Wednesday, February 27, 2019


February 1 was traditionally considered the first day of spring in Ireland. This year at that time, we were in our one week or so of winter, but it didn't take long for spring to arrive. It's been unseasonably warm for a couple of weeks and I've already been dealing with the usual spring/summer crud as a result.

On the bright side, I picked a few chard leaves this morning and cut some rosemary and oregano, which I will use in supper tonight.

Also, the flowers are beautiful. Especially for those of you still experiencing winter, here are a few to add some bright pops of colour to your day.
Maybe yellow is your colour. If so, here ya go:

Temperatures are supposed to gradually go back to normal after today, so I won't put my sweaters away quite yet and will enjoy the best of all worlds--flowers, fresh herbs, and cooler temperatures.

Whatever season it is in your part of the world, I hope you're having a lovely day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Why So Early?

It was a library day today, so off we went. For some reason everything was running early. This is not common, so when it happens, it's something we notice. We were heading for the bus stop when Bill commented that the bus was already there. I looked at my watch and saw that there were still 8 minutes before it was due to leave. We were close and could have flagged him down if necessary, but we picked up the pace anyway. We got on and were heading for a seat when, with a lurch, the guy pulled away and off we went. I plopped into a seat, got out my crocheting and ended up using the foot rests to brace myself. The guy was zooming right along. We've been on many buses where the driver knows he/she is running late and gets a bit of a lead foot when the opportunity arises, but this guy was early, so I was wondering whether he was just in a hurry to go on his lunch break or something. We sped along the road, got to a nearby village, stopped, and proceeded to sit there for a while. Then we were off again, slowing down when he got behind a tractor and couldn't pass right away. As soon as the opportunity presented himself, he went around the guy and sped up. At one point, he stopped on a dime to pick up a guy who was running after the bus. Bill's backpack fell from the seat to the floor with a loud thunk, someone else in back dropped their stuff, and we all jerked forward and then back as the bus came to a stop. Thankfully, my face did not hit the seat in front of me and I crocheted on through the road works, and into Donegal Town, where we arrived early--first time that's happened, I think.

We meandered around the charity shop for a little while. I bent down to look at the bottom shelf of one of the bookcases and spotted a copy of Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. Bill and I had just been talking about that book the other day. I read it a couple of years ago and found it quite powerful and I was saying he should read it. Then, in a pile on the floor, I saw another book I read a year or so ago--One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson. The book kept me off balance until the very last sentence. I pointed the book out to Bill, who picked it up to look at it, revealing this book:
'Uh, Shari, anthology of women's poetry,' he said, pointing. 'Oooh, this one's a keeper,' I replied as I bent down to snap it up.

Outside, Bill rearranged his backpack to accommodate the new books and we headed off to the library, passing the librarian (who was still on his lunch break) on the way. He greeted us and told us he had books for us. He was heading in the opposite direction, but we left him to enjoy the rest of his break and continued on. He ended up back at the desk early, so we returned stuff, picked up stuff, chatted, and still got back to the bus stop with plenty of time to spare.

I have no idea why there was so much earliness going on today. It is not the usual way of things. But now that's over, maybe everything will go back to being 'casual' now. I've gotten used to casual and I like it! 😉

Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday Miscellany

My stitching lately has consisted of work on larger projects--I can see the finish line on one or two and know that another one or two will take longer. I've also done a bit of swatching and ripping out. But I did do a couple of smaller projects, too.

This one was a gift. I found the pendant in a charity shop, attached to orange, brown, and pinkish ribbon. I knew the pendant was perfect for the recipient, who happens to be an ardent Portland Trailblazer fan (the team colours are scarlet and black). I took the pendant off, saving the rest of the necklace for another use, and crocheted a Romanian cord out of black cotton.
I had a lone skein of sock yarn in a cotton/wool blend that wasn't enough to make a pair of socks. Normally in that kind of situation, I would simply use a different yarn for toes, heels and/or cuffs, but I didn't have anything that I liked with it, so I just made myself a spring hat.
We went to recycle cans and jars this morning. There are new bins at the recycling area.
More smaller boats are using the pier these days. The one tied up by the end of the pier looks like a toy compared to all the boats in the harbour.
For some reason, although I have walked by this building a gazillion times, I never noticed the hand until today. It's on the side of the Ulster Bank building, which makes sense, given the iconography of the Ulster coat of arms.
And so another week begins. Hope it's a good one for all of us!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

