Mind the good chair!

Yesterday, one of those days when unsure what season we were in, so it took longer on choosing my clothes for the day. It was a day for layers. I had planned to collect my old young friend Janet, for a bit of adventure. I can see where she lives from my kitchen window.

Click to view slideshow.

She lives on top of that bump to the right of the wind turbines.

Nearly there

Nearly there

The idea was to exercise our legs…. and our tongues with the odd bit of chatter.

Did I say the odd bit of chatter? I am not sure I gave Janet a chance to say more than a half dozen words. Next time, I will bring a band-aid to help keep my trap shut. ;) I promise!

I was the driver for the duration, so as chief navigator, I allowed Janet to choose direction and the destination for our coffee spot. Our rain jackets travelled comfortably on the back seat.

She chose the Creative Gardens Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, County Antrim. It opened in February this year, so a first time visit for me. They have a Garden centre, Seasonal Shop and the now obligatory Coffee shop.

Mind the good chair_1

Mind the good chair_1

This display caught my eye as we were wandering about.

Side view of the chair

Side view of the chair

The plants are not just sitting on the chair. Oh no. The side view  gives you an idea of how it works. The original seat is long gone and a sacking type fabric is stapled to the inside of the seat space, slightly sagging, growing medium added and then the plants inserted. If you look very carefully you can actually see the petunia plugs, lifted out of the compost by the weight of the blooms.

If you try this please watch dear old aunt Mabel, in case she tries to sit on it! ;)

It did rain:- when we were in the car or sipping coffee.

Neither of us were in a hurry home.

Janet suggested a walk in Portglenone Forest Park. I was game for anything.

Map of Portglenone Forest

Map of Portglenone Forest

It was very overcast as we arrived in the car park.

“Do you think it will rain?” asked Janet.

“Not to worry, says I, we can shelter under a leaf!”

We took the Red route.

Portglenone, in Irish: Port Chluain Eoghain, means “The Fort of Eoghan’s meadow”. We local yokels might tease and call it Port-glen-one, but the correct pronunciation is more like Port-glen-own.

Portglenone Forest Park, lies 8.5 miles (14 km) west of Ballymena. It is classified as an ‘Ancient Woodland’, and has well marked nature trails, with the River Bann flowing through the forest. Records show that the forest was once part of a much larger woodland comprising Mountreivelen, Killetra, and Glenconkeyne Woods.

These woods formed one of the biggest oak forests in the country. In 1607 Sir John Davys, the Irish Attorney-General, described this area as “well nigh as large as the New Forest in Hampshire and stored with the best timber in Ireland.”

The ground flora contains extensive colonies of species such as bluebell, wood anemone, and wild garlic. We would need to go back in late April or early May to enjoy those beauties. These plants take centuries of woodland cover to establish, and provide the wood with its important conservation and educational aspects.

Augustine Henry (1857–1930) was an Irish plantsman and sinologist. He began work as a medical officer and customs assistant to the Chinese customs service in 1881. He was an ardent reader of botanical literature and collected 15,000 dry specimens and 500 live plant samples of flora for Kew botanical gardens.  From his specimens 25 new genera and 500 new species were identified.

In 1913 he was appointed the first Professor of Forestry at the Royal College of Science (now University College Dublin), serving until he retired in 1926. He was involved in developing the national Forestry Service and in evaluating foreign conifer species. These included Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole pine.

In 1935, J. W. Besant was to write: ‘The wealth of beautiful trees and flowering shrubs which adorn gardens in all temperate parts of the world today is due in a great measure to the pioneer work of the late Professor Henry’.

 

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I have another Janet surprise, but that is for tomorrow!

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A busy week

It has been a long week. So long, it had two Saturdays, two Sundays and two Mondays. Alas, to day it comes to an end and I head for home.

Saturday: We made Christmas puddings – You already know about that.

Sunday: We had a visitor for morning coffee. After lunch the landlady walked the legs off me. We dandered to the Basin.

Blessington St Park

Blessington St Park

We watched a mammy duck teach her three tiny balls of fluff, no bigger than cotton balls, to swim.

