Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Freddy and Freda? Our Two New Slippery Chums

You may struggle to see it, behind our "heron proof" metal grid, it being well camouflaged and only a couple of inches long, but this is one of two frogs I saw today in our little garden pond!

Yes all life is here! It seems that at least two of our little tadpoles have made it to maturity and returned to the pond. We haven't seen any frog spawn or tadpoles appear, but we live in hope...

And all on the day that Brendan Rodgers announced he is leaving Swansea for Liverpool! How exciting.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Damn Those Disney Films - They Hastened Our Demise

Oh how the mighty have fallen.
It's called "pop music" m'lud

Last year 'The Hurley Family' won the quiz shield at our local school. Our name was the first one engraved on the shield. Perhaps the fame and adulation of our peers went to our collective heads... because this year we came second!

Oh the shame. The ignominy. The humiliation.

In our defence I must say that last year's questions were academic and some of the questions quite cryptic. This year there were a lot of multi-choice and a whole section on 'Disney Films', one of the children suggested it epitomised the dumbing-down of the education system.

C'est la guerre. Next year we'll have to swot up on 'popular culture' -- like High Court judges finding out what Top of the Pops is. New struggles, new vistas, new opportunities.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Olympic Torch in Wales, Corporate Sponsors and Freebies

Went to see the Olympic Torch this morn, despite my misgivings over the whole Corporate nature of the games.

Are Coke, McDonalds and Cadburys (all USA companies) really the food of Olympians? If I follow that diet can I break the four minute mile? Or the four minute shuffle to find the remote?

Well this morning I gave up all my principles (again!) to leap forward when the Coke lorry went past to seek the freebies. Panic broke out when they were too slow and I didnt get a bottle. Two of the children did, but luckily as the Coke people (?) fumbled to get more off the lorry they dropped one and I got to it. Bingo!

Of course I handed it over to our youngest, but getting a freebie still left me with a warm glow. I could sense that somewhere down in West Wales (on his hols) Old Pa Hurley had a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that somewhere in his family freebies were obtained.

Sadly when the Lloyds Bank bus went past there were no freebies. I had hoped they would fling bank notes in the air from sacks full of them. It was not meant to be... Shame on them!

As for Samsung, no, again sadly no freebies. No printers, tvs, dvd players or other accoutrements. Very sad. And they wonder why the London rioters ransacked shops? They should set a better example via dishing out freebies.

The Samsung bloke with the microphone even got the name of the town wrong. And the less said about the "gent" with the pea whistle and the gyrating hips the better. In my experiance a whistle and wiggling hips quickly moves to asumptions being made about a person's "sexuality" - as the terminology goes these days. All best avoided.

So I have partaken in the Olympic experience and received gifts from the largesse of the Corporate sponsors. I feel somewhat sullied... But not that much.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

West Ham Win: Catholicism Is the X Factor (Lessons for Cardiff City)

Change it to a Bluebird and we have CCFC's New Logo!
What a thrilling game today - and West Ham were the deserving winners. Right from the start of the play-offs they had the right fight and spirit and wanted to win.

In reality, despite good starts in both matches, they wiped the floor with Cardiff who looked tired and played as if they knew they were going to lose.

So what was the key ingredient for West Ham? Well Vaz Te who scored against Cardiff and scored the winner against Blackpool is a Catholic.

I said before Cardiff's last match against West Ham that only if all the players said a public prayer, reciting the Nicene Creed on the pitch, chances are they would not overcome the London side. After scoring Vaz Te made the Sign of the Cross.

Even the (ex?) Protestant team Man City have a Catholic manager in Roberto Mancini, Chelsea have a Catholic goal-scorer in Didier Drogba, and Swansea's success in getting to and staying in the Premier League is down to their Catholic manager Brendan Rodgers.

So come on Cardiff! In honour of your famous (to me!) Catholic Churches: St Joseph's, St Alban's, St Brigid's, St Patrick's, St Teilo's, St Mary of the Angels and the jewel in the crown: St Peter's (of Holy Roath, the site of the Martyrdom of Sts Phillip Evans and John Lloyd).

We need a Catholic flavour to our football team. Never mind a change to a red team strip, let's trim down the blue just a little (stripe on the shirt, plus blue shorts and socks) and get the yellow and white colours of the Vatican prominent on the shirt!

Name the stands after famous Saints or prayers: St Ninian Stand, Pater Noster dugout. A quick prayer before each match. Fr McKnight from St Peter's could sprinkle the team with Holy Water, perhaps the fans might intone the odd Ave Maria.

It's what Cardiff need to hit the big time!

So come on Cardiff! If you need an adviser to help you get the right ideas, names, logos, prayers etc... I shall be waiting for that email! My rates are very reasonable (in footballing terms).

Our Speckledys: And Calling on the Charity of a Celeb

Yes! Speckledys. According to the eggsperts (groan!) the Speckledy "is a modern hybrid and comes from a Rhode Island Red crossed with a Maran."

