It always rains in Ireland

There is a popular misconception that it always rains in Ireland.  Certainly there are some months of the year when this seems to be true.  Days of overcast skies, drizzle or the occasional torrential downpour and endless mud can dampen the spirit.  However it may rain most days in Ireland but not everywhere.  An occasional shower in a hot spell can be most welcome, as it was last week.  In summer it rains far less and it can get hot – very hot.

The arrival of high temperatures and day-long sunshine following all the rain had an amazing effect on all the plants.  From little seedlings and scrubby undergrowth everything burst forth with astonishing speed and enthusiasm.  Jacqui had planted some bedding plants in tubs by the fence and sown radishes and rocket in the small trough.  In ten days the Mimulus was flowing over the sides in a waterfall of colour.   Jacqui has been re-purposing some of the old roof battens and made a little table for the back.  Now we can sit out in the evening sun with drinks (and smudge pots to deter the insects).

A quick examination of the trough revealed half a dozen fat and happy snails (over the wall with them!) and the first long and crunchy radishes.  The rocket, picked fresh in the evening, is delicious and we’ve enough to make pesto as well as salads.  It’s a small start, along with the herb and lettuce bath tub, but we are slowly expanding what we do and are now making plans for the poly-tunnel greenhouse and, in the winter, the first fruit trees and canes.  We are also harvesting the wild-sown sycamore seedlings to grow on and plant as a hedge.

The field behind us was cut and the silage gathered at the start of the hot spell leaving it to go golden in the sun.  Within minutes a huge flock of rooks descended and began picking over the earth.  They were constantly flying in and out again for several days until finally they moved on to something better.  Then the blackbirds arrived to finish off the job.  I hope they found and enjoyed the snails on the wall.

We’ve been very busy these last few weeks and surprisingly sociable.  Recently we were invited to join a Zoom quiz group.  Some members are local, others are in the UK but it was nice to get to know more people.  Then last week several UK members visited and we all met up at John Ryan’s pub in Carney.  As it was a quiz night we used their wi-fi and joined in as usual despite the occasional interruption from the pool table next door.  The following Saturday we all met up and had a lovely evening meal in a friend’s garden.

An interesting aside.  I spotted a car loitering outside the house the next day and went to see if they were lost.  A couple from Paris were looking for “the house of Shane MacGowan”, and I was able to direct them as it is next door to where we had dined.  It felt rather good, being able to direct someone.  And I’m sure Shane wouldn’t have minded as he was away that weekend.

Earlier that week we had visitors with our friends from England arriving after a few busy and fun-filled days on the “Wild Atlantic Way”.  Rather than struggle with Dublin Airport and motorway they opted for Shannon.  This is smaller, less crowded and actually several hours closer to us.  It was a lovely visit, as usual, and Helen did wonders on our driveway.  The gravel topping breaks out into a weed-filled carpet in the summer, including nettles, thistles and rows of tiny sycamore seedlings.  Helen worked her way down it, weeding and pulling the weeds out, tap-roots and all.  We are hoping to find some red creeping thyme to plant in their place.  Not only will it spread and give a carpet of colour but it will smell gorgeous when we drive over it.  We have called it the “Helen Tap-Root Eradication Project”.

On top of this sterling work, they brought us a present.  There are many things that are as good or better in Ireland but some cannot be matched.  Jacqui has been looking for some decent marmalade for several years now.  It’s either too sweet, too runny or has no shred at all to speak of.  We have tried a dozen different types, all of which are going into orange or marmalade cakes.  Then our friends arrived with a jar of the real thing – Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade.  Thank you Helen and Adrian!

To top off our social week two new friends, Lorainne and Nicola came round for coffee, tea and cake.  The dogs were delighted with all these visitors – especially for them, of course – and have been watching from the windows hoping for some more.  We are settling back a bit and dealing with the usual little problems.  As rain is finally forecast we had to fix the downspout into the water barrel.  The join was cracked and it kept falling off so finally we drilled and screwed it into the gutter.  It’s only a temporary repair and I think we will need to replace the whole run soon as it’s an old and discontinued type.  Well, it’s a relatively easy job and much cheaper than some recent projects!

It’s clouding over now though still warm and a bit humid.  The rain will be welcome, for us and the farmers who are already complaining they’ve no grass for their cows.  I hope it’s not too heavy as next week we have hired a digger for a bit.  We aim to clear the path around the wood and dig out the small stumps from the dead ash saplings.  Once it is level we can get the mower out and keep the paths clear.  Then we can work out way round, clearing the bindweed and brambles from the trees.  We need a smaller machine for the back garden but are looking for that and will finish the clearing later in the summer.  I’m so looking forward to driving a digger!

Well, that’s us for the last few weeks.  Thank you for reading and I hope to see you all next time.

Keep well and enjoy the weather.  And yes, it does always rain in Ireland – eventually.