13 October 2015

Blue hills and a buttermilk sky

Out there in the real world I asked a friend (and loyal reader of the blog) recently if I should get back to blogging and she said yes... Was she was just being nice? Quite possibly, but I took it on face value (thanks lb!).

I'd been thinking about the blog quite a bit over the summer: on the one hand there's been a lot of 'oh I'd love to mention that garden/plant/hillside/fox-sighting in the blog'; but on the other it has been nice just letting myself enjoy the various sights, sounds, sensations without having to record and share. Though if truth be told, I've been sharing it via facebook. It's the lazy woman's way: just select the phone pic and share. And yes, there's an awful lot of sharing going on in here on t'internet, so why add to it by getting back to the blog? Partly because I've enjoyed the diary aspect of it; and the discipline of it was fun when I started: I wanted to prove to myself that I could write weekly and did for two years. It also takes more commitment than pressing 'share' on a phone pic and that's not a bad thing.

But I'd become concerned that the blog was getting too repetitive: I set out to show that a small garden and an interest in nature can provide lots of wonder, and they do. The problem with confining myself to just those is the fear that things become too repetitive (in the garden's case) or they carry the expectation of being too depressing (in the case of writing about nature): loss of biodiversity, pollution, climate change, destruction of our peatlands... all of these things inevitably come to light once you take an interest in the natural world and to ignore those issues as I have seems Pollyanna-ish, but honestly I get exhausted by so much gloom.

Always I've wanted to share some sense of wonder, some sense of exploration. Sometimes the exploration is of nature and gardens, sometimes of place, sometimes of trying out new things such as drawing. So, I'll continue with those but overall, this will be a mixed bag. It is a bit risky: so many blogs seem to be very focused on Just One Thing (gardens or plants or drawing/painting). Those who focus on the one thing are then very good at that thing, so the theory goes, and the readership builds up accordingly. But my mind is a bit like a pondskater on a summer's evening, dashing from one place to the next, not even scratching the surface. I can't stay on just one thing: while I admire the skill and knowledge of those who do, it's not for me. I get entranced by a drawing and then I get pulled into a poem. I am delighted by a piece of music and then I marvel at birdsong. 'Nature' is the common thread to much of it, though not all.

So, if you come along for the ride, I hope you enjoy it, but I can't guarantee it will interest you *all* of the time; I only hope you'll find something some of the time that causes you to pause for thought. Thanks dear readers.

Here's a start then:


by Sarah Simblet, from the New Sylva; you can find more here.

A diary bit

It was cycling through the suburbs only a week or two ago, on my way home from work, that the blog came to the fore yet again. Even in the 'burbs, the surroundings can be delightful: on that evening, the Dublin mountains (hills really) were a gorgeous violet-indigo blue and had a pale buttermilk sky behind as the sun had just set. Ah Autumn!

While enjoying the colours, the contrast, the hills pulling my mind out and away from the traffic, the noise and the fumes, my mind immediately also connected to a song, and I thought the blog would be a nice place to record all that.

Some music

It was of course the buttermilk sky that brought this song into my head, although it was the wonderful Freddie White, not Mr Carmichael, who was singing in my head. While searching for the song, I found this next piece of music which is very different, but lovely too; take some time out (it's just over three minutes) and have a listen while you think of some blue hills you know with a pale sky behind.

The birdsong:

While searching on soundcloud, I found recordings by this man, an Irish cabinetmaker who loves to record birdsong. How serendipitous and great is that? Do you have time to take 10 more minutes out? Immerse yourself in the night song of Thrush Nightingales in Estonia:

The gardens:

After what can most charitably be described as an indifferent summer, we've had a wonderfully mild autumn. The colours are still beautiful; here's how my own patch looked last weekend:

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The garden in autumn -- asters, sedums, agapanthus and grasses. Oh, and a photo-bombing Verbena bonariensis...
And a rather more expert gardener looks after this:
Caher Bridge garden in August


We finally got a campervan: old and much loved. We've been gallivanting a bit:

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The van in the Wicklow hills. Beautiful autumn weather and the heather in bloom. 
And I've been exploring with ink. Lordie, drawing is hard enough, but with ink, the safety net of the trusty eraser is gone! Scary but fun once I stopped worrying. I just go for it and see what happens, with ballpoint pens, ink, felt-tips, whatever. All part of the #inktober meme. Yes, the internet can be an okay place. 

Spot-the-schnauzer sketches done with metal nibs in ecoline

Nicandra physalodes, also in ecoline, brush and pen
See you here again soon I hope. 


  1. Delighted you're back! I love your eclectic style! You have a great style of writing!

    1. Thanks Shevaun. Delighted to read yours about your adventure in Madrid.

  2. At last! Something to look forward to upon arrival at keyboard. Tots agree re over-intense blogs; Michael Viney's earlier basic stuff more enthralling than current ecological commentary. Lower left dog sketch succinctly captures schnauzer. Delighted that you're back. S

    1. Thanks S. The schnauzer sketching was fun.

  3. Delighted you are back!

  4. Always loved your photos fb, so hence the idea of anything that creates a sense of wonder - your photos always did that for me. Too much of work life is spent reading or in some kind of 'head' space, so love the idea of sights, sounds sensations. LOVED the Butterfly Sky. Graineweile xoxox