Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday, 31st October, Halloween. Sunshine

It's been a gorgeous cold, crisp day today. I was up late after late bed but busied myself for the rest of the day. I carried on with clearing the ivy and brambles from the other side of the fairy hill. It's looking excellent now. Must take a photo tomorrow. That took all afternoon.

Jim wasn't feeling too good, bit of a headache, so he stayed inside but did some work on the computer and kept Stanley going. Buster had his meal and then left us at 1pm and didn't return until it was dark. He is hopeless. We worried that he might damage his stitches, but they seem ok tonight. We have to take him back to the vet's on 3rd November, Monday for a check up, so they'll make sure he's ok.

This evening we had beef stew. Jim had it bubbling away most of the afternoon and it was gorgeous, with his home made bread too.

I've covered a length of rope with material to make the handle for the bag I'm completing. Not much more to do now, then I can do Christmas things. Much more fun.

Time on the computer now. Short and sweet today.

Just to remind us all of summer!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doblo and Buster go to the 'Vets'

Wednesday, 29th October, 2008

We'd booked in for Buster to go to the vets today for his castration op. Doesn't that sound awful! Ah well, needs must. The car, too, is poorly and has a large hole in the exhaust pipe, so we dropped Buster off and carried on to Galway where there is a 'Pit Stop' Exhaust and tyre centre. It was a foul day, cold and very wet. We wrapped up warm, knowing we might have quite a wait.

We dropped the car off and they said they'd get back to us in about an hour with the news. As it happens, there is a conveniently placed MacDonald's opposite, so we had a burger and coffee and sat and waited. And waited. We could see the car hadn't moved, so had a wander around the shops in the area then went back to see what was happening. The piece of pipe with the hole had to be ordered which meant taking Doblo back the next day. The rain had about stopped so we had a walk around into the town centre, window shopping mostly, although as my feet were very wet, we bought me a new pair of trainers and some socks. With dry feet, I was much more comfortable. I also bought a pair of fine cream warm slippers. They did have some for one euro, but not in my size! Now that's my kind of price.

The sky was darkening again as we headed back to the car. There was a double rainbow for a while, but then the cold, icy rain fell. Luckily we weren't too far away and hurried back to the car.

It was around 4pm when we arrived at the vets and Buster came bounding out to meet us! He seemed none the worse for wear, so we paid the rather nasty bill and took him home. He did sleep most of the evening, after his food but otherwise seems fine.

I took a few photos in Galway too, in spite of the rain. There is a large open area near where we parked and in the centre stood an old stone piece of house with a window in it! It had been recovered from another part of Galway when they were demolishing the houses and put there. A fine idea, I thought.

This plaque tells you about the window. The
house was built in 1627.

In the same square is this rusty sculpture, Jim walks in front of it

Here it is without Jim and closer. It's probably meant to represent sails I would think as Galway is next to the sea.

In the same square - a row of soggy benches. Do you want them DJK?

This bank entrance looks rather imposing. Probably no money inside though.


The bank of Ireland Clock

This splendid clock is at the top of the Galway Independent Building. Made by Stokes, Cork.

A Guinness Clock, confusing times though

Small Clock, but still Guinness Time at Fox's Bar

This clock is on a corner building, Richardson's. Also made by Stokes, Cork. They must do well

What a difference between this lovely black clock and the rather tacky one from Woodie's!

That's enough clocks I think. We went into an underground shopping mall for a coffee and croissant - oh, I took a photo of their clock too!

These highly colourful balloons were outside a florist shop opposite where we were sitting

Fashions of Galway:

How can she think this looks good? I love the little lady in the background too

This lady looked rather dashing in her red coat and matching hat!


Rainbow and barbed wire fence

Double rainbow, red house

Almost a perfect arc

Rainbow and red house

The sky blackened, I love this shot

Black Sky, Yellow Crane, Galway

The roads were partially flooded and the fields at either side had lakes in them. The ground everywhere is so wet. I took this photo of a field, but it was a bit dark and we were going rather fast for it to be in focus

In spite of the weather, we had a good time.

