Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Topp Hosting

Liz rests between courses with (l to r) Dan, Danielle and Keith
I may have mentioned in here that three of the gang who were at the funeral which took Liz to the UK last weekend, were due to follow her back hot on her heels to stay with us this most recent weekend. 2 of them (Dan and Danielle) have been before, last year when they famously drove from here, through Connemara to Galway pausing by a lake for Dan to propose to Danielle. Ahhhhh. Keith is a Dublin cousin, actually son of my Best Man. We 'knew' him properly back then but as a 7 year old (!) and we had lost contact when we were back doing 'married' in the UK. He is one of those who Facebook has brought back into our circle. FB is good for that. It would be his first visit.

Roast duck with Guinness and honey
We love these chances to do hosting and Liz, in particular gets focused and creates lists and menus of special foods and other stuff not normally stocked here. These people will get fed and will get fed WELL and memorably. As I sit here after the event the list, which was fixed to the kitchen dry-wipe board by a magnetic strip has been tidied away, but if memory serves it had on it such goodies as, for Saturday lunch, Asparagus and Gruyere Tart, a pie of sausage meat, black pudding and caramelised apple and a salad of tomatoes, goats cheese and finely sliced onions.

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart
Supper was a genteel soup of bacon and leek (no bread - pace yourself, guys!) followed by mains of Roast Duck in Guinness and Honey (with just noodles and steamed spinach) and a dessert of either/or rhubarb and cream meringue or banana bread. The "cheese course" was Liz's speciality chilli, cheese and bacon biscuits. Breakfast was the expected 'dippy' goose eggs, a keen request from Danielle remembered from last time.

The guests were here, as well as the food, very much for the livestock - we are like a petting-zoo for them all and they love the chance to meet, feed, pet and cuddle as many species as they can get to co-operate (pretty much everybody except the geese!). The pigs were a real hit here, being now 13 weeks old, so small enough to have bouncing around on your lap like a pup and trying to mouth everything. Somerville particularly likes to be rubbed and fussed all over - between her ears, her back, flanks and tummy and under her chin. Ross is not quite so keen but Danielle just saw that as a challenge and was determined to 'tame' her by Sunday dinnertime!

Danielle meets the piggies
The lambs are a bit heavier now (Rosie is ten weeks) but are well used to being handled. Both Danielle and Keith managed to get the guest-goat Nanny-Óg to eat some crunch out of their hands and then went off round the field doing a little happy dance. Then there are the ducklings and the little chicken poults and Tom the Turkey who is currently missing his good lady (out in the fields somewhere (we hope) sitting on eggs) and seems more approachable, let them stroke his knobbly head. A great time was had by all on the food rounds and interim communing.

Thank you so much for the lovely
flowers (also wines, beers and
Hendricks gin). You shouldn't have!
In short, it was a lovely successful visit and much enjoyed by everyone. Our FB 'lot' will have seen a blizzard of pics on FB; I have used just a few of them on here (Thanks D+D). You are welcome back any time, guys.

The ducklings meet Tom and some other residents
The gang headed back to Dublin and their flight home via a visit with 'Sparks'. Liz headed off for a well earned lie-down and I headed for Castlerea and what was planned to be a session out of doors with the archery club setting up the outdoor shoot (targets, marquee etc) followed by a bit of out door shooting. I, for one, was pleased that this was rained off and we adjourned back to the badminton courts of Castlerea's "The Hub". This meant that I could get my new bow set up indoors by instructor 'Con' and learn to use it in the familiar indoor environment. Long story short, that went well and I love the new gear. More on that in a future post.

Poults feathering up well
The Bank Holiday weather proved better than expected and gave us a chance, at last, to release the ducklings and poults for a quick explore of the 'free range' potential of this place. In practise these youngsters are always a bit nervous on their first sessions and never go far. We watch over them mainly in case of inappropriate interest by either cat (they are too big now to be of any use to crows, magpies and the sparrowhawk) and soon they get tired and return home, where upon we shut them back in till tomorrow. It works well. We then increase the time and reduce the supervision each day till they are out all day with everybody else. I can't wait for the ducklings to find the big pond, but I am not going to hurry them and they have not yet tried to get beyond the main yard. The only water they know is the cat litter trays, ridiculously shallow now for these long legged, tall "babies".

I just passed Danielle the lamb, Rosie. Bit of a lump! Keith
seems to be in deep conversation with #3 ewe, Myfanwy.
Ah well, I will leave you with Liz away in Silverwood-land with a bitter sweet task ahead of her. With Mum, bro (Sparks) and sis (Mrs S) the family must choose a head stone for their late Father's grave and decide what should be engraved there-upon. Mum wanted everybody to be there so that the decisions could be family ones. There was also to be a lunch. Liz is not back yet so I have no idea how that went for the moment but I cannot imagine it was a barrel of laughs.

A rather unkind pic of Danielle deciding whether yet another
portion of rhubarb Pavlova would be a good idea! 
...and that is enough for this one.

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