Monday, November 23, 2015

The Weekend of Pies

These past weekends have been busy, busy and yet, I barely left the house. My first husband and his beloved were here this past weekend and stayed with Nellybert on Thursday night. The beds cooled on Friday then we had Jazzer and Ben on Saturday. Bert went to a bachelor party (Young Rainey is getting married!) and Jazzer and I drank wine. I'd been at that oul craic on Thursday too and sure it tires a body out. Tonight I drank no wine but racked a rhubarb and a blackcurrant. Had tastes (as one must) and found the rhubarb to be good and the blackcurrant a tad on the sweet side.

On the Thursday I made a cheese and onion pie as Mick doesn't eat meat and it went down well. the pastry was delicious. On Friday we had a lot of visitors and as the last one was gathering up to leave I said to Bert,

Any thoughts about supper?

And he said,

I just put a pie in the oven.

Which was all very well except it was a stinking pie for one he'd bought at the garage earlier in the day.

So what am I going to eat?
Sure you went out for breakfast this morning with Mick and Linda.
Breakfast? That was nine hours ago. And you were invited too.

I was raging. So while he helped himself to a factory made pastry and dog food pie and a slice of bread and butter I made myself a proper dinner of chili sausages, garden peas, onion gravy and mashed potato. Boy did I take trouble over that one spud, mashed it and buttered it to perfection. My plan was to eat it in front of him and take great pleasure in his dinner envy. I was going to serve him a couple of Rennies as those shop bought pies can be indigestible. In the event, I shared my lovely supper with him even though he didn't deserve it. I'm far too soft-hearted

Then next day it was Jazzer. She is always planning ahead when it comes to eating and likes to take control of the cooking as she is very particular about her food. For a start she doesn't like cooked vegetables. She fancied steak pieces and I suggested a pie. She cooked the filling. It was good enough but she has a heavy hand with the Oxo cubes. The pastry, delicious as always, lightened it. Jazzer always serves potatoes with pie. I would never do that as it is double carbs. Not that I care about the calories - it just seems a bit stodgy. I prefer vegetables or salad. And Jazzer's mash is scary. I think she puts about half a pound of butter in it and you  can feel your arteries furring up with every forkful.

So pie and mash will be off the menu for a day or two. Tonight it was home cooked soda bread and butternut squash soup, tomorrow spaghetti bolognese. No wine until the weekend. I'll let you know how I got on with that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back To My Fifties

A recycled post from November 2005

Not Social Workers

You may already be aware that Mr Gerry Anderson, the much-loved Radio Ulster presenter, is a former Social Worker. Last week on his show I heard him describe some of his former colleagues as ‘not of this world.’ The best example he cited was of the just graduated Social Worker who asked a Belfast mother if her son ‘accessed his external environment’ only to be met with total and utter bafflement from the mother until Gerry translated this as, ‘Does he go out much?’

In my experience there are two kinds of social worker. These are the goody-goody social worker and the druggy-druggy social worker. Goody-goodies are usually greatly resented by their clients whilst druggy-druggies are often admired and respected. Unfortunately most of the druggy-druggies spend half their time out on the sick suffering from stress because, as Richard Ashcroft so eloquently puts it, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work.’

My colleagues and I may work in the social care field but we are Not Social Workers. We don’t have the professional qualification that brings in that extra several grand per annum but often the Not Social Workers are educated to a high degree. Among the Not Social Workers that I have known and know are holders of degrees in Archaeology, Media Studies, English, Journalism and Philosophy. In those rare quiet moments when we can tear ourselves away from discussions on how best to improve the levels of care and support that we give our clients we can, thanks to our educational qualifications, hold some very intellectual and enlightening conversations.

Why only the other day I was hearing all about La Tene scabbards found in riverbeds in Ireland and then a critique of the later novels of Philip Roth. I found myself at a disadvantage with the Roth discussion, as I had never progressed beyond Portnoy’s Complaint. It was suggested that this was probably for the best, as I’d likely find his later works far too shocking and offensive owing to my advanced years. It is a well-known fact that the older one gets the more tender one’s sensibilities become and the more easily shocked one is.

I myself hold a B.Sc. (Hons). in Social Administration & Policy but this is a very boring subject and no one wants to hear a thing about it. So for non-work related convo topics I have to fall back on things I read about in Heat and tales about the ‘Olden Days’. Funnily enough I’ve never yet encountered any Computing-type degree holders among the Not Social Workers. So while we former Philosophy, Journalism and Media Studies students are cleaning out cupboards, doing shift work and being verbally abused by the dispossessed all the computer wizards are sitting in cosy warm offices, minting money and writing their blogs in work hours. Sigh! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Cannot bring myself to change my Facebook picture to the blue, white & red that so easily, and so superficially indicates that I am appalled by the horrible events in Paris that took place on Friday the 13th, November 2015. Because horrible things happen every single day.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Achievements - Day 1

It's true that I seem to be getting lazier as time goes on. Perhaps I've been beating myself up about it too much. So I decided that now and again, to encourage myself, I would list my achievements. Today wasn't exactly hectic but I did drive to Coleraine, picked up my friend's son and drove him to Antrim so he would be in place for his grandfather's funeral tomorrow. It was a lovely drive down. I went by Kilrea and drove alongside the Bann into Coleraine. The autumn colour was glorious and the river placid and swollen with all the heavy rain we've had recently. As always, when I pass that way I think that some day I must park up and go walking in Castleroe wood. I've been thinking I should do that for more than twenty years.

