Monday, December 29, 2014

Lovely morning with ice on the car

Awoke to a lovely morning sunrise and discovered ice crystals that looked like ferns on the car.









We still have roses in bloom at the front door too which is a first, usually they are well and truly blasted by gales by this time. John went home yesterday morning, he wasn't feeling great so its just the two of us again. I might ask the neighbor if he fancies coming over for New Years day dinner if he is alone too.

Its such a glorious day here I,m going to head out shortly and take some photos just waiting for my camera battery to charge up.

I got my bulbs planted yesterday along with two of the bigger plants I got for Christmas, some of the bulbs I planted earlier in the season sprouted so they will probably die off in the cold weather and not flower in springtime, either they weren't deep enough or the plants were fooled into believing spring had sprung really early.

I hope we get a spell of this dry weather as all the rain is depressing, I have another helper arriving on the fifth of January from Marthas Vineyard in the USA, he is a horticulturist whos family have a garden center over there.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas, what did you get up to.

The local shop owner Tike, gave me an unexpected present on Christmas Eve. I was in the shop stocking up with last minute bits and bobs and he told me he was really tired as he had been up all night with his wee bairns they had a tummy upset that kept them going to the loo. So I shook his hand and spent the next 12 hours on the loo myself. Looking on the possives it made more space for all the hundred weights of food we had in for the three of us.
I did really well in the way of presents, three bushes / , Rhus typhina or stags head, Acuba japonica "golden king" and  Mahonia japonica. One is early spring flowering one summer and one autumn/ winter. Also got a load of spring bulbs to go with the dozens I already put in the ground. They include crocuses tulips allium and bluebells. Also got a yachting book written by a friend of my parents who has a cottage on the island they live on and has clocked up 26,000 miles around the western isles in his wee 27 ft yacht. I,d be out planting the lot today but 1 it is raining 2 I can't move yet. Had to change my shirt mid afternoon as I had grown out of it.
After today the weather looks like it is improving so I shall spend today teasing John and the rest of the week working off the Christmas cheer. 
Nolaig Shona agus a bliana a bha ure.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gales, wind and more gales

Today is dreich driving rain in gale force W winds, good day to be indoors. Seas at the entrance to the bay are between 4.5 and 5.5 meters, the whole week looks windy. One tree down this morning thankfully it is just the wee Christmas tree on the front lawn, baubles scattered and the elaphunt lost an ear, the Santa hats on the other animals are fluttering horizontally and its a sort of dejected looking party of animals at the moment, the chance of a white Christmas is virtually nil however the mood indoors is better, nice fire blazing, cozy house with lots of festive cheer about. Had visitors last night and exchanged presents with them always nice to see kids faces when they open presents, the older you get the more satisfying it is to give, than receive, so Angie recons, so shes getting nowt :) hehehe.

I will have to go down and check Ron's boat is ok but am putting it off till the rain stops. John arrives tomorrow for a week or so and I have an American helper starting on the 5th of January so i,m hoping the weather is better, this guy is a qualified horticulturalist from Martha s vineyard  whose family have a garden center there, hope he is as good as Clement was around the place. I have plenty of bushes and plants that I'm hoping can be propagated from cuttings and transplants, it might be the wrong time of year but I shall pick his brains as to which ones should go where and I aim to make another big rockery and pond.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pine cones, holly and a bit of creativity

Used some pine cones and holly from the garden to make a couple of festive decorations today.

 
Angie got the basket as a hamper full of goodies from her work.

 
Sewing basket put to a different use.

 
I got a hamper with 12 bottles of wine from a customer as well so we have lots of wine in now.
 
John is coming up next Tuesday, hopefully for a couple of weeks, it will be good to see what he thinks of all the work that has been done since he was here last, Angie took a walk round with me this morning and she was impressed.
 
