Blarney Castle

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ our first glimpse of the famous castle

Waking up Monday morning my cold wasn’t too bad, mainly a sore throat. Katherine had to go to school and her parents had to work so Larisa dropped us off at Blarney Castle. It was another damp and chilly day but we had fun.

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ detour

The usual path to the castle was blocked off because they are in the middle of some major renovations.

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another glimpse ~ we were definitely taking the long way around!
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

When we got close to the castle we stopped and had the most delicious and warm bowl of Irish Stew at the Coach House Cafe. It really hit the spot. In spite of my sensitivity to wheat I took a bite of the warm brown bread that came with the stew. Yummy! 🙂 It’s not often one finds something that tastes so good at a cafeteria!

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ seating for summer tourists and an orb

The cafe was in the old stables and we ate in the main room. As we were leaving we saw that in the summer there was space right in the stalls for overflow dining. My only complaint was (again) no heat in the restrooms! Brrrr….

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another building in the stable yard
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking though the book on Irish birds I bought at the wildlife park, I think this bird might be a pied wagtail ~ he was surveying the stable yard
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ the best shot I could get of the impossibly narrow steps

Because of the castle renovations we could not take the usual stairway up to the Blarney Stone. We never made it to the stone at the top because, well, the alternate steps were very small and continued to narrow the higher we went. We made it about 3/4 of the way up before we called it quits and retreated. We had to return home without our gift of eloquence. Notice in the picture above that the only railing we had was that wobbly rope. I’m only 5 feet tall and I had to duck to go through that doorway. And going down was even harder to pull off for these senior citizens. Phew!

2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ well, at least we made it up to the kitchen
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ scaffolding for those working on the renovations
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ snowdrops
2.5.18 ~ Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ friendly European robin

On the castle grounds there are several other things to see. For this trip we chose the Rock Close. Pictures of that magical place in my next post…

The Plough Bed & Breakfast

2.4.18 ~ view from The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ morning light and the moon

After our long afternoon at Coumeenoole Beach we found our bed and breakfast, The Plough. The hostess, Beatrice, made us feel right at home. When we got warmed up and settled, we headed out again for dinner at Lord Baker’s, Dingle’s oldest gastro pub and largest restaurant. Tim & I had one of that night’s specials, Slow Roast Shank of Kerry Lamb & Red Wine Sauce. (local and grass-fed lamb) It was so delicious that we are still talking about it!

2.4.18 ~ view from the The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland

When we returned to our B&B I was feeling chilled so Beatrice warmed up a hot water bottle with a faux fur covering to take to bed with me. I warmed up quickly and slept very soundly. 🙂

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland

Sunday morning Tim & I woke up before the others and took a morning walk. The surrounding scenery was soothing and pastoral. We were overlooking Ventry Harbour and the moon was still in the sky.

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ some whimsy in the garden

When we returned for breakfast we had a pleasant surprise. The first thing offered was porridge and was it ever tasty! Beatrice said the “secret” ingredients were local, sweet cream and a little shot of Bailey’s. 🙂 Then we had a choice of various egg, ham, and sausage breakfast combinations.

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ beautiful stone wall and daffodils!
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ the plough
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ Ventry Harbour
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ daffodils in February!
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ a very cold me!
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ whimsy at the front door
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ reading nook

I loved the pillows Beatrice used in her sitting room! This was our first time ever staying at a bed & breakfast ~ thank you Larisa & Dima for the special treat!!!

2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ deer pillow
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ woodsy pillow
2.4.18 ~ The Plough Bed & Breakfast, Ventry, Kerry, Ireland ~ robin pillow

We had a long day ahead of us and so we were then off for the next adventures.

dolls and birds

"Young Girl with a Bird" by Berthe Morisot
“Young Girl with a Bird” by Berthe Morisot

The lovely flower you sent me is like a little Vase of Spice and fills the Hall with Cinnamon – You must have skillful Hands – to make such sweet Carnations. Perhaps your Doll taught you. I know that Dolls are sometimes wise. Robins are my Dolls. I am glad you love the Blossoms so well. I hope you love the Birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven.
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to Eugenia Hall, c. 1885)

a sap run

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

Before the bud swells, before the grass springs, before the plow is started, comes the sugar harvest. It is the sequel of the bitter frost; a sap run is the sweet goodbye of winter.
~ John Burroughs
(Signs & Seasons)

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

We had no idea what a treat we were in for when we checked into a motel in Orange, Massachusetts Saturday night. Our plan was to spend the night, grab a breakfast somewhere, and head over to a family reunion in the neighboring town of Athol on Sunday afternoon. In the morning we discovered a great place to have breakfast, on Johnson’s Farm, a restaurant, sugar house, and gift shop! Maple syrup production was well under way, the old-fashioned way.

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

Sugar weather is crisp weather. How the tin buckets glisten in the gray woods; how the robins laugh; how the nuthatches call; how lightly the thin blue smoke rises among the trees! The squirrels are out of their dens; the migrating waterfowls are streaming northward; the sheep and cattle look wistfully toward the bare fields; the tide of the season, in fact, is just beginning to rise.
~ John Burroughs
(Signs & Seasons)

If only some way could be found to share the smell of New England in maple sugar season on a blog post! Our olfactory receptors were tickled with delight to whiff in the aromas of wood-burning stoves and sap boiling down into syrup. We bought a couple of jugs of pure maple syrup! Mostly we’ll be using it in marinades, since pancakes are no longer on our grain-free diet…

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

It was if we had been transported back in time to a place in the heart of New England. It made me appreciate anew that there are more “seasons” than the four four we normally notice as the year goes around. The gnarly old tree in the above picture caught our attention – what an amazing life it has had. And I loved the knotty pine interior of the sugar house in the picture below – so typical of New England.

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

When we got home Sunday night Zoë and Scarby seemed a little angry with us (ears pinned back, ignoring us) for leaving them overnight, but they’re back to purring and following us around, rubbing our legs and talking to us again.

full worm moon

3.19.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.19.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

The above picture was taken in the Connecticut College Arboretum a year ago today, a warm and bright sunny day. Tonight will be a full moon. Native Americans in this area called this full moon the Worm Moon. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.” I have seen a lot of robins recently. And tomorrow will be Spring! We made it!

European robin with earthworm, photo by Rasbak
European robin with earthworm, photo by Rasbak

The period leading up to the spring equinox is … a time of great upheaval in nature: the first full moon of March usually heralds high tides and strong winds that enliven the long-dead period of late winter. The change of spring is one that we welcome with all our hearts, but we appreciate it warmly only because of what has gone before it. Our ability to cope with change will improve if we discover the art of living in the present moment, of being at home where and when we are.
Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

Poor Tim is working another weekend… The upheavals at his job have corresponded with the recent upheavals in nature. But he handles changes with a lot more grace than I can usually manage. As for me, I plan to go down to the beach this evening and take in the full moon and a little meditation and grounding. Perhaps there will be a high tide and a strong wind… Maybe something to photograph as I welcome spring.

How do you welcome spring?