Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dog escape

Good weather means gardening not blogging. Many slugs have been transported to other parts of the garden. The brassicas are saved (mostly) through this process, which although disorientating for the slugs is much kinder than cutting them in half or dipping them in salt.

Last night the small dog escaped again. We have part of the garden fenced off with various combinations of chicken wire, vague hedging and undergrowth, but every so often both dogs would appear on the wrong side of the gate. We raised fences, patched possible holes to no avail. So this morning I went round again. This time I wore my wellies and gardening gloves which I thought would help. I also carried a pair of secateurs.

These precautions did the trick. I found a possible route to the outside through a tunnelly bit and a hole. The small dog watched then, little innocent, showed me what she (and presumably the other one) did. Hop up a little bank and onto the wall that runs between us and the neighbour's field. Trot along and jump off at the other end. This is a route-of-no-return as the wall is high, and explains the yipping at door or gate when the dogs have had enough of doing dog things outside.

I fenced it off with chicken wire. If they're out when I come back from teaching flute this evening I will be very pissed off.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Swallow tails

The swallow was trapped in the conservatory today. It flew in through the half door in the kitchen, down the passage and into the conservatory. All the glass confused the poor bird - they have no problem navigating in ordinary buildings. They do it all the time when looking for nesting spots. I opened the door and after a bit of battering it flew out. Poor creature. It was the most glorious blue on its back.

The swallow has had visitors. One the other day, then two. But maybe they weren't compatible, or were arguing over nesting sites. I have my fingers crossed that a husband or wife will be found.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Killaloe and flat batteries

We spent Sunday night in Mountshannon. It was full-body thermal weather with a strong westerly coming straight into the harbour, but the sun glinted off the water and made everything look pretty. When we got back to the boat after a few pints the heating wouldn't work. In fact the lights barely came on. The domestic battery was flat. Odd. It had had a full charge the weekend before.

Next morning it turned out it was my fault. When you light the gas fridge you turn on a switch that goes clickety click and provides a spark for the gas. You're supposed to turn this switch off IMMEDIATELY. As you have guessed I left it on. This tends to happen once at the beginning of a summer's boating, which acts as a reminder for the rest of the year. It's always best when it's someone else who leaves the switch on.

Down to Killaloe on Monday. The lake was flat calm and beautiful. We went through the bridge and back up the old canal to tie up opposite St Flannan's Cathedral. A peaceful spot away from the jet skis and speed boats that like to whizz up and down in front of an audience. I thought on Monday we'd be free of the nyah nyah racket of the jet skis but no such luck.

I was in the Gents in Goosers pub across the bridge from the boat looking at a chart on the wall. I'd gone in there on instruction from the husband - urinals aren't usually my thing - because he hadn't seen this chart before, and neither had I. It was a proper Admiralty chart of Scarriff Bay showing all the rocks and shoals and depths - far more detail than you get on the Lough Derg chart. Along towards Scarriff there was marked Dead Woman's Hand Rock. The only way you'd see it now, I suspect, is if you put on a diving suit - the lake has risen so much since it was damned for the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme. I wonder what shape that rock is.

And back to Scarriff today. There's electricity, and it's close to home, so Joe can go down tomorrow with his sander and do sanding things.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Swallows and Cabbages

So I found the lead to my small camera. It was in the drawer where it should have been. BUT IT WASN'T THERE BEFORE. I tried all the leads from that drawer and none of them fitted.

We've only one swallow this year. We used to have a rake of them, but every year there seem to have been less. And now there's only one. I'm trying to be pragmatic about this. To not look at the single swallow on the wire and feel its loneliness. Because its a swallow, not a human, and to be honest if it flew down the valley a small way it would find plenty of company. The trouble is it makes me think of how it would be if this happened to all the birds because of what we humans do to our planet.

I'm hoping there will be hundreds of swallows on the lake. We're off to Winter Solstice this afternoon. But first I must check the brassicas. I planted them out yesterday. Will the slugs have eaten them all?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rocking in Garrykennedy

Finally out on the boat again on Sunday. We'd planned on a whole weekend, but my parents were trapped under the volcano ash until Sunday. We went to Garrykennedy for the night, into the new harbour. The old harbour was empty. Strange to see it like that when you usen't be able to get in at all. Neither harbour was sheltered from the northeasterly blowing all night. We rocked from side to side and the ropes creaked. It was very soothing. It also reminded me of our first overnight in Garry a decade ago on our first boat Caoimhe. Another windy day, but this time there were nasty choppy waves coming from the south west.

We had learned in our few weeks on the river that beam-on waves (those hitting you on the side) would make the boat rock alarmingly, breaking crockery and causing panic among people and canines, but we would be all right today, we reassured each other. Our route back to Tinerana Bay would allow us to head straight into the waves, and we had been told that a Freeman 23 was very unlikely to sink even though it may feel like riding a champagne cork in a flushed toilet. We cheered ourselves with the will-not-sink angle, and set off in good form, chugging slowly out of the harbour, but as soon as we pulled out of the lee and into the wind the boat mutated into a cork.
‘I’m not very happy,’ said Joe.
‘Neither am I.’
‘And we have to go round Parker Point.’ We both had strained, under-the-surface-panic voices. Parker Point is a notorious section of Lough Derg where the southerly arm joins Scariff Bay. A strong south-westerly splits around the headland opposite the Point, pushing waves from south and west to meet in pyramids at the intersection. Pyramids do not have a single edge at which you can point the boat.
Our boat felt very small in this big grey sea. We were cowards. We turned back.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Spot of Varnishing

Here's another photo for all those people who shake their heads when they see your boat is made from timber. 'Lot of work,' they say with satisfaction as they powerhose the white shiny plastic of their fibreglass cruisers.

The decks of Winter Solstice, which looked smooth and beautiful last year, are peeling and cracked this. It's one of those jobs where as soon as you lift a tiny corner a whole swath of stuff comes off in your hand. The process began in Terryglass and is still ongoing. Really a proper job should be done, but that would require removing all the stanchions and that in turn would mean not going boating very much.

That would be a problem. We plan to do what we did last year which is start the major boating trips early. May and June are, according to the Man from New Zealand, the best for sunshine and dryness. It was the same last year, so when July and August came with their nasty cold mockeries of summer we didn't mind so much. We'd had a month or two of sunshine on the Shannon, and that is worth everything.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Deer and onions

It's a good thing deer have tiny hoofs. A pair of them have tiptoed across my onions and the yet-to-show carrots. I'm expecting slugs to decimate the carrot crop but not deer. I finally heard the cuckoo today, though everyone else in the family has been hearing him for days. None of 'our' swallows yet though. Hope they haven't perished on the way. They were here in April last year.