Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Last Of The Summer Slime ("It's the year of the Slug!")

This years Potato Plot spread with dung and straw.  Don't mention the weeds.

Yes folks it's official.  2012 was the wettest summer (year) on record.  It's been officially called the: 'Year Of The Slug'.  Look it up on the old t'web and Tinternet (northern viewers will understand)  and type 'Year Of The Slug', if you don't believe me.  It makes you want to write a song or even paraphrase Al Stewart's 'Year Of The Cat' doesn't it?

"On a morning from a boggy allotment

In the countryside what's full of slime

You go strolling through the cabbages  like...

In the year of the slug.."

---------------------------------
May be not.

Here's the real version.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Smallholding Presents.

Happy Christmas everybody.  I hope you all got some great Christmas presents this merry morn?  My early and endearing memory was the lumpy brown parcel with the Eire stamps on it.  I must have only been about five but I can remember the postman knocking on the door with the lumpy brown parcel tied up with string.  My Irish grandmother had sent us one of her turkeys, some brown leather boots for me and my brother, a scarf, for my mother and I think a cigar for my dad, or was it some 'boot' socks?  On top of the turkey would be a Christmas card in a envelope and a long letter all about the farm animals and how she was looking forward to hopefully seeing us again next summer.   I think it was the lumpy Christmas parcel and the summer trips to my grandparents farm in rural Ireland.  That inspired me to get an allotment and eventually live on my very own smallholding in the countryside, next to the sea.

Any road (northern English talk) I hope you got that book or spade, or cow or pig, packet of vegetable seeds, beer kit, along with the aftershave, new socks and jumper.  And that includes the women.  Eh?

Have a great Christmas and thanks for reading the blog and all your very welcome comments.  Oh yeah I forgot somebody didn't I?

"Happy birthday Jesus."

God bless and have a great Christmas.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas Thoughts From My Smallholding Stable.

I often think when I am scattering straw around my smallholding (stable) cowshed.  Of how the lord Jesus himself was born in a stable because there was no room at the Inn in Bethlehem.  I often think that my cattle have a better life than a lot of humans.  Especially the one's who are homeless.  There are thousands of  visible and the 'invisible' homeless sleeping on a friends floor or even in a van in the countryside.  I often think when there is a bad storm it's freezing.  I wonder how many people are sleeping rough tonight?

I have decided to choose the Salvation Army for my chosen blog featured Christmas charity this year.  What's yours?  We don't see many of the Salvation Army in Ireland, but I know there are some in Dublin.  They are an incredible Christian organization that offer practical unconditional support to anybody regardless of gender, race or creed.

I know money is tight for a lot of folk this Christmas.  Yet if you and your friends donated nineteen pounds it would pay for a nutritional food box for a struggling family.  Twenty eight pounds will  pay for Christmas dinner for 5 lonely old people at one of their weekly Lunch clubs.  Forty seven pounds pays for a meal run to help people sleeping rough.  Sixty three pounds pays for a bed for a homeless person in one of their centres for three weeks.  Go on folks support the Salvation Army Christmas appeal.  You can find out more and how to donate at the Salvation Army website.  That reminds me.  I must make a donation myself.

Here's Mel C singing a song about the homeless.  It's a good song to listen to and think about the homeless at Christmas. Lets spread the message of:

"Peace on Earth and good will to all men."


Monday, 17 December 2012

A Topical Allotment Song. ("Oh it's p*ssing it down.")

There is still no chance of me doing any kind of cultivation nay earth works on my smallholding vegetable plot at the moment.  It's times like this when I often hear myself singing  one of my son's compositions. Pray let me explain dear readers.

A few years a go when number 2 son was about 4 years old.  I once left number 1 son and number 2 son sit and wait on the supermarket bench while I went for some of my 'medicine' in the OFF LICENCE department.  I came back a few minutes later and number 2 son was singing at the the top of his voice:

"Oh it's pissing it down, it's pissing it down, oh it's pissing it down...."

Repeat for ever and a day.

One old man who looked like a farmer (chewing grass, wearing smock, not really..) thought number 2 son's song was hilarious.  Whilst a few old ladies shook their heads with very sullen expressions.  I just laughed and we made a quick exit out of the supermarket.  I mean I could hardly chastise him could I?  I wouldn't be surprised if I had composed the song myself.

Here's another one of my favourite Christmas songs for you:  Jethro Tull: "Ring Out Solstice Bells."  It's the shortest day this week (21 Dec) and I thought it's topical and a celebration of the old Celtic Winter Solstice.  I have been  lucky enough to see Jethro Tull a few times and they have done some pretty awesome tracks down the years.  'Songs From The Woods' and 'Heavy Horses' are my two favourite albums.  When you listen to the lyrics, you realise what an ecological and environmental thinking band they are.   Enjoy.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Boring Winter Nights On The Smallholding. (What would you do if there was no telly?)


