Monday, April 27, 2015


This anniversary hasn't taken me by surprise for I've been thinking about my mother since April began. I knew I'd be writing this blog today and I've left it to the very last moment. Four years, four years now since Matty died.

There would have to be a picture and that was decided at the last moment too. The problem, and it's not a problem, about choosing pictures of my mother is that there are so many great ones. She came across well in photographs. This is the one I have chosen to remember her tonight.

Miss you Mum.

And this is my sister's remembrance.

Frost And Critters

Taken in 2007, Bonnie and Fred, 727 views, 27th most viewed on Flickr today

Last night brought a very sharp late Spring frost and a thick layer of ice on the hens' water bowl. The pieris, which looked so gorgeous yesterday, are devastated now. My paeony is looking very wilty. In the polytunnel my cucumber and courgette seedlings are mush and Zoe has lost a lot of young tomato plants. The severe cold coming after a very warm week was hard on those tender plants. Mother Nature can be cruel.

Good news is that Dave says my crumble is the best he's ever tasted. I hadn't made it for a while as Miss Martha said she didn't like it. Today's was made with white currants, red currants and raspberries. All from last summer thanks to the freezer. Freezing temperatures aren't always a bad thing.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Insulted Face And Poker Face

The 'do', otherwise known as the tree house-warming party went well. At one point there was around thirteen people in the tree house which was quite a crowd and, I'm glad to say, no one fell down the step winding staircase.

The end of the night brought a bit of a drama when a tired and overwrought woman ordered a guest out of her house for extreme rudeness. That woman was me but the guest really did overstep the mark. He did say sorry but his apology was not accepted.

Tonight the 26th most interesting picture was taken at another 'do' where the guests minded their manners and treated Nelly in a manner that she deemed acceptable. This do was a poker party. I never play poker myself and for two good reasons. Number one, I am bad at it and number two, I detest losing money to other people.

This lady fancies herself rather good at poker and indeed she often wins. I think she looks the part.

Swisser, 354 views

And this is the 26th most viewed picture.

Miss Martha, 742 views

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Early Post

I'm posting early today because there is some sort of a 'do' happening here tonight. Not sure what it is all about but it might be something to do with Ziggy. Maybe it is his birthday? Anyway, I'm going to be busy tidying and stuff so best to get Nelly's Garden over and done with.

Great Pollet Arch, 165 views

Great Pollet Arch, Fanad Peninsula, County Donegal, 25th most interesting photograph on Flickr. The 25th most viewed is a repeat today. This picture is much better than mine. I was too afraid of falling in and drowning to get the best viewpoint.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Looking Back

24th most viewed on Flickr, 774 views

Miss Hannah from ten years ago, a photograph taken to celebrate a snazzy new haircut.

The 24th most interesting picture with 206 views

I put this one up not so long ago to mark Mother's Day. Matty is on my mind a lot right now as it is coming up to the fourth anniversary of her death. What a lot has happened since then. How delighted she would have been to know that Katy, the child in her embrace, is expecting her first child this summer. It makes me a little sad to think that Matty only got to meet her first great-grandchild, her namesake Martha, who she adored.

This is my blog from four years ago posted on the 21st April, the last one written while she still lived.

I woke just before 7am and decided not to get up. Immediately I fell into dreams. I dreamed that my mother was dying and that I held her in my arms and would not let her go. We lived in a succession of damp, dilapidated and tumbledown sheds and still I would not let her go. She got frailer and smaller and eventually she was as small as a baby. She was my baby, she was also another person called Shirley and still she was my mother. She was dying and I had to get her a coffin. She was small enough to fit in an infant's casket but I knew that because she had been a woman I needed to get her a woman-sized coffin.

These are the dreams I have without opiates. God only knows what Matty dreams. She told my sister, in one of her lucid moments, that it was like 'being in two places at once.'

Today was my Miss Martha day. We went to Matty's then out for a run with Great Aunt Ganching (with whom Miss Martha has become most enamoured). Next home to see Bert, a picnic on the lawn and a very relaxing afternoon with toys and pigs and dogs.

When Martha went home I spent a while watering the vegetables (this will be my role and it is a very important one) and then gathering sticks, a proper outdoor barbecue (no charcoal) and pork chops, spinach and baked potatoes for supper.

