Monday, 28 September 2020

Ireland and After, 2020

I arrived back into the UK late on a Wednesday evening; four days earlier than planned. It took me a day to unpack, wash and sort my stuff and the caravan washing and to catch up with the always necessary food shopping.  I also sorted out some clothes and filled one and a half black plastic sacks for the charity shop. I then ventured into town on Friday to to drop off my donations and collect my daughter's birthday present.

Several of the charity shops that were closed when I left had reopened. I bought this blue and white lightweight jacket by M&Co for 1.00 in the Salvation Army. I don't like the new Blogger; the photo sizing is different from the one I used on my previous post; which I posted only a day ago! Anyway, back to Bedford where they were digging the town centre up with annoying one way systems in place. I walked miles just trying to get from one place to another. I was glad to see the 3:16 charity shop had reopened too; and picked up a nice linen dress in their sale for 2.50. I also had books to drop off to Oxfam and went to Wilco where I found trays of Pansies and Violas reduced to 10p a tray - admittedly some of the plants were a bit bedraggled looking but most will be fine once re-planted and watered.

I walked on both Saturday and Sunday; I needed to get back into my walking routine. All the family came for dinner on Sunday and it was wonderful to see them all - I had missed them and they me.

I'm just going to backtrack to a couple of visits with my Irish family.

This was Coral beach, St. John's Point, Co. Donegal where I swam on 10 occasions. The tide is out here and I was sitting in my fisherman's chair reading the paper and waiting for the tide to come in again so I could swim. I was checking out the bird life with my binoculars as well. It was a beautiful day.

This is cousin Liam and cousin Caroline who are brother and sister. Liam is married to Martina who I spend quite a bit of time with when I'm in Ireland; we both like walking. She has two lovely dogs; Willow and Pixie. She and Liam live in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo and Caroline lives in Dromahair in Co. Leitrim. I was waiting for Martina to cut my hair in this photo and hadn't yet put any make-up on. We're sitting outside their house enjoying the sunshine.

Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo. I swam here for the first time. There is a natural sea pool too; called 'The Bishop's Pool' - that's on my list for the next visit...

Later that same day Doirin and Linda came to stay overnight; I took them to Slieve Liagh (highest cliffs in Europe). Top: L to right; Linda and I, me in walking hat (it was a hot day);  bottom right and left; Linda and me and Doirin. My cousins are all tiny and very petite in build; although I'm only 5' 3" I have a stocky build and I seem to tower above them!

This is Portnoo beach, Co. Donegal where I've yet to swim. The beach or strand is quite long; just under two miles from end to end so it's a place I like to visit. Next visit I must venture into the sea. In front of the mountains is a small Monastic island called Inishkeel. At low tide you can walk out to it.

The day after Linda and Doirin stayed with me in the caravan; we set out for Co. Leitrim to visit our elderly and very frail aunts who live in the maternal family home. One of them has dementia; and my cousin Susan on the far right) and her husband spend a lot of time and energy assisting the two aunts. It was lovely to see them all; and we had a surprise when my cousin Richard's wife, Trish, and the two children popped into say hello. They moved to Dublin last year after Richard tragically died. 
On the way back from Leitrim to Co. Sligo where I was going to stay the night; we stopped in Carrick-on-Shannon for an Indian meal. I spotted this mural on the side of a building...

Back in the UK I started back at the charity shop on Monday. I wore the linen dress by Woolovers that I bought in the 3:16 charity shop. Everything is charity shopped. T shirt by F&F and it is years old. Shoes by Clarks. I really like this dress; it's comfortable to wear, has pockets and I like the fact it's fitted at the top. I hope I manage to get a bit more wear out of it before the weather changes.

All jewellery and headscarf charity shopped. I bought the earrings in a Carrick-on-Shannon charity shop.

I was rather dreading having to wear a mask in the charity shop for more than four hours; but the deputy manager had bought some visors out of her own funds. I paid her for one and wore it; and I have to say it was much easier than wearing a mask. Except, of course when I tried to drink my tea and eat a biscuit! What a surprise when I came out of the shop - it was baking hot! It seemed we were having a mini heatwave.

On Tuesday it was my first day back at the food bank. As it  was forecast to be another hot day I wore a dress. Everything charity shopped.

I started out wearing my orange Sea Salt clogs but as it was such a hot day as well on Tuesday; my ankles swelled and they became uncomfortable; I've got flip-flops on here. The food bank was busy but not too busy and it's still the same 3 volunteers including me.

