Monday, June 29, 2015

Our Hungry Planet.

For a while now there has been some media coverage about food waste, but mostly the media has been more interested in trying to create an illusion that the world will be unable to feed the expected rise in world population by 2050. When I had the chance to do an online free course run by Reading University entitled 'Our Hungry Planet' I jumped at the chance, I had hoped that during the six week course I would have learned something that I was not already aware of.  The course was interesting and it was a good chance to interact with other students as well as the course lecturers, students were expected to keep a food diary and monitor their food waste, although many were like ourselves,  zero waste households, very few were actually producing any of what they ate. Most were highly dependant on Supermarkets, and that included people who live in so called underdeveloped countries, but nowhere was the blame for major food waste put fairly and squarely where it belongs and that is on the Supermarkets. From the way they treat their suppliers, expecting them to take the hit financially for foods unsold or because the supermarket had cancelled all or part of its order, to the amount of food that they dump daily, food that is still fit for consumption but nearing its sell by date, or in the case of M&S sandwiches, they will not allow their supplier to use the first two and last two slices of bread to be used in the making of these sandwiches, so the four rejected slices are dumped. This amounts to 13,000 slices of bread per day.This is a scandal.
A very good read.
A book that is well worth reading is by Tristram Stuart, simply called 'Waste', it brings the whole issue of feeding  the world into context. There is enough food currently being produced to feed the anticipated increase in world population, but the world has to stop wasting food the way it is currently.
Distance travelled, 50feet.
  Do we need to import Spinach, Mange tout peas,  Broccoli and Cauliflower in the middle of summer from Zimbabwe and Kenya? We are over run with all these crops at the moment, why are the stores not selling Irish or at least UK produce instead of importing these easily grown crops over five thousand air miles? The Mange tout peas were priced at 1.29 euros for a 200g plastic coated packet as was the Broccoli, not what I would call cheap for things that grow like weeds.
Once again at the weekend we headed for the Sligo coast, it was very windy where we live and we had expected to see big waves and a big sea, but it was calm.
We found a little cove that we had never discovered before, very pretty and sheltered, just a few old cottages which have been restored and one larger house which would need at lot of work if not rebuilding.
Maybe a tad to close to the edge now?
We were particularly intrigued by the ruin, not the usual two or three roomed cottage as was the norm, this had been quite a substantial house , with four rooms downstairs, four bedrooms and three chimneys standing on good land,
I could live with that view.
          with views to die for.
 This must have once been the home of a prosperous  family, maybe it is a little too close to the cliff edge though.
This little cove was full of surprises, a fresh water stream flowed into the sea, and three caves,
one of which had a pillar in the middle with what looks like a face,
A natural caryatid.
it appeared to be entirely natural.
We also found fossilized coral in the carboniferous lime stone rock,
these fossils date back some 350 million years,
we had not realised that this coast line is renowned for it's fossils.
Yet more fossil coral.
Again it was a lovely trip out and the little lanes that take you down to the numerous little bays are full of wild roses, honeysuckle, rosa rugosa, fuchsia bushes and oxeye daisies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Past Heritage.

At one time Lime Kilns would have been a common sight around Ireland, now it is rare to find them, however we have found one fairly close to us, just across the boarder in Co. Mayo.
Like so many things that we find that were part of everyday life in years gone by we can find no details or date of this kiln, although some effort has been made into clearing and maintaining this one. Lime kilns in Ireland seem to date back to the 18th century when many farms would have had them both to provide fertilizer for their lands and also to whitewash the cottages. Lime was, and still is used as a mortar, it would have replaced daub, a mixture of clay and straw or animal dung, it was also a useful sterilizing agent. We are both old enough to remember outside privies being lime washed as a means of keeping them clean.
This is the second lime kiln that we have found, it is larger than the one that we had found previously,  possible it was a community one, used by people who lived in the village. It would be so nice if a few details were available at the site.
The garden is now full of colour,
Gertrude Jekyll in all her glory, perfectly formed with an amazing perfume.
the roses are, at last in bloom, although one of them is a bit of a mystery.
This particular rose came from Galicia where it grew in all the hedge rows, I took a cutting from it and it has bloomed for the last three years, running true to type and colour, this year however, it had changed colour, from a beautiful cerise to a lovely peach colour. I have never come across this before, I didn't know that a rose could change colour. It's still highly perfumed, just not the right colour, most strange!
Aquilegia nestles under the Rosa Rugosa, the Geums seem to wind their way through the taller plants bring a splash of bright colour,
Valerian makes a startling contrast to the Nepeta and Berberis.  
The Campion highlights the more subtle colours of Aquilegia,
Foxgloves tower above the bed.
Lupines contrast against the Bronze Fennel and more Nepeta, with the ferny leaves of Sweet Cecily,
And the Papaver poppies say 'Look at Me' not that you can miss them,
The sky blue hardy geraniums stand out against the Sweet Woodruff,
The Sweet Rocket adds a lovely perfume and the bees love it.
All these flowers give me plenty for a vase full to brighten up the cottage.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Who would want to live here?

Having been brought up on the coast I am always drawn to it for a day out but I have never really hankered to live coastal again, there are however two places that  I could easily live, both in the beautiful county of Sligo. One is Lissadel, but it is close to Sligo town with quite a lot of new buildings and a lot of holiday homes.
 The next headland is Mullaghmore a few miles on towards Donegal. Again it has a lot of holiday homes, but to me it still retains the feeling of a small coastal village, plus it has one of the best restaurants in the West of Ireland.
Fresh from the sea.
Ethna's, renowned for seafood, all locally caught, she also serves some chicken dishes, the chicken is Organic as are the salads, produced by Tattie Hoaker Organic farm just five k away from the restaurant.
The food is simple delicious, and to us not expensive for Ireland, in fact the prices are on a par to a good class restaurant in Spain. However the wine is expensive. However it was a birthday celebration for Simon who has now reached the official retirement age.
Yes, I would want to live here, even if it does only have a shop that is only open during the tourist season.
The harbour is lovely, and quaint.
The fishermen still go out to catch a few fish
and the small fishing boats go out for the daily catch.

It is a sheltered harbour, surrounded by mountains and the views are outstanding.
At one time it was a thriving farming community, farmed in a sustainable way, the only things these people had to buy were tea, sugar and tobacco. Now most of the land is unused apart from a few sheep and a few cattle, yet it is good land, and a mild climate.
Wild Thyme.
A variety of wild plants grow here including sea thrift and wild thyme.
Classiebawn Castle shadowed by Benbulben.
It also has a castle, Classiebawn Castle, built by Lord Palmerston in the 19th century, it is now owned by an Irish person, the first time  the estate has been owned by an Irish person since the lands were seized from the O'Conor's of Sligo in the 17th century.
It is also known for the assassination in 1979 of Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Directly behind Mullaghmore are the Dartry Mountains,
with Ben Bulben being the most famous and possible the most photographed mountain in Ireland.
It's a stunning area.
The garden is looking good and at last the first roses are now in bloom, the outside strawberries will be ready soon as well as the gooseberries.
Cauliflowers are now beginning to form their curds, we have already harvested the first one, I just hope they don't come all together. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

A host of Aquilegia.

It has been a very slow start to summer, but at last the garden is once again full of colour, although so far there are only two roses in bloom, I have never known them so late.

There's even a couple of double petal ones.   

Astrantia is just coming into bloom.

The snowball bush has bloomed for the first time.

Alliums stand tall. 

After being set back so many times by frost, at last the Arum lily has flowered.

Clematis, at last.

Can someone name this for me please?