Sunday, August 30, 2015

A trip to the Organic Centre.

We had planned to head for the coast with our friends last Sunday but the weather had different ideas, we had had several good days  without rain so we couldn't really complain. As eventually our friends are hoping to have a smallholding and have a go at this self-sufficiency lark we decided to take a trip up to Rossinver in Co. Leitrim to show them
the 'Organic Centre'. We hadn't been there for four years and then things did not look so good,
this time however it was wonderful, including the lunch that we had there.
It was a good choice for a day out as the weather did turn wet but the centre has eight very large tunnels,
seven of them overflowing with produce, it proves how abundant a good Organic system can be.
The cabbages were so big you couldn't walk down the pathways.
There's a pond in this tunnel frogs reside there and keep the slugs a bay.
the eighth one is a lovely garden tunnel inhabited by bees and frogs. A lovely place to just sit and enjoy the flowers without getting wet.
Lovely looking toms if you like big ones.
 They grow many varieties of tomatoes,
The trusses of tomatoes were huge.
unfortunately very few had labels on them,
Yes, I sampled a couple , they were very sweet.
in fact there were very few labels on anything apart from cabbages and carrots which is a shame as labelling the plants would help people to make a decision on what varieties they would like to grow themselves.
The outside demonstration garden did have the varieties named, the flower gardens didn't.
I want this plant.
I totally fell in love with a superb Crocosmia, and I want one, but no name! Possible 'Spitfire' which is as near as I can find to it, maybe someone will know which one it is.
It is so nice to see how the centre has developed over the years, I taught poultry keeping there in the early days when teaching was done in a wooden shed and the toilet was a composting loo. Now the centre has an eco building complete with a living roof and it looks great.

No trip to Rossinver is complete without a small detour to the nearby waterfalls,
after all the rain they were at their best, although springtime is probably the best time to see them with all the wild flowers that grow along the banks and pathways. The visit was a great way to spend a rainy day.
 We returned home to a 100% home produced Sunday roast, our own chicken, carrots, French beans, new potatoes and of course homemade stuffing with all the herbs from the garden. Who needs supermarkets?
Freddy likes posing.
Finely a couple of photos of Freddy,  brother to Misty, Freddy is now a house cat, he has been grounded after we found him laying sunbathing in our lane,
he doesn't know about cars or neighbours who don't care what they kill in our lane, we have already lost one cat in this no through road, and a couple of pheasants have also met their deaths,  this  in a single track lane that goes nowhere which is why we chose the cottage in the first place. So he is grounded, but doesn't seem to mind too much.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Taking advantage, day two and three.

Day two of our friends stay we all awoke to another warm and dry day, after a rather middling summer you have to take full advantage of warm dry days, especially if you wish to picnic. We decided on a trip to Florence Court in Co. Fermanagh. We have visited this National Trust attraction many times but we never get bored with it, for our friends it was a first visit.
The only bit of the house we got to see, maybe next time.
We have however never had the 'House' tour, and this visit was no exception. Unfortunately the house tour that we had hope to do for was fully booked and the next one would have made it rather too late for the trip home, there is always the evening feeding and bedding down the poultry, making sure they are safe from predators.  However, for us the main attraction is the beautiful woodland walks,
you never know what you will find growing,
in this case it was Broad leaved Helleborines,
and the newly restored walled gardens.
We were last there ten months ago and things have certainly progressed,
it is taking on an established look.
The rose gardens are still in bloom
and the herbaceous beds were a riot of colour,
I thought bees didn't go for Dahlias.
the bees certainly appreciated them.
I want to know what this plant is, it's lovely.
On our way to Florence Court we stopped off by
the river at Swanlinbar to eat our picnic,
it was a lovely spot but was devoid of any midges, wasps or other flying insects which is a little worrying.
The little river was in full spate, and the water brown from the iron ore which is in the nearby mountains, possibly the Sliabh an Iarainn  mountains ,which translated means the iron mountain.
Once again the day stayed fine for us, it really doesn't rain all the time in Ireland, although to listen to some people you would think it did.
The next day was our weekly visit to the farmers market and the day we  deliver our eggs to various people, as we were also going out for a meal that evening we had to stay close to home and
The perimeter wall at Clogher Fort.
Clogher Ring fort is less than half an hour from home and always worth a visit no matter if you have been there before.
Lauren, being small and slim even managed to explore the souterrains,
Jason got part way in, both of them were very impressed.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Taking advantage.

