Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Packing, Passports and Pills

Tomorrow morning we are off in the car to catch the ferry at Rosslare across to Pembroke. We have to leave here at 4am, so this is a quick mini blog before Jim packs the computer to take with us. Passports at the ready, a few clothes packed plus decorating gear for the house in the UK. It takes us about a day to make the journey when we drive, but we need the car in England as we're there for 3 weeks. Also it means we can pack it full of 'stuff' to bring over here. It's amazing what's gone into our Doblo on our various trips over. Last time it was our Welsh dresser!

Good news on my daughter's friend. She has woken up and is off the ventilator. Early days but looking more hopeful.

I now have a stinking headache so will cut this short. Will fill in any gaps when we're set up in Worthing.


Scariff Tip Trip - Tuesday 30 Oct 2007

It's 12.50 on the 31st, but this is for yesterday. By now you know the hours I keep. After breakfast, we headed of to Scarrif to get rid of the re-cycling and rubbish. Had to go into the village first to buy our voucher for 3 black bin liners of non recyclable rubbish for 12 euros. Back to the tip. There's a great little Irish lady there who seems to be the boss and a young man who helps, he has Downs Syndrome an is always keen to help with your bags, etc.

It was busy as usual, farmers on tractors, an odd assortment of cars and drivers, vans and trailers. It's a great place to socialise and everyone is in a good mood. We tipped our cans into the food can receptacle, drinks cans into the can bank, all the plastics into the plastic bottle chute, old saucepans and barbed wire (the latter from my bramble patch) and much paper and cardboard. Even little batteries into a small red bin! Feeling very virtuous, we headed back into Scarrif centre for our customary coffee and a bun at Joe and Brians' Cafe.

Scarrif is a very 'right on' village. Full of vegetarians, vegans, hippies and even the odd local! Many of the villagers are from the UK. We discovered the cafe on our first trip there, after our tip run. It is run by 2 special needs adults, and is supported by the local monastery. They do the books for the boys and a motley collection of people seem to come and go and help out or just pop in to chat. They make great tea and coffee and always have a range of home made cakes.

They also have art on the walls. This changes occasionally and is always a source of interest to me. This time they had some very atmospheric black and white photos.

We ordered our coffees (fair trade of course and in individual cafetieres) and I had a scone with butter and my favourite jam, apricot while Jim chose a vegan fruit cake. Joe brought it all to us. I had worn my black sweat shirt with High Tor Players on the front, this being one of the companies I used to act with. A chap with a long pony tail said, 'Not High Tor, Matlock'. It turned out he lived in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire when he was a child for quite a few years. I lived in Matlock Bath from 1980 to 2002! It's a small world, as they say. We chatted for ages all about the place and some of the residents we both knew. He had gone to school with my best man from my previous marriage! The chap sitting with him was wearing a hand knitted striped woollen jumper, had his grey hair long and wore a beret. That's the usual sort of uniform for Scarrif.

Back home and I managed to plant the black tulip bulbs I'd been meaning to plant yesterday when the loo and poo crisis struck. I can't wait to see them flower in the spring.

It was dark by 5.30ish, so early. Had to come in and it was also drizzling quite heavily by then. Jim potted the roses individually so we don't have to rush to get the rose bed ready. He also made a great vegetable curry with rice, very Scarrif!

I watched 'Wolf' on tv, a Jack Nicholson/Melanie Griffiths film where Jack gets bitten by a wolf and naturally turns slowly but surely into a werewolf! As in the end does Melanie. Great fun, Jack at his OTT best. I love that man. Earlier Holby City proved a bit of a disappointment. It gets more like Coro/Eastenders each week. Very silly.

Caught up with a few more old friends on Facebook today. Another of the Millstone Grit Company, Nancy, who used to play 2nd witch. We toured round many schools with a workshop production of Macbeth. I played Lady Macbeth. What a part. Nancy had this wonderful costume, like an old orange curtain full of holes. Each time she put it on, a bit more of it disintegrated! They were fun times, though hard work.

