THE NIGHTS ARE DRAWING IN

I cannot believe that yet another week has passed by! Cooler now and the leaves are turning multi-coloured, while some are twirling lazily off the trees, and covering the front garden with a brown rustling carpet of glorious scented autumn!

I’ve been busy over the last few days and I know that I have quite a bit to catch up with – blog entries of friends that I follow, eventually I will get to read all. The reason why I got so busy is that I started an online course with FutureLearn, this time with Trinity College in Dublin. The course is called ‘Achieving Sustainable Development’ and it takes us through four of the 17 UN development goals. As a start we examined goal 16 which aims for the elimination of all violence as a basic for the establishment of sustainable development. Both physical violence, structural violence (embedded in social structures of inequality), and cultural violence (where traditions condone direct or structural violence. So covering the whole area of peacebuilding and peacekeeping. I found this very interesting because I run around (like so many of us)trying to work out how we can help to bring about world peace. The way that this course works is, it gives a video of an interview, in this particular first week different professors were interviewed on conflicts in Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, and Colombia. Links are provided to other reading material (lots of it), and then we students write our thoughts on what we learnt, there are students from all over the world taking part which of course makes for an interesting dialogue. It is so thought provoking! Tomorrow is week 2 and we will be looking at SDG 3 ‘Challenges to Health’. I’m looking forward to it.

And at the same time it is only another eleven days before we leave to return to Gozo, after a visit to Norfolk to see Ian’s family first. I’m totally packed and organised, all that remains for us to do is see family and friends and that is always a pleasure. Two days ago my daughter, and the children took me to climb a hill overlooking much of the area here, we saw the sea and the patched fields and meadows. It was beautiful – though the climb nearly killed me. I will share some photos with you all.  In a way it is a sort of farewell to the area here – for the time being.
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An ancient stone wall covered in moss, everything was covered in moss, the trees, walls, ground, different types of mosses, very nice and green.
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As we came above the tree level it became quite windy, the kids were running up and down like mountain goats, exploring and discovering creatures and all sort of things growing. Ferns, heathers, mosses, fungi, and they even brought me clear water from a little stream to show how fresh and clean it looked.

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The view was spectacular once we were on top of the hill where a lone cross was keeping watch.

So beautiful.  One thing puzzled me and that is the higher we went to more wet the soil became, I think that the soil is peat as it was pure black in colour.  Walking down was actually harder in a way than climbing up, we were all ready for a nice cup of tea.  Luckily the weather was sunny and quite beautiful really.

After all of that, the cobwebs were out of our hair, that is for sure.

 

A MORNING WITHOUT A CAMERA

This morning early I slipped quietly out of the house and drove down the town to the farmers market.  I had arranged to pick up some herbal tea and I thought it better to go early.  I parked a little out of the way and walked the rest over to the market place.  It was a fresh morning, a little autumn chill in the air.  Dark clouds were overhead and the wind was picking up, but other than that it was lovely and sunny.  A local woman walked the same way as I did and we started a conversation – about the weather, then about our blessings here in the little town in West Cork, and then about the market.  It was nice to have human contact out of the blue like that, I always love those unexpected conversations with strangers.

I had not brought my camera and my phone was dead, I nevertheless saw several interesting scenes which I took note of with my eyes and stored away.  There was the old pump surrounded by lovingly placed flowering plants.  There were the old houses and the little bridge that covers the caol stream which runs through the town.

After my walk around the market where the people were only setting up their stalls and struggling with the wind, I decided to have my morning coffee in the old O’Neill shop which opened during the summer as a little coffeeshop.  The coffee was delicious, reading the paper I sat peacefully in what used to be the backroom.  Some of the walls have been left distressed by different layers of earlier occupants’ paint jobs.  I really liked that idea.  The original counter stands.  A local man was sitting at the side reading his newspaper.  My thoughts turned to our departure which is coming close now and how I will be leaving West Cork behind me to embrace new adventures in the lovely island of Gozo for another winter.  Somehow I feel that going away for the winter and exploring a new place makes me fonder of the town which I adopted 30years ago, and that has got to be a good thing!   I see it’s beauty more and can appreciate it more.  We are so blessed in this part of Ireland, while it may be a little damp, after the summer that was in it for some countries I think many people might be very happy with ‘a little damp’.

