Friday 14 December 2012

Boring Winter Nights On The Smallholding. (What would you do if there was no telly?)

I am getting tired of these long Winter nights living on my Irish smallholding.  For one thing we have no 'street' lights (can't you tell I was born in northern England?)  for at least 4 miles.  So it's 'pitch us blackish' from 4 in the afternoon until eight O'clock next morning.  So it's usually, see to animals, eat tea and watch telly or surf the old computer and sup a few pints of ale or so.  That's usually my every night schedule in Winter?  Well, most of the year, these days.   I have attempted reading but I once commented to 'wifey' that reading is ignorant.  Now every time I pick up a book or my android (more about that in a blog or two) one of 'Northsider Towers' residents pipes up:

"Reading is ignorant."

You just can't win can you?  

Two of my regular readers (Pat Papertown 2 and Cumbrian), inform me that they don't watch television.  I think I would go mad if it wasn't for my computer, android (did I tell you I have got one of those androids?) and my life time subscription to Sky Sports complete with Manchester United supporters armchair?  I exaggerate.  What about you folks?  Can you manage life without your John Logie Baird machine?  

Years ago.  You would  wait for everybody to finish eating the rice pudding and your dad would use the bowl to make the'crystal set'.  You could listen to great radio (the theatre of the mind) programmes like: 'Band Wagon' (anybody remember Arthur Askey?) and listen to adverts about 'Ovaltine.' 

Television nostalgia.  

Here's another of my favourite Christmas tracks for you enjoyment.  The great Greg Lake himself.  I once saw him and Emerson Lake and Palmer play at Manchester Apollo.  I think they are probably most talented band ever to come from Britain.  My favourite track of theirs is 'Jerusalem'.  I think it should be the national anthem.  William Blake was a genius.  Any ELP fans?  What do you think about television?  Can you live without it?  

Still can't get to work on the old veg plot.  The ground is saturated - for a change.  Perhaps it's a time to read and write blogs and books and even watch some telly?  Why don't we have a 'Smallholding and Allotment 'channel? 

See you soon.  Thanks for reading!!


  1. Agree with everything you say about ELP, Dave, one of the best bands to ever grace the planet.

    Love the 'Brain Salad Surgery' and 'Tarkus' albums. Also think that 'Trilogy' is a great underestimated album. Really like 'The Endless Enigma' off 'Trilogy'.

    Remember the great gig at Manchester Apollo, especially when they made the stage look like Salisbury Cathedral (I think?) for 'Pictures at an Exhibition'

  2. No interest in TV, but I'd struggle without my computer.
    Sad or what?
    Also like reading (does that make me ingnorant?)

    No frost this morning, overcast with cold wind, actually feels colder than the frost.
    Raggy cat following its routine, came to back kitchen window this morning, wondered why it wasn't at the front door.

  3. Hi Pat, yeah ELP are one of the best bands to ever graced this planet. Never understood why there's been so much hype about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but so little for Emerson Lake and Palmer.

    I remember when we saw them in Manchester and Mr Emerson tortured the organ with his knife, hanging off the stage and he still played it perfectly. Sheer theatre and an incredibly polished and professional performance, nay experience. Great band Pat!


  4. I have withdrawal symptoms if I don't check my email, blog and other blog posts at least 4 times a day.

    Course you're not ignorant. It's just that readings isn't interactive and rather boring sitting in a room when somebody is reading and you're not. I say the same thing when the missus is knitting - not that I intend to start knitting, of course!

    I often wonder how the people long a go passed the long Winter nights with no electricity, television or radio. Perhaps that's why they had such large families? I am joking. Think a lot of people have become addicted to television.

    What do you read Cumbrian?


  5. me and chris do sit quietly and read on our laptops.... its no different than perhaps two old ladies reading their respective books in the 1920s...

    the tv is usually on in the background
    tee hee

  6. Hi John, It looks like lap tops and computers are much more interactive and useful social media than television. But it's nice to have the tv on in the background. I am trying not to watch the news. It's always so depressing. We subscribe to Sky and I seem to spend my evenings flicking the remote control and also reading blogs and checking emails. I would love to read a book at night, but the house is never quiet enough.


  7. Trying to think back to pre-TV days, it's a long time ago, in fact we didn't have electric even, just town gas which supplied gas mantles, and the open fire. I went to bed with a burning taper to light the bedroom mantle.

    I think it was the done thing for kids to play out, we had a gas street light which was the centre of all our games in winter, until we were shouted in at bed-time. There was no cars to interrupt our games.
    I never wondered what the adults did, I suppose we all went to bed earlier than now, the pubs shut at 10:30, and the last bus to the village was 10:30.

    Raining now; cold wet and miserable.
    Raggy cat asked to go out earlier, hasn't returned, must have pressing business.

