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Marjorie Ellis-Todd’s......... Big Horti Blog..Men Health- mind your head and your wildflower

Men’s Health Wee

In the first of our visits to one of Belfast’s Wildflower Alleys, we ask is Nichola Mallon’s proposal to fund greening alleyways and urban spaces in the city a good use of the public purse? Belfast City Council and local communities have been involved in Alley Way projects for years with remarkable results.

As this Wildflower Alley Resident’s touching post demonstrates.

Poor Jack Laverty was one of many on furlough due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. This is his story.

He Posts:

“Majorie, it all started one day when I was sitting at home as usual, purposelessly watching day-time television, all the wee jobs done around the house for Kate (the Wife). She leaves a list e.g. dusting, hoovering, etc... I’m not allowed near the washing machine, too complicated she says, all computerized now. I was a tour coach driver for thirty-five years, by profession. On this particular day, a month into furlough, the rain came-on-right-and-heavy. So I ran out to the yard and brought in the washing. Well the wife came home. She tutted this, she tutted that and she tutted the other. Finally she said: ‘I’ve told you not to touch the washing. The clothes are all damp for you haven’t re-hung them indoors to air the way I like. For pity-sake, I’m gonna to have to put them through the wash again’.

Some weeks later, chores done, I’d just hit the end of Bargain Hunt when the rain came on. I could see the washing out in the yard. I hummed-and-hawed over what to do, decided on leaving well enough alone in case it set the wife off on one.

Sure enough the Wife came home. Well she tutted her way down the hall and then screamed when she clocked the washing. ‘For pity-sake, Jack, could you not have brought the washing in. It’s soaked! Now I’m gonna have to put it through the machine again’.

To be honest, I could feel my mental health going down a tad as the weeks of furlough rolled on. Alone, long periods in the house, no one to talk. I mean you run out of conservation with Kate and she with me. Then the turning point came. Lockdown had come to an end, a little hope on the horizon emerged. I was sitting at home, chores done. I’d just hit the end of Loose Women, when the sky lit up with a rainbow and it started to rain. And there through the window like a red flag to the bull: the blasted washing on the line.

I could feel my head going: what do I do? Do I bring it, do I leave it out, do I hold an umbrella over it?

Then suddenly I was distracted by a wee bird that appeared on the wall. A house sparrow, I thought. It flew here, there and everywhere around the yard searching for bugs to eat, then disappeared. I thought to myself there’s nothing in our yard to attract insects for that wee bird, not one thing, so it’s away hungry.

Later when the wife came home. After her usual tut-a-thon. I saw her clocking the washing in the drizzle outside. She sighed: ‘What did you do today?’

‘C’mon,’ I said. ‘I’ll show you.’

Outside the yard was filled with pots of Wildflowers, pollinating insects buzzing about and birds dropping in for visit.

‘Oh Jack, it’s lovely,’ said the wife.

‘I signed up to join that there Wildflower Alley thing, and Roisin McCloskey let me bring some of the plants into our yard from the alley to get started with’. Roisin was in charge of the local Wildflower Alley scheme.

Well the Wife’s face turned red: ‘Her next-door? Wildflowers better be all you’re planting, and those birds better not do their business on my washing’. And with that she headed into the house: ‘It’s mince for tea’.

I smiled: sometimes, there’s just no pleasing the wife!

However, just being involved with the Wildflower Alley scheme, talking and having good craic with the neighbours and getting involved in giving nature a helping hand has helped my mood no end. And it’s motivated me to do other things again. Get purpose back in my life. And sure when you’re head’s in a good place, you appreciate what you have: I love the wife and wouldn’t have her any other way.

But you need to look after your mental health, Majorie, that’s the point. #Minding your Head. # Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health #Men’s Health Week. #Wildflower AlleyWay. “

So, there you are, Posters. Thank you Jack for your lovely, if not rather long (leaving me no editorial space for some words of wisdom about sexism) post.

So, to summarize: Getting in touch with mental health, the community and nature is all good. Nichola, bring on your greening the city plans. In my opinion it’s worth every penny! We all need and love green space in the city. It’s more important than perhaps any of us realise. And posters get out there planting and growing things, you’ll just love it.



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