Market Day


Haggling for a price

Haggling for a price

Market Day ~ Granite
Sculptor Barry Wrafter

A €40,000 sculpture depicts a market scene and sits in the centre of the market area in Ennis , County Clare. It involves two 7.5ft farmers haggling over the price of a 6ft granite cow.

Barry Wrafter spent 18 months sculpting the piece. ‘Market Day’ forms the latest piece of the Ennis Sculpture Initiative that has resulted in sculptures being dotted around the Clare town.

The End is Never the End ~ Part 12

Part 12

The trees dressed in glory, red, yellow and gold
The sun lying low in the sky.
Tree branches rustle as we walk by,
The breeze feels crisp as it blows in an eye.

Air filled with sound of chisel on stone
Wizards of weather foresee rain and gloom.
While indoors reviving renewing each room
Not an hour wasted as energy spent,
Preparing Hour House, for every event.

“I want to start by putting our guests’ satisfaction at the forefront of our business model. I believe in paying staff a decent wage and adopting a no-tipping policy.” Said Alice. “We will be employing these people to aid us in our adventure, they need to feel our respect and know they will be valued, a part of Hour House family.

We may not be ready for opening this week, but with the new extended area now standing, windowed and weatherproof, it will not take long before the internal work is completed. We really need to begin the process of picking our team. This time we cannot opt out and hand over the task to Mr Yates or Carolyn Ashby. Thanks to Sidney Slythe and Andrei Shuyski, we are in a position to hand pick our team, and do this properly. Valued members of staff are as important as comfortable beds!”

The most memorable aspect of any stay must be the service. Not just the door opening, bag carrying, valet parking kind of service, but the genuine willingness to make people feel at home and the awareness that it’s all about the guests, not about us. We are a relatively small property and we, the owners must be the face of the business.

Great service, for me at least, requires the ability to put yourself in your guests’ shoes and offer them the service that you yourself would appreciate. And that’s the tough bit, because each of us has a different view on what we would class as great service.

We need the guests to feel: “I would stay here again without a moment’s hesitation!”

Morgan stood up and began slowly pacing the floor. “I have interviewed many people over the years for my own staff and for some clients, but have no idea about what is required in or from a chef and his staff. I suppose he would need to be in place as the kitchen is fitted out, to ensure an efficient workstation. We need to contact an agency this week, to set the ball in motion.”

“Once we have the chef on board, he can concentrate on opening The Oratory” said Alice. It will take time to build up a regular clientele of coffee sippers, but at least put us on the map”.

“Good idea. Said Morgan. “We will need road direction signs. One at the cross roads and another at the entrance to the driveway. Mr Yates can tell us who in the local council to contact about the type, style & permission required. A small brass plaque in the entrance is more than enough, it should not take from the wonderful frontage of the building.”

“By the way, I have decided to have my morning shower in the main house for the next couple of weeks. All the en-suites are complete and dry and it will be the best way to test them while the plumbers are working in the extension. We want them all working properly when guests start arriving.”

“I’ll warn Carolyn not to arrive too early for the next few weeks, you would not want to frighten her off, now would you?” giggled Alice.

“I would be more worried about frightening you off, my dear. I would hate to be shown the door and lose my job!” he said with a wink.

“I doubt you would lose your job, as the song says: I have grown accustomed to your face, and to be truthful, without you by my side offering advice and encouragement, I doubt I would have begun any of this.” Smiled Alice. You are here for the duration so long as you do not start singing!”

“SINGING. My singing is that bad I wouldn’t inflict it on a flock of crows!” With that Morgan turned and skipped out of the room, singing:

Alice was left laughing into her notes on the desk. “That Morgan, is better than any tonic. I suppose when the beds come, he will want to sleep in a different one each night to make sure they are comfortable enough for the guests!”

A head came round the door frame. “I heard that, what a good idea.” chuckled Morgan. “Now put away that note book and come and have lunch, Lovell has been busy making a surprise for both of us, she says it is ready now, don’t keep the girl waiting!”

Lunch was a wonderful surprise. Morgan had been secretly teaching Lovell how to make a frittata, and today she wanted to make it ‘all by herself’. She had a colourful salad and sliced wheaten bread to go with it. They all enjoyed it and not a crumb was left for Crumbs.

Lovell left them to go watch a romantic soap on television, they sat over coffee chatting comfortably about the ways of the world outside Hour House.

A deep sigh told them the programme was over, they had not felt the hour go by. Lovell came into the room with a very long face, she lived every moment of the action and a broken romance between her favourite characters, was a major event.

