Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Stock Sunday Furniture Restoration

Click on this link above to visit Robin at Around the Island, who generously hosts Summer Stock Sunday.

Now (aug 4th) I'm also linking with Karen from The Art of Doing Stuff cos she has a linky for your favourite project. By the way, her site is one of the most amazing places- practical but very funny, which don't often go together. e.g. how to open a bottle of wine with a shoe and a tree!

I've been doing a bit of a makeover on the garden, I'm fed up of the outdoor furniture, it needed varnish and I was dreading that job.

Then I saw a range of paint and realised painting didn't take any longer than varnishing...

so I took the plunge, and now we have PINK OUTDOOR FURNITURE!

I next need to clean that patio, before summer's over..

And that lovely pink blooming window box? I'm flowersitting for a friend who's on holiday. Optimistically, she asked me to keep it watered. I've had very little to do so far, nature has watered it every day!


I wrote a little in a previous post about my visit to Newgrange.

Some of the designs on the stones are unique, but we're unable to read the meanings of the symbols.

I'm ok with that, there are secrets of the past that will never be revealed.

Newgrange was constructed over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 B.C.), making it older than Stonehenge in England and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Newgrange was built during the Neolithic or New Stone Age by a farming community that prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley. Knowth and Dowth are similar mounds that together with Newgrange have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It has been a highlight of this summer, and I'm still amazed that I had never gone to see it, or known the detail of it, so close to home.
I went with G, my friend, and her Mum. Their home is a 5 minute drive to Newgrange.
As a child, G used to play in the chambers nearby in Knowth. They would bring candles inside, and play around in these 5000 year old structures. Imagine!
We knew little at that time of our wonderful heritage.

So, we went first to the visitor centre, where we had some lovely lunch, and put our names down for the tour. It's busy there and numbers are strictly limited, so you have to get your name down early, or you won't get on a tour.

A big, brave tree. Not as old as the tomb of Newgrange, but very old nonetheless.

There were several of these stones around Newgrange. I'm assuming they were of some significance, and also that they were arranged thus for a reason too.

The guide, at the entrance to the chamber. It's built to capture the morning light at the winter solstice. We put our names down for a draw to win a place in the chamber on December 21st.

The structure is very big on the outside. It took quite a while to walk around it, while the other half of our tour were inside.

Our guide was very knowledgable, from the local area. There were several references to Nama and the recession. Well, may as well get a laugh from our predicament!

Inside the chamber, the guide turned off all the lights, having warned us beforehand that it would be very dark, and using electric light, he showed us how the winter solstice light would appear through the "roof box".

(this photo was taken in a replica in the visitor centre- photography is not allowed in the chamber)

A stillness came over us all, as we watched the pattern of the emerging light with a sense of wonder at how these people were in tune with nature, how they respected their surroundings and the materials available to them, and how carefully they thought about light when building the tomb.

And how, in all the years since it was built, it has never let a drop of rain in.

That is some achievement, given how much it rains in Ireland!

I kept wondering what these wise people would make of the situation we're in now, where housing estates were thrown up in unsuitable locations (eg flood plains), using "any old" materials, with little or no thought of environmental impact ; they're unfinished now and there are no buyers for them.

If we tuned in more often to the wonder of nature around us, and stopped rushing around and being greedy, and built and made things that will last, wouldn't we be much better off?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Black and White Wednesday

Aren't the colours of nature just wonderful?

Sometimes I take them for granted, they are around us every day, so I don't notice them, but imagine if they were taken away?

These were taken on our recent trip to Pisa, this was the view from outside our hotel (though not from the balcony, there were trees in the way!). Can you see the Leaning Tower and the Duomo in the distance?

