Saturday, December 29, 2007
Jim has decided to sell some of our willow cuttings on ebay so has been preparing and photographing willow sticks!
I hauled all the bits of wood left on the lawn into the barn and have been sawing some of it by hand. I enjoyed being outside all be it for a short while. We were very lazy this morning, took a cup of tea back to bed and were much amused by the cats leaping about on the bed and up and down the stairs to the room above. Sandy picked up a purple ribbon from the stairs and carried it up to the top room. I told him I wanted it up there!
We haven't heard from our neighbours today but they did go out in the car so are probably ok.
Last night I tried out some cardboard weaving. Thin strips of an old box of gingerbread biscuits (the soggy foreign sort), which I wove into a small container. It was quite difficult but good fun. I am going to have a go at a shopping bag which is in a book I have called 're-cycled containers'. Trouble is you need very long strips of cardboard and it's finding somewhere to cut them. I'm sure I'll work something out. We must have a go at weaving some of our willow now we have been on a course.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Jim gave Stanley a de-coke this morning as he's been going at full pelt for weeks. His chimney was a bit mucky but apart from that he wasn't bad at all. He did have a bit of a disaster the other morning. I emptied out the ashes, thought that the tray was a bit heavy and there was a large chunk of Stanley's grate lying in the ashes tray! Jim managed to find a piece of metal to fix the resultant hole and he's actually worked better since.
We walked down to our neighbours' house about 2pm, during a short break in the rain, the car was there but there was no sign of them. I spoke to Sandra on the phone about 5pm and they'd got so fed up with the weather they'd gone back to bed!
Quiet day apart from that. We sawed much wood in the barn for Stanley but need to collect some more fairly soon.
I've been trying to teach BlackJack to go through the 2 cat flaps. As long as I push it open a little bit he goes through, but it's just that initial shove with his nose that he's lacking. Sandy, on the other hand, bombs in and out like a mad thing. I'm also trying to teach them not to get on the table, but that's a bit harder. They are both still adorable though and we wouldn't be without them now.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We treated ourselves to a MacDonalds in Limerick so didn't need much food tonight. A turkey sandwich with home made bread and salad sufficed, lovely.
There was a 'Holby City' special on TV which we both watched, and thought it was exceptional, with proper feel good emotions at the end. Brilliant. Talking of TV, I am not an Eastenders watcher, but have caught the last 3 episodes and have to say the acting has been quite superb. I still won't continue to watch it, but was glad to have seen those excellent episodes.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
9.30 saw us awake, I got up and made tea, fed the cats, then took the tea back to bed! When the cats had finished breakfast, they joined us. What a wonderful way to start Christmas Day. At 11, we went down to Pete and Sandras' house and had a fabulous cooked breakfast. Yogurt and raspberries to start with to 'cleanse our pallate'! Jim said ours wasn't dirty! We retired to the lounge and drank tea and chatted. Came back up to ours several hours later and opened our presents. Fabulous. Mostly fun things between us, I had many warm socks as my feet freeze with wellington boots on. A superb rucksack, the bottom of which stores cameras and lenses, ideal for our trip to Australia, some chocolates of course, smellies from my son and daughter in law and some still to come from my daughter.
As we opened our presents, we threw the paper on the floor and the cats had a fabulous time chasing it around and going in and out of a large carrier bag! They had some 'treats' too, which they loved. A trip up to the veg patch was required to collect carrots, leeks (our first) and sprouting broccoli. It was absolutely freezing and poured with rain after that and for the rest of the day, suddenly getting dark and very gloomy. So much for our Christmas Day walk.
Now sitting with a g & t. Lovely. Rang my son Ben in Spain and he was still in bed after a heavy night! Spoke to Kat (daughter) who has a rowdy houseful, 17 for dinner. Madness! Son 1 Jason didn't answer phone so maybe they'll ring later.
An evening of food and tv in store I think. What a great day it's been so far.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Phew, it was really windy today but we still ventured into the orchard and collected up much of the wood we'd felled over the past day or so. Jim set about the hedge around the orchard, which is hugely overgrown. He's revealed masses more land and it looks vastly better. It'll also be easier to mow in the spring with fewer hurdles to go round.
The previous owner had made a 'living igloo' in the orchard. I''m sure it used to be lovely, but now it has grown all lop-sided and half of the struts have died. I've decided to have a bonfire in it, so much of the small bits of wood have gone in there. We now have about 4 bonfires to light at some stage. It's actually illegal to light them here, but how on earth you are supposed to get rid of all the green waste from 5 acres without one I'm not sure.
The goldfinches have been frequenting the nuts, together with, blue, great and coal tits, green finches and the inevitable chaffinches. With the cold spell we've been having, several of the annuals have died off, but the antirrhinums are still in full flower and primulas and violas are still in bloom.
Tonight we finished the decorations and it all looks very festive. I took some photos too.
My computer keeps switching itself off so Jim took the cover off and hoovered it all out. It was amazingly dusty.
My daughter texted me to say she had received a Christmas card from her Dad. They fell out some time ago and she was quite chuffed. Me too.
2 days to go!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The 2 kittens have really enjoyed being in the big outside world and recently Missy, BlackJack's Mum has been up to play, so we've had 3 cats most of the time. Today, BlackJack had a terrible shock - one of the local farmers owns several fields near us and he came up with one of his dogs. Jim could hear this dog barking, then realised poor little BJ was cowering in the long grass, quite petrified. Jim of course rescued him, he was dribbling and shaking. ( BJ, not Jim) He was taken inside for safety and reassurance and when Jim offered him the outside world later on, he was having none of it! I hope he hasn't been put off altogether.
I have also decorated the cottage for Christmas. We decided it would be futile having a tree, which the cats would just climb up and knock over, breaking glass balls and electrifying themselves on tree lights, so have brought much greenery into the cottage instead. We have several boughs hung high up in the kitchen/diner, which have lights on them and I have decorated them with baubles and icicles. They look lovely. Will have to photograph them for all to see. We also have a little artificial tree in the snug, on a table high enough to be out of kittens' reach. All in all, it's looking pretty festive.