While it seems that the earth and humankind is in chaos at the moment, it is good to be thankful for what we have and to feel and show empathy for those people that are having a hard time.  I’m not only thinking of the people in the US and Mexico, but also of all the millions that are displaced by the flooding in Asia.  I hope and pray that sanity may prevail on earth and that those that should be our leaders calm down and that peace may be reached in all areas.

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AUTUMN AT GLEBE GARDENS

A visit to Glebe Gardens in Baltimore, West Cork, was on the agenda for a while and finally some days ago we took the opportunity to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with a delicious cup of coffee and cake, and a lovely walk through the flower gardens, the woodland, herbaceous borders, and the vegetable plots. This 5 acre garden is bordering on the sea where the Ilen river enters Roaring water Bay. Vegetables for use in the restaurant are grown organically in the gardens. Because of the vicinity being so close to the sea there is a mild micro climate which makes everything grow very lush. There are again to be found a number of sub-tropical plants, with palm trees and exotic rhododendrons among them. When you walk through the woodland and over the little bridge you come to an open grassland where there is an amphitheatre where music and other entertainment is put on regularly.  I’ve not been to anything yet but again it is on the agenda. There is an orchard and we saw several varieties of apples ready to eat and fallen from the trees too. Grapes were a plenty in the tunnel, different varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers too.

I only took a few photos as I was wearing my grandmother hat, but still got quite a collection which made it hard to pick some for my blog! (Much as I would like I never put photos of my grandchildren on internet, it is an agreement between my daughter and I).  What the children really enjoyed was the goats and chickens, finding apples in the orchard, and the open space of grassland where they spontaneously started dancing.

It is a garden offering not only beauty but also peace and tranquillity.

 

20170826_162351There are benches where one can have some time to relax in beautiful surroundings!  My partner and I enjoying very much.

20170826_165409This old but lovely doorway – to goodness knows where, I could not resist taking a photo of, thought it looked so lovely what with the fern growing around it too.

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If you enjoyed my photos then you might like to look up more information on the Glebe itself.  When on holidays in this area it is a wonderful place to visit and have lunch or coffee, a walk in the gardens, and maybe go and enjoy some open air night time entertainment.  Here is a website:

http://www.glebegardens.com/the-garden/

 

DEW DROPS AND SPIDER WEBS

This beautiful, calm and wind still Sunday morning, the garden has been transformed into what reminds me of fairy land, the reflexion of light in the dew drops makes the spider webs shimmer and reminds me of fairy lights or even the Christmas tree and brings me back to early childhood days, innocence and happiness. I wander around the garden with my camera to capture this beauty and these feelings. Autumn leaves have been brushed up yesterday, but it is the spider webs that really herald the beginning of autumn here in West Cork. There is not a sound to be heard, all the neighbours are still sleeping, then a robin takes the floor and cheerfully sings its heart out.
Wind still and glorious, another day has begun.
My heart fills with gratitude.
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THE ABORETUM AT ARDNAGASHEL

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The second part of the guided tour of which I took part, it being part of the Heritage Week, was last Saturday’s visit to Ellen Hutchins gardens at Ardnagashel. Though quite overgrown, and in the sub-tropical climate of Glengarriff, in the South West of Ireland, a very lush garden, we did see a great variety of trees.  Many of them quite new to me.  Walking under their expansive canopies one becomes aware of the magnificence of their beings, our heads were constantly held high and apart from the sounds of wow and oh, the explanations of our guide, and the whispering of the leaves, the forest was quiet – the trees majestic!

One of the most impressive species in the gardens is this extraordinary large Cryptomeria japonica elegans or the Japanese red Cedar.  Its feathery leaves are so delicate.  The red brown bark peels in vertical strips, as can be seen in the photo below.  It is said that the wood is very scented and used in manufacturing of light furniture.

