Friday, May 29, 2015

Sharing Food

I finally moved the freezer to a better spot. I had to, since people were coming for supper and the spot where it had originally been placed by the landlord blocked part of the table!
It works out much better there. Not only does it open up the room a little bit, but now the table is unblocked and we were able to move it down a little bit away from the door, providing more space on that side too. An added bonus is that my herbs and spices and stuff are right there for me to grab while I am cooking (I keep them on top of the freezer next to that olive oil bottle). I don't know why I didn't do it before--it was just one of those things that I meant to do but never did.

I made baked fusilli that night with tomato basil and garlic herb sausages, a salad, and bread. For the pasta, I just cooked 500 grams of that and dumped it into a bowl. I sauteed some onion, red bell pepper, garlic, and courgette in some olive oil, added a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, three cans of tomato puree (paste), some oregano and basil. I dumped that into the bowl and added a couple of small containers of cottage cheese and some grated mozzarella. I put it in an oiled baking dish and out it in the oven for 20 minutes or so, then plunked the sausages on top and cooked for another 20. This served the 5 of us with leftovers.

For the salad I just sliced some Irish cucumber and cut up some cherry tomatoes. Then I sprinkled with oregano and granulated garlic, grated some of SuperValu's dried chilli mix into it, and drizzled with cider vinegar and olive oil.
When everyone arrived, they brought with them some bread that a friend had made and some artisan butter with sea salt. Yummy!
I just love the presentation here! You can tell Theresa is a florist! The basil is wilted because I took this the following morning and it had spent the night in the fridge. You can see we'd already dug in at this point!
The bread is tomato herb and it is delicious--especially warm with some of that butter melting into it!

Of course as we sat around the table one of the topics of conversation was food. Theresa asked Bill if there was any food he missed and he mentioned pepper cheese. We also talked about fish--this town is built on fish. This afternoon there was a knock at the window and I opened the door to find Theresa holding a basket with some trout that a friend had caught and given to her, a block of cheese, and a dish of little peppers! She said if we ate the peppers and cheese together, maybe it would be sort of like pepper cheese! How cool is that!? It really is amazing cheese and is delicious with the peppers! I think she said she got it at SuperValu--I will have to look for it.

I decided to cook the trout for supper. I had a bag of frozen Mediterranean veggies in the freezer--it was the first time I'd bought them. I decided I should try them and see whether they were worth buying again so I threw them on a baking pan and dressed them up just a little. It was a mix of potatoes, courgette (zucchini), cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion with black pepper and basil as seasoning. I sprinkled on some oregano and granulated garlic and drizzled a bit of olive oil over it all. I cooked these until they were about 10 minutes away from done and put the fish on top. I'd sprinkled that with garlic, basil and oregano as well. Once the fish was cooked, we ate. It was delicious and oh so simple! The veggies are definitely worth buying again, so I will be keeping some in the freezer in future!

It's a bank holiday weekend here so naturally it will continue to rain. That is just dandy with me, but some people don't care for it. There could be grass frost tonight, but hey, there are "good sunny spells" in between showers. Monday is supposed to be windy and rainy though, I think, with temperatures that would be normal for March. That is my kind of summer :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Beautiful Bruckless

Last night our neighbours, including Fergus the Superdog, came over for supper. We all sat in our little kitchen eating talking, and laughing. Today, Jason, the young man who lives next door, popped in and dumped an armload of books and some town info on our table--based on some of what we were talking about last night, he thought we'd like to borrow the reading material. How great is that? I am a happy camper when someone walks into my home and drops a bunch of books on the table! :-)

Shortly after that, Theresa took Bill, me, Jason, and of course, Fergus, to Bruckless, a small neighbouring town where she used to live. She wanted us to see the bluebell forest while the bluebells were blooming. It was beautiful!
 After we walked through the woods we walked along a path that led to a stone bridge.

 Through the trees you can just see a bit of a house. Theresa's friends live there, so we stopped in for an impromptu visit. They are lovely people and I enjoyed myself so much. We saw their completely charming house full of handmade items--knitted, crocheted, quilted, and cross-stitched. It is an amazing spot--so peaceful--and they have done a lot of work on the surrounding area, which was all overgrown when they got it.
This is the view from the stone bridge:
Their flowers are gorgeous!

One on side of the house they have a garden, but it's tough going this year because it has been chilly and wet--January weather as our host said. I love the use of old headboards here!
On the other side of the house, down a stone path and tucked away from the road, is the fairy garden. Theresa's friend, Mona, brought me back there and said they tell the children that if they are quiet, they will hear the fairies singing! They have a small covered bench out there strung with dragonfly lights so it's a great place to sit and listen to the fairies :-)

Mona told me that there used to be a little village there, but everyone died of cholera which they got from the water that came from that well.

When we left we passed back over the stone bridge and veered off into a small clearing with a grave. This was a communist who could not be buried anywhere else, so they created his resting spot there--and a lovely spot it is, too!
It was a wonderful evening filled with beautiful scenery and great company!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hills and a Visit From Superman

We were in the sitting room this afternoon and we had the doors open. In walked Superman for a visit. He knew just where he was going and headed straight for the kitchen, where he sniffed around and waited.
Unfortunately for him I had been told by his people (our neighbours) that he is diabetic, so treats are a no-no. This is harder on me than it is on Superman, I am sure--especially when he looks up and gives me "the face." His real name is Fergus, but I think of him as Superman because the first time I met him he was wearing his Superman vest, as he was today :-)

Before we were hanging out and denying Superman Fergus his desired treats, we went out for a walk. We walked around town and then headed up a side street that is just a little bit down the road from our place. Like most of the streets that lead away from town, it was uphill. The road runs parallel to the road we are on for a way so we ended up above and behind our place. I noticed this very tall lilac--don't think I have ever seen one quite that tall.
I guess I didn't even know they got that big. Then again, I was looking at it from across the street and the flowers looked like lilacs, but maybe they are something else!

