Sunday, November 30, 2008

30th Nov, Baby on the Way, Birds

Jim's daughter Ali is now in labour, since 2.30 this morning, and no baby yet. She gave in a short while ago and has now had an epidural. Wise woman. We know she's having a girl and I'll post news as soon as I hear. Looks like it could be a 1st December baby.

So it's been a waiting around day! We did saw some wood for Stanley and brought some wood down from the area where we've been working and I did some papier mache on the bin I am making.

Jim took some lovely photos of the birds on the nut feeders. He fetched my camera because he had seen a grey wagtail in the garden. This is the first one we've seen here, they've all been black and white so far. It was quite a way away but you can still see it in the photo.

The grey wagtail

A cute Coal Tit

I particularly like this one of a coal tit landing. Look at the little foot of the one on the left! And the bird on the right looks as though he's wearing a mask

These 2 goldfinches look gorgeous in the sunshine

A great tit peeking round at us and one below showing off his plumage

We watched the results show of 'Strictly Come Dancing' and poor Christine had to go. She was the weakest but it's always sad when anyone leaves at this stage. Only four couples left now. Come on Tom!

Kenneth Brannagh starred in a series of 3 detective stories called Wallander. The first one was tonight and it was truly excellent. Each of the 3 is a separate story, so watch next Sunday if you get the chance. I think he is one of the very best British actors of our era.

I saw him as Richard III at The Crucible, Sheffield and he was quite simply mesmerising.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fri and Sat, 28th and 29th November, COLD

Phew, shiver my timbers! Winter has come, frost and cold and therefore a very draughty home for us! We've discovered draughts where we've never felt them before! Still, Stanley's been going pretty well so we're not doing too badly. Every day we saw up some wood for the evening to keep us warm.

Poor Jim is still full of cold/sore throat/cough and various other germs. Still, he soldiers on manfully.

We've both been attacking the brambles by the long living willow fence we've just finished trimming. Actually it's quite a satisfying job. It looks an impossible amount to remove but we plod away hour after hour and day after day and the wretched brambles eventually give in. I feel a few bonfires coming on...

We're sure Buster is calming down a bit since he had his 'bits' removed. It's been a few weeks so the testosterone should just about have gone by now. He is so loving and lovable.

I've still been card making in the evenings. Just need to write them now. Tonight I decided to have a change and put a layer of papier mache on a bin I've been making. Very satisfying it was too.

Jim now has my old computer since my new one sprang back into life so I don't have to share anymore. Much better. (Jim having a coughing fit upstairs). He is off to the UK for 2 days next week for a meeting so I hope his cold disappears before then.

Jim's daughter Ali's baby is due soon, so he's hoping it will arrive when he's there! Fingers crossed.

Tonight I had a phone call from my youngest son Ben, who is at his Dad's house in Derbyshire. It was lovely to talk to him. He runs a bar in Puerto Banus, near Marbella, but says it is just dead out there at the moment. This credit crunch is taking its toll. I do hope he managed to make it through the Winter. He couldn't believe Woolies has gone under. I think that is so sad.

Keep warm everyone.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thurs 27th Nov, Coole Park, New Wellies

I set my alarm this morning in good time to go to Aldi and hopefully buy some new wellies. Because I work so much with thorns, they often go through my wellingtons and then they leak! I am then reduced to wearing them with 2 polythene bags over my feet inside the boots. Fed the cats and Buster, robbed Jim's wallet, grabbed camera and off we went.

There was a bit of a scramble for the boots, so I'm glad I left when I did. The larger sizes always seem to go first, but I managed to sort out 2 pairs of size 7, also assisting a gentleman who had his orders from his wife to get 2 pairs of size 6 and another lady and I found her a pair of black spotted size 7s. So we were all happy! What do you think?

Are they not a picture of subtlety?

I then bought Buster some knuckle bones and called at the vets for a chat and to pick up one of those extendable leads. The nurse produced a huge dog book and said they had been hunting through it trying to pin down Buster's exact breed. How cute is that? They just love him! There are loads of different hunting dogs, Danish, German, all sorts. We were really none the wiser however. Maybe he is a cross breed.

Armed with my new lead (a fetching red), I took Buster to Coole Park. I have mentioned this place several times before and posted pictures but of course today my camera worked over time. The morning was gloriously sunny apart from a quick shower on the way, which produced this lovely rainbow shot:

As I drove into Gort this half rainbow developed into a full blown arch. It was beautiful.
The light seemed just right today, with long shadows from the low, Wintry sun. The new lead worked a treat, allowing Buster freedom to run around yet under my control. I did let him off for a while but was aware that a coach party of school children were in the woods somewhere.

We started with our usual walk down to the lake and the water level had actually dropped since our last visit, but it was still pretty high:

The steps are just under the water. You can see how the trees are up to their ankles and in some cases, their waists in water.

We followed the '7 Woods Trail' which took us along parallel with the lake, then up these steps:

Doesn't Buster look splendid with his black and silver harness on? The leaves looked gorgeous underfoot too.

A little further along we came across this lonely humble bench so I snapped it for DJK

It was pretty dark at this juncture so I had to use flash.

Coole Park was owned by the Gregory family and after the death of her husband, Lady Gregory lived there for many years and was an enthusiastic patron of the arts. Many well know theatrical figures and writers of the day visited Coole House where they carved their initials on the well know autograph tree, including George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats:

This is the autograph tree, sadly it has to be fenced at the bottom to prevent additional modern initials being added. Look at that wonderful blue sky.

