Thursday 31 December 2020

Hungry Hill On New Year's Eve.

 I awoke to see Jack Frost and his missus had been snow painting over on Hungry Hill on Beara peninsula last night:

That's one thing that's really resonated with me this year.  Ireland is such a beautiful country.   

People often commented to my grandmother what a beautiful view there is from where she lived.  My grandmother would give a pragmatic reply: "The view will not feed you".

Sometimes when I go walking on our peninsula I drink the views and the scenery and marvel at God's painting skills.  I feel like I am living in the middle of a giant oil painting.

Hopefully next year we will be able to go to places much farther away and tourists will return to here?

I wish everyone a great 2021.  Thanks for reading and special thanks for all your comments.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday 30 December 2020

A Good Tuesday Tea And A Glass Or Two Of Mulled Wine.

 We had a really nice tea last night.  The wife went to town to the German garden centre and  food and beer providers.  As there ever been a better thing to come our little bustling seaside town than good old Lidl? Any chance of a case of Czech beer or English beer or even Dunkels for that advert?  😊

Wifey duly came home with two pre packed steaks and cooked them in the solid fuel  range/ oven.  They cost five Euros twenty nine for two.   We ate them with chips and a peppered sauce that came from Aldi.

Whilst that was cooking.  We made a pan of mulled red wine on top of the range.  It's  really easy.  You get yourself a good bottle of wine and pour it in a pan and add a mulled wine tea bag/ sachet thingamyjig (Supervalu supermarket) and place it in the pan with some sliced apple.  Bring it to the boil and serve in some heat resistant glasses.  CheersπŸ‡:

Mulled wine sachets and the finished glass of mulled wine.  It's the best winter warmer we have drank since we had some Irish coffees the other night.  I'm having a dry January.  We managed one in October.  Do you like mulled wines?  Any good recipes?

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Logs And Turf.

 One of my wife's abiding memories is getting off the ferry at Dunlaoghaire and the smell of turf from the houses chimneys just before Christmas.

She would also go for four weeks to her grandparents in County Mayo every summer.  She often reminisces about going to the bog by donkey and cart and collecting the hand dug turf and bringing it back along the Boreen's and stacking it for the range in winter. 

My dad told me how he left school when he was fourteen and his first job was digging turf in Clonee in Durrus.  He would cycle there and back after a full days digging.

Number one son brought home some machined cut turf a few weeks ago and some logs.

The aroma is amazing.  It reminds me of smoky Scottish malt whisky πŸ₯ƒ.

Do you have certain aromas you miss or remind you when you were young? You know fresh tarmac, Caramac, your local chip shop..?

Pipe tobacco is another reminder of my grandad.   A few years ago I was digging in the veg plot and the waft of my grandads pipe tobacco reached my nostrils.  Nah it couldn't be.  Could it?

Sunday 27 December 2020

Figures In The Landscape.


Every so often dear old Google sends me a photo from 7 years ago.  The lad with the red coat on is old Northsider himself.  His dads family have been here for at least 200 years.  

The young lad sat down at the front is about twelve or thirteen at the time.  He will be twenty in February.

That's the beauty of taking photos and writing blogs.  You chronicle your time living in the countryside next to the sea.

The pile of stones is the stone cairn I blogged about in October.   My grandmother use to tell us that if we placed a stone on top of it we will always come back.  How true and prophetic.

We will have been here twenty years next July.  Where does the time go?

I often think of my dad and his brothers walking to Sunday school in Durrus and walking over the hill where we walk and how they looked at the same view across the bay and over to Beara.  Not forgetting my grandfather and his father's  father digging for turf and placing it in baskets and donkeys carrying it back to the homestead.

That's what we are I guess? Figures in the landscape.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Christmas Day Presents Photos.

Rosie was delighted to get a pet stocking and she got a rain coat.
Domino trying to open his pet stocking.

A nice bottle of Scottish Malt for me.  Dalwhinnie.  My favourite.  

Hope you got what you wanted for Christmas?

Thursday 24 December 2020

To You And To Yours.

A very merry Christmas to to everyone  and here's to a better 2021.

Not forgetting it's  Prog on a Friday.  Here's  one of the greatest Prog bands from  Blighty.   Yes it's  Magnum.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

A Nice Christmas Display In The German Garden Centre And Beer And Food Providers.

We went shopping in Kerry yesterday again.  It rained most of the time but we did get to go in Iceland for English cheese, Heinz Beanz n Sausages, Ravioli and Vimto.  We also went to an off licence and I came home with a slab of Newcastle Brown Ale and some Somersby cider for number 2 son.  The last time he drank that was in the Algarve.  I hope we can still get these things after Brexit? 

We also went in Lidl and I took a photo of their indoor Christmas display.  Like the shop window displays I blogged about a few weeks ago.  I think its  wonderful that people go to the effort to make the seasonal scenes which I am sure are enjoyed by people of all ages:

Lidl indoor Christmas display.

Fairplay for making the display.

Monday 21 December 2020

Two Wreaths On Top Of The Bookcase.

There are two wreaths on top of the bookcase in our front room.  They make no sound but I am aware of their presence.  Like an elephant in the room.  

One dry day soon. That's  a good one.  They will be picked up and put into the car boot and we will take the short journey to the South side and place them on my parents, grandparents and my dad's brothers and sister's graves.  Two wreaths for two graves.  

Sometimes it gets to me and the tears begin to well up and other times I think of how they are at peace.  Oh such perfect peace.  They don't feel the cold and the rain or worry anymore.   I hate the silence of the graves.

Christmas is a very difficult time this year for everyone.  We will remember the living who can't be with us and we will remember those who have passed on and gained their eternal reward.

Mike Rutherford wrote: "It's too late when you're gone" in his 'Living Years song.'  No longer will we share a drink or a meal or open a present with our departed loved ones.

Sleep tight mum and dad.  Tell baby Jesus "to take care of everyone."

Sunday 20 December 2020

The Morning After The Night Before.

I think Domino must have had his Christmas works do.   He looks rather the worse for wear.  Too many drinks of milk stout me thinks:

 Perhaps Domino has got his own Shebeen?  Drinking the West Cork lemonade?  