I am getting tired of these long Winter nights living on my Irish smallholding.  For one thing we have no 'street' lights (can't you tell I was born in northern England?)  for at least 4 miles.  So it's 'pitch us blackish' from 4 in the afternoon until eight O'clock next morning.  So it's usually, see to animals, eat tea and watch telly or surf the old computer and sup a few pints of ale or so.  That's usually my every night schedule in Winter?  Well, most of the year, these days.   I have attempted reading but I once commented to 'wifey' that reading is ignorant.  Now every time I pick up a book or my android (more about that in a blog or two) one of 'Northsider Towers' residents pipes up:

"Reading is ignorant."

You just can't win can you?  

Two of my regular readers (Pat Papertown 2 and Cumbrian), inform me that they don't watch television.  I think I would go mad if it wasn't for my computer, android (did I tell you I have got one of those androids?) and my life time subscription to Sky Sports complete with Manchester United supporters armchair?  I exaggerate.  What about you folks?  Can you manage life without your John Logie Baird machine?  

Years ago.  You would  wait for everybody to finish eating the rice pudding and your dad would use the bowl to make the'crystal set'.  You could listen to great radio (the theatre of the mind) programmes like: 'Band Wagon' (anybody remember Arthur Askey?) and listen to adverts about 'Ovaltine.' 








Television nostalgia.  

Here's another of my favourite Christmas tracks for you enjoyment.  The great Greg Lake himself.  I once saw him and Emerson Lake and Palmer play at Manchester Apollo.  I think they are probably most talented band ever to come from Britain.  My favourite track of theirs is 'Jerusalem'.  I think it should be the national anthem.  William Blake was a genius.  Any ELP fans?  What do you think about television?  Can you live without it?  

Still can't get to work on the old veg plot.  The ground is saturated - for a change.  Perhaps it's a time to read and write blogs and books and even watch some telly?  Why don't we have a 'Smallholding and Allotment 'channel? 

See you soon.  Thanks for reading!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tidy Up Time At The Smallholding. (Time For Some Thin Lizzy).

Well we did it.  We borrowed my brother and his trailer and we collected a years rubbish from a round the Haggard (Where the moo cows and the silage and tractor live) and farmyard.  We filled a full 6 x 4 car trailer to the top.  The square plastic tank with the metal cage isn't part of the rubbish.  That's for carrying (wait for it) WATER to the cattle when get a drought.  Laugh I nearly got my cigs out then.  Not that I smoke any more, of course!

The farmyard detritus was mainly old silage plastic wrappings  baling string, animal feed paper bags and silage netting.  Why is everything made from plastic?.  How much does it cost to pay for it and how much does it cost to get rid of it?  Well it only cost me eighty Euros.  But what cost will it be to to the environment?  

Right time for a song.  Seeing it's near Christmas I would like to play: 'Dedication': Thin Lizzy.  If they had played Live Aid, I think this would have played this song.  I play Thin Lizzy every week, religiously.  I think they are the best band to come out of Ireland.  Did you know Phil Lynott was born in England?  No, nor did I.  I once saw them on the 'Renegade' tour way back in 1981 at Manchester Apollo theatre.  Fantastic band.  Fantastic lyrics.  See you later in the week.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

"If I Were A Shepherd, I Would Bring A lamb."

Hi Folks,



BANTRY BAY 2010.  The locals hadn't seen scenes like this since 1947.
"In The Bleak Midwinter' was recently voted the world's greatest Christmas carol.  I would not disagree.  The hymn was originally penned by the great English poet:  Christina Rossetti.   The hymn talks about the bleakness of winter and that we have to have a child like relationship with God our father.  I wonder in this hi- tech world we live in.  What gift would we give the baby Jesus?  What could be a more beautiful gift than than that of a new born lamb?

What's your favourite Christmas song?    Over the next few weeks I will play you some of mine.  Hope you like them and tell me about your favourites?

Here's the incredibly beautiful Welsh' diva , Katherine Jenkins singing: "In The Bleak Midwinter".





Have a good weekend folks..


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Birthday Thoughts. Those Few Words That You Miss.

Today I would like to take a break from writing about smallholdings and allotments.  Don't worry normal service will be resumed over the weekend.  'They' who ever 'they' are.  Say you should never write when you're emotional.  However, blogs are supposed to have meaning and they don't always need to be light hearted or one of my rants about the lack of public transport (here we go) in the countryside.
______________________________________________________________________________

Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday (Wednesday) was my 49th year to Heaven or Hell or even eternal sleep.  See it how you will  It was my first birthday without my mother ringing me and saying:

"Hello David.  Happy birthday."

Just a few words that I will never hear my mother's voice say ever again. Not in this life any way.  Life is so cruel at times.  I nearly put a swear word there, but I won't.  I thank God for my mother's life for everything she ever did for me.  Grief is very strange.  My mother died (passed away even) in January and I thought the pain had eased.  Then some occasion comes around and the morose feelings over whelm you once again.  You only have one mother.

