NATURE AT MIDWINTER

I went for a little walk today, it was misty but very mild. At about three in the afternoon I stepped out wanting to enjoy the birdsong along the way. There is a little boreen (path) close by, which is flanked by rock and hedge on both sides. I find the nicest little plants there and today was no different even if it is mid-winter. The temperature is 11C which is quite normal for the time of the year here in sub-tropical West Cork (due to the gulf-stream bringing warmth to our region). There was a slight smell of some coal burning chimney’s but only slight as the breeze carried the smell away. It was great to feel the fresh breeze on my face and give my legs some movement after all the sitting down at my study the last few months. I finished my course now and I found it immensely interesting. Thank you Yale University and Coursera. I learned all about the development of Gothic architecture in Cathedral building, and read some medieval literature and history. I feel so enriched by it all and enjoyed every minute of it. It is now back to my blog writing and to my garden! Wishing everyone of my friends and followers a relaxing day and a nice Christmas.

TEXTURE, COLOUR AND BEAUTY

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Yesterday found us in one of the most beautiful places in West Cork, a small fishing village along the coast.  It was a quiet and a sunny day, a day like you might get in September or October, when the sun is golden, bringing out the colours everywhere and in everything.  The air was crisp, and all along the hedgerows lashes of bright red fuchsia were still proudly in bloom, lifting the landscape and infusing in us a feeling of vibrancy and beauty.

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We stopped for a bite to eat, seafood chowder and smoked salmon on homemade brown bread, it was delicious.

We walked to the pier to watch the fishermen mend their nets, bright colours were everywhere, whether the nets were new or old, or whatever other materials are used by the fishermen, there is a wealth of texture and colour to be seen.

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Fisher boats moored along the pier

Everywhere I looked I saw art and beauty, was it me or was it the reality of things?

Fishermen working on their nets, nice to watch, dedicated work.

Ian having a great walk down memory lane, and nets everywhere!

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This is, or was the Post Office in this little village, the village of Unionhall.

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We were celebrating my 69th birthday and it was a wonderful way to do so.

Thank you Ian for helping to make this day so very special.

GLENVIEW GARDENS IN WEST CORK

Seeing it was the last week of the holidays, we took my grandchildren for a visit to yet another fabulous garden in West Cork.  This one is very child oriented and the children, of which the eldest is 11 and the youngest 3 enjoyed themselves for hours on end.  For ourselves it was interesting too with so many different plants, trees – some quite exotic, and different garden landscaping ideas.  The children enjoyed the hobbit house and promptly started to play ‘house’ wanting to move in and stay there forever…. they also enjoyed the huge circular lawn and seeing it was a real warm day they went lying on the grass and rolling and frolicking like there was no tomorrow.  At every turn among the foliage and shrubs the children found fairy houses and other novelties which they loved.   I myself noticed several butterflies among which was a peacock, only my second one this summer.  There were some exotic birds and for the children there were young goats and rabbits.  Plenty of benches, situated in ideal and peaceful settings made it so that anyone could enjoy this garden and I was glad to notice that.  And even though it was now at summer’s end, there were still some lovely flowers in bloom, such as bright yellow Rudbeckia, dark red Dahlias, and other colourful blooms.  I also noted the variety of fir and pine trees, including some lovely Larches.  Some of the trees were marked with name labels.  What I personally like very much too were the statues, giving the garden an old time feeling.

It was our last outing before school started today and I am sure that it will be a lovely memory for all of us.  We absolutely love the gardens of West Cork, rain or shine!  This time it was actually very warm and dry – but in West Cork you never know what to expect weather-wise, so we were lucky and delighted.

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A DELIGHTFUL DISCOVERY

A bumblebee that was sitting on the bathroom window, not moving. I grabbed my camera to take some shots and then got out the honeypot and as soon as I touched the surrounding area of this beautiful insect it put out its proboscis and started to suck the honey with gusto, lovely to see this. It gave me another chance to take photos. I see this little bumblebee type in the garden a everyday, feeding or at least looking for nectar on the flowers of the large comfrey bush. They are very small in comparison to other bumblebees and move fast, never been able to take a photos until now. Just found out something else interesting, from observation, they do not go into the comfrey flowers, rather they bore a little hole in the tip of the flower petals and suck that way (I guess). I’d love to have a proper identification. I’ve looked at all sort of websites without any luck. Now I came across a blog post of a fellow blogger that looks very interesting, it is at https://standingoutinmyfield.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/cheat-guide-to-the-irish-bumblebees/
Could it be a young male B.Lapidarius I wonder?  And no it is not!  I have since learnt from a very reliable source, one of my fellow bloggers who is an ecologist, see her blog at https://murtaghsmeadow.wordpress.com/ that our little bumblebee is a bombus pratorum, or early bumblebee worker.  It is not a male because males do not collect pollen and in the photo we can see lots of pollen on its legs.  Only the queens and the workers collect pollen, the males do visit the flowers for nectar though (Murtagh’s Meadow).
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Just adding two more photos of other bumblebees from the garden.

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This one is also small but it has two bands of yellow and a white bum, so different from the previous bumblebee.

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And this is a large one orange top, a lovely one.  Must get better photos though.

I would also like to pass on recommended reading:  Dave Goulson’s book – A sting in the tale –

GREEN-VEINED WHITE – Pieris napi

Today while gardening a lovely butterfly came to check out some dark pink Oxalis flowers, it was a warm and sunny day here in West Cork, and because the two previous days we experienced soft Irish rain the garden was fresh and beautiful. The colours and the green shades were easy on the eye. And since we have quite a few wild flowers in bloom, we are visited by a good variety of visitors from the insect world. But today it was the butterflies that took away first price.  Yes, since I started reading the book “The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals” by Patrick Barkham, my interest in butterflies has intensified. Patrick Barkham first went butterfly spotting as a child with his father in Norfolk. His book documents his search for different butterflies found in the British islands. It is a slow read but quite interesting, I am hooked.
I think that the butterfly in my photos is a Green-veined White (Pieris Napi).

Biodiversity Ireland is holding a Butterfly Bash this week and we are sending records of all the butterflies we see into https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/start-recording

Lovely to have seen this striking butterfly today and I will be on the look out for more. I hope you enjoy them too.

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“WE ARE ALL BUTTERFLIES. EARTH IS OUR CHRYSALIS.” LeeAnn Taylor

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/

 

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