Blogging from a Blackberry

This a first blog from a Blackberry phone so need to see if it works. This third attempt so going to publish now.

I have aquired a new Blackberry phone and it has the capability to go on the internet anywhere either directly or via a WiFi hotspot, and thankfully I have 3 of those one at Tory Bush and one at Dundrum Bay Holiday Homes and one at my own home. This means that I should be able to blog more frequently as can do it when ever I have any free time and not just when in the office at Tory Bush.

The first sentence above was uploaded from the Blackberry, I admit it not a significant sentence but then all modern soundrecording  from Wax Cylinders through 78’s, 45 singles, CD’s DVD’s and even MP3 players began with the sentence “Mary had  a little lamb” , spoken by Edison when  he first recorded sound on the 6th of December 1877, so perhaps there is hope for this blog.

Sticking to the point

I notice from my last blog that I strayed severely from the title of the blog which was to be about the recent snow we have had.  I have therefore taken a policy decision to stay ‘on message’ and try and keep the blogs about the events at Tory Bush Cottages or things of relevance to visitors to this general area, i.e. the Mournes, County Down or at times Northern Ireland.

On the latter item, Northern Ireland as a destination has a lot going for it,  in 2007 it was rated in a’Lonely Planet’ publication, the  “Lonely Planet Blue List, The Best in Travel 2007” as one of the worlds must see destinations.
Not 5 mile from us here at Tory Bush is the Royal County Down Golf Course, rated as one of the top three best Links Courses in the world, Tiger Woods regularly plays the course prior to the British Open.
The Antrim Coast and  Causeway Coastal drive is rated as one of the best Coastal drives in the world not far behind drives such as Prince Edward island in Canada,  the Monterrey coast of California.
Not bad for such a wee place.
Well back to the snow one of the advantages of the snow is that it lets us see some landscape features not usually visible. It may recalled that in an earlier Blog I mentioned the remnants of the Lazy Beds that are still visible on the higher slopes, this is where, during the famine, people tried to grow potatoes as they assumed that the disease was in the soil, so they moved to land that had never grown potatoes. Little did they know that the disease was in the air, spread by spores from the remains of the stalks of the potato plants from the previous years diseased crop. All they had to do was burn the stalks of the old crops in the Autumn and the disease could not have survived the winter, but then the Science of Plant Pathology did not develop for about 100 years later.
These remnants  of the Lazy Beds have been obliterated on the lower ground by subsequent years of agricultural activity most notably by tractor ploughing, but on the higher slopes inaccessible to machinery they are a ‘frozen’ memorable to a generation that was almost wiped out by a famine in the mid 1840’s.
The photo at the top of the blog is the lines of parallel Lazy Beds running up Slievenaman Hill a hill adjacent to Tory Bush and you can see the lines of the Lazy Beds emphasised by the melting snow. (Literally a frozen memorial)
I am indebted to John McCombe a neighbour and installer of a WiFi system at Tory Bush for this photo. John has his own blog on which he regularly publishes good photos of Mourne, and he and his wife Elaine have their own Tea Room and Craft Shop not far from Tory Bush, well worth a visit if staying in the area.

Let it Snow

It is a while since I last blogged, if that is now a verb, as I am sure it is. It is strange how nouns become verbs, one of my favourites is ‘to bin’ as in put something in a bin, so if I see some litter on site I may say to someone “bin that please’.or I binned last weeks paper. (using the recycling bin of course)

On the subject of ‘bins’  this expression is the cockney  rhyming slang for glasses, as in reading glasses, so if someone is having trouble looking up a number in a telephone book you might say put on your ‘bins’.
The logic behind this is a little more tortuous than with most Cockney Slang, usually the rhyme does just that,  it rhymes , so Apples and Pears is the stairs, or Trouble and Strife is wife, though I suspect in the latter there is more than just the alliterative value of the rhyme invoked.
Another word for glasses is spectacles and that rhymes with another word for bin which is receptacle, basically the rhyme should be put on your receptacles but that just not as good as , put on your bins.
Cockney rhyming slang is an evolving ‘language’, a lot of the older terms were named after famous people of their day so a cigarette or fag was known as a Harry Wragg, a famous jockey in the 1930’s. Today the names of present day sports people are used in the slang such as Becks and Posh, ie David Beckham and his wife ‘Posh Spice’.
So when someone says’ I can’t go out tonight I have no Becks’ what they mean is they have no spending money.  Can you work out the link?
Becks and Posh rhymes with dosh and dosh means money, itself a slang term which is now an accepted usage but of very uncertain origin.
Given the present economic situation we are all a bit short of Becks.
One of my favourites is ‘Get on your Dick Van Dyke’  i.e. ‘get on your bike’, which is usually used as an expression to clear off.

Electric Brae

Recently I have been telling guests about a little known place of interest near Tory Bush, if that not an oxymoron.

