Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Magic moments

We had a very sneaky little 50 min attack on the plot again recently, whilst the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Naturally it was all about the weeding again but it was great and as it's dark, pouring and cold today, I am super glad we went.

plot 24a - Garrie Gault 2018
Nice day for a potter :)
Andrew raked all the weeds off last seasons sweetcorn and squash bed and I tackled the blueberry bed, which was much harder. His bed was all little surface weeds whereas mine was (and still half is) full of tougher weeds, grrr. It may not look like much but a trug load was removed from here of almost-in-flower dandelions (and their roots) and a lawn worth of grass! I also had to tackle a few massive slugs - it defies reason how some of the blighters get just so huge.
blueberry bed, plot 24a - Garrie Gault 2018
Messy blueberry bed
BUT this morning was even more exciting - it's hard to believe, I know. We got our delivery of seeds - beautiful little bags of hope, wonder and food stuffs to eat. Hurrah! It took the sellers a bit longer to get them to us and they apologised and sent some extra packets as we've been on tender hooks. But now the imagination can run wild and I can get one of my extra special plans drawn up - I know how you love them, haha.
seeds arrived in the post - Carrie Gault 2018
Toby inspects the seed order - all is correct
Quote from this blog 3rd March 2015
"So what can one do when one is so very impatiently waiting for the bloody weather to get it's act together? One plans, schemes and makes colourful drawings of what is going to happen once someone changes the sky and injects me with dangerously nuclear grade caffeine."

Nothing changes eh?

out of focus I know but I was so excited to see the garlic poking through I couldn't steady myself

Love and hugs

Monday, 12 March 2018

The cat is out of the bag

The sun is out, by Zeus, the sun is out! 

I was just outside with Toby and we both just seemed instantly happier; *disclaimer - we were both asleep 30 mins ago and I awoke rather glum and still feeling defeated. BUT the back of the house gets the sun and all the song birds and it's almost like heaven out there. So here I am writing at the dining table (that never happens), surrounded by bits of vacuum cleaner and rubber gloves etc supposed to be doing housework - but stuff that!

I have no news from the weekend - it was a minefield of mental health disasters and I stepped on every one. BUT today I received a 'Buddy Box' in the post - Andrew keeps surprising me with them - and it was full of things so pertinent to what we are up to next month that I have decided to spill the beans.

We are walking The Hadrian's Wall Path, all 84 miles of it!

It's going to be a huge challenge and I am trepidatious at moment alright, but we are doing it, one step at a time. It's all been arranged for months now and as the days draw closer we are building up our walking, mid-week and hopefully every weekend from now on.

Andrew knows the route, every twist and bend, every pub to stop at along the way, the large Roman sites and even the emergency exits if I can't take it any more. He has even sorted out my wardrobe for me and has the days planned so there is plenty of time for resting and letting the old brain take it all in, and the double vision settle a little.

We are doing this for ourselves, it's our Summer holiday but I would also just like to put it out there that I would like very much to raise some money for The Blurt Foundation along the way. In time I will have a 'go fund me' page and if you have a spare quid (dollar, euro etc) it would be phenomenal if you could help me out. 

Blurt is not associated with any religion, government body or charity - it's just an awesome social media movement that aims to help everyone learn and understand about depression and other mental health issues in a friendly and empathetic way. It has helped us so much this past year and especially me. It empowers me to practice self care, to not be so damn ashamed all the time and to speak my truth.

Oh I have so much to share with you about the path, our plans, our kit etc. There will be a lot of beautiful hiking days to blog about before then though and I guess I need to focus on that first!

Love and hugs

P.S. We have our seed compost at the ready and shall be getting started soon - eeek!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The wind blows cold

March then. So it arrived with a bang, a larger than life HELLO and not a terribly friendly one. Sadly, as with many people, hopes and plans have recently been dashed by the freezing weather and snow/rain.  (Honestly, though it hasn't been bad in Carrickfergus and I am very aware of just how lucky we've been.)

The famous Dickens quote has sadly yet to ring true. But it will....

As we didn't get hiking or over to the plot this past weekend we made plans about them instead (and watched films under a cosy blanket). The best thing to come out of it all was our seed order was made online and now we both feel a little giddy, waiting for them to arrive.