Many moons ago I used to be a born again Christian.  I really believed that Jesus was my friend.  Some how I drifted away and circumstances made me cynical and even at times wonder if God exists.  However when somebody like your mother dies, you change your outlook on life.  You can either be bitter, or you tell yourself, there's got to be a God, you have got to hope that you will meet your loved one's again.

My good friend  and fellow blog writer: Pat Papertown 2 puts it perfectly:

"Better to believe in God even if he's only an illusion(better to have a glorious illusion than a 'meaningless life'), I think."

I couldn't put it better myself.  Here's a track by the late Norman Barratt:  "Your Love."  I think a member of his family recently posted it on You Tube.  I thank them for that!  Norman Barratt was in the early nineteen seventies rock group 'Gravy Train'.  I once saw him and his band at a Christian music festival in Bedfordshire in the early 1980's.  The lyrics are superb and mean so much.  Hope you enjoy them.







Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Meet Mr Bramble Our New Swiss Smallholder Gardener.

Mr Bramble.  Our new Swiss gardener.

We recently got ourself a new addition to our West Cork Smallholding.  A young billy goat called: Mr Bramble, now resides on our little farm on the edge of Bantry Bay in Southern Ireland.  We have finally got some help in the garden.  I have to stake it though because he's pretty partial to my cabbages.  He works hard and we can afford his wages: some vegetables and some straw.

We have had goats before and they are characters and excellent browse grazers.  Shall I tell you some tales about them?   Are you sitting comfortably?   OK then, I will begin.

We purchased our first white goat (a Saanen) in 2002.  A street stall holder lady we knew.  Gave us the phone number of a goat herd owner on the outskirts of Dunmanway.  Jean rang the goat owner and took some directions and we set off without a road sign or a talking horse (Old American tourist joke, yawn!) and after a few miles (at least thirty) of driving over hill and dale, we found ourselves stopped outside a smallholding.  How does she do it?  My mother always said that Jean had radar up her jumper.  I think she must have been a homing pigeon.  Jean that is, not my dear mother.

Any road.  The lady from the telephone conversation, introduced us to a beautiful white goat called 'Lily'.  The goat lady showed me how to 'milk the goat' and I paid her fifty punts for Lily.  I then attempted to lift our new goat into the back of our Volvo hatchback.  Talk about 'one lump or three'.  I struggled and moaned and Lily bleated and took great exception to me man handling her.  The goat owner's male partner heard the commotion and helped me lift Lily into the car and we set off back home.

Our poor little car, struggled over and around the West Cork hills and the meandering, pot hole scattered roads.  The back of the car was weighed down to her haunches and we got many curious looks from passing motorists and farmers.  Think I read the mind of  2 of them:

"Did you see dat?"

"What?"

" That blue Volvo then.  I am sure I have just seen Bin Laden going down the road, in the back of that little Volvo."

Well Lily did have a beard.

Time for a song.  Here's Val Doonican (the man with the multicoloured jumpers) singing:  Paddy Mcginty's goat.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Green Shoots of Recovery On The Smallholding..

There's not a lot happening on the vegetable plot at the moment.  The ground is still saturated so apart from cleaning out the cattle and ducks and feeding them silage and straw, there's not a lot we can do.  On a positive note.  You can see my Japanese Winter onion sets starting to push up their green stalks.

There's not a lot you can do except chop wood, read, watch the television, eat  and drink well and maybe listen to some good music.  Time for some music.  Here's  the late and great (Deep Purple and Whitesnake)  John Lord's version of 'Green Onion's.









Keep warm folks.

Friday, 30 November 2012

A Hippo On My Smallholding. ("Picture this A day in late November.")



A 'proper' picture of 'Hippo' for you  today.  That's 'Archie's head you can see next to the feeding trough.  See how muddy 'Hippo's' coat is?  You can see how she got her name.
Fido the terrier posing this morning.  She was black as the Ace of Spades until she went for a straw bath in the barn.  She  just crawls through the straw and comes out pristine and clean.  Well, it beats having a bath, doesn't it.

Time for a video.  We haven't had a song for a day or so have we?  Here's the fantastic 'Blondie' (Debbie Harry) singing 'Picture This'.   Did I see you singing?  

Later folks.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Some New Smallholding Pals. (Eyes Down For A Full Cow House/Shed.)

"Charley"  A lovely Charolais X heifer.
'Rosie'  A Simmental X Whitehead  heifer.
'Bluey'  The black girl  behind the bullocks.  She's a Aberdeen Angus crossed with a Belgian Blue.  Note the 'home made' steel manger complete with corrugated iron roof.
'Hippo'.  She's peeping her head through the cow shed door.  She 's a Simmental cross.  She was covered in mud when she arrived.  So I christened her 'Hippo'.
We bought 4 more cattle this week to live with the bullocks ('Archie, 'Lightning', 'Bambi' and 'Dal boy').  Sooty and Ruby are still here too.  So we are up to ten now.  If anything cheers me up it's my bovine pals.  They are great characters.  I wish they would keep their bedroom tidy.

See you later.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bracken's 'New' Shelter. (A stable for nowt!)

