Monday, 29 April 2013

In Spring a Churchwoman's fancy lightly turns.....

In April we had the second St Peter's Church Woolton Ladies Spring Dinner. Two most excellent women organised this last year and this, with one simple brief; Hostesses decorate a table for eight, with four 'allocated' guests and the rest up to you, while the guests had the responsibility to have a lot of fun (oh oh oh... give me your best Shania Twain here, girls!)

And we did. Every table had a different theme, everybody wore their best dresses and everybody was happy.... some more than others! (Hem. Me actually. Giggly silly and loving it)

So long as there is space, I'll hostess again next year. Loved it. Our book themed table was very elegant and very popular, but let me leave you with lots of pictures of tables....

and tables...

and tables of inspiration.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Do I have to have a reason to post? Yes? You mean you don't just want stream of consciousness what I'm thinking now stuff you want coherent sentences? Oops. Today may not be the day. This is a bit of a catch up post, not very picture heavy, more a list of things that I am happy about.

I found my video camera. Yes, I have the sort of house where a video camera can go missing and, even more vitally, so can the docking station/charger/join to the puter to upload bit. But today I found it and NOW I can do proper looking and sounding videos for my Youtube channel, MrAngelJem.
I have a list of schools to go and look at and apply to. I get very conflicted about whether I do/don't want full time work, but I worked 4 days this week and I am awake today, so perhaps the time has come to make some money and be a full time teacher.

I have lamb to roast for tonight. Lamb is my favourite roast dinner, but very expensive so very rare. My Mum and Dad are coming for tea so I'm thinking mediterranean leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary, perhaps a little Nigel or Nigellan.

Slow roast leg of lamb with herb rub

And that's about it. A small catch up post. My Filofax weeks are on Happy Angel, over here and I post as myself, Jo Kneale on Facebook. If you're on Facebook and fancy being a friend, get in touch. The more the merrier!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Some Families go to the beach on holiday.....

We were at a farm owned by my Uncle (L***; he will kill me if I mention him online, on Facebook or show a photo of him. Sorry x) and run as a Bed and Breakfast by my Aunt Kate. You can find it here; the name is Kate's Kottage. I wish I'd taken pictures of the inside of the house. It's a very lovely welcoming Irish home, with a warm wood burner, a teapot on the range and one of those big 'we live here because it really is the heart of the home' kitchen with a fantastic view out over Bessy Bell. When I finally become a best selling author and get writer's block on my second novel I am coming here to sit at this table and write. No kidding. You could just watch it all day.

Uncle L*** has many fingers in several different pure Irish beef pies. Seriously, the man never sits still, between gardening with Leonard Cheshire as a volunteer, lambing, driving his truck over the fields and other things he does, but one of his main roles is that he runs a shooting school in and around Tyrone. It's called Hunter West Shooting School and the website is here. It offers air rifles, clay pigeon shooting, archery and other outdoor pursuits.

We spent a pleasant afternoon on the farm shooting. I like shooting and (I think) I'm not bad at it. Certainly I get quite competitive about it. Especially when I'm up against a brother. Sibling rivalry is alive and finding its release in blasting innocent clay discs out of the sky  ;o)

Between the archery, the sharp shooting and the clay pigeon shooting, it was a really good afternoon's lesson in concentration (safety rules, ok?), breathing (breathe out and squeeze the trigger)) and posture (brace yourself with your front leg; shotguns have a cracking kick back!) and I came back thinking as I always do after a session shooting; this could be my sport. Does that seem weird for a middle aged, mild-mannered mother to say?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

From Omagh to the New World in an afternoon.

Tyrone has at least one other Famous Son (apart from my father; left 50 years ago and still has the accent). One Thomas Mellon who was a judge and banker in mid 19th Century America, but came from Castletown near Omagh. His family home is part of , and possibly inspiration for, the Ulster American Folk Park in Tyrone. We were lucky enough to get a day out there in Easter week.

We've been before, and like a lot of living history sites it doesn't change much from visit to visit, but in this park's case that is part of the charm.

The park splits into two parts; the first part is like a brief history of Irish cottages; turf fires, limewashed walls, soda bread, dirt floors, thatched roofs and all. I love it precisely because it is so typically Irish.

The Mellon house has hens and ducks wandering around past old farm machinery and the dresser with its blue and white china that is so typical of the time. I couldn't help but think of this film as I wandered. (love how the trailer tells you the whole story, essentially)

As you travel to the mid-19th century, the cottages grow bigger until the famine hits. And the people move. Like Thomas Mellon and his family, thousands fled and sailed to America, desperate to start again.

