Archive for the ‘sunny funny garden’ Category

Now  … my fabulous reader … you know how I love to loll.

This week provided very few of those opportunities … in fact … the last few weeks have been too busy for my liking.

Note to self … loll for at least one day next week.

This week has been full of very interesting and varied activities.

I was in Dublin on Tuesday and caught up with 2 very dear friends of mine … Shani and Mia.


I’ve known them for quite a few years and used to stay in their apartment when I had a lot of work on in 2007 … I called us the micro famille.

They recently got engaged and I wanted to congratulate and celebrate with them.

I met Shani in Eden restaurant in Temple Bar  … she is one of the managers and was finishing her shift.

We had some prosecco and liquer cocktails and were soon joined by Mia and another friend Sharon. We had some more bubbles and cheese board and then went to the Odessa Club where I used to be a member.

It was lovely to be back there and we relaxed in the leather couches and chatted for a good while.

I was in bed well before midnight and ready for my work with Depaul Ireland the next day.

It was the first meeting of the Depaul SKIL2 Team and lasted 3 hours.

The team consists of 6 people from a cross section of the organisation … and they are fantastic … highly motivated … intelligent … and very solution focused.

My kind of people.

I’m the Chair/Facilitator of the Team and we covered a lot of ground inthe 3 hours … including looking at the SKIL2 site design architecture that I have developed.


It feels great when a group of people like this  really likes the design and content of SKIL2 … I feel I’m really getting further forward to developing a product and process that will be of real use to non profit organisations.

They all said they were really excited by the whole SKIL2 idea and added huge value with some great suggestions for policy, design and practice … thanks Team.

Depaul Ireland put me up in Jurys Christchurch … which is in the centre of Dublin and about 20 seconds walk to their office.


Christchurch Cathedral and St Patricks Cathedral are all in the vicinity.


When the meeting ended I was whisked away by a cab to the train station … and off I went to Sligo.


But I thought you lived in Ballinamore … I hear you say.

I do … and I was meeting a friend in Sligo to look at the 3rd year art students exhibition.

We got there at 7ish and had a good look at the work … as usual … there’s always a mix.

I was particularly taken with some great portraits.

Lots of people came up to say hello and many said ‘I haven’t seen you around for ages’.

To which I replied ‘I have been living in Ballinamore for 2 and a half years’.


Lovely to catch up with some dear friends … who do know where I live.

Back in Ballinamore after 10pm … tired and delighted to see Coco.

Yesterday was a lovely day … sun shine through the showers.

I went to Supavalu to have a cuppa and a voice said ‘Liz … it’s so lovely to see you’.

It was Kimme (another blogger) and her family in Ballinamore for a few days.

They are staying at the same cottage up the mountain as I did a while back … thanks to Pam.

Anyway … I had sent Kimme photos of cottages available in the area for sale and they were over to have a look with Gabriel Owens.

We had a look at a piece of land with amazing views



And look what we saw along the way.



And here’s the cross at St Patricks Well.





the rags on the tree were put there by people … for a wish or a prayer

I went along for the ride and asked Gabriel to also show them Poll an Easa and St Patricks Well … where we bottled some water.


Kimme, Patrick and Amanda are delightful people and would be a wonderful addition to the area.


I invited them for a drink in Smyths Pub and we had a lovely evening chatting.

Before I went to Smyths I took my good dog Coco for  a walk on a new route … down to the waste treatment centre.


The walk is really lovely and I eventually let her off the lead.




The whistle works in that she will always run back when she hears it … she just won’t get close enough for me to catch her!

I resorted to sitting on the ground and pretending to whimper (actually … I felt like whimpering) … Coco came back because she thought I was hurt … and proceeded to sit just out of catching reach … gotta admire her.

I then said ‘treat treat’ and she moved forward … got her!

And sometimes good things have to be postponed or ended.

You all know Sunny Funny Garden … and how much fun me and the kids have playing and growing stuff.



Well, the land is owned by a great guy … Conor Smyth.

It was brought to his attention that if there was an accident during a Sunny Funny Garden session … the he would be legally liable.

Unfortunately … Ireland is a place where people sue at the drop of a hat … aided and abetted by lawyers.

