Author Archives: Joan

December 2015 – Floods in West Cork

After the beautiful Autumn we are really paying for it now with monsoon/hurricane like weather. Fortunately the cottages are on high ground so the floods don’t effect us at home, but on Saturday night I couldn’t get home due to … Continue reading

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November 2015 – Everythings coming up roses

One of my weaknesses in life are roses and this year I’ve taken it to the extreme – I’m putting in hundreds of roses in my new rose garden. The majority of them have been chosen for their perfume, just … Continue reading

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November 2015 – Sleepless nights

Since we returned from Edinburgh our little Benji has had trouble sleeping all night, fortunately we have found the solution! One very cosy spaniel.    

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October 2015 – Autumn Sunset

The weather this autumn has been beautiful, in fact its hardly rained and even though my roses have arrived and are waiting to be planted, I’ve had to leave them in their pots for another week as the ground is … Continue reading

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September 2015 – Humpback whales

The humpback whales are back again. See this amazing video by Nic Slocum of Whale Watch West Cork.  

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July 2015 – Wedding Flower Short Course

I’m in my element. I’ve just taken part in the first Wedding Flower course at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. The course covered everything from the Bride’s bouquet to buttonholes, flowers for the cake and table decorations. I was like … Continue reading

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Photos of the Croft

We hope you will agree that this is a cute cottage. We have tried to make sure that everything you need on your holiday is in the cottage to ensure that you have a comfortable and enjoyable holiday. The living … Continue reading

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Photos of the Gallery – Coastal Cottage

There is just one word to describe the Gallery – relaxation. With its comfy sofas, well stocked bookcase and views out to Roaring Water Bay even on a winter’s day it is the place to de-stress. Below of photo’s of … Continue reading

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February 2015 – My Valentine

Spring is on its way, the evenings are getting lighter and it looks like someone’s getting ready for Valentine’s Day. They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. This one might be my Prince … Continue reading

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June 2014 – Baltimore Pirate Festival

Once again the Pirate Festival in Baltimore was a great success with families coming from far and near to take part. There were entertainers dressed as Pirates and even descendants of the 108 settlers snatched by Algerian Pirates on 20th … Continue reading

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May 2014 – Super-pod of dolphins off Baltimore Harbour

Baltimore is fast becoming known as the Capital of whale and dolphin sightings in Ireland. This year we had a real treat when a super-pod of hundreds of dolphins visited us. They were spy-hoppping (looking out of the water). Its … Continue reading

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February 2014 – Graduation Day

Well the sun shone down us and we shared our special day with family and friends. The 1st graduates of the MSc Organic Horticulture Course in Europe. It was a great day full of hopes, expectations and dreams of the … Continue reading

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January 2014 – More Storms

This winter has been one storm after another. Our cottage looks out to sea facing South West and wind and rain come in waves across the roofs of the cottages. Snug in the cottage with the wood burner on we’re … Continue reading

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September 2013 – Organic Horticulture Course

I have spent the last year studying for a MSc in Organic Horticulture. It was a great experience but it took over my life and my blog has been seriously neglected. The course literally dropped from the sky on to … Continue reading

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July 2013 – Baltimore Secret Garden Festival

Jean from Glebe Gardens in Baltimore kindly asked me to take part in the Baltimore Secret Gardens Festival which was held on the first weekend of July. I was really delighted – in my little world it felt as if … Continue reading

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January 2013 – Hard decisions

What a wet winter. The poor pigs found it hard to cope with all the mud and so did I as my welly boot’s sunk ever deeper. The books never tell you the important things like not setting up pig … Continue reading

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Nov 2012 – Humpback whales off Baltimore

There’s great excitement on the water with several sightings of humpback whales. First the schools of herring arrive, then the dolphins and finally the humpback whales, which have been observed bubble feeding. The whales work as a team with different … Continue reading

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September 2012 – Pigs in Clover

Sep has been a wonderful month, the sun shone and finally I built the pigs’ new pen. They say ‘nothing as happy as pigs in mud’, but that just wasn’t true for my two. In fact on muddy days Blackberry … Continue reading

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August 2012 – Fattening the Pigs

The pigs are now enormous. When the farmer gave them to me he said, ‘They just eat a hand-full of barley a day.’ Now 3 months later they’re going through a 25kg bag of pig pellets and the same of … Continue reading

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July 2012 – Training our Collie Puppy

We’ve been thinking about getting a dog for a while, but our needs were quite specific. It had to be good with cats, pigs, and chickens and not too noisy. I decided on a collie, as I have fond memories … Continue reading

