All filler, no killer.

Up again ludicrously early on American Independence day to another beautiful morning and again despite only a few hours sleep caused but late night reading again. Prepared breakfast for Father and then took into little light gardening which is completely unheard of as I am not really a fan which is possibly due to the fact that I don’t have a garden and have no idea what I am doing. I shall let you know in due course how much of my Dad’s lovely work I have managed to annihilate.

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Time for brunch which was the usual fry-up and accompanying picture. Now I know you probably do not even bother to look at them any more but please do and spot the new ingredient.

After a visit from the dietician, my Father has had his dietary restrictions removed and is free to eat what he likes again, which is just about anything. This is a great relief as I can attack the supermarket with complete freedom and when I saw the wheaten bread there it was an absolute must.

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Wheaten bread is yet another Irish delicacy which I can source in London at the larger supermarkets but is not really that common on the mainland. As you can see, the packaging calls it toaster wheaten and it is lovely done that way with either sweet or savoury toppings or it is great simply buttered as an accompaniment to just about anything but my favourite is fried wheaten. Frankly, anything fried is my favourite as you may know by now. If you have not been following my “Fergy’s Guide to the Ulster Fry” series here, it is the dark brown object to the Northeast of the plate. There will be more “mystery ingredients” as and when I go shopping to a larger place than my village shop.

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Great with just a bit of butter.

With that done it was time for a read and a doze and then back up for a bit more writing for this site which brings me to the title of the piece. It is a musical reference referring to albums (as they were in my day) or CD’s where there were maybe half a dozen killer tracks and the rest of the product was filled with tunes that normally would never have made the cut. It is also the title of an item on a radio show on the wonderful XXX BBB6 Music Radio which is easily my favourite station on the odd occasions I listen to radio. Do yourself a favour and check it out. If you are not in UK it is available online on the link above.
After England finally beat the penalty shootout hoodoo against Colombia in the World Cup last night (along with the expected ridiculous media hype today) there will be nothing to report here on the football front and so I shall rely on a “fillers” about the village. In truth this does not bother me as I have been looking thorough the carnage that calls itself my “File Manager” here and I have uncovered quite a large amount of writing that I had spent many long manhours researching and writing for other websites I was involved with and which I am loath to lose.
For today’s offering I shall tell you about the War Memorial in Tandragee which I see every day I go into the village.

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War Memorial, Tandragee.

I have mentioned in other entries that I am quite interested in military history and Northern Ireland has certainly produced it’s fair share of service personnel over the years. The exploits of the 36th Ulster Division at the Battle of the Somme in the First World War are legendary, and the numbers of casualties appalling.

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Like so many small towns and villages in the Province, Tandragee has a memorial to the fallen of both world wars. It is of itself not remarkable save that it employs the older spelling of the village as TandEragee, the first E having fallen into disuse now, but it is very typical of the style you will see. I often stop and have a look as I go about my business, and reflect on the generations of (mostly) young men who perished.

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I have included here images of all four faces of the memorial to illustrate a point. Tandragee, although expanding rapidly, is not a large place. It is the kind of village where it can take you an hour to walk down the main street just because you meet people you know. The last census in 2011 shows a population of 3486 which is up a few 100s from 2001 when it was just over 3,000. Obviously, this was much less in the 1930’s and considerably less at the time of the First War. Count the number of men commemorated here and try to imagine the impact then on what is still a close-knit community now. As that wonderful singer / songwriter Eric Bogle put it in his wonderful “The band played Waltzing Matilda”, “a whole generation that was butchered and damned”.
If you are interested in War Memorials in the United Kingdom, I would recommend the  National Inventory of War Memorials website.  This is run under the auspices of the Imperial War Museum in London and it’s aim is to record the details of every war memorial in the United Kingdom including images. Perhaps you might want to get involved yourself. I certainly intend to as I think it is a worthwhile thing to do.
I shall probably not post this when I go to the pub tonight as it is rather brief and probably deserves to be run into the next entry. I shall get on with finishing my Lundy Island and West Country travelogue and then try to work out what I shall do for the next “series” although I have more or less made my mind up.