Then when I got home I threw together two gallons of wine made from raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and elderberries. I'm expecting it to be delectable.

And that was that. The sum total of what I achieved today. Except for writing this post and being truly lovely to Bert for the entire day.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

In Which We Go To A Hooley

Last night found Nellybert at the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine at a Declan Nerney show. This time last week I was unaware of Mr Nerney's existence. In fact, when Brendan Quinn (who was guesting) offered us free tickets I thought he said Declan and Ernie and imagined some obscure folky duo such as McGlynn and O'Flynn or Cooney and Begley.

It was like being transported forty years back in time and not in an interesting way. Nerney was like a cross between Gene Stewart and Gerry Marsden. I'm sure he'd take that as a compliment. Best part of the night? Overhearing a punter saying that Brendan should have worn a cowboy hat and that he still had a great voice for a man that must be near eighty years of age.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Strawberry, Blackcurrant and Elderberry

All this week, whenever I've thought of updating my blog, I've thought - I updated it a day or so ago, no pressure. Then I looked and it's been a whole week! So, here goes...

It's been a good week. Really enjoying my new eyes. I expect I've been so busy seeing stuff, no time to be writing blogs. I had a check-up on Thursday and apparently all is well, eye healing well and given the go-ahead to drive without spectacles, I am, officially, no longer myopic.

Tonight, looking forward to a quiet night in with the ridiculous Downton Abbey and the outlandish Homeland. Phone goes, Rod and Tracey are calling out. Excitement! Haven't seen Tracey in ages. Time to break out the best of my wines. I chose an Elderberry and a Strawberry and Blackcurrant. The craic was, as they say, mighty and the wines went down a treat. It's nights like this that I'm glad I make delicious alcoholic drinks and that I have good friends to share them with.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Big Chubby Returns

12th October

Had second cataract procedure at Mater Hospital, Belfast.

13th October

Removed eye patch and could see perfectly. Threw away spectacles and started using reading glasses.

14th October

Hannah and I flew to Stansted. Trains weren't running so had to get coach to Cambridge then train to King's Lynn. Did not get to Katy's until late. Baby James grown like gosling, still gorgeous and very smiley.

15th October

Went to Hunstanton. Fierce wind blowing off the North Sea. Hannah sad she left her woolly hat in Ballymena. We found a sheltered spot and ate delectable Cornish pasties. Later on went for walk in derelict part of Sculthorpe air base.

16th October

Went to Wells-next-the-Sea. Excellent second hand bookshop and we got to see the places where James' father played truant when he went to school there. Do hope that young James will pay more attention to his studies. Later on went for walk on Syderstone Common.

17th October

Went to King's Lynn. Left Hannah to railway station as she was off home again. Went shopping for skeleton suit for James' first Hallowe'en. No luck. It seems that babies may only dress up as pumpkins in King's Lynn.

18th October

Quiet day at James' home. James' other grandparents called. Much cooing and admiring took place.

19th October

Went to Burnham Market. Shopped for London Sister's birthday present. If London Sister were town in North Norfolk she might well be Burnham Market. Went for lunch in Tilly's Cafe where all women present fell in love with James.

20th October

James and Katy went to Music Event for babies and small children. James apparently slept entire time. I strolled around Fakenham and discovered shop selling battered chocolate. Not battered as in Mars Bar delicacy popular in Scotland, just slightly scruffy and sold for next to nothing. Apparently outlet for sweet factory that supplies Marks and Spencer and Asda. Glad we don't have similar in Ballymena or I would be dead from chocolate poisoning within month.

21st October

Unlike previous visit when he screamed whole journey baby James slept all the way from Katy's to King's Lynn. Bid mother and child poignant goodbyes and started my journey. Was far too early and had to wait three hours at airport. Observed rude, unpleasant security person be nasty to everyone who stood in front of him. Thankfully got pleasant young chap myself. Had not got round to putting my eye drops in plastic bag and he was perfectly nice about it. Did not have to take my shoes off.

22nd October

Bert had made an heroic effort to keep house tidy but it still smelt like ancient public house. Had no time to clean it as it was child-minding day. Evie and Martha were almost as delighted to see me as I was to see them. Evie got good child sticker from nursery and gave it to Bert. It was a lovely afternoon and we spent it on the trampoline, tree house and swing.

23rd October

Removed vintage pub smell from house using vinegar, bleach and Zoflora. London Sister's birthday. Significant. My present and card arrived on time so quite pleased about that.

24th October

Met Hannah and Ziggy and went for walk and catch up. She had noticed horrible security man at Stansted too. Jazzer and Ben came round for the evening. Had red wine, chili and chocolate.

25th October

Amazingly, despite red wine, chili and chocolate, did not wake up with sore head. Caught up with my blog.

The End