Here's one of Domino's favourite songs:

When I was growing up in England my dad would play his Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners and The Seekers records.  All these years later I still play them in my head and on good old You Tube.

Friday 18 December 2020

"Prog On A Friday" "Merry Christmas": Big Big Train.

One Prog Rock band I would/must see live is Bournemouth group: "Big Big Train".   Here is a Christmas video they made a couple of years ago.  

It stars the great Middlesborough actor Mark Benton.  Or "Eddie" in Early Doors.  It's one of my favourite pub sitcoms.  If Coronation Street was real The "Rovers Return" would be the "Grapes."   

Any way enjoy the video it put me in a good Christmas mood and if you're out walking say : "hello or Merry  Christmas' to anyone you meet.  If they don't answer just say: "please yourself"  or sing them a song.🎀🎡.  Have a good weekend.  

Thursday 17 December 2020

Escape To The Country?

 I met a man on my new boots testing hike last Saturday.  I commented how there hadn't been many tourists on the walks this year.  He agreed.  

One thing a lot of people who I have met have commented on is the sale of houses on the peninsula.  Houses for sale are becoming rarer and rarer.  A lot of the buyers seem to be English owners too.

Are they escaping the cities because they want an EU base after Brexit or is it the Covid threat and the rush to get away from the big towns and cities?

I suppose if you are retired and can drive it's not so bad and you can afford to have your shopping delivered online.   Life ain't so bad.  Well apart from the wet weather we are having at the moment.  It must be different if you have a mortgage and have to commute for work and your house is dormitory housing?  Somewhere that you have your tea, watch the telly and sleep in.  

I love the views and walking inthe countryside and the seaside but one thing I have never got use to is the rural isolation.  Perhaps  being born in a town means you can't take the town out of the person?

I think that's why I write blogs.  It's a way of communication to other people.  It's been a strange year for everyone with no holiday, social events, Rock concerts, closed "wet" pubs...?  

I have been isolating for nearly twenty years.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Still Making Cuttings With The Glass Of Water Method.

There is not much gardening I can do at the moment except for potting on and watering and weeding the newly rooted cuttings in the polytunnel and that's not every day.

However there is the kitchen window allotment.  This consists of small glasses full of water containing cuttings.  Here's the latest success:

You can see roots forming on the 'Touch Me Nots" or New Guinea Impatiens.  These are house plants and originated in the Solomon islands.  Now it's living on the Sheeps Shed Peninsula in the Southwest of Ireland 

You just get a pair of scissors and cut yourself a cutting.   Remove most of the leaves and pop it in a glass of water.

I have got 13 'Wandering Jew' plants growing in compost that I rooted by using the glass of water method.  Go on have a go.

Monday 14 December 2020

Mrs White Plastic Chair Woman "Wants" Her Allotment Weeding.

 This is a new post I composed the other night while the other half knitted and we watched the electric fish tank (television) in the corner.  It's going to be a very long winter. 

 I met this creature on a very overgrown allotment over twenty years  ago when we lived in Blighty.  She would sit on a white plastic chair and look at the grass and weeds growing on her newly acquired allotment.  

We would often pass the time of day and I would talk about how my vegetables were growing and what I planned "to do" on my allotment  that very day.

The lady would sigh and say:  "I need to find a bloke to pull out the weeds and dig it over for me."

The weeks went by and I suggested covering the new allotment with cardboard boxes and one could lay them flat and  prostrate on the ground and then cover them with some kind of organic material.  The woman sighed again and said:

"I'll have to go to the supermarket for some cardboard boxes some time."

A day or two later I walked past her and she sat on her white  plastic chair and noticed nothing had been done on her veg plot.

"I  still haven't found anyone to dig it over".

"No" .  

I think she was after meeting some one or finding a  soil slave to cultivate her plot for her?  I thought of offering to dig some of her plot over for her.  Honest.  But I had "volunteered" on veg plots before and been rewarded with: "Thank you very much".  

My Grandfather on my Mum's  side had been in the army and he said: "Never volunteer for nowt". He also said you should never make a good job of any given task or else that job will be "yours".  He died before I was born and he had an allotment.  My other grandfather had a smallholding.  Perhaps it's  in the blood?

The lady looked middle-aged and had a grown up daughter who often accompanied to her new municipal potager/allotment.

"She doesn't like gardening, she's like me"

Said the lady.

They never cultivated the plot and someone told me:

"They've decided to give it up.  Says it's too much for them".

I think the lady was looking for some one to share the rest of her life with.  Perhaps she should of gone in the Dog and Duck on her own  and met some bar lizard who would have said:

"Can I buy you a drink love?"

They might have sat there  all night with her sipping like a puppy dog and him slurping and scooping downing his pints and spitting and shouting in her ear?  Isn't  that how you get to talk to members of the opposite set? Well you couldn't do it sober, could you?

Or perhaps she put her name down for another allotment where she would find a bloke who would cultivate and tame her veg plot and grow leviathan like vegetables and she wouldn't need to say:

"There's a pie in the microwave."

Post Blog:

I read this to the missus and she said it could be deemed sexist.  I suppose one could say that but it was more about the woman wanting some one to clear and dig over her new allotment while she sat on her white plastic chair.  At least when you have an allotment you can people watch.  


Sunday 13 December 2020

New Boots And A Good Hike.

Bantry Bay.

 My new walking boots arrived midweek via the post.  I paid twenty five Pounds for then from Amazon.  On Friday I put them on and walked round the house in them.

Yesterday I decided to give them a road test.  I couldn't  be mithered (northern English word) to walk and slip and slide over the saturated grass and peat and Rock of the hill tops in between the two bays where we live.

A lonely boreen with Bantry  Bay on the horizon.

A oak yellow Sheepshead  Way finger post.   But I kept to the roads.

Cattle outwintering.  They looked very healthy and one said: "Wot you looking at Mister?"

Paul McCartney's  'Long , lonely road '

started to play in my head.

