Spring has sprung…

… at last and it certainly has been a bit of a grim winter in our part of the world! At least we have had some sunshine over the last couple of days, which has started the process of getting the vegetable garden ready for this year’s planting. Time marches on to the heartbeat of Nature, as the buds appear on our fruit trees and the daffodils and crocuses burst into bloom.

COVID is still with us, although the infection figures seem to be reducing steadily. We are not affected by the lock-down, living in our own isolation way out in the countryside, but we do feel for those who are urban or city dwellers and confined to apartment blocks. What is alarming is the lawlessness witnessed on the streets of Dublin last weekend. Democracy within the law is a human right; mindless and seriously ill-informed objection leading to violence is quite another matter.

Did I Make a Difference Cover

The end of last month saw the release of “Did I Make a Difference?”, my memory of being a teacher for all those years… Tigh Hattie Press have also published the first two books (in their second or third editions), in the “Journeys of Rupert Winfield” quartet. The third in this series should be on Amazon by the end of this month. They are available as Kindle eBooks or as paperbacks through Amazon print-on-demand.

I am really enjoying the time I now have to write. In a past existence, such time and opportunities were often severely limited, resulting in long gaps between writing sessions, meaning that sometimes I even forgot who was supposed to be doing what in the story! Although you could argue that going through that was all part of a writer’s apprenticeship, I’m grateful that it is now a thing of the past.

Baking has also benefited from the time we now have to explore more adventurous recipes than hitherto. We’ve always made our own bread (basic variety!), but have now also mastered other specialty breads, croissants, brioche, French rolls, panettone, stollen and traditional Irish soda bread. I never thought we’d be buying flours in 15kg to 20kg bags! We also make our own mayonnaise, hollandaise, pesto, tahini and humus. With the help of a very experienced, prizewinning local beekeeper, we hope to attract two swarms of bees to our beehives this year. It would be great to add our own honey to the list! It would also take us one step nearer to our goal of becoming largely self-sufficient.

Saint Ruadhán Biscuits

We also produce several types of oat-based biscuits under our brand name of Saint Ruadhán’s Biscuits. He was an early bishop of the Church of Ireland who founded a monastery in our village of Lorrha in the 6th century. The village has a hall, which also houses a small shop (for essentials). We donate several packets of our biscuits to the shop every week, as our contribution to the Community Spirit of our area. The sense of “community” is very strong in the Emerald Isle.

I’ve also been asked to send one of my music arrangements to a university in the US. That’s the second such institution to have used one of my arrangements in one of their concerts. And on that musical note, I’ll send you all the very best for the weeks ahead and good wishes for Spring.

Have a good St Patrick’s Day!

Emoji with hat and mask

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