Friday 17 August 2012

Smallholders Trip To Killarney Part 2 (Wildlife Park visit and poignant thoughts in the supermarket).

The trip to Killarney involved a bit of retail therapy, looking at books, cheap cd's in Tesco and a visit to a Wildlife Park.  One good thing about the bigger towns like Killarney or the city Cork.  You can always purchase most things you want (12 tins of Ravioli, can't get it in West Cork, much too exotic what?) and they are usually cheaper.  You also spend a lot more going in several stores.

We walked in one store and the Irish army (not all of them) was standing outside watching the security vans delivering or collecting money.  It used to worry me when I first came to Ireland and saw real live soldiers carrying real live rifles.  I have often met frightened American tourists looking at the soldiers and saying something like:

"Gee Thelma they've got real shooters and there loaded."

I used to get quite worried myself.  Now all I think is:

"Don't the soldiers look young?"

Must be getting old.

We went in Aldi and stocked up on ground coffee (we won't drink instant) and the like. I walked along the centre aisles looking at paint, fishing tackle etc.  I think the cheap supermarkets are the kind of place that some body pays twenty cents for a can of baked beans and 500 Euros for a 50 inch television or a speedboat.  Not quite but you know what I mean don't you?

I noticed the cheap 'organic' veg flown in from the middle east and a far.  Talk about carbon footprints.  Then I walked passed the body products or what ever they call the shelves where they stock stuff for looking after your body, no not the drinks bit.  My eyes locked on to the hair dye which we used to always bring back for my mum along with the Hovis (a bit of England) and I started welling up inside.  You see my mum passed away in January and I realised the other day shopping, that she will never need the hair dye or Hovis bread again.  It's strange how the little things become so big.  Miss you mum.


We decided to go on a busman's holiday.  We got in the car and set off to see some animals:  Coolwood Wildlife Park.  It's situated a couple miles just along the N22 to Cork.  We found it easily and paid our admission fee. We saw all kinds of animals and they all seemed to be very healthy and very well looked after.

My only complaint or even suggestion would be some kind of transport to take you from the cafe/ ticket office to the wildlife park?  This was a good five or ten minutes walk and not very enjoyable for me because I was wearing a pair of trainers (they call them 'runners' in Ireland) that are a bit too small (I thought I was getting a bargain) and I endured a very  badly blistered heel.  So may I suggest a tractor and trailer with seats or even a horse and cart with seats?  Apart from that it was very good and I would recommend it to other people to take a trip there.

Here's some photographs for you:

See you next week.


  1. Yes, I remember the soldiers in Belfast, we visited duing The Troubles, and have memories of shopping centres with 8' chain link fences across the street and a manned check-point where the security people checked you and your bags witha metal detector. I think their guns were loaded as well.

    Went back to Belfast many years later for a wedding, surprised to find out what a lovely part of the world its situated in, looks so much better without all the security.

    But you're right, don't they look young? Even the policemen and women look like they should be in school uniform, so I guess you're right, we're getting older?

    Aldi's not bad quality, and some of the prices are very reasonable, but not as good as they used to be, I suppose they have to pay to have "fresh" produce flown halfway round the world the same as everybody else? Some of the hardware is really bargain basement prices, but you need to be up early to get them, they tend to be limited. Not a store I ever go in, my usual pilgrimage is Morrisons, Tesco and Asda, a walk roung these 3 at the right time usually provides everything we need, most of it at last-minute knock-down prices.

    Are those Llamas in the bottom pic? There's a field full of them near Wastwater (or was). It always came as a shock to come across a field of them in the Lake District, we're more used to Herdwicks. Dunno if they're still there.

    Heavy rain this morning, eased off a bit now, breezy and cool as well, Mrs requested the heating on for an hour.
    Fish pie today, Morrisons donated a packet of mixed fish, salmon, smoked haddock and some white fish, all ready to go, 39p "please buy me befor they throw me in the skip" shelf. To be washed down with a glass of peach wine 2011 vintage.

    Raggy cat came in late, looking a bit bedraggled.

  2. Hi Cumbrian. I am told that some security guard van was held up by a terrorist group somewhere in Ireland a few years ago and since then they have always had army escorts. Never understood why security vans advertise on the side of the vans. Surely plain vans or cars with guards in civvies clothes would be far more sensible?

