Sunday 26 January 2020

Two Pot Ducks.

We went Wombling again to a car boot sale and I purchased these two ducks for the princely sum of two Euros.

Jemima and Rebekah Puddle duck.

I think they are Mallards?  Yes some would call them Tat or Clutter.  But could you honestly walk past these two feathered friends for two EUROS?

Have you picked up any bargains lately?  Is your house a Womble house like ours?  Are you a collector?  What do you collect?

Saturday 25 January 2020

The Green Shoots Of Recovery.

Sorry I haven't left comments on my favourite blogs this week.  I was offered some temporary work on a demolition site, and I have been working like a busy bee all week.  Filling skips and getting fit again.

Any road or any way.  Remember the Pussywillow cutting I took the other week?  Well I stuck it in a vase of water and I noti yesterday it's grown a leaf.  It looks like we are going to have our very own Pussywillow tree.  It cost nothing has per usual.

Here's a photo of our 'free' tree.


Sunday 19 January 2020

The Writers Group.

There are some creatures who feel that they have an urge and need to be the next Catherine Cookson.  I  started (co-founded if you’re pretentious and need a lie down)  a creative writing group when I lived in Cheshire.  

I placed messages and posters in libraries, shops and local newspapers.  One night I received six really interesting phone calls.  Five of them were really positive and exciting.  The sixth one was very, very worrying;  One young man wanted to join the group and he wanted to know how much he would get paid for :
“Writing summat?” 
He then informed me that he couldn’t come to any of the meetings for the forthcoming future.  He had been involuntary sectioned in the secure unit of the local psychiatric unit. 
“Oh I see”,
Said yours truly. 
“I look forward to meeting you when you are released from your place of confinement.” 
I never actually. I just said a prayer and stopped advertising my phone number in the local rag or the window of a book shop on the corner near  the race course. 

The first Writer’s meeting was very well attended.  We all introduced ourselves and talked about our writing ambitions.  One man wrote poetry and short stories.  He had no intention of attempting to get published, but he liked the company of other writers.  I said I write humour and I have always dreamed of becoming a published author.
A tall man in his fifties with a groomed beard and upper crust accent spoke up:
 “I am an expert in all forms of creative writing.  Currently I’m writing a book, well not actually writing, more research really”. 
“Oh really”
Said I. 
“What’s it called?” 
The man sighed and announced triumphantly in a rather bombastic way:
 “It’s called DRACULA!” 
I wonder where he thought of that one?

I have often thought it would make a great sitcom:  The Writers Group.  What do you think?

Saturday 18 January 2020

Kale Concannon And Bacon.

We made an Irish dish for tea last night: Kale Concannon and bacon.  It's a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes,  milk and Kale or Cabbage.  Col is probably derived from the Irish word Cal meaning Cabbage and the second syllable  ceann-fhionn meaning a white or a white head of cabbage.

I love trying UK and Irish regional and different European and other countries dishes, don't  you?  We made ours with our homegrown Kale freshly picked (yesterday) from our polytunnel.

Kale Colcannon with bacon and even more Kale.

Here's  Mary Black singing about Colcannon.  She could be singing about my Irish grandmother.

Friday 17 January 2020

A Tub Full Of Kale.

Yep another gardening related post folks!

I did some tidying up in my hooped room - polytunnel yesterday.  I have got eighty eight plant pots of Hardy Fuchsias for sale or barter.  They are now living outside on the veg plot.

I picked the last of the Kale and presented the wife with a trug full of it.  She asked me what should she do with it?

"Eat it".

I said.

Do you want any?  It's free!

A trug full of Kale.  What will we do with it?  Soup, instead of Cabbage, freeze it,  make butties with it?  What's  your favourite butties?  When I was young we would have banana butties,  tomato butties chip butties, fish finger butties, brown sauce butties, even vinegar butties!  What strange butties did you use to make folks?
Most of the Kale will be blanched and frozen in one of the freezers.  It's perfect for soups and a Cabbage substitute.  Anybody know any other Kale recipes please?  What about Kale pizza even?
The hooped room after the Kale was harvested.  There are over a hundred shrubs to be potted on when I  get some compost,  They are doing very well in fairness.

