The day I became a herpetologist.

Friday the 22nd was better weatherwise and I didn’t feel like having breakfast so you will be spared that particular report for this day.


With all the rest of the family away it was time to knuckle down to some housework as you can see and laundry and ironing was very much the order of the day. I am becoming quite domesticated here although I hate ironing with a passion. The afternoon was spent in the bar so I could use the internet and my mate Ritchie turned up with yet another beautiful guitar, this one a Fender semi-acoustic, so that was another bit of a play although nothing that could be classed as a jam. Even the barman got involved and proved to be a decent player himself. Things like that just happen in the Monty and are seen as quite normal. It is a great bar.

Ritchie being unusually shy for the camera.

Here is the football report for the day.

Brazil beat a spirited Costa Rica side 2 – 0 although they left it late for their goals and then the battling minnows of Iceland took on Nigeria but could not repeat their earlier heroics with the Africans running out 2 – 0 winners. In the final game Serbia took on Switzerland. The Serbs had a dream start when they scored after five minutes and then the Swiss equalised. It was heading for a point apiece until the Swiss managed a winner in the last-minute of normal time.

I didn’t see much of the middle game as I had to go home and prepare dinner for my Father who likes to keep to a set routine and has his evening meal at 1700 every day. No problem, I can manage that. On my way home I stopped at the great little village butchers I mentioned in an earlier entry and which I always refer to as Anderson’s as it had been in that family for years. It has now been sold and I suppose I should get used to calling it Wilkinson’s but old habits die hard. I am glad to see they die hard in this shop, whoever now owns it, as the service is still ever so friendly and the locally reared meat is still excellent. I bought a couple of pork chops and did them with a honey and mustard glaze which turned out OK. If you are wondering about my lack of variety in the vegetable department it is due to my Fathers dietary requirements as he is very limited in what he can eat.


With dinner over for Father there was still one more feeding assignment I had to undertake and so I walked down to my brother’s house to feed the lizard as I mentioned before I had agreed to do. The main meal was easily prepared as that consists of putting some rocket and spinach on a plastic container lid and leaving it in the tank so hardly Michel Roux cuisine but he seems to like it.

The second course was much more interesting. Whilst predominantly herbivorous, my scaly friend is partial to a little dessert of something small and preferably still wriggling and so I fed him a few live maggots held in a long pair of tweezers and he fairly wolfed them down, he really does like one or three. It was difficult to do as I was running out of hands but I did manage to take a video of the event which I think turned out pretty well under the circumstances. If I can ever work out how to do it I will post it here.

I also availed myself of my brothers wi-fi to do a bit of internet work and after that it back up the hill to drop my kit of at home, check on Father and off to the Monty for a couple of pints before home for another good sleep. It must be the country air!

Again I am going to carry straight on as it is another couple of fairly short entries here.

I awoke at about 1100 on Saturday 23rd June which is fairly late for me here and a quick look out the bedroom window showed me that it was already a very good day. Looks like the forecasters might have got it right for once.

I shall start with the usual breakfast image and you may be wondering where the customary Ulster Fry has gone. I opted for a bacon sarnie instead as I was thinking ahead which is unusual for me. All shall become apparent shortly.

I watched the first game of the World Cup day which was Belgium v. Tunisia and ended 5 – 2 in favour of the Europeans with a very late second for Tunisia adding a touch of respectability to the scoreline of a very one-sided affair. Belgium were great with Lukaku, Hazard et al firing on all cylinders. Some friends of mine who know about the game had them as a good bet to go far in the tournament and it certainly looked like it here. It will be interesting to see how England fare against them in their last group game.

S.Korea 1 – Mexico 2.  Mexico were the better side and deserved the win but the late consolation goal by Son was a peach and the highlight of the game.

I was only half watching the game as it was approaching 1700 which is dinner time around here. I mentioned a bit of forward planning and I did not have my fry-up earlier as I was planning one for Father for the evening meal. For purely logistical reasons I knew he had not had had one for a while and I remembered that he was certainly partial to this particular Northern Ireland delicacy. I am not sure I have ever met someone from the Province who didn’t and even the veggies merely substitute Quorn sausages and skip the bacon etc. I’m not sure how the vegans manage.

Like Father…………..

I got to work on the pans and knocked up a couple of plates in a few minutes which we put a serious hole in as the image shows. I promise you that was not staged, we really did clear the plates. Father confirmed that it was indeed a long time since he had eaten a fry and that he was very pleased with it.

………… son.
We didn’t leave much!

With the washing up done it was time to settle down for the third game of the day and one that I was really looking forward to, Sweden vs. Germany.

