Sunday, February 5, 2012

Retirement compensations

A couple of days ago we received a phone call from our elderly neighbour, would we like to come to a party at the local school Sunday afternoon? We were delighted as it would be an opportunity to meet other neighbours, here in Ireland a neighbour can mean someone living some twenty miles away, so most of the people who were there were unknown to us.
It turns out that once a year a luncheon is arranged for the older people in the Parish, we had no idea what to expect, certainly not a full Sunday roast followed by trifle or apple pie, mince pies, wine, Baileys, beer tea or coffee. Every thing was beautifully cooked and presented. Also in attendance were three priests, the old retired priest from the parish, his replacement , who appears to be the life and soul of a party, and the priest from the local town.
After we had finished the meal we were then entertained by a Ceili band, lots of people joined in the dancing and singing, we were then joined by a young lad, just sixteen. He danced several traditional dances, he is also a fantastic accordion player , and has won many competitions for his dancing, possibly helped by his mother being a teacher of Irish dance.
We found out that every Tuesday there is a Ceili in a nearby village pub, something for us to check out soon.
We also found something of the history of our parish. The original school was built in 1875 when there were 252 children on the register, although not all attended regularly, now there are just eighteen children who are registered, just two above the crucial number. It is a lovely school, bright clean and modern but with a declining population, it's days would seem numbered.
We also found that at the back of the school there is a Pagan Burial site, which of course has been Christianised with an altar and a mass held there once a year. There is also a standing stone close by, two more things for us to visit.
All in all it was a very nice afternoon out and interesting.
Things are progressing on the gardening front, with leeks, tomatoes and peppers now in seed trays, the tomatoes and peppers are in the propagator. I have had to remove strawberries from the plants as to leave them on would only weaken the plants and there is little hope of them ripening until later in the year, we are also now prepared to plant early potatoes in the tunnel, this is going to be an experiment on our part, the potato bed has been dug out to a depth of nine inches, then a four inch layer of donkey manure was added then back filled with the soil that we had taken out, this is a variation of a hot bed, the theory being that the manure will heat up and give the potatoes a head start. Of course, when the potatoes are lifted we will have a beautiful rich bed to transplant tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers into. I am also working on a plan for a manure compost heap to be made in the tunnel on a spare bed around November time, if this heats up well it should give of heat for the next four months and keep the tunnel more or less frost free. It will be interesting to see how this all works out.

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