The Road Less Travelled in the Hazelwood………

When we take the dogs for walk, we tend to try for places where they won’t annoy other people. That may sound a bit strange, but we like to let them run free where possible, and there are a lot of people who are wary of dogs.

We can’t guarantee that Missie won’t jump on the next child she sees or that Alfie won’t disappear like a rocket up the track to herd up the family ahead of us ( no matter how much training we have done). We’re very aware that every dog owner has a responsibility to be in control of their animals at all times, so in an attempt to preempt any issues, we keep them on leads where there are loads of people round and then let them loose off track through the woods or sand-hills.

One of our current walks is through the Hazelwood Demesne, about 5km outside Sligo. There are a series of walks here starting at Half-moon Bay, and stretching along the shores of Lough Gill.

Hazelwood was the seat of the Wynne family who owned the house and most of the surrounding lands for 300 years.  The Wynnes were a very important Sligo family and included members of parliament and High Sherrifs within their ranks. However in recent years the house has lain empty.
A factory was built on the grounds of Hazelwood House in the early 1970s for the Italian nylon manufacturer Snia. This factory closed down in 1982 and the premises were sold to Korean company Saehan Media which made video tapes at the plant for 15 years until 2006. Recently the entire site has been bought by Dublin entrepreneur David Raethorne and a new future secured as a tourist attraction and whiskey distillery!
Val has written a piece on the house in her blog Magnumlady.

We tend to head through the forest instead of along the waters edge.

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Halfway through the forest we cut through the woods to the edge of the factory grounds. We never go through the grounds as it is clearly sign-posted as private property. There is no path as such, but it is walkable.

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The dogs love it as they just play chase through the trees. No need for fancy obstacles courses here! And we obviously are not the first to come this way as we found the Sligo version of the sword in the stone: the knife in the tree!

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And when finally get through the woods, the view along the Garavogue River towards Dooney Rock and Benbulben are stunning.

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Heading in the direction of Sligo  brings you to a very strange little building. It’s at the back gate to the old factory and I’ve been told that it was a pump house. I presume that the pump house was used to pump pressurised water into the factory as a source of energy. If anyone knows the hos and whys I would love to hear.

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You can continue on, but it leads to the side entrance of the House. There is a barbed wire fence across the end of the lane so we don’t go there. We come back along the shoreline part of the way, before cutting onto the track we started on. It’s a lovely walk at anytime of the day, but on Saturdays you might get to spot the local rowing club at play.
There used to be a collection of wooden art here when I first came to Sligo in 1991. Sadly the toadstools are the only remaining piece that I can find

*Sections of this route cross Coillte property, for up to date information on diversions/closures due to tree felling, please visit www.coillteoutdoors.ie

After the time out…….

I haven’t been here much in the last year…….. actually that’s an understatement; I wrote one piece in 2014 and that was that!

After Snook died, there was a lot of grief and anger inside me. Not at Snook or the world, but at myself. I had missed so many days out with Bob, Snook and Skip because I spent so much time in Facebook on the laptop or phone. There was always a comment to look at or an ‘interesting’ post to read… I missed out on precious moments.
So I made a decision that that would not be the case with the new pups. I decided that I was going to take them for walks on the beach or in the woods, or spend time in the garden and that I would reduce the amount of time spent on the laptop.
I may have overdid it slightly……….

Anyway another year has arrived and so I’m going to try for a bit of balance. Walk the dogs and blog a bit as well.

Any of you that followed me purely for viking related and wool topics may be a bit disappointed as Bob and I don’t seem to be doing as much as we did. Bob is still busy making swords and the like, but I seem to have lost my wool dying mojo. It’s still there but honestly I would much prefer to walk the dogs or work in the garden than dye wool. But we shall see where that goes………..

So I mentioned the new pups. And I guess I better introduce them to you as they will probably feature here from time to time.

I explained about Indie in the previous post. He has turned into a smashing dog. He has a great personality and is very affectionate. He’s grown a lot in the year and we love him to bits.

IndieHe is also completely water mad and loves to swim. Typical Labrador!!

IndieNext to arrive was Missie. She’s a collie/lab X with who knows what else in the mix, and she arrived in February last year. Another rescue dog, she had been found abandoned on a street when she only five or six weeks old. She was so tiny, but she too has grown quite a bit in the year. She’s smaller than Indie, but that doesn’t stop her from ruling the roost at home!

