Browsing Tag

Green and Vibrant

Vegetable Garden

Introducing Green & Vibrant, New (Ad) Ventures

July 17, 2014

Have you ever had an idea, or a suggestion made to you and before you have time to blink, everything falls into place, setting you on an exciting new path? Serendipity, coincidence, or just that some things are simply meant to be…

Green & Vibrant - new (ad) ventures

Green and Vibrant

Green and Vibrant

Green and Vibrant

Recently, a series of serendipitous events have presented themselves which I’m pleased to let you know has led to a partnership between Susan Fitzgerald of Vibrant Ireland and myself which we’re collaboratively calling Green and Vibrant.

We have a few ideas we’ll be developing over the coming months but one of the services we’ll be offering is to connect eco, arts & culture destinations and tourism providers with top bloggers. We’d like to help to create a real-time buzz around some of the fab things that are going on and boost their visibility. Eco, arts and culture are areas of tourism that not only have significant growth potential, but are something Susan and I share a passion for and would love to see grow and flourish.

Why the sudden shift into Ecotourism for Greenside Up?

Tourism isn’t just about bringing coach loads of people in to spend lots of money in our towns and villages, when it’s done well it’s about much more than that. It’s about COMMUNITY and Greenside Up isn’t just about gardening, it’s about wanting to improve communities for the good of all. I’ve been mulling the effects of Ecotourism for a while now, since the Waterford bloggers tour back in 2012 again on our overnight stay in close by Graiguenamanagh then more recently when it was demonstrated on our recent trip to Sligo.

Graiguenamanagh Tow Path

Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny

As I found on these occasions, Eco or Responsible Tourism helps and supports one another. Ecotourism is about being aware of the environment and culture of a place, about being respectful of our surroundings whilst minimising the impact, it’s about providing financial benefits to the local community and business in a responsible way, encouraging everyone in a community to get involved and create employment. It’s also about providing experiences to both tourism providers and the people who visit that are positive and enjoyable for everyone involved.

Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990).

When communities get together and enthusiastically support and help one another instead of moaning and groaning, good and great things can happen.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”

Helen Keller

Duckett's Grove, Co Carlow

Duckett’s Grove Gardens, Crafts & Tea Rooms, Co Carlow

Despite all the turmoil Ireland has had to face and the gloomy headlines that appear on the news stands on a regular basis, we know there’s a huge amount of positivity here, people who want and are making differences in their communities. People love visiting Ireland with its emerald-green fields, its mythology and its culture, talking to the people, listening to the songs, having the craic and even when we already live here, we never tire of visiting other parts of the island – IT’S THAT GOOD! And those stories are replicated across Europe and beyond.

Bloggers Trip arranged by SoSligo Festival

Bloggers Trip arranged by SoSligo Festival

Susan and I feel that if we, as bloggers who live in a community of bloggers, can help to increase the visibility of these positive places and people by sharing their stories, letting you know about all the cool and wonderful things that you can do, that has to be a good thing.

How will Green & Vibrant work?

We’ll be working with tourist providers – from county councils to independents, illustrating to them the benefits of using blogging as a marketing tool. Bloggers are experts in their fields and we already have audiences who are interested in our chosen areas – something destinations may not have. We use social media extensively and not only are we able to share our news instantly, once posts are published they’re accessible online at any time, creating a long-lasting history of a place or event that’s accessible in a few seconds. Our aim is to link relevent bloggers with destinations so that they can experience, write and share their experiences with you.

#carlowgardenfestWhere will we start?

In the short time we’ve been working together, we already have a few things in the pipeline, beginning with Carlow Tourism Office as we work as social media ambassadors for the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival.

What does this mean for Greenside Up in the vegetable garden?

No changes are planned for the foreseeable future – I’ll still be working with private clients and community gardens as before, encouraging communities to create gardens where they can share their experiences and produce. Green and Vibrant will be an extra service I offer. It does mean you’ll be seeing more posts on this blog about places I visit and am keen to share with you and you’ll notice an extra tab on the top of the website that links to the activities of Green and Vibrant.

