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Waiting…

12 Jan

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It’s a wet Sunday here in Ireland today. Just thought I’d post a few pics of Summer flowers to cheer us up as we wait for the gardening season to start. I find this time of year the longest part of Winter.  Up to Christmas we are busy with fairs and preparations for the festive season. Then suddenly it’s January and all is quiet…far to wet to work in the garden…a little early for planting seeds.

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What to do? We have been busy finishing things off in the house. The spare bedroom and our own bedroom are now decorated. The larder was painted and sorted as of yesterday. Today I processed the first of the Seville Oranges…a year’s supply of  marmalade by the end of the coming week.

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There are still a few things to be done in the conservatory.  Andy is putting a stove in there this week then a rejig of furniture and that will be done. There’s lots to be done outdoors but mostly fair weather jobs.

As I see plants budding my desire is to  get out there and get my hands in the soil once again.

But for now I must wait…

Mist.

9 Jan

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What is it about mist that’s so enchanting?

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I love how it slowly, silently,  envelops everything.

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It gives an aura of mystery and magic.

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Bringing with it stillness and a deep quiet. The magic of the mist.

Rainy January days.

6 Jan

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Today is the last day of Christmas…Women’s Christmas or the feast of the Epiphany as it’s also known. The day when the 3 Wise Men brought their gifts to the baby Jesus. I didn’t have any women getting together event so I just went into town and had a peruse of the shops…bought myself a couple of sweatshirts. So much tat the shops get in for the sales…the Earth’s resources being wasted on useless unnecessary stuff.

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We try to avoid buying anything we don’t have a use for…as the great designer William Morris said “Do not have anything in your home which you do not find to be useful or beautiful”…or something like that.

I find it hard to get back into work mode after Christmas. The weather does’nt help. Since mid December storms have been raging out in the Atlantic. They have been coming ashore with great force.  England and Ireland have suffered badly from high winds and flooding. Thankfully we have had no damage here. The land is sodden though so no work can be done in the garden. It’s not advisable to work on the soil if the mud sticks to your boots…you would just be causing compaction.

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Water barrels are full to overflowing but I fear we won’t be watering for some time! In Mid and Eastern America I know temperatures are set to plummet. Lots of heavy snowfalls too. I guess all this extra precipitation is down to global warming. Not a lot we can do about it now as the Planet is well beyond the tipping point. We must endure this climate we have all created by our own greed and consumerism…and still it continues. Very hard to change the lifestyle we have all become accustomed to I suppose.

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The days right now are grey and the air is moisture laden. The rain we get has changed somewhat from the soft rain Ireland is so famous for. Monsoon type showers are what we get now…really heavy rain. I’ve noticed this change for a few years now. It’s like the clouds have a lot more moisture to get rid of. We have’nt had any frost to speak of yet so when it dries I can get back to mulching the beds.

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Despite spending a lot of time indoors right now there is still lots to do. We have been painting our bedroom and the Seville Oranges are waiting to be turned into marmalade. These fruits are organic from the Farmer’s Market in Boyle. Our friends Anne and Simon picked them up for us on Saturday. At €2.50 a kilo I thought they were a bargain. I will process them a kilo at a time. That should give us about 28 pounds of Marmalade. Lots for us for the year and maybe a few for friends too.

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To finish on an amusing note I give you this pic of Andy and the dogs. He bent down to get Lettie a little tummy rub…the bould Freddie…never one to miss an opportunity…jumped off the trunk and onto Andy’s back. Cheeky monkey!

Yards and fairs and discovering new places.

3 Dec

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I always hate getting diggers in but sometimes needs must. I always hated the big bed that took up a large area of the front yard.

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It would have been impossible…well maybe not impossible but damn hard work to do this work by hand. Our backs are worth more than that. Three trucks loads of soil and overgrown plants were taken away. Thankfully the weather has continued to be dry so there was’nt too much of a mess.

 

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By evening all was done and we now have a spacious new yard.

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Saturday and Sunday saw us taking stalls at local craft fairs. The Organic Centre in Rossinver had their fair on Saturday and on Sunday we attended the fair in Manorhamilton in north Leitrim. Andy has got back into glass painting recently…I love this heart design. It sold well as it isn’t priced too high…ideal for pressies.

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We totally sold out of night lights. Very affordable at 5 euros each.

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I made my usual supply of Caramel slices…

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and the ever popular Melting Moments.

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On Monday I went to Boyle where I have started volunteering one day a week in a charity shop. Being a little early I decided to have a little stroll by the river. To my surprise the path didn’t end where I expected it to at the end of the shops. Instead I saw a stone sign with The Lawns written on it. Following the path I found myself in a previously unknown little park. It’s really just a path along by the river but it is pretty.

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Some lovely mature trees here. So delighted with this little discovery. I will make time to walk here in future. By the way…can you see the face in this Beech tree? I didn’t see it until I looked at the pics on the computer.  He looks…well I think it’s a he…Oriental to me. Had a bit of a relaxing day today after such a busy few days.

