My Best Ideas…

IMG_8466…flit into my head as I walk the woodland sanctuary, for it is here that I feel able to simply be, unaware of even myself!

IMG_8459I imagine this is the same for most people, for it is in this state of unawareness that the creative mind begins to flow evenly, unstoppable.

IMG_8465It was in walking among the trees yesterday that thoughts began to emerge about writing and where it all began for me in earnest.

IMG_8462It was of course here at Bealtaine Cottage where I found “a room of ones own,” as Virginia Woolf referred to the creative space.

IMG_8422However it’s not just about space, but time also.

Here I have more time to simply be.

IMG_8417My brother Hugh understands the importance of creative space.

Hugh lives a solitary, happy life, in a small cottage without electricity, where he writes poetry and creates from hedgerow wood and excavated Bog Oak.

IMG_8432Although Hugh had never seen any of the images unearthed by Professor Marija Gimbutas, as she carried out her archaeological work in Old Europe, he was moved by the forces around his little cottage to carve this strikingly similar Bird Goddess image into an Ash walking stick for me. IMG_8431Much of the creativity I am immersed in is governed and directed on a deeply magical level by Mother Earth too.

IMG_8427I use the word “magical,” for what I cannot rationally explain.

Decorating an Old Cottage

sitting room at Bealtaine Cottage bealtainecottage.com 002

Those of you familiar with Bealtaine Cottage online and the many hundreds who have visited will be interested to see the results of what a little paint can do in terms of brightening up a home.

Yes, I’ve been busy over recent days, stood on a step-ladder, paintbrush in one hand and paint tin in the other, alongside dusters to remove the heaps of cobwebs…eek!

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There’s a certain old world loveliness to “Duck Egg Blue,” as the paint is referred to, more often than not!

The colour is reminiscent of the eighteenth century and the novels of Jane Austen…a favourite author of mine. sitting room at Bealtaine Cottage bealtainecottage.com 005

There’s a simplicity about the soft pastel shades which bring out the best in an old cottage.

sitting room at Bealtaine Cottage bealtainecottage.com 004

Decorating a cottage is fairly simple too, as the walls and general layout are quite forgiving…in other words, anything goes as long as it’s a good mix of styles and time periods, for a cottage is a harbourer of both!

The wooden chest of drawers in the corner is relatively new-style, but provides a practical function of storing clothes not in seasonal use…and what better position, than by the chimney wall, where dampness is never an issue!

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It’s a fuss-free environment indeed! Decorating an old cottage works well when one projects personality and quirkiness into the general style…in my case it’s always a case of what frugality allows for, so an eclectic style is as much practical as it is creative.

A reflection of what the great William Morris once said…”Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”...that allows me free reign really!

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Cosy. Practical. Colourful. That’s what works for me.

sitting room at Bealtaine Cottage bealtainecottage.com 008

The colours will also be a good backdrop to Samhain and Yule decorations…as many of the pumpkins are seasoned indoors and the window ledges are needed for storage too.

sitting room at Bealtaine Cottage bealtainecottage.com 010

And as for the paint…well, it does go a long way…

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Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is a mere 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

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Bealtaine cottage crafts 010Bog Oak Pendants are available from the Bealtaine Cottage Craft Shop.

Each pendant is hand-crafted from locally sourced Irish Bog Oak, an ancient and profoundly mysterious wood that’s been buried in the Irish peat bogs for thousands of years.

These pendants are hand carved from wood dated as 5,600 years old.

Visit:

https://bealtainecottage.com/craft-shop/

Little Things

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 012A day of many things, but mostly of remembering and giving thanks…thanks for little things…like fresh, Spring water.
permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com 012Seemingly inconsequential things…like an almost filled rain tub, a place where Jack loves to drink.
cottage 024 Things many do not see…little things.
Of a beautiful card made for me by a visitor… cottage 025and the wonderful, heartfelt message she wrote.
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Of all the little things we happen upon in our daily lives… those whose hearts we touch and all who touch our hearts.
DSCF1684It is indeed, all the little things, which really matter!

Vintage Ireland

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I recently came across some incredible vintage posters of Ireland as promoted by the Irish Tourist Board.

5c1965678f1b39459b7649e0a5a37a53 (1)I want to share some of these gems with you.

6c264253cf62f44195a1ccfee699775eThe artwork is stunning!

134e9219f82c35c43263ae06bfb689b1Much of it in the Art Deco style.