Coole House is no longer there, unfortunately, but there is a photograph of how it used to look:

You can see where the house stood and the wonderful steps leading up to it:

All that remains of one of the rooms, bits of quarry tiles

There are some truly amazing trees in the grounds, many of them incredibly old. Here is a selection:

This was a central tree with a circle of smaller ones around it

This tree had amazing bark, rather like an elephant's hide

The beautifully coloured spongy bark of the giant redwood tree

Lady Gregory used to walk around her acreage a lot and her favourite spot was under a huge tree on a stone bench she had made, where she could write and look out over the lake. The forestry trees have taken over the space now so you can no longer see the lake from the seat, but here it is:

What a magnificent tree

As Buster and I walked further along the path, the canopy of trees grew less dense and the sunlight began to filter through the trees:

You can just see a lonely walker in the centre

I took a lot of shots as we walked along here but I think this was the most successful. There is the shadow of a signpost on the right

This path led us to the more formal part of the park. Just inside the gate are the graves of Lady Gregory's pets:

A welcoming bench with its fascinating shadow, just waiting for someone to sit and read in the sunshine

This line of trees cast long shadows on the winter green lawn

You come out of the formal garden through this red gate (DK, enchanted glimpses)?

Coming into the park from the other direction

What secrets are hidden behind this doorway? I love the urn on the top of the pillar.

As I stood admiring the view from the site of the house, I could just make out my orange Doblo car in the car park. Clock on the photo to see. It's right in the centre.

I took many more photos here and on the way home. The weather turned and they sky was magnificent, with rolling clouds, black falling rain in the distance and even some hail. Maybe I'll save those for tomorrow.

I love Coole Park, it has lots of walks, wonderful trees, a super cafe in the Summer, the lake and a museum about the Gregory family. Back home and Buster collapsed in a chair in the conservatory, while Jim and I went outside to attack more willow trees. It was bitterly cold though and started to rain so we didn't stay too long.

Our phone gave up the ghost today! Jim reported the fault on line on this computer before that, too, gave up it's struggle to keep going. A very nice chap from eircom called and tested our bit of line and set off to find the fault some way away. He rang us about half an hour later having fixed it. What splendid service.

Jim managed to coax this computer into life again so fingers crossed it'll hobble on until my 'new' one is fixed.

Living Willow Fence, Lakeside Walk

Yesterday I took some photos of the living willow fence that Jim and I have been trimming plus one or two others. Today we actually finished it, but we only had a short distance to go to the top.

The top section of the fence with brambles to the left of it

Now you can see the real bramble problem! That's our next but one project.

The trimmed living willow fence is on the left, a wire fence is to the right of it then there is a line of big willow trees, then a line of silver birch trees! The previous owner was making sure he had a good barrier here! We are removing the line of willow trees to give the fence and the silver birch more light and air. It'll give us a large amount of firewood too!

This is the line of silver birch trees and we have created an avenue up to the top of the land by removing all the willow that was hanging over this grass. it looks so much better. That bush on the right will have to be removed though.

Haven't we done well? It's great to get a job like that done and it's taken us about half the time it did the first time we did it. We're better at it now and don't worry so much about what we're cutting.

Can you believe this ragged robin in flower on the allotment?

This small holly tree is covered in berries.

Buster disappeared yesterday as usual and returned at tea time. Today Jim determined to keep him home and took him for a run round the meadow first thing to try and use up some of his energy, then we took him for a walk in the woods. You know what that means of course, more photos!

We noticed these new bat boxes on a group of trees at the beginning of the wood. They each had a number on and there were 2 different kinds. Maybe they are trying to see which works best. Or maybe the lantern shaped ones aren't for bats, but something else?

These are for bats as they have the corrugated section at the bottom for the bats to land on then crawl up into the box. They also have a handy picture of a bat on the outside!

The wood was incredibly still today with not a breath of wind. The floor was a real carpet of russet brown - and mud too.

A still, wintry looking lake

This fallen tree has become a garden of moss and ferns

Buster was mesmerised by the smells round the edge of the lake. We saw some mallards take off so maybe it was their odour

He looks as though he's wondering who's in the water!

Here he is coming towards us, his nose still near the water!

I couldn't resist the bull rushes again:

Jim valiantly came with me although he is absolutely full of cold. See the red 'boat' still at the lakeside.

The green algae is still in the water very pretty though

My favourite of the day, Buster on the rocks. King of the castle!

Buster and a perfect reflection. Sorry for the excessive number of Buster photos! He is rather gorgeous though

I'm rather pleased with this lovely reflection too

and these fabulous curly grasses still look amazing, especially in the still, silent water

I must apologise for the quality of the following photo, but we think this is the 'pack' that Buster spends his time with, or some of them. Buster is on the left! He just started to run towards us before I could focus properly. What a motley crew!

So the walk was over and we took Buster home. After about half an hour he asked to go out and then disappeared until 6pm!! So our efforts were in vain.

Jim was pooped, so stayed inside and I went up to finish the long fence. Ten minutes later Jim joined me, unable to resist the pull of the garden. We did finish it - in the drizzling rain.

We had a lovely meal of pasta, flaked salmon steak, peppers, onions and sweetcorn with carbonara sauce. Then about half an hour ago we had a slice of cheese on toast!

I hope you enjoyed seeing our garden's progression and our lake walk. Off to Aldi first thing to buy some wellington boots they have on special offer tomorrow!