Tag Archives: Friends

Time

I no longer bother with decorating the house at Christmas, there is nobody only me to see it. Sometimes I am here and then other years I am away. There is nothing as bad as coming home to an empty dark house, that has been abandoned for several days, to an unlit tree and other trinkets needing to be packed away in boxes for another twelve months.

 
My Elly, George & Buffy were here for the weekend and that is our celebration over and done with. Sometimes she feels bad about not spending Christmas with me, but it is after all only one day and a short one at that. I cannot see the point in rushing around on the roads in bad weather and poor light. Roads filled with stressed drivers or others who are once a year drivers unsure of where thy are going, or those with drink taken.

 

We can have a fun day together at our leisure, in the summer when the weather is better, the days longer and the world calmer – Double the value, in my book.

I heard of one young lady, Molly, who was asked, at the nudging from aunts and uncles what she wanted for Christmas.

Her answer: A token of time! I love this child.

If each one devoted a few hours or a day, spread out over the year, It would be fabulous.

A TOKEN OF TIME AND A FEW HUGS…. Heaven at any age!

Hello world

 

My blog should be back to normal by Morning. Thanks to everyone who offered helpful suggestions or aid to sort out the problem. It was a real beastie with redirects on all Posts.

A VERY BIG THANK YOU must go to Gerard McGarry for his time, patience, and Kung Fu skills to beat the nasties. He did it BIGTIME. I highly recommend his Kung Fu Technological problem solving skills and his humour is not bad either.

My new header is in Gerard’s honour. No. That is not his house, he lives next door! 😉

Phil & the Engineers at Blacknight played their part too.

To Elly, Donncha, Anders, and Darren, who were all ready to step up to the plate, I appreciate the offer of help.

May you’re new year ahead bring, food to your table, work that you enjoy and sunshine to lighten your hearts.

Lán grá

Grannymar

Mind the good chair!

Yesterday, one of those days when unsure what season we were in, so it took longer on choosing my clothes for the day. It was a day for layers. I had planned to collect my old young friend Janet, for a bit of adventure. I can see where she lives from my kitchen window.

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She lives on top of that bump to the right of the wind turbines.

Nearly there

Nearly there

The idea was to exercise our legs…. and our tongues with the odd bit of chatter.

Did I say the odd bit of chatter? I am not sure I gave Janet a chance to say more than a half dozen words. Next time, I will bring a band-aid to help keep my trap shut. 😉 I promise!

I was the driver for the duration, so as chief navigator, I allowed Janet to choose direction and the destination for our coffee spot. Our rain jackets travelled comfortably on the back seat.

She chose the Creative Gardens Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, County Antrim. It opened in February this year, so a first time visit for me. They have a Garden centre, Seasonal Shop and the now obligatory Coffee shop.

Mind the good chair_1

Mind the good chair_1

This display caught my eye as we were wandering about.

Side view of the chair

Side view of the chair

The plants are not just sitting on the chair. Oh no. The side view  gives you an idea of how it works. The original seat is long gone and a sacking type fabric is stapled to the inside of the seat space, slightly sagging, growing medium added and then the plants inserted. If you look very carefully you can actually see the petunia plugs, lifted out of the compost by the weight of the blooms.

If you try this please watch dear old aunt Mabel, in case she tries to sit on it! 😉

It did rain:- when we were in the car or sipping coffee.

Neither of us were in a hurry home.

Janet suggested a walk in Portglenone Forest Park. I was game for anything.

Map of Portglenone Forest

Map of Portglenone Forest

It was very overcast as we arrived in the car park.

“Do you think it will rain?” asked Janet.

“Not to worry, says I, we can shelter under a leaf!”

We took the Red route.

Portglenone, in Irish: Port Chluain Eoghain, means “The Fort of Eoghan’s meadow”. We local yokels might tease and call it Port-glen-one, but the correct pronunciation is more like Port-glen-own.

Portglenone Forest Park, lies 8.5 miles (14 km) west of Ballymena. It is classified as an ‘Ancient Woodland’, and has well marked nature trails, with the River Bann flowing through the forest. Records show that the forest was once part of a much larger woodland comprising Mountreivelen, Killetra, and Glenconkeyne Woods.

These woods formed one of the biggest oak forests in the country. In 1607 Sir John Davys, the Irish Attorney-General, described this area as “well nigh as large as the New Forest in Hampshire and stored with the best timber in Ireland.”

