Thursday, 28 February 2013
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Come Friday of this week it will officially be spring. My remaining parsnips seem to have already received the news that Spring is in the offing, A few green shoots are already presaging the change of seasons. I will have to eat or process the final stalwarts of the drills within the next few weeks. The above specimens will end their days in the soup saucepan along with a few potatoes and onions and a good dollop of herbs and spices. Parsnip soup can be a bit bland without the addition of the oriental.
Monday, 25 February 2013
The BBC have acknowledged that they were, "lucky to have found such a characterful and humorous pig ."
Sunday, 24 February 2013
Saturday, 23 February 2013
I am sure that the researchers would be very keen to prostrate the cancer in question, but I don't think that the name of the affected body part has gained an extra letter.
I wonder if there will be any alterations to the article?
Friday, 22 February 2013
The Fermanagh Economic Development Organisation is apparently concerned that young people in County Fermanagh are being, "educated for export." Quelle surprise! It has been ever thus and not just in that County, but right across Northern Ireland and the other outlying regions of the United Kingdom.
Highly paid jobs tend to be concentrated in large conurbations and tend to require highly qualified individuals. Is it therefore surprising that young people who happen to be gifted,whether academically or technically, should take the boat or plane to London, Birmingham or further afield? I think not. There were forty three individuals in my upper sixth year. I think that twelve have remained in Northern Ireland. I do however have to concede that in the mid 1970's there were other very real reasons to exit this part of the world.
The economics of location mean that Co Fermanagh will never have the Uk average of highly paid jobs. Certainly not from organic growth. Government grants or subsidies might persuade the occasional high profile business to set up shop in that County, but without that governmental cloche the economy of Fermanagh is unlikely to ever stanch the brain drain.
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Webbs Prize Cob
Arthur Turner - Cooker
Annie Elizabeth - Cooker
Howgate Wonder - Cooker
Cox's Orange Pippin - Eater
Elstar Red - Eater
James Grieve - Eater
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Sunday, 17 February 2013
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Magnificent Seven
The Return of the Magnificent Seven
Friday, 15 February 2013
In my post of 6th August 2012, "Shipbuilding in Londonderry," I gave a brief outline of the shipbuilding industry of Londonderry. One of the City's budding Brunels was Charles Joseph Bigger, the fourth son of William Finlay Bigger of , "Rivervew," His Foyle Shipyard launched a total of 25 ships between the years 1887 and 1892. He had five launching berths, each capable of taking a vessel of 500ft in length. Specialising in steel hulled vessels, four such vessels were built for the William Mitchell Line. The, "Osseo," was built for the McCorkell Line. That vessel was lost at Holyhead on 30th December 1894 en route from Chile to Ardrossan, The entire crew of 26 was lost.
Subsequent to his shipbuilding venture Charles Joseph Bigger, (CJB), moved to England. His son, Leslie, along with three of his cousins served as commissioned officers during the Great War. Although Leslie survived the war he was to die of his injuries in 1923. His father purchased a grave in the City Cemetery, Londonderry intending that his son should be buried there, although this did not ultimately occur.
The photograph above shows the name plate which CJB had above the door to his office at the Foyle Shipyard.
Thursday, 14 February 2013
Tuesday, 12 February 2013
The weather in the last month has not been conducive to my plans to establish a small orchard and nuttery. After my initial onslaught on the ground which I have allocated for the project I had only managed a couple of hours of additional clearance operations. Yesterday however there was no rain, no wind, no snow, no frost and I was able to progress the task somewhat. A few piles of stones still have to be moved, but I now have a cleared space measuring approximately sixty five feet by thirty feet. This should give me enough room for eight or maybe even ten trees.
I think that I will commence my planting operations with equal numbers of cob and apple trees. Fruit trees are surprisingly expensive, most particularly if you decide to elect for, "standards." Clearly the larger the tree the sooner the results, but larger trees require the additional expense of stakes and ties. There is also a greater chance of the tree not taking. I think therefore that I will go for, "maidens." Whilst this will obviate the need for stakes I will need to invest in rabbit guards. I do not want my investments ringed to death by Roger Rabbit and his mates.
I have checked out two local nurseries, but neither of them had cob trees for sale and their apple trees had a rather bland genetic makeup. I think that I will send off for bare root plants and try to get some old varieties that don't attract commercial growers, but which are more tasteful. Quality rather than quantity is to be the bye word .
Monday, 11 February 2013
2013 marks Londonderry's year as UK City of Culture, but from an historical perspective this year marks an event which perhaps has more relevance for the City and maybe deserves more attention.
It was in 1613 by way of a Royal Charter that the Honourable the Irish Society and the County of Londonderry was created. The task of the Irish Society was to undertake the Plantation of Ulster in the North West of the Province. Its funds were contributed by the twelve great Livery Companies of London. Most of the lands of the County would be divided between these Companies in roughly even, "proportions." for which they drew lots. In order of precedence the twelve Livery Companies are as follows:-
The Mercers Company
The Grocers Company
The Drapers Company
The Fishmongers Comany
The Goldsmiths Company
The Skinners Company
The Merchant Taylor's Company
The Haberdashers Company
The Salters Company
The Ironmongers Company
The Vintners Company
The Clothworkers Company
Sunday, 10 February 2013
Cats do seem to have a very finely attuned equilibrium with their surroundings. They are always in control of their environment. Nothing much flusters the average moggy. With a modicum of chicken infused protein and sufficient water all cats tend to be very happy cats
I wonder if they would notice the introduction of some equine DNA into their diet? Might the domestic cat's palate be more finely attuned than that of the typical consumer of Findus products.? That, if correct, would be a very sad reflection on Homo sapiens. It does seem strange and not a little disappointing that we seem to be unable to tell the difference between beef and horse meat.
