Thursday, 29 July 2010

Park Pictures

These are some of the photos from Tuesday evening. A couple more of the heron, one view across the city and some of the deer. It was so funny the way all the stags were lying together in two big groups, and the does and fawns were much more spread about and grazing.

This morning I spent a while watching the young gulls on the river - it was almost as if they were playing, drifting backwards on a strong current. But in case I sort out a couple of photos, I'll save a write-up till then.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

One Single Heron

One photo only, today was too busy. Well, making Cornish Pasties took most of the afternoon, more like...
We went for a late, sudden walk in the park last night. At first C decided he was too tired. Then he decided he wasn't, so around ten to eight we hopped into the car - one camera lens only was allowed, and when we got there the battery was showing low.
I did get some lovely photos - the light was beautiful, and the deer were all resting in the grass. I'll try to upload a few after work tomorrow. The real reason for going, apparently, was that the grass smells lovely now that they are cutting it all and drying it for hay; C says he has been enjoying it on his way to work. We only passed one area where they had cut the grass, though...
The light on the pond was singularly lovely, the heron was right in the sunlight, the one and only lens I had was my wide-aperture one and my battery held out. This is the only photo I can quickly access, because I've just set it as my desktop on the downstairs PC so it's on a USB stick.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Back in the North

Well, in fact we were back up on Sunday, as C left his birthday present guitar tuner behind the previous weekend. But these are a few more photos from when we were staying - yesterday was just up in the afternoon and back in the evening. We stopped for some chips (fries) in Newry at a chippers he'd been to before - they were really lovely, but I didn't so much appreciate the smell in the car this morning.
Here's hoping that August is not going to be such a mad and manic month. I still haven't even finished sorting and deleting my June photos!

Ballycastle, where we stopped for a HUGE fry which kept us going all day.

This was taken through the restaurant window - I just liked the way the t-shirt the guy in the phone box was wearing matched the phone box.

Along the cliff walk at the Causeway

And just some more photos of the Causeway itself  - I did say I found it fascinating, didn't I!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Quick Snaps

This has been such a busy week. I'll be glad when Monday afternoon comes and things settle down again.
Tonight I had to drive C over to get his new motorbike - there was a beautiful sunset which I couldn't really enjoy.
The pictures of the cormorant are from yesterday morning. He was behaving very different to normal - instead of diving and disappearing underwater, he just kept ducking his head under, and was swimming along with his body mostly underwater and just his head up - almost like a periscope!  Not great photos because of the overcast day, but I like the reflections and ripples.

 The drop of water on the dahlia was this morning, near the bus stop.

Still trying to remember exactly where the cross is - I took it because I have a noughts and crosses theme in mind for a photo challenge. It's either on James' Street or Steeven's Lane.

The Liffey reflection was also this morning - it was as still as a mill pond. Why is a mill pond still? I'd have thought it would be turbulent...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Giant's Causeway

We had a lovely drive up to Lisburn on Friday, and were able to change C's leaky motorbike boots on our way through Newry, which was great. He's had them since the end of March, but in the heavy rain one day the week before last they let in water very badly.
It was raining on Saturday morning but cleared by the time we were setting out to drive up the Antrim coast to the Giant's Causeway, and we had beautiful weather most of the way. As a bonus our hostess was driving, so we were both able to enjoy the scenery. I'll have a few more photos tomorrow, I hope, but I wanted to show something to be going on with. I don't know why we've never been there before - it was totally fascinating and beautiful. I suppose most of the times we've been up North have been on business, without time to spare for sightseeing. Apart from around Enniskillen and along the Erne, from a cruise and visiting friends...

First photo is my great grandfather (centre) in 1896.

Love the colours in this with the yellow raincoat and green weed.

I made a few photos into a card to send to someone in America...(sounds as if I should have made two cards, Pat - one for you as well as Shirley's!)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Where Does Time Go?

