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Posts Tagged ‘Westmeath’

I just re-discovered some photos on my phone that I was meaning to blog about. There were a lot and I found it difficult to exclude some.

Richie and I went to a local supplier of poultry to see what species they had. Richie is considering getting some chickens to give the ducks some extra company. Though since we fenced them into their own area, he’s missing their presence around the rest of the garden! I, for one, am not missing the duck plop everywhere. If I’m honest with myself, I do kind of miss seeing them trail around the side of the house or out to the back field. But it’s for their own safety that they’re behind the electric fence. Before we get any chickens, some decisions need to be made about the continual company of poultry in Woodhaven.

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Anyway that didn’t stop us from visiting C&B Poultry near the village of Fore, Westmeath. It’s not far from Mullingar. The village is also home to Fore Abbey. More on that a little later.

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C&B have a wide range of species and it’s clear that they keep their set up, clean and functioning like clockwork. From speaking with C&B, it was also clear they have a passion for poultry and they want their hens/roosters to go to good homes.

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We arrived at the right time. The outbuilding was a hive of chirping and cheeping young chicks. Most of which huddled together in packs and mostly under the heat lamps.

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Spot the duckling with the chicks. He was runt and shunned by the other ducks.
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I can’t remember all the specie names, that was Richie’s job. But there were a multitude, all very beautiful.

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Some were very strange, but at the same time very cute. This baldy one was unexpectedly hot to the touch and extremely docile.

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C&B seem to be doing a great job and all their animals were really content and happy. Though I think I would be, if I had views like these.

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As I said earlier, the ruins of Fore Abbey are also adjacent to the village. It was my first and only time there. We weren’t expecting to stop off but it was too lovely a day not to and my interests had perked up.

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The Abbey dates back to the 13th Century but most of it is from the 15th Century. It’s so surprising when buildings (or partial ruins) can last that long. The road to fore goes by the abbey on one side and then on the other side is the church, overlooked by a stony hill.
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The abbey used to be home to over 300 Benedictine monks. I wonder what life was truly like for them, in the 15th Century. How did people tolerate our winters without central heating or insulation? And though Fore is not that remote, back then it must’ve been. I could go into St. Feichin and the Seven Wonders of Fore Abbey but I think I’ll allow you to investigate that further or possibly use it as an excuse to actually go visit it. Don’t forget that there is a small visitor centre and café and also 2 charming pubs in the village. We managed to have a cold Guinness on the rare hot day.

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I’ll leave you with the rest of the photos.

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And finally the gruesome sight of a dead crow. It’s horrible and ugly and gorgeous and real. Some say the abbey is haunted by the hooded monk. I wonder did he have part to play in this. 20120622-140127.jpg

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Mullingar had its fair share of events the past June Bank Holiday weekend. This included the annual Mullingar Fayre and a Carnival in Belvedere House. The June Bank Holiday seems to be the time for towns and villages hold events. There was a lot going on all over Ireland. It must’ve been hard for neighbouring places to compete.

Richie and I spent most of our time in the garden, tidying it up as best we could and also emptying two sheds and filling a skip. We’re busy making ready for some summer parties.

For breaks, we left Woodhaven to catch a movie, or whatever, but we also found time on Saturday morning to make a further trip to Kilbeggan and Tyrrellspass.

Kilbeggan had its annual Knighthood Festival. Oh its events, we attended their Country Food and Craft Fair. Kilbeggan is a charming small town and home to Kilbeggan Distillery. The fair was held in the main square and the people banded together well to deliver a fine and distinguished fair.

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There were a lot of fresh foods and excellent crafts available. Fresh veg to knitted scarves. Without sounding insulting, there was an air of Father Ted to the whole event but I think this made it all the more appealing.

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Maybe it was this guy in his box, knocking out the Dolly Parton tunes and occasionally interrupting the crowd to welcome them to Kilbeggan. I laughed but also enjoyed his comedic commentary.

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The whole town seemed involved, from all ages. The women here were obviously great friends and well done to them for selling their handy work.

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Of course, no fair would be complete without a few animals.

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Richie fell in love with these little guys. And who wouldn’t! I was tempted to take one home myself. I’m sure they would’ve lived happily together with our ducks.

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We left with homemade cupcakes, well done Val. Yum.

