Sunday, April 29, 2012

Solstice Follies

Now that we've determined the Gallery as the point of entry for visitors, our plans for landscaping have been drastically modified. Instead of coming in at the lower gate, into the Turnip House Courtyard, visitors will be using the upper gate and car park, and coming round to the upper gallery entrance.

Turnip House Courtyard
 It makes more sense. However this means that all the tidying up of the old fallen down garage, and it's environs have to be done now rather than later!
Upper Courtyard
The area inside and around what was once a fine garage will have to be cleared and our ideas for a Zen garden and infinity pool carried forward.

This bit of fun & folly came out of a brainstorming afternoon whilst walking our acres, planning what on earth to do with it all.

Now we'll have to do it for real!

infinity pool in the making
 The infinity pool consists of 3 shallow raised pools, each dropping into the next. It's alignment, determined relative to the walls around it, points up to Slievenaboley, where the sun sets in Summer.

the new entrance via the Gallery
this is the angle the sun makes at the moment
Wouldn't it be great if the sun sets right at the end of the pool on the longest day? 

Fantasy indeed!

sunset 28th April -  7 weeks to solstice
Frank's Cattle catch the last rays

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Felting at Down Arts

Today Elaine was at Down Arts Centre with 11 felters! A great time was had by all and fantastic articles made.

At our lunch break we had sample pieces and felt pens under our belt!

Exquisite delicacies, felt flowers for a corsage.

striking fabric ready to be made into a bag.

2 of the felters making seamless bags!

Shocking pink and aubergine bag in the making.

Large felt flowers in beautiful colours.
The newly refurbished Down Arts Centre is a wonderful venue, thank you! 

Raspberry Pi - a first look

I've been following with interest the development of the Raspberry Pi a very small, very cheap computer from Cambridge university:

It holds out great prospects for the resurrection of computer science in schools, the young in general, and for oldies like myself.

The initial interest has been phenomenal, with hundreds of thousands of people wanting one.

I've not got one myself yet, but there's a good first look on this BBC clip:

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Year Ago

An occasional look at what things were like a year ago.

A different task today. The weather was good, if a cold start, so decided to strim and mow the acres. The outside of the garden at the roadside has not been touched and looks a mess.

This set me to thinking about what lawn we had a year ago. 
We certainly had no green in the Turnip house Courtyard.

The sub floor diggings from the Turnip House are in place, as are some of the magnificent stones that were just 'lying around' (from the sad demolition of the Threshing Barn - before our time), and the top of the wall has been cut and rebuilt as the barbecue table. 
Still very much a work in progress!

April 2011 - see we had the seats out anyway!

 By today, things are much more as we want them, Grass, the barbecue 'laying out' slab, and a nice little border at the back to give colour and disguise the wall.

April 2012
looking down to the picnic lawn this evening

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Flight Radar 24: a Great Website

Had old friends up for a chat today, and was shown this website that I'd like to share with you.

A fine example of the voluntary collaborative ventures that you see springing up online - only made possible by the internet - great fun and really useful if you're planning to pick someone up.

And of course, a gift for the hidden Geek in all of us!

this is a screenshot: real time aircraft information
hours of fun - check it out!

A Most Satisfying Weekend!

Despite my moaning at the end of last week, a little application has gone a long way this weekend. Most absorbing, creative in a different way, and very satisfying to look back on.

The fruits of my labour:
All the boards down. The gap is for a concrete plinth for the cooking area

it's 10 metres from end to end

floored to the door

collateral damage - marker pen on my watch - no wonder I was having trouble telling what time it was!

News about our 'plough'

Many thanks to all those who know their agricultural implements much better than us for the information about the implement that we unearthed earlier this month.

It seems likely that it is a potato ridger or grubber. Our dear neighbour Frank thinks so.