It's already Friday, and I haven't had time to size down my photos from Farmleigh. We're leaving work early today and heading up to Northern Ireland for the weekend, so it certainly won't get done in the next couple of days either. One thing we are going to do is change C's motorbike boots. One day last week he came home with wet feet! Or a wet foot - one was still dry. The boots are quite new - he only bought them in March, and in the summer he usually wears different ones anyone. But it just goes to show that it's the first drenching rain we've had on a weekday since he bought them! I made some delicious Cashew Brownies to bring with us. Now, I like rich, dark fudge-like brownies, (and chocolate cake) but C likes lighter cakey things, so he thought these were way nicer than a regular brownie. The recipe comes from Linda Burum's book Brownies, which has some wonderful luxury brownie recipes, as well as some "healthy" ones.

Cashew Nut Brownies

9" square metal pan, lined and greased.
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sifted flour, sifted again with 1/4 tsp each salt, baking powder and baking soda
2/3 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup light cream or milk
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped roast unsalted cashews

Gently melt chocolate and let cool a bit.
Beat butter till soft, and then beat in the sugar in three parts, beating well after each addition.
Add the egg and beat till smooth.
Stir in the vanilla, milk and chocolate to mix thoroughly.
Fold in the flour mixture and 1 cup of the nuts.
Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 25 -30 minutes, till the centre is just cooked.
Cool in the tin, then frost if required, sprinkling with remaining 1/4 cup of nuts) and cut into 20 or 24 brownies.

One of the suggested frostings was a coffee brandy buttercream which sounded lovely, but I wasn't sure it would stand up to a whole day in the car, even in a cool bag. So instead I made this one:

Fudge Frosting (enough for an 8" or 9" square tin)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 tblsp /  1 ounce unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
1 tblsp milk or cream.

Melt butter and chocolate over a very low heat.
In a small bowl, mix egg yolk, vanilla, cream and sugar. Stir in chocolate mixture and blend till smooth. Let cool, and add a little more milk if it's too thick to spread.

When we holidayed in Brittany, C fell in love with the sweet crepes they make there - totally unlike what we get here. You can buy packs of them, like the one shown here - and we used to have them for breakfast. We picked up a couple of packs at the airport when we were over for the funeral - alas, all finished now. They also make a savoury one with buckwheat flour - these ones are often served with ham and a fried egg, or other savoury fillings. In the local restaurants and snack places, they are traditionally served with cider in a little earthenware bowl.Much lower alcohol content than our Irish cider, and delicious!
Again when we holidayed there, Pierre brought us to an old lady who used to make them for tourists - she'd pretty much retired by the time we visited, but as Pierre was a local, she was happy to oblige. I still remember her old-fashioned kitchen!
 For a couple of years one of the restaurants in the Tuilieries Gardens in Paris served Breton style crepes and both dry and sweet ciders in bowls, but then the franchise changed.

This is a large dinner plate - the crepes must be at least 12" diameter.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Staying Cool

The SCS challenge this week was Beat the Heat. Well, it's not quite so hot here as it has been, and it's been pretty rainy too, so I had to do a bit of lateral thinking on this one. As I had 3 egg-yolks in the fridge waiting to make icecream, that quickly gave me one photo. It was going to be vanilla, but C has requested rum and raisin - again....

 I make the custard base for my icecreams with 3 egg yolks and 3 ounces (just under half a cup) of sugar beaten together. Bring a half imperial pint (1 1/4 US cups) full fat milk to the boil with a bit of vanilla pod split open. Mix the milk and yolks together, and then stir over a low heat till it thickens. Chill, and then churn along with just under a half pint of cream  - a 250ml carton, or a US cup. With an icecream machine you don't need to whip the cream, because the churning adds a lot of volume. Before we had one I'd whip the cream and fold in in, and whisk a couple of times during freezing. Mostly we have vanilla from this recipe, but sometimes I add Baileys, chocolate chips and some homemade praline, and C's current favourite is rum and raisin. He was wondering would it not just be cheaper to throw the egg-yolks out - but who would want to do that!

My other picture is a fan - and it's terrible, I can't remember whether we got it in Barcelona or in Paris. I slightly think Barcelona, but Paris would be more fitting as I have displayed it on an original 1940's Dior New Look dress which was my mothers. I've worn it a few times to parties, but at this stage I'd need to drop a dress size if I wanted to. It had lovely cream satin cuffs and collar with black braid, but the satin has got very yellow with age.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Baby Birds

I spent way too much time this morning watching the birds on the feeders. But what is a day off for if it's not to relax. I do believe we have two baby robins, but they hop around so fast I didn't really get a good picture. There are definitely at least two little coal tits, and as usual a whole raft of little sparrows. This shot of the sparrows was sheer luck.



