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Recovery

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My recovery is going well, I've been out walking every day and walked half the small by-pass today.  I'll try all of it tomorrow.  The entire by-pass is almost 6 miles but you can break it up into 3 different walks so I'll keep going with the aim of doing the entire thing within 2 to 3 weeks.  The only thing about walking is that I can't walk at my usual pace, if I try to speed up I feel the muscles around the wound tighten and I don't want to push myself to the point where I might rupture something on the inside and end up back in hospital.  It's a strange feeling, it feels sometimes as if a muscle has got caught on my lower rib, not a pleasant feeling by any means but it slows me down and stops me from overdoing it. 

I also drove today for the first time since the operation too.  I didn't receive much advice on leaving hospital other than to take it easy so I've been checking online for advice and tips.  One site advised that if I could stamp my braking foot hard on the ground then I should be ok to drive.  I was able to do that ok and felt strong enough to drive so I gave it a go and it was fine.  The wound itself has healed really well so things are steadily improving and I hope to be back at work before Christmas.  

Before the gallbladder operation, I would have considered myself to be fairly tough.  I have come through some fairly traumatic events in my time, after all, I grew up in a war zone and then the ‘Troubles’ started!!  Seriously, though, I’ve had a fair share of trauma and emotional pain but when faced with the hard reality of actual physical pain, I realised I wasn’t anywhere near as tough as I thought I was. I actually have quite a high pain threshold but there was one day in particular when I was in extreme pain and unable to take any more pain relief as I had reached my limit and most of it wasn’t working anyway.  There was nothing I could do but just sit there and endure it, which I did for 10 hours and in enduring it, I was humbled, and to be honest, I think something in me did break.  

Being confronted with the reality of my own human weakness has certainly brought about some profound changes.   Whether the changes will be temporary or permanent will remain to be seen but one of the positives I’ve taken from it is that I have definitely become more patient, not just with others but more importantly, with myself.  I realise that in the past, I have been far too hard on myself and tried to take on and do too much. There have been many times when I have driven myself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion.  Not only that but I would also have considered it a personal failure if I had ever fallen ill with flu or something, or worse,  ever had to ask anyone for help. 

Well, those days are certainly over and I will now happily accept all offers of help…well, maybe not all, just the useful ones or the ones I need!  I will also give myself time to recover.  I’m cutting back on the work front too and giving up the second job.  Time is more important to me than money and I want to enjoy as much of my life as possible, after all, no one knows what tomorrow may bring. 

Funnily enough, on the Sunday the pain started, I had changed my mind about the Robert Plant/Van Morrison concert.  Standing at An Grianan Aligh admiring the view, I had thought, ‘to hell with the cost, it’s a once in a lifetime event with 2 musical legends, I’m going!’  But by the time I got home, the pain had overtaken me and all thoughts of the concert were forgotten.  So, even if I had got a ticket, I still would have missed it.  My sister and her husband did go, she said it was brilliant.  She’s not a Van Morrison fan but she said he was amazing.  Of course, Robert Plant was amazing, that goes without saying! I was really sorry I missed it but c’est la vie!  I also missed out on my trip to England for bonfire night.  Ah well, there’s always next year – I hope!


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Weddin

Autumn and Allotments

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So, Autumn returns, even if it feels like we just skipped from summer to winter.  The heating has been back on for several weeks and the sandals have been packed away and the coats on again.  We did ok with the allotment too, considering it was our first year.  I had intended sharing some photos but I lost the iphone my sister gave me so that put an end to that.  I've never lost a phone, ever, and I cannot understand how I lost this one.  I had it in my bag and it is a fairly deep bag, and I had gone to the allotment with the express purpose of taking a few photos and when I looked for it, it was gone.  I've come to the conclusion that smart phones turn into drones, the minute your back is turned, and fly back to the factory, forcing you to buy a new one!  

But we had good crops of potatoes, peas, kale, cabbage, beets, brocolli and various types of beans.  Our carrots didn't do as well but we seem to have done better with our second sowing.  We also have a second sowing of peas in.  The brussels sprouts are looking good and we'll definitely have home grown for the Christmas dinner this year.  Our corn doesn't look as if it is going to have much but we didn't get anything planted until May so it was more of an experiment as we didn't know you could grow corm here in our climate.  Our neighbours had a good crop so we'll get ours in earlier next year.  The tomatoes were late too but have started to ripen now.

Overall, it was a busy summer, we had a couple of new arrivals in the family too, both girls, so I was also busy crocheting blankets for them.  