Thursday, 30th October 2008

Today Jim took the Doblo for its new exhaust. This meant we were actually up quite early. I played with Buster a fair bit and about mid-day he went out and shot off down the road! He can't be that poorly.

I went outside in spite of the cold wind. I wrapped up against the elements and tackled the last part of the other side of the fairy hill. There is still quite a lot of ivy there and the brambles I didn't quite get to last time. I have removed all of the brambles and much of the ivy and the whole thing looks much better.

A parcel was delivered for the couple down the road, Pete and Sandra. As I haven't spoken to them for quite some time, or even seen them, I thought it would be a good excuse to go and see them, which I did. They were fine and I gave Sandra a big hug! They seem to be getting somewhere with the cottage at last and are almost in their 'new' bedroom. It was getting a coat of paint today, so the bed will be able to come out of the living room! I'm glad I made the effort to 'build bridges'.

Otherwise, that's about it. Jim came home while I was down there and didn't see the note I'd left on the kitchen table, so wandered about with Buster (who'd returned), looking for me!

We're keeping Stanley well stoked up as it's so cold but we do have back up of a calor gas fire and several electric heaters. Buster's slept on the settee all evening, having behaved like a mad thing for a while, he settled at last.

Dinner of sausages, colcannon (Irish, potatoes and cabbage) and baked beans. Warming and lovely.
I hope everyone else is keeping warm too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bank Holiday Monday, 27th October 2008

It has been one of those lovely cold, crisp autumn days today. We decided to give the brambling a rest as it's so wet up there. Maybe a couple of days dryish weather will see it less bog like.

Instead, we managed to cut up most of the wood from the large ash trees we'd previously felled, which took some time. Buster left us about 1pm, came back for his tea, then went off again, but not for long! At least now it gets dark earlier he comes home earlier too.

We're taking him to the vets again tomorrow to see whether his 'bits' are large enough to chop off. Sounds so cruel, but necessary if we're not to have many more dogs around this area.

We've decided to turn the old compost toilet building, which is a sturdy, wooden shed on breeze blocks, into a chicken hutch. We keep talking about having chickens but the old hutch is in the orchard, too far away for us to keep a close eye on them. The other shed is at the side of the allotment and there's plenty of ground for them to 'free range', even in an enclosure. Home grown eggs, how splendid!

We watched 'Strictly Come Dancing', the results show. Good fun and Mark the swimmer went out. He really was a hopeless dancer so it was time he went.

Later on I watched a film about an Aborigine family. Can you believe up until 1970, the government 'protector', Neville (the devil) used to remove 'half caste' children from their parents and send them to a centre where they were 'civilised' then they were sent to white families. Often their fate was to be a slave to these families and a mistress for the husband. Unbelievable.

These 2 sisters and their cousin were taken but the older girl Molly, led them the 9 days walk back to their home. The cousin didn't make it, but the 2 sisters did. Then they hid in the desert to avoid further capture. Eventually, Molly married and had 2 children (half caste of course - or mixed race as we would call them now), both girls. She and her husband and children were again taken to the centre, but again escaped and went home. When her youngest was 3, that little girl was also removed and she never saw her again. How barbaric the English were.

Coincidentally, today on the news we heard about an African woman who had been sold as a slave, had 2 children by her 'master' and has managed to sue her government for not protecting her and has received £12,000 in compensation. Good for her. Apparently there are still thousands of woman in the same position, in slavery. It's so shocking.

On a lighter note, I found an old mini photo album yesterday and Jim scanned the photos for me. This is me, aged 20 and one month with my daughter, K (DK) aged one month old. The man holding her is Ken, my first husband, also father to Jason, my big son. I look about 12!

The photos are in black and white of course but I remember that babygro as being yellow with white cuffs. I am wearing my blue school blouse. Says it all!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sat, 25th October, Torrential Rain, Coole Park

We knew it was going to be hideous today and the weather men were right. They always are when it's going to be awful! Rain, wind, floods all over the place. Shall we stay in or take Buster for a walk in Coole Park? We'll go for a walk! We set off about 2pm and headed for Coole Park, which is the other side of Gort. The roads were covered in water and streams and waterfalls sprouted from everywhere.