For more B and W click on the link at the top to go to Lisa's blog. You will see some amazing photography there.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Stock Sunday

I know that to some of you, this might not look like much of a summer picture, but it was not a bad day (for Ireland).
This was taken on a recent visit to Newgrange, Co. Meath, Ireland. Newgrange, or Brú na Bóinne (Mansion of the Boyne) is a prehistoric passage tomb, 5000 years old. Yes, it pre-dates even the Pyramids and Stonehenge.
I'm planning to do a full post on my trip, soon. This was the view from the hilltop where the tomb is located
And an interesting twist to this post is that it was Robin, who hosts Summer Stock Sunday who made me aware of the significance of Newgrange, following her post on it when she visited Ireland! even though I've lived one hour's drive away from it, and my friend lives 20 minutes walk from it, I had never been.
Through Robin's eyes, I saw my own country differently.

"One does not see anything until one sees its beauty" Oscar Wilde

For more Summer Stock or to join in, click on the link at the top of this post, and you'll be transported to Robin's tropical island.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The break

We had a wonderful few days in Tuscany. Totally relaxed, had lovely meals, walked, walked, walked, took lots of pictures, walked some more. Oh, and cycled!
Here are just a first few pics, more to follow. This was just beside the leaning tower, flowing water keeping the fruit fresh and cool. Wouldn't need the water for cooling here, not this week anyway.
But the forecast is that "it will pick up" - at 11 degrees tonight, it would need to!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Colours

We went on a little trip last week, to Avoca.

I particularly wanted to visit Avoca Handweavers, and thought we might get in a nice walk in the area too.

Well, it was an unexpected kind of day. Couldn't find a walk at all, other than through the village. That wasn't what I had in mind.

While we were driving round, looking for the walk, we spotted, just outside the (very picturesque) village, a sign for Avoca Recycling Centre. I knew that I had a couple of pairs of shoes in the boot of the car, ready for dropping off whenever I'd be passing a recycling centre, but never expected it to be in the Vale of Avoca.

What a must be the most picturesque recycling centre in the world. We drove up a huge avenue, on the edge of a forest, and there were containers for all kind of stuff.

When I opened the boot to get out the shoes, there was an old duvet that I had thrown in there last night, after doing a mini-clearout. And, sure enough, there was a container for old bedding. Score!

After getting rid of that stuff, and abandoning the idea of a walk, we headed to have a look at Avoca Handweavers Mill.

These pics are all from there, taken by hubby. The noise of the machinery meant that those spending a lot of time in the "weaving shed" had to wear ear muffs!

The machinery was clacking away in the background

making beautiful patterns of tartan for the rugs, capes and scarves they sell in their shop.

They had several racks of these cones of wool, and the minute I saw them, I knew they'd make a great blog post, especially for those bloggers who are into wool and knitting.

I've been a fan of Avoca Handweavers for a long time: both their clothes and the food they serve in their cafe are high quality, handmade, not mass-produced. But this visit gave me a new insight into the intricate process that is involved, and I enjoyed it very much.

Getting ready for summer

Went on a shopping spree today.

No, not really a spree, just got a few bits for my holidays- hubby and I are going away for a few days towards the end of July, so I thought I'd get myself organised in plenty of time.

As we'll be travelling with Ryanair, and they only allow one bag (and they are very strict about it), I got this little item, which can go across body under any jacket. I hate having to lug down my bag from the overhead locker to get out money for food on the plane, so this is the perfect solution.

Then I spotted a rack of belts, and couldn't resist these two. The black one will go perfectly with my black patent sandals, and the flowery one is lovely- not sure if it shows in this picture, but it has loads of tiny sequins. (sorry, order of photos is wrong, blogger is being funny again and I had to go to firefox to publish, grrr!)

Total cost of the "spree".....€10.

Got to love Dunnes Stores! And the sale hasn't even started yet, these were regular prices!

We're flying into Pisa, will go to Florence for at least a day. If anybody has any tips on the area, they'd be much appreciated.

Looking forward to the trip. This will be our first time away without the kids, ever!

I'm linking in with Robin at Around the Island for Summer Stock Sunday. If you'd like to join in just follow the link.