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June 2012 – The pigs have arrived

The vet has been and we passed! The pigs have arrived. They’re so cute. We got them from a neighbour who breeds rare breed Saddleback pigs and he happened to mention that he had two pigs that had never grown … Continue reading

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May 2012 – Preparing for Pigs

With the veg beds moved, now we’ve been able to sort out the pig pen. Stock wire and stout posts were hammered in and two new gates reinforced with galvanised wire. We couldn’t get a pig arc locally so the … Continue reading

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April 2012 – Slug Attack

I long for the day when my garden reaches a state of equilibrium and all I will need to do is to maintain it. Every year I think, ‘Next year, I’ll be there’. It must be something to do with … Continue reading

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Mar 2012 – Espalier Apple Trees

Trees are my one indulgence and this month once again I’ve been seduced by fruit trees. There’s the blossom in the spring, canopy of leaves in summer and in autumn a glorious harvest. We planted our main orchard five years … Continue reading

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Feb 2012 – The first day of Spring in West Cork

The winter in Europe this year has been extreme with temperatures as low as -20 degrees C in Northern Italy and the Danube freezing over. And after our short experience of snow last year, it is unimaginable what people must … Continue reading

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New Year’s Day 2012 – Walk to the top of Lough Hyne Forest (Knockomagh Wood Nature Reserve)

On New Year’s Day, after relaxing by the fire all week, too many chocolates and lots of tasty treats, we decided that we would start the year as we meant to go on and walk to the top of Lough … Continue reading

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Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas Eve is my favourite day over the Christmas hols. The family have just arrived home. The fridge is packed with all the festive fare. There are mince pies to make, the Christmas cake to decorate and vegetables to dig … Continue reading

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November 2011 – Willow planting and Christmas wreathes

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I try to plant fifty trees a year, helped by giving guests a young sapling to take home and at the end of the summer any trees I’m left with I plant around our boundary. This year I’ve really beat … Continue reading

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October 2011 – Nature’s Palette

Nature’s masterpiece through my window delights me every season. In autumn there is a simplicity about it, with the trees stripped bare by the storms, standing erect, silhouetted against the golden autumn sky. Sometimes I wish I could paint, but … Continue reading

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September 2011 – Preparing for Winter

As we enter September suddenly there is a chill in the air, reminding us that soon the long summer days will be over and we will be constrained by the shortened hours of daylight. The swallows are gathering and there … Continue reading

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Butterflies and bees in abundance

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The new borders either side of the drive filled with verbena bonariensis, nicotiniana and wild flowers have brought a profusion of butterflies and bees this summer. So many, that as we walk along the gravel in late August, the butterflies … Continue reading

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August 2011 – Summer Evenings at Rosscarbery

This summer when the work was done we headed off to the beach. We are creatures of habit and our favourite evening haunt was Rosscarbery.  It was the allure of fish and chips from Rocs, sand and all that won … Continue reading

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July 2011 – Cunning Mr Fox

They say don’t count you chicks until they are hatched and that’s certainly true this month. A fox has come and taken several of our ducks. In one way he did us a favour as he took the three drakes … Continue reading

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Meadow Grasses

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I’ve become obsessed with grasses. A friend lent me a wonderful book called ‘A year in the Life of an English Meadow’ by Andy Garnett & Polly Devlin and it made me realise how fortunate we are in the West of … Continue reading

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June 2011 – We’re expecting ducklings!

Two of our Khaki Campbell ducks are sitting on eggs. To begin with it was just one but then another one joined in. At first we thought they would never keep it up, as ducks are notoriously bad at sitting … Continue reading

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Honey Roasted Gubbeen Ham

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Gubbeen Ham is produced locally in West Cork and the quality and flavour means that nothing need be added to produce a delicious meal. Gubbeen marinate their ham in a brine made up of white wine, herbs, pepper and juniper … Continue reading

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Roast Chicken with Stuffing Balls and Onion Gravy

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Roast Chicken with Stuffing Roast chicken is one of our mainstays during the winter and spring months. We always buy a large free-range chicken, which although much dearer, often provides enough for another dish, like chicken and mushroom pie. The carcass … Continue reading

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Elderflower Champagne

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At the beginning of June each year the elderflowers burst into bloom in our garden and I know that time is of the essence, as the elderflowers will be gone before I have fully stocked our larder for the winter … Continue reading

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Spring in the garden

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Wild flowers in May 2011 at Ballymacrown Homestead, Baltimore, Co. Cork, Ireland - a photographic survey.

