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Looking forward……

20 Jan

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Andy was here today so I ventured out for my first snow walk after being housebound for a week with a lung infection. I am still on antibiotics until Friday but I really feel back to normal again. Today the sky was overcast and really very dark all day. It looked like more snow was coming but it never happened and there was actually a good thaw today.

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I don’t fall into illness mode easily and do not spend time lying in bed. Instead I use the time indoors to get houseworky tasks done.  Friends sourced some organic Seville oranges at the bargain price of 2 euros per kilo. Four kilos of them have now been turned into delicious marmalade. It is a long process but so worth the effort. Home made marmalade is just a different experience to the mass produced stuff. One batch turned a dark brown colour just like Oxford marmalade.

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A little gardening was also done today. These scented Tulips were half price in the January sale at a local garden centre and couldn’t be resisted. A little late being planted but now in pots in the polytunnel they will soon catch up. I really want a lot more scent in the garden so that is one of the aspects I shall be focusing on this year. More beds for planting vegetables is also high on the to be done list.

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Still lots of greens in the tunnel. Rocket, Purslane and Spinach are a welcome addition to meals. The Spring Onions are a bit small yet but will grow quickly when the weather warms and the days grow longer.

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The Sun is still low enough in the sky to create interesting morning shadows however this evening there was still some light at 5.30. So looking forward to Spring and the year ahead. A few trips planned but not to be revealed as yet!

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The view down the lane is bleak today but before long everything will be clothed in green again. Looking forward to that time. For me Winter is something that has to be tolerated to get to the glory days of Spring and Summer again. That is my time!

 

 

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These Wintry Days.

15 Jan
Snow covered Hawthorn.

Snow covered Hawthorn.

The weather is throwing everything it has in it’s arsenal at us here in Ireland at the moment. In the last few days we have had: torrential rain, thunder and lightning, high winds, frost and snow. The snow was beautiful but it was washed away after a day by the heavy rain. Didn’t even walk in the snow this year as I am lying low at the minute with a lung infection. The first lot of antibiotics didn’t work so I’m now on the 2nd lot plus steroids. That should knock it on the head.  Hopefully!

Snowy garden.

Snowy garden.

Despite the inconvenience of it I do love the snow. It makes everything look so fresh and pristine. I love being the first one to leave my footprint there. Makes me feel like I am walking on virgin ground. I love how it changes the light too, so bright and at night it gives everything a blueish hue.

Log stash.

Log stash.

It’s certainly the time to keep the home fires burning. I always keep this cupboard under the verandah stocked with logs as an emergency supply. During the day I keep the range in the kitchen going as this heats the radiators and provides hot water. At night I retire to the sitting room and light the little wood burner there. It gets so warm that I usually have to open the door.

Snow covered Birches.

Snow covered Birches.

There’s lots of indoor projects to work on when I feel a little better. There’s a pile of material ready to be turned into a patchwork quilt, oranges to be turned into marmalade, doors on cupboards to be repainted and a multitude of other tasks to fill these Winter days. If the weather suddenly turns to Spring my mind shall stray to outdoor activities. Lets see what the rest of the month brings!

 

Welcoming the rain.

27 Jun

039  Our period of sunny weather came to an end earlier this week.  People complain and wish for the good weather to stay. I however was happy to see the Summer rain arrive. It is after all what keeps Ireland fresh and lush and green. Forty shades of brown just does’nt have the same appeal to it. 017 I remember the Summer of  ’95, one of the hottest on record for these parts. Andy and I came over from England… we had been together only a short time and it was his first visit to Ireland.  It was hot in England too but I was shocked when I came home and saw the green fields turned to brown.  Yes the heat was lovely but farmers had major problems that year feeding and watering animals and vegetable crops did not do so well either. Hose pipe bans were in effect and rain barrels were long empty. 020 Yes I welcome the life giving water from the sky that makes everything feel fresh and new and combined with the heat of the land gives a huge spurt of growth to everything. 013   I am happy to to see our water barrels filled again  as I always like to water the polytunnel and the house plants with rain water. I remember years ago the old people always said that rain water was the best to wash one’s hair in. My maternal grandfather  Fred always went out to the rain barrel every morning to wash his face. Winter or Summer…hot or cold…this was his way. He would make a cup by putting his big work worn hands together and splash the water onto his face. I loved to watch this ritual. 010

And as sure as night follows day the sun will once again make itself visible. It’s still there behind the cloud waiting for the curtains to part when it will take centre stage once again. Sunshine  returning after a spell of rain is always so welcome. We gain a renewed appreciation for it.

