Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Farewell To Holly

Today was a very busy day for this retired lady of leisure with three entries in the diary. In the afternoon I had a dog delivery to make. Ziggy was to be returned to his owner after his regular Monday to Tuesday sleepover. His owner Miss Hannah and I had a coffee date and, as his habit, Ziggy remained in the van and got the hazard lights going to alert all passers by that it would be seriously hazardous to their health if they should attempt to steal his vehicle.

The evening brought the boys to our house for Music Night. I served them home made sausage rolls and chocolate fairy cakes. They particularly enjoyed the fairy cakes.

But, before all this, we had a dog funeral. The Wee Manny's dog was put to sleep last night. Holly was really Mrs The Wee Manny's dog and she was devastated to lose her but Holly had a good long life. She was a black Labrador cross, a rescue dog that they'd got more than a dozen years ago. The Wee brought her round this morning to be buried in our garden. The list is growing. I wrote about our pet cemetery back in 2008.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dowsing For Dogs

...dogs we know are buried there are in order of interment:-

Polly: sweetest little Jack Russell cross. Given to Pearlie soon after she was widowed. The girls never forgave us for parting. She only lasted a few months before succumbing to the horror movie that is the Dreen Road.

Molly: Died February 2004, Springer spaniel just arrived in Nellybert's yard. Unknown to us she was riddled with cancer. We kept her six months. I adored her. We spent a fortune at the vet. Eventually had to have her put down.

Danny: Best. Dog. Ever. Nellybert's first beloved pooch. Committed suicide under the wheels of Bert's van sometime in 2004. He was nearly seventeen.

Penny: She was Pearlie's dog. Died on Christmas Eve aged around fourteeen. Her demise marked the beginning of Pearlie's decline.

Chip: Not our dog but Danny's mother. Eighteen when her owners had her put down. They had nowhere to bury her. We had all the room in the world.

Jock: Not our dog either but the beloved pet of the Wee Mannys.

Rosie: Died October 2008. She won't be the last but she was the first to have a dozen or so narcissi planted on her grave.

And since then....

Hannah's rats - Rocky, Pepe, Polly and Meka. They have their own special plot in front of the green house. It's teeny.

Five more dogs.

Peppy: Belonged to our friend Rod. She was a frequent visitor to our house. He still stops by her grave.

Paddy: Died February 2012.

Charlie: Died June 2012.

Bonnie: Died June 2013.

Holly: Buried today. Much loved pet of Mrs The Wee Manny.

Holly and her companion Rocky. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Watch Out! There's A Thief About.

Anyone who keeps a dog about the place will know that there are things that dogs find disagreeable.

They dislike strangers coming around. Friends are absolutely fine and must be welcomed with jumps,  excited yips and leaping on to coffee tables all the better to see them. Then when the visitor is settled down they must be snuggled against, looked at adoringly and thoroughly inspected for morsels of food or tennis balls about their person. But strangers may not even get out of their car for fear of the menacing dog circling their vehicle. If the stranger is brave and gets out anyway then that stranger must be a friend  and will be treated accordingly.

They do not like cats being paid attention to. If anyone should be stroking a cat, giving it a treat or having a pleasant conversation with it, the dog must immediately leave its comfortable sofa, go to where the cat is being made much of and glare at it in a very overbearing manner.

And they can see no sense in very small children holding food. They have no problem with bigger humans having food and eating it in their presence but how can anyone reasonably expect them not to take food of a tiny child who dangles it in front of their noses. I remember our first dog Danny meeting a woman pushing a small child in a pram. We both noticed that the child was clutching a very melty Mars Bar. A moment later the melty bar was in Danny's mouth. The child made no protest. I think he was glad to be rid of it. I didn't know then that chocolate is very bad for dogs but it didn't do him a pin of harm and he lived at least another ten years.

Just like Danny before her, Judy deeply disapproves of toddlers owning food. Yet she is also aware that I disapprove of her removing food from little ones. This is why she is looking so sneaky in the photograph. She hopes I am distracted both by my camera and the the black hen. She was disappointed. Evie got to keep her pancake on this occasion.

Now Evie is two years older and not little any more. She is 'a big girl' and very well able to keep Judy in her place.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Revisiting the Past

Sorting out the photographs on my external hard drive has me living in the past and tonight I'm back in 2011. I wondered what was happening on this day four years ago and as there is this online diary thing called Nelly's Garden I was able to find out in just a few clicks. It seems I was right here in Springhill after spending a short spell in Drumkeeran looking after Matty.

Things weren't working out exactly as I'd hoped.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Cleansing Pow'r

I decided to have a lovely relaxing bath this afternoon. Lots of hot water, lots of bubbles, a towel to keep my hair out of the bubbles and something intellectual to peruse. Heaven. It's wonderful to live in the quiet of the country.

Hark! There's Plum crowing. Never mind. A rooster crowing is part of the country atmosphere. Outside Bert opens up the chainsaw. Never mind. The noise of wood clearance is all part of living on a farm. The back door opens. It's one of Pearlie's carers. It's the singing one. She is singing, at the very top of her voice, “Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb”. She puts the kettle on. Singing away, thumping time on the counter tops as she waits for it to boil.

I lie in my suds. I usually seethe at the Singing Carer but who gives a hoot? I'm home for a little while. Let her sing her hymns. The mad old bat.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Visit To Asia Supermarket

My young friend and fellow blogger Hails loves Korean food and the last time we were in Belfast we visited Cafe Arirang on Botanic Avenue. Hails was more than pleased with it and I was glad of her advice as to what would be good to eat as she was familiar with all the dishes on offer. As she should be having spent quite a few years living in South Korea.