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May 2011 – The wild flower garden

Apparently April was one of the driest Aprils on record and despite the lack of rain it has, as the poem says, brought May flowers. So much so that I decided to do a survey of the wild flowers in … Continue reading

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Soda Bread

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The great advantage of this bread is that it is so easy and quick to make, as it doesn’t require kneading or a long proving period. It is an ideal loaf for a novice bread maker to start with. 1 … Continue reading

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Hazelnut Wholemeal Tartlets

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These tarts are delicious, we had them at a friend’s house and we just had to get the recipe – thanks Isolda for sending it on to us. I think it’s originally from Delia’s Summer Recipe book. Base 6 slices … Continue reading

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Irish Pancakes

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These are the pancakes my mother made for me as a child. They are quite different to French crepes in that they are thicker and the addition of baking powder makes little bubbles that pop in the surface – similar … Continue reading

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Rhubarb Compote

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This recipe uses far less sugar than used for jam allowing the taste of the fruit to shine. Handfull  of rhubarb stalks 200 gm sugar Orange/apple juice to just cover rhubarb in pan How to make Rhubarb Compote Chop the rhubarb and place … Continue reading

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Chicken and Mushroom Pie with Tarragon

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This is a great recipe for using up left overs from a roast chicken. It is flavoured with tarragon, which resurfaces in our herb garden in April. There’s enough dough to cut in half and freeze to make it quicker to … Continue reading

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Apr 2011 – Easter walk to Barlogue Pier, Lough Hyne

This Easter we had family to stay in the cottages and the sun shone and shone. We had lots of day trips: Bantry House; the English Market in Cork City; and Schull harbour. But the best day of all was … Continue reading

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Mar 2011 – Inspiration & Preparation

I’m looking for inspiration in the vegetable garden. Last year I dug up the grass paths between the beds, but it was hard to keep them neat in the summer, so we have decided on raised beds. The first seeds … Continue reading

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Mackeral Pizza

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Pizza is great for using up a glut of tomatoes in the greenhouse. Roasting them first really enhances the flavour and Sally Barnes’ smoked mackeral is a great addition. The fish is caught locally off the coast of  West Cork and cured and … Continue reading

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Fish & Leek Pie with Garlic Mash

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Using uncooked fish in this recipe cuts the preparation time for this dish in half and ensures that the fish is kept moist. The addition of creme fraiche instead of a white sauce also saves time. Ingredients Mixed fish fillets … Continue reading

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Sunday Tea – Blackcurrant Drizzle Cake

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This is our store cupboard cake which we make in the winter and spring using blackcurrants that we have frozen from our garden the previous summer and eggs from our ducks. Duck eggs are great for baking, giving the cake a lovely … Continue reading

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Feb 2011 – St. Brigid’s Day

1st of February marks the first day of spring in Ireland and throughout the nation’s primary schools the children are singing to St. Brigid. After the hard winter the first signs of life in the garden are most welcome. The bulbs … Continue reading

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Jan 2011 – Out with the old and in with the new

I love the New Year there’s something wonderful about being able to start afresh again and planning the year ahead. Last year I failed miserably in planting my vegetables at regular intervals and we had times of famine and feast! … Continue reading

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Dec 2010 – Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

This is beginning to be a habit – snow at Christmas. The once mild winter climate of West Cork has been transformed into a winter wonderland. Unfortunately, even having had snow last year, we were completely unprepared for it and … Continue reading

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Nov 2010 – Homemade Treats

I’m feeling inspired by ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas’ a Channel 4 TV series. In these times of austerity a homemade Christmas makes sense and is great fun. So far I have the Chutneys made, along with a relish to go with the … Continue reading

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Oct 2010 – Golden Sunsets

During the summer months the sun sets on the northern side of the valley behind the Gallery, but during a single week it moves across to the southern side, setting for a short period on the sea, marking the beginning … Continue reading

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Sep 2010 – Love is in the air!

