Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Sociable Weekend

Nellybert have had a particularly sociable weekend and have not let the snow keep us back. Not a bit of it.

On Friday I went for coffee with one of my co-grannies. For thanks to our modern ways (divorce and re-partnering), many of today's children have more than the requisite two of each. Later that evening I met up with two cousins, one from New Zealand and one from Hong Kong and their respective husbands. Also, there was a second-cousin and his wife that I was meeting for the first time. We had an excellent evening of eating, drinking and generally catching up. No photographs were taken by me. 

Maybe I was just a wee bit tired the next day but not too tired to take a walk up the snowy back lane with four dogs and a cat. See photographs.

In the afternoon we were visited by co-grandparents Mick and Linda. No photographs were taken by me.

Today we called on some friends who were trapped in their house by snow. We brought some essential supplies and were given coffee and wine. I took this photograph of their Christmas cactus which is splendid enough to be given a place in the Palm House.

While we were there our friends were called upon by a young, red-headed man who was delivering a tonne of firewood. The young man was unable to drive his van up the steep, slippery and snow-packed driveway. Our friend ( a frail pensioner) had been trying to clear the drive of snow but the young man (still shaking from the great feed of rum he had imbibed on the previous night) took the shovel from him and cleared it in quick time. It was amazing. Now our friends aren't snowed in anymore which is good as they have invited us for supper sometime soon and I'm looking forward to that unless Mrs, who reads this, tells Mr that I called him a frail pensioner. Only joking Rob! Sure you're only two years older than I.

Off home again to cook a plain man's dinner of mince, carrots and onions, boiled spuds and steamed broccoli with apple crumble and custard to follow. We had two plain men coming, one whose wife never boils spuds and another who only knows how to cook potato dauphinoise. Hannah is not a meat eater so I served her a healthy little dish of egg and chips which I believe she enjoyed. The meal was a great success except that Bert has started to crake on about never getting potato dauphinoise. No photographs were taken by anyone.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Reasons Not To Blog #1

When you become obsessed with stitching (hand-stitching) patchwork.

I blame the television series Alias Grace which had a lot of scenes where prisoner Grace sat in the Governer's drawing room talking to a devastatingly handsome young psychiatrist whilst stitching lace petticoats,  fine cambric drawers, patchwork quilts and the like. The thing is, one may be able to recount harsh tales to a mind doctor whilst piecing quilts but one cannot type and sew at the same time.

So that is why I've not been here for a while.

It is going to be what my mother called a crazy quilt and the fabric is mostly sourced from a collection of old aprons that Pearlie owned. Pearlie always wore an apron when she was at home even when she was very old and couldn't do chores. She said she felt cold without an apron which I found odd. For how can a little square of cotton keep a person warm?

Most of the aprons were homemade, fashioned from old dresses and the like. One of them was made from a blue skirt patterned with blowsy pink roses which I'd given her. That skirt I bought from a vintage stall in Portobello Market forty years ago and I wore it to death. Then it became Pearlie's apron and now part of a quilt. Some things just never stop being purposeful.

Monday, December 04, 2017

The Scooter Menace

Jazzer and I had our Works Do in Belfast on Saturday. We went to the Ulster Museum, the Palm House, had drinks in The Apartment and lunch in Actons. A very good day out but with one problem. Scooters!

The Palm House in Botanic Gardens is a tranquil place. There is always something wonderful to look at no matter the season. It is frequented by decent, civilised people and I never, ever go to that part of the city without calling in. But on Saturday that tranquility was disturbed by a brat on a scooter. He was around seven or eight and accompanied by a doting grandparent who looked on fondly as the little wretch sped around on his wheels whooping and yelling as he went. How I longed to warm his ears. The grandfather's of course as the child knew no better.

Then as we left the Palm House we were accosted by a six-month-old pup which leapt all over us with its muddy paws. The owner and young son were mortified - well, Dad was - son didn't give a hoot. But that was a different matter as the dog was in a park and was quite within its rights to be enjoying itself. We told the owner we weren't at all bothered, loved dogs, loved their dog and a very pleasant encounter it was.

Our next run-in with the scooter menace was in front of City Hall. A male youth, probably fifteen or so, on a scooter, ploughed into a crowd of us crossing the road and nearly knocked me down. I'm afraid I broke sweet little old lady ranks and called him a fucking idiot. The young hooligan was followed by another riding just as recklessly and I was really hoping for a third so I could knock him over. But there were just the two of them.

