Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back much Better, Meal Out Treat. 30.7.08

It's been lovely and sunny with a cool breeze today. Fabulous. I couldn't do much outside as I was preserving my back, but by the afternoon it was much improved. Hoorah!

I had a phone call this afternoon from Ann Broderick, founder, with her husband of a huge furniture store, Brodericks, in our local village. She is the one who runs the cafe I've gone on and on about, where you don't pay for anything, just donate if you feel like it! She'd often said we must go for a coffee one day, but suggested I go to her house at 6.45, so it was obviously a meal out. Woo Hoo.

Jim ran me to her house (large, lovely) and I was driven to the Ballyline Bar, not too far away. We enjoyed a great meal and conversation there. Ann is obviously a regular as they all knew her there. Apparently she used to go there for lunch every Thursday with her husband
Mickey. Sadly he died not long ago and she was of course devastated. The food was great, fish and chips for me and chicken Caesar salad for Ann. It was a bit difficult for me to hear as there was music playing and a hurling match on the tv, then a crowd of men arrived in a mini bus, so the volume got louder.

I was driven home and offered a glass of wine. Jim arrived to pick me up but
I said he had to go in for a glass too. He had been in the middle of his dinner and I said he could warm it up, but it was omelet! Ah well, he came in anyway and we stayed and chatted and laughed for quite some time. It was a delightful evening all round.

When we got home, Jim had made me a photo frame to decorate, and it's lovely. What a man.

Jim took some rather lovely photos around Doorus today, so I'll post some, they were, after all, taken on my camera!

Oh, and he did warm up his dinner and eat it! Rubbery omelet, 2 sausages and home grown potatoes. He must have been hungry...

A lovely shot of Buster

Buster looked very alert

BlackJack is a panther!

The first Gladioli in bloom

A gorgeous Cactus Dahlia

Fritillary butterfly on fern

Jim planted the 9 lavender plants on top of the fairy hill
I had weeded it first.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bad Back, Drizzle, Bad Buster 29.7.08

I am propped up hard against the back of my typing chair trying to ease my back pain. After breakfast I leaned over the settee in the conservatory and something 'went'. I'm not too bad sitting, comfortable lying down but not good standing or walking. God, I hate it.

Jim's had to go to a Gort Show meeting tonight. I came into the conservatory to find Buster had weed in 2 places in there. I was so mad. The door was open to the outside and he hasn't had any accidents for a few days. I'm sure it's because he wasn't allowed back into the front room! So I staggered about mopping and cursing and shouting at him. He's not moved from his basket since!!

Jim and I have been discussing our entries to the Gort Show. My crafts and Jim's jams, veg and maybe flowers, depending on the weather. I want to decorate a picture frame but it turns out all the ones we have (dozens of them) are still in the UK. Grrrr. Jim says he'll make me one. I have a rug ready, a knitted 'Grandpa' scarecrow, a knitted Peddler doll, a 'new from old' bag and then there are the photos. We have to sort those out and print them. Luckily Jim bought a super new photo printer on Saturday, so that should help.

I rang the architect Paddy yesterday to see whether he'd had any estimates back from builders. He hasn't and said he'd chase them. It'll be 2009 before we get anything done at this rate.

An on line friend of Rachel's has been in touch about my Raggy Bags and selling them on Etsy, an American craft site. I had a look on there but it all looks a bit complicated, plus it's all in dollars of course. I still haven't got my ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) on a site either. I can make things but am crap at putting them anywhere!

I'm a bit fed up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Humid Day, Gate Photos, Jim Walks, 28.7.08

Phew, it's been really humid today, although the sun's hardly shone and it's rained on and off, it was still t-shirt weather.

Jim decided he was fit enough after his back injury to go walking again, a good sign. He's gradually walking the East Clare Way. This means I have to drive him to his start point, go back home, then drive back and collect him at a fixed venue about 3 hours later. I dropped him off at a place called Callaghan's Mills. The old water mill, after which the village is named, is in a parlous state of repair, but judging by the machinery and fences around it, is undergoing re-construction. Should be lovely when/if it ever gets done.

I walked a bit with Jim to take Buster for a
breath of fresh air. Strange place, with quite a few derelict cottages and lumps of old farm machinery about. Also some quite interesting gates, so I managed to get some reasonable photos, in spite of Buster's help by pulling my arm just as I tried to take a photo!

