Sunday, 27 May 2012

Are You Happy People?

My regular readers will know of my regular rants and complaints about living in rural Ireland.  There are very few jobs, not many pubs (not that you could afford to go in one) and virtually no public transport.  Yet its a beautiful and peaceful environment to live in.

Anyway I have a old pal (he's younger than me) who lives in Poland and he and his wife often go to the cinema.      He told me that he went to see a brilliant film about the indigenous people living in the Siberian Taiga.  He said:

"You'll love it Dave."

So I looked it up on You Tube and I saw the following film trailer:

The film ('"filum" if you live in Ireland!) impressed me very much, and I ordered a copy for 13 quid on Ebay.  The film is absolutely mesmerising and awe inspiring.  And (never start a sentence with and) there are none of those subtitles like they used to have in those naughty French films that you never used to watch and not bother to read, did you?

My rural isolation is nothing compared to these men who spend months on their own with no phone, running water or medical supplies or aid.   In one scene one of the hunters journeys through the snow and ice to get to one of his log cabin hunting lodges.  On arrival he finds a tree that's  fell down and blocking his door and its getting dark.  So he gets out the chainsaw (like you do), cuts down the tree and fixes his window, then he lights the fire and makes his supper.  The man didn't bat an eyelid and seemed very 'happy'.  I go mad when the computer is being daft, or I have no Sky television or electricity and the well pump is not working.  These Siberian hunters are made of stronger stuff.

 The soundtrack music is also amazing  and the director Werner Herzog should get an Oscar for his film.  Honestly it's incredible.  Man is such an incredible creature and nature should be revered.  What a film!  What a man's got to do to get away from the wife and kids.  Not everybody wants to watch Siberian East Enders and Siberian Coronation Street, do they?


  1. Some hard men, makes our deprivations look insignificant.

    Haven't been able to post, back now, full report to follow.

    Raggy cat missing, should be back later or tomorrow.

    Grass about 2' high, would make good hay, not rainiong but dull and warm.

  2. Welcome back Cumbrian.

    I thought that I probably would not get any comments because the men make their living fur trapping. They do it to survive and to keep people warm, not just for vanity.

    I watched a programme on Channel 4 the other night (Jimmy Doherty) and they were killing new born Jersey bull calf's and selling them to heat Belgian power-stations. Every farm animal should be allowed a few months to live at least.

    Spent a couple of hours yesterday bashing thistles and clearing pasture of cow pats with a shovel, so we can get a hay or silage crop. The cow pats would make the crop rot. You wouldn't find many other people walking up and down dale clearing their pasture by hand. I never found any Ragwort either. So my Ragwort pulling strategy seems to have worked.

    I hope Raggy cat reports back today for it's milk and supper.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. Yes, fur trapping, a delicate subject I suppose, but it's nature after all. Dunno how the trap works, more acceptable if it's either instant death (like a well-set snare) or captive type (like a lobster pot)

    Can't see the logic behind killing new-born to use as fuel for power stations?

    First time I heard that about hay rotting after growing through cow pats, we always thought that a cow would not eat the grass that grew through one.
    Nice to hear you're on top of the ragwort, haven't looked at mine yet, I might find a few to pull.

    Raggy cat re-appeared at the kitchen window, with the "let-me-in" look and the "feed me" miaow. It got the remnants of our fish & chips on the way home last night, Mrs is a sucker for animals, always saves it a bit of cod. The went back too the back door with the "let me out now" look. Nothing wrong there.

    Just back from Southern Franmce, we fly to Girona then drive up, and since it was early in the day when we landed, I drove up the A-road route, a bit longer than the M-way, but you see a lot more. Noticed what I thought was a small settlement, but closer inspection suggested it's an area of allotment-type gardens, and the identical white painted stone walls with red tile mono-pitch roofs with chimney buildings appear to be on each small plot; too small for dwellings (unless temporary?) and set out in lines, a bit too perfect not to be planned.
    Allotments Spanish style?
    The French ones are nice to see, square plots all fenced and each with an identical wooden hut and nothing else, all very productive. I was told if you neglect your plot, they take it from you and give it to somebody who will look after it. Very nice in theory, but I think it takes away individuality and recycled allotment architecture.

