Friday, December 31, 2010

New knickers

Contrary to 'popular' belief, there was no water at 08:00 this morning.

I waited until 09:30 and then phoned NI Water. Now, you have got to feel sorry for the poor sods who are answering the phones, because they are not responsible for fixing the pipes, nor are they responsible for them bursting, but someone has seen fit to put them in the front line, answering angry phone calls from smelly customers, but have not seen fit to furnish them with any information except the (now widely acknowledged) totally inaccurate information on their website.

Anyway, being nice with the poor girl who drew my number managed to get me the information that although 'they' had been working all night repairing the pipes in our area, very early this morning there had been further bursts. And a further truth, that in fact nobody had any idea when we would have any water, even on rotation, and if I had somewhere to de-camp to, I should really de-camp.

A whiff of my son's armpits and my daughters revelation that she had run out of knickers were the deciding factors, and de-camp we did with our wash gear and a load of dirty laundry.

I'm sure my brother was delighted to see us arrive. I'm sure my niece was even more delighted as she had to vacate her bed and her room to allow us to use her shower. Thankyou!

And so we were able to shower, wash our collective hairs, use and even flush toilets, clean teeth, drink tea and wash clothes. Result! While there we also had opportunity to fill all out neighbours water holding receptacles, which we sold back to them for a small fee on our return.

In conclusion, I'd advise the general public to abandon the NI Water website and instead resort to Twitter, Facebook and even this site for up-to-date, accurate information on water supplies. I'd also advocate the purchase of emergency knickers.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Nope. Maybe tomorrow.

I should have been in bed

But I am unreliably informed by NI Water that our water (which has been off for just over two days now, 24 hours continuously) should be back on at 23:00 and I'm waiting to refill the stock saved in the bath. And then have shower. And definitely wash my hands. And put the dishwasher on. And maybe a clothes wash.

I say unreliably because their website informs me that actually I had water up until 16:00 today, which is not right, and their emergency phone line tells me that I might not actually have water until 08:00 tomorrow. Shambolic? Ineffective? I'd say!

Mind you, here's something to put it all in perspective.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The funny side of life

'Hello, NI Water, water bout ye?'

In light of the current water crisis, some people are calling for the renaming of our failing NI Water service to NE Water or even NO Water. Some wonder if we call it NĂ­ Water can we blame the South?

So far there's been no statement from the Chief of NI Water, feeling is he's bottled it.

One of our local MPs cleaned his teeth in Harp last night and this morning melted the remains of his snowman to get water for a shave. He also tweeted to remind us that other liquids such as beer, cider, wine, vodka and petrol may contain water.

People have been phoning local radio stations and requesting anything by Wet Wet Wet, and checking WikiLeaks for information.

We'll be OK though. It'll be sorted by New Year's Eve because a number of our MLA's apparently can't drink their whiskey without water. In the meantime hope of an efficient water system is but a pipe dream!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Water water everywhere....

From the BBC:

'Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water, some since before Christmas. Northern Ireland Water said it was alternating supplies from reservoirs in a bid to give every area a limited supply, causing more interruptions. It has warned that the drought could last for several more days. Belfast City Council has opened three leisure centres to distribute drinking water, while free showers will be available on Wednesday.'

And so the panic buying began. Not a supermarket in Belfast has bottled water left for sale, except for the flavoured variety. You can go to a local leisure centre and get drinking water, but you are rationed to 20 litres and you have to have something to put it in. People are turning up with plastic bags. Drinking water is available from tankers at three council sites as well.

Tomorrow all leisure centres in Belfast are offering free showers.

Tell me, seriously, how does a country where it rains continuously run out of feckin water?

Friday, December 24, 2010


This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Now making only essential journeys

Two essential journeys today; one to collect the turkey at 08:00 this morning (our turkey is an early riser), the other to take Dolly to the doctor.

One was successful, the other resulted in me being rescued by three burly guardian angels when the mini-bin steadfastly refused to move either backwards or forwards on the icy road.

