Lost Childhoods

On the tarmac

On the tarmac

Maybe this was my ‘plane. Maybe not.

My head is still partly in NI. Talking to Aunt this evening, telling her who I had seen, what I had done, I mentioned that I have obtained a copy of my mother’s birth certificate, and was surprised to see that it was my grandmother who had registered the birth, almost a month after that auspicious event, and just two days before Christmas.

I have said before that Mother and her siblings had a hard childhood. Aunt had a particularly tough time. Both she and Mother were taken to live with a couple who treated them very badly.

Mother ran away.


The first time she took Aunt, and they each carried their meagre possessions. As Aunt said tonight, that made their progress through hedges and across fields difficult.

They didn’t get very far before they were caught and taken back. Mother was beaten to within an inch of her life with a stick cut from the hedge. Her vest stuck to her back with blood. Aunt could do nothing but howl. Then Mother was sent to bed in a loft, told the police would come for her in the morning because of her wickedness, and Aunt was forbidden to speak to her.

The sisters were seven and four at the time.
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My holidays in Northern Ireland generally include one or more pilgrimages to places of shared family interest. As a child, I spent many holidays in Upperlands with Cousin, her parents and her siblings. So off we went to meet Cousin’s big sister for a light lunch and a walk round the dams that powered the machinery at the linen factory which used to be the main local employer.

Water power

Water power

So we walk and we talk. We recall people and events from decades ago. Cousin tells how in a moment of rage with her now husband, she threw her engagement ring onto the path by one of the dams, then had to scrabble about to find it, rather ruining her grand gesture.

It’s a great place for swans. There’s an island where they nest, safe and unmolested. Each pair had at least five cygnets. It occurred to me that this would be a perfect bird sanctuary. I said this aloud, and was distressed to learn that the land has been bought by developers and so could one day be a gated community. And I don’t mean a prison. Continue reading

Airborne Reflections

The ‘plane home is full to capacity. Behind me as we complete boarding, and passengers wedge their hefty hand luggage into the overhead lockers, a father is explaining to his small daughter the card she has found titled ‘Safety On Board’ in the seat pocket .

The cabin crew are walking up and down, checking our seatbelts are fastened, and the captain has explained that the reason for our twenty minute delay is due to hold ups on the return trip to Barcelona the plane has made earlier in the day.

I wonder idly if the next duo of flights will also involve a destination beginning with the letter B. Brussels. Perhaps. Or Bordeaux, Birmingham or Bilbao.

Or maybe they will move along the alphabet; graduate to Cairo, Cadiz or Cologne.


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Duvet Days and Cultural Craic

It's weather that tells you to curl up on a sofa with the papers or a book. Yesterday I *babysat* the puppy while everyone else attended a funeral. There were three funerals locally. Some wanted to show their faces and pay their respects at all of them.

Cousin lit a fire before she left. Yes it was that cold. Pip thought it was a great idea.

The two adult dogs, no doubt correctly reading the attitudes of the humans around them, also decided it was a day for little activity. A duvet day, Cousin called it.

The puppy, aka the Thuglet, was not on the same page. As Pip and Westie Boy snuggled into warm beds, she had just one idea on her mind; to make them play. She really didn't want to take no for an answer. Even when that no was uttered in increasingly impatient and irritated growls.

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Close Up Combination Post

I can't say where the time has gone, but since arriving last Tuesday I have not had time to post. So this'll be a bit of a catch up while I try to recall what I have been doing. The weekly photo challenge is Close Up, so these photos are my contribution.

Today we had a bit of walk around Upperlands, a walk down memory lane both verbally and physically. At one point two swan families blocked our path, and we had to retreat in the face of the fluffed out wings and lowered heads of the males.

Politics of Fear

While listening to the radio last week I learned that I am a member of the paranoid liberal bourgeoisie. Well there you go. News to me. Maybe I should be wearing a PLB badge to alert others to my sensitivities.

Apparently I am so designated because I do not think the UK parliament should be ditching the Human Rights Act in favour of a British Bill of Rights. I prefer to live in a country that respects humna rights of all people, and makes it as easy as possible for anyone whose human rights are infringed to be heard here at home rather than having to head for Strasbourg, with all the expense that entails.

