Sunday, 31 July 2011

Oliver's Big Day

The lateness of this blog is all due to my feeling lazy since returning from the UK during the middle of last week. For it took me a couple of days to get a sense of being back at home and then came an in-dwelling of gladness for living where we do.

Only two complaints with journey: one is that Stena Line do not serve small coffees and secondly, the seating on British trains becomes very uncomfortable after one and a half hours and as our rail journey was four hours long you can imagine the relief we felt at the end of the journey. Next time we shall take a cushions.

The Big Day of Oliver's Naming Ceremony arrived and about forty guests gathered in Helen and Mark's back garden, most of whom were seated under the open sided marquee thus avoiding the hot sun.

Haley on tenor sax!

The ceremony started with a few tunes from Haley (a school friend of Helen's) who came up from Somerset with her family plus musical instruments, a tenor saxophone and clarinet. Her music eased us all into the right frame of mind.

The ceremony was conducted by Sylvia Summer, a Humanist Life Rites Celebrant, who brought everyone together in such a pleasant way that there was a friendly corporate-ness between us all.

Helen, Oliver, Mark and Sylvia

Poor Oliver fell asleep but regardless we carried on with the ceremony to completion. His parents had bought an Olive tree to mark the occasion and we all tied small cards on to it's branches. On these each of us wrote our wishes for him in the future; the idea being that when he is much older he will be able to read them for himself and take onboard our thoughts. Or not.

The Olive Tree

Oliver's Grandparents brought water from their home areas or favorite places. So the waters came from Corfu, Chalice Well Glastonbury, Warwickshire and ours from the River Barrow in Co. Laois. The waters were then mingled and sprinkled around the base of the tree as a symbol of our joint commitment to Oliver.

For myself it was good to meet Helen and Mark's friends and relations, my ex-relations and a couple of my long lost relations - I no longer feel quite so alone :-D
As a regular ritualist I felt that Sylvia created & conducted an excellent celebration, the memory of which will always remain within me - no higher praise can I give her and I hope that she manages to read this blog with one of her wonderful smiles.

Two wonderful squealers

Oliver - The Swinger

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


My last blog was about gifts and by far the greatest gift to my mind is to find a companion with whom we have such a mutual attraction and desire to share our lives.

Some people are fortunate enough to have this event happen just once in their life, others like myself have

during our later years achieved the joy of finding for a second time around a person of such great loving

depths with whom we can shout out aloud for all the world to hear

'Yes this is the Love of My Life !'

The Newlyweds: Lorie and Harvey

On receiving the news of their recent marriage I was truly delighted for them both.

My blessing to them is that they may enjoy a life of goodness and quality together.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Three Different Gifts!

A gift of surprise:-

The other day I was sitting in my normal place tapping away on the mac, doing some research in regards to water quality, when a vehicle that I only barely recognised reversed into the north drive to disappear from sight.

My consternation at having my concentration broken was nullified for on opening the door, there stood before me was a friend of long standing (whom we rarely see) who said 'I have a gift for you'.

Mrs H and I were equally stunned for neither of us were expecting a gift, let alone one of such magnitude. A brief discussion took place and it was decided that the garden room would be the proper place for it's installation.

A large cast iron pot belly stove

A precious gift:-

Mrs H and I are off on our travels again next week, not Scotland this time, but to England, for a very important occasion and family gathering, it being the official Humanist Naming Ceremony of our one and only grandchild.

Mrs H isn't very fond of flying. No 'fond' is definitely the wrong word. Mrs H actually hates flying ! What I dislike about flying is having to hang around for hours waiting to take off; I really think that they ought to be like a train service where there is hardly any delay.

Our mode of travel on this trip will be gentle and relaxed. From home to the ferry port by car, leaving Peggy (our car) in the long term car park for a rest. Then a pleasurable 4 hour trip across the Irish Sea to Wales, where we will catch a train to Cheltenham to be met by daughter and conveyed in luxury to her home. During the ferry trip Mrs H and I will take it in turns to stroll around the ship and have a smoke out on deck while watching the waves go by. All of that plus a quiet pint in the saloon will ease me into a hour or so of sleep.

Master Oliver Mark Rufus

The precocious gift !

This is my one hundredth blog and not the last I hope ;-) My great thanks to all the followers
and especially to those who have the time to leave comments - I will buy you a pint the next time we meet :)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Secrets in an Ancient Woodland

Sunday morning was a good day for a walk in the sunshine, being neither too hot nor cool. I chose to revisit one of Ireland's ancient forests which stands about 9 miles north of our home. The forest woodland consists of 400 -1,000- year old oaks, birches and copper beech trees and many interesting species of plants.

The King Oak of Charleville

The Pedunculate oak - Quercus robur Is less common than the Sessile Oak and is not as popular for use as commercial timber . In Charleville Wood, Co. Offaly the famous Pedunculate ‘King Oak’ is said to be between 400-800 years old. Four of its lower branches touch the ground, with the longest of its branches stretching 76 feet from trunk to tip. The family who lived in the nearby castle were under the impression that when a branch fell off the King Oak a member of the family would die, so as a preventative steel supports were put under the lowest branches!

Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

The Castle, designed in 1798 by one of Ireland’s leading architects of the day, Francis Johnston was not finally completed until 1812. Unlike many gothic castles built later by the Victorians, Charleville Castle is quite compact rather than a rambling edifice with many wings. True to its time, it is basically a large scale Georgian house with added castellations and towers.

This magnificent building was almost lost through vandalism for it stood vacant from 1912 and by 1968 the roof had been mostly removed. The turn around came in 1971 when the restoration work was started and is still proceeding.

A stone archway

After walking through the archway our path led us to a large tree covered mound, which unfortunately due to the amount of trees on the lower level prevented me from taking a photo of it so you will have to use your imagination :)

A barred window opening in the mound guards a secret grotto

The Grotto quote: ' an artificial grotto formed for the purpose of giving employment

during a season of scarcity' ref quote: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in two volumes by Samuel Lewis MDCCCXXXV11 (1837)

A few years ago access to the grotto was easy gained by a doorway which has now been blocked off. Which I daresay was done for good reason as it is quite dark in side and large stones that make the roof do protrude downwards restricting the headroom in places and can give the unwary a hard knock on the head.

Inside the grotto a doorway

I managed to get this photo of the inside the grotto by putting my arms through the gaps between the window bars and taking several chance shots and this is best one.

A stone porch to the Grotto

This was once another entrance to the grotto, now walled up.

Regardless of what Samuel Lewis had to say about the reason for building the grotto it was quite common for country houses of that era to have places such as these, some of them very ornate. They were not just ornamental follies, they were used in a variety of ways and as this one stands close to a shallow river then it may well have been a good place to have a picnic on fine days and bathe.