If Hell exists … then there’s a really special place for certain professions.

Anyway … Conor and I had a chat … and I don’t want there ever to be a burden placed on him because he did me a favour and let us use the land.

So I decided to postpone the Sunny Funny Garden sessions until we can find out what the legal issues are and how much public liability insurance costs.

I feel disappointed as I love the sessions … but sometimes that’s just the way of the world.

Hopefully we can sort something and restart soon.

I’ll keep an eye on the garden … and I now publicly let everyone know … unless Conor ran amok in the garden and hit me with a shovel … I’ll not be suing him ever.

I’m not that kind of person.

And today?

I have some SKIL2 work to do … then around 5pm Aine Martin is coming over and I’m building a free blog for her mother Maureen for her local government campaign.

Yeh yeh … I know I said I wouldn’t do anymore free blog designs … I’m allowed to change my mind!

And if my energy lasts through the day … I’ll be taking photos at an art exhibition opening tonight in Solas Gallery.

The weekend? I think I’ll be covering some of the local GAA celebrations … must catch Adrian and see what the schedule is like.

Somewhere … oh somewhere … I’m going to loll.

Hope you have a great weekend.



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Happy May Day to you.

According to an old Irish tradition … there should be flowers at my doorstep.

People used to leave a wee mat of flowers at doorsteps to mark the day.

Coco and I have woken a little tired as we had a late night … tell you about that a later.

Sunny Funny Garden was a wonderful as always.


Children turned up and we planted salad leaves and repotted tomato plants … Daragh did them … well done mate.


Coco gets to play as long as she stays on her long line … which she often gets tangled in … and I love how the kids take care of her.



At one point she had wrapped herself and the line around a bunch of bushes and it took me and Aoife and Hannah to get her free … thanks kids.


All the photos were taken by the kids … I believe that they should have the power to choose the way the Sunny Funny is documented … and they take great photos … and they love having a turn at the camera.







They are all wonderful children and I totally enjoy their company … it’s also a delight to have another adult there … the unphotographable Janice … camera shy she be.



After Sunny Funny I was preparing a roast chicken and vegetables for myself and William when there was a knock on the door … it was Mags.

She said ‘ it’s too sunny an evening to be outside … why don’t we have a barbque?’

Famous last words.

I brought out the roast dinner and all 3 of us had a feast.

Then Mags said ‘ let’s put up the pergola I bought the other day’

We took about 10 minutes to put it up … which I think is a new world record for anything that’s flat pack … thanks William.

So … there we were … just the 3 of us (and about 5 dogs) … chatting away … when … not 1 … not 2 …. not 3  … not 5 … but 6 people arrived out of nowhere over the next hour or so.

Is there some kind of bat radar that goes off every time Mags, William and me decide to sit outside?

Anyway … we had a lovely evening chatting under our new pergola … with solar lanterns … my bamboo trees … and a fair bit of red wine … thanks Mags for the wine … will replace it soon.


The dogs had a ball and Coco was just delighted to be playing with the pack … and she came back when I called her.

Both of us are a bit tired today … it’s raining outside … think I’ll loll.

I send you big wishes for a happy long weekend … and a sunny May.



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Had a lovely day yesterday.

Funny what delights me.

Gabriel delivered the vintage (2 to 3 years old) moo poo … and I became the … moo poo shoveller … with a little help from Gabriel.


It was a gorgeous sunny day so I decided to stay out and shovel … with my new spade … I feel like a real gardener now.


I moved the teepees so they were on ground with no weeds. When the leaves grow on the trees they will form a little hideaway for the kids.


I planted 3 sparkly xmas trees from Maggies window boxes … and 2 rose bushes. She asked me to replant the boxes and I didn’t want to throw away the old plants.

I don’t think many people know this but Mags has a genius for hairstyling. She cut and coloured my hair this week and it looks better than it ever has before.

People are saying to me ‘it takes years off you’ … and I always wonder how old I usually look!

Anyway … back in the Garden … I strung wool around the teepee so that all the runner and climbing plants can … run and climb.


Love the colours.

The strawberries love their little cloches … and it’s a great way to use plastic bottles.

