HERON GALLERY AND GARDENS

Despite the rainy weather, my daughter Tjorven and my five grandchildren got into our wellingtons and raincoats and decided to head to the Sheep’s Head Peninsula where we visited a place very beautiful!  Gardens and a gallery showing the beautiful art of Annabel Langrish.  What an amazing place we found this to be, both nature wise and because of the cosy café were we found ourselves surrounded by very tasteful design and beautiful art.  Great coffee and scones too!  But first we took a walk in the gardens.  In between the rain showers, which are quite usual for this area in West Cork, it feels more like a mist, no wonder people often call it Irish mist rather than rain.  It does make the landscape more mysterious and compelling I think.

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The gardens were laden with summer flowers, and as the paths wound their way up the hill wild plants like heathers, blackberries, and bracken took over.

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We saw interesting sculptures which the children also loved, all blended into the landscape and garden with ‘nature’ as motive.  In fact I found that everything from the paintings to the crafts blended in with the nature surrounding the place, very nice.  We all loved the barefoot path, it generously added to the  meditative quality of the walk and soon all our feet were touching the cool stones.  My three year old granddaughter remarked on the soothing feeling on her little feet.

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Flowers were explored as were spider webs, and some of the statutes had to be touched and sat on.  Blackberries were eaten along the way.

These three photos were taken by my eight year old grandson, we are very proud of him.  I think that he has an eye for composition and colour.

The wealth of lush growth is found everywhere now that the rains have started.

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“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”
― Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations

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.

 

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” ― Garth Nix, Sabriel

Well today we choose the path, at least we thought that we did, together with my daughter and four of my grandchildren, all of us girls we choose to take a walk in Dromillihy Forest, a walk that led us to the freshly opened bluebells which carpeted the forest landscape in between the deciduous trees. A wonderful view to behold! The girls were climbing the lower branches of the larger trees and excitedly looked for the fairy houses hiding between the ferns and mosses. The children love the forest, love the leaves in autumn and everything else in between. I’m also a tree lover, even hug them, we all do – it feels good. Here the trees are often covered in ivy and moss, also in beautiful lichens. We were touching the moss today and it was as soft as feathers, or silks with a lovely springy feeling like marshmallows. My youngest grandchild, she is only two, choose me as the darling of the day and held my hand right through the walk, we ran down the hilly paths she laughing out loud, a real nature child she is. All the children love nature. We discovered Wood anemones, violets, and other little spring flowers. The scent of the bluebells though was fine and delicate and spread itself all around.
It is the highlight of being back in Ireland, activities with my grandchildren, and chats with my daughter.

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DELIGHTS OF ART AND YOUNG MINDS

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; http://www.saatchiart.com/vauneystrahan
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

THE GIFTS OF MOTHER EARTH

Just when I thought that it could not get any better, and this while I was taking delight in the garden the day after we arrived home again in Ireland, mother nature has given me another two beautiful surprises, first I discovered that there were several patches of forget-me-nots flowering, their blue a delight to the eye, then I discovered that there are several lilies of the valley flowers almost opening, how truly magical! I had not known what to expect of the garden on our return, no sooner were we home than I went to inspect, and that’s when I found lots of surprises, vegetables wild and not so wild, and waiting for me to make soup of them, kale and leeks and other goodies, they were not ready when we left in March, but now they are just waiting to be made into delicious dishes. Herbs too are doing well and looking very lush, the lemon balm has never looked so good, rosemary, lavender, comfrey and others are all ready to be used. Then I saw that the cold frames looked a bit bulky, and checked it out, to my amazement there was one plant of lettuce which had grown to become a monstrosity, the leaves so huge that one leaf would do a whole meal 🙂 Not sure what happened there!  Some grass had also grown large inside. Lots of work to be done that is for sure, but I already have helpers lined up, my grandchildren, one of them had a birthday today, she is now four, and she wants a wheelbarrow, she wants to do gardening, and no fear of that, because she is small she can fit into the cold frames easily so she can do the weeding in there if she likes, looking forward to that. Anyway we are back in West Cork, and we are now already fully occupied with our work here in garden and house. Plans have been made for later in the year when we will be returning to the island of Gozo where we spent a wonderful two months, a time that will stay with us for very long.

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On the last lot of photos, some onions which I had left in the kitchen sprouted, and are now ready to plant out.  Also I had some oca tubers in a pot and I found the shoots creeping through a hole in the lid and the whole pot filled with sprouts, how funny!

EASTER ART AND FUN WITH MY GRANDDAUGHTERS

Today my two oldest grandchildren came over to have some quality time with gran. We had a lovely time painting and colouring duck eggs for Easter. The girls were in great form and soon the place was full of brightly coloured arty decorations. Branches were picked out of the garden and decorated with eggs. But the girls then got side tracked and started sewing which turned out go be great fun, they surprised me with their handy work, sewing on buttons and ribbons, we then decided to go visit the local sewing shop and after much deliberation they both bought some really fancy buttons. After shopping we passed the playground and I thought it a good idea to let the get rid of some of their energy. The rest of the day was filled with more art, some seed sowing, and a yummy dinner. Tonight I am wrecked, had a lovely day, and happy to hand the children back to their parents, ready for bed.  These times though, are very precious.
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PLANTING PRIMROSES AND A DOLLS PICNIC

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.
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FAMILY 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.

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“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.

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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