Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Whales and Dolphins

That's a result! Carsten stayed on Monday night and set off early on a whale watching trip and got lucky - take a look at this link to see a nice shot of a Fin Whale and dolphin

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Bus Stop

We have to say that's pretty cool. Our friend Ryan has been busy doing up an old Dublin double decker bus, and it's been transformed into the Bus Stop Kite surf and Pizza shop! It's down on the Maharees, just near the beach, so you can order your pizza and have a stroll ( or surf/windsurf/kitesurf - delete as necessary ) then go back and pick up your freshly made pizza, or even book a kite surf lesson, or buy gear. And, they are seriously good: homemade sauce, and local organic ingredients, thanks to Thomas and Claire at Manna Organic farm, and Kate at Beal cheese. They'll take orders over the phone too - just call Ryan or Lisa on 087 369 1985
Just waiting for the surf to get up.....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Birthday Girl

Phew, what a couple of weeks! It was Caitlins birthday last week, and despite a few showers in the morning, the skies cleared and all the kids who came round for her birthday party could run around outside. Of course, she was spoilt rotten! Many thanks to everyone who came and for all the presents, and especially to Tracey who helped out so much with all the work in the kitchen! She was also treated to a day out shopping with her Auntie Corinne, so came home with all sorts of sparkly clothes and shoes - delighted, of course! You'll probably see that her two front teeth are now gone, and she managed to swallow them both!

It was all go at the Dingle Aquarium yesterday, with Today FM's Ray D'Arcy visiting Dingle, and Suzanne and Katie starring on National radio, also the girls from the Seal Sanctuary. We then got a call from Suzanne saying that Humpback Whales had been spotted off of the Blasket Islands so we rushed down to Ventry for a boat trip out with Marine Eco Tours to see if we could spot them. It was a lovely evening for a boat trip, very calm ( although Rachel didn't think so - feeling a bit queasy!! ) and we had a load of Oceanworld staff on hand for expert advice, and Mike Sheeran and his crew to thank for a great trip. Luckily Rachels brother Alex, girlfriend Julie, and Corinne and Dan managed to get to come out as well. Unfortunately no whales to be seen this time, and we even bumped into Carsten who had come down from County Clare for the day hoping for a few nice shots. We did see loads of Puffins, Razorbills, Gannets, Guillimots and many other sea birds, then loads of seals, and a great show of Dolphins jumping and swimming around the boat. The views of the Blasket Islands are also fantastic. Caitlin also got to drive the boat for a while, I don't think she sat still for more than ten seconds for the whole trip -

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Having fun with mobile phones and laptops means that I could only post the latest picture to facebook The story is that my friend Gene asked for some help, and it turns out that four of us spent the day turning turf up on the mountain! The turf is cut and left to try, but is then turned to dry the other side. It's tough work ( and I escaped lightly as I only did one day of it! ) You have to do these things when you're in Ireland. We were up on the hills in Lougher and the views were spectacular - just near where Andy and I were snowboarding in the winter.
Apart from that it's been a busy few weeks: lots of lovely guests staying, and also busy helping out at Manna's Farm. It was great to see Lucy who was down from Kildare staying with Thomas and Claire for a few days, and to catch up on her GROW project - check out her blog! Lucy and Mairtin are doing great work with lots of the local schools....
The kittens are all racing around the place now, and seem to think it's fun to climb up your jeans and shirt then sit on your shoulder. All OK until you have shorts on....

Friday, June 24, 2011


A little R&R for the Smiths this week, and with Caitlin packed off to Traceys house ( thanks very much! ) we went off to West Cork for an overnight stay. We went through the mountains from Killarney to Kenmare which is always a lovely journey, and had a quick stop to look at the market there, bumping into, and having a nice chat with Olivier - unfortunately not buying any of his lovely smoked fish or meats as were were on our travels. We did get a lovely scarf for Rachel ( as shown in the picture. )
Then we went on to Glengariff where we stumbled upon the Ewe Sculpture Garden - a real hidden gem in the hills, streams and forests. They have spent a massive amount of time and effort in creating a thought provoking garden, with amusing ( and clever ! ) sculptures, great use of recycled products, with poetry and words of wisdom everywhere. There are loads of surprises to make you smile everywhere. Then it was on to Ballylickey, just outside Bantry and a stay at the Seaview House Hotel which was lovely - full of antiques and artwork, with beautiful flowers, and nice gardens. Dinner was fantastic, so we felt really relaxed after the stay - nice for someone else to be doing the cooking and washing up for a change...We went back to Glengariff in the morning and walked through the woods where we came to a view across the bay where we saw loads of Harbour seals, including some really young ones - I think they were just as interested in watching us!
We then went on to the Nature Reserve which is a great place for a walk - almost deserted as well, with lovely walks through the trees, along by the rivers and on to a beautiful meadow area full of wild orchids. After that it was back to Kenmare and a quick bite to eat in the BreadCrumb vegetarian cafe ( and great bakery! ) It seems like we packed in loads in a short time....

