Archive | October, 2013

Thoughts at Samhain.

30 Oct

Hazelwood 038

Be careful if you go down to the woods today…especially approaching dusk. It’s that time of the year when ghouls, goblins and other mischievous beings come out to scare and haunt and taunt. It’s dark and still and eerily silent in the woods on these days around the turning point of the Celtic year. For it is the time of the changing of the seasons. Summer is well and truly gone…Winter has come.              The Celts lives revolved around agriculture and the seasons. This time would be the end of the harvest…indeed all berries and tree fruits were picked before Samhain because the breath of the Puca and other evil beings would  fall upon them.

Hazelwood 036

People dressed in masks and costumes to disguise themselves and frighten the evil spirits away. That’s where the tradition of dressing up at Halloween/Samhain comes from.

As kids we dressed in old clothes at Halloween. The only thing bought new was a mask. Nowadays the shops are full of costumes for children and adults alike. High priced badly made tat from China. The masks have become so grotesque and horrible…blood and gore…the more the merrier. Despite the recession this stuff is flying out of the shops.  Amazes me!

023

For me it is a particularly poignant time of the year as it is the anniversary of my Father’s death. Twenty one years ago he left us at the age of fifty nine.  I still miss him a lot. This year would have been his eightieth.  I remember the funeral just before Halloween. While we were immersed in our grief and sadness everyone else was full of the joys of the season.  Such is life!

Enjoy the dark time of the year…for us sure as night follows day the Sun will return in the Spring…warming the land for another growing season. Enjoy the fruits that have been harvested this year. The goodness of the Summer to sustain and nourish us through the dark time. A time of reflection, reading, crafting…glowing fires and hearty soups. Will we have snow or will it be a mild wet Winter? The answer will be revealed in time.

Enjoy the season that’s in it. Happy Samhain/Halloween to all who pass this way.

To be a pilgrim…

27 Oct

011

 

“A pilgrim is someone who sees life as a sacred journey, who sees the Earth as a sacred home, who sees the universe as a process.

We can relate to our planet Earth in two ways. Either we can act as tourists and look at the Earth as a source of goods and services for our use, pleasure and enjoyment, or we can act as Earth pilgrims and treat the planet with reverence and gratitude. Tourists value the Earth and all her natural riches only in terms of their usefulness to themselves. Pilgrims perceive the planet as sacred, and recognise the intrinsic value of all life.

To be a pilgrim is to be on a path of adventure, to move out of our comfort zones, to let go of our predujices and preconditioning, to make strides towards the unknown. If we want to tread the pilgrim’s path, we need to go beyond ideas of good and evil, and to be dedicated to our quest – to our natural calling. We need to shed not just our unnecessary material possessions but also our burdens of fear, anxiety, doubt and worry, in this way we can find spiritual renewal and enter on the great adventure into the unknown. Paradoxically, being on a pilgrimage does’nt necessarily mean travelling from one place to another – it means a state of mind, a state of consciousness, a state of fearlessness.”

Satish Kumar

The Autumn colour show.

23 Oct

012

 

I love the colours of this time of year…Summer’s pastels are gone to be replaced by vibrant reds, yellows and oranges.  While we admire the colour show there’s a lot going on within the trees, shrubs and flowers at this time of year. Before they go into hibernation plants reabsorb the valuable nutrients from the leaves. Chlorophyll… the pigment that that gives leaves their colour is one of the first nutrients to be reabsorbed…which is how we get this wonderful colour show.

010

 

On the lane the Ash and Hawthorn have already lost their leaves. These will be collected and left to break down over the Winter for use in the garden next year.  Free soil nourishment from Nature.

013

 

These Gooseberries which are being brought on in the polytunnel have turned a beautiful shade of pink. They are cuttings I took in the walled garden at Lissadell 2 years ago. Delicious black Gooseberries on a hot Summer day prompted me to sneak a few cuttings.  They will be planted out in their final position next Spring.

014

 

Cocks Comb Amaranth has been brought indoors to dry…still vibrant pink after the long Summer.

016

 

It’s seeds have been saved to start the cycle all over again next year.

009

 

Sycamore looks so lovely in it’s temporary Autumn dress of yellow.

007

 

Guelder Rose has lost most of it’s leaves but the fabulous bright berries are shining bright like premature Christmas baubles.

