Saturday, August 30, 2008

30 August 2008 K's BIRTHDAY

For once I didn't have to think about the date today! This time 41 years ago K was a couple of hours old and I was merely a child myself! What a long long time ago that seems.

We did open some presents last night! Well, K did. I had bought a present between the 3 of them, an art mirror set into stone with leaves imprinted into it. It's already hanging on the wall by their front door. K also weakened when she saw a bottle shaped parcel and 5 minutes later was sipping a single malt whisky, with much 'oooing' and 'aaaahing' coming from her direction!

This morning it took a while for us all to get ready and gather in the sitting room, where K opened more presents, all well chosen, all well received. We both nearly fainted when a courier brought 2 huge bunches of glorious flowers to the door. One for me and one for K from my brother. I haven't heard from him for ages so it was a bit of a shock. They are beautiful flowers but that doesn't make up for the hurt he had caused me.

Coincidentally, his ex-wife, the adorable Miranda came today with her daughter Rachel. We all went off to a local pub for late lunch. When I say 'all', at the lunch was:
Rachel, K, Luisa, Lina, Kirsty, Jay, Miranda, Rachel 2 and me (Gina). It was wonderful to see Miranda and Rachel again, it's been some time since we've managed to meet up. They put us in a little 'annex' room with a vast medieval wooden table and chairs, fabulous. The meal was great, the service fast and friendly. We chatted much, took loads and loads of photos and ate heartily. My cholesterol level must be about 9 by now. I forgot to mention the croissants we had for breakfast!

We all loved Miranda and it was a great loss to us when my brother left her for a younger model. The 'new' woman seems to have taken over his life and we hardly see or get to speak to him any more. I think I mentioned that my brother is getting married on Sept 6th, but not only have I not been invited (that wouldn't have been a problem), but I haven't even been told about it by him. Then I discover today that all his wife's children are going plus partners and Grandchildren. To say I'm hurt in an understatement. Anyway, it's great here and I'm being spoilt and loving it, so raspberries to him.

Gosh, I feel so full! I think I might go for a quick walk before this evening's festivities begin to wake myself up.

Later, xxxx

It's still only 11.30pm but we've packed so much in. Lots of people turned up this afternoon for K's birthday surprise. My walk turned into a sleep! It was lovely and I really needed it. I was up at 7pm and things were buzzing all around the house. Everyone was going to dress up in Thai clothes and a vast Thai meal was being cooked and assembled for K. She knew something was going on but not what.

A phone call from my son Ben delayed the proceedings a little but I had a little chat with him, which was great. It's so long since I've heard his voice.

The first event was to be 'the hoody dance' in the garden. Lina had performed this at her school at the end of term and had vaguely taught the others to do it. Luisa, Sue, Gemma and Aimee, plus Lina in the front, counting like mad all the way through, performed the whole dance and it was just great. K videod it and I took photos. Great fun.

Rachel was dressing in 'my' room into a lovely black oriental suit and I complained that I didn't have anything to wear. Luckily the dress she was going to wear wasn't right so I tried it on and it was fabulous. Bright red with a gorgeous kimono over it. All floaty and diaphanous. It was tailor made for me. Various folk arrived from all around, all dressed in Thai clothes, many of them made for the occasion. We all looked rather splendid and K was suitably overwhelmed and impressed with the surprise. Lina looked gorgeous in her long purple floaty dress with special jewellery round her head.

The food was incredible. Several courses with noodles and rice, different curries, crackers, samosas, green beans and all sorts of little bits. A wonderful spread. Luisa and Aimee looked superb in their Gandhi type nappies. Kirsty arrived with J a bit later and presented K with the birthday cake she had made for her, in the shape of a fan. It was brilliant and tasted just as good as it looked. I'm afraid to say we demolished it at the end of the meal.

Tony, K's son arrived too and it was so good to see him. He's staying overnight for the 'do' tomorrow. Can I cope. Another party? Bring it on!!

I'm going to have a go at downloading the photos now. So don't go away!

Ah, I can't download the photos here without the software, so Monday is photo day. Oh, there'll be lots of them too. K is going to download hers, which isn't fair! Still, there'll be some photos of me on there, so go have a look if you like. I'll put the link on when I have it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday, 29 August, 2008. Change of Country

Well, this morning I was in Ireland and here I am once more in the good old UK! And in Derbyshire at that. I lived in this county for some 16 years and it's very odd being back here. Chesterfield is so familiar, even after several years. Even the shops haven't changed much. We used to come here to shop from Matlock, as it has most of the big stores and a fabulous market.

