Saturday 31 March 2018

Vegetables With Arms And Legs And Faces!

Now lets see:  There's Pat Pear, Ben Banana, Bob Broccoli, Connor Carrot, Grace Garlic, Adam Aubergine, Sophie Strawberry.  The vegetable characters are soft toys!

The Goodness Gang toys sat on top of our chest freezer.
Lidl have introduced The Goodness Gang toys.  Their purpose is to encourage us to eat 5 portions of fresh fruit and veg per day.  The offer is until the 8th of April for customers to collect stickers for the free toys. You get two stickers for every twenty Euros you spend.  

I think its a great way to get children interested in eating fruit and vegetables.  Don't you?  I wish our two had an interest in growing veg!  I saw an Asda (wish Asda was down here) advert last night saying they had carrots for sale for 20 Pence!  Is there any point growing them?  Course there is! 

Any one taking on a new veg plot or allotment this year?  I think its terrible that there waiting lists for allotments in the UK.  I live in the Irish countryside (next to the sea) and all I ever see is fields full of grass, cattle and sheep. It never use to be like that in Ireland. 

When I was younger, so much younger than today.  Don't worry I am not going to sing the Beatles song.  Every farm, or so it seemed grew a field of vegetables for themselves and cow cabbages and mangels for the carthorse and cows.  Then a long came the EEC and the countryside is empty.  Well apart from an odd milk tanker, the post van and silage and slurry time.

Perhaps parts of the countryside could become Eco villages with cheap houses and lots of vegetable plots?  What do you think?  Bring back the peasant stay at home farmers.  If only!

Thursday 29 March 2018

A Bit Of Irish Folk Music On A Thursday.

Many moons a go we rented a bungalow in Glengarriff and one night we decided to go to the pub, for a change!  We noticed some familiar looking men in the car-park: it was The Furey's.  They nodded and said "Hi" to my mother, father, my wife and me.  

They were appearing at the Eccles Hotel and they came for a pint or two of the "black stuff".   About twenty minutes later.  They stood up and gave the pub customers a free rendition of a couple of their songs:

I digress:  I have just found a new folk singer called Kate Theasby.  Finbar Furey wrote this beautiful song  and I can't stop playing it.  I am seeing Kate Theasby in Doolin live in June.  The song made me think of my late mother and father.  Its a long time since a song moved me so much.  I hope you enjoy the song. 

Tuesday 27 March 2018

A Comfortable Cat In A Scrapyard.

We spotted this feline character relaxing in it's adopted armchair.  I love scrapyards and farmyards.  You never know what you will see or what you will find.

Look at that rusty patina on that old oil drum.  I love rusty corrugated sheeting too.  Rust is totally natural.  The same rust that attacks your Leeks.  Is the same one that paints the lovely patina on the oil drum and corrugated sheeting.

Monday 26 March 2018

Operation Rainy Day Suit Hike And The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

Just for a change its raining cats and dogs today.  So I decided to put on my 'rainy day' suit (waterproofs) and go for a seven mile walk on the hills and boreens and roads of the land of my dad's ancestors: West Cork.   

I started off listening to some brass band music on Spotify on my phone, like you do!  Then it went off and all I had to listen to was the birds, sheep, gurgling and gargling water in the streams and drains and the rain dripping on my wide brimmed hat.  If you have spent a night or ten trying to sleep in a tent and its pouring rain.  You will know exactly what "drip, drip"  noise I mean.

Then I started to think.  This is the acoustics of the hills.  Like Julie Andrews or Walters once said in that musical: The hills are alive with the sound of music.  Long before motorcars the only sounds in the hills was that what Mother Nature makes!  A symphony in the hills perhaps?

Saturday 24 March 2018

Getting Back In To Growing In The Polytunnel and Veg Plot

Ten of my Laurel cuttings that I made in November.  I decided to see if they had struck roots.  They have took and I have potted them on.  The great thing about putting them in pots is that they are portable and can be planted at any time of the year.  

 Under the Laurels is my trusty tub of rooting powder, scissors, poly-tunnel repair tape and plant labels.
 My Japs.  Winter onions planted last Autumn,.  They could do with a good hand weed and hoe.
 Griselinia hedging growing in an old plastic bath.
 Tractor tyre, car tyre and a tractor wheel used for growing strawberries.