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Even as I sit here writing the sun is peeping occasionally from behind the clouds… the rain has stopped…I’m off to immerse myself in the fresh green Nature…and if it happens to rain today I shall welcome it with joy in my heart.

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”    Roger Miller

The storm…

12 Feb

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A fierce storm hit Ireland today. The strongest wind speed was recorded at Shannon Airport…150 kms per hour. A tornado struck in Athleague and then went on to Roscommon town where about 100 trees were uprooted and houses were damaged. People interviewed on the radio said it was like a plane coming in to land.

We are lucky here to be sheltered to the west and south by the forest. It was still an indoor day though. Andy ventured out to walk the dogs and bring in fuel for the stoves.

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I made the house smell of Summer by using the last Strawberries from the freezer to make jam. I’ve had that Strawberry shaped jar for years. Saw it in a supermarket in Rathdowney full of jam and just had to have it. Every year since it has been filled and refilled with the preserve of Summer days.

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At five o clock our electricity went. Luckily we had lots of candles in stock. Dinner was cooked by candlelight on the gas hob…a hearty bean stew enjoyed in the shadowy flickering light.  I find candlelight so nice…softer and more atmospheric than the cold impersonal light from electricity. The old Irish people used to say that the spirits left the houses when electricity arrived.

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Amazingly the power cut only lasted about two hours for us. I know a lot of people in the south are still without electricity. Watching the TV news just now it seems they took the brunt of those high winds. Many trees down throughout Cork and Kerry. Lots of damage to buildings too. Thankfully no lives have been lost. The same storm is also battering the UK. England is now in the midst of a national crisis due to the severe flooding.   Another storm is forecast for the weekend. When? Oh when will it ever end?

Save our Planet…plant more Trees.

10 Feb

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The weather is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. Since before Christmas we have been battered by Atlantic storms. Another one is building out there…reckoned to strike on Wednesday. This morning we had snow.

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It was pretty for the short time it lasted… soon to be washed away by rain. Then there was a period of sunshine. All the seasons in one day.

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The rain has been so constant this Winter…it wears one down. So hard for farmers and animals not to mind the folks whose homes have been flooded here in Ireland and in England. Visiting Tipperary last week it was amazing to see lakes where they never were. At least the Swans are happy.

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Great article in The Guardian newspaper today about this whole topic. You can read it here  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/13/flooding-public-spending-britain-europe-policies-homes

In the article George Monbiot talks about how European Union agricultural policies are adding to the flooding woes. I presume the same policies apply here in Ireland.

“Water sinks into the soil under trees at 67 times the rate it sinks into the soil under grass. The roots of the trees provide channels down which the water flows deep into the ground.”

I always believed trees were an important part of protecting the land but this is an astonishing fact to contemplate. The message is clear…planting trees helps protect our Planet.

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Further into the article it is revealed that if you are to receive your Single Farm Payment (from European Union), the largest component in farm subsidies, the land has to be free of  “unwanted vegetation.” This includes tree cover.

So…with no trees and shrubs to slow down the rain run off it all flows straight down the hills…probably taking topsoil with it…into the rivers and into the towns and villages causing….yes! you’ve guessed it…flooding.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that it’s crazy to be driving landowners into removing tree cover from land. It leaves the land without shelter for wildlife and farm animals not to mind the damage to the land itself. I think the people in Brussels who devise these policies need some new advisors…preferably ones with some love of the Planet and maybe an interest in Permaculture…as opposed to a love of money. Production is their only goal…and it seems like it’s damn the consequences.

Frost.

9 Jan

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Jack Frost came in the night.

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Leaving crunchy grass under foot.

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Skeletal plants rigid and white.

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Polytunnel plastic now opaque.

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While in the pond all is still…as far as our eye can see anyway.

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