It was a German must win game after the Mexican defeat and another defeat here would have sent the defending champions home. Sweden scored first courtesy of a terrible ‘keeper error and Sweden pressed with lots of chances late in the first half. Germany had not been impressive but the manager must have given them a rocket at the break and equalised after three minutes in the second half. A German player was sent off late in the half and they looked all but dead and buried, a notion that was confirmed by a great save by the Swedish keeper on 87 minutes. Never write off the Germans, my pick to win the Cup before the start. They finished strong and Kroos scored with 20 secs of the five minutes injury time left to give them a victory they probably didn’t deserve.

Paddy sorting out the next “golden oldie”.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh Macarena.

As usual I went to the Monty in the evening where my mate Paddy was on the decks doing his DJ bit. Even though there were a good number of young people there, he played lots of old stuff which they seemed to love. Musical tastes in Northern Ireland have always tended to look back rather than forward. It suited me nicely as I lost all interest in chart music about 1990 although he did play some newer tracks towards the end. It was a bit mad and I felt right at home, it literally was like I had never been away. Tandragee really is a timeslip and naturally I was late back.

Everybody had a great time.

I promise I’ll get round to writing something of interest soon as this is very much really for my own benefit so stay tuned and spread the word.

Three for the price of one.

A Northern Ireland delicacy.

After a shortish entry for the 18th it will be more of the same for the 19th as it was a day spent doing very much of the same, starting here with the obligatory breakfast image and readers who follow these pages will notice something odd. No fry-up? What’s all this then? Well, sometimes I just fancy a change and this is another favourite of mine which is toasted soda bread, Branston pickle and Coleraine cheddar cheese which is delicious and quite filling.  Coleraine must be doing something right as they reported a growth in sales of 3.7% for the first quarter of 2018.  I might buy shares.

I say Branston pickle as opposed to sweet pickle which is what other manufacturers call a similar product as that is the brand I always use. I love a bargain and will quite happily use supermarket own brand products which are often as good as the name brands and far cheaper. There are, however, some items that demand certain brands e.g. Worcestershire sauce must be Lea & Perrins and Colmans is the only English mustard I will use.

Simple fare but my Dad loves it.

I’ll just jump ahead a moment now as we are talking about food. Due to my Father’s dietary requirements and taste for simple food, coupled with a fairly small local supermarket means that I am never going to go mad in the kitchen, much as I love cooking. Ordinarily my sister-in-law prepares an evening meal for my Dad but when I am home I sometimes do it. Haute cuisine it is most certainly not nor is it intended to be but Father wolfed down the offering pictured above and pronounced himself satisfied. Although I rarely eat at that hour of the day I had a plate of it myself, smothered in butter and HP Sauce and it hasn’t killed either of us yet so it must have been OK.


Just a word about the potatoes here. Like Guinness and rain, potatoes are synonymous with the island of Ireland and I still maintain that we grow the best in the world. I say this without prejudice and I have eaten some lovely Cypriot spuds in Cyprus which would be our nearest rivals in the field (pun absolutely intended) but I still think ours are better. I do have a question however. As you can hopefully see from the attached image they are Navan potatoes grown in County Down. I know a Navan Fort which is a few miles South of Armagh City and I know a town called Navan in Co. Meath in the Irish Republic but I don’t know one in Co. Down. Just another of those odd Northern Irish things I suppose and presumably it is just the name of the variety.

As for the football it began with Colombia 1 – Japan 2 but the game was ruined as a spectacle with Colombia having a player sent off after just three minutes. In a slightly better game Senegal beat Poland 2 – 1 which was somewhat unexpected and caused some wonderful celebrations amongst the colourful African supporters.

In the evening game the hosts Russia faced Egypt and run out pretty comfortable 3 – 1 winners. Little was expected of the home nation before the tournament but they have started with two wins out of two, scoring eight goals in the process with ony one conceded, and they are looking a decent side. I think they might surprise people a bit more than they already have.

Weather – still awful!

Because these entries are  all so short I shall go straight onto the 20th and 21st here which explains the title.

Wednesday 20th of June and I may as well start with the weather which was still garbage although there was talk of it picking up by the weekend. I’ve heard that one before!


As for breakfast, well, what exactly is going on here? Two days in a row and never an Ulster Fry in sight. I must be slipping. I reverted to my Canadian favourite of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup although I am going to have to be careful as the “sirop d’erable” is running low. I shall need to resupply soon.

My brother was heading off with some of his biker mates for a few days round Fermanagh and Donegal on their Honda CBXs. My brothers machine is 40 years old now and it is absolutely pristine. I’ll have to get out for a run with him before I leave as it is way too long since I was on a large bike, even riding pillion. My sister-in-law was away to Bulgaria for a “girls week away” and my nephew had taken himself to Donegal with friends for a week which left his lizard to be cared for so guess who got the job.


