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Within hours of posting my last post, our lives changed even further and now 2 weeks on, we’ve had big changes again!  We are in what is being called ‘lock down’ with travel restrictions and businesses having to close unless deemed essential.  If you can work from home you can, but if your job outside the home is not deemed ‘essential’, then you stay at home.

All schools are still closed, no visiting hospitals or nursing homes.  No travel further than 2 km from your home…. and allowed to do that only for light exercise.

‘Essential’ shops are still open.  Groceries stores can’t cope with the requests for home deliveries.

There is talk of even more restrictions coming in the next day or so.

A whole new language has developed around this Corona Virus.

Stay at home….. is the main phrase being used.  Families not being allowed to visit each other.  Grandparents and grandchildren being separated.  It is tough but it is for the good of all.

Cocooning…. anyone over 70 is being asked to stay indoors, other than to maybe go into the garden (if they have one).

Flattening the Curve…. they are trying to slow down the spread of the disease, hence all the measures that have been put in place.

Self-Isolation… as many people rushed to get back into the country/home from abroad, all are being asked to go into ‘self-isolation’ for a period of 14 days, the length of time it can take for symptoms to develop.

As I say live has changed utterly.

However, there are pluses to this.

We Irish can be very proud of how our politicians have taken the lead.  It is not easy.  And no matter what you may think of their politics, I think they are doing a wonderful job and deserve every praise we can give them.  This was our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) on St. Patrick’s Day.

Also, the majority of Irish people are adhering to the requested restrictions to our lives.  Of course, there are the lunatics who still gather and have parties, but they will regret this.  In typical Irish fashion there has to be an upside… and instead of referring to the current situation as a ‘lock down’, we are referring to it as a ‘lock-in’.

For the uninitiated a ‘lock-in’ happens when you go to the pub, closing time arrives, but everyone is having such fun… the doors are locked with the people still inside partying, often in a back room, so that the front rooms have no lights on, and no-one knows you are in there!!!  It does sound a lot better doesn’t it?

We are keeping ourselves busy with outside jobs at the moment as the weather has been good.  If, and when, the weather changes there are plenty of indoor jobs to be tackled.

How has Corona Virus impacted on your life?

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With this past weekend having been Thanksgiving, I thought it appropriate to say ‘thank you’ to someone I met briefly and don’t even know his name.

I was reminded of this incident over the summer when we had our first guest visit us from Wales.  Geraldine was from Cardiff, and her stay reminded me of a wonderful weekend I had there once, many many many years ago.

Those who know me, know I love rugby.

There was a time when I was leading my city life, and able to ‘get away’ and fund such things that I would have travelled for the rugby internationals.  I went to Twickenham (London) and Murrayfield (Edinburgh) many times, but only once got to go to Cardiff.  Back then the stadium in Cardiff was still known as Cardiff Arms Park.

I had travelled to Cardiff with my sister and her then boyfriend.  We had no tickets but had been assured that was not a problem…. “you’ll get tickets, no problem”.

Well 5 minutes before kick-off none of us had a ticket.

Angel Hotel, Cardiff

Photo courtesy of The Angel Hotel, Cardiff website.

I remember standing in what I can only describe as an inside porch in the Angel Hotel which is directly opposite the stadium, with hundreds of people milling past me heading to the match.  I was feebly asking the crowd if ‘anyone had a spare ticket’.

This all happened in the days before we had such phrases as ‘paying forward’ or ‘random acts of kindness’.

Suddenly a man stopped in front of me, asked me would I promise to use the ticket myself… which, of course, I said I would.  He handed me a ticket, refused to take money, and disappeared into the crowd!  I hardly had time to take in his features… I would not have recognised him five minutes later.  He had given me a ticket to sit with all the Welsh Rugby referees …. basically one of the best seats in the house!

I doubt if he reads my blog, but anyway this is my way of saying ‘thank you’…. your kind gesture has never been forgotten.

Ireland lost that day …. but it is still a fond memory.

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A couple of weeks back we had Irish guests staying… not often that we have homegrown guests.  However, one of the guests past a comment about the fact that as we grow much of our own food, we don’t really contribute to the local economy!

His comment kind of floored me.  It really stopped me in my tracks.  I suppose without going into a deep analysis of it, I would have considered us to be good at supporting ‘local’.

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Home grown tomatoes

I was prompted to analyse our shopping.

If I’m truthful, no we don’t buy from the nearest local shop.  There are a few reasons – they don’t stock what I’d want to buy food-wise.  I gave up buying newspapers years ago … and they don’t stock my preferred read anyway.  Yes, they do stock nice gift items.  I, however, tend to bake/gift home-made food items.

So here’s how our shopping breaks down:

Meat : we grow pigs and sheep too – so we never, ever buy pork, bacon or lamb. We also raise our own duck meat.  Chicken : we have a certain supply, but do buy free-range on occasion.  Beef which is considered a luxury in this house is bought from a local butcher, who now rings me when he kills and saves the cuts I like  – now, that’s customer service!  We plan to get a few turkeys this year too, just to add to the mix of meat choices.

Fruit and vegetables : again we grow a lot.  We try to eat seasonally, but sometimes you get a glut of vegetables coming at you so fast that you cannot eat another carrot or pea – so we freeze them to have later in the year.  Right now I’m busy preserving all sorts.  When we moved here there was a local vegetable shop, that’s now gone.  Our local country market which was another great resource closed down earlier this year, so we are left with the ‘multiples’ as our only choice.  However, even then I do aim for Irish and /or organic/fairtrade (thinking bananas and exotics).

