Back in Co Derry Again

London was 32C as I trundled my bag up the road to the railway station and on to the airport. I’d packed a cardigan and a waterproof at the top of my bag for easy access. The forecast for Belfast was for 16C. It wasn’t supposed to look like this:


But it was cooler. Much cooler. For the first time in weeks I slept under a full weight quilt. Most nights recently I haven’t had so much as a sheet over me at night. It felt good.
It must have rained a little in the night as when I woke the flagstones were wet. More rain was forecast and the skies had a grey look about them. So when Westie Boy and I embarked on our morning constitutional I wore my waterproof. I was glad enough of it to start as there was a nip to the air, and for a few hundred yards I thought it would have been nice to have gloves too. But the rain held off, and the sun made fitful appearances through the cloud. Continue reading


Boat Perfect

A week ago I was at the airport, learning that my flight had been delayed and starting the slow return to London after a break in the country where I had been surrounded by fields with cows and fat lambs; wild flowers in the hedgerow; skies that changed from grey to blue and back again; farm buildings and farm machinery a part of the landscape; and greens of all the shades they say make up Ireland.

But hold on a minute, for I am again surrounded by fields, by sheep and cows and hens; there are farm buildings and farm machinery; this morning’s pale skies have become a radiant blue; the hedgerows buzz with bees enjoying the wild flowers; the countryside is swathed in her summer greens. The internet connection is just as erratic as at Cousin’s.

Springhill House, Moneymore, Co Derry

One day we went to Springhill. Described in the guide book as ‘surely the prettiest house in Ulster’ it’s a mile away from Moneymore, and some of our relatives used to work there living in a house in the grounds. We reckon it might have been the lodge, just near the gates.

 Lodge House

Lodge House

None of those relatives are still alive to refute the stories told about them in our branch of the family, and of course they may have their root in vulgar jealousy, but they sound as though they shared some genes with Hyacinth Bucket. Although they were employees, they believed themselves better than Springhill House’s owmers, the Conynghams, who danated the house to the National Trust in 1957. There were peacocks back in the day, and my relatives felt personally slighted if they spent time on the lawns of the big house rather than with them.
For some reason I didn’t take a picture of the front of the house. I can’t explain this lapse and I apologise for it. But I have borrowed this one from Wiki.
Springhill House

Springhill House

Continue reading

Upperlands Revisited

We were back in Upperlands again on Tuesday, enjoying the new café. My two cousins identified familiar faces from the photographs on the walls. It seems a really hopeful venture. Most of the people working there are volunteers. They are all ages and both sexes. The idea is to create a community asset and then, in time, open a museum about the history of Upperlands and Clark’s linen factory.

Last year I wrote, wrongly, that Clark’s had been taken over by a Welsh firm. I understand now that Clark’s works in association with that firm. Continue reading

Walking With Westie Boy

I am having some problems resizing pix on the iPad. While they are definitely smaller, the focus is clearly impaired so maybe I shall need to do some editing when i get home.
I do like a sheep with attitude, and this one seemed keen to see what we were up to.

Westie Boy and I enjoyed a walk down the road and up the hill yesterday afternoon. A few years ago I would walk Cousin’s dogs in a big circle, but there’s a section along the main road and the traffic is fast. Only a short stretch has a pavement, and the last time I walked along it I felt lucky to survive the experience. Continue reading