BlackJack is on my knee, purring happily, while Sandy is asleep on his favourite cushion, placed on top of 3 banana boxes full of books. Happy cats.
Jim has moved his office upstairs and is much happier in his own space. We're no good being on top of each other all the time and sharing a computer is a nightmare.
I've been a bit down recently in spite of, or maybe because of, the approaching festivities. Ah well, I'm sure it will pass, it usually does.
TV's been quite good recently with an adaptation of Oliver, serialised over 5 nights, the last one being tonight. It's been excellent, with Timothy Spall as Fagin, Sarah Lancashire and other famous faces. It was also the final of 'Strictly Come Dancing', a brilliant show that's captured the nation. The winner Alicia, a singer, was quite superb and a true winner. It's such a joyful show, there should be more of them. Bruce Forsythe (Sir), is a great all round entertainer and is just perfect to present the show with his TV partner the lovely Tess Daly.
Off to play a few games of Scrabulous on Facebook now.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Funny day on Friday. We had booked to go to see my son Ben in his new bar in Porta Banus, Marbella Spain. However, we hadn't received the usual email confirmation and Jim was pretty certain the booking hadn't gone through, so gloom descended like a black cloud over me and I went to bed in a black shroud. In the morning, Jim phoned Ryanair and, blow me down if we weren't on the passenger list after all, so we had to hurry and pack ready for the flight at 5.15pm! We made it in plenty of time and off we headed to Mallaga. We picked up our hire car, a fine little Golf diesel, and drove to Porta Banus, where we had booked into a hotel 'Bena Bola'. Now this is really weird. My son's name is Ben Bowler, say the hotel name and it's almost the same!
Having reached the Port, we couldn't find the parking spaces for the hotel and tried to go down to the marina, through a barrier. It had a buzzer so we pressed it and an irate spanish male shouted at us, in Spanish! He could obviously see us, but we couldn't see him! Eventually, after more shouted abuse, this extraordinarily large, long haired Spaniard appeared and shouted at us some more! We worked out that we had to turn round and go to an underground car park behind us. Why he had to get so excited I'm not sure! The hotel was clean and bright and our room, which we expected to be minuscule, was enormous. Settee and chair in the main section, plus 2 3' beds pushed together, an en-suite with bath and shower cubicle and wardrobes enough for the Spice Girls!
We phoned Ben and met him near his bar, 'Zoo Lounge'. It's a small bar but well kitted out. He and his partner Brett have bought and installed a pool table and it has an amazing sound system. This was Saturday night and the place was hopping! Unfortunately everyone in Spain seems to smoke and we must have inhaled the equivalent of 60 cigarettes over the next few hours. Ben seemed at ease and happy in his bar and Brett, from South Africa, is extremely handsome and knows it!
We headed back to our hotel in the early hours and happily collapsed into bed.
In the morning we had decided to head off to a lovely old town in the mountains called Ronda. Ben sleeps the morning away, not closing the bar until 4am, then having to clean it up. The drive to Ronda was fabulous, the scenery striking and the road incredibly winding. Luckily Jim had got to grips with the golf by now, and remembered for the most part to drive on the right!
Ronda is a beautiful old town with a huge gorge running through the centre, crossed by an old, enormous bridge. How they built it so long ago I can't imagine. It must have taken years. The views over the bridge are spectacular, see the photos for a flavour of the town. It also has a bullring and some interesting little shops in various nooks and crannies. We couldn't stay long as I had to get back to meet Ben for the afternoon. We had sunshine for most of the morning, but on the drive back, the clouds descended and it rained. Then it rained for the rest of the afternoon and evening!
We drove to Ben's apartment which he shares with Brett and a lad called Danny, who is a DJ amongst other things. 3 Lads in one apartment. Chaos. They also all smoke, so the air was thick. Washing up hadn't been down for some time and the ashtray overflowed. Washing was strewn around the floors or draped over the chairs outside. Presumably that was clean. Jim beat a hasty retreat to visit an old work colleague of his, Carol and I stayed and washed up while Ben and co washed and dressed. They had some shopping to do, so I went too and loved the huge department store in the centre of Porta Banus. I had taken Ben a present of 2 new jumpers and 2 shirts, all of which were too big for him. Ah well. He wanted a coat, so we scoured the shops and bought him one for his Christmas present instead. Jim has kept the jumpers and shirts!
We went back to Zoo Lounge for a while, then Ben, Sasha (another friend) and I went for an Indian meal in a restaurant overlooking the marina. It was quite lovely, so I paid for us all.
It was still pouring with rain as we headed back to the Zoo Lounge. Brett had taken 4 euros and spent just over that! Sunday night and torrential rain didn't do too much for business. Ben had a phone call from a friend, Sabrina, asking us to go to the bar round the corner, one of the many Irish bars in Porta Banus. So we did. Their bar was just as empty but Ben played pool with Sasha and beat him soundly. I chatted to Sabrina, also from South Africa and her friend who was from Ireland. I hung around for a while then decided to go back to the hotel and get a reasonable night. Unfortunately I'd left my mobile phone at Ben's apartment so had no way of contacting Jim in the morning, but he thought he'd be back to pick me up around 11. I was awake really early, worrying I'd oversleep, went down for breakfast but the cafe is 'closed on Mondays'. I was starving and thirsty so made my way to a pub by the marina and had toast, jam and coffee, which was delightful and watched the rich arriving in their cars in the rain. (oh yes, it was still raining).
Fearing I'd miss Jim, I headed back to the hotel and sat on the bed waiting. I dozed a bit, still no Jim, so I went down to reception and waited there. He arrived much later and I was not too happy! We drove to Ben's apartment, in the rain, and sat in there waiting for the lads to get washed and dressed. No tea of coffee available! We decided to go for a meal and went to an American style bar also overlooking the marina. All day breakfast was just too tempting and Jim and me indulged ourselves. Ben was then supposed to show us around Porta Banus but made a pretty crap guide!! Still, we did see some more of the place and I managed to take some photos in the gaps between showers!
