We live on the Northside . . . of a valley in The Blackstairs, a range of hills in the Sunny South East of Ireland. To call them mountains would be a great exaggeration. Living on the Northside means that we catch all the sun, if any, which makes a big difference in the Winter. Our fields get defrosted by lunchtime, while it is still white across the shady side of the valley. Because we live there and can go any time, we rarely go up into the hills except to Bo-Peep our sheep. And almost never go trekking on the farside hill tops we see from our kitchen window. 10 or 12 years ago, The Boy was home and nothing would satisfy him but that he take his two teenaged sisters, Dau.I and Dau.II, camping. There is a gap of 18 and 20 years between him and them. One afternoon, accordingly, they packed a tent, sleeping bags and some iron rations into rucksacks and set off on their adventure.
Since then someone has installed a sheep-proof wicket gate where the access path meets the road. On the first Saturday of the year, The Boy was visiting again and nothing would satisfy him but that he went for a walk up to Caher Roe's Den, one of the peaks hereabouts. Everyone else was too full of mince-pies to join him but Gdau.I generously lent her Dad her woollen gloves: against him being benighted on the hill by descending fog. He returned in good order 4 hours later just as we were leaving in the car to go ho-ho-ho a-wassailling at a neighbours' gaff. The Boy was wet to the knees and in need of a hot toddy. "Damme, I've lost one of the gloves. It must have fallen from my pocket when I took out my water bottle. Could you check between Pizzagate and the road?". Pizzagate!? Clearly our delivery of hot pies had made an impact . . . on the toponymy of the Blackstairs.
After we'd consumed all the canapés at our friend's gaff, we detoured to Pizzagate and I jogged up the pathway looking for the orphan glove only to encounter two walkers who were in the process of hanging it nearer to eye-level on an out-poking twig. "I'll have that" quoth I, "and thank you for the trouble". We fell to talking while admiring the view and I established where we lived on the far side of the valley. "Do you still play the saxophone?" one of the lads asked. At which I must have looked completely bizarred because it seemed to be utterly random. "I walked past your place 8 or 9 years ago, and someone was in the yard playing the saxe, or was it a trumpet". That wasn't me (of course) but was very likely to be Dau.II who acquired a Saxe aged 15 and tootled away for the next several years. Living in a block of flats in central Cork has inhbited her practice, I am sorry to report: but the cakes are still mighty.