Tuesday, 30 October 2012

North Clare

On Saturday our drive took us through the Burren heartland and up to the north Clare coast. On the way we passed through Carran, where the turlough was very low indeed, just looking like lightly flooded land.

The following two photos were taken from exactly the same spot (within a few metres!) in September 2008, when the turlough was quite full.

We managed to get just about 3/4 lb of sloes, which was not very much at all. But the views from round there are so good that C is always happy to go there anyway - and we do still have some sloe gin left from two years ago when there was a bumper harvest. The blackberries were pretty miserable too - I think it hasn't been a good year in the wild any more than in peoples gardens.

From there we went on our usual drive/walk around the Finvara area. The high point of the whole weekend for C was seeing this sparrowhawk as we drove slowly along the coast road. It stayed there for ages - I was able to get out of the car and get quite close, while C managed to balance the spotting scope on the car window for an even better view.

In the field beside the Martello tower we spotted a late Red Admiral in remarkably good condition for this late in the year. I think I've read that a lot of butterflies have been late this year...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Clare - Dromore

Our first morning in Clare the weather wasn't the best but it wasn't actually raining when we decided to go for a walk mid-morning. It was pouring by the time we reached Dromore woods, but apart from crossing the causeway it was quite sheltered under the trees, and some of the time it dried up altogether.

view from the bridge

lichen opposite the castle

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Recipe Time

The temperatures plummeted last night to just above freezing, and a clear sky brought an end to the dismal grey mornings we've been having recently.
So we went for a quick walk in the park. We were no sooner in the gate than we spotted a pair of jays, to C's delight. I've seen them before in Farmleigh, but it's only the second time he's ever seen any. Then his beloved wood duck was back on the lake, and we saw a pair of Little Grebe - a first for him. Plenty of birds in Farmleigh, too, and lots of glorious autumn colour.


We came home and I cooked this for our brunch : German Apple Pancake

3 large eggs
1/4 pt milk (5 fluid ounces; this is an imperial pint!)
3 oz white flour - between 1/2 and 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4oz / 1 1/2 tblsp butter
1 apple thinly sliced (optional)

1 lb tart apples thinly sliced - preferably ones which will hold their shape
2 oz / 1/2 stick melted butter
2 oz / 1/4 cup sugar
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

Prepare the pancake batter by beating together the eggs, milk flour and salt till smooth. If you wish to add some thinly sliced apples, do so.
Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F.
Heat a 12" heavy skillet, melt the butter in it and once it's sizzling, pour in the batter and put into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 170C, 350F and cook for another 10 minutes; it should be brown and crisp.
Now, here's where I don't know if the issue is that my largest skillet which will fit in the oven is only 11", or if it is meant to rise up the sides of the pan! I've made it twice now (once with, once without the optional apple), and it's been the same both times.  The recipe is from "The Vegetarian Epicure", which was Anna Thomas' first cookery book. All I have for this recipe is a rapidly fading  photocopy on thermal fax paper - a situation soon to be rectified. She says that during the first 10 minutes or so of cooking it may puff up in large bubbles, in which case you should pierce them with a fork. Mine just rises up the sides...but at the end I am able to fold the sides to the centre which works OK.
The filling should only take about ten minutes to prepare; melt the remaining 2 ounces of butter, sauté the apples till just soft, then add the sugar and spices.
Slide the pancake out onto a large plate. Recipe says put the filling over one side and fold the other half over it. My way means I spread the filling over the whole centre and fold my very risen sides in over it.
You can drizzle with more melted butter  (I don't) and sprinkle with sugar..
We can finish this between us for breakfast or brunch, it could probably serve three. As a dessert with cream or icecream it would certainly serve up to 6.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

September Cards

A quick selection of my favourite cards from September - before it's time for October!! Not much time today for editing any photos...

I liked the second one as a non-traditional baby card - but I should have done it in pink and I could have used it already! The musical one was a thank-you card for the daughter of a work-colleague of C's. She is studying clarinet, and loaned him one to try out so he could see if he would be interested in purchasing one himself - answer, yes! The retiform elephant one was for my father-in-law's 93rd birthday. Unlike elephants he is getting forgetful, so I don't think he'll have remembered that he had a retiform card just a couple of years ago.

This last one is not a September card, it is the thank-you card I made for the owners of the cottage we stay in, with a very rough and ready collage of the pictures I used for the View-Master wheel. The lake is Coole Forest Park. The shell was tiny, smaller than my little finger nail. There were some wonderful fungi growing in the wood beside the house. I'd brought my macro lens but unfortunately my tripod head needed the attention of a #3 Allen key which I didn't have with me - it was hard to photograph the fungi without it, but I managed the shell. The sparrowhawk was along the coast road from New Quay to Finvara, and I was was able to get very close!! The Red Admiral was in the same area, and again I was able to get very close. It seemed particularly large, and for mid-October in very fine condition. I'm sure there'll be a full-sized photo of the sparrowhawk along soon, as well as more of Coole.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


A recent photo challenge on SCS was "Barns". Not so easy for me here in Dublin, and when we're driving it can be hard to just pull in - especially now that we're much more likely to be on motorways than in the bad old days.
But while we were down in Clare I was able to get some photos. Not many - I had some other great looking ones picked out, but one day it was raining too heavily when we passed by my chosen stopping space. Another day we'd picked out two good locations but ended up coming back on a different road altogether. Still and all, I managed to come up with a few usable photos!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Room with Views

This is terrible - I don't know how I am ever going to catch up. I still have two more post's worth of photos from Paris, and that was June. And our visit to the Botanic Gardens in late September...
I was sick for a couple of weeks which has left me even more behind. We did manage to get away for a long weekend in the country. A beautiful old beech tree had had to be felled as it was rotten through, and while the main living area in the house always had wonderful views over the lake through the french doors and big windows, there was now a lovely new view opened up which I enjoyed while I played the flute ~ first two photos.
We had fairly good weather on the whole - some rain on the first afternoon when we went for a walk in some woods and didn't mind it too much, and then not much till the last afternoon when we were cleaning and packing anyway. In between the occasional showers there was some beautiful sunshine to set off the beautiful autumn colours.


Views over the lake in various weathers...

I took the last two photos on Saturday after lunch; I had a few birthday cards that needed posting with me, and I'd forgotten to bring them with us on Saturday morning when we were stopping at the local shop. So after lunch I walked into the village (about a mile) stopping off to go into the lakeside land on the way. And then when I got to the village, I discovered that I had carefully brought the two unstamped cards that didn't need posting till Monday. So C came to the rescue and drove up with them - and maybe it was just as well because it started pouring on the way home!