I've done my usual 'Things we plan to grow' page now so you can see the varieties here :)

I'm dreaming about 100% germination, no nasty bugs or diseases, of skipping home with oodles of lovely organic food to eat and oddly, of a new shed - oh how I would love a spanking new minimalist shed.

Love and hugs
Carrie xx

P.S. I am still feeling rather vulnerable and exposed after my last post. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read it and thank you so much to those of you who left comments here and on my Facebook page xxx

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

So it's like this

tete-a-tete daffs  - Carrie Gault 2018
Always look for the happy
I can barely talk never mind read or write when I'm going through a really bad patch in my mental health. The confusion and forgetfulness about even the smallest things such as how to have a shower, eat or follow a story line on TV is so upsetting. The self hatred and anger towards myself is overwhelming and very destructive. This has been the story for the whole of last weekend, well, the very tip of the story.

Mental illness is like a cancer, utterly destructive, exhausting and invisible to others bar the side effects.

Luckily, with a lot of support, sleep and zero activity I have slowly crawled out of the monstrous depths.

If I may, let me explain a little further. I have chronic depression, acute generalised anxiety disorder and BPD. Which means I get anxious and depressed over nothing and frequently hear screaming in my head and sometimes mumbling voices. I'm paranoid often and completely doubt myself in everything I do.

And top of that there is the issue of my permanent double vision. The confusion, head and back aches and oh yes, every step could cause a fall or injury. I can't even safely go out alone.

That's the tip of my ugly truth iceberg. Boy do I feel exposed and vulnerable right now.

But give out, give up, give in? No WAY, this is, for better or worse one stubborn girl right here and I WILL keep showing up for myself.


Friday, 23 February 2018

Quick mid-week allotment attack

Andrew usually gets home from work after dark and at the weekends, as you know, we are hiking and then recovering and doing house stuff. Naively we always hope we'll get good weather for more than one weekend afternoon but this has yet to happen. So all this has lead to a slightly neglected plot. But *insert triumphant laugh here* no more my friends...

plot 24a - Carrie Gault 2018

This week we were very lucky that Andrew could make it home a little bit earlier on Wednesday and we used the time to attack the plot. 40 mins of furious weeding and covering a bed in black weed suppressing membrane, tackling some of the paths, lifting produce and buying our new rhubarb crowns = an overwhelming feeling of success. So much so that as the sun disappeared we could be found in a local cafe with a coffee and a bun to celebrate getting stuff done.

new rhubarb for plot 24a - Carrie Gault 2018

There wasn't time to move any of our rhubarb from the other plot (14b) that we gave up last year, sad times as whatever variety is was, it was thriving. This time round we have 2 varieties and we know their names, so we can be geeks and test out which one gives a better yield, ha ha; science.

 * Glaskins Perpetual  -  Sadly I can't find any information about Glaskins on the RHS website, anyone out there got it? Is it fabulous? I forgot to bring the plant tag home with me so I can't even read what the supplier says about it.

 * Victoria - Is mentioned on the RHS rhubarb page, phew. The information reads - 'Late, cardinal red stalks with flecking at top. Red flesh tinged green. Very thick stalks. Popular old variety.' 

Let's just hope that in time they give us lots of lovely rhubarb for crumbles and compotes and to share with loved ones - that's what it's really all about, right?

I also lifted all the remaining beetroots (boltardy) and brought them home, yummy! Obviously this photo is not 'in the field' as it were but today, when I thoroughly washed them. In the process of which I found two, yes 2 New Zealand Flatworms getting intimate, argh. Andrew 'dealt' with them quickly and let's just say, they are no more.

We also still have a huge supply of leeks in the ground.