We have one strawberry flower and heaps to come.

It’s like they each have their own little climate … and the bugs can’t get them.

I had great fun making a willow fence with 3 arches … they will all grow and we can weave them as they do.

We will be planting the sunflowers (we are growing them from seed) there …as well as some sweet peas and jasmine … imagine the colour and scent.

Maeve turned up early and decided the path needed sorting.


Then the rest of the crew arrived and were put to work … all fun.

Thanks to Janice … it’s great having another adult around to laugh with … and she knows a lot more than I do about gardening … so we’re all learning together.

The kids smoothed out the moo poo and then marked out little furrows for the seeds. They also wrote markers to let us know what we had planted and the date.


We all had a great time planting seeds … between the raised bed and the 5 teepees we now have:

  • french climbing beans
  • barlotti beans
  • mange tout
  • sweet peas
  • 2 types of peas
  • 2 types of carrots
  • beetroot
  • parsnip


And next week we hope to plant out salads including rocket and mizuna and spinach.

Everyone just got into a flow and did little jobs … while laughing and talking all the way.

Nearly all the photos in this post were taken by the children.





Usually we have time to do some painting but everyone got so absorbed that the hour was nearly over.

And kids will always find a way … they decided amongst themselves that they wanted to do some art … so they got out the wood William had cut for them and drew/wrote on it with marker pens.




I’ll be hanging them from the trees  over the weekend … the wooden things not the childer!

Today has been wet and grey and this blog post was cut off at 8 am when the Eircom lines went down through the whole town.

Banks were shut … ATM’s didn’t work …people were doing their grocery shopping and then finding that they couldn’t use their cards … thankfully in a small town they were given IOU’s.

I’m off to the opening of the group art exhibition in the Solas Gallery tonight.

Looking forward to seeing the work and enjoying the crowd.

I’ll post photos tomorrow.



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Thank goodness for a sunny day.

Coco and I had a lovely walk in the morning … sun shining in the main street.


It was so lovely I decided to go out to the Sunny Funny Garden at 1pm … hours before the Gang turned up.

My friend Miriam turned up for a visit and found me in the garden. She stayed and helped with the plants for a while.


Maeve and I moved the small lettuce seedlings to bigger pots … a very delicate business.


we put halved plastic bottles as little domes for our strawberries

We transplanted barlotti beans and sunflowers as well.


sunflowers … can’t wait to see them grow

Coco was attached to more long rope so she could range around  … my  mistake as she kept running up through our pots … moved her to another space.


I also moved the sweet peas to the ground … very exciting to see something that started as a seed actually growing.


see the little sweet peas against the bamboo?

Then Janice and her 2 girls turned up and we all had a great time planting pea seeds.


The kids then were given some wood that I asked William to saw up … to paint and play. Each piece will eventually be hung from the trees.


I gave each of the children journals and a pencil … they write what they did and draw at the end of each day


James  mowed the lawn at the front of the garden … well done mate.

A lovely day and I’m really tired now.

Hopefully there will be more gardening tomorrow at Rossinver.

Hope your day was great.



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[wee note on Sunday … I had this post nearly written on Thursday and went to finish it on Friday … broadband was so slow I could have hand written and delivered it to you in person! I’m offline now until Thursday or Friday … off up the mountain for some peace and quiet … have a lovely week]

I’m sooooooo glad I’m going off for some peace and quiet on Sunday.

It was sunny and fab today … and busy with lots of good stuff.

I worked away with an artist … Josephine Kenny … to build a simple blog/site for her. Only took a couple of hours and I’ll post the link when she has finished adding text and a few more photos.

Thanks for the bottle of wine Josephine … no cash has to be exchanged … and 2 people are happy … win win for barter.

I went to Sharons to photograph her chocolate Easter offerings … once again … yum.

When I arrived she and Alan were packaging a lovely easter basket for a credit union (I think they ordered 4 for easter prizes).


Then there’s the little bunnies in their own wrapping … I dropped one by accident … really truly … and Sharon gave it to me.



She has created different size eggs … and a special one just for me.



don’t ask me how Sharon does it … but she somehow embeds the words into the chocolate. Something to do with reverse writing!