And repealing one act, and replacing it with an another will not be cheap either. I thought the government wanted to save money, not profligately spend it because David Cameron doesn’t agree that prisoners should have the right to vote. Apparently the thought makes him feel physically sick. There are any number of things Dave and his chums get up to that make me fell physically sick, but I don’t expect the Exchequer to fork out to stop them. If only it would.

So for those of you confused about the HRA, this might help. It does not, as misreported in a certain paper mean that a man who held police at bay could demand KFC and the police had to supply it or his rights would have been breached. When the day dawns, as I hope it will, when animals have to be raised in humane environments, KFC will probably cease to exist. While I am on the animal bit, how many of you have signed the petition to stop the puppy farm breeding Beagles for experimentation that Dave has approved? Come on now. It’s not that hard. Or opposed the relaxation on hunting with hounds (also Beagles) meaning foxes will now be legally chased to exhaustion and torn apart in the name of sport. For all we hear that hunting is about controlling foxes, if you grew up in the country as I did, you learn that foxes are often nurtured just so that the local hunt can have the pleasure of killing them.
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On Land or Water

This is the post I wanted to put up last night when the media part of WordPress was throwing me blanks when I tried to upload photographs. It’s not quite right today either, but I think I have succeeded this time.

Some of you may recall that when Cat died, and I tried to register with various charities agaisnst the day when I should be ready to welcome a new feline into my home, a prominent cat rescue organisation turned me down when I explained that my cat came with me to das Boot.

I was told there was no way any of their cats could be rehomed with me; that such behaviour on my part rendered me completely unsuitable to be in charge of a cat. It was just two weeks after Cat’s sudden death. I felt like a murderess, a cat abuser, someone who committed acts of unspeakable cruelty against her pet.

I knew Cat had been happy afloat. The vet was very proud to having a boating cat on her books and told people about him.



Still, the words stung, and sowed a seed of doubt. Was I being unfair? How could a cat enjoy being confined to a smallish boat when he was used to enjoying the freedoms of a largish garden? Though another charity was ready to confine any adoption by me to that of an indoor cat as I live on the second floor, and there is no catflap.

I may be kidding myself, but I think MasterB, like Cat before him, is fine on das Boot. He wouldn’t like to live aboard always, but then neither should I. However, there are compensations. Just like Cat, he enjoys watching the fish, fowl and fauna from the boat’s windows, and sometimes from the gunwale.

On Thursday evening, I sat in the dark so he could enjoy the view.

Looking into the night

Looking into the night

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Bring Out Another Thousand

I am wondering if Blogsy can work its magic and upload a post when again I have a doubtful connection. Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post. I replied to a few before the connection was lost. It’s a bit breezy this evening, so that may explain the intermittent signal.

But what a glorious evening. The morning was dull at first, then the sun broke through. I was out on the road, collecting my repaired boat cover, and parting with more cash than you would think necessary. Not for nothing do they say that boat stands for Bring Out Another Thousand.

By the time I got back, after a lunch with another boater who had accompanied me, at her house, the sun was doing its stuff and the day was hot. MasterB had found a cool spot on the floor and was stretched out full length. I did a bit more power washing but stopped when I realised a) MasterB was cowering in the bathroom, and b) the window seals on the port side of the rear cabin do not seal. There was an alarming flood right by the electrics. A bit of action with an old toothbrush around the window frames made me feel better, and MasterB resumed his stretched out position.

The trouble with boat cleaning is that you find all the bits that need attention. My list gets longer every visit. Not that that is spoiling my enjoyment. The moorhen and her chicks have quit the marina. Instead there is a pair of swans with their lone cygnet. The parents are proud and protective. Never have I seen a cygnet so closely chaperoned. It quite makes me fear for it when the time comes to leave home. In St James’ Park in London, the cygnets, ejected by their erstwhile adoring parents, hang around in an adolescent gang for the next year or so. There’s safety in numbers, and I imagine many lessons about getting on with their peers. What is this lone cygnet going to do? With whom will it learn from its mistakes? Continue reading