The ground flora contains extensive colonies of species such as bluebell, wood anemone, and wild garlic. We would need to go back in late April or early May to enjoy those beauties. These plants take centuries of woodland cover to establish, and provide the wood with its important conservation and educational aspects.

Augustine Henry (1857–1930) was an Irish plantsman and sinologist. He began work as a medical officer and customs assistant to the Chinese customs service in 1881. He was an ardent reader of botanical literature and collected 15,000 dry specimens and 500 live plant samples of flora for Kew botanical gardens.  From his specimens 25 new genera and 500 new species were identified.

In 1913 he was appointed the first Professor of Forestry at the Royal College of Science (now University College Dublin), serving until he retired in 1926. He was involved in developing the national Forestry Service and in evaluating foreign conifer species. These included Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole pine.

In 1935, J. W. Besant was to write: ‘The wealth of beautiful trees and flowering shrubs which adorn gardens in all temperate parts of the world today is due in a great measure to the pioneer work of the late Professor Henry’.

 

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I have another Janet surprise, but that is for tomorrow!

Monday. It feels like Sunday.

Today is a normal working day in Northern Ireland, yet in my head it feels like Sunday. If I lived one hundred miles down the road, it would be a holiday. August bank holiday weekend.

I had visitors for lunch. We had a wonderful, happy and cheerful lunch.

Buffy brought Elly, George and the wonderful Peter Donegan to share lunch with me. George did the driving and Buffy made sure he was on the right road.

It was all over too quickly and they are heading back south as I type. The house is very quiet now. I am sitting with my feet up and reliving the few very pleasant hours.

Happy hugs do my heart good! Thank you, Elly, George, Peter & Buffy.

A-tisket a-tasket

Do you remember this
And wonder what it is,

What will it be

What will it be

It changed along the way

A gadget warmer, perhaps?

A gadget warmer, perhaps?

And became….

Finished basket/container

Finished basket/container

A-tisket a-tasket
A diamond trellis basket

It was the first completed item from this crate of yarn, a gift I received from Brogen.

Box of treasure

Box of treasure

Brogen’s mum, Emma Sharma Hayes was a very talented lady and knitting was only one of those gifts. Alas she was not given time to use all the yarn in the crate above, before her allotted time among us had expired. Knowing I enjoy yarn crafts, the crate came my way.

The basket was my token of thanks to Brogen. I was so busy finishing it in the early hours of Saturday, that I forgot to take a photo of the finished item. I had to ask Brogen to email me a photo.

Now I wonder what I will make next…….?

A busy week

It has been a long week. So long, it had two Saturdays, two Sundays and two Mondays. Alas, to day it comes to an end and I head for home.

Saturday: We made Christmas puddings – You already know about that.

Sunday: We had a visitor for morning coffee. After lunch the landlady walked the legs off me. We dandered to the Basin.

Blessington St Park

Blessington St Park

We watched a mammy duck teach her three tiny balls of fluff, no bigger than cotton balls, to swim.

Learning to swim

Learning to swim

Their tiny legs were going a mile a minute under the surface of the water, until….. a large bird swooped down…. Then there were only two balls of fluff for the mammy duck to quack instructions at, to swim faster than time to the protection of their hidden nest on the island in the middle of the lake.

The island

The island

When we left the basin, we passed the Black Church  where legend has it that if you run around the church clockwise three times, then enter the church and stand by the altar, you will see the devil.

The black church

The black church

I never quite had the courage to test that theory when I was young. The building was deconsecrated in 1962, and is now occupied as offices.

The Black Church is mentioned briefly in the novel Ulysses by Irish author James Joyce, in the chapter entitled ‘Oxen of the Sun’, as the location of one of Bello’s many sins: He went through a form of clandestine marriage with at least one woman in the shadow of the Black Church. Joyce lived for a few months only yards from the Church in Broadstone, at 44 Fontenoy Street, one of the Joyce family’s many temporary homes around Dublin. He stayed there with his son Giorgio from July to September 1909 and again alone from October 1909 to June 1910 while trying to set up the first cinema in Dublin.

Monday: Did I mention James Joyce earlier? Well, on Wednesday I met him! Honest. Here is a pixture to prove it:

He called me Nora

He called me Nora

He even called me Nora!

It was Bloomsday.  In Dublin, Joyceans in full Edwardian costume mark June 16th 1904 literary events of ‘Ulysses’ We met them on the Dart,  on the Streets and in the shops. Eileen and I went to Dún Laoghaire. They were there ahead of us.