Then back down on  our North side of the peninsula.  Which is on the South side of Bantry Bay.  I walked between nine and ten miles.  Met a few walkers and one car.  Steeleye Span was my walking soundtrack via Spotify and my ear phones.  No blisters to report and a very good walk was had by my new boots and yours truly.  

Saturday 12 December 2020

Just Like A Child At Christmas.

Someone not me.  Bought Domino our smallholding cat his own "house" kennel or cennel,  seeing he is a cat.

It's upholstered and people often sit on it and use it for a seat.  I have seen Domino inside it about twice.

Last night we found Domino in a cardboard box on top of the cennel.

Typical.   It reminded me of when our kids were little.  You would fork out for a big lump of plastic.  I think they call them 'Toys'.  You see the toy discarded and they would be sat in the cardboard box in an imaginary car, plane or spaceship.


Friday 11 December 2020

"Prog On A Friday". Steeleye Span Putting Us In A Christmas Mood.

 Prog, Folk, Celtic Rock, even Pop.  One band that always make me smile are Steeeleye 

Span.  'All Around My Hat' even made me get up and have a merry dance at Christmas.

But seeing it's only two weeks  to Christmas today.  Here's  'Gaudete'.

It's  absolutely mesmerising and I could listen to it all day long.

Have a great weekend. 

Thursday 10 December 2020

Shasta Daisy's Flowering In December.

I spent yesterday morning in the polytunnel potting on and watering the newly rooted shrubs and perennials cuttings.  

It was bucketing it down and I looked outside and noticed two of my Shasta Daisy's were still flowering.  According to gardening internet sites they should stop flowering in September.

Perhaps it's living on the Gulf Stream or that I didn't cut them back like the others?   

But  there they stood in the heavy rain in all their glory.  

Have you got flowers flowering out of season in your garden?

I have just been outside and noticed an Agapanthus flowering.  I think the plants think it's  Spring.


Wednesday 9 December 2020

Hungry Hill With A Talcum Powder Scattering Of Snow On Tuesday.

 I went for a walk on the main road yesterday and took the above picture with my mobile phone.  I captured a rainbow on the right and the cloud just about to deposit a cloud on top of Hungry Hill.

Hungry Hill is over two thousand feet high and its Mares tail waterfall is the largest in Ireland and the UK.

It's over on Beara Peninsula across from us here on Sheepshead.  Behind us is Mizen Peninsula. 

Daphne Du Maurier wrote the book "Hungry Hill" about copper mine owners.  There was also a film of it starring Margaret Lockwood.

It was good to have a four mile walk, look at the view, not get wet and listen to some Prog Rock on Spotify through my earphones.  I never saw a soul to talk to except some kind motorists who pulled out and indicated when they drove past me.

Ireland in the countryside next to the sea is a nice place to be when it's not blowing a gale or raining.   Today it's throwing it down. Spent the morning potting on and watering in the polytunnel.  Roll on Spring.  I hope we can go on a sun holiday next year.  

Tuesday 8 December 2020

A China Cabinet Full Of Animals....

 Yorkshire  Pudding has posted a great blog about Galloways.    So I thought  I would show you our "jumper" cows.

My late dad was a Womble like we are and he spent every Sunday morning in summer collecting.   I think that's why we like going round carboot sales and charity shops.

When my dad passed away after my mam.  We ended up with his collection of pot animals and the China cabinet.  I have added to the collection since, of course.

See the Galloways on the the left side of the top shelf?

Sentimental items that we will always keep.  What sentimental items do you treasure?


Saturday 5 December 2020

"The Best Of The Bad."

 I spotted this wonderful mural (Hilda Ogden said "Muriel") the other day when we went Christmas shopping.  

When you have been posting blogs for ten years or so you are always on the look out for interesting things and people watching.

Clint Eastwood is one of my heroes and especially his Spaghetti Western films which a lot of them were filmed in Spain.  He was neither good nor evil.  Probably indifferent or something in between.

The late and great Lee Van Cleef was Clint's main protagonist in the films.  Incidentally good old Channel 5 are repeating these films on Friday nights this month.

Friday 4 December 2020

"Prog On A Friday". In The Bleak Midwinter .

 Seeing that it is coming close to Christmas.  I thought I would feature a Prog giant and keyboard wizard playing a traditional Christmas hymn.  

I saw the giant of a man that is Rick Wakeman performing with Prog Rock giants Yes in Loreley 2017.  He is one of the greatest keyboardist I have ever seen and he's up there with my other Rock heroes: Geddy Lee, Steve Walsh and Keith Emerson.  

The Yes singer Jon Anderson is from Accrington where the bricks come from.  It is also in the red rose county that is Lancashire. πŸ‘

Incidentally there are now TWO Yes bands.  You couldn't make it up.  I believe the other Yes band are hoping to tour next year.  Gosh what I would give to see some live music again.

Here's  Rick Wakeman playing In The Bleak Midwinter written by Christina Rossetti and the music was composed by Holst. 

It's only short but it puts you in the Christmas mood.  It also happens to be my favourite Christmas hymn.

Enjoy the weekend folks.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Seasonal Shop Windows.

 We noticed these shop window displays on our shopping trip on Tuesday.   I love shop window  displays.  Especially Christmas themed ones.  

Fair play to the shop workers for thinking up and creating these displays.  Apparently snow is on the way.  So the snow themes are very appropriate.

I must order a big trailer of logs.  Our log pile is nearly gone.  

Have you seen any wonderful Christmas shop window displays on your travels?

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Christmas Presents For Dogs.

 Wouldn't that be a brilliant name for  a Prog Rock band?

The missus and myself went Christmas shopping yesterday.  Suprisingly there weren't hordes of shoppers and apart from the "supermarket essentials" we managed to purchase the majority of our Christmas presents:

I have seen the future folks.  Doggy Mince Pies.   Yet another great name for a Prog Rock band.  We didn't  buy them but we did get a necklace that lights up for Rosie and a stocking which contains  Catnip for Domino.

