CONNEMARA MEMORIES

I would like to share some scenes of Connemara, I hope that it captures for you the rugged beauty that Connemara is. Situated in the West of Ireland it is a most fascinating place for lovers of archaeology or geology, or just for lovers of peace, quiet, and a special type of beauty. This view is of a stone beach near Galway city, it was a paradise for me.
Inland the landscape is quite barren with bogland, rushes, and low growing gorse which gave a yellow hue to the most fantastic shades of brown and ochre all around.
In all its barren land, there is lushness to be found too, the tender young green here of rhododendrons.
Dull days, showers of rain, mist. And as a little diversion some cattle being moved to another field. I love cows in a landscape, in paintings of pastoral life they often make the painting work I think.
The variety and beauty of the rocks at this beach was amazing.
Peaceful lake, lovely scent of autumn, and the air as fresh as is possible to imagine, you could taste it on the tip of your tongue, delicious!

These are lovely memories of our time spent in Connemara. I hope you enjoyed a bit of our journey too.

We took this journey during early autumn 2019 to celebrate our marriage a few days earlier, it was a fantastic journey and I am thinking back to it during this time of lockdowns, no doubt we will be travelling in Ireland and no further afield this coming summer, we hope so anyway – a staycation they have called it – well we cannot complain, we are not short of interest or beauty in this island.

THOUGHTS OF SPARKLE

While I am recovering from covid infection my thoughts were turned to things that normally do not catch my attention so much. Of course I’ve had much more time to think, although during the first week it seemed my head was empty of any real musings and the fever probably was the cause of that. At the end of the second week now and finally starting to become human again. It was my first time having covid and it truly felt like a monster virus.

And so while sitting at my kitchen table, seeing some of the last of my Christmas decorations lying there waiting to be put away for another year, I was thinking… what gives me intense pleasure from the bling that I’m seeing? I’m not normally a typical bling person and in our tree my favourite bauble is no bauble at all but a little handmade piece of lace in the shape of a candle. And yet when my eyes chance to glance over these sparkling baubles it sets off a sort of childlike pleasure… is it the childhood memory of sparkling sweet wrappers which we only seldom were able to feast upon, or is it something more basic, is the reminder of a frosty morning when a winter’s sun makes branches and leaves sparkle like diamonds… I think it might be the latter, the beauty of nature when the sun illuminates the frost covered plants is definitely one of my great winter’s joys.

During this past Christmas I was given three books as presents, three wonderful books which I’ve already started to enjoy. All are about nature, one about the heartbeat of trees, one about the land and soil, and one about a journey into silence. In this last book the author talks about the search for the perfect moment, when there is a confluence of time and place and serendipity, all conspiring together to render a perfect moment (his words), He’s talking about his times he spent in nature and his meeting with the wild, with animals, birds and anything else he finds unexpectedly in wild places. I’m very much enjoying this book.

A lovely selection of reads for the foreseeable future that’s for sure.

COLOUR IN OUR WINTER GARDEN

On this first day of 2023 I took the opportunity to have a slow walk around the garden. A winter’s sun, now and then hidden behind some clouds illuminated the darker areas, where nevertheless I found colour and texture that pleased my eyes and delighted my soul.

Let me herewith wish all my friends and followers a peaceful and blessed year, filled with beauty and whatever your hearts desire. Enjoy!

good tidings to all

Midwinter can be a most beautiful time of year, both because of the celebrations but also because nature can be especially magical, every season shows us something new and interesting of course. I love the Helleborus, some of their colours are subtle but beautiful. Last week we had the ice flowers here, this week it is very mild with plenty of rain. The buds are showing on some of the trees but are still small. I’m taking part in the garden bird survey and so far the usual winter birds are showing up in good enough numbers, I even saw a song thrush the other day to my delight. So far the chaffinches have only shown up in small numbers, hopefully that will change.

I actually started this post to wish all my good friends and followers a joyful and beautiful Christmas time. And a prosperous new year filled with many Blessings and Peace and Love.

ICE FLOWERS

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own” Charles Dickens

 “Frost grows on the window glass, forming whorl patterns of lovely translucent geometry.” Vera Nazarian

 “It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” John Burroughs

“You find high art in the mysterious beauty of nature! In high art, you find high genius! In high genius, you find endless glows!” Mehmet Murat ildan

“Humankind demonstrates an unerring ability to witness beauty. By observing nature’s beauty and striving to create beautiful things, humankind brokers its own salvation.” Kilroy J. Oldster

“In the middle of winter, I, at last, discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

We did not get snow, but one of the mornings we woke up to our Juneberry tree’s ( Amelanchier lamarckii) branches as white as snow, it was the frost that did it, and it was very beautiful.

SPECTACULAR SKIES

“Our mind is a limitless sky, and we can only be an albatross flying in the vast expanse to occasionally discover the joys of sublimity!” – Avijeet Das

“Bursts of gold on lavender melting into saffron. It’s the time of day when the sky looks like it has been spray-painted by a graffiti artist.” – Mia Kirshner

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We shall find peace. We shall hear angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.” – Anton Chekhov

AN ANCIENT FRIaRY IN KILLARNEY

Muckross Abbey, Killarney

It is with great enthusiasm that on this very wet November morning I finally sit down to write another blog post.  Life is busy and it travels very fast.  Lots of nice things have happened during the summer and the beginning of autumn.  It has been a most beautiful, warm and sunny summer season here in West Cork, very enjoyable to have door and windows open and to practically live outside, this I adore!  We have had good days and bad, one of those was Ian’s fall, but he has healed well and is back in good form now.  He has been busy designing and making a glorified Zimmer frame which will help him not to have another fall.

