Thursday 29 February 2024

A Day in Gort

 A trip to Gort. 

Every year when we come to Ballyvaughan I meet up with two textile friends. Ester who lives near Galway always finds us a nice cafe and usually a shop or exhibition to look at, and Breda drives over from Dublin and we talk…and talk. Not as much about textiles as we used to. We’re firm friends now after 10 years!

So yesterday Ester found us  The Gallery Cafe. and a lovely shop in Gort, a busy little town about 25 miles away. 

It was pouring down all the way, and as I arrived in the square and parked I set off looking for the machine to pay. It didn’t say anywhere how much it was and I saw a man with his car window down and said ‘ I don’t know how much to put in!’.

‘Don’t put anything in, he won’t be out today. ‘

He was adamant. I said I’d meet my two friends in the cafe and see what they said, and he said it was a shame I was meeting two friends! I asked him where the cafe was and he said he was just after coming out of it and pointed me in the right direction  

I asked the cafe owner about paying for the car park, and she said ‘oh he won’t be coming out today, don’t worry’  

We had a great lunch and talked for more than 3 hours. (No parking ticket) 

I had to be restrained and order small because we were out for a meal that evening. Beautiful bruschetta and salad followed by a very small cake. 

There was a surprise when I visited the toilets! Rather an unusual water feature  in the waiting area  

Hard to photograph. A deep well with goldfish. 

Then we went to the loveliest shop,  full of colour and pattern  Nine and Fifty Swans

In the shop I heard the owner chatting noticed she didn’t have an Irish Accent, I also heard her say she used to be a feltmaker. 

When it was my turn to be served I asked where she was from, Liverpool,  and that’s where she did her textile degree. 

I suddenly had an image of her in my head from over 20 years ago. I asked her name but I already knew it! Suzanne McCullough  who had a residency at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe, who made amazing sculptural Felt pieces. I met her a number of times that year, as I had work in the Christmas exhibition! In fact I think she even bought a handbag I’d made. 

Isn’t that just amazing? In a little town in Co Galway, there was someone I’d met in Lancashire 23 years ago! 

As it was still raining hard Breda, and Ester and I couldn’t stand about much longer so we parted,  sadly until next year. 

Back at the car I was just about to dive in out of the rain, when a rather unsteady gentleman lurched over to me and asked me to help him back his car out. ‘Bang on the window if a car comes’ which I duly did. By then I was drenched! 

Got lost on the way back to Ballyvaughan, turned on the satnav and it righted me by way of a tiny road with grass in the middle. I came upon a huge black goat with immense horns in the middle of the road, a satanic looking individual who had a load of chums all trying to decide which field to return to. 

I do love Ireland. 
Tonight we’re going to a concert at Corofin, to listen to Noel Hill, who was the reason we first came to Ballyvaughan, and other musicians.
 We got a programme for the festival and we’re in it!

Friday 31 December 2021

Just in time….

 to get my only blog post in for 2021.

Made a lot of felt and then ..

Made a lot of brooches. 😍

I used to make ceramic mushrooms at college so I thought I’d just give them a go and they’ve been a great success.  I’ve sold a lot of brooches this year which has been very useful as we’ve had car repair bills and dog-dental-bills. 

I have a lot of super loyal and generous followers on my Facebook page who already know all this! 

Unfortunately this hasn’t left me much time for making larger pieces, so I’ve nothing much to show on that front, but each little brooch has been a distinct and unique  work of art.

I’ve read a lot of books, 43,  but not as many as last year  for obvious reasons.

  I also decided that’s it’s ok to give up on books you aren’t enjoying and I returned at least 10 to the online library unfinished.

The stand out book of the year for me was ‘Piranesi’ by Susannah Clarke  

It enthralled me. It’s weird but wonderful  

Via the U3A, I rang handbells weekly and played croquet, and occasional table tennis, went on social outings and went to the drawing group alternate weeks.

When there were social distancing rules we rang the bells outside, near a fishing lake  

This proffered trout was an unexpected bonus for one of our ringers one day. I might have snaffled it but I was walking 2 miles home in blistering heat, up a steep hill  and I don’t think it would have been very nice. 

I tended to my Mum’s needs (a lot) and tried hard to be patient, and took her to many many appointments  

I had my cataract operated on , my ‘second’ eye.

We managed 3 nights away in Northumberland and two in Malvern  our Scilly Isles holiday was postponed again and we hope to go in June  

Our usual Ireland break at the end of February was cancelled but we are hoping to go in 2022. 

