Bye Bye Bawn

After almost 84 years, the Adams family bid farewell to Hamilton’s Bawn today, with the completion of the sale of my Mum’s house.

My grandfather and grandmother first moved to the village in 1926, my father was born there and lived all his life there, and me and my brothers grew up in the village. My parents built a new bungalow on a greenfield site opposite my grandparent’s house in 1967, moving in in 1968, and lived there for the rest of their lives.

Building Site 1
The house as a building site in 1967

hamilton's bawn
The house in 2010

My grandfather and father were heavily involved in the local branches of the Orange, Black and Masonic orders, they were both founding members of the local Silver Band in 1947 and they had a really strong personal identity with the area.

However my brothers and I all moved away in our late teens and have lost our connection with the village on the death of both our parents. While I am really pleased that we’ve been able to sell the house to a young family and we hope that they’ll be very happy there, the sale breaks that 84-year link between our family and “The Bawn”.

There’s something about our identities that will always mean that we’re from that particular place. We’ve been shaped by it’s history, particularly during the troubled times of the 1970s and 1980s, but also by the history of our family in that small area. The view from the front of the house across to Garvagh Hill is imprinted on my brain and I’ll never ever forget that I’m from “The Bawn”.

My brother Derek

I’ve been going through some photographs from my Mum’s house recently and came across these ones of my brother Derek that I’ve never seen before.

Bee, Derek, John and John
John and Derek
Bee and Derek

Derek was born in 1965 and had Downs Syndrome and related health complications. He only lived for 20 months, so these photographs are really precious.

Bee Adams 1933-2009

Bee Adams wedding

My Mum, Bee Adams, passed away on Sunday after a short stay in hospital, and her funeral is tomorrow.

Olive Beatrice (Bee) Thompson was born in Larne in 1933, youngest of five children of Mary and William Thompson. They moved to Markethill (?late 1930s/early 1940s) where William was a police sergeant at Markethill RUC station. Bee always remembered her father sounding the air raid siren on top of the police station, and how Gosford was used to house German prisoners and American GIs.

Bee finished her schooling in Ballyclare, and enrolled as a trainee teacher in Stranmillis College. She met John Adams there, and they married in July 1958 and moved to Hamilton’s Bawn. She took up a teaching post at Salter’s Grange Primary School where John also worked. Bee spent most of her teaching life in Salter’s Grange, and saw several generations of children through their primary education. She retired in 1985 after approximately 30 years.

She had four sons. Unfortunately Derek (born 1964) had Downs Syndrome and sadly died at 18 months. This was a body-blow to Bee and John, a deep sadness that she never lost.

The Troubles also dominated Bee’s life, as John was a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment in a volatile part of Northern Ireland. Although many friends and colleagues were killed, the UDR also offered new horizons and opportunities, and the chance to meet many people from outside Northern Ireland. It is difficult to imagine the stress of those years, particularly for Bee who was affected by the uncertainty of waiting, wondering and worrying.

Unfortunately John died suddenly in 1997. Bee became ill in April 2004 and spent several months in hospital and Roxborough House, Moy. With the help of Premier Care, and particularly her carers Jennifer and Caroline, she was able to continue to live independently at home for over four years.


Yew Tree Inn, Highclere, Berkshire

Despite rumours that he was no longer the owner of this country pub/restaurant, his moniker still appears on the gable wall. So this is more properly known as Marco Pierre White’s Yew Tree Inn.

We went here last year on Lisa and Gav’s joint birthday, and repeated the party this year. Once again, the food was great, the service warm, friendly and efficient, and the company brilliant.

Potted shrimp with melba toast (could have been improved by warming the potted shrimp, but maybe that’s not the idea?)
Asparagus with vinaigrette dressing

Roast partridge with all the trimmings (chipolatas, game chips, bacon, brussels sprouts, chestnuts, bread sauce, breadcrumbs, cooking juices)
Steak with snail sauce and chips
Smoked haddock with crushed potatoes, poached egg and mustard sauce

Upside-down apple tart with cream
Rice pudding with red fruit compote
Creme brulee

Despite a heavily French wine list, the antipodean waitress recommended a nice and good value Aussie shiraz when I asked for a recommendation of “something like a New World shiraz”).