Spring in full bloom

March 9, 2015

Minature daffodils and hellibores.

Minature daffodils and hellibores.

After a slow start the snowdrops have bloomed and we are waiting for the daffodils to come into flower. We were a little fearful that we might lose some after the ‘big move’ they made last year. We needed to move snowdrops and daffodil bulbs last winter to make room for the three large tanks which needed to be installed as part of our new waste water facility. So we lifted the bulbs to fresh ground and whilst there may need to be a little adjustment after they have flowered this year they have weathered the move well. As a great deal of clearing of undergrowth has also taken place we can now see those snowdrops hidden for recent years now they are in full bloom . We do need to try to remove more of the brambles which have thrived as we have concentrated on the walled garden.

 

 

Renovation of the Stables

The renovation of the stables is moving on as the ground floor has been tiled and the floorboards will be going down  upstairs over the next two weeks. We think this project has been a veritable modern minor miracle.  The  building once the hub of farm life here to virtual dereliction had taken years. When we returned from Canada it was full of old farm equipment, my late mother-in-laws car, old working saddles, travel trunks  and many other ‘items’ which were designated as being ‘might be useful at some time. Needless to say all has been move  or disposed off. The studios will be available for use by guests or for rent by others. Indeed they will be suitable as a destination and use for small boutique weddings or other family gatherings. More news will be posted on our website once the project is complete.

 

Holly and Noddy

Holly and Noddy

Jams and Chutneys

On a cold and chilly February morning there is nothing more rewarding than making a batch of jam or chutney or jam. Once we had cleaned the freezer and counted the bags of fruit still waiting to be used. we set to work to make some strawberry and raspberry jams to restock the store cupboard. The smell of the jams as they cook welcomes neighbours as they drop in for a chat.

Raspberry Jam

1 kg. Raspberries

1 kg. Granulated sugar or preserving sugar

Method

  1. Prepare jam jars by washing if necessary and put into oven at 100°C
  2. Place raspberries into a heavy based saucepan.
  3. Using a potato masher crush the raspberries to release the juice.
  4. Add a small hazel nut sized lump of butter.
  5. Heat the fruit and stir in the sugar. Making sure that all the grains are dissolved before bringing the mix to a rolling boil.
  6. Boil for 4-5 minutes until setting pint is reached.
  7. To check for setting draw pot from heat, put a little jam on a plate and allow to cool. Jam should wrinkle when pushed or form a flake when poured off a wooden spoon rather than steady drops.

 

Frosty morning-4th February'15 011

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Bluebells and Apple blossom

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets May is upon us

Coming to Ireland? Plan to include s visit to a Food Fair or Farmer’s Markets.  The season of Food Fairs  May is ‘High Season’ for food fairs in Ireland. From The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine to be held 16th-18th May 2014; to

The Sheridan’s Food Festival http://tinyurl.com/lfx3ram From Ballymaloe to Cavan http://tinyurl.com/n9xwvy2

From Multyfarnham to Mayo  Irish food is celebrated. Our recommendation to any person visiting or living in Ireland is to include at least one Food Fair in your itinerary. Celebrate Irish Food and go to a Food Fair in May where Irish food is being celebrated. It is a great way of meeting some of Ireland’s best known or top chef’s.

Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant is appearing both in Ballymaloe and at Sheridan’s Food Fair in Co. Cavan

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

For lists of Food fairs and farmers Markets For links to sites http://goodfoodireland.ie/markets irishvillagemarkets.ie http://www.bordbia.ie/aboutfood/farmersmarkets/pages/guidetofoodmarkets.aspx The season began at Easter here in Multyfarnham with their Country Fair.By all accounts it was a great sale.

Multyfarnham Country Fair

The next Multyfarnham Country Fair is to be held on 28th & 29thJune 2014 at the time the National Cycling Championships which are to be held in Tyrellspass and Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath

Bumper Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14 

Parish Flower Sale- Apr'14

Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14

Bumper Cake  and Plant Sale is to be held Saturday,  17th May’14, at All Saint’s Church, Mullingar,

A Busy Garden 

Taking a moment to perch on the patio wall and watch the many birds finding food for their young. It is non stop activity. Nests are well hidden, though as you walk around the garden you may hear the calls of fledglings as you pass by. The  blackbird nesting in one of the yew arches is seemngly oblivious to our passing. Whilst we ignore any noises and resist the temptation of taking a peek! Occasionally a break is taken and you are stopped in your tracks by a bird in full song. This morning, I stopped and had difficulty identifying the bird.

