Sunday, August 17, 2008

A wet day in Ireland (again)

Hmm..where did I leave off? Oh yes, it was raining and my lips were rubbery. (Damn that Westlife poster!)

Well after visiting the Giant's Causeway and failing to find the Blarney Stone I sank into a severe depression until, by chance, I met a scantily dressed young man upon a slippery sidewalk who said to me in dark, mysterious tones;

"Mistress Turley, you must climb these mountainous steps and fight your way past the young Guardians until you reach a dark tunnel of hideous proportions. You must conquer your fears and enter it. You will be plunged into darkness and horror and you will see your life flash before you. But at the journey's end you will find a mystical pool where The Blarney Stone lies bathed in a wondrous green light!"

Following his advice, I trudged wearily up numerous flights of wet, slimy steps which had been smoothed by the passage of time. On my journey I encountered the scathing looks of pimply youths who nudged and winked and poured scorn upon me; what was a middle aged woman doing here amongst The Guardians? I met them with my steely stare! When they nudged me, I pushed back. When they jabbed; I pinched them. Mrs T, Housewife Extraordinaire, is not afraid to meet her fears!

(Unless it's a moth when I am overcome by sheer horror and can run faster than an Olympic athlete. Hmm - better make that a British Olympic athlete - I know my limitations.)

At last I came to the tunnel entrance. It was small and claustrophobic; an eerie red light flashed in it's depths. I sat cautiously down and then, believing my search may soon be over, I propelled myself (using the full force of my bottom which is quite considerable) at a tremendous speed down the tunnel. I screamed and screamed....


My breath was torn from my body as it flew at speeds of over 40mph through winding passages covered with cold dripping water like ancient tombs of the dead until finally I could see daylight... I emerged breathless and battered, dizzy and dazed, into a cascade of water where I whirled around and around until, at last, I plunged into a deep emerald pool.

But there was no Blarney Stone to be found! I could see nothing; I searched and searched; my hands reached out exploring the cool depths. But there was nothing... all I could hear was the wicked, evil laughter of a distant Guardian; I had been tricked!

I jumped from the pool liked a delicate nimble frog. (Well...almost.) Where was that Guardian? I would poke him with my chopsticks, batter him with my rolling pin and then subject him to a week's worth of my cooking. A liar must be punished and punished severely! But alas, he was not to be found!

I looked around me and this is what I saw;

I had been fooled! My quest for The Blarney Stone would have to continue....

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Ps - It was the blue tunnel; the green one was for the feint-hearted!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A bit more blarney and a lot of rain

Rain, rain, rain. Don't you just love it? Yes, yes I know it's essential for growing crops and maybe in 20 years time I'll be praying for it to rain because the land will be arid and desolate but why, why, WHY does it always have to rain when I'm on holiday?

Yep, I've been doing a good impression of a drowned rat here in Ireland which has been hampering my quest for The Blarney Stone somewhat. Only yesterday, I was wading down a stream towards an interesting boulder when the current surged and I ended up with my bottom wedged in a nearby bridge. It was most undignified. However, the local beavers were extremely pleased; I had to pay them off with an offer of some subsidised dental work otherwise they were going to make me stay there indefinitely. Huh, what beavers will turn to just to get some new gnashers.

Well, we arrived in Ireland safely. This was pleasing as during the journey I had to contemplate how the hell I was going to save my family should the ferry capsize. This was not a pleasant thought as neither Mr T or Master Benedict can swim. Master Jacob swims in a politically correct fashion, ( i.e he has received loads of certificates; "Best putting your toe in" " Best impression of someone who can swim whilst actually putting his feet on the bottom" and "10 metres breaststroke" (with the aid of a dinghy and a rubber duck.) Has anyone else noticed that these days school children get certificates for just turning up at school and for every little thing without having achieved anything concrete at all.? Maybe it's just a British politically correct phenomenon but I'm thinking of issuing some certificates/awards myself for the following people;

Gordon Brown; The Bronze Award for Services to the British Economy. Yep, I suggest Mr Brown is embalmed and placed in a bronze sarcophagus and exhibited in the Natural History Museum alongside some other old dinosaurs. Bronze, I feel, is a most suitable metal as that's all I have left in my purse after I've paid Mr Brown my taxes.