If you like the idea of what we’re doing and would like to find out more about how we can help your community promote the best of its Eco, Arts and Cultural activities, then get in touch with us right now. The sooner we can help you, the sooner people will find you.

If you’d like to read Susan’s post about the reasons behind her involvement in Green and Vibrant, her love of Ireland and mention of a few people who were instrumental in us taking up this new direction, take a look at her post on Vibrant Ireland here.

 

Travel

Carlow Garden Festival: What’s On & Win Tickets, Trees & Tools

July 13, 2014
Carlow Garden Festival

16 trails, talks and walks will be taking place at the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival

Carlow Garden Festival ~ Friday, 25th July – Monday, 4th August 2014

Green and VibrantVery soon Carlow will be awash with colour, scent and perfume as gardens all around the County open their gates to the 13th year of the Carlow Garden Festival.

During the 11 day festival that will be celebrating all things green and growing, I’ll be joining forces with Susan FitzGerald of the Vibrant Ireland blog in our new collaboration GREEN and VIBRANT as we share photos, tips and tales from some of the various walks and talks included this year.

If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s happening throughout the festival, just enter the #CarlowGardenFest  into any of your social media channels and all of our (or anyone else’s if they’ve tagged them) posts and images about the festival will come up for you. If you’re attending any of the events at the festival and would like to share them with us all, use that hashtag with your posts and we’ll be able to find and share your updates too. We may even find you there 🙂

Have a Go at Winning Three Prizes to Celebrate Carlow Garden Festival 2014

To celebrate this wonderful event in Ireland’s gardening calendar and in my home town, we have three prizes to offer you. Carlow Garden Festival PrizesPrize #1 First of all and with thanks to Carlow Tourism,  if you’d like to win two tickets to the opening night of the Garden Festival on Friday, 25th July where Carol Klein of Gardeners World will be sharing her secrets on creating a cottage garden, just leave a comment in the comment box at the end of the post that include the words Carlow Garden Festival. The winner’s name will be randomly drawn on the evening of Saturday, 19th July. These tickets are worth €24.50 each and if you’re not a gardener yourself, perhaps you have a friend or family member who’d love to win them. 

Prize #2 Secondly, if you’d like to win a gardening tool set carefully chosen by Eamon Wall, Garden Centre Manager of the Arboretum Lifestyle and Garden Centre who kindly donated the hand fork, trowel and secateurs, take a look at the Vibrant Ireland blog for more details. This is a lovely tool set that would suit someone starting out or a gardener who’s looking to replace or add to their gardening kit. All you have to do is leave a comment on Susan’s blog before 6pm on Friday, 1st August.

Prize #3 Lastly, you could win a miniature family Coronet apple tree, ideal for small or patio gardens, also donated by the Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre. To be in with a chance to win this prize, share a photo of your own from your garden or any of the Carlow garden trail gardens or Carlow Garden Festival events you attend and include the hashtag #CarlowGardenFest.

You can share your photo(s) before 9pm Saturday, 2nd August via your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. Just remember to include #CarlowGardenFest so that we can find them and to ensure you will be entered into the draw. You can also post your photos to either the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page, or to the Greensideup Facebook page. You may enter on all three social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as many times as you like and each platform’s post will be counted as a separate entry. The winner can collect their tree at Duckett’s Grove at the Teddy’s Picnic  (a great opportunity to try out some of Madeleine’s wonderful cake while you’re there) or at the Arboretum.

See below for terms and conditions.

Carlow Garden Festival

Carlow Garden Festival 25th July to 4th August 2014

June Blake

Carlow Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity for budding and experienced gardeners or nature lovers to get practical advice from a range of informative workshops while visiting the many beautiful gardens in the county.

