Monday, January 30, 2012

Rain Stops Play

not going out in that!

Well today was wet and windy - it has rained for 24 hours now. 
So no tree planting. Although the 140 that were planted yesterday will be well settled in! 
Thanks to all those who were to come up and help today - the rest will keep for a few days!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tree Planting Day 1

Thanks so much to the crack teams of tree planters who came today to help put in the 194 trees that we picked up yesterday from the Clandeboye Estate.
the day dawns

snow on Bernagh, but only frost down here!

Charlie watching and waiting

getting organised

the first Oak tree goes in!

ready for action

a blackthorn hedge small - but perfectly formed!

planting the Hazel Grove

Charlie supervising as ever!

in the thick of it

We have planted a fantastic 140 trees!

Looking forward to tomorrow - full report and more pictures then!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Just Ordered 194 bare rooted native trees from the Conservation Volunteers 

at Clandeboye

Picking them up on Friday

Anyone fancy tree planting this weekend? - free food and drink supplied!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Fireplace

The Gallery will need some heat, and an internal focus, so we decided to put in a wood burning stove like the one in the Turnip House Studio, but this time put in a fireplace to hold it

first of all a brick and concrete plinth
building the pillars
two headers from the door recycled to form the top

installing the flue
applying the render


stove installed and dressed for Christmas!

The Gallery

In keeping with our recycle philosophy or 'make do and mend' we are in the process of rehabilitating a barn at the back of the site.

first sight - not very promising!

When we first saw it it had lost some of the roof, and the walls were damaged, but after careful consideration, we could see that this could be a great space for display, teaching and tea room. 

at least there was more of the roof this side

It makes no sense to spend a lot of effort and fuel demolishing this, creating a mountain of rubble for landfill, when with a bit of TLC and creativity it can serve our needs well.

The views are stunning as ever: up to Slievenaboley and the Windy Gap,

Slievenaboley; and cow
across the valley to the river and beyond, 

the river in flood November 2010
and down the hill to the Majestic Mournes.

It's alignment means that for most of the year the rising sun will shine through the front windows, and the setting sun those at the back.
What's more, tidying this part of the site up would go a long way to improving the visual quality of the place.

Work In Progress. In pictures:
roof replaced, unsightly gable removed, toilet roofed

from further back

2012 To Do List!

We're into our second New Year here in Benraw, and our thought are on what we plan to do this year.

Our Project continues to inspire, daunt, and delight in equal measure, and a morning 'tour of the estate' brings plenty of ideas, energy and enthusiasm to be getting on.

Here is a notional 'to do' list (from today's perspective anyway) for the next couple of months


  • complete vegetable garden - planting has already started!
  • clear the loose compost heap and remaining rubble
  • plant more trees - we're going to buy 130 native tree 'whips' from The Conservation Volunteers in Clandeboy
  • clear the American thorns from the front garden and seed more grass and lavender
  • start the greenhouse
  • create the composting toilet


  • replace doors and windows 
  • finish the floor
  • begin fit out
  • clear surroundings of rubble, etc.
  • create easy access


  • finish clear out of lower floor
  • conserve artefacts and furniture
Meanwhile, we are still open at the weekends, and other times by appointment, you're welcome to come and see what's happening.

So - watch this space - pictures to follow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Gift That Keeps on Giving!

We've started the New Year with some Spring Cleaning - in the house.

One of the priorities for 2012 is the roof of the house - we need to stabilise the situation, so we can then be content that it is not going to deteriorate further.

First of all it will have to be emptied - we've made a start, and as ever, found more treasures.

light streams in through the back door and landing window

the passageway to 'the shop' and what will be our bedroom and en suite

the existing bathroom 'the best in the Townland' (in 1959!)

looking back into the kitchen

as good as new! after a bit of a dust

more to find in there!

time has not been kind to the range

a very fine airing cupboard - here will be the kitchen sink

a collection of motley furniture

the magnificent red tiled floor

hand made fire implements that we found by the range
We found a toasting fork, ash rake, and (in the centre of the picture) a pair of hand forged tongs. 
We're lucky enough to have another pair like these - and they were used to tend a large open fire (like in our Trassey House) so perhaps there is a large fireplace behind the range?

could we find another like this??

Celtic Fusion

Our dear old friend Annie from Black Dragon Crafts has commissioned a sweater from us.

Her idea was to blend two of our most popular designs into one:

the new creation hot off the press
It works really well - inspired - thanks Annie!

hanging up to dry in the workshop - to be ready for the post tomorrow

It should be with you in time for Showcase in Dublin at the weekend

Good Luck to all at the Show!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Castlewellan: Boxing Day 2011

Perfect day for a walk around Castlewellan Lake - cold bright, exhilarating

I'm not too sure about this ...
Castlewellan Lake

Elaine Eleanor Kate Lauren & James (and some of Charlie)

Kate Eleanor & John (ditto dog)

Happy Family!

Family: Christmas 2011

What a privilege: to have all our family round us for Christmas!

Kate & Eleanor, James and Lauren, and us two.

Whilst the weather was unseasonal (or more typical for this western island) the atmosphere was warm and cosy in the Mobile Home and our Christmas Grotto - what will next Easter be the New Gallery - more to follow on that adventure!

And at least no travel disruptions got in the way of a brilliant family time:

Christmas Day breakfast - Lauren Eleanor & James

The Christmas Grotto: fire's lit and Santa has been!

Eleanor at work

Eleanor & Elaine

Santa's stockings

Charlie - worn out already

The Train Set - not seen for two years - 

- and new wagons to play with!

Boxing Day

perfect for a walk