SOFTLY FLOWS THE RIVER ILEN ~ another walk

On a fine day like today I took a long walk along the river Ilen. After it has meandered through the town of Skibbereen it flows towards Old Court and this is where my hike took me. The Ilen river ‘An Aighlinnis’ in Gaelic, is beautiful. It flows from the Mullaghmesha mountain in the area between Drimoleague and Dunmanway. Skibbereen is the largest settlement along its way to the sea at Baltimore. Here, just outside the town and downstream a lot of young and sportive folks enjoy canoeing, and upstream it is salmon and trout fishing that attracts people to its waters. I have always personally liked the Ilen river because often when I pass it the surface would be like a mirror, reflecting the trees and houses, and that is so lovely. I think that this river makes Skibbereen and surrounding area what it is. A very scenic place.

On my walk today I crossed the ‘New’ Bridge, in my eye a beautiful bridge and I am glad to say that I found out some information about the design of this bridge. I love old bridges.

Here at low tide it is easy to see the abutments just above the water which act as support for the arches and strengthen the whole structure against the power of the flowing water.

‘New’ bridge has got beautiful arches, this bridge has been constructed with segmental arches.  This arch type is made from a segment of a circle, allowing for a flatter arch, which in turn allowed for flatter carriageways, and to reduce the hump-back profile. This hump-back profile was the result of an earlier design of a masonry bridge where the arch was constructed in a semi-circular form.  These bridges are still very common in County Cork.  The segmental style, however, became a common feature of 19th century bridges and ‘New’ Bridge in Skibbereen is a fine example of such a style. The bridge is constructed of limestone and sandstone which is the rock most commonly found in the area.

So I started towards Church Cross on the N71, this is a very popular walk with keep fit enthusiasts. Looking back towards the town I was surprised to see some horses grazing in a field bordering the river.
My walk took me over ‘New’ Bridge where plenty of wild flowers grown on its walls. Common mouse-ear and oxeye daisies among others.

This walk took me one hour and was most pleasant and, at the moment, at least it was very quiet. The sun was blazing and the wind played in my hair and was very refreshing. What a treat after all the gardening work which was rather intense during the past week. I decided that I will keep Sundays for walking, although around here it is better not to stick to a certain day as you never know what the weather will bring.

In the black circle is the route of my walk, when I see it on the map it is a tiny walk in the larger area of Skibbereen area.
While both Ian and I returned to this spot by the river today we noticed several fish jumping up and down. The river Ilen is known to be one of the cleanest rivers in Ireland. We are so lucky.

MEMORIES OF AN OLD FRIEND

This time I am sharing a tribute to the man I was married to for 31 years and also the father of our lovely daughter Tjorven and grandfather of our five wonderful grandchildren. Ron died from cancer on Monday the 11th of May. He became very good mates with my husband Ian and he was a regular friend to our house, Ron and I remained friends.

I would like to share a tribute from the West Cork Chamber Music Festival team, I quote;

“We are sad to hear that one of our earliest supporters and volunteers, Ron Victor, has passed away after a long illness. He was an integral and much-valued part of our team for many years.

In the early days, he and his then wife Agnes were generous supporters of West Cork Music and Ron then became the man who took care of moving all heavy equipment at the West Cork Chamber Music Festivals. So much goes on behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the Festival concerts and Ron’s contribution was vital. He made sure that everything which was needed in Bantry House, whether pianos, chairs, box office tables or boxes of wine, was there. Everything he did was with enthusiasm, energy and a smile which we all remember with great fondness.

Ron had a deep love of Baroque music and he spent so many hours listening to it while driving thousands of miles in his removal van, that he developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the repertoire by ear. It was his passion for Early Music which influenced Francis Humphrys’ decision to include it in the Festival programme.”

For a number of years, the Cork County Council harpsichord was transported to ten schools for a week of Baroque workshops in January and it was Ron who made this possible, moving the instrument carefully from school to school while seeing the music he loved being played for a new generation of music-lovers.

