Friday, 20 April 2018

Buds and Spuds

Hello my lovelies, hope you are all well and have a nice weekend planned --- Hurrah for Fridays!

Beech tree buds unravelling - Carrie Gault -

Today is actually a quite nice and bright day here, so I went outside with Toby and looked about the back garden. I LOVE it when the Beech buds open up, they are so beautiful, definitely one of my most favourite trees. Then I was surprised to find the Acer I had been worried about is looking heavenly = two sights that have put a smile on my face 😀

Acer coming into full leaf - Carrie Gault -

I checked in on the seedlings Andrew planted up a while back and the Sugar Snaps are now too far ahead, oh this weather is so changeable! It's sad to compost new life but we will simply have to plant more seeds direct when we get back from our walking holiday. The leeks and spring onions seem to be in a good position though which is nice. I think most things are simply going to be later this year.

A few seedlings -Carrie Gault -

But let me tell you about last weekend. We finally planted our beautiful Sharps' Express potatoes spuds); after my accident I guess I forgot all about it. This year we are yet again doing them in large tubs as it's just so darned easy to tend to and takes up much less space. Plus the harvesting has proven itself to be so simple and cleaner. Fingers crossed for a good batch again.

growing spuds in tubs - Carrie Gault -

Lastly, after the silliest and most cliched of allotment related injures to myself last Saturday... I stood (twice, for good measure) on a rusty nail that was poking up from a rotten plank. *Blush*  I am glad to report I have healed up pretty well. The hiking holiday is still on 👍

Antrim Area A&E - Carrie Gault -

Hugs and love
Carrie x

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Allotment celebration

 Me : Now we are ten.
You : Who's ten; what do you mean?
 Me : Our allotment is 10 years old today.
You : Oh my goodness, where has the time gone? You don't look old enough to have a 10 year old!
 Me : *blush* Thank you...

Oh my good grief friends, I can't quite believe I am writing this post. Andrew and I were talking about going to the allotment for the afternoon and suddenly I was reminded that it's the plot's anniversary. 

Back them I didn't know what a blog was and so we had a scrapbook - old school style. Here are some never before shared photos from that happy book...
early days- Carrie Gault -

Gosh it really seems like yesterday when I think back to the day we visited our marked out rectangle of land with Maggie. We were the first in the field to dig a square and look at the soil below, I took pictures of a strip of green grass and Maggie had a pee = it was ours, we had claimed it in person and via the paperwork, haha.

Simultaneously it feels like forever ago, haha. We have worked so hard on that little patch of land and had so many triumphs and 'learning experiences'. We made good friends who sadly have left the site by now, mainly through illness or shear disheartenment. But still we battle on...(sometimes we do wonder why though)

Have a look at the plan for 2018 - It's rough and unattractive but still, it is what it is...

The plan 2018 - Carrie Gault -

I LOVE you all, we're off to the plot
Carrie xxx

emergency room - Carrie Gault -

Later.... For the very first time in 10 years I suffered an allotment related incident today - I stood, twice, on a rusty nail that went nice and deep into my foot = a wonderful few hours waiting in A&E for a tetanus injection and wound dressing. We're only home now at 8pm. What a wick birthday celebration. 
Bring on the wine! 🍷

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Actions and Consequences

At what point does challenging yourself turn into a destructive act?

It's been a while since I could even venture near this blog; a good while since I could write or even think a sentence of coherent words that might try to explain what's been happening with me. For some weeks now I have been a wreck, physically and sadly, mentally too. I have done a few good long weekend walks (in the freezing cold) but the effort has l taken it's toll and my week days have been a muddle of sleep and trying to stay sane.

Without giving my private issues air, things are really not good and I have had to visit my GP, my mental health team and get blood tests done. New medications have been added to my regimen and I could basically open a chemists shop!

Don't get me wrong - the walks have been good, I have managed them well and visited some beautiful places off the beaten track that have been glorious. However, with the Hadrian's Wall Challenge coming up we have decided to augment our route and make it a more rounded experience - less of the boring bits of the trail (by the highways etc) and more lingering in beautiful historic villages and the many museums along the way.

To keep you up to date here are the practise walks we have been doing every weekend. They've all been between 10 - 12 miles and in very sort of weather, bar warm and pleasant, haha.

1. The extended version of the Dungonnell Way which we did in -2 degrees with a wind chill of - 8 = is wasn't very pleasant! I took one photo, just one.
Toby in the hailstones - Carrie Gault -

2. Section 2 of the Moyle Way which is in the middle of nowhere; we couldn't even hire a taxi to take us up there. Pure BOG = one very mucky pup!
Moyle Way 1- Carrie Gault -

Moyle Way 2 - Carrie Gault -

3. The much more civilised North Down Coastal Path with toilets and cafes and towns. An easy walk but hard on the feet.

Groomsport - Carrie Gault -

Towards Bangor - Carrie Gault -

Bangor to Holywood - Carrie Gault -

And 4. A section of the Causeway Coastal Path from Ballintoy to the Giant's Causeway which included some bouldering action that was fun.

Arch at Portbradden - Carrie Gault -

In all cases I would recommend my Hubby's Instagram account to be fair, he was much more into the 'memory capturing' than I was -

Lots of Love
Carrie x

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.