The park takes you through an Irish street and onto a ship, shows you the crowded steerage conditions and explains why the ships were called coffin ships. Up to a sixth of all those who travelled died in the 1830's, a terrible state of affairs that was only improved when John Hughes, the Archbishop of New York who set the foundation stone for St Patrick's Catherdral, worked to improve the conditions and to coordinate the welcome of his fellow Irishmen to their 'American Dream.'

You can tell straight away that you are in America as a Red Indian towers over you in the general store. And the second half of the park takes you through the pioneer years of America, from log cabins to Pennsylvanian farmhouses in a series of house that showcase the frugality of the original American Dream.

 From trapping and bartering skins to patchwork to canning to rag rugs, the houses show that using every bit and saving every part were once desirable aptitudes in our world. *sigh* Fans of Little House (especially the books) will enjoy walking around and dreaming....

And because it was Easter Monday the park was well stocked with people bringing history to life. From the frontier's man to the blacksmith, from the mid-plains housewife to the musketeers firing their rifles with real cartridges made with real cartridge paper (see where the name comes from?)

But my favourites were the tinkers; a little camp with a goat and a tent, next to the caravan and with a little magic. I must find the poem about the caravan......

The video will be available on YouTube at my channel; search for Mr AngelJem!!!! Blogger won't upload it here!

My Filofax Week; week 3

Filofax week 3

Week three; Easter break with my three and not that much to do. We had days out planned and visits to my Mum who is due to have her gall bladder removed this Friday. You can see my muji stamp came; the ink colour is called toffee and is beautifully pale but visible against the black ink. Colour coordination system set up, too, with different highlights for different areas of my life. I use the pens to mark off what I’ve done.
The post-it is, sadly, a bright fluorescent square from Staples, but my cute ones came from Amazon so next week I’m hoping even they will have a smiley effect on me. You can see a slight glare on the right page from my dashboard, where the post-it is stuck and a sticker sits, an instant win from McDonalds Monopoly game for 50 free prints from Snapfish. I will be using that one for sure!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Last week was strange....

I spent the whole week in Ireland and it never rained. Not even once. How unusual this is only one who knows why the place earns its name 'the Emerald Isle' will appreciate. I have always got wet there. Always. 

And yet, last week it was dry. Freezing. Johnny English freezing, the kids say (in Johnny English Reborn his wheelchair has 3 settings; Fast, V fast and F fast; out of politeness F anything has become Johnny English something)absolutely Johnny English freezing.

I visit family over there. My father came from the town land of Collow near the town of Drumquin near the county town of Omagh in the county of Tyrone. Such details matter, in a country where everyone knows everyone else and can trace back a friendship or a feud for a thousand years. I once blasted an Irish supply teacher's mind by isolating her down to her mother's house opposite a golf course...

And the place is lovely. The Sperrin mountains roll along above the drumlin fields of sea-wave curvosity. There is not a clear sightline in the county, except when one finally reaches the summit of such beauties as Pigeontop

(292m above sea level) or BessyBell at 420m. Only then does one see the full quilt displayed, fields of sheep or cows, for this is rich milk country, or at this time of the year the dark red ripped furrows for the crops of Ireland; potatoes, wheat, corn.

And the sheep never sleep, for at Easter the lambs are born, their mothers bleating frantically at what must be a painful manoeuvre, sans tens machine, sans gas and air, to rest briefly when the wet white bundle slips softly to the ground until the lamb, hungry and bonding desperately for milk bleats its plaintive cry, a good octave higher.

And the visitors come. You've come home, they say, regardless of the fact that I was born in England, lived here all my life, have never had a homebase in Ireland. But the link to the land, like the feuds, goes back for generations.

I will probably never live in Tyrone. Never buy a small white cottage and paint the door red. I recognise that the Ireland I hanker for is a will o the wisp, an invention of my own, where every glen has a fairy and every short man a leprechaun. Where the milk is always creamy, the hens are always laying and the sun always shines. 

It's a tale, a yarn spun around the peat fires that burn on cold days. My place is here, with decent wifi connection and a coffee shop on every corner. But I appreciate the old country, and I am grateful that occasionally I can visit my Irish 'home' and belong.

And you, my poor readers, can read all about it as I catalogue the places that we visited; it was a good week, but a quiet one. I went to places I had never thought big enough to sightsee. Small pleasures are the sweetest, after all.