These are photos of the cork tree (Cuercus suber) these trees give us the cork which is used in so very many different ways.  The small tree in the middle bottom photo has actually died from the frost one year, but the large one that is standing between many other species survives and has grown very big.  Actually cork is a renewable source as when the cork is taken from the trunk it will regrow.  It is harvested about every ten years.

This is the Myrtus apiculate, closely related to the Myrtle tree.  It was introduced as a decorative tree but it soon became a very fast growing invasive weed.  The wood looks nice and is put to use when cut down for a variety of fencing and a little bridge was made out of it too.  It is not native to Ireland.  It gets beautiful white flowers.  Below is a photo.

Myrtus apiculata

This tree has had its roots growing on its trunk, the reason why is because the soil around it was so crowded apparently by the suffocating growth of the Myrtus trees that there was no space for its roots to grow underground (we were told by our guide).

A variety of interesting looking trees of which I am not sure what they are exactly.

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One of my favourites, again I do not know what its name is.  A trunk covered in moss!

Ferns were everywhere, including a few tree ferns (Dicksonia Antartica).  Ferns even growing on the branch of this large tree.

Rhododendrons grow very well in this part of the world, often giving a lovely display of purple along the roads of Counties Cork and Kerry.  But in Glengarriff one is able to grow quite exotic types of Rhododendrons, from the regions of the Himalayans.  Very large leaves (as my brothers is showing) and most beautiful flowers, whites or delicate pinks, among other colours.  Some of these types bloom already in January.  Besides Rhododendrons there are a variety of Magnolias, Ammonias, Camellias and Acacias growing in this garden.

Three other fabulous species.  The top left is a Griselinia Littoralis.  The one underneath I thought is the Cypressus macrocarpa.  The trunks of trees on the right I cannot identify – ideally I will visit this garden again and become more familiar with all the trees, something to look forward to I think.

Sequoia Sempervirens - Coast Redwood

This tree, again if I am right, is the Sequoia sempervirens (Coast Redwood tree), it was pointed out to us that it was growing here. A tree of the Cypress family.  It is an endangered species.

A beautiful and interesting walk it was, wetting our appetite for more that is for sure.  This garden also contains the Davidia involucrate or Handkerchief tree but I did not see it this time.  It has plenty of Vagus Silvatica (common Beechtrees) growing too.  As I already mentioned the climate in this part of Ireland is sub-tropical, very mild and wet winters, mild summers.  This garden is lying along the coast of the Bantry Bay.

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This is a list of the trees found in the garden.  The list was compiled by John Bevan and can be found here:  John Bevan’s article

And here is a link to the WordPress site of Ellen Hutchins (Botanist) and the Ardnagashel Estate.  There is a lot to explore on the following blog link, I hope you enjoy as much as I did to explore this rich heritage.

Ellen Hutchins – Ardnagashel Estate

 

 

SEAWEEDS OF THE IRISH COAST

Yesterday saw a whole bunch of us interested folks going to explore the arboretum at Ardnagashel in Glengarriff, West Cork, but apart from admiring the wonderful trees we also received lots of information on the seaweeds and lichens along this stretch of coast. Ardnagashel was established by the Hutchins family and it was as part of the Heritage Week of Ireland that these activities took place, in memory of Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815)who was a remarkable Irish Botanist. The talks on the lichens and seaweeds were given by Howard Fox, who is the State Botanist (National Botanic Gardens) and by Maria Cullen. This ‘life’ introduction to the seaweeds and the lichens of the coast of Bantry Bay was so very interesting. a true first introduction in this field for me. Later in the afternoon Madeline Hutchins (Ellen’s great great grand niece) took us through the forested area of this garden and introduced us to some wonderful trees, among them an enormous Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). But more about the trees in another blog.  Now to concentrate on the seaweed for a start.  There is so much information that I took in yesterday and research I want to do on this that I feel delighted (because it’s right here at my doorstep), but I am also a bit overwhelmed because so far in my life I have been concentrating on enlarging my knowledge about wild plants, flowers, insects and spiders of Ireland.  Now this is taking it one step further with looking at lichens and seaweeds.  There are no days enough in the week to enjoy all this abundance of nature, and to do the research.  Needless to say I am a huge amateur in all this. (an enthusiastic one).
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So we learnt that there are three types of seaweeds and they are divided by their colour. These are the greens, reds, and brown seaweeds. There are about 10 000 species.  This particular species is called Fucus serratus L.  (Serrated wrack).  This seaweed is used commercially in the manufacturing of cosmetics and seaweed baths.

