I woke up early this morning. I found it very quiet, not a sound to be heard, not a car passing, nor a person, nor a dog… even the birds are not singing… Skibbereen seems to be asleep still. I am thinking… what will I do with my day. Suddenly I know what is different, there is not a blade of grass stirring, it is wind-still… quite unusual lately and nice.
I look around my room and I ponder, there are lots of things I could start doing, I have re-decorating ideas. Perhaps I could make a mood-board with colours, new shades for the room, and I plan to re-sew a curtain that covers the hotpress opening. There is an old chair, a delicate one that would look good in a pastel paint and there is the old secondhand desk that I am planning to paint too… I love my room, it is peaceful and looking at things from up here in my high bed this morning everthing looks fine.
The pale cream curtains that I found last year in our fantatic charity shops are just starting to become illuminated with bright rays of sunshine.
It is time to get up and get me a nice cup of coffee.
Yes it is great to be able to get out into the garden and see all the young growth, as well as the insects that are about already. So far I’ve seen two butterflies, small tortoiseshells, a bumblebee, a bee and some small fly types. The photo above is of an hoverfly if I am right. It is great to see the return of the insects. It gives us hope during these surreal days.
I actually spent time in the garden to plant out my 14 broad bean plants, and as today we had a lull in the stormy and very wet weather of recent times, it was ideal to do my work. Two broad bean plants the only ones left of what I sowed in the autumn are in flower.
We have been self isolating for a week as a precaution against the corona virus because of our age. For us it is not a problem as we are both retired and we can shop online for food. Of course as this whole situation is developing sometimes it feels to me like a surreal film that I am watching. Stay safe all my friends and followers. Much love to everyone.
This morning I was notified that the thousandth person had just followed my blog, and though I saw it coming, it was still a pleasant surprise to get the confirmation.
So this post is about appreciation of my followers, how I would like to thank each and everyone of you for all your support over the years. I have loved reading all your comments and learned from them too, they have given me delight and a feeling of connectedness which have helped make my life enjoyable and interesting.
I started my blog with WordPress seriously during 2014 when the travel website of which I was a member for many years decided to close, it was VirtualTourist.com and on this site I had many travel stories and tips and photos, and I wanted to keep writing about my travels. So that is one reason why I looked for a new Blog, the other reason was that I had some health issues which took away a lot of my energy and so I spent more time at home and eventually retired from my library work. I also started a new relationship with Ian, an English gentleman who kindly built several raised beds in the garden and so I started to grow herbs and vegetables, organically. This was something that I always wanted to do but had no time for. My decade before that was filled with travels to India and voluntary work there as well as explorations. I also travelled to Mauritius and to New England during that time. I had a wonderful time and interacted and made friends with lovely people during those travels. I took a million photos and filled up my journals with my experiences, some of which I have blogged about since. More recently travels to and explorations of Central Portugal, Gozo, and the canals of Holland have inspired me greatly.
But to get back to my WordPress blog. Here I have connected with many lovely and interesting people many of whom have become my friends and whose own blogs I enjoy very much indeed. I know that I don’t always get to read all your blog posts, but I regularly catch up. I would like to thank everyone very much for your continued support, without it my blog would not be the blog it is.
My further plans with this blog are to keep writing about my plants, my garden, and my travels, my projects. Ian has started to write again and his health is much better which means that I will hopefully get more time to go exploring the villages and areas around the town here in West Cork and will write about that. I will write about new connections, about my bookclub, my grandkids and my life in general. I hope that everyone will keep enjoying my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.
Last but not least I would like to thank my sister Josephine who has kindly offered to do my editing for me, my typos or spelling mistakes which she picks out are a great help, and it is a ‘thing’ with her, she has earned her living all her life doing this sort of work. She’s good.
A look back at a walk which a few of my grandchildren, my daughter and I enjoyed a few years ago, on a glorious sunny day.
We went for a walk in the woods, the Glengarriff woods, classified as a National Forest, and nature reserved. Some of this forest contains ancient Irish Oak trees (Oceanic Sessile Oak), but there is a great variety of other trees too, like the Beech, Holly, Rowan, and Birch tree. The woodland is extensive, and there are various designated walks. We did the Big Meadow Walk. Some of this walk winds along the river which meanders through this forest, the Glengarriff river. So it is very pleasant and there is quite a lot of wild-life to be seen, butterflies, and other small creatures as well as birds. We mainly saw the butterflies yesterday and they seem to have come out in good numbers due to…
Due to all the rough weather we have been experiencing lately, and also due to the indoor work which we were completing I had not been much in our garden to check on things and certainly did not do any work in it. But between the two latest storms I did go out and took stock of what needs doing and what is growing right now and it seems that we have quite a bit going for us, there is more food to be found there than at first one would think. And so I have become encouraged and excited to get going. I plan to grow as much as I can fit, because my plan is to preserve some surplus harvest and to that end I bought some Kilner jars today. When I was growing up every housewife used to preserve a variety of foods in those jars. My mother did this until she was well in her eighties.