Thank you Sandra from Horsepower in Ireland for your comments:

Hi John,
What a beautiful place you have, the views are stunning!
It is fairly common to find old pieces of horse-drawn equipment in ditches, behind barns, under dung heaps etc., often covered in nettles like yours. But it is always thrilling to find these things on your own land! We found our first piece of horse-drawn equipment - a spring tooth harrow - behind our barn, and we still use it with our two horses.
Common ploughs usually have two wheels at the front, a smaller and a bigger one (one to run in the furrow, and one running on the un-turned ground). So it looks like yours, given it has only one wheel, used to be a potato ridger or possibly a scuffler (which is a horse drawn hoe of some sort). But because the acutal piece running through the soil is gone, it is hard to tell. You may find it hepful to look up the equipment we use: There is a picture of a potato ridger and a plough, and I've just put up a picture of a scuffler as well.
There is a fantastic museum in Johnstown Castle in Co. Wexford ( you ever go that way, it is worthwhile visiting, and you might find some useful information.
Best wishes,

Her site is brilliant, lovely pictures and lots of fascinating facts - good luck with your great venture

lovely site - and lovely logo!

Here's some pictures of our one:

Paul on unearthing day!

a beautiful thing

generally ploughs have two front wheels (so I'm told!)

you can see the indentations where they screwed in the height adjuster

hand wrought - lovely

there would have been two blades fixed here

and one here

This is a picture of part of a horse shoe that we found last July.

Could it have shod the horse that pulled our grubber?

found when we were making a flowerbed

Saturday, April 21, 2012


A day at The Turnip House
Yesterday our replacement vacuum cleaner came, so it was again possible to do the housework - Oh joy!
After cleaning the mobile set to on the Turnip House, getting ready to open today.
Then made celery soup and wheaten bread ready for visitors.

soup (celery) and wheaten bread ready to go
sun shines on the wet slabs of Slievenaglogh

The Turnip House is OPEN!

view form the table - although the mountains could well 'disappear' in the next rain shower

a lovely little place

if only the weather had been like this all day

AND, after work, managed to lay the insulation and first run of boards in the gallery:

We're Open again tomorrow, Sunday 11-5 come along, 
get some real soup, 
and check out the work in progress!

Down The Ages

This is a true story.
As you know the old Stevenson House is full of treasures, left when Annie Stevenson moved down to her son's place in 1977.
Food, Clothes, furniture, documents, books, newspapers, to name but a few.
Each is redolent of it's time, and we have spent many absorbing hours looking through them. 
Many of the smaller more fragile items we've cleaned and put into storage, to be brought out as the story of this place is told. 
Some however are still there, including the furniture and some papers.

A couple of weeks ago, after a stormy night,I was walking across the yard, and a fluttering of paper caught my eye. Not that unusual after a storm, it could have been anything blown from the Windy gap or any other part of the Townland.

It did look of interest, so I picked it up; a page from the Rathfriland, Mourne and District Outlook dated 14th October 1950:

Interesting indeed. It must have blown out of the (many broken) windows.
I took it into the mobile and left it on the table - to put away in a box later. 
That evening, I picked it up and started to read it. 
This is not something I do with all the papers, there are so many.

I nearly jumped out of my seat. On the back page this advert leapt out at me:

This is my father's business that he had in Kilkeel. 
I have never seen this before.

I looked through the rest of the paper. 
One the inside page, I saw this:

an advert for a Grand Dance in Ballymageogh Orange Hall. Near Kilkeel. The band playing: Girvan's Dance Band - my Mother played accordion in that Band.

By chance, I had in my hand a document over 60 years old, produced 8 years before I was born, with references to each of my parents - before they were married

This place - Amazing!

The whole front page

Friday, April 20, 2012

laying the floor ongoing

Work continues: an early start this morning, clearing the last of the timber out of the way so that I could lay the DPC membrane:

DPC laid and unwanted board outside

 I was very impressed that i could lift and carry a whole sheet of board - the trick is not to overbalance
the best machine in the world - thanks Phil!

By this evening, the joists are down and levelled - it was tricky and time consuming, but ready now for the insulation and the floor boards - tomorrow!

Add caption


All of a sudden, the greenness is everywhere - the blue skies and sunshine help of course, but the hedgerows are magnificent, bursting with vitality.

I made this montage back in the Trassey days, but it could be today - and I like it.
green white gold - and blue - the colours of Spring in Mourne
The garden is coming on leaps and bounds - unbidden at this point!
very pretty ground cover, and useful at the moment as we've not got round to doing anything else here

bulbs - and grass- coming on famously!

tropeolum bursting with new vitality - can't wait for those bright red flowers

the hedge down to the river, green green

The far seat: glowing in the evening sun