Ron was introduced to early music by his friend Antoon Tandt at age 18. The first composer he became familiar with was Heinrich Schutz, and especially his ‘Psalmen Davids’, during our time together it is what we shared most of all, our love of early music, it was a huge factor in our relationship and our daughter was brought up in a home resounding of music by Bach, Buxtehude, Schutz, Ockegem, Tallis, and many other fine composers.  Eventually Ron became involved with West Cork Chamber Music Festival and later with the East Cork Early Music Festival which he enjoyed very much. His love of beautiful music knew no bounds, he listened to it until close to the time he died. 

The team at East Cork Early Music Festival were also greatly saddened to learn that Ron Victor passed away. They said he was a great lover of early music, always smiling and was so helpful to our festival over many years.

Ron’s grandchildren also contributed some memories of their grandpa, I will just give a flavour of their thoughts. Hazel who is 13 years old said that she remembers her grandpa as an amazing, kind and funny person. Alice who is 11 has memories of all the gifts and sweets that her grandpa would bring back from his travels. Ruben who is aged 9 thinks of his grandpa as a superhero, he recons that he made the world. Jasmin aged 8 thought grandpa was funny and nice, she also thought that he was wise and she remembered his 70th birthday party and all the nice cake. Willow is only five and she remembers grandpa as being ‘young’, she also remembers that he took a lot of photos. It is lovely to hear the tributes of the grandchildren for their grandpa.

Ron ended up living in the Philippines where he had a new relationship towards the latter part of his life. He loved the life there, the natural world and the climate. He returned to Belgium for a visit and to organize some things. He was subsequently diagnosed with cancer and he remained with family who very kindly looked after him while he was undergoing treatment.

So we have been busy organising the funeral service in this time of Corona virus when people cannot travel or indeed when funerals are very private, that is no problem in its own and we were able to attend and all be together during Ron’s funeral service at the crematorium in Kortrijk via live video. I had the privilege of picking the music and choose some lovely pieces by Bach and Purcell. Many family members wrote beautifully worded farewell pieces. It was a beautiful service. A good send off to Ron and a solace for the family.

Rest in peace Ron, there will be many people who will miss you.

A NEW WALK

As from a few days ago, and after a lockdown period of over seven weeks we over seventies are allowed out for a daily walk. Well I did not have to be told twice and though it was raining for the last two days I did go out. But today the sun shone and it was mild again and beautiful. I badly needed to connect with nature big time, and so I choose a walk which was the last walk my grandchildren and I did together in early February. It is a country road close to our town, taking you right out into farmland, a sight to behold, beautiful.
The sun playing through the leaves of the trees threw dappled shadows on to the road, something that I love to see whether it is in a painting or in reality.
This is farm land, lovely to behold and behind those hills in the distance is the sea, the Atlantic Ocean!

WE ARE OF THE EARTH AND HEALED BY NATURE

We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts – William Hazlitt
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature–the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter – Rachel Carson
I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements – Henry David Thoreau

I hope that these nature photos and valuable quotes have been a solace to someone who is disturbed by earth’s current difficulties and dangers. I wish us all well.

BUSY TIMES DURING LOCKDOWN

These tulips have been flowering for well over a week and are still doing great, and very beautiful.
We have had some lovely days and then it is our delight to have our lunch in the garden, very healthy too now that we need extra vitamin D for our immune system. We are both under strict total lockdown which means that we cannot leave the front door at all, so our garden is the only place where we can get fresh air and sunshine, and we are grateful to have such.

STILLNESS

In the pre-dawn when some half disturbing dream awakens me, I become aware of stillness….. I hear nothing ~ my thoughts wander far into the Cosmos and I wonder if all is stillness there as well. I start to wonder if this is what death is like too.

The stillness is inside and out.

A blackbird starts to sing. When I draw the curtain expecting to see a glimpse of the approaching dawn, I am greeted by a full moon shining through slivers of mist covering the town below in the valley. I marvel at the beautifully diffused sight.

Right now I am fully awake and thoughts of writing stir in my freshly rested mind, so I take up my pen and here I am.

There is an amazing happening right here and now…everything lies still, it’s as if the world has stopped turning.

Awaiting the brightness of the day, gratefulness washes over me.

(Inspired by the lockdown of Corona virus)

SUNDAY MORNING THOUGHTS

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.

Sunday morning, I love it always.

I wish you all a beautiful day! Stay well ❤

THE GARDEN IS A BLESSING

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.

ONE THOUSAND FOLLOWERS TODAY

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.