Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Athletic Weekend

Sunday was spent pretending that I was still an athlete. I was not alone. Upwards of a thousand individuals who had attained at least their thirty fifth birthday concentrated upon Tullamore in Co. Offaly for the 2015 Irish Masters Championships. I suppose that strictly speaking I was a guest at these, "games," but my appearance was not challenged. In any event it is not a closed championship. For me this is just another event, albeit somewhat convenient, where I can participate in an event with my peers or near peers. Unfortunately I was obliged to accept second place in both the 800m and 1500m. That said he who snooked in front of me was a newbie to the age category. He may have beaten me by a quarter of a second in both races but the age tables say that he should have beaten me by some three and six seconds. He didn't. I retain the moral if not the athletic high ground. I will endeavour to ensure that he does not beat me again.




Ambling past Frybrook House.


Whilst returning home from last weekend's athletic exploits in Tullamore I stopped off for lunch in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. In between showers I walked through a small park which borders the river that runs through the centre of the town. Unsurprisingly the river turns out to be called the River Boyle. On the other side of the river was a large three storey house. The grounds were uncared for and I am unsure whether the house has any residents currently. It transpires that this is Frybrook House and it appears that it is on the market for what seems to be the relatively modest sum of €340,000. The house is set on a six acre site and the asking price includes four houses on an adjoining street and a period building which is or at least was being utilised as a small cafe.

The house was built in 1753 for a a Henry Fry who had moved to the town from Co. Offaly at the behest of the Earl of Kingston to establish a weaving business. Originally the family came from Somerset and a scion from same established the famous chocolate manufacturing business which bore the family name.

The house is five bay and has a hipped roof. There is a tooled limestone Palladian window to the central bay with an oculus window to the second floor. The entrance, also of tooled limestone, is pedimented with sidelights on either side. It is only in the past thirty years that ownership has passed out of the Fry family.



Friday, 24 July 2015

The Garden Trug,

Full summer and the kitchen garden is coming into its own. I have three gooseberry bushes. They have been in situ for nearly fifteen years and I can't remember the names of the various varieties. I know that I should have made a note of them in the trusted garden diary but I didn't. Anyhows the earliest fruiting of the three bushes has divested its crop consequent upon my pluckings. I have to admit to a few wounds resulting from the cropping. Not as bad as the wounds emanating from a blackberry harvest but none the less several bloddied scratches now besmirch my sallow flesh. Four pounds of fruit now have to be dealt with. Methinks that I will convert this produce into a jam conserve.
The yellow tumbler tomatoes are beginning to provide their produce and I was able to pick sufficent courgettes and kohlrabi to provide sustenance for a few evenings. At this time of year it seems as if you only have to blink before several more courgettes are ready for picking. I may have to make a batch of chutney to use up this largesse from the garden.


Monday, 20 July 2015

Fast Jaguars.

I have always liked the look of Jaguar cars. For almost ten years I drove an S type. It was probably the retro look that attracted me to it. I am not however the first of the family to appreciate the automotive charms of the Jaguar marque.

In the 1950's a relative was a member of the Jaguar Works rally team. Clearly a better and somewhat faster driver than yours truly he and two of his compatriots took the 3.4 litre Mark VII to victory in the Monte Carlo Rally winning what was the then not insubstantial sum of £1200 in prize money. A bit of a speed junky my forebearer was to subsequently turn his attention to racing aircraft. I don't seem to have inherited too many of his genes!

He was not too dissimilar in looks to my father and I do remember an incident when my father was mistaken for his automotive relative and was invited to charge up the cost of our meal to the relative's account. My father, 'fessed up honest chap that he is.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Red and Yellow Hot Pokers

Last year I sowed a packet of red hot poker seeds. There was a reasonable germination rate and I planted out most of the matured seedlings by the middle of July. Only one plant managed to produce a flower before the enslaught of winter

This year the flowers have been much more plentiful and as well as the traditional red flowers I have also had flourescences which have been distinctly yellow. Clearly not all of the seeds shared the same parentage. The plants have been placed just in front of my fig plant. This, (the fig tree), as previous posts will disclose was purchased from Glenarm Castle some four or five years ago.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

2015 Potatoes.


Potatoes have been off the shopping list for the past week. This year's new potatoes are finally ready. They aren't particularly large but they are much more appetising than the 2014 specimens that I have been forced to buy since my own stores ran out at Easter. I didn't transfer all of those pictured above to my platter but a good fifty percent are now being digested with the aid of a mint sauce and suitable protein together with roasted courgette. A glass of Pinot Grigio assisted my digestion. The second glass was for enjoyment purposes only. As for the third I'm not quite sure.


