COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND FOOD FAIRS

This past week has been very busy for the people and businesses of Skibbereen. The yearly food fare has been in full swing. The Taste of West Cork festival, which is a week during which Artisan foods produced in West Cork are highlighted. Today’s event was a street market, closing off the main street of the town, lots of food stalls, among which locals and tourists were alike were enjoying the ambience, the more so as the sun was shining over us all. Some of the stalls would be quite familiar to those attending the local market on Saturday mornings at the Fair Green, but there were other stalls too and one could get quite a good oversight of what is available food wise locally, and what West Cork in particular is known for. It was lovely to see so many children and adults enjoying themselves. We were listening to the music and enjoying the dancing provided by the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, an organisation which promotes Irish music and culture. We enjoyed some excellent songs and among others, a brush dance by a young lad which I found very entertaining.

This morning over our usual breakfast conversations, my partner and I were, once again, discussing rural development, it is a subject close to my heart. We do live rural, on the outskirts of a town with a population of about 2000. In recent years many people, especially young people have had to emigrate due to lack of work. Many businesses have closed, but the town is still surviving and with the recent addition of a larger Art Centre, there is a lot going on in this town. Cultural events, different courses being run, societies and organisations, theatre groups, concerts, festivals, local colleges, library activities, a splendid voluntary Tidy Towns group, sport clubs, a fantastic river, a community garden, and much more.  Despite all this  I can still see room for improvements in and around the town. I can see pedestrian areas, better parking so as to clear the cluttered streets and make the town more people friendly. I could go on. It is up to us all to do something about our towns and areas, and develop our communities.
Small towns in rural Ireland are very healthy places to live in and around, rather than see them go down. Many of us are now not even bothering to go to the larger cities to do our Christmas or other shopping as we like to support our local shops.
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Looking towards the new Art Centre, and area that would be very suited to pedestrian walk way.  A little tributary of the Illen river, it’s called the Caol Stream.

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Irish dancing by the members of the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.  And a Garlic food stall.

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More music by members of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.  And something for the children to enjoy too.

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Artisan cheeses produced in several places in West Cork, and very tasty too.

GRANDMOTHER ONCE MORE

And this morning it happened, my daughter gave birth to her fifth child. After a long night of labour a beautiful little girl was born. Willow will be her name. They are both doing well and one by one the other children are being introduced to this little one. Tomorrow I will see my new grandchild and I am surely looking forward to that. My blog will have to take second place for a while as I will be on granny duty 🙂
What a nice way to start a new season, spring time when everything is renewed is an ideal time to be born, having everything to look forward to, the lovely scent of flowers, the sprouting and growth of new vegetables in the garden, the trees getting their fresh green summer foliage, birds singing early in the morning, sun shining till after six o’clock before it goes down and takes the light with it.
It sure is a good day today.
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PAINTINGS IN FRAMES

My four year old grandson who has DS has a great talent for beautiful painting, he does this mainly at playschool and enjoys it a lot. The other day he brought some home with him when I collected him, and I was so impressed that I decided to take photos of them, to keep a record, and I thought they would look nice in a frame, so that done I wanted to share them on my blog, because my grandson has figured in my blog before, during the growing season he likes to help me in the garden, he even grew radishes last summer, putting in the seeds himself, watering them, and then harvesting lovely big produce. I’m real proud of him.

Please do not copy as they are not my own work, and don’t belong to me.
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WICKLOW MOUNTAINS IN THE DISTANCE

Our journey to County Wicklow during the week was initially almost called off due to a promise of snow and stormy weather, however, at the last minute we decided to go. It was well worth it, a most beautiful area to visit, though disappointed that there are no snow except on the mountain tops. We attended a wedding in Manor House hotel. One of the features of these old houses are the ancient trees on the land, and I had to opportunity to take a walk and photograph some of them. Among the native trees there were the large and ancient Oaks, tall and beautiful Beeches, and many other trees. So very impressive and beautiful. And among the trees brightly Wild Garlic is growing, also coming up were Daffodils. On one of the trees I found a large fungus. I was able to identify those trees by the leaves found underneath, or in the case of the Beeches, the nut cases that were still plentiful on the tree branches.
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Though I was looking forward to taking photos of snow, we only saw snow on the tops of the mountains, it was still very beautiful.
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A large branch of the ancient Oak tree hangs low and heavy and supports all the thinner branches that reach the ground.

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Ivy climbs up some of the trunks and branches, as do lichens, and mosses.

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Wild Garlic (I smelled it)  and young Daffodils among the leaf litter underneath the trees.

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I thought that these tree trunks looked affectionate together.

