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Small is beautiful

A collection of small creatures for this week’s Lens Artist photo challenge #11. Firstly some bumblebees,  as regular readers will know I have a soft spot for them.

Next, some tiny, but equally beautiful creatures.



Tiny frog

tiny frog





Final – 17 for 2017

Last January I made a list of what I would like to do in 2017 and below I list what I have achieved, or failed to achieve in some cases!

17. Help seventeen people learn more about their environment.

Completed with numerous pollinators course, work with community group and schools.

16. Send sixteen mammal records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Fell short here. Six sent plus two (a hare and a fox) seen last week of December, but still to send in.

15. Give away fifteen homegrown flower or vegetable plants to worthy homes

I may have fallen short here, but I did also give away some wild flower seeds I had collected, to some worthy community groups I worked with over the year.

14. Fourteen fun days out with the family

Union wood, Enniscoe House,  Longford Demesne, Ross beach x 3 times, four days out in Wales, Beltra beach in October,  ice skating in Christmas rink just before new year, Belmullet bee day, Foxford Riverfest and Belleek woods,  which make 15.

13. Learn thirteen new words

I think I can claim 11 new words. I will publish as separate post.

12. Write twelve blog posts (ideally one a month) on an environmental topic

So having looked back at my posts for the year I think I can claim 10 to be environmental.

11. Read eleven new authors

Complete, click here to see.

10. Complete ten butterfly and or bee monitoring transects this year

I completed nine in the end.

9. Find 9 ways of encouraging more wildlife into our garden

One new small area of flower meadow, and two new flower beds. Have also tried to enhance area around pond with more flowers and less rushes. A new brash pile for insects. The wet weather this autumn and winter though have stopped me doing anything else.

8. Discover 8 new things

Again falling short. Two from before. We got a great new game for the children – it’s called Discover Europe and the aim is to make your way around the board which is a map of Europe in the shortest possible time. It’s good fun and educational, though you can find yourselves heading for Reykjavík when you want to be in Athens!

We also found two new walks, both in County Sligo, but not too far to drive.

I am sure there were other new things, one is always learning after all, but I haven’t recorded anything else, and despite racking my brain can’t think of any others!

7. Send seven letters to friends

Completed for Christmas.

6. Try six new recipes

Right failed on this one last year and only did a little better in 2017. But have adapted a recipe for thai fish cakes which is going down well. Have also adapted my gluten free mince pie pastry recipe and it was the best yet. Have also been experimenting with almond flour pancakes which just use a small amount of wheat flour.  We had a productive bean season, so I tried pickling some beans which was quite successful.  I think if we have good bean season in 2018 I will play a little bit with the recipe.

5. Have five swims

I think there was only 3 at most 4 – very poor show!

4. Find four positive ways of helping those in need

Together with my brownies we did a food collection for Saint Vincent de Paul for their Christmas appeal. And I also made some donations of clothes and children’s toys that my two had outgrown. But would like to do something a bit more meaningful.

3. Plant three new vegetables or fruit that I did not grow in the garden last year

I stuck with the old reliables this year!

2. Record two new species for the garden

Completed. In fact there was three as the Irish hare was also a new “garden” record too!

1. Attend one cultural event

We accidentally came across a street  festival when we were in Wales and went to a play. While it was for children, like all good productions, it was entertaining for the adults too! It was called Two can the Toucan and was based on a children’s book by David McKee.


So that is it. There are some of the above that I would like to do again this year but I am planning a different type of list. Watch this space!


Walk, Co Sligo

Walk, Co Sligo





November Apples

We enjoyed our first apples in late August, and we’ve recently been harvesting our late apple varieties .


There are three varieties – Annie Elizabeth*, Pixie and Katja. We (my children, husband and I), did a taste comparison of each. All four of us voted the Annie Elizabeth as our favourite.  It being the sweetest of the three; our vote may just indicate we all have a sweet tooth! In fact, the Pixie apples were very similar in flavour but were very firm.  So we’ve put these into store. The Pixie is also a smaller apple. An ideal size of a children’s lunchbox.


The Katja apples have a good sweet flavour too. The flesh shows some pink flushes, and is softer than either the Annie Elizabeth or Pixie.

In terms of cropping, both the Katja and Pixie have given a reasonable crop for the size of tree. In fact, it is the best crop we have had from the Pixie. The Annie Elizabeth however had a much heavier crop last year, compared to this year. So we will savoured the few apples we did have and hope that next year it will return to it’s bounty of the 2016 season.

It always pays to grow a couple of varieties of fruit tree, as we have certainly found they all have good, and bad years.

*Interestingly Annie Elizabeth is listed as a cooking apple on many websites. The Victorian Nursery website (UK) does say it is so sweet it doesn’t require sugar. So I am not sure we have it properly labeled. I double checked in my garden notebook and it is definitely listed as Annie Elizabeth and was planted in 2006, but it could be the original label was incorrect.

Apple tree

Apple tree – Annie Elizabeth in 2016