I called at the post office/petrol station/pub in the village and purchased a Magnum. The dark chocolate one. Delicious. Then headed home and did some more parking area weeding. I do seem to be getting somewhere with it at last. It rained on and off but was so warm, it didn't matter. Even Buster sat out with me.

I drove to the meeting point to pick up Jim and sat drinking coffee while I waited. Text arrives. 'I'm here but you're not'. Aha, wrong place Gina! I wasn't far out, just one junction away, so drove and picked a now very wet and soggy Jim up. He was very tired and has now retired to bed early, a very rare event! I hope it'll help him build up his strength again.

The photos I have are some of Jim and the new meadow path (mentioned yesterday) and the rest of today's efforts.

Weston Super Mare pier burnt down yesterday. Sad news indeed. They are so vulnerable as a lot of the structure is wooden. It seems they are hoping to re-build the Pavilion at the end. Good luck to them.

Buster and Jim running up our 'M1', the first meadow path

Buster and Sandy explore the newly strimmed path

Buster waiting patiently for Jim

Pretty yellow meadow flowers in the
foreground, the cream line of flowers is Meadow Sweet, and it lives up to its name at this time of year. That line of flowers is where the new path cuts across.

Now for gates, old cottage and cottage window, farm machinery:

Who slept in this old bed?

Is this old gate ever used? I can't think it is.

Suffolk Trip 22-24 July 08

Spent the usual 3 days at Jason, Sam and Jacks' house. The weather was wonderful and made a change from the rubbish we've had in Ireland. It's so lovely when Jack and Sam come and pick me up from the airport. Jack's always so pleased to see me and chats non-stop in the car. We did a bit of a shop fest, visiting Lakeside, a huge shopping mall, where we had great fun but didn't spend much! Jack loves the escalators so we upped and downed quite a bit.

A trip to Ikea finished us off. Jack decided to stay in the nursery there but lasted about 5 minutes! We had aftern
oon tea, then finally headed home.

Jason had taken Wednesday afternoon off work so that we could all go out together. Jack had 'school' in the morning, so we picked him up en mass and headed to a fruit f
arm which also has a play area and sandpit outside. Jack slept all the way there but the bloomin' place was closed. It wasn't supposed to be, but it was. We headed to another fruit farm nearer home and that was open thankfully. We picked up our basket from a couple in an old caravan. The chap had about 2 teeth, a real old character! I took a photo of them which I'll post.

The Odd Couple

Lovely old broken crates

Grumpy Jack puts a raspberry in the basket

After all our anticipation, Jack was fairly grumpy as all between the raspberries were thistles which kept prickling his little legs. We did manage to fill a punnet though then headed for the strawberries. Sadly, there were hardly any left so we cheated and bought some from the little shop at the entrance. We also bought some cherries and dried fruit with seeds. We munched away at all this lovely fruit on our way to Nowton Park, a fabulous 200 acres of gorgeous Suffolk countryside that had been landscaped in typical Victorian style.

First stop was the ice-cream shop. We then walked almost the perimeter of the park, which we hadn't done before. It's a beautiful place with fantastic trees, meadows, a lime tree avenue, totem pole, folly and other delights. The huge house in the grounds used to be owned by the Oakes family but now accommodates overseas students. It has wonderfully ornate chimney pots.

Wonderful Chimney Pots

We also came across a woo
den panda sitting by some bamboo and a folly. Most fun was the Maze, planted in 1992 in the shape of a stylised oak tree to commemorate the Oakes family. Jason and Jack set off in one direction and Sam and I in another. The 2 'Js' reached the centre first and after a struggle, we caught up with them. We did get a bit lost getting to the outside, and finally popped through a hole in the hedge that some other 'lost' travellers
must have made before us!

Jack on the wooden Panda

Family Green walking round Nowton Park

Jack was brilliant as usual
and enjoyed the walk immensely. We decided as it was late, to call and get fish and chips for a treat. They were much enjoyed around the dining table back home.

On Thursday Jason had to work so Sam, Jack and I headed to Bury St Edmunds as it was so lovely and sunny, for a picnic in the Abbey Gardens. The flowers there were stunning and the park was full. We called at M & S for supplies and Nero for a coffee to take with us. We found a shady spot and had a lovely time eating, laughing and watching Jack running around in his socks and loving his picnic and the weather. There are some birds in cages in the gardens, so we inspected those, Jack had a go on the merry-go-round then it was time for ice-cream. We headed home after a poke around the shops. I diverted into a big craft shop and managed to spend a bit.