The name Guelder comes from Gueldersland…a Dutch province…where the tree was first cultivated. Apparently the berries are edible when cooked. Lots of sugar or honey is needed to mask the peculiar taste.  They were used to make cough medicines in the past. Don’t think I’ll bother with those!

008

 

The circular leaf of the Darmera is just spectacular…so many colours in there. Soon it will die down completely…ready to reemerge fresh and new next Spring. The cycle of life to begin anew.

Pics from the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

20 Oct

Botanic Gardens 008

 

Wednesday was my friend Charlie’s birthday. We headed up to Dublin on the train to visit the Botanic Gardens.  A wet morning greeted us but as the day went on it cleared up to quite a nice day.

Great pumpkin display as one heads out to the gardens.

Botanic Gardens 011

 

Aren’t these great? Metal flowers on a wall. Part of the Sculpture in Context exhibition.  The exhibition made the gardens even more interesting as the art pieces were placed throughout the grounds.

Botanic Gardens 012

 

Bronze ladies amongst the trees.

Botanic Gardens 013

 

Not sure about this one. It’s called “They’ll be back.”

Botanic Gardens 014

 

Air plant in one of the glass houses. Can’t remember the name but by it’s shape it’s got to be call Stag’s Horn…

Botanic Gardens 015

 

Another air plant.

Botanic Gardens 021

 

Beautiful Bouganvillae.

Botanic Gardens 024

 

Wonderful Palm.

Botanic Gardens 026

 

Couldn’t find a name tag on this wonderfully sculptural specimen.

Botanic Gardens 032

 

The Cactus house.

Botanic Gardens 034

 

Such variety…there’s an amazing amount of Cacti.

Botanic Gardens 037

 

I thought this was a sculpture as it looks like bronze. It is however a real live plant.

Botanic Gardens 040

 

These Tree Snails were amazing…made from fused plastic.

Botanic Gardens 042

 

Did someone polish the bark on this Yew? Beautiful!

Botanic Gardens 046

 

Waterfall.

Botanic Gardens 049

 

The DNA sculpture. This is a permanent fixture here.

Botanic Gardens 057

 

Chicken wire Snowdrops.

Botanic Gardens 058

 

Redbor Kale in the kitchen garden.

Botanic Gardens 060

 

Loved this piece…blown glass bubbles attached to this gnarled old tree.  Very clever!

Botanic Gardens 068

 

Another fave…a wonderful oversized cedar chair. It even smelt nice.

Botanic Gardens 072

 

Part of a wonderful bronze sculpture.

Botanic Gardens 075

 

There is so much more but I will finish with these beautiful vibrant flowers.

Under Hunter’s Moon.

18 Oct

008

As full Moon approaches the weather is still very mild for October and of course the impending full Moon…which in October is called Hunter’s Moon…means that the nights are just fabulously bright. Well they were until last night but today was a wet day so tonight will more than likely be cloudy. Not much chance of seeing the eclipse then!

During the dry days of last week I decided to try out something I’ve been reading about for some time. Vinegar makes an eco-friendly weed killer. Newsflash: it doesn’t work! We wanted to get rid of some of this perennial Geranium as there’s far too much of it. Our usual method would be mulching but that can’t be done here as the area is planted with Spring bulbs. Looks like we’ll have to get digging!!

003

Indoors work continues processing the fruit harvested and frozen during the Summer…this is Blackcurrant wine. The sourdough starter which used the grapes to get it going is now active.

Botanic Gardens 007

Autumn fruits are so plentiful this year. The hedgerows are dripping with Elderberries…Ireland’s Echinacea…excellent for the prevention and treatment of colds and flus and building up one’s immune system.

001

I used some of this lot to make a tincture and the rest…along with Rosehips and Crab Apples to make a Hedgerow Jelly. As I write more are simmering on the stove to make into Elderberry Cordial tomorrow.

The tincture is very easy to make. Just fill a large glass jar two thirds full with berries then cover with good quality vodka. Leave for at least a month then strain off the liquid.

004

Store in dark bottles or jars. Ten drops a day is a good preventative medicine…up to 30 drops if you have a cold or flu. If you look closely you can see I got the date a bit wrong on my label here. Ready in 2313! Must change that!