However I have to consider my Mum who relies heavily on me and lives alone. 

We almost lived outside during the Summer and I enjoyed the garden particularly when it came to my70th Birthday  when we could socially distance outdoors and we clung to the shade it was so hot .

I like this 70 th Portrait of me because there’s no visible chins but one and my hair is no longer coloured. 

Most of our family are men! 
We had a toast to ‘absent friends’, my dear Cousin and my Sister in law who both left us recently and are greatly missed. 

But the best thing….the very very best thing of 2022, was this little sausage. Born mid October and delighting us. 

I didn’t think all the fuss people made about their Grandchildren was real but believe me it is a wonderful thing even though I’ve had to wait until the Grand old age of 70.

That green blob is an enormous stegosaurus my husband bought him for Christmas  

He is a wonderful little man and gives us hope and purpose. Seeing him is like having a ‘fix’ I think.

And he loves his Uncle Fin! 

So, just before 5.30 pm on News Years Eve I’ve got my blog post in. 

I wish everyone a happy and an especially healthy 2022. 

And if you haven’t….

Sunday 17 May 2020

Blogging n the Time of Covid 19 Part Two

We returned from Ireland and by the end of the week we were in Lockdown. But not me...oh no! I am the official Gofer. I had to endure these scenes which I’m sure everyone is familiar with, but I had to show my Mum why I couldn’t quite get everything she wanted from the supermarket.

My husband is over 70, my Mum is 92 so it’s down to me even though I have type 2 diabetes. I am quite fit and my ‘numbers’ are good so I hope I’m not at risk. 
My mum was in a state of anxiety and panic for the first three weeks, but seems to have made a complete recovery but is lonely. She goes to the local shop every day for a newspaper, which is probably not a good idea, but I think she’d go mad if she didn’t. 
She has no internet so that’s the only contact she has with the outside world apart from phone calls. 
Anyway..what have I been doing?
This collage is from quite a few years ago and you can see that there are one or two virus like shapes there. 

I thought I’d make a topical one just for fun, this may remind you of something! 

This brooch received a lot of comments on my Facebook page and some people wanted to own one. 
I had also been thinking of the food bank missing out on all the donations because people were so worried about getting enough food for themselves, that they couldn’t also buy extra to donate.
I usually take a bagful to church , as do others, but there’s no Church either. 
So..I decided to make a number of brooches , to fill in my income gap ( as my teaching has been cancelled) and to donate £5 from each sale to the food bank. 

                                       I sold them all immediately and had a long waiting list. 
So two weeks later I made another huge number. 

This time, I was able to donate more than £100 each to two hospices, who are also experiencing income drops. 
I felt useful, I felt creative and it kept me upbeat and motivated. 
But then......
Someone made an unpleasant comment on my photograph, and I got an ‘angry’ emoji too. 
I realise that the Corona virus has had a devastating effect on many hundreds of families, and that perhaps my brooches were in poor taste. 
So I stopped. I still get requests so I may do a few quietly and list them in my Etsy shop. Of course, they’ll have to be more expensive to accommodate Etsy fees but that’s how it has to be. 

The weather has been amazing and we have taken full advantage of the lovely area we live in. We are lucky to have a variety of walks nearby. 
We have Moorland 

And farmland

Tracks both high and low

We can look down from the moors onto our village and if it’s clear, you can see the sea and Blackpool Tower. 

We find old ruined farms above the woods. 

And peaceful spots with reeds. 

The woods are lovely now , full of bluebells and new leaves. 

The grass verges have been beautiful

Full of wildflowers, 

But even the lockdown didn’t stop the Sports club strimming them. 

Very sad. 

So to counter that we’re encouraging weeds. Aren’t these gorgeous?

Also gorgeous too are these Aldi ranunculus, well they were until the recent cold wind. 

It takes my garden a while to burst into bloom but there’s joy to be found in colourful leaves and the blue of the forget-me-nots. 

We have our own bluebell patch and they look amazing with the euphorbia. 

This blurry photo fills me with joy. Once I only saw these in a museum showcase but now they come to the garden. 
Global warming? 

Now I’m sewing in a different way. 
I’ve tried and tested various patterns and this seems the best. 

I’m just waiting for a delivery of elastic. 

A couple of years ago I read ‘All Among the Barley’ by Melissa Harrison. 
This was my favourite passage and I think it means more in theses days. 

Let’s look forward to a better future. 

st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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