Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Easy Peasy Wine-Making

I had an email today from someone near Portglenone who wanted to know if I could recommend (or give) classes on wine-making. Naturally, I was suspicious. Did this person really need advice or did he have some nefarious reason for seeking my counsel? I was  tempted to recommend the ancient tome First Steps In Winemaking by C.J.J. Berry which I threw out years ago (it was in tatters) but instead said soothing things. I couldn't remember the name of the Berry book so Googled 'ancient wine-making book' and it came up straight away.

What I would have liked to advise my Bannside friend was this,

Sterilise everything.

Take three pounds of anything flavoursome and fruity (or vegetably).

Steep it and add one bag of sugar. Lidls is good for cheap sugar.

Add one teaspoon of yeast with added nutrients.

Fiddle about racking and so on for a few months. Sterilise everything.

After about six months bottle. Sterilise everything.

After about three months fall to and get pissed.

Easy peasy.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Good News

We had some really good news about Roy today. It's two weeks since he was had the balls lopped off and not only has that healed very well, the growth on his anus has shrunk. Roy's buddy Adam (the vet) was jolly pleased. And so were we. Judy was seeing the vet today as well. She's looking good and can carry on with the pain relief medication.

Adam asked, how has Roy been? We were able to tell him that Roy had shoulder-charged one of Howard's dogs out of his way when the silly sprollie was interfering with his pig-herding duties. Still macho despite the loss of his cojones.

And although Roy is no longer on medication we intend to keep on giving him the cheese.

The patients

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Remembering Home on Mother's Day

Although the house in Drumkeeran was the place I thought of as ‘home’ I only lived there for a very short time. In 1978, when I was expecting my middle daughter, I moved to Ballymena and lived in various houses there until Bert and I moved to a new build in Cullybackey. Nevertheless, the house on the Murphystown Road, where my parents lived was the place that I called home.

I was around seven when we moved to the Murphystown. It was a shoddily built farmhouse that belonged to people whose patriarch had never wanted it to fall into Catholic hands. Apparently the old man had died in the house and the moaning noises that I often heard coming from his bedroom might have been an echo of his dying or even a haunting, because his last wish had not been respected. Or, it could even have been the wind blowing through the rotting window frame. My father did not prioritise the maintenance of that house for his main interest was the development of the small farm the house came with.

We lived there for nearly twenty years before moving into a new bungalow that my parents built. That house is the one that my mother lived in until she died, the place that I thought of as ‘home’ for the next thirty odd years.

Our parents had hardly a bean when they moved there, all available funds having been used to build it so it was furnished on the cheap. It wasn’t exactly what our mother wanted but she made do. Making curtains, upholstering and painting and decorating. In what spare time she had left she also created a lovely garden, something she never had the space for before. Daddy was not a gardener but he bought a ride-on lawn mower and began to take great pride in his lawns. Over the years the house became more what Mum wanted. She had a bit more money to spare and she began replacing all the old stuff with better quality furnishings. She didn’t go mad though. She still had an eye for a bargain and many items were bought in charity stores. She became quite house proud.

I remember her saying many years ago,

I do try to keep this place nice but what with your Daddy and the dog it’s not easy….

When she got ill we all spent a lot more time at home. Yet it was only a matter of time that ‘home’ would be no more. That is when I started taking the photographs. The first batch were taken when she was still with us, the second batch soon after she died but before we cleared the house. It has taken until now for me to be able to look at them, sort them out and share them.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

A Cure For Sure

Roy had his operation today. Not on the growth as the vet is going to leave that alone for the moment. Instead, the old lad had his testicles removed which will cut off the supply of testosterone to the lump on his bum and prevent it from growing. I hope it works.

So far, the old fellow has recovered well. He has enjoyed supper and taken a sedate dander around the yard.

Other news - I visited the pharmacist yesterday to inquire if she could sell me an over the counter medicine to ease my throat. She said that the most effective thing would be some sort of antihistamine but only a doctor could prescribe that. I said I had some in the house. She said I could give it a go. So home I went and raided the medicine chest. There were two cards of pills and I was sure one of them was antihistamine. This is where Wikipedia comes in handy. One of the pills turned out to be a sleeping tablet, the one that Bert took more of than he oughter when he first had the manflu. The second was antihistamine and Mumsnet opined that it would cure post-nasal drip, the cause of all my woe. A Cullybackey pharmacist and Mumsnet. This was a cure for sure!

Thirty minutes after taking it my nose had dried up and so had my throat. Hot tea wouldn't lubricate it and wine didn't work either. But the good news is I've had three of those pills now and I'm feeling much better and the throat is getting back to normal.

I have decided to begin clearing my attic seven minutes at a time. Today I threw out the box, leads and manuals from three cameras ago. It's a start. To celebrate this achievement I am posting a picture of my youngest grandchild.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Sick Of Being Sick

It is a month now since I was in Norfolk and anxious that I would not carry the dreaded manflu to Katy and family. The very first night that I slept there I was woken up by that tickle at the back of the throat that is usually the first sign of a virus infection. For the first few days I was achey and sore and feeling well below par. Then I got the stomach bug and forgot all about the flu-like symptoms. Ten days later I was still feeling shitty - got home and found Bert wasn't much better. The virus travelled into my chest, a week or more of dry coughing then there were headaches. A couple of days ago I thought it was fading but no! Damned thing has settled in my throat. Still, mustn't grumble too much. It is years since I had such a persistent infection.

There was a rumour in Hannah's work that a tremendous amount of mourners at a recent very well-attended funeral had been struck down with this flu-like illness. Bert was certainly one of them as his symptoms began within days. Yet again, we must not complain as it turns out that the uncle of the fellow whose funeral it was caught the bug and died within a week. But he was well into his eighties, Bert and I have youth on our side. Well, Bert has anyway. I get my state pension this coming week. Fingers crossed I live to enjoy it.

Another sad story - bloody Beast from the East has destroyed my wallflowers and ceanothus.

One of the many wrens who live around here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Roy Update

Roy had his return visit to the vet's surgery today. The growth on his anus has not altered despite him having been on antibiotics for nearly a week. The young vet (loves border collies, addresses Roy as 'Buddy', and Roy nuzzles into him like he's a long-lost pal) has consulted with the other vets in the practice and they seem to think that surgical removal would cause more problems than it would solve. As testosterone is the likely culprit they think that neutering would be effective almost immediately. He is booked in for the snip in eight days time. If the tumour is malignant and neutering doesn't impede its growth we'll hold on until he's not comfortable any more and then do the needful thing. I'm hopeful though.

Meanwhile, another member of our canine family is having problems. Zoe's older dog has a spinal problem and is in doggy hospital. Fingers and paws crossed that she will recover. She is around the same age as Roy but we've known her since she was conceived. Her mother is Kerry Sister's oldest dog who is, so far, in excellent health.

Get well soon, Miss Gracie.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Herding Pigs

Roy is on a course of antibiotics and does not like them. However, he is prepared to take them if I encase them in a thick layer of soft cheese. His anti-inflammatory meds are administered by syringe and both he and Judy find this more palatable. It seems like such a short time ago that I remarked to Bert,

Isn't it great having young dogs and no vet's bills to pay!

At least they are both in good enough form. Balls to be played with (Judy) and pigs to be herded (Roy and Judy). Our pigs are the best-herded pigs in the country.

It is Day Two of the quiet house. Hannah has landed safely somewhere in the Canaries. She was vague as to exactly where or maybe I wasn't listening. Anyways, as long as she has a wonderful time - that's the main thing.