 

I did not actually make it to the pub for the internet that night so I shall run on into the 5th here.

Thursday 5th July was a bit of a non-event on all fronts and so it will get lumped in with some other days as I wouldn’t post just this by itself.

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The weather was a lot cooler than it had been, I had my usual fry for brunch, it was another rest day in the World Cup and I didn’t go to the pub in the evening. I spent the day furiously typing up more entries for the site.

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The only thing of slight interest, or possibly not, was that I concluded a small experiment which will never rival splitting the atom but satisfied a childhood curiosity of mine. I couple of days previously whilst pottering about in my Dad’s garden I had found a penny which looked like it had been there since Noah was a Sea Cadet. It was so discoloured it was almost black. I had heard years before that HP sauce (other sauces are available!) would remove discolouration from metallic objects and so I gave it a go. I cannot believe I never did it as a youngster. Long story short, it works as you can see. If it does that to metal I dread to think what it is doing to my insides as I put the stuff on just about everything I eat.

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,,,,,,,and after.

That is about it so I shall lump this rather quiet day in with others.

I might as well keep rolling here and get it all over with before I point you in the direction of something hopefully more interesting than my daily breakfast menu and experiments for five-year olds!

Friday 6th of July and I was awake ludicrously early again on the back of about five hours sleep. I prepared the breakfast table for Father and took myself into some more writing for this site which finished off my West Country / Lundy pieces that now await publishing whenever I get the chance so keep your eyes open for that.

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Give us this day out daily fry.

By about midday it was time for my brunch and you’ll never guess what it was. OK, you probably will guess if you read these pages at all and the image above will merely act as confirmation. Yes, I really could live on Ulster Fry-ups.

The weather was still warm but not so sunny and gave the opportunity for a little light gardening which consisted of some savage pruning of the creeping plant on the back wall which was threatening to completely cover my Fathers bedroom window. Fergy 1 – Triffid 0.

A combination of lack of sleep, the heat, the unusual mild physical exertion and a belly full of carbohydrates and cooking oil was taking its toll and so it was off to bed for a little lie down.

The afternoon old man doze put paid to the first half of the afternoon football but I was expecting a long night ahead so I probably needed it. The match was Uruguay vs. France in the first of the four quarter finals and things are getting really serious now. Playing for a place in the semis is a big deal.

I awoke just in time for the second half to find France 1 – 0 to the good courtesy of a Varane goal after 40 minutes. The Uruguayans had a couple of decent attacks but no apparent finishers with Cavani injured on the sideline. Luis Suarez did not seem to be offering much. On 61 minutes the game may have been put beyond the reach of the South Americans. Griezemann hit a fairly tame long-range effort straight at the ‘keeper which would be absolutely bread and butter for a Sunday League player but somehow, in attempting to parry it, he managed to spoon it into his own net for France 2 – Uruguay 0. It was such a soft goal that the French striker was too embarrassed to even celebrate.

After 67 minutes the game boiled over with Mbappe going down for apparently little reason after the slightest of contacts and he was writhing round like he had been hit with a taser. Some of the play acting in this tournament has been appalling. It degenerated into a bit of a melee and the Argentinian referee did not cover himself in glory with his handling of the incident. The net result was a booking on each side. Uruguay have historically had a reputation of being a dirty team and on the evidence of this World Cup there is an element of it still there. Like French rugby teams of yore they can be brilliant but completely lose the plot when things start going against them.

Again, I am writing this in real-time and it is now five minutes of normal time remaining and looking pretty well done and dusted. If it remains this way I shall be quite happy as France have played some scintillating football and Uruguay will probably be more remembered for the negative side of their game than some of the excellent moments they are certainly capable of providing.