 I have attended a short course about biodiversity in West Cork run by WILD WORK and facilitated by SECAD, which I thoroughly enjoyed and learnt from.  It was run locally in a most beautiful natural setting, there was also an online part to it.

But right now I would like to share some photos and chat about a visit to a Franciscan friary which my daughter and I visited during September.  We were on a rare outing; in fact, we had been given the chance to go away for a weekend while Ian’s daughter Anna and her partner came over to be with him.  To say that I enjoyed that weekend is an understatement, and it did me the world of good.  My daughter Tjorven’s company was lovely as always. 

So, we visited the interesting Muckross Abbey in Killarney which according to the Annals of the Four Masters was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary.  It is situated on the site of an earlier monastery which was built by a Saint Fionan in the 6th century.  It’s remarkable that the site is still so well preserved keeping in mind its turbulent past, but with many repairs and restructuring it stands well preserved today.  The building style is Hiberno Romanesque.  In the embrasures of eight of the windows of the dormitory are fragments of wall paintings, this is not very noticeable, and I regret that I did not see this, only read about it later. 

In the middle of the courtyard which is surrounded by a vaulted cloister stands a magnificent ancient Yew tree.  It is thought to be as old as the abbey itself.  Surrounding the abbey is an old graveyard and yew, beech and other native trees. The church of the abbey also contains some tombs, one of them seems to have a rusted handle!

We visited in the late evening and the place gave us that special feel that goes with observing ruins, thinking about the life the monks will have led, the stillness of the peaceful and natural surroundings felt by us now, and yet knowing what violent encounters those monks would have had over time, being driven out, returning and rebuilding, to be finally driven out in 1652 by Cromwellian forces. 

This was just one of our exploits during out visit to Killarney, it was well worth spending the time there, but more of that in another blog post. Here follow some photos that speak for themeselves.

Muckross abbey lies peaceful in its natural surroundings, a beautiful memorial of the monks who spent their lives there.

THOUGHTS OF AUTUMN

Summer has been long, warm and dry, how lovely it has been this year and still it continues though it is almost the end of September. The beautiful warm sunshine illuminates the now autumn colours. Day by day the leaves are turning red, yellow and all shades of brown. Pungent scents fill our lungs, it is a delight to our minds and souls.

My sister and I were discussing food for the soul the other day and while giving it deep thought I know what it is that often feeds my soul; it is what I find and observe in nature, meditation on it and thankfulness for it.

Last weekend my daughter took me to Killarney in Co. Kerry and one of our plans was to walk in the national forest which is one of the remaining ancient forests in Ireland with many native trees. The two days we spent there were very restorative. The beauty of the trees laden with their seeds at this time was what inspired us, we talked about it, it made us cheerful and light-hearted. We rested for coffee and cake at a thatched roof cottage and sat out in the sunshine with leaves lightly twirling around us, our conversation deep and yet full of excitement at being in a place where we felt not a care in the world.

This delightful cottage where lovely coffee and cakes are served

Though this was the first time I had a break since before covid time, I have gathered quite a collection of photos over the summer that are now waiting to be used and written about in my blog. So watch this space! (I will as well 🙂 )

the summer of the grasses

Ireland has around 100 different types of grasses, including native and non-native grasses, a fact of which I was not aware, but recently I bought a guide on grasses from Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre and now I am learning about them. I have always found that many grasses are beautiful and decorative and there are always plenty of them around. Especially this summer the back of our garden is full of them, full of different types and they are growing nice and tall with lots of seeds to show. I don’t know all the different names yet but am looking them up one by one.

Our garden has been left to grow all the wild plants that were willing to come up this year. There were plenty of foxgloves, thistles, sow thistles, dandelions, nettles, buttercups, borage, evening primrose, herb Robert, plantain, and many more wild plants, and of course grasses and I’ve let them all grow. This means that things were a bit overgrown the last few weeks and now I have a helper, Dave, who is moving some plants and shrubs around for me so that I can plant our winter vegetables soon.

So here follow some photos of our grasses, I find them all very beautiful and am eager to learn more about them.

And so the summer is moving along and plenty of plants are already in seed including the grasses. The wind is dispersing the seeds and it follows that next year we will probably have even more grasses, these grow at the very back of the garden on a piece of uncultivated land which I want to keep wild. Leaving the wild plants and flowers to grow has been successful and we are seeing butterflies and bees of all sorts. There is always lots to discover even in a smallish garden and that is great for the nature lover who is house bound for part of the time. It is also great for anyone.

Dear friends I hope that you are enjoying this lovely summer, or your winter and especially that you are enjoying whatever blessings that nature gives you in your own surroundings.

MIDSUMMER

A windless morning in the garden. A lone robin is singing in the birch tree. Some sounds are travelling up from the town in the valley. I’m having my morning coffee outside on the patio and enjoying this beautiful and peaceful scene. Our foxgloves are almost totally in seed now, only the tops of their long stems are still a beautiful pink, they have been very good for the pollinators. This morning only a few bumblebees have visited. Seagulls and crows are flying over our airspace shouting confident cries. Sparrows are chirping in the hawthorn tree, many of them. How I love all those sounds.

Of the usual two dozen that years ago were, there are now only four swifts visiting in our area, I so miss their summery sounds above our houses and gardens.

How I enjoy all this activity in nature, and this morning is a rare break in my own daily activities, a solace to the soul, a much desired rest for the body. And yet it is there for the taking – whenever and free. A true blessing.