Friday 20 October 2017

Au Revoir to AB

AB rocking the mesh visor. 
Farewell then, Augustin (AB), our Help-X volunteer of the last 4 weeks, who I dropped to the railway station this morning for his journey onward to Dublin. It nearly didn't work; as is commonly the case, Castlerea station was all locked up and gone away, unmanned and the ticket machine out on the platform was crashed and inoperable.

Nailing the docks (Rumex)
He and 2 other passengers decided to get on the train anyway and throw money at the first railway official they saw. A text later told me that they had all arrived safely in Dublin and had not been arrested for 'hobo-ing'. AB had done a month in Belfast prior to his month here and is now planning a month in the capital and one in Galway before, apparently, heading for Sweden. Yes. Sweden. It's a French thing, he tells me. They all want to see Ireland and Sweden. Works for me.

The pig paddock has never been so clear
Regular readers will know we've had a great time with the lad and we have done LOADS of work, mainly around Autumn-tidying, clearing nettle patches and pulling out of them, big heaps of old prunings and tree branches (incl. the Christmas tree from 2016!). If this was me doing the volunteer side, my mission would be to leave every place in a far better state than when I arrived. If that is also theirs, then AB should be very proud of himself. We are transformed.

Heavy rain stops play on what was to be
our last task.
His last working day was going to be yesterday and we were going to strip away all the grass growing from cracks in the concrete on the back "terrace" and then mix some cement and fill the cracks. Well, lashing rain in advance of the next named storm (Brian) put a stop to that and we both took a day off after having got up at the crack of dawn to nip down and help a friend move some cattle. AB's last job was on Wednesday, then, when he had a good session at bashing docks with the brush-cutter. We'd translated the stinging nettles as "ortie" but could find no such common name for French docks, so we called them 'Rumex' which amused AB ("It sounds like it should be an insurance company!").

My current favourite evening snack. Goat's cheese and strips of
our bullace-plum "fruit-cheese". 
All good things must come to an end, though, and although we loved having AB, we are home birds, a bit set in our ways and enjoying of our own company, so we were both looking forward to un-shipping the 'help' and getting our house and our routines back. No offence, we hope, in either direction.

One of the cats supervises the wine racking.
(pic by Liz)
One amusing side-line to this is that although AB was the easiest bloke in the world to feed (he ate everything we cooked for him and came back for seconds every time. Liz jokes that her worries were only about whether she'd "manage to fill him". He has a bullet-proof appetite) there were 2 minor mis-matches to his preferences. He does not like fish (he's OK with shellfish and prawns) or cooked cheese, so out of solidarity we avoided fish and cheese for 4 weeks. No pizza, then, and certainly no cheesy fish-pie. We are so going to make up for this, now that AB has gone!

I'll leave the last word to our friend and Archery Coach, 'Con'. We were over to his on Wednesday to help whacking in some tree stakes, to clear the shooting field of its 3D target "animals" (into dry store) and to fold Con's 2 enormous cone-shaped tent canvases. Con obviously likes AB and loved teaching him to shoot for those 4 weeks so in my little 'farewell' to AB on Facebook, Con replied,

"(He is) a big man with a big smile and willing hands - may he enjoy every step of his Path."

A dog on your lap is no protection
when this cat wants to come aboard.
Not NOW Kato!
Meanwhile, as we wait through the gap between Ex-Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian (how can you take those two names seriously in the same sentence?), our only other entertainment seems to have been racking off the wine. This was meant to be a 3 week kit but has taken us more like 2 months, possibly because we'd let the kit get old and maybe the temperature. yeast or the stabilizer were not up to much. We thought it had nearly done so we "killed" it with the stabilizer and it just took on a new lease of life, fermenting madly for 5-6 weeks before it finally calmed down enough to be 'racked' (bottled). It is surprisingly good and we find we prefer it to the shop-bought Ozzie Shiraz we had been drinking on the non-gin and non-beer evenings. Bottoms up!

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