Country life

Wild Boars and Nature

IMG_4301They are gruff , ugly and fierce. But they are sensitive to the changes in temperatures and the prolonged winter in a way that is lost to more regulated animals like milking cows. They have natural amounts of offspring, not forced to procreate several times a year to ‘maximise gain’. However they will naturally abort if they believe the weather may put the offspring at risk which has happened this year.

Us aspiring chefs from the School of Food fell for their cuteness while farm owner Pat Mulcahy explained to us the market for their meat. Later we sampled wild boar sausage sitting in the simulated Italian wine cave. It was hard to believe we were in Mitchelstown. The frescoes of Tuscan landscapes that adorned the walls transported us to a warmer time and place.

We were reminded of our dear, snorting truffling friends by the wild boar skins scattered here and there.IMG_5144

What a diverse country we live in. A surprise round every corner.

 

 

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Marmalading

It seems like an age since I bought a bag of bitter seville oranges and filled the kichen with the exciting tangy aroma of these citrus treats. What a way to warm your body and soul in January when the promise of sunshine and Spanish holidays arrives in the little mesh bag in our shops.

Since then we have had snow storms and bitter winds. But my jar of home made marmalade has indeed brought a smile to my face in the mornings, lathered on top of brown soda bread and butter. My ultimate comfort food. Some thing about the bitterness of the soda bread combining with the texture of the orange rind.

As a child I helped every year with the marmalade production. The Universal Marmalade Cutter was put to good use every year. I assumed everyone had one.

IMG_4775But my friends were bemused when I produced it. It is actually on etsy as a cute antique.

Using my mother’s recipe, which was sketchy at best, the first batch didn’t set. I implored her to make it set. She sadly passed away last September and I hoped she might still be able to help me in my predicament. But no, I am on my own with her cookbook from now on.

As I cook, her phrases come to me and so much of my methods are learned from her. I get huge comfort from this connection. One of the wonderful things about cooking is this tremendous tradition that links us back generations.

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The top of the page is marked ‘Good. I always make this’. There are recipes in the book written by us as children. It is strange to recognise your sister’s childish writing or your brother’s bold capitals.

A thousand moments are captured within its pages.

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Sands of Time

The sun enticed me to the beach today.

A privilege of country living is being able to capture moments like this. The rippling of the waves brings peace.

I thought of Keats’ wonderful lines:

Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired, 
    Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea; 
        Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude, 
    Or fed too much with cloying melody— 
        Sit ye near some old Cavern’s Mouth and brood, 
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired! 

Nature has a powerful way of allowing you to connect with yourself and what is really going on inside.

Now I didn’t come across any sea nymphs or anything but I thought of my sister who left us four years ago on this day. The sea still comes in and out and always will long after we are gone. It leaves marks on the sand that are gone the next time the tide comes in. I suppose this is what they mean by the sands of time. Always shifting but never disappearing. When someone you love is taken away, other things you love still remain such as the sea, sun and fresh air.

I thought of Neptune the God of the Sea – even he cannot hold the tide back. Last night I went to see the Justice League, a movie featuring Superheroes where there was an awesome pale blue eyed Neptune, complete with Trident. He managed to hold back a few floods in order to ‘save the world’ but even he was pushed back eventually.

I have a metaphor for my efforts to change my career. Its from Castaway with Tom Hanks. There is a coral reef about 200 metres out from the beach that he has to get past before he can paddle out into the wide ocean. The waves break on it continually and he has wounded himself on the sharp coral many times. He spends his days devising methods to get himself past the reef, designing rafts and failing time and again. Eventually he uses an old piece of corrugated plastic that washed up on the beach and puts a makeshift sail on it. The wind in the sail gives him enough momentum to get beyond the reef, allowing him to journey back to civilisation.

The wind in my sails has been my friends offering me a country retreat while I paddle past the rocks of convention so I can start forging a new way of life.

It has been exciting so far but I hope I don’t have to get picked up by a liner in order to make it wherever I am going. I am going ahead with a mind ‘open to everything and attached to nothing’ – thank you Wayne Dyer.

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Not  exactly a Coral Reef but what sun on a Winter’s day.

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Patterns left from the ebb and flow of the sea.

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Bright winter sunshine on the wet sand.