So much happening in our home… days that are so full that overflow into the next, pouring easily into the following days. Autumn is trotting in quickly here: the evenings get so cold so quickly: we have the stove lighting every day now, there is something so comforting about it crackling in the background and that warm, solid heat pumping out. We find ourselves gravitating towards the living room these evenings; as I write, boys are reading, little ones are playing on a blanket before I bring them to bed. These darkening evenings always bring a sense of slowing down, of closing-in, of comfort. I like the sense of hibernation at this time of year!
The days, on the other hand, are bright and relatively warm: James and Grace are finding ladybirds everywhere. James is completely fascinated by these little creatures, he runs in shouting for me a few times a day to tell me of a new find: “Bitty-boh! Bitty-boh!” (ladybirds are “bitty-boh”, butterflies are “Butta-bees”)The red leaves are slowly disappearing, leaving bare branches; rosehips and the last of the blackberry flowers hang on… although, we are still getting a handful of raspberries from the polytunnel every day (which James stuffs in his mouth as soon as I pick them)
My studio gets more and more chaotic: I’m not getting much time in it at the minute, and feel even less inclined to tidy and sort when I get a few precious moments out there! I am doing most of my painting and collage work in the kitchen, you know the way it is: fending off little helping hands from every angle!! I recently had the enormous pleasure of meeting one of my blog-readers: Annika won my Facebook Painting Giveaway a few weeks ago. I was so delighted when her name came out of the random number generator: she had emailed me a couple of months previous and had been so sweet, kind and complimentary about my blog, and in person, was simply as lovely. I hope the painting brings you great joy Annika
I have a whole “battery hen” post, a coconut oil post, and a recipe for the most delicious German Apple Cake… My problem is trying to find the time to actually finish these posts, so I am hoping by mentioning them here, it will give me the impetus to actually do them (there really is method in my madness…)
We recently visited Duckett’s Grove in Co. Carlow. We went for a quick walk, and ended up spending the afternoon there; it was just fantastic (and this was even without the cafe being open, about which, by the way, I’ve heard only great things. I plan on a return visit very soon to check out these rumours…)
Duckett’s Grove, is the ruins of a large sprawling castle, built in the 18th, 19th and 20th century, formally the home of the Duckett family. The castle itself, although ruined, can be accessed through the courtyard craft shop for a nominal fee of one or two euro, and is an extraordinary glimpse into a bygone era (the only negative was that there were no tours or signs to say what the rooms were. Thankfully, though, I had my resident historian (Fergal) who figured out where everything would have been) Many of the details are still intact, or partially intact: stucco work, beautiful lead-paned windows, and the exterior of the house is decorated the whole way around with gargoyles, each one completely different.
After our tour of the house, we wandered around the beautiful walled gardens which are being restored to former glory (If visiting with children, you need to be prepared to hold onto them within the house, but the gardens are safe and great for running around)
Then we finished up in the Craft Shop, which, wow, is an absolute must for anyone wishing to buy actual Irish handcrafts, all from the local area. Pauline Cullen, who manages and curates the craft shop, is, herself, a craftwoman and passionate about local history, art and crafts.
It is one of those rare shops where you would be spoiled for choice and value. I’ve several things picked out for my Christmas shop, which I am going to combine with a long visit to the cafe where I will try out all the delicacies on offer
Busy weeks; it always is, once Fergal goes back to work and we get back into our rhythm without him. Here is a snapshot of what been going on around here:
I was commissioned to make these dolls (tutorial here!) as a welcoming present for the siblings of twins… great excitement in that house!!
A blanket for one of the two babies born this month, within a day of each other! Cute doesn’t describe the much-awaited-for Little Ones…
I spotted this on a walk… I thought it was an Angel wing at first glance!
Blackerries are ripe already! We picked huge, big juicy ones on the boreen, although most of them were eaten before we got home
Fergal is back to work today after a few wonderful weeks… sniff sniff… things are coming back to normal, but it still feels odd that he isn’t here all day. James went looking for him this morning to share his glass of orange juice with his breakfast, he was most unimpressed by my telling him he was in work!
Here are some photos of Donegal: I am painting frantically when I get a few minutes; I have seven Donegal-inspired paintings started: I painted over the ones I had been working on, as I just felt they weren’t working at all. I am SO much happier now!
We got married thirteen years ago today. I married the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful man that ever lived; he really is my best and dearest friend, the person I would choose over anyone else to spend time with.
On the eve of our wedding anniversary, we brought our bicycles to Shannon Harbour in Co. Offaly. Fergal had found an old wire bicycle basket and wire-brushed it down and painted it (didn’t I tell you he was the kindest?) So with James in the baby seat behind me, my lovely wire basket in front, Fergal took Grace; we took the most beautiful route along the towpaths by the canal. We talked, laughed, photographed, cycled… And looked for James’ shoe which he disposed of along the way…
Fergal loves any water-mass; I love canals: I am fascinated by them: the ingenuity, the peace, the order. My mothers family were boat builders, generations back: they built the canal barges that brought the malt to the Guinness Brewery in St. James Gate in Dublin. It was my fathers family who brought those same barges to Dublin, to the Guinness Brewery, which, incidentally had been belonged to the Rainsford family before it changed hands to Arthur Guinness!
We came home, buying some bags of greasy, vinegary Italian chips on the way. I had roasted an organic chicken the night before, so we had chips and wraps and salad. It was bliss. I am so blessed.
Last weekend we took a walk to the river… started off with just the small ones, then a little boy joined us. A long walk for little legs, down the boreen, then through wildflower meadows to reach the river. We didn’t rest long though, headed back home, our return journey enlivened by this little frog along the way!
(Part deux of our holiday in Germany)
Olivia and her family live right in the centre of this beautiful town, and we were spoiled for choice with the fantastic parks and playgrounds. I think we managed to visit the playgrounds at least once every day bar one.
Everywhere was spotless and the little (and big) ones had most fun making sand
castles empires (which we managed to keep James The Bulldozer from jumping on) We saw squirrels! And hundreds of cheeky pidgeons.
The Botanic Gardens are two minutes from their house, oh it was just beautiful: the peony roses were in full bloom, what a fantastic amenity to be on your doorstep!
The second last day, we went to Nuremberg Zoo, which was very beautiful, very leafy. They had dolphins and a huge underwater viewing area, so Grace was delighted, going through a dolphin obsession at the moment! There were tactile bronze sculptures of animals throughout the zoo, and the most brilliant playground. It was half the price of admission to Dublin Zoo, so really a brilliant day out that wasn’t costly at all.
My children are magpies. They find the most extraordinary things: rusted nuts and bolts, fossils, lichens and unusually shaped bones, stones and sticks.
Grace brought me in a recent haul:
Lichens; in detail these are incredibly beautiful. We have identified all these lichens from our Lichens in Ireland book (what lichen-geeks. I know)
And this really unusual, very beautiful branch; reminds me so much of Georgia O’ Keeffe:
Do these excite you in the same way that they excite me?! I’ve been drawing these and cannot wait to use them as structure in my paintings
Talking of paintngs, do have a look at my dads blog here, he recently completed this painting, isnt it beautiful? And check out my That Curious Love of Green: I have found another Notebook Fanatic!!!