Photo on left is Knotted or Egg Wrack (Ascophylum nodosum) with another seaweed growing parasitically (it gets its sugar from the Knotted Wrack) on it, it is called Polysiphonia lanosa. Maria Cullen (right photo) told us to nibble some of the parasite and to me it tasted only like….sea water!  Maria gave us great demonstrations of a variety of seaweeds which she picked straight from the sea there.

Duileasc (Palmaria palmata) a red seaweed, and Nori (Porphyra tenera) and another one of the Wrack seaweeds (Fucus) .

Top right photo is a calcareous red seaweed, Howard is here showing and telling us about the Sea Spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata).  The book I am giving attention to on the right is an excellent cookbook with lots of information on the edible seaweeds.  I bought it for my son-in-law once and he was very pleased with it.

DSCF2696The coast of Bantry Bay is rich in seaweeds, and it’s beautiful too.

Nori seaweed, Laver (Porphyra tenera) in the top left photo is paper thin and edible, much used in countries like Japan of course.  The green seaweed is sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca).  The book on seaweeds looks real interesting and essential if seaweed foraging and identification is taken seriously.

DSCF2706Microscopes and strong magnifying glasses were all available for us to have a look through.

More samples laid out for us to check out and learn about, far more than I can identify right now.  Further in the water there were even more types of seaweeds to be seen.  Howard and Mary never tired of explaining to us all the details, it was such an interesting hour spend on a lovely and warm Saturday afternoon in this beautiful part of Ireland.  My brother Johan and his wife Lorraine who were visiting Glengarriff, were among those interested and it was lovely sharing this time with them too.

CARRAIG ABHAINN GARDENS

Carraig Abhainn Garden which lies in Durrus, West Cork.  It is one of the very interesting, well established and peaceful gardens in the area. It consists of 1-hectare which is bound by a mill stream. An amazing waterfall and further along the tranquil stream add to its charm and serenity. My daughter and I visited it recently with my grandchildren and the garden was loved by one and all. The children found it exciting with all its nooks and crannies, and we adults – although we often become like children when we are surrounded by nature – we just loved the tranquillity of the place. I was particularly interested in the variety of trees and plants, among them a Mimosa tree, a Korean Fir, and a whole range of other exotic trees, even a Banana tree! The variety of other subtropical plants, Palms, Rhododendrons and others was interesting too. I think it would be a lovely garden to visit in the autumn also just because of the variety of trees, although many of them are evergreens, a lot of them are deciduous trees also. I think my photos will speak for itself.  I hope that everyone enjoys the walk through this lovely garden with me.
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20170803_142255After our walk we had a chat with Eugene, the owner together with his wife of this beautiful garden.  Eugene is a goldmine of information on plants and trees and he knows his garden inside out.  I will be visiting again and he promised me a guided tour to which I am looking forward very much.  Here is a link to information on this garden.

http://www.ireland-guide.com/gardens/carraig-abhainn-gardens-.7116.html

 

SHARING MAGIC WITH ALICE

The day started good. Alice is one of my grandchildren, at nine years of age she has a great interest in art and in nature. We spent a day together recently which started with us going to buy clay as that was Alice’s plan for one of our activities. But our first action was to put the hammer to a genode which my grandchildren had gifted me.  After a few knocks we were rewarded with wonderful crystals!