Bluebells have survived-May'14 008

Lawns mowed, edges shaggy, need clipping!

 

Bluebells have survived-May'14 020

Is this a chaffinch?

 

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Asparagus , elephant garlic and artichokes share a bed!

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Garlic and shallots were planted last autumn

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Apple blossom and Bbubells

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Overgrown grass laughing now mower belt needs replacing!

Bluebells have survived-May'14 006

Off to pick flowers

”Are you busy on the 1st of March?” A simple question which elicited another simple question “why?” Our daughter and fiancé had decided to get married! In such a simple way, the advent of a wonderful day was announced. Ferry tickets booked, wedding cake made,  house sitters arranged, an alarm call booked and the morning of departure arrived.

Katy on the way to her wedding

Katy on the way to her wedding

So on the 1st March, St. David’s Day, we waited to take Katy to her wedding. On the way out of the hotel, she was serenaded by the Flint Male Voice choir who were also staying in the hotel. I do not think any bride could have received a more rousing send off. Particularly appropriate as her great grandfather, Evan Evans, was Welsh. As the young couple are living and working in England, they opted for a small family wedding near to their new home in Cumbria. It gave Warwick and I the opportunity to visit an area that we have visited a number of times in the past.

Katy and John in Cartmel

Katy and John in Cartmel

1238120_10152058124626220_679439364_n Walking to reception

Walking to the reception

1798616_10152058134926220_606723512_n Wedding Cake

Katy and John’s Wedding cake with shamrocks and roses

 

Portion of wedding cake

Portion of wedding cake served to guests

* I am including the recipe for the gluten free cake later in the blog.

Another Great Celebration

Last Saturday, nerves jangling and kept sitting on the edge of our seats as the Irish rugby team edged towards a win against France and at the same time winning this year’s  Six Nations Championship. For Brian O’Driscoll, it was his last match in an Irish Jersey so we were already in great spirits on St. Patrick’s Day. In the past, St. Patrick’s Day was an occasion to pack up the car and travel either to the local parade with uniforms and tin whistles or to Pony Club hunter Trials. This year, it was spent in the garden cutting shrubs back as we get ready for the opening of our season and the arrival of our first guests. All day long, we were serenaded by a robin, who hopped from branch to branch, occasionally, dropping down onto the freshly turned soil to hunt for worms or other tasty morsels. At one point, there was a quick scuffle in one bush as two cock robins ‘squared off ‘ against each other. Fighting for territory, no doubt. Dispute over and the hunt for food continued.

Cock Robin, the entertainer in the 'Sheep'snose' apple tree.

Cock Robin, the entertainer,  in the ‘Sheep’snose’ apple tree.

Potato Plantinag and St. Patrick’s Day

Country people traditionally begin planting potatoes about the time of St. Patrick’s Day, beginning with  ‘first earlies’,  Main crop potatoes are planted later. However, the  seed potatoes, we had ‘ chitted’ in February had developed good shoots, so they were planted last week. We laid the potatoes out in tray and covered them with newspapers to keep out the light. In Warwick’s father’s time the men on the farm would sit in the harness room or the coach-house and cut some of the previous year’s potatoes into pieces, ensuring that each piece had shoot buds.This would usually be done in February and was dirty, cold work.

Chitted potatoes ready for planting.

Chitted potatoes ready for planting.

The Renovation takes shape.

Faced with a semi derelict stable block apparently in terminal decline we took a big step in deciding to convert it into Studios and Exhibition spaces. In partnership with Leader, we started to halt that decline which we began by emptying the stable block last autumn. (see November’s Blog). Now re-roofed with some of the original and other salvaged slates; new floors have been poured  and the plumbing and electrical systems are going in. The project is heading towards completion.  The plan is to  provide facilities for guests staying in the house and other similar accommodation operators in the area.  For small business meetings, family events, possibly even small weddings.