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We headed to Tyrrellspass after that. This is home to Tyrrellspass Castle and, like Kilbeggan, is as pretty as it is loveable. In fact, I wonder if the town towns have some rivalry. A friend of ours is starting ‘Creative Kids…With Cara’, in a newly opened store there.

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The store is called the Grocery. It was a quaint little store but with a lot of character and attraction. There are a lot of shops opening with Old World Charm attached to them, with hints of modern twists. Is the recession getting people more crafty, more into DIY, GIY (Grow It Yourself), more interested in home cooking and more magnetised to these types of shops and what they offer. They market on the old country village shop, like The Grocery. Thankfully the Grocery has reasonable prices.

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We picked up these for €3.50.

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Other similar places, shadow the price with the draw and pull of the products that appear, and for the most part are, homemade or local. I’m not trying to wound such shops. I go to them and love them as well. I’m just making it aware that I’m not stupid to the marketing. I love the marketing. I’m like a moth to a flame for this kinda stuff. I have an interest in products and items like this and so must a lot of other people, otherwise places like this wouldn’t be open.

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Getting back to the Grocery though. The most excellent things, after the reasonable price, is that all of the products, especially the food and drink are local or from Ireland. That’s one gold star. It also gets a gold star for the enthusiasm and welcoming attitude of the proprietor and staff. And a another final, hefty star for its space upstairs. On weekends, it becomes a workshop heaven, hosting Basket weaving classes, art classes, amongst many other classes and also to one I’ve touched on already, Creative Kids…with Cara. As you can see from the flyer above, Cara offers truly unique crafty and creative classes. I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at the hula-hoop rugs.

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I can’t end this post without referring to one particular other thing about Tyrrellspass. Check out this shop. It’s an old school Newspaper shop. I didn’t think they still existed. The shop is as wide as the doors and has racks of newspapers and magazine. Gorgeous.

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As some of you know, Mullingar is home to 3 very beautiful lakes. Lough Owel, Lough Ennell and Lough Derravargh. I’ve mentioned Ennel before in a previous post, but this one is dedicated to Owel, pronounced Uu-well, not Owl.

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Owel is a deep lake, that’s popular with fishermen and anglers. It has fresh springs erupting from the lake bed, which can cause a bit of current and the odd whirlpool (from what I’ve heard).

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You can rent a motor, sail or row boat at Doolans Boat Hire. Richie and I have taken a boat out once or twice and went out to Church Island. This is the only island on the lake and houses the ruins of an old Church. It’s really quite tranquil there. You feel like you’re away from the world.

I’ve got to mention also, that it’s popular with swimmers too; having diving boards at one particular point.

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With 3 lakes, it would be a good opportunity for Westmeath tourism to have water sports on one of them. They used to be available but were stopped due to pollution and disturbance to the lake. I guess that’s understandable. Neither lake has many inlets to restrict the jet-skis to one area, and limit their affect on the lake and fish that live in it. However, not all water sports disturb. Nearby Lough Lene has wind surfing. This would be an option, along with other similar sports, including kayaking.

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Regardless, Owel is a fantastic lake and worth visiting. We made our way out to Magee Point yesterday. The train tracks run right by the lake here and during the summer people can be found sunbathing on the small patch of sloped concrete, the ultimate sun trap.

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I’ve been meaning to do a write up about a Garden Centre that’s close to my heart and close to us locally here in Mullingar. That’s O’Mearas Garden Centre. Be prepared for a lot of photos here. I went snap happy.

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It’s not exactly Mullingar, but a place called Gaybrook, Co. Westmeath. (shove these into google maps for the location 53.48074211990637, -7.289772033691406). I think if you’re looking for a garden centre with a little difference then O’Mearas is the place to visit and even worth a road trip if you’re living outside of Westmeath.

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I want this little bird bath.
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And this little guy.
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I’ll warn you now though. Bring your wallet. It can be expensive and even with the bargains and lower priced stuff, you’ll end up spending, regardless. But forget that for now. A bit of retail therapy does everyone a world of good. Don’t do what I do and just spend, price around first. O’Mearas do offer great deals but you might find things cheaper in other garden centres. One thing for sure, they tend to be better priced than Woodies and has better quality products and plants that are well taken care of.