Lenny the Lonesome duck now has three female companions. I call them ‘Lenny and his Ladies’. The three Khaki Campbell drakes that didn’t get on with Lenny also now have a girl friend each, although with their loud quakes they’re … Continue reading

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Aug 2010 – Beach bags, packed lunches, ferry rides & Sherkin Island

Each year as August rolls on there’s a day when I suddenly realise that summer is almost at an end and from that day onwards we take every opportunity to head off to the beach – Tralispeen if we only … Continue reading

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Jul 2010 – Fruity Compote

They say the sign of a good gardener is that there is neither famine nor feast in a garden. This is something I can’t quite master, all the produce in the veg garden and orchard seems to have ripened at … Continue reading

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Jun 2010 – Killer Whales

This really is one of the driest years I can remember – the duck pond has dried up, we are having to water the garden most nights and have the blinds permanently drawn in the greenhouse to prevent the young … Continue reading

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May 2010 – Seedlings

My success rate in germinating the seeds that I planted in April was actually quite poor in our new unheated greenhouse and this was very disappointing, especially as we made such a big investment in it – it was a … Continue reading

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Apr 2010 – April Showers

On Easter Sunday there certainly were April showers, but between the showers the sun shone and we decided to pack a picnic and head off to Clonakilty, first to Lisselan Gardens for an Easter egg hunt and then on to … Continue reading

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Mar 2010 – Best laid plans

March is traditionally the month for planning the vegetable garden, but as they say ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft astray’ and I hadn’t taken into account the consequences of having free-range chickens and ducks. At the … Continue reading

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Feb 2010 – Animal Antics

This is the first winter that we have been self-sufficient in wood. The trees we planted last year will be many years before they can be harvested, but in the mean time the old ash on the north side of … Continue reading

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Jan 2010 – The Big Freeze

The frosts continued into the New Year, but once again we avoided the heavy snow experienced by the East coast of Ireland and throughout the UK. We did have one day at the end of the ‘Big Freeze’ when it … Continue reading

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Dec 2009 – Christmas is coming

Christmas is creeping up on me, it does this every year! We always buy our Christmas trees late, so they look good on Christmas day and haven’t been reduced to twigs. And for us there’s nothing like a real tree, … Continue reading

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Nov 2009 – Floods

November is usually spent trimming the hedges, turning out the compost heap and preparing the veg beds for the following year. But this year it rained and rained, not just the odd day, it seemed to rain for the whole … Continue reading

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Oct 2009 – Seed Harvest

The fine weather continued through the first half of October, in fact the weather was so fine that buds formed on the fruit bushes and the fuchsia hedges were speckled with flowers. We took advantage of the good weather and … Continue reading

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Sep 2009 – Swallows

The late summer burst of fine weather made blackberry picking a must and several apple and blackberry crumbles ensued, following walks to Spain (a deserted village on the cliffs, where it is said that a spanish galleon once sank). The wild … Continue reading

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Aug 2009 – Menu Planning

August saw me reviewing my homesteading. I’ve tried to design a two week summer menu that meets the criteria of using only natural produce (i.e. not processed); fresh veg from the garden, using least amount of cooking pots ( I … Continue reading

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July 2009 – Baby Swallows

July brought our first proper harvest of the year, although it was very nearly a disaster – the sudden warm weather with bouts of heavy rain at night were perfect conditions for potato blight. The earlies were due to be harvested, … Continue reading

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June 2009 – Hedgerow Harvest

The first Friday in June was the Bantry farmers market, so off we went to buy some ducklings. We also purchased 10m of strong chicken wire and made a fully enclosed duck pen, so that the ducklings would be safe … Continue reading

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May 2009 – Nature’s Balance

The swallows arrived as expected on 26th April, chattering excitedly with their characteristic call. They inspected the barn flying at great speed through a slit at the top of the door and built a nest in the rafters. I’m hoping … Continue reading

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Apr 2009 – Easter Blessings

At last the garden is springing into life. The grass has had its first cut and the fuchsia hedge, which runs around our boundary, is no longer brown twigs, but flushed with vibrant green growth. It seemed to happen overnight. … Continue reading

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Mar 2009 – Painting the cottages

Mar 2009 – Painting the Cottages March has been a busy month spent painting the cottages. We’ve always loved the colours used in Portmeirion in Wales and the vibrant traditional country cottages here in Ireland, so we decided on pink … Continue reading

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Feb 2009 – Tree Planting

Brrr! Its been cold, but we shouldn’t complain – our little peninsula in West Cork missed out on the worst of the snow, thanks to the Gulf Stream. Just one beautiful snow laden morning greeted us, by lunchtime it had melted … Continue reading

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Jan 2009 – New Year’s Resolutions

What a start to the year, such doom and gloom here in Ireland with banks going under, job losses and the prospect of increased taxes. This makes us even more determined to fulfil our homesteading philosophy. Its New Year the … Continue reading

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