Thanks so much Sharon.

I loved the wee bag full of little creatures … baby birds … bunnies … chickens … and lambs.


you get all these in a bag … might even be enough for some of the chocoholics I know … you know who you are!

And … there’s  Sharon’s classic box of chocs … always a winner with me.


Some of the chocs can be bought online at Sharon’s choc shop … others can be picked up (or delivered) if you live locally in Ballinamore.

Finally … Sharon had created some lovely communion chocolates.




And … I couldn’t resist photographing some of Sharons amazing cake designs.


And Willowfield Road was looking very lovely in the sun today.



Contact Sharon for prices.

Postal Address:

Willowfield Road
Co. Leitrim


00353 (0)71 9644778

Email: info@cacamilis.com

After visiting Sharon I then got things ready for the Sunny Funny Garden.

I think there were 9 or so children … it just felt like 50 kids today.

Thanks to Janice for being the other adult there.

I started by asking the kids to gather leaves to put on the 3 plots I’ve created.

I said that I’d count to 60 and see how much they could do … this started a frenzy of running and laughing and throwing of leaves … and we got the plots covered.






There is a method in my madness folks.

We then put layers of newspaper over the leaves and held them down with rocks … will need to soak the paper. It’ll probably rain and solve that problem.


After all that work I invited the children to get a drink at the water bar!


I gave the children a little notepad and pencil each so they can record … write … draw … stick in leaves … whatever … anything they want about the Sunny Funny Garden.

Hannah B read me another of her poems … she’s quick and I like how she puts words together. I’ll ask her permission to print in in this blog.

I mix the gardening with art activities as they love painting.

I told them the story of Liz Biz Bees and how Annes husband Mike is travelling over 1000 miles to get over a million bees for a lot of hives.

[here are photos of Mikes trip]

Maeve said ‘wouldn’t having all those bees in the car make it hard to drive’

I explained that they would be contained in boxes.

And that started the kids off on bee sting stories.

I invited them to paint the wooden shed with bees … and I painted Liz Biz Bees … which they decorated beautifully.









They had a great time and pretty much help each other … strongly encouraged by me.

There were a few ‘accidents’ where they started painting each other … that’s part of being a kid and the paint is water soluble.

I love what they’ve done with the shed … everyone should have kids paint their sheds.

Finally we had a look at the lettuce seeds that had grown in only one week.


The other seeds are still hiding under the soil.

And another Sunny Funny Garden day ended.

I love spending time with the kids … and … I was wrecked.

Then took Coco for a walk … she was delighted and ran for 40 minutes.

Sunday … getting ready to go up the mountain.

Mags is away at a wedding so I’ve been popping in to feed Patsy (the perfect cat). Dropped in at 8am this morning to be met with her purring.

I fed her and she kept crying to be let out … I really really didn’t want to have to climb a tree … or lose her … but I’m a sucker for a crying cat.


[yup … this’ll be the 4th time Patsy has been in a post … and why not … if I was this cute I’d have more photos of me on the blog!]

So … I compromised and found some ribbon and tied it on her collar … and took her for a walk out the back for 15 minutes.


I send you best wishes for a lovely week dear reader and will look forward to writing when I get back.



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Fire going … had my roast breakfast (I bake the sausages, garlic and tomato and poach the eggs) … reading the papers … many cups of tea.

Coco is either chasing a ball around the lounge or sitting next to me.



I always read the paper with a pen and scissors next to me … to note and cut out interesting things.

So far 2 things have caught my eye

Really really low fares to Singapore and Australia until the end of June … as low as 630 euro return … and Malaysian Airlines is doing some crazy fare (you have a couple of stops along the way) to Singapore for less than 500 euro.

Need to attract some funds as I want to go to Singapore in the next 2 months to work with Marc on the design of SKIL2 and Life Dreaming.

The second thing that interested me a great deal?

A DIY paper log maker sold by an Irish company – Ecostore.ie

You make paper logs and they burn for up to 3 hours.

Here’s the How To instructions from their site.

I don’t know about you dear reader … but my coal bill this winter was beyond funny (as high as 30 euro a week when it was really cold) … particularly when you don’t have a lot of cash.