Along the seacoast of New England somewhere between New York and Boston lies the charming town of Old Lyme. It is a very peaceful place surrounded by beautiful mature hardwood trees and the river Lieutenant, which flows past this town adding to its total charm.
Old Lyme is also the place where Florence Griswold lived in a large house with an impressive façade of four tall columns capped with Ionic capitals. The extensive gardens, bordering on the same lovely river, where reeds are growing along its borders, make it a very pastoral setting.
I visited this large house, now a museum and was shown around on a guided tour. The moment that I learnt about the life of Florence Griswold, this amazing 19th century woman, I became a great admirer of her. A single woman, she decided to supplement her income by opening up her large house by taking in lodgers.
A New York artist, Henry Ward Ranger was one of the early lodgers in her place, and he brought along more artists, all of them were tired of modernist painting and they wanted to experiment painting rural life, in and out of doors. Soon an Art Colony was set up and more painters from all over the place came to stay and to paint, to enjoy each other’s company, and no doubt to compare and discuss their painting styles. In the early days many painted in the Tonalism style, in rather dull colours and tones, often giving a rather misty and perhaps poetic mood to their subject, i.e. the surrounding rural landscape of Old Lyme. Florence’s house has many examples of this style of painting as the artists enjoyed some of their time with painting all wooden panels of doors and walls in this large house. It is interesting to see the contrast with the impressionist style used in many of the later paintings.
It was in a visit to the Krieble gallery, which is found in the same grounds, that I learnt more about how these artists came to start to change their painting style and how they were influenced by French impressionism via contact with Giverny in France and the painting colony there.
In the Krieble gallery found in the grounds of the Florence Griswolds museum, there was an exhibition running (till 27th July 08) called “Impressionist Giverny – American Painters in France, 1885 – 1915”, which showed over fifty works that tell a story of an artist’s colony in Giverny, the village in France where impressionist painter Claude Monet lived.
A little about Giverny and its Impressionist art colony
Giverny welcomed very many artists in the late 19th century, early 20th century. Claude Monet, who had moved there, acted as a magnet and attracted many other artists to come and stay or live in and around Giverny. Artists came from all over the world, but especially from America. They enjoyed painting in the village and the area around it, and enjoyed a busy social life too. Parallels have been drawn between Giverny and the town of Old Lyme in Connecticut as they both shared a similar history, in both places there were artist colonies, impressionist’s painting of and in nature, and enjoyment of each other’s company. The link between Giverny and Old Lyme became stronger when the American painter Willard Metcalf, who used to be part of the Giverny colony, went and lived in Old Lyme, joining the artists there at Florence Griswold’s boarding house, naturally he, among others, brought influences from Giverny impressionists to Old Lyme, and to American impressionism. This was an important development.
I enjoyed this exhibition very much, especially as I wanted to become more acquainted with American artists and art history. While enjoying this exhibition, my attention was drawn to the amazing “Studies of an autumn day” a series of 12 paintings of a haystack showing the changing light and shadows during a day, by John Leslie Breck. In truth this is a reminder of Monet’s many paintings, showing a haystack in all sorts of light. Among the paintings exhibited were also some beautiful garden scenes with people, and of flowers.
In the gardens, are a fantastic variety of mature and large beautiful trees, and the meadows leading down to the river, the stylish and typical American wooden houses, they all do give the area a lovely and rich atmosphere, stimulating the artistic imagination.
I spent two wonderful days here, having a love of art and of nature, visiting this amazing place was for me a very enjoyable learning curve. And even when my visit has been a decade ago, it still gives me lovely memories. I never did get to go to Giverny in France to explore the area and le Musee des Impressionnismes there, but well you never know it might happen yet.
On this fine Saturday afternoon, two of my grandchildren and I decided to go for a walk on a land that leads towards the townland of Milland and to Russagh Mill Hostel. It was a fine distance and totally in pastural land. Ruben had come with his binoculars and his notebook, he wanted to draw some pictures of what he would see and find. Alice wanted to take photos of anything that would please her eyes; leaves, trees, plants and ourselves. I merely wanted the walk in nature and to see plenty of green countryside. (and take phots of course). We were not disappointed and between climbing some roadside trees and rocks and walk at leisure we had a wonderful time. I did not climb the trees though.
I was delighted when Ruben got out his copybook and pencil and started to draw what he saw, though I had to watch him as he plonked himself into the middle of the laneway at first and there might be the odd car passing. He was totally oblivious to all that, just wanted to do his thing. He is such a delightful boy.
Our walk took us over two hours and was well worth it. Towards the end Alice picked some dandelion leaves which she wanted to give to our two new canary birds. We came home and made a big pot of spaghetti Bolognese which was soon emptied by my now hungry grandkids.
What better to do on a January Saturday 🙂 we loved every minute.