Gardens will be in full bloom and with the majority of gardening work completed, it’s the ideal time to relax, admire the work of others and make gardening plans for the coming months and year ahead. I won’t say too much more about it as both the Vibrant Ireland blog and The Sodshow have full details, but here’s a programme of events for you to have a peek at and see what takes your fancy…

Carlow Garden Festival 25th July to 4th August 2014

Over 16 tours, talks and walks catering for all ages and budgets

Carlow Garden Trail

If you’re in or close by to Carlow, we have a fabulous Garden Trail that’s worth a look at with 18 different gardening attractions as well as two feature gardens in the surrounding counties of Kildare and Wexford. The trail includes old gardens that have been lovingly restored and maintained throughout the years, and smaller gardens which are maturing beautifully with time, where visitors can enjoy guided tours, usually with the owner or head gardener. Award winning garden centres and forest parks complement a visit here. Accommodation

Kilgraney Country House & Herb Gardens

A cottage garden at Kilgraney House

Looking to stay? From the award-winning Step House hotel and Kilgraney Country House Herb Gardens to local B&Bs and town centre hotels, there are lots to offer in Carlow catering for all budgets. There are also some great value accommodation breaks along with details of the festival programme which can be found at www.carlowtourism.com or alternatively ring Carlow Tourism on 059-9130411 for further details.

Public Transport Carlow is on the direct train line from Heusten Station in Dublin and is on a national coach stop off point too. If a group of you are tempted to travel this way to save on your carbon  footprint and are wondering how you’ll get from garden to garden, Bianka MacDonald runs Carlow Tours, a personalised day trip service and is well worth a call.

Terms & Conditions for the competitions: 

Pompom DahliaAnyone is eligible to enter all three of giveaways. All three winners will be chosen at random and you could potentially win one or three prizes! These prizes are not exchangeable for any monetary value.The Carol Klein tickets may be be collected at the door on the night of the event. The tools can be posted anywhere in ROI, but not further, sorry.  The Coronet Patio Apple Tree winner will have to collect their tree at The Teddy Bear Picnic at Duckett’s Grove on the 2nd August, or at the Arboretum Garden Centre, Leighlinbridge, County Carlow by 31st August 2014. You retain all rights to your photographs, knowing that we may also share them, fully credited to you, on social media and perhaps on a blog post on vibrantireland.com, greensideup.ie or greenandvibrant.com.

Best of luck and if you’re visiting any of the gardens during the festival and you spot Susan or me there, please come and say hello, we’d love to see you 🙂

Competition Winner

The winner of the Carol Klein tickets has now been drawn and was randomly chosen by using the random.org number generator. On this occasion, No 13 was the lucky number. Congratulations Denise Delaney, I’ve emailed details to you and thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment. Hopefully we’ll see you at #CarlowGardenFest

Random.Org

Lifestyle, Travel

10 Fun Eco Friendly Things To Do In Sligo

June 16, 2014

Sligo Beach & Mountains

We’ve lived here for 15 years but had never made it as far north as Sligo, a county in the north-west of Ireland that’s doing it’s best to tick the boxes and encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism. However, having now seen the beautiful coastline, the striking mountain range and the passion of the people who are proud to live in this historic county, it won’t be the last time.

Vegetable Soup & Connacht GoldCounty Sligo, (home of Connacht Gold, a company that has over 1,000 diary farmers supplying them with milk), and just one of several counties marked on the Wild Atlantic Way, offers lots of activities that cater for all ages, abilities and budgets with a more eco conscious ethos.

Whether you’re looking for some adventure or quieter meals and walks there are lots in Sligo to keep you occupied.

10 Fun Things To Do in Sligo

1. Sea Trails

Auriel Robinson of Seatrails

Auriel Robinson of Seatrails

Auriel Robinson, a qualified maritime archaeologist, is a font of local, historical, maritime knowledge which she’ll happily share with you in various ways. From prehistoric walks to more rugged treks, you’ll find yourself swept away and more interested in Irish history than you might possibly have imagined. Auriel accompanied us on the horseriding trip, sharing tales of three ships from the Spanish Armada that were wrecked on Streedagh Beach.

It’s one thing learning about this historical invasion in school text books, quite another when you can picture the scene in front of you. She also takes local groups out on regular beach clean ups, something that’s becoming more necessary as the big storms sweep ocean litter up onto the beaches.Take a look at seatrails.ie for more information on the variety of interesting tours available.

Damien Brennan2. The Yeats Experience

I covered the Yeats Experience in another blog post but this unusual dinner party encompasses so much of the what defines the responsible traveller.