George and Gail were heading through the Dennison canal today towards Hobart, I think I would have sailed round the Lanterns and Tasman Ireland instead, taking in the scenery round one of the roughest parts of coast imaginable especially since the weather is being so good to them but hey I didn't spend the last week or two rolling around and Googling for the best bays to anchor in is a bit different to actually being there lol. Fortescue bay looked amazing right enough.
 

 
At 300 meters, the columnar dolerite cliffs at Cape Pillar and Tasman Island are among the highest in the world. Dolerite is a rare rock type on mainland Australia. With good weather and low swell it would have been possible to get close and an easy view from the ocean, Cathedral Rock, Totem Pole, Candlestick, and Tasmans Arch and the Tasman Lighthouse, it was one of the most isolated lighthouses in Australia. It was built in 1906, automated in 1976 and demanned in 1977. I have a thing about Lighthouses, I used to chat with some of the keepers in Scottish Lighthouses I would be sailing past in the puffer before they unmanned them all, on a bad night it was great to talk to someone ashore.
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bastard Trumpeter

No I dont have a crazed Pikie playing a bugle outside my bedroom window I was just chatting to George my bro in law who has arrived in WineGlass bay in Tasmania and mentioned a fish they have there which is prized table fodder called the Bastard Trumpeter. It came up in conversation as he was thinking of having a bit of a fish over the stern and I said he should target this species. Imagine in a restaurant, asking the waiter "Do you have Bastard Trumpeter"  and getting the reply "No we only have F$$%%ing Snapper" giggling here Gawd I,m easy amused ehh.

The Bastard Himself
The bay they are anchored in is one of the top ten beaches in the World, when I read this I wondered if the person making up the list had visited the beaches on the West side of Tiree and Harris before making up the short list, probably not but hey the bay there does look stunning with the mountains to the North and not a house in sight, rather jealous here. I have taken on a new job, Chief Weather and Location Analyst for the SV Southern Belle, looks like Google maps is the closest I will get to Tassy this year.


My Helper Clement heads off today, he was a great hand in the garden and welcome back anytime. I shall miss the company but think I will do without assistance now until March at the earliest. Talking about helpers George has a crewman with him and his wife, for this leg of the journey, he is Leona,s boyfriend Bruce, Leona visited here soon after we bought the place and named the garden pond "Lake Maquire" she would notice some difference with the place now.  Lake Maquire even has a croc.

We spent an hour or two yesterday morning raking all the sawdust, pine cones and branches etc off the area near my compost bins and I aim to get a big bag of wildflower seeds and spread them so that area can be like a wildflower meadow and only get cut once a year. I shall have to check what time of the year is best to spread the seed and imagine I shall have to go round with the fork to make holes for the seeds first. No doubt the birds will be following me too. Its 0830 here and still not daylight yet, roll on Springtime.

Monday, December 15, 2014

disaster with a hot chocolate

I was home alone last night, Angie was in Inverness and my helper was in Galway dressed up as Santa doing the rounds of every pub that sold Guiness I think, anyway I was sitting in the dark watching the x factor finals (music competition) and decided to have a hot chocolate, it was the last one and I was making it in the semi dark, I thought, thats weird, as I topped the mug up with milk usually the milk carton has a blue top not an orange one. I had put fresh orange juice on the last spoonful of hot chocolate lol.

Clement was going to leave on Thursday but said on the way back he might go a day earlier to buy Christmas presents, since the weather looks bad for Tuesday and Wednesday I said maybe he might go on Tuesday and have a couple of days before he goes back to France, It has been good having him help me but I dont have any indoor work left.

Check out this guys photos some of the Mongolia ones are great and the zoo ones really show how fed up the animals are http://www.morgansilk.co.uk/

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Storm force winds

This is today's weather here in Galway bay, my parents will be getting it worse still as the low pressure system is passing over them in Scotland, from reports online it looks like electricity is out for most of the Highlands and Islands which could explain why I can't get through on the phone.
Gale warning with dangerous seas. Small craft advisory. Use extreme caution. Very large long period swell. Seas: WNW 7.6 to 9.9 meters at 17 seconds. Winds: WNW 32 to 43 knots. 
Yep just checked and the weather off the west coast Scotland is Gale warning with dangerous seas. Small craft advisory. Use extreme caution. Very large long period swell. Seas: W 8.3 to 11 meters at 17 seconds. Winds: W 35 to 48 knots. 11 meter seas hmmm no thanks. The Irish Government is still blindly charging ahead with plans to plant hundreds of turbines in the midlands here in the hope that the UK will buy wind power from them when they will be getting it free from Scottish turbines? 