We headed back to Zoo Lounge, had a couple of drinks, then made our way back to the airport. Well, we tried. Got very lost around Porta Banus and ended up in the golf complex, which made us very late. We had the car to drop off but couldn't find the right place to leave it. We decided to dump it in the car park we had found and just made it onto the plane. The following morning an irate assistant phoned and said 'why did you not leave the car in our place?' Well, if we could have found it we would!
My overriding impression of the Spanish is that they are surly, rude and dislike the English. The shop assistants in particular were unfriendly. I don't understand their attitude as in my experience, if you are pleasant to your customers, they are pleasant too and leave happy.
All in all I'm really glad we made the effort to go. I can now visualise Ben in his surroundings and will pop over again before too long. I think he'll make it in his bar, as long as he can survive the winter months. Fingers crossed.
It was lovely to be back in Ireland and the cats were overjoyed to see us. Danny, the lad down the road, did a sterling job of looking after them so we gave him 20 euros for his troubles. We had to take them to the vets this afternoon, Sandy for his 2nd vaccination and BlackJack for his first. 60 euros down the pan! After much playing out today and their trip out, they have slept all evening.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Not a great deal to report today. Dull and cold day, so no new photos. The ones here are from yesterday morning in the garden and one of Sandy in the barn in the morning sun. The bird table had more birds on it than I've ever seen. Loads of green finches, chaffinches, a lone robin, the magpies and a couple of siskin. Recently we've had goldfinches but I didn't see any today. The cats watched them from the conservatory windows, fascinated. It must be the cold that's forced so many of the birds to seek the extra food I provide.
Of rats, I went up to our old bedroom and Sandy followed me. I opened the little door to the roof space, which is where the rats run I think, but Sandy didn't seem excited at all, so I suspect they just come in at night. BlackJack also wanted a look but soon came out again. Probably scared of the dark! Major event, I have been pushing both cats through the cat flap to try and teach them to use it. Sandy keeps standing and looking out then I shoved him out on his own. I left him for a while and went back inside, then some time later he appeared! He was most excited. He's obviously conquered the cat flap. I think it may be a while before BJ does the same, as he is so much smaller.
Having been playing outside some time, they both rush in to use the litter tray. 5 acres and they come in to poo!!
We'll have to sort that one out. Going to Porta Banus, Mallaga, Sat, Sun and Monday to visit my son Ben, who, with a friend, has leased a bar there. I haven't seen it yet, only photos, so want to see it in person and see how he's getting on. I have bought him some clothes for Christmas and one of those really bad taste walking reindeer that plays jingle bells! It walks, wobbling from side to side, then stops, then sets off again. I must admit it did make me laugh and I can imagine, after a few pints, it will be a hit in the bar!
It's now 3.30am so I must to bed. I've kept Stanley roaring like a furnace all day and it's quite warm inside, except for our bedroom, so I'm warming it up with an electric fire for 10 minutes before I venture in there! The cats seem to have disappeared so must be up to no good.
Monday, December 10, 2007
How on earth did it get to the 10th? Christmas has really crept up on us this year. Hopping between Ireland and the UK hasn't helped either. We gave up the idea of the photo cards as there just wasn't time. Especially as Jim has been in Worthing since last Friday and isn't back for a week. So we made the sad decision to go and buy some last Wednesday and wrote pretty much all of them that evening and Jim took his with him to finish. Breakneck speed cards this year.
I have now come down with a ghastly cough and sore throat. The throat not improved by all the coughing. My chest is rattling now, very rare for me. I have to say I feel pretty bloody rotten tonight. I did have a good day up until then! Hilary down the road invited me for coffee. Most enjoyable, especially the accompanying Christmas cake. Her lovely daughter was there too. Delightful company. When I came back I cleared some of the wood from the lawn (I'd done some pruning and clearing yesterday) and sawed yet more fuel for Stanley. I'm keeping him stacked to the brim as the weather's been awful up until today. Wet and windy most of the time. Today it's been bright and sunny but very cold.
The cats are delighted that I can't sleep much and was out and about at 8am. The sun was rising over Loch Graney. We now have a bit of a view of the lake through the bare trees. I was moved to fetch my camera and took some photos, displayed here. The kittens played outside on the lawn and are becoming more adventurous. I went into the barn later this afternoon to saw more wood and Sandy discovered the bird table and its occupants! He sat there for ages, watching, twitching and tail swishing. The birds, however, didn't seem to take any notice of this new threat. BlackJack soon got fed up outside and curled up on a carrier bag next to me while I sawed away.
We came in as it was getting dark, around 5pm and they both collapsed into their bed - and so did I. I hope you enjoy the photos. Must get the house sorted and some decorations up or it'll be too late! Tomorrow....
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The kittens had a great day, ventured outside and into the barn. Sandy managed to climb up some wood and onto the top open ceiling, where he sat wailing! He did manage to get down eventually, then promptly did it again! Cat of little brain. (currently on my lap). We decided to go for a walk up the meadow but didn't get very far as Sandy followed a little way then howled in that miserable, cat like way! Jim actually carried BlackJack as he was too spooked to walk that far. What a pair.
So that's about it, keeping Stanley going, and the cats entertained. The usual bread making (yesterday) and eating.
Jim visited our neighbours down the lane and asked Jo to take a photo of us for our Christmas card. We're very late this year so a photo is the quickest option. Last year I made crafted cards, each with a little label attached. Each time they have to be different and several of our friends have kept them all!
Facebook is so slow it's almost stopped, especially Scrabulous, which is very frustrating.
Jim was quite poorly yesterday, he looked very pale and wan, but is thankfully back on form today. Cooking Toad in the Hole in the dual cook microwave at the moment, and I'm starving!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
The cats think it's great fun coming into our bedroom in the morning and chasing 'monsters' under the covers! As usual, they're both sitting on my lap, which sometimes makes typing a bit difficult!
Jim found a great website all about County Clare, where we'll be able to get our chickens when we come back from Australia in March and advice on tractors, etc. Could prove a real boon.
