Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Aughris Head, Sligo.

Two of the Bens.
Sunday was a beautiful summers day, (unheard of in Ireland)and the fact that it's still May is unbelievable, we have had temperatures of 26c, anyone would think we were on the Iberian peninsula. We headed out across the Ox mountains, with no real destination in mind, but as usual, we ended up on the Sligo coast.
We watched as a small fishing boat went about it's business, seagulls following it, maybe they were waiting for a catch.
We drove round the coast road and ended up at Aughris Head where there is a lovely olde worldy thatched pub.
Last time we were there the kitchens were closed for renovations but they have been completed and you can now get a great meal or snack there.
A good helping of mussels  and a glass of Sligo craft beer.
 I opted for a big bowl of mussels, with garlic bread, they also had a Sligo craft beer on tap. It's great that so many places have jumped on the band wagon of craft beers, we've not had one yet that we haven't liked.
The humble Hawthorn, so beautiful when you look closely.
Water Avens.
The season is completely out of kilter,
I've never seen it so early.
we have seen wild honeysuckle,
dog roses,
and yellow flag irises all in flower, at least one month early, in the case of fuchsia two months early. We have also spotted blackberries in bloom.
All of our roses are now in full bloom
and several of our clematis are also flowering,
and also our blue Solanum , it looks lovely against a golden briar.
We have had the first of our courgettes and the mange tout peas, Sweet peas have already got flower buds on them, they are at least two months early. Tomatoes are also flowering, it looks set to be a good year.
Cattle enjoying a sea view. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Five Star Treatment.

Laburnum in full bloom.
Last Monday I had to go into hospital for a sleep study, no one likes hospitals they normally seems so alien from normal life, however, Merlin Park hospital in Galway is an exception. Proper disabled ramps and staff that rush to give assistance, whatever procedure you are about to have is explained in detail. Maximum of three patients to a room and of course on-suite facilities, plus TV in every room. Nothing was too much bother for the staff. Although this hospital is quite old, everything is spotless.
However, what had not been explained to me was that I might end up staying more than one night, so it came as a bit of a shock at 8am to be awoken by a very nice Dr. saying he had to take an arterial blood test as the readings that they had from the sleep study showed I had very low oxygen levels. Anyone who has ever had one of these blood test taken is not likely to forget it, it's a very painful procedure. The results meant I had a prolonged stay, until home oxygen had been installed, it also meant I ended up having five of these painful blood tests which leave your wrist black and blue for some considerable time. Still, after four days in hospital and everything ready for me at home I was allowed to go home.
Our  red hawthorn, looking beautiful

Just four days away and it was unbelievable how many things had come into bloom in the garden,

it is a riot of colour,
once again the Amaryllis is flowering, that's the third time this year, and there are lots of good things to eat from the garden.
The peaches are filling out nicely,
there are plenty of new potatoes,
and it wont be long before the first courgettes are ready,
the second cauliflowers are far better than the earlier ones,
Mangetout  peas

we have at last had a little rain. The  tomatoes are showing flowers
and we are eating broad beans picked as mangetout, no waste at all that way.
Euphorbia, at Strokestown House.
The day before my hospital visit we went to Strokestown House plant sale,
there were far fewer stall holders there this year,
Rhododendron, it looks lovely against the copper beech.
no doubt put off by the seventy euro charge to have a stall, visitors also have to pay five euros to attend the sale but this cost includes a fee for visiting the gardens, fine if you are not in a wheelchair, all the pathways are gravel and not wheelchair friendly, so I had to let Simon visit the gardens and take some photos for me,
it was looking nice, but our garden probally has more colour so I will settle for seeing our own garden and seeing new things appearing daily.
One of our few yellow roses.
Foxgloves looking majestic.
Pink Lupin.
Deep blue iris.
Not a day lily, I have lost the label.
Lovely shape to this rose.
Double Campion.
I now know that exciting visits are now no longer possible for me as I'm on 16hours oxygen a day, and having to use a wheel chair most of the time rather limits us, but trips to the coast and other beauty spots are possible with the mobile oxygen, we are hoping for a day out tomorrow but to where has yet to be decided.
Lots of Aquilegia.
Another Aquilegia.
And another.
One of my favourites.
Love this new blue Lupin.
Our first Delphinium in flower.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Firsts and lasts.

Bringing the countryside indoors.
Spring has quickly gone and it feels like summer. It's been very dry and far warmer than we expect for this time of year.
The spring flowers have quickly been replace by early summer ones,
the tulips are just about over
and are now replaced with
irises and aquilegia,
Gertrude Jekyll.
Zephryn Drune.
Rosa rugosa.
some of the roses are also flowering,
White Rosa rugosa.
earlier than most years.
We have our first flower on the Lilac that we planted four years ago
and a Montana clematis that we planted last year has rewarded us with flowers.
Strawberries are late this year  probally due to it being so dry but we have now had our first good picking.
We have had our first cauliflower, not as good as normal, but again I think it's because of the dryness,
we have also had the first of the new potatoes, lovely with loads of butter served with a good helping of asparagus, this is doing well this year, it doesn't seem to mind it being so dry.For some reason, our Victoria plum tree planted five years ago has curled up and died, it flowered well and fruit set, the leaves started to appear then dried up and fell. No sign of disease, it just died, so no bottled plums or Old Dower House chutney this year.
In between hospital appointments we have manages a few trips out and about, we had a lovely trip to Cong which is a very pretty small town, it also has a lot of good eating houses, probally because it's a favourite tourist spot, it was made famous by John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in the film 'The  Quiet Man'.
We had a lovely meal out, the good old British staple, of fish and chips
followed by a very nice Pavlova ,
 we were pleased to find that Cong has it's own Craft Beer brewery, which was lovely. Gone are the days when choice was limited to Guinness, Smethwick's (ugh) or cider, many small towns now have their own micro breweries.
The weekend found us on the coast again,
Fishing harbour, Mullaghmore.
one of our favourite places, Mullaghmore in Co. Sligo.
Again we ate out, being a small fishing village it had to be fish or rather sea food, lovely fresh crab claws,
followed by a good homemade cheese cake.
The one thing that we have now become aware of is wheelchair access, although most eating houses have ramps, pavements are a nightmare. The worst place is Galway hospital, you would think that such a place would have easy access, what ramps they  have are still an inch high, and the pavements are full of cracks making it a very hard job to negotiate.
Snowball tree, Viburnum opulus.
We have at last had a couple of days of rain, but nothing to penetrate the soil more than a half inch, but the garden has appreciated it, so have the weeds and slugs.
And more waves.
Banks of sea thrift.