So it seems that scooters are a thing. I would have thought that teenagers were too old for them but it seems not. I plan to carry a stout stick the next time I go to Belfast. It would be worth the court appearance.

What we saw in the Ulster Museum

Friday, December 01, 2017

The Day Before Belfast

Tomorrow I am going on a trip to Belast to the Ulster Museum and The Christmas Market. My travelling companion will be Mrs Banjo and we don't intend to do very much Christmas shopping. We have made a pact that if we go into a shop and there are queues we shall walk straight out again.

However, if we enter a public house and it seems rather busy we will summon all our patience and quietly await our turn to be served. Priorities.

Today I have been doing research for a person who is planning to write a book. Or an essay, or something.

I have also been feeling cautiously optimistic about some stories in the news.

And I have been blocking people. First, the very stupid woman who rang my phone three times. I think she might have been drunk and she sounded as if she came from Kent. I've never blocked anyone on my phone before but it was amazingly easy. Then there was the guy who contacted me on Flickr Mail to tell me I was pretty and he hoped we could be friends. That might have been a case of mistaken identity as I'm at H on my Friends & Family/General Family archive and I'm told Hannah is quite pretty. Blocked the guy anyway. Way too forward.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sparking Joy

I've not read the Marie Kondo book but I've heard all about it and these days it's practically the same thing as reading it. For instance, I know that if you're decluttering you should pick up an item and ask yourself this question,

Does this spark joy in my heart?

And if the answer is no, then chuck it, recycle it, give it away or whatever.

I can go one better than this. I ask myself the question before I even buy the damn thing. Consequently, I am coming home with ever lighter bags. A good thing as I am still awaiting my pension.

When I was in my twenties and thirties I was very attracted to vintage items. Old jugs, patchwork quilts, ancient books, and maps - that sort of thing. I still have a lingering affection for such items but not as much as before. A few evenings ago, looking at the bookcases in this room I said to my daughter,

When I was young I would have thought it heaven to have a wall of bookshelves and all those books. 

(There more than a 1000 books on those shelves and that's just in one place. There are hundreds more in other rooms)


And see all those jugs on the top shelf?

(There are twenty-one. There are even more in other rooms and some stored away)

When I had just two that I picked up in the Fair Hill market back when you all were little - those two gave me more pleasure than all the ones I've gathered since. Now I find that they mean very little to me.

 My first jug

And now I find myself looking at things, things that have hung on walls or sat on chests for a decade or more and I wonder why they are still there. Nowadays when I go into shops that sell vintage items I am interested in what I see but it is like being in a museum. I want to look at the item, think about it but I do not want to possess it. Perhaps it is a part of growing older?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Brompton Oratory

The last time I was in London I went with my sister to the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, better known as Brompton Oratory. That was where our Grandfather Ned attended Mass when he lived and worked in London back in the mid-1940s. Granda worked on building sites as a plasterer and the work was long and hard but Sundays were his free day and it must have been a pleasure for him to be part of the Oratory congregation with its fine tradition of choral music. My grandfather loved sacred music and was a longtime member of the choir in his local chapel.

Granda was working in London when he got the word that his sixteen-year-old daughter Peggy was seriously ill with meningitis and not expected to survive. He got the train to Liverpool to catch the Belfast boat but when he got to the docks he discovered that his pocket had been picked and his wallet was gone. There wasn’t enough money for the boat fare and he had no other choice but to return to London. When he got back his workmates had a whip round and gathered enough money for him to make the journey again. Ned arrived back just in time to spend a night at Peggy's bedside before she died.

All these things went through my mind as I looked at the gorgeous beauty of the church. It must have seemed very special to that wee man from Randalstown and perhaps went some way to make up for the loneliness of the migrant worker far removed from home and family. Then the organ music began. I didn’t recognise the piece but it was wonderful, so beautiful that I thought I might cry. My sister was just as moved as I. When it was over we left, almost in a daze, for our actual destination the Victoria and Albert Museum. We’d just called to the Oratory on a whim. I’m so glad we did.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day Out In Belfast

I wonder if you might guess from which Belfast station I alighted from this morning?

When I had done with all that I walked to a cinema in the Dublin Road to watch No Stone Unturned. It was an afternoon showing so the audience was small. All, apart from one young man, were middle-aged or older and afterward, it was noticeable just how affected everyone was as they left,

There was an hour to spare after that and I just walked. Walked and walked and walked. That may even have been the best part of the day.