Eggs : we have our own and if I do need more, I buy from our neighbour.

Fish : there are no local fish shops, so we shop in Barna (Co. Galway) for our fish when we can.  Not quite local to us, but it is a small independent fish shop that does great fresh fish.  We’ve also been known to swap pork for line caught tuna. Nice!

Flour:  we buy organic in 25kg bags from a local bakery.

Cleaning products : we do refills from our local independent Organic Store.  They are also a great spot for nice cheese, chocolate and seasonal vegetables.  (I just don’t get there every week.)

Animal Feed : We buy Tipperary grown grain from our local mill, and organic pig feed from “Robins Glen“.

Butchery : We are lucky to have a neighbour who does the necessary dispatching on hens and ducks.  And, we have two local butchers who take care of our pigs and sheep for us.

Yes, unfortunately, we do buy the staples from the ‘multinationals’…. tea, butter, etc.

So are we contributing to the local economy?  I think so.  We are bringing guests into this part of the country that would not otherwise visit.  We recommend local attractions.  Friday night guests are often encouraged to attend the dance at our local GAA Club.

So, yes, I do believe we are contributing in our own small way to our local community.

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Friday Photo

Let me introduce you to The Pig Whisperer…. the pigs love her!  aka Laura aka Day Dreaming Foodie

The Pig Whisperer

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I was in Birr today, and popped into Purcell Auctioneers…. oh my the laugh, when I saw these.  This salt and pepper set is coming up in their auction next week.   Yes, Irish people will get this the best… Joe Dolan, salt and pepper pots!  For those not familiar, Joe Dolan was a musical show band legend here in Ireland, for years and years!

Joe Dolan salt and pepper set

Joe Dolan salt and pepper set

Oh, and yes, you can bid on line… and items can be shipped!!!

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in and around our area over the summer.  It truly is the #MagicalMidlands 🙂

Many of our B&B guests stay here as a stop off point on their way west, on their way to Kerry, or en route back to Dublin having been west or south.  Not many of them actually come to stay and spend time in the Midlands, and yet, when we do convince them to come and stay more than one night, they are generally ‘wowed’ by just how much there is to do within an hour’s radius of here.

I thought I’d share just a short list of what’s happening in our neighbourhood over the coming months…. it just might convince you to come visit and stay awhile.  You don’t have to come and stay with us, but it would be nice if you did!

11th – 24th July : Galway Arts Festival :  there is so much on offer over the 2 week period, it really is best you take a look yourself 🙂  Distance from us ….. 1 hour

Lorrha Countryfest Poster (5)

Sunday, 17th July : Lorrha Country Fest : the first ever country fest in Lorrha GAA Club featuring Entertainer of the Year – Mike Denver.  Distance from us … 5 minutes walk!

17th – 23rd July : Clay Pigeon Shooting World Championship at Esker Shooting Grounds.  Distance from us ….. 30 minutes

25th – 31st July : Galway Races… always worth a day trip.  Distance from us …. 1 hour (although traffic is crazy that week, so possibly longer!)

Friday 29th July – Friday 5th August : Birr Vintage Week : Vintage Week has been running for over 40 years, and has so much to offer… perfect destination for families.  Distance from us ……. 15 minutes

Sunday 14th August:  Tullamore Show : Ireland’s largest one day agricultural and livestock show.  Distance from us about 55 minutes by car.

17th – 21st August:  Terryglass Arts Festival : this is a lovely festival with lots of interesting arts and crafts happenings.  Distance from us…. 15 minutes drive.

20th August : Heritage and Forage : As part of Heritage Week 2016, our local community is organising a walking tour of our village, Lorrha and the surrounding area… collect food on your walk, and enjoy eating it at the end.  Of course, there are lots of other activities in the area for the entire week.  Distance from us …. 5 minute drive

27th and 28th AugustIrish Game & Country Fair, Birr.  If you are in to shooting, hunting, angling, outdoor pursuits… this is the place for you.  Distance from us….. 15 minutes

15th – 18th September:  Shorelines Arts Festival :  this is described as a boutique arts festival.  It has so many great events happening over the weekend from literary to arts to food.  Well worth a visit.  Distance from us ….. 10 minutes by car.

20th – 22nd September : The National Ploughing Championships, this year taking place in Screggan outside Tullamore.  If you haven’t ever been, you should put it on your bucket list.  It is quite amazing.  Distance from us …. normally 55 minutes, but traffic will be crazy.

12th – 16th October : Offline Film Festival :  Birr is the venue for this film festival for both movie goers and movie makers.  Distance from us ….. 15 minutes

If I’ve forgotten any local events, I do apologise… but please feel free to let me know and I will add them to the list.

If you are planning to come to the Midlands well this list may just help with the planning.  However, you don’t have to come for the festivals and events… it is always a nice time to visit us … we’d love to see you here 🙂

 

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Friday Photo

The floods on our road have finally receded but they’ve left major craters behind.  These are the 2 biggest but there are about 10 others.

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The River Shannon has burst its banks at Portumna our nearest town.  From the wall to the blue buoy is usually the car park!  At least we had blue skies for a part of the day.

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Sunset shot taken yesterday after all the rain.

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