Wednesday 29 June 2016

Reasons to be cheerful ...

My goodness these last few days in the UK have been a volatile, roller-coaster ride. I can't quite believe what's happened, and, whilst I don't blog about politics, I have to say it's all a bit unsettling. The old certainties seem to have gone, and we're facing a whole new ball game for which they've still got to write the rules.

So I've been casting around for a few every-day gems that rock my world, and make me smile regardless of the maelstrom outside caused by the Neverendum. If I focus on the small and the familiar I'm sure everything else will be okay.

Friday 24 June 2016

Marmalade flapjacks

My lovely builders are still working ... and I'm just about managing to keep my nose above the waterline. Our house feels like a very disorganised camping site with fairly primitive cooking arrangements in place when my chaps are working.  One of my challenges during the day is managing to get by without all of the electrical circuits operating. At the moment I'm feeling lucky as I've got electricity feeding the circuit that my ovens are connected to, but nothing else in the kitchen works: no food processors, no mixers, nothing ...

So I've resorted to making  golden marmalade flapjacks. They're Emi's favourites, and they're really easy to make, even if you don't have a food mixer.

Just read on for the recipe.

Sunday 19 June 2016

Slinky 2: Bonny 0

Having been totally defeated by Slinky Paws in round 1 I was beginning to feel that I’d got the peanut situation back under control. There hadn't been a raid in at least a fortnight, which is pretty impressive around here.  I'd finally got the feeder safely anchored to the tree with lots and lots of wire. Parakeets had come and gone. Slinky Paws and his mates had swept through, and everything seemed to be going just fine. 

They're mine! All mine!

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Fledgelings fleeing the nest ...

My goodness it's been a strange few days over here at Talk-a-Lot Towers. It feels like Emi, age 10, has grown up and moved out. He and Mr B were off for a fathers and sons' camping trip with the rest of the gang from school last weekend, and then, yesterday, he headed off on his school trip to York - not returning until Thursday night. He's an independent little soul, and I have no doubt that he's having a whale of a time, but the rhythm of life here at home has changed. A lot.

Home is upside down and such a mess that I'd prefer to be living elsewhere. We've had the builders in, and, as is always the case with building work, it's taking much longer than expected due to all manner of unforeseen hiccups and complications. So we're stuck with jumbled up, everything everywhere, and nothing-in-its-place living arrangements for at least another week <sob>.

Out in the garden - to which I escape at every opportunity - there are lots of sweet fledgelings, who, like Emi, are spreading their wings and exploring the world beyond their nests. Look at this adorable little robin who's still lacking his lovely red bib.  And I'm so happy that he's after the monster slugs who live in my garden and eat my lupins. Have you noticed how slugs love lupins?

Thursday 9 June 2016

Costa Brava Video

Hot off the press!

Check out Costa Brava Knitting's latest holiday video:

All the best and hope to see you there,

Bonny x

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Just keep breathing

We've got the builders in today, and everything's upside down. I hate it when everything's upside down. 😳
I'm up early (very early) being ineffective. 

Note to self: Just keep breathing, and drink lots of tea! 

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Wheelie Bin Stencils

Over here in leafy Ealing we're in the throes of a revolution. Big changes are afoot ... and not everyone is totally chuffed about what's in the pipeline.

The local council has abandoned the weekly black bin-bag collections, and, having given us all not one - but two - HUGE wheelie bins, is now planning on collecting our rubbish on a fortnightly basis. We'll have recyclables carried off one week and non-recyclables the next.

On the school run this morning we came upon this graveyard for our old recycling bins.

Ealing Council's new wheelie bin project swings into motion

Sunday 5 June 2016

Half-term hols in the green heart of Ulster ...

We've spent the half term holidays back in the green heart of Ulster where I grew up, and they were a bit of a treat. The sun shone, the hawthorn bloomed, the beech trees burst out the fresh green of their new foliage and, beneath perfect blue skies, it felt like warm, glorious summer. When the sun shines over here in God’s Own Country, there’s nowhere else quite like it on earth.

We’ve gone for long walks around our favourite lakes. South Tyrone and neighbouring Monaghan are full of charming little lakes, fed with run-off from the surrounding hills. We’ve added a new one to the collection this trip. A cousin of my father’s suggested we try Emy Lough, just outside of Emyvale in County Monaghan. And it didn’t disappoint.

It was a hot day, the day we went, and the trout were jumping, casting rings of ripples through the shallows. Anglers were waist-deep in the water, throwing their rods back and forth to cast flies to tempt them. Try as I might, however, I couldn’t manage to catch any of those jumping fish with my camera. Although Emi did catch this little chap wandering along the path all on his lonesome. The WonderDog was very keen to play with him, but we sent him on his way safely through the long grass by the lakeshore, and out of reach of the inquisitive snouts of the local pooches.

Saturday 4 June 2016

The Ulster American Folk Park ...

It's hard to think of a time when this folk park, devoted as it is to the theme of emigration, has been more relevant to the world we live in. As a child growing up in South Tyrone I visited it from time to time, and found it interesting for the story it told about generations of my countrymen who'd emigrated to seek better lives in the United States. It had a resonance with my own family: each of my four grandparents had at least one sibling who emigrated for economic reasons during the interwar years. Emigration and the parting with a loved one has been a constant feature of rural life in Ireland for much of modern history.

Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone
The Hughes family home

Over the generations they fled famine, persecution, war and civil unrest. In an age in which mechanisation had rendered much manual labour redundant many who couldn’t earn their living in the shipyards and the rope-works set their sights on the west and went in search of a better life.  Yet today these background themes that drove them away from home seem desperately contemporary.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Parkanaur Forest Park Parasol Beech Trees

The other day I dragged my mum, Emi and the WonderDog off in search of a couple of freaky beech trees. I had a vague recollection of having stumbled across them on my travels a lifetime ago in Parkanaur Forest Park, here in beautiful County Tyrone. I'd bored my family with stories about how these trees grew the wrong way up, and were a definite rarity in the world of all things botanical.

I'll admit that I got some of the story twisted. They've got roots at the end of their branches, I'd said. And they grow upside down, and back to front. 

So, okay, I'll level with you: they don't exactly grow back to front or upside down, but they are genuine 24-carat freaks of nature.

Parkanaur Forest Park Parasol Beech Trees
Parkanaur Forest Park Parasol Beech Trees