Funny how you would never normally hand the keys of your car over to a total stranger and let him drive it with your children inside, but in snow...

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Enough is enough

The novelty of the snow has worn off. A White Christmas has long since lost it's appeal. It's starting to be a major inconvenience now.

The pipes to my washing machine have frozen, again. So I took a load of washing to mums today to discover the pipes to her washing machine had also frozen. I have discovered a laundrette about a mile away from home. I'm keeping their number handy.

We are using heating oil at the same rate Jamie Oliver uses goose fat this Christmas. Because the kids have had three extra days off school due to snow, and the fact that the temperature outside has not risen above minus something very low, the heat has been on in the house continuously. With the result we have about a third of a tank left, but unfortunately no one can deliver more until next week. Next Thursday to be precise. We had to embark on a mission to secure emergency barrels of oil today; as we need oil to run the heating and the range for cooking, Christmas day without it would be a complete and utter disaster.

Our bins have not been emptied. The bin lorry couldn't make it up our hill, although funny enough an oil tanker making a delivery to a well-organised neighbour managed it. Uh huh. As bins are emptied fortnightly, ours already contains two weeks worth of rubbish. We now have to try and squeeze in two more weeks worth. Of Christmas rubbish. And as two weeks takes us to the New Year holiday I'd say there's another two weeks to squeeze in on top of that and all.

The snow has induced panic buying. Not just the usual pre-Christmas panic buying, but a whole new level 'is the world coming to an end?' panic buying. I went to Tesco on Monday to buy some milk and butter and nearly got trampled to death by the masses, so in this house the motto now is if we don't already have it, we're not having it.

And finally, I am going out for dinner tonight. Instead of getting dressed up and donning a dress and heels, I am actually dressing down and have the look of someone setting out on an Arctic expedition. I am also taking extra clothes with me in case our hill is impassable due to further freezing and I have to walk up it at the end of the night. Never before have I gone out for dinner and taken a suitcase!

So, I say again ... enough is enough. Bugger off snow and let us enjoy our holiday. Thankyou

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


We reached this positively balmy high at lunchtime today. It's to fall to -20oC tonight.

An observation; leather seats in the car look great but scald the arse off you in the summer and freeze your butt in the winter.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Post Script

We were due to fly back from Bristol on the 20:55 EasyJet tonight. It was showing delayed from just after 16:00 this afternoon.

The flight was rescheduled and rescheduled with the most recent ETD put at 23:55

Even though the Bristol airport website is still showing a scheduled departure time of 23:55, the EasyJet site has just declared the flight cancelled.

There's a lucky break, not camping out in the airport or alternatively trying to find a hotel room in Bristol at 23:14 with a very tired and still not quite well 10 year old.

And, the Brucie Bonus ... had a phone call tonight to say school is closed early for Christmas because of our weather conditions. Two extra days holiday!

Quids in all round, and so to bed.

What a weekend!

  • Idyllic winter scenes on the way to the airport
  • Nail biting 'will it/won't it' moments
  • Watched a superb game of rugby; well done the Ulstermen!
  • Celebrated with mulled wine
  • Great rugby craic
  • Bumped into old friends
  • Ate in some very nice restaurants
  • Tramped around the city on snowy pavements
  • Gorgeous Italian nougat at the Christmas Market
  • Caught in late night snow showers
  • Snowball fights
  • Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows
  • Dicey, slippy-slidy journeys
  • Never left the Province

Friday, December 17, 2010

The good news is...

...the team are in Bath. Yeah!

The rest of the news is that there is no news. Well OK, there's a little bit of news in that I have managed to find a man to share a taxi to Bath from Bristol with. If we get to Bristol.

Aldergrove is still closed, all flights today were cancelled. There is no news about tomorrow available yet, apart from a weather forecast of more snow overnight and freezing fog in the morning. It's difficult to put positive spin on that.

Moreover, SleasyJet have issued a directive that says there is due to be 10cm of snow at Bristol airport between midnight tonight and 6:00am tomorrow, and to check with the airport if you intend to travel through it tomorrow.

