Thursday, February 26, 2009

What's a bomb-scare?

There was a bomb-scare in Belfast today. It's been a long time, but in other respects it seems like only yesterday.

My experience of bombs was real from a very young age; I heard them, felt them, saw them and learned not to be too disconcerted by them. Blase? You had to be there.
Bomb-scares were a part of everyday life. We put up with the disruption, diversions, inconvenience and added time to our journeys that today has caused total chaos in a city that can no longer cope. How quickly things change.

On the other hand, my children's experience of bombs is what they've learnt about World War Two in history at school. So the first question when the news broke this afternoon was 'what's a bomb-scare?'

I explained there was a bomb in town. I could see immediately daughter was worried and explained that it was too far away to hurt us. Anyway, the army were sorting it out. Sudden excitement in son's eyes ... the army ... are in Belfast??! Wow! He stopped short of asking if we could go and see them.

Changed days indeed.

I told them we were very safe, but went on to tell them that once our house had been blown up in a bomb. The reaction: don't be so silly mum - you're not old enough to be alive when the Second World War was on!

I stopped him from going outside to build an Anderson Shelter and her from going upstairs to pack her evacuee suitcase and sent them off to play while I finished dinner.

Five minutes later a flight that had taken off from Belfast City airport flew overhead, and daughter reappeared at the kitchen door. That plane won't drop any more bombs on us, will it mum?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bloggers meet: just down the road

Sometimes those closest to you seem farthest away. Often, that's because that's the way you like it!

There is nothing else for it; I have arranged a bloggers meet with Pluto. Next Tuesday, his place. He's providing the coffee, I'll provide the buns and photos. Watch this space.

And talking of feet ...

My son has just returned from his school residential trip. This was only his second time away from home alone. The first time was a church weekend when he went and returned wearing exactly, and I mean exactly, the same clothes.

18 months and a fair amount of intensive training in personal hygiene later, I didn't really hold out much hope of a more successful event - boys will be boys after all.

So imagine the joy of seeing him arriving home wearing different shirt and jeans than those he had left in, two days earlier.

Imagine the pride swelling in my chest when he handed me a plastic bag full of laundry, sorted just like I'd explained to him to do, from his trip to wash.

And imagine the smell when he removed his trainers to reveal he'd worn the same socks for three days running.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another foot note

As nothing else of interest (point taken, I know my foot is also not interesting) has been happening round here I am resigned to blogging that my foot is now a delicious shade of yellow.

On a brighter, OK maybe not brighter as my foot really is quite yellow, but happier note, I am pleased to report the football, which has been taunting me from my study window all week, is finally down from the tree.

Finally, this time three weeks I hope to be attending Houston First Baptist. Now there's something to put a smile on the foot of even a yellow-footed woman.

Yes, I see it now, and of course it should say face ...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm not blogging because

my foot's too sore to type.

And I'm reading a very exciting book: Blind Spot by Terri Persons

Monday, February 16, 2009

The next time a football gets stuck in the bloody tree

it stays right there.

That's because today I tried to do the decent thing and retrieve a football that had become well and truly lodged in a cherry tree in the front garden. Lodged so well I was using a hockey stick to whack (technically term) it out.

However, as it was too high in the tree for just a plain old whack, I used the old jump and whack technique.

Next moment I was lying on the ground, with a sharp pain in my right (good) (as in currently non-arthritic) ankle. And a moment after that, I also realised that the undignified noise that sounded like a pig squealing somewhere down the street was actually coming from me.

Simultaneously I'm hoping the neighbours don't all arrive home at that particular moment to see me writhing and squealing on the front lawn lest I be put back on the medication.

This all takes milliseconds - I know this because as I continue to writhe and squeal, the hockey stick loosens itself from the branches where it had become momentarily lodged and hits the ground with a thump not three inches from my head. Thank the Lord.

And so, this evening I found myself in casualty explaining to the nice doctor that I hurt my ankle retrieving a football from a tree and feeling utterly ashamed that I hadn't insisted that someone shaved my right leg and painted my toenails before it was touched, twisted, prodded and x-rayed.

PS the verdict came back 'not broken'. With one week of work to go and a trip to Houston in the offing, thank the Lord for that too!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wake up, wake up!

The phone rang at 8.20am this morning. Saturday morning. Awake, but still dozing I'm thinking 'who the flip's calling this early?'

I hear mother's voice on the other end of the line 'quick, quick! Esther's on the radio!!' and I'm thinking 'who?' 'Esther from your blog is on the radio!!'

Now I'm awake.

And sure enough, I tune into the local BBC radio station, Radio Ulster, and there is Esther giving an interview about her My Secret Northern Ireland blog.