And now that September is here, art class has started again, yaaayyy!, and Culture Night is on this Friday.  I'll be heading to Letterkenny for it as North West Words are having an open mike night, and there is also a comedy gala in An Grianan.  I was out last week to see the Ulster Orchestra.  They were playing in the stunning Guild Hall in Derry, they played Richard Strauss's Don Quixote and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10, two beautiful pieces of music, and a thoroughly enjoyable night was had by all!  They're coming back in December to do Handel's Messiah and a Christmas show of favourite tunes.  They have also a Vienna night of Strauss waltzes planned for the New Year and I will definitely not be missing that!

The God of Rock returns in October but to Dublin this time, headlining with Van Morrison in the 3Arena or as I still call it, the Point Depot.  I don't have a ticket yet as I'm still debating whether to go as I'm going to England the following weekend for Bonfire Night, All the standing tickets are gone and I'm not a fan of the tiered seating in the Point and the Hotels prices are ridiculous.  It's going to cost the guts of €300 and that's just for the room and the ticket!  Decisions! Decisions!

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Weddin

Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters

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I was in Belfast on Saturday night for the Robert Plant concert.  I have seen Robert Plant many times now but I think Saturday's performance was the best ever.  We got into the queue early and got right up to the front, just slightly off to the right but still with a full view, of the stage.  The time flew in, 2 hours of new tracks, recent tracks and of course, Led Zeppelin  tracks, including one of my favourite's, That's The Way.  A heart-stopping performance from this amazingly talented man and the equally talented Sensational Space Shifters (try saying that sober, never mind after a few).  I would recommend you go and see them but the tour is sold out so if you don't have a ticket now then you have no chance of getting one, I'm afraid. But you can check out the new album, Carry Fire, a relaxing mellow bluesy listen, treat yourself for xmas!

Also on the bill, was the support act, Seth Lakeman, who I didn't know, but have become an instant fan.  Another brilliant musician, he also played with the band, a great fiddle/violin player among many instruments he could put his hand too. He too has a new album out, Ballads of the Broken Few.  I haven't heard the album yet but going by the content of the show, it would definitely be worth the money.

So, a great night out all around, good music, good company and we also had a great meal beforehand.  I can't remember the name of the restaurant we ate in but it is right next to the Travelodge in the city centre near the Ulster Hall, so if in Belfast and in need of sustenance, check it out.  Excellent food and reasonably priced.

But, unfortunately, there was a downside to the night and one of the reasons why I have given up on the big gigs, the 'concert poseur'.  You know the one, the, 'just bought the recent album, and everybody else is going so you have to go, and take none stop selfies and pictures and film and post everything to Facebook so everyone can see what a dynamic and interesting life you live' and annoy the shit out of everyone around you. 

Now, I have been to many concerts and dealt with some extremely annoying incidences, from the stampede of 'queens' at the Cher concert who almost trampled over the rest of the audience in their haste to get to the stage, to the constant selfie-takers/Facebookers at Bryan Adams (where I got to watch most of the concert through their phones) but never had to actually speak up or complain because, well, it's a concert, and people get a bit excited but they usually calm down once the 'star' is on stage and the show started. 

Not this time (by the way, these were 3 males, not females) and the shouting of inanities, yee-hawing and self-congratulatory braying continued unabated to the point where I couldn't actually hear Robert Plant singing.  So, for the first time in my life, after almost being deafened in one ear by the roaring, patience ran out and I turned around and said 'Would you ever shut the fuck up!  I paid good money to come here to listen to Robert Plant, not you!'  So, for the most part it calmed down, at least to a level that was bearable and I was able to enjoy the rest of the show.

We were going to the pub after the show, to meet up with friends and on stepping out on to the streets of Belfast were greeted with, what can only be described as, Dante's version of Christmas.  Party night was on and the sight of hundreds of drunken 'party-goers' in xmas jumpers confirmed to me why I never was, or will be, a party person, especially a xmas party person.  Basically, because I've seen too many of them and too often, they're really not that much 'fun' with everyone trying too hard to 'have fun' or show the world how much 'fun' they are. 

The xmas party crowd usually consists of one person, usually the one with the biggest ego/mouth, at the centre of it all, being the most 'fun' with a few of her/his minions desperately hanging on them, keeping them happy and hoping to share their limelight.  Then, you have the other faction who usually hate the self-same 'centre of attraction', but since it's Xmas and it's supposed to be 'good will to all men', they swallow it back until about 2.30 in the morning when everyone has drunk way too much and the taxi hasn't turned up. 

So, we had a few drinks and headed for our beds and left the party-goers to it but all I can say to the bar/door/PSNI/taxi staff is, you have my deepest and sincerest sympathy and whatever they are paying you, it isn't enough.

