Friday 31 December 2021

Repurposed Railway Lines.

 A wonderful poignant and evocative video lamenting the demise of so many railways in Britain and also over here in Ireland.

I was reading today about Greenways Ireland on the old T'web and Tinternet.  These are paths and roads on old disused and derelict railway lines.   They find work for the unemployed and are to be used by cyclists and walkers and other none motorized  traffic.

I plan to walk some of them next year.  I love the hills where I live but I fancy travelling these old railway lines now minus their tracks.

I love walking and I think it's a great way of repurposing old railway lines.

I wonder what Mr Beeching would think of the repurposing of derelict railway lines like the above?

Happy New year to all my readers.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

English Journey By J B Priestley.


I have just finished reading English Journey by JB Priestley on Kindle.  It was a struggle and depressed me at times.  JB Priestley was commissioned to write this in 1933 the same year my mother was born.

Victor Gollancz also commissioned Eric Blair (George Orwell) to write The Road To Wigan Pier.  I read that years ago and found that book far easier to read.   JB Priestley travels around England visiting different towns and comments about the places and it's people.

He had fought in the First World War and soon realised he was living in a land not fit for heroes with slum houses and mass unemployment and his writing is amusing, shocking and some of it would be politically incorrect today.  

However despite this I was left with the impression of a very patriotic writer who championed the working classes and a man who hated poverty and injustice.  He talks of one scenario of there being coal mines in Westminister and the Miners being treated and paid like Stockbrokers.   If only.

JB Priestley came from the North and it is that and the Midlands that he highlights the poverty but he also waxes lyrically about Southern places like the Cotswolds and Devon and Dorset where the water painting artists painted before the rise of the Industrial Revolution and he describes Norwich to be like a Dickens story with it's fine old buildings, ruddy cheekecd farmers and clerks that resembled a character from A Christmas Carol.

I have been unemployed and felt the depression and worthlessness of being thrown on the scrapheap and realized that hard manual and poorly paid work is better than no work.  But I thank God that I never suffered like the post industrial revolution employees of the nineteen thirties.

However without being hopefully too negative.  I will leave you a joke of his:

A weaver up Blackburn  way had just lost her husband.  She decided to have him cremated and put his ashes in a egg timer.  Th'owd devil wouldn't ever work when 'e wer alive, so 'e can start doing a bit now  'e's deead."

I'm glad I finished reading the book but I didn't enjoy reading about poor people struggling.  But I like how he championed all people especially ordinary folk like waiters or miners or barmaids..  

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Abstract Dog Art?

No not another name for a Prog Rock band.

I was woken up at five in the morning yesterday with Domino (our pussy cat) purring on the bed.  He was no doubt pleased that he achieved this amazing feat.  We should have renamed him 'Cuckoo' because he likes living in other nests!

I couldn't get back to sleep and read blogs and emails for an hour or two.  Then some how I turned off the lampity at the side of my bed and managed to some how fall to sleep.  I awoke at 7.45 and walked into the newish kitchen and found a abstract art exhibition:

Our new puppy dog says her work is called 'Detritus'. It is a fine example of a bored and early riser of a puppy that decided to empty the contents of a polythene bag for recycling and distribute the contents all over the kitchen floor.

She asked me if those posh folk at the Tate Modern would like to buy her work? Well they once bought a pile of bricks didn't they? 

What do you reckon? Twenty grand and a years supply of Winalot?

Sunday 26 December 2021

Is It Global Warming Or Is It Because We Live On The Gulf Stream?

 I had a look at my sadly neglected garden and veg plots yesterday (Boxing Day) and noticed some flowers on my perennials and a wild Irish Rose:

Paris Daisy.
Shasta Daisy.
Geranium.  It's a fragrant one with a lovely perfume.

Bergenia.  They originate in Siberia so they must think it's Summer?☺

A wild Irish Rose.

The world's gone mad.  I just hope the birds haven't started nesting yet.

Thoughts About Boxing Day, Buying Hoovers And Famous Poets Contradictions.