We stopped at a yard to buy some peat blocks to burn on Stanley then arrived shortly afterwards at the park. In spite of the rain, the colours were magnificent.

A real carpet of leaves

There are a lot of beech trees and oak too. We walked down to the Turlough to see how high the water was. I took my camera in a rucksack to keep it dry and Jim took some photos. The Turlough rises and falls according to the water table and it was a very full lake today.

You can just see Buster in the foreground. The last time we walked here, it was a little river in the middle!

This shot is a bit dark and the raindrops on the lens show up, but you can just see the trees' feet underwater!

We walked around the various paths and there was some shelter from the rain under the trees - that was until the wind gusted when all the large raindrops bombarded us. However, it wasn't cold and we still enjoyed ourselves. Buster did too, although he looked a bit sorry for himself towards the end of the walk. Maybe he was getting a bit cold.

Within the wood it was pretty dark. Beach leaves cover the path and Buster snuffled about among them. If you click on the photo and enlarge it, the detail shows up better.

A better, if more dull shot of the path, with Buster waiting for us. His eyes look like little lights!

I'd brought a towel to dry Buster a bit and he didn't need much persuasion to get back into the car. We had a mini picnic of coffee and biscuits in the car then headed off to look at an auction not too far away.

It's the first time we've ventured into these auction rooms. In the UK, Jim used to buy books and I bought china and odd little mixed lots at our local auction rooms in Worthing. We both sold on eBay and did quite well. I learnt a lot about pottery and china and Jim about books. That was half the pleasure. The worst part was wrapping the tea sets and other china and trusting them to the post. I became something of an expert and am pleased to say very few of my goods ever became broken en transit.

Jim also bought quite a few 'lots' of postcards, which we have brought with us. He's started sorting them and hopefully they'll be on eBay before too long.

The auction warehouse was vast and packed with a motley collection of furniture, china and all sorts of strange items taken from 2 houses. A large stuffed bull's head took my fancy!! We may go to the auction proper on Monday but probably not to buy. A lot of the furniture was very attractive, but we really don't need any just now. There wasn't a lot of china and what there was didn't appeal to me much and as for books, there were very few.

Having said all that, it was great fun poking around but Jim was beginning to get cold as his trousers were soaked from our walk, so we headed off home, via Lidl to pick up some spaghetti, a paper and some kidney beans. Unfortunately they didn't have any of those! A quick nip into 'Centra' where we managed to get the spaghetti. Kidney beans? No call for them in Gort, obviously!!

I had a great hug on the settee with all 3 animals! It's not often they all cuddle up together, so Jim ran for the camera:

BlackJack sitting on Buster (he really is too big to go on my knee now) and Sandy at the side. Me underneath!

BlackJack likes to bash me under the chin! Buster's fallen asleep again and Sandy is washing, as he so often is.

Sadly, Buster disgraced himself later on by weeing on the rug. I don't know what came over him. He had been sent out while we ate, then allowed back in but he seemed to get all excited and then just stood there as large as life and proceeded to wee! We couldn't believe it. He was booted out pretty quickly, I can tell you. The rug has been washed and we caught him before he'd managed to wet the carpet too much. What a dog. He's been in disgrace for the rest of the evening and has stayed firmly in his bed. I don't know what the answer is..

Ah well, it had been a good day until then!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Amazing Night Out Weds, 22 Oct 2008

Wednesday 22nd October.

More rain of course. We are now squishing about in wellingtons all over the land, through puddles, streams and mud. Jim braved the weather on Wednesday and did some brambling in the rain. He appeared at the door absolutely soaked. I peeled off his coat, hat, top and t shirt and left the rest to him! I decided to stay in as we were having a night out and I didn't want to get all soggy too.