    I agree with you about the supermarkets. You can't do all your shopping in the cheap German one's. I really liked Sainsbury's in England. You can eat all their own brands and they have every vegetable or fruit you can think of.

    Think they are Alpaca's Cumbrian. I believe they are becoming quite popular with smallholders especially for their wool. They are very expensive and brilliant lawnmowers.

    It rained here again last night. Cattle are devouring the silage, must be good stuff?

    Mixed some of the new bitter with Marstons Pedigree last night, it's getting better every day and we use the real ale bottles for the homebrew and have no empty tins to take to the wasp/bottle banks.

    Still no sign of Alan the cat. Post woman says we give us one of her kittens. Probably get a lady one and get it spayed.


  3. Yeah, I can see the sense in not advertising the fact that you're a security van carrying large amounts of stealable goodies. I suppose as long as there's such vans running, there's going to be people who will want to steal their contents. There can't be so much demand for large amounts of cash either, I thought everybody used plastic cards, internet banking and direct debits now. Some places, notably car hire companies, won't even accept cash.

    Used to shop in Sainsburys when we lived in the Manchester area, but we don't have one here. I've noticed that all the big names seem to have the same range of basic own-brand products at the same price. Makes me wonder if they're all made in the same place with only a different label?

    Pleased the home-brew is going down well, trouble is, by the time it's just matured to perfection, you're drinking the last bottle.

    Maybe could do with a couple of alpacas, would it be possible to buy them in spring, use them as tethered lawn-mowers for 6 months, then either sell or butch them? would they need additional feed? Would they come with ear decorations? Do they need housing? Do they have a breeding season?

    Sorry to hear about Alan, might be a good idea to have a lady kitten spayed.

  4. Didn't know that car hires won't accept cash. Just received my 3 new books from the UK. I only placed my order on Monday with my 02 prepaid money card. Two John Seymour books and a biography about Donald Campbell. Brit books and the Book Depository (free worldwide delivery) are my heroes of the week. I am going to be busy reading the books over the next few days. No doubt getting lots of ideas for blog posts. Our hero John Seymour wrote over forty books. So I have lots to read and collect.

    You could be right about basic own brands being made in the same place. I have heard that the Lidl and Aldi owners are brothers. Netto was great also. Think Asda bought them and took them off the market.

    Yeah thanks to your encouragement I am finally making my own real ale. Also becoming a bit of real ale connossieur sampling all the bought different real ales. Must say I prefer midlands and northern English bitter to the southern one's. Thanks again for your helpful advice.

    I think they are about a thousand each, may be more? I don't know nothing about them (for a change)but I will read up on them. Is your garden big enough for a Shetland pony or a donkey? You can get them really cheap at the moment. Think Shetlands don't even need housing.

    New kitten arriving next week. It's mostly white with two black patches on its head and a black tail. What's a good name for a smallholding cat folks?

    Thanks for your comments Cumbrian. It really encourages me to know people read the blog posts.

  5. Can't think of a reason why some of the car hire companies won't accept cash, except perhaps it's to do with tracability in case you don't return the car?

    Yes, Netto stores are now Asda ones, we had a small Netto that is now a small Asda, it's out of town and doesn't seem to compete with the main Asda. And I've heard as well that Aldi and Lidl are owned by German brothers.

    Pleased you've got into the home brewing habit, it's a hobby I took up after a break of many years, and I've been pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of the modern brew kits, better than some (most) of the pub offerings, and true to John Seymour tradition, mostly tax-free.
    All you need now is a few demi-johns, start some wine off, if you've got plenty ale, you won't be tempted to drink the wine too soon. Great way to use up surplus produce, not much to buy, you've probably got everything you need in your kitchen now.

    I googled Alpacas, they're available in Cumbria, starting about £500 for young males, recommending keeping at least 2, they're a herd animal. A bit expensive for lawn-mowers. Not enough room for anything bigger.

    White with black makings, what about Domino?

  6. Hi Cumbrian, It's throwing it down here so I have been reading my new John Seymour book: England Revisited: A Countryman's nostalgic journey. It really is good. He says the car brought the city man to the countryside and this put up all the house prices and changed the country way of life. Think he's got a point. The motor car is to blame. Oh to go back to a rural scene like John Constable's Haywain. More about the book soon.

