Sunday, 7 January 2018

Egging It

It is now twenty seven months since I took delivery of eight hybrid point of lay hens. They cost me six pounds a bird. Not a large investment in livestock. A month later they went into egg production. Since then I have had a continuous supply of eggs albeit that this current winter has seen a very definite decline in numbers. 

Their first moult didn't seem to impact on their productivity but this year the decline has been pretty much as per the manuals. Perhaps it's the colder and wetter weather conditions.

The fact that I have lost twenty five percent of my flock has of course also had an impact on the number of eggs available for my breakfast table. When I say lost I don't mean that I have mislaid them a la Lady Bracknell. No unfortunately I have to report that two of the trusty layers have entered avian nirvana. One of the dearly departed just keeled over for no apparent reason. The other however may have suffered the administrations of a reddish brown mammal or perhaps a peregrine falcon. In any event the last I saw of her was a clump of downy feathers.

Yesterday I collected three eggs from the coop including number four thousand eight hundred so the average per hen has now surpassed six hundred. Excluding the capital cost of the coop I calculate that the eggs have cost just under seven pence each to produce.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Londonderry's Electric Lighting Station.

It becomes a mite disconcerting when one's recollections take on an historical twist. Only those of us who were born prior to the Munich air disaster are likely to have much recollection of the Corporation's Power Station on the Strand Road, certainly as a functioning entity. It ran on solid fuel, coke, if my memory serves. I seem to remember that a reserve store of coke was kept at the Brandywell in the area which was used as a recycling centre until recently.

I have read that Londonderry Corporation's electricity station was operating from 1892 but the first tranche of ground at Strand Road was acquired from the Irish Society by way of an assurance dated 20th July 1893 and indeed these lands were subject to two leases which had been created by the Irish Society. The first of these was in favour of a Henry Barre Beresford and was for sixty six years from 29th September 1836. The second lease was in favour of one William Charles Babington and was for a term of ninety nine years expiring in 1916. I suspect that the Corporation had acquired the benefit of these leases by the date of the July 1893 Fee Farm Grant. This view would be sported by the fact that the Corporation Covenanted with the Irish Society to, " erect and complete within one year to the satisfaction of the Irish Society an Electric Light Station to serve the present and prospective requirements for lighting the City by electricity."

On 24th February 1904 the Corporation acquired further lands from the Irish Society so as to extend the Electric Lighting Station. Subsequent to this further smaller portions of land were conveyed to the Corporation by the Irish Society on 19th December 1916 and 20th September 1933.

The map endorsed on the Fee Farm Grant of 1893 shows the existence of Fox's Lane running from Strand Road to the Quay. This thoroughfare seems to have been incorporated into the site of the Electricity Station.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Tyrconnell Whiskey Relaunch.

Twelve years ago I was given a present of a bottle of whiskey. I accept any bottle of the amber nectar with a degree of alacrity. This was not however just any whiskey. The wooden presentation case was a bit of a giveaway as was the signed certificate. I had been given a numbered bottle of the relaunched Tyrconnell brand. It had been distilled by John Teeling's Cooley Distillery. 

Tyrconnell Whiskey was of course originally distilled by Watt's Distillery in Londonderry and was named after the then owner's horse which won a race called the National Produce Stakes in 1876 at odds of one hundred to one. I suppose that many whiskey conniseurs and collectors would have retained a bottle such as this in their collection. I have to admit that I didn't. I consumed it over Christmas 2005 and very nice it was too.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Capt. Edward George Harvey 1882 - 1915

Edward George Harvey born on the 7th September 1882 was the eldest son of John George Morewood Harvey of Greglorne, Londonderry and his wife Norma Elizabeth (nee Rogan). He received his education at Foyle College. In his turn J. G. M. Harvey was the youngest son of Capt. Harvey RN of the Warren, Culdaff, Londondery.