We took a different road to get back to Main St because we wanted to know if it was the road we thought it was. It was.
The red building on the right is the Ritz Accommodation. I remember seeing their website when we were looking for a place to stay--I think it's a hostel-like place. You can get a sense of the hill from the photo--I would not want to be going down that way in snow or ice--it's steep at the bottom, though there is a railing on that far cement wall.

I looked down and saw one of these manhole covers--I've seen a few around town:
On the left, behind the stone wall you can see in the photo above, is St Mary's church and the grounds.
 You can see the harbour over the roofs beyond.

Inside the walled courtyard is a small alcove with beches built into the walls and these plaques:

You really would never know that Main St was just past those roofs--it was a very peaceful spot and quite lovely, with the views of the harbour and the plants about to flower.I noticed that when we were at the B&B too--even though it is right in town, it was really quiet.  That's just the way I like it!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Busting Out All Over

We were headed out for a short ramble around town this afternoon and we bumped into our neighbour, Theresa, doing a bit of weeding so we stopped to chat. Turns out she has been a florist and gardener for 40+ years so she knows a lot about plants and flowers--I can learn a lot from her, since I know pretty much nothing! She took us around and showed us various plants. Then we went into the lower garden.

The way things are set up here, there are 5 cottages and the larger tower house, all attached. Someone from Northern Ireland owns the 5th cottage and is only here occasionally. Tim, another neighbour, owns the tower and one of the cottages, Theresa owns one, and our landlord owns a couple and rents out both of them. Theresa and Jason, our neighbour who rents the other cottage from our landlord, do all of the work in the beds around the building and out back. The lower garden belongs to our landlord, apparently, and he prefers to do all the work on it himself, though others have offered to tend it when he is not here. He does not get much chance to do this, I guess, because he lives in Dublin, which is on the other side of the island. Unfortunately things are quite overgrown at the moment, but in spite of that, the flowers are gorgeous! I have been meaning to go and look at things up close instead of just admiring things from the kitchen window!

I've watched as the peonies went from small green and deep red balls to spectacular blooms--such a deep, rich colour!
Very, very pink!
Quite white!
Once he comes and cleans things up a little, it will look amazing. As the summer wears on there will be more kinds of flowers appearing--I am looking forward to watching how it all unfolds!

As we headed towards town, we passed this beautiful tree:
On the corner in front of the bank I glanced into a stone planter and was taken with these cute little purple blooms--I love these!
 On the way home, a short distance down Main St, there is a bridge over a river. The buildings on the corner are at street level, but everything slopes downward and the back gardens of these buildings are below street level, as are the river and the trees growing up alongside it.
Lots of hills here--big and small. It makes for an interesting landscape! Right now it's a landscape awash in colour!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Out Back

Yesterday we were going to the grocery store, but before we headed down the hill, I wandered around out back for a few minutes looking at the plants and flowers.

These flowers are in a pot by one of the stone sheds. They are beautiful, but I have no idea what they are. The bee knows though, and stopped by for a snack!
The geraniums are growing in pots on the stone wall outside our door:
The little pine tree has brights green growth--so many shades of green here!
The pink tulips pop their heads up over the wall--I like seeing them when I look out the sitting room window.
Behind our shed, there is another stone wall--more green there:

On the front of the building the ivy, like all the other plant life, is growing pretty well in all this rain! Our windows are the ones in the middle of the ivy patch. It is a pretty frame for the windows.
On the way to the store I spotted a patch of these bright yellow flowers next to the sidewalk. When we first got here these were all over, but I think they have gone past their peak, because they are not so abundant anymore.
It started to rain while we were on our way home and it kept on raining for hours afterward. At around 9 I went into the kitchen to make some tea and was surprised at how foggy it had become!
I made the tea and went back to work on the bed jacket thing I am making for myself.
I finished that section last night and will move on to the next section today.

It was a lovely, quiet, peaceful Saturday.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Scenes from a Walk

First off, it would appear that Ireland has voted overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality. It is not even close. People are saying it'll probably end up being 2/3 yes, but the counting is not done yet and official results are not expected until 5 this evening. There is a real sense of joy all around the country. Well done, Ireland--this is a great day for the country!

Yesterday we headed out for a walk. I've noticed these funky little horsetails before and I just love them. This lone plant is at the top of the driveway:
There is a whole cluster of them at the bottom of the hill--even the stems are striking!

Halfway up there is this old tree with roots:
We walked through town and turned onto a side street. We just kept on going until we'd been gone for about an hour, then we turned around and came home.

We passed St Catherine's football pitch. I guess it's Gaelic football--I am still unclear on all these sports teams, but these people just won some stuff a week or two ago.
These pretty little pink flowers were blooming on some hedges.
 I think this front garden set-up is kind of cute, with the little gnomes, ducks, and sheep:

We soon came across some Killybegs cows who kept a close eye on us.
It's very hilly here--I love that!
We soon ran out of sidewalk, but since we were not on a busy road, we just kept walking. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We heard some sheep on the hillside and birds in the trees. An occasional car came by and we stepped aside to let them pass before continuing on and enjoying the scenery.
We turned back and soon town came into view once again.
 Soon there will be new flowers blooming.
It seems like there are many of these sorts of side streets for us to wander up and down. We're looking forward to our future explorations!