    Totally agree with you about the home brewing Cumbrian. Can't believe how much money we are saving to paying for commercial brewed stuff and not having to recycle any cans.

    What's the quickest wine? I went looking for apple juice in Aldi but it was all concentrated. Could I make some Scrumpy cider with just apples? Have you a recipe please? I have a copy of Ben Hardy's wine making book along with good old John Seymour's Self Sufficiency. Not sure if I have the patience though.

    Yeah I also looked Alpacas up. They wanted 1000 Euros for an adult. They sound like they make more than cattle.

    Domino the cat. That's a brilliant name. I looked at the etymology of the word "Domino". Apparently it is derived from the latin: Dominus. Meaning "Lord or Master". So we will call our new feline pal: Dominus the mouse master. Isn't that posh?


  7. Throwing it down here most of the day as well, settled down to drizzle now.
    Been promised delivery of my new book by Paul Peacock tomorrow, so I'll have something to read as well, looking forward to it.
    John Seymour might have a valid point there. We've seen the influx of rich city people in our area, and the escalation of property prices that's frozen locals out of a lot of places. I doubt it would have happened without the motor car, nobody wanted to live in the isolated ares unless they belonged there.

    Don't know about the quickest wine, just that the heavier ones, bramble especially, take longer to mature. Some of the quick kits can be drinkable in about 2 weeks, but I din't know what the quality will be like. Never made cider from apples, used to get it from a cider farm in Kingsbury Episcopi, a place made famous by owner Julian Tepmleton, he re-introduced cider brandy (Calvados) to England a few years ago. He makes old-fashioned cider in the traditional way with ancient wooden equipment, for sale on draft out of huge barrels. Potent stuff, both his scrumpy and the brandy.

    Pleased you like Domino, let's hope she has a long and distinguished mousing career, and the ratting dog accepts her company OK.

    Old Engish ale still going down a treat.

  8. Thanks Cumbrian. Post on a Saturday? I forgot that they deliver post at the weekend. No such luck here. The post don't start until 9 either but they work all day and sort it by hand. I don't think you will be disappointed with the Paul Peacock: A Good life.

    Been reading my newish John Seymour book this afternoon. He's walking through the Yorkshire Dales at the moment. I love his anecdotes and opinions about the countryside. He blames the overstocking of sheep for the destruction of the fells. Sheep stop to native trees and vegetation to grow. The books called: England Revisited and its hard back. I have only another thirty five or six books of his to collect.

    I believe they used to put meat(even rats) in the Scrumpy long ago? Visited a few cider farms in Somerset and Cornwall and purchased the rough stuff with the sawdust/shavings in it and sampled some that's like wine. The country people of long ago needed nothing because they made it themselves.

    I am informed now that the she cat kitten is a he like Alan the cat. If it keeps the field mice away we will be very pleased. Don't want to try writing letters to the mice again. Saw that on River Cottage. It didn't work for me, they didn't reply.

    Glad your Old English Ale is going down well. Only six bottles of my Yorkshire bitter left. Hoping to bottle the Scottish Heavy this weekend if the bubbles stop rising that is. Forty pints don't go far do they?


  9. Yes we still get mail on Saturdays, usually about dinner time, sane as every other day. In the bad old days they started early, and we got our post with breakfast, there was also a second delivery. Since "modernisation", "streamlining" and "improvements" we now get one delivery at dinner time. A great improvement, but only to somebodys profit margins.

    Perhaps he was right, they reckon that the Herdwick prevents the Lakeland fells reverting to scrub by grazing off the young shoots, I don't think there's another animal that could do it. But their numbers are carefully controlled by the Lake District National Park Authority.

    I've heard the story of putting meat in the scrumpy to give it a bit of body, but not sure if I bleive it, more likely the rat drowned in the mix.
    Suppose they had to make what they could, no transport, either global or national, fast enough to move fresh produce around in those days. This would make each holding and village a self-contained community, and would limit the size of the farm to what could be managed with horse- and man-power.
    So farm cider production would be an annual event, for farm consumption, I think I quote William Cobbett about farm labourers cider consumption "8 quarts a day is not too much for a man on field labour". Must have been some men in those days.
    And presumably brewing days in our Northern latitudes less suited to apple growing, that's probably the reason we can make better ales up here?