I moved my craft stuff up into the 'old' bedroom, so it's almost all together now. I do have rather a lot!
It's been an exciting day weather wise. Windy, raining cats and dogs and even some hail. A day for battening down the hatches. Jim did manage to dig up some chard and carrots for our dinner. Lovely. Can't wait until we can start again with the veg next year and let's hope it's a better summer.
Played much scrabulous on Facebook, now off to cut up some of the old jumble sale clothes I've collected ready for rugging or weaving, which ever takes my fancy next.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I took the cats out into the front. They were not sure at all and BlackJack didn't stay out long. We'd brought their bed into the porch and it wasn't long before he was cowering back in it, all snug and warm, and that's where he stayed! Sandy was much more adventurous, following Jim into the barn and exploring all around there. He did eventually join Blackjack in their bed! In the garden, I generally cut down dead plants and flowers, trimmed up the hanging baskets and pulled weeds out. It started raining quite hard and I was cold, so around 4.30 I went inside, much to the relief of 2 little worried cats.
BJ is now on my shoulder and Sandy on my knee. Lovely.
Spent the evening watching a bit of tv, having great dinner of pasta with onions, mushrooms, pepper and chopped up sausages. Mmmm. Watched 'I'm a Celeb. Get me out of here'!! Now down to the last 3. Christopher Biggins is great and I hope he wins.
Cut up some of Jim's old pants ready for rug making or weaving. Probably do some weaving I think. Kittens were hilarious all evening, full of mischief and fun. Sandy hid behind the kitchen curtain and attacked BlackJack as he passed! Great game.
I woke up early on 30th Nov (Friday), it's now 7.25am. Cats on my knee, Stanley blazing and all's well with the world.
The rain and wind are back with avengance today too.
Jim's been trying to draw up plans for the alterations to our cottage but blamed the cats for him not having got very far!
Jim was sitting watching tv in the snug and he heard the rat/s again. One also poked its head through a hole in the kitchen ceiling yesterday. These cats will have to get bigger and do their job!
Bit of material cutting up this evening for my next craft project. Some sort of basket with re-cycled materials I think. Should be fun.
I look down and BJ is back on my lap. No idea how he arrived there. Crafty little thing.
Couple more goes at Scrabble on Facebook then off to bed.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
We decided to go to Limerick today to pick up some kitten supplies, a proper litter tray (instead of a cardboard box), some kitten toys and some more food. A new Tesco has opened on a trading estate outside the town. We found it without any trouble, but the whole place was deserted! Only Tesco has opened so far and it was a rainy Tuesday, so half the stock was being reduced. We bought some bits and bobs but there's only so much reduced stuff you can eat! We had to laugh. Did they have any cat toys? Not a bit of it. We headed off to another estate where there's a huge Dunne's store. Did they have any cat toys? Naaaaa. Perhaps they don't do cat playing in Ireland. More likely chuck them out and tell them to play with the rats! Ah well, we did call in MacDonalds for a much needed coffee and a muffin and had a good laugh about the rather wasted day.
I tried to get on with the 2nd hat I need to knit for Christmas for Jim's other daughter, but Smudge quickly decided the wool was just too tempting, so I gave up on that idea. Jim monopolised the computer all evening so I watched some tv and looked at some craft books. I tied 2 wooden beads on wool to the kitchen chair and the 2 kittens provided us with much amusement chasing them about in circles! We'll try and find a vet tomorrow to get them checked over.
Must get to bed, tired now.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Well, the big news of the day is that we picked up 2 kittens from our neighbours Pete and Sandra. They did have 9 cats at one time! While we've been away, 2 of their black and white kittens have been adopted and the ginger tom they had has disappeared. They had a gorgeous ginger kitten (which we looked after when they were away, as it hadn't long been born) and a wicked little black and white kitten we hadn't seen before! They had come to call it 'little shit' as, tiny as it was, it was a proper bully to all the other cats! So we came home with gingin and the little monster, now named Blackjack! Of course they are utterly gorgeous and have kept us entertained all evening. You would think they had lived here since birth, they seem so at home. Our neighbours keep their cats outside, but we like them inside too. They quickly settled down and have spent most of the evening curled up on my lap on the settee!
Blackjack teases the life out of Gingin, then mews pitifully when Gingin gets fed up and bites his ears! We have taken loads of photos of course, and will download some soon. Their bed is a banana box, which has little cut out sides. Blackjack uses them as windows and pokes his paws out of them as Gingin passes! We don't know what sex Blackjack is but will take them to the vets later this week and arrange vaccinations, etc and having them 'done' at the appropriate age. Pete called Sandra out to the garden yesterday and Blackjack was dragging a rat around by its throat. It's no bigger than my hand at the moment!!
The amazing thing is, as these 2 have always lived outside, they have never used a litter tray. We put one down in our kitchen and both of them used it straight away. Phew! One problem solved. We'll keep them in for a couple of days so they don't wander straight back down to Sandra and Petes' house. Let them realise they live here now.
Apart from that, Jim's been shopping for supplies, baked some bread, fabulous as usual. I've swept up flies from our bedroom and generally sorted the remaining things we brought back from the UK into new homes. Gingin is trying to pull the bedding from the banana box through the little 'window'! How boring am I going to get about these two?!
Oh we also cut up lots of wood in the barn for Stanley.
Off to download piccies now.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Having scoffed a sausage sandwich, we wrapped up and collapsed into bed. This morning Jim gave Stanley a de-coke and he worked much better, with only a little flurry of smoke at the start. The cottage is finally beginning to warm up a bit.
We were also greeted by various bits of shredded carpet in the snug, an equally shredded bin liner and other evidence of occupation while we'd been in the UK. We have a mouse or rat... Once in bed, we could hear some scraping noises downstairs and the carpet was being attacked again, but when I opened the door, the rodent had vanished. We upturned both settees today and gave them a good bash - enough to dislodge any self respecting rat, but no sign. I later peered into the fireplace, the top of which is blocked up. Around the bottom, though, were 2 holes, easily large enough for ratty doors. Jim duly filled them with stones and cemented them up. Hopefully our carpet should survive the night.
