Pear tree buds beginning  to opento open

Conference pear tree buds beginning to open


The April sunshine and occasional showers have brought on the ‘greening of Ireland’  as buds burst open on trees and hedgerows in the countryside. The palate of colours is changing as last years stubble has been ploughed, seeded and sown with this year’s crops. At Mornington the lawns have been cut and daffodils are in full bloom. Seeds sown in the last month are slow to emerge, but the onions, shallots and garlic are growing well.

The lettuce sown last autumn are growing well in the greenhouse. Fuchsia, penstemons and geraniums overwintered in the greenhouse have survived and were ”potted on’ last week, they will be planted out in the flower beds when the night-time temperatures improve.


1st April'14 006


Stable Block Studios

The stable block conversion into art studios is progressing apace. A little slower than we had hoped, but nevertheless is moving ahead. The studios will be available to rent by artists, sculpters, photographers, writers. They are available to be used by guests staying in bed and breakfast accommodation, either here at Mornington or with other providers in the area.


Arch leading into the stable-yard has been re-built.

Arch leading into the stable-yard has been re-built.


Stonework being realigned. new windows will be installed.


Anne O’Hara’s Fruit Cake ( Gluten free)

The fruit cake recipe we have used for years was adapted  to be suitable for family members who are gluten intolerant. It has more ground almonds and may need more liquid than regular flour. The cake improves with ‘keeping’  for at least 3-4 weeks before cutting. We were very pleased with the result. Not a crumb was left!


Makes 1x 7.5” diameter cake Makes      2x 10” diameter cakes
6 24 A Gluten free flour Available from most food stores.
½ 2 tsp A Mixed spice Sieve together with flour
5 20 oz B Butter Needs to room temperature
5 20 oz B Soft brown sugar We use soft dark moist brown sugar
8 32 oz C Currants
8 20 oz C Sultanas
5 20 oz C Raisons
4 16 oz C Glacé cherries Put into sieve, rinse with cool water to remove syrup. Dry on paper towel. Cut into quarters. When dry coat with a little flour
3 12 oz C Chopped mixed peel
1 4 oz C Lemon Rind Zest only
8 24 oz C Ground Almonds I used additional ground almonds
1 4 oz C Whole Almonds Skinned and cut into quarters lengthways.
4 16 D Eggs Large, at room temperature

*Read recipe and make sure that you have everything to ready and to hand before you begin.


Oven Temperature

Convector /Fan Oven

150°C (Celsius) for 20

125°C (Celsius) for 2 hours 40minutes ** The cake takes roughly 3 hours to cook, depending on oven, tins, etc. etc.


  1. Line tin with double layer of parchment. Allow paper to stand 2½”-3”above edge of tin.
  2. Mix fruit (C) together in a very large bowl.
  3. Using either a wooden spoon, hand held mixer or food processor cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.


  1. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl. Add a little beaten egg into sugar/butter mix. Beat in very well after each addition of egg.
  2. If mixture begins to separate start adding flour a little at a time.                                                                         Otherwise when all egg has been added
  3. Foldi n flour a little at a time, alternate with mixing in milk.

NB. Do not beat or cake will have a shiny crust.

  1. Add egg/ sugar/flour mixture to bowl of prepared dried fruit and chopped and ground almonds.
  2. Fold in and mix well.
  3. NB. It may be necessary to add additional liquid. (For the 2 x 10” cakes I use ¼ to ½ cup milk.)1 cup = 8fl.oz.
  4. The mixture needs to be soft enough to allow the fruit moves around in the mixture. Not sloppy.
  5. We wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside of the tin.
  • Cut to the same height as the parchment lining the tin.
  • Secure with masking tape by overlapping the tape. Some tapes will become ’unstuck’ in the oven.
  • Add whiskey or brandy when cake is cold after baking.Make holes into bottom of cake with a fine skewer and using a teaspoon pour in brandy or whiskey.


The saga of  Holly and Noddy

Holly and Noddy waiting expectantly for carrots

Holly and Noddy waiting expectantly for carrots

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




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.