Bracken  in the shadows.
Brackens 'Brand New' Field Shelter.  Made today from Corrugated iron sheets, pallets , nails and two half pieces of concrete blocks.  I got the inspiration for the blocks from looking at  many different allotments sheds in England.

The new shelter from a better angle!

Bracken in the farmyard.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Rain In Ireland Falls Mainly On My Smallholding.


Apologies to Sir George Bernard Shaw for the title.  Yes we know he didn't write 'My Fair Lady.  However he did write Pygmalion and he used to come to Glengarriff for his holidays.  Him and Virginia Wolfe used to stay at the Eccles Hotel, but not in the same room or at the same time I may add.

Any road. Saturday night was a really strange night.  I went out to the car about seven in the evening and all it's windows were completely frozen.  Old Jack Frost had been painting everywhere.  I watched  X Factor (what ever happened to 'Tales From The Unexpected') and had a few scoops and retired for the night.  Three O'clock in the morning (this is starting to sound like a song) and it starts to piss it down.  Yes you heard that right folks.  If I said it rained, it would not express or xplain the deluge that fell on our little smallholding.  Pray dear reader (readers even) how can it suddenly warm up and the heavens open?  It's just not possible is it?  Perhaps there is some truth in this 'Global Warming' business?



A rather splendid sunset taken from our little smallholding  on the shores (fields even) of  Bantry Bay.  My dear old grandmother Elizabeth used to say:

"The view won't feed you."

She was right!
So it's Wellington boots foot attire, for the foreseeable future.  I am even thinking our feet are becoming webbed like our ducks.  What else?  Oh yeah.  I told you how we had a load of straw bales delivered didn't I?  Well.  I was standing on top of them in the barn today, piking some straw  through a hole in the wall (think I have been in a pub called the 'Hole In the Wall' in Hebden Bridge?) and I noticed that Fido our beloved Jack Russell terrier and tripe hound had kindly left me an half chewed rat.  Guess who got the job of disposing of it?  I think my dog is partial to a midnight 'rat' snack!  Flipping heck.  Don't think I'll be using any rat poison if she's making 'Rattus Norvegicus' butties for her supper.

Where was I? (In the barn piking straw).  Yeah that's right.  Here's a use for your old Wellington boots.  I have even seen them used for gate hinges.




"Welly Bob' Knife Holder.  Must get it patented.  "This time next year we will be millionaires."

Here's a Billy Connolly song for you.  It's very topical.


















That's a funny one for you folks!  See you later.



Friday, 23 November 2012

Elegy For The Lost Railways. ("Oh Mr Porter. What will I do?")

My regular readers will know one of my pet rants is the lack of public transport and how we have far too many cars on our roads.  Well today I would like to talk about the loss of so many of our railway lines.

Living In Southern Ireland.  You soon notice the lack of infrastructure.  But it wasn't always like that, oh no.  Not many moons ago there used to be the West Cork Railway.  Which ran from Cork to Bantry (about 56 miles).  It used to deliver coal, milk, passengers, cows and pigs.  In 1961 the 'powers that be' decided to close down the railway because it was running at a loss - SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS.  Which was probably a lot of money back then.  Today you wouldn't get an ice cream for it.  Course I exaggerate.  Any Road.  Time for a break.

Think the above video adequately sums up how much we need infrastructure.   The West Cork Railway rails where shipped to Nigeria and most of the land was sold to neighbouring landowners.  So it will never be a railway line again  It's so sad.   Do you know of an old railway line that could be brought back to life? 

I once met an English woman in a pub (where else) here in West Cork.  She was a lovely 'New Age 'Hippy kind of woman.  She told me that she had once walked along Englands' ancient tracks and never touched a single road.  Isn't that incredible?  Imagine if we could construct a sustainable bridle way just for horses and carts, walkers and cyclists? 

I also feel strongly about canals - amazing feats of engineering.  Most of them hand dug by Irish Navvies.  Think the Manchester Ship Canal is the biggest feat of them all - 30 odd miles long and fifteen feet deep and all dug by hand.   

Back to railways.  One of my favourite British comedy heroes is Will Haye.  I have a DVD collection of 9 of his films.  


Here's my favourite:  "Oh Mr Porter."

This wonderful piece of steam train nostalgia was made in 1937.  It starred: Will Haye, Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt. 

The Plot:  William Porter (Will Haye) inept railway worker is given the job of a remote, rural northern Irish railway station master.  The train station is 2 miles from the nearest bus stop.  What's one of those?  To make matters worse.  The railway line is haunted by a ghost.  So no-one will go near it after dark.   

Porter is woken up by a cow sticking its head through one of the train station windows.  The railway staff breakfast consists of bacon made from a litter of piglets that the railway company was supposed to be looking after for a local farmer.  I won't tell you any more.  You'll just have to see the film, if you haven't seen it already.  I think the whole film is on You Tube.  But you can always buy the collection, I did.

See you folks.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Brassed Off Not Being Able To Get On T'Land. ("Poor lad. Still got your mind on that pit?")