Clumps of daffodils moved from side lawn during landscaping.

Clumps of daffodils and snowdrops  moved from side lawn during landscaping.

Daffodils in Lady's walk wood

Daffodils in Lady’s walk wood

Saffodils 005

Next landscaping project is to conceal lids of tanks!

Harvesting is well under way so roads have been busy with tractors, trailers and combine harvesters.  Moving From field to field and farm to farm as farmers and contractors race to bring in crops. So different from late spring when farmers were bringing in straw and hay from England and France to feed their stock. In the walled garden, seeds initially slow to germinate, saw growth ‘take off’ as the hot weather arrived in June. In July and August growth accelerated at a rate not seen for several years.The garden has raced through summer resulting in an early harvest of onions, shallots,  beans and peas. Jam and chutney making has been going on alongside our main priority, welcoming guests.

Runner beans and leeks in the walled garden.

Runner beans, red cabbages and leeks in the walled garden.

Herbaceous border in full bloom.

Herbaceous border in full bloom.

41st August'13 021

Mushrooms growing under an old oak tree.

Mushrooms growing under an old oak tree.

Preparing for the Fair

Warwick picking peppers in the greenhouse.

Warwick picking tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse.

Warwick and his tomatoes. From Seed to Fork!

Warwick and his tomatoes. From Seed to Fork!

Multyfarnham Country Fair

Multyfarnham Country Fair was held this past weekend.This year it was a two-day event, with Talent and Cake Competitions running alongside the sale. The stall-holders were very grateful for the cover provided by the new marquees, as on Saturday, it was very wet. Musicians and dancers entertained the crowd under cover, and sales were brisk.

Sunday by contrast dawned sunny and warm. We were up before the dawn chorus. It  wakes us later these mornings as we are over the cusp of summer. The crowds came and were certainly prepared to buy our jams, chutneys and beans. The advertising campaign had featured scarecrows at strategic locations beside the roads of Co. Westmeath. Some were on display at the fair itself. The hard-working committee members are certainly to be congratulated for the success of the fair.

Multyfarnham Country Fair '13 010

competion

Taking a break at Multyfarnham Country Fair.

Sales force ready for action

Sales force ready for action.

Toadstools for sale at the fair.Taste before you purchase is a good motto!

ot sure who this is meant to be. Do you know?

Not sure who this is meant to be.                   Do you know?

Multyfarnham Country Fair '13 014

Our own 'Best customers?'

Our own ‘Best customers’?

Runner beans'13 003                   Red admiral and peacock butterflies taking advantage of late summer sun.

Noddy and Holly munching on windfall apples.

Noddy and Holly munching on windfall apples.

We use peppers and other vegetables in the a dish of  couscous. It is very tasty and goes down well with guests, friends and family. A useful dish for entertaining.

Cous cous Mornington style

Cous Cous – Mornington style

Cous Cous Allow 250gm / 1 cup for two people

Water 375ml/ 1 ½ Boiling water and other liquid*

1-2                     Shallots-finely chopped

1-2                     Cloves of garlic-crushed

1                         Chilli Peppers, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 Centre of head of celery-Remove outer stalks from head.(retain for stock or other uses)

1-2 Tbsp            Turmeric ground

Olive Oil

Butter

1                         Orange rind and juice*

1                         Lemon rind and juice*

1                         Lime rind and juice*

Small bunch Coriander fresh -snipped

½ Red Pepper, De-seeded and finely diced

½ Green Pepper, De-seeded and finely diced

Dried Apricots  ½ cup cut into strips

Dried cranberries ¼ cup

Dried blueberries ¼ cup

Salt & black pepper

Cashew nuts toasted or browned in a little butter and olive oil, then chopped.

Method

  1. In a small sauté pan sauté shallots and garlic in a little olive oil and butter, until golden brown.
  2. Add turmeric and continue to fry for 3-5 min. until raw taste has gone.

.*May need a little more oil.