Over a hundred thousand people on the streets of Dublin protesting against water charges and government policy today, and that's on a weekday. Something is very broken. 

Clement and I managed to get a couple of hours chopping and stacking logs this morning before it started hailstoneing and we did some painting indoors for the rest of the day. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tasmanian adventure

I,m a bit jealous of my brother and sister in law as they are off on another adventure on their yacht, this time they are sailing round Tasmania for the next few months. They also have a blog at http://gailsshinealight.blogspot.ie/ and Gail takes the blogging under her wing on their travels. I will be looking forward to the photos as I have traveled by boat the NSW coast and the North of Tasmania including three, five week stints in Bass strait attending a dredger.

Bass strait is about 240 km wide at its narrowest and contains over 50 islands of which two are inhabited and the waters here are notoriously rough. Flinders island in the late 18th century, was frequented by sealers and Aboriginal women, the majority of whom had been kidnapped from their mainland tribes. Seal stocks soon collapsed, causing the last sealing permit to be issued in 1828. Many sealers' families chose to stay in the Furneaux Group, subsisting on cattle grazing and muttonbirding.
From 1830, the remnants of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population were exiled to Settlement Point (or Wybalenna, meaning Black Man's House) on Flinders Island. These 160 survivors were deemed to be safe from white settlers here, but conditions were poor, and the relocation scheme was short-lived. In 1847, after a campaign by the Aboriginal population against their Commandant, Henry Jeanneret, which involved a petition to Queen Victoria, the remaining 47 Aboriginals were again relocated, this time to Oyster Cove Station, an ex-convict settlement 56 kilometres south of Tasmania's capital, Hobart,where Truganini, the last full-blood Tasmanian Aborigine, died in 1876.
From the late 19th century freehold land was given out, but it was not until the 1950s that a proper settlement scheme was initiated, mainly drawing settlers from mainland Tasmania and central New South Wales to Flinders Island's eastern shore.

I will be keeping track of their progress thanks to a website called Skipr.net  all you do is look for the link to the yacht Southern Belle and its shows their position on google maps and any recent posts they make, at the moment they are in a marina waiting for a thunderstorm to pass before they head off. modern technology is great ehh imagine how Captain Cooks wife (Elizabeth BATTS) would have liked to know where her hubby was.
In 1798, Matthew Flinders and George Bass were the first Europeans to circumnavigated Tasmania. It has been done by canoe in 2009 by three women paddlers. 
The boat below is Southern Belle.

 Happy sailing George and Gail, hope you have fair weather and full sails.

Splitting maul

I got myself a splitting maul today from a stall at Maam Cross pony sales, and a jockey wheel for the trailer. What a difference there is chopping firewood with the maul instead of an axe, up to now I have been using an axe, for those of you unsure what the difference is




The top one is a maul. What a difference there is using the correct tool for the job, the maul doesn't get stuck in the logs like the axe does and it is heavier so there is less grunt required to shatter the wood, i wish I had invested in one this time last year.

My helper Clement is away into Galway tonight, ohh to be young again lol, I will probably watch some Danish detective movie and be in bed before ten, sober as a judge.

The front lawn has a Christmas tree with lights that do their thing for six hours then turn themselves off for 18 hrs, actually there are two trees outside bedecked with lights if you count a holly bush as a tree. It looks very festive as I have put Santa hats on some of my carvings too lol, I,m just a big kid at heart.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fishing and a friendly seal

My Helper Clement and I went fishing yesterday afternoon as we had knocked over the two jobs I had for the day earlier than expected. I borrowed my friend Ron's boat and we went out for an hour. Clement caught three small fish and the seal in Rossaveal was fed them in exchange for being a photo opportunity.