Learning to swim

Learning to swim

Their tiny legs were going a mile a minute under the surface of the water, until….. a large bird swooped down…. Then there were only two balls of fluff for the mammy duck to quack instructions at, to swim faster than time to the protection of their hidden nest on the island in the middle of the lake.

The island

The island

When we left the basin, we passed the Black Church  where legend has it that if you run around the church clockwise three times, then enter the church and stand by the altar, you will see the devil.

The black church

The black church

I never quite had the courage to test that theory when I was young. The building was deconsecrated in 1962, and is now occupied as offices.

The Black Church is mentioned briefly in the novel Ulysses by Irish author James Joyce, in the chapter entitled ‘Oxen of the Sun’, as the location of one of Bello’s many sins: He went through a form of clandestine marriage with at least one woman in the shadow of the Black Church. Joyce lived for a few months only yards from the Church in Broadstone, at 44 Fontenoy Street, one of the Joyce family’s many temporary homes around Dublin. He stayed there with his son Giorgio from July to September 1909 and again alone from October 1909 to June 1910 while trying to set up the first cinema in Dublin.

Monday: Did I mention James Joyce earlier? Well, on Wednesday I met him! Honest. Here is a pixture to prove it:

He called me Nora

He called me Nora

He even called me Nora!

It was Bloomsday.  In Dublin, Joyceans in full Edwardian costume mark June 16th 1904 literary events of ‘Ulysses’ We met them on the Dart,  on the Streets and in the shops. Eileen and I went to Dún Laoghaire. They were there ahead of us.

Joyceans on way to Sandymount

Joyceans on way to Sandymount

I have to tell you what happened on the Dart. You will never believe it. Eileen, nudged me with her elbow and said “That guy over there winked at me!” I looked at the Toyboy and said, pointing at my sister “Did you wink at her?” He nodded. I looked questioningly and asked “Where’s my wink?” Grinning, he winked at me. Holding up my mobile phone, I asked if he wanted my number. He burst out laughing. With that, the engines started and we were moving…. Our Dart moved south, and his on the other track moved north!

No visit to Dún Laoghaire is complete without a visit to Teddy’s for a 99 – a whipped ice cream cone with added flake chocolate.

The evidence

The evidence

Eileen with ice cream cones.

The view while we eat 99sThe view as we sat and enjoyed our treat.

Tuesday: I spent the morning in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, with my eldest brother. We saw a Viking House

Viking House

I suggest scrolling to the bottom of the link above and working upward to follow the work in progress. I found it fascinating. I am trying to image life in Dublin 1,000 plus years ago.

'Gro' the Viking Boat

‘Gro’ the Viking Boat

I also saw a replica Viking boat ‘Gro’ on display. It was constructed from Irish oak in 2006 at the Irish National Heritage Park by Danish boatwrights using techniques employed in Dublin 1,000 years ago, the boat is on loan from the Ferrycarrig Heritage Park.

I drove my sister to Howth for an early dinner, which was delicious, and we were home in time to see one of the Football matches.

Looking down on Howth from the Churchyard

Looking down on Howth from the Churchyard

Wednesday: We were entertained to lunch by Brian, who sent us each a text as we were leaving home to say, he had just realised it was forty years since we first met, so a good job we looked like we did all those years ago! Is it really forty years since I was given the handle Grannymar? Yes, it is.

Thursday: I visited Drimnagh Castle, but that adventure is worth a special post. I hope to have it ready for Tuesday.

Drimnagh Castle

Drimnagh Castle

Friday: was a rest day, playing with Buffy and finishing a project that I was working on. I forgot to take a photo of the finished item, so when I get that photo, I’ll write about it.

Saturday: Was the longest day, so where better to be than on the Hill of Tara,  Home to the High Kings of Ireland. The panoramic view in my Header is from the hill at Tara. We were there to celebrate the life of Emma Sharma Hayes. It was a beautiful day, the sun shone and nature’s choir of bird song & gentle breezes sang around us for most of the day. We picnicked outdoors

Lunching Ladies with Vijay Sharma

Lunching Ladies with Vijay Sharma

and I found a very comfortable seat to rest my legs before we climbed the hill.

Tractoring Grannymar

Tractoring Grannymar

I nearly got a job too! One old guy asked if I would plough his back field? I told him I was busy and it would have to be next week!