87 minutes and France have a free kick in a decent area which they are naturally in no hurry to take. Griezemann lines himself up for a rocket but it goes over the bar. Five minutes of extra time and Uruguay need a miracle. No miracle for Uruguay and France move on to the semi-final to face Belgium or Brazil, either one of which will be a great game on current form.

I started watching the evening game of Brazil vs. Belgium at home and it promised to be a beaut. Belgium had been playing very well and with the likes of Lukaku and de Bruyne with Hazard pulling the strings they have a bit of firepower up front, but Brazil? Surely that would be a step too far for them. Certainly, the Brazilians had not been playing as well as they can but they are the most successful World Cup side ever, having won it five times and most people expect them to get at least to the semis at least. It was not to work out quite like that.

The game started in lively enough fashion and was then turned on its head in the 16th minute when two Brazilian defenders got in each other’s way and at a set piece and managed to put the ball past their own ‘keeper. 1 – 0 to Belgium and was there something big in the offing? The way this World Cup is going anything is possible. It really has been a fascinating competition thus far. The Brazilian task became even harder with a superb strike from de Bruyne on XXX minutes. I managed to miss that goal on my ten minute walk from home to the pub and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw 2 – 0 scoreline.

The Brazilians scored late in the piece but it was to prove merely a consolation. I should mention Courtois, the Belgian ‘keeper, here. They do not award “Man of the Match” accolades at this tournament but he would have been the choice of many people, myself included. He gave an absolute masterclass in ‘keeping and pulled off a succession of superb saves when the Brazilians did get their shooting boots on. He is very hard to beat.

For a Friday night the bar was pretty quiet with maybe only ten people there, all of whom I knew and it was pleasant enough. My mate Jim turned up about 2200, having fallen asleep and missed most of the game! We had provisionally arranged to go to the Castle Bar in nearby Gilford which hosts an open traditional Irish music session on a Friday evening and attracts a good standard of musicians.

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Another toy for Fergy.

I had mentioned this to my brother earlier in the day and he asked me was I going to play the old Eko Ranger that stays in my Dad’s house for when I come home. I love the old Eko as it is the guitar I learned to play on many years ago. My Father brought it home about 1974 and it was second-hand then so it must be getting on for 50 years old and showing it a bit but it still plays well enough. However, my brother had other ideas and told me that he had been given a right-handed Fender Squier acoustic which he would lend me. My brother is a very decent guitarist but plays left-handed and whilst I am also left-handed I play right-handed so borrowing one of his several very fine guitars was out of the question. I told you nothing is ever simple with me.

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Brand spanking new-label and all.

He had duly appeared later on with a cheap little case containing a brand spanking new eentry level Fender which still had the label attached and the scratchplate protected for delivery. A quick tune up and play in and it was ready for action.

Unfortunately, whilst the guitar was ready for action there was no action for it to be ready for. Jim ‘phoned his brother who was in the Castle and who imparted the news that there were a total of seven people in the bar with not a muso to be seen. At this time of year and especially in this beautiful weather everyone decamps to their caravans at the seaside. Ah well, next week perhaps.

The rest of the evening was spent in pleasant conversation before home, another read and bed.

More football in the next entry with England taking on Sweden so stay tuned and spread the word.

 

Batten down the hatches and get the pan on.

In this entry I shall re-introduce you to a Northern Ireland institution I have mentioned before and introduce you to one I have not yet spoken of in this travelogue although it will be familiar to anyone who has visited the country.

I woke on Wednesday 13th June after another good sleep which is somewhat of a blessing for me given my usual sleep problems. I don’t know if it is the country air or something else but I really am sleeping well here. I was preparing breakfast for my Father and turned on the TV just in time to catch the weather forecast and that came as a bit of a shock.

