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Politics is something I’ve never written about here. Not that I am not interested, it is just that I really do feel it is such a personal choice and decision.

My earliest ‘political’ memory is when I was just over 16 years of age being taken to a political meeting by my Mum.  If I recall correctly I was home from school because of toothache.  The meeting was a morning coffee type of thing, with lots of housewives and Mums there… and 16 year old me!  The guest speaker was the late, Garret FitzGerald.  He was a gentleman and a politician. I honestly have no recollection (and I wasn’t probably interested much) as to what he spoke about.

However, I do remember him singling me out after his talk, and sitting chatting to me about politics. I guess I stuck out in the crowd!  He’s advice was so sound…. I had no idea who/what/if I would ever vote when I got to 18.  He said ‘forget about party politics, and just vote for someone who has the same believes as you.’

the late Garret FitzGerald - photo courtesy of RTE Stills Library

the late Garret FitzGerald – both a gentleman and a politician  – photo courtesy of RTE Stills Library

And that’s the way I have voted since.

I can’t claim to fully understand the voting system in the USA.  Like everyone else outside of USA, I am watching wide-eyed as events unfold.

I naively posted something about the current goings on in USA on Facebook the other evening.  The replies and comments were interesting.  They came from both American and European followers.  So now I am taking this opportunity to air my thoughts.  It would be way too long a post on Facebook!

  • I get it that Donald Trump won the election.
  • I feel sorry for the American voters that they were reduced to a choice of one of two people that polarised them to such an extent.
  • I don’t get that so many ‘sane’ people, and in particular, women, voted for such a despicable and uncouth person.
  • I don’t get that he can enact laws without Congress’ approval.  This screams dictatorship to me.
  • I don’t get that he has surrounded himself with such offensive people.  Mr. Bannon’s stated goal is to infiltrate the Republican party, destroy it and cause national chaos.
  • I don’t get that people can be stopped at the airport from entering the USA because of their country of birth/religion.  What next?  You can’t come here cos you’ve got green eyes/drive a blue car?
  • I don’t get the deafening silence from Capitol Hill.  Where are the senators – both Republican and Democratic?  Are they not allowed to speak out?  Is their role not to legislate?

Looking on from over here…. and, yes, I trust the media reporting on this side of the Atlantic…. all I can think is God help America.

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Our neighbourhood is not a natural tourist destination, nor is it promoted as a tourist destination.  It is quite a hidden gem… almost a secret gem.  So we are delighted to receive the guests who do come our way.

our home

We have met some really lovely people… as has been said so often by guests “we came as strangers and left as friends”.  Perhaps, it is our listing, our reviews, or our location that attracts like-minded people!  We’ve had people from all parts of the world come stay, and many the lively conversation that’s been had over the kitchen table at dinner.

We often wish we could both persuade more people to come, and persuade those who do come to stay for longer.  The #MagicalMidlands has so much to offer – magnificent historical destinations; activities like cycling, hiking, fishing and walking; and, of course, beautiful scenery.

We like to think that by being hosts we are helping our community, bringing tourists to this wonderful part of Ireland, boosting the local economy just a little bit… and, of course, introducing guests to the ‘social dancing’ on Friday nights – always a big hit.

If you are planning a trip to middle Ireland, do stay a while.

We are delighted and thankful that bookings have started to come in for this year.  And, now Minister Heather Humphries, has launched a new Action Plan for Rural Ireland that promises a 12% increase in tourism for 2017…. well, we’ll see…..

As St. Patrick’s Day will give us a long weekend this year, we thought we’d do a special offer to encourage you all to come and visit the #MagicalMidlands.  As we are quite remote, we give guests the option of joining us in the kitchen for dinner.   You will see from our listing that we’re not bad cooks, so good food is guaranteed!

  • Option 1:  2 nights bed and breakfast, and dinner on both evenings at €120 per person – and a bottle of wine with dinner each evening.
  • Option 2:  2 nights bed and breakfast, and dinner on one evening at €95 per person – and a bottle of wine.

