Well this is awkward…

Kilmegan is a civil parish in County DownNorthern Ireland. It is situated in the historic baronies of Iveagh Upper, Lower HalfKinelarty and Lecale Upper.[1]

Above taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilmegan.

I’ve thought for ages about how ( and even whether) to start this blog, but I guess the only way is to jump in and start.

So basically, and in no real order: cars, farming, ditch building, welding, technology, family, nature, days out, music and probably a lot more is what this site is for. If even one person, somewhere likes what they see, well that’ll be job done for me.

By way of apology, most if not all of the images used will come via my LG G4 camera, and while its really not bad as camera phones go, its no DSLR.

blue sky

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rounding out the year

The last 3 months of 2017 have been a bit of a blur for me, between work, work at home, time with my son as well as seasonal activities and a family wedding.

As such I’ve taken plenty of photos at the time which I normally do, but have recorded nothing on here, perhaps because I felt there was nothing of merit.

With my ditch-building duties having ceased for the year around the start of October, I had other things to focus on. So what I will post up are some random shots of my son and I enjoying a fairly pleasant Autumn/Winter:

 

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a bright, clear and mild Sunday dander on Newcastle beach, a place we both love

A time of year that we both love had me attempting ( for the first time) some dia de los muertos-style makeup on my willing victim. Dare I say it I enjoy Halloween even more than Christmas?I was quite chuffed with the end result even if it was a bugger to put on and take off:selfp

Early December brought a dusting of snow, which made for a ropey couple of daily commutes into Belfast and some very pleasant photo opps:

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view from my living room window
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and a rather more splendid view of the Mournes which always look more imposing with a dusting of snow

And thats about it.

Plans for 2018? about 70 metres of stone ditch to repair, concreting one of the farm yards. A possible new cattle crush install, Widening existing field entrances as well as a few trees to cut down. Somewhere along the line I’d like a proper foreign holiday.

Oh and yea, improve health, read more, yadda yadda, same things the rest of us promise to attempt.

Regardless what I do I will continue to chronicle the fab little part of the world I call home and hopefully show that it doesn’t always rain here :-).

Happy 2018 to all and thanks to all who take the time to read my little blog.

(almost) last of the summer wine

Since my last blog post, I’ve enjoyed a couple of part-weeks of annual leave, spending time with my son camping and a smattering of farm-work.

A nights horrible sleep (I sleep light and the wind was constant) in a great campsite at the foot of Slieve Meelmore  at Meelmore Lodge , introduced my son to the delicacy of baked potatoes turned almost to charcoal:

Meelmore lodge firepit
simple firepit made from one and a half steel wheels

My stock of firewood was usurped in less than 2 hours with the breezy conditions.

Despite appearances, the potatoes (once the outer skin was scraped off) was quite pleasant

A post-dinner walk closer to the foot of Meelmore revealed a granite quarry which I could have spent ages surveying

 

In the above pic you can see the lines where men would have split the granite along the length of the grain using the plug and feather method. Mourne granite at a time was used for paving and cobblestone for numerous cities in the British Isles. The men involved skills were honed with the building of the Silent Valley Reservoir http://tracingyourmourneroots.com/1920-1939/construction-of-the-silent-valley-stage-1/

 

“on the turn”

One of the nefarious downsides of getting older is the inability to lift your head and take stock, or live in the moment. My father is the same (and so too I suspect was his father). It comes, I believe, from a desire to get on and get things done, whatever they may be. This means that when the alleged Irish summer begins to take its leave, and the days start to shorten, the oft-heard lament is “where has the year gone?”

Consequently, after a period of a few weeks of (on the whole) fairly decent weather, rain has made a return and made my ditch building progress stutter a little.

Having taken a few days off with my son before school holidays ended, I’ve been taking him camping, days on Newcastle and Murlough beach and a day at the http://www.taytopark.ie/ theme park in Co Meath. Aside from that and gaining a promotion in work, its been a busy, but fairly typical couple of weeks for me.

 

Scoop has a persistent and increasingly serious oil leak from his offside rear stabiliser ram ( jack leg) that will require attention soon. Likely knackered seals. Other than that he’s been a faithful workhorse, given his longevity.

Being a typical bloke, I enjoy a beer, although the past number of years Ive found myself enjoying numerous craft beers from the local area.  I know the image of such is a bit pretentious, but honestly as I get older, I want to enjoy what I drink, and I like trying new things. As an aside to this, I’m extremely fond of trying new ciders, two of note are  kilmegan cider and Orchard Thieves the former crafted less than 2 miles from where I type this. The latter, while not really local  (marketed and based in Co Cork, apples from all over the place really), its been cleverly marketed to give a rural Irish appeal (in my opinion anyway). Even if cider isn’t your thing, I’d advise giving them a go, Kilmegan being the stronger, more mature taste, and obviously being from the locale, I’d plump for it anyway 🙂

**/disclaimer – I’m not promoting either, unless they want to send me several cases each, for detailed evaluation //disclaimer.orchard thieves

The back 40…

Blessed as NI has been with fairly decent weather through July, after work I was to be found topping up my farmers tan and further exacerbating a golfers elbow injury. 1 month ago I wasn’t even aware of the condition until I started to develop sporadic, nagging pain around my funny bone. First and foremost I ain’t no golfer.

And while the condition it appears can be best resolved with regular icing and rest, I found regular icing to be the only option. Suffice to say when the weather is good and you spend 40+ hours a week in an air-conditioned office, the chance to work outdoors and get the satisfaction of building something you know will be around long after you have croaked it, is quite a lure. I also find it to be a great way to switch off my hyperactive brain.

The below was a gate opening I widened and rebuilt, adding a concrete gate post.

big piles of stones

A number of months ago, I applied for a www.daera-ni.gov.uk  EFS grant for the repair of double skin  stone ditches on my fathers farm

Happy enough that it was granted and approved, I soon realised the enormity of the task. Stone ditches are used extensively in Ireland, due to their longevity and availability of raw material ( bloody stones everywhere). Nowadays a lot of farmers simply remove or bury the ditches completely to enlarge or change the layout of a field.

Being both laborious and extremely time consuming, not many people want to be bothered building or repairing stone ditches these days.  The art of stone masonry is dwindling, and those craftsmen ( for thats what I consider them) who are about certainly don’t come cheap. The benefits are multiple though. Protection and a habitat for many local wildlife species, long-lasting ( if constructed and kept in shape), offers good protection to keep livestock in check, as well as just being nice to look at.

so other the next few weeks and months, my blog will be dotted with various updates and copious photos of my progress to attempt to turn 110 metres of this:

2017-06-05 11.46.53

Into something like this:

2017-07-25 18.42.16

I’ll forgive your eye-rolling and sighing, if you look at these photos and can’t appreciate the effort that went into turning before into after, my explanation will mean nothing to you. A 30-year old JCB 3C, long-tail shovels, crowbars, potato graips and plenty of back-breaking work as well as foul language fit only for a field half a mile away from the nearest source of habitation.

More updates to follow.