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Movies & endings

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Monday, 4 Sep 2017, 21:01

I went to see The Dark Tower last week, the film based on the Stephen King books.  I think this was a one off and it wasn’t a bad effort.  Although, I thought, Idris Elba was too young and fresh-looking for the role of The Gunslinger.  In the books Roland is ancient and has been around forever.  Also, it was all a bit too quick for my liking but I won’t complain too much about having to look at Matthew McConaghey, for an hour and a half, or Idris Elba for that matter!

The Dark Tower is a whole epic of 7 books originally (apparently 2 more have been added which I haven’t read) and were all very enjoyable, except for the ending.  If you haven’t read the series, then you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about now, but I’ll try not to give too much away in case they’re on your ‘to read’ list.  The problem I had with the ending, was the very same thing Stephen King referred to in Misery (great book, mediocre film), when Annie Wilkes pulls Paul Sheldon up for cheating with the story like they used to do in the old Saturday shows, when you were sure the hero had died going over the cliff in the locked, burning car, or some such, but by the next week he has somehow managed a miraculous escape.

The Dark Tower had one of those endings.  Roland had moved back in time and was leaving with the horn of Eld after the battle of Jericho Hill but that didn’t make sense to me.  I’m doing an Annie Wilkes now! He would have had to go back and re-fight the battle in order to win it and in my mind he would also have to go back to when he entered Hambry and save Susan Delgado.

I’ve read quite a few Stephen Kings, they are my pleasure in between the heavy stuff.  Misery is my favourite book, and my favourite film adaptation is Stand By Me.  The re-make of It, is out this week and if the trailers are anything to go by, then it’s something to look forward to.  I know a lot of people were disappointed by the ending in the movie first time around so I’m not sure how that’s going to be rectified but what works in fiction doesn’t necessarily work on screen.  Anyway, I won’t spoil it by giving away any details.  However, I will say that the endings of several of Stephen’s more recent novels were disappointing, Under the Dome was one and Joyland another, Revival too, was a bit of a let-down but my biggest disappointment this year, was not a book but a film, the final Planet of the Apes movie, War for Planet of the Apes.

Firstly, it wasn’t a ‘War’, it was a battle and not much of a battle either and from looking at the trailers beforehand; I was expecting WW3 with nukes.  Mind you, the way Donald and the Young ‘Un are squaring up, we could be headed for the real thing any day now!  I’m convinced Lil Kim, could make a case for an Ulster Scots grant with his name!

The big let-down, apart from the ‘war’, was all the emoting that was going on.  It was like an episode of Dr Phil!  Caesar was giving it all the dramatics of rage and burning anger, like an obstreperous teenager.  While Maurice, the big orangutan, was giving out so much deep and meaningful advice, I half expected him to be given his own talk show. 

Then, there were parts of the story that didn’t make sense either.  How did the soldiers manage to capture the other apes when Caesar was following them, and the other apes had been left behind??  Go figure??  The real pity is, the cgi was the best I’ve seen but like so many ‘epics’, too much thought given to the ‘show’ and not enough to the story.  Yes, James Cameron, I’m talking about your Avatar (great visuals, lazy, old, clichéd story) You think you would have learnt from the hash Lucas made with Star Wars!

Anyway, if the books and movies have been disappointing, at least music brings its own rewards and the God of Rock, himself, the one and only Mr Robert Plant, returns to the Ulster Hall in December!  And I will be there! 

The new Star Wars is out then too, lets hope that's 2 bright spots on the December horizon to look forward to.  May the force be with you or rock on!  Whatever, is your wont!


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Weddin

God of Rock pt 2

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Oh God of Rock, we salute you in your almighty fabulousness and musical wonderfulness!! We're not worthy, we're not worthy!........Anyway, a great night and wholly satisfying in so many ways as only Mr Robert Plant can be, always delivers his best and his voice is still amazing.  We met a lovely couple who had come the whole way from Staffordshire for the concert, a big hello to Steve and Janette. Apparently Steve, who is a big Led Zep/Plant fan, surprised Janette with a weekend away to Belfast, only to find out that the reason they were there was to see Mr Plant.  But she really enjoyed it so it all worked out in the end.

Of course, all the old rockers were out in force, the long hair may be grey and it may be a while since we all 'rocked and rolled' but they're still going strong even if the waistlines are a little more expansive these days!!  Belfast was buzzing and I had such a good night I think I'll be going back there very soon maybe for a weekend.