All Quiet and a New Book

After a busy week, I've spent a few quiet days, which I am happy about. I've puttered around, done some reading and stitching, and listened to podcasts and music. I'm grateful to not be injured, since the other day I slipped and landed on my backside in a muddy puddle. Then I couldn't get up and had to slide over to one of the large rocks that sit on either side of the lane at the bottom of the hill so I could hoist myself up. I'm sure that, to any potential onlooker, it was sitcom material. Fortunately, I landed on the most well-padded spot and did no damage to myself--just a bit of an ache due to the jolt, but that went away after a night of sleep.

I'm reading library books at the moment, but am looking forward to this one, which a friend found and gave me the other day.
I was thrilled when he handed it to me, and even more so when I had a chance to sit down and look at it. I'd thought it would be a book of charts and possibly projects, which would have been great! And there are some of both included. But most of it is about medieval needlepoint--the motifs, symbolism, meanings, etc. How cool is that?!

I finished one library book yesterday and started the next one, which is about Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf, Olive Schreiner, George Eliot, and the Bronte sisters. I want to be able to return it next week when we go to the library. After that, I'll be reading about medieval needlepoint. What a happy surprise!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Spring Fete at Donegal Castle

This afternoon we went off to Donegal Castle to experience the spring fete, which was run by a local school. We're always going by the castle on the way to the library, but we've never been inside until today.
no roof on this part

this part was where stuff was happening
We went in and climbed up one set of stairs and then another, until we were up at the top, where there was a demonstration of Irish dancing. There was a group of girls, some of them quite young, and since I do not feel comfortable taking pictures of other people's children (or anyone, for that matter, without their permission) to toss onto the internet, I kept my camera in my pocket and just enjoyed the dancing.

I did snap a few pics of the room, though.
gives a sense of how thick the walls are
looking up
Donegal Castle in 1590
Donegal Castle in 1650
After the dancing, we made out way back to the middle floor, where a few tables were set up and craftspeople were selling their wares. Unfortunately, the lighting was horrible. I am a big fan of the dark and do not like bright lights at all, but in this case, I felt so bad for the people who were displaying their work, because you could barely see it. We did buy a couple of things from one lady, named Roz. She had what looked like some lovely things, from handmade soap using flowers from her garden, to woodwork, to decoupaged rocks, and other things. I would have loved to have been able to actually see it all, but I understand she comes here to the craft fairs that happen when the cruise ships are in town, so I will look for her this summer!
she had several of these, with 'love' painted in different colours and each with a different embellishment--we chose this one for the bird

painted on driftwood
We went back downstairs and looked around a little bit.

Then outside
church steeple in window

good use for a stump

When we were done at the castle, we went across the street to the church hall, where tea and scones were available. It was a slightly chilly day and that really hit the spot!
church of ireland hall

strawberry jam and cream on a scone
What a lovely way to send a few hours--it was a fun afternoon!

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Olde Village Tea Rooms

The first time we came to Killybegs--almost 4 years ago now--I got to chatting with another couple on the bus as we were heading back to Ballinrobe. They'd also immigrated here from the US (in their case,from Pennsylvania, I think). They told us that we should visit The Olde Village Tea Room in Mountcharles sometime. They loved it. As we rode through the village, they pointed it out to us.
Every time we rode through Mountcharles, I'd remember what they said, but we were never actually in Mountcharles until Monday and it isn't open on Mondays. Today, we went with a friend who started going there a year or so ago and frequently sings the praises of the place, the food, and the woman who owns it.

He was so right! It is a lovely little place and the food is delicious. Lorraine, the owner, cook, and baker, is so friendly and kind. We immediately felt right at home and after we'd all decided on some vegetable soup and bread, I sat in my chair in the corner and looked around.