Night all.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bogs and Blogs - Monday October 29th 2007

Rainy cloudy day today. Decided to do our trip to the Scarriff tip/re-cycling place before we head back to the UK for 3 weeks on Thursday. Loaded up the car, set off, after about 10 minutes we realised it's a bank holiday Monday in Ireland today, so the tip will be closed! Turned round and, rather than heading home, went on to Gort to fill up with fuel for Thursday's trip. Visited the brand new Lidl store, very exciting! Then a quick trip into Supermac's for coffee and a warm muffin with ice cream. Mmmmm.

Back home, in time to do a bit of gardening before it got dark. I dug up the dahlia corms ready for winter storage and was about to plant some black tulip bulbs when Jim appeared with a very worried look on his face. Could I poor a bowl of water down our loo? It appeared to be blocked. AAAAH! We are not connected to the sewage system, but have a septic tank. There is an 'inspection pit' where you can see whether it's flowing properly, situated near the tank itself. When I poured in the water and flushed, no water appeared in the pit. Problem.

THEN Jim discovered that just outside the toilet, on the ground outside, is what looks like a paving slab in the concrete. He lifted it up. Horror of horrors, his gaze was met by several floating poos, much paper and the most ghastly smell one could imagine. I volunteered to scoop out the offending matter, but Jim valiantly offered and he didn't have to do so twice! I fetched the reserve pair of new black sturdy Marigolds and a bucket. Scoop scoop, slop slop into the bucket. The smell made us both feel like hurling, and I don't mean the Irish game. I then found a suitable stick and it was poked and prodded down the pipe. A sort of squelching noise indicated that the blockage was freed. Back inside, poured in another bowl of water and, whoosh, away it all went. 'We can do poo' I said to Jim! Well, you have to laugh. I decided not to take any photos of today's events.....

This country life does have its limits! We both felt a bit queasy for a while, so it was much later we decided to have dinner! It was too dark to continue with any gardening, so the bulb planting will have to wait until tomorrow.

I have found one or 2 of my old acting friends on Facebook today, which is great. I felt as though that part of my life had disappeared, almost to the point of not having happened. It's been great to renew friendships and chat about acting again. It was once such a huge part of my life.

Sadly my daughter has a friend who is currently in hospital in the ITU. She has cancer and now has an infection and I gather the next 24 hours will be crucial. Miserable news.

Off now to try and knit some more of the damned pockets for the never ending Advent Calendar project. I can't believe how long it's taking me. Maybe I should do it for next Christmas.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dark Days of Autumn, Hot and Hurling 28.10.2007

6pm and dark already. The clocks went back last night so Winter is on her way.

Went to go to bed yesterday (or rather 4am this morning). Jim had turned the electric fire up to its most powerful in the morning, thinking he was turning it down. It must have been some sort of tropical heat in there. I sat on the bed for a few seconds, quickly realising life in that room was unsustainable! Jim was mortified. I tried to sleep on the single bed we have downstairs and J rigged up a bed with settee cushions on the snug floor. Neither of us got much sleep. Some time in the early hours, J crept upstairs and the temperature was about back to normal. Thankfully, we both sank into bed and slept like logs for a few hours.

This afternoon, having forgotten to re-set the bedroom clock, we arose and discovered we had an extra hour before we needed to go out. Great. Our local village, Killanena, had reached a hurling championship final. Now, this is not some sort of ritual where they all stand in a line and see how far they can projectile vomit, but a uniquely Irish sport. This is an excerpt from an Irish website, roughly explaining the game.

Hurling is a game similar to hockey, in that it is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. It is Europe's oldest field game. When the Celts came to Ireland as the last ice age was receding, they brought with them a unique culture, their own language, music, script and unique pastimes. One of these pastimes was a game now called hurling. It features in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it is chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for at least 2,000 years.

The stick, or "hurley" (called camán in Irish) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or "sliothar" is similar in size to a hockey ball but has raised ridges.

Hurling is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide. The goalposts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one.

You may strike the ball on the ground, or in the air. Unlike hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball balanced on the hurley To score, you put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.

It all sounds dreadfully complicated but in reality is not so. Just as the game started, an Irish Coastguard Rescue Helicopter came over the ground. It landed just a short distance from the ground, then took off some 5 minutes later. No doublt we'll read all about it in the 'Irish Champion' on Thursday. I did take a couple of photos (above).