O'Brien's tower.
The last few days we have had friends staying and they brought the sun with them. We were a bit worried that we would not be able to find enough interesting places to take them after their ten months away, back packing in South America, after all how can any country compete with the Inca heritage? How ever we have all enjoyed the visit even if we have managed to clock up 1000k in just five days, more than we do in six months.
It's a long way down.
We at last had a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, a place that we had longed to go. We were not disappointed,
Part of the Burren.
the drive is spectacular, and takes in part of the Burren, another place that we have yet to really visit, but that's for another day, it is renowned for it's flora and covers 250sq.k. (100 sq.miles)
 The cliffs are 7000feet above sea level, and on a clear day you can see the Arran Islands,
Ruined fort 'Mothar' demolished during the Napoleonic wars.
unfortunately it wasn't a really clear day so we didn't see them, neither did we see the Puffins which nest there, maybe next time.
High-rise accommodation for birds.
It was windy but warm enough to enjoy our picnic.

The visitors centre is a very large eco building complete with a living roof, in fact more correctly the building had been built into the side of the hill and the hillside is the roof. It is run on geo-energy. Over 50% of all the rubbish which the visitors create is recycled and the lighting is all motion sensitive so power is not wasted.
A lot of thought has gone into this wonderful tourist spot and it was well worth the visit.
On the Wild Atlantic Way.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Looking for an Orchid.

For as long as either of us can remember we have always had an interest in our local flora and fauna, flora in particular.
A chimney in the middle of nowhere, there must be a story here.
A trip out will normally end up being a plant spot trip, this has been the case wherever we have lived. We don't normally go out intentionally to find a specific plant but our last two trips were the exception. We were in search of Irish Lady's Tresses, this orchid is considered to be the rarest in Europe, only occurring in Ireland and Scotland,athough I would have thought that the Western Marsh Orchid would have taken the title as it only occurs in Ireland although it is wide spread throughout the Island.

We already knew the area where we would find the Irish Lady's Tresses on the shores of a particular lough not that far from where we used to live, but our first days search proved fruitless,
but it was a lovely trip out with beautiful views.
Natures landscaping.
We had taken a picnic with us and the weather was good, we walked along the shore of Lough Allen
taking in the sluice gates where the lough discharges into the river Shannon and not for the first time wondered why all the power that is lost from these gates is not being harnessed for electricity.
The force as it goes through the gates is tremendous and you can't hear each other speaking. What a waste of potential power.
Two days later we resumed our hunt, we now knew where we would see these elusive orchids, we also knew that it entailed a two mile round trip walk. Due to a very long standing back injury long walks are something which I find very hard to manage nowadays, it's wonderful  how sheer     determination or maybe it is bloody mindedness can push you on. It was a lovely walk and we found the plant.
Irish Lady's Tresses.
Just five plants although there are reportedly more in the area, one of the plants had unfortunately been trampled by a cow.
The perfume from these beautiful orchids is lovely, honey scented with a hint of cloves. There is another plant that grows in this area but we failed to find it, the blue flowered grass, again it is rare, it should be in bloom now so maybe on our next trip out we will find it.
We also found Blue Sow thistle,
Creeping Jenny,
yellow Pimpernel
and of course Himalayan Balsam,
it's such a shame it's so invasive, bees love it and it is such a pretty flower.
Birds foot Trefoil.
Another six pounds of currants.
The last of the redcurrants have now been picked and made in to redcurrant jelly. All the veg are doing well, we are especially pleased with both the peas and French beans, both new varieties for us. 
Hurst Green Shaft peas.
The peas are Hurst Green Shaft, the pods are all around five inches and are full of  perfect sweet peas, the French beans are Cobra, we will definitely  be sticking to these in the future. It's great to have a good selection to eat each day,
Sundays harvest.
this basket full will go nicely
with the Sunday roast a lovely joint of beef from the organic butcher, properly hung for a minimum of three weeks, this animal was hung for twenty five days, as was the beast that provided the T bone steak, only one steak, for me, Simon does not like steak, strange man, still he was a vegetarian for twenty odd years.
We have several areas of garden here, the cottage sits in  two acres, mostly at the front. When we arrived here there was no garden and all around the cottage was covered with large stones, it's taken a while to get the gardens as we basically want them, this included a garden to the side of the house,
A bright garden to wake up to.
this is the garden just outside the utility room, full of colour we can also see it from our bedroom, a lovely  sight to wake up to. There are some plants which are going to have to be moved in all our gardens, some are too big, and some are just in the wrong place, a redesign is called for, hopefully we will get it done during the autumn and winter. The veg garden however is how we want it, just a matter of keeping the weeds at bay.
I love this colour of the Angel fishing rod.