Monthly Archives: January 2015

To Liebster or to not?

I want to thank Barbara at for nominating me for the Liebster Award. What a surprise! It’s hard to know what to do with these awards and doing some background reading there is mixed advice and views. But as Barbara was so kind to include me in her list I thought I’d follow through on this one.

There also appears to be a various sets of ‘rules’ as what to do – so again after a bit of research I decided to follow wordingwell ( suggested rules.

liebsterawardThe Liebster Award Rules

  • Acknowledge and link back to the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 5-11 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
  • Give your nominees 11 questions to answer on their blog when they post about the Liebster Award.


Barbara’s eleven questions

1. If you could play hooky for a day, what would you do? Spend the day in the garden with my family.

2. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” or “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”? I’m not sure if she means the films or books – but I have seen neither of them nor read the books (sorry!).

3. Do you prefer international travel or to explore closer to home? Why? Closer to home. I’m a home-bird!

4. What’s your go-to comfort food? I make my own dairy and gluten free muffins and cake.

5. Dinner companion: Abraham Lincoln or Betty White? Abraham Lincoln.

6. If you left home for a year or more, what would be in your suitcase? A notebook, pen, my diary and camera and my kids (though the latter probably not in the suitcase!), oh and a few spare clothes and a book to read.

7. Give us a link to the best or the favorite of your own posts. What made you write that one? I think this was first time I’d tried to do a photo-gallery. I wanted to do a summary of the year in the garden and the gallery just fitted the bill. I was really pleased with the visual result.

8. How do describe yourself? Use just three words. Mother, gardener and nature-lover.

9. How do others see you? Three words. Friend for life.

10. What word do you dislike? Hate.

11. What interesting thing will you choose to do this week? Host a party for 14 kids, 7 years and younger at the local community centre!

Eleven random facts about self

  1. I find it hard to write 11 facts about myself
  2. I won a cookery competition when I was 16
  3. I read in bed before I go to sleep
  4. I don’t like getting up in the dark
  5. I love spring
  6. Pride and Prejudice is my favourite book
  7. Primroses and violets are my favourite flowers
  8. I would love to to be able to play the piano
  9. I don’t drink coffee
  10. But drink chamomile tea any time of day
  11. Our ‘pets’ are two ducks and six chickens

My nominees – this is hard too as there are so many great bloggers out there. So I looked for those with fewer than 200 followers. There are also a few blogs that I really enjoy that are ‘award free blogs’ and I can appreciate that too. There are others I am only getting to know. So not in any order my nominees are: liebsteraward2

Questions for nominees

1. What in nature amazes you?

2. What makes you smile?

3. What living person would you most like to meet?

4. What is your favourite place and why?

5. If you could bring two books to a desert island what would they be?

6. What do you most enjoy about blogging?

7. What or who inspires you?

8. What do you most like to grow, or would grow if you could?

9. What is the best things you have ever eaten?

10. If you could plant a tree what type of tree would it be?

11. What is your favourite time of year?

Thanks again to Barbara at

Is Spring Coming?

As we enter the final week of January, it does seem that spring is on the way. In the polytunnel some self-seeded rocket has already germinated. I cleared away the weeds, in the hope it will continue to grow. Rocket is one my my favorite salad crops. Meanwhile the broad-bean seeds that my daughter and I had planted in pots a week or so ago had disappeared (well, all but one). I suspect a mouse is to blame. So we replanted and this time popped a piece of glass over the top of the pots!

Then yesterday, out for a walk at Turlough near the Country Life Museum we spotted some daffodils in flower!



Our own daffodil leaves are only just appearing above the grass, so the above is definitely early. A lady out walking her dog pointed out a lovely bunch of snowdrops – she called them ‘Bridget Flowers’, which she said was a local name for them. I haven’t heard them called this before but Saint Bridget’s day is the first of February, so can see the connection.

In the garden, we cut back the autumn raspberry canes. I watched two robins busy searching for tasty titbits, among the fallen raspberries leaves. It seems that they have paired up and started their courtship already. According the the RSPB website this is not usual for Robins in a mild winter, though breeding will not start till March (



So is Spring on its way?

Soil and earthworms

Did you know that 2015 is International Year of Soils? And today is a Blogger Action Day on Save the Soil started by Lori Fontanes at (

soil logoAs part of my contribution, I wanted to talk about the humble earthworm. It is estimated that there are 3000 species of earthworms globally. The common earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris), is one of the most abundant species in Ireland and Britain and is found throughout the Northern hemisphere. It has also been introduced into Southern America, Australia and New Zealand.

Earthworms play a vital role in soil health. On one website, earthworms are described as ‘ecosystem engineers’ ( Firstly, earthworms dig burrows. Some species dig vertical burrows, others dig horizontal burrows. The burrows allow air and water to penetrate into the soil. At the same time, the burrows allow carbon dioxide to escape. Earthworms also help decompose organic matter. The common earthworm will come to the surface and pull plant material into its burrow. Darwin described earthworms as ‘natures ploughs‘ because they mix soils and the organic matter. Their casts (faeces) are rich in organic plant material and help maintain soil fertility. There can be 20-40 earthworms per square metre of garden!

Providing plenty of organic matter in you garden is a good way of encouraging earthworms. You can do this by putting mulch around plants. It is also great to have a compost bin or compost heap. It’s a great way to recycle garden and kitchen waste. I took this photo of my compost heap yesterday – it was cold and the worms are probably buried deep within but they are definitely there!

Compost heap - garden and kitchen waste turned to soil by busy worms and others

Compost heap – garden and kitchen waste turned to soil by busy worms and others



Snowy photos

Snow still here this morning – great for taking photographs, though a bit dark this morning. Here is a sample from last two days.


Today we had snow! Not that common in the west of Ireland and it is not much, but the joy it brought the kids was wonderful. The only thing that made me sad was that my eldest wasn’t allowed out at school during break time as it was considered too slippy! So as soon as he was home there was no homework – it was straight outside for a snowball fight! We have two and a half snowmen now too! This was the first one! Tomorrow afternoon rain is forecast but we may get another morning of fun if we are lucky!



Flatfish and Sea Potatoes

A couple of days before New Year we headed for Ross Beach on the North West Mayo coast. This is one of our favourite beaches, particularly during the summer. But this was a frosty morning and there was actually frost on the sand, not something I’d seen before.

Ross beach

Ross beach

The tide was going out and had left some interesting things behind it. There was no sign of injury to this flatfish so I am not sure what resulted in its demise. Irish waters have 22 species of flatfish though there are 600 species worldwide.



These sea potato remains (known as a ‘test’), are a common find on this beach but there were probably about twenty. Recent storms may have been a cause. Alive, these little creatures are usually buried up to 15cm deep in sand or muddy sediments. They are also covered with yellow/brown spines. Sea potatoes are related to sea urchins.

Sea Potato

Sea Potato (Echinocardium cordatum)

Sea Potatoes

Sea Potatoes

There was also a lot of kelp washed up, which again is something that is found after the sea bottom has been disturbed by big waves. Despite the blue sky, the wind was cold so we were all glad to get back to the car.

Ross Beach

Ross Beach

Happy New Year

It’s a mild, wet and windy New Year’s Day but we’ve had a couple of very frosty days on Sunday and Monday, with temperatures barely creeping above freezing even during the day. Great opportunity to get out and take some photographs. Thank you for reading my blog over the last 9 months. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and all things good for 2015.