Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Self Published (Niece not me)!

Gardening has come to a full stop thanks to the weather, reading is the new spare time occupation. My niece Catherine Ryan Howard who I have mentioned before when she self published her first book Mousetrapped, which was about her work experience in Walt Disney World in Florida.
Catherine has now published her first novel Results Not Typical.It would not be my usual choice of reading material but I got hooked on it fairly quickly and thoroughly enjoyed the plot and sub plots, well done Catherine!
I am surprised the various slimming companies who sell motivation and of course their own 'slimming products' allowed it !!

Backpacked is also self published and is Catherine's account of a very reluctant back packing trip across Central America, not fiction she really did do it!

Catherine researched her self publishing and made her books as good to look at and handle as any books available through the major publishers.The pitfalls and problems overcome plus advice were then self published in to this book. It is available to buy on Amazon as are all of the others, just put catherine ryan howard in the Amazon search box.They are also available on Kindle
Self Published has gotten rave reviews on Amazon and Catherine has been invited to speak at various seminars etc on the subject.
Catherine also has a blog which has a link on my sidebar, see

Monday, November 21, 2011

CEJA, European Council of Young Farmers

Matteo Bartolini from CEJA on Vimeo.

You never know who is reading blogs! I am sure many of you have been approached from time to time to feature various items/companies/products etc. I don't as a rule get involved with these requests but this one definitely appealed to me.
I received an email from John Mortell ,communications officer with CEJA...whose them you might ask?!
The European Council of Young farmers in Brussels.
They are trying to encourage and help young farmers across Europe to stay on the land, not to just eke out a living but to increase the value of their farms and produce.
They have a Vimeo video channel,there are just 3 videos at the moment, this young farmer is Italian and there is a French and Belgian farmer also featured.
This appealed to me because he is growing truffles of all things, watch and learn!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Miscellany

I have spent a couple of hours browsing through my favourite blogs, something I have not had too much time to do recently. It was nice to catch up on everyones news and doings!
My computer slows down considerably in the afternoons and evenings which may be attributable to my internet provider so Sunday mornings when I can, seems to be the best time to be online it is slowing down now even as I type!
I am also having trouble yet again with leaving comments on blogs. I know by not staying logged on to Google seems to correct this but I now have my email on my phone and I am always 'on' so this may be the cause this time around. I have to go through the various options on each blog to leave a comment if Google does not recognise me?!

Anyway, enough moaning!
The photo was taken through my kitchen window earlier today when the birds were nearly pushing each other off the feeder, usually as soon as I go to the window they fly off but thankfully not today.
I had got up early intending to go the the beach to gather seaweed for the allotment but thanks to the wonders of internet technology I thought of checking the tides on our local shores and and it would have been high tide when I planned to go so it would have been a fruitless journey.The best time to gather it is supposed to be when the tide has just gone out leaving clean seaweed on the rocks.Gathering it from the beach could mean bringing home the debris and sand which accumulates in it.

I had intended to go to Garretstown which is a beautiful wide beach on the coast near Kinsale about 35 minutes drive away, there are much nearer places to gather seaweed but our harbour area is polluted and I don't think it would be good to bring that back to our plot.
The seaweed is for the asparagus bed which I had cleared of foliage and weeds during the week, asparagus is a seaside plant originally and seaweed is recommended for a winter mulch.I will have to wait until next weekend now as the evenings are dark at 5pm now, so much for daylight saving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vive Le France!

Bonjour! I have just returned from a short holiday to France, I did not think it was safe to advertise the fact before going as you never know who reads blogs!
My eldest daughter Deirdre,partner and daughter Niamh have lived in the S.W of France in the Carcassonne area for the last 3 years and this is the first time I have visited.

Flying out from Dublin over the bay,I am not sure exactly what the beach is called but it looks beautiful basking in the autumn sunshine.

Outside my daughter's house grapevines in the field next door, the grapes have been harvested and the autumn colour is visible everywhere.Its a big wine making region, Limoux is the nearest big town and Blanquette is the regional wine,it is a sparkling wine and they say the forerunner of Champagne!

