Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Long Walk Lament

Each leg of the table in this photo has under it a terrine/bread tin containing the paté Joe had just made. Covering each tin of paté is a custom-cut and smoothed piece of wood from the shed. On top of the table is a weighty pyramid pressing down on the wood and therefore the paté. This is a method passed down from father to son which I think is rather lovely.

The paté - made from the pork we had in the freezer got from a neighbour as a whole pig (though butchered and cured etc before entry into our freezer) - is now ready and is delicious, especially the one with prunes.

It had prunes it in as has everything this Christmas - well, I exaggerate of course, but many things contain prunes. They were bought to go in the Christmas pudding, there were plenty of them so became ingredients in the mincemeat. I'm sure there was something else too, but anyway there are still some left...

I had to make two lots of mincemeat. The first, the traditional one, contained suet which I thought was gluten free until I checked the box to see if the remaining suet should go in the fridge (there to wait until it grew a fur coat before being pronounced dead enough to throw away). Fortunately a friend gave Joe and I a copy of Nigella Christmas last year which turns out to be a delightful book. I'm not familiar with Nigella except for the fact that she appears a lot on telly and is rather beautiful. Her suet-free mincemeat is quick to make and delicious. I'm hoping her Christmas pudding will be equally tasty, but we'll have to wait and see for that one.

The cake is made too, but damn it I haven't iced it yet. Must do that tomorrow. However, the marzipan is already glued in place with marmalade so the icing (a cheat's one in a packet) shouldn't take long to do.

If by any chance I have any regular readers they may have noticed I got clamped - unfairly! in Galway a couple of weeks ago. I appealed. This is what happened:

Long Walk Lament
‘The onus is on you to display’, they say
in the poe-faced standard letter reply.
‘We have your money and we’ll not give it back’.
The clampers have clamped. That’s that.

A breath of fresh air from Galway Bay
breezed through the open car door,
flipped the ticket so dutifully bought
to show a blank, not time and day.

The window sticker marked me a cheat,
‘Clamper Man that’s not fair! It’s not!
I fed the voracious ticket machine,
so release me, please, from this lock’.

‘You’ll pay eighty euros to be unfettered
or spend the night perched on the kerb,
someone probably gave you the ticket,
appeal if you like, you won’t be heard’.

I write a letter, ticket enclosed
(a scanned-in copy of course)
but ‘No!’ they say, ‘No exceptions,
our rules will be enforced’.

So parkers beware the draft through the door,
the ticket tipped up or blown over.
No decency left in clampers of wheels,
they want your cash and that’s that.

I have sent them another letter with threats of the Small Claims Court. I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Fix and Waxwings

Getting a fix of the water while Winter Solstice rests in Eamonn Egan's shed in Portumna. This is Mountshannon on a cold sunny Saturday. Very quiet. Two boats only on the Yacht Club's swinging moorings - the rest are clustered in the Club yard, dozing til their spring reawakening.

There was a new arrival in the harbour:

The huge barge on the right is Argo Sneek, a resident of Shannon Harbour for many years. It's like a proper house inside, beautifully fitted out. A lovely houseboat. Not sure how it would fare in a bit of rough.

At the other side of the harbour there was a surprising sight - I could see the jetties. This is the Council-owned part of the harbour, and has always been chocka with gently rotting boats. Flynn, who I posted about a couple of months ago, was here for a few years. Another, which eventually sank, was here for twelve. The sunken boat was, astonishingly, bought, raised and taken away. So look at this while you can:

Come the spring it will doubtless be hogged again.

The lake was flat calm and empty except, no, a boat coming in.

On Sunday evening we were in Mountshannon again, first for the Trad for Teens session a couple of we music teachers have set up, then for an event in The Snug - a fundraiser for the White-tailed Eagle Trust (part of the Golden Eagle Trust). These sea eagles are still living on Lough Derg but I have yet to see more than an outline of one in a tree on the island through a very powerful birding telescope.

However! Today in my garden were four Waxwings eating rosehips from the wild rose and pecking at apples in the big tree outside my sitting room window.

(this is not my photo)
There's an influx of these exotic-looking birds in the UK and Ireland at the moment. Eighteen were spotted at Bunratty in South Clare. They are winter visitors from Scandinavia, but I've never seen one in my garden before.