Sunday: I went to work! Really. You have heard of ‘Bring your daughter to work days. Well this was a bring your family to work day, at Intel. Do you like my outfit?

Intel Open Day

Intel Open Day

Grannymar in a Bunny suit! These are actual uniforms worn by those who work in the clean-rooms. Buses took us on a tour of the site and we had a window tour of a clean-room. Elly showed the corridor she walks everyday, at least twice. It is a mile in each direction. We were introduced to the gym, where I could not miss an opportunity to sit on the equipment. I tested a massage chair, it felt like Ramana Rajgopaul’s masseuse was dancing on my back.

The staff looked after us royally and had fun & games for all ages. Thank you everyone for making us so welcome. Now the holiday has come to an end and I am homeward bound once more. I am covered in a healthy outdoor glow and my legs must be at least six inches shorter from all the walking. It was a wonderful week.

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Dashing away with a smoothing iron.

On Saturday, in a light hearted short post, I admitted that I had been wrong to iron my clothes. The graphic I produced told me the freshly pressed clothes showed up the crease lines on my face.

The comments were fun.

Col asked: “How can you steal hearts away if you don’t go dashing away with a smoothing iron?”

Immediately I was back in the house of my youth with a mountain of shirts, blouses, sheets, pillowcases, half a dozen linen tablecloths and napkins, tea towels and a mound of handkerchiefs…..

Sitting by the fire was my granny singing this little number:

I replied to Col, with: “I have evidence of one young lady who took that idea to the extreme! Watch out on Monday”.

So here is the evidence.

Elly taking housework seriously. ;)

Elly taking housework seriously. 😉

Elly ironing on the Giant’s Causeway!

I had to go digging to find the photo and while there I reread the post that went along with it A Political Guide for Tourists to Ireland written four years ago. It applies even more so today, I think you might enjoy reading it.

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How now bronze cow

In the past I wrote about visiting a church and having fun. At another time I told you about going to confession, when for my penance I drank the black stuff…

Last week I was back in The Church and came away refreshed. ;) Elly came to meet me and we walked round the area at the back of the building. It was at one time a very popular graveyard for the dearly departed members of St. Mary’s parish, a large and wealthy congregation.

By the 1940s, the large churchyard was being used as a playground, with the tombstones being removed to the further end of the yard. It was de-consecrated in April 1966, the Church of Ireland sold the graveyard to Dublin Corporation which later developed the site now known as Wolfe Tone Memorial Park. Why Wolfe Tone? Theobald Wolf Tone – United Irishmen Founder was baptised in St Mary’s Church, in 1763.

The park’s feeling of openness, perhaps because it is unfenced and accessible and allows for unimpeded shortcuts between the busier nearby streets, yet it maintains a separate identity from the paths on either side. An urban space with a variety if hard surfaces, which includes a large gravel area adorned with a cow.

How now bronze cow

How now bronze cow

City Cow ~  Bronze
Sculptor ~ Jackie McKenna.

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Walking the streets with no rain!

I had the honour of joining a walking tour of ‘Walking the Bridges of Dublin, hosted by one of my wonderful Toyboys, Anthony Mc Guinness. Anto and Dublin City Council are responsible for the Bridges of Dublin The website is all down to Anto and the time, energy, research and love for the subject in the project came through loud and clear during our tour on Saturday night.

The River Liffey rises close to Kippure in the Wicklow mountains. It flows for around 125 km (78 m) from source to sea through counties Wicklow, Kildare and Dublin before entering the Irish Sea at the midpoint of Dublin Bay. There are in total 24 bridges that cross the river.

Our walk covered fifteen, with added information of those we did not see.

We gathered at Rory O’More Bridge, often referred to as Watling Street Bridge. Building began in 1859 and it was declared open to the public in 1861 and crosses the River Liffey from Watling Street, on the south side to Ellis Street to the north side of the city. It is in fact the fourth, or possibly fifth, bridge at this location since records began. Dates of two of the previous structures: 1670 & 1704.

Rory O’More Bridge

Rory O’More Bridge

When a bridge was first built on this site, it was a wooden structure, much needed by a growing city only served by a single bridge and it often in a state of dilapidation. In the photo below you can actually see a line of wooden stumps from former wooden foundations.