This place is an Electric Brae a hill at which Newton’s discovery of the Law of Gravity is defied, basically a parked car with it’s handbrake off appears to run backwards uphill.  I am uncomfortable with the term Electric Brae;  it comes from  hill in Scotland, near Ayr, where the same phenomena is observed. Brae is a Scottish word for hill not in common usage here and Electric because the effect was initially thought to be an Electric or Magnetic attraction or repulsion from the surrounding hill or in the case of the site near Tory Bush a large reservoir.  Just visualise how two magnets repel each other.


However in lieu of a better term I am stuck with Electric Brae. The location near Tory Bush is at Spelga Dam in the Mournes, if you have an Ordnance Survey Map then the Grid reference is 265 275, and I will attempt to give directions from Tory Bush as follows. Leave Tory Bush by turning right on to the Tullyree Road proceed to re-join the B180, the main road between Bryansford and Hilltown, at the junction turn right onto the B180 heading towards Hilltown and travel about half a mile to take the second left, the Slievenaman Road. Travel about 4 mile up the Slievenaman road climbing all the way, as you travel up you will pass Fofanny Dam on the left and in front of it the new underground water treatment plant which should only be visible by looking backwards when you just past the entrance and you should see the rear doors down below the road.  On the right just opposite the dam wall you will see the massive land-slip on the slope of Butter Mountain that occurred on the day of the heavy rain in August 08, the same day the under-pass in Belfast flooded.


The road will level out and down to the right you will see Spelga Dam and a road that swings down to Hilltown, take this road down past the dam. On your left will be some car-parking spaces and on the right a toilet block, drive past the dam wall and start to decline what is known as the Spelga Hill Climb  an alpine like zigzag road, but don’t go far.  Just beyond what must have been a dam-workers house there is a little road into the left driving straight towards the dam itself, and at the end of which is two gates into the grounds in front of the Dam. Park in front of the gates and put your car out of gear and the hand brake off and see what happens. The road has recently been tarmacked so the phenomena should be more apparent, previously you used to get stuck in a pot hole.


Hopefully your car will appear to run back up the slope of this little private road. It can be appreciated why some thought it was a magnetic effect with it being attributed to a magnetic repulsion caused by the large body of water behind the Dam Wall.


Presently I will leave it to you all to come up with an explanation I have my own theory and it involves the use of a spirit level.

Sky Rocket

I was out doing a little bit of shopping today, not Christmas shopping I hasten to add, I was trying to get a particular type of tall thin coniferous tree,  to be planted and obscure the support leg of the new Balcony on house 6, the idea being to make the Balcony look like it is floating unsupported. The common name for the tree is Skyrocket which pretty much describes what it looks like, quite imaginative these gardeners, I think it a member of the Cypress Family, on checking I see it is called Juniper Skyrocket, proper name Juniperus Scopulorum and is a member of the Cupressaceae family often commonly called the Cypress family.

Well I did not get my plant, I will have to go to a more specialist Garden Centre.

But having noticed the number of cars from the South of Ireland up here it made me think of the reasons why, I heard on the radio last week that what costs about 1,300 euro in Dublin can be bought for 1,000 Euro in the North.

There are several reasons, the pound has weakened against other currencies last year it was worth 2 dollars now it is only worth 1.5 dollars and it has softened about 15% against the Euro, not more than a month ago the Euro was worth abot 78 pence now it is almost 86 pence.

In addition at the last budget in the South VAT was increased to 21.5% whilst on the same effective date, the 1st of December it was reduced to 15% here. An all Ireland Chamber of Commerce site says that this leads to a 43% difference in the VAT rates either site of the Border, this is a significant difference if say buying higher value electrical items, such as Plasma TVs. Almost 100 pounds on a 52 inch Sony TV for example and that not allowing for the currency differential.

I am not sure if this the topic for a blog but interesting all the same, apparently it has lead to squabbles in Newry, the nearest Border Town, now a city, to Dublin, over issues such as parking spaces and Shopping Trolleys. The Spirit of Christmas lives on, I think thats where I came in.

Fact Finding

I had a big long blog all typed out with links and lost it all as I downloaded software that required my browser to be shut down, my blogging software has an autosave facility that saves every 2 minutes so I don’t know what happened on that occasion. I have just seen it auto save twice since restarting.

The content of the blog was basically that I would check out some of the stuff I wrote about in the last blog, firstly the decline in bird populations around Rathlin Island. This I recall from a BBC NI news story so naturally that was the first place I researched but no luck, I spent hours on this and eventually came up with a website ,  type decline into the search box and click on the article about Irish Birds in Alarming Decline.  This kinda substantiates what I recalled, that bird species are declining as there food sources are moving elsewhere.

I also stated that Rathlin was an amazing place, that Robert the Bruce hid out there for a while in a cave before heading back to Scotland to give the English a whooping at Bannockburn. A good website is and it tells the story of how Robert got inspiration on the Island and came up with the expression “If at first you don’t succeed, try try and try again.” If it does not go straight to the Rathlin page then just enter Rathlin in the search box at the top of the site and click on first entry that comes up.