Damien manages to weave art, history and poetry alongside the natural beauty of the surrounding hills and lough, while his wife Paula and her helpers, present guests with locally sourced, home cooked food.

3. Walking Tour of Sligo Town

Walking Tour of Sligo With our Guide NiamhSligo tourist office can give visitors with a signposted walking tour map of Sligo that points out all the interesting parts of the town itself.

If you’re visiting during the summer months however, I’d urge you to take a two-hour walk with Niambh (the time flies by) who will open your eyes to the trouble and strife the town faced during the days of the cholera epidemic in the 1800’s.

She might also regale you with tales of what might have inspired Bram Stoker to write the scary Dracula story he’s famous for. The tours leave daily from the Tourist Office. See here for more details.

Photo Courtesy: Isle Magazine

Photo Courtesy: Isle Magazine

4. Horse Riding on Sligo Beach

If you like horses, a trip to the family run Island View Riding Stables in Grange is a heavenly treat. With horses, ponies, guides and instructors available to cater for all experiences, as well as hats, boots and chaps, the stable will make sure everyone on the ride gets a taste of what they’re expecting.

From a slow, gentle walk, to a more bouncy trot or a hearty canter along the sandy beach, you’ll be well looked after. Island View offer a range of riding experiences, from half hour rides to B&B Holidays. For more information take a look at their website here.

Lough Gill, Sligo

5. Stand Up Paddling & Guided Canoe Tours

Stand Up Paddling is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and if you fancy your chances of balancing on the loughs, it’s available in Sligo from the Perfect Day SUP School.

Everywhere we went people were recommending we try this unusual form of travel but time didn’t let on this occasion. I don’t think I’ll be trying the yoga poses pictured in some of the literature but a gentle paddle sounds tempting. For those of you who prefer a more relaxed time on the water, Adventure Gently offer guided tours in Canadian canoes that might be more to your liking.

6. Seaweed Foraging

If you want to use seaweed in your kitchen or garden it’s essential that you harvest it sustainably and just like hedgerow foraging, it helps to know what you’re picking. As a life long seaweed forager, Prannie Rhatigan is a real expert in this field. Keep an eye out for her workshops. From the brief time we spent with Prannie, I can guarantee you’ll come home armed with enough information that you’ll want to cook with seaweed as much as possible.

Seaweed Foraging

7. Seaweed Baths

If you’re looking for a relaxing activity, the Seaweed Baths in Strandhill might be for you. Luxuriate in the healing waters and feel all your troubles drift away as the essential oils are released. Afterwards you might like to pop next door into the award-winning Shells Seaside Bakery, Shop & Cafe for a delicious juice or a slice of home-made cake..

Beetroot, Carrot & Apple Juice at Shells in Strandhill, Sligo

Beetroot, Carrot & Apple Juice at Shells in Strandhill, Sligo

Sligo Surfing

Sligo Surfing – photo credit Val Robus

8. Surfing on the Atlantic coast

Sligo is apparently the 4th best location IN THE WORLD for big surfing waves and has one of the most consistent swells in Europe. Whether you’re a beginner or a fan of the giant waves, there are several kite surfing or general surfing schools dotted around the Sligo coastline, or just bring a board and find out where all the locals are surfing. For more information check out the Sligo tourism page.

Pranie's Guide To Edible Seaweed9. Relaxing on a Green Coast Beach

Sligo boasts five Green Coast Beaches and they really do live up to their awards. Unspoilt and scenic, they’re the perfect place to spend some time if you’re looking for a beach that’s not surrounded by chip shops and souvenir shops. Bring a picnic and grab a copy of Prannie’s seaweed guide as these are the places you can carefully harvest seaweed for a home bathing or cooking experience.

Flowers in Sligo10. Secret Gardens of Sligo

There are several hidden gardens nestled in Sligo from large to small, privately owned and open to the public on various dates throughout the year to raise funds for various charities. There’s no admission charge but all donations greatly appreciated. Take a look at the Secret Gardens of Sligo website for more information.

Where to stay in Sligo

From Dublin you can pick up a train or bus that will take you directly there, but from Carlow or Kilkenny it isn’t the easiest place to travel to.. It would have several taxi, bus and train changes to get us there, so I car shared with Susan from Vibrant Ireland for this trip.