  1. Add orange juice, lime juice and lemon juice to make a smooth paste.
  2. Add boiling water to couscous a little at a time until ½ the amount has been absorbed.
  3. Add turmeric / juice mix and stir into cous cous until well combined.
  4. Add remaining water.
  5. Add chopped vegetables, dried fruit and herbs.
  6. Adjust seasoning as needed

May Day arrived and warmth in the sun has brought the wild flowers into bloom. Primroses, violets and bluebells are carpeting the wood. I spotted a clump of wood anemones in the lady’s walk wood this morning as we explored to check whether the wild bluebells were in flower.

may weekend 006

I am delighted to say they were.

Trees 11th May'13 003

The leaves are finally opening creating the ‘forty shades of green’ so often referred to in Irish writings.

Warwick has been busy in the garden planting seeds and weeding the onions and garlic planted last autumn; whilst Adam, our gardener, has been rotovating the soil of the vegetable beds.  Weeding fills any spare time.

Holly watching Warwick approaching with a bucket of carrots.

Holly watching Warwick approaching with a bucket of carrots.

Last Tuesday I headed to Ravensburg’s Nurseries in Clara, Co. Offaly to purchase a few replacement shrubs. Their magnolias were in full flower and the air was full of their perfume.

Magnolias in Flower at Ravensburg's Nuseries. Clara, Co. Offaly.

Magnolias in flower at Ravensburg’s Nuseries. Clara, Co. Offaly.

On the way back to Mornington we stopped at Kilbeggan Distillery for a light lunch. The car and coach park was full with tourist coaches. The distillery was purchased recently by the U.S. Company Jim Beam.

www.kilbeggandistillery.com

Kilbeggan Distillery

Kilbeggan Distillery

On Wednesday we were back in the car again and this time we headed to Co. Wexford and to Kilmokea, another member of The Hidden Ireland. We travelled on the N7/ M7, a new motorway thus avoiding  Carlow and Kilkenny. Arriving at Kilmokea is always wonderful as their fruit trees and magnolias were all in full flower and the air was fragrant with their perfume.

IMG_2379[1]

www.kilmokea.com

Frustration on Friday

Attempting to pass Dexter the gardener’s dog in the space between a box hedge and the greenhouse I manage to crash into the greenhouse!!!! The left-hand front wheel promptly fell off!!!!! So I was marooned!  Gravel and wheelchairs are not compatible! So I was pushed back to the house rather than being able to make my own way. The wheel bolt has been replaced and I am mobile once more!

Spring is springing

January 26, 2012

I saw my first lamb of 2012 this morning! Spring is definitely in the air!

The snowdrops are up and in full bloom. my mother-in-law expected them to be in bloom by

17th January each year.

Snowdrops under the sycamore tree

Snowdrops under the sycamore tree
Snowdrops again

Snowdrops again

Holly standing enjoying the sun

Holly standing enjoying the sun

Noddy

Noddy

Holly

Holly eyeing ivy pulled from a tree.

It may be hard to believe but we are actually coming to the end of winter. In Ireland spring begins officially on the first of February. Remaining winter chores need to be completed. For us this is trimming or ‘brashing’ the boundary hedges along the road. The mature trees are ‘preserved’ by County Council edict; however, the holly, ash, beech and hawthorn bushes have grown too tall to cut as a hedge so we trim the ‘face’ of the bushes. This allows walkers and riders to pull in against the hedge as cars, tractors and riders go by, without getting their faces scratched. This procedure only takes place every two years. Now we need to collect the branches  and cut them into firewood.

During conversation with the tractor driver, I was told that one snowy day, when Warwick was a child, he appeared at Cahill’s* hill pulling a little toboggan. Many hours of fun were had by Warwick and the Orme children tobogganing down the hill and pulling the toboggan back up the hill. The children had never seen a toboggan or sledge with runners before.

*Warwick tells me he thinks it was actually Daley’s hill. The mists of time can blur memories.

Helibores are flowering

Helibores are flowering

Globe artichokes

Globe artichokes appear to have survived the winter well. A discarded piece of root has taken root at far end of row on right hand side.

Autumn planted shallots are growing well in raised bed

Autumn planted shallots are growing well in raised bed

This year's rhubarb sprouting as last year's windfall apples have not yet rotted.

This year's rhubarb sprouting, whilst last year's windfall apples have not yet fully rotted.

It is interesting to note that there are any apples left at all. Birds have obviously been feeding off the apples but haven’t finished them all.