Marconi sent the first Radio Signal across water from the Island, you could say radio was invented there.

Mary Black the singer was also from the Island at least her parents were, I think she was born and brought up in Dublin, but I personally prefer her sister Frances, check out and click on the song ” Don’t be a Stranger” which  I propose to be the anthem of this blog.

I was going on to explore the assertion I made in the previous blog that the main issue was the speed of change of Temperature which leads scientists to conclude that this Global Warming is man induced.
There always has been temperature fluctuations, apparently there was a mini-ice age in the middle ages and people could skate on the Thames.
Over the last 150 years since the industrial revolution got into full swing the mean temperature has risen by 0.6 degrees which may not seem a lot but if compared with the change since the last major Ice Age which ended about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago which at it’s coldest it was only 5 degrees colder than now. This coldest part of the Ice Age was probably about 15,000 years ago, so in that time the temperature has risen 5 degrees, about .0003 degrees a year, but in the last 150 years now our temperature has risen about 0.6 degrees, that is .oo4 degrees a year.

This may be a simplistic calculation but it appears that the rate of change is ten times faster than before we began belching out all that CO2, and they try to blame the cows, an animal I like to call the Benign Bovine. I will explain the rationale behind that another time.

A quiet time of year

Presently we are experiencing the quietest time of our year, the weeks in the run up to Christmas, it is unusual for us not to have someone staying at Tory Bush most weekends and apart from a last minute booking this evening we would have been entirely empty this weekend.

These customers are a young couple on there third visit this year, and they have asked for Number 6 our loft apartment and indeed asked had the new balcony been fitted which it has. However I can not see anyone sitting out on it over this weekend, it has been what I think is unseasonably cold here over the last week or so. Today the temperature failed to rise above 3 or 4 degrees centigrade. I will put a few chairs on the balcony just in case they decide to brave the elements.

Apart from my strong ‘Green’ credentials I would say roll on Global Warming.

Actually what alarms me most about global warming is the lost of species of animals and plants. There are lots of predictions out there and I am sure some are scaremongering, but two I note are that up to 30% of land birds species will be extinct by 2100 and the number of Polar Bears will be reduced by two thirds by 2050, just over 40 years from now.

What is causing this is the speed of change, there have been climatic changes before, such as the last Ice Age, but species have had time to react, now the increase in temperature is too rapid. There is television footage of the polar ice-caps literally melting in front of the camera. Europe has it’s first Desert in Southern Spain and it is expanding.

I recall that there was a recent news item about the decrease of a certain bird species around Rathlin Island, the Puffin I think, and this was attributed to global warming affecting the supply of it’s food, a certain type of fish that itself was in decline or it’s migratory path had been altered by the changing temperatures. It did not have to come as far south to reach warmer waters as it used to I think.

But I will do a little research on this and firm up my facts in a later blog.

More About Bryansford

Following my last Blog about the origin of the name of the village of Bryansford I have included two scans from the reference book I use, “Place-Names of Northern Ireland” Vol 3 County Down 111 published by the Dept of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast.

blog02 blog03

Brian’s Ford

I have finally got my computer back up and running again, at least what I hope is in a safe and secure environment.

Following an enquiry passed to me from a member of staff of the Mourne Heritage Trust I have just a short blog on the origin of the name of the village of Bryansford which is our neighbouring village about one mile away and is probably the most picturesque village in the Mournes. The enquiry arose from a visitor to the area from Dublin who had the first name Bryan and wondered if there was a connection.

Well there is, Bryansford literally means “Brian’s Ford”, the ford over the little stream in the middle of the lands own by the son of a local chieftan called Brian McHugh Magennis and this son was also called Brian.,-95.677068&sspn=47.080837,78.75&ie=UTF8&ll=54.228251,-5.93766&spn=0.008241,0.019226&t=h&z=16&g=Bryansford

The stream runs just outside the village shop in Bryansford, literally under the Phone Box, now in a culvert bridge and virtually unnoticed by the traffic that passes it each day. I will attempt to scan a reference on the origin of the name from my book “The Place Names of Northern Ireland” in a future Blog, but first got to master the technology.

Harry Ferguson Celebration Committee

I have been unable to update this blog for a week or so as my previous computer was severely corrupted by a ‘Trojan-Horse’ which i believe is some kind of virus.

Before I go much further I must refer to a previous blog about the stone workers from Mourne who built the Princess Diana Memorial and I added that they were working on a memorial in Virginia, well I have learnt that they are, or will be, working on the memorial to the British people who lost their lives on 9/11 as a consequence of the attacks on World Trade Centre in New York. Their website is

Another website which is worth a look is which is about the work by a small committee to create a rememberance garden to propably the greatest Engineer and inventor to come from.