Saturday, 30 October 2010


I thought I'd better pick a couple more pictures of Farmleigh before this weekend is over. And yikes -I was thinking I could go next week to try to capture some beautiful yew berries that I had out of focus, but it will be closed. Here's hoping for sunshine tomorrow, in that case. Reflections by the lake, and a reminder that what is the end of the season for some things is just the start for those little cones starting to grow, and looking so fresh and green.

And what might be one of my most favourite cards I have made this month...

I'd better finish playing catch-up and get a few more Greek photos sorted out - it's time to think about getting some printed and into an album. Maybe next week...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Last Rose...(of Summer)

It's well and truly autumn, but as we did get to Farmleigh this morning (again the car wouldn't start, so we were a bit later than planned) and got to see the exhibition of the Derek Hill Collection, that song title is in my mind. It was also the title of one of the paintings in the exhibition. More tomorrow...

Food, glorious food, don't care what it looks like...


I don't think I've ever seen Oliver, but this song was on a record I had when I was little. Last week we had a training session in work after our regular assessment. We did an experiment which was to show how much our sense of taste actually is influenced by what our food looks like. In a group of 3 people we had a taster, a  helper and a note-taker. The taster was blindfolded and had a divers nose-clip on their nose, meaning that the only way of perceiving food was the taste buds on the tongue, giving you salt, sour, bitter, sweet and umami, plus texture. I was the taster for the first series in our group - and at first I thought the first sample could have been a thick creamy yoghurt, but my second thought was jam. After tasting all three samples (being blindfold this was where the helper was required - spoon-feeding the taster like a baby, and giving water in between each sample), the nose-clip was removed, thus restoring the sense of smell, and all three samples were tasted again. It was indeed jam - apricot (which took me a minute to home in on, at first I thought it could have been plum), blackcurrant and strawberry. It was funny because the one I could have sworn from the texture was strawberry was actually the blackcurrant. While I picked them all up on taste, some people in other groups didn't get the blackcurrant till the blindfold was also removed. The second series, after switching roles around, was savoury - puréed parsnip, swede and broccoli. In this case the taster picked up the fact that it was something savoury, but the broccoli caused a lot of trouble in all the groups. Mind you, even on sight I wasn't sure what it was, I thought it could have spinach mixed in with potato or something, or peas, and like all brassicas it oxidises quickly to lose its fresh taste and aroma. It wasn't till I remembered the taste of a creamed broccoli soup that I actually worked out what it was, so obviously for me the crisp crunchy texture of broccoli must be a large part of the way I identify it.  I could hear the conversation in another group - their taster thought it was earthy, rather like mushrooms but the wrong texture. An interesting experiment! And believe me, it's not easy to talk with one of those clips on your nose.
Afterwards we were shown a video clip of Heston Blumenthal conducting  the same experiment, where someone was totally sure that sweetcorn was apple.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Canal Walk

Since Farmleigh will close at the end of the month, when today dawned bright and sunny (and frosty) with blue skies we thought we'd try to fit in a trip there this morning. But the car wouldn't start, and rather than spend a long time trying, we went for a walk along the canal instead. It hasn't done my cold any good, but it was better than staying indoors on such a glorious morning. The strange thing is that when C got the battery charger out and tried the car once more before connecting it up, it started perfectly first time and doesn't appear to need charging at all. Maybe we'll get to Farmleigh tomorrow if the good forecast holds. Maybe we just weren't meant to go to Farmleigh today.

Reflections 1

Reflections 2

Bolts and Braces - a new railway bridge

Man was this horse hungry - I was waiting a long time for it to raise its head

Just for fun - ghost bird

We're still trying to identify that bird - I do have a better picture for ID purposes, but this was just as it flew off. We had a delightful time watching a whole bunch of long-tailed tits flitting around  (the first time C has seen any in years), but this bird was too big for that, too long and blocky a tail to be a sparrow, too big for a wagtail, not yellow enough for a grey wagtail. A mystery bird, all in all.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Autumn Splendour

Last week's photo challenge on SCS was Fall Splendour. As things turned out, we had the most dismal dull grey skies after the challenge was posted - and not rain, but almost like a mist that never lifted for a couple of days. Then last Saturday when it started to get a bit nicer, we were going to be out all day up North. So the only photos I got were a few I took on the walk down to get the paper and some bread and milk on Saturday morning before we went out.
Actually it seems to me that for the end of October there are still an awful lot of green trees around - even driving through the Glen o' the Downs last weekend and again  on Thursday this week, I'd have expected it to be a riot of colour, but it's still pretty much green.

