A bit of a roller coaster

These last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster here in rural Tipperary.  The weather has been up, down and downright ludicrous, of course.  This is Ireland and it’s to be expected.  June was blazing hot at times until the sudden arrival of something approaching a tropical storm.  Then the days darkened, the temperature dropped and the rain kept falling.  I was desperate to get the grass trimmed and the paths smoothed a bit.  Each morning it began bright and sunny, the wind blew and just as it looked dry enough – boom! came the rain again. This pattern was repeated throughout the days, a roller coaster of dashed hopes.

Despite this there were some really enjoyable interludes, high points in this bumpy ride.  Last week a couple of friends from nearby finally dropped by for morning coffee.  It was so nice to sit in the warm, sunny back room, just talking.  Later we took a walk around so they could see the changes we’ve made over the last few years.  They were particularly impressed by the wood and the plans we have for new trees to replace the dead and dying ash saplings.  They brought us some beautiful flowers from their garden too.

It was another friend’s birthday on Saturday and we set off down the hill at 5pm to join the celebrations.  This was the largest gathering we’ve been to so far, with tables, little tents and a gazebo in the garden.  Helen, our host is looking after her sister’s donkeys and we were able to meet them in the paddock next door.  Helen is a member of the Nenagh Brass Band and they came along to give a performance for us all.  It was a great evening and slightly nostalgic for us.  There are many brass bands in the north-east of England and they were always a feature of life.  Christmas weekends, markets, festival days – there was always a band or two.  Jacqui is thinking about joining them but has to get a chipped front tooth fixed first.

Silage season is in full swing here as the farmers rush to get the grass cut and safely stored in between showers.  Sometimes they have to work quite late into the night as a loss at this time can mean too little food during the winter for the cows.  The field behind us has been left to grow on its own since February and I’ve been doing regular water tests to check levels of potentially harmful chemicals.  The nitrate level bordered on dangerous back in February and we’ve been using bottled drinking water since then.  Last month the level finally dropped to almost zero.  I’m still testing, especially after cutting and any more slurry.  This is now outside the 25 metre mark and so far this seems to have worked, for which we are very grateful.

With the work in the wood slowed for a few weeks we’ve seen a bit more on the trail cameras.  One is currently set up in our back garden and we get a large number of birds picking through the grass in the mornings.  A couple of nights ago I was delighted to see Mabel, the feral cat appear.  I’m fairly sure she clocked the camera – shot 2 looks like her giving it a nudge.  Out in the wood we get a variety of birds and some bats hurtling past.  Then last week the Pine Marten reappeared.  I’ve put the video on though I don’t know if it will play.  Please let me know as I’m still wrestling with the constant “updates” and automatic changes on the site.

The down side of this fortnight’s roller coaster for me was yet another trip to the dentist.  After several delays and a forced cancellation it was finally time for the dreaded root canal.  This is an hour-long appointment which leaves you with stiff jaws, a headache and painful back and shoulders.  As our dentist is almost an hour’s drive away I wouldn’t be able to do this without Jacqui’s help.  The journey there, stressful enough on its own, was made more interesting by some road works.  A diversion at the start of a narrow bridge sent us almost 5 miles round the countryside.  Then we were deposited back on the other side, 100 yards from where we started.  And she still got us there on time!

She insists she is not an angel.  She rewarded herself with a decent coffee and outstanding ice cream in a café next to the castle.  Good for her, I say.

The sunset last night was glorious, both stormy grey and red and soft blue and orange.  It was the perfect summing up for this roller coaster fortnight.

Here’s to a warmer few days and some restful times for us all.

Thank you for reading, have a good few weeks and I hope to see you back here soon.