You can't handle or see new ideas when you're internet shopping.  I bought a pair of walking shoes online last month.  Half the price you would pay for them in the High street.  But the soul is so thin and very uncomfortable on rough terrain.  I put some insoles in them and they are much more comfortable.

Yesterday I handled new walking shoes and treated the sole like I was buying tyres for the car.  Comfort and safety must come first.  I didn't buy any though.  I will wait for the January sales.

I am glad our Christmas shopping is over.  Why can't Christmas day be this week?

Monday 30 November 2020

Welcome To My Polytunnel Office.

 I have not had time to tend my plants in "Portugal" my plastic polytunnel friend lately.

Fortunately I employed the wife and number 2 son to occasionally water them.  

I arose this morning and thought I would take a photograph of my horticultural office for your perusal:

Notice my "Japanese" onions are doing fine in the micro climate that is the polytunnel.  The weeds quite like it too.  All the shrubs cuttings in pots of homemade compost are doing fine too. 

I might("will") throw the fish boxes of onions outside in Spring.  We've been growing on the same veg plot for nearly twenty years and I'm thinking the soil is getting a bit tired so I'm going to grow more vegetables in containers.  Maybe even make some raised beds?    It's good to think of projects for the veg plot.  

What are your garden/allotment plans for next year?  

Sunday 29 November 2020

A Little Veg Plot Next To A Building Site.

 I looked out of the door of a site cabin one Friday.  I could see cabbages growing behind the security fencing.  What a sight to gladden my heart. "Jack in the green" Jethro Tull lyrics began to play in my mental jukebox: 

"Well I don't  think so.  I saw grass growing through the pavements..."

I forgot I had been listening to the not very dulcet tones of a Kango all morning.  Chiselling limestone plaster off walls up on a planked scaffold.

Through the site security fencing.   Cabbages growing and and a bespoke homemade greenhouse.
Another photo  of the veg plot behind the bollards.

Lovely heads of winter cabbages. They look like Savoys to me.

There was a short flight of steps going down in the homemade greenhouse.  It reminded me of old Anderson air raid shelters I sometimes found growing up in Northwest England.   

I wondered why so much effort had been made to construct the steps?  I thought it was probably for raised beds and of course I was right?

Raised beds on both sides and a path in the middle.  They were over a three foot high and full of wonderful sandy and friable soil.  Imagine what root vegetables you could grow in those raised beds? Giant Parsnips, Carrots and Beetroots.

Not a bad way of spending ten minutes of your half hour dinner break exploring and photographing the nuns vegetables garden.  It was a credit to them and inspired me!

Friday 27 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday". The David Cross Band.

 I never saw King Crimson or Van Der Graaf Generator live.  But I did manage to see David Cross from King Crimson and David Jackson from Van Der Graaf Generator in the David Cross Band. David Cross plays the electric violin and David Jackson plays keyboards boards and Clarinet...

Van Der Graaf Generator were formed at Manchester University in lovely Lancashire by the banks of the river Irwell.  Or the Seine of the North.😊

Myself and a friend flew from Kerry airport to Frankfurt Hahn in July or was it August 2017.  We were on our way to  The Night Of The Prog Festival in Loreley.  It's a spectacular setting next to the river Rhine.  

The Nazis built the stone amphitheatre and now it's used for concerts.   Now we have our own Fascists in government preventing us from seeing live music.  But we can go to work or to the supermarket though.  Ok rant over!

It was a great weekend with wonderful music and weather.  We found a Swiss pub that brought your drinks to your table and outside the arena we found a log cabin pub and restaurant that served homebrew.  Cloudy stuff like homebrew but you had no ill effects from it.

Probably one of the highlights of the festival was seeing The David Cross Band.  Some kind person on You Tube filmed The David Cross Band performing King Crimson's "Starless."

Sunday 22 November 2020

Not The Wolf And The Lamb But The Cat And Dog Feeding Together.

Regular readers will remember the blog I posted of Fido our beloved Jack Russell and tripe hound and Domino our smallholding cat feeding out of the same dish.  Sadly dear old Fido went to doggy heaven and number 2 son bought Rosie a golden Retriever puppy dog.

On Thursday night we came home and threw my rucksack on the kitchen floor and we fed Rosie.  Domino decided he would try some of the dog food too:

Domino usually hisses and tries to scratch Rosie.  Not this time though.  They both tucked in happily.

Friday 20 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday": "Don't Fear The Reaper".

 I sometimes times list some of the great Prog Rock band I have seen live or would like to see.

One band I was lucky enough to see at Manchester Apollo was Blue Oyster Cult.  They have been going since the late nineteen sixties and are well worth seeing live.

Like all great Prog bands their albums and singles have themes.  

People often say they have never heard of BOC.  But when they hear their biggest hit single.  They instantly say: " Oh yeah, I like that one.

The single is about the inevitability of life and death and the Grim Reaper.  We should enjoy life.  Hope you have a great weekend.


Saturday 14 November 2020

A Sign In A West Cork Charity Shop Window.

 I was waiting for a lift home  and saw this sign in a charity shop window.  It makes the mind boggle doesn't it?  The sign could give a few people some ideas of where and how to dispose of some unwanted stuff:

"Thinking of doing a moon light flit?  Don't  bother with a removal truck or the dustbin men.  Fill your bin bags with any unwanted items and leave them in your charity shop doorway. " 

Isn't there some not very nice people?   

Friday 13 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday". Knife Edge.

 For me Emerson Lake and Palmer are up there in my all time  top five of  great bands that there have ever been.

I was lucky enough once to see them live at Manchester Apollo.  It was either late 1980s or early 1990s.  What a concert, what a band.

Just three members and what more did they need?  The band who sound like a group of lawyers were magnificent.

Especially Keith Emerson with his keyboard wizardry and like a knife thrower torturing his keyboards and organs.

Here's a classic track from 1970.

Have a good weekend.  Hopefully I am going for a hike.  I think I will need to wear my "rainy day" suit.  Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday 11 November 2020

I Feel Like Aveline Out Of Bread.

 I haven't blogged because I am like Aveline out of Bread, I have joineď an agency.  No I don't wish to be a model.  I am working  has  a Labourer on some sites.  It's  knackering but I feel good physically and mentally.