Joyceans on way to Sandymount

Joyceans on way to Sandymount

I have to tell you what happened on the Dart. You will never believe it. Eileen, nudged me with her elbow and said “That guy over there winked at me!” I looked at the Toyboy and said, pointing at my sister “Did you wink at her?” He nodded. I looked questioningly and asked “Where’s my wink?” Grinning, he winked at me. Holding up my mobile phone, I asked if he wanted my number. He burst out laughing. With that, the engines started and we were moving…. Our Dart moved south, and his on the other track moved north!

No visit to Dún Laoghaire is complete without a visit to Teddy’s for a 99 – a whipped ice cream cone with added flake chocolate.

The evidence

The evidence

Eileen with ice cream cones.

The view while we eat 99sThe view as we sat and enjoyed our treat.

Tuesday: I spent the morning in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, with my eldest brother. We saw a Viking House

Viking House

I suggest scrolling to the bottom of the link above and working upward to follow the work in progress. I found it fascinating. I am trying to image life in Dublin 1,000 plus years ago.

'Gro' the Viking Boat

‘Gro’ the Viking Boat

I also saw a replica Viking boat ‘Gro’ on display. It was constructed from Irish oak in 2006 at the Irish National Heritage Park by Danish boatwrights using techniques employed in Dublin 1,000 years ago, the boat is on loan from the Ferrycarrig Heritage Park.

I drove my sister to Howth for an early dinner, which was delicious, and we were home in time to see one of the Football matches.

Looking down on Howth from the Churchyard

Looking down on Howth from the Churchyard

Wednesday: We were entertained to lunch by Brian, who sent us each a text as we were leaving home to say, he had just realised it was forty years since we first met, so a good job we looked like we did all those years ago! Is it really forty years since I was given the handle Grannymar? Yes, it is.

Thursday: I visited Drimnagh Castle, but that adventure is worth a special post. I hope to have it ready for Tuesday.

Drimnagh Castle

Drimnagh Castle

Friday: was a rest day, playing with Buffy and finishing a project that I was working on. I forgot to take a photo of the finished item, so when I get that photo, I’ll write about it.

Saturday: Was the longest day, so where better to be than on the Hill of Tara,  Home to the High Kings of Ireland. The panoramic view in my Header is from the hill at Tara. We were there to celebrate the life of Emma Sharma Hayes. It was a beautiful day, the sun shone and nature’s choir of bird song & gentle breezes sang around us for most of the day. We picnicked outdoors

Lunching Ladies with Vijay Sharma

Lunching Ladies with Vijay Sharma

and I found a very comfortable seat to rest my legs before we climbed the hill.

Tractoring Grannymar

Tractoring Grannymar

I nearly got a job too! One old guy asked if I would plough his back field? I told him I was busy and it would have to be next week!

Sunday: I went to work! Really. You have heard of ‘Bring your daughter to work days. Well this was a bring your family to work day, at Intel. Do you like my outfit?

Intel Open Day

Intel Open Day

Grannymar in a Bunny suit! These are actual uniforms worn by those who work in the clean-rooms. Buses took us on a tour of the site and we had a window tour of a clean-room. Elly showed the corridor she walks everyday, at least twice. It is a mile in each direction. We were introduced to the gym, where I could not miss an opportunity to sit on the equipment. I tested a massage chair, it felt like Ramana Rajgopaul’s masseuse was dancing on my back.

The staff looked after us royally and had fun & games for all ages. Thank you everyone for making us so welcome. Now the holiday has come to an end and I am homeward bound once more. I am covered in a healthy outdoor glow and my legs must be at least six inches shorter from all the walking. It was a wonderful week.

Planning & Scheming

 

Has wheels will travel:

 

Betty Rubble

Betty Rubble

Betty Rubble image credit to: images.cryhavok.org

One event booked I know the ‘when and where’.

A ‘Phone me when you are free, and we will meet for coffee’, I know the where. Last time we met at 11:30 and several coffees later we parted at 16:30…. not quite hoarse!

Lunch engagement – know the ‘who & where’ but not yet the ‘when’.

It all depends on the main reason for my visit…

A total new experience, but I have yet to find out the ‘where and when’.

Blogging might be light next week, so please forgive me.

Old friends from the back…

Back at the beginning of the month I wrote a Post about Grey hair and wrinkles, it reminded of another tale from the past.

Many years ago on a Dublin bus, I climbed the stairs and walking along the aisle I saw a friend sitting in a seat. I sat in beside him and nudged him with my elbow, while enquiring how he was.

You guessed it.