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Oak leaf

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One of the magnificent Oaks.  Thank you owners of these large estates many years ago for planting these wonderful trees so that we can enjoy them now.  Food for thought and encouragement for us to plant trees also for the enjoyment of generations to come.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

My partner and I always have a sit down leisurely breakfast, it’s that time of the day when both of us are in a philosophical mood, and have long conversations. The conversation this New Year’s Day morning centred on kindness, and the fact that when all is said and done most humans have actually have got kind hearts.  This came about because of two situations in the last two days.

The first was a program we watched on TV about an organisation to help special needs people, called ‘Enable Ireland’, where expert teams endeavour to work with individuals and their families, from childhood to adulthood, planning for each life stage.  They have centers in 40 locations in Ireland.  Anyway, this TV program showed the story of one of these centers which needed a facelift very badly, and it went on to show how people from all over Ireland came to voluntary help make this place real special giving of their time and resources, many business people donated the materials and even the appliances.  It was so very impressive and heartwarming to see the reaction of the recipients of all this work, these special needs people, all young and all trying to do the best with the hand they had been dealt with were so very happy and appreciative with the work done.  It was beautiful to see, and the volunteers themselves felt so nourished by the whole experience, some of the big sturdy, and hard working men were in tears, so touched by the happiness they caused in those young people.  It was very heartwarming to watch this, you see so many of these same or similar situations where people will help people, and very importantly it leads to thinking that humankind, even with all its flaws have got kind hearts, and that the world despite all the horror stories we hear, of war and crime, still is not such a bad place to be.

The second situation took place the night before last.  I had to go to the emergency department of hospital in the big city, this was because of a slight accident which befell me and which the local doctors could do nothing about.  So my partner drove me all the way to the nearest city which is about 80 km away, and this at night.  When we arrived there was a very long queue, this is normal in Ireland.  We were sitting on a chair for several hours (5.5hrs) before I was put on a trolley in a cubicle.  It was another few hours before I got treatment, but meanwhile I had been monitored by nurses and seen a doctor.  What has struck me once again about this whole episode, is how friendly and caring people are around here, the nurses could not have been kinder, the doctors were also very friendly and focused.  But even the people in the waiting room smiled at you and most people talked to each other, though total strangers.  I’m all right since, but I have carried away another assurance that basically human beings are kind, and kindness is such a blessing.

And so I want to start this new year with this thought in my mind, that not only am I planning to take more notice of other people’s kindness, I am also going to try and put it on top of my own planning in awareness and action.

And with this in mind I would like to wish each and every one of you, my new friends and followers, a new year full of blessings and goodness, and kindness.  I look forward to reading many stories in your enjoyable and beautiful blogs.

HAPPY NEWYEAR!

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NEW HOUSEPLANTS

Two new exotic plants have been added to my houseplant collection this Christmas, they were gifts. One that I know very well, it is the beautiful red flowering Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) which my daughter and her family gave me, and the other is a beautiful white flowering Madagascar Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda). I am totally happy with both plants. The Poinsettia plants have given me lots of pleasure over the years. People are wont to give you this plant over the Christmas, it is very popular here in Ireland. Over the years, one of my Poinsettia plants, a very small one when bought, lasted for a long time. It was a most beautiful plant, more so than previous ones that I had had. I decided to give it extra attention and it just grew and grew, beautifully symmetrically. Some months later it actually produced the typical red leaves/flowers. It almost felt like a miracle to me. This plant is still with me today, it has produced many more leaves, the symmetry is gone, it has panned out into a wilder model of itself.
I’m very interested in seeing how the Madagascar Jasmine will do, I’ve read up on what it’s needs are, but I never had one. It’s great to have an experiment. In a house where the heating is off during the night, though, it may not last. I’m really curious. Between new plants, and being curious of what the new year is going to bring, I am all excited and motivated, and full of plans for when the weather improves.

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A MAGIC DAY

Between, the baking, the decorating of the speculaas (a Flemish/Dutch Sint.Niklaas spicy biscuit), making the Christmas stars, the story reading, and watching a video about puppies, the girls had a great time, we also sang some songs together and before we knew it the day was over and it was time for the girls to go home.  I’m just sitting down after cleaning up the kitchen 🙂 and now for a relaxing evening.  The stars are still drying and were not ready for taking home.  I also managed in-between to make my wreath for the front door, something that I should have done days ago.  A happy day had by all.

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CHRISTMAS MAGIC

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Today was the Christmas play of my four year old grandson.  It’s a yearly wonderful event.  Organised by the two lovely women who run the playschool.   My grandson is special needs and he did very well indeed.  He was one of the shepherds in the nativity play.  After the play and after some carol singing, all the little children walk around the room with a lighted candle in an orange.  It’s such a lovely sight to behold, it warms the very inside of your heart. ( I took the photo out of focus on purpose because we do not put a child’s photo on the internet.)

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