Hi Folks,

The ground is totally saturated and there is no way I can get on land.  All the farms in West Cork seem to have a soft rush problem.  We (Ireland, UK and co..) are going through global warming and climate change. I blame the cars.  Think there are far too many  cars (33 million in UK) and the pollution  they give off and causing the weather that leaves you really brassed off.  Does anybody agree with me about cars?   Are they a necessary evil, convenience or a major polluter/pollutant?  Can you really be 'organic' and use fossil fuels?  Answers on a postcard or better still, leave a comment.  Ta very much.

My poor 'saturated' and  'over grown' vegetable plot.

Barn full of 'round bales' of straw for terrier to sleep in, cattle to eat and sleep on and rats to keep warm!  Like John Seymour said:
"When you buy hay (straw even!) you buy land."
Talking of 'Brassed Off'.  I would like to talk about one of my favourite English films today.  Brassed Off was made in 1996 and it starred the fantastic and much missed Pete Postlethwaite, the gorgeous Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Little Voice, Train Spotting to name a few), Sue Johnson and everybody else.

The film really inspired me to buy brass band cds?  Yeah that's right I have a really eclectic music taste ranging from the Nolans, Heavy Rock  and BRASS bands.  Don't ever book me to be your disc jockey (do they still call em that?) at your 'pie and peas' posh do.  To those of you aren't familiar with the word 'do.  It's an northern English colloquialism to describe a celebration like a wedding, birthday...

Any road.  Another colloquialism.  I once went to Salisbury Cathedral and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band (they are in the film) were playing Concierto de Aranjuez.  It was composed by the blind Spanish composer:  Rodrigo.  The acoustics in the building made it a spine tingling and adrenalin like experience.  I honestly expected to see an angel.  Honest.

Here's a clip for you.  See you later and thanks for tuning in.  Thanks to You Tube and the people who post them for us all to enjoy!!


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Smallholder.



'Zeta' our late and great Border Collie posing for a photograph one Christmas morn.  The dogs always get adorned with tinsel on Christmas Day.    I named her 'Zeta' after Catherine Zeta Jones.  Because she was so beautiful.  I think our 'Zeta' was part human.  She was an amazing canine pal.  God bless Zeta.
Do you like my play on the idiom:  'Beauty Is in the eye of the beholder'?   Apparently (I looked it up) an idiom, is a form of phrase or expression that is peculiar to a language and (yawn) approved by the uses of that language, and its often got a signification other than its logical or grammar one.  Do you follow me?  Can you explain it to me then?

Any road.  The idiom (I like English Idioms) 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' was penned by a West Cork native:  Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in her novel 'Molly Bawn' which was published in 1878.  She was born in Roscarberry which is near Clonakilty and not far from Drombeg Stone Circle.  One of my favourites 'Free' and sacred places to visit in Ireland.   To use Michael Caine's catchphrase:

"Not many people know that."

See You Later.


Monday, 19 November 2012

A 'Perfick' Smallholding.

I thought I would talk about some more great 'British Telly' again today.  Today's offering is 'The Darling Buds of May'.  In my humble opinion it was Yorkshire television and the writer H.E Bates masterpiece.  It really was to coin "Pop" Larkins classic catchphrase:

"Perfick."

The main characters in the television show were; Sidney "Pop" Larkin, Florence "Ma" Larkin, Mariette (the gorgeous Catherine Zeta Jones) and the tax collector "Charley.

The series depicted a glorious picture of 1950's rural Kent.  It was endearing, funny and evoked wonderful rural memories and nostalgia.  Best of all it was just 'sheer escapism'.  I am going to go on Ebay when I have finished writing this post and going to order myself the DVD collection of the 'Darling Buds of May' series.  Like I say it was:

"Perfick."

Here's a few snippets from the wonderful television series.  Catherine Zeta Jones is staggeringly beautiful.  See you in a day or two.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Rather Posh Smallholding.