Wooden foundations at Rory O’More Bridge

Wooden foundations at Rory O’More Bridge

A single span bridge with a cast iron deck, built in St. Helen’s Foundry in Lancashire, England. The original, estimated price was 7,556 guineas, but rose to 11,000 guineas on completion. Can you imagine the large structure floating up the Liffey on a barge, before being lifted into place, by MANPOWER and not the modern machinery we have today.

We continued our walk along the quays, stopping at each bridge to hear the story behind it and sometimes crossing over the bridge to take in some detail, find a space large enough to hold twenty of us without causing obstruction to passers-by or the moving motorised traffic. The journey from Watling Street to our final destination and watering hole was 5 km.

We explored:

James Joyce Bridge 2003 – road bridge
Mellow’s Bridge 1768 – road bridge
Father Mathew Bridge 1818 – road bridge
O’Donovan Rossa Bridge 1816 – road bridge
Grattan Bridge 1874 – road bridge
Millennium Bridge 1999 – footbridge
Liffey Bridge 1816 *1
O’Connell Bridge 1791 – dual carriage road bridge, a continuation of O’Connell St.
Rosie Hackett Bridge will be officially opened on 20 May 2014 – Road bridge.
Butt Bridge 1932 previous structure in 1879 – road bridge
Loopline Bridge 1891 *2
Talbot Memorial Bridge 1978 – road bridge
Seán O’Casey Bridge 2005 – footbridge
Samuel Beckett Bridge 2009 – Rotatable road bridge

At this stage, the evening was cooling down the closer we came to the coastline, legs grew tired and Anto’s whistle needed wetting, so we adjourned to the Ferryman pub at Sir John Rogerson Quay.

In days gone by the Liffey Ferry crossed the river at this point, transporting workers from North to South of the river to work in the Gasometer, the Banana Factory and Dublin’s ship building yard. As recently as the mid 1980’s Guinness boats carried barrels of their famous brew past The Ferryman.

I thought I knew the city of my birth, having grown up in the days when I needed money for nylons or tights, I walked everywhere instead of waiting for buses that knew not a timetable. You know the story, no bus for an age and then three come together!

Since I moved North thirty seven years ago, traffic has changed direction along the quays several times and five new bridges have been added with a sixth due to be unveiled tomorrow and open to motor traffic on Wednesday.

I will include some of my photos, the flotilla was an unexpected surprise and we were close enough to chat to the people on board the various water-craft. I have just realised that I have no photos of O’Connell Bridge. It was busy and broad, so difficult for me to take a good photo. Maybe I was too busy chatting to remember. ;)

For more information, and professional photos please check out Anto’s website link above.

Click to view slideshow.

 

Click to view slideshow.

*1 Liffey Bridge is foot bridge. In the beginning there was a toll to reclaim some of the building cost, so it became know as the Ha’penny bridge and the name stuck. In Dublin, we like our nicknames!

*2 Liffey Viaduct, a rail bridge with overhead power supply for the crescent shaped Dart electric train line along Dublin Bay.

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My legs won’t work!

I went for a walk.
Got a hug and a kiss,
Discovered the bus times
Heard of another broken hip,

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Turning a corner in search of green fields
There were laneways and roadworks
And trees with no leaves,
Natives were friendly and curious to,
They came running to greet me
with the odd gentle Moo!

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Slemish

cropped-Glenwherry-Slemish_2.jpgThis was the photo in the Header when I wrote this Post

 

Legend would have us believe that Slemish was the place where St Patrick was brought as a young boy by his captors, to tend sheep. Since I am not that old, I cannot swear by this story. ;)

The weather up there in the wilds of County Antrim can be very unpredictable. By times you might have all four seasons on the one day.

Poor Patrick had no thermal underwear, waterproof leggins or hiking boots. There were no thermos flasks, GPS or Quad bikes to help with looking for lost sheep.

My header photo above and the one below are taken from the same spot, at most a few feet apart. They are from different years and seasons. All I have done to the photos is crop them.

Slemish 2

Slemish

If I give you the dates, can you tell me which photo goes with which date?

A. 22nd January 2009
B. 22nd August 2012

Over to you….

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