K and Lu picked me up from the airport then we drove home. It's really muggy today and we've all been boiling and rather uncomfortable. Great salad lunch then we went into town and met up with Kirsty, my first Granddaughter and did a bit of shopping. I've never really liked shopping, but it's a novelty now! They also made the mistake of taking me to a craft shop. Fatal. I did manage to limit my spend there, but couldn't resist the odd present or two to myself.

A refreshment stop at Costas was in order and Kirsty is currently hooked on a strawberry shortcake drink with fresh cream on the top, so K and I decided to try one too. The top cream was delicious, the middle bit tasted a bit watery and just like ice but as we neared the bottom, it was all strawberry and delicious! Certainly an experience.

We dropped Kirsty off and headed home. That's about it really. Fabulous egg and chips for dinner. My all time favourite meal. We've since sat at the table chatting and eating the icing off a cake that K was presented with last week. Might be more to report later. Oh and K gave me a present that is actually for her! It's a book in which I have to write the answers to lots of given questions. Where was I born? What about my parents? What did she look like when she was first born? And so it goes on. I'm going to enjoy filling up those pages and think it's a marvellous idea. I wish I had written down all the things my parents had told me about their lives, because you do forget. Now I want to ask them all sorts of things and of course it's too late.

OK, that's it for now.

Thursday, 28.8.08 Funny Old Day

Well the day started off ok. Bit of sunshine peeking through the clouds. Jim had to go to Gort as Lidl had some specials he wanted to buy today. I fiddled around inside, made 2 more ATCs last night and this morning. Didn't go to bed until 4am. Hopeless.

As it was fine, I headed outside. Jim had mentioned that the beds on the arboretum were very weedy - and they were. I weeded one and trimmed the grass around the edge, was halfway through the other when our neighbour called. She and her husband drive across our land, down a road to their land. They have been a bit odd for a while but insisted nothing was amiss. She then said she'd been in hospital with a heart attack. Now she does have a tendency to exaggerate, so it was probably palpitations! Anyway, her husband is now in hospital, having been bitten all over I gather. Now if anything is about that bites, it bites me! I always put deet on before I do anything but they don't believe in anything like that and use tee tree oil. Which, of course, doesn't work!

The upshot of this is that she wanted me to come and look at the side of the road, where it is muddy, and for Jim to remove this mud so that her husband won't get bitten!! Sandra (her name), was going to clear it then thought 'no, it's Jim's water, why should I clear it'! Well, actually it's rain, and I don't think Jim's responsible for that. Now we live in Ireland, in a very boggy area and they live on 1 acre, below us so are even more susceptible to flies than we are, if that's possible! I couldn't quite believe my ears and for the first time made my views clear that I thought she was making a bit of a fuss over nothing! She said the mud was 'four feet deep'. A stick poked in showed it was 1 foot deep! There weren't any flies about either! She said I needed new glasses (I had contacts in). So it went from bad to worse. I hate hate hate falling out with anyone but somehow we could feel it coming.

They had fallen out big style with the previous owner. Mostly over water going down over their land, causing lots of flies! We had made a big point of laying a pipe across the road to divert the water off in another direction so that it wouldn't go on their land. Of course, where it used to go is now just mud, as the water no longer flows down there. Jim had taken Buster to the woods for a walk, so missed all the excitement. Of course, on his return, he was just a bit cross! We are obliged to provide them access to their land, which of course they have via a wide road. We also cut down some branches of trees on that road as they said it was dark and muddy. No more we cry!

I was quite upset by the whole thing. I thought life was looking too rosy at the moment. The trouble is, Sandra is a bit potty! So no matter how we explain that it isn't the mud causing the problem but the fact that we live where we do, she won't listen. They also feed their cats outside and leave the tins around! But I know if I mention these things, it'll go in one ear and out the other and it'll still be the fault of 'our mud'!!!

Sorry to go on, but it kind of ruined a pleasant day. Ah well, I'm up early to go to the airport for my trip to see my daughter and family, so must try and put it out of my mind. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to blog there, if not, I'm back next Monday, so be good everyone.

Jim took some photos in the walk/wood today. Just a few, so I'll pop them on:

It's those bull rushes again!