I did this via email.   Any road after asking me for ze rank and number and me Safe Pass and Manual Handling tickets and my new Covid pass.  Then they asked for a couple of referees and I said there's one  I know who never gives United a penalty against Liverpool.  They rang me on Monday and I am participating in indoor and outdoor work out and get paid for it at the same time.

I have been gutting an house for the last couple of days.  It's  good to have the craic with the lads and the best thing is it's  temporary.  Hopefully I will make a good impression like Grandad from Bread.  "Where's my pudding? Piss off."

So I probably won't  be blogging so much for a few weeks.  Don't worry "Prog on a Friday"  will still happen.  Sorry about that folks.😊🎀

I loved Bread.  A bunch of scally's  who always made their own luck. 

Here's the delightful Aveline.  Enjoy:

Monday 9 November 2020

The "Novice" Allotment Holder.

The "Novice" Allotment Holder.  

This is true dear readers:

Another creature I met on my allotment saunters is the"novice" allotment holder.  Lets call him Mick the new lad.  He informed me that he was sick and tired of playing darts and he wanted:

"Summat to do."

"At the weekends."

The poor man was bored and was in need of an hobby or leisure pursuit.  Especially when it wasn't the football season.    

Oh to watch a live football match, eat a potato pie and drink a cup of Bovril.  Maybe even a pint of bitter?  Something else to miss from Blighty.  Rock concerts too.  It's enough to make you put your name down for an allotment.  I have my own but it's  not the same without the characters is it?

Any road:

I informed him that I was an allotment grower.  I suggested that he got himself an allotment to show his family what an hunter, gatherer, he was or wasn't?  He was quite enthusiastic to the idea and I managed to secure him the tenancy of an half plot. 

He was duly delighted with his new plot.  Until he realised  that the four foot high plot of grass and Rose-bay willow herb was his new Potager.  He was quite taken back and expected his'new' plot to be dug over, ready for him!

"Yeah right!"

"Pull the other one.  There are bells on it!"

He soon got over his disappointment and duly rushed down to Wilkinsons in the High Street and purchased a new spade (toy) and an array of vegetable and flower seeds which he purchased in OCTOBER!  

A month or two later.  I went to see how he had been getting on with his new vegetable endeavours.  In fact he had managed to clear SIX feet square of soil.  It was just after Christmas.  I asked him how he was enjoying his new hobby?

"I don't know Dave."

He says.

"I can't understand why none of my vegetable seeds have come up"/germinated.

The silly billy had only sowed and planted his Summer vegetables in WINTER !

Sunday 8 November 2020

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holder.

Time for another allotment character folks.  Don't worry there aren't many left unless I make up some more?

If local radio had allotment correspondents this man would write it and say something like the following:  

"The Leeks are growing in a north to south direction and my Savoy cabbages have got Finger and Toe disease.  Did I tell you I bought a new rake?"  

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holder is very methodical.  He only cares about his allotment being neat and tidy.  Every fruit and vegetable is planted in a regimental line.  It must be when he joined the Salvation Army and served his country back in the days of National Services or in his case, Services?  He use to play lead electric triangle in the band.  It was this experience that made him methodical and regimental.  Everything is planted in a straight line.  Rather like trees on a golf course fairway.  

Nature does not work in straight lines.  It likes to ebb and flow and meander and self seed in a patched quilt of a Cottage garden way.  Mr Immaculate Plot Holder lives and breathes: STRAIGHT lines.

His allotment is immaculate.  Hs garden shed wears a resplendent army green annual coat of paint.  His allotment entrance is an hardwood teak front door with a letter box and brass polished numbers 22 Acacia Avenue (Iron Maiden song) resplendently polished with Brasso ("clean your buttons with Brasso") and gleaming in the sun.

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holders allotment is organised and set like the control room of an aircraft carrier.  His anorak is grey and the same colour of a Royal Navy battleship.  Every one of his fruit and vegetables are accurately spaced between itself and the next fruit or vegetable.  Seven seeds or vegetable plants to every row.  Seven is the number.  The magic number.  Bees have seven body parts and their hive is split into seven sections.  They even fly in a number seven formation.  Everybody knows number seven is God's number and that is the number he adheres and regimen-tally sticks to.  

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holder never purchases or places any animal manure on his allotment.  He believes cow manure to be a 'cold' manure and never heats up to kill any pernicious weed seeds.  Horse manure is full of oats and they germinate and grow everywhere.  He gets very few weeds because he doesn't add manure or compost to his allotment soil.  He hoes rain or shine and shine or rain again.    His fruit and vegetables upon harvesting are always small and puny.  But they are immaculately tended.  His allotment is immaculate and he is a very boring man! 

Another character tomorrow.  I need to invent some more.  The blog writer perhaps?  Apparently there are over 350 million active blogs in the world.  Three hundred and fifty million writers is an incredible statistic.  

Wonder how many blog writers grow vegetables and dream about Britney Spears or Pamela Anderson swimming in Bantry Bay and walking on the beach in her swimsuit and I am collecting seaweed and I ask her if she wants to come back to our house for a brew and I will show her my polytunnel? How's that for a vivid imagination?

Saturday 7 November 2020

Mr and Mrs "Right On" Buy A Smallholding.

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby decide that they have had an enough of renting their municipal allotment.  They decide to buy a smallholding in the countryside. 

They are tired and fed up of living in leafy suburbia, the rat race and having normal every day things like; a corner shop, a pub, milkman, FRIENDS, libraries, kebab houses, restaurants, public transport ("what's that?"), chip-shops, newspaper delivery persons ("very PC"), football and cricket teams, footpaths, friendly neighbours, mains water and mains sewers, broadband, street lights, telephone box, post box, greengrocers, off-licence...?  Shall I go on?

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby decided to take the plunge and buy their own little smallholding in the countryside.  

"Oh wouldn't it be great to have baa lambs, piggy wigs, goats, moo cows and a Shetland pony a piece for Prudence and Tarquin?"

They know that they have all the knowledge to live the good life and become self sufficient and after all, they do have a credit card.  