Friday, June 17, 2011

New arrivals

It's been a week or two for the animals: our little cat, Smudge, is now the proud mum of four little kittens, and the dad is - yes - our other cat, Sparks! Anyway, all four are doing very well, and are a mix of black, white ( and shades of grey. ) Meanwhile, down on Manna's Farm, they now have a boar to keep their piggies happy. This lad is a pure Irish boar, and seems quite a character - I went down to feed them tonight and he almost snatched the sack of food out of my hands! If all goes according to plan we may well get a couple of piglets: they're great for turning the ground over, and as our field is getting a bit full of thistles and docks, it would be handy to get the beasts to work. We can then reseed with some nice grass and hopefully get Rachel and Corinnes horse up for a few weeks.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eco village

Rachel had a good trip to the Eco Village at Cloughjordan in County Tipperary yesterday with some of the people from the Tralee Transition Towns group. They have a great setup there with hot water provided by a central system of solar panels ( just a few of them are shown in the picture ) and heat via a wood pellet burner. They also have allotments, cows and pigs - very inspiring!

Saturday night was at Foleys in Inch for Colins birthday party: great atmosphere and food with music from Colin, Maurice and friends. I also bumped into loads of people I hadn't seen in a while so it was nice to catch up. I even managed to remember a couple of websites worth looking at for Maurice's photography and Marks Gallery in Glenflesk.

After a few windy days ( some good windsurfing! ) the calm, fine weather is due to return this week hopefully it will finish ripening some of the strawberries!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Everyone was happy yesterday as it was such a beautiful day - bright sunshine, and the sea was a fantastic turquoise colour ( although still not too warm! ) Caitlin has a new bodyboard, so was off on the beach with Padma and Jago, and reliably informed me later that she had been windsurfing on the rockpools...I managed to have a great windsurfing session ( not on the rockpools ) down at Fermoyle, some sweet waves, and really good to see Mark and Nathan, both ripping! Then a nice surprise - dinner at Mark and Laura's, delicious as ever, and Squinty was also round, having just returned from Oz. Happy Birthday to Squinty as well. Entertainment during dinner was provided by Squinty's little Jack Russell, Tinkerbell, playing with Mark and Laura's lambs: not as bad as it sounds, they all seemed pretty happy together.
No signs of any kittens yet, but I have never known such a small cat to have such a big appetite...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It must be nice to be five years old! Caitlin has a busier social life than I do by far...Yesterday she had a party at Toby World in Tralee in the morning, then a birthday party for Padma in the afternoon, then we managed a quick walk on Cappagh Strand ( followed by the obligatory shedding of clothes and dip in the sea! ) and then it was over to Mark and Laura's for a barbeque ( thanks guys. ) Needless to say she was pretty tired by the end of all that.
I've added the latest forecast from Big Salty to the blog, so now you can see what's happening down the road in Brandon Bay for the next couple of days, the weather has been cooler but lovely in the sunshine - it was great for our guests Howard and Nicolien - really nice people!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A good week again! The British Windsurfing Association have been around Brandon Bay for a wavesailing competition: the conditions weren't bad and there was some wind for them most days. Good to see Kathleen and Niall sponsoring the Ladies competition, and Niall taking second place in the Amateur contest. A good night was had down at Spillanes on the Maharees for the prize giving, and also great to have Brian from Windsurfer Mag to stay for a couple of days. I also got to meet Jamie from Big Salty who do a great wind forecast website - it turns out he lives in Tucton, Christchurch , about a minute from where we used to live!
On the gardening from we've had our very first asparagus from the garden - sorry no pictures as it disappeared to quickly! Also on the animal front, we have one very fat cat - it turns out that Smudge pregnant ( thanks to our other cat, Sparks we think! ) and we think they're due any day now. Updates soon....

Friday, April 29, 2011

Here's a nice picture of the guys before they headed back to Wuppertal....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A good week was had by all! Dodo and her crew have had a great time - horse riding on the Maharees, fishing from Dingle, relaxing in the garden, sightseeing on the Slea Head drive and the Ring of Kerry, shopping in Tralee, a night at the Greyhound racing, walking by Anascaul Lake, eating out at Sammy's on Inch Beach, and paying a visit to the South Pole Inn ( and other local hostelries! ) I think there was a lot more besides......
One of the best bits for us was Lars showing off his skills as a chef, cooking the fish he caught, with a nice Ratatouille, and potatos with Rosemary - at least we could provide the salad! I'm sure Caitlin will be sad to see her young German friends go home, but we all hope they'll be back soon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

