We’re just back from a week in (surprisingly) hot and sunny Ireland where we met up with some of Monica’s mum’s family. There were three houses and a caravan full of folk from Ireland and England, re-creating the holidays Monica had as a child. There were fairs and festivals every day though the weather diverted their crowds down to the beaches. Bandit won first prize at the Bonniconlon Show for Veteran Dog. We took a drive to Achill Island in the far west; Clew Bay looked like Mediterranean Greece in the blaze of sunshine. Monica and I enjoyed ourselves immensely, even though we had a grumpy dad, demented mother, hungry kids and the dog to look after. This will become an annual fixture, with luck.

That holiday was as far out as we’d planned in our calendars so we’ve spent this week reviewing our projects and tasks for the next season. Tomorrow, Monica’s away on a drystone walling course so that, even if she can’t lift big rocks, she can check the work of people who fix our walls. Next weekend, I kick off the forest garden project so there’ll be a bit of work in that. In October I attend five days of oak framing training in Suffolk which will skill me up to get started on a little gazebo-cum-bakery in the pigsty that will give us and my bread oven some shelter from the rain.

The pub over the road, the Bird i’th’Hand, is up for sale again. The previous buyers must have run out of money before they could convert it to a house (nice, has planning permission) or a housing estate (not so nice, needs permission and land needs chemical clean-up, much more profitable). Now we wait to see what kind of plans the next owners have for our view.

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