Botanic Gardens 001

Lots of garden produce at the moment too. This meal is completely local grown. The Potatoes are Ratte which I grew in pots outdoors. One pot to eat the other to keep for seed if we liked them. Boy do we like them…they are delicious!  The leftovers were used for potato salad next day. Best spuds ever for potato salad. Shall certainly be growing more of these next year. The Kale and Cucumber we grew ourselves while the Red Cabbage was from a friend’s garden. We ate that raw mixed with Apple as a coleslaw.

Botanic Gardens 078

Andy has been busy too. Grass is still growing strong…that’s his department. He also makes sure theres lots of logs cut to keep the stove ticking over. In between those and all his other jobs he took advantage of a few spare hours earlier in the week to paint this lovely artwork for the glass in the door leading from the kitchen to the utility room. Surrounded by his trademark brightly coloured flowers…

Botanic Gardens 079

with a lovely Sun in the centre…I love it!

Pics from a Sunday walk.

13 Oct

005

Another beautiful sunny day today. After picking Andy up from the airport after his weekend trip to Bristol I decided to head off to the shores of Lough Meelagh to join the Woodland Walks, Bards and Picnics outing.  Sadly it was just myself and John Willmott…that however did nothing to lessen the enjoyment.

006

The pathway is all along the shore of the lake…it would once have been a pleasure walk for the inhabitants of nearby Kilronan Castle…the landed gentry. We ambled along companionably stopping to take photos or admire some wonder of Nature like this lovely Oak. It must have been coppiced years ago to have grown 4 strong stems.

007

Further on this lovely Beech.

008

Further still and we came to “The Big Tree.” John said last time he was here there was a sign here with The Big Tree written on it. It really is a very big tree…

009

but somehow my photos don’t do it justice. It is a Californian Sequoia…pretty rare in this neck of the woods.

010

Beautiful bark.

013

We followed the signs to the place called The Edge of the World.

014

Interesting stones here and the soothing sound of gently lapping water.

015

We sat awhile enjoying the view out to Orchard Island.

018

I love the smooth bark on this Beech tree.

020

This one seems to be growing from rock.

026

After our picnic we stopped at St. Lassiar’s Well where our eyes were drawn to how the setting Sun lit up part of the nearby graveyard.

028

From the graveyard Lough Meelagh and the setting Sun in all their beautiful glory.

Garden news and cottage progress.

10 Oct

006   Up to a few days ago the weather was fabulous…in fact it’s still nice…even if it’s not so warm. Today was only 12 celsius but it was beautifully bright and sunny all day long. The last few weeks have been so warm that the Peas that are being saved for seed have started to flower again… 007   and the Strawberries are still giving a few ripe berries occasionally. 015   In the cottage renovations are finished. It’s so nice to have the house to ourselves again. As nice as our builder and plumber are I just don’t like someone in my space all the time.  Just today we put the table and chairs in here in the conservatory.  Be lovely to sit here over breakfast on a nice morning. On the not so nice mornings the stove will be lit to keep things cosy. lurgan 009   Bit of a difference to when we moved here back in February!  Apart from getting rid of lots of clutter the new roof has made the biggest difference here. Much brighter and of course much better heat retention from the polycarbonate. 018   The plants that have been brought in from outside should flower here for some time. 017   The last few Squashes are ripening on the windowsill. Small but perfectly formed they will be used for Winter soups or roasted…one of my favourite ways to eat Squash…accompanied by Beetroot and Carrots just delicious served on a bed of Quinoa. 019 Andy has given our big old American fridge of new coat of spray paint. It was meant to be chrome paint but it actually turned out like brushed steel. It will have to live here as it doesn’t fit in the kitchen or utility. We bought this old fridge about 16 years ago in a second hand shop. It is a Hotpoint manufactured in 1957 in USA. I much prefer it to the new fridges…so much more spacious. 032   In the kitchen all is finished too… civilised living is back! It’s so nice to get the last of our stuff out of boxes.  The sink will have to go though…this round sink is just so impractical…and no draining board…doesn’t work for us. 031   After initially deciding against it we ended up getting the splashback for the range.  The bookshelves on either side set it off  nicely and create a focal point for the room. With lots of timber from the forest behind the cottage we should be nice and cosy for the Winter here at Flynn’s Cottage.

%d bloggers like this: