Friday, January 28, 2011

Eleanor at 17 weeks

Lovely Eleanor is developing fast!

I can see much more of the world now
I've got my toys to play with
mmm  solid food
not bad

perhaps something a bit more substantial!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow returns

A cold night - and, when the cloud cleared, there was snow again on distant Bearnagh.

Slieve Bearnagh; the snow line drawn as with a spraycan

Monday, January 24, 2011

RSPB Northern Ireland Red Kite Project

You may have noticed the identification numbers clearly displayed on the Red Kite that I photographed in the last post. Well, I sent a copy to the RSPB and was delighted to get this from Robert Straughan, Red Kite Project Officer
RSPB Northern Ireland:

Thanks very much for the fantastic photo, this is very useful for us.  Part of my job is to monitor the kites, and this is done by radio tracking and reading wing-tags, as you've managed to do here.  The sighting of this kite is particularly interesting because its radio transmitter fell off before Christmas and we found it in a field close to Garvaghy Hill on the way to Dromore.  We weren't sure whether it was still alive so  it's great to have recent photo evidence that all is well!
 You can see much more information on the fantastic RSPB Northern Ireland Red Kites Project and sign up for their newsletter.

Also well worth a look is:

Their  project DVD 'The Red Kite Runner', it can be viewed online at

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bronte Country

Brontë Country:  the Mournes from the church

Not far from us there are many brown tourist signs indicating 'Brontë Country' depicting the land where the Patrick Brontë, father of the Brontë Sisters originated.:

The fertile land of County Down has been farming country for centuries. It was here that Patrick Brontë, father of Charlotte, Emily and Anne - the Brontë sisters, was born into a farming family on 17th March 1777 - Saint Patrick's day.

Follow the story of Patrick Brontë and his family through the buildings that survive within the Homeland. The Brontë Homeland Drive starts at Drumballyroney Church and School near Rathfriland, ten miles south of Banbridge.

Drumballyroney Church and School, where Patrick Brontë taught and preached, have been preserved and now include displays about the Brontë family.

I've passed by these signs many time over the years, and was inclined to view it as something for visitors, but I stopped at Drumballyroney Church on the way home from Rathfriland yesterday. I've concluded it's well worth a closer look:

County Down: where better?

Drumballyroney churchyard, graves date from the 1700's

Heathcliffe and Cathy

A Red Kite seen on the Mill Road on the way home - you can see clearly the identification tags

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Garden Visitors

We're waiting eagerly to see if anything springs up in the garden now that a lot of it is cleared.

A purple Hellibore has appeared - free from the ivy that was choking it

Charlie in the Long Grass

Red Kites
One of the five Red Kites swooping above the garden today

Monday, January 10, 2011

Famine Fields

With the latest snow melting away, the textures of the landscape are brought into fresh relief.
Up here in the Dromara Foothills, the marks of time stretch back far back, and have not been overwritten so much by the new ways.
We went up to the slopes of Slieve Croob yesterday, about 3 miles away.

The Mournes tucked between Slieve Garrann and Legananny Mountain

Another beautiful alpine day

Distant Slieve Gullion in County Armagh

Famine fields, or lazy beds are the remnants of potato cultivation during the 1800's. The repeated failures of the potato harvest in Ireland in the mid 1800's caused famine and devastation. It is a mark of the size of population and the search for new cultivation places that the fields are found in the steepest most difficult places. Their abandonment  has fossilized them, whereas the lower, better fields have continued in use, and the beds have been ploughed out.
Slieve Garron

the snow lies in the 'furrows' between the beds. All these fields were dug by hand,
these abandoned potato fields are turned over to grazing now; the field marking remain as testament to hard times

It's hard to find a great deal about lazy beds on the web. Anybody who can point up more information, please do.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


We've been working on the house this week - clearing away the last of the dead ivy from the front. A difficult task, 30 years of growth means that the ivy has trunks the size of tree trunks!

After a few days hacking and pulling we have at last cleared the front of the house, which has not seen the light of day since the late 1970s

the ivy is dead now, but still clinging on!

revealed again - in all its glory

The second, (left hand) date plaque can now be seen again, made from plaster work and tiny sea shells.
We understand that these mark extensive improvements to the house, possibly when the cottage was made into a two storey house.
Both plaques are in fantastically good condition.

We've left the ivy on the slates; it's very possible they are the only structural component left up there in parts! These can be taken down when the slates are salvaged.

We are pleased with what we've done. This also means we can get a better look at the flower beds:

looking through the garden gate from the lower courtyard

from the upper courtyard

The Front Gate - almost there!

look at the beautiful edges to the flowerbeds

Signs of Spring

Another gift that the house has revealed - Elaine found a document in the house showing an aerial photograph from the 1960s:

Former Glories!
Can anyone identify the car to the right of the house?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Weather

My Christmas present form Elaine was a weather station - a must have for the inner geek! I was allowed to open it early so that we could get the record cold weather statistics. The coldest we got to was -15.8 degrees C

Now I'll be able to bore the pants off everyone at any time!

For those who like me have a fascination for weather statistics, I will leave a monthly copy of the data to download from our website. Check out the link to the right hand side of the page.

When I look at the weather station, I can see that it is cold!

Happy New Year 2011

Here's to a fulfilled 2011 for us all!