Cherie Blair; The Unreal Smile Award. Mrs Blair will be cast in wax and exhibited in the London Dungeons as an example of a 21st century horror story alongside Freddie Kruger and George Bush.

Posh Spice; The Matchstick Award. Victoria Beckham will be photographed with a red hat on her head and displayed in the foyer of The London School of Fashion alongside photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. There will be one of those little information cards reading "Twentieth Century Icons - which one can you start a fire with?" Answer; "The one that isn't dead yet." (Although some people would believe that she already is.)

I could go on... but I was supposed to be talking about Ireland. Well yes... anyway... we got there safely and fortunately I didn't have to swim the seas with all my family on my back. (With the exception of Master Sam who being able to swim moderately well I would just have to tow using the elastic on my knickers.) Anyhow, we arrived in Dublin, Southern Ireland and then proceeded to make our way to destination in Northern Ireland. I knew I was in Northern Ireland when I saw this;

Okay, I know it's good to be patriotic... but come on what happened to good old King Edward's?

And so my quest for the Blarney Stone began. Where shall I go first, I thought? Why, one must go, as explorers have gone before (dressed in a silly hat and the wrong shoes) to The Mountains! And so I arrived at the Mourne Mountains, where I took this photograph viewed from the nearby beach at Newcastle.

And just for Eddie, here's something I remembered whilst I was looking up at this beautiful sight written by the songwriter/poet William Percy French;

Oh Mary this London's a wonderful sight
With people here workin' by day and by night
They don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat
But there's gangs of them diggin' for gold in the street
At least when I asked them that's what I was told
So I just took a hand at this diggin' for gold
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I believe that when writin' a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies in London were dressed
Well if you'll believe me, when asked to a ball
They don't wear no top to their dresses at all
Oh I've seen them meself and you could not in truth
Say that if they were bound for a ball or a bath
Don't be startin' them fashions, now Mary McCree
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

There's beautiful girls here, oh never you mind
With beautiful shapes nature never designed
And lovely complexions all roses and cream
But let me remark with regard to the same
That if that those roses you venture to sip
The colors might all come away on your lip
So I'll wait for the wild rose that's waitin' for me
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea.

But did I find The Blarney stone? NO! Humph... and t'was hard work huffing and puffin up at those mountains with a child on my back and a year's supply of loo roll in my knapsack. (One should always be equipped for lavatorial emergencies - I learnt this after being caught short in a remote field in Scotland. Also, I've never felt the same way since about dropping my knickers anywhere that isn't concealed by dense shrubbery - especially after being eyed by a herd of cows and (regrettably) the passing 8.15 to Glasgow Central.)

So I travelled through the rich green mountains to where it was rumoured that I might find many more stones and in doing so I stumbled across the fascinating sight below. At the same time as being in total admiration of nature I could not help but imagine the branches of the trees as the calloused and spindly fingers of ancient witches;

Soon I came to the Giant's Causeway, a world heritage site, which has a truly remarkable display of volcanic stones that have formed into columns; in many places they look like a series of steps and it is almost impossible to imagine that they have been formed naturally. Old Irish folklore says they are a feat of a giant, Finn MacCool. Close your eyes, listen to the waves crashing upon the rocks and it is quite easy to imagine an angry giant stomping upon the stones, his nose raised to the air, his voice booming out across the sea "Fie, fi, foe fum I smell the blood of an Irishman! Be alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread!"

It is rumoured that one of the stones has only 3 sides; could this be The Blarney Stone? I searched high and low but I could not see it. So not to miss the opportunity I decided I must kiss every single stone. Boy, were there a lot of stones! By the time I went home, my lips were like jelly and wobbling like a baboon's bottom. In order to numb the pain I had to douse them with some strong Irish Whisky. Unfortunately, alcohol always badly affects my taste in music and I ended up listening to Irish boy band Westlife. Oh well, might as well listen to one of their tracks...