Can you believe that ... or did I dream it?

**UPDATE** Follow this link to hear Esther's interview on BBC iPlayer. Her bit starts at about 20:46 minutes in. But don't forget who brought this site to your attention first ;-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

RBS 6 Nations

With one round down I am going to (arrogantly) call it and say it will all come down to the last game where the winners will be decided by the outcome of the Wales v Ireland match.

But what a brilliant start to the tournament last weekend; Ireland's victory over the French, arguably with a little help from the referee, was particularly sweet after their last meet on Irish turf when I watched from 'the hill' and thought we had it in the bag ... until the French scored in the very last minute of the game.

Unfortunately, a potentially sweeter moment of the rugby weekend was lost because the English Saxons stayed in their changing room and refused to play Ireland A, resulting in the match being cancelled just seconds before kick-off. The Saxons cited a frozen pitch as the reason, with Danny Cipriani (the current English rugby 'pretty boy') apparently being the main protagonist. However, the pitch had twice been passed as fit earlier in the day ... let the argument on that one begin.

And speaking of arguments, when Scottish player Simon Webster knocked himself unconscious in the game against the Welsh, surely he should have been immediately substituted, instead of being allowed to play on until he started vomiting on the pitch and the referee insisted he was taken off.

Of course, he wasn't the only one - I think there were a total of three KOs in that game. It's true what they say: football's for girls :-p

Then there was poor Mauro Bergamasco, (the right Bergamasco!) who was led like a lamb to the English slaughterhouse. Briefly, for those who are vaguely interested, for some unknown reason Italy didn't have a fit scrumhalf and Mauro was required to play in that position, rather than his normal place on the field, in what is actually a very pivotal role. Basically it was an unmitigated disaster. And yet of all the English, who should have had a cricket score on the Italians, didn't capitalise.


So, round two and we have the Italians this weekend, and with three Stade Francais players in their squad, there's always going to be something interesting to watch.

Onwards and upwards to Irish domination - in BO'D we trust!
(Brian O'Driscoll)

Bore, bored, boring

Nothing that might even be construed as vaguely interesting happening here. How bad is that?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

if you can't beat them ....

Whoop whoop!

I have just won a competition on the radio :-)

Have a go yourself:
  1. Who was forever in blue jeans on a September morning?
  2. The humming bird is the only bird that can fly backwards, true or false
  3. What year did Wet Wet Wet have a hit with 'Love is all Around', Nelson Mandela become President of South Africa and Schindler's List win 7 oscars?
  4. What do Charles Darwin, Laurence Olivier, Charles Dickens and Sybil Thorndike all have in common?
  5. What is at 1600 Pennslyvania Avenue?

5 out of 5 to beat, and no cheating please!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Infamously famous

The postcard project that we started a couple of weeks ago has started to take off. Although we had sent many postcards (well, it felt like that as the children were writing them!) we have only just started to receive postal offerings.

An interesting experience so far; we have received a photograph someone took themselves of what looks like their local bank and a postcard from Toledo, Ohio, with a picture of a rusty buoy on the front.

However, this particular card did cause great excitement as we know someone from Toledo!! Yes indeed - as the kids were very quick to point out, Toledo is the hometown of Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger (the one who dressed as a woman in M*A*S*H)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Fun Monday

AOJ at The Lurchers set the task of telling about the book you are reading.

I am just finishing off our current Book Circle read, the Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie novel which won the Orange Broadband prize for fiction in 2007, 'Half of a Yellow Sun' The novel is based on the Nigeria-Biafra War which happened in Nigeria from 1967-70. In fact, the title is taken from the emblem of the breakaway state in eastern Nigeria that survived for only three years, and whose name became a global byword for war by starvation.

It follows the lives of five very different characters in the years leading up to the war and during the violent political turmoil itself. Ugwu is a poor villager‚ employed as a houseboy for the university lecturer and revolutionary freedom fighter, Odenigbo. Olanna, the London-educated daughter of a "nouveau riche" businessman and Odenigbo's partner, is a young beautiful middle−class woman. Richard is an English writer who, having been in Nigeria at the start of the conflict, considers himself Biafran and who falls in love with Olanna's remote and enigmatic twin, Kainene.

Aspects are quite gritty and brutal and some might find it difficult to read, but it explores a range of issues including culture, fear, conflict and moral responsibility. I recommend it.

And part two of the task; if I were stranded on a desert island, which book would I take? Crumbs, I imagine it would have to be Ray Mears book 'Outdoor Survival Handbook: A Guide To The Resources And Materials Available In The Wild And How To Use Them For Food, Shelter,Warmth And Navigation'