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We’ve had an absolutely hectic time here in Redwood for the past 10 days.  I’ve been away to Dublin to do some minding of nieces and nephews, and then we’ve had some of my family and some of Alfie’s family come to stay.  All good fun.

In honour of such visitors we actually managed to take a day off on Wednesday, and went to Limerick to visit King John’s Castle.

I grew up in Limerick.  Spent the first 16 years of my life there.  I have many memories of those years, but one, in particular, which relates to King John’s Castle, was walking (always walking) over to my Nana’s every single Sunday afternoon. My Nana lived just down the road from the Castle.

In those days the Castle was completely off limits.  It was locked up and no-one was allowed inside.

Thomond Bridge

Thomond Bridge

Despite crossing over Thomond Bridge and seeing the Castle every Sunday, I really didn’t know much about the history.

Let me tell you if you get the opportunity to visit…. you simply must go.  Millions of euro have been spent on the restoration, creating a wonderful interactive experience, and every penny has been well spent.  800 years of history is told in such an interesting and creative way… needless to say I was particularly interested in the ‘food history’.

The Normans brought us a varied diet

The Normans brought us a varied diet

This would certainly encourage obeisance :)

This would certainly encourage obedience :)

The Menu

We liked that pork and bacon featured on the menu!

However, there is so much to the exhibition…. the lives of the people through the ages, the battles…. something to enthral everyone of every age.

Isn't this model amazing?

Isn’t this model amazing?

You can go right up to the top of the towers, which gave amazing views in every direction.  Those folks back in the 13th century must have already known the phrase ‘location, location, location’!  Look at that view.

View

There is another story to go with this photo.  See those houses on the left…. when I was a little girl I swear I saw Santa and his reindeer land on the roofs of those houses (Nana’s house was on the other side of the river)…. we had to rush home immediately!!!

However, back to King John’s Castle…  as an Irish person visiting the Castle we really were proud of how it has been developed.  Despite it being a dreary October afternoon, there were quite a few tourists about, all of whom seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the experience.  There were four adults in our group.  We each came away with different aspects having impressed us, and had a lively discussion in the car on the way home, on the lives of the folks who used to live in the Castle.

Be sure to get there :)

 

Friday Photo

Hallowed ground…. the home of Munster Rugby – Thomond Park.

Hallowed Ground - Thomond Park

Hallowed Ground – Thomond Park

Moving to Tipperary

We have just celebrated 11 years here in Redwood.  Let me say it seems like only yesterday, and at the same time, it seems like we’ve been here forever!

Photo from the sales brochure

Of course thoughts drifted back to that moving day – 10th October 2003 – what a day it was.

Have any of you ever moved house?  It is a nightmare.

We’d been packing boxes in Dublin from July.  Anything we didn’t use regularly was packed and carefully labelled.  As the ‘moving’ day drew closer the packing grew more frenetic.

Our original day to move was 18th October, but with about 2 weeks to go, we were asked could we bring the date forward.  For the life of me I cannot remember why.

I called our solicitor and asked could we do this?  She spoke to the solicitor for this house who agreed.

Then, wait for it…. on the afternoon of 9th October – THE DAY BEFORE WE MOVE – the solicitor at this end, decides it doesn’t suit to ‘close’ the house the next day!  At this stage all our worldly goods were already on board the removal truck.  I am standing in an empty house on the verge of tears.

Thank goodness, I had a decent solicitor at my end who worked tirelessly to get it sorted…. and an hour later we are back on track.

We had a relaxing and pleasant evening at my sister’s house.  Early meeting with my solicitor next morning, sign papers and by mid-day we were on the road to Tipperary.

We got to Birr at 2 pm, as arranged, to collect keys from the vendor’s solicitor.

This is where the fun starts.

He refused point blank to give me the keys!  Said the money wouldn’t be in the bank til Monday, so I could not have keys til then.

I will never ever forget the rudeness of that man.  We spent the afternoon pacing the streets of Birr, not knowing a single person in the town, making frantic calls back to Dublin to our own solicitor.

The ignorant solicitor finally agreed to meet with me for handover of keys at 5 p.m., then changed his mind again!  This is where I totally lost the plot!

There were other people in the reception area of his office.  I was polite to them and apologised to them for the scene I was about to cause, but I completely lost the rag with this ignorant man!

I had now been waiting to meet with him for a simple hand-over of keys for 3 hours, I was justified in ranting.

He gave me the keys eventually – almost threw them at me, and made some very nasty remarks in the process.

By the time we got to the house – the poor removal guys had been sitting here for 4 hours waiting to unload!  And they still had to do the return drive to Dublin.  It was easily 7 o’clock before they were able to head off.

Buddy - black and white dog

We had also had our dog, Buddy, cooped up in the car with us for all this time (with occasional walks around the streets of Birr)…. what does he do when we bring him into the house…. you’re right he immediately did what boy dogs do…. a good way to christen our new house!!!!

Thankfully, I have never come across that man again, nor would I wish to, as I’m not sure I could be polite.

 

 

 

Friday Photo

These are Irish chillies…. story will follow soon :)

Lots of Irish Chillies

Lots of Irish Chillies

Autumn Crumble

I don’t think we’ve ever had such a good crop of blackberries around here.  I love blackberries…. my favourite of all fruits.

I like blackberries anyway at all…. jam, jelly, crumble, cake…. anyway at all.