“Lovell, real love is not based on romance, candle light dinner and walks along the beach. It is based on Respect Compromise, Care and Trust.” It was Morgan who had spoken. “The perfect guy is not the one who has the most money or the most handsome one you’ll meet . He is the one who knows how to make you smile and will take care of you each and everyday until the end of time.

“Is that the way you feel about Alice?” asked Lovell.

Alice and Morgan both looked at Lovell, open mouthed, then looked at each other.

Thoughts were running madly through Alice’s mind. ‘White Knights don’t usually have names, but suddenly Alice realised her White Knight certainly did.

When you two get married, can I be bridesmaid? Asked Lovell.

“If Alice says yes, to marrying me, than it would be an honour to have you as chief bridesmaid.”

How about it Partner? What say you to being the first Bride when Hour House officially opens!

Thursday Special ~ At the Border

Juan comes up to the Mexican border on his bicycle. He’s got two large bags over his shoulders.

The guard stops him and asks, “What’s in the bags?”

“Sand,” answers Juan.

The guard says, “We’ll just see about that – get off the bike.”

The guard then takes the bags, rips them open, empties them out and finds nothing in them but sand. He detains Juan overnight and has the sand analysed only to discover that there is nothing but pure sand in the bags.

The guard releases Juan, puts the sand into new bags, hefts them onto the man’s shoulders, and lets him cross the border.

A week later, the same thing happens. The guard asks, “What have you got?”

“Sand,” says Juan. The guard does his thorough examination and discovers that the bags contain nothing but sand. He gives the sand back to Juan, who crosses the border on his bicycle.

This sequence of events is repeated every week for three years. Finally, Juan stops showing up each week.

Years later the guard meets Juan in a cantina in Mexico.

“Hey, Buddy,” says the guard, “I know you must’ve been smuggling something all those years ago and it’s driving me crazy not knowing what. It’s all I think about. I can’t sleep. So just between you and me, what were you smuggling?”

Juan sips his beer and says, “Bicycles.”



I know it is a long way to Mexico, but, I think this one came from Nancy L.

Which kind of friend are you?


A friend had this graphic on her blog this morning, as a lead into a post about depression.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

I never knew RW, I may have seen him in one movie.

The picture holds a powerful message and food for thought.

Which kind of friend are you? Are you available to listen?


Unplug your ears and switch off all modern devices to actually hear what your friend is saying, meaning and NEEDING?

Think on, my friend.

You are not out of this world yet, and long runs the fox (depression), but one day it might catch up with you.

I hope, if it does, you will still have friends around to…




A family Heirloom

A family heirloom

A textural feast

This beautiful rug was over the back of a sofa, when I arrived to collect Janet on Monday. I was totally captivated by it and asked if I could take a photograph.

“Certainly”, said Janet as she casually threw it on the floor.

“The floor is no place for it. You should have it up on a wall. It is a family heirloom”.

Rug detail

Rug detail

A closer look at the detail.

The base was rug canvas and work was built up in random shapes of rug and embroidery stitches, worked with rug and knitting yarns as well as fabric strips in linens and poly cottons.

To the right of the pink flower above is a small section worked on even weave suitable for counted thread work, and then attached to the base canvas.

With such an emphasis on re-purposing our clothes and household fabrics, a hanging like this, would be a wonderful way to reuse a favourite dress, shirt or t-shirt. Babies grow out of their clothes so fast, a hanging would be an ideal use for all the various textures and colours. It is not a task to be completed in a week. It is one for winter evenings over a year or maybe more. Tell the story of a child’s early life through their clothes.

When complete, don’t forget to sign and date it.

Mind the good chair!

Yesterday, one of those days when unsure what season we were in, so it took longer on choosing my clothes for the day. It was a day for layers. I had planned to collect my old young friend Janet, for a bit of adventure. I can see where she lives from my kitchen window.

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She lives on top of that bump to the right of the wind turbines.

Nearly there

Nearly there

The idea was to exercise our legs…. and our tongues with the odd bit of chatter.

Did I say the odd bit of chatter? I am not sure I gave Janet a chance to say more than a half dozen words. Next time, I will bring a band-aid to help keep my trap shut. ;) I promise!

I was the driver for the duration, so as chief navigator, I allowed Janet to choose direction and the destination for our coffee spot. Our rain jackets travelled comfortably on the back seat.

She chose the Creative Gardens Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, County Antrim. It opened in February this year, so a first time visit for me. They have a Garden centre, Seasonal Shop and the now obligatory Coffee shop.

