Saturday, 30 April 2011


...might sound like key ingredients to a witches cauldron but were in fact the main ingredients of my Easter weekend in Donegal, Ireland. There were quite a few curious things about where I went, curious enough to blog about that is.

FIrstly, the house we stayed in belonged to not one, not two but three aunts who live there with not one, not two but three of their husbands AND not one, not two but ALL 10 of their children!! "Wow!" i thought, mimicking the immortal words of the Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace a weekend later, with 'I wonder where I'm going to be sleeping' as an after thought.

Secondly, the aunt's family with the most children (which was 4) had produced not one (okay this is getting tiresome now, I'll stop) but THREE redheads. The parents are both blond. 'Curious', I thought. It took me right back to my A-level biology classes - the ones about dominant and recessive genes - the conclusion being ...I obviously wasn't listening.

Thirdly, I was taken down to the shores of Loch Swilly (Whose willy? Nope? No one found that funny at Easter either) and shown the delightful cottage where my boyfriend was born. It was called The Ferry House. 'Even MORE curious', went my thoughts, for I too was born in the Ferry House, not this one, but another in Cambrdigeshire. Could the uncanniness just stop already???!!

Fourthly (if such a rank exists), I found an oyster on the beach took it back to the house, opened it, broke the knife, to my delight found it was alive, added a squeeze of lemon, a shake of Tabasco and plopped it into my mouth. It really was the most delicious thing that had happened to my tongue in years. Not wanting to be the only one experiencing such pleasures in my hostsssss' house, I went down to the beach with my Ferry House twin and a Sainsbury's bag and like two truffle pigs we managed to scout 52 of them, 26 each EXACTLY. (Coincidences had become rather passe by this point, but admittedly this was erring on the uncanny side.)

After the team (we had become a team by this point, with team leaders and everything it was just easier) had scoffed the lot, we went to bed that night, in oyster bliss....

Next morning, on another walk along the beach, I was told by a local, wandering Swilly's shores (I feel a Cornish du Maurier's 'Rebecca' boatman accent works the imagination best here): "You know ther wer a sewage leak not so long agow?" I didn't actually. CUE PSYCHO MUSIC, A BIT OF THE JAWS SOUNDTRACK THEN MY DAY-MARE of having wiped out an entire family of two generations over one weekend.

The visual equivalent of my daymare. Them - all gone!! Because of me...
Oh dear... some repayment for being asked for such a wonderful weekend.

After a sleepless night of listening outside doors to confirm the correct number of snores per room, I woke to find them all still alive (curiously - no. 5 I think we can call that).

They are still alive now. I have checked (regularly). And no one has turned flourescant or grown crab pincers... yet.


The Human Crab hmmm.... you missed a trick there Hitchcock.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


For someone who has a lot of stuff and very little place to keep it.
Some inspiring bookcases...


Found this in House and Garden. A lovely use of an awkward space. It's almost cave-like, which is probably why I like it.

This is my bookworm. Looks a bit like a book-tornado when you're drunk but I think it's such a fab way of displaying all your collectables. It's also a great idea for softening up a square space, being the round peg in a square hole kinda girl that i am. It comes in black and red too I seem to remember - matt or shiny!

Another House and Garden number. This is what you go for if you're the neat and tidy version of me, or someone who likes straight lines. It's a bit like a Nokia snake. Wow - haven't played that in a while. It's almost retro.

The 'staircase' designed by Danny Kuo makes sense of the one above, which only works if you're a giant or happy to include step-ladder chic into your interior decor. I'm just not.

Gotta be my favourite...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

JUST.... ONE.... MORE.... PUSH.. that's..... it...


Not yer average birth I'll give you that, unless of course you either grew up in North Wales, or had work experience with the Easter bunny. For me - it was the former.

A couple of nights ago, I saw a documentary about lambing being advertised and aside from nearly falling off my (incredibly uncomfortable IKEA) sofa with surprise, it brought flooding back some of my fondest memories.

Aged 10; life started - I discovered lambing. I also discovered being paid, but £1 an hour seemed too sweet a pill to swallow for me, doing 8 hours of work a day in what seemed like my own personalised HEAVEN. None-the-less, dad insisted.

This is not me - just an appropriate image. I was a girl.