    Landed at Newcastle to torrential rain and freezing gale, set off on headlights and super-fast wipers. By Haydon Bridge chippy the rain had gone but still overcast. By Cumbria the roads were dry and the lights off, it's a pleasant evening.
    This morning sunny with some blue sky, light airs and pleasantly cool.

    Need to go and see if my computer is fixed, I'm using a lap-top, main one is with my whizz-kid mate who does his best to keep me on-line despite my perceived determination to destroy every electronic devise I come into contact with.

  4. Thanks for that Cumbrian.

    The fur trappers in the film use branches to make wood traps that kill the animal instantly. They are just like you say, a well-set snare.

    Once again the meat market determines what breed of cattle we eat. They want us to eat the lean continental type. Yet when we buy meat it never says (or very rarely) what breed the animal was? At least McDonalds source British and Irish Aberdeen Angus.

    The supermarket meat is like the vegetables, we don't know what variety or breed we are eating. What happened to taste and marbling? The Dexter (the 'poor farmers cow') is said to be exquisite. I have started buying pre-packed (real plastic) organic beef from our supermarket. It doesn't state the breed either. How ever it's excellent.

    The reason I clear the dung from the pasture is because if it gets picked up in the bales it rots the silage or hay. So it's worth the effort. I also like to walk it for stones and weeds like Ragwort which will kill young cattle.

    The worst scenario I read about was a Irish farmer up country who baled his fields and fed his cattle the silage in the Winter. His cattle died from lead poisoning. A farmer had left or thrown a disused electric fencer battery in the field and it had leaked lead and poisoned the farmers herd.

    Glad to hear Raggy Cat arrived back safe and well and enjoyed the cod.

    Thanks for telling me about the French and Spanish allotments. They sound very regimented rather like the trees on a golf course? I much prefer the disorder, and artisitic chaos of your typical British allotment holder. I think there are some tin gods on British allotment committees who would like to be in the 'allotment police' telling everybody how and when to tend their allotments.

    We are getting lots of mist and clud encircled mountains - mystical Ireland. The Irish call Ireland the 'Kettle'. Most of the mountains are on the coast and when the heat rises, Ireland steams. I suppose I should spray my potatoes? Don't like spraying new potatoes.

    Computers are great until they start acting daft. I often scream at Google Chrome. I still think the Internet is amazing though!


  5. Yeah, the beef, "baby beef" is what a butcher once called it, knocked down at 18 months after being filled up with growth enhancers, anti-biotics and God knows what else to get them up to weight faster. Best bit of beef I ever had was Scottish, 3 years old, dark red colour marbled to perfection and cut beautifully; actually tasted of something as well. Have to admit I don't know the breed.

    Dexter catle I've never seen, much less tasted, but heard about them.

    The French vegetables I hate to admit, tatse so much better than our English supermarket offerings, we buy from roadside stalls, self-select and weighed, usually at perfection, and actually taste like I remember in my youth before the advent of supermarkets and foreign imports. About half the price of the superstores as well.

    Yes, the French allotments are very regulated, set out with precision and all identical. No individuality or weeds seem to be tolerated. Probably quite productive, but seem to lack the character of our individual plots (artistic disorder)

    I didn't realise how much I relied on the mighty computer until the bloody thing stopped working, a visit to my whizz-kid tonight wasn't too helpful, he explained it all to me, something about passwords, keyboards and operatng systems that didn't mean a thing to me, but with instructions to take it home and re-connect it, if it stll won't fire up, bring it back with the keyboard and monitor.
    So that's my project for tonight. And maybe tomorrow.

    Raggy cat sunbathing again this afternoon, come in now to sit in its place in front of the un-lit fire.