So I’ve been indulging lots.

Here’s such a quick and easy crumble that I made a few times recently when we had AirBnB guests… they loved it.  One guest loved it so much he requested to have another portion for breakfast!  Of course, we allowed him have dessert for breakfast… he was on holidays after all :)  And, with the inclusion of coconut oil and porridge…. sure, it’s got to be healthy, right?

 

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 cooking apples – or more depending on the size of your apples and your dish.
  • a couple of handfuls of blackberries.
  • Sugar to taste
  • 100 g. flour
  • 50 g. butter
  • 50 g. Coconut oil
  • 100 g. Porridge oatflakes.

Method:

Grease a dish with some butter (I used my Quiche dish).  Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Mix your butter and coconut oil into the flour…. the coconut oil takes a little longer to rub in than butter.  Mix until you have no ‘gritty’ bits left.  Add in your porridge.

Peel and slice your cooking apples, filling your dish right up to the top.  Sprinkle on your blackberries, and some sugar.  Then spoon your prepared mixture on top.

Bake in oven for about 25 minutes.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Serve warm with ice-cream, custard or cream…. and make sure to save some for breakfast the next day :)

 

 

Friday Photo

It is hard to believe….. we are 11 years in Redwood today, and the blog is 5 years old today….. and we are still harvesting lots from the garden!

October Harvest

 

Still have lots of tomatoes – 6 different varieties, blackberries, shaggy inkcap mushrooms (they’re from my neighbours garden), squash, kohl rabi, beetroot and overgrown courgettes!!

Food tourism

Food tourism – what constitutes food tourism?

Wiki describes it thus : Culinary tourism or food tourism is experiencing the food of the country, region or area, and is now considered a vital component of the tourism experience.[2] Dining out is common among tourists and “food is believed to rank alongside climateaccommodation, and scenery” in importance to tourists.[2]  Wikipeadia

The World Food Travel Association describes ‘food tourism’ as : “The pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.”    It also describes a ‘food traveller’ as someone who goes to a different neighbourhood to experience food of a different ethnicity.  I guess that means we are food travellers when we go shopping in the Asian market?

Does Ireland have a food tourism side to it?

These are questions we were asked to consider when we took part in workshops with Failte Ireland and Blue Sail.  Together with around forty producers, accommodation providers and others involved in the food industry, we had brain-storming sessions about what is ‘food tourism’.

It was an exciting and interesting exercise, as we discussed Ireland’s food provenance, what is local, what we ourselves expect when travelling, and what we look for in food when travelling?

If you take it on a very personal level…. what makes a holiday for you?  Is it the weather?  Is it the accommodation?  Is it the food?

Failte Ireland have been conducting research and have come up with 6 different ‘tourist’ categories – 3 international and 3 domestic tourist segments.

International market segments:

  • Culturally Curious – over 45 – food is very important to them – specialities, provenance, special places, good service, knowledgeable staff.
  • Social Energisers – young couples/adults – 20s/early 30s – casual eating but good food, fashionable, buzzy places, something different from home.
  • Great Escapers – young couples around 30 – authentic restaurants and pubs with good local food; flexible options – picnics and takeaway.

Domestic segments:

  • Connected Families – 25 – 44 age group – no specific mentions of food.
  • Footloose Socialisers – groups of friends, independent and confident – again no specific food requirements.
  • Indulgent Romantics – all ages but typically 25 – 34 or 55 – 64 – interested and knowledgeable about food and wine.

One of the exercises we were asked to carry out was to recommend in our locality a ‘romantic’ destination…. well folks, it is amazing, but the results were as diverse as people are.  A weekend in a hotel with a spa and beauty treatments would just not cut it for me as a ‘romantic’ break, but that’s what some folks want.  A ‘romantic’ break to me would be somewhere away from the ‘real’ world, where you can chill, sit about and read a book without being disturbed, go for long walks, and, of course, enjoy really good food (preferably seafood!) and maybe, a glass or two of wine.

We were also asked to consider where we would recommend people should go to people watch?  Any thoughts?  I chose a supermarket queue.  I always go off into daydream mode in the supermarket queue – wondering ‘why’ are people buying this, that, and the other.  I’m always shocked at how much processed food goes into shopping trolleys – but that’s another story.

And I guess the biggest question of all….. how would we describe Ireland’s food?  Again the answers were as mixed as the group…… how would you describe Irish food to a complete stranger?

Here’s the result of our brain-storming…. a great video produced by Failte Ireland.

 

And a funny aside to this story… we laughed so much when we saw the video… there right smack bang in the middle of it, is our friend, Daili :)

Daili

Daili

Since we started doing AirBnB we have found that without exception regardless of the nationality of those who have stayed here, the conversation invariable turns to ‘food’ and its ‘provenance’.  From our little vignette into the world of travel it would seem that people are getting more and more worried about where their food is coming from, and how their food is being treated be it in the pre-planting stage of seeds, or how food(meat) is grown.

It would seem like-minded people are drawn to each other.  People come to this green island of ours, as they perceive it as ‘green’ in every sense of the world.  They are blown away by the ‘green-ness’ of the countryside, the cattle and sheep grazing in the fields, the freshness of the fish, and the variety of ‘home’ produced food.  We are lucky to live in this country of ours with its natural larder.

We need to hold on tight to that image.