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O’Mearas seems different to most Garden Centres. Sounds like I’ve been to them all. But of the ones I’ve been to, O’Mearas offer that little bit more.

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Of course there’s the multitude of plants, trees, the entire flora you can think of.

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But, as you can see, they also offer home wares and house decoration. I love this the most. They really sell it to you. It has an American Retail feel to it all. And makes you want to ensure you get something before you leave.

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Richie wants to add this picnic table (suite) to our already numerous collection of outdoor seating.

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Towards the end of our visit we popped into their Café.

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I had the Strawberry and Cookie Sundae.

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Richie and Jilly both had Chocolate Brownie and Ice-cream.

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This cafe offered us the respite we needed to re-charge and pick out the plants we ultimately wanted to buy.

Got both of these for our conservatory. The second one is considered a weed in the amazon (ceropegia woodii). Tiny little heart shaped leaves that can trail to two meters.

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We got these also. I forget the name of them. We had them last year for our front doorstep. They bloom continually, flowering throughout the whole of the Summer, right up to end of August. Once you nip the dead flower heads off them.

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Nearly forgot. This video shows more of the plant area. I took it when the heavens opened with an unpredictable April shower.

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I said before in this post how I was looking for sewing and specifically Quilting lessons. I finally got a beginners lessons from someone quite wonderful.

I’ve been searching google Ireland for lessons and places to source good quality fabric. I found one 20 minutes away from me and that’s Just Cotton. This is a home run fabric store with a huge amount of fabric, books and notions. But it’s more than that. The owner, Penny, also arranges for other sewing or Quilting enthusiasts to come together professionally and socially. And from the biggest teapot I’d seen there, it kinda confirms the social element of Just Cotton.

When I first went out to Just Cotton I was amazed how big a studio it was. My pictures don’t really show it but images on the Just Cotton website will show you that. After meeting Penny in person, she kindly suggested that she could help me with developing my skills further. So yesterday I went back out to Just Cotton and she thought some more of the basic skills I’d need for my future quilting projects. One of which is in full swing. I’ll post about that when it’s completed.

I arrived and relaxed in Penny’s company instantly and we got straight down to making some panels. I learned how to perfect the joins between fabrics. In that time other visitors and buyers arrived. They too seemed very comfortable, and relaxed with coffee or tea, while they pursued the fabrics and items they needed.

We stopped for a quick lunch and got straight back into binding for a beginner. My multi tasking skills were put to the test. I discovered that sewing on a machine and chatting at the same time is something a man needs to work on. It wasn’t all work though. We did manage to chat, mostly with me stopping and penny urging me to continue. And we got to know one another by exchanging stories. I’m much more at ease now with quilting than I was and I gained experience that YouTube just can’t teach you. Plus I made a new friend and Penny has suggested I come along to her Saturday morning sewing social club, whenever I like.

If you are looking for fabric, especially in the midlands. Check out Just Cotton and most importantly try to visit. Much better to see and feel the quality of the fabric than just buying it online.

Some of the quilts on display are more artwork than anything else.

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Some of the fabric selections available.

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Landscape quilting.

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The panels I made.

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I don’t know how to start this post, to be honest.
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Once upon a time, in a far off land, there lived the Virgin Quilter. Ok, ok, I’ll stop that right away.

I’ve had this interest in Patchwork quilts a very long time. I’ve always found them snuggly (is that even a word) and there have been times I wished I slept in the loft space of Little House on the Prairie with nothing to keep me cosy but for a quilt, hand made by Ma Ingles.

I stumbled upon stumbleupon.com and there I discovered links to pages on Quilting and tutorials on Quilting. I was hooked. I spent a lot of time viewing beautiful and complex Quilts. Buying them in Ireland is an expensive business so I was determined to make my own, especially after getting some inspiration on Young House Love

I come from a very musical family, even my sewing machine is a Singer. Bad joke, but that’s what I got. I bought a sewing machine in April this year in Aldi for €90. And there’s were it all took off. I’ve been eyeballing fabric everywhere and ended up buying a lot over the past 6 months. I even got a rotary cutter and cutting mat. I wouldn’t quilt without them. Now, I mention 6 months because that’s how long it has taken me to complete my first ever Quilt (on and off, I’d say it took me 40hours). It’s not perfect, by any means. But it’s mine and I made it. One of my sisters gave me a crash course on how to use the sewing machine and after some clumsy practice I got cracking on my Quilt. I got plenty of help from the Internet and I’ll post a few of my favourite pages and videos in my Links Page.