We have never watched a live game and decided this would be just the opportunity so to do. The final was held in Ennis GAA ground, so well within our reach. Kick off, or whatever it's called 'hurl off?' was at 2.30. On the drive to Ennis, flags were flying outside most of the houses and messages painted on boards with 'Good like Mikey and the boys' in varying shapes and sizes were placed by the roadsides. Several old cars were also parked along the route, painted in the blue and yellow colours of Killanena, plus a model of a player on a bike and a leprechaun in team colours sitting on the verge! It must have been heartening for the team on their way to the ground to see so much support. Hurling is HUGE in Ireland.

We managed to find a parking spot not too far from the ground, paid our 10 euros each and squeezed through the ancient turnstiles into the ground. The undercover stand was pretty full, mostly with Killanena supporters, but quite a few of the other teams' supporters were there too, in bright yellow. An Irish pipe band lead the players onto the field and the excitement was tenable. We soon got the hang of the game and what was going on. It's frighteningly fast and the ball can be hit from one end of the pitch to the other in seconds. Players have to be incredibly fit and some of the tackling was pretty violent. Killanena lead at half time, both sides having a goal apiece but Killanena having more of the 'through the post' hits. Sadly, in the second half, the opposing team gradually drew level and in the last few minutes, took the lead. The boys from Killanena were very small by comparison and simply seemed to run out of steam. I think they lost by 2 points but it was a bit hard to tell as the score keepers mixed up the scores on the board in the last 10 minutes! However, the whole event was great fun, we enjoyed it immensely. I look forward to watching a professional game in the future.

Back home and Stanley was duly set into action. He did belch out a bit of black smoke, but seems to have settled down now to getting on with his job.

Of Rugby, Rain and Rose Gardens 27.10.07

Well, it's actually the 28th now but this is for the 27th. Woke up to low cloud, mizzly drizzle and quite a strong wind. Thought we'd better not tackle the rose garden, then decided, to hell with it, why not. Are we made of paper? So we tooled up and attacked our would be rose bed with matocks, spades and secateurs for the brambles - (more brambles). It wasn't too bad really, just very wet! We stopped and looked at each other at one point and burst out laughing. Rain was dripping off us and we were both very dirty. 'If anyone saw us now, they'd think we're bonkers' laughed Jim. Had a break for coffee and a bit of a dry off, then back out to tackle some more. The rain had stopped and it was quite warm, though still windy. We had a date with a rugby match on sky at 6, so couldn't stay out too long. Very satisfied with our efforts so far and we cleared a goodly patch. More tomorrow hopefully.

Inside for a much needed bath, then settled down to watch the rugby. Jim's great nephew Sam Burgess (as mentioned before), is a rugby league star at 18. He was playing his first match for the UK in a test series against New Zealand. I got a bit mad with the tv as the first 2 tries awarded to NZ shouldn't have been given. Bloody Aussie ref! The commentators talked about Sam all the time! His tackling was awesome. The game was pretty close and the second half was much more exciting, especially as Sam scored a try! We were SO excited! England won by a good margin so a great start to Sam's international career. The match finished at 8pm and we were due down the road to our neighbours for a meal at 8! Hurriedly got ready and headed off down the hill.

We had a brilliant evening, super meal, convivial conversation and great wine. Arrived back here about 1.30am. It was absolutely tipping it down so we had to change again and get dry by the time we got home!

It's my first husband Ken's birthday today. Amazing that he's made it really as he's pretty ill with emphysemia. Self inflicted from smoking and 'other' forms of self abuse, but I still felt sad when I last saw him in April at his Dad's 80th birthday party. I still have a soft spot for the old devil. Hope he had a good one.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday 26th October 2007. Bath, Barn and Bread

I was awoken by Jim with a mug of tea. He'd run a bath, so I followed him - with the addition of more hot water. Bliss. Wet and windy outside. We had a leisurely breakfast (cereal) and sat in the conservatory, watching the birds and putting the world to rights. Also discussed blogging and the things you couldn't really put in one.

I continued my blitz on the barn. By the end of the day, all the wood had been sorted. Jim did some work then came outside and we had a chain saw logging session, getting all the wood I'd stacked sawn up for Stanley. Brilliant. Jim had had a wander around the land and viewed the site where we intended to make a formal rose garden. It was totally waterlogged. Hmm, probably not ideal for roses, better for fish. Had a re-think and decided on a new site. Unfortunately, the area in question is knee deep in grass and, you've guessed it, more brambles. We're going to have a go at clearing it this weekend. Roses have already been purchased and need planting.