Edited because actually I think this one is a baby great tit, not a coaltit.

And this one is so small and scruffy that it's hard to be sure which it is at all.

Come to think of it, in all the time I sat there I never saw the adult great tits, but I am sure they are still around.

Monday, 12 July 2010

In the Garden

I thought I was going to stay in a time warp and share a couple of things I inherited from my mother, after getting in the retro mood last night. But that can keep for another day. I spotted this beautiful greenfinch this morning while I was washing the floors. It's funny, some of the birds are still in beautiful plumage, like a very shy chaffinch, and then there are a whole bunch of scruffy juveniles. After saying to C only yesterday that it was a while since I'd seen a coaltit, I spotted a little young one this morning - no photo, though.

I like this one because I don't often get to see the symmetry of the tail and wing markings from a back view.

He certainly likes his sunflower seeds. I have a bag that I am mixing in with the regular seed mix these days.

Also a sad cross-section of one of my nasturtiums before they went into the compost. Sorry if it's too much information, but those little green things on it that look like tiny hay bales - well, suffice to say that they are chewed up and digested nasturtium. I couldn't work out what they were at first.

I also had a lovely walk in Farmleigh this morning, so later in the week I will have a couple of heron, duck and bird pictures to share. I accidentally stood on a plug when I was taking the deep fryer out to the shed this morning, and my foot was a bit sore, so I was more than glad to spend time just standing and watching the birds rather than doing too much walking.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

For Old Time's Sake

 It poured and poured on Friday. It must have started some time on Thursday, because C gave our dinner guest a lift home instead of letting him get the train. Goodness, I loved hearing the Cornish accent again, and as he is a rugby player with a good healthy appetite, it was an opportunity to make Baked Alaska for dessert and know that it would (almost) all get eaten.
And it rained most of yesterday too. Good for the garden, at any rate. The nasturtiums have gone into the compost - there was barely a leaf left after two days of the caterpillars noshing away, but everything else is happier for the good prolonged rain.
I have a couple of drawers with various art supplies, mostly from when the two of us worked in a company that imported and distributed fine-art supplies. From time to time I take a look through to see if there's anything useful, anything to FreeCycle, anything I just want to keep. Tonight I picked out a spare of my second favourite eraser and these three bottles of ink. As the rubber hasn't perished, they can't be too old, and I'll certainly give them a try.  They are still available, in a round bottle and with a different colour of label.
Taking a photo of them reminded me that I'd taken a picture of a book cover when we were staying in my aunt's in May, and never got round to sizing and posting that.

No publication date inside, but those diamond rings start at £6 and 15 shillings, and until about 5 years ago the company was still in business. My guess is mid to late thirties, given the date the book was first published.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The caterpillars crawled in three by three

The other day I noticed some aphids on the nasturtiums, but I decided not to spray in the the hopes that either birds or ladybirds would get most of them. What I didn't spot were some caterpillar larvae. When I went to water them today (although thankfully we've had good rain since), they were crawling with caterpillars. They can only have hatched the other day, and quite a few seemed to be dead, but the living ones have done quite enough damage, thank-you. I think these will end up prematurely in the compost.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

River Life

Yesterday I was so surprised to see some fish in the Liffey - it's the first time I've ever seen them. Today I was early for work so I walked up to the Frank Sherwin bridge at Heuston, and round the bridge piers was positively swarming with fish.
I didn't have a polariser with me, so one photo is enhanced to show how many there were, and one regular photo. Someone in work says they are mullet, and they do come upriver in the summer. He thinks he saw either a seal or an otter just diving in the water out of the corner of his eye, but though he waited almost ten minutes he didn't see anything again. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled! With all those fish I can imagine they'd attract some predators. They were a good size too, at least ten inches to a foot long.

There were also four swans this morning - more than the usual pair. And swallows swooping over the water. It was a good day to be early. The swans were enjoying a tasty snack.

 No sign of the juvenile seagull in the yard at work, so hopefully he was reunited with his parents and is safe somewhere.