Gran (me) and Jack, Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

Jack running a
nd having fun

Jack on the merry-go-round

Back home and Jason joined us in the garden. He showed me some of his Shotokan Karate moves. He's becoming quite fit again and has lost 2 stone in weight. He also won the Adult Kumite championship in a compet
ition the previous Sunday. As a relative novice, he's done incredibly well.

We had great fun in the garden. Jack just loves it outside and waters plants, dead heads them and generally busies himself with all sorts of little projects. He looked wonderful, naked but for a pair of wellies!

I had a great time. Jac
k is growing so fast, I'm glad I've been able to visit him often so I haven't missed much of his development. Hi speech is amazing for his age and he is so loving. Mustn't go on!

It was good to see Jim and Buster back in Ireland. Buster seems to have grown at a ridiculous rate. His legs are so long now. We've had a great couple of days mostly in the garden as it's been so hot and sunny.

Jim bought some lavender plants, 9 in all, which he planted on the fairy hill today. I spent yesterday clearing the place for them. I have been weeding the parking area again and tonight I had another little bonfire to keep the flies away.

Jim has decided to make a new path round the meadow, much wider than the old one and not so far down the bottom. H
e strimmed most of it yesterday and tried to mow it with the sit on mower this afternoon. Oops, a bit ambitious as he got it stuck. Between us we pushed and pulled it out. Buster just loves going up to the meadow and charges in and out of the long grass. Sandy and BlackJack usually come too and they all play great games while we work.

Jim made a summer fruits crumble for pud tonight with our raspberries, black and redcurrants and gooseberries. It was gorgeous. We'd also had our lettuce leaves for the main meal with cheese and cooked chicken and our own potatoes. This is the life.

I'd better stop there or this will be like War & Peace.

Jack the Naked Gardener

Chair waiting to be mended at J & Sams

Jack putting his spade away at the end of the day

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beautiful Sunshine, Weeding, Grump. 20.7.08

What a gorgeous day it's been, weatherwise that is. When I got up Jim was grumpy because he'd got up for the dog and was tired. And he always gets up for the dog and needs more sleep. Grump grump. Discussion on what to do about it.

Jim mowed the orchard and I weeded the bed behind the sleeping shed and made a new path and step where the old, rather hastily constructed path, had been. It was totally covered in weeds, mostly dock and dandelion. I still have some more to do but it's a great improvement. I also weeded the bed at the side of the path. The pansies had about disappeared in long grass and I pulled up the biggest dandelion I'd ever seen! Huge roots. I stayed outside until after 10pm. Lots of shouting and banging about was going on down the road. Tractors chugging up and down and dogs barking. It seems some cows were misbehaving and 3 broke through a fence into the field next to ours. Jim was worried they might break through into our allotment, but they didn't. Don't really know what happened as it all went quiet and dark. The dog and cats were very excited by it all.

Buster slept outside on my coat until I came in. I had a little fire to keep midges away as usual and Buster curled up nearby to feel the warmth.

Today was the final day of the Open Golf Championship and I'm really pleased that the Irishman Padraig Harrington won, making it twice in a row for him, a rare achievement. We watched the last few holes and It was great to see him walking down the 18th hole to the green, acknowledging the cheers from the crowd, knowing that he had won.

Sitting here now, smelling of bonfire smoke and winding down.

Jenny's 2nd day, Sunshine, Lost 19 July 08

We managed to get up fairly early today but still whiled away the morning. Chatting, sipping tea and pet petting. We had a very civilized breakfast and headed off to Lough Cutra, the largest privately owned lake in Clare. Jim wasn't quite sure how to get there but by chance we spotted the little lane down to the lakeside. It was quite delightful, a little beach, reeds waving in the water and glorious sunshine. Yes, sunshine. I let Buster off the lead much to Jim's trepidation, but he was just fine and didn't stray far from us at all. He found lots of mussel shells and chomped away at them enthusiastically. It would be a lovely spot for a picnic.

Buster was reluctant to get back into the car but we shoved him in! We were then trying to head to Flagmount, the little village opposite Doorus, where we live. Jim headed off in what he thought was the right direction. The road went up, higher and higher and we passed a group of workmen by a house and they waved, as did we. The road then became very narrow and we ended up behind a herd of cows! As there was another car in front of us we assumed the road must carry on. However, it suddenly turned into a muddy swamp! We decided to turn round and try another route.