There was a great selection of music, opening with a Zeppelin number and along with tracks from the new album and a few old delta blues number, it was a rocking good night.  Of course, the roof nearly lifted for Whole Lotta Love, what a buzz!!!  And then he came back with Rock and Roll in the encore, what more does a girl need!!  

So, God of Rock, thank you for blessing us with your Divine Presence, and heavenly choir.....until next time, keep rocking it out! Aaaamennnnn to that!

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God of Rock

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I'm off to see the God of Rock tonight, what do you mean 'Bruce Springsteen', Who said that??  Wash your mouth out.....No, there is only one God of Rock and that is Robert Plant, playing tonight in Belfast, so looking forward to this.

Saw another great group last night, Leila Jane and Calamity Gin, I know Leila from our drama group but she is now an university in Northumberland and making a name for herself in music.  I expect to see her on Jules Holland in the not too distant future.  So, keep an eye out for her, she is destined to be big, so if you get the chance to see her, take it, you won't regret it.

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Music

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 9 Sep 2022, 15:59

If rumours of a possible appearance by Noel Gallagher as a judge on the X Factor are true then all I can say is ‘NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! Please Noel, don’t do it, pulleeeeese!

If this turns out to be true, then it will go down as another black day in the history of human kind, like the day the first McDonalds opened in Moscow or the day Robert Plant accepted a knighthood. It’s a bitter disappointment when your heroes sell out, Plant I could overcome to some degree, at least he was English but Bob Geldof will never be forgiven.  His honorary knighthood, for Live Aid, was just too much. Firstly, because he was Irish but mainly because he came to fame on the punk wave of the late 70’s, this made it doubly unforgiveable. You sold your soul Geldof, but not to rock and roll, shame on you!!!

My first big music hero, like many others, was none other than David Bowie, and recent reports of a comeback were a surprise to me because he’s always been a regular in my music collection so, for me, he has always been there. David Bowie was my first love and I still love him, even more so now because I read recently that he turned down both a CBE and a knighthood. Way to go Bowmeister, I’ll luv ya forever!!!

My favourite Bowie album is Hunky Dory but my favourite song is Drive in Saturday from the Aladdin Sane album, the saxophone on that song raises the hairs on the back of my neck every time I hear it.  Aladdin Sane was my teenage rebellion album, songs like Time, with its sexually provocative lyrics used to drive my mother nuts, her being ultra Catholic, so I used to ramp the volume up whenever it came on.

The TV is so crap these days, I’ve been listening to a lot more music recently, George Harrison has been getting a lot of play round my house and I’m awaiting the arrival of a Sparks CD, Kimono My House, remember them from the 1970’s, I loved the strangeness of the Mael brothers.  I’m going to stick my neck out and predict a renewed interest in them.

By the way, none of these albums belonged to me, they belonged to my older brother who had great taste in music and it was through him that I was first introduced to Bowie. He still has all his albums too, now there’s a collection worth robbing!!  Although, I probably have most of the same albums now, anyway. My brother didn’t allow us to play his records and used to keep them locked up in a case but my sister and I were able to open the lock with a hair clip and played them when he was out, well, what’s the point of having older siblings if you can’t borrow their stuff!

I didn’t have the money to buy LP’s when I was young but I got a job the summer I turned 13 and bought my first Bowie single, Young Americans. I haven’t bought the new CD yet but it’s on my to-buy list. Bowie has so much symbolism for my generation, he was never just a singer, he was an artiste, and he drove the parents crazy! 

That’s one thing I really miss about the changes to how we buy our music, there’s nothing special about downloading a piece of music compared to buying an LP which had its own ritual. Everything was much more expensive back in the day.  You had to save your pocket money if you wanted to buy an LP. Then, when you had the money saved, there was the whole experience of going around your local music shops, and spending a Saturday afternoon just browsing through the records before deciding what to buy. There would be deep discussions between you and your friends before the purchase would be made, as the covers were taken out and examined in detail.  LP covers were like works of art and there were some amazing ones, like Led Zeppelin’s, Physical Graffiti or the futuristic landscapes on the great prog rock band, Yes’s covers. Browsing through the records was probably the teenage equivalent of walking around an art gallery now. Then when you had made your purchase and headed out around town to show it off to your peers. Now, that was a big deal, everyone would ask what you had bought and your coolness lived and died by it, and if your choice was approved you walked tall all day. 

There are many advantages to all our modern technology but it is robbing us of so many great experiences too, and I am grieving the loss of HMV. There are only two shops I love to visit now, HMV was one, the other is any bookshop anywhere, and they’re rapidly disappearing too. If the local bookshop goes, I’ll have no reason to go out again. It seems, the more connections we make online, the less connections we have with real people out in the real world. Sad...

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