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Last to arrive was Alfie. He ‘appeared’ outside our house during the Fleadh last year. His dew claws had been removed and he was really skinny. He stayed here for a while but had to go when Missie came into heat. So Sligo Animal Rescue put him into kennels and tried to rehome him. But as winter approached he needed somewhere warmer and so we took him back as a foster. But before we knew it, he had wriggled his way into our hearts and we ended up adopting him as well!! But he’s a real sweetie and he’s here to stay. He’s a collie/whippet X with two speeds, fast and flat out so getting photos of him is pretty difficult!!

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So we’ll see where we go from here. You might find that posts are more about where we go with the dogs and what we do in the garden, but I hope you enjoy it, x.

An end and a beginning; Snook and Indie.

I haven’t posted here since we came back from the New Forest back in October. When we got home we discovered a lump on our beautiful Snook’s back leg. So we took him to the vet, and we were told it was a fibrosarcoma.
Sad day…… I work in a hospital and any word with sarcoma in it is generally bad news.

SnookSo we did what we could. After much thought and discussion, we took him to a specialist vet and decided that removing the tumour would be the best thing to do. Off we went to Galway and left our boy to have his operation. It went well; the vet was very positive. We got daily phone calls to tell us how he was doing, and the staff were so good to him and to us.
Finally we got the phone call to come and collect him; our boy was coming home!!

He collapsed as he was coming out of the van and never got up again. Half an hour later our beautiful boy had gone to the rainbow bridge.

To say that we were distraught would be the biggest understatement of the century. We had found Snook in a pound in Co. Tyrone as a eight week puppy. We raised him, played with him, trained him, took him to vike events, dealt with his sometimes uncertain temperament, but most of all we loved him. He was our boy. He meant the world to us. And he loved us back!

We buried Snook on December 21st. The turning of the year. And we tried to continue our lives, but there was this great big hole in our lives where the black dog had been.
So on Christmas Eve, Bob rang Dorothy from Sligo Animal Rescue to offer our home as a foster home for any dog that may need help. They were very grateful and said they would get back to us.
And on Stephens Day we got a call; someone had tied an eight week Labrador puppy to a tree on Christmas morning and they needed a foster home. We arranged to go and get him and met a little black puppy!!
We called him Indie as we were watching ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ the night he arrived.

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Four months later Indie is still with us, and we have adopted him permanently. He is a wonderful boy and sometimes I think he was an angel sent to look after us!; as one door closed another one opened!
Oh and as he is such a clever lad, he has his own Facebook page, so if you want to drop in and say hi!
Indie; 5 months old.

Versatile Blogger Award Nomination.

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Oh my – I’m hoping this isn’t a late April 1st on me, but I’ve been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award!! I have to say that it is completely unexpected as I’ve only been blogging since January this year!
I have to say that I feel quite honoured to have been nominated for this. So the first thing I have to do is thank Ed Mooney Photography for his kind nomination.

So being me, I checked out the Versatile Blogger Award Blog to see what the story was and found the rules.

‘If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

      •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
      •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
      •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
      •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
      •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So here we go!

The blogs that I would like to nominate are the following;

Little Viking Horse.
Opusanglicanum
A. J. Sefton.
My Shetland.
Jo’s Journal.
Fuzzbee Yarns.
Got Ireland.
Asnoc.
Kate Shrewsday.
Senchus.
Vibrant Ireland.
Adventures In History Land.
Ed Mooney Photography.
Ash N. Finn.
Feminist Crusades.

And finally, seven things about me……

  1. I’m not really a full time viking and I do live in a house,
  2. I love the Oseberg Ship finds; they make my re-enactment life much easier.
  3. My dad bought me a Shetland pony when I was four. We called him Hector
    and he was a little devil!!
  4. I love visiting old ruins with my camera in tow,
  5. I read pretty much anything, but particularlyfantasy and historical fiction,
  6. I have two dogs,
  7. I love watching quiz shows.

Steam Back in Time……. Llangollen Railway.

Even in the 21st century, the modern day viking has to travel. That means an overnight (or two!) stop in some friendly and comfortable Bed & Breakfast we’ve booked into. When we’ve been out of Ireland, we regularly stop off in Llangollen in Wales. It makes an ideal break in the journey that lets us get a decent nights sleep and a ferry the following afternoon. We usually stop at ‘Squirrels’  run by Peter and Lillian. I cannot recommend this wonderful guest house highly enough; there is always the warmest welcome when you arrive, the rooms are beautifully presented and kept and there is probably the best guest house breakfast I’ve ever had!