Thursday 16 January 2020

Planting Laurel Hedging On The Cheap.

We had a problem with the sewer pipe to the septic tank and number one son and his pals cleared the hedging and shrubs and uncovered the pipe with a digger and we replaced two plastic pipes.

So I decided to go to my plant nursery - Veg plot and found twenty four Laurel plants that I managed to root from cuttings in late summer.  Apart from some cheap compost they cost me NOTHING.  Just my effort and my special relationship with dear old Mother  Nature.  She is very clever.

Any road.  Or any way.  Instead of paying two Euros a piece for some Laurel hedging I dug holes and planted my own ones.  They will be given a sprinkling of organic poultry pellets in Spring and they will be mulched with lawn mower clippings and shredded bark.  The lawn never gets artificial chemicals applied to it only a nettle garden tea.

I got the Laurel cuttings for free.  I saved them when I cut my hedge.  That's  something  I found out recently.  Laurel releases Cyanide when it's  pruned.  "

Yikes Scooby!"
The new Laurel hedge and sewer pipes.  I will get some cheap gravel soon and cover the pipe.  I love it when a plan comes together and doesn't cost very much.  Have you got any garden projects in the pipeline?  I couldn't resist that pun!

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Pictures Of My Polytunnel In January!

The veg artist left a comment asking me how does our polytunnel survive all the storms with us living in the countryside next to the sea..? Here are some photos of 'Portugal ' my polytunnel  which I took in the rain yesterday.
East side on.  This is where we have had a couple of rips in the plastic.  Luckily you can buy polytunnel repair tape from garden centres and even ALDI.  You can only use it when the plastic is dry.  The plastic  covering is only supposed to last two years.  But ours is still fine after 7 years.  

The wind break door on the South side of the tunnel.

View from the West side.   The wife is waiting for her gardener to come back.  Yes it's weedy and there are perennials in pots everywhere including my raised beds/baths.  The ground is saturated and I am itching to do some digging.  Those weeds will be dug in and become a great green manure.  Weedy plots mean chemical free.  That's my excuse any way.   No I really do want to knock it back into shape and hurt my back again!

A view from the North side.  Hey North Sider/ Cider? Notice my compost heap? Three pallets and lots of cursing , humping and tying the pallets together.

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Too Rough For The Fishermen To Leave The Bay..

This was taken in our garden at twenty to six yesterday evening.  Small fishing boats trying to make a living during the remnants of Storm Brendan.

StormBrendan brought the cold with him from Canada.  I went to the veg plot in the countryside next to the sea to pick a leek and some Brussel sprouts.  My poor fingers felt like ice and I was soon back in the kitchen, washing my poor fingers and getting warm from the solid fuel range.  I hate to think how cold those Fishermen are?

The chicken casserole cooked in a cup of red wine went down very well.  I raised my glass after and said:

"Here's to the Fishermen!"

Monday 13 January 2020

Does Your Cat Watch The News?

Domino was very concerned about Iran last week.  So he watched Sky News.

In other news.  Storm Brendan came from Canada this morning.  It's a quick moving storm and there are trees blocking roads in West Cork.  The wind and rain seems to be abating and I have just been on a reccy and everything including my polytunnel seems fine.  Let's hope that's the last storm for this winter.  Roll on Spring.

Sunday 12 January 2020

The Passing Of Another One Of My Rock Heroes.

I often talk about my mental jukebox.  It's a phrase often used in the book Ghost Rider by Canadian Rock musician Neil Peart who passed away this week.  Neil's mental jukebox are all those songs that play in our heads, riding a motorbike or anything else.

It's a motorbike travelogue memoir of his travels after the loss of his daughter and then wife.   He writes about the records or tracks that come into your head when your riding your motorbike or even digging over your veg plot or playing the drums.  I got in the bit about digging your veg plot!

He rides his motorcycle  through North America,  Canada, Mexico and Belize.  He writes letters to his friend and some of these are very funny and also very moving. If you ever been through grief it's well worth a read.  I have read his book and like most books or  favourite blogs you feel like you know the author.  It's a great read and I must read it again.

