Friday, 29 October 2010

Positive Distraction !

Oh the plans of mice and men! Yes, I did say that my blogging would be more frequent then it may have appeared to have lapsed. I have been distracted this while and full of expectant joy.

Nothing at all to do with the Irish Lotto which reached the dizzy heights of €16,000,000 last week to which I generously donated €4.00 in preparation of being the lucky winner (was not). Plans had been roughed out in my head of likely recipients amongst my friends and relations. Those ideas are now on hold; the party though is going ahead.

We shall have a joint celebration dedicated to newness. The extensive modernisation of this cottage and now… bang drums, blow whistles, trumpets and clash cymbals; for I have become a Grandpa to Master Oliver, who was born on Wednesday 20th of October at 21.02 weighing in at 8 lb. 12 oz, in Warwick Hospital, England. Oliver is precisely 9 oz heavier than his mother was at her birth which is an event that I remember with the greatest of clarity.

During the process of Oliver's birth, although in Ireland, I was mentally and emotionally carried back in time. To a small cottage hospital on the edge of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, where the promised gas & air was not available and seemingly hadn't been in operation for months rather than hours. This event provided me with my bonny blue eyed daughter, with whom I have a great friendship along with lots of laughter, so much so I would not be surprised if she views me as an eternal hippie.

For this birth my presence was not required. Yet it seemed to me that I was there, due to the very frequent mobile text messages, that passed between Oliver's parents and myself throughout that long day. In fact I felt a couple of twinges pass across my belly below my navel this being the travails of the expectant grandpa.


Yes, I am to be referred to as Grandpa, not grandfather or even as granddad as those titles seem in my mind to be rather austere and severe. My intentions when with him are to have fun together to sing and skip along roads. Plus the memory still has a variety of Mel-spun bedtime stories that I used to tell to my daughter. Of course they will need modernising with a bit of cosmic light and instead of trips to mysterious islands it will be visits to planets etc.

The strange thing about my family is that I am the first living grandpa on my father's side since 1903. Both my father and his father died in their early fifties

and neither of them lived to see any grandchildren. It was because they both passed on early that I decided to remove myself from the rat race at the tender age of 48 and have some years of leisure with pleasure. Now almost twenty years later the life style continues. Not that I spent every year as a cloud counter!

There was a transition period though as I sorted my interests. First was an involvement with holistic health, which oddly took me into Development Education people issues, the third world and the study of wealth/work sharing plus gender matters.

I am not in total agreement with today's politicians who think that because people

are living longer that their working life needs to be extended. I feel that the decision

needs to be left largely with the individual and in any case there are physical and mental agilities needed in some positions that pre-determine a working life. With tongue in cheek : I personally believe that no politician should be allowed to serve for more than twenty years or past the age of 50, he/she should then be returned to the workforce. Persons who retire though do need to keep physically and mentally active for as long as they are able.

Monday, 18 October 2010

A Distant Hill

Myself and Mrs H have a fondness for a particular foothill of the Slieve Blooms, it is a peaceful place where we often chill out and only a few minutes from home. Here we bring a flask of coffee and a few nibbles, to look at the cloud formations, the effect of the ever changing light on the fields beneath us and talk. It was here some years ago on a chilly September night of the Harvest Moon, that I proposed to her. The rest is history.

In the distance a large blue hill rises skywards. Croghan Hill in Co.Offaly whose proper name is Cruachán Brí Eile, meaning mound of the 'Exalted Eile', referring to the cairn which stands at its summit. It is also thought that the name may have derived from the Old Irish croccán, a vessel or pot.
Eile was the daughter of a local king, who ruled around 100 BCE and her sister was Queen Maeve of Connacht.
Local legends have it that Brigid was born near the foot of Croghan Hill and that later as St. Brigid she visited there. There are though other places on this island that claim to be her birth place, another is on the outskirts of Dundalk.

Croghan Hill itself is an extinct volcano and it is beneath here that Brigit Begoibne had her smithy where she created beautiful cauldrons.
From Croghan Hill flow three springs which at one time fed the three sacred wells at its' base. The two wells below the southern slope were known as healing wells and boasted venerable ash trees although sadly these have long since disappeared, as have the original names of the wells.

Croghan Hill is the stump or neck of an ancient volcano active during the Carboniferous period of circa 250 million years ago. During this period activity began below the earth's crust resulting in volcanic necks rising through the Carboniferous limestone above. Croghan Hill was the main vent with other smaller hills forming nearby and as the activity subsided lava welled up filling the vents with a plug of basalt. Such plugs being much harder and more resistant to weathering than the surrounding limestone now stand out as low hills. The rock here is quite distinctive. The volcanic ash is exposed over the main hill on the southwest and eastern sides, and also on the summit, with a major deposit which is restricted to the southern half of the hill. The northern half has basalt as its dominant rock type. (Geikie, Vol. 2, 1897, PP 37-41).

Quite recently, on a warm autumn day, we took a few hours off to purposely visit Croghan Hill. It is a place that I have often driven past but never bothered to actually stop; there being a time for everything and the right time! This was one of those days neither to hot nor to cold.
Our route took us across country, passing through just one small town, to use a bridge over the Royal Canal and meander through narrow roads. Nestled at the foot of the hill and almost clinging to its' side is the village of Croghan; Where on the outskirts a fingerboard points to St. Patrick's Well. Upwards we went along a tarmac road that soon petered out to a stony, metalled surface with grass growing up the middle. Judging by the sound from underneath the car it was thoroughly swept clean of mud and I hope that was all. After about a mile we came to a wide grassy area, where a small structure with its' gable roof and stone walls left us in no doubt that this was St. Patrick's Well.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Almost finished !

I do understand if some followers had started to believe that this had become yet another neglected blog.... it hasn't; it is just that I have been busy elsewhere. I shall be back to my normal style of blogging very soon - in fact I am working on the next one already.

Our new meditation space is virtually complete, apart from the boards which need to be coated, a carpet laid, the choosing of two small table lamps and large cushions.

Specifically today I am showing the hatch raising mechanism made from recycled materials.
Incidentally the varnished boards on the end wall, were once part of a friends hotpress. (thank you Ms R). The wheel was part of the belt drive on a twin-tub, the cord the from a washing line and the ideas from my old head :)

I see one of those mysterious orbs has managed to
interject it's self into the picture

The electrical socket: I placed in a recess to
lessen it's intrusion.

The room beneath.

The large silver glass ball provides tension to the cord and pulling it downwards raises the hatch. The ball was given to us years ago and it looks as if it was once an expensive christmas decoration.

The opened hatch.

The closing gadget.

The closing gadget is an old mop handle with a brass coat hanger screwed to the pole, this idea came from my childhhood memories of having seen the Lamplighters go around the streets
with their long poles lighting the gas lamps, they had a very similar looking gadget.

That's all for now and normal service will be resumed very shortly.