I was able to return my library book to the library in town in the afternoon. They're doing that select and collect thing; you select books you like online and they will pick them for you; which you then pick up. I'm happy to wait until normal service resumes. I have hundreds of books here waiting to be read and more on the Kindle. I discovered a new to me author whilst in Ireland - Ann Patchett. So far I've read two of her books; 'The Dutch House' and 'The Patron Saint of Liars' which I loved; and have two more on Kindle waiting to be read. I also read the 3 volumes of 'Kilvert's Diary'; a clergyman writing about his life in the 1870s. When I first started teaching at our local university in 2004; the library had a clear out and thousands of old books were made available for staff to take. I helped myself to this 3 volume set and several of William Faulkner's books and more; the titles of which I can't remember. That means it has taken me 16 years to get round to reading this trio of books! Better late than never, I suppose! 

And returning to Ireland once again on my last weekend there; I visited Co. Kerry with cousin Doirin to see cousin Linda and her family. Her husband took us sightseeing for two days doing all the driving; what a joy it was to have someone else drive. We travelled around the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula and it was all wonderful. We climbed up to a viewing point (it was on private land so they charged us; but they did provide loos - so fair play to them) to see Puffin Island and the Skelligs; specifically Skellig Michael where parts of Star Wars were filmed. There are boat trips to the Skelligs but they are booked up months ahead and can be cancelled if the weather is bad.

The view on the way up to the left. Top right; the Skelligs.

You can see how windy it was on the climb up; Doirin's hair is almost vertical! On the right is Puffin Island; unfortunately I didn't spot any puffins. I bought the dress in a Longford charity shop where it was 2 items for 5.00 euros. On Sunday we set out for the Dingle Peninsula stopping first for a photo (top right below) in Castlemaine Co. Kerry where Jack Duggan came from; he's immortalised in the song 'The Wild Colonial Boy'.

The beautiful bay in the top left photo is the bay in the film 'Ryan's Daughter' where weapons are unloaded secretly from boats to the village. I've never actually watched the film so must remedy that soon. It's one of Linda's favourite films. The 2 bottom photos are photos of the Blasket Islands'; no longer occupied. I read a book about the islands and their inhabitants ('An Islandman' by Tomas O Crohan) whilst on holiday so I was very glad to see them in real life. The inhabitants of the islands had to row over to Dingle for supplies and to sell their animals; and could get stuck for days on the mainland if the weather was poor...

I haven't worn this dress since my birthday in 2018! It was bought from the 3:16 charity shop in their 1.00 sale. Shoes by Hotter were charity shopped this year and I've hardly worn them. They are pale green and a very comfortable wear. All jewellery charity shopped except earrings; present from OH.

On Wednesday, OH had a hospital appointment at the private hospital in Biddenham so we walked there and walked back; 5 miles. Another gloriously hot and sunny day! The appointment was for aortic aneurysm screening. Apparently men are more than 6  times likely to suffer from this than women.

I wore this on Thursday. Trousers; La Redoute retail: years ago and top by Wallis charity shopped ages ago.
All jewellery and scarf charity shopped.

On Thursday I did the usual weekly food shop. I went to Sandy for a rummage in the afternoon and picked up a few things in the 1.00 sale. Lots of charity shops are currently doing this to reduce their summer stock and to attract people back, I missed out on my Barnardo's one as they held their sale when I was still in Ireland. In Sandy, I found a winter skirt; a pair of Anokhi summer trousers and a pair by Wallis which were 3.00; a green and white top and an oversized blue top/dress which may look ok on or may look awful. It was only a 1.00 and if I don't like it I'll redonate it. 

It was my daughter's birthday at the weekend and we went out for a celebration meal on Friday. We went to Hitchin and had a Chinese meal which was very appropriate given what I wore. I'm not a huge fan of Chinese food and prefer Indian or Thai but it was my daughter's choice. The food was very good.

I finally wore this jacket. It's a Chinese jacket and I bought it for 5.00 about four years ago in an Olney charity shop. I wore it with Per Una (M&S) grey silk trousers; charity shopped and charity shopped 90s shoes by an Italian maker.

Earrings were a present from my daughter and the necklace was a present from OH and bought in Donegal a couple of years ago.

On Saturday after doing housework OH and I went out for a 5.5 mile walk along the river to the Marina; around the lake and back. It was another gorgeous day and there were plenty of people about enjoying the warmth and the sunshine.