As you can see it was a glorious day for a scoot aboot on the boat although it was a bit on the cool side and the fishing wasn't exactly brilliant anyway it was a good excuse to give the boat a run as she hadn't been out for a couple of months. There is quite a bit of growth on her bottom so I shall maybe get her out of the water and cleaned at some point.

Clements friends in France had said to him before he left for Ireland to eat plenty before you go as the food there is awful so I have been dispelling that myth and he has me down as a very good cook, praise indeed from a Frenchman ehh.
Last night I made a fish pie, it has leaks, peas, onion, courgette and diced carrot sweated in butter while the fish ( Cod, Salmon, and Smoked Colley) gently poaches in milk, bay leaves and peppercorns. Remove the fish from milk, add a spoonful of flour to the vegies and then the three quarters of the milk which creates a white fish based sauce. Ohh remove the bay leaves as well.
 Add a pinch of medium curry powder and some prawns to the mixture and place in a pie dish with a lid of puff pastry, off course mine has a pastry fish or two for decoration as well :) brush the pastry with egg and it browns nicely.
I make a roux and with the remaining milk from cooking the fish create a thick white sauce.
Boiled mashed potatoes, green beans and steamed broccoli and a glass of white wine.

For the other meals this week we had Fettuccine Carbonarra ( bacon, mushrooms, garlic, onion in a cream sauce), Swedish meatballs in Vodka and cranberry (one of my favorites) with celeriac and caraway seed infused rice.   


Friday, November 21, 2014

Glorious winter day

Well today has been gorgeous, got my grass cut for the last time this year and various other tasks in the garden and it was a beautiful day calm and clear blue skies. There has been a patch of fog lieing in the glen across from us that you might see in one of the photos I have below, it has been there all day, at first light the river had a band of mist along it too as the water temp must have been higher than the air temp but that soon cleared.

 
In the picture below you can see the bamboo / cane now, it used to be behind a huge dogwood stand which we ripped out last week, the dark area on the ground is where it used to cover. I will let it grow back as the colours are nice in the Winter but will keep it small this time so the brambles don't grow through it.
 
 
Most of the leaves are down now and my pond needs to be emptied of them, good job for my next helper ehh.
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Helpless

Well my Spanish Helper got a job in London or I overworked him, anyway he left on Saturday and he was a nice lad so it was a good first experience with Helpx. My next helper is French and I will get him to come for a week or so. Today is rainy so I'm cleaning out wardrobes, each bedroom here has built ins and of course the first thing I did after moving in was fill them all up and not being a very neat sort of person filling them up wasn't organized.

My chimney got a sweep yesterday so we enjoyed really hot water last night and this morning, there is nothing worse than a luke warm shower, actually there is, being bitten by a large spider or poked in the eye with a blunt stick, would be worse, but anyway you get my jist. There was a hidden compartment inside the firebox that was really clogged up which was why it was leaking smoke into the room, now that I know about it I will be able to clean it out periodically. The flue for the stove is quite narrow too so it probably needs cleaning more than an open fire with a big chimney would, anyway its done. The guy gave me a price for cleaning the roof tiles too so if we have any cash next March I will think about getting them done as they have a lot of moss on them.

I,m saving up for a polytunnel, not very successfully right enough as the Subaru is in the garage with an oil leak, typical ehh it must not have heard I was saving for a tunnel. The one I am looking at is on ebay you can check it out by clicking on the link text. It will fit on top of the percolation area and I was thinking of erecting the skeleton of it and rebuilding my raised beds inside the frame then covering it after the worst of the winter has passed, will be a good job if I have a helper. I made a cold frame a few weeks ago with one of the old patio doors some wood and a couple of pulleys that were spare on the yacht, I am still left with 3 big patio doors that I would like to make into a small greenhouse so that is another plan. I chopped down a tree yesterday and have got some good long straight poles from it that might help. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More paint on my helpr than the wall

Spent the day painting walls after a weekend off. The rugby was great over the weekend, most of my teams got up, Scotland beat the Argies, Ireland beat SA and Australia put paid to Wales. England lost to the all blacks but it was also a good game, Chris had not seen rugby before and I think he is a convert, he also had not seen cows sheep or horses beside the road before apparently either.








