Friday, 31 January 2014

Horse Chestnut Series - January

I do love trees. I have been in love with a particular tree for almost 6 yrs now. It is of course the horse chestnut tree at the front of our house. Every morning I spy a circular ever-changing snapshot of this beauty through the owl window on the landing. I have often thought it would be nice to share these snapshots with you all and really appreciate the amazing changes this tree goes through in a year.

While they are to be seen all over Ireland the horse chestnut tree is not a native Irish species. Originating in Asia and Eastern Europe they are now considered by many to be naturalised in Ireland as they have been growing here for hundreds of years.

And so here it is in all its January bareness. No leaves, no flowers, no fruit, just a magnificent skeleton. It's mature trunk covered in grey-brown scaly bark. It's branches arching downwards, it's twigs curving gracefully upwards towards the winter sky. Last seasons horse-shoe shaped leaf scars clearly visible and attributing to its name.
"Towering high, majestic and proud
Lining street, avenue and road
Every great bough sweeping down low
Sweeping the ground with a glorious show
Winter sees the big sticky buds swell
Ready to burst like a magical spell
Silhouetted stark against the grey of the sky
The magnificent tree the cold will defy"

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Farewell Tea Party!

This week one of my work colleagues retired and her farewell was carefully planned by one and all. There was a collection from which we purchased a beautiful Waterford crystal cake stand, most appropriate as the lady in question is a keen baker. Her treats of a morning, just when you needed them the most, we will miss very much! There was a lovely lunch in a local restaurant with the colleagues she worked closely with and then a surprise retirement tea party on her last day! 

I was up at 6am that morning packing all the cake stands, candles, china and chintz I could find into the car.
Everyone assembled, bought or baked an offering and the resulting spread was fantastic!
The pièce de résistance however was the amazing chocolate box cake made by one of the girls.
Absolutely a work of art like none I have ever seen. It had a coffee cake inside somewhere! It went home with the retiree, uncut, who would have the heart?
As the afternoon wore on, the mood got a little sombre with her departure imminent. I think everyone felt a little sad including myself. She will be sadly missed, her good humour and quick wit in particular! She sees her retirement as just the next stage in her life. She won't stop working; the 'work' will just be different. The following morning her alarm would not be set for 7am but a little later. And the first item on the agenda... to swim more and why not? The plan seems to be to simply do all the things she wishes to do, that perhaps she hadn't the time for up to now, the things that truly make her happy whatever they might be.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Bhliain Nua Sásta!!

 Okay, I appreciate I'm catapulting towards the end of January here, a little late for ringing in the new year perhaps but sásta bhliain nua a thabhairt daoibh none the less!! That's happy new year to you all but sásta also means satisfied or fulfilled which I think is a nice wish for the year ahead!
Well Mr. Auburn and I greeted 2014 in style. We spent New Year's at the lovely Farnham Estate hotel in Co. Cavan with some dear friends. I'm never really one for celebrating New Year's but I so enjoyed our time at Farnham.
On New Year's Eve we had a mulled wine reception followed by a sumptuous five course meal and champagne and fireworks at midnight! Beautiful surroundings, great food, great company, what could be better?
The following day we awoke (not too early!) to the 'full Irish' and a day at the spa and checked out at 4pm! Late check out is where it's at folks!! It was sheer bliss and just what the doctor ordered after an exhausting Christmas countdown and thus spending Christmas very much under the weather.
Christmas wasn't all bad though, while he didn't manage the 48 hour days I asked for Santa did leave some beauties under the tree!
 I'm not big on New Year's resolutions as they tend to leave me disappointed with myself at the end of the following year! Last year my blog was my 'sort of' resolution and while I didn't do too badly, there are improvements to be made! I just don't know how you super people manage to have exciting fun-filled crafty lives and then find the time to blog about them! The answer anyone??
So while once again I didn't commit to any real resolutions, there are some improvements to be made which these lovely gifts are going to help with...

To get out and about more in the lovely Irish countryside...
To organise my thoughts if nothing else...
To inspire some home and garden improvements...
To preserve the taste of summer...
To make more 'me' time....
Well if I manage all the above I will be more than sásta, beidh mé a bheith os cionn an ghealach!! I'll be over the moon!!
Wishing you all a fulfilling 2014...

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