I am lucky enough to have seen Rush twice.  Once at Birmingham NEC and at Sheffield Arena.  He must be the most talented drummer I have seen live and listened to on record.  I have seen some great drummers like Carl Palmer and Brian Downey live.

I put Mr Peart at the top of the list. He even could play drums like the great Jazz drummer Buddy Rich.  Check out Neil's videos on YouTube to see him playing the Buddy Rich way.

There must be some fantastic music being played in Heaven, Neil.  God bless and I am privileged to have seen you play live, read your book and play your records.

Here's  one of my favourite Rush songs and written by Mr Peart.

Saturday 11 January 2020

Potting On The Fuchsias.

I potted on fifty Fuchsias yesterday.  It took me about an hour and half to pot them into bigger plants with my homemade compost.  I can't get any commercially produced compost at the moment.  Even my German supermarket and garden centre (Lidl) doesn't have any in stock at the moment.

I can't remember the Fuchsias variety?  It's a white and salmon pink flower.  It's like the wild red and purple hedging variety Magellanica that you see growing in Devon and Cornwall and all over the West of Ireland hedgerows.  Perhaps it is a white variety of Magellanica?  It's hardy and can be used for hedging or for shrubs.

That originates in Chile.  Like the potatoes and even the Montbretia which originates in South Africa.  I think it must be the Gulf Stream that brought it or some very enthusiastic South America and South African gardeners.

Any way there out in the veg plot and I will pot up some more shrubs in ye olde polytunnel when it's chucking it down outside.  You have got to have some hobby or interest living in the countryside next to the sea.

Just think if I took one million cuttings and they all rooted and I sold them a Euro or a Pound a piece I would be a millionaire.  I might be some time.  The polytunnel beckons!

Friday 10 January 2020

"Where Ever I End Up I Will Know Someone, ".

I remember going on one of my fishing trips many moons ago.  Nobody was getting any bites and me and my mate started telling jokes and laughing and another angler said:

"You would wake the dead you two."

Then we laughed some more.

Christmas birthdays and death anniversaries are always around Christmas and this week.  They always get too me no matter how much time passes.

I have seen a few ghosts in my time but I have never seen my mum or my dad.  I often (every day) wonder if they are OK and what's the food and beer like in Heaven?  My dear old mother use to say to us:

"Where ever I end up I will know someone".

Here's one of my mum's favourite programmes.  I never get bored playing it!

Thursday 9 January 2020

In Loving Memory Sitcom Memories.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of a great actor Christopher Beeny.  He was in Upstairs and Downstairs and In Loving Memory.  I use to watch this sitcom with my mother every week.

It was set in 1920's Yorkshire.  Thora Bird played Billy's Undertaker aunty Ivy:

It was an unusual take on the funeral business.  Filmed in Luddenden  IinYorkshire and Oldham in Lancashire.  It was a wonderful comedy.  More of my favourite sitcoms soon.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

A Chippy Tea.

Here are some more of my memories from Blighty.
Going to the chip shop or take away is a pastime where you meet a different kind of a person.  Some people go to their takeaway for some chips.  While other go for a fight or meet their future wife.  Or then they get married they can do both together.
When I was a lad.  The highlight of every Friday was a trip to the chippy.  Your father had just been paid his weeks wages (biscuit money).  There was none of theme celery’s (salaries) in my day.  From a very early age I can remember going to the chippy for six penny worth of chips.  They would be cooked in lard and dripping in those days.  There was none of this oilseed rape-vegetable oil malarkey.  Friday tea time was chippy night.  A few hours earlier in your average northern school playground.  The conversation went something like this:
 “We're having a chippy tea tonight!” 
“So what, we are having one every night, even Sundays when they’re shut”. 
In our neck of the woods, (Lancashire) people would be seen queuing out the door and up the street.  Talking of chip shop doors.  I once remember my pal’s drunken father trying his house key in the chip shop door..
 In fairness he did live smack bang next to the chip shop, and the front door was identical apart from a sign
which said OPEN.   The chip shop door opened and my friend’s father stumbled and fumbled his key into the chip shop door. 
He was greeted with a round of applause and laughter from the packed chip shop.  When you went to the chippy, there was always some old lady chippy barging to the front of the queue and saying:
 “Here Mary keep this bowl warm on top of the range.” 
She couldn’t use newspaper like everybody else.