Buster in Dillons' Wood

Dillons' wood minus Buster. I rather like this one, the trees all seem to be leaning inwards

Lough Graney reflections

Mossy tree, I love this one too.

I really am off to bed now!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday 27.8.08 Trip to Gort

Bit of a late start today. It was the day to view the kennels and see whether it's good enough for Buster's holiday! It was quite a long drive, but as this particular kennels has been recommended to us by our neighbours Hilary and Jo, we thought it should be ok. The owner met us in her yard with about 7 assorted dogs! They really were a motley crew, all shapes and sizes, some of them 'borders' who have been so many times she lets them stay with her dogs and the others all hers, all rescued. I guess she likes dogs. Buster behaved impeccably. Amazing! We were shown the actual kennel section. It was a bit dark and the rooms didn't have runs but there is a large compound, full of long grass and completely fenced, where Buster could spend most of his time with a couple of other dogs she thought he would get on with. He gets on with most dogs! So we decided to go for it. All booked in for next Wednesday morning. Noreen, the owner, thought Buster was 'such a good dog'! As my mother used to say about me, 'you ought to follow her home'!!!

We headed back to Gort and I went to Treasures, a rather splendid, if expensive, mixed gifts and clothes shop. They always have some rather unusual fashions and today they had a sale on. After much umming and aaahing, I thought 2 of the things I'd tried on would be fine for the wedding. I just fitted in them, unlike some of the other things I'd tried. Must lose some weight! Then I had to go and find Jim to see what he thought. I headed to Supermacs and Jim crept up behind me! We forced ourselves inside, alas, the coffee machine wasn't working! Ah well, made do with diet coke and had a meal between us.

Back to the shop and we ended up buying both outfits. Thanks Jim, you're a star. At least I know nobody else will be wearing the same outfit. I might get a hat, haven't decided yet. At least it means I only have to get some shoes in Worthing. So, clothes sorted for wedding and maybe holiday.

Back home and I took Buster for a quick walk along the lane to Kevin's farm. None of our lanes and roads have names, so I don't know what else to call it! I'd hate to be a postman around here. About 6 of us have the same address, yet we're some distance apart. Still, the post seems to arrive notwithstanding.

I did take a few photos of course, although the light wasn't good. It's amazing how I see different things each time I take that short route. It felt so autumnal this evening, the air smelt damp and musty, it was lovely. The bracken has started to turn it's fabulous autumn gold:

This one piece seems to be ahead of the rest. Must have had a tiring Summer!

It seems Kevin has used some old gates to add strength to his fences:

Here he has used an old concrete gate post as part of the fence:

The other gate post just sits in the field and is very crooked. I guess it might fall down one day

I was on the look out for some flowers, but most of them are coming to the end of their life now. There was a lovely patch of this pink flower, I think it's a relation of Rose bay willow herb:

Although the flowers on this plant have mostly died, the structure of the plant is still very striking:

I also found some more honeysuckle, it's so pretty but I couldn't smell the scent this evening:

The rose hips have ripened considerably since my last walk here. They are so luscious to look at, I can't resist photographing them. In our orchard, we have some huge rose hips, they are stunning.

The blackberries were everywhere, much to Buster's delight. I took this shot of some ripe and some unripe ones, as the dark reds stood out against the ripe blacks.

I might just have eaten some of these!

I caught Buster on camera today, munching away though in the first shot he was just hunting for the ripe berries.
Yum yum!
The cows were in the lower field and Buster had a bit of a 'face off' with one of them. This photo was very dark and I let the photo programme 'auto adjust' it. Although not terribly realistic colour wise, I did rather like the effect achieved:

He looks so alert as he watched the cow watching him!
Here's the object of his worried face!

What a wonderful pastoral scene. Lucky cows, to have this view of Lough Graney.
As we were walking back up the lane, Jim joined us, so I didn't take any more photos. Buster popped under the fence of another field, where there were 2 bullocks. He soon ran as they made a move towards him.

Oh, you know the saying 'The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence'. This cow thought so too. I loved her splodgy markings, quite unusual.

Hardheads, dried grass and barbed wire

As we've been talking quite a bit on various folk's blogs about my tiny ginkgo tree, I thought I'd show you 2 of the other ones we have. Jim's children bought them for us last Christmas, so we put them in pots until we decide their eventual resting place on our acreage.

