Wednesday 25 September 2013

Of Sliabh Bán and floating hens

We have always loved reading local papers and freebies full, as they sometimes are of amusing really LOCAL stories - not quite 'man bites dog' but generally pieces on the local Flower Show, the Post Office window getting broken (and then repaired in next week's edition!), or small children catching a 3 pound fish in the lake or winning a painting competition. There is always a wealth of pictures of who ever the local dignitaries are - in the Faversham Times you could not get away from Bryan Mulhern, Tory Councillor and a manager in local brewery Shepherd Neame. Here it seems to be local TD (equivalent to MP) Ming Flanagan though we wish he'd release a better picture of himself - he looks both anxious and tight lipped in the current 'everywhere' picture.

We have had some lovely stories, lively discussions in the letters pages almost to feud level. Most recently a 'Letters to the Editor' story caught my eye where the protagonists are actually debating heatedly which is the 'front' and which the 'back' of Roscommon's highest peak, Sliabh Bán (pronounced Sleeve Bawn). One side believes that the 'front' must be where the sun rises, the East face, while the other says that, on the contrary it is the West. When you walk towards a person, opines Mike de Jong, you look at their front and then, only when you are past, do you turn and look over your shoulder at their back. The sun rises in the East, he says, and 'walks' past the mountain and is then looking back, as it sinks in the West, past the mountain. The East has become the back. That seemed to be the gist of it. I will await next week's Roscommon People eagerly and report back! Sliabh Bán, incidentally is not much of a 'mountain' being only 262 m but it is the highest 'peak' in the county and does have a significant landmark (a stone cross) on top. It is, inevitably, also site of a planned wind farm, the turbines being 131 m high - half the elevation of the hill itself.

So here are my own 'local, entirely non world-shattering, stories'. First up, Chickens can swim! (Shock Horror!). We know this because on one of the recent hot days we had been sitting out by the pond with the three dogs lashed to our chair legs on their leads while various poultry strolled about, never coming too close. One Sussex Ponte hen coming out of the 'allotment' then made an odd decision making her way back to the house. She turned off her perfectly safe route and tried to nip though between Poppy and the pond. Poppy had been watching her closely and hearing my low warning commands... "Poppy! Nooooo!" but a chick coming that close had her seeing the red mist. She lunged at the chook to the point where her lead snapped tight, but the charge was too much for the hen and she took off almost vertically, clucking in alarm. She fell back to 'earth' but was by then above the pond, so she splashed down into open water. Of course I jumped up to rescue her but she struck out for the bank swimming like a clumsy duck and then flapped another take-off and scrambled up the bank to dry land, shouting all the time. William and the La Bresse rooster reacted to the noise by charging towards her to protect her, so we briefly had 3 chickens going mad with noise till they all realised that the danger had passed, the hen was just a bit wet underneath and nobody was about to die in the jaws of a Westie bitch.

The local Herberts fashionable form of mischief in the joy-riding line, seems to be turning 'doughnuts' on the roads at any junction capable of fitting a spinning, tyre-burning car. You know they have been 'playing' because the junction is covered in the circular 'skid marks' like those pictured. We used to see a lot of this on the main N5 out to Castlebar when we were running out there for building materials. We were told that groups of these lads gather after dark, then post people as look-outs on these long straight roads before doing the doughnuts at the junctions. Well, now in 'local news' we have our own skid marks on the road at the end of the lane, at the crossroads known locally as 'Shannon's Cross'

Meanwhile, the garage has finally received my carburettor service kit from parts supplier '2CV City' in the UK so they have asked me to bring the car back in today. This service kit includes the fine tapered needle valves and jets (as well as gaskets) which should restore my carb to being able to create the correct petrol/air mix in the engine which will get me back inside the tolerances on the NCT's emissions test. I am hopeful that this may, at last, be a light at the end of the tunnel.

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