" We have read all of the booky wooks (just looked at the pictures really); John Seymours : The New Book Of Self Sufficiency, The Natural Way Of Farming: Masanobu Fukuaka (try pronouncing his name after you have been at the wine gums), Enid Blyton's: The Famous Five ("where's Timmy the dog?)...?  What's more is there to know?"

So they purchase an ex farm labourers cottage for a kings ransom and pay a farmer forty grand for four of his worst acres.  Consisting of rock, rushes and rock again.  They have their very own little piece of Eden in the countryside.

The very next day after Pickfords the removal people moved them in.  They decide to grasp the nettles, take the bull by its horns and tackle that overgrown acre of brambles, rushes, rose-bay willow herb, couch grass and fifty years of the previous owners rubbish, detritus and very own private landfill site.

"Anyone want a gas-mask or a tin of powdered egg?"

"We will be Orgasmic ("Organic") and will not use any man made chemicals.  Just good old manual labour."

"Isn't he a Spaniard?"

"What's wrong with George our gardener and the little man from the village?"

Mr Right On Baby decides to use bloods sweat and tears and buys himself eight cans of Special Brew (recycled radiator water) and a sack of Mars bars for his good lady wife: Mrs Right On Baby.

Two hours later.  Mr Right On Baby is walking around aimlessly and doing a wonderful impression of the hunchback of self sufficient kingdom.  He has broken a spade, tripped over some old discarded long johns and he thinks he is going through a "Dark night of the soul experience".  

Just to put a tin hat on thefirst days proceedings and nightmare in their 'Escape To The Country'.  The vicars wife will not be returning again to welcome them or deliver the parish magazine.  She seems to think that Mr Right On Baby called her:

"One of them there!" 

Mr Right on Baby attempts to stumble after her and explain it was a bramble root he was swearing at.  But its too late and she's gone off down the road with a flea in her ear.  

He stops to look round at his beautiful Potager and it looks like an hens been scratching about in the wasteland.

Mr Right On Baby sits down and begins to realize its cost a lot of blood, sweat, tears and MONEY to live in the middle of nowhere!

I sent this to a country smallholding magazine.  Hoping they would accept it for publication and they sent me a short email saying "We don't do humour".

Hmm... I thought. 

Friday 6 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday".

 The Progressive Rock band I would like to feature today is Blackpool's finest: Jethro Tull. 

Where was I?  Blackpool.  

Yes funnily enough they are the one Prog band I have seen the most.  Once at The Garden Party in Milton Keynes Bowl, once at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire and two or is it three times at Manchester Apollo?

They are are a great band live with Folk, Blues , heavy and Prog Rock all thrown in.  Not forgetting the main front man and flautist Ian Anderson.  

Named after an English Agriculturalist and inventor of the seed drill.

In the seventies they were massive and even had their own ship to cart their gear and themselves round Europe.

Here's one of my favourite tracks.  Enjoy.

Did you ever see Tull live?  I saw Martin Barre and his new band at A New Day Festival last year in Kent.  It seems like a life time.  When you could jump in a car, fly on a plane, catch a train, go on the Tube, catch another train to Canterbury and then catch a bus to near Faversham and walk down some country lanes to Mount Ephraim gardens in beautiful Kent, the garden of England.   Have a great weekend folks.

Thursday 5 November 2020

Mr and Mrs "Right On's" Allotment.

Mr and Mrs "Right On's" Allotment.

All characters in the following blog post are entirely fictitious but I have met a few like them!  You might even say they are exaggerations of allotment characters I have met?    I once met a couple who brought their commode in the shed and used its contents  to empty on the vegetables and fruit.  Peeing on the compost heap? Well  may be but "night soil" or number twos? C'mon!  Shall I get on with it?  Writing the post,  not emptying the commode.

Mr and Mrs 'Right On.'

This is a middle class, Barbour jacket wearing couple.  They decide to get themselves  (rent)a municipal allotment and grow 'Organic' vegetables and worship Mother Earth and:

"Do one's bit".

The great day arrives and they go to see their new potager and cannot believe their "one's) eyes:


They cry.

"Vegetables don't come washed and diced in plastic bags (biodegradable of course) like the one's we get in  Marks and Spencer's?"

Mr and Mrs Right on decide that their allotmenteering efforts will prevent global warming and the depletion of the Amazon rainforests all because THEY are growing 'Organic' vegetables.

Mr Right On does not believe in digging or weeding his allotment.  He doesn't want to upset the ecosphere and anaerobic digestion of some endangered worm species ("Lesser Spotted Tunbridge Wells Elasticicus") and decides he will find an extra few hours a week for their gardener Mr Commonplace.

"Yes sir, Yes sir."

Doffing cap, tugging forelock.

Mr and Mrs 'Right On' drive an enormous gas guzzling Volvo estate.  This is however only for transportation and for carrying the 'Organic' produce and gardening equipment to the allotment shed.

Mr 'Right On' is tired of Mrs 'Right On' complaining of the allotment earth on the car carpets.

"Must get a shed for the allotment."

"Yes dear.  What kind?"

"Oh only a small thingamajig.  I think they call them Gatekeepers cottages.  Must have a look in the classifieds for one."

"Time for tea."

"With a lemon slice".

Prog On A Friday is back tomorrow.  I bet you can't wait?

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Mr "Talk" A Good Allotment.

Yet Another One Of My Allotment Characters: "Mr Talk" A Good Plot!

This kind fellow with his fountain of advice is usually an active member of most allotment societies.  His main purpose/vocation in life is to "TALK" a good veg allotment plot. 

He does not give a dot who you are and will think nothing of leaning on your allotment hedge/ fence (what ever you have) and smile and inform you that you're not growing vegetables and fruit correctly.  He is very much like that Harry Enfield character: "You Don't  Want  To Do It Like That."  The man who is always saying: 

"You don't want to do it like that!"

"East to West is always best".

Mr "Talk a good plot" willl tell you how to sow, dig, rotovate, water, how to 'cook' your Pot Noodle, how to tidy your shed, even how to choose the right sized bricks and pieces of stone and concrete to hold the corrugated sheets down on you allotment shed!

