Yet again I awoke unusually early on the morning of Wednesday 27th of June even beating my earlybird Father out of bed and it only took a glance out the window to tell me that it was going to be another beautiful day as forecast and as it was to prove.
I prepared breakfast for Father and took off out to the back garden where it was very hot by 0900. I read some of the book pictured which is The Ulster Canal by Brian Cassells which deals with the now disused waterway of that name. People who know me are aware that I adore canals and everything associated with them. There are a few travelogues heading this way when I wade my way through everything else I have to do here.
The canal was first planned in 1815 with Government approval granted in 1825 and eventually opened in 1841 and had a relatively short and consistently loss-making career until the last vessel travelled it in 1929 and it was officially abandoned two years later. At present in mainland Britain there are numerous canals being refurbished and there is a great interest in them.
The Ulster is in an awful state now with about ten miles of it even infilled but work is underway to re-open a small portion with the ultimate aim of making it once again navigable from Wattlebridge in the Republic of Ireland to Charlemont on the shores of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland and it is this that may prove advantageous to the canal enthusiasts.
In the current political climate following the Good Friday agreement everybody seems to be anxious to get involved in cross-border projects to show just how nice we are all being to each other nowadays. Apart from anything else, the hope is that a re-opened canal would bring in visitors to an area deemed to be one of the most socially deprived in Europe and thereby creating much-needed employment.
If you have any interest in acquiring a copy the ISBN is 978-1-910657-05-8 and is published by XXX Cottage Publications. I do recommend it.
My brother appeared in the morning to take my Father’s motorbike for its MOT. For non-UK readers, and MOT is an annual check on motor vehicles over a certain age to ensure they are roadworthy. A check on the odometer showed that the only mileage since last year was the similar journey made for MOT in 2017. The battery needs replacing but I doubt Father will be on it again. Other than that it is in a great state of repair.
My breakfast was really brunch and consisted of scrambled eggs on toasted soda bread which I do rather like and Canadian breakfast was out of the question until I source more maple syrup. The deliberately wide-angle is to show the little “kicker” for the meal and which some people might find a bit strange. I love sweet chilli sauce and have even been known to make my own which is really simple and inexpensive to do. I will use it as a condiment for nearly anything savoury and that includes scrambled eggs on toast. I told you I had odd tastes.
Now onto the football and the game everyone wanted to watch was Germany vs. South Korea and which I missed the first half of due to my old man afternoon dozette. It was being played at the same time as Sweden vs. Mexico and whilst it was mathematically a little complicated it boiled down to the fact that Germany, the holders, had to win to remain in the competition. From the 45 minutes I saw they never looked like it and to call them very average would be to be kind to them, they were rubbish.
It was heading for a scoreless draw until the Koreans scored right on full-time with a goal that yet again was adjudicated by VAR. They added a second well into injury time although it was a bit freakish as the German keeper was playing in midfield by then. It is the first time in 80 years that Germany have failed to get out of the group and it really is a big deal. The final indignity was that they finished last beneath the Koreans in the group table. Auf wiederschen!
In the other match, which I have not yet seen, Sweden despatched Mexico with three second half goals including a penalty and an own goal although both these teams now progress to the next stage.
I had intended to watch the Brazil game in the evening as there was a mathematical possibility that this team with such World Cup pedigree could exit the tournament as Germany had done earlier but no chance really. I watched their first half against Serbia and was treated to a peach of a goal by Paulinho but at half-time I started to feel the missing of my afternoon nap and was really tired so I had to retire to bed early, intending to get up later to watch the highlights show. In the event, I did not wake up until after midnight! I think it must be the heat that is making me sleep so much but that suits me nicely given my usual insomnia.
I made a bite to eat, and watched an even later re-run of the highlights which showed that Brazil had added a second in the second half and are really beginning to look the part. In the other match Switzerland and Costa Rica played out a 2 – 2 draw which sends the Swiss through to the knockout stages and send the Costa Ricans home.
Having just woken up I wasn’t really in the mood to go back to bed and so I watched a couple of very interesting documentaries on BBC4 which is an excellent channel. I went to bed about 0330 and read for about an hour or so, a re-read of a Terry Pratchett as I had finished the canal book. Eventually I managed to get off to sleep and so ended another very enjoyable day.
I’ll add another background piece to the next entry to alleviate the undoubted mundanity of my current entries so stay tuned and spread the word.
Here then is the piece I promised you at the beginning of this entry and, once again, it was rescued from the Virtual Tourist website before it was butchered. I have edited it as required although it did not take much doing as it is mostly historical. As you will know, I am staying at present in Tandragee which many of you will not even have heard of and so here is a little introduction to the village I lived in over thirty years ago and which is now home to my immediate family.
“I lived in the little village of Tandragee about 28 years ago before moving to London where I am still based when not travelling. I do not return all that often and when I do, nothing much ever seems to change. Certainly there are a few more housing developments and four of the six pubs have closed down in the last few years (The Huntsman, the Castle, Cullens and the Paddock if you’re interested), as has the only bank, but really it is a case of same old, same old.
There are a few decent shops including two small supermarkets, a Chinese takeaways, a chip shop, a kebab shop and a fried chicken place. I think I must be the only person in the village that cooks! I am lucky in that because there is an excellent butchers (Wilkinson’s, formerly Anderson’s, in the main street) where they butcher meat from farms nearby and a great little greengrocers where the majority of the produce is again locally sourced. It is not difficult to buy the makings of a great Northern Irish meal with negligible food miles if that is an issue for the reader.
Nightlife is pretty minimal as I have mentioned, tied up with most of the pubs closing and public transport is abysmal as it is in most parts of rural Northern Ireland. Still, it is a pleasant enough place and the people are friendly in a typical Northern Ireland fashion. I think a little history is in order here, not to mention an explanation of the rather cryptic page title.
The name Tandragee derives from the Gaelic Tin re Gaoith meaning “back(side) to/of the wind”. It can be windy enough at the top of the town and putting your backside to it makes eminent sense to me!
Once home of the O’Hanlon’s, their family seat was burnt in 1641 during the Irish rebellion and in 1837 a large baronial house was built at the top of the town by George Montagu, the 6th Baron Manchester. His name lives on in the name of the Montagu Arms. The Hall remains and is the so-called Tayto Castle, offices of the Tayto potato crisp (potato chip for my American readers) factory.
Tayto crisps are as much a part of Northern Ireland life as soda bread or Guinness, they are ubiquitous and I will accept no argument when I say that Tayto Cheese and Onion are the best crisps in the world bar none! My sister-in-law actually works there part time.
Like so many other villages in the area, Tandragee used to be very dependant on textile mills but these are now gone, as has most of the industry round the village, except the crisp factory mentioned. Again, my now crisp making sister-in-law mentioned above used to work in the last one before it closed and they had provided employment for most of the women in the village for generations.
Somewhat oddly, for a village of just over 3,000 people at the last census, there is a small airstrip here, although I have only ever heard of one man using it. I wonder can you guess what factory he owns?
A final thought. According to the census of 2001, 48.0% of the population were male and 50.0% were female. I have yet to come across the other 2%. I’ll let you know if I do”.
There you go then, a brief introduction to my current abode. I shall include other little bits and pieces along the way so stay tuned and spread the word.