Another normal day. Tomorrow I go shopping for funeral clothes.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tuffets and Quilts

23rd most viewed on Flickr, 774 views 


  1. 1.
    a tuft or clump of something.
    "grass tuffets"
  2. 2.
    a footstool or low seat.

Here we have Martha sitting on a 'tuffet' in the polytunnel. The tuffet is actually the contents of a plant pot. Martha is a keen gardener to this day having been partly reared in a polytunnel.  She is still fond of sitting on tuffets.

23rd most interesting, 423 views on Flickr

Alice meets Tweedledum & Tweedledee in Through The Looking-Glass, another of A.H. Watson's delightful illustrations.

I remember Matty referring to folk as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. It was generally scathing and directed at various people of her acquaintance,  always two misguided folk who agreed with each other to a high degree. A couple of ladies spring to my mind as I remember this but I can say no more.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee also featured on a heavy patchwork quilt that was often on the bed I shared with my sister. At this stage of my life, maybe four or five years old, I was unaware of the Alice books but I couldn't help being fascinated by the patchwork pieces of fabric that featured the Tenniel illustrations. There were two colour ways, one, sunny and bright and the other, more muted with a sea-green tinge. I'd examine them for what seemed like ages comparing and contrasting. Although it was more likely moments, for little children fall  to sleep so quickly.

It was probably nursery curtain fabric and perhaps it came from the Old Bleach factory in Randalstown. It was heavy, so maybe linen. I wouldn't have known the names of fabric in those days. One thing I do know is, I would give a great deal to see that fabric again. Not because of the Aliceness of it, but for the pleasure it gave me when I was very young.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dogs And Dunminning

Dunminning Cottage, 22nd most viewed. 785 views

This picture was taken ten years ago. The cottage has been re-thatched since then and, according to the internet, it has been up for sale. Whether or not it sold I do not know but the asking price was around 60 thousand. Which seems reasonable except that it is very tiny and needs a good deal of work. It dates from around the 1830s and was originally inhabited by the toll keeper of Dunminning Bridge. Cousin Margaret says she went to school near there and she remembers it having a shop where she bought her sweets. Back in the 1950s and 60s people would have a little shop in their house selling sweets and a small selection of groceries. Agnes Hughes ran one from her house at the top of our road. I'd go there sometimes instead of our Granny's petrol station because Agnes did not moan at us the way Granny did. She did give us 20 questions as to what the neighbours were up to. I tried very hard to keep my guard up but it was difficult not to let things slip.

22nd most interesting on Flickr, 179 views

This picture was taken in November 2012. My lovely Bonnie died the following June. She was slowing down by then but still enjoying her life.

The light was beautiful and the dogs blended with the Autumn foliage. And Bonnie was having a really good day.

Another picture of those two, taken by Hannah, whose animal photography is excellent.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In Which I Obtain Smelly Compost And Zoë Becomes A Shroomer

It appears that both of yesterday's Flickr pics have dropped to the number 21 spot. So won't be shown again today.

And if any reader is feeling deprived of pictures, here is a link to my least seen picture. Taken in 2005 and only one view so far.

We went to one of our local garden centres with a delivery. The guy that owns it is a very gregarious chap and always tells the best stories. Local folk probably know who I'm speaking of. While our friend was giving Nellybert (the gardeners) a talk about the local council he received a phone call. It seemed that he was, at that very moment, supposed to be giving a talk to the local council about gardening. I never knew he could move so quickly.

After the deliveries were made, and an Ulster Fry consumed, we made our way to the local council yard to collect some of their free and evil smelling compost. I intend to use it to mulch my old perennial bed which has become a disaster area. I've laid cardboard down to suppress weeds and over this will go the minicipal compost. I'm doing it despite hearing horror stories. Young Rainey said his father's gardener used it on his beds and everything died. The internet says it is full of weeds and plastic. Don't know about the weeds but there is plastic.

Zoë had an interesting find yesterday. She was pulling up last season's chard in the polytunnel and found she had pulled up an unusual mushroom.

She checked it out on the internet and thought it might be a morel. Today she told me that she had sent a photograph to the NI Fungi Group and had it confirmed

It is a morel and good eating! One of the most expensive mushrooms around, but very rare in Northern Ireland.

So I'm to keep my eyes peeled for more of them. Zoë thinks it might have been transferred to the tunnel from under the beech trees as she had been using leaf mould as a soil conditioner and mulch. I checked out the NI Fungi Group myself and apparently there has only been three reports of morchella in Northern Ireland.