I once went to Sandringham (the queen’s posh country smallholding in Norfolk,) suffering from food poisoning.  No she hadn't invited us for a :
"Nice cup of tea."
 A very big cook (Little Chef) had poisoned me the afternoon before.   It was a lovely Summers day, so we decided to go and see how the other half live.  The queen’s herbaceous borders made wonderful sick depositories.
 I stood wrenching and vomiting while tourists passed by with expressions of horror.  Not one person asked me:
“Are you alright mate?” 
or:
“There, there”.  
They just looked horrified as if to say:
“That scruffy Northerner is fetching up in the queen’s borders.  
Send for the beef eaters and take him to the tower of London.” 
Eventually I recovered and went for a saunter and mosey round her majesty’s regal pad.  We walked along roped off pathways (in the house!), and viewed the queens sun faded furniture, pottery and some of her “bling”.  The Majolica pots looked horrible.  If  I had seen them on a car boot sale I would not have paid a fiver for them.  They were worth about a quarter of a million, or a two up and two down ex agricultural labourers cottage in Cheshire.   The diamond encrusted Faberge eggs were nice though and would have looked good on our sideboard, underneath the flying ducks on the Muriel! (Mural).  Bring back Stan and Hilda and Eddie Yates, and the 'tart with a heart', Elsie Tanner. 
Talking of Elsie Tanner.
I once met (queued up for a signed autograph picture for me dear old mum) Pat Phoenix at the local agricultural show.  Her stand (a chair and a decorating table) was situated opposite the beer tent.  Some of the locals were stood outside shouting:
“Elsie, Elsie.  Lend us a tanner.”  
Pat Phoenix just smiled and said:
"Young man.  Flattery will get you nowhere”. 
She was sheer class. 
Talking of  Sandringham and posh houses. 
I once helped build half a golf course (the other nine holes already existed).  I said one morning to a digger driver:
"Did you have a good weekend Bill?”  Not his real name.
He replied: 
“Not really".  
We went to that Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. 
It was a bank holiday and the world and his wife had decided to visit.  The traffic tailbacks went back for miles.
We eventually got inside and it was full of snobby twonks (he didn’t say twonks).  
The house was full of old furniture and paintings.  She likes that kind of sh*t!  I wouldn’t mind there wasn’t even an effing bar to get a pint!” 
Yes he was so right.  The upper classes could have really learned from the proletariat “great unwashed” who built their stately piles for them.  They could have experienced Formica, Caramac, Stylophones and flat packed wardrobes.  I thought to myself: 

“It’s good that working class people have cultural experiences on their days off!”  

I didn't really.  I just laughed.  See you later folks!

Friday, 16 November 2012

1970's Saturday Night Telly, A Chippy Supper And Swearing At Me Dad's Posh Relatives.

I was thinking the other night.  What ever happened to 'Seaside Special' and 'The Grumbleweeds Show' on  Saturday nights?  They were really fun programmes, when I was growing up in the 1970's.  Me mum and dad would get dressed up and go to the pub with his posh cousin and her fianc'ee Ken.  After an hour or so it would be Starsky and Hutch (cue theme tune) or:

"Who loves you baby?"

Kojak.

Then I would try to keep my eyes open waiting for Jimmy Hill and 'Match Of The Day.'  Very often they would make you wait an hour for United ("Glory, glory Man United") to come on and very often I would be fast asleep on the armchair in 'front room'.   I often fell to sleep thinking of  'spud pie, chips and beans', that my dear  mother (R.I.P) would bring back for me from the chippy around corner from where we lived.

Any road.  One night, me mum and dad and his cousin and her fiancée came back from the pub and chippy to find me fast asleep on the armchair.  My mum apparently started saying to my dad:

"Wake him up Jim.  His chips will be cold."

My dad's posh cousin's fiancée then decided to shake my arm and attempted to wake me up from my slumber, no doubt dreaming of 'Wonder Woman'.  My dad said:

"I wouldn't do that Ken.

 I don't think that's a good idea waking him up."

"Nonsense."

Ken replied.

"I have had lots of experience in my time dealing with children."

He attempted to shake my arm again and said:

"Come on Davy boy.  Wake up?"

Why had he suddenly got an Irish accent?  There was no rousing me from my deep sleep.  So Ken shook me furiously.  I suddenly woke up, imitating a leprechaun with a Poteen induced hangover.  One didn't know where I was.  So I started shouting at the top of my voice:

"P*ss off.  P*ss off.  Leave me alone."

Posh relations did not seem very impressed at all.  They never called at our house for a chippy supper again!

Talking of chipoyles.  Here's Capstick Come Home by Tony Capstick and the Carlton Main/ Frickley Colliery.  It got to number 2 in the charts.   Tony Capstick was brilliant and he's very sadly missed.

See you on Sunday folks.

 




Thursday, 15 November 2012

THE 'NOVICE' ALLOTMENT HOLDER.



Carrying on with me 'unpublished book' extracts.  All absolutely free for your and my enjoyment.  I got 165 views yesterday (probably twenty of mine), Ta and thanks very much.
Northsider Dave (last year) holding up his Leeks!

Another creature I met on my allotment saunters is the  “novice” allotment holder.  Let’s call him Mick 'the new' lad.  Mick informed me that was sick of playing darts and he wanted :
“Summat to do” 
At the weekends.  I suggested an allotment to show his family what a hunter, gatherer he was not!  I managed to secure him the tenancy of a half-plot.  Mick was duly delighted until he realised that the four high plot of grass and Rose-bay willow herb was his new potage.   Mick was a bit taken back and had expected his new plot to be ready dug over for him.  Yeah right!  Pull the other one there is bells on it!

Mick soon got over his disappointment and duly rushed to Wilkinson’s store in the high street.  He purchased a new spade (toy) and an array of vegetable and flower seeds bought in OCTOBER. 
.
A month or so later I went to see how Mick  had been getting on with his new vegetable endeavours.  He had managed to clear a six foot square of soil.  It was just after Christmas and I asked him how he was enjoying his new hobby. 
“I don’t know  Dave?"
 He says.  
“I can’t understand why none of my vegetable seeds aren't coming through."   
The silly billy expected his SUMMER VEGETABLES to germinate (name dropper) in WINTER!!
That's a true story folks!

