Weekend

Babe the pig in the Country

What a looker! our thoughts about pigs are so mistaken. Not the mucky snorty things we believe since childhood, but fast, intelligent animals, full of curiosity. They are responsive, especially if they think you have food, but affectionate and develop attachments.

This is one of the many side benefits of living in the country. One of the many discoveries I have made. No one could have described to me exactly what they are like. You just have to get up close and personal to see what I mean.

I am glad to have had this encounter in my life. Pigs are kind of important in our lives, if only as a nasty name to call people. The use of their name to make people feel bad about themselves is so wrong. Pigs are abused for their little tails, their snouts and their roundy shape. Yet they have been used by British soldiers as a name for German soldiers during the World Wars. Woodlice are called “Fatpigs” which is mean to pigs as they are so far above them on the food chain. In fact, I would say pigs snuffle them out of the ground when they are doing their food searching.

This snuffling is how truffles are found. Pigs are highly valued for this ability in France.  Truffles are a fungus that grow in forests, under trees and pigs have a knack of finding them.

So enjoy any chance you get to meet a pig. Its well worth it.

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You lookin’ for me?

Where the Oatmeal comes from

Years and years of eating porridge and flapjacks, of collecting tokens from the packets, and only now I visit the source of all this delicious oatmeal. It dawned on me that many of the farmers on the east coast of Ireland were growing oats for the factory.

It took a visit to the Waterford Greenway, linking Waterford

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to Dungarven on a 48km stretch of disused railway for me to make the connection between my breakfast , the mill and the crop grown to make it.

Sitting in the Coach House cafe near Kilmacthomas, I felt I had to walk at least some of it if I was to get bragging rights for having been on the Grenway.

So I walked the 1 km to Kilmacthomas village. Signs for the Mill but no actual sighting. Reillys traditional butchers where you can see them making sausages. No card machine-I was nearly checking to see that they had switched to the decimal system. Had to buy some wagon wheels eventhough they were made for children. A round of sausage meat with an circle of black pudding in the middle and finished off with pastry trimming as the wheel rim. I baked one later in the oven and they were a real treat.

But back to KIlmacthomas and the Oatmeal. I wandered down the hill to the river. I was able to get back to the greemway by walking up to the Kilmacthomas viaduct. Enormous arches holdung up the now disused railway line.

Up here I could look beyond the village. There in all its industrial magnificence was the Flahavans oat mill. I looked below and saw the river. Duh! Mill – has a millrace. Seems obvious but of course it would have originally been powered by water.

It is a beautiful setting and looking over my other shoulder, I could see the village. I had an ‘Under Milkwood’ moment when I observed the comings and goings of the place from a distance.

It was a revelation to me that my chilhood bowls of porridge had come from here. I would say there is not a child in Ireland who has not sat dejected in front of a bowl of porridge and been told not to leave the table until its finished. The misery of seeing snakes coiling in the bowl while anothe bite is forced down. This food has become aclaimed for its low glycaemic index in latter years and it has enjoyed a revival unparalled by any other food except maybe avocadoes.

And still it comes from a mill on a river in a splendid corner of our beautiful country.