Our three Speckledys (Speckledies?) are variously coloured - one has a darkish mostly black head, one is half black and half grey, and one is mostly grey (like the various ages of Old Pa Hurley). I must get some pics of them for you.

So now you know all the new hens we have: Belgian Black Bantams, Silkies and Speckeldeys. They all seem to live together, sleep together and play hopscotch together very well. OK, I made that last bit up, but you know what I mean.

They're not all laying yet, but we are getting eggs most days from the Silkies and Belgians. As with our last ex-battery Warrens, these new chickens are ideal for clearing most scraps from the table (they love spaghetti, old chips, bits of bread, pie crusts, rice, peas, cake and virtually anything else left over).

Our peas are steadily growing up the natural wood wigwam I made for them and this year's spuds are just coming through in the space I dug over for them next to the compost heap.

As we do more in the garden I think it would have been marvellous if we had a smallholding. We would love to have pigs, goats, ducks and more besides, but in an ex-council house with limited space there's only so much we can do... oh well, c'est la vie. I suppose until we win the lottery we'll just have to keep dreaming ;-)

Watching West Ham v Blackpool in the play-off final, it's much the same. Keep on dreaming.... that one day... maybe... 

Mrs H always says, whenever some celeb is in the news for taking drugs, why on earth they don't just use their money to get a little farm and stop being silly. I guess some do - they just don't make the headlines.

So hey if you are a celeb (we all know the celebs, utility bosses and dotcom rich look in here from time to time), bored, wondering what to do to break that boredom, how about buying us a farm? You could pop in whenever you like for tea and biccies, and we could certainly bung eggs, milk, cheese and bacon your way gratis. All for less then some people pay out on cars that depreciate when driven off the forecourt.

So come on! Chad Hurley? Sir Phillip Green? Sir Tom Jones? Simon Cowell? Or maybe Prince Charles? We really don't mind! Anyone who would like to help us have an organic small family farm... I shall be waiting for the email!

Friday, 18 May 2012

40 Little Friends

It's been another rough day.

I was just starting to think that my/our recent run of bad luck was coming to an end.

The roof was finally fixed after years of problems and recent leaks, holes and storms (rearrange that order if you like).

We are in that pleasant period when the roof is snug and dry but the builders' bill has yet to land.

Anyways, after an 'orrible toothache the antibiotics the dentist prescribed actually worked and even work this week has been (relatively) problem free: a rarity in and of itself!

I should have known I was being dragged into a false sense of security!

My usual outlook is one of, expect the worst and anything else is a bonus. I think I've become pessimistic after being deflated so many times when in a good mood. Sad but true.

Today was a perfect example. Just perking up and then: BHAM! (I mean as in wham or kappow - not shorthand for Birmingham, like Brum).

"We" lost £40. I wont go into details, but the money was misplaced and lost...

Now bear in mind I get upset if I lose £1 or even if I have to break into a tenner. So the loss of £40 was felt very hard.

That'll teach me to have a sunny disposition of an afternoon! A lesson learnt methinks.

I'll be wearing my black armband again tomorrow it seems. Perhaps with the numerals 4 and 0 chalked on it.

I just hope Old Pa Hurley doesn't find out! The shock of such a large loss in the family could see off even the hardiest of octogenarians - even a Battle of Britain veteran like him!

Monday, 14 May 2012

70% Say Keep Marriage As It Is: Sign the Petition

Thanks to Stuart, the average man at Ecumenical Diablog who knicked borrowed this off Fr Finigan, and I've now knicked borrowed this off both of them.

I wonder if any of those pictured here had a best man who forgot the rings... hmmm?

The Avengers Assemble? Spend Your Money on a Bottle of Highland Park!

After a week in which everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong, Mrs H suggested that we (her and I, the grown ups if you like) should take some time out and go to the cinema.

So we did. The only film that seemed suitable, half decent and not a cartoon or similar was Avengers Assemble.

I'm a mug for a nostalgic film
So we bought our tickets then went for a bite to eat and a drink. I had a beer with my vittles. The drink cost £2.70. If Old Pa Hurley is reading this he might well have fallen off his seat. No, not from imbibing too much Brains Dark, but from such a cost. To the rest of us it seems quite a normal price.

The idea - as passed into law in Scotland - that there should be a minimum price on beer would hit people like me, who enjoy the occasional beer or a wee tipple at home a couple of times a week. Even moreso those who do likewise who are struggling on limited incomes, a small pension etc.

I know binge drinking and problem drinking is a problem, but as with speed bumps placed through towns, this all seems to hit the many and the law-abiding just because a tiny minority can't behave themselves.

Anyway, we went off to watch the film. Hmmm. Don't even get me started on why oh why we have to sit through almost 30 mins of adverts (including some films I now know virtually the entire plotlines of, and a series of local authority adverts - tax money well spent???)