See you later in the week.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

One's Thoughts about Vinyl Records.


I have got back into my writing mode this week after talking about it on recent posts.   I did pen a humorous manuscript about people and their hobbies yonks ago .  It's had a few rejections from publishers but rather than waste it.  I am going to give you some of them to read for absolutely FREE!  Call it an early Christmas present readers.  

ADVERT:  "Gizza Job."
In the meanwhile if there are any book publishers or newspapers who would publish my books or give us a job writing for them - get in touch.  I'm very cheap and I can tell the time, so it will be there on your desk, YESTERDAY!

Here goes:



 RECORD COLLECTORS.

Today (Nov 14) marks the sixtieth anniversary of the record charts in the UK.  3.7 Billion records have been sold in that time.  That's almost enough to reach the moon and back again.  

I reckon, hmm...  If you want to study the psychological make up of a person, study their record collection.  My musical tastes stem from The Nolan’s, Brass bands, Katherine Jenkins and heavy metal.  

Women seem to be far more eclectic.  I know a woman who likes Max Bygraves, Jim Reeves, Amy Wine house and the Wurzels.  Most of the time she likes listening to 'peace and quiet'.   

Is your house full of records and CD's that you never play?  I am after one of them there wind up record players with a gramophone horn.  I am going to play the records in my vegetable plot to make my vegetables grow.  

I always feel nostalgic when I look through my old record collection.  It makes me think of a certain time in my life and what I was doing.  You often think to yourself: 

“Why did I buy that Show Waddy Waddy record?”  

Do you remember those Pick nit (Pickwick records) that they used to sell in Tescos and Asda?  You could buy a current up to date chart album for half the price of a bona-fide (kosher) label like pie (Pye).  The only trouble was the folk on the record, weren't the people in the photograph on the record sleeve. 

I think they got a group of rather inebriated pub singers and got them to sing the latest tunes.  In return for a packet of wine gums and half a glass of strong bow cider each.   They were rather appalling but at least they saved you a few bob. 

Car boot sales attract record collector obsessives like flies round a cow’s tail. You can be stood there freezing cold thinking: 


“Haven’t we done well dear?”  


We got up at four O’clock in the morning, and drove five miles to the nearest car boot sale. You handed over a tenner in payment for your pitch (a ten foot puddle overlooking the sewage works).  Three hours later and you have made four pounds thirty two pence, or one fifty.  If you take out the hot dogs and two cups of tea in the polyester cups. Suddenly, this creature comes up to and says:


“S’cuse me mate.  “How much is your record”?

You turn and look at a middle-aged man with a big 'U' smile, the size of the entrance to the Mersey tunnel.  You say:


“Is fifty pence ok?”  


“What?” 

says record collector obsessive, crouched down (in the puddle) flicking through your records.  It says:

“I have been searching for THE BIGGEST ASPIDISTRA IN THE WORLD BY GRACE FIELDS for the last fifteen years...


He then takes it out of it's paper sleeve and examines the black vinyl for five minutes.  He shakes your hand like a long lost friend and says:

"I would gladly have given you seventy five quid for it.”  

You have made some bodies day and ruined your own!   
---------------------------------------

Here's the biggest selling single of the 1970's:  Mull Of Kintyre. See you later in the week.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Autumn Thoughts On The Smallholding.

One thing about living in the countryside, next to the sea.  You notice the ever changing seasons.  In the last few years we have experienced every season in a DAY!  There's a saying that goes something like:

"How do you know when it's summer time in Ireland?"

"The rain is warm!"


That's a photograph of my Hydrangea and it's sadly fading flowers and leaves.  Taken this merry morn.  Notice the mountain peak in the distance?

This was supposed to be a blog about writing.  In a way it is.  Most of my life I have attempted to write poems, short stories, plays and even books.  I have had a limited success in terms of having a book published, short stories in regional anthologies and a comedy broadcast on BBC local radio and bits and bats in newspapers...  Anyway enough about me, YAWN!  Like most writers, I have several manuscripts sitting in folders and on the hard drive and I am always sending off book proposals and for ever waiting for the email notifier to light up in the corner of the computer, saying:

"We love your manuscript and want to give you an advance of ten thousand pounds and would like to invite you to an all expenses paid holiday in San Tropez!"

We can dream can't we?

Any road.  Thanks to 'Blogger' I can write and write and publish for free on the Internet.  If there are any writers out there who want to talk about writing please leave a comment.  In the mean time here's a poem I did compose many moons ago about Autumn.  Must start writing poems again.  I know there's no money in poetry but who cares?

AUTUMNS SAD LAMENT.