Before long we went into the garden, and as there are lots of wild things growing there at the moment it is naturally attracting quite a bit of wildlife so we went hunting for insects or any creatures we could spot and take pictures of. Alice was the fastest and I heard her call out in delight when she found yet another creature. She was the one spotting the Crab spider, a little white spider of which I had not seen many in our garden so far. She also noticed a curious thing to do with bees, she spotted nine bees that seem to be sucking water from moss, this on the shadow side of our steps leading into the garden proper. Never seen anything like it in my life! Delighted to see the honey bees in our garden though.

The white Crab spider (Misumena Vatia) and the Cucumber spider (Araniella Curcubitina)

Here are some of the honey bees and the moss on the steps from which they seemed to be sucking water.  Curious, and never heard of this before.

Two different types of Harvestmen (Dicranopalpus ramosus) and Saddleback Harvestman (Mitopus morio)

A most beautifully grey and black striped Flesh fly (Sacrophaga bercaea)  It is said that they deposit their larvae on meat or carrion.   They will eat decaying vegetable matter.  I learnt that the majority of this species will feed on small carrion like dead insects and snails.  I’m only reading up on this fly, never knew anything about it before.

Peacock Butterfly

Early in the morning I had a visit from a marvellous looking Peacock butterfly which I had to rescue as it had a bit of spider web on one of its legs, It flew away happily afterwards, but in the meantime it had made my day!

Common Greenbottle fly (Phaenicia sericata), a common garden spider (Araneus Diadematus), and a yellow and black ladybird.

A brown Leaf hopper (Philaenus spumarius) and a Bumblebee which I have been trying to identify but it is not easy, I was wondering if it was the Bombus pascuorum because of it orange thorax and black on its abdomen, but I am not sure about it.

After all our discoveries in the garden and our speculating what the bees were up to, we set to making some fun things in clay, it kept us being creative for a long while.

One of Alice’s craft results, and showing me one of the snails she was feeding with dandelion leaves.  She did release them in the garden before she went home again!  Well that is where they live after all.

What an enjoyable day it was, it is interesting and nice to see a young mind look at nature, ask very many questions and have respect for creatures and enjoyment from observations.

If I have any of the identifications wrong and someone spots it may I please be corrected, I would appreciate that.

 

EDGE OF LANDSCAPE – WILLIAM CROZIER

Skibbereen town is currently running its yearly Arts Festival and the town is buzzing with people, whole families, and lots of children – what a nice atmosphere I found today down town. I went to see William Crozier’s exhibition ‘Edge of Landscape’ in our Uillinn Art Centre, which by the way puts on lots of interesting exhibitions and other activities very regularly. There was a guided tour and I thought it would be nice to know a bit more about Crozier’s work, though I know his paintings for a long time as he was living locally. The tour took us through some earlier works and also showed us some of the most recent before his death. I was impressed with his lines and colours, with his painting of West Cork as he saw it – though he painted from memory. He painted the landscape as it relates to people, as it was created by the people, so you have what one might recognise as hay stacks and fields with borders, always borders. In a lot of his work, of a certain period, he painted high horizons, again this creating a border around his fields.
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Painting on the right is ‘The Ripe Field’ 1990

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Painting above is ‘Wolf’s Castle, Toe Head, 1998

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Above are some of his earlier works, on the right is a painting called ‘Winged Figure’ which he painted in the early seventies.  He stopped using figures in his paintings though he had used them a lot in much of his earlier work before he came to West Cork. Personally I find his work which include figures much harder to look at and make sense of.

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The painting above and below are much later work before he died, I love the simplicity of these and I agree with what one of the visitors said, that they reminded her a little of Matisse.  We were told that Crozier was indeed influenced by Matisse, a thought that I liked.

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I’ve always loved visiting art exhibitions. I discovered the value of this in my late teens when I used to go look at paintings in galleries both in Antwerp and in Dublin and was impressed with the energy that would affect me coming from the works, such a difference from looking at a reproduction or print. I was going to Art college at night in those days and I guess that urge to go see paintings never left me since. Luckily Skibbereen town has a thriving Art Centre and other galleries besides. West Cork is a real haven for artists and people who love art. I feel so lucky.