering through the woodlands of the castle grounds. The only twittering back then was for the birds and I am sure they were not restricted to 140 characters! 😉

Legend has it that on one of her solitary strolls a terrifying howl broke the silence of her walk.  Out from the trees stalked a huge wolf hackles raised, preparing itself to attack the terrified young girl.  The wolf’s howl was answered by a ferocious roar and an Irish Wolfhound bounded out of the forest.  Lady Marian screamed and collapsed in a faint.

It is believed that the two beasts fought each other to the death. Upon awakening, her gaze fell upon an incredible sight. The wolf lay dead, but standing guard by her side was the badly injured Irish Wolfhound.

Like all good shaggy dog stories, this tale has a couple of variations.  Some say that Lady Marian then brought the dog to the nearby stream and tended to its wounds, but as soon as it had recovered it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Others would have you believe, that together they made their way back to the castle and the four legged guardian escorted Lady Marion on her daily rambles.

One stormy night the howling of a wolfhound was heard high above the wind. The wardens of the castle quickly lit their beacon fires only to see a large army of Irish invaders coming towards the castle. Well by now you know the Irish… always ready for a good fight, and in the midst of fierce firing, an agonised howl was heard. The castle was saved, but daylight revealed a trail of blood that led to the wolfhound’s corpse.

Once again the wolfhound had saved the Clotworthy family from disaster and Sir Hugh Clotworthy had a stone statue made in honour of the wolfhound. By encasing the hound in stone and mounting it upon one of the castle’s front towers, Sir Hugh shrewdly calculated the potential to ward off the hostile  superstitious natives.

Eventually, alterations to the castle caused the statue be removed from the castle tower and placed on a wall about 10 foot high at the gate of the estate. There it remained until the late 1970s, when, invaded by ivy and in danger of falling, Antrim Borough Council, with persuasion from the Irish Wolfhound Club of Northern Ireland, had it removed to a location in front of the town leisure centre. In deference to the old Massereene family legend, it still remained within the bounds of the original Antrim Castle estate (the actual castle was destroyed by fire in 1922).

The statue stood about 3 foot tall from plinth to head. It was in need of repair having had some very crude work done on it some years ago.

On Tuesday 21st September 2011, the Wolfhound returned home to Antrim Castle Gardens as part of the first stage of refurbishment.

A Place of honour.

Magda, a young lady from Poland, was out for her regular walk with her daughter and the two young charges she child minds each day. She offered to take my photo beside the wolfhound at the new location. Having the children in the photo added some great colour on a dull day. Magda was telling me she attends English classes in the evenings.

Magda and her charges.

Openings ~27

Back in January I was ‘Wowing’ about some changes at Clotworthy House in Antrim.

The Oriel Gallery and the newly laid grounds on a rather damp day.

The opening of the Oriel Gallery marked the completion of the first building of the major restoration project in the Gardens of Clotworthy House and Antrim Castle.

The view of the other side of this enclosed garden:from the oriel Gallery –

Tastefully reconstructed gateway.

The work progresses towards the completion of restoration and development

This gateway leads through to the front of the building. The door to the left leads to a bright office for the staff and further left (unseen) is a coffee shop.On the day back in January, I was more interested in exploring than drinking coffee so did not like asking for photos.

The door to the right is a gift shop and I did go inside and had a very interesting conversation with the young lady responsible for researching, and sourcing the goods for sale.  All products and produce are UK based with most from within Northern Ireland.

Sorting the shelves

Great use of natural light is provided with the new roof lights

Going through the Arch to the front of the building

The ground cleared for grassing.

The site is historic, the first trees were planted in the grounds of the castle over 400 years ago.

Six Mile Water from the Main Entrance.

A view through the trees

The bridge taken from the other side while standing on rough ground (May 2009).

View from the bridge on that day back in 2009. I was standing close to the laburnum tree in the previous photo. Note the Yew Tree it will appear again.

Tower of Antrim Castle (2009) through the trees

Elly & George at the base of the ruin in September 2009. The building in the back ground is Antrim Forum.

