gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Writing 101 – Happy Halloween!

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

IMG_0167.PNG
We always went to granny’s South of the border for Halloween holidays. Mum would have been packing clothes, filling tins with cakes for days and once dad secured everything to the roof rack and we had a last trip to the toilet we were on our way. 114 long miles of pushing and shoving and keeping an eye that those brothers of mine didn’t cross the imaginary line into MY space in the back of the car.
Past all the landmarks – small towns, big towns, the creepy forest just over the border, the “buckets” at Drogheda, through busy Dublin, spotting the tall red and white chimneys of the power station near Howth, the last big bend in the road when mum would spit on her hanky to scrub our faces and then ignore our protests as she combed our hair.
As we climbed stiffly from the car the smell of Granny’s lamb stew bubbling on the hob would fight with the smell of her forest fern talc she loved so much.
Granny had one big room in which we ate, watched the grainy black and white tv, played the piano and played with our cousins. Having two brothers, granny’s was great as all I had were girl cousins. Loads of them. We had such fun there whatever the season – swings and swimming in the sea in summer, parties and presents at Christmas, but best of all was Halloween.
This was the 1970’s. No pumpkins, no fancy dressing up shops with expensive outfits. No scary zombies or naughty nurses, or even naughty zombie nurses. No trick or treat. It was innocent fun that we made for ourselves.

IMG_0169.PNG

IMG_0170.PNG

IMG_0168.PNG
We spent days carving turnip lanterns. This gave us RSI in our hands and wrists, and had the terrible consequence of having turnip at every meal time. But it was worth it. Our frolics were lit by a wax candle (pre tea light days) gently toasting the inside of the hollowed vegetable, filling the air with the aroma of burning turnip.
We always had brown lemonade which we thought was very sophisticated and for a treat there was barnbrack – a type of fruit loaf- that for Halloween had a ring in it. If you were lucky enough not to choke on the cheap metal ring then it meant you would be getting married in the next year.
Then there was mum’s Apple tart, containing more 5ps wrapped in tin foil than apples it seemed. If you were cute you would watch as she cut it into slices ensuring your piece got the most money.
There were sacks of monkey nuts. These were peanuts in their natural state, still in the shell. Little piles of dry peanut shell would litter the room. Harder to crack were the more exotic hazel nuts, Brazil nuts and the tricky Walnuts. Cracking them open with granny’s ancient nut cracker took much more effort than the small reward of a slightly fusty dry tasting nut, usually with a great deal of shell still attached.
For games we ducked for apples and there was a nail above the doorway so we could tie yarn to an apple, let it swing free while we tried to take bites out of it. How we never got terrible diseases from the sharing of apples covered in slobbers playing both these games I will never know.

IMG_0171.PNG
Dressing up was a mask made of brittle plastic of a pig or a witch, eye and nose holes in places where no human face had features held on by elastic that would snap within the first few minutes.
If you were really lucky you got a cardboard witches hat which didn’t even have the luxury of elastic to keep it on.
We entertained ourselves by dancing along to granny’s LP collection of James Last, Mantovani and a Wombles record owned by a cousin. I remember vividly choreographing a ballet routine to the “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” and a dance number for everyone singing “Remember You’re a Womble”. Aunties, Uncles, parents, and granny sat patiently cracking nuts and scoffing Black Magic Chocolates through all these antics.
And no Halloween was complete without sparklers bringing their own scorched odour and glittering showers of sparks and the thrill of twirling something so magical.

Two highlights stand out of these not at all scary very innocent Halloween parties.
We always had a box of indoor fireworks, which wowed us with the Magic Fern and the volcano, and especially when a good linen table cloth caught fire from a spark.

IMG_0172.PNG
And writing, producing and performing a sketch based on the Two Ronnies skit on TV known as the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town. We thought we were very racy getting away with blowing pretend farts in front of the grownups. Granny in particular loved it!

IMG_0173.PNG
I still love Halloween, I love to decorate the house, cut pumpkins, play the same games – yes we too have a nail in a doorway for the specific purpose of hanging apples, I have tasteful Yankee Candle tea light holders that smell of burning turnip of course!

IMG_0174.PNG

Advertisements
1 Comment »

Blogging 101 – Pinsperation

Today for my Blogging 101 course our assignment was to write about how visiting a neighbouring blog yesterday inspired us.
Please jump to my card making blog Angill Cards to see how I got on!