Today is Boxing Day or Stephens Day here in Hibernia or Ireland to be precise.

Traditionally people from the big houses would give the little men and women boxes or presents on this day.  Probably Toblerones and Hoover bags.

Talking of Hoovers you know what we did last weekend? We only went in Argos and purchased three vacuum cleaners.  No they weren't for me and I even gave my usual blog rant about if there was a political party that pledged to ban Hoovers in their manifesto I would vote for them!  I told this to the cashier/receipt checker and she laughed.  The wife carried one vacuum cleaner and I carried the other two.  Oh what looks we got off people.  It was like they were thinking: " Is there an Hoover shortage?" 

Yes I'm a man of contradictions.  Saying that they weren't for me.  I sound like a drug dealer or even worse, a Hoover dealer.

Talking of contradictions.  I watched a cracking Sky Arts programme presented by Frank Skinner and Denise Mina: Wordsworth and Coleridge Roadtrip the other night.  I love Frank Skinner because he always makes me laugh. 

 Any road if you can chance go see the programme please watch it.  They visit the poets stomping grounds and point out how William Wordsworth  commented about how he disliked white houses and ended up living in two such buildings.

They visited Dove Cottage where Dorothy had papered her bedroom with newspapers (like you do) and I remember me and my wife buying a book of his poems there and she read them to me in the beautiful garden and I was that moved that I bought her a ginger man from the famous ginger bread shop and I had a few pints of Ruddles in a white painted pub in Grasmere.

So if it's good enough for a poet Laureate to contradict themselves so can l!


Saturday 25 December 2021

Piffy On A Rock.

Merry Christmas to you all.   I spent Christmas Eve afternoon chiselling up tiles and my dear old mum would have said: 

"It's like Christmas Day in the Workhouse".

The thing is I know that manual labour is not the name of a Spanish workman and I am very good at mentally switching off and day dreaming for an hour or three.

I felt like Piffy on a rock.  You wordsmiths out there probably share my fascination with the etymology of words and sayings like Piffy on a rock, don't you?

So I consulted Professor Google.   Apparently it's a Northern English saying.  More than likely derived from a Music hall catchphrase in the 1930s.  It  refers to the idea of feeling left out like Piffy on a rock bun/cake.  It's  in a similar category as "I'll go to the foot of our stairs".

The things you think about when your chiselling up tiles on a Christmas Eve.

I've just looked at tonight's TV listings on Terrestrial TV in Blighty at 8 pm:

BBC 1.   Call the Midwife.  BBC2.  The Morecambe and Wise Show.  ITV.  Coronation  Street.  Channel 4.   The Great British Bake Off.

Well the powers that put a lot of thought into that didn't they? 

Enjoy your day.

Thursday 23 December 2021

A Nativity Shop Window In Killarney.

 We spotted this Nativity scene in the shop window of an Italian Restaurant in Killarney last weekend.

I love it when shopkeepers go to the trouble of dressing their shop windows.  Every year Christmas seems to be more commercial and less emphasis on the Christian Saviour Jesus who was born in a stable in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas with your family and friends and a peaceful and very prosperous New Year.    I'm hoping to go on holiday in the sun next year and take in a Rock festival in Blighty next Summer.

Here's wishing and hoping!

Sunday 19 December 2021

Cornish Treats In County Kerry.

 We went shopping in Killarney and Tralee on Saturday.  

We got sorted with our Christmas presents purchases and I found some Cornish treasure:

Eight bottles of Doom Bar bitter.  Ambrosia for ye gods.  They have a wonderful hops smell and taste.

The last time I supped/sampled this bitter was in Wetherspoon's in Kent in 2019 for two Pounds per pint.

The other thing we bought were the famous Ginster Cornish pasties in Iceland, the foodstore not the country.

It's good to be able to get some Blighty food and drink treats.

Friday 17 December 2021

"Psst. Want To Buy A Cardboard Box?"

 You know the tale of the Spiv selling seagulls on a seaside pier?   "Do you want to buy a seagull gov?"