Here are some of the steps I went through:
I decided on a simple style for my first Quilt so 10” fabric squares were my start, assembled together on the floor in the pattern that I thought looked well enough. I learned of Layer Cakes and Charm Packs much too late in the game.

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As you can see, that pattern changed after I’d sewn them all together. Rooky mistakes, I guess. Best to sew them in rows and then assemble the rows together. I then lay a backing fabric, wadding/batting fabric on top of that and then the sewn fabric on final layer. Pinned them together and sewed them around the edges.

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The hard part arrived, the actual quilting. I put this off for a long time. I bought a free stitch or darning foot for the Sewing Machine. I didn’t Quilt the whole thing either. More the six blocks of fabric in the centre and every block of fabric around the edge. Free stitching is hard but after a while you get the hang of it and you can get some nice patterns out on the fabric. I call my patterns hurricane stitching because it was hard to predict it’s path. Some things to remember though: Reduce the thread tension on the machine, go slowly and sustain the same speed when moving the fabric and always make sure you remember to drop the foot on the machine (had so many jams because of this).

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Finally I got the binding put together and sewed it around the edge of the quilt. I’m really happy with the results. As you can see below. Hope you like it guys (if there’s anyone reading this). Quilts are like children, you have to Love your Own.

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What I really want is to develop my interest a lot further and get some proper tuition and lessons. If any of you quilters or quilting wannabes out there knows of anyone that would give me individual tuition or include me in a class on Saturday mornings, then please contact me. I live in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath but can travel.
Or if any of you have any questions you’d like me to answer based on my Quilting adventure, just contact me here. I’d be happy to elaborate further and answer as best I can.

I’ve other quilting projects in the pipeline. I’ll post them here as I get around to them. I can safely say them my Singer will not be getting dusty.

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UPDATE 29/01/2012 *Brosna Markets closes its doors today. Very sad to hear about this. I know the foot fall of customers dwindled a little but from what I’ve heard the council closed it down. Such lack of foresight. Instead they should’ve promoted the market to bring in more custom. The town would’ve benefited all round. I believe some traders are moving to a new premises in town. I’ll update as soon as I’ve more info. Good luck to them. Fingers crossed it does well. A lot of my traffic was from google searches of Brosna do I know people out there were hearing more about it. *

Mullingar opened doors to a new indoor Market. To be honest my expectations were low since the last indoor Market was really a warehouse of badly organised stalls selling a mishmash of cheap detergent or bumper packs of toilet rolls.

Boy was I wrong about Brosna Indoor Market. We didn’t expect it to be buzzing as much. An old high ceiling furniture store in Clonmore industrial estate was emptied and filled with adequately sized cabins/outlets. Most of the sellers are local stores using the one location to better sell their goods. The main street in Mullingar is over a mile long and some of the stores are on side streets. So being in Brosna allows them to be in one place and this obviously benefits the buyer.
There’s food stalls with baked goods and fruit n’veg. Also furniture, household items, landscape and gardening, music, books(all proceeds go to charity), flowers, electronics and loads more. Its laid out very well and tastefully done and hopefully it stays that way. I also really hope the interest stays here. Would love to see more antiques being sold. In fact there’s plenty of opportunities to make this a real attraction.

Another thing I love about it is that the local stores have semi rebranded to sell in Brosna. For some reason doing this allows for reduction in tax that’s past to you and me with the price decrease. They even got creative with their names. A store in the town centre called Presents was renamed Little Presents. I got a kick out of that.

There is one little gripe I have about it. They should call it a Village or something else other than a Market. Market gives the impression of lower grade products or food purchases only. I heard the owners are organising an ATM so that could’ve been another problem for visitors.

Word of mouth has spread news about Brosna fast and far so I hope that net is cast as wide as possible.

Trash and Treasures – antiques and restored furniture

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An Astilbe sitting outside our house. Got this in Brosna from Eoin Harris landscape and horticulturist 20110809-120902.jpg

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