Some of my plants and Elephant garlic grown in pots.  I have made lots of perennials and cuttings to sell.  The Elephant garlic is grown in pots (drainage) and will be planted in a ridge when I have weeded everywhere!  I will probably dig over some of the weedy areas and use the weeds for a green manure.  What have you been doing on your veg plot and polytunnel?

Friday 23 March 2018

A Day In The Polytunnel.

Its been raining for a change, here in the Emerald Isle.  Can see how it got its name.  At least we have our dear old poly-tunnel/thingummy jig.  Somewhere to sow carrots, pot plants and make cuttings, sit on my deckchair and contemplate the meaning of life...?

I keep saying I will get myself a wireless, even transistor radio. But I don't like listening to a lot of today's music, the news and the flipping weather.  That's what we have windows for.  We look out of them and we see what kind of rain it is.  

Warm rain means its summer and cold rain means its the rest of the time or winter.  I have said it before:  The Romans named Ireland - Hibernia.  Or the land of eternal winters to be precise.  Even though they never came here.  They still gave it a name.  Hmm...?

If it was an allotment, I would probably make friends, sup tea, home-brew, put the world to rights, swap seeds, cuttings, give advice, call people, tell jokes..?  Might even grow some vegetables!

I am starting to think living on a smallholding is too lonely?  Do you? 

So what have you been up to in the poly-tunnel Dave?  Thought you would never ask.  I will tell you next time.

Here's a bit of allotment humour for you!

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Spring Cleaning The Brass And Copper.

Here are two of our brass candlesticks.  People who read this blog  know we (me) are Wombles.  I think we have seven pairs and a couple of candlelabras.  

I bought these about twenty five years a go from an antique fair in England.  They are Victorian and cost me twenty six Pounds.  I wouldn't sell them though.  I have bought candlesticks for ten Euros a pair on carboot sales recently.  

When we do eventually emigrate again.  Well we moved to Ireland and that's further than France.They will go in a box/shipping container with the rest of our stuff.  

I blame my late father.  He always collected brass and copper and my parents walls always looked like some olde worlde English country pub.  Except we had Anaglypta walls and no exposed beams on the ceiling and no resident drunk or pub bore: "nice wallpaper pattern what?"

Any road or any way.  If you buy any tarnished copper or brass and you want to clean it up.  Place your item in a washing up bowl.  Then sprinkle some cider vinegar (we used malt) on an area and then sprinkle it with some table salt.  Leave it for a minute to form a paste.  Then scrub away with a scouring pad. 

Some people don't like to disturb the patina on their copper and brass ornaments, especially if they are antique.  So just use Brasso.

If you want to continue giving it a deep clean.  Repeat the vinegar, salt paste scrubbing until you have covered all the object.  Then wash all the muck off with hot water.  Leave it to dry on ye olde draining board.  Now get out the Duraglit or Brasso and with a soft cloth start singing:  "Shine your buttons with Brasso"...

Tomorrow or later.  I will clean some more of my brass and copper.  It's like painting Blackpool tower or the Forth Bridge.  

What do you collect?  Have you ever sold everything you ever owned and moved sticks?  I have read of people who have.  Could you?  Is there anything you wouldn't sell?

Sunday 18 March 2018

Home Made Korean Amber Beef For Under A Fiver.

I tasted this dish in an Asian takeaway in Kerry and thought: "Why can't we make it  at home and for under a five Euros.  I like it "hot, hot, hot".  This is very hot and spicy!

Ingredients for two people or three or four if you're a bit tight!  I found the recipe on to old T'web and Tinternet.  Isn't he a clever man, him who owns the Internet?

400g of finely cut steak. Some supermarkets sell it prepacked under the guise of Stir Fry beef. Make sure any fat is cut off.  Domino the cat and Fido the terrier helped with the fat.  You never see Gordon Ramsay with a cat rubbing his leg and a terrier looking up with a long drooling tongue!

We got it all from Lidl.  Some of their prepacked beef can be a big stringy.  But if you cook it in the oven, it's fine!

A smallish bottle of dark Soy sauce.

A tablespoon of Sesame oil.

Sesame seeds.

Garlic powder.

Chilli flakes.  The hotter the better!

One large onion cut into banana shaped slices.

One red pepper cut into strips.

One finely sliced carrot.