Green, brown, grey and yellow
Nature is on the retreat,
Soil, turf and rock
The upholstery for my seat,

So another season, another part of life,
A time for reflection, or a time for strife,

The fish becomes less active and fathoms out the river bed,
Oak sways windward and forgets the leaves its shed,

Squirrel gathers acorn and grass no longer grows,
Swallow migrates and pets bid 'aure-voir' to rose,

All is feeling sad and all is at an end,

This is Autumn preparing for it's Winter friend.

___________________________

Keeping with an Autumn theme.  Here's 'Autumn Leaves' by Eva Cassidy.  Thanks to You Tube, Eva Cassidy music lives on.  Think this is her last ever live performance.  God must have some great concerts and musicians in Heaven?






See you later in the week.   And to all you writers:

" Keep on writing!"

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Martin-Mass and the Green Fields of France.

Tomorrow the eleventh of November is Armistice Day.  It's the day we are supposed to remember all those who have fallen and who gave their lives for our freedom.  It's great to watch British television and see news and sports people wearing the poppy.

Living in Ireland, I have been unable to purchase a poppy this week, there doesn't seem to be anywhere that sells them, sadly.  Lots of Irish and British people lost their lives in northern France during the 1914 to 1918 first world war.  Every village in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales lost somebody during this war, that was supposed to be over by Christmas.    Incredibly I have read that there were more people killed in one day during the first world war, than in ALL of the second world war.

Two great British writes: CS Lewis and J R Tolkien both went to the Somme and survived.  They also both wrote in their books about the triumph of good over evil.  I find it incredible that they both had a strong Christian belief, even after what they had witnessed in those poppy fields of northern France.

Keeping with a 'Smallholding/Allotment' theme.  Tomorrow is also Martin-Mass   It's the the day in England and Europe when livestock was killed and salted for the long hard winter because the poor farmers had not got enough hay and feeding.  It also commemorates St Martin of Tours.  A saint who cut his cloak in half and gave it to a poor man.  Geese was traditionally ate on this feast day.

I like to give my blog posts a musical theme now and again.  Thanks to You Tube.  Here's the 'Green Fields of France' by the great Irish band: The Fureys'.  I once walked passed them entering a bar in Glengarriff and they all said :

"Good evening."

Absolute gentlemen and great musicians.

Lest we forget.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Welcome To The Jungle (My Veg Plot).

 That's a picture of the overgrown dung heap.  I should have covered it up, shouldn't I?  The 3 lazy tools having a rest are my trusty long handle 4 prong pike.  Very good for mucking out and for fighting during the English civil war.  In the middle is my trusty Celtic shovel.  It's also called a Devon shovel in hmm, Devon.  I bet you would never have guessed that would you?  The lad on the right is my trusty Azada.  They come from Spain originally.  Mine's called the 'Crocodile'.  They are like the proverbial off a shovel, when it comes to clearing vegetation.  They are brilliant, but they need real ale or a good breakfast to make them work - you're the engine!
 That's a picture of my Azada after doing some clearing work.  It seems to be having a rest, doesn't it?
 Brand new compost heap in front of my Swedes.  Notice the Nettles growing amongst them?
 A photograph of the dreaded 'Twitch' or Couch grass.  If you use farmyard manure, you will always find twitch.  Rotavators make a fantastic job of dividing it into thousands of little plants.
 Yours truly holding up a Swede for one's 'Tea' or Dinner if you're posh!
Ruby and Sooty eating the Swede leaves.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Smallholding Vegetable Soup. "Why can't we go back to 'plain' food?


Brrr.  It's getting flipping cold here in Southern Ireland.  The mountains nearby all have castor sugar coverings today.  Now I see why Sugar Mountain got it's name.  Think there are 6 'Sugar' mountains in Ireland and 200 in the world?

Any road.  Today we decided to make some vegetable soup and a loaf of bread.  The stove is lit, so why not use it to make some food?

Here's What You Do.

You don't need to measure or weigh anything.  It just depends how many mouths you are feeding.  I made half a pan full, because I know this will make two bowls of soup. Just peel some carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, peas and slice them and throw them into a big pan and pour in a jug of stock.  I used one beef OXO cube because I couldn't find the chicken stock ones.  Place it on the stove and leave it to cook for a few hours.  It really is easy and full of vitamins and you know there are no preservatives in it.  Number 2 son said to me:

"Is it Heinz soup?  I only eat Heinz soup!"

I said:

"No.  No it's, 'My' soup."

The bread is an 'Oudlums' brown bread mix from ye olde supermarket, which you just add some milk to and follow the instructions.
Vegetable Soup.

Vegetable Peelings... Saved for Ducks Supper.

Bread cooling down.

The finished product.  We decided not to bother blending the soup and left it lumpy.    Then I added some more water to the pan and I'm having some more for my tea.

Years ago when ever we came to Ireland on our holidays on my grandparents little farm.    My mum and dad would take us in pubs and ask for:

"Soup and Sandwiches".  

Is there anything more heavenly than a bowl of soup (with bread) and ham and tomato sandwiches with no coleslaw or mayonnaise?  Why can't we go back to 'plain' food?