It was not my friend, but a total stranger.

I am not sure which of us were the more surprised. I know I blushed with embarrassment. What to do? Move away to another seat, or brave it out, apologise and hopefully turn it into a conversation starter?

Yes. That is what I did and we had a great conversation all the way home.

Oliver & Grace

We met at a barbecue, a short ten years ago. For a number of years our paths crossed on a regular basis, and I entertained them to dinner in my home on a number of occasions. Oliver & Grace* were about ten years my senior, and I was fascinated by the story of their journey to true love.

Growing up in the same area of a Belfast suburb, Oliver & Grace first met in their teens as members of the same youth organisations. They quickly became friends and were soon inseparable. Grace’s mother did not really like Oliver, not for any particular reason, she just felt he was not right for her daughter.

Grace’s family were moving away, at short notice, to the UK mainland. She was only informed the evening before departure – not an uncommon situation back then – children were often excluded from plans or arrangements. Grace was rather forlorn when she told Oliver her news, but promised to write as soon as they were settled into the new house.

Two days later, Grace kept her promise and wrote to Oliver urging him to write and tell her all the local news.

A week later, she wrote again, and the one after that, but no reply was forthcoming. Waiting a couple of weeks she tried again, but no joy, she still never heard from Oliver. Sadly, she decided, Oliver had forgotten all about her or was not very keen to keep in touch.

Grace, settled into the routine of her new life and Oliver drifted to the dark corners of her memory box. With time Grace trained to be a nurse and after several years opened her own nursing home. Her mother died suddenly and as an only child, the funeral arrangements and clearing out the family home were down to her.

While grace was clearing her mother’s desk, she found a folder containing a bundle of letters. At first she thought that they might have been from her father, and sent to her mother before his death many years earlier.

Turning the bundle over, Grace gasped. The letters were all addressed to her and not her mother. The handwriting was familiar and a tear escaped from the corner of her eye. Oliver had written. Not once but every week for several months, long after Grace had stopped and thought she was forgotten.

Why? Why? Why? Asked Grace. Her mother had never mentioned Oliver’s name since they left the shores of Ireland, yet she kept these letters. All unopened!

It took three full days for Grace to work up the courage to write to the only address she had for Oliver and she included her phone number along with the address. Two days later the phone rang as she was about to make dinner.

It was Oliver.

Food was forgotten. They talked for a couple of hours, catching up on all that had happened in the intervening years. They vowed never to lose contact again. A month later Oliver travelled over for a long weekend.
Within the year, Grace sold the Nursing Home to her deputy, then packed up her belonging and headed home to marry Oliver. They never looked back. They were a wonderful couple, meant to be together and brought joy to all around them.

In the latter part of last year Grace became unwell and suffered great pain, seeking the help from her local medical practice, painkillers were suggested and prescribed, with Grace being told it was muscular. Showing no sign of abating, the pain increased all the while and stronger painkillers were administered. Oliver worried, but Grace tried to reassure him.

One morning Grace looked grey and unable to sit up in bed. Oliver decided he had enough. He changed his plans for the day and went straight to the doctor’s surgery. He did not mince his words and told them that he was prepared to sit there all day until a doctor came home with him to see Grace.

A doctor did go with Oliver. On examining Grace, he had her admitted to hospital immediately. Tests and scans began. Two days later Grace was told she had cancer.

Oliver went to see the Consultant and discovered the pain was due to a large mass pressing on Grace’s spine. As that sank in, Oliver asked, like we all would “How many years would you say Grace has left?

Years? Said the Consultant. I am not talking years. At most two months… or one!

That night Oliver phoned their few close friends to break the news. Tom and Anne offered to collect him the next day and take him to the hospital.

Tom got no reply to the doorbell, which was unusual, Oliver was always ready on the doorstep when someone was coming to collect him. Eventually Oliver found someone with a key and they went in to find Oliver was lying on the kitchen floor the kettle on its side on the floor beside him. Oliver was cold.

A Doctor was called. It was the same Doctor who came to see Grace, he thought death had occurred eight to ten hours earlier.

Tom now had the task of informing Grace, who was now unable to move her limbs, of the death of her beloved Oliver. He also undertook to make the arrangements for the funeral.

The first of the two months have past, but it is a waiting game for Grace, with her condition worsening with the days.

I hope for her sake the end comes soon.

The lesson for all of us is to: LIVE NOW. Make the moment a worthwhile one!

* Names changed for obvious reasons.

UPDATE: Grace died on 25th January 2013. R I P