In other news, should the pitch at 'the Rec' be deemed unplayable, the match will be rescheduled to Llanelli on Sunday. Yeah! Thanks to a late (or possibly delayed or even cancelled) return flight on Sunday night, I can do this.

However, BBC are reporting the major concern is not the state of the pitch but the state of the spectator areas, and if they are deemed unsafe, the match will be played behind closed doors.

I love these pre-Christmas fixtures; never a dull moment, always an adventure.

Continue to watch this space...

News just in

Just had this message from Ulster Rugby: 'Ulster have travelled to Dublin in the hope of securing a flight which will allow them to play their Heineken Cup game against Bath tomorrow.'

In the hope of??

What, you mean the entire Ulster Squad plus management and staff and kit men and uncle Tom Cobbley and all 40 or so of them have turned up at Dublin Airport on the off chance they can cadge a lift to Bristol?

What happens if they don't secure a flight, will they come back up to Belfast in anticipation of the Belfast airports re-opening. They could be on our flight! In fact, we could be on our flight and the squad could be marooned in Dublin!

This one's gonna roll ...

More in hope than anticipation


Woke up to a white out, schools all closed, police warning only to travel if your journey is really necessary and all local airports shut.

I am sitting staring at my tickets for tomorrow's Heineken Cup game against Bath, in Bath, with a terrible dose of Brussels deja vu.....

Watch this space.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Will I or Won't I

Get to Bath this weekend?

Snow is falling......could this be another Brussels experience?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A wee while ago, I said I would join a few people to sing carols at the local Tesco. And promptly forgot about it.

That is until about an hour ago when I made a dash down to Tesco to get some cough mixture for the children. As I am wandering through the aisles looking for said medicine, I heard this lovely singing wafting up from the front door of the store.

Sometimes you can actually see the penny drop.

So I had a choice, I could brazen it out and walk past them, or I could hide out in the store until they stopped singing. Obviously, I chose the hiding out option.

There is only so long one can hang around Tesco clutching a bottle of cough medicine before people start giving you funny looks and become suspicious, so it got to the stage where I had to brazen it out.

I actually did try to hide amongst a crowd of fellas who were leaving the store at the same time as me, but that was unsuccessful, as I was of course spotted, so I waved the cough bottle generally in their direction and shuffled on out.

Sorry people. Next time...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dolly Day

Ten years ago today Bill and Hilary Clinton were in Belfast, having lunch at Stormont with our lovely politicians.

That fairly threw a spanner in the works for me that day. You see, Stormont was about a mile away from the Ulster Hospital, and that was the day Maurice Dunlop had decided my second baby should enter the world, 12 days early. Do the Maths, you'll see why that decision suited everyone!

So even though my surgery was not scheduled until the afternoon, I had to be at the hospital before the roads closed at 8:00am, which meant a morning hanging around in anticipation.

To relieve the 'boredom' I agreed to let some medical students have a bit of a prod around my belly and be assessed while examining me and answering lots of difficult questions. The only problem was, they told me all the answers before the started the assessment and I found myself giving non-verbal hints to the prospective obstetricians. Apologies to those of you who have had duff doctors.

Of course, going for surgery (elective caesarean, as it was less than two years since my last c-section) I was nil by mouth, so watching the other half scoff a McDonalds Big Mac meal at lunchtime did nothing for my patience.

At last the appointed time arrived and I was wheeled into theatre, and without too much ado, little Jill joined Bill and Hil on the Newtownards Road. Her big brother was one of her first visitors, and he was so excited by the event he vomited all over everyone and had to be taken home to get changed.

Jill was the quietest baby. She never cried. Literally, never. When she wanted fed (and God bless her, she could go seven hours overnight between feeds from day one!) she just lay and smacked her lips. This cheery disposition earned her the title 'Jolly Jill'. Only, her 22 month old brother had trouble with his 'j' sounds and so she soon was known as 'Dolly Dill'.

And so, it came to pass, that the name Dolly stuck, and to this day my daughter will answer to either name, much to the bemusement of old ladies in the shopping centre who think Dolly is a name of the past. And fans of Dolly Parton.