There you go folks…. 2 rooms available…. who’s coming?

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Time for Tea

Regulars here will know I am passionate about my tea.  I drink a lot of it…. probably too much, but I’m not going to change my habits now!

Despite being gifted a fancy Keurig coffee maker I have not been converted, I am still a tea drinker.

Blue Le Creuset Teapot

 

Make yourself a cup of tea and have a read of this article which I read with great amusement from the Saturday’s Irish Times –  Denis Fahey’s An Irishman’s Diary about the history of tea in Ireland.

Tea Lunacy

Tea Lunacy

Folks, all us tea drinkers are saved!

We can go mad!

The “Inspectors of Lunatics” have decreed so!  Excessive drinking of ‘stewed’ tea can cause lunacy.

And yes, as I’ve said before, we do use ‘real’ tea here.  And yes, I do use a tea cosy too!  Totally stubborn on how the tea should be made…. I will not be moved on this.

The diversity of the language is brilliant too…. do you ‘brew up’ or do you ‘wet’ the tea ….. it all depends on your nationality seemingly.

 

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Most of you who follow on Facebook etc. will be aware that these past few months have been challenging on the health front here.

Alfie had a heart attack at the end of September which among many other factors hit us with regard to supplying hams to our usual Christmas customers. When we realised that we were faced with possibly disappointing our regular customers, I contacted them all, explained the situation to try to establish what their needs were.

Everyone was so understanding, and for once luck was on our side… a lot of our regulars were travelling for Christmas and would not need hams. Therefore, what little hams we had we could share among those staying at home.

We chatted with some other producers to see how they were fixed for supplies, because we knew we would have calls all the way up to Christmas.

One producer came up trumps and said he had plenty and would be delighted to supply.

We duly recommended him to many ….. mostly new to us, so we were going to miss out on possibly supplying them beyond Christmas  He was being handed new customers on a plate as such.

Then, we got the call from family (we’d forgotten to ask them if they needed ham!!!). Yes, they wanted a ham….. and ‘NO’ we did not have one.

Rather than disappoint family, we contacted said producer, explained that it was for family and could he help? He’d be delighted to…. no problem…. although delivery would be Christmas week.

Oldfarm Christmas Ham

Sorted.

Money paid …. full price paid.

And, yes, you’ve guessed it….. NO HAM ARRIVED.

Despite endless text messages, phone calls, emails, over several days ….. this chap did not answer a single call.

Now what would you think?

Alfie suggested that maybe he’s been in an awful car crash or something?

I feel…. he’s excuse better be along those lines.

He has disappointed me as a customer.

He has embarrased me to my family.

He has totally embarrassed us to potential customers…… did they get their hams? Do they think we operate our business like this?

What would you think?

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Visitors ask us all sorts of questions about the weather in Ireland, and about the ‘rain’ in particular.

When is the ‘rainy season’?

Should we bring an umbrella as well as a raincoat?

When it rains in Ireland is it all day, or just showers?

And each time I am asked I have to stop and think.  If you’re Irish I think you’ll know what I mean when I say…. we could be so rich if we could answer these questions!!!!

And, here are a couple of questions for the Irish people reading this…. do you have a raincoat? Do you use an umbrella?

I do have both, but I cannot remember the last time I used either.  Raincoats and umbrellas are generally kept for city/posh wear! Living here in North Tipperary, it is generally a jacket with a hood, or pull on a hat and destroy the hairstyle anyway :).

Rain is a coming

Rain is a coming

As for the ‘rainy season’ question….. well that does depend on how the gods are feeling, doesn’t it?  Here we are in November, it is raining a lot today, but I can’t remember when we last had rain.  So this is good.

We, Irish, love to talk about the weather.  No greeting is complete without a comment about the weather.

And there are the myriad of ways in which we can describe rain.

