Sunday 30 October 2011


"We live in the shadowlands, sun is always shining somewhere else....
around a bend in the road.... over the brow of a hill.."

That's a CS Lewis quote.  Doesn't it sum up the human condition ever so perfectly?  We spend our lives searching for something.

For x amount of years (over ten) I tried to be a writer - a published one at that.  Last year I fulfilled my dream. Am I happier now that I can call myself  Mr Author?  Not really.  Yes its brilliant to see my book on Amazon and write blogs about writing and humour.  But I still haven't got much money and my book doesn't get reviewed in the national newspapers.

Then again.  Is that why we write?

Are you a writer?

Why do you write?

 I would love to know!


Friday 28 October 2011

"That's 25p an hour for the Farmer. How much an hour for a Writer?

Hi Folks.

I remember (couple of years ago) talking to a farmer about the plight of the farmer.  He said:

"If a farmer got 25p an hour, he'd be doing well!"

"So much?"

Says me.

Farming prices have been terrible for the last few years.  No we are in this dreadful recession.  Farmer's seem to be getting king's ransoms for their animals.  Only the other day a cattle dealer was telling me that 'dropped' (newly born) calves are making THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY EURO'S each.

Farmers can't afford to buy new stock.  How can cattle and sheep be making money in a recession?  Is it the ever growing world's population or are the meat factories and marts inflating the prices?  The world's gone mad!

A few years ago I sold yearling cattle for 380 Euro's a piece and the buyer expected 'Luck' money.  That's the Irish custom of giving the buyer some luck (a money note nothing less than a fiver) for his or her new purchase.

The little farmer always seems to lose out.  Even the E.E.C is going to stop paying out Single Farm Payments to Smallholders with less than two acres.  They say it costs them to much to administer this.  Doesn't it costs the Smallholder to live also?

Any way folks.  My question is:  If the Farmer is worth 25p an hour.  How much is a writer worth?  Martin Amis (famous author) once said that the lady who dusts his books in his study, earns more than him.  I think she was paid 12 quid an hour?   What hope is there for me or you or any other struggling writer/authors?

Saying that.  If I was living on a desert Island full of empty whisky bottles (I would make sure they were empty), I'd still be writing messages in them.  Money doesn't come into it if you're called to write.  Lets all have a sing song.  Altogether now:

"Message in a bottle."

Sunday 23 October 2011

Farm Animal Housing.

The ground is saturated and my livestock are staying in today.  We don't have one of those horrid 'slatted' houses that seem to have sprang up all over the countryside. Why can't they be built with a more aesthetic appearance?  Can they not camouflage them with trees or face the concrete with stone?

On our farm, we have what is called 'loose housing'.  This consists of block walls, a concrete floor, metal doors and a corrugated metal roof.  The house (cowshed) is divided into two by a four foot wall  This used to be the'horse's' house.

Today my sheep are residing in it and my calve's are in the large area of the cow shed.  There are two hay-mangers (full of loose hay) hanging on the dividing wall and they both have tubs of clean water and troughs for the beef nut and sheep nuts.  The floor is covered in wood shavings and some hay or straw to lie on.  I clean them out regularly and make sure they are not lying in wet or cold and messy conditions.

We try to farm close to nature.  Would love to be an 'Organic' farmer.  There are no local organic butchers and most of the farm animals get sold to conventional farmers.  I also think there is far too much red tape to entice and attract most smallholder farmers.

What do you think readers?

 I know you're reading this because I have over a thousand views - thanks for passing by and having a look!!

Thursday 20 October 2011

Does anybody care about the people in the countryside?

I had never heard of Rural Isolation until I moved to West Cork just over ten years ago.  It was my life time wish to live in the countryside, next to the sea.  The silence is incredibly peaceful but it can also be quite deafening at times.  The poet Donne said:

"No man is an Island".

Rural living seems to be a life without infrastructure: no buses, pubs, shops, community centres, decent roads, street pavements, street lights, friends or even jobs.  Don't get me wrong I love the countryside and watching the different seasons like: cold rain, light rain and warm rain.  I think its other name is Summer.  Yeah I also have a sense of humour and that's why I write.

We have little crime and its a nice place to live.  But if you don't have a car or a qualification, or you are disabled or old.  There's not much down for you in the countryside.  This awful recession is making a lot of  the young people in Ireland emigrate.  Even worse the suicide rate is rising every month.  Its so sad!

Do we want the countryside to be a place for holiday homes, dormitory housing and 'Weekender's'.  Or do we encourage the children to get a good education and to move to the city or even emigrate?

I would love to work from home writing articles for newspapers and magazines and even more books.  But wouldn't millions of other people?  At least I am a published author.

Does anybody care about the people in the countryside?

Sunday 16 October 2011


Hi folks!

Most people who read this post know I write Smallholding Humour.  Well that's the genre Amazon list my book in.  One also attempts (only now and again) to write poetry.  I am fascinated with old buildings, ruins in particular.  Especially the way nature reclaims the stones and architecture.  Animals take up residence in the rooms and Ivy spreads its fingers blanketing the walls.