They were just sticks when we first had them but they're thriving now.

Buster is usually left in the kitchen/diner and conservatory when we eat our evening meal. When I came back into the conservatory, he had emptied a whole bag of night lights all over the floor!

Oh, our meal: pasta parcels, 2 different sorts, one was ricotta cheese and spinach, the other bacon and something, all in a carbonara sauce, with home grown runner beans, cooked to perfection. Are you hungry??

Must get to bed a bit earlier tonight....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday 26.8.08 Inside and Out, Rain and cloud

It's been mostly cloudy and drizzly today, but it did stop late this afternoon so I managed to get some more weeding done. Phew, not much more of the parking area to do. It's so wet where I'm currently weeding that at least they come up easily.

Jim has been up on the area above his veg plot. A large branch of ash tree fell some time ago and he's been sawing and chopping it down to provide Stanley with some food until we get the new boiler (if we ever do). Buster was incredibly lazy and spent most of the day in the conservatory asleep on the settee. Then when we came in he was full of energy and drove Jim nuts! He has now learnt to climb onto the kitchen table via the chairs! What a menace. I did let him into the snug this evening while I watched tv and he somehow ended up on my knee and slept until I came in here!

I watched Holby City as usual. Good episode. Then the new reality programme, Maestro. It's so good and you get to hear some lovely music. This week, our intrepid would be conductors had to conduct an orchestra with the addition of a chorus, so we had Zadok the Priest, Some Carmina Burana, (O Fortuna), some Mozart, all lovely stuff. There is a charismatic character, a DJ called Goldie. He can't read music but is really good. His teeth at the front are all gold!

I took a few photos today, not many though, as I stayed at home.

Our Kafir lily is just coming into flower. There's a story behind this lovely flower. I bought it for my son Jason many years back, when he had his first starter home in London. He gave me a piece back when it had multiplied and I planted it in my flat garden in Derbyshire. Then I took some of that to Worthing, where it again grew and thrived, then we brought some over to Ireland!BlackJack helped me to photograph it - the colour shows up well against his black fur.
Jim grew some lupins from seed this year. We didn't expect them to flower this summer as they usually flower in their 2nd year. This one had other ideas:
The yellow achillea are still looking bright and cheerful, plus the marigolds and scabious

The tall purple spikes are liatris and the single rose in the right hand picture is a new climbing rose. We hope it will climb up the electric pole.

We brought a cutting of our abutilon from Worthing and it's doing really well, in fact we brought several!I think the flowers are really pretty and unusual. The bees crawl right up inside the flower for the nectar.

I've just this bit of the parking area left to do:

You can just see 3 wheelbarrows in the above photo. The one down the bottom, by the water trough, is a new-ish one we bought because the old one that was here when we moved in is all rusty and has holes in it. Having said that, the new one is all wrongly balanced and I bang my legs on the back struts, so I still used the old one, which is perfect to push, but will no doubt collapse one day. That's the green bit you can see just below the centre left. The left hand bottom corner shows a bit of the motorised barrow we bought at the same time as the mower and is a real boon.
The fabulous motorised wheelbarrow. Look at that clear pebbled area, no weeds

The Old Rusty Wheelbarrow

This is an old plough painted red that was here when we arrived. It's getting a bit overgrown with red dogwood. Must trim that back!

Tomorrow we're off to see the kennels where Buster is hopefully spending his time when we are in the UK for the wedding/birthday/holiday trip. Then I'll be able to pop into the shop in Gort to check out the clothes for wedding attire.

Only 2 more days and I'm off to see my daughter, partners and my grandchildren. woo hoo!!

Oh, dinner! An odd one tonight as we were sort of 'eating up' what was left in the fridge! Some of the left over potatoes from yesterday, 2 sausages, 2 beefburgers, left over baked beans (can't beat them) and French beans from the garden. Now I'm hungry again!!

This last picture was taken near Fanore when Jim's son Russell and his girlfriend Caz came to visit. They are the couple getting married on September 6th. The hairy monster on the right is me! It was rather windy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

On A Mission to Ennis, Monday 25.8.08

Thank you ces for my award. When I find out how to display it, I will certainly do so!