Tomorrow evening, we are going down to our 2nd closest neighbours, Hilary and Joe, for a meal. First proper invitation we've had from them. They're a lovely couple, Joe has just reached 60, while Hilary is quite a bit younger. (45) He makes films of some sort. Arty ones I think. Their house is big and modern, architect designed and overlooks the lake near us, Loch Graney. Stunning views. They have 4 lovely children and a gorgeous cocker spaniel bitch called Millie. We were invited to Joe's 60th but sadly were back in the UK at the time.

This afternoon we had a break and eat some of Jim's home made bread with our own blackcurrent jam. My daughter in law purchased one of those bread makers and didn't like the bread it made, so she gave it to us, together with a large recipe book. We have tried all sorts of recipes and all the bread has been fabulous. I can't see us every buying bread again whilst in Ireland.

This evening I made a tapestry Christmas tree ornament of a Christmas stocking. It's from a kit our neighbour Sandra gave me. I've hung it round a bottle of wine purchased to take to the meal tomorrow night. Then, as usual made one and a half pockets for the never ending Advent Calendar! I will finish it one day!

As it's not 2.45am, I think I'm off to bed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What No Brambles? Thursday, 25 Oct 2007

I thought I'd have a change today and give my back a rest, so I gave the bramble patch a miss. Jim headed off early to Ennis to carry out the jobs I'd failed to complete so miserably last week.
I decided it was time to give our old barn an overhaul. We store Stanley's 'food' in there. Odd branches get cut and chucked in there in a heap. Then chain sawed up into managable pieces. This process had left us knee deep in sawdust and an untidy mess of branches. We also keep all our rubbish in the barn in various receptacles for re-cycling. It's definitely time for a trip to Scarriff. You see, we don't have dustbin men here. We're far too off the beaten track. So we have to take our rubbish to the nearest tip, in our case this is in Scarriff, a lovely little town that deserves a write up of its own. You have to buy vouchers for any non re-cycleable rubbish, 3 black bin liners full for 12 euros. But Ireland is excellent with its re-cycling programme. We can take most plastic, glass, tins and tin containers, anything metal, cardboard and paper, batteries. Of course we compost all our green waste.

So, back to the barn! I moved all the stuff to go to the tip to the upper area of the barn, organised the containers (now empty) and shoved the heap of wood over to one side to allow the lawn mower a storage space. Much better. Then I swept up the sawdust into bags ready to take up to the veg plot, where our compost goes. Finally, I spent the next few hours until gone 7, hand sawing the smaller bits of wood and stacking the long 'trunks' left ready for a chain sawing session. Stanley has been particularly hungry lately, so needs a constant supply of food. None of this, naturally, did my 'tennis elbow' any good at all.

Jim returned from Ennis WITH the hoover AND the red wool. Hurrah! He also brought one of those chinese meals in a bag from Tesco. We had it in front of the tv tonight. Lovely. Oh, and 2 bars of chocolate. I have to admit to already having eaten half the bar of mine.... This evening of course I cracked on with knitting the 'pockets' for the advent calendar, now I have the wool at last. Watched an excellent film, 'Boxcar Bertha', starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine (he of 'Grasshopper' fame). It was based on Bertha's true autobiography of her life, much of which was spent travelling up and down on the newly built railways. Worth a look if you chance upon the film.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stanley 25th October 2007

Stanley is the name of our wonderful old, and I mean old, Aga type solid fuel stove in the kitchen. When we first came here, Stanley presented us with many challenges. He often used to belch out black smoke when he was a bit bunged up and needed a D and C (de-coke). Jim worried long and hard about each problem Stanley presented him with. He removed his chimney and emptied out several buckets full of black tar. Every crevice of Stanley was poked and prodded and cleaned and indeed he sprang into action with aplomb after this operation. Now J has the better of him alltogether and lights him every evening with little or no trouble (and some help from the odd firelighter). We burn wood from the land and marvellous little compressed peat blocks. We had radiators fitted, which Stanley now heats with pride. He hasn't quite worked out how to get the hot water above tepid, so we have to use the emersion from time to time. This makes the water so hot you could almost make tea with it!