"How much?" 

"Ten bob".

"Go on then.  Which one's mine?"

" That one up in the sky!"

We were in a shop in Killarney and we saw this:

A empty cardboard box with stars on the lid for 5 Euros or four Pounds twenty five pence.  Just so you can put your presents in it.  

Stop the world I want to get off.  Whatever happened to a shoe box or even a black bin bag to put your presents in?

Next Saturday it will be Christmas day and children will rip open  their Christmas wrapping paper, take our their presents (plastic junk) and sit in the cardboard box it came in and play in one for hours of fun.

But seriously don't  you think five Euros is a bit steep for a cardboard box?

Tuesday 14 December 2021

A Birthday Cake For A Canine Pal.

 It was someone second birthday the other day.  It's a week after mine.   

I remembered watching Blue Peter many moons ago and they made a dog food cake for the TV celebrity dogs and cats.  

So I consulted good old Google and sure enough I found the recipe:

A tin of dog  food.  Some powdered  gelatine mixed with hot water.  Mix it in with the dog food and leave it to set.  Then make butter cream and add vanilla essence and spread it over the cake and leave it to set.

I reckon we should sell them to pet shops.  Dog food cakes a speciality.  This time next year we'll be Millionaires!

Thursday 9 December 2021

The King Of Rock'N'Roll.

Some say Elvis Presley is the king of Rock'n'roll.  I can think of someone else who dragged the world screaming and kicking and changed the music world once and for all.

Johnny B. Goode was written in 1955 by Chuck Berry.  It's  the story of a semi illiterate country boy from New Orleans who plays a guitar and one day will have his name in lights.  It was released in 1958 and reached number two.  

Who could be the king of Rock'n'roll? Bill Haley? Buddy Holly? Eddie Cochran? Maybe it was this man?

I would have loved to have seen him play live.  Yep he's got to be up there with the best of guitar players.

Does he make you get out the old air guitar or even the broom handle? 

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Biscuits Not Suitable For Cavemen.

 Brr.  It's  that cold and windy today that  you wouldn't put a milk bottle outside.

Storm Barra is creating havoc today in Hibernia or the Emerald Isle.  It been forecast to cause  more havoc and most folk including myself are sat at home today.  

I stayed in bed most of the morning and thought of Ted Hughes ' Wind' poem, read some emails and read blogs.  

Then I Googled flooding in Bantry and Cork city and noticed there are lots of fishing boats sheltering and probably fishing in the bay which I can see from our kitchen window.  I'm glad I'm not on the ferry this morning.

The wife said she had brewed up and I sat down to sample a lovely cup of real coffee from the cafetier.   She makes a lovely brew unlike myself who always makes it too strong but it's an excellent home made laxative.😊

The wife produced a packet of Mcvitie's Bourbon biscuits.  I attempted to rip open the packet open and she piped up:

"Pass them me!"

Then she proceed to unwrap the bit on the packaging  that you easily tear.  Out popped the biscuits.  I don't think they are invented to be used by cavemen like myself.

There has just been a mighty wind gust and the wife shouted: " Bloody Hell."

I am waiting for the usual phone call:

"Have you still got electricity, we haven't?"

Sunday 5 December 2021

Cider With Roadies.

 I have read another Kindle book this week: Cider With Roadies by Stuart Maconie.  It's got to be one of the cleverest book titles I've ever seen and a wonderful play on words with Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee.   

Stuart Maconie writes about the Gloucestershire classic and his (and    mine) Lancashire uprising with petrol rainbows in the back street puddles.  He could have been a lyricist for The Smith's.

The book was wrote/written in 2005 but I only discovered it recently through Kindle book recommendations.  I have read two other books of his: Pies and Prejudice and  The People's Songs.