Llangollen is a wonderful town with good restaurants and pubs to pass the time in; it also has a lot of places for people to visit. On one of our stopovers last year we decided to spend some time on the Llangollen Steam Railway – vikings on a train!!!
You pass the station on the short walk from ‘Squirrels’ to the town centre and we’d often said that we should try it out; so finally we did!

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This was one of the best ideas we’d ever had; the ticket covers you for a full day. A whole day on a train line that runs for just seven and a half miles – you have got to be kidding; but we bought the ticket…… and spent nearly the whole day there!

The railway runs steam, diesel and railway cars from the station in Llangollen to the end point in Carrog. You can check the timetable to see what train runs at what time. We wanted to do the steam train journey as we had been on them as a kids and hadn’t been on one in a while. We had a chance to wander round the station for a bit before the train left. It’s like stepping back in time with the train blowing steam, the old trolleys and gas lamps.

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You can get up close and personal with these trains, and the drivers are very informative about them; what they are, where they came from and what they do! You’d almost want to get into the cab and drive it off………..

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The carriages are just as I remember the old steam trains to be!!

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There are several stops along the way where you can disembark and take a walk and then catch the next train that passes. The views along the way are spectacular; it really was a great way to just unwind, relax and be. The Dee Valley is a beautiful place……….

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You even get to go through a tunnel; I think I said to Bob that there was a one coming up and we should shut the windows; he seemed to not notice my comment, and all of a sudden there was black smoke from the engine blowing in through the open window!! He moved pretty quickly to get it shut! Look closely and you can see him. Trust me, there was a lot of smoke..

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At Carrog, there is a wonderful pub that serves food called the The Grouse’, where you can sit  and relax as you watch life in the Dee valley.

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The cattle were very entertaining; there was a family that had gone for a picnic in the cattle field. Being the inquisitive creatures they are, the cattle kept coming over to visit…… I think you can imagine the scene.; it was like watching them play tag!

And after that chill-out time, we headed back. The trains have to turn around to take us home; it’s quite a sight to see these old steam trains in all their glory in this beautiful place.

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Great way to spend a day,  and we finished it as any good viking would do in the pub; slainte!

The Long Valley……….

Many years ago I lived and worked in Cork. One of the places I regularly hung out in was The Long Valley Bar on Winthrop Street in the city center. I remember it as a long and narrow pub filled with conversation and laughter. It was a great place for a pint, with good company, and it served the best sandwiches……..

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Recently I  visited the city again as part of a viking adventure, so we decided to stay an extra couple of days; a chance to visit old haunts!

We made our way to the ‘Valley’, mainly to see who would be there, and if it had changed much since I left. On walking in the door, I instantly thought it was wider. It turned out that there had been some renovations and the bar had indeed been moved to give customers more room.

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When the owner remembered my name I was speechless; I left Cork over twenty years ago. Question was did they remember me for good or bad reasons?!! Well, it mustn’t have been all bad as they didn’t throw me out!

Sandwich ordered we sat and waited. When it arrived it didn’t disappoint! They are freshly made, looked amazing and tasted as good as it looked.

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We went back the next night for a few pints. The pub was quite empty, but it was a Monday night after all. There was a poetry reading club in the bar upstairs; form the laughter and chat that we could hear, it sounded like a pretty social gathering! Where we were in the bar, the conversation was good; and it felt good to be back there!

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If you’re ever in Cork and looking for a place to go, drop in and say hi!! And don’t forget the sandwich…….

You can also check them out on their website; http://www.thelongvalleybar.com/
They’re also looking for old photos of the pub and the clientele.

Where to start?!!

I guess it all began when I met Bob!

When we met he forgot to mention he was a viking re-enactor! He asked did I want to join him and his friends in their adventures! ‘Fine’, I said, ‘but I ain’t doing fancy dress!!’

Before long I realised there was more fun to be had in ‘fancy dress’ than sitting on the sidelines. So I asked a friend to make me some viking clothes and next thing I was having a viking wedding at sunset on a beach at Moesgard in Denmark! Wonderful memory…….

Time went by, and a friend decided to show me how to Nalbind. That’s viking looped  knitting to you and me…………
I agreed and we spent a weekend in her tent awning at Birr Castle with Audhild teaching me. Great fun  – from there I read everything I could about nalbinding and taught myself more of the stitches. Someone asked if my wool was naturally dyed? No but I though I could try that too!

That was three years ago – and now I find myself looking at plants with a different perspective. Not that they are pretty or things like that……. now I want to chop them up and put them in my dye pot!!! And the weeds that had a been a bane when I loved gardening are now my specials that give glorious colours!

Been a great journey so far and looking forward to seeing where it takes me next……..