    Keeping a bit warmer here.

  6. Thanks for that Cumbrian.

    We have traceability in terms of what farm the farm animal came from. Yet we don't know what breed of meat it is. Even some of those people selling it in the supermarkets don't seem to know what meat it is other than:

    "It's beef..."

    I would love to live in France or a warmer country that is far less expensive than Ireland or Britain. My friend in Poland informs me that he can get a really good, strong can of beer for the equivalent of 50p.

    In Denmark they have Community Gardens that are preserved for all time, they are secure and permanent for ever. This is enshrined in their law. Wouldn't it be great if all allotments were preserved for ever?

    I am a bit of computer (Internet) addict myself. When I get up it's check the cattle, feed the ducks and check my blog and emails. I don't think I could manage without T'web and Tinternet now.

    It's been fantastic here today. Glad to hear Raggy cat is happy in the sun.


  7. Yes, somebody suggested, since they lose about 10,000 illegal immigrants every month, give them all a cow to keep, then they'd know where to find them.
    My mate Rob, a qulified butcher, was working in Morrisons cutting, a waste of a real skill, then he moved to Asda as a produce supervisor, then promoted to bakery manager. He's finished next week, going to work for a real butcher, says he's had enough of 10:00pm finishes.
    Some of the "butchers" in superstores become "fishmongers" if it suits management, they just swap aprons. Apparently the fishmongers are given a 40-minute training course before being left in charge of the wet fish counter.

    Spanish beer San Miguel was 50 euro cents for a 500ml can last week, 5% as well. And some of the French beer is cheaper than some of the French bottled water if you can work that out?
    Yes, don't we get ripped off.

    Computer back up and running, you're right it gets addictive.

    Raggy cat off out, sitting on the decking surveying his wilderness (back garden)

  8. Hi Cumbrian. Your friend Rob's supermarket sounds like a Monty Python sketch. Talk about a jack of all trades and master of none. Not that it's the supermarket workers fault.

    We just don't know what we're eating today. Nobody seems to know what the breed of the animal is or what variety the vegetable is. Then we have such culinary delights like: Hamburgers and Chicken Nuggets. Hamburgers can be made of 8 different types of meat and things like chicken nuggets are meat that's been picked up off the floor with a vacuum and minced and relabelled.

    How can French beer be cheaper than bottled water? No I can't fathom that one. Remmeber when del boy bottled his water on his allotment? Any one for Peckham spring water?

    Yes we are definitely getting ripped off.

    n Ireland there used to be Shebeen's (very popular in South Africa)where illicit pot-teen and stout was sold from peoples houses. I read recently of somebody up country selling and serving cans of cheap supermarket beer in his house and the police closed it down. Loss of revenue no doubt? Think it's still illegal to sell home-brew in England? You would that better than me Cumbrian?

    Glad your computer is working again. Think my computer will need replacing soon. Would love an Apple - I can dream.

    We have got lots of rain today. Should wash any lice eggs from the cattle and make the vegetables grow. Well it is bank holiday weekend.


  9. Yes, the supersheds fishmongers, often a pretty girl about 17-18 years old filling time in before she gets pregnant and jumps to the top of the housing queue.
    I once commented on a nice cock salmon which was the centre-piece of a display, and she asked me how I knew it was a cock? And I'm not a fishmonger.

    Hamburgers and chicken nuggets and some of the sausage I wouldn't thank you for, they all taste of sweepings.

    I thnk it's illegal to sell home brew, but as far as I know I can make as much as I want and either drink it or give it away. same with wine. But not spirits, it's illegal to distil in UK, but stranely not in some other countries as long as it's personal use.
    Be nice if I could sell it, just enough to cover overheads, but I'm sure that would bring down the wrath of the tax people.

    No rain here, raggy cat sun-bathing again.

  10. You have got a great sense of ironic humour Cumbrian. Do you think that getting pregnant is a step on the housing ladder?