Beetroot from plot 24a - Carrie Gault 2018

So here's the 'after' photo and I look forward to clearing all the other beds. It's beginning to feel a bit Spring-y here (dare I say it) and we're starting to think about what seeds we need and where everything will grow this year. Walking around the field just a little we saw that many of the abandoned plots have been taken over and people have started to lay down plastic (including the one next door). Though it's sad to see some people we really liked give up, we welcome the newcomers and hope they know what they're in for!

plot 24a - Carrie Gault 2018

sunset at plot 24a - Carrie Gault 2018

Carrie xx

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Queen of the Glens (Hiking the Ulster Way)

The weather gods offered us a nice hiatus from the recent dreariness on Saturday and we grabbed it with both hands (and paws, Toby was there too). It was too good a day not to hike and boy we crushed those miles like crackers under our feet. The sky was blue, there were but wisps of cloud, and it was the perfect temperature to walk hard but not get sweaty.

It's about time we started to get serious about longer stretches again; something big is coming up at the end of April and we need to be ready.

Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018

Time to cross off some more of the Ulster Way and see an area we thought we knew but didn't. Driving through somewhere is nowhere near the same as walking it and seeing its beauty up close, it's hidden friendly inhabitants and beautiful sense of place. For a start off we were walking from the sea (away from the crazy ducks and geese of the beach car park) and up into the sky in what has been declared as 'The Queen of the Glens' -  Glenariff.

Glenariff hike Viewranger map - Carrie Gault 2018

Waterfoot to Glenarrif Forest Park and back again by way of the lovely Laragh Lodge for a wee pint = 9.5 miles. The terrain being river bank mucky grass path, lots of quiet road and then pine needles under foot (and the reverse). I got to try out my new backpack which is fabulous and fits me perfectly and we both had managed to get great wee breathable windproof jackets in the sales - awesome!

Really this post is just a great way to show how gorgeous our wee country is...

Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018
The start of the walk, behind a housing development
Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018
sheep and the right hand side of the Glen

Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018
How's this for a living room window view :)

Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018
Entering the Forest Park area and the view back (left side of Glen)

Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018
lunch break and the view down to the sea

Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018
returning from whence we came

Glenariff hike - Carrie Gault 2018
idyllic Irish scene and back to the river walk
So there we are - a walk in photos and I know there are a lot here but I have parred back as much as I can. It was a great hike 😊 and I was still able to breathe at the end though I could barely see (shakes fist at double vision!)

Here are the stats but please note they are skewed as we didn't turn the app off over lunch or our cheeky pint.
Glenariff hike Viewranger stats - Carrie Gault 2018
Love and hugs
Carrie x

To discover more about this stunning area click here - - The 9 Glens of Antrim

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Ulster Weavers and the Eden Project

Ulster Weavers has been a well known quality brand name here in N. Ireland for over 100 years. Still a family run business, they create beautiful linen and textiles for the home. They even have the Queen as a customer; she gave them the royal charter in 1995, so it's pretty darn respected.

Recently, Eden Project (I so want to go and visit!) and Ulster Weavers got together to create a new range of quality, sustainable kitchenware, bringing colour and wildlife into the home

'The range has been inspired by the wildlife in the Eden Project biomes, has been manufactured using unbleached cotton. All labels and packaging are printed on FSC card and printed using vegetable inks.'

Ulster Weavers (Eden Project collection) tote bag - Carrie Gault 2018

Their collaboration just launched this month and as a proud N. Irish girl I was very pleased to be asked if I would like to review it. The range comes in cheery pink or turquoise and I am honestly really impressed. The designs are beautiful and my turquoise bag is made of thick cotton and lined inside, has a magnetic button closing, an internal zip and a strong re-enforced box bottom to carry the load - oh and it's cute, oh so cute. It also came in a slinky presentation gauze bag - what a beautiful touch. 

Ulster Weavers (Eden Project collection) tote bag 2 - Carrie Gault 2018

Ulster Weavers (Eden Project collection) TEA TOWEL
Ulster Weavers (Eden Project collection) OVEN MITTS

The prices are reasonable, ranging from £8.50 for a tea towel to £16.50 for a long length apron. 

This gives you a great excuse, if you needed one, to update your kitchen in preparation for SPRING or maybe to give as a Mothers' Day gift.