Can you see the Yew tree?  The ground has been cleared and foundations were found of the castle so they are rebuilding low walls along the founds to give an idea of what it was like and how far it extended.  Work is still in progress, the area is not accessible to the public at the moment.

I will return when the work is complete.


As you join me for this weeks episode from the Loose Blogging Consortium, I offer you

An Irish Blessing

God willing, may our tea
be steeped in serenity,
sweetened by sharing,
and surrounded by the
warmth of your love.

Serene was the topic suggested for us by Will, now step toe sedately along to see what the other active members have to offer: Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox Magpie 11, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

Thursday Special ~ Dinner for Four

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple’s house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.

The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, ‘Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great.. I would recommend it very highly..’
The other man said, ‘What is the name of the restaurant?’

The first man thought and thought and finally said, ‘What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love?
You know…. The one that’s red and has thorns.’

‘Do you mean a rose?’

‘Yes, that’s the one,’ replied the man. He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled…

‘Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?’


The story this week came from Vera


I read blogs for enjoyment. Having to fight my way through a mass of clutter to find the Post Text is a big turn off.

Hiding the comment box does not entice visitors to take part in the conversation.

If that is not enough Blogger has taken a dizzy fit…

Have they given the job of designing the Captcha to a six year old who never heard of older eyes or dyslexia?

Take a look at a few of the hurdles I faced in one day alone.

If you don’t manage to get it right first time the whole comment goes AWOL. 😡

I have a life besides blog reading. I am culling my list of all the dead or dormant blogs and if you make it difficult for me to find, read and comment on your masterpieces, then they will fall over the cliff too.

The days are stretching and I intend making the most of the great outdoors.

Now where did I put my camera….


On the tenth day of whenever,
my true love sent to me
Ten toyboys leaping….

I started out with a different kind of leaping in mind. Honest!

In my lifetime I have lived through a few of these leaping days. Sixteen to be exact. In just over a week the total will leap to seventeen.

What am I talking about?  February 29th of course, what else?

We are reminded at every turn, that this is a leap yearFebruary 29th had no legal status.

Irish Folklore would have us believe that St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. St. Patrick said the yearning females could propose on this one day in February during the leap year.

Meanwhile across the Irish Sea, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to payment for a silk dress or a pair of gloves.

A little dubious don’t you think?  The Gregorian calendar only came into existence in 1582.

Now if this is the road you wish to travel…. take it handy.

He may not yell ‘Yes!’ straight away. There’ are a number of reasons that he might be slow to give you the answer you want, he might be plain surprised or even shocked. Give him some time to get used to the idea. Even if he doesn’t say ‘Yes’ this time, maybe it’ll be the perfect nudge for him to ask you next time!

Of course, I would never get away with it. Nobody would believe that I was being serious! I would probably be told that at my age I should have more sense. Elly would be straight round to the Home for the Bewildered to have me pushed up the list!!

♥ ♥ ♥

BBC Radio 4 PM programme are asking people to use the 29th February to do some thing special.  Anything started on this day is sure of success. It made me think….

A day to do something different.

Climb a mountain
Take a helicopter flight
Close the Laptop for a day – full 24 hours

A time to start some thing new like:

Learn to play an instrument
Join a group activity
Rediscover an old hobby
Start a ‘Pot Luck’ lunch club*

What do you think?  Do you have any other ideas to add to the list?

Food Monday ~ Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake
Preheat the oven to 175°C

6 fl ozs Sunflower Oil
6 ozs Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 ozs Walnuts
10 ozs Carrots
zest and Juice of ½ an Orange
6 ozs Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt

Place the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl.  Beat well.  Roughly chop nuts.  Wash, peel and grate the carrots.  Add carrots & nuts to oil mixture with zest and orange juice, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Mix well and pour into a greased and lined 8 inch tin or 2 lb loaf tin.  Bake for approx 1 hour and 15 minutes.

For icing:
8 ozs icing sugar    2-3 tablespoons lemon or orange juice
Mix the sugar into the juice and spoon over the warm cake.