We had booked to see a play by Irish writer Martin McDonagh called The Cripple of Inishmaan. This is the first part of a loosely connected trilogy set in the Aran islands, which imagines the making of a film by an American company and takes a sardonic view of the gap between the film maker's heroic imagery and the pettiness of the natives. I can honestly say I have rarely seen a play so well written, directed, produced and acted. It was quite superb in all respects. The Glor theatre is in Ennis, so not too far from us (45 minutes by car) and was pretty full too. It was a great audience, ready to laugh from the off.

I was worried that the accents might be too strong for me to be able to hear properly, but after a short while I became used to them. Also, many phrases were oft repeated, so you could catch up a few lines later! The characters had strange names, 'Crippled Billy, Babbybobby, Johnnypateenmike' among them. The inhabitants had obviously never heard of politically correct language in any shape or form. Crippled Billy had always been called so and he kept asking to be called just Billy, which seemed to surprise everyone. It was a black comedy in all respects.

Set in 1934, there was little in the way of story line, the main thread being how Billy's parents came to drown when he was a few weeks old. This story changed throughout and in the end I wasn't quite sure of the truth. Billy 'grew' as the play progressed but was destined to stay on the island until he died, which seemed in the not too distant future, if his moaning chest was to be believed. A brief trip to New York with the film crew 'they need a cripple in the film' came to nought. He was told 'better to have an actor who can pretend to be a cripple than a real cripple who can't focking act at all'.

There was also mention of several characters who didn't appear at all, but you felt you knew them well. One was a hapless lass, 'Finnigan's daughter' who was obviously 'a slut' by all accounts. The doctor was called at one point and Billy was upset that people talked about her as a slut. 'She is a slut' piped up the doctor, without thinking. 'How do you know?' - pause, 'Take it from me - she is'. The set was also perfect and the music. All in all, a superb experience. If ever it comes on television or passes your locality, you must go. The theatre company is simply called Druid, from Galway. If you'd like to read more about them and how they came to perform the plays of Martin McDonagh, their website is

It was raining as we came out of the theatre, so we drove in our homeward direction. Jim fancied a pint in 'Peppers', our nearest pub/restaurant. I published photos of it in the Feakle Graveyard day in my blog.

What we'd forgotten is that every Wednesday evening from 10 - midnight, Peppers have an Irish music night. 2 local musicians are always there, augmented by whoever turns up on the night. It can be a bit of a jam session. That evening there were the main two, one on guitar, the other fiddle, plus a girl on banjo, another girl on fiddle and an elderly gentleman on piano accordion. We arrived about 11 so were treated to an hour of Irish music after our Irish play. What an end to a fabulous evening.

Thursday 23 October

My brother's birthday today. I sent him a card I had made for the Gort show of a clown! Very childlike. He'd appreciate that, being Chair of Archeology at Cambridge University.

Jim was off to Dublin for the day to an Institute of Horticulture Committee Meeting so I had a day on my own. You know the sort, leisurely morning, bath with a book, cut nails, mince about! Actually the weather was hideous. It was blowing a gale all day and raining too, so I couldn't do much in the way of brambling. I did do some ironing and hoovering just to feel slightly virtuous, but that was about it.

I thought I'd better take Buster for a walk in the afternoon and the rain had almost stopped. I let him out and he disappeared over the horizon so I wandered up to the bramble patch and worked until darkness fell. It's really looking amazing now, though there's still a way to go.

Jim returned soon afterwards with tales of his day and we rounded off with egg and chips and home grown beetroot. I know, an odd combination, but it seemed to work.

Friday, 24th October

I can't tell you how late we got up today. Well, Jim did get up and feed the animals, plus their usual 'needs' in the morning. Then came back to bed!! Suffice it to say it's been rather a short day.

Jim cooked a loaf of farmhouse bread and then we brambled for about an hour. Realising it was 6pm and the animals are usually fed at 5pm, we went back to the house for a cup of tea and fed the mob. It was beginning to get dark so Jim decided to carry on with the dinner and I went up and did about another 40 minutes brambling before it got so dark I couldn't see which was bramble, ivy or tree. Buster had been wandering as usual but did return for his tea. I had to laugh when I realised that when he comes back, we always say to him, 'Where've you been Buster?' as if he's going to reply! 'Oh, I went down to see if Milly was in, but she wasn't so then I carried on to the O'Briens', etc, etc. Talk about daft.