  8. Hi Cumbrian,

    You paint a magical painting of your childhood days.Especially the image you paint of the gas lamp in your street. It reminds me of one of those Lowry oil paintings.

    I can't remember a time when we didn't have a television set, even though it was black and white and you had to wait for the valves to warm up. Back in the days when the television programmes always showed at least one Western cowboy film a night.

    The only timewe never had a telly, was when we came here to Ireland for a fortnight. We couldn't believe people didn't watch television.

    Still saturated here. More rain for the next few days. Veg plot looks very sorry for itself.

    Good old Raggy cat.


  9. Great post! We haven't had TV for about 4 years. We do have a TV set and would watch DVDs, but mostly we'd stream something from the laptop if we want to watch anything (maybe half an hour a day?). We do both use the internet quite a bit, but it keeps us in touch with whats going on in the world.

    Other than that we read, I knit or sew. We're decorating the house so we might do some of that too.

    Not having TV leaves you with a lot more time on your hands!

  10. Likewise. We have no TV but do watch the odd thing over the internet. There is just so much to learn, and between reading books and things from the web, (baby daughter permitting) that there wouldn't be time for telly.
    The best thing is that because if we want to watch something we have to go looking, we are more selective and don't end up watching it just because it is there.
    If there are any gaps. I just do an OU course and that fills them, but there hasn't been time for a while.

  11. Thanks Lorraine, I think it's really interesting reading the comments. The Internet seems to have replaced the television in terms of social media. I watch lots of television at night, especially if Manchester United are playing. I wish there was more smallholding and allotment television programmes like the 'Wartime Farm' and Geoff Hamilton's 'Paradise Gardens'. Perhaps the answer is an online smallholding community? I find that the older I get my energy levels are decreasing. For example. If I pike and barrow 15 wheelbarrows of fym about or do some digging on the veg plot. I am exhausted come tea time. All I want to do is watch the television and check the blogs and emails. It's great to hear that you keep busy on your smallholding.

    Thanks Lorraine.

  12. Great stuff, Steve. You sound really organised and know how how to keep busy.

    I think rural living is very isolated and it's not for the faint hearted. There is so little infrastructure here in rural Ireland. We have no community centre, shop, public transport or pub for at least 5 miles. It's not good for the spirit not meeting people. I wish I lived near a village with all of the above facilities.

    Years ago people used to walk across the fields to visit their neighbours for for a talk and a drink and to offer or ask for help around the smallholding.. Now times have changed. People watch television and never speak to their neighbours. It's sad isn't it? Thanks for your thoughts Steve.

  13. Don't know how you can stand watching football on TV, Dave, the whole thing makes me feel physically sick, as the game seems to have been completely hijacked by putrid politically 'correct' and (even more extreme) black power causes.

    Having said the above, I can understand why you have Sky Sports for the cricket and occasionally good boxing match.

    About the computer, absolutely wonderful thing, especially Youtube which gives you access to as much music as you could ever dream of. If I'm 50-50 on seeing a band live in Warsaw, I just get a couple of cans of good beer, and check the band out thoroughly before finally deciding whether to go and see them or not. For example, I quite liked Steve Lukather's (Toto guitarist) solo stuff in passing, but after checking it out more thoroughly (especially the 'All's Well That Ends Well' album), decided that this was a concert that I couldn't afford to miss.

    Thus, for me, Youtube is the most important source of information, and would find it really difficult to live without it.

  14. Hi Pat, I get tired with the political sideshows concerning sport. It's a privately owned sport played by millionaire sportsmen. What's fair about that?

    I love cricket because it's such a gentleman's sport and doesn't seem to attract idiots the same. You never hear anything about the regional racism shouted out between rival football fans. Perhaps when we see 60,000 police at a football match they will arrest all those calling people northern or southern naughty people? Course I am joking Pat. When they realise that these people never call their own black players. Calling somebody is a backhanded compliment - they are jealous of somebodies skill. I couldn't be bothered if a robot wore a Manchester United shirt if we win every week.

    You Tube is incredible. It's like having your own free juke box at your fingertips. I love the Internet and especially You Tube.

    Also I get to see very few bands because of my location. It's great that people like you inform me about all the concerts you go to in Poland. I agree it would be really difficicult to live with out You Tube, Pat.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  15. Yes, childhood memories, tempered by nostalia I think, but life did seem so much less complicated then, less money but more fun. I suppose we were lucky to have the gas street lights, they ran on town gas, a by-product of the steelworks, and seemed to be located on street corners. Our avenue was a quiet cul-de-sac then, it's since been surrounded by new build estates, and several hundered cars pass through every day. The gas light has long since gone, replaced by electric ones bolted on to the electric poles. I remember when electric came, the wall-mounted gas mantle lighting was replaced by flick-a-switch ceiling-mounted bulbs, it seemed very advanced at the time. Then one householder got the first TV, a lot of the women congregated in their house every week to watch "Emergency Ward 10" in black & white. The gas light survived a while after the houses got electric, quite a few years as well, but eventually disappeared in the path of progress. A lot of them survive in the gardens of big houses, now with an electric bulb in, they were made of cast iron and will probably last for ever.