Many thanks to friends who gave me bags of coal for Xmas … they made my fire burn well during the very cold winter.

I don’t want to spend that kind of money again so the whole idea of making my own fuel looks like something I’d love to try.

It also reuses paper … and even after we use the paper to make the no dig beds for the Sunny Funny Garden … I’ll have heaps left over … and I do love my weekend papers.

So … for the cost of papers I’d already be buying (and you can also use any junk mail or a4 paper … jeez … I have piles of old work files I could use … brilliant) … and some time in the sun in summer … I can get a pile of free fuel.

And … Gabriel said I could chop some logs on his land … and wood ash is much loved by tomatoes.

A little forward planning and I could have really low fuel bills this winter …

What’s not to like?

The DIY paper log maker costs 34.99 euro and if you mention the Sunday Times Home section … you’ll get free Irish delivery.

And there’s more … I liked on their site that they have a section where you can haggle the price with them … and they have a lot of other great energy and sustainable products.

I also like their sectioned bin for recycling – makes good sense and looks like it holds a bit of stuff. I currently have different bags all around the kitchen and it looks a bit messy.

I could literally pick up the food waste stuff and put it in the compost bin in the Sunny Funny Garden.

I’m off back to my papers … I’ll add anything else of interest I find …

…. back again … still in the Homes section of the paper.

I have been collecting teapots … teacups … cake trays … for about 5 or 6 years.

I enjoy the mix of design + function.

The mag had a very quirky cake tray ( Blaue Blume) and a lovely teapot and cup by Ikuko Twamato … both very sculptural and full of sensual texture … you want to stroke them … and then eat cake and sip violet scented tea.


love this piece … and if they were laden with Sharon Sweeneys cupcakes & chocolates … heaven


so textural

I still love the teapot I bought years and years ago from a sculptor friend … it’s wrapped porcelain and I do drink tea from it now and again.


And I love these old World War 2 posters … kind of apropos for now.

I love doing the Sunny Funny Garden and learning to grow organic food at Rossinver Organic Centre.

Here’s the first Sunny Funny Garden post from may 2008.

One day I’d love to see land set aside in Ballinamore for allotments and community gardens … it would be practical and a potential visitor attraction.


Except I’d want Peace Gardens for Victory.

I’m off back to my papers … wonder what else will catch my eye?

Well well … this is interesting …

According to the article on community gardens

Trevor Sargent (minister for food in Ireland) has launched his Get Ireland Growing campaign … he said … it’s worth pointing out that councils are obliged to provide growing space for those who want them under the 1926 Allotments Act (The Sunday Times. 29.03.09. p22. home mag)

Cool … so … when I learn more this year I can see who else in town might be interested in starting local community gardens … and then contact the local authority and our local councillors for land.

I’ve gone awandering and found some good Irish sites … the Green Party have started a growing food site called Get Growing … and I’ve registered for updates and information.

I’ve also just written a story about the Sunny Funny Garden for their site.

There is also a newly formed community gardens network in Ireland and a great organisation and site called Dublin Food Growing with lots of info on … yup … food growing.

And just in case someone is reading who has a food growing project in their community in Ireland … and is looking for funding … check this outHealthy Food For All are funding community food projects over a period of 3 years.

ok … that’s taken a couple of hours of research and writing … all fun … and … I’m going back to my papers.

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Hi folks

Another cold and windy day … no way was I going to spend any time outside … really bitter weather.


And then a pile of kids turn up … thankfully I was organised.


They put the seed compost into seed trays (thanks to Eamonn & Noleen for giving them to us) and wrote tags that let us remember … the seed type and date sown.


Lots of chat and they were great … I told them how the seeds would come up in a week or so and in a few weeks (or when the roots can be seen through the bottom of the tray) we would move them to larger seed trays.


They won’t go into the ground until late April/early May.

I gave them (the kids) a glass of orange and a couple of choc chip cookies.

Then it was all over … until next week.

I put the seed trays into the front window … for sunshine … and then I let people know that the kids did it all.



Relaxing now by the fire … having fish and chips and lots of vegetables for dinner.



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