A few years ago my partner Ian came into the possession of an old Miller Fifer, a boat that was going to be restored to its former glory – Ian loves boats, they are his life. A smile appears on Ian’s face if he even just thinks of his Miller Fifer, yes it is delightful to see his pleasure in the boat. But for one reason and another no work was done on the boat after an initial month or two of intense work which Ian together with my ex-husband Ron did over a year ago. see link to blog post

But lately the desire to work on the boat again resurfaced and Ian got the help now of a young man, my nephew David. So after a bit of planning we finally managed to organise a couple of days work just recently. I volunteered too though I know that my help would be limited, it would consist mainly in being supportive and in running a good tea/coffee service which I gladly did being in need of that sort of thing myself too regularly. Apart from that though I brought my mask and knew that I would have the job of sanding some of the very neglected and in need of much TLC woodwork – the cabin especially seems in need of a lot of this. I also cleaned up the inside of the boat as it was a mess. I found many tools half rusted and decided to put them in a Coca-Cola bath. The boys worked hard, they also enjoyed their rolls and egg salad and copious cups of tea. At the end of the two days a lot was achieved and more planning for the next step was done. I’m very please too, though it is not really my project – it is good to be part of the team and to see good results.

The deck in need of much TLC, wood preserver, and paint or varnish.  Sanding will be a big job here.  I for one am going to take care of the cabin (as much as I can).

As can be seen the inside of the Miller Fifer needs quite a bit of work to it, but order was needed above all so that we could see how to proceed.

Tools in the Coca-Cola and scrapers ready to be used by me.

The boys at their lunch, and during a rain shower we sat in the car drinking tea.

I took to finding spots of rot, only a few but I documented it all on photos so as to have an overview.  The rotten bits will have to be replaced.

Ian, David and I hard at work.  Worst of all are the paint fumes – I so dislike, luckily its outside and there was a breeze.

Silhouette of the Miller Fifer and its bow, nice lines and great photo opportunity, I can never resist it.


Today there was a bit of a whirlwind blowing through town, at least for us as we wanted to attend openings of three separate Art Exhibitions, one of which above showed the works of Maurice Henderson.  Maurice, an old mate of Ian’s had sent him the invitation, and I was lucky to be invited along.  I have been following Maurice’s work too for a decade or two and have always enjoyed his use of colour.  I was very impressed with his current work, and the above photo is of my favourite painting, makes me think of a bluebell carpet in among trees in early spring.  The exhibition is called:  ‘Light and Atmosphere. It runs for another 9 days.

Second opening was later on in the evening.  I went on my own to this.  A great exhibition called: West Meets West – showing work from three artists from Cornwall.  Phillip Booth, Matthew Lanyon, and Tony Lattimer.  The above large painting is by Matthew Lanyon and it is my favourite, it immediately had a strong affect on me and just gave me such a good feeling.  The widow of Matthew, a lovely lady, told me that this is one of the early works of Matthew.  Very sadly Matthew passed away recently.  Top sculpture above left I was also quite impressed with, very colourful and clever use of wood and metal.  The artist, Philip Booth explained about his work to me which was very enlightening, his primal inspiration is the landscape of Cornwall, and in the case of the sculpture above it was the rocky shore along the coast.  As I have been out of circulation in Skibbereen’s Art world, I am only getting back into the swing of things and was happy that while I was scanning the room for familiar faces several new people just started to talk with me, it felt good and we had interesting conversations.  One of such conversations was with a woman called Anastasia, also an artist, an amazingly inspiring woman.  I also finally got to meet fellow wordpress bloggers Finola and Robert of  It was like meeting old friends as I follow there blog closely.  Very nice.

The last opening of the night was at the smaller but nevertheless lovely Art Gallery in North Street in town.  A young woman, Tara Laubach’s work was also a revelation, beautiful works of soft colours, with lots of expressions of emotion.  I need to go back to get a closer look as there were so many people that it was difficult to get a good look tonight.  The exhibition is called ‘Fiery little Ashes – a Cinderella story’.  Much enjoyed the reading by the young artist.

And finally we were treated to poems by two different poets, these were short but good and they wrapped up an evening of culture in this small town in West Cork perfectly.

Afterwards I discovered that there was also a new exhibition in one of my favourite Galleries, the Catherine Hammond Gallery in Bridge street, which I missed the opening of today, but no doubt will visit during the week.

I think that I am finding my feet again in West Cork, saw a lot of lovely people today and interacted with them, always a good grounding method when you have been away for a long time, feel at home again even if it took me the best of two months.


Last week there was the yearly Art Festival in our town of Skibbereen. It is getting better every year, and what nicer way to explore it than with my two growing grandchildren, who are little artists in their own way, and they take an intelligent interest in art.

