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Typical Piscean, dreamer, story teller in the tradition of my country, I love to write. I'm not sure that I'm any good at it, but getting the words down has its reward.

27 May 2015

Cautious and The Rebel; Keep the Home Fires burning

The stunningly handsome “Dash”, hero of this garden and its environs, is a proud Dad.  The Rebel is a cute bundle of fox fur, cinnamon in colour, and he first came to our attention two weeks ago.  This means he is about seven weeks old, and is full of vim, vigour and mischief.  Daddy Dash has had to chase after him across the lawn, cuff him with a gentle paw and the prod of a nose in the side to return him to the den.  As he slowly loses his “cub” face and his “fox” face emerges from the fluff, I have a vision of him, red and white spotted kerchief tied to a stick thrown over his shoulder. Off with him on many great adventures.

Yesterday, as he sunned himself on what we now term the nursery rock; devious thoughts of escape no doubt running through his foxy brain, a second smaller cub tentatively put a paw and cute little face out of the den and came to join The Rebel.  I don’t know if The Rebel is dog or vixen yet.  We have named the sibling “Cautious”.

Cautious is much more nervous, and a short bark from Mother, Miss Pretty, had he/her race back into the shelter of the cotoneaster; meanwhile The Rebel groomed himself/herself meticulously, sneered over a small shoulder at Cautious, stretched in leisurely fashion and sauntered back to the den.  We await, with interest, the development of this stunning pair.  Cautious is more russet in colour and her/his face is still cub-like.  Both have inherited Daddy’s white tipped tail. 

Last year’s cubs, three of them, were not a success.  One died within weeks of showing himself, one left home for pastures new and the other emigrated for a while to a nearby hill and returned with mange.  Copious quantities of blue mouldy bread thrown out to him appears to have cured the mange.  Nothing like raw penicillin to do the job.  He is horrible to behold in looks, but at least his fur has regrown.  We haven’t seen him around for the past few weeks and I think Daddy Dash has warned him off.  There is no doubting Dash is a protective father, he ran into the midst of fourteen Grey Crows the other day when he thought they had The Rebel in their sights.
In WWII, or The Emergency as it was referred to here, the Luftwaffe was industrious in its determination to sink the mail boats coming across from England, and to that end Dublin Bay was targeted on a regular basis.  The North Strand area of Dublin took a direct hit and much damage was done.  With typical Irish phlegmatism the attitude was one of “arrah sure! It could have been worse!” amongst Dubliners. 

My Mother used to tell me of nights when my Grandmother would take my Uncle and Mum out of the house and away across the fields to the shelter of a cowshed.  My Grandmother was terrified that the planes flying overhead would drop a bomb by mistake, as they flew overhead, on their way to bomb the mail boats. 

One evening last week I thought of my Grandmother as many planes flew in over the house.  Irish citizens were returning from all over the world to cast their vote in the Marriage Equality referendum.  At one stage last Thursday night one could be forgiven for thinking there was an armada of airplanes overhead.

I moved a garden chair to a newly cleared part of the garden which has a view over the Bay.  Inspired to do so by having to stand in a bitter wind [this is May right?] admiring the Queen Elizabeth 2 in all her stately nautical glory recently.  As she lay at anchor in the Bay, every available hill, road with a view and even some private lanes, were traversed in order to catch the best photo.  One lady arrived at my gate and asked could she go up onto our roof, was there any part of it flat enough for her to stand on and take a “leeeetle picky”.  Her resemblance to Miss Map notwithstanding, I declined access – we don’t have a flat roof – and she told me she was very disappointed in me.  People never cease to amaze me.

My newly placed chair is in a cleft in the rocks, sheltered from wind and sun, cosy and an old childhood haunt.  In our youth, my pals and I hid here while we decided who was a Cowboy, which of us were Red Indians and whether we were cattle rustling, robbing the stage coach, or even rescuing the stage coach from “The Baddies”.

In the intervening years since The Lone Ranger, Wild Mikey and The Sun up Kid and I moseyed along to our hidey hole, a rowan tree has taken root at the entrance to our special area.  In full bloom at the moment, it has a smell reminiscent of almonds and horse stables.  If we get any sort of a summer without snow in it, the lap top and I shall be seeking inspiration out there.  Flask of tea and ice top buns, gluten free naturally, will be the order of the day.