The daily walk.

21 Nov

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The great thing about having dogs is that they make you take exercise. If they are not taken for at least one walk a day your life will be made hell by the dirty looks from the creatures. We have 55 acres of forest behind our house…not ours I might add…and lucky for us we have the owners permission to walk there. Five of these acres are used as a research area so they have nice paths through the trees and the trees are brashed. Brashed is when the bottom branches are taken off the trees.

Sometimes we go to the forest through the gate at the bottom of the garden…

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other times we head out through the Ash tree plantation to the west of our house. The dogs run ahead excitedly but come back if I am dallying.

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Out onto the lane where a short time ago we were picking Blackberries galore. The dogs weren’t impressed with the fruit picking…they just want to walk…and sniff and investigate.

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On to the wooden bridge and into the forest.

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Looking back up through the trees the cottage and polytunnel can be glimpsed.

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On we go…

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until we come to the boundary between the forest and the next door farm. Along this boundary is a wonderful line of Beech trees…

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probably planted by the gentry who once counted these lands among their estates. The once beautiful hunting lodge called Bella now derelict.

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Inquisitive cattle stand and stare.

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Fallen Beech leaves make a soft carpet to walk on.

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Lettie wants to go back in the forest.

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Lots of fungi growing amongst the Spruce trees here. Unfortunately these are False Chanterelles. Pity!

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They are pretty though.

Time for home. It will all be done again tomorrow but no matter how often I walk here it always feels nice and fresh and new. So many paths to explore. Scents to enjoy. Birdsong to listen too. Wood to collect to keep the home fire burning bright.

The beauty and bounty of Nature right on our doorstep.

 

A sunny November morning.

1 Nov

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The Sun is getting lower in the sky now casting shadows deeper into the cottage. So nice to be greeted by early morning sunshine on the table.

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Strange shadow play on the conservatory wall. Seeds for next year drying on the table. Gardeners are always thinking ahead to the next season.

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Still a bit misty outside.

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Out into the garden. The Sun is at the south east but shortly the whole garden will light up as the Sun comes round to the south. Still lots of leaves to be collected.

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Such a stunningly beautiful morning!  More like Summer than November 1st. Been a while since I walked the garden in my dressing gown at this time of year. That’s the good thing about living in the sticks…no one peering over the hedge…ever!

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Back to the conservatory for more shadow play.

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By December 21st the Sun should be just skimming the top of the trees in the forest behind us and casting shadow and light even deeper into the cottage.  As this is our first Winter here we are seeing all this for the first time.

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Seeds to be potted on are highlighted too. Canterbury Bells and Dianthus planted in the Autumn to give a head start next year.

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Lettie catching a few early morning rays…

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while Freddie is needing some TLC. He had his little op a few days ago and has to wear this silly lampshade so he doesn’t go near his stitches.

Thoughts at Samhain.

30 Oct

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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.

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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!

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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.

The Autumn colour show.

23 Oct

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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!

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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 a Sunday walk.

13 Oct

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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.

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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.

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Further on this lovely Beech.

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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…

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

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Beautiful bark.

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

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

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We sat awhile enjoying the view out to Orchard Island.

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I love the smooth bark on this Beech tree.

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This one seems to be growing from rock.

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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.

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

As August makes way for September…

1 Sep

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As August makes way for September we are very busy here at Flynn’s Cottage. Haven’t been blogging or visiting blogs very much as all energies are now on getting the house in order.  Filling, sanding and painting are now the order of the day…every day. The builder is finished in the main house and is now working on the new polycarbonate roof for the conservatory. Much as I appreciate getting the work done I will be glad when it’s just us again. Seems like we have had people here doing various jobs for months now. When all is done our pockets will be empty but the house will be just as we like it.

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We have taken time off for the occasional day out. As Andy has been working 6 days a week throughout the Summer our days out are mostly on Saturdays. Two Saturdays ago we went up to the Donkey Sanctuary in Castlebaldwin where our donkey Daphne had been residing since we moved. Sue had to tell us the sad news that Daphne had passed away recently. We had forgotten to leave our new phone number so Sue could not contact us.  It was strange in a way as talking about it later at home we both had a feeling going up there that Daphne would not be there. Some sixth sense was telling us I suppose. We did stay some time and had a lovely visit with Sue and the donkeys. Sue is just wonderful and has a heart of gold. A true treasure in this times of animal cruelty and neglect. These dudes are  trying to get at the biscuits behind Andy’s back…donkeys just love Ginger Nuts.

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This is little Juniper…born in June…so cute…and so privileged to be born here.

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This cutie came running when he heard the rustle of the biscuit packaging.

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The lovely Daphne when she lived with us in our old place in Arigna. This was taken last Summer. R.I.P lovely girl.

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Meanwhile this wonderful contraption has appeared in our shed. Isn’t it just beautiful!  It’s a wasps nest.  The wonder of Nature…a bunch of tiny creatures co-operated together to make this home for themselves. We humans could learn a lot from our animal companions.

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