    The authorities have got to give the newborn child a roof over its head and we don't want to go back to the workhouse, evening though they had some great kitchen gardens.

    Have a look at Jasper Carrotts Woolworths sketch on You Tube. It always makes me laugh. The daftiest thing I heard myself say to the girl on the till,was when I bought a digital camera in Argos:

    "What film does it take?"

    Another rare and endangered species in Ireland is the: Spirit Grocers. These are shops that have bars and bars that sell groceries. So you can have a skin full and order your shopping. You would think all the big supermarkets did it wouldn't you?

    I don't think your allowed to sell vegetables from your allotment either? There's a lot to be said for the barter system. LETS never seems to have taken off in these parts. I would gladly do some weeding or swap some veg or FYM for some home brew.

    Still raining here. Supposed to be nice on Monday.

    Thanks Cumbrian for making me laugh.

  11. The Spirit Grocers, an un-heard-of breed in England, at least in my little bit.
    Went on a weeks fishing trip to Ireland a good few years ago, County Wexford I think, stayed at a place called Bastardstown near Kilmore Quay (they were trying to get the name changed at the time, but I don't know what to) and explored a bit of the countryside apart from fishing at Rossdoonstoon, a stretch of beach that comes to life as the sun sets with 100s of anglers. I caught my first (and only) bass there whilst trying for mackeral.

    Lovely area, first time I saw an Esso sign and a Guinness sign together. Visited a little bar/store place, can't remember where, and the bloke professed to be the longest-serving landlord in Ireland, he was about 90 years old and never pulled a pint, only sold bottles of Guinness and something else. He wouldn't serve boys, and anybody under about 35 classed as a boy. Bar with a big poster of his hurling team which won some trophy about 1964, the poster was still there. Old linoleum floor with a path worn to the concrete to the dart board. There was a windmill in his garden, he bemoaned the fact he had to insure it.

    Also had a pint in a bar in Wexford I think it was, which had an undertakers parlour at the back.

    Lots of the French and Spanish superstores have bars / cafes / tabacs on the premises, and the older ones with tasting bars where you can sample the draft wines before you buy by the litre from huge wooden barrels.

    Barter system's way under-estimated, a great system if everybody's fair, avoids a lot of paperwork. The government frown on it though, they don't get anything out of it. There's a thriving Freecycle established, one Penrith and another Carlisle, which is a good system for disposing of / aquiring stuff that would otherwise end up in land-fill. An approach to barter I suppose, I've had some things and passed some on.
    Dunno if you have that system there?

    Rain's kept off, raggy cat andering in and out, in its place now, fire still un-lit, it's a bit warmer now.

  12. Hi Cumbrian.

    The Spirit Grocers are in Ireland. I heard of a publandlord who was also a auctioneer, estate agent and undertaker. He also held his own telling jokes, but that was for free.

    You have definitely experienced Ireland on your fishing trip. I have been in quite a few pubs that are very similar. If you want to read a brilliant travelogue, get yourself a copy of McCarthy's Bar, by Pete McCarthy. It's the funniest book that I have ever read. Pete was born in Warrington. He talks fondly about the staple diet of the Irish drinker: the cheese and onion toasty!

    I have been in a few cafe bars in France. Couldn't believe how they wouldn't let me pay until I had finished eating and drinking. I have been in chip shops in England that made you pay for your food before you queued up.

    I would imagine the barter system could be used everywhere if there was communication? Watched a programme recently (think it was Dartmouth or Exmouth) and the shops have their own currency so all the money stays in the same town. Have you ever seen the brilliant Ealing comedy: Passport to Pimlico?

    Another topic of discusion could be the black market economy. How many people will work for cash only? A qualified tradesman will always find work. That's why I think it's silly not to create jobs for people.

    No. There doesn't seem to be any Freecycle down here.

    It never stopped raining yesterday and we are still having to light the fire. The seasons are completely mixed up.



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