Mum's thinking post

21 May 2015

Escape to the Country

We lived in County Wicklow for 28 of our 35 years and I have always loved its gentle rolling hills, reminiscent of Shropshire.  The fact that I can trace back a couple of generations to South Wicklow probably tips the balance a wee bit as well.

Himself’s car was in need of some beauty treatment.   A leaking oil valve, (or whatever they call it), tyre realignment (sounds painful) and a general wash, wax and all that rigmarole was called for.  I drove down behind him to the dealer’s maintenance garage in Wicklow town.    We then headed off down-country along back lanes.  Avoiding knocking down low flying swallows, blackbirds incandescent with rage that their branch had been taken over by a self serving rook.  We meandered around bends in the road enchanted by the richness of the may blossom, the bright yellow of the gorse and the sound of birdsong along the route.

We were debating where we would have our lunch.  We’re not Foodies as such, we just like plain, old fashioned home style cooking.  We haven’t traversed these back roads for about two years and it was reassuring to find them as lovely as ever.  Would we drop into the Bee Hive just outside Wicklow town on the road to Arklow?  Perhaps we might call into Lil Doyles’ restaurant and I could indulge myself with one of their light, fluffy mushroom omelettes?  I’m watching “Pie in the Sky” at the moment, and Henry Crabbe’s obsession with the omelette parfait was probably influential in that choice.  We could keep going and head for Gorey in Co. Wexford and the Ashdown Hotel where gluten free good Irish cooking is a way of life.

Let me wax lyrical about the Ashdown for the moment.  It is, in fact, a new build…well relatively so.  It was built at the end of the ‘90’s with a heavy nod to Arts & Crafts style intermingled with witty pictures on the walls.  My favourite is one of a fisherman with rod and line, at sea just off a coastline, in a large copper saucepan.  The staff are pleasant and self-effacing in that they help you out without making a Drama and Occasion of it.  It amuses me to think that in one hundred years’ time, if it is still standing, people will say with a wise look on their face “Oh yes, it’s an historic building, built in the 90’s y’know, last century”.  To me, built in the 90’s conjures up the 1890’s and my Grandmothers (both) who were born in 1897 and 1900 respectively.

However, I digress. As we rounded a bend in the road just before The Bee Hive we almost knocked down a nice young man.  A nice young man in high viz jacket, standing at the junction of, well, the makings of a new motorway to Rosslare.  The Bee Hive, now lurking in a hollow near the access road, is closed for business at present.  We pressed on. 

Lil Doyles’ Pub & Restaurant looks like it may never open again as it sits cheek by jowl with an enormous bridge, the motorway glowering over the restaurant.  I’m not often rendered speechless, according to Himself, but not even a squeak was possible. 

In fear and trepidation we headed on for Gorey.  Suspicions were high that a new shopping mall might now exist in the Ivy Leaf bar and restaurant.  The forecourt, scene of many a happy wedding picture and selfie, would this be a drive in MacDonald’s? We were so obsessed with the fate of the Ashdown that we forwent the pleasure of our usual trip out to Courttown to see what was going on.

As they say in all the best dramatic novels…”A large Phew was emitted”, Oh! All right, so they don’t go quite that far, but we did emit a loud “Thank God”.  There she stood, in full May sunshine and glory, as a Bride and Groom descended from a 1920’s cream Rolls Royce, welcome shining out of every window.  Suffice it to say that cauliflower in a light creamy sauce, herby roast beef [from Redmond’s farm] and gravy, rich  like a melted Galaxy bar, steamed mixed vegetable al dente, and the fluffiest mashed potato and we were purring like tabbies.  I think I heard C. I. Henry Crabbe purring as well.

We won’t go into the cost of the beauty treatment for Himself’s beloved motor vehicle, but let us just say that when he arrived home after me he didn’t give it its customary little pat and say “Atta girl”.  No, something like “piece of wrap, or snap” or something that rhymes with that was uttered in a very low tone.  Not to worry, he’ll recover.  She’ll have her rear seats out by tomorrow and the lawn mower, strimmer and all that stuff will be brought out to sister in laws garden to do the needful there.  Dolores will ride again, smelling of phew de petrol.

In loving memory of our beloved Cáit O’Connor who left us this week.
May her spirit fly in the sunlight above the Blasket Islands of Kerry
And may her soul sit at the right hand of God. Ar dheis De a anamh dilis.  Sleep the long peaceful sleep mo chara.