One day the penny drops in your head and you decide to go have a look at Mr "Talk a good plots" potager/allotment.  You peer over the bramble covered rickity falling down pallet fence and see an overgrown vegetable plot with a few slug laced cabbages, his own private rubbish tip and " escape from the wife and washing machine" shed!  

Mr "Talk a good plot" if asked, would say he's created a natural habitat and allotment paradise for mankind and for all things bright and beautiful!  

Have you met this creature?

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Mr "Tick Tock". Another One Of My Allotment Characters.

Mr Tick Tock or Mr Clockwork is entirely fictional but based on a few allotment holders and vegetable growers I have met in Blighty.

You know the type?  Mr Clockwork will arise from his bed and slumber at seven am precisely every morning.

He will make his sandwiches and cook his breakfast and eat it.  He does not particularly like his ham and tomato sandwiches on white bread.  But he cannot really complain.  He makes them!

Mr Clockwork sets off and walks down the lane to his allotment next to the railway line.  He opens his gate and opens his shed door, takes out his gardening tools and commences his work.  This is at the very same time he started his work when he was in full time employment.

At ten o'clock one of his fellow allotment growers shouts:

"Come on Tom.  There's a cup of brew ready .  It's time for your tea break".

This followed at twelve for "Lunch" or "Dinner" if you come from up North.  There is also a mid afternoon break at "Three" or "Tree" if you live in Ireland.

Old Mr Tick Tock/Clockwork is retired and free to do what ever he wants and when he wants.  But alas, he is ruled by time and set routine! 

Even when he retired.  His work colleagues presented him with a (wait for it) CLOCK!  He had been watching TIME on the works clock for the last forty years.    Poor, poor man.  He's addicted to time.  Even allotted (allotment) time!

Monday 2 November 2020

One Of My Allotment Characters. "Harry Napalm".

 People who have been reading this scribble for the last ten years might know some of my allotment characters that I have met and even created with my literary vivid imagination and stupidity?  

Harry "Napalm" lived or resided in an allotment a few veg plots up from me.  I also christened him " Harry Weedkiller".  He would arrive at his allotment in the merry month of April? Months after I had toiled and slaved and "bastard" trenched and "double dug" my French potager in Northwest England.  

Harry would get out his knapsack sprayer fill it with water and mix packets of weedkiller and spray the contents on any thing flora and green that resided in his allotment jungle.

Harry was well into his sixties and he would spend the next week or so sitting on his deckchair in the midst of his wilting jungle and supping cans of cheap lager.    

When everything was completely dead looking .  Harry would crack up his leviathan of a Howard rotovator and turn his Brown frazzled vegetables and weeds into brownish looking soil/wilderness.

He would then apply agricultural rates of chemical fertilizers like a spinning Dervish and proceed to sow vegetables and plant his spudatoes.   

The rest of his summer would be spent supping cans of "el crappo" lager and sitting on his deckchair,  Whilst I sweated and toiled and weeded and swore like a trooper.  I think it's called vegetables cultivation?

Result: Harry "Napalm's" vegetables were massive, "dead big" and enormous and probably tasted crap!

Sunday 1 November 2020

The Allotment Castle Revisited.

 I first published this on here in 2012 but I think I could add a few extra thoughts and perspectives to the subject.  This is aimed at chaps, but chapesses can also have an allotment shed, but it can't  end up looking like the interior of the Ark Royal.  All spick and span and not a bottle of HP sauce any where to be seen.  Eh?πŸ€”

Please feel free to contribute with your Allotment  Castle thoughts folks!

To quote Comedian Rob Brydon: " It's only a bit of fun."

"An Englishman's home is his castle or shed or allotment or polytunnel or even "man cave".  You can be another nationality but the saying is for someone English. Not that it matters.

I would change the word castle to SHED.  There comes a time in a man's life when he decides to get himself a shed or a polytunnel.  Especially if it's a mile or so away from his dwelling and on an allotment.  

Especially now it's  getting colder in the polytunnel and you are tired of listening to the Hoover and white goods that disturb the peace and calm of every man's humble abode.   

You may also live on a wind and rain swept peninsula and you think back to when you rented allotments in Blighty and people talked and you had a laugh and a joke.  Hey that sounds like you Davy lad?

The allotment shed is akin to a very popular Northwest English seaside resort.  Who needs the sea if you have got the Golden Mile?  Or who cares about the state of your allotment if you've got an allotment shed?

There is something to be said about the untidiness (nay 'artistic chaos') of the allotment shed.  Mr Allotment Castle - Shed Man careth not about tidiness (he's not at home with his wife with the lily gilder and 'shake and vac' fanatic) and everything in it's right place.  He can never understand why his wife keeps leaving the toilet seat - 'down?'

Shall we have a look inside Mr  Allotment  Castle Shed Man's allotment shed?  Is it through the round window?  What ever happened to the characters or the windows in Play-school?  

Moving swiftly on folks.  Mr Shed Man's shed contains a spider called 'Spider' (complete with web) and lots of garden tools (awaiting instructions how to use them), a deck chair, plant pots, wireless (I'm showing my age) and a myriad of bitter and lager tins, old fish and chip papers,  and a bag of lawn seed and a nest of field mice, HP sauce bottle (preferably made of glass not plastic)  and a few magazines with pictures of scantily dressed ladies : "Big Girls Weekly" and a Tilley lamp and pot belly stove and something to play all your "Prog Records". Not forgetting "one man's  trash is another man's treasure"  If it's  useable well it's  useable.  Doesn't it sound like  Shed heaven readers?

Shed man thinks nothing of making shelves and cupboards.  Oh no!  Shed man just throws every on the floor in an heap and sits down and his " organized artistic chaos".  Well you don't think he's going to do any digging do you?

