Tuesday 17 March 2015

For the Day That's in it....

A relaxing Mother's Day for Liz? We finally got sorted on proper
raised beds in the poly tunnel and here she is forking some well rotted
cow muck into them.
You'll know from my windy winter posts that we are well inland from the full blast of the Westerly Atlantic gales - we are 2 hours drive from the coast heading west. Head north from here, though, and you can be at the seaside in Sligo in just over the hour. This is the tourist-trap of Strandhill and we suppose that knowledgeable people steer well clear on a Bank Holiday, even on St Patrick's Day in March. We wondered whether it might be OK and everyone would be at the parades in all the various towns and, anyway, we'd promised ourselves this jaunt since Mother's Day and knew that the dogs would love a walk on the beach, free from their leads.

On the south side of the Strandhill headland, the beach has this
impressive backdrop
This morning, then, saw us on an early-ish breakfast and fitting the (sand proof) blanket to the rear seat of the car. As we toddled out past the windfarm north of Balla-D we texted some friends (Hello Dawn!) as we drove past their place just to say we were waving at them, headed for the coast. In seconds we (well, 'me', Liz was driving) were in a long phone-chat which saw us getting directions to a good beach-side café/restaurant ("Shells") and to the beach, insisting that we try the calamari salad and other delights.

A huge empty beach for a dog walk.
At Ballysadare we turned left and headed out along the south side of the Strandhill headland, looking to pick up a broad, deserted beach for our dog walk. They love this and they run and run, disappearing into the far distance before looping back. They seem to be very good now at coming when called. At one point a horse and rider popped out of the marram grass in the dunes and was suddenly much closer to the dogs that we were but I whistled and clapped, and we could just make out them turning away from the tempting equestrian target and heading back to us. We grabbed hold of the three collars and waited while the rider trotted towards us and past - he seemed delighted by our three "excellently behaved" (ha!) dogs.

With everybody well blown out by all the running and chasing through sand clumps, bladder-wrack, lugworm casts and the sea itself we rounded ourselves up and headed back to the car, human mouths now watering well at the thought of that calamari, and drove into Strandhill itself. Well, Dawn, we found the "purply pink" pub OK and the big metal cannon on the pavement, and we found 'Shells' which did indeed look promising, but it also looked packed. The car park was full of surfers and families (studiously avoiding their St Patrick's Day parades?), the outdoor bit was chock-a and there was quite a queue standing. Hence my comment earlier about people who go to tourist traps at lunchtime on a Bank Holiday. We will go back on a sunny day soon, but not a weekend or B/Hol; we will try the calamari, but today we turned the car round and headed home, picking a route which we thought would avoid any towns with parades - the N17 and Knock Airport.

The substrate in this grassy bank seemed to be mainly shells.
It nearly worked. We had made just one miscalculation. We were short of wine for own Paddy's Day meal tonight and thought we might be able to sneak into Tubbercurry or Charlestown to a shop open for wine, without getting snarled up in a parade and the closed roads. We 'remembered' that Charlestown is off the beaten track and thought we had to divert into town off our trunk road, but no, it is the E/W road (N5) you leave - you head into town ON the N17. We came over the brow of a hill and found the road blocked by multiple Garda cars, ambulances and people sporting hi-viz jackets.

More of a shell-dump than a beach?
We had to make a U-turn and then knit ourselves a neat little diversion up some tiny roads with grass up the middle all round the 'back' (west side) of Knock Airport, emerging at Kilkelly which, by happy coincidence, had an open off-licence and no parade. Liz also grabbed up some surprisingly good bacon for a bagel-lunch, compensation for the calamari shortage. From there, we were home and dry. It had been a fun adventure. All the dogs are wiped out fast asleep on various chairs and rugs.

The local expression meaning that you are doing something special (a meal, a traditional activity or an event) to mark the a particular day is "..for the day that's in it". Radio DJs will say "I'll play this record for the day that's in it". Well, today we are eating my absolute favourite Irish meal, bacon and cabbage with mashed potatoes and a white (roux) sauce (can be parsley sauce) for the day that's in it. Yum Yum Pig's Bum, Cabbage and Potatoes as we used to say in Sussex.

Goose and chicken eggs for the day that's in it.
What else is new? We finally got sorted on our proper raised beds for the poly tunnel, with some more scaffold boards from our man down near Ballyhaunis so we have cleared up the bodge of stones and chicken-spread dusty soil and turf fragments. We pulled out everything except a rather fine bronze fennel, knocked the boards together and barrowed in a mountain of well rotted, 2013/4 vintage bullock muck (Thank You John Deere Bob) which we chopped into the soil. We then watered the whole lot and mulched with a good layer of well rotted chicken/goose/rabbit muck.

There might be a Bloody Mary in this for someone.
With all that and last year's spent mushroom compost, that must by now be a fairly nutritious substrate. It certainly looks a nice rich 'fruit cake' mixture.

So, I will just leave you with Happy St Patrick's Day greetings. We have had a very pleasant one and we hope you have enjoyed yourselves too.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!


Anne Wilson said...

As the tide was out I'm surprised that you didn't go muscle picking Matt, food for free! Whenever we head for Strandhill it's to collect washed up seaweed and muscles.

Matt Care said...

We did wonder whether we were at "your" beach. There were piles of bladder wrack but we had no bags and the car-park was a bit nervous-inducingly full. We didn't seem to be near any mussel-type rocks, so we don't think we were on the 'right beach' for that. Ours was backed by dunes.