gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Sleeping through the Performance

To say I’m devastated would be an understatement.  Last night, while I lay sleeping, the light show of the decade took place in the heavens above our own little coop. And I slept though it.

Those of you who follow my blog will know of my long standing desire to see the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. I even blogged about it in my post “Northern Lights” several years ago. They don’t often appear in their glory above our damp little island, but last night they put on the show of a lifetime.  Greens, purples, Reds, light columns, the full works. The first thing I knew about it was when I looked at everyone else’s Facebook posts and photos this morning. 

I’m so disappointed. But enjoying all the stunning photos nevertheless.  I feel like I didn’t get an invitation to a party that I wasn’t even aware was happening in my own home. Gutted.

In other news however Mr G and I got up close with a true star last week when the wonderful Adele started her 104 date world tour here in our city! We stood with all the young folks right at the very front and were rewarded with being so very close and witnessing her superb voice and wonderful soulful songs in person. 

So instead of the Northern Lights tonight ladies and gentlemen I give you my photos of Adele…. 

    
 

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Weather bombed!

Happily here on our damp green little island stories in the media relating to bombs are much less frequent than they used to be.
This week we were hit by a “weather bomb”, not a meteorological term I have ever heard before, but the sound of it was quite terrifying! Explosive cyclogenesis is the official term for a weather situation where a storm intensifies as air pressure drops at its core dramatically (over 24 millibars in 24 hours).
We had very high winds, hail, rain, sleet, black skies, very low temperatures and on the coast the waves were huge. This colourful picture shows the estimated wave height, the black area is the highest waves. Surfs up!

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This photo shows one of our favourite family holiday spots being completely battered by HUGE waves!
Here at the coop, it was business as usual thanks to our sturdy structure and covered area. Egg production is back on track, the girls are full feathered again and looking well.
Due to the low temperatures we’ve been having a hot breakfast to kick start the day

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The yard has been safely enclosed so on days where the weather is kind the Gillybirds get out for a rummage around the bins where there are always lots of critters to munch on

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Apollo is photo bombed by Colonel Saunders in this one!
We don’t much like bombs here, weather ones or any other type. But we’ve survived. There is snow in the air, and Christmas is coming.

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Spotted on Paul Hollywood’s tour blog!

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Every night Paul or one of his minions takes a photo of the audience. It has just been posted on his blog, and lo and behold, there we are, me and CC in all our glory.

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We are sitting upstairs in the second row of the balcony. I’ve got a green scarf on, and CC wearing a turquoise scarf is in the spotlight!
See if you can find us!

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An Evening with Paul Hollywood

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Last night my dear friend CC and I spent two hours with Paul Hollywood – you know-the one with the piercing blue eyes and silver grey beard from Great British Bake Off that isn’t Mary Berry.
It was £32 per ticket. If Mr H had got his way with us we would have spent a shed load more on his recipe book, aprons, tea towels, calendars, t shirts, fridge magnets…
Fortunately I only had my bus money home, and CC kindly bought and shared a minute bottle of white wine which we had to drink in the foyer before the show even started.
Others were not so restrained. At the interval and the end of the show there was a bit of a scrum and a scramble round the merchandise table.
It was a cooking show. However to take home the recipes you had to buy the programme. Oh wait. We spent all CCs cash on a thimble full of wine. So no recipes then. Oops.
Sure we could always buy his new book. Did he mention he had a new book out? Yes. About every sixty seconds.