How you make it!

1. Pour the bottle of Soy sauce into a mixing bowl that has a lid.

2. Add a tablespoon of Sesame oil and mix the liquid.

3. Add a tablespoon of Garlic powder and continue mixing.

4. Add a tablespoon of sesame seeds and a tablespoon of chilli flakes and mix.

5. Add your beef to this mixture and mix by hand to ensure that all the beef is fully coated by the mixture. Seal the bowl and place in the fridge. For best results, 24 hours, but a few hours will do.

The Wok.

1. As is usual heat the Wok to a high heat and then add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.

2. Add the beef and liquid and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes constantly working the beef around the wok.

3. Add the onion and pepper and option carrot and cook on high heat for two minutes constantly stirring.

It's ready to eat.  There you go an Oriental meal for two for less than a fiver.  I loved it.  The missus said it was TOO hot.  I realize that a TABLESPOON not a Dessert spoon is the key to making it flipping hot!

I once bought a tin of Homepride curry.  Talk about not being hot.  It should have said on the label:  "Made for babies"!  Some like it hot.  Well I do anyway.  

I was ordered to dispose of any left overs this morning.  I was told it was too hot for the terrier or cat to eat.  I wonder if Mrs or Mrs fox likes our Korean Amber beef?  

Do you like it hot?

Saturday 17 March 2018

A Rusty Old Bike Frame On The Sheeps Head Way?

I went for a walk again yesterday.  Its been two or three weeks since I damaged my heel.    I noticed a rusty old bike frame in the middle of a bog.  Perhaps it once belonged to Sir Walter Raleigh?  Well he did once live in Youghal.  That's it: he discovered potatoes and I discovered (found) his bike frame!

The rusty old bike frame in the bog.  I risked limb and life to take this photograph.

The ever changing scenery and flora on the Sheeps Head Peninsula.  Walking in the footsteps of my ancestors and many, many sheep.

Seeing that its Saint Patrick's Day.  Here's a song by Gary Moore.  He was once a member of Thin Lizzy, my favourite Irish band.  I once saw Thin Lizzy in Manchester in 1981 and the late and great Gary Moore at the Garden Party in Milton Keynes in June 1986.  When nineteen of us piled into the back of a Ford Luton van and spent a weekend watching great rock bands and drinking lots of dirty beer.  Its all in my yet to be published book!  Might have some Guinness and Irish coffees tonight!

Friday 16 March 2018

Homemade Log Rack.

Number one son made this log rack the other week.  Its very strong and I put it in front of our Stanley range for your eyes perusal.  Obviously its not very sensible or practical to leave it in front of the oven door.  I think it looks rather good when its laden with logs.  A practical place where they can sleep like a log.  

Wednesday 14 March 2018

There Are Even Rushes In Our Garden.

A photograph of part of our very weedy garden (at the moment) outside the kitchen.  The soft rush seed no doubt came  from the field behind the Fuchsia hedge and Phormium.  no doubt the birds and wind and rain brought the seed.  

A plastic sheep peering through the weeds.  Behind it there is my drainage rods.  I keep these handy for unblocking any blockages in the septic tank.  I installed an 'Armstrong' plastic manhole cover to make the rodding possible.  

In front of the rushes is a log that I placed in the range and it was too big and the lid wouldn't go back on so I dumped it on the garden.  The terrier is a garden ornament to remind us of our terriers.  

We had a terrible wet and windy night last night and its still too wet and cold to start weeding the buttercups, Montbretia and RUSHES!  You wouldn't believe that under half of the garden is Mypex landscape fabric covered in gravel.  It's hard to keep the weeds down when its cold and wet and you're surrounded by fields .  

I don't like using weedkillers and I always give my plants a good dollop nay barrow of well rotted cow manure.  Cow manure is a cold manure and the weed seeds don't get too hot and die like they do in horse manure.  

They are forecasting snow for St Patrick's Day.  Hope we don't get it.  Although I prefer it to the rain.

Do you use weedkillers or do you hand weed like me?  I keep saying I will buy a weed torch?  Anybody recommend a good one?  Are they any good?

Monday 12 March 2018

Ruddy Rushes.

I have been cutting rushes down with my petrol strimmer today.    Its good for the field but not for my back.  Last year was the wettest year in Ireland since records began.  Rushes love the wet and acidic Irish soil.  Amazingly their seed is said to be able to live in the soil for up to sixty years.