'Wow, suddenly we find Easter is upon us, so Happy Easter to everyone - as my friends little one put it, today is nice Friday, which sounds good. We have a house full for Easter, as Dodo, Jany, and Elias have returned from Wuppertal in Germany, and have brought Lars, Julian and Luisa as well - great to see them again! Caitlin is delighted as she has three friends to play with for the week.
This time of year is always busy around here, with a Kids Festival in Tralee, and Feile Na Bealtaine and the Pan Celtic Festival in Dingle, then there's the Kerry Bicycle Week, and a Comedy Festival as well.
Rachel has just started doing some work in Dingle Oceanworld, with a busy day today doing Easter Egg hunts and lots of visitors coming to see the new Penguin display. I'm just waiting to see her dressed in a Penguin suit....
At long last we've got round to painting the outside of the cottage so it looks much better, now I just need to finish putting the ends on the polytunnel ( at least the roof is there - it looks like the biggest cloche in the Ireland! )
Thanks to Phil and Clodagh for a great dinner tonight, and to organising an Easter Egg hunt at their place - I think the kids have overdosed on chocolate by now. Lastly good luck to Phil in his new role as Chef at the Junction Bar in Camp - think we'll be paying a visit at the weekend!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Well, this is very bad! Haven't been blogging for ages, I've been so busy with gardening jobs that I haven't have five minutes to think. The weather has been great for weeks so everyone has been asking me to do their stuff so our garden has taken a bit of a back seat - three polytunnels constructed so far. Anyway, we've managed to put the plastic back on our own polytunnel ( at long last ! ) and big thanks to Thomas and Claire for their assistance. I should also mention Sue, Babs, Ellen and Annette also lent a hand - they were staying for a few days so it was great to see them - we celebrated with a trip down to the Junction Bar in Lower Camp for their Sunday teatime trad session.
The ducks have also got into their stride with laying again, and down on Manna's farm the Geese are laying. Now, I'd never had a Goose egg before, so we had Omelette for lunch, and it was delicious! Fairly filling though....
Rachel had a quick peek at the new Penguins at Dingle Oceanworld the other day, official opening on the 15th, Caitlin can't wait to see them.
Most importantly, Happy Birthday to Laura!
Must try and keep up with this blogging.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This week was polytunnel week, firstly helping Mairt and Una dismantle their tunnel ready for their move to Killorglin, where Mairt has a new job as Vicar for Killorglin, Castlemaine and Milltown: good luck with that - you'll be missed around here. He's been joking that he's no longer the Camp Vicar....
Then I was helping David and Maureen put up their polytunnel: it's now all done, and looking good, and David kindly has lent us one of his prints of Kilshannig to put on display in the B&B.
He's got an interesting collection of seeds from Seedsavers in County Clare, including a hardier variety of Basil, and some tomatos from Canada, both well suited to the climate here. Talking of Seedsavers they are starting to encourage more local schemes for saving seed, and Thomas from Manna will be going on the courses about this project: should be interesting! Thomas and Claire have been working on their website, so you'll soon be able to order your organic fruit and veg boxes online soon. The next job there is to cover their large polytunnel ready to grow more Wheatgrass, and then I suppose we should really re-cover ours! Just need to find a few minutes....

Oh, and Carsten stayed for a couple of nights, he's already posted a few nice photos from the visit on his Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What a nice surprise: I had a note this morning on Facebook that the blog had been awarded The Stylish Blogger award by Darcy Lapp of The Backyard Market fame - thankyou so much! Darcy and Andy stayed with us a few years ago whilst walking the Dingle Way, and grow their own fruit and veg, look after their chickens, cook like maniacs, and are dedicated locavores ( to those who don't know, eat locally produced food - good plan! )

Ta da!!!
So this is the idea:
  • Make a post and link back to the person that awarded you this honour
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Award 15 ( or so ) recently discovered great bloggers, so they know they are being appreciated
  • Contact the bloggers to let them know they've won!
Anyway, after a bit of thinking, here goes:
  1. I was working as a Computer Analyst before doing the B&B
  2. Rachel was in Stocks and Shares
  3. I used to hate and avoid DIY, now I seem to do it all the time ( and love it, hmm...)
  4. We met in a pub in Brighton, with Rachel on a works night out, and me on mine
  5. We got married in Mauritius
  6. We'd love to do a season running a Ski Chalet
  7. We're going to get some pigs this year!
I'd be hard pressed to come across 15 favourite blogs, but, as they say, the winners are:
  • Darcy and Andy for The Backyard Market
  • Shae for Hitchhiking to Heaven - thanks to Darcy for pointing us to this one
  • Sarah for Gallisgocostarica - Sarah and Renes adventures in Costa Rica, monkeys and all!
  • Various for ClientEarth - brought to my attention after reading Hughs FishFight pages on Facebook, activist environmental lawyers no less!
  • Laura for The Brodie Bunch - a private blog for friends and family, but so funny and well written.
I should also say that if you haven't already got involved with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls campaign to stop needless Fish discards then take a look at

Phew, enough for now, back later.....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

After a few days off from blogging, we'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Christmas seems to come and go so quickly, and now we're back to normality ( well, almost! ) Rachel has done three twelve hour night shifts at Tralee General Hospital, minding a few patients, and I've been back helping out on Manna's Farm. Big excitement there as they have taken delivery of their new Wheatgrass Juicer, and also a whole heap of scaffolding to make storage and benches for seeding up the Wheatgrass. If you haven't tried it before, the health benefits are said to be great, and the stuff from Manna is really sweet.
Good to see that we're starting to get a few more bookings, so let's hope 2011 is a good one for everyone!