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On the way to the theatre CC casually mentioned that Paul brings people up from the audience to assist him with the baking. Well, dear reader, my blood ran cold. On a previous night out with CC I ended up on stage as a magician’s assistant for the fabulous David Meade. (There are photos to prove it.) So the thought of donning a PH apron and massaging his dough made me feel quite faint. We were sitting in the balcony so I thought we were probably a safe enough distance not to be chosen.
With a nod to Christmas PH demonstrated four recipes. Chocolate roulade, baked brie, mince pies and Stilton, walnut and pear bread.
They looked easy to prepare, and smelt delicious even from where we were sitting. I’m not giving you the recipes. You’ll have to buy the book.
The audience, mostly ladies, were salivating. We were encourage to tweet and instagram (ask your grandchildren) live directly to PH himself on stage. He read out the ones he was able to. It was a family show after all.
At one point Paul accidentally dusted his immaculate black shirt with flour. “Get your shirt off” come a shout from somewhere behind us. I rolled my eyes. This was a baking show, not the Chippendales. But PH gives as good as it gets when it comes to banter from the adoring ladies in the audience. He strode about the stage wagging his rolling pin and those blue eyes looking menacing. The heat wasn’t just from the ovens.
Audience members also had an opportunity to ask baking related questions directly. The giggling ladies brought on stage managed their tasks well. And got to keep their PH aprons as a reward. The winner of the bread dough shaping competition even got a signed copy of…well, you guessed it, his latest book.
Paul spent most of the night telling us anecdotes about his side kick, the fabulous Mary Berry- or Maz Bez- as he calls her. And he encouraged more entries from our fair land for the next series of Great British Bake Off. Provided we didn’t throw our baking in the bin, referring to our local bake off contestant Ian who “lost the bap” as we say in these parts, and chucked his melted Baked Alaska into the trash.
When the bread was baked, Paul cut it into chunks and threw it into the crowd. There was an undignified scramble for a taste in the front five rows.
Us ladies sitting upstairs even got to sample the baked brie. This for me was the highlight of the evening. Made by PH himself. Even eating it with our bare hands off a paper plate it was delicious. Brie cheese, with Parma ham and cranberry sauce wrapped in pastry and baked for 20 minutes. Yum. It would have gone very well with the toothful of crisp white wine we had imbibed in the foyer before the show.
It was all great fun. Not perhaps the amazing baking demonstration I had been anticipating, but an interesting study of how Mrs Joe Public behaves when face to face with a TV baker oozing with charm just like his baked brie.
CC and I are booked for an evening with Michael McIntyre in Nov 2015. I wonder if he will have a book out too?

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Mr Paul Hollywood. To misquote Meghan Trainor for me “it’s all about the bake”.

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Writing 101- finding my way

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something.
Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.
I walk every day. There are certain routes I have taken a thousand times. I have lived in this city all my life, but I’m always looking to find new places of interest or beauty.
Over the past few days I’ve been taking pictures of my walks using my humble phone camera. So today’s post is less about the words, more about what I’ve found under my feet.

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wild flowers by the wayside on my Parkrun on Saturday. So pretty

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Mr G and I had a romantic getaway for one night by the seaside. Lots of long walks along the shore. Finding many interesting colours of granite and filling my pockets with pebbles and shells

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yesterday I found myself spending about an hour in fascinating conversation with this local character known as Botanic Cyril. Homeless, with all his worldly goods (mostly books) on his bicycle, Cyril has the most intense blue eyes, and a power of recall on matters scientific and medical. You can read more about Botanic Cyril in this blog too.

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I can’t believe it is October 1st! Trees are arrayed in wonderful fiery colours lit by the warm sunshine. Bushes are bursting with berries. Apples are ready to be picked. Harvest is here.

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Writing 101- Our house in the Middle of the Street

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

I still live in the city I grew up in. Although it is not the same city at all. I grew up in Belfast right through “the Troubles”. Hotels, shops, businesses, homes, colleges could be there one day and a heap of bomb blasted rubble the next. Boarded up windows with wet paint declaring “business as usual”. Our school bags were searched and searched again for weapons, incendiary devices. A city with no night life and a fearful, watchful day time.Barricades. Burnt out buses. Bomb scares. High jackings. Balaclavas.
But to us this was normal. And it was not like that on our doorstep in the suburbs, though occasionally our windows would shake with an explosion and the air would ring with the sound of sirens.
At twelve I lived in a smallish red brick semi detached house in the middle of a quiet street with my parents and two brothers. I had no memory of living anywhere else. It was home. I had a cat and a rabbit. We had a lilac tree in the garden to climb and swing from, a path to skateboard down with a perilous step at the end should we fail to stop in time. A flat roofed kitchen which we could access via the bathroom window when we were feeling daring. That wasn’t very often. We had friends across the road, next door, down the street. We played British Bulldogs, Hide and Seek, kerb ball, Thunder and Lightening. Games that required no batteries, no screens, just fresh air and fun.
I was eagerly looking forward to having a new bedroom up in the attic. This was accessed by a Slingsby ladder which you could pull up behind you. It felt like living in a tree house. When granny came to stay I was allowed to sleep up under the eaves. Nestled in blankets and resting on caravan cushions. Like a mouse. Hidden away. Reading by torchlight. Listening to a well worn cassette tape of “Jesus Christ Superstar” until the sound went wonky as the batteries ran down. Up above my sleeping family it was as close to heaven as I had ever been.
A year later we moved away.