You can see the whole range here:

Ulster Weavers (Eden Project collection) tote bag and Toby - Carrie Gault 2018
Toby appreciates a good sturdy re-enforced bag bottom :)

I'm hoping to take picnics to our allotment in my bag and bring home bounteous and perfect organic produce home from the plot :) 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Slieve Guillion Forest Park (first visit)

As I sit here typing these very words I can feel Toby glaring at me from his bed; he's just had a bath. We went for a wee hike on Sunday and, well, he does love to pick the muckiest routes = he needed a bath. Ooh, he just looked away from me there and growled quietly, haha.

Andrew and I were caught deep in clinomania on Sunday and though we had meant to get up with the larks and go to Co. Armagh, but we, er, didn't. Such a cosy bed, such heavy eyelids....time passed swiftly and then, boom, it was 10am. Our gear all ready downstairs and our clothes laid out we shoved some breakfast down and out we went.

Only an hour or so away we came to our destination of Slieve Gullion Forest Park. The massive car park was full bar one space for us and on site there was a nice cafe = coffee! We decided that as the park closed at 5pm we couldn't do our desired hike but we could walk up to the mountain and check the terrain for the next time. I had my new camera so we took it easy and Andrew was very patient whilst I grabbed my shots and tried to get comfortable with its settings.

(Sorry, no photos of the fairy village or the giant's liar as it's bloomin' hard to get a shot when there are so many crazy excited kids around! The link above has great pics of that put of the park.)

Remember: click photos to enlarge 😊
Slieve Gullion Forest Park 1 - Carrie Gault 2018
Gorgeously clear and freezing cold little spring/ Andrew and Toby being careful with all the cars around /Cut down tree with moss and ivy

Slieve Gullion Forest Park 2 - Carrie Gault 2018
Tiny but bright lichen/  Rust and old wood with moss = joy/ Cute mass of pine cones

Slieve Gullion Forest Park 3 - Carrie Gault 2018
The view south over County Louth and Dundalk Bay in the distance /  Lonely pine cone

Above was written on Wednesday - it is now Friday morning so I reckon it's time to finish this, and put some photos in, hahaha.

Plus I have a date with Toby again as he needs a hair cut today, he has no idea at present and he is already in a bad mood with all the cars and my David Bowie music stopping him from snoozing. Lucky I have treats and cuddles to offer.

Hugs and love, have a great weekend!
Carrie xx

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Snowdrops have superpowers

I went outside yesterday {sort of} by my own volition and did some clearing up, brushing the deck and clearing away fallen branches and millions of leaves. All due to the power of the Snowdrop clump.

Toby likes to run round to that hidden area of the garden to have a hearty sniff and pretend he's being a good boy and doing his morning pee pees, but yesterday I followed him to make sure he 'went' and THAT is when I saw them.....glowing ethereally in amongst the detritus. They are the happiest part of February, don't you think?

Hours later and with the air a fraction warmer and the sky still bright I was drawn back to them (via my bedroom to put on lots of layers) and tend to them as they justly deserved. Here, friends, is a photo of HOPE, literal hope.

Once I got my photo a massive panic attack had hold of me and that was the day ruined but you know, it was worth it.

Today I look at the meaning of February to me - yes, I'm Northern Irish so the Celtic Imbolc celebration does matter to my soul...I would like to cleanse the earth at the allotment by walking around it with a candle (or traditional flaming torch) but I'm not that much of a hippie. Instead, in my mind I have cleared the site and will consult Andrew on drawing a new plan.

Love and hugs

P.S. We have 6 more pots of snowdrops 'Galanthus' for the front garden waiting to be planted.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Soil and clouds

From the dark cold earth to the misty white clouds, the last weekend in January saw the first of our visits to the Allotment and the first hike of the year. What a year we have planned as well! The allotment is going to get some serious loving and our wee legs are going to do some serious walking - my new camera was gifted to me at just the best of times.

With renewed vigour we intend to smash this year of 2018 into shape and make a heck of a lot of good memories while we're at it. Of course there shall be the usual mental health monsters to slay each day but we can do this together and I am not ashamed to fail (now and then). It's the year of learning self care, exploring new places and of the rebirth of our wee plot. The 10th year of plot holding; the 20th year of us being in love.

* That 1st visit *
the plot after 3 months of winter neglect - Carrie Gault
okay, it was very bleak but not too bad looking, right?
It wasn't as horrendous as we had feared - virtually no winter storm damage and the weeds had not succeeded in conquering every last inch of soil. Plus the shed was still there.