“.We were that poor when I was a lad.   We used to go to yonder chippy for a newspaper to read.”

Monday 6 January 2020

Nearly Christmas New Potatoes.

I decided to have a look at how our new potatoes were doing?  I hoped we would have them for Christmas dinner but they didn't seem ready.  Anyway I picked up my pike and dug for hidden treasure.  Look what we found:

Beautiful and yummy new potatoes!
Inside my polytunnel.  Please excuse the organised chaos.  Mr and Mrs  wind  blew through the gale windbreak mesh door last night.   Well that's  my excuse  any way.   The Kale is still not fully harvested.  There's only me who likes it!  You can see lots of shrub cuttings I took a couple of months ago.
A new potatoes meal for the four of us.  My late father would have said to leave them to get bigger.  But that's the beauty of growing your own: small is beautiful!

  You can grow vegetables in plant pots or some polystyrene packaging in the polytunnel like we did.  We once grew potatoes in a plant pot in the window of our flat.  They tasted delicious!  Go on have a go and plant some potatoes.  Anybody harvested their 2020 new potatoes yet?

The Pussy Willow Is Showing Us That Spring Is On Its Way.

I found some Pussy Willow budding yesterday.  They call willows "Sally's " here in Ireland.  The botanical name is Salix.  I find willows very easy to root.  It's easy to make your very own portable hedge:

Fill a plastic plant pot or an old paint tub.  Make some drainage holes with a cordless drill or a screwdriver.  Fill it with soil or old compost and stick some willow cuttings in them.

Leave them outside somewhere in the veg plot or allotment and come back in a month or two.  You will see them sprouting leaves.  Pull them out and you will see roots.

Bobs your uncle.  You now have your very own portable willow hedge.  I do the same with Fuschia and Gristelina and Laurel hedge cuttings.

I am going to see if my Pussy Willow root in the water in the vase.  It will be good to have my very own Pussy Willow tree.

Here's a song from English Prog group Jethro Tull.  I have seen them four or five times and they are a classic English Prog Rock band.  Anybody ever seen them live?    Enjoy.

Sunday 5 January 2020

More Photos Of My Walk Yesterday On The Sheepshead Peninsula.

Sheep grazing in the fields above and two brown donkeys discussing donkey subjects and wondering why that man is taking a photo of us with his mobile phone?  We are going to be stars on North Cider television.

Have you been on any good walks lately?

Saturday 4 January 2020

Swans On Dunmanus Bay.

I went on one of my walks this morning and spotted Mr and Mrs Swan sat on a rock in Dunmanus Bay.  Mr Swan was talking about his favourite football team: the Swans.  Mrs Swan was saying she can't get anything to dry.

I took the photo and they decided to go for a  swim.  It was a beautiful sight and it never rained.

Here's Steve Hackett playing A Cradle Of Swans.

Friday 3 January 2020

Do You Understand?

Went for a walk  this morning and walked into a local village.  I took a picture of this litter bin.  Something which is very rare to see here on the Sheepshead  Peninsula or anywhere else in Ireland for that matter.

Why do towns and villages have street lights, pavements, bottle and can banks and even litter bins!  Whilst rural dwellers get nothing?

Is a bottle of Lucozade litter or Household Waste? 

I have been to Portugal and there are litter bins everywhere.  Be it the beaches or the streets.  Bins for metal, Household Waste, plastic..?  You name it and it's all free and there is no litter ANYWHERE!

Thursday 2 January 2020

Boundary Change Lunatics.

I was born in Lancashire.  Well we did until the great or not so boundary changes of 1974.  Instead of us living in the red rose county: Lancashire.  We now lived in Greater Manchester. 

Everybody I knew always refused to be part of this nonsense.  We always put Lancs. at the bottom of our address.  Not flipping Greater Manchester.  There’s nothing wrong with Manchester.  But it’s the red rose county that a Lancastrian wants to be part of. 