This piece is woven--it was on the wall next to me, so I was able to enjoy it up close--i love it

this is also woven--the roof is tufted--i love it, too

 After we were done with our excellent soup, Lorraine did not have to do any arm twisting to convince us to have some tea and freshly baked apple pie! Delicious! The pie was not overly sweet--it was just perfect.

Bill and I chose ice cream to go with our pie

our friend chose to have custard with his
We stayed and chatted with Lorraine for a while. When we first came in, a guy was there having a hearty lunch. While we were eating, another guy came in to pick up his dinner. He had his reusable shopping bag and she filled it right up. At one point, she dashed out to deliver some food and a hot beverage. It was clear that it's a homey little spot that people feel comfortable in and enjoy--for the food as well as the atmosphere. And it's plain to see that people think highly of Lorraine. I can see why--I liked her at once.

She had a few wrapped loaves of tea brack available--the guy who had his bag packed with dinner had one and we took one, too, to share with our friend. After we paid and had turned to go, she stopped us, got out the roll of kitchen foil, and wrapped up a scone for each of us to take home. I told her that we plan to go back to Mountcharles to do some walking, and if it's on a day she's open, we'll be calling in again. And so we shall! I had a lovely time.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Different Bus, Different Vibe

We went to Donegal town today to visit the library. As we waited for the bus, I noticed more flowers in the stone planters.

Because it's Thursday, and Aldi and Lidl have new stock in on Thursdays, there were more people on the bus than on other days. Since it was a large Bus Eireann though, it wasn't crowded, so I plunked my heavy bag of library books onto the seat next to me and tatted my way to town.

They are doing some major road works, so it took a little bit longer than usual, but I was happily engaged in my project, so I didn't care. It was quite relaxing.

When we got there, we had about 45 minutes to wait until the librarian was back from lunch, so we walked around a little bit, checked the health food store for something that they didn't have, then went and got a scone, which we ate outside of the library by the river.
In the library, I returned my pile of books and was happy enough to hand over the large, heavy art books I'd been lugging around! I had a couple of books in, but one was a slim volume of poetry and the other a regular size novel, so my bag felt light as a feather. We were chatting with the librarian and missed the bus we usually take home. No matter, there was another one 15 minutes later. We'd never taken that one before, so I wondered what to expect. I've been riding buses in rural Ireland for almost 5 years now and I've learned that they each have their own vibe, depending on the place, the company, the kind of bus it is, the drivers, and the regulars who ride.

This bus was not a big one, nor was it the smallest size. As a guess, I'd say it held maybe 25 people. It was full. The driver was very animated and cheerful. It took a little while for people to get on and settled with their shopping bags and other purchases, but people are always quite helpful and accommodating on the buses, so everyone found a place for themselves and their stuff without any fuss. One woman got on with her small daughter. I'm not good at ages, but I'd guess the girl was perhaps 4 years of age. After everyone was on, the little girl handed the bus driver a heart that she'd coloured. He was effusive in his thanks to her and then he held it up and said, 'Look everybody, she gave me a valentine! At least somebody loves me!' The little girl replied, 'YES!!!' We all applauded. A little while later, she asked the driver where all of his other Valentine cards were. He was smiling when he told her, 'Yours is the only one I got, darlin'. Nobody else loves me.' Then, from the back of the bus, we heard a guy's voice call out, 'I love you!' The driver was thrilled to hear it. 😉

Then, an older woman asked the driver about a song. She said he knows all the songs and she just had a few of the lyrics, but did he know what song it was? We were stopped at the road works, so he got out his phone, scrolled a little bit, and then we were listening to a song about Bulgaria not being in the news anymore, but here's a sheepdog named Bill who's worth his weight in gold. That was the song she was after.

After that one was over, Mary Black's Song for Ireland came on. I love that song. I've loved it since the first time I heard it in the late 80s (or early 90s?), although at the time I had no idea that I'd be living on 'the western shore' by the 'Atlantic sea' one day. My gratitude continues to be endless.

