Reading My Way Around the World

Friday 28 August 2015

The Giant's Causeway

As children growing up in Ireland we were very familiar with Finn McCool.   I've written about some of his escapades before - here's the story of Cloughmor and Finn

His biggest adversary was the Scottish Giant ( I always have to search for his name, cos to us he was just the Scottish giant) - his name was Ruscaire.

While chasing him one time he was so enraged that he lifted a lump of earth which he threw after his opponent - thus creating Lough Neagh and the Isle of Man - some pup was our Finn :)

But his greatest legacy was the road he created to walk across to Scotland - in just a couple of strides you understand.  And that road is the Giant's Causeway.

I thought the puddles of water were holes in the rock - need my eyes tested 

Here is some basic information about the Causeway
- it's volcanic, has a counterpart at Fingal's Cave in Scotland
Is a World Heritage site
and is simply wonderful
A bit more info
Magnificent column of rock

All the rocks are either 4,7 or 8 sided.
And made of this wonderful volcanic black rock

The Organ at the Giant's Causeway, or some call it the Lion's Head

The Grand Causeway, heading out to Scotland

The far end of the Bay with the chimneys visible at the end

Looking down at the water

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Did you know?

Many of the sayings in our regular usage have very interesting provenance - I thought this was fabulous so I'm sharing it here. ... 

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor"
But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low
The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . ...... . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"
Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof... Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive... So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.
And that's the truth....Now, whoever said History was boring?

Friday 21 August 2015

A few days off.


I've forgotten the connector for my camera to computer so I can't upload any of the pics I'm taking these days of the spectacular Antrim Coast - but they'll be on the way be warned :). So these are from my phone 

This is one of the areas of Ireland that I know least well - it was too far away from us over on the West Coast to come for day trips during Summer holidays and my father was never one for taking us away on holidays - the cattle and the hay field took precedence.  so it's a joy seeing this amazing coastline which is so ancient.  

We came away to get a few days concentrating on writing and rehearsals - staying in a lovely hostel right up on the Antrim plateau.

At this part of Northern Ireland we are just 13 miles from Scotland - close enough for Finn McCool to have thrown a stone at the Scottish giant  and form the Giant's Causeway :)

It's 17 years since we were last here.  On that occasion there were only a couple of other cars in the car park and acres of wild open space to be virtually alone in.  Yesterday was very different- thousands of people from all over the world - many from Asia and America, all the European languages and many from these islands.  Wonderful to see - wonderful the changes those years have brought and that people are no longer afraid to come to our little corner of the world.  

   We finished the day with a smashing session at the hostel we're staying in.  Hosted by the storyteller Liz Weir and with visitors from Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the U.S. there were songs, dances, stories, poems, tunes and lots of chat.  

Holidays are good😀✔️.  I want more lol. 

Sunday 16 August 2015

Back There

Ta Da!!!   Big Drum Roll !!
It is here - at last.   Our new CD has been born.

It is entitled Back There and features 11 songs - some that we have written, and the rest from some of my favourite songwriters.

We are currently in the process of getting the album out into the wide world - radio and folk magazines and updating websites and so on.

To all our wonderful supporters from the Kickstarter campaign way back last Autumn I give you hearty thanks - by now you should have had your CDs or they're in the post to you if they haven't arrived yet.  I hope you enjoy it.

We played a set at the festival last month featuring the new songs and allowing Tom to get over his total panic at having his voice featured on record for the first time!  I swear he was hoping no-one would buy it!   But we're getting good feedback so far so the panic is over :)

Here's a video taken from the audience of the title track, Back There.  The song was written by an old friend of mine, Tony Kerr from Derry, who's now living and working in Nashville.  It's a gentle theme of looking back to childhood days and I love the sentiment in it.

I have been missing my visits to everyone's blogs in the past weeks - still haven't got my head into some sort of sane place, but it'll happen soon I know and I'm looking forward to catching up with what's going on in your lives.

I've been having fun playing with Lisa Sonora's Dreaming on Paper online workshop over the past few weeks - taking 10 minutes here and there to just splash paint about.   It has always been a secret dream of mine to play with paint, not necessarily to paint pictures but just to mess about with colour and this course is perfect. #

Have a great weekend and I hope you're all enjoying the start of the turning seasons.