I asked her if she'd ever visited the Asia Supermarket on the Ormeau Road. She hadn't so we made a plan to go as soon as we could. Today was that day and as we neared it I said,

You're going to dance with joy when you see this place.

And her feet were jigging before we even got inside. She could smell the lovely spicy aroma as we approached the door.

Of course she knew what everything was. When we left Hails was loaded with ingredients and I'd got a few bits and pieces myself. I idly enquired what her plans for the evening were and she answered,

Cooking Korean food!

Of course. Silly question.

At Cafe Arirang I had 만두 and I didn't catch what Hails had but it came with 김치 and she polished it off with much enjoyment.

만두 - mandu or steamed dumplings
김치 - kimchi or fermented cabbage

When I got home Bert raided my shopping bag as usual and fell to the dried seaweed and kimchi with gusto. We had to decant the kimchi into a Kilner jar as we feared its pungency would affect everything else in the fridge. Apparently in Korea people have dedicated kimchi fridges but that is because they make a years supply at one go.

So what did Nellybert have for supper? We had bacon, spuds and peas although Bert did have a side of kimchi with his.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

And What Of The Pigs?

My Facebook posts concerning the little black pigs. 

7th February. I wonder if anyone knows of a lost Vietnamese Pot-Bellied pig? Very young. It is running terrified through fields near Cullybackey. We have tried to find it but have not been successful. It was found in a shed in a farm off the Kilrea line but escaped before it could be taken to a place of safety. I wonder if the poor thing has been dumped. Unwanted Christmas present perhaps? If so, the person who dumped it is a horrible, uncaring, stupid piece of shit. If that piglet doesn't get to a place of safety it will die very soon.

8th February. Bert has been searching for the abandoned pig. Sighted it today and there are two of them! This gives them a better chance of survival. We have hopes that they will be brought to safety. If they cannot be captured and they are boy and girl there may soon be herds of wild pigs roaming the hedgerows and plantations of Cullybackey.

9th February. And then there were three! All boars so it is likely that they were abandoned by the breeder.

10th February. Man arrived in yard today to ask if we had lost two black pigs. Two piglets sighted in another area. The thing is, are they two of the original trio or, are there 5 of them? Bert has gone to search the place where we first saw them.

11th February. Two callers to the yard yesterday, both hoping that the abandoned pigs were our responsibility. Two sighted on another farm frightening sheep and scaring the horses. The authorities have been contacted and vets are trying to locate them. It won't end well for the pigs and it will cost DARD money, probably quite a lot. And all because a breeder off-loaded his/her responsibilities on to other people. I hope this person is found and prosecuted.

12th February. Five pigs spotted today! At least one was a sow.

And then it all went very quiet. This is what I think happened. The pigs weren't unwanted pets. They had not been abandoned by a breeder. They most likely belonged to a near neighbour of the lady who first contacted us. It seems they had simply escaped from a poorly fenced paddock and were happily exploring the surrounding countryside. The lady, let's call her Suzie, approached the likely pig-owner and he said that they couldn't possibly be his pigs as he counted them every night and they were all present and correct. I'd guess that if he had been counting them during the day the roll-call would have shown a few absentees. Since Suzie called with him the pigs have not been seen.  So I reckon he is keeping them indoors. Poor little pigs. They must have been having the time of their lives exploring the surrounding townlands.

It brings to mind that Van Morrison song.

When it's nobody's business the way that you want to live
I just have to remember there'll be days like this 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Crazy Jack and the Chickpeas

So, after I cleaned my grubby spice rack the next spot to tackle was the store cupboard. While there were no unpleasant surprises in the larder there were some elderly dried goods such as an unopened 2kg bag of chickpeas older than Martha. The cupboard was crammed with chickpeas both dried and tinned and obviously we never eat them except for that time Bert took a great notion of making hummus. The 2kg bag will be used as animal feed and I'll have to hoke out that hummus recipe for Bert.

The oldest item in the cupboard was the organic brown rice. If that packet of unopened brown rice were a child it would be at secondary school by now. What kind of idiot lets packets of food sit on her shelves for endless years? What type of deluded fool keeps buying chickpeas and then has them languish in her cupboard for over a decade? If it were another person with a store of ancient food in their pantries I'd call that person a food hoarder.

If anyone has any delicious recipes where chickpeas are one of the main ingredient please let me know.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Smoked Paprika Weevil

I decided to give my spice rack a long overdue cull. I remember Katy buying the smoked paprika for a chicken dish she prepared for her Northern Irish friends shortly before her wedding. It didn't seem that long ago but when I think of it, Miss Martha was actually a babe in arms and she is in her sixth year now.

That was a great evening. Delicious food, good company and the best of craic.  And nearly five years ago. That smoked paprika definitely was up for review. I opened it, sniffed it. Hardly any aroma. Much as I expected. But what was that? A grain of rice? A grain of rice that wriggled? It was a grub. I called Bert in to see. You should keep that, he said. See what it turns into.

No thanks! I don't think I want to see the kind of creature that pupates in hot pepper. Seems devilish. I sieved the paprika to see if there were any more. There wasn't. I took a photograph then flung the larva into the yard. See how it manages in a cold, wet, Irish February far away from its beloved paprika.

Naturally I Googled this and apparently it is not uncommon to find larvae in old paprika. It is actually best to keep it in the fridge. Who knew?