We are planning to look into a new boiler, one of those wood pellet jobs. We're off to view one in December. We will be sad to see Stanley go, maybe we can freecycle him, or put him in the garden as an 'art project'. Now that would be good.

In the meantime, though we once viewed him with fear and trepidation, we have grown to love him for his foibles and battered but homely off white coating. Long may he burn...

Tree Felling and more Brambles

Well, now to today. I set my alarm for 10.30, got out of bed at 12 mid-day. Oh dear. Another beautiful sunny day, although the grass still glistened with the melted frost from the cold, clear night. I am slowly but surely reducing the size of the bramble/stinging nettle patch. Unfortunatley, my tennis elbow (well, bramble elbow) was playing up and my back ached, so I remedied that with 2 ibruprofin!

I've now uncovered 4 leylandi type trees and every time I brush past them, the scent is just amazing. Much better than anything a chemist can offer. Jim did some work on the computer then came out to play! I heard much sawing going on in the orchard. My help was requested as J was sawing down a very large branch of an ash tree. Its removal will open up that part of the orchard as it was hanging horizontally to the ground. J just wanted me to be there in case he chopped his hand off or some such. The midges were biting, which was unpleasant, but I carried on manfully. J sawed almost through the large branch, the wood cracked and splintered but didn't fall down. I pulled on a rope to try and help, the rope broke and I landed unceremoniously on my bottom - and it hurt. J sawed a bit more and it descended slowly, the crown resting on a large old apple tree opposite. J then decided to have a go with a piece of wood through the rope and pulled - the wood broke and he landed on his bottom! I decided we're not too professional at this job. However, eventually the bough crashed to the ground.

J then proceeded to saw it up for Stanley and I returned to the brambles. Darkness descends incredibly quickly now, and by 6.50 I could hardly see anything, so gave up and went inside. Everything aches now. I'm getting too old for all this physical stuff.

A cup of tea was called for, dinner and a bit of tv. Feeling somewhat revived, here I am. I'm not sure whether my aching fingers will be able to knit tonight, but I'll have a go.
Till tomorrow then...

Of Brambles, dogs and Cheese Rolls

I didn't manage to get back on the computer yesterday as Jim was on it all evening. As expected, spent the afternoon in the garden, trying to finish off the bramble war. I did fairly well, but another couple of days to go yet. I took many photos as it was such a glorious day and I'll try and post some so you can get a better idea of our surroundings.. My little robin spent about 10 minutes shouting at me, then came down and helped himself to all the goodies I'd revealed whilst bramble clearing. He wants to make his mind up whether I'm friend or foe. Why is it all robins are 'he'. There must be some she ones or we'd run out of robins!

When I'm on my own I tend to eat rather strangely. I was well known for living on cheese rolls and magnums (or should that be Magni?). Yesterday it was a cheese roll and a scone with butter and one of our home made jams. Many cups of tea and coffee.

As for the dogs of the title. There is a motley bunch of dogs around here. They belong to one of the farmers and occasionally he lets them out and they chase deer around the countryside and make one hell of a racket in the process. Sometimes they appear in the garden. Not what I was expecting at all when I first came across them. Slim, sleek, young hunting dogs? Not a bit of it. A real rag tag and bobtail they are. One is so old it gets left behind. They are very friendly, fortunately, and wag their tails happily as they pass by. Yesterday was one of those occasions when they decided to pay me a visit! I managed to take a photo of them as they wandered off down our road to the neighbours cottage. I presume at night they just wander back home again!

Jim arrived home earlier than I had expected from Dublin, so I didn't have to fight to light Stanley. I'll
write separately about him. Or indeed cook dinner, as Jim does the cooking. I had saved one cheese roll in case he was late....

I was tired after my day's exertions, so had a long bath and read some more of 'Labyrinth' by Kate Mosse, no not the skinny one, this one has an 'e' at the end. Blissful bath it was too.
Dinner then an evening watching a bit of tv, Holby City (I love it) and then Spooks, which was superb. At the same time still trying to finish the advent calendar for Jack. Made a little black cat and a parcel. I think I have about 4 more 'pockets' to fill. I also bought some chocolate euros! He won't know what they are but I'm sure he'll love eating them! Oh, the wool I'd bought in Ennis was the wrong sort! The lady had given me 'chunky' when I wanted double knitting. So my trip to Ennis to pick up the hoover and get more wool was, in fact, a total failure! Best laid plans and all that.