Hmm..that wasn't so bad.. time to get out my PC and dance around the living room again...( Blimey, the whisky's a good 'un....)

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Ps It's raining. Again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Quest Begins

Ireland, The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of The Housewife Extraordinaire. Her two week mission is to explore strange new worlds. To seek out leprechauns and fairies. To boldly find what no woman has found before.....

The Blarney Stone

Yep, that's right. Mrs T has departed to Ireland for her hols because it has come to her attention that she has not been talking enough gibberish. I have been far too sensible lately and that is not acceptable! This must be put to rights. I intend to seek out The Blarney Stone which is a mystical stone said to bestow upon those who kiss it with the "gift of the gab." Apparently, The Blarney Stone is situated at Blarney Castle in Cork but I believe this a vicious rumour circulated by the Knights of Blarney in order to prevent the whereabouts of the real stone from being located... I believe the real Blarney Stone has yet to be found. Like The Holy Grail and Excalibur before it, it remains undiscovered.....waiting for the right man...or reveal it's lost secrets....

So to Ireland Mrs T must go on her quest.... (Please note 'tis possible Mrs T might get distracted en route with other matters.)

Alas, in order to get to Ireland, one must pass through Wales. This is the land of
Postman Pat and Ivor The Engine; more hideous and annoying children's stories cannot be found (Except Thomas the Tank Engine of course.) Postman Pat stories are tales of (surprisingly) a postman who takes days to deliver just one letter whilst getting worryingly distracted by wandering sheep and a black and white pussy. (I'll spare you the intimate details.) It is inherently disturbing that children are being brought up on this stuff! But just to make matters worst... Ivor the Engine is a story about a steam engine; a welsh steam engine. You can't get anything more disturbing than that can you?! It's bad enough being subjected to years and years of Thomas without discovering that he has a cousin called Ivor....

Anyhow, I knew I was approaching Wales when at a toll booth I saw this;

Yes...that IS a car covered with artificial grass. Hmm... only a Welshman could think of that. I just hope the owner doesn't park up outside a dog show. Anyhow, it wasn't long before we hit Wales and a few sheep... it was a tad messy. (Although the resulting chops were excellent.)

The truth is I have strong Welsh connections and indeed went to college in Bangor, North Wales. Bangor is en route to Holyhead, the Welsh port of our destination, from where we were to sail to Dublin. In my student days I travelled to Bangor via the mountains of Snowdonia but this time I took The Turley Tribe by the coastal route; the pleasure of the dramatic mountainous scenery of Snowdonia will await our return journey.

Bangor University courtyard 2008

We made a whistle stop tour of Bangor which brought back vivid memories of college days; of friendships that have since endured the test of time, the joy and pain of a first love and most importantly the discovery of Cheese on Chips. (Staple diet for students back then - along with Weetabix spread with jam and Baked Beans on toast. Deeeelicious!) Oh and some academic study. Yes, even lazy old Mrs T fitted in a little study (read very little) - certainly not enough to disturb my sleeping patterns. ( 3am to 3pm)) I often think of the camaraderie of my friends back then... how we shared new experiences, family bereavements, how we clustered around the television when the IRA blew up the Brighton Hotel.... and of course some particularly vile cooking. I am always reminded of those times when I hear the following song by the Irish singer Feargal Sharkey which was popular at the time.

Soon we had to press on through
Anglesey and onto to Holyhead..

On board our ferry, The Jonathan Swift, (It was amusingly late) I took this photo of the departing Welsh coastline as we headed for Dublin.

Two hours later we arrived at Dublin in Southern Ireland and it is here on
The Emerald Isle that Mrs T's quest for The Blarney Stone truly began.....

to be continued at some juncture...(in a adhoc, bizarre and intoxicated manner as befitting a holiday disposition)

Jane Turley 2008

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...