Friday, 17 July 2015

Courgettes and Jam.

In between today's gusty showers I picked the first courgettes of the year. The late frosts postponed the planting out of the young plants so it hasn't turned out to be an early cropping year. I have probably planted too many plants. Well alright I admit that nine plants is slightly excessive but the seeds germinated and I don't like throwing out healthy seedlings. Its lucky that I like courgettes in their various culinary guises. I have a notion that a few of today's picking will be converted into zucchini crisps for snacking on.

If I find it difficult to keep on top of the courgette harvest and some grow on to marrow proportions I am not too worried. The larger specimens with their thicker skin will store well for winter usage. It is only ten days ago that the final two giant courgettes from 2014 were brought up from the cellar and converted into marrow and ginger jam. It is probably fifty years since I last tasted marrow jam. I remember my maternal grandmother making jam with one of my early horticultural successes but I had forgotten the taste. Now that I have reintroduced myself to its delights I have to report that it is definitely towards the top of my personal league of favourite jams. The flavour is more mature and complex than the obvious sweetness of raspberry or strawberry. A jam for the discerning gourmand.


Monday, 13 July 2015

Bracket Fungus.


It must be five or six years since I cut down a rather recalcitrant bough from a sycamore tree at the bottom of the garden. The wound to the tree healed over quite quickly and I forgot about my venture into tree surgery. This year a bracket fungus has appeared around what I thought was a clean and antiseptic incision. Perhaps I should have applied a tar wash. The tree still looks vibrant and verdant so hopefully the fungal growth is not the preface of arboreal death. I wonder whether I can now crop this fungal growth?

Although I have various books on mushrooms and other fungi I find it very difficult to identify garden specimens with any degree of certainty and of course certainty is rather important with fungi if you wish to eat them. I, "think," that this specimen might be a polyporus of some description, but then again I may be totally wrong. Anyhows I don't think that mushroom risotto is on the menu.


Friday, 10 July 2015

Savers' Protection to Reduce.

The strength of sterling against the beleaguered euro brings advantages, most obviously for the holidaymaker who frequents the Eurozone. Not so pleased are the UK exporters who find that their products are becoming less and less competitive. Now savers are being hit.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme will be reducing the protection it affords savers from £85,000 to £75,000 with affect from 1st January 2016. This reduction is required under the terms of the EU Deposit Guarantee Scheme because the limit of protection is defined in euros, [€100,000] and £85,000 is now worth comfortably more than €100,000. The six month lead in period is deemed sufficent for the million or so savers who have managed to squirrel away more than £75,000 in an account covered by the scheme to organise their finances in such a way that they can retain last resort protection for all of their funds. Appropriate dispensations will apply to fixed term accounts so that monies can be withdrawn even though the maturity date for the account does not occur before the end of the calendar year. Whether savers withdrawing funds from fixed rate bonds will manage to achieve equivalent interest rates is doubtful. The fruits of prudence have shrivelled away rather.




Sunday, 5 July 2015

Thunderous Weather - V V frightening

'Twas a strange day weather wise. Initially warm and humid. Then the closeness that precedes the weather of Thor. Heavy rain, thunder, lightning, natures forces rattling down. Doors rattle. I count the time betwixt the flash of lightning and the reverberations of the thunder claps. Fifteen seconds, ten seconds. Still two miles away. Four seconds! Crumbs that was close. I decide to stop charging my ipad.

The rain pounds down. I hear it thundering through the downspouts. I check the cellar. A languid weap of water is evident. The rain eases. The thunder disappears. The air is refreshingly cool. I amble through the vegetable garden. Everything is relieved that the thunderous torpor has dissipated. There is a freshness in the air. One can sense the invigoration of the vegetables. They are anxious to head skywards.



Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Double Furlong Session

Yesterday's training was not easy. A lactic tolerance session is never a doddle. After the normal warm up and drills we started upon the hard stuff. Four 400m efforts were required from us. We were divided into two groups. I just about warranted my selection for the A squad. The recovery between the efforts was five minutes. This does at first glance seem to be a more than ample recovery but it proved to be somewhat parsimonious as the session progressed. The lactic acid levels in my legs increased rep upon rep. My times were as follows: 66s; 67s; 66s and 65s, so an average of 66s. Not totally humiliating tines in real tine and if one drags in the age tables then an average age related time of 54.98 doesn't seem to be too bad.