I often go a walk in the West Cork countryside stopping now and again and looking at the old stone roofless cabins.  Many of these old ruins inhabitants died of starvation during the Great Famine in Ireland.  Many of the people emigrated to Britain, Australia and North America and Canada.  I often think:

"If only these walls could speak".

I wrote the following poem about a Lancashire cotton mill many years ago:


Skeletal, unworkable
A mill in retirement,

Ghosts of yesterday, disarray
Pitiful natures sad lament,

Crumbling mortar, times slaughter
"King Cotton" is no more,

Boulders fall, abstract tall
Rumbling debris cascades pour,

Relic, Melancholic
History passing through stones fingers,

No workers sweat, just silhouette
Their memory still lingers.


Mike Harding sings a very moving song on You Tube: King Cotton.

Thanks for reading this!  I'll write another post later in the week!

Thursday 13 October 2011


The new manuscript is beginning to write itself.  I think its the exercise of writing four blogs a week that is keeping me writing fit.  That's two blogs for this site and another two on my book publishers blog site.  I am eating, sleeping and drinking my writing at the moment.

Writing the amusing travel guide/ memoir is really enjoyable at the moment.  Its great to have my old friend Google to click every time I think of a new topic.  I have only been on-line for the last two years.  Now I am completely addicted to the Internet.

The manuscript contains quite a few funny anecdotes and hopefully lots of useful and useless information.  I have noticed that the two essential ingredients of a successful memoir are humour and pathos;

"Make em laugh, make em cry".

I have read Angela's Ashes and it contains plenty of humour and pathos.  If you can make people laugh and cry, you have something special.  We all have lots of rain and sunshine in our lives and should a book be any different?

Here's a joke (very old) that contains pathos and humour;


I have lost my dog.  Its got no tail, one eye and only one ear.  Answers to the name of: LUCKY!

Sunday 9 October 2011


I am busy writing a hopefully funny book about a certain area of Ireland.  Its up to 12000 words today.  I seem to be reading quite a lot of travelling books recently.  Its a genre that seems to be very popular these days.  The manuscripts got lots of anecdotes and a lot of useful and useless information.

I don't know how many words to write?  It needs to be compact enough for the traveller to fit in their pocket and for it to be big enough for the reader to think its worth the price.  I don't know whether to send it off to a traditional book publisher, make it into an E book or go for a printer who prints on demand?

My friend (A English Master) is very kindly proof reading it for me and I have just  paid a illustrator to draw me a picture for the front cover.  My English Master friend is also very kindly providing me with photographs for the book.  I realise now (it's took me years) that you have to be professional with your writing.

I would love to start my own book publishing business.  Perhaps this will be the start?

Who are your favourite travel book writers?  My favourite two travel writers are Pete McCarthy and Neil Peart.

Does anybody write funny travel books?

Thursday 6 October 2011


I live on a smallholding in West Cork, Southern Ireland.  Rural Isolation often gets me down.  If you haven't got a bus service, shop, bus, church, community centre... - you haven't got much.  

Farming makes you stoic and pragmatic.  There is always a problem on a farm.  Be it the lack of money, sun, rain or just ill and dying animals.  I am more of a writer than a farmer really.  They are both very similar vocations though.  A writer spends hours, days, months maybe years?  Trying to get their work published and   hoping somebody will like it?  Farmers spend hours and hours working in all weathers.  Trying to build up a decent herd and make a few pounds for their family.  

I often watch the changing seasons and the wildlife and farm animals in the fields.  It makes me think of the wonderful poem: Self Pity.  DH Lawrence was a great poet and a great novelist.  


I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.  A small bird will drop frozen from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

Monday 3 October 2011


I was listening to a funny tale on Irish radio the other week.  A lady was on a plane talking to a old man.  He was a farmer.  She got talking about the latest Lotto winner.  The man said he knew how they would feel.  He said he'd won it himself - but he never told his missus!

Apparently you have a one in 14 million chance of winning the lottery.  There is more chance of you randomly dialling any phone number and the queen picking up the receiver and saying;

"Hiya.  Are you coming round to our house (even Palace) for a brew?"

I wouldn't want millions.  Just enough to buy a few more cattle, start my own book publishing company, brewery, have lots of holidays, never see another Winter again, have my own box at Manchester United, buy an house in Cornwall..?

What would you do if you won the Lottery?

Saturday 1 October 2011


Today is the first day of October.  I purchased some Winter onions and garlic the other day.  I've been lifting my potatoes and making raised beds from wood I get for free from the local skip hire place.

I can't get on my plot today though because the ground is saturated.  It's rained all week in West Cork, Ireland.  I believe that the UK is having an Indian Summer.  It must be all the pollution and global warming from all those cars.  See my blog comments about me thinking of buying a bike.  I am joking.

My winter onions or "Japs" have been incredibly huge this year - perhaps it was all the snow and ice?  It was the coldest winter in Ireland since 1947.  The old people here are saying that the holly trees are full of berries.  They say it's a sure sign of another harsh winter.  It will soon be Christmas!

What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

 The polytunnel and veg plot keeps on giving and we seem to be eating new spudatoes every day at the moment: Snowball onion, kale and new po...