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Running to Stand Still

There was a time when my life was dedicated to music. Every spare minute was spent writing songs, singing, playing guitar and listening to music, either recorded or live. I went to at least one live gig a week, often more. I rubbed shoulders with an eclectic bunch of troubadours, some of whom have gone on to become international stars. Music pulsed through my veins. Lyrics framed my philosophies & my thinking. Read more

Things that Tried to Thwart me

Ants, birds, biting insects, blackfly, cabbage caterpillars, cats, cows, crickets, dogs, frost, heat, moles, moss, pea maggots, rain, weeds. Since the start of the growing season a catalogue of hindrances has tried to come between me and my vegetables. The latest to appear are caterpillars on my brassicas – my beautiful cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Read more

Beneath My Feet

What a joy it is, a vegetable grower’s delight. Take some seeds, put them in the earth, tend to them, nurture them; watch empty spaces become dots of green, watch tiny leaves unfurl and grow, watch flowers, heads, roots and fruits emerge. It’s August and my bones are tired from weeding and watering, but the beauty of the ground beneath my feet makes it all worthwhile. Read more

Cinnamon & Raisin Soda Scones [Recipe]

There are few things as welcoming as the smell of freshly baked bread when you walk into a home. It’s so effective at putting people at ease and making them feel at home that estate agents actually recommend you bake bread when showing your home to potential buyers. Throw a pinch of cinnamon into the mix and you have a smell so warming and soothing it’s almost like a hug when you walk in the door. Read more

Jiminy Cricket

Nature is amazing. Sometime it feels like nature is working against you, like when it rains all summer long and your tomatoes don’t ripen. Other times, though, she does you a favour. Read more

Breaking the Rules

I’ve never been good at sticking to the rules. Maybe I have a rebellious streak or maybe I simply have a logical mind and just can’t bring myself to slavishly follow rules I find to be arbitrary. And a lot of them seem to be arbitrary! Read more

How to Sprout Lentils (and other Legumes)

I get frustrated when I see simple things made complicated, especially when the complication is added in order to sell gadgets. Overpriced, unnecessary gadgets. Sprouting lentils, and indeed most legumes, is really easy and requires nothing more than an empty jar and a bit of patience. Read more

Alive & Kicking

Well, I made it. Sydney and back in two weeks. In the past when I’ve travelled to Australia I’ve gone for at least 4 weeks to allow for recovery from the long flight. This time, however, I was squeezing the trip between weedings in the garden and couldn’t afford to take longer than two weeks Read more

Carnage

It started off as a normal morning. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, Casanova was making a racket in the garden. I was sipping my morning coffee when I heard a knock at the door. It was unusually early for visitors – so early that the door was still locked. I heard Arūnas opening the door, then panicked tones and footsteps running away from the house. I jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see where they were headed, swirls of thoughts rushing through my head. I saw Arūnas arrive at the chicken coop – and then he froze. Read more

Sister Golden Hair

The question people most often ask me about living in Lithuania is whether or not I miss Ireland. My answer is always the same – it’s not so much Ireland that I miss, but my family and friends. There are other things I miss occasionally, like the music and craic in a good Irish pub or living near the sea and the abundance of fish & seafood that the sea provides. But mostly it’s my friends and family that I miss. Read more

On the Way

I love a good road trip. I love wide, open spaces and diverse scenery. I would far sooner be in a car travelling through stunning countryside than on a city tour, no matter how beautiful the architecture. Some of the most surprising and spectacular sights are between places of interest rather than in them. These are some of my favourite “on the way” shots from our European road trip two summers ago. Taken in Rioja, Spain, within a 15 minute period, they demonstrate the enormous variety of landscapes in the region. Think we might be due another visit. Read more

New Cock on the Block: Introducing Casanova

When you keep hens for eggs you learn to read your eggs for information on the well-being of your flock. You begin to notice variations in the colour, shape and thickness of the shell, the consistency of the white and the yellowness of the yolk. Shortly after the fall of Beelzebub I noticed something very strange about my eggs – something that should no longer be possible. Most of them were fertilised. Read more

Garden Update #1 – First Cucumber

Digging new garden beds is hard work, especially when you’re turning over a field that hasn’t been used in years. On the one hand, the weeds were deep, making breaking down the sods a back-breaking chore. On the plus side, the soil is in wonderful condition and, as it has been rested for several years, I suspect it is rich and fertile. Read more

Nothing Gold Can Stay

It feels like only a few days ago that my garden was awash with golden dandelions. All of a sudden the golden flowers are gone, only to be replaced with white seed heads. These incredibly intricate seed orbs have always been a fascination to me. When we were kids we used to blow them apart to tell the time – whatever number of blows it took to take all the seeds off the stem was inferred to be the current time. It never worked, of course, but that didn’t stop us from blowing flower after flower, in effect helping nature to spread the seeds and thus ensuring more dandelions the following year. Beautiful and effective. Read more

Of Bees & Apple Blossoms

Bees amaze me. The amount of work they do is incredible. I keep some chilli plants in my sun room. I recently read that when keeping fruiting plants indoors where there are no bees you need to cross-pollinate the flowers yourself by gently sticking the tip of your finger into each flower in turn. The process takes a bit of time, but my plants are small and I only have a few of them, so it really doesn’t take too long. Then I look at our apple trees, completely covered in blooms. I can’t imagine how long it would take if I had to cross-pollinate all those individual flowers myself. Thank goodness for the bees, who tireless make their way from bloom to bloom, ensuring my tree is heavy with delicious apples later in the season. Seeing the bees enveloping the stamen with their tiny legs, clinging on as they extract the nectar for honey, is really quite fascinating. Read more

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