Mind the good chair_1

Mind the good chair_1

This display caught my eye as we were wandering about.

Side view of the chair

Side view of the chair

The plants are not just sitting on the chair. Oh no. The side view  gives you an idea of how it works. The original seat is long gone and a sacking type fabric is stapled to the inside of the seat space, slightly sagging, growing medium added and then the plants inserted. If you look very carefully you can actually see the petunia plugs, lifted out of the compost by the weight of the blooms.

If you try this please watch dear old aunt Mabel, in case she tries to sit on it! ;)

It did rain:- when we were in the car or sipping coffee.

Neither of us were in a hurry home.

Janet suggested a walk in Portglenone Forest Park. I was game for anything.

Map of Portglenone Forest

Map of Portglenone Forest

It was very overcast as we arrived in the car park.

“Do you think it will rain?” asked Janet.

“Not to worry, says I, we can shelter under a leaf!”

We took the Red route.

Portglenone, in Irish: Port Chluain Eoghain, means “The Fort of Eoghan’s meadow”. We local yokels might tease and call it Port-glen-one, but the correct pronunciation is more like Port-glen-own.

Portglenone Forest Park, lies 8.5 miles (14 km) west of Ballymena. It is classified as an ‘Ancient Woodland’, and has well marked nature trails, with the River Bann flowing through the forest. Records show that the forest was once part of a much larger woodland comprising Mountreivelen, Killetra, and Glenconkeyne Woods.

These woods formed one of the biggest oak forests in the country. In 1607 Sir John Davys, the Irish Attorney-General, described this area as “well nigh as large as the New Forest in Hampshire and stored with the best timber in Ireland.”

The ground flora contains extensive colonies of species such as bluebell, wood anemone, and wild garlic. We would need to go back in late April or early May to enjoy those beauties. These plants take centuries of woodland cover to establish, and provide the wood with its important conservation and educational aspects.

Augustine Henry (1857–1930) was an Irish plantsman and sinologist. He began work as a medical officer and customs assistant to the Chinese customs service in 1881. He was an ardent reader of botanical literature and collected 15,000 dry specimens and 500 live plant samples of flora for Kew botanical gardens.  From his specimens 25 new genera and 500 new species were identified.

In 1913 he was appointed the first Professor of Forestry at the Royal College of Science (now University College Dublin), serving until he retired in 1926. He was involved in developing the national Forestry Service and in evaluating foreign conifer species. These included Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole pine.

In 1935, J. W. Besant was to write: ‘The wealth of beautiful trees and flowering shrubs which adorn gardens in all temperate parts of the world today is due in a great measure to the pioneer work of the late Professor Henry’.


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I have another Janet surprise, but that is for tomorrow!

An ‘S’ or a ’5′

Who tried to bite me on Saturday night as I was in a deep sleep. Deep sleep being a new phenomenon for me.

Is that an S or a 5

Is that the letter S or a number 5

Did the culprit sneak off into the night.

Is it part of the reason I was awoken at 05:10 hours to the sound of my house alarm screeching through the neighbourhood?

Did the driving rain, remnants of ‘Bertha’ pushing northwards from our friends in Hawaii cause my alarm to roar?

In my dopey state, I switched it off, and went back to bed, but sleep eluded me until about 07:00. Thankfully on Sunday. a day of heavy rain, I had no reason to leave my comfortable home.

Thursday Special ~ No sleep

Three balloons: daddy balloon, mummy balloon and baby balloon.

Daddy balloon says to baby balloon, “look son, you are getting too big to sleep with mummy and daddy, you’ll have to sleep in your own bed now”.

Baby balloon protests, “but I like sleeping with you and mummy”.

“No, you aren’t sleeping with us anymore!” says daddy balloon.

“Okay” says baby balloon sadly.

Early the following morning baby balloon wakes up and decides to climb into bed with mummy and daddy.

He finds there is no room, so he unties his dads knot and lets out some air, and ties him up again.

Still no room, so he unties his mummy’s knot, also lets some air out and ties her up again.

He still can’t get in, so he unties his own knot, lets out some air, and ties himself up again, he finally has enough room and snuggles down with mummy and daddy.

The next day they all wake up and daddy balloon is really angry. He said

“Son, I am really disappointed with you, I said you couldn’t sleep with us anymore. Now, you’ve let me down, you’ve let your mummy down and you’ve let yourself down too!”


I have Paddy to thank for this little tickle.