Bed about 3am, read some more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

While the cat's away.....

Jim headed off to Dublin for his Institute of Horticulture meeting at some unearthly hour. I woke at 12 mid-day! Sun shining. Pottered for a while, realising what a tip the cottage is as I'm mostly in the garden. Took the opportunity to play a bit on the computer. There's a slight breeze outside but I'll soon be out there in my newly purchased heavy duty Marigolds! More later.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Day out to Ennis, Rain, Rain and More Rain

I decided to go to Ennis, the largest 'local' town to us, on my own so that Jim could catch up on his work. It's poured with rain most of the day, so I would have been inside and 'in his hair'. My hoover needed a new belt and we took it to a repair shop 2 or 3 weeks ago. It wasn't ready last week ('a box got lost in the post'), so I'm hoping it will be today. Also I ran out of red wool for the much talked about Advent Callender for Jack and the lady in the only wool retail shop in Ennis assured me they would have some more in by now.

I could hardly see through the rain on the drive there, wipers on double swish - a good day to go shopping? Started at Lidl as they had some small shrubs on offer today. Bought 9, was charged for 11, but did get my 12 euros back for the 2 extra! Also bought an umbrella, which seemed a good plan under the circumstances! However, juggling plants and umprella whilst trying to load the car didn't really work.

Took a bit of a circuitous route round to the hoover shop. Guess what? It was closed. AAAAH! I can't believe how much trouble we have had getting a new belt for my super Electrolux Vitesse upright. Must have cost almost as much as the hoover in petrol going to and from Ennis to try and get said belt. Now another trip will have to be made....

Success on the wool front, as the little shop had indeed had a delivery of the red wool. The lady in the shop is very chatty and I'm just about getting to understand her strong Irish accent. Most of the shop keepers and assistants are very friendly in Ireland. Bit of a change from the UK. We used to go to our local Lidl in Worthing for a good session of ritual abuse! 'What do yer want that for' and other such helpful comments.

Walked up to the banks and managed to change some English pounds into euros, crap rate though. Popped into 'Supermacs' for a cappuccino and chips with cheese. Can't beat it! The Irish equivalent of MacDonalds only nicer. Did much window shopping. Ennis is known as the fashion capital of Ireland. Indeed the shops have wonderful displays of clothes. Rather expensive but so different from anything in England. The shoe shops are pretty stunning too, especially for children.

A final trip round to Aldi and Tesco! Aldi had vast boxes of bird seed and fat balls on offer. As we spend so much time watching our birds and their antics, I bought both. Happy birds they will be. Quick whiz round Tescos, then back home. It seemed to take ages, was dark by then and again, tipping it down!

Jim's off to Dublin for the day tomorrow for an meeting, so I'll have a day on my own again. Hope the rain's stopped so I can plant some of the little shrubs. What an exciting life I lead!

Managing to write this while Jim takes time out from working to watch 'Dragon's Den'. Back to the knitting needles.........

Brambles, stinging nettles and all

4am and here I am. Jim's been on the computer most of the day, working, so this is the first chance I've had to catch up. After an adventurous night, we didn't drag ourselves out of bed until 1pm. We sat in the conservatory and chatted and admired our gorgeous Irish view for another hour, had 'breakfast'! Finally headed off to my bramble patch. Not too much more to do now. I have yet another pile of rubbish after today's efforts. This patch not only contained brambles but huge stinging nettles, so big they had branches on them and stung my legs through my trousers. Evil things. A nasty rusty piece of barbed wire ripped the end off my Marigolds! They've had to go in the bin tonight and they're so expensive. Must put them on my Christmas list! 'Mountainous supply of gardening gloves'.

I stayed out until it went dark which was around 7.10pm. The days get shorter and shorter. Having wielded the mattock for several hours, shoulders, fingers and legs ached. Several cups of tea and our evening meal revived me somewhat. Watched some rubbish tv, made more knitted things to go inside the pockets of Jack's advent callender. A little caveman, complete with club, a Christmas stocking and a 'bauble', supposedly round but actually rather an odd eliptical shape!

