Thursday, 30 April 2015

Views and Badger

 Jane! Help! I am currently capable only of blogging on a Thursday with my Northern Irish views, but keep meaning to tell you that, despite my invitation, I can't get in. Please advise...

Everyone else! It has been a typical Spring week here in the Frozen North. Just when we had all put away our woollies and bought suncream, back came the rain and snow and blizzard- and that was just lunchtime on Monday- and out came the winter coat. Shed today with the return of Meadowplace Blue. The strawberries are re-enacting Roman prisoners being taken into slavery. You can guess what we're revising tonight. Big into kinesthetic learning in this house.

 Jo sat us all down to make paper bunting yesterday, which we dutifully did. Not least because a return to sun means the annual return of exam weather and no-one was in any fit state to revise Physics or rotational symmetry. The bunting was in honour of PC's new (to him) car. We bade a grateful farewell to the carriage which has taken us all through Ireland, Scotland, England and France. It needs a rest!

 On to more pressing blog Badger business. Pom Pom, in the deep mid-winter, sent Badger forth on a quest for international hygge. He got as far as here, felt about Ireland much as I imagined the Romans did, and refused to come out of his den.

 There was a brief burst of energy when the grey cold lifted momentarily for February half-term. We took him out and about for his Irish farewell. Not sure that he appreciated the Stormont playpark as much as we did. He mustn't have known that activities there are mightily more impressive than any antics in our Parliament Building on the hill behind...

I think he did appreciate the wild ruins of Nendrum at Strangford Lough. His nose was twitchy and I suspect he smelt weasels. Though it could just have been ancient vestiges of Viking fear still  floating over the waters.
This is our oldest monastic site in Northern Ireland with links back to St Patrick and beyond. You can wander over the enclosures and hear the chants. Mole would have been bored.

He might have preferred the splendour of Mount Stewart house. We proceeded there for refreshment. Badger looked for some animal company on board but there was none to be had. The sunken garden is closed, with much of the rest, for a huge refurbishment, so all the strange stone creatures were out of bounds.
We did explore the Ulster Garden and count symbols and legends.

The story of the Red Hand of Ulster is most gruesome, but it was too early in the season for a vivid display of blood. No doubt when our Marching Season of July comes round we'll be spilling some again.
So, FINALLY, Pom Pom and Betty, finally I can state that Badger has left the country. He should by now be well on his way to England for a stay in a real Wild Wood. He is rested and ready for adventure. His fur bristles with the need for undergrowth and trees. Betty the Wood Fairy, here he comes.

If you would like to host Badger do let Pom Pom or me know- it's a wide, wild world, and Badger is on the move... (Ang, no reference to Rev Bob has been harmed in the making of this post. Bob seems currently to be a cult figure inspiring stomach-clutching hilarity in any context involving ten year old boys. Answers on a postcard. To someone with more patience for stomach-clutching hilarity in full exam season.)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Views and eggs

 I've invented a new colour. It's Meadowplace Blue. It's the wide, uninterrupted blue of the sky over our heads when the weather is glorious and you feel you shall never again wear more than two layers. It's the blue you get when you're not even wearing socks.
Yes, I did neglect to remove the laundry draped over every possible outdoor surface. Although you feel you shall never again wear more than two layers or need to dry clothes anywhere but outside, a small voice whispers that this could nonetheless be an opportunity not to be missed.
 We continue to struggle with illness in this house. It definitely gets better as Spring takes firm hold, but a dose more vigour would not go amiss. Great encouragement to the morale arrived on Monday night with Cooking Catherine and two great goose eggs. Never before has such a sight been seen in our little lives. Our meadow-dwelling must surely be complete?
 Number one went the way of all eggs, well most eggs, well, most eggs in this house, except for baking. Egg A got into some hot water tonight. I kept waiting for it to jump up in true Gingerbread Man fashion and rush out to have adventures through the fields with the goats, the chickens and a ubiquitous fox.
But it didn't. The white of a goose egg is very different: discuss. The white shell is incredibly white, much tougher and held on by a significantly thicker layer of membrane? Then the cooked white was much thinner around the yolk, I found. Taste-wise, no remarkable difference. Except that it was lovely, and very, very yellow at its core.

