In August Hannah, Ousmane and Bilel, Ousmane's son, were over for a part of their summer holidays and Bilel and I set out one evening in search of suitable material for him to make himself a bow and arrows. So this had us scouring the hedgerows surrounding our neighbour, Johnny Treacy's long, low field across the road from here.
We were successful in our quest and returned with hazel, ash and willow – referred to as sally hereabouts – sprouts and fronds.
But while searching for these, I spotted a curious object embedded in the grass.
I retrieved it, brought it home and the more I looked at it the less certain I became as to what it is.
It being so inconsistent with its surroundings and its blackened and charred appearance inspired the early thought that it might be a meteorite or some other object from space that had endured the rigours of entry, or re-entry, to our atmosphere.
Hence my email enquiry to Astronomy Ireland:
"I found this object at the edge of a field outside Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny last week.
I cannot make up my mind what it is!
Is it a stone, is it some organic matter or is it, possibly, a meteorite? Is the organic matter on its underside an integral part of it or embedded in it?
It is hard but brittle: I can chip fragments from it with my finger nail.
It measures 175mm in length x 90 mm in width x 60mm in height.
If it is stone, or the like, it is very light for its size at just 225 grams.
Can Astronomy Ireland throw any light on my object, I wonder, if only to confirm that it is not an object from space?
As I mentioned on Facebook, Astronomy Ireland replied that they did not do identifications and the scientist at Trinity College, to whom they referred me, did not respond.
It has sat on the shelf since but, now that I have dipped my toe into this world of mass social, media, I thought I might put it out there to see if anyone can throw some light on my object......
On 1 June 2010, in a somewhat rambling entry, I told of the visit of three artists who had spotted our mill and cottages as a scene they would like to paint and how, shortly thereafter, they did spend a day here painting. I also told how two of them, Donal O Bhrainan (Danny Brennan, to me) and Jackie Power, kindly gave me the fruits of their day's labours.
These I framed and one is now in Dublin with daughter Alice and the other in London with daughter Hannah.
And it was quickly revealed – with the sharp observation of Martin Dwyer of Thezan Les Beziers and formally, Waterford - that the third member of the party was Jack O'Hare who, as I also mentioned, is a watercolourist of considerable repute and, in his professional life, an architect who had trained under Frank Lloyd Wright of Chicago and Taliesin.
Well, the bell rang again yesterday morning and there were Jack and Danny asking if they could paint here again, this time with Ballyduff in its autumn colours.
And they spent the day painting in glorious, sharp, early winter sunlight. And, once again, I was given the paintings they both made.
So now I am the very, very, proud owner of another Danny Brennan and a signed Jack O'Hare.
These will grace our own walls.
It was a delightful day and when they arrived I was in the throws of making a batch of granola so the kitchen was filled the delightful aromas of toasting oats, nuts, seeds and honey. And the artists noticed this and our, now five, hens scratching around in the sunfilled garden at the back of the house.
And so, in small recompense for their generosity, they each left with a small bag of granola and an egg laid during the day.
Finally, an extraordinary little quirk to the tale.
The two of them left Ballyduff having forgotten, not only their eggs and granola but also Danny's watercolour pad. So I fled to Google hoping that I could quickly find a contact number for one of them to call them back.
As it turned out, Jack, now ninety four, quickly realised that they had left things behind them and they returned to collect.
But...........during my moments on line I evidently, and inadvertently, opened Danny's Facebook page* so I awoke this morning to find the most charming post concerning their visit here.......
*And this may have unforeseen, and unexpected, consequences.......I have booked a Facebook tutorial with Sue for tonight..........
The chickens go into their run of their own accord at dusk but still need to be locked-in. So, during the summer, this often had one of us having to wait up later than one would wish........
...........but last Wednesday, this was the scene as I walked back to the house having completed the task well before 9.00pm.
And I was out picking sloes late last evening - and when I see the Kilkenny colours in our gable window......I know it's autumn!
It was not until after I had written the title to this entry that I noted that my last effort - some sixteen months, or five seasons, ago - was entitled 'It's Spring at Ballyduff........'
I am unsure as to what it is that has prompted me to return here but, it seems to me, that it is somehow satisfactory to note the connection between the two entries........
I am equally unsure as to whether this will be a one-off or whether I will continue as before.
We shall see.........
We have waited and waited but, finally, it's spring at Ballyduff.
The confluence of the Arrigle and the Nore on Saturday 4 May
.....and the view of the Nore upstream from the confluence...............
....and the darling (sycamore) buds of May.......
....and the Arrigle at Ballyduff Bridge through the budding sycamore....
...even the ash tree at the gate is struggling into leaf.
Sue's work on 'Granny's garden' continues and is just beginning to show colour.
And, astoundingly, 'horrid cat' decided to raise herself from her slumbers and venture forth - to the point of being, momentarily, friendly!
And on one of the last days of the bird feeder - it comes down in the morning - it received a visit from a robin: ever-present in the garden, I've never seen one at the feeder before.
And the girls have spent the past weeks trying to be as small birds - wondering how they too could get at the feeder...
...and in a valliant, but futile, attempt Prudence took to the air this morning!
And to celebrate Hannah's and Ousmane's, oh so brief, visit...
....Susie created one of her inimitable wild/garden flower posies for their bedroom.
That's it but it is - at last - spring......
I was given a present of a box of French wine yesterday.
I opened a bottle last night and it was excellent but it was not until today that I took heed of its name and label.
The last time I saw Terre'Blanche written down it was beneath an image of Eugene Terre'Blanche - the revolting, South African white supremacist.
It will not spoil my enjoyment of the remaining bottles but it is not an association I would choose.....perhaps I will turn the label to the wall.........