I enjoy his humour and I share his infatuation with music and he's met some of my Rock heroes like All About Eve, Elvis Costello, Kate Bush and Morrissey and how Lemmy supplied Keith Emerson with SS daggers to stab his keyboards when performing with ELP.  I saw this spectacle in action at Manchester Apollo once. I have never felt sorry for a Moog keyboard before.  RIP Keith and Greg.  ELP were probably England's finest Prog band. Up there with the greatest like my favourite band Kansas. 

Stuart even mentions my favourite Wigan joke which goes something like the following:

These Wigan lads see a sign outside a pub: A Pie A Pint And A Woman  For A Pound!

One of the lads says to the Bouncer:

"Whose pies are they?"

I found it laddish humour with a infatuation with music.  Something I share and imagine going from playing in pub bands to becoming assistant editor at the NME?   

I found the book very enjoyable with some laugh out moments like Mark E Smith of The Fall (I knew his cousin)  asking a journalist if  they would like "summat to eat?" Going into the kitchen banging pans down and opening and shutting kitchen cubpoards and twenty minutes late presenting a crisp sandwich on  a plate.

There are many facts some true and some that Stuart made up like the guy from the Monkees with the woolly hat.  His  mother actually invented Tippex (true) and Jimmy Page use to have jam sessions with the Loch Ness Monster in Alistair Crowleys  old house ( I made that up) and Bob Holness from Blockbusters played the sax solo on Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty.  Stuart made that up!

He also waxes lyrical about Stretford's Philip  Larkin and Elvis Presley: Morrissey.   Also that music journalists are failed or frustrated musicians and it's the Rock bands who pay for everything not the record companies.  It's all took out of their royalties in the end.

It was a good read and I will read some more of his books in the future.  I think my next book I'm going to download is Engish Journey by JB Priestley.  Anyone read it?

Saturday 4 December 2021

Steamed Up Reading Glasses When I Wear A Mask.

No I have not been reading "Big Girls Weekly" or looking at  the women's lingerie in Littlewoods catalogue again:

"Stick em up!"

People of a certain age like myself have to use reading glasses from Lidl to read.  This is ok until I have to wear my mask.  My glasses steam up like the upstairs  deck of a Selnec (South East Lancs and North East Cheshire) bus full of smokers or a chip shop on a Friday night.  

I find it very annoying and I have to get my handkerchief out of my pocket every few minutes.  So I thought I would see if there is any way I can solve my steamed up glasses problem.  I Googled steamed up reading glasses and it said you should pull up  your mask just under your glasses and they shouldn't steam up.  So I gave it a whirl and it's much better.

I also read that you can get anti fog glasses.

Do you have problems reading when you wear a covid mask?

Wednesday 1 December 2021

A Classic Rock Track That I never Tire Of Listening To. "Ruby Tuesday".

 It was way back in August 2019 when I last saw some live bands at a Rock festival in Kent in Blighty.

These days I seem to find myself going over to good old You Tube and clicking on to some memorable tracks.  I might even start featuring them on here? 

One track that I absolutely adore is Ruby Tuesday by the Rolling Stones.  It's over fifty years since it was released and it still resonates with young and old and not so young like yours truly.

Apparently Keith Richards penned this track and it's about his girlfriend dropping him and moving in with Jimi Hendrix.  Like they do.  He said:

"Sometimes you're just left with your keyboard and guitar."

So here's a version of Ruby Tuesday sung the by Corrs and accompanied with Ronnie Wood.  

I actually think it's a  very good cover like that donkey jacket  I used for a blanket and my my mum said: "call it an Eiderdown."   

She was having some posh company round and I shouted downstairs: 

"Mum the sleeves just fell off the Eiderdown".

The old ones are always the best.

I would love to see The Corrs.  People often tell me the time they played Bantry Mussel Fair in the nineties and how good they were.  I often read and hear people talking about Rory Gallagher playing Macroom Castle and Nirvana playing Cork.  Someday Kansas will play somewhere exotic in West Cork like Dunmanway or Bantry even  I can dream.😊


Two Charity Shop Vases Full Of Feverfew.

"The 18th Century Aspirin Plant." I have this plant growing in my veg garden at the moment.  It is supposed to be brilliant for al...