I had a never been a squeamish child, nor am I a squeamish grown-up. Worms, snakes, beetles, ants, snails and puppy dog tails, animals - dead or alive - yup that was me. My elder brother was left to play with the sugar and spice. WHICH having rather got off the scent of this tale is where I get to the point that 'lambing really was riiiiiiight up my street!' Animals - check. Dirt, straw, mud, blood, guts - check. AND the grrrrand finale (cue drumroll) a baby, yes a BABY (another childhood obsession) sheep covered in ALL of the above. WHAT WASN"T to LIKE (as they say)?

There he is - the lamby god of heaven. I can hear them now, bleating to me from behind the pearly gates.

But what I wasn't prepared for was the intricate and clever nature of an animal always thought to be one of nature's stoopidist. Well they just aren't. My first glimpse into the mind of this Einstein-like creature was after a particularly troublesome birth due to a very fat lamb whose head had gone back. After this realisation and much straining (from the sheep) the farmer instructed me 'Gloves on - You're going in!' You see my little hands were of more use to him in this situation than his were. And I'm thinking the sheep probably wouldn't have objected either had she the choice, poor thing. I can explain further if you like... NO NO fair enough, you get it.

So my job was to push the sheep back up into the thicker part of the womb and try and pull its head round carefully by going behind it without breaking the neck so the lamb was in more of a diving position. No pressure! Do you follow?

After a bit of a struggle (and some other issues I'll refrain from sharing with you to avoid vomit on the keyboard) I managed to get the head round and with a long tug, out it came! It lay pretty still for a few nervy seconds before giving a little sneeze and embracing its first day of life as a soggy lamb.

And just when I thought the action was over.... the farmer announced we were going to adopt!
Within seconds, using her guerilla tactics, the farmer's wife (who'd been hiding behind the pen) had placed the 2 day old orphan next to his would-be brother. 'Really', I said 'Was the stealth mission necessary? Couldn't you've have just put the orphan in the pen and let the sheep get on with it. Surely, she'd never know the difference?'
'Absoutely not!' came the farmer's reply. 'In fact we must do everything we can to convince the sheep she's had twins.' After saying this, he took the orphan lamb who was just going 'Blaaaaaaa' at this point and promptly silenced it by pushing its head up the sheep's !!AHEM!! before slowly pulling it out again, and then rubbing the orphan over the shivering wet newborn.

Surely this was beyond the realms of orphan duty?

"Was THAT necessary?" came the next bout of insatiable curiosity.

What I had just witnessed was an adoption technique where the farmer was trying to simulate another birth so the sheep wouldn't suspect foul play; and rubbing the orphan over the newborn was to help it appear and smell the same. "They're much cleverer than they look. You can't take any chances,' said the farmer as he placed first the orphan lamb in front of the mother to lick, leaving the newborn behind her. The mother was immediately tentative but after a while got into the spirit of cleaning her "newborn" (te-he we know better) lamb. AFter a good 5 minutes of bonding, the rightful lamb was put at her head also. Again, this was no random act and all part of the adoption: getting the mother used to the smell of the adopted lamb before her own lamb was introduced, so she was less likely to smell an intrudor.

EXTRAORDINARY i thought.... and still do.

But the most surprising thing was, it didn't always work. Sometimes the sheep was way too nifty and knew exactly what was going on, so, the poor thing would be returned to the orphanage in the hope of having better luck next time.
The consequences of not removing an unwanted lamb very often meant its death, either by being crushed or suffocated by the mother. (I never knew sheep could be so vicious!) This was a very sad sight to find, and probably rather costly, so for all its gruesomeness (which admittedly i rather liked aged 10) I now understood why it was so important to the farmer for it to work.

NEXT TIME ON Vi PEEP'S LAMBING WEEKLY... 'More scintillating adoption techniques'

(My middle name isn't MARY for nothing!)

Monday, 11 April 2011

Who Needs a Wedding Invite...

...when you can stay at home and knit your own royal wedding!

Look at the lovely 'Catherine' - positively blushing - all knitted.

And one musn't forget the corgies.

I mean who doesn't have time to stay at home recreating a miniature Buckingham Palace to scale and knitting the entire royal family?

While I defintely don't, I may just have time to squeeze in a Pope. Come on.... who could resist?

And I'm sure the popemobile would only take me 5