IMG_0166-0.PNG

Leave a comment »

Losing Something of Myself -Part 1

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

We moved house with a thirteen month old son and a three week old baby boy. It was all hands on deck. Cleaning, painting, carpet laying, curtain hanging.
It was a good thing we were young and had grandparents close by armed with mops, drills, paintbrushes, and were willing to spend their tea breaks nursing fractious babies.
Furniture was delivered and allocated to rooms.
Clothes and shoes sorted into drawers and wardrobes.
Food into cupboards.
There were still plenty of boxes. Boxes and boxes. And more boxes.
How could two adults and two squirming infants own or need so much stuff?
After filling the aptly named box room, the spare room, the cloakroom and spending evenings with a colicky babe strapped to my chest sorting though the boxes I gave up and shoved some random boxes out in the coal shed.
Not checking the value of what was inside.
Not knowing that it would be many months before life would settle down and I would remember those boxes.
Not realising that with the advent of central heating, the coal shed had not been used for many years and was very damp and prone to leaking.
Not appreciating that what was being slowly destroyed by rain and mildew was in fact of some personal value to me, and me alone.

IMG_0126.PNG

Leave a comment »

Loved Long Ago

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Sorting through the shelf of tatty old romantic paperbacks so favoured by the old lady a faded envelope fluttered to the dusty floor.
Taking a mug of tea and sneaking a fag to the back door, she sat in the sunshine, absentmindedly scratching the cat’s ear.
Delicately removing the paper worn thin with age, it had clearly been read many times. It spoke of love and longing. Of a decision to part company. That the world was not ready for their love.
It was signed Joan.
She wondered if she had really known her grandmother at all.

IMG_0125.PNG

This blog post is fiction written as part of the Writing 101 course.

Leave a comment »

Blogging 101

For the next few weeks I am taking part in a blogging 101 course hosted by the Daily Post.
Today is Day One.
Allow me to introduce myself…on this blog I refer to myself as Mrs Gillybirds, a play on my actual name, and the fact that I am an urban hen keeper.
I live in Ireland, with my husband, Mr Gillybirds, my four sons, the Gillyboys, two dogs – Mr Buttons and Naughty Lucas, and my three hens – Apollo, Darling and Colonel Saunders.
The Daily Post suggests I address you, the unsuspecting first time reader, on the matter of the following questions
Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
What topics do you think you’ll write about?
Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Those of you who have been with me from the beginning know that I have actually been blogging since April 2012. The hen keeping was a completely new interest and blogging seemed to be a good forum, as I could not only keep a diary of my efforts, and also seek on line free guidance and encouragement from more experienced chicken keepers.
Apart from that, I can be a bit of a show-off and love an audience.
Keeping a hand written diary in a beautiful moleskin book would never get “likes” on social media. It would just get chewed by Naughty Lucas.
My blogging topics started out primarily about the Hens, or the Gillybirds as I refer to them, but this blog has morphed into a more random account of our family, dogs, my heros, my new found compulsion to run, holidays, cooking, lack of eggs being laid, and life in 2014.
My other keen interests are crochet and card making, and I have blogs specifically geared towards them – Crocheticipation and Angillcards. Also in 2012 Mr Gillybirds cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and I kept a blog of his epic journey to keep his poor worried mother up-to date with his progress.
Through all three blogs I enjoy responses from family and friends near and far, hen keepers, crocheters, card makers, crafters, anyone who stumbles upon my ramblings by accident. I have made genuine friends through my blogging.
We live busy lives and if someone gets a laugh, learns something new, is challenged to try something different, finds a new recipe or book to read, brill!
Thanks for taking the time to stay on my page. I’m honoured. Of all my followers, the crocheters are by far the most responsive. Thanks ladies!
Blogging over these past years has been a wonderful way of sitting down, taking stock, cataloguing highs and lows, good days and bad, all the changes that occur as part of life in all it’s richness and fullness. Of course, it’s very easy to self edit and paint a rosy picture (or not) and I have to bear in mind that Grandma and Grandpa Gillybirds are keen blog readers and some of our crazy family stuff is best left unwritten
Having a small soft voice in the blogosphere, writing hopefully wholesome, happy things (most of the time), bringing positivity when there is so much darkness, sadness and destruction online, on TV, beyond my front door. I’m not Pollyanna, nor am I the Great Oracle.
To misquote Julia Roberts in “Notting Hill”….I’m just a girl, writing in a blog, asking you to read me

IMG_0107.PNG Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment »

Inspiration

Today’s blog post is a challenge from The Daily Post to write a story on what inspires you to write, in just 50 words.
This won’t take long.Enjoy!

Years ago, before committing words to paper, she chewed pencils, made shapes from clouds, tidied her room, paired socks.
Now the screen is wiped of prints, wiped again, battery checked. Clouds roll on by.
A feather drifts gently through the open window and lands beside her.
So it begins.

20140630-184519-67519467.jpg

read more about this challenge here

16 Comments »