We passed the rather bemused group of workmen again and waved a 2nd time. We made jokes amongst ourselves about 'just visiting friends' and 'they were out' to excuse our abrupt about turn!

Taking a different turning, we did eventually drive into Flagmount. 'Is this it' said Jenny. I think she was expecting a bit of a town and maybe a supermarket. One shop and a church is about it for Flagmount! We purchased ice creams and stood at the highest point trying to work out where our land was. You can't actually see the cottage but you can see the meadow and our trees. It rained briefly at that point, just to remind us we were still in Ireland!

We then drove through Caher, past the bottom of the lake and its fishing stands and onto Mrs Broderick's Mountain View Cafe. A young lady was in there today and she served us with the requisite scones, butter and jam with tea a
nd coffee. Apparently Mrs B no longer does Saturdays. Still, it was a very pleasant end to the trip before we headed home.

Jenny's flight was early evening so
Jim ran her to the airport, leaving ours at 6pm. It was a beautiful evening but the midges were out as usual. I decided to light a little camp fire on the parking area and did some weeding, assisted by Buster, who kept sitting on my knee and running off with the wood for the little fire! I stayed out until after 10pm, when I could really no longer see. Jim had called at the all night Tesco for supplies.

I watched some of the Open Golf on tv a
nd was thrilled to see that the Irishman Padraig Harrington was in 2nd position. Final day tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

I think Jenny had a good time. She wanted to 'chill' for her 2 days and I think we achieved that. We also laughed a lot and she fell in love with Bu
ster, of course.

Jim took some photos today so I'll post them when he emails them to me.

Me and Buster, Lough Cutra behind

Jenny and Gina on the steps at Lough Cutra

Buster enjoying the sunshine, Lough Cutra

Jenny and Jim, Father and Daughter, lovely shot this (by me)!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jenny's Visit, Rain Again, 18.7.08

Jim, Buster and Jenny, Coole Park

Jim's daughter Jenny came last night. She'
s sleeping in Jim's 'office' upstairs on a blow up bed with 2 cats!! Buster has been all over her since her arrival but in his excitement, nipped her arm quite badly. He's also peed and even pooed inside. AAAH!

Lazy morning, breakfast in the conservatory watching the heavy drizzle and winds. Then to Coole Park, the one time home of Lady Gregory, a patron of the arts and friend of WB Yates, Bernard Shaw and others of note. The grounds are lovely, walks through thick woodland and a turlock (like a lake) and a great little cafe for the necessary cuppa after the walk. The sun actually shone for a while and the shore of the lake was carpeted with flowers, Lady's Bedstraw, Violets, very pale ones, vetch and Meadow Sweet. It was stunning. Buster had a great walk and we took it in turns to hold the lead, like children.

Popped Buster back in the car in the shade and had our promised cup of tea. We headed home hoping the sunshine would last but sadly
the drizzle was back. Sat and rested a while, then Jim made our 'bar-b-cue', only cooked inside as the weather was so bad. Beef burgers, sausages, hot spicy kebabs, cole slaw and a stir fry. Then fresh strawberries and raspberries from the garden. Lovely. And some wine, which had us all fighting to stay awake on the settees. Quite a lazy day but most enjoyable all the same.

Let's hope the sun shines tomorrow.

Some of the flowers at Coole Park

Jenny and Buster.

Buster fell asleep on Jenny
at home

Buster exhausted after his hard day!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Busy Cleaning Up Day, 17 July 2008

Haven't much to report as in terms of news all I've done is clear up! Hoover hoover, sweep, sweep, wash wash, etc. So I'll devote this blog to photos, which I hope you'll all enjoy. Jim's just gone to the airport to pick Jenny up. Before he went, he noticed my ATCs on the side and commented that they're a bit like Pokeman cards for grown ups!!

Gate at the top of road to S & Ps
with Fuchsia Bush

Gate to Martin the farmer's barn

Old Fences on our allotment

Fallen gate on bank at the side
of our drive

Curtain at the end of top barn -
must take it
down one day

Part of our cow defenses on allotment

Our Post box and Fuchsia

Misty view over Loch Graney and barbed wire

Our one and only gnome, belonged to Jim and Sally

The Vegetable Plot:

Broad Beans

Courgettes (now eaten)

Potato Patch (earlies)

Runner Beans reach the top of their canes

Onions Galore.

Well I hope you've enjoyed this snap shot. Jenny should be here any moment so I'll sign off now.