What should we do with Egg B? Unless it decides sit on a wall...

Saturday, 18 April 2015

First born sun

Twelve words about Mattman:
  1. Twelve?
  2. Seriously.
  3. Best
  4. Thing
  5. I
  6. Ever
  7. Grew (with your brother)
  8. Perseverer
  9. Privately
  10. Unbridled
  11. Wise
  12. Man
 And funny. Very, very funny. When no-one else is looking. And all those new friends who came round tonight? Nice guys, Mattman; good choice xx

ps His mother did not make this cake.
pps Nor can his mother quite believe that she has been blogging all this time.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Irish Views

 Here we are back in the North for the new school term. Dusk in April in East Entrim. This garden (inherited from the green-fingered couple who sold the Meadowplace to us) is most assuredly a Spring garden. From now on swathes of colour will roll across the beds.
 The magnolia is in full flower, and even my timid potted camellia is gaining courage. But last week we were down in Wicklow and Wexford for a few days. We stopped at Newgrange on the way..

Laid by Neolithic masterminds the overlapping stones of the roof have kept out rain for five thousand years. In Ireland by Frank Delaney the Storyteller has the most fabulous account of its construction. Maybe it'll be third time lucky when next I go and I'll actually manage to be there at the right time to visit the cairn and tomb themselves.
 Prince Charming on Brittas Beach.

 Strawberries at Glendalough for their first visit to Kevin's community. They bounded round the Lower Lough, and may have noticed some impressive sights along the way.
 Surely they noticed the Round Tower?

 We climbed the little hill to what is marked as the site of St Kevin's Cell. I think we were disappointed that there wasn't an actual cave. Though they do have a beautiful sculpture of the bird laying an egg on his palm. Much discussion as to whether you really could let the egg stay there until it hatched. Would the bird need to be hatching it all that time?

The Monastic City. It's as if you could catch a glimpse of someone hurrying to prayer, or carrying a basket of potatoes in from the vegetable garden. Glendalough survived numerous Viking raids, and was ultimately ended by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. I don't think you can come away without humming this...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Views from Easter

 And so Lent ended as the holidays began and it has all been most mellow and even very sunny these last two days. I'm quite sure I've never had a sunhat on in April before. A week ago we celebrated one whole year in the Meadowplace. I still can't quite celebrate it enough in my head. It was such a wondrous time; it is still such a wondrous place to be.
 The local churches put together an amazing programme of events throughout Holy Week. We watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at a family movie night on Monday, and I cried in all the places I always cry (Aslan on the table, and Aslan roaring at the end). On Tuesday night there was a family walk through Christ's journey to the Cross. This was brilliant. The local curate guided us through a series of multi-sensory activities and the depth of worship was incredible- and that was just the children. Prince Charming, with "Joshua" the curate, re-enacting the crucifixion above.
 I properly finished Mum's Camellia. It's to be wide enough and long enough to cover all of her for sofa-snoozes, without being wide enough to tangle her all up. All that hair has now been cut off, I'm glad to say.
 We've been out and about in the sunny sun this week. Making fine use of our National Trust membership at the Argory and Castle Ward. Today we were with New Cousin Em, and very exciting that was too.
 The over-riding verse I had in the God-story that was the move to this house was Psalm 37:5 Depend on the Lord; trust in him, and he will take care of you. Even down to the magnolia tree in the front garden. That wasn't on my deepest wish list, but there it is all the same, along with everything else that was the desire of my heart- privacy, space, downstairs possibilities for Mum and Dad.
On the day when we heard that we had the house I floated around on the first real experience I had of knowing without a doubt that God loved me. He loved me. It's good to remember that every now and again. It's one of those lessons that I learn and then forget. He takes care of me. And you xx

Time stands still

 Hello! Sending you all lots of love from Northern Ireland, where nothing much changes just as everything changes, as usual. Time has stood ...