This is one of the 1.00 tops I bought in Sandy; the trousers are old and also charity shopped. Pumps; retail Sainsburys.

Scarf and all jewellery all charity shopped.

I haven't got much reading done since I came back from Ireland. I'm reading a book called 'The Tree Climbers Guide: A Guide to Exploring the Urban Canopy' and managing a chapter a night. The reason why is  I am busy researching my family history in my spare time; with the aim of drawing up family trees. In a similar vein you may recall I had my DNA done earlier this year and the results have recently been updated. Apparently, the more people who test their DNA the more accurate the results  - more people in the data banks to compare DNA results with. So, at the moment my DNA results now look like this:

48% Ireland
16% Scotland and Northern ireland
13% Malta
7% England and NW Europe
15% Italy - 10% North and 5% Southern Italy
1% Spain.

I have managed to find GGG Grandparents on almost all sides of my family; but the Malta, Italian and Spanish parts are still a mystery and probably go back many, many generations. I hope to have finished this project by the time you read this post and get back to reading some more books. It's a bumper publishing month this month, too!

On Sunday we went to spend the day with my son. We haven't seen him for almost 6 months because of the lockdown so it was great to see him in the flesh - so to speak! Another beautiful day. We seem to be having an Indian summer this September.

Everything is charity shopped. Top by Apricot (New Look); leggings by Primarni and shoes charity shopped in an Ely charity shop a few years ago.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Monday saw the start of a normal busy week. Monday: school run and charity shop volunteering. Tuesday; food bank. Wednesday; group walking. Thursday; hairdressers, food shopping and a walk if there's time. Friday; school run and hopefully a swim if I can book one in time. If not I'll go for a walk. The weather was set to change this week with the temperatures dropping and the advent of rain.

On Tuesday I was the only one at the food bank and worked my socks off!  I went for a rummage around the Kempston charity shops in the afternoon. I found a pair of long suede boots for winter in the Cat's Protection League. I've been after long suede boots for a while. This was Tuesday's outfit:

Trousers; retail Bedford Market; top by Pepperberry picked up at Barnardo's on Monday. Shoes; Donegal charity shop.

All jewellery charity shopped except earrings from Sainsbury's.

On Wednesday I walked with my group. There were about 12 of us (we can have up to 30) and although we walked a route that covers a lot of the routes I take when I walk on my own; we also went along a couple of footpaths I'd never been before which was great. I can now extend my walks using these new to me footpaths. We walked 7 miles in total and it was so nice to meet up with regular walking friends. I'm determined to do it weekly but now I have to remember to book it in advance. Pre Covid-19 you just turned up...I also found out that my local swimming pool is no longer open. It never re-opened after the lock down and there is some dispute between the local council and the company that runs the pool and the gym. The person who told me this said she doubted it would ever open again. I do hope not. I was very keen to get back to swimming regularly again but will have to travel further afield to do so; I think.

Wednesday saw a definite shift in the weather to autumnal. I had to pop into town on Wednesday afternoon and looked in Oxfam. I treated myself to this new make up bag made of felted wool for 1.49! I've needed a new make up for quite a rained pretty heavily in the afternoon and it was a bit cooler than it had been previously.

These are the last of the hydrangeas from the front garden. I just love the colours they turn as they dry out.

It was a much cooler day on Thursday.  I even put the heating on in the late afternoon when grandson came round for dinner. This was Thursday's outfit and everything is charity shopped. Dress; can't remember; top by M& Co. 1.00 rail in Salvation Army. I picked up the boots last week in my Barnardo's for 4.00; tights retail.

I went to the hairdressers and did the food shopping on Thursday morning. I spent the afternoon researching my family history and have now managed to find more information about my paternal grandmother's side who came from Dublin. I've traced her parents and their marriage, so far. With everyone else I've managed to get back to great, great, great grandparents all of whom were born in the early 1800s. There are issues with Irish civil registration documentation. Marriages, deaths and births were only recorded from 1864 in Ireland. Prior to this everything else is in church parish registers. I've gone cross-eyed at times trying to decipher almost illegible hand written records! Also to complicate matters further; the parish records were often partially recorded in Latin terms! Many parish registers were pulped during the first world war because of the paper shortage; and in the belief that they had been transcribed as the English ones had. They hadn't - so many Irish records were lost forever. Further Irish records were destroyed by a fire in 1922 in the Public Records office attached to the Four Courts in Dublin. It's believed in the family that my paternal grandmother worked as a maid in Eamon De Valera's household and if there was a 1921 census I could check this and confirm it with documentary evidence. Unfortunately, there was no 1921 census in Ireland because of the War of Independence.