Happy birthday Dolly Dill, ten years old today.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Biggest comeback since Lazarus

No, not my kids who are still laid out sicky bad no well, but Ulster Rugby. 22-18. Stand Up for the Ulstermen!

Laid aside in a bed of sickness

Not me thankfully, but the two children. Both of them. Two very high temperatures and a bout of puking.

It started overnight when Dolly had to be collected from a sleepover in the wee small hours after becoming ill at her friends house. She was no better this morning and son woke up with a roaring temperature.

So today has been declared a jammie day and to be fair the only reason I'm blogging is because Ulster are currently playing Bath in the Heineken cup and in the absence of a 'red button' I am watching in the traditional way, online with 'Gusher' Neilly with a naked picture of Olly Barkley in front of me.

It appears we are playing all the rugby but are still getting hammered. How does that happen?

Half time. 13-15. I'm off to distribute lucozade to the troops. If I was at Ravers, I'd probably give them all a much needed slug too.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My pipes are still frozen

The rest of me is pretty cold too.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I wonder

With Christmas crackers having been listed today as fireworks, do we in Northern Ireland now require a licence to pull one?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


All the good work gritting the road last night so my neighbours could get their cars home and Tescos could deliver my shopping has been nullified by a very heavy overnight freeze which has frozen the slushy stuff and made the hill virtually impassable again this morning.

We have become very attached to the Paul Simon song 'Slip Sliding Away' in the minbin this week.

Point of possible interest. Conor Murphy (Minister for Regional Development) (ie in charge of gritting) was interviewed by a journo on TV last night and given hell over the state on the footpaths in the province. It was put to him that footpaths had not been gritted due to fear of claims arising from fall injuries.

Ahem. Dear neighbours, if any of you fall today, it was the man with the wheelbarrow and the big flashy BMW who was responsible for gritting the pavements.

Monday, December 06, 2010

And by the way

It has currently stopped snowing, but should it resume overnight we'll be OK because in the past two days we've had an oil delivery, a gas delivery, a Tesco delivery and with the pipes to the washing machine still frozen, there are at least three recorded new episodes of NCIS to watch uninterrupted.

Bring it on!

Grit your teeth

It snowed today. Fast and furious. So fast and so furious that within an hour of starting, the hill I live at the top of became impassable.

So, with cars abandoned left right and centre, it was time to do the neighbourly thing and spread the grit, stored in a bin at the bottom of the hill, to clear the road. Primarily so that my Tesco grocery delivery could be delivered, as starving was only going to serve to hasten certain death by freezing.

Off I trundle with a little bucket and spade, which I fill and start spreading on the road. There I am standing in the middle of the road risking life, limb and certain death from being run over while my neighbours are watching from the warmth and safety of their various homes. And waving at me.

One man did actually appear on the road, commended me on the job I was doing and walked on down the street, so I made sure not to grit the footpath outside his house. I know, you didn't think I had it in me to be that nasty. Well, you spend and hour and a half gritting the road in the heavy snow, carting buckets of salt up a steep, slippy hill and see how generous you feel.

And now, a bottle of mulled wine later and safe in the knowledge that my food order has been delivered by Tescos, I'm off to soak in a bath as my poor arms, which are dangling down round my knees, feel like they've been pulled out of their sockets.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Snowman

Off to see the Ulster Orchestra perform a concert of seasonal music, including 'The Snowman' for the Dolly's birthday party. That's me, nine girls and nine sets of sleighbells.

Yes, our row will be making more noise than the orchestra! Ho, Ho, Ho!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A tip for fraudsters

As this is the season of goodwill, I am going to pass on a little gem of advice to all those who are intent on taking full advantage of the Christmas Spirit.

When you go door to door asking for sponsorship for a sponsored walk in aid of a charity for the elderly, and you say you are doing it under the auspices of a local BB company, try hard not to choose the BB company that the child of the person you are trying to con belongs to.

Here endth the lesson.