I think everyone on that bus was in a good mood. There were lots of smiles all around. It was a good vibe. Hope the vibe is good in your world today, too!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Wee Chat on Main Street

The other day in Mountcharles, we had a chance to have a wee chat with a local guy named Turlough. He'd passed us earlier when we were walking around and said hello. By the time he was going back the other way, we were sitting on a bench because we had a little time before the bus was due to arrive. He stopped and asked if we were visitors. When we said we lived in Killybegs, he commented on how Killybegs is booming, which seems true enough. Then he said we didn't sound like we were originally from Killybegs and asked if we were from the States. He told us briefly about his experiences in the US and where he'd been. Then he started talking a bit about Mountcharles. He talked about the bypass that was built, which enabled the trucks to whiz by on their way to and from Killybegs with supplies for the fishing industry, wind turbines, and other port related things. It's true that it would be difficult and disruptive for large trucks to be moving through the town. Even though the bypass runs right alongside the town, I wonder how much its existence has furthered the decline. There are a lot of vacant buildings and from the signs that remain, it looks like it was once a more vibrant community with some artists doing work there. There was once a pottery studio and another art and craft studio, both now empty. Turlough said that at least one-third of all buildings in the village are vacant. I'd seen this unfinished house in the distance earlier in the day.

such a lovely spot--I wonder whether anyone will finish it some day and live there
 He said that at one time, there were 10 pubs in the village (!!!), but now there are only two. This looks like two, but is actually one pub, I think.

the orange barricades were all up and down Main St--looks like they're planting trees

Guinness--see what one or toucan do

an example of a Guinness toucan ad
I'd been wondering about what this place used to be and who the Gillespie Brothers are/were, so I asked him.
He said they used to be tailors and would make wonderful suits that fit each individual perfectly, before the days of mass production and cheap clothes. Their sister used to run one of the pubs that is a few doors away.

It was a nice chat and I was glad he stopped. After he left, Bill commented on a couple of books that he'd had seen earlier in the day while we were in the post office. I'd not noticed them, focused as I was on getting things posted, but as he described them, they seemed worth checking out, so we went back.
We thought they'd be more expensive than they were (it is common here for no prices to be put on things, which I find very annoying). The guy in the post office was actually apologetic when he said the red one was €5 because it was older and the green one, being newer, was €10. He seemed surprised, but pleased, when we bought both. His face lit up and he said, 'That's grand!'

The books were compiled and published by the Mountcharles Heritage Society. I've seen other such collections from other places. I think it's a great idea. We have several of these kinds of collections now and they are really fun and informative to read. It's nice to have them and it was great that Turlough stopped and chatted with us. We enjoyed the conversation a lot.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

There and Back

We went out around midday to drop off some stuff to a guy in one of the local shops and chatted with him for a few minutes. Then we called into the charity shop so Bill could pick up a book he'd seen last week and wished he'd bought. While in the book room, I was happy enough to find a recent Maggie O'Farrell novel that I'd not yet read. I discovered her when we were still in Maine and requested all of the other books available at the time so I could catch up, but haven't read one since. After picking up this new reading material, we headed down to recycle cans and glass jars, but when we got there, there was a big truck with a claw in the back lifting one of the bins. We thought they might be emptying them, and we left, deciding to go back another time. We came home, had some lunch, and then, when he was doing the dishes, Bill saw the truck go by with several of the bins on the back. Hopefully they've been replaced, not removed.

Then it was off to the grocery store. On the way there, I noticed this single rosebud on an otherwise bare bush--a bright spot of red against the green background.
On the way home, the ship with the cranes up looked like a sculpture.
I think this is where the wind turbine parts come from--we saw a couple of blades going by last night, one at a time, on the back of trucks. This was going on a couple of weeks ago, too. They are quite a sight when they go by. We're on top of a hill and last night, I was upstairs, so was looking down at the road. It was dark and the blades are bright white, so they really stand out. They're so long--seems like they'll just go on forever. Today when we were chatting with the guy in the shop, he said they were going down to north Mayo. I remember when they were bringing parts through Moville and he had such a tough time going around a corner. Even before the corner, it wasn't easy to get up the narrow main road with cars parked all along either side:

The road here is wider, and they move the parts at night so there's less traffic.

Anyway, I was so glad when we got home and I could make a cup of tea. I settled in with a book about women and books in art and savoured my cuppa! I hope there are such pleasant moments throughout your day, too.