The ideal allotment shed would be Tardis like, small on the outside and an enormous interior.  Or perhaps an old railway carriage rather like Uncle Mort's (I Didn't Know You Cared) Lancashire and Yorkshire railway company.  The old girl (carriage) had previously travelled to far flung places like Miles Platting, Oldham Mumps, Halifax and Hebden Bridge.  It was a place to escape from the missus, sup fine ales and somewhere to contemplate the meaning of life.  Uncle Mort even had his own allotment flagpole (complete with Union Jack) to show when he was in residence.

Have I convinced you  yet about the joys of being an allotment castle/shed dweller?

Saturday 31 October 2020

Blue Moon.

There's supposed to be a blue moon tonight.  But with all the wind and rain from Hurricane Zeta and Storm Aiden we probably won't see it.

Perhaps it's a sign for Manchester City to win the Treble or perhaps a Democrats victory in America?  

It's also called an Hunters Moon.  Traditionally when animals were fattened for winter

"Blue Moon" is often sang by Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra fans at their home games.

Here is the king of Rock n Roll:

It's  not raining.  Yet.  I took a photo of our Irish blue moon.  

Friday 30 October 2020

In Search Of The Prog Rock Goddess. "Prog On A Friday".

 The title could be a series in itself.  One woman who is up with the Goddesses of ancient history and folklore must be the one and only Catherine Bush or "Kate Bush" to us mere mortals.   I am sure Stevie Nick's could be mentioned in the same vein.    I just about being a goddess but she's certainly made her mark on "Prog" Rock.

Like myself she's half English and half Irish.   Kate or Catherine was born in Bexleyheath in Kent.  A family friend was David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame and he heard the young musical prodigy and he recorded her.  Very soon she made her first single at the tender age of eighteen or nineteen:"Wuthering Heights" and it reached number one in the singles charts in Blighty.

The song is an absolute classic in both literature and musical terms.  Look at her eyes and expressions in the video.  Kate just seems to look into the cameras and not at the audience.   Sheer professionalism. Talk about an old head on young shoulders.  She absolutely captivates the audience with her banshee like ways.  I never get tired of her early stuff.

I also spotted this video of her on Irish television.  She looks to be wearing the same clothes she wore on Top of the Pops.  I am joking.

Thursday 29 October 2020

"We Were That Poor We Didn't Have A Tin Bath. We Had A Paper One".

 A classic one liner from Bobby Ball.  Who passed away from Covid on Wednesday  in Blackpool.   Him and his mate Tommy were welders in Oldham and they use to entertain pubs and clubs audiences at night and at the weekends.

That's three famous comedians and comic actors : Bobby, Eddie Large and Tim Brooke Taylor that have all succumbed to this awful virus this year.  I spent many an hour watching Tim in The Goodies comedy series in the 1970s.  

We had many a happy family holiday to Scarborough when we didn't visit Ireland.   My mum and dad would always "treat" me and my brother to see two of the summer shows.  We saw: The Grumbleweeds, Cannon and Ball, Bobby Knutt, The Spinners, Danny La Rue, The Nolans, Little and Large and Frank Carson and magic shows....

I remember seeing Canon and Ball at either the Futurist Theatre or the Floral Hall?   I remember it had been a typical mixed week of sunshine and rain.  But that didn't worry Canon and Ball.  It wouldn't  be long before you heard Bobby shouting:

"Rock on Tommy".

A great down to earth Lancashire lad who had the gift of making people laugh.

"Rock on Bobby".

You and all the other comedians will have them  all in stitches of laughter in Heaven.

It's a sign that you're getting old when your favourite Rock stars and Comedians are passing on to the great theatre in the sky.


Wednesday 28 October 2020

Extrasensory Perception On A Railway Bridge In Chester.

Following on from yesterday's blog post about ghostly experiences.   Some commentators said that they had also "picked" up on feelings when they have visited ancient battlefields, mystical King Arthurian castles and when looking round prospective new homes.  

This made me think of a strange experience/feeling I had one Summers day in May over twenty years ago.    

We lived on the outskirts of Chester at the time.  We would often walk next to the Roodee, Chester race course and on to the leafy suburbs of Curzon Park.  I would carry number one son's pushchair up the steps and we'd walk along the footbridge joined onto the railway bridge over the river Dee.

It's a lovely walk and it was a way of walking into the city without the hustle and bustle of the main road.  

I remember I was about half way across the bridge and I suddenly had an awful sense of foreboding and sadness.  My wife said she "didn't like it".  We hurried across the bridge and thought no more about it.

That was until about two weeks later I was browsing through writing, gardening, rock and local history magazines.  I noticed a headline about the river Dee railway disaster!
This happened on the 24th of May 1847.  Cast iron girders in the bridge snapped and the locomotive and 22 passengers fell into the river Dee.  Five people including the fireman drowned.

I have read about pychometry before and how objects like buildings, places and water can hold onto what happened on such a fatal day.  It was May the month we crossed the bridge over the river. Could that have been they day of the tragedy?  Had we picked up on something that the river thought was only it's secret?

Have you ever picked up on something like the above?  Do you think we have a sixth sense?   Coincidence? 

Tuesday 27 October 2020

A True Tale Near Halloween.

I have posted blogs before about seeing ghosts, hearing strange noises and smelling aromas like pipe tobacco.

Afew summers  ago, three of us were looking around County Limerick.  We stopped at a small village famous for an old ruined Franciscan Friary.  

There was also the ruins of a building which had once been a notorious Hellfire club.  A place where people would get drunk, hold seances and bring the devil up from Hell.  There's  even talk about a maid being burned alive there.

This trip was three or for years ago.   We decided to walk around the Friary.  It was a lovely still day and we walked amongst the ruins.  I felt very paranoid like someone was watching us.  My son and wife said they felt the same.   

Some how I left them downstairs looking round a room and I continued up some stone stairs.  Something poked me like a finger  in the area of my back where I injured it twenty years or so ago and then an orb flew past me an out the window.

I found the other two and my wife said: 

"I don't  like it in here".

I told them about my ghostly encounter and we agreed it was time to leave.  This was in broad day light.

"Yoiks Scooby".

The Cloisters.
Graveyard leading to ruined Friary.
Altar area.

Have you had supernatural experiences when visiting ancient buildings?

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 ...