I seem to remember advertisements telling us that we were unable to differentiate between margarine and butter. Maybe the purveyors of burgers and lasagne like products should now be taking out advertisements in the press and television exhorting the merits of horse meat and pointing out that one hundred percent of consumers can't tell the difference between meat from Daisy or Dobbin.
What did happen to Shergar?
Saturday, 9 February 2013
Most of my training group had races scheduled for this weekend, either in County Donegal or at the new indoor arena in Athlone. As a consequence I had no organised training this morning. Rather than just pound the roads by myself I decided to partake of the joys of the weekly 5k Parkrun at the Ecos Nature Park in Ballymena.
This was the first time that I had run at this venue or indeed visited it. The Braid River runs through the 220 acres of the Park and with the recent heavy rain the water table had decided to rise above the level of the paths in parts. In consequence the course for the day had been altered. Instead of two distinct loops through the park we had to run round one of these loops twice.
I had anticipated a better course for running than this turned out to be. Underfoot was fine, but there were three very tight turns on the course where the angle was ninety degrees or worse. You were forced to chop your stride and slow down so as to navigate round them. Not good.
Eighty three individuals turned out for the run. With memories of my almost chronic hip injury still fresh in my mind I started off fairly gingerly. This was to be an AT run at best. One young cub, started off with great intent and was soon at least one hundred yards to the fore and he gradually pulled further ahead, at least until the last half lap when he flagged somewhat. I am happy to report that I managed to complete the run without any problems to my hip and even with holding myself back from racing mode I did not make a fool of myself.
Age shall not weary them!
Thursday, 7 February 2013
Source: Commemorative booklet issued by Londonderry Corporation on the occasion of the opening of the Craigavon Bridge
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Monday, 4 February 2013
Apparently this is not as silly a question as it might appear to be at first glance. Garlic smuggling within the European Union seems to be big business. Apparently, in 2001, our European masters in Brussels brought in an import duty on garlic of €1200 per tonne plus 9.6% of the total. This €1200 figure applies after a fairly modest quota has been exceeded. Protectionism was of course the reason behind the move. The EU growers of garlic, mostly Spanish, were finding it increasingly difficult to compete against Chinese growers. China now produces some eighty percent of the world's garlic production.
It is reported that Sweden has issued international arrest warrants in respect of two British men suspected of illegally importing €8m of garlic into the European Union via Norway. Closer to home, in December of 2012, a man from west London received a six year sentence for smuggling Chinese Garlic. In the Republic of Ireland the former head of what is described as Ireland's largest fruit and veg business was jailed for six years after he admitted to labelling more than one thousand tonnes of garlic as apples and thus avoiding €1.6 m of import duty. He is presently awaiting the outcome of his appeal on sentence.
Devotees of garlic may want to keep 14th September 2013 free. That has been announced as the date for the inaugural World Garlic Eating Competition. This is to be held at Chideock, Devon. Pre entries cost £5 whilst entry on the day will set back the hungry lover of garlic £10.
Sunday, 3 February 2013
For some reason there are no GDP (gross domestic product) figures available for Northern Ireland as a constituent part of the United Kingdom, although its raw data must logically be taken account of in the UK's GDP figures. In an attempt to plug this gap the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment has devised an index which has been given the catchy title of the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index. This is apparently the closest approximation to a GDP figure for Northern Ireland that can be achieved using the statistical sources that are presently available.
The figures which have now been produced do not make good reading, not that one could have anticipated anything different. They confirm what most of us already knew, or suspected. The downturn came to us earlier than the rest of the United Kingdom and it has been a deeper and steeper downturn. In the UK as a whole economic output was at its zenith in the first quarter of 2008 and it is now 2.9% below its peak. Here economic activity peaked in the second quarter of 2007 and as of Q3 2012 (the most recent figures available) we are witnessing a fall of 11.4%. Whilst there has been a very modest increase in this new index over the last four quarters (0.3%) it would be a brave commentator who predicted any protracted or substantial growth.
Northern Ireland is the sick man of the United Kingdom's economy.
Saturday, 2 February 2013
Drinks giant Diageo, which of course has Northern Ireland's, "Bushmills" in its stable of brands, presented its six months figures for the period ending 31st December 2012 this week. There was certainly little evidence of a recessionary hangover, save for the figures for Southern Europe which not unsurprisingly saw an eighteen percent decline. Overall however pre-tax profits in the six months period were up five percent compared to the same period in the previous year , - £1.96 billion on net sales of some £6 billion, That is a lot of hootch!
On the back of these results Paul Walsh and his fellow directors have decided to pay their shareholders an increased interim dividend of 18.1p per share, a not insubstantial nine percent increase on the previous year.
China and Southern America seem to be the big growth areas for Diageo's amber nectar. The burgeoning Chinese middle classes are becoming particularly partial to a drop of, "the hard stuff," The Daily Telegraph recently reported on the opening of Beijing's, "Johnny Walker House," where a personalised bottle of Johnny Walker can be apparently be had for the ever so reasonable price of £80,000!
Friday, 1 February 2013
Sources: "Irish Whiskey - A History of Distilling in Ireland," E.B. McGuire.