So we set off on our exploration of some of the exhibitions, and there were many, they were held all over the town. We did not strictly stick to the Art Trail, we started off at the Uillinn Art Centre where we wanted to see the work of John Kelly. There were his beautiful landscapes, which were scrutinised by our young artists, including technique and paint finishes.  Our main interest though was Kelly’s group of paintings which he produced during his stay in Antarctica, and on his way there in 2013. The wall was covered with these works, large and small, the whole collection told us his story of that journey, and the girls were quite impressed. I wanted them to take away this idea of telling a story in a collection of small paintings. Later in the day we were going to get paints and boards to try our hands on this idea.
Some of Kelly’s other works did get some comments, even some raised eyebrows.
The paintings in Catherine Hammond’s Gallery got much approval, and favourites were picked, this exhibition was called ‘Contemporary Realism’. A little Gallery further along in Bridge Street was really interesting, at least for me it was, and the girls took it in their stride too. Vauney Strahan’s works were an education for me and I had to look her up on Google, I do like her art very much, here is a link to her profile;
Least interesting to the young minds was the Old Bottling Plant where we saw works by Angela Flowers, though some of Angela’s works were fabulous.  And the exhibition by Paul Cialis, ‘Saints and Sinners’ did not even get a look into, which was just as well, because it was a little beyond their age group.

We were all three getting tired, taking in a lot of visual stimulation can use up energy fast! So we just popped into one last exhibit, a re-creation of a shop of the early twentieth century, the girls loved it, they were looking all over it. It showed them a example of shopping before the supermarkets started.

We went home after buying the art materials, and we started to paint, after a pizza meal, and lots of banter with Ian. Both grandchildren gave a very individual interpretation to what they saw during the day; my 9 year old painted a beautiful image of a horse, incorporating colours and combinations she noticed today, and my 8 year old painted an ice scene with penguins after John Kelly’s paintings.  It is very nice to be able to share the love of art with my grandchildren, and lovely to see young minds at work, and hearing their opinions on what they observe.

Paintings also exhibited were by Karen Billings, and earlier on in the week I attended an excellent event called ‘Dark Matter’, Greg Sholette in conversation with Katherine Waugh. The topic was ‘What’s missing in art and politics in an enterprise culture’. Enjoyed a lot.

The Souvenir Shop

Works by the two girls


Today I was on granny duty and two of my grandchildren came and we all had a great time. Ruben helped me with planting out primroses which he really loved doing, the whole room, and himself were covered with earth, but so what! Then it was time for Alice to collect all my old vintage dolls and give them a picnic, Ruben was also enthusiastic about this, they played for a long while at this, after which we all went to the garden centre to pick up more seeds and enjoy playing with the dogs there. Then it was time to read, and read, my voice is not great after all this, hoarse as hell! But did not quite finish Roald Dahl’s ‘George’s marvellous medicine’. At around six o’clock I drove them both home again. Though I am wrecked, we did have a very special day.



And what excitement it was with opening presents, playing games, telling stories, singing songs, and eating lots of different little nibbles. The doll’s cradle, and the orphaned doll went down very well, and so did the wooden race track for the little cars. The girls received books and games, and all the children were given a bird house to hang up in the garden. We had a lovely afternoon. Why I found it so lovely was because not only of the togetherness, but because of the simple delightful activities that took place. The seven year old told us the story of the nativity, and another one of how the Robin got its coloured breast, she then sang one of the songs of ‘Frost’, the eight year old engaged my partner in a board game, they both sang more songs, and so did my other smaller grandchildren. My partner read one of the books to them to their delight.   What is so special about it is how children can still enjoy themselves without television or electronic games, and to see this is good.


“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.”   Lewis Carroll – from Alice in Wonderland.


Today has been very mild (around 6 degrees Celsius, with sunshine, and a little drizzle this afternoon. I was able to go out and give some attention to the garden. There were a few Kale that still needed planting out, so I did that, and discovered that the soil is improving, it has become more crumbly, though in places still very wet. Well I mulched a bit around the newly planted Kale. Took in some bamboo sticks that were still sticking in the soil, and checked how the garlic are doing. I also still harvested some beetroot which is nice and fat. There were two Robins in the garden with me, coming quite close to pick some creatures out of the soil. This evening we were treated to an amazing sunset once again, which I’d like to share with everyone.




Today I have made the dough for a spicy biscuit, traditionally made Belgium and Holland for the feast of St.Niklaas. It is called Speculaas and many spices are used in the making of it. The dough, which now has to lie still in the fridge till tomorrow is fragile and has to be cooled several times even while working with it. It is put in a mould in the shape of a man or woman, or any other shape, and baked. I have actually never made these before in my life, now is as good as any time to start I think. What I most enjoyed is mixing the spices. I used a whole list of them. The Star Anise I had to pit and then use the pestle to grind the seeds. The scent was absolutely divine. Also on the list were: ground Ginger, ground Cloves, ground Cardamom, ground Coriander, ground Mace, ground White Pepper, ground Nutmeg, and ground Cinnamon. I actually saw most of these spices grow in Kerala, India, during one of my visits there with the tribal people. My friend kindly brought me to her home place in the mountains and showed me all these spices and where they grow, to experience this was an absolute highlight. I’m very fond of using spices in cooking but also as a medicine.


My friend holding some of the freshly grown Nutmegs and showing the Mace around the nut.  Also some of the Pepper which is grown and which is actually a climbing plant, I did not know that.

The Star Anise ready to be ground down with the pestle.

Cloves kerala mountains

Again my friend showing me the Cloves fresh from the tree, so undried.

DSCF4317              DSCmF4318

Here the ground spices, and next a very untidy kitchen when it was all done and the dough was in the fridge, I wonder what my biscuits will turn out like, they better be good as they are for a fund raising do.