We enjoyed spag bol in front of the tv and here we are. Jim's up in his 'office', eating monkey nuts. I need to find a handle for the bag I've made and then line it. I did take a couple of photos of it in 2 halves last night. That is, before Buster decided to chew some of the beads off.

Of course it has to be assembled yet and all the little bits added on like buttons, charms, etc.

bag front

Bag back

There is a red vegetable net, some black video tape, a reindeer's scarf and some Christmas ribbon in there somewhere.

Finally, a quick shot I've just taken of Buster, asleep after his hard day:

Good Night...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

21st October 2008, More Rain, More Brambling

The day started well with sun shining in our bedroom window. It was one of those days when one minute the sun was shining and the next we had a shower, some of them quite heavy. Luckily the worst shower didn't come until about 6pm. Jim and I tackled yet more brambles at the top of our land. Jim took some photos today so you can see what I'm talking about. This is the section we have already cleared:

I said it looked like the Somme! On the right one of many piles of brambles for the next bonfire. Look at that blue sky. All the area you can see was covered in brambles and the trees were hidden by them. What a difference. The grass will grow again, it always does.

Here I am about to start the next section. Jim worked on the right hand side and we hope to meet somewhere around the back!

This is the latest section. The tree on the left is an Alder, on the right a Silver Birch. The alder was totally hidden! There is a bit of grass here at least. On the right, behind the fence (you can just see one post) is the meadow.

This cleared area is bigger than our whole garden in the UK!! It's a tiny bit of the one here in Ireland. The tree on the right is one of the specimen trees planted by the previous owner.

I love this tree on the right, it's doubled in size since we moved in. I've made some progress into the tangle of brambles here and Buster's helping.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.

More progress made. The little pine tree to the left was so hidden we didn't know it existed! Another alder in the foreground right.

Towards the end of the day, as you can see from the long shadows. Buster still being my assistant.

The sky was particularly lovely and Jim captured the clouds over our meadow, Flagmount and Lough Graney:

About 5.30 the sky darkened and it absolutely threw it down. Jim felt a sting in his ear and it was a hail stone! We sheltered underneath the greenery and kept reasonably dry. When the storm had passed, we came out from there and were met by this amazing site:

You can see the storm clouds but the sun and blue sky were behind us. It was one of those eerie skies. Can you see the 2nd rainbow?

You can see that the area to the left of the rainbow is lighter than to the right.

The last one is where it was beginning to fade.

Jim took the cats (who'd joined us in our endeavours but were getting hungry) back down to the cottage to feed them.

They're like book ends sometimes! BlackJack and Sandy

Come on Dad, Sandy's getting impatient

I carried on working. Underneath the brambles and ivy was a fallen tree trunk, all covered with moss. It had fallen from the bank and looks wonderful. That will stay there. Jim also discovered an even bigger one from the side where he was working. That one was covered in ferns as well as ivy. They'll make great features.

Jim brought me up a mug of coffee, just as it was starting to rain again. He couldn't resist cutting off a branch I had left sticking out before he went back to the cottage. It was throwing it down again by the time he'd finished it. I stayed a bit longer until the rain had subsided a little and I'd cut a way through to 'Jim's side'.

Buster had long since disappeared and gone for his regular evening stroll. It was very dark by 7pm and he didn't return until 9. Goodness knows where he'd been.

Dinner in front of Holby City concluded the evening's entertainment. Tagliatelle parcels with Jim's own sauce and grated cheese on top. Delicious. I must mention that Jim decided to use the last bit of tomato puree from the tube, instead of using the new one as I'd suggested. He then proceeded to squirt it all down the front of his jumper!! Lucky I had my camera handy....

Jackson Pollock would be proud of that artistic splodge!

My own clouds have lifted considerably today. Woo hoo.