I did a further shift at the charity shop on Friday morning; which was bright but there was an  unpleasantly cold wind. A few of the volunteers have not returned since the lock down ended so we are recruiting for new ones. I like to help out when I can. It was chilly in the shop so I chose this Roman jacket to wear for extra warmth and decided it had to come home with me. Spots, you know. I find them irresistible...

The pinafore dress was a 1.00 euro rail replacement for one I had bought some years ago from Sainsburys in a sale. It was too long for me so I cut and hemmed it and I never felt it looked right. This one is by New Look. The shirt  from Next, was from my Barnardo's last year as were the boots bought this week. Tights retail. It was most definitely tights weather. In fact, I've started to weed out the very summery stuff from my wardrobe as it just isn't warm enough to wear at the moment.

All jewellery charity shopped.

The shop wasn't busy - no donations. We got a lot of garments and bric a brac processed and out onto the shop floor. One customer refused to wear a mask and sanitise her hands and chose to leave rather than comply! Another had forgotten her mask and refused our offer of one; and also chose to leave. I know all this mask wearing and hand sanitising is a pain in the you know where; but if it helps to reduce the transmission why wouldn't you comply? It enables us to have the luxury of shopping in charity shops amongst others - remember when the only shops open were the supermarkets?
We lit our fire for the first time on Friday evening.

On Saturday, determined to get some use out of our National Trust membership we ventured out in chilly windy weather to Wimpole Hall Estate in Arrington, Nr. Cambridge.

Everything charity shopped from my Barnardos. I picked the Banana republic trousers up on Friday. All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings from eBay. I wore my John Lewis mac, scarf and gloves! It was a horrible day. We visited the formal gardens, walled garden and parterre; we also went for a warming cup of tea and coffee and walnut cake. when we'd finished admiring the grounds.

This is the back of Wimpole Hall and the parterre. I forgot to take a photo of the front of the house!

Wimpole Hall was built on the site of a medieval moated manor by Sir Thomas Chicheley in 1640; sold to Sir John Cutler whose son-in-law, Charles Robartes, succeeded him and became the 2nd Earl of Radnor. In 1713 the estate was passed to Edward Harley, the 2nd Earl of Oxford and in 1740 the estate passed to Philip Yorke; Earl of Hardwicke. With each successive owner improvements were made to the estate and farm including those made by Humphrey Repton. Wimpole Hall stayed in the Yorke's hands until the 5th Earl, Thomas, accumulated such huge debts the estate had to be sold in 1888. The buyer was Charles Robartes; a descendant of the 2nd Earl of Radnor. Charles Robartes became the Viscount Clifden in 1899 and the house was let to various tenants until the final tenants; Captain Bambridge and his wife Elsie - the only surviving child of Rudyard Kipling - bequeathed it to the National Trust in 1976.
Some of the beautiful flowers still blooming in the walled garden. I know the one on the bottom right is Rudbeckia or Black Eyed Susan. The bottom left is a rose with part of my gloved hand trying to hold it still out of the wind so I could take the photo. There were lots of fabulous dahlias on display. When we visited Anglesey Abbey, before I went to Ireland, we didn't get to see their Dahlia Garden as it was closed, so seeing all these beauties made up for it.
More Dahlias

Even more dahlias!

I don't know what flower that is on the bench in the photo below on the top left....

As is typical of walled gardens there were lost of espaliered fruits; peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, apples and pears; and a vegetable garden with plenty of pumpkins...

On Sunday my brothers came over for dinner and it was great to catch up. I went to the charity shop on Monday as usual. We have a new volunteer and while she did the till and tagged items to go out; I cleared out as pen of donations by moving them to another pen and freeing up a pen specifically for donations which have to be quarantined. It was like doing a work out! This was what I wore...

Everything charity shopped. Dress; no label, boots by River Island and denim jacket by Next. Tights retail.

All jewellery charity shopped.

So that's what I've been up to since I got back from Ireland which seems a distant memory now. I found out at the weekend that Donegal is under a local lockdown so I'm glad I'm not still there but I do miss it. I'm just going to leave you with the view at sunset one evening from my window in the caravan in Donegal. Is it any wonder I miss Ireland so much with wonderful views like this?

Thinking about stopping...

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