My mother, Beatrice Bessy Nunn, died twenty years ago today.
My mother as a young woman.
She has been on my mind recently as I have been reading the memoir that my brother, Charles, encouraged her to write during her last years.
And I guess I have been reading it because, since Charles died just before Christmas last year, I have become acutely aware that I am now the sole survivor of the Nunn family of my own and previous generations and thus what I choose to remember and recount, except where there are written records, becomes the irrefutable account of the family's history.
And as an even more onerous responsibility, any description that I select to give as to the characters and actions (and their consequences) of my dead forebears, will be those upon which they will be judged by people who did not know them.
We are off to Canada at the end of May for a memorial celebration of Charles' life on
2 June, when I expect I will say a few words about him.
And I am determined that the memories upon which any such words will be based, should be fair and accurate - especially those relating to his childhood about which his Canadian family will have only his account - if he gave them one.
Which brings me back to my mother's memoir.
The copy I am reading is, I think, a draft. It came to me via my first cousin once removed, Alice Winter, and it has in its margins numerous notes in her mother's (Faith Winter, my first cousin) handwriting, which mainly contradict my mother's memories - especially regarding dates and events around the time of Charles' birth in 1938.
The fact is that, after his birth, my mother left Charles in England to rejoin our father, Christopher, in West Africa. I always understood that Charles was eighteen months old whereas Faith says he was just three months old. Faith was a child of eleven at the time so I am left wondering whose memory is accurate and I no longer have Charles to ask what he understood to have been the case.
To add to my difficulties, while Beatrice notes the dates on which she wrote the entries on the events of her life, she fails, in the main part, to record the dates - even the years - on or in which the events she is remembering and recounting occurred!
So, with fairness and accuracy as my aim, I find myself in a considerable bind.
This prompted action.
A tea-chest containing my mother's private correspondence has been languishing in the mill since she came to live with us in 1985. It has been a source of ever increasing anxiety and guilt over the intervening twenty-eight years as I feared that the contents of the tea chest would be slowly rotting in the damp mill.
But yesterday I sought it out to prove or dispel my fears.
I found it and what an amazing find it was!
Within it - and in perfectly readable condition - I found every letter that my mother had received from Christopher, as well as many of those sent by her to him, since they were courting in the mid nineteen-twenties
And within those letters I should surely find not only the missing dates but the very whys and wherefores of my parents lives.
It also held every letter that Charles and I sent to her (or them when they were abroad together) up to the time she came to live here.
I reckon they must run to a thousand at least and it took me over an hour just to excavate them from the chest and it will take me weeks to sort them and months, if not years, to read through them all!
I have no doubt but that as I get into this task, the contents of their correspondence will provide matters that are worthy of mention here.
But just glancing at the stamps, addresses and post marks as I removed the envelopes from the chest provided an extraordinary glimpse of the lives they led.
There were letters to or from:
American Virgin Islands
Not to mention
The UK, Canada and Ireland!
We were down for a wonderful ten days in Thezan early in March
Amongst the many delights of the visit was a new addition to the Presbytere breakfast table - Granola - made by our hosts, Martin and Sile Dwyer.
And as another delight, Martin gave me some cooking lessons and demonstrations, including confit de canard, how to make a souffle, how to make and bake bread and pastry and the granola.
Since we returned I have so far only made the granola - the third batch of which I made this morning.
I made the first two batches exactly according to the master's instruction but I gave a slight tweak to this batch - but I won't admit here to what that tweak was until we have given it the taste test!
Standoff at the cat-flap!..............
Years and years ago - perhaps as many as twenty - Hannah gave me a bonsai as a Christmas or birthday present, I forget which.
And I loved it.
As something entirely new to me, I did all I was told to do - with it and for it - by the rule book.
I watered it; I fed it; I trimmed it; I sprayed it and I gave it outdoor times - all as instructed.
I think our relationship (that's the bonsai's and mine, not Hannah's and mine) lasted for a good many years before some catastrophic event struck it while it was on a sojourn outdoors.....I really don't remember but Sue tells me that it was a 'third party of small years' that struck it a fatal blow.
Anyway, it died......
........but, in its death, I perceived a new beauty.
So I dried it out and for the last number of years it has held its position among other items that we consider worthy of display.
And then, this Christmas, Hannah gave me another bonsai.
And I embarked on the same journey - once again following the rule book.
All was going well and my hardest task was trying to decide where I would place it to enjoy it most.....
.......and the huge widow cill above our bed became the chosen spot where by day it formed a shapely silhouette against the light and by night its conformation and colour stood out against the neutral blinds.
And so it was as we left for France in early March.
But knowing - from the rule book - that for it to dry out was its worst threat, I watered it as an immediate priority on our return when I tried not to notice some leaf-fall.
Over the ensuing days, it shed its leaves until it had the very same appearance as its dead fore-bare!
And worse, this moment coincided with a visit home by Hannah.
Little was said but it must surely have been noted that I should never again be entrusted with the care of a bonsai!
But, but, but.... shortly thereafter it started to show the very signs of spring and new growth that I have mentioned are so strikingly missing outdoors....
.....and wherever you put it, it looks just wonderful!
Today it got a good feed and was re-positioned in the sunniest window.....
all posts »
There is great activity at the bird feeder at present.
It is just outside the kitchen window - not entirely to Sue's delight, it has to be said, (because it is she who keeps the windows clean) as the birds who attend create an extraordinary mess for such tiny creatures.
In the snaps that follow you may spot:
A coal tit
and a Blackcap
I guess this is the best shot: 2 Golfinches, a great tit, a greenfinch and the blackcap all feeding at the same moment and all reasonably in focus.