The small village where they live, there is not even a shop there just quaint houses and winding narrow streets.Not much in the way of flowers at this time of year, but I saw kiwis growing over an archway into a house, orange trees and walnut trees. I must admit I had never really thought where walnuts come from and was amazed to see them.Needless to say there were olive trees everywhere and in summer there are fields of sunflowers as making sunflower oil is also another local industry.
This scary fellow holding up a church holy water font is the god Asmodeaus, keeper of secrets, guardian of hidden treasure and reputed to be the builder of Soloman's temple.
Rennes-le-Chateau is just a short drive away, the hilltop village which spawned the Da Vinci Code and hundreds of books etc on the Knights Templar,Cathars and other mysterious stories.The story of a small village Abbe (priest)coming into untold wealth began coming out of France in the sixties and unleashed an avalanche of interest in the tiny village.

The abbe Sauniere only died in 1917 so it is not in the dim distant past by any means.When he came into wealth he began refurbishing the tiny church in a most garish style.Asmodeaus was one of the them and the inscription over the church door in latin translates to 'this is a terrible place'?!

Rennes-le-Bain is also involved in the mystery but was also a famed Roman baths, again beautiful during the summer months with cascading flowers etc.
There are lots of videos on Youtube if you wish to see and hear more of these two places, just type in the name of one of them.

No visit to Carcassonne is complete without a visit to the walled medieval fortress which rises over the modern city.There has been a fortress on this site for centuries and renovations began back in the 19th century.The narrow streets are cobbled and it is all pedestrianised, it is a fascinating place to see.We were lucky in Nov as it is mobbed by tourists in summer.

Even the smallest village has its war memorial to the villagers who lost their lives in the conflicts which were fought each time on french soil.
Remembrance day 11th Nov, all of the villagers walked up to the mayors office and gathered behind the mayor,a small band and the french flag and we all walked the few hundred yards to the war memorial

At the memorial the Mayor read a speech which this year came from President Nickolas Sarkozy as it was a unique date being 11th minute of the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th year of the new century.
The two elderly men in front are World War 2 survivors, as I looked at them I wondered what was going through their minds as they gazed at the memorial to their fallen comrades.A rousing version of the French national anthem was played after the speech then we all walked to the local hall where wine,minerals and snacks were served courtesy of the Mayor's office.
Home now to grey bleak Nov skies and rain!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hen Party!

A post all about the hens and the ravages they have wrought in the garden!
Pic of them congregated on the windowsill, they are inclined to gather here or at the patio door if they want to be fed.Sometimes they turn over the feed bin and I don't refill it fast enough for them so they draw my attention like this!
A couple of times one of them has actually turned it over on top of herself getting trapped in the process and the other 3 come down to the window or patio door and keep pecking until I go out and free the luckless hen that is under the bin!

Pic taken in April when the first 2 hens arrived, note the lovely sward of green grass and the precise edging of bark mulch?

Pic taken today!
They have turned the whole area into a quagmire of mud and matter.I had to move the coop down the garden, note the sorry looking tin tub and the small brown window trough.
With 20/20 hindsight I should have had normal grass well rooted before getting the hens as I put down rolls of grass which had no root system and they scraped it up within a matter of weeks!

My stone flowerbed last year with campanula cascading over the side, there were lots of flowers that come up every year and it was also the resting place for trays of plants waiting to go out to the allotment.

Same flower bed today!

The tin tub early in the year, there were hyacinths, lillies and daffodills which came up in their season so there was always something in bloom in it.

The small brown window trough early this year,the hens ignored it for quite a while but then developed a taste for pansies and it became the sorry sight in the earlier pic!

The centre bed taken today, I had to move the coop down and it was the only place level enough for it.They had already cleared a space for it!

The same centre bed last year.

The old fashioned peony rose and the lupins last year in the centre bed.
The 4 ladies have dug up every bulb in the garden and any pots they can get up to or into.They can shift earth and gravel in a most determined manner if they think there is anything under it.
Even if they are out of sight of the patio door they can hear it opening and come flying down the garden to see if they are getting any tidbits handed out.Dinner left overs such as potato skins etc are devoured in seconds and they chase each other around to get the last little bit.
I was speaking to a lady on the allotments recently about them and she said they kept hens at home when she was young, her mother never kept hens over the winter months as they usually laid less in the shorter ,darker days.The hens were killed for the table and they got a new batch of chicks in the new year to replace them.
I cannot see myself sitting down to eat the girls?!
They provide hours of interest and amusement with their antics and continue to lay 4 eggs every day.

Pumpkin Update
The largest pumpkin weighed in at 55 kgs!