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.