A couple sitting in the same row left after 60 mins. We left after90 mins. It was painful. Like Power Rangers pretending to be for grown ups. X hits Y who then fights Z who starts to argue with A, who doesn't want B to lose his temper, who then fights C, who's taken out by X.... and so on  ad infinitum.

All the special effects etc. just made it a mind-numbingly annoying boredom.

Why is it when I want a break from the woes of daily life, the trials and tribulations of the week, I never get to see a thoughtful, inspiring film?

The last film I saw that made me think, was nostalgic, had real characters and was equally happy and sad, was the Iron Lady. She certainly beats the Avengers into a cocked hat! I'll drink to that.

Monday, 7 May 2012

'Ere - Don't You Support Cardiff City Geezer?

What? Me? Support Cardiff City?

No... I'm a Swansea fan me!

(and the cock crowed for the third time).

Will the Barrow Boys roll Over?

Today's the day.

Cardiff City only have to get 3 goals past West Ham. Easy peasy!

It's raining this morning on our little plot in God's own country. I hope this isn't a metaphor for this afternoon's footie.

If Cardiff fail this afternoon I am going to have to organise a Rosary Crusade for next year's campaign! I did get a tweet sent onto me from one good soul saying how he had turned to (Our Lord's kinsman) St Jude, the Patron Saint of lost causes in an effort to gain heaven's help for the Bluebirds.

I fear that short of every single Cardiff player running onto the pitch, dropping to his knees and saying the Nicene Creed in a public display of Faith, Cardiff may well be out on their... erm... ear!

But if you are a Catholic and a Cardiff fan (and why wouldn't you be?) you know that Hope is one of the greatest virtues.

Nil Desperandum dear friends. Just don't look for solace in the form of the Cardiff Blues (for overseas readers: our currently losing-form rugby team).

There's still a few hours, so raise your voices. As you work, travel or potter this morning sing the Hail Mary (in Latin of course- what are you, a liberal?). Who knows...

Dare we dream the impossible? I know there must be a lot of Catholics in East London, but for today let's pretend they're all heretics, heathens and homo's... I know, I know. Just call me Gareth 'Clutching at Straws' Hurley.

Otherwise, if the unthinkable happens and anyone asks me this evening I may be so stressed out I might have to say I'm a Swansea fan (before the cock crows thrice).

Now where's my blue and white jester's hat (the one with the bells on)?

Sunday, 6 May 2012

And Our Second New Breed of Chicken is...

Ooooh the suspense!

We have a hen and cockerel: a pair of black Belgian Bantams!

And the good news is the hen has started to lay already.

They are two little critters and so the cockerel isn't too boisterous or aggressive, but does like to "sound off" from time to time.

Along with the pair of Silkie hens they have added a distinct sense of fun and the exotic to our run.

More news to follow on our last new breed of hens...

And some sad news too. Our last of the ex-battery Warren Hens looks like it will be dead within 24 hours. It's a little over 4 years since we got our four ex-batteries and they did us proud, giving us an egg a day each for circa three years, then they gradually stopped and died off over the last year or so.

Funnily enough when we put the new hens in last weekend the ex-battery Old Hen was feisty enough to put on a bit of a fight, to exert her seniority. And now she's almost lifeless and at life's end. C'est la vie. Literally.

Oh - and by the way, for those interested, we have three baby goldfish in the pond. One seems to gradually be getting a little lighter, the others are still black.

I was down there the other day and I thought I could hear a frog croaking. Could one of our tadpoles from last year be returning? It's an exciting time in the garden at Hurley Towers...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

What game?

Let's not mention the Cardiff v West Ham match OK?

It's not my week...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

And Our First New Breed is... the Silkie!

It all went a bit 1940s yesterday. We woke to more water coming in (dripping on Mr. Polite's school uniform!), and minus a (working) washing machine!

I am wearing a black armband now in memory of the money I had to part with. Whoever said 'parting is such sweet sorrow' is an idiot. It's not sweet at all. I didn't even have time to get to know many of those twenty pound notes!

But here we are, roof patched up by yours truly (until it is replaced - next week we hope) and with a new washing machine (six loads yesterday alone says Mrs H!).

So onto more pleasant things...


Here's a pic of one of the new breeds of chicken we got last Saturday. We got a pair of Silkies. And they are laying (their small) eggs already.

They are cute as anything, have a gorgeous and weird little sound (like a coo rather than a cluck), can't fly and so are more than welcome in our little run (after the headache of chasing our ex-batteries around the neighbours' gardens when we first got them!

All the new chooks have settled in well now, the Old Hen (last of our ex-batteries) has stopped bullying the newbies, and they are all going in the coop at night and cuddling up together.

More news on our other breeds soon...

Tense and exciting isn't it?

Better than the X Factor and others of the genre. Mind you, stubbing your big toe or eating cold custard is better than watching the preening, wailing wannabe-celebs.