Torrential downpour – very heavy rain, that it’s probably best not to go out in… curl up with a book or adjourn to the fireside.

Soft Irish mist – rain is just hanging there.  This is not the prettiest of types of rain, it will soak you to the skin…. it just penetrates everything.

Spitting rain – run between the drops!

Rain, however, very seldom stops play!  We are used to it.  In fact a lot of the time we don’t even notice it.

And when you do stop to think about it …. rain is good!  Where would we be without our rain?  We wouldn’t have our 40 shades of green.  (On a side note… did you know that Johnny Cash wrote this? I did not!)

So our advice to tourists… bring layers, bring a jacket with a hood…. and let it rain, let it pour  🙂

 

 

 

 

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Like many villages around Ireland, our local village, Lorrha, has been almost destroyed.

There was a time, long before we came here, when there was I believe a cinema, 2 petrol stations, a post office and 2 pubs, and some shops in the village.  By the time we came here in 2003, all that was left was the shop/post office and 2 pubs.

Then the post office closed down, and it wasn’t long before the shop too closed its doors.

However, not to be defeated by such things, a group of locals came together and formed a committee….. the result is we now have a community shop, run by a group of volunteers.

It is not just a shop.  It is a hub of community activity.  It is a tea room.  It is a tourist information centre.  It is a craft shop showcasing and selling lots of creativity from around our area.

Once again this year I thought of hosting a ‘coffee morning’ as part of the nationwide fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society.  Then I had a brainwave!  Why host it at home, when it could be hosted in the community shop?  I approached the committee, and they loved the idea.

Smiley face Meringue

Smiley face Meringue

Volunteers were asked to bake and/or donate.  The community came up trumps once again.

Our hospice fundraiser was held this morning.  People came in their droves to support and help, and guess what…. over €1,000 was raised on behalf of North Tipperary Hospice.

How is that for an example of how a community pulling together can overcome challenges and bring lots of positivity into the neighbourhood?

group

 

Well done to everyone, and major thanks from me to those I asked to bake, your help was very much appreciated.

 

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Continuing with how busy this summer has been….

Despite a very slow start on our bookings via AirBnB, once May arrived bookings started to come quick and fast.  And, in fact, kept coming right through to last week.

Now all has gone quiet, but hopefully it will pick up again.

In previous years our guests have been predominantly from US and Canada, but this year visitors have been mainly from Europe, with the occasional Australian or American thrown in too.

Initially I thought that maybe Americans were not travelling because it is an election year, but having discussed it with those who did visit, it seems Americans are afraid of terrorism attacks in Europe.

Isn’t it strange how perspectives can be so diverse?  From here looking on, we’d probably think going to a nightclub or a shopping mall in US could be more dangerous than visiting a city in Europe.  As I say, all about perspective.

As always we have met such lovely people.  Sometimes within minutes of people arriving you feel like you’ve just met an ‘old friend’.  We’ve had some great evenings of chat and banter sitting around the kitchen table.

Friday night guests are usually treated to a visit to Lorrha GAA Club for the social dancing… always a great night…. sometimes a bit of a culture shock for guests.

Thank you so much to all the lovely guests who took time out of their vacation, or the busy lives when they got home to post reviews…. they are very much appreciated.  This one from an Irish guest won our hearts though.

Guest review

Guest review

As bookings were so slow to come in via AirBnB – which has more to do with North Tipperary not being a ‘tourist destination’ than anything else – we decided to look at some of the other platforms out there.  Did you know that there are so many?

We recently had our first booking via Homestay.  I had forgotten that we had even registered on there back in 2013!  It has taken 3 years for us to get a booking… however, it was worth the wait, again we met a lovely couple from Ballymena.

Other platforms include TripAdviser, Wimdu and Flipkey.

Have you ever used any of these platforms?  Which are your favourites?

And, as always, we’d be forever grateful if you can share or recommend us to travelling family and friends.

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