Although he was from a scion of the Harveys of Culdaff Edward enlisted as a private in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He served in the Transvaal, (10/11/1900 - 8/1/1902), where he was awarded the Queens Medal with two clasps. Subsequently he served as a Sargent in India and it was during his sojourn in India that he was commissioned into the Wiltshire Regiment, (May 1905). In 1913 he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, (Military Wing), and within a year he was promoted to the rank of Flight Commander. Subsequent to the outbreak of war he rejoined his regiment, the Duke of Edinburgh's Wiltshire regiment, as a Captain and he joined its 1st Batallion at the Front in February 1915. On 16th June in that year he was leading his Company on an attack on the German trenches near Hooge when he was fatally wounded. His service record confirms his height as being 5 feet 8.75 inches and that he could speak French.

Edward's name appears on the Menin Gate in Belgium and on the the war memorial at the Diamond in Londonderry. He is also honoured by a plaque on the north aisle of St. Columb's Cathedral, Londonderry and his name appears on the war memorial at his alma mater.

The photograph at the head of this post was identified as being of Edward by a member of the Harvey family but it is clearly of a different individual than the person who is identified as Edward in the "Our Heroes," website of South Dublin Libraries.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Beetroot Store

Vegetables that can be stored add considerable value to the garden and the ideal of self sufficiency. Beetroot is one of those vegetables that should be lauded much more than it is. As a fresh vegetable it is available in NI climes from July until early October. Thereafter a mini clamp protects the excess crop from the extremes of winter weather and extends the climatic availability of the crop as of course does pickling. The yellow and candy striped varieties do I think look particularly good in their pickling jars. Perhaps another, "boiling," is required.

Monday, 28 August 2017

A Paucity of Cucamelons

I have to concede that my experimental growing of cucamelons has not been a wholehearted success. They proved to be quite easy to germinate and after transplanting the seedlings into three inch pots and growing them on for about three weeks I was able to plant the small vines into twelve inch rings which I had sunk in the greenhouse border. I planted a total of twelve vines - two per pot and erected a bamboo wigwam in each pot for the vines to climb up.

All the literature which I had read told me that if you can grow cucumbers then you can grow cucamelons. Both thrive in the same conditions and require the same husbandry. Taking this advice to heart I planted the cucamelon vines next to my six cucumber plants. The latter have done well. To date I have pulled an average of seven cucumbers from each of my plants and by the end of the season I would expect to have had in excess of fifty cucumbers. 

The cucamelon vines have been very vigorous in their growth and there have been hundreds of little flowers with embryonic fruit behind them. The problem is that the vast majority of these have failed to swell and have fallen off the vines. I am coming to the conclusion that the flowers have not been fertilised. My cucumber plants are self fertile. I have noticed that there are just not as many bees and other pollinating insects in the garden this year. 

So far I have pulled the grand total of seven cucamelons so definitely not a productive use of greenhouse space. I will have to decide if it is worth continuing the experiment next year.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, Londonderry Act (Northern Ireland), 1935

This Local Act was enacted on 16th July 1936 to facilitate the extension of the Apprentce Boys Memorial Hall in Society Street. John Ferguson, John Gilbert Magee, Joseph Thompson , Robert McElmunn Wilton, Marshall McKay, James McElmunn Wilton and James Smyth (representing the Apprentice Boys) together with Matthew Kerr, James Dunlop, Maxwell Scott Moore, Frederick James Simmons, Edward McIntyre and James Hill Lapsly (representing the Local Orange Brethren) were incorporated by the name of "The Trustees of the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall Londonderry (Incorporated)" with perpetual succession and a Common Seal.

This corporate body was granted the power to purchase, take, hold and dispose of lands and other property for the purposes of the Act and it was granted the power to borrow a sum or sums of money which did not exceed at any one time the sum of £15,000 for the purpose of rebuilding or extending the existing Hall or of purchasing further premises for the purpose of extension or of acquiring further estates or interests in the premises of the Trustees.

The Act states that as soon as may be after the passing of the Act that the then existing Apprentice Boys Hall together with four adjoining premises which had been purchased by the Apprentice Boys and the Local Orange Brethren between 1920 and 1926 should be transferred to the Trustees along with all money's which had been raised for the purpose of rebuilding or extending the Hall.