The two most decorated English football clubs MUFC and LFC come from Lancashire not Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

The powers that be had a right good fiddle about with the counties boundaries.  I’m not talking about sixes and fours crossing the ropes of the cricket fields either.  

How could Warrington in Lancashire suddenly become part of Cheshire?  Lancashire’s most famous son George Formby is buried in Warrington.  

Imagine him today saying:

 “Turned out nice again.  I’m leaning on the lamp-post at corner of our street. Until a certain little boundary changes back  into Lancashire from Cheshire?”

What do you think about boundary changes folks?  Does one side of your street lie in one county and the other side in another?  Imagine one side supporting United and another supporting Leeds?

I have just thought of an even worse scenario: Brexit Street. Mrs Remain on one side and on the other: Mr Retriever, I mean Leaver!

Wednesday 1 January 2020

I Know What I Like And I Like What I Know.

My friend emailed me on Monday with some fantastic news.  He managed  to get us both a Steve Hackett ticket a piece.  Steve's got a great band together and they are playing his early Genesis stuff: Genesis Revisited.  The lead singer Nad Sylvan is incredible.  I think his voice is amazing.  See for yourself:

If you really want the hairs on the back of your arms stand up,  watch The Cinema Show.  Nads intonation in his voice is amazing!  I think Rachel would like this song because she's a Prog Rock listener/fan like myself.  Enjoy.

Its 12 minutes long.  But what a performance by Mr Hackett  and the lads.

Have you got any gigs planned for 2020?  I just have to wait until Autumn before I see them play live.  You can't beat some Prog Rock can you?


Happy New Year To You All.  Here's  another one of my anecdotes for you. 

This is a creature that thinks it can fix anything.  It is often seen in stores like B and Q and Wickes.  Some people want a new set of golf clubs or a “nice” jumper (don’t forget the aftershave and socks) for Christmas.  Not Mr. DIY.  Oh no!  He (the majority are of the meat and two veg variety) wants a new Black and Decker Workmate and a Matsui cordless drill.  Some people read Mills and Boon romances.  Mr. DIY reads the latest Screw Fix catalogue.  

He eats, sleeps and drinks nuts, bolts, rawl plugs and screws.  His life time ambition is to “do up” (wreck) an old barn or slaughter works in the countryside.  God loves a Trier.  But this creature really is really trying sometimes.  He makes Frank Spencer look like a competent, time served tradesman.  

May I digress just for a sentence or two?  I once knew somebody who told me they worked with a man in a furniture removal company called FRANK SPENCER.  It must have been really reassuring for the owner of the house when they read his name on his badge:
 “Be careful with that priceless vase Mr. Spencer”. 
“Let’s not stand on occasion, call me Frank!” 

I once lived on a jam butty estate near a man we nicknamed:“Billy Bodger”.  He lived in a new town house with a front garden the size of a postage stamp.   Billy would open his shed and take out his ancient, cylinder, push lawnmower.  The blades were set to cut the hairs off a snooker ball.   Billy Bodger would sweat and toil SCALPING his poor front lawn for half an hour.  By the time he finished mowing (ploughing) his minute and immaculate (not) Wimbledon tennis lawn.  It would look across between the battlefields of Passchendaele and the Somme.   His garden actually looked better when he went on holiday for a few weeks. 

He was a jack of all trades and a master of none!”  

Sounds like myself.

I think he invented the Manchester screwdriver: the claw hammer.

There are people who serve apprenticeships and go to college to learn about, bricklaying, carpentry, electrical wiring and plumbing. 
Then of course there are you “bodge it and scarper” (cowboys) and Billy Bodgers of this world.  All one needs is some fuse wire, Sellotape and a Manchester screwdriver (claw hammer).  Their motto is:
“If in doubt, give it a clout”. 

He’s been doing it to the television for years.  They had a power cut last week.  They couldn’t watch any television programmes for two whole days. 

He decided he will have no more.  He marched down to the GAS showrooms and ordered a new Calor gas television!  Well they don’t have mains gas where he lives!

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...