    Your first brew went down quick, seems like brewing's going to be a weekly event in your house; like you say, 40 pints isn't that much when you've got it in stock, it's very easy to keep topping up. But think of it as £40 less spent (or less tax paid)

    Pouring down this morning. Again.

    Sure the little man cat will give the mice more trouble than a few letters, let's hope he lives up to his name.
    Raggy cat come in looking a bit damp.

  10. Thanks Cumbrian.

    The countryside picture we see today seems to have taken thousands of years to make and evolve. The sheep, cattle and grouse and man and weather with a bit of help from our creator all played their part. The great landcape architect: Capability Brown used sheep to maintain his landscapes. I don't think the modern lawn mower was invented to the late 19th century? It was man and scythe and sheep that get the grass short.

    I have been to the New Forest and seen pigs and ponies browsze grazing the verges and walking freely down the roads.

    The Lake District National Park Authority sound like a good organization controlling the sheep numbers.

    In Ireland a lot of the small farmer's carried on the King James (was it James) tradition of leaving the smallholding to the eldest son. This caused a lot of poverty and mass emigration.

    How much is 8 quarts?

    Suppose they knocked back a few pints working from 5 in the morning until late at night? Was it strong stuff? See the supermarkets have started selling tap water for 17p a go. They must have been watching Del Boy and his Peckham Spring Water. I believe years ago people drank ale instead of water because it wasn't safe to drink. Suppose that was more in the towns and cities. There's nowt wrong with some spring water is there?

    The Industrial Revolution, the Enclosures Acts (no more common lands) and farm mechanization seems to have changed farming for ever. People moved to the cities for work and the countryside suffered because of it. Now many people want to go back to a more sedate and peaceful living in a rural environment. However most property is unaffordable and most of us haven't been taught a craft or trade to make a living. I wish there were colleges for rural skills and we made sure everybody leaving school (tech) left with an apprenticeship and a trade.

    Think you're only supposed to drink 3 pints a night according to the doctors? That's 21 pints a week. So if there's a few of you it's soon gone. Nice thought that the governments will not be spending £40 less on red tape and nuclear weapons.

    It rained last night and everywhere is saturated.

    I got the idea of writing to the mice from watching Hugh Fearnley Whitting-stall's River Cottage television programme. Can't fault the man. His Landshare scheme is getting thousands of people much needed allotments.

    Thanks Cumbrian. Hope your book arrives today.

  11. Yes, our countryside has evolved as they say with a bit of help from us people, I sometimes wonder what it wouls be like if nature had been left to it? Lots of native forest probably, see how fast a piece of neglected land gets overgrown with bushes and trees.

    8 quarts is 16 pints.

    Paul Peacock has just arrived, courtesy of Amazon and CityLink.

    Good idea to drink ale instead of water, some people stil have that way of thinking. My doc reccomends 2 glasses of red wine a day, must admit I sometimes exceed that slightly. The supersheds are denying selling tap water, they say they treat it before bottling.

    Gotta go, duty calls. And Paul peacock.

  12. I once met a landowner in Ireland who just liked to plant trees, native and apple and he made tracks and ponds. There was no barbed wire and lots of bird song. He had made his very own private estate with no livestock.

    I believe most of England and Ireland was once forest until the Bronze age and man began to clear the vegetation. I suppose it's good land husbandry and placing the livestock and trees in the right place that stops erosion.

    Six pints a day. Suppose the manual work gave the farmworkers a great thirst? Would the cider have been strong?

    Happy reading with the book Cumbrian.

    Suppose we are a long time dead and there's many a poor person lying in a hospital bed who would be glad of a few pints of home brew?

    Yes I heard that the super sheds said that they treat it first. I have even read that the dioxins..., in the plastic bottles that mineral water comes in are very toxic. Makes you want to make your own stuff with no packaging or chemicals doesn't it?


  13. 16 (sixTEEN) pints. Dunno how strong, probably the same as now?

    Halfway through A Good Life.

  14. I thought they would have got to TWENTY pints Cumbrian. No wonder they said people in their forties looked like old people. You can just imagine it can't you:

    "I'm taking it easy tonight. I'll just have fourteen pints. Don't wanna be rough in the morning."