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Northern Lights!

It has long been an ambition of mine to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, with my own two eyes.
The aftermath of a large solar storm last week is just reaching our small blue and green planet, giving rise to the promise of some spectacular aurora activity, visible even to us here in the north of Ireland.
And for once, these past few nights the sky has been relatively clear of clouds.
I’ve been checking Twitter for updates from all the weather and astronomical authorities, and running upstairs to hang out the attic window looking north with hope in my heart for a sighting.
This is Early September, I naively thought the aurora were only seen in winter time. It’s so exciting!
Tonight Mr G indulged me by driving out of the city, away from the light pollution and up into the dark hills above us. Down a narrow country road we drove, no street lights, no nearby houses, just blackness. We turned off the headlight and got out of the car. It was very, very dark. Gillyboy number 2 came with us and helpfully found north on his iPhone compass, so we all peeled our eyes hoping for a glimpse of green flares, or a red glow, or anything at all. Until we realised that the compass was affected by the magnetic catch on his phone case and we were looking the wrong way.
As our eyes grew accustomed to the blackness, shapes in the field next to us became apparent. We counted one, then two, then four ponies. Then as hill fog rolled creepily towards us, there was the sound of galloping hooves. I almost expected to see the headless horseman hurtling over the hill top. It was just another curious horse, wondering what three townies were doing out in the dark, and looking for a handful of verge grass.
After about ten minutes fruitless sky watching, and remembering Mr G is more than a little allergic to horses, we headed home.
(GB2 pointed out there were quite a few parked cars along the dark country roads. Im not sure the occupants were that interested in catching the Northern Lights, we drove quickly on….)
But the night is young. I’m getting very fit running up the stairs to peek at the horizon every so often. You just never know.
In the meantime here is a photo taken about 70 miles from our coop door last night which was published in our local paper.the Belfast Telegraph Sensational!

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If you live anywhere within the green ring on this image, I hope you managed to catch some of the light show!

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I long to see something like this. It’s from the Visit Finland website. Wow.

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If you can’t beat them…..

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Mr G and I have been out to cheer on the cycling teams who whizzzed past at such great speed. There is good cheer and plenty of pink, and more than enough MAMILs (Middle aged men in Lycra) and even the rain stopped.
So when I saw the fabulous pink bike I just had to join in! Pity it was chained to the University railings!
These pictures can’t convey just how fast these guys were going, or how close some people were standing on the route just to try and take photos!

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In the Pink for Giro d’Italia

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It’s all very exciting here in our little city. The world famous Giro d’Italia cycling race begins here, this very day, and we have all got pink fever.
Just as the Tour de France has yellow shirts, the Giro has pink ones. This is because the Italian newspaper that supported it -La gazetta della sport- is printed on pink paper.
Our city has certainly embraced pink on public buildings, trees, shop fronts, clothes, hair. With strong winds the pink cherry blossoms are airborne covering the streets with pink blossom confetti. It’s all very pretty. Later on today Gillyboy number four and I hope to catch a fleeting glimpse of the pink Lycra clad cyclists as they whizz by on the route about 2 miles from our home.
It’s wonderful to have good and positive coverage of our city and our country after so many years of being known for bloodshed and violence. It’s just a pity the weather is so blustery and showery.
Even the Gillybirds are entering into the spirit of the race, though pink eggs appear to be too much of a challenge.

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This is our City Hall looking well in pink, and our famous landmark cranes, normally yellow, but welcoming the cyclists with a lovely pink hue.

Photos from the Belfast Telegraph
Except for the hen on the bike, which is pinched from a local restaurant, The Potted Hen!

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