So it was not the best start to our return, a smoking Stanley and a resident rodent. It can only get better. Jim set up the computer tonight. We are sharing one as he forgot some connection for his laptop. Luckily he's back to the UK soon for a meeting so can pick up the missing lead.
Watched a Kevin Costner film 'Guardian' tonight, about the US Coastguard service. It was quite entertaining and full of action. Worth a look if you get the chance. I also knitted a hat for one of Jim's daughters for Christmas. Will make another one for his other daughter tomorrow.
Rotten headache tonight. Hardly surprising.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The house now has boxes, tools, bags and other sundry items all ready to pack into the car in the morning, around 6am. It was too dark to pack it today by the time we'd assembled all the requisite things. I suppose I ought to go to bed, but am a bit hyper with excitement! Can't wait to get back 'home'. I bet it'll be freezing there though. We'll have to get Stanley fired up as soon as we get there.
Played some Facebook Scrabble, now off to bed.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I have filled many holes in the walls and given the woodwork the customary first coat of magnolia (neutral colours when you're intending to sell). Unfortunately, the dining room now looks rather like a cross between a jumble and car boot sale. All the things from the kitchen/utility/loo, are spread everywhere. AAAAH!! We did manage to pick up a load of banana boxes today, extremely useful for packing heavy items such as books, so we may be able to get straight one day. Some of it will go with us to Ireland on this coming Saturday, so that will help. We're hoping to get the kitchen/utility/loo finished by the time we leave.
Enough of a break, better get painting.....
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I've been sorely lacking in my attempts to write my blog daily. Did have 2 days away on the basket making course, but after that, no excuse.
The course was in Woodchurch, Kent and was run by a chap called Alan. He had a long blonde mop of hair and his pony tail fell half way down his back. We couldn't have asked for a better tutor, he was skilled, had great patience and a good sense of humour. Most of us hadn't done any basketry at all before, so we all started off at ground zero.
Can you believe at the end of the 2 days we had all made a fully functioning basket of some description. I bled all over the place on the first day. That willow is tough old stuff and very difficult to handle at times. I'll pop some photos at the bottom for your perusal.
I made a little 'egg basket' or small shopper, while Jim made a whacking great waste paper or kindling basket. His was rather the star of the show. The only male (apart from Alan) and he had a natural talent for it. You do need to be quite strong, which was an advantage for him.
On our land in Ireland, we have approximately 1 acre of willows. These were planted by the previous owner, who also makes baskets. Now we can use them ourselves. We both enjoyed the course thoroughly and can't wait to get back to Ireland and have a go on our own.
We decided to stay in the area Friday and Saturday night and Jim found a wonderful bed and breakfast on the net. It was situated a few miles from the willow centre in Kent. The couple owned their main house and it had, at the bottom of the garden, a 2 story brick built guest mini house. That's where we stayed. All beautifully tasteful, warm and with its own kitchen. We poddled down to the house for breakfast, cooked on an Aga, and our friendly host and hostess entertained us royally. They were both from Hong Kong and obviously not short of the odd euro or two (he was a banker). Penny, our hostess, had to rush off on the Sunday morning to pick up her niece. She was coming over from Hong Kong to her boarding school and Penny 'knew how she felt' having had the same experience as a child. How the other half lives!
We walked every street of Rye, that wonderful old town in East Sussex, full of period houses and tiny streets. It turned out to be their Bonfire and Firework Night on the Saturday of our stay. All along the Sussex Coast the towns have these special bonfire events. There is always a big torchlit procession all around the town and each society supports their neighbours, so they are always a grand affair. Rye was no exception and when we had finished our course on Saturday, we headed straight for Rye to try and find some parking. Our unhappy Doblo was running on fumes by the time we reached the garage in Rye! We just made it. Noticing they had a bit of a yard at the side of the shop and pumps, we asked if we could park there. They agreed, we were so lucky! Rye was virtually closed to traffic a short while afterwards.
To fill in the hours before the procession, we headed for the 'Kettle of Fish', a cheerful looking restaurant with a take out and seating. Queued a bit then we were seated. All very warm and cosy. Our food seemed to be taking rather a long time, but we enjoyed people watching and we were warm, so we weren't unduly put out. However, many others were, and the complaints began to fill the air. The poor waitresses did their best to fend off the fuming customers and eventually the chef came out to see them! In reality, they should have seen to the restaurant customers first, then handled the take away. We actually waited an hour! But in true British fashion, we didn't complain. The food was lovely.
Pleasantly glowing inside and out, we headed off, just in time to see the procession. It always amazes me that more people don't set themselves on fire. The torches wave in the air and frequently, their tops drop off onto someone or onto the floor! Ah well, at least it's allowed to go ahead and nobody has banned it yet. The theme seemed to be Halloween, and there were many ghosts, ghoulies and devils of all shapes and sizes. We finally made our way down to the green where the bonfire was lit. It was absolutely enormous and quite a wind had by now started to gust around the town. At one point, a whole group of spectators had to run for it, or get sizzled! We stood at a respectful distance and watched the fire and the fireworks with customary 'oohs' and 'aaahs'. They were quite splendid.
Monday morning saw us driving back to Worthing, worn out but happy after our fun packed working weekend. The course was actually run in one of the barns in the grounds of an animal rare breeds farm. This farm is run by the Canterbury Oast Trust, a splendid organisation which provides opportunities for people with learning disabilities. Many of them come to the farm daily and help care for the animals. If you would like to read more about the Trust and its work, please see their website:
www.canterburyoasttrust.org.uk The telephone number is 01233 861493. A day trip to the farm is a must for anyone with a love of animals and the money raised goes towards helping the many deserving people who make good use of the facilities. It really can change lives.
Basket Weaving For Ever......