The Wine BuffWe stayed in the very groovy 4 star Glasshouse Hotel in the centre of Sligo town, which meant we were within walking distance of local shops, restaurants and bars.

Notable were Donaghy’s, famed for their chicken wings among other dishes, Osta Cafe & Wine Bar who can serve you up a tasty tapas on the riverfront, and the very helpful Wine Buff who can recommend exactly what wine’s to taste with which cheese, handy if you’re self catering.

The Glasshouse Hotel Sligo

The Glasshouse Hotel Sligo

 If visitors haven’t done their homework, they might be in for a surprise when they walk into the family owned but very contemporary designed Glasshouse hotel, unlike any other I’ve stayed in! I had a peek online before we traveled and loved my orange room with river views, smart television and family sized bed. The rooms were spotless, the service friendly and the car park free for residents.

Eithnas By The SeaWhere to eat in Sligo

If you visit Sligo during a festival, it’s likely you’ll be able to choose from over 25 local food establishments that take part in the Food Trail, with each one offering a signature dish for just five euro.

Outside of the town we dinned in Eithna’s By The Sea, a delightful seafood restaurant in Mullaghmore, where we sampled the delicious tasting menu, with plates piled high with locally sourced lobster and mussels, seaweed salads and king prawns.

I hope that’s given you a flavour of some of the things you might experience if you have the opportunity to spend a few days in Sligo. If you have any other tips about places to see or visit there, please leave them in the comments below as I’m looking forward to returning sometime soon with my family and it’s great to hear about places you may have been.

Finally, if you’d like to read more about some of the things Sligo has to offer, check out magnumlady.com blog for some great insight and photos.

Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Connaght Gold who want to share and shout out about all the lovely things their County has to offer. The fact that the trip was sponsored has in no way influenced anything I’ve written, as the one thing I hope you’ve come to expect from my blog is honesty and transparency. See here for my full disclosure policy. 

Travel

Celebrating WB Yeats In Sligo

June 13, 2014

This is the first of two or three posts I’m looking forward to sharing with you about my recent short trip to County Sligo, one of many destinations here in Ireland that are perfect for Eco tourists looking to take a more natural, responsible approach to holidays. With images and poetry, this post may help to give you an idea for a destination to visit that apart from offering the usual festival, fun, celebrates the life of a celebrated Nobel Laureate, William Butler Yeats.

WB Yeats Statue, Sligo

William Butler Yeats ~ Statue in Sligo Town

Yeats Day

June 13th is Yeats Day, a celebration of a time in 1865 when WB Yeats was born in Ireland. I’ve always been attracted to the poetry of WB Yeats and the evocative and accessible way he weaves our language, helping us to smell the apple blossom, or picture an island full of growth and wildlife that he longs to be close to. It was a delight therefore, to find Yeats celebrated in so many places in and around Sligo, the county he spent his formative years.

Painting by Jack Yeats

Painting by Jack Yeats

There are several ongoing exhibitions in Sligo of Yeats’ life, family and poetry. Amongst others, the Sligo Museum houses a small exhibition about Yeats which includes his Nobel Prize Medal and The Model Gallery is hosting an art exhibition of his brother Jack’s work.

From statues and museums, to recitals and trails there are lots to keep Yeats fans happy indoors and out.

Rumour has it that during 2015 everyone in Ireland will be able to share a national celebration of Yeats life, with festivals and events being arranged around the country.

The Yeats Experience

The Yeats Experience

In the meantime however, if you’re planning to visit Sligo or even if you live there and are looking for an evening or lunch with a difference, I’d highly recommend a visit to the home of Damian and Paula of The Yeats Experience, located near Carraroe, where you can wine, dine, listen to the history and poems of Yeats in a casual environment of mixed and friendly company.

Good conversation at The Yeats Experience

Good Company at The Yeats Experience

This is a unique experience where dinner parties take place in the couple’s private dinning room, overlooking breathtaking views that those familiar with Yeats work will recognise.