In exchange for his meals and a bed he is asked to work from 0900 till 1200 then 1300 till 1500, 5 days a week after hours he can go do his own thing. Tomorrow looks like it will be dry so we will attack the dogwood bush with a vengeance I think. I got the yacht out of the water over the weekend and have her cleaned off and under a tarp until the first gale when it will probably get shredded as the eyelets in it are not the strongest. 

Angie left on Saturday, had a couple of days in Inverness and is working in Lowestoft till Wednesday morning when she will travel back. I might tow the trailer across to Oughterard on Wednesday and get a load of soil off Keith  while I have the Subaru as it is the better car for towing.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Helpx and heavy rainIt's only 1630

Well Chris my Spanish Helpx guest arrived on Tuesday night, I picked him up in Galway off the Dublin bus and we spent yesterday cutting and burning dogwood, chopping and stacking logs and also managed to get the yacht mast dismantled and rigging stored for the winter. Yesterday was find weather and I don't think he believed me when I said " we may only get a couple of days like this in the month this time of year". Today poured rain most of the day so we stripped wallpaper off my bedroom walls after moving the furniture to another bedroom. Angie is away tonight, home tomorrow and away again on Saturday until next Wednesday, so I am hoping to get the room finished and painted by then. The walls need some filler and sanding and so does the ceiling so even if it is rainy we will have something to do.

It's only 1630 and dark here already, it feels really wintery, one of the men at the marina yesterday was saying he heads to Spain for December and January every year and misses the worst of the weather, sounds like a good idea to me.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quiet house

Well my visitors left this morning so the house is quiet now. I had Lorne his girlfriend Vicky and their wee boy, Sheana, Sacha and John staying for the last week. There is a wee break now until my first "helper" arrives on the 5th of November, he is a 24 yr old engineering student from Barcelona. The weather was pretty grim for the visitors this week with only one or two dry days and plenty of the wet stuff.
We got quite a bit done over the week with a roof erected as a lean too at the shed for storing chopped wood under and two trailer loads of wood stacked. John planted bushes and plants for me and devided some plants that were getting too overcrowded in the beds.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Huricaine Gonzalo on its way.

John (my brother in Law) has been up visiting since Wednesday and we have been busy transplanting bushes and thinning out plants round the house. The wall at the front now has flowering currant, Euonymus, Pointintilla and Gravillia and we build a couple of raised beds which now have Agapanthus Daisy and Pink Ladies that we thinned out. It will be interesting to see if they survive the remnants of Huricaine Gonzalo which is currently making its way across the Atlantic tracking slightly North of us towards my Mum and Dads house. Its the first storm of the winter and they are forecasting snow on the Scottish mountains. 

I got a call to ask if it was ok if Lorne his Mrs, Vicky,  and wee boy Joey came with Sheana and Sacha on Monday so I shall have a house full, eight staying from Monday night. If its not too windy we might try and put the roof on my wood drying area, many hands make lighter work. I have one wall left to paint in the office today and its a good day for it being wet and windy out.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

helpx

I had a friend round this week to give me some advice on the garden, she is doing horticulture at college, anyway she took a load of vegies she had grown with her which were really nice and she told me about WWOOFers which is an organization that puts organic farms in contact with people who will give labour in exchange for learning the trade, you pay nothing for their work but provide accommodation and food. A bit like the Kibbutz that used to attract backpackers when I was a kid.  The Kibbutz was a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. The first kibbutz, established in 1909, was Degania.