    Good houses as well, built in 1925, a small avenue of 30, semi-detached each with a decent garden for growing vegetables, every one still has its original roof of Buttermere slates; contrast the new estate they built 1960s, half of them have had their conctrete roof tiles renewed. Every one had a 4' privet hedge front and sides, cut regularly, and a 3' gate and path. Now they've mostly got drives and garages, with a few of them replacing the privet with brick walls and wooden fences, less trouble I suppose, and most of the vegetable plots are just grass or patios.

    Isn't nostalgia wonderful?

    Damp here this morning, cool and breezy.
    Raggy cat came in wet, went out, perched on the decking railing surveying its back garden domain for an hour, and came in again, taken up position in front of fire.

  16. Nostalgia like that is wonderful, Cumbrian. I have heard similar tales about neighbours gathering in their neighbours house to see the 1953 Coronation. I think television is very good but it could be a lot better and feature allotments and smallholdings and country crafts. We have hundreds of different channels and yet sometimes there is nothing worth watching.

    It's raining heavy here tonight. An elderly farmer in his late sixties told me he can never remember weather so bad. Climate change is definitely happening. I feel sorry for all those poor farmers and allotment holders unable to work the land.

    I think Raggy cat is very wise.


  17. See that the PC mob are now initiating a witch hunt against a Serbian footballer. Why do you think the PC crew are so spiteful and xenophobic against Serbs, Dave?

    Always 'amuses' me that the mickey-mouse PC war crime court seems to only find Serbs guilty, and almost never Croats or Muhammadans.

  18. Hi Pat, I know virtually nothing about the Serbs, Pat. Wasn't Archduke Ferdinand a Serbian and his assassination brought about the First World War? I know that you see the news from a different perspective living in Eastern Europe. Can you enlighten me about Serbia, Pat?

    I heard somebody recently say the good reason for the EEC being in existence is to keep Germany from fighting France. Yet every day it seems like there will be a European federal government with no sovereign states. From a small farmer's viewpoint I find the Common Agriculture Policy very unfavourable. How does Poland view the EEC, Pat?

  19. I'm no expert on Serbia, Dave, but like a lot of the post-communist Eastern European states, it has a quite strong religious (Eastern Orthodox) identity which still informs and gives value to its national culture. Tied in with this, like most other Eastern European countries, Serbia has never experienced the type of multiculturalist experimentation which has taken place in such Western European countries as the UK, France, and Germany, and views this kind of experimentation as quite simply being 'nuts'.

    The Serbs are also mightily proud of their history, having always been on the front line, defending Europe against Islamic expansionism (e.g. the Battle of Kosovo of 1389). Thus, when the NATO forces stole Kosovo off the Serbs, they were doing something much deeper and darker than stealing a piece of land, they were destroying the soul of the Serbian people (this is not an exaggeration, if you meet ordinary Serbian people, not politicians, they really do feel it this way).

    Like most Eastern Europeans, the Poles want the economic aid from the EU, but not the politically 'correct' ideology. Even the Serbian government wants to join the EU for the ecpnomic rewards.

    Thus, if you like, the main equation seems to be that Eastern European states are being given economic handouts in return for being expected to compromise their national cultures and identities, as part of this ongoing thing called globalisation. One example is that now that Poland has received so much economic aid e.g. for improving its roads, the EU now feels free to attack Poland's restrictive abortion policy, and expects Poland to change it in the future.

  20. Thanks for that Pat, isn't national identity and culture (state of manners, taste and intellectual development at a time or place) a taboo subject these days? I think people don't realise when they vote and sign up to the EEC they give away their nations rules and philosophy. This leaves us with a rule book drawn up by faceless civil servants in Brussels and these laws can not be changed, rightly or wrongly.

    Thanks Pat.

  21. Yes, you've hit the nail on the head, Dave, the politically 'correct' have conveniently made national culture/ identity a taboo topic through the dreaded word 'nationalism'. God help anyone who dares to fly a Union Jack or St. George Cross.

    Bet you're glad to be away from all the PC nonsense on your farm in Ireland. For me, this would be the main benefit of isolated rural living.

  22. Hi Pat. Watched a great programme on BBC4: 'A Very English Winter' presented by the 2 girls from the English folk group: 'The Unthanks. They went round England looking at traditional customs carried out during Winter time. It really was good.

    I often wish there was a traditional English pub here in Ireland. There's enough 'Oirish' pubs around the world. What's wrong with celebrating your national identity and culture? Is national culture confined to nostalgia and somebody wearing a traditional national costume?

    I love England and Ireland's traditions and culture Pat. Why not celebrate it?


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