I also finally found enough sunshine for a picture of these berries, which I wanted for the Berried Treasure challenge. I do know what the tree is called - I took a photo of the label on a tree in Farmleigh last year, but I'd have to scan through a pile of photos to find it - or get out my RHS book of plants, which probably wouldn't be any quicker.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Scene in town

We were going down to friends in Avoca for dinner yesterday, so after work I had some time to fill in before meeting C at his office. I got some bits and pieces I needed, and some wool to knit a baby sweater for friends who have just had their first baby. I've plenty of wool here, but a lot of mine is not as smooth as I'd choose for a newborn. Then I walked through Stephen's Green, hoping to find a couple more pictures for last week's Fall Splendour photo challenge. Alas, it had got fairly grey and overcast by then, and with two shopping bags and a big bunch of sunflowers as well as my backpack, taking photos wasn't the easiest thing to do. But I had a lovely time watching this swan grooming itself.

This decorative painted swag was on a pub on Baggot Street, and the building is the old Royal City of Dublin Hospital - it had got nice and sunny again by then.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Bits and pieces...

Still plugging away winnowing out some photos and picking the best for uploading. I managed to get through a good few tonight while on the phone to my dad. I mentioned that the old town was on the hill - quite a few of the streets are steps, as in the first photo here.


These lovely red shutters were on the Port Authority building. We couldn't see it from the beach at all, but once you'd swum out a little bit, there they were, a lovely splash of colour.

And this cat on a roof under the moon was just across the road from it, on an evening walk.

There were two main churches in the town - one near us, much newer, complete with air-conditioning.
This one was up at the top of the hill near the castle.

No air-con in this one, but benches around the outside and lots of shade from the trees.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Beacons on the hill

When we were looking at the sketch map of Astros, we couldn't work out what one of the little drawings was - turned out it was a castle!
In the bakery where we used to get our breakfast, there were three photos on the wall of Astros going back to the early 20th century, from about 19-something to 1928. At that stage it looks as if it was pretty much a few houses tumbling down the hill with the castle on it. There's a small open air theatre, and a little lighthouse. When you walk up to the castle, there's a hidden bit of the headland, with another beacon on it, this one solar-powered. Someone in the village was telling us that one hadn't been there all that long, only since the area got developed more so that the original beacon was lost in all the village lights. The hill top was covered with almond trees - with tiny, very bitter almonds. There were also splashes of little cyclamen growing here and there - even in cracks in the rocks.  I can't find a date for the castle; it was remarkably spacious inside those walls, but not all that old looking. However there used to be a much older settlement on the same site - you could still see traces of the walls. In the night photo, you can see the lit-up cross on the church that was downhill from the castle.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Athens Miscellany

Just a few snippets to wrap Athens up. On our Sunday morning there we started off by finding somewhere for coffee and then went for a walk in the National Garden just beside the Parliament building.
The Zappion was built in 1878 and donated to the nation by the Zappas brothers from Ipirus. This building was the first to hold an indoor Olympic event, in the 1896 Olympics.

Zappion Palace

On our way from there to the Acropolis we passed this brass band gathered at an entrance. We were hoping to hear them and would have waited around, but it turned out that they were just waiting for a coach, so we didn't get to here them. Last year in Zakynthos we heard a Cypriot marching band one evening - it was lovely.

Dionisiou Aeropagitou, leading up to the Acropolis, is a pedestrian street, full of street performers and buskers but also quite residential, and with a church. The balcony and lantern were along this street, as well as the church.

Athens continued...

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Erechtheion (on the Acropolis)

Herod Atticus Odeon (I think - there were two amphitheatres)

Gate of Andrianos

Roofscape and cityscape