I do hope you have read the earlier reports from this journey where I described the small heatwave we had enjoyed and where I managed to get sunburnt. Yes, I know, sunburnt in Northern Ireland in June. I swear it is true as I have seen myself in the mirror which is a sight I would not wish to inflict on anyone else by way of photographic evidence here so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Would there be more sun on the way? No chance, and instead we were given a storm warning for that night for a weather system coming in from the Atlantic overnight and which Met Eireann (the Irish meteorological body) had named Hector, presumably for the hero of myth rather than the animated canine character of 1960’s children’s TV.

That was the re-introduction to the Northern Irish institution that is the weather of which it is truly said, “If you don’t like it, wait fifteen minutes” and so now on to the other institution I mentioned at the top of this piece. I shall begin by skipping back to the little tease I left you with at the end of the last entry and which I do hope you have read where I mentioned that I had found something in my little village supermarket that I have never seen on sale in Northern Ireland. Come to that I have never seen it on sale outside Scotland where it is known as slice, Lorne sausage or square sausage and here it was packaged as the latter.

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The hugely tasty and dangerously calorific square sausage.

Square sausage is a cornerstone of Scottish breakfasts, so what is it? It is nothing more than that which the name suggests, it is beef sausage meat which is seasoned and lightly spiced and then cut into slices that are really more rectangular than sausage but I suppose square is easier to say. OK, it also contains such delicious ingredients as Thiomin, Disodium Diphosphate and Sodium Tripolyphosphate which are all perfectly safe. I hope.

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Not only was this the first time I had seen it on sale here, I was amazed to see that it was actually manufactured in Northern Ireland by Hull’s of Ballymena, which is in Northern Ireland. The packaging says “New” and I suspect they are onto a winner. The whole situation got even better as it was on special offer at £1 for four slices which is half price. Needless to say I bought some. OK, I bought a lot as I knew it would not last long in my kitchen. I think the young girl on the checkout thought I had gone mad.

Whilst I had eaten this delicacy as part of many a hearty Scottish breakfast I knew it would fit beautifully into the other institution I mentioned which is the world-famous Ulster Fry. For those of you unfortunate enough not to have sampled this culinary masterpiece, I shall provide a recipe.

1. Pick a selection from the following. Egg, sausage, bacon, square sausage (as of just recently), black pudding, white pudding, soda bread, wheaten bread, potato bread, white loaf bread, mushrooms, baked beans, tomato. In cases of extreme hunger pick one of everything or as the ultimate hangover cure pick one of everything and serve with a pint of Guinness.

2. Fry everything in oil except the beans and mushrooms (heat in pots) and the tomato (half and grill). If you want to be very traditional about it use lard instead of oil.

3. Serve.

Obviously this is the type of meal that give cardiologists “funny little moments” but this is the genuine article. I dread to think what the calorie count is for a decent sized Ulster fry but it is well into four figures. Here is an example. Just the two slices of square sausage you see in some of these images provide me with 34% of my recommended daily fat intake and over half my saturates intake and that is only the raw contents before I start frying it! I have heard this described as a heart attack on a plate which is probably true but it doesn’t half taste great. I know you could grill the various sausage, bacon and even the puddings but that would be classed as heresy where I come from. HP sauce is the condiment of choice although a few people prefer tomato ketchup which also works.

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Ulster fry “lite”.

That then is the calorific joy that is the Ulster Fry and it is quite feasible in the UK with most of the big supermarkets carrying soda and potato bread. Wheaten is a little harder to find but not impossible. White pudding is also quite difficult to source but is really worth the effort especially if you are one of those people who is uneasy at the concept of blood type sausage / pudding.  If I have any readers outside the UK then I think you may struggle a bit so my only advice is to save your pennies, cents, baht, pesos or whatever and come to Northern Ireland for the genuine article.

Apart from several hours spent digesting the gargantuan brunch (which is pretty small by local standards) and reading nothing much happened during the day and so that evening I secured anything that might possibly blow away and retired to bed to await the hurricane.

If you want to know whether or not we still had a roof the next morning then stay tuned and spread the word.