I went down to be introduced to the lovely looking chap whose image you see above. He is a bearded lizard which is a species that I believe originates in Australia and feeding him could not be simpler as it only needs to be done every couple of days and consists of putting some pre-prepared rocket and spinach salad on the lid of a Tupperware container and putting it down in front of him. Best of all it only needs to be done every two or three days as they do not eat too much. I asked about water and was informed that they don’t need much, if any at all, as they get all the moisture they need from the food but he always has a small container of it just in case he gets extra thirsty.

People who remember me from Virtual Tourist and TravBuddy days will know that I am fond of quoting a saying from my late grandmother that “it is a poor day that you don’t learn something”. For a woman who left school at age 14 some years before the first World War she really was very wise. What I learnt today was that this particular lizard is purely carnivorous as a juvenile but becomes almost completely vegetarian in adulthood hence the rocket salad. I say almost as my brother showed me a container of live maggots and a pair of long tweezers which he told me I could use to feed the beast if I was OK with it although it was not essential. OK with it? Just try to stop me. If I can manage it with only one pair of hands I shall take a video of the event and post it here. The best thing of all is that the little chap only needs feeding about every two or three days which certainly makes it much less onerous than dog-sitting.

Time for a quick football (soccer) World Cup update. Portugal beat Morocco by yet another Ronaldo goal in a pretty poor game. After the way they played against Spain I really expected more from them. Uruguay 1 – Saudi 0 and Spain 1 – Iran 0 were both predictable results although Spain, like Portugal, were nothing like at their best which can be very good indeed.


Approaching the longest day of the year it was still pretty light at about 2230 in the evening even on what had been a fairly overcast day. It is amazing how much difference a few hundred miles North makes between where I normally am in London and back in Northern Ireland.

Pretty boring I know but I am not really in a position to go anywhere at present. I promise I will do something interesting to report here when I get the chance and as this entry is also pretty short I shall carry straight on.


Thursday 21st of June was a day of doing very little and the weather so bad that I did not leave the house all day, it really was dismal. That is the first part of my three point writing plan and so on swiftly to the second which is breakfast. Readers who were wondering if I had become ill as I had not had a fried breakfast for two days will see from the image that they need not have worried and as a little bonus I shall include another image of the complete set of equipment I need to make these delicious bellybusting meals. It certainly saves on the washing up!

This is all it takes

I call these fry-ups breakfast although that may be stretching a point as this one was not consumed until nearly 1430. I cannot eat for a few hours after I wake up and just refer to my first meal of the day in the proper sense of the word as it is when I “break the fast” of my sleep. To be honest, I will eat them at any time of the day or night and frequently do.

I’ll finish off with the final element of my entries, the football (soccer) World Cup.  Given the awful weather I watched all three games in full

Denmark 1 – Australia 1. Eriksen, who plays for Spurs in London opened the scoring with a brilliant goal. Later on Austrlia had a penalty for handball after a VAR review. The acronym stands for Video Assitant Referee and has completely divided opinion amongst those who follow “the beautiful game”. I’ll go into it fully at future date but, however the pen was awarded. it was scored convincingly under pressure by The Aussie skipper. Towards the end of the match Australia had several good chances and might well have won.

France 1 – Peru 0 was not a great game with France just doing enough to ease past Peru by the slimmest of margins and they are out now.

Arg 0 – Cro 3. A scrappy first half with one good chance each missed by each side which was disappointing as this should have been a really good game contested by two decent sides. Second half Croatia were much better and Argentina were poor, very poor. Their superstar, Lionel Messi was completely MIA (missing in action) as was most of the South American side. The first goal was a complete rick by the Argentinian keeper Caballero which was punished by a great shot by Radic.
If Messi is the Argentinian talisman then Luka Modric performs that function for Croatia and he did not disappoint with an absolute peach of a second goal. A game where “vigorous” tackling had been much in evidence then got completely ratty and there could easily have been red cards. The third by Rakitic on full time merely rubbed salt in the wound and leaves Argentina, amongst the pre-tournament favourites, in serious danger of not getting out of the group.

After the football I was flicking through the channels on the TV and happened upon pure gold. I am a huge fan of Monty Python and the various solo projects of the members, one of which was the wonderful Ripping Yarns written by and starring Michael Palin and Terry Jones. I think Palin may be my favourite Python not just for his humour but for the way he re-invented himself as one of the worlds leading travel presenters. I have adored everything he has done in that field because of my own love of travel. OK, I know it helps to have the weight of the BBC and a massive budget behind you but he has certainly been around a bit and I do love his presenting style. I would love to see his old passports!

As for the Ripping Yarns this evening I had a real treat as there were three episodes back to back, – Tomkinson’s Schooldays, The Testing of Eric Olthwaite and Escape from Stalag Luft 112B. I have seen them all before but it is some time since I did and it was great fun to revisit them. If you have not seen them I do suggest you search them out.

All of this and a bit more writing up this journal offline took me to bedtime where again I slept like a log.

Stay tuned and spread the word.