I hope you enjoy the photos
Friday, November 9, 2007
My hair looks ghastly at the moment. Lots of grey growing through. I always think I'd like to grow it out but when it looks like it does today, I give in and head for the chemist. I walked past a hairdressers, places I normally avoid like the plague, but today I was desperate, so went in and made an appointment for tomorrow at 9.15am, so I will have to get up! My hair is long and naturally curly (thanks to my Dad) and used to be very dark brown. Goodness knows how much grey there is now, but a lot. It's also very thick. I'll decide what to do when I get there! Jim likes it long, but I'm really sick of it.
I'm feeling my age and some at the moment. I could do with going on that 'look 10 years younger' programme. Too much sun worshipping all my life has finally taken its toll on my skin, especially my top lip. If I could afford it I'd have it 'done'. Warning to all, keep out of the sun or use a very high factor sun cream.
I'm quite dark skinned (again, thanks to my Dad) so though the sun wouldn't affect me. It has....
Ah well, enough self pity. I headed back home to the decorating. Carried on until 11 pm tonight and now all the windows have a first coat and the bedroom door. Jim has started on the ceiling, a job I hate. As we go back to Ireland on the 24th ish and I'm away visiting family next week, I haven't much time left and really need to get it finished before we put it up for sale next spring.
I'm sure we'll manage somehow.
Had a bit of time on Facebook to wind down and am off to bed very soon, ready for my early morning tomorrow! Think of me and my hair traumas.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
My poor daughter, not only has she just lost a best friend from leukaemia, her partner Rachel was thrown and fell badly at Jujitsu yesterday evening and broke her ankle. They didn't think it was too bad at the hospital, gave her a temporary plaster and she had to go back today. Turns out her ankle is a bad break, she was operated on for about 4 hours and is now full of plates and pins a la bionic woman! She is not at all happy and has to stay in the hospital for several days. It'll drive her absolutely nuts. She is a writer and is mostly to be founds pounding away on the computer. She won an award for her book last year and it is being published in April, I think.
A trip to B & Q was necessary this afternoon for some masonry paint and paint for the bedroom walls, ceiling and cornice. Wednesdays are 'OAP' days. As my husband qualifies for this esteemed position (he'll hit me now), he has a most useful card enabling him to obtain 10% discount on Weds, so if it's B & Q, it must be Wednesday! We bought said paint, then just had to go outside to see whether there were any distressed plants that needed rescuing in their garden centre outside. Luckily for us, they had some lovely trees, half price. We resisted the temptation to buy too many but did buy a weeping birch, plus 2 other trees, a Himalayan Birch and a dark purple leaved one. They'll be heading for Ireland of course. Another journey with trees dangling around my neck.
Tonight we've mostly played scrabble on Facebook! Must stop doing that, but it is fun playing with people from all over the world (and Jim in his study next door). You may have noticed his comment after he beat me yesterday. Well, the worm has turned. Just you wait for today's result....
This coming weekend, we are going to Dorset on a 2 day basket weaving course. As much of our land in Ireland is a willow plantation, we thought we'd better learn to make use of it. We're spending the night in a delightful one bedroom cottage, so it'll be like a mini holiday.
I must concentrate on getting Jack's advent calendar finished so I can take it to him in a couple of weeks time. I'll take some photos of it if I ever get that far.
Cup of chino time now, plus a packet of crisps.
SCRABBLE: Would you believe that the game was a draw!! How bizarre is that? I'm cross that I didn't win but for ages I didn't have any vowels! Next time......
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
It's a bright, crisp Autumn day. In the front garden the hollyhocks are still in flower, one lovely pink one and one dark chocolate colour. In the back a fuchsia is still in full bloom. Madness in November, but beautiful.
It's now 1.10am. I've played a bit on Facebook tonight, scrabble mostly, and made a photo album of my son, Ben. He's been travelling Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, India, came back to the UK and ran a bar in London for a while and has now gone out to Spain to run one with a friend. I miss him.
Oh dear, really must go to bed. I have been making some yellow braids to make the numbers to go on the advent calendar's pockets! I will finish it one day. And, yes, my dear husband beat me soundly at scrabulous (Facebook's version of scrabble), but only because he managed to get all 7 letters out. Grrrrrr......
Must get up early to paint the windows. Yawn.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Just heard the first firework of the night. Of course, it is the 5th today. Remember, remember the 5th of November and all that.
Where was I? Oh yes, called in at the dentist to book appointments for Jim and I next Tuesday. Took my hoover with the broken switch to a local repair shop. I must say it's so convenient here with all the shops locally, rather than having to travel the length and breadth of Ireland each time we need something other than food.
Back home, I set about the large bay window in the bedroom. I sanded it down, quite a job and I ended up with totally grey hair, a bunged up nose and throat and glasses I could no longer view through! So I'm having a little break for the dust to settle.
Saw the children from next door today, Verity and Max. Lovely to see them again. They were full of laughter and chatter.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Back home to be greeted by J in a t shirt. Yes, just a t shirt!!
I spent all the rest of the day disassembling the large unit on the wall of my bedroom/play room. It seemed to be held together with 1000 screws. I still hadn't managed to finish it by 9pm but a new drama called Joe's Palace was on BBC1 that I wanted to watch. Written by Stephen Poliakoff, it starred Michael Gambon as the rich absentee owner of an old house with an intriguing past. Joe becomes the 'caretaker' and an odd but intriguing relationship develops between the 2 characters. It was quite breathtaking at times, the acting, from Gambon and the chap who played 'Joe' was quite superb and the final 'past', once it was revealed, was a complete shock. It you missed it, watch out for it, they usually do a repeat some time in the week on BBC3. It was one of those rare dramas that left one with a warm glow.
Now relaxing a bit before bed. Sad news of the day, my daughter's friend died today from complications after having chemo for her leukaemia. At least she won't suffer any more.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I managed to get much of the stuff in my room packed away, then ran out of boxes, so I'm moving the rest into the bedroom next door until I can get some more.
As my television doesn't seem to work, I watched an old video of a show I was in once, called 'Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs Strikes Back'. It was a pantomime with a difference. For a start I played the Fairy Godmother and thought I was in 'Cinderella' all the time and Prince Charming was re-named Prince Boring! A bit odd to see myself as I was back in 1983. Thinner, with black hair and no glasses! Ah well, time marches on and all that. I had to stop the video to go down for a coffee with Jim. When I came back up, it wouldn't work again! It seems to be stuck in the machine. I hope I can extricate it tomorrow.