Catering for around twenty-five on the evening we arrived at Broc house (but can cater from 10 to 50 people), Damien talked us through Yeats lifetime, which took place in some very turbulent times of Irish history, transfixing us with tales and love poems he recited to us between dinner courses.

SorbetAs a rural vegetable grower who’s new to bee keeping, this is a particular favourite Yeats poem…

The Lake Isle of Innisfree by WB Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

A spellbound Guest at The Yeats Experience

A spellbound Guest

If you’re even remotely interested in poetry, film, art, music, good food or history, the 11th to the 15th June for the Só Sligo Food & Cultural Festival is the place to be as they celebrate with a packed and varied programme catering for all tastes and ages (see Vibrant Ireland’s blog for more details).

However, if you’ve missed the festival or have never been to Sligo and are thinking of doing so, you won’t be disappointed… Within a very short space of time, we fell in love with this beautiful county that has more than it’s fair share of unspoiled beaches and hill climbs, lakes, cliffs and forests. There’s so much to do I can’t wait to return with Mr G and spend longer exploring it.

Tourist Tip: Do pack midge/mosquito repellent as the lake water attracts these irritating little pests. I’ve found Dr Vogel’s Herbal Insect Repellent to be very effective once I remember to pack it!

Over the coming days I’ll be sharing our bloggers tasty seaweed experience as well giving some tips on how you might like to spend a couple of days as an eco/responsible tourist in Sligo.

With thanks to Connacht Gold and the organisers of the  Sligo Food Cultural & Food Festival that’s taking place in Sligo right now, some fellow Irish bloggers and I were able to experience a snippet of some of the cultural, food, sporting and natural attractions that Sligo has to offer this week and beyond. Keep an eye out for posts from Vibrant Ireland, The Burlesque Chef, Irish Food Guide, Isle Magazine, Magnum Lady and Oonagh Eats, bloggers covering several areas of interest, for more information about the Festival.

Travel

Food Festivals, Foraging and Fun to be had in Sligo!

May 31, 2014

One of the drawbacks of being a vegetable grower is that since we began growing our own food, we rarely get to take breaks away together. Partly perhaps, because we don’t want to leave the vegetables we’ve carefully natured over the past few months, but also finding minders for our chickens, pigs, dogs and cats for more than one night can be difficult.

Strandhill, Sligo

Photo Credit: Val Rubus – Strandhill, Sligo

Thankfully, living on an island means that’s not too much of a problem. In four hours we can be standing at the water’s edge of Donegal or in under an hour walking in the Wicklow mountains. We may not be guaranteed weeks of blue skies, but we’ve fantastic scenery, superb food, wildlife, big seas, star filled skies, friendship, fun, faeries and festivals every weekend, all on hand to entertain, unwind and help us relax.

Holidays in Ireland

My first trip to Ireland and the one that sowed the seed to up anchor and move all my worldly goods here, was spent as a pillion passenger on a large motorbike. I shared my perch with the driver (naturally) a tent, sleeping bags and enough camping gear to make sure we stayed dry and comfortable. We travelled across the southern half of the country from Tipperary to Cork, Kerry and back to Dublin again. We found caves and mountains, hot warm dinners and wet windy roads and I spent hours on the back of the bike in a world of my own, lost with desire to spend more time here.

My second trip many years later involved landing at Dublin airport with a friend and a backpack, climbing onto a bus destined to Galway, and spending most of the week sleeping in hostels and exploring all the lively pubs that we were able to find in the vibrant city that inspired many a tune.

Jump forward several more years and my next trip over the Irish sea was with the man who was to become Mr G. We took the time to tour around, visiting the peninsulas and wild Atlantic coast, falling in love with Beara and dreaming of owning a campsite and surf shop, somewhere we could grow old, living a self-sufficient beach life by the ocean’s edge.

Sligo Surfing

Sligo Surf – Photo Credit: Val Robus

Settling Down

It’s now 16 years since we finally made the move over, choosing instead a small holding life on a hilltop rather than the wilder one we’d envisaged. Over the years we’ve taken several short breaks to various parts of this beautiful island that we now call our home, almost always under canvas, and not nearly as many as we should have given how close we live to all the places we still want to see!

