Sunday, 30 June 2013

Visits and Visitors

It's been a strange week - one of those weird time-warps when the days seem to have gone by in a flash, and yet last Sunday feels like a lifetime away.
Perhaps it's because the weather has been so strange - some perfect, still, hot summer days and others of constant, despondent mizzle or gusty winds.
Sometimes my wwoofers, Olivia and Marie Christine, have wwoofed, at others they have sat in the kitchen knitting, or curled up in their tiny sitting room watching movies, drizzle misting the window panes.
But despite all, we have taken advantage of every good moment and got a lot done. 

And in between the endless gardening, it's been a week of visits and visitors.

On Monday I went with a friend to see Elizabeth Temple's stunning garden at Salthill in Donegal.
I first went last year, and have been longing to go again, and introduce another garden-fanatic to its joys.
More of that anon, but for any garden lover visiting the north west of Ireland, it is a must-see.

Part of the beautiful gardens at Salthill

One of Salthill's many lovely roses - possibly Abram Darby?

An old friend from England came over for a couple of days. He's thinking of buying a holiday house here, so he and the In-Charge spent happy hours cruising around Donegal and Sligo, looking at possible properties.
His family come from Donegal, and he loves coming back.
It was nice to see him, and catch up, although this time he didn't bring his gorgeous wife and children.

Some German friends, on their annual holiday in Ireland, came to re-visit our garden.
It is always nice to see our garden through someone else's eyes.
It makes me appreciate how much we have achieved over the years, and how lovely it is.
On my own, I tend to fasten on the goosegrass sticking out of the astilbe, the weeds that - since yesterday - have started springing in a newly cleared bed, the shrubs that I still haven't pruned...
Despite the hours of work, the list never gets any shorter.
But the Germans claimed not to see any of those things and took a host of photos.
Here are a few of them:
 Frau Speckle

The prince of the lily pond (still un-kissed)

Our lovely sycamore tree


My beautiful Model Dog

They also invited us to supper, our German friends, and - taking the wwoofers with us - we spent a happy evening in their holiday cottage, eating, drinking, chatting and watching the sun slowly sink into Enniscrone bay.
Summer, lovely summer.

More friends - family really - came another day to look at the garden and have tea with us, which forced us, once again, to down tools.
'We gardeners don't make the most of our gardens,' Sylvia said to me as we wandered around, comparing notes on this year's flowers. 'We spend so many hours working, but not enough just sitting - soaking it up.'
How right she is.

In one of Elizabeth Goudge's books, I once read that the elderly matriarch of the family had a seat in her garden 'at every place one might possibly wish to sit down', and - as far as the budget allows - I have tried to follow suit. But despite that, I rarely drift from bench to bench.
I'm more like a hen - head down, bottom up in one of the beds - but in my case, not pecking, just weeding, weeding, weeding.

On the way to the airport to drop our friend off for his flight home, the In-Charge took the girls to Foxford Woollen Mills, and they came home with big smiles on their faces and big carrier bags of scarves and blankets - prized souvenirs of their Irish trip.
And then yesterday it was the Strandhill Show.

I think Strandhill is probably the first of the local summer Shows, and Beltra is probably the last, at the beginning of September. I don't always go to them (I'm often head down, bottom up) but Beltra Country Market had taken a few tables in the craft marquee, so, after another morning of miserable mizzle, the wwoofers and I headed off at lunchtime.
Happily the sun came out as we drove around the coast, and by the time we arrived at the grounds of the once beautiful Lisheen house, it had turned into a hot, summer afternoon, perfect for a parish show - or fete as it would be called in England.

Poor Lisheen

I don't think we sold a vast amount, but everyone enjoyed themselves enormously.

Fabulous seaside setting for a gymkhana

Prize winning cakes

Someone brought their pet birds. I've never seen a Canary before

Anxiously awaiting the results of the dog show

In the craft marquee

When we got home that evening, it was to find the In-Charge entertaining some unexpected visitors - a couple of our own age. Apparently she and her sister had lived in our house for a summer when she was 10. Their parents had gone to Sweden on a three month internship, leaving them in the care of a country Rector and his wife. It was so interesting to hear her recollections of our 'secret garden' - apparently a complete wilderness in those days; to know that the time she spent here has become an idyllic memory; and to learn that coming back after all these years hadn't been a disappointment.
We loved meeting them both. They are, in a way, another little piece of our jigsaw, another of the limitless secrets our house has been coaxed into revealing.

A week of visitors.
And only one has been unwelcome.
The fox has called - twice. He must steal in like a shadow over the garden fence.
We have lost two of our hens this week, a sad waste of feathers at the bottom of the orchard our only clue as to their fate.

There are some visitors you can do without.


  1. Wonderful photos. I didn't get anywhere this weekend except taking the kids here and there.

  2. Lovely photos! We too lost one of our hens this week - not sure what happened and no sign of any feathers - the others didn't seem spooked either... I think at this stage any thoughts of her laying out and coming back with a little army of chicks is highly unlikely.

    1. Thanks Lorraine. Sorry about your hen. Yes, we wondered about laying out, but then we found the feathers. We haven't found any feathers for the second hen though - but we haven't found her either, but hens can hide in places you'd never find... I'm not a fox-hater, but I do wish they wouldn't choose my hens for lunch because then you can never really relax.

    2. We've spotted a pine marten twice down the road - so it could be him/her either. Poor little blackie.

  3. Now the holiday is over, we are back again and it was so lovely to read your blog! It was so great seeing you and the garden again! And we really liked the evening together, too! Some other fotos will follow!

    1. I'm glad you got back ok! It's always mixed feelings, going home after a holiday - happy to be back in your own space, but wishing you were still away! Yes, it was great to see you. Love your pix!


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