Sam Burgess, Jim's Great Nephew, was playing in his 2nd Rugby League Match as part of the UK team in the 2nd of the 3 test matches against New Zealand. The UK won 44 nil. What a rout it was. Sam played well, as always, and was interviewed afterwards. So they have won the test series, the first time for many many years. It bodes well for the Rugby League World Cup to be held next year.
On Facebook, I'm playing a game of Scrabble with a lady from the US! What a wonderful thing the Internet is.
Earlier this evening, once again the air was full of explosions, whistles and bangs from the fireworks. I guess there'll be more tomorrow night, and probably all week.
My Granddaughter Kirsty has moved in with her fiancee today, the fiancee being one Jamie-Alicia (as in female)! They seem madly in love so I just hope it works out for them. Kirsty is my first Granddaughter and I was with her at her birth. She's always been a bit special.
Awful floods in Mexico, on the news, millions homeless. How lucky we are to live where we do.
Going to do a bit more clearing up now....
Friday, November 2, 2007
I did listen to some old tapes which was fun. Eyam, a musical written by some students on a workshop week, which I love. I wanted to produce it in Eyam but ran out of time before I moved south. Shame. Plus a great James Gallway/Chleo Lane tape called 'Best Friends'. Reminds me of my daughter, especially the song entitled 'Lo Here the Gentle Lark' or the 'Dooby Doo' song as Kat and I call it. Great one for singing along to, but only if you're along in the house! I also found an old tape which I must have recorded of my son Ben. It has his lovely Gran on it and Kat and a friend from school called Carol. Made me very nostalgic. You can never re-capture those times.
It's an easy life living here as we have gas central heating - no Stanley to light. If it gets a bit cool, just turn up the thermostat! What fun is there in that? The garden is also about the size of a postage stamp, rather than the 5 acres we have in Ireland!
It's been like Beirut here tonight (and last night). Fireworks going off all over the place. Doesn't anyone do fireworks on 5th November anymore? I pity the poor mums with little children in bed. In Ireland of course they don't have Bonfire Night. I have wonderful memories of Nov 5th at my parents' house in Forest Hill, London. We always had a huge fire (the main excitement for us as children) and the compulsory £1 box of fireworks. Little rockets that just about made it above the tree line, Catherine wheels that always fell off onto the floor, golden rain and Roman Candles, Vesuvius and Flower Pot. Modern children would find them very boring. Little sparklers that we always held in our gloved hands. Mummy always made jacket potatoes (with just butter), Yorkshire parkin and home made toffee, black and golden. We used to let off those 'jumping jacks' and no matter where my Mum stood, they always chased her! What fabulous times they were, full of love and laughter.
Must get on and do a bit more now.
The journey through Wales seemed endless. Lovely autumn colours everywhere though and quite a sunny day, so it could have been worse. Both this morning and this evening the sky was just amazing. Ablaze with red streaks. Wonderful. We finally landed back in Worthing, West Sussex about 6ish I think. It seemed an interminable day and neither of us could walk when we tried to get out of the car!! Unloaded the car, Jim popped out to get some essential shopping and I attacked the kitchen. Cleaned cupboards and sorted stuff to leave for now and stuff to pack ready to take to Ireland. Cleaning the top of very greasy cupboards is not nice.
Jim set up computers and had a lot of work to do on the leaflets he's producing for IOH. Must go to bed as we're determined to get up early to make the most of the time we have here and hopefully get the house ready to sell in the Spring.
Night everyone, xxx
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Good news on my daughter's friend. She has woken up and is off the ventilator. Early days but looking more hopeful.
I now have a stinking headache so will cut this short. Will fill in any gaps when we're set up in Worthing.
It was busy as usual, farmers on tractors, an odd assortment of cars and drivers, vans and trailers. It's a great place to socialise and everyone is in a good mood. We tipped our cans into the food can receptacle, drinks cans into the can bank, all the plastics into the plastic bottle chute, old saucepans and barbed wire (the latter from my bramble patch) and much paper and cardboard. Even little batteries into a small red bin! Feeling very virtuous, we headed back into Scarrif centre for our customary coffee and a bun at Joe and Brians' Cafe.
Scarrif is a very 'right on' village. Full of vegetarians, vegans, hippies and even the odd local! Many of the villagers are from the UK. We discovered the cafe on our first trip there, after our tip run. It is run by 2 special needs adults, and is supported by the local monastery. They do the books for the boys and a motley collection of people seem to come and go and help out or just pop in to chat. They make great tea and coffee and always have a range of home made cakes.
They also have art on the walls. This changes occasionally and is always a source of interest to me. This time they had some very atmospheric black and white photos.
We ordered our coffees (fair trade of course and in individual cafetieres) and I had a scone with butter and my favourite jam, apricot while Jim chose a vegan fruit cake. Joe brought it all to us. I had worn my black sweat shirt with High Tor Players on the front, this being one of the companies I used to act with. A chap with a long pony tail said, 'Not High Tor, Matlock'. It turned out he lived in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire when he was a child for quite a few years. I lived in Matlock Bath from 1980 to 2002! It's a small world, as they say. We chatted for ages all about the place and some of the residents we both knew. He had gone to school with my best man from my previous marriage! The chap sitting with him was wearing a hand knitted striped woollen jumper, had his grey hair long and wore a beret. That's the usual sort of uniform for Scarrif.
Back home and I managed to plant the black tulip bulbs I'd been meaning to plant yesterday when the loo and poo crisis struck. I can't wait to see them flower in the spring.
It was dark by 5.30ish, so early. Had to come in and it was also drizzling quite heavily by then. Jim potted the roses individually so we don't have to rush to get the rose bed ready. He also made a great vegetable curry with rice, very Scarrif!
