Monday 23 June 2014

Radio Silence

4 'children' in a car.
Regular readers may have been wondering where we have gone - we have been in 'radio silence' due to having had visitors. It is almost a household policy that the internet is turned off so that we can concentrate on our guests (and them on us), and enjoy the fresh air, peace and countryside away from the glut of modern hi-tech "comms" devices. One visitor in particular, Mr Silverwood, was enjoying the extremely rare chance to go on holiday WITHOUT having to take his works laptop and to be on call. His company (used to be mine also) runs a very lean staffing set up and just expects you to be available 24/7 but had, on this occasion (his daughter's 16th birthday) reluctantly agreed to bring a bloke over from the UK to cover Mr S's role, so he was genuinely free.

2CV as logging tow truck.
So, yes, the Silverwoods descended, coming to us via taking Em-J out for a Birthday lunch; it's a fair old drive - 2 and a half hours from their place to Connemara and then 2 more hours Connemara to here to stay for 3 nights till they could return this (Monday) morning to collect her and take her home. The three nights give Liz the chance (which she LOVES), to be catering and hostessing for 7 and also meant we could include them all, more by luck than judgement, in some nicely geared 'entertainments'. Today, Monday, is the one official day when you can legally have a bonfire, in County Roscommon (it's all based around traditional celebration of the Summer Solstice and St John's Eve (23rd June into the 24th). This gets a bit mangled into "the weekend nearest" and we could see yesterday from the numerous plumes of smoke rising across our view North, that the 22nd was 'near enough'.

We had all around the 'farm' piles of cut branches left over from the logging, we have a perfectly good bonfire site in the middle of our East Field, we have a 2CV which has a roll back roof and seats that children can stand up on to look out of the roof, and we had 3 enthusiastic children keen to play and assorted adults who wanted to do something 'physical but brainless' as the perfect antidote to endless computer 'work'. A powerful combination! With grown ups assembling 'bunches' of branches and lashing them to the car's tow-hook, and more adults ensuring that mini-horses did not sneak out of the field while the 2CV and woodwork sneaked in, in a couple of hours we had all the wood gathered around the fire site. Horses and fire do not mix, we are told, so Charlotte and Carolyn rescued the horses to do a bit of lawn mowing back home while we 'played'.

Bee colony 'nucleus'
Meanwhile, I had received the long awaited email from the Two Marys to say that our 'nuke' of bees was ready for collection. Mrs Silverwood is as fascinated by bees as we are and quickly put in a bid that she and Mr S would drive me out to Drumshanbo to collect the bees. and Liz agreed to stay home and 'mind the smalls'. All we could do that night (Friday) was to bring them gently home and place the 'nuke' in the final hive position. It had to be left for 48 hours to settle down and to allow the bees, waking up on Saturday morning, to re-orientate themselves to the unfamiliar surroundings. We had to collect the 'nuke' at after 21:30 so that the bees would have gone to bed in Drumshanbo (and could be shut down) - we were positioning them in our place at more like half eleven at night, which is dusk here at this time of year!

Re-hiving the nuke frames
The bees then needed moving from the nuke to the proper hive on the Sunday and once again Mrs S volunteered to help, with Liz stepping aside. This went (sort of) OK but in our beginner-ish fumblings and non-use of the smoker we sent angry bees zooming off in all directions and unfortunately managed to get 2 members of our audience stung even though they were standing at quite a distance, Liz and our youngest niece, R. Useful lessons learned there! I am still un-stung, but it can only be a matter of time. Even the experts get stung on a regular basis.

And so to bonfire night. We snuck ours in a bit early because the children had helped us build the fire, and would be gone at 08:00 on the morning of the 'proper day'. We lit the fire at about 7 pm on the Sunday (by which time, as I said, there were plumes of smoke all over our northern horizon and a plume of thick black smoke in our NW, we guess from the 'pub one' which happens at the crossroads in Kilmovee. Mrs S had bought chocolate digestives and marsh mallows (the kids here all grow up on something called 'smores' which are melted marshmallow squished between 2 biscuits. I had never heard of it. Liz thinks it might be a Girl-Guide campfire thing)

The fire here was made up of the long-since-dried out 'sneddings' (side branches) of black spruce and ash, so it burned fierce, hot and fast, driving us back but also keeping the mozzies and gnats at bay. When it calmed down a bit we threw in potatoes covered in tin foil and eventually a saucepan of beans, planning to have ourselves a picnic with coleslaw, but as we gathered the chairs, food and blankets around the dying embers, so too, the little biting horrors gathered in a huge cloud and soon had us gathering up our stuff and retreating indoors. Liz and Mrs S in particular seem to be very tasty to the local brand of midges and gnats - it must be in the family scent, CO2, skin and blood; I get driven crazy by them crawling over my scalp but I do not seem to get bitten.

Mrs S and Pirate the cat.
The cat 'Pirate' gets a stage closer to our being able to handle him/her and to get the poor thing to the vet. Mrs S made it her mission on this 'holiday' to try a bit of 'cat whispering', going out to meet him (I'm going with 'him' till proved wrong), whistling him up, calling him and then tempting him in with plates of food. He came up really close and later was confident enough to stay at his bowl while both niece R, and then I was able to pet him. He is not at all well, poor thing,

His eyes and ears are badly crusty and infected, he is very thin and when you stroke him you can feel lumps and scabs through the fur. His right eye, in particular, seems sunken and may be useless. Still, we are persisting with him. We are determined to get him to the stage where we can capture him into the cat basket and get vet Aoife to have a good look at him to see what he needs. Meanwhile, we may try to get some 'Spot On' anti-flea meds onto him.

Dublin Bay rose doing its thing.
So, now it is Monday morning and the guests are gone. We love them all madly and we love having them but we also love the peace and quiet which descends as they depart. Safe home you Silverwoods, and safe journey to Carraroe to collect Em-J and her friend Mohammed. We enjoyed our day of recovering, stripping beds, moving the futon back to the caravan, washing up, ironing (Liz) and mucking out geese (Me). Sorry this blog has been a bit of a long one, but we'll be back to normal now.


Mr Silverwood said...

Really enjoyed the long weekend, will have to do it again over the summer at some point, with all the kids this time.

Matt Care said...

Glad you enjoyed it. Welcome back any time, of course.