    Sounds like you're enjoying the book? I am enjoying my new John Seymour books. Reports to follow.

    Mixing some of the home brewed bitter with Newcastle Brown ale tonight.


  15. Somebody just sent me this, thought you might appreciate it!

    Willis Peacock Gun Control Kills

    A DEA officer stopped at our farm yesterday "I need to inspect your farm for illegal growing drugs."

    I said "Okay , but don't go in that field over there.....",

    The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, " Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!" Reaching into his rear pants pocket, the arrogant officer removed his badge and shoved it in my face. "See this fucking badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish.... On any land !! No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear?.... do you understand?!!"

    I nodded politely, apologized, and went about my chores. A short time later, I heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by my big old mean bull...... With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he'd sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.

    I threw down my tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of my lungs.....

    "Your badge, show him your fucking BADGE!!"

  16. Meanwhile, back at the thread.

    Yes, I wonder if they could appreciate the long-term affects of the Enclosure Act? Many people made completely destitute, flocking to the towns and cities looking for some chance of employment which they found in sweat-shops and slave-labour factories.
    Unless, of course, you were one of the chosen few who owned property, now enclosed, and had unlimited slave labour to call on.
    We had bobbin mills in the Lake District, turing out millions of the wooden bobbins, mills operating on water power and people working 12 hour shifts with targets to meet, very dangerous places to work.

    Now the tide seems to have turned, and people want the rural life but without the serfdom, finding it near impossible to get anywhere due to inflated propert values, the big land-owners still keep a grip on the country estates.

    I found this :-

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012
    Small-Scale Agriculture in Russia
    “According to official statistics, in 1999 more than 35 million families (105 million people, or 71% of country’s population) owned a dacha or a subsidiary plot and were cultivating it… The 35 million plots of these families occupy more than 8 million hectares and provide 92% of Russia’s harvest of potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of berries and fruits, 59.4% of meat, and 49.2% of milk.”

    Way to go? They seem to have it right? And apparently they only have 111 growing days in the year.

    Maybe your idea of colleges teaching rural skills is a good idea, very nice to have lots of pieces of paper telling everybody how clever you are, but you can't eat paper; it won't brew you beer, grow your crops, raise your animals or bake your bread.

    Yeah, A Good Life is an interesting read, I'm still on J.S. in his younger years and Africa, it's absorbing.

    Hope the Newky Brown mixes OK, I used to drink it many years ago; suppose that's gonna finish off the home brewed bitter? I've just given my keg a blast of gas, the one negative about stainless kegs is the fact you can't see how much there is left in it. Think I need to put the next brew on.
    Doubt if I'll ever get to the 20-pints-a-day stage though.

    Raggy cat gone out, seems to be out a lot lately.

  17. Thanks Cumbrian. The officialdom joke is very good and a great example of the jobsworths that try to rule the world.

    I have read that (probably before the Black Death) in merry olde England. A serf could be given a portion of land to raise livestock, grow vegetables and have a little house to live in and maybe weave and brew beer and cook.., and stay there for 6 days of the week in return for one days labour for the lord of the manor. It's sounds far fairer than working in a factory during the Industrial Revolution.

    The dacha way of life sounds very good. Think the Kibbutz system is also a great way of living a rural and sustainable life.

    My rural college idea would be based on the old technical schools, ancient guilds and William Morris arts and crafts movement. I honestly believe that we all have talent (some God given) and it dosn't need to be just academic. It's like our allotment art blog topic. What's more beautiful than some well tended vegetable gardens all painted by mother nature and us with our garden tools?

    We need to get away from plastic based products made from oil and champion sustainable natural products made and grown by agrarian minded people.

    The Newky Brown (I have heard it called: "A bottle of Dog") was OK. Strange dreams though worrying about Israel attacking Iran. don't watch the news before retiring. Wonder what we will do if they close the Suez canal or the oil runs out?

    I probably drink too much (4 or five) a day.

    Thanks Cumbrian. Glad you like the book. J.S was a great man and he left a great legacy to us all. I have new hobby cllecting his books.

  18. Is that a beaver in one of your pictures, Dave?


What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

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