Anyway I'm not an organic farmer so this sort of ruled out the WWoofers but I found a site called HELPX which does along the same lines offering food and accommodation to travelers in return for their labour. I could really do with a hand clearing and maintaining this big garden so am going to give it a try and see if it is worth it. After putting the ad on the website I got 5 emails straight away 2 blokes from the Czeck Republic who are at college in Brno but want to visit Ireland for 3 months to learn English and suss out job prospects here, they sound quite good as they have experience in building walls and so forth. The was an email from a 19 yr old French bloke, a girl from Canada and one from Barcelona who loves dogs and could be a great house sitter if we went away in the New Year, save putting the dogs to the kennel. I shall maybe give it a try after John Sheana and Sacha leave at the start of November.

Looking forward to some company.

I put a dado rail up round the living room last week and painted the lower section of the wall a deep red colour it looks good, the old office needs a paint now so I can use it as a third bedroom. I have a section still to do behind a big book case the first wet day that comes along.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

1st gale of the season and a call from Ozz

Well we had the first gale of the season last night, it wasn't strong enough to uproot trees or anything but it did break my prize sunflower in half much to my disappointment, the sunflower was 6 ft tall and had 12 flower heads on it the biggest was the size of a plate. All the Rowan trees lost their leaves and the outdoor table got blown over, the homemade furniture didn't budge but it weighs half a ton so that did not surprise me.
Had a day off from lumber jacking today as my neck and shoulders were sore, all that chopping with the axe probably, anyway the heat pack is helping so it's just muscular.
My friend Mark from Australia gave me a call and we chatted for a good half hour, real friends are the ones you might not talk to for long enough but when you do it's the same as if you were never apart, Paddy is the same when we get to talk.
There was a bit of rain overnight but the drains are still dry, the ground just soaked it all up.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

On the set of Klondike

I had to pop across to Oughterard to pick up a laptop needing repairs this afternoon and killed three birds with the one stone, dogs got a swim in Loch Corrib, did my shopping at Londis in Oughterard and visited my pal Keith. Keith has a farm and mines near Oughterard and they are currently filming a mini series called Klondike. The series is set against the backdrop of the Alaskan Gold Rush of the 1890’s and tells the story of the Connollys; three emigrant Irish brothers from Rosmuc, Galway, who make their way to the Klondike Valley in the hope of striking it rich.

They were filming down near a  wee river on his property when I was there but I took shots of the town they have fabricated for the movie as well as a couple of the actors.













I met the director DathaĆ­ Keane who hails from Tiree so we had a nice chat about the pub at Scarnish when I told him I had had cargo on the puffer to the wee pier just outside it.
Scarnish bay is very exposed with a nasty wee breaking reef just outside so it was a settled weather job beaching there, gone are those days.

 



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A shower of rain

Well I was chuffed today, I had a tree that was leaning and weighted in the complete wrong side to where I wanted it to land but I managed to drop it perfectly in my flat cleared area. I used a Spanish windlass a crowbar and some wedges. Brains over brawn wins again. My plan with the area is to use some logs to make raised beds for my spuds next year, plant fruit trees and hopefully get a poly tunnel. I can move my existing raised beds to inside the polytunnel. The fruit trees will take a number of years to mature but it will be nice to have an orchard.

We had a shower of rain this afternoon and it is overcast this evening but the forecast is good again tomorrow. With this dry summer a lot of my timber has dried so I should cover the piles with tarps before the monsoon.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Another gorgeous weekend

Terrific weather again this weekend, September has turned out to be an Indian summer, have had no rain since August and most days have been bright and sunny. Last night the stars were amazing  I,m so lucky to live in an area with no light pollution to spoil my star watching.

I had a wee sail this morning and came back and felled a tree, logged all the branches and will do the main trunk tomorrow, we had another bonfire to get rid of the small branches and it was great to have a nice flat area to work in. Angie is flat out on the couch as she was working with me this weekend and she is jiggered.


The shots above are the marina my boat is kept in. As you can see there wasnt much breeze to sail in but it was nice to get out on the water anyway.