I watched 'Wolf' on tv, a Jack Nicholson/Melanie Griffiths film where Jack gets bitten by a wolf and naturally turns slowly but surely into a werewolf! As in the end does Melanie. Great fun, Jack at his OTT best. I love that man. Earlier Holby City proved a bit of a disappointment. It gets more like Coro/Eastenders each week. Very silly.
Caught up with a few more old friends on Facebook today. Another of the Millstone Grit Company, Nancy, who used to play 2nd witch. We toured round many schools with a workshop production of Macbeth. I played Lady Macbeth. What a part. Nancy had this wonderful costume, like an old orange curtain full of holes. Each time she put it on, a bit more of it disintegrated! They were fun times, though hard work.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Back home, in time to do a bit of gardening before it got dark. I dug up the dahlia corms ready for winter storage and was about to plant some black tulip bulbs when Jim appeared with a very worried look on his face. Could I poor a bowl of water down our loo? It appeared to be blocked. AAAAH! We are not connected to the sewage system, but have a septic tank. There is an 'inspection pit' where you can see whether it's flowing properly, situated near the tank itself. When I poured in the water and flushed, no water appeared in the pit. Problem.
THEN Jim discovered that just outside the toilet, on the ground outside, is what looks like a paving slab in the concrete. He lifted it up. Horror of horrors, his gaze was met by several floating poos, much paper and the most ghastly smell one could imagine. I volunteered to scoop out the offending matter, but Jim valiantly offered and he didn't have to do so twice! I fetched the reserve pair of new black sturdy Marigolds and a bucket. Scoop scoop, slop slop into the bucket. The smell made us both feel like hurling, and I don't mean the Irish game. I then found a suitable stick and it was poked and prodded down the pipe. A sort of squelching noise indicated that the blockage was freed. Back inside, poured in another bowl of water and, whoosh, away it all went. 'We can do poo' I said to Jim! Well, you have to laugh. I decided not to take any photos of today's events.....
This country life does have its limits! We both felt a bit queasy for a while, so it was much later we decided to have dinner! It was too dark to continue with any gardening, so the bulb planting will have to wait until tomorrow.
I have found one or 2 of my old acting friends on Facebook today, which is great. I felt as though that part of my life had disappeared, almost to the point of not having happened. It's been great to renew friendships and chat about acting again. It was once such a huge part of my life.
Sadly my daughter has a friend who is currently in hospital in the ITU. She has cancer and now has an infection and I gather the next 24 hours will be crucial. Miserable news.
Off now to try and knit some more of the damned pockets for the never ending Advent Calendar project. I can't believe how long it's taking me. Maybe I should do it for next Christmas.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
6pm and dark already. The clocks went back last night so Winter is on her way.
Went to go to bed yesterday (or rather 4am this morning). Jim had turned the electric fire up to its most powerful in the morning, thinking he was turning it down. It must have been some sort of tropical heat in there. I sat on the bed for a few seconds, quickly realising life in that room was unsustainable! Jim was mortified. I tried to sleep on the single bed we have downstairs and J rigged up a bed with settee cushions on the snug floor. Neither of us got much sleep. Some time in the early hours, J crept upstairs and the temperature was about back to normal. Thankfully, we both sank into bed and slept like logs for a few hours.
This afternoon, having forgotten to re-set the bedroom clock, we arose and discovered we had an extra hour before we needed to go out. Great. Our local village, Killanena, had reached a hurling championship final. Now, this is not some sort of ritual where they all stand in a line and see how far they can projectile vomit, but a uniquely Irish sport. This is an excerpt from an Irish website, roughly explaining the game.
Hurling is a game similar to hockey, in that it is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. It is Europe's oldest field game. When the Celts came to Ireland as the last ice age was receding, they brought with them a unique culture, their own language, music, script and unique pastimes. One of these pastimes was a game now called hurling. It features in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it is chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for at least 2,000 years.
The stick, or "hurley" (called camán in Irish) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or "sliothar" is similar in size to a hockey ball but has raised ridges.
Hurling is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide. The goalposts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one.
You may strike the ball on the ground, or in the air. Unlike hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball balanced on the hurley To score, you put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.It all sounds dreadfully complicated but in reality is not so. Just as the game started, an Irish Coastguard Rescue Helicopter came over the ground. It landed just a short distance from the ground, then took off some 5 minutes later. No doublt we'll read all about it in the 'Irish Champion' on Thursday. I did take a couple of photos (above).
We have never watched a live game and decided this would be just the opportunity so to do. The final was held in Ennis GAA ground, so well within our reach. Kick off, or whatever it's called 'hurl off?' was at 2.30. On the drive to Ennis, flags were flying outside most of the houses and messages painted on boards with 'Good like Mikey and the boys' in varying shapes and sizes were placed by the roadsides. Several old cars were also parked along the route, painted in the blue and yellow colours of Killanena, plus a model of a player on a bike and a leprechaun in team colours sitting on the verge! It must have been heartening for the team on their way to the ground to see so much support. Hurling is HUGE in Ireland.
We managed to find a parking spot not too far from the ground, paid our 10 euros each and squeezed through the ancient turnstiles into the ground. The undercover stand was pretty full, mostly with Killanena supporters, but quite a few of the other teams' supporters were there too, in bright yellow. An Irish pipe band lead the players onto the field and the excitement was tenable. We soon got the hang of the game and what was going on. It's frighteningly fast and the ball can be hit from one end of the pitch to the other in seconds. Players have to be incredibly fit and some of the tackling was pretty violent. Killanena lead at half time, both sides having a goal apiece but Killanena having more of the 'through the post' hits. Sadly, in the second half, the opposing team gradually drew level and in the last few minutes, took the lead. The boys from Killanena were very small by comparison and simply seemed to run out of steam. I think they lost by 2 points but it was a bit hard to tell as the score keepers mixed up the scores on the board in the last 10 minutes! However, the whole event was great fun, we enjoyed it immensely. I look forward to watching a professional game in the future.
Back home and Stanley was duly set into action. He did belch out a bit of black smoke, but seems to have settled down now to getting on with his job.