It was once again horribly wet today, so I decided to take a trip to Ennis, quite a big town about an hour's drive from us. When we first came to County Clare, we used Ennis (pronounced Innis), as our base. It's a very pretty town with a wide river running through the centre and a ruined abbey quite near the centre. It also has a good mix of shops, a lot of them boutique style, not so many of the chain store type shops, though there are some of those on the outskirts.

Here are 3 Abbey Arch Shots. It was so wet, all the photos are a bit gloomy today:

I was on a mission to buy presents for 3 certain ladies (I use the term loosely) who I am visiting on Friday until Monday. One's had a birthday, one is on 30th and one in early Sept. Now I can't say how I got on, because they read my blog! However, I did succeed, so all was well in that department. (You'll have to wait, you three).

It rained all day and the bottoms of my trousers (I like them long) were absolutely soaked. I managed to stay out of the food and coffee shops, very unusual for me, but I knew I had limited time. I was also looking for something to wear for the wedding! No, I haven't sorted anything out yet. I saw a gorgeous looking top, all jester type colours, long with a zip front, in a shop window and eventually decided to go and try it on. The shop assistant was very helpful and brought me the top, plus a camisole to try on under it and a pair of black trousers. Disaster, it made my hips look massive! Now I'm not tiny, but I don't need to look gross.

I think I'll try 'Treasures' in Gort on Wednesday as they have some very unusual suits in there. The trouble with buying in the UK is that the clothes in the main stores are all a bit 'samey', whereas if I get something here in Ireland, it'll be a bit different. We are also going to view the kennels for Buster on Wednesday, which is the other side of Gort, so it'll kill 2 birds with one stone.

You probably know that my daughter has a new blog called 'Enchanted Glimpses' which is full of windows, arches, doors and signs. Well, I couldn't help but look at windows in a way I never have before, and doors, and arches! (Bit of an arch theme in the Abbey ones). I hope you're not too cross with my efforts, DK. Of course you can pinch them for your blog if you like. The River Fergus was running fast under the bridge in Ennis. Here you can see it burbling and bubbling.

Next to the Abbey is a re-fitted shop with an arched door and arched window:

I loved the powder blue colour and the clean lines of the arch against the squares above.

This was the same shop's window. If you look, you can see the windows reflected and a car's reflection and me taking the picture. This was intentional!This pair of Staffordshire Dogs were watching the world go by. Handsome stained glass panels were either side of them.

I wasn't sure what was in the 'grey' window above. A banana? Actually I think it's a rather arty ornament of some kind. This window was overlooking the square by the river in Ennis.

This rather splendid gate caught my eye. It is at the entrance to the Garda station (Police Station).

Here is the sign to the same place:
It's just by the side of the river so they have the best views.

Now the odd thing about signs is that in Ennis, lots of them seem to be missing! There must be a secret sign stealer about!

This non sign is so pretty!

Of course there were many signs with things in and on them!

This lovely bi-lingual Barber's sign is delightfully old fashioned

One of the many many pub signs, Brogans

A Legal Sign

Tierney Cycles and Fishing Equipment sign with the Clare flag underneath it

A Mis-spelt Sign

A 'Manly' Sign

Broken Arches Window

Slightly blurred Tourist Signs

Now this really made me laugh. If ever there was a misnomer. Fast Foods? Not fast enough judging by the queue!!

On the other side of the river is this cute statue:
I'm not sure what it represents, as the writing on the base was all worn. Oh, notice it has an arch in the centre!

Here's another of it just looking through the arch.

On the opposite side of the road, I don't think I'd fancy staying in this hostel:

There are the 'backs' of some of the shops around the car park, where I parked. This window isn't a good advert for the shop!

This is one of the many little lanes that inter-connect with the main streets

I spotted this tiny window high up in the eaves of a tall building. It's the sort of window you'd expect to find Mrs Rochester behind, with the bars too.

All the benches were wet and soggy

Crikey, by the time the workmen had read all these signs before going on site, it'd be time to go home!

K loves these huge pylons that straddle our countryside like mechanical giants. It was a bit dark for this photo, but I tried.

I did have fun taking this reflection of one in my car though

I didn't get home until about 7.30. Buster rushed out to greet me! We've had a leisurely evening, bit of tv, lovely meal of sausages, potatoes dauphinoise and good old Heinz baked beans. Can't beat it!

The cats are asleep up in Jim's office, Buster's asleep in his posh bow bed, Jim's typing away at something and here am I. I hope you enjoyed my day. I had a good time in spite of the rain.