Unlike Mr G, the one place I’ve yet to visit, the place that everyone talks about with a slightly wistful air, is Sligo. But that’s about to change.

So Sligo 2014 Food Festival

so sligo imageWith thanks to the So Sligo 2014 Food Festival team, a few bloggers that include Vibrant Ireland, Irish Food Guide, Sligo Secrets, A Taste of Ireland and Isle Magazine among others, have been invited to Sligo to experience a fabulous sounding couple days that will be showcasing everything Sligo has to offer.

The festival starts on Wednesday 11th June and continues until Sunday evening with things happening all over the county. Starting with Sligo town, the Só Sligo Food Trail has over 30 tapas sized house specialities available for €5 each.

I’m particularly looking forward to the seaweed walk and hope to share some of the tips I learn with you. There will also be urban foraging, fermentation and cheese making workshops as well as lots of food demonstrations and talks by local and celebrity chefs.

During the festival JP McMahon will be bringing a pop up version of his award-winning Aniar Restaurant in Galway to The Model on Friday and there will be a Yeats Nobel Dinner by Alan Fitzmaurice on Thursday 12th (the eve of Yeats Day which is also being celebrated in Sligo).

Other events include the World Irish Stew Championship, something that everybody is encouraged to enter by bringing along two portions of stew (they have facilities to heat & serve), as well as several events for children too. A food village will be setting up from 1pm on Friday to Sunday evening, and before wrapping it up, there’ll be a Street Feast where people can bring their own food – or buy it from the stalls and food outlets, enjoying together!

I’ll be reporting back how my trip goes and am particularly looking forward to horse riding on the Sligo beaches and the eco-tourism side of things, something that Ireland can offer in abundance.

Sligo Horseriding

Photo Credit: Val Rubus

If you think the festival sounds interesting and would like to head along, check out the So Sligo website for full details and be sure to find me on any of the social media channels and say hello if you’re in Sligo.

Photo’s for this post have been reproduced with kind permission from Val of Magnumlady.com, a Sligo photographer who captures life there so well.

 

Travel

Garden Visit: Delta Centre Sensory Gardens, Carlow

March 25, 2014

I’ve written about the Delta Centre before, having visited the twenty interconnecting but quite different sensory gardens for the Christmas light display. Promising to return in the springtime to see the many, different varieties of daffodils growing there, it only needed a meeting of friends with the suggestion of tea and cake in the friendly on-site café to find me there once more.

The daffodils were a bright and cheery splash of yellow throughout…

Delta Centre Tete a Tete Daffodils

and it was uplifting to watch the bees begin to emerge and feed upon the various yellow blooms…

Mahonia bee

possibly as a result of the shelter they’d found in one of several gorgeous bug hotels.

Bug Hotel in the Delta Centre Gardens, Carlow

We tried not to get wet as the wind whipped the water around us from the magnificent dandelion clock inspired water feature…

Dandelion Clock Water Featureand watched the Koi Carp swimming around the lake and under the bridge towards the sunken boat.

Old Boat in the Delta Centre Sensory Gardens, Carlow

We couldn’t help ourselves and had to stroke several giant sculptures featured in almost all of the gardens.

Delta Centre Sensory Gardens Pea Sculpture

and we gazed in admiration at Mary Reynold’s Celtic lady.

Mary Reynolds Celtic Lady

It was the alpine plants growing in the middle of the waist-high limestone wall that stole the show for me during this springtime visit. If they had been planted in beds on the ground we would have missed their exquisite blooms.

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If you have an opportunity to visit the Delta Centre sensory gardens on Saturday, 29th March, Deborah Begley from Terra Nova Gardens, Dromin, Co Limerick will be giving a light-hearted talk. For more information on the talk or for opening hours for the gardens in general, telephone +353(0)599143527 or email info@deltacentre.org – Admission: adults €5, concessions €4, children free accompanied by an adult.

Travel

Multi Sensory Gardens, Darkness & Light

December 18, 2013
Stolen Child Garden by Mary Reynolds

Stolen Child Garden by Mary Reynolds

We usually visit gardens by day but there’s one series of gardens that simply must be seen during the winter darkness and they’re at The Delta Centre in Carlow.