We had to plant our garlic and luckily the 'Andrew of November past' had thought ahead and left an area covered over in black membrane = gorgeous weed free soil to plant into.
garlic planting at the allotment - Carrie Gault
back to basics - remember to plant your cloves a good hand span apart and not too deep

I found signs of hope all around our little half plot and here are just three ...
- the glint in Toby's eye (plus he was very good and quiet)
- new buds on the apple trees
- gorgeous red blueberry buds

Toby the dog and some other buds - Carrie Gault

And I was able to harvest leeks too, we have loads that I had forgotten about.

* That 1st hike* 
Sunday started out so bad but there came a little moment in the afternoon where I just had to grab life by the shoulders and take control. I ran upstairs and got dressed; we left the house before I could even think about changing my mind. Off to Ballyboley Forest for a walk, in the rain. We literally drove up and up into the clouds and then walked inside them, it wasn't the most pleasant visit ever.
Ballyboley forest in a cloud - Carrie Gault
a very damp walk indeed and some shocking deforestation (forest service owns this area)
Ballyboley hike stats - Carrie Gault
Andrew has a cool app on his phone that records all our hikes :)

It wasn't a long walk by any means but it was a good start after the holidays and all the sickness and snot we'd suffered. I had not thought clearly in my rush and thus had jeans on which got soaked and left me freezing but other than that we all kept good pace and took photos as well. Toby was just running back and forth all over (he walks at least twice as far as we do) but always came back when called - good boy.

So very glad I managed to get this published before the end of the month - though you can ask Andrew, I have been cussing away at the photo app I have to us - I'm always wanting to be better at everything.

Got your potatoes yet? We got Sharp's Express again - what's you favourite???

Love and hugs

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Beach treasure and hallucinations

It wasn't a 'good' mental health day but Andrew managed to get myself and Toby out the door for a mini adventure on Saturday and in the end I was glad :) We went for a drive along the famous Causeway Coastal Route, I really wanted Toby to experience Maggie's favourite beach in Cushendun. Plus we just love the drive, any wonder it's TripAdvisor's highlight for 2018.

On the way we stopped off at Glenarm Castle tearooms. It was the first time I'd been since the extension and the addition of other small businesses. It's a beautiful place to celebrate my leaving the house and I had cake for lunch 🙂. Our food was delicious and we even had a second coffee each (personally I needed it to keep me going, boy I have been constantly exhausted these past weeks).

cake and window - Carrie Gault

I picked the cafe table and instantly got out my new wee camera to have a play around. With views of the kitchen garden right next to me, how could I not? What an idyllic scene and what a lot of gorgeous mulch they had! Tractors were needed - so jealous. I wished we could go out and really have a good poke around but it's not open until St. Patrick's day.

the kitchen garden at Glenarm Castle - Carrie Gault

Onwards to Cushendun and the lovely beach there. I think this is one of my all time favourite wee villages and I love it's beach; we see so many lovely people, friendly dogs and even horses on it. The village also has a resident goat that is usually tied up by the bridge beside a monument erected to all the poor animals that had to be put down due to the foot and mouth disease in 2002. Plus it has a wonderful very old pub - Mary McBrides.

Toby loved the beach, just as I hoped and it was beautifully clean as always, besides the seaweed from the recent big weather. He ran about all over the place and was a very good boy, until the very end when we were walking back to the car, at this point he ran up to a lady and bashed into her leg head first. He is a little crazy sometimes, hahaha.

Cushendun beach and some sea glass - Carrie Gault

We did find some little pieces of sea-glass that we see as treasure, it's always been a fun pursuit. Andrew also found a mysterious plastic animal...a giraffe or maybe a seahorse. We took it home anyway.

On the way home we had chips in the car, all of us - Toby loves a good chip.

As for the hallucinations, well how about these during this week.... Sheep in the street and grazing on the neighbours grass and this, a bumblebee in the back garden! A bumblebee in January and he had pollen on his legs which I can only assume came from the little box hedge flowers.

sheep on the run/ bumblebee - Carrie Gault

We are determined to at least look at the allotment in the flesh this weekend, no matter the weather!