As we're off to Ennis (pronounced Inis) early in the morning, one wonders whether it's worth going to bed at all.

Heard today that Sam the rugby star has been picked for the England rugby squad. First game next Saturday at Huddersfield. Great news.
Night all.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More gardening and rugby

Oh dear, it's 3.25am and I really should be in bed. Hey ho, nothing unusual there. A good day. Enjoyed a lovely hot bath this morning to try and get the thorns out of my hands! Did some Irish Independent crossword in the bath. Soggy paper!

Out into the garden. Am currently trying to clear a host of brambles from our wood and the area alongside the arboretum, not yet tackled. I have now made about 3 mountains of rubbish which I shall have to dispose of somehow. It seems in Ireland they substitute Halloween for Guy Fawkes night, so I shall have to take the opportunity of having a bonfire on the 31st. It's illegal here, but I think you can get away with it occasionally! In the brambles I found a lovely leylandi type tree and a holly bush! So many brambles tore my hands to bits, in spite of the black Marigold 'extra strong' gloves.

Jim had cut down 2 trees yesterday - they were overhanging the 'road' going down to our neighbours. It's our road so really up to us to do the job. Today he played lumberjack and chain sawed them up. I assisted here and there.
Walked down to our neighbours for coffee. We are quite close to them but only see each other for tea/coffee about once or twice a week. They have loads of cats...... Jovial time had by the 4 of us.
Back to the brambles. Jim headed off to buy a paper (no deliveries here in the wilds) and some yummies to eat whilst watching the rugby.

We actually had 2 games of rugby to watch. Jim's niece has 4 sons and they all play rugby league, the northern version of rugby. The 2nd oldest son, Sam Burgess, is now an international player and he had a game against New Zealand at 6. He is a real super star in rugby league and the commentators kept going on about him and how young he is, etc (he's 18). He is hoping to be picked for the rugby league world cup which is next year. It's funn y to see someone you know so well on the tv. It was a great game and Sam played brilliantly, earning him man of the match, even though his team lost. We were very proud. He plays for Bradford Bulls and if you put Sam Burgess into google you'll get loads of stuff about him. He is also an absolutely delightful lad.
So then it was the England v S Africa game, final of the rugby union world cup. What a letdown. It was really disappointing, even though we didn't expect England to win, the whole game was simply dull. Ah well, the food was great.

I did some knitting during the evening. I'm busy making a permanent advent callender for my grandson Jack. Phew, it's taking some doing. I've had to knit the backing, 24 'pockets' and am in the process of making the 24 things to go in them. So far I have about 13. Knit, knit, knit........
Bedtime now... 3.45am.....

Saturday, October 20, 2007


20 October 2007 Saturday
Rugby World Cup Final tonight, England v S Africa. Sadly I think S Africa will almost certainly trounce England. Last night watched the match for the bronze medals, Argentina v France. Lots of bad tempers and loads of tostesterone abounded! France were seriously thrashed by Argentina. France have had a BAD world cup!

I'm sitting at my computer in Ireland, looking out on dozens of chaffinches, green finches, our resident coal tit and great tit, feeding from the bird table. 2 containers full of nuts and one of bird seed. They frequently visit the bird bath nearby. The bird bath was my Mother's, bought for her and my father by my brother, so it goes where I go.

I smile as I see the rockery we have built, still colourful with dancing heads of yellow marigolds, pink geraniums, purple violas (recently planted), and sundry other pinks and white. A little wren is now hopping around the rockery.

The rockery was once a high bank, covered in brambles, montbretia, wild rose, nettles and sundry other weeds. It took all of last summer to demolish the bank, making a way through to the land beyond. Trees had to be felled too, and the roots raked out, sawed through and removed as much as possible.

In all we have 5 acres. Beyond the rockery used to be a very rough small field, full of nettles, brambles and sedge reeds, as this is Ireland and it's pretty boggy. Now it is a mowable lawn, laughably called the arboretum as it contains quite a few trees, some planted by the previous owner, others by us. (6 yesterday).

Forgive my ignorance at 'blogging', this is my first attempt so will be pretty mixed up. I'll add some 'history' as I go along.

Weather in County Clare today: Cloudy but quite bright.