Delta Centre SculptureFrom the 7th to the 22nd December the twenty multi sensory gardens are lit up with sparkling lights, helping to create a magical place that appeals to both young and old alike.

Delta Centre SculptureIf you wish, you can take a map or follow a trail game that can help you find your way along the pathways that weave their way through the themed gardens. Alternatively just meander around and try not to trip up as your eyes dart from the skeleton trees to tall sculptures that entice you to touch and feel their varied textures, however cold your fingertips might feel on a winter’s night.

Whilst the interconnecting multi sensory gardens will fill you with inspiration during the rest of the year, during the cold December evenings they’ll leave you with a sense of wonder that once experienced, will never be forgotten.

Delta Sensory Garden LightsThe Delta Centre provides training and multi sensory services to adults with intellectual disabilities and all funds raised there help to support their services. As such there’s a small admission fee to the gardens of €5 for adults, €4 for concessions with children free and they are open until 7.00 pm for the Christmas light show and Craft Fair.

Delta Centre TreesWhen you’ve finished wandering around outside and can’t wait any longer to warm up, you can pop into the very reasonably priced Christmas craft shop that’s bursting with garlands and decorations before heading into the café for hot drinks and sticky cakes to round off your evening.

Delta Centre Christmas Decorations

I last visited the multi sensory gardens in December 2008 with two young girls aged five and eight – five years later their memories are of fairy like enchantment.

This time around my visit was with two groups of community gardening adults who have informed me that not only did they thoroughly enjoy the experience, they can’t wait to go back for a daylight trip to see the spring daffodil display.

For more information about the Delta Sensory Garden light show, check out their website here and apologies for the photo quality which really don’t do it justice!

Travel

Mount Congreve ~ Fabulous Autumn Inspiration

September 27, 2013

Mount Congreve, described as one of the great gardens of the world, is only 45 minutes from our home yet it’s taken until now for me to spend more than twenty minutes there.

Mount ConvgreveWhy? It was a privately owned garden that until recently has only been open to the public on Thursdays and occasional weekends which has made it quite tricky to get to.

Since the owner of this magnificent estate, the late Mr Ambrose Congreve, passed away there has been a fear that the gardens would close. In July Irish Daily Mail journalist, Tom Doorley described the difficulties the Estate has been under while trying to hand the gardens over to the Office of Public Works as Mr Congreve wished.

Thankfully the glitch has been resolved and the gardens have been open from springtime 2014, but do check the website for more information.

 

September at Mount CongreveI wont ramble on about the history of the gardens or how Mr Congreve worked on them for almost his entire life until they grew to include over 16 kilometers of pathways and woodland containing “over three thousand different trees and shrubs, more than two thousand Rhododendrons, six hundred Camellias, three hundred Acer cultivars, six hundred conifers, two hundred and fifty climbers and fifteen hundred herbaceous plants” – the Mount Congreve website can do that for you.

Mr Congreve was a passionate gardener who lived for over 104 years before passing away at Chelsea Flower Show in 2011. The remains of both he and Mrs Congreve are buried at the Temple in the Estate.

September at Mount Congreve

For now I’ll leave you with a few images that I took in the walled garden that might give you some idea of the colour you could be experiencing in your gardens during late September if you so wish.

Most of the plants in the gardens are labelled and there’s a free downloadable PDF available on the website giving a synopsis of the plants growing there. I for one will be adding dahlias and asters to my shopping trolley next time I visit our local garden centre.

Blooming Flowers at Mount Congreve during Late September

Salvia Bartolinii, a semi hardy salvia

There hasn’t been any vegetables growing in the walled garden this year unlike a couple of years ago when I paid my earlier brief visit there. It was explained that as the kitchen is no longer operating as it was in the Congreve’s day when they held dinner parties and balls, the House has no need for them. For now the beds have been laid down to green manures until a decision is made about their future.

I’m so looking forward to going back and plans are afoot to return soon with my two community garden groups for their social get together.

Blooming Flowers at Mount Congreve during Late SeptemberThese really are gardens worth visiting if you have a smidgen of interest in nature and the outdoor world. What better way to spend an autumnal day. I’m feeling inspired, are you?