My love and hugs

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Hope, Love and Computer gardening

Hello sweet reader; how are you? I fear don't ask enough or maybe ever and that has got to change. My wish is that you are all hopped up warm, maybe with a hot beverage and a loved one near by.

I am sitting here in my living room with my little dog and a decaff coffee (just in case you were wondering) and soaking wet hair - I just did the hardest thing - I just had a shower. When you have depression etc doing anything can literally be a battle and my mental health today is bad. And I mean BAD.


Look! - Daffodils are starting to emerge, to poke their brave little shoots up into the world and face the harsh realities of the cold and rain and snow. I think the snowdrops are doing the same but the deck of the tea house was slippy so I didn't risk it. ANYWAY - signs of hope are appearing, birds are singing ever so loudly and thoughts are turning away from the darkness and into the joys of planning, planting and pottering. Even with a blackness eating me up inside, I feel hope.


Last week Andrew and I celebrated 20 years of togetherness - something I never dared to hope for. He isn't fed up with little old me, he still loves me as I love him and both of us are looking forward to the next 20 years of adventures! (Light and dark by turn but always love.)

He made a book of photos from those last 20 years and it's adorable, I love it so much I can't describe it. We were meant to be Berlin but had to cancel as he was so ill with the cold but instead we had time in our pjs watching movies and napping; yes napping is one of our favourite things! And we stayed in Bullitt Belfast (a lovely hotel) and drank cocktails and had the best dinner ever and it was fab.

Shout out to Mamma G for looking after Toby!

It's still so very chilly and the weather is dreich and not looking up for the days ahead. So instead of being at the allotment (I wonder if I'll be able to find it - it's been so long, too long) we are looking at past photos, getting inspiration on Pinterest, thinking of what needs done, and even (I am embarrassed to say) playing Gardenscapes, hahaha. Gardenscapes is a silly game on Facebook where I am winning daft challenges to earn stars and then swap them for trades done to my huge garden - I'm on level 114 and it's looking fabulous, though no veg patch yet hahahaha.

Soon though we shall venture there to good old 24a with our garlic and our 'can do attitudes'. This my friend, is our 10th year as allotment holders and we plan to make it a good one :)

Love and Hugs

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A new dawn....

I had hopes. They weren't high, they maybe weren't based in reality, but still I had hopes. I have survived another Christmas and here we are in a new year, a brand new and sparkling 2018, first of it's kind.

my bullet journal header for Jan 2018 - Carrie Gault 2018
my hand drawn journal title :)
Already it's a mess; Andrew and I have feeling yucky with a flu-like cold. My mental health is at an all time low. Toby is bored out of his little mind and we're had to cancel our trip to Berlin next week. 😢

Yay isn't this a great start to a new year?

Truly we ought to mark our front door with a big X and keep all other people well away. Oh and it's 5 am; I've been up since 3 am....

.... Ever have a much needed sleep and felt worse for it? Andrew and Toby seem to have bought a one way ticket to Snoozeville but I'm awake and am jealous of them both, I got half an hour there.

Oh, my lovelies this maudlin attitude is not good but to be fair this is a blog of truth so maudlin I am.

I thought I'd share our Damson gin success (this is only 1 of 3 bottle fulls!) and a super wee book Andrew bought me - 'The Almanac' by Lia Leendertz (available in all awesome bookshops). Both are lovely and will last the whole year, haha.

Damson gin success and an Almanac- Carrie Gault 2018
delicious damson gin (a little goes a long way) and a great wee book

Goals for the year (aside from getting better) are -

* much more hiking (though a trip to the kitchen there almost broke me, haha) as we are going on another long multi day walk. We're doing The Hadrian's Wall Walk this summer.


* Allotmenting lots - yes, the hope is a lovely allotment year to also share. Less work - more produce is the key, ummm but how?

Now I return to my blankets and my book. I'm so tired (hence the eye mask) but can't sleep and there is a small dog here looking my attention.

Some essentials to get me through this cold- Carrie Gault 2018
A good book, tissues galore, blankets, eye mask and laptop

love and hugs
Carrie x