Weeds that grow in your field or garden are said to be an indicator of what the ground is like.  I think the land needs liming and possibly a few new land drains.  It doesn't help living on a very often windy peninsula.  I have topped them in the past but my tractor is currently being renovated and its too wet to think of putting machinery on the fields.  

I recently  talked to a Dairy farmer who sprays his rushes every year.  He told me that he never gets rid of them, 
its just a way of controlling them.  I think rushes aren't keen on lots of granulated fertilizer either.  

When I have been to Spain and Portugal I have never seen a single rush.  My dad used to plait rushes and make bull whips out of them.  I have also heard of them being used for rush lights and mats.  

How do you control rushes?  I have thought of buying a gas flame gun for pernicious weeds and rushes.  The idea is to not let them seed.  Its difficult though if neighbouring farmers don't control their rushes and they love the rain.  

Some people spray them with MPCA and with Roundup.  Do you think there should be organic weedkillers or perhaps you think all weedkillers should be banned?  One good thing about the EEC is the banning of so many harmful weedkillers and pesticides..

Your thoughts please?

Thursday 8 March 2018

Writing Books And One Of My Characters: Harry Napalm!!

I have wrote an amusing book of my anecdotes yet to be published and I am still waiting (twelve months) for a reply/rejection.  It will be the fourth one for this particular book.  What do you do with books that will never get published?  Should you turn each anecdote into a blog post or should you try again?  Any way here's one of the characters I met when I use to rent an allotment in dear old Blighty!

Harry Napalm or Harry Weedkiller wasn't his real name.  Like most nicknames given to people.  The person in question, doesn't know they are called it!  

Harry or Harry for short.  Was a man aged about sixty.  He use to let the grass and weeds grow amongst his vegetables for six months of the year.  Then come the merry month of April?  Harry would apply weedkiller ("NAPALM") with a knapsack sprayer on his back, to his allotment jungle.  

Harry, his real name was Harry I think.  Would crank up his Howard Rotavator (like the one on the Good Life) and turn his brown frazzled vegetables into the ground.  The soil would be lovely and friable and he would sow his vegetables and plant his spudatoes.  Then he would apply bags of granulated fertilizer like a Dervish and sit on his allotment deckchair supping cans of lager for the rest of the summer.  Whilst I toiled and sweated and weeded...

Result:  His vegetables were enormous and no doubt tasted like crap!  

Sunday 4 March 2018

Singing A Song By One Of The Famous Four.

Who is your favourite Beatle?  No not the lad (Beetle) who lives in your garden and eats the aphids in summer.  I am talking about the most famous group in the world: The Beatles.  Working class lads from Liverpool (and of Irish descent) who rocked the world.  

My favourite Beatle is John Lennon.  He even bought an island off Galway in the nineteen sixties for one thousand and seven hundred Pounds.  Anyway I am going to see a new singer soon, who I recently discovered called Father John Misty.  Hes very good and here he is covering a famous John Lennon song.  I don't think he likes Star Wars!  listen to the words!

Do you believe in God? Do you like this version of the John Lennon song?

Thursday 1 March 2018

Giving The Frozen Water Pipes The Hairdryer Treatment.

I woke up this morning.  Attempted to fill the kettle (citeal) with Adam's Ale or Corporation Pop and nothing happened.   Old Jack Frost had been painting his frost on the water pipe from the well to the houses.

So we couldn't brew up or light the range because the pump would start banging and we couldn't or shouldn't flush the toilet.  Oh the joys of rural dwelling.

The wife being a chappess duly opened some bottles of Lidl water and made us a cafeteir of ground coffee.  Why didn't I think of that?

Then she went outside with an extension cable and her Hairdryer and duly gave it the Sir Alex hairdryer halftime talk to the water pipes.

About at least that much of time and a bit more.  I turned on the cold water tap/faucet thingymajig and out spurts some rusty h20.  It was like that Iron Bru advert:. Made from iron girders!  Then the water ran clear and we lit the stove!

Aren't women clever?

A Bus man's Holiday To See Some Pigs At Balmoral Show.

You know what a bus man's holiday is don't you?  It means going on holiday and doing the same thing that you do at work.  Or on the ...