531d7a8f19978b9012686173d9b6f0f6These posters represent a time when Ireland still retained a distinct culture of living that was outside of the mainstream.

654eb97671d5d0cc7d8c1250d93b52f5The days before the dreaded “Celtic Tiger,” when much of what was distinctly and uniquely Irish, was set aside in favour of ostentation and materialism.

4370bd5e10c43a6ecea52132c62c6b32Bealtaine Cottage is one of the few old cottages that is actually lived in.

The new style is to live in enormous houses that are inevitably cold and beyond the habitation needs of the dwellers.

293378e32e041dfd563f5beb2f1bcd9eThe one real positive aspect of austerity, (and there are very few!), is that there is a slow, but steady return to what really matters…the land.

c33559bd37233575bd17925c86c739acI hope you find these images as beautiful and enchanting as I do…

A Sacred Space

DSCF1479 Early, matrilinear civilizations held certain areas as sanctuaries, for religious purposes.

DSCF1460These were marked out in forests as groves, and mountains with stone, but all bound with markers, many of which can be recognized in the landscape today.  

www.bealtainecottage.comHere in Ireland it is still possible to walk and sit in these sacred places near water, rock and remnants of ancient forest.

www.bealtainecottage.comIn ancient societies the Earth Mother was one of the earliest deities.

www.bealtainecottage.comHer marriage with the Sky God produced life on Earth.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis was a way of understanding the interconnectedness of life, for people evolving societies.

March 2014These are some of the Sacred Spaces that have evolved in the gardens of Bealtaine, each one co-created with Mother Earth.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe alignment of these Sacred Spaces holds particular fascination for me, for I have watched each one come into being and am aware that one must enter from a particular direction and engage the space on a particular alignment.

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Alignments that engage the human interacting within the gardens are particularly interesting…

www.bealtainecottage.com 075I watch where the visitor is attracted to and the position they hold upon entering that space.

www.bealtainecottage.com 039These alignments indicate energy pathways, referred to as Ley Lines.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011Regarding the Earth as sacred, allows one to engage with the possibility of co-creating Sacred Space. 

Autumn in the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage 013It is a way of opening portals to allow the Earth a sacred space in which she can re-generate herself.

permaculture cottage july 2011 003Abundant energy flows from these spaces, connecting the land around and drawing in more energy.

open weekend sunsetThis is the most remarked upon aspect of Bealtaine Cottage from visitors far and wide.

fairies 028This is the time to create Sacred Space…

chimes and angels…for when we regard Mother Earth as sacred…

kilronan mountain…we will cease to abuse her, or, more importantly, allow her to be abused!

Easter in a Permaculture Garden…700th Post!

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This is what happens in Permaculture…surplus is fed back into the system or shared out!

www.bealtainecottage.com In this case there was a small surplus of blue paint…the outcome is what you see here!

www.bealtainecottage.comI woke to a magnificent sunrise this morning…Kilronan Mountain is shrouded in mist, so doesn’t appear to exist at all!

www.bealtainecottage.comBees are buzzing and birds are singing to herald in this wonderful Easter weekend here in the west of Ireland!

www.bealtainecottage.comWith the emergence of Spring, several weeks ago now, there has been an accumulation of heat and light working on the earth that promises an early Summer.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe promise of seedlings has excelled…it appears that every seed sown has germinated!

www.bealtainecottage.com Fortunately, now that I have five beautiful hens, seedlings that are excess to requirements can simply be fed to the hens as a wonderful source of nutrition.

www.bealtainecottage.comSome of the seedlings are also used by me in salads, again a wonderful source of nutrition!

www.bealtainecottage.comSlabs of bedrock, rising out of the earth all over the land here at Bealtaine, show off their pink colour in the drying air of late Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses play peek-a-boo on the driveway.

www.bealtainecottage.comCrocosmia show off a vibrant lime-green in the early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBack to blue, because…

www.bealtainecottage.comI simply cannot resist it!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe vibrant pink of this Saxifrage has found a perfect bed in the gravel driveway…another reason why tarmac is a non-starter here!

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses aren’t the only things around here playing peek-a-boo!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mist in the valley has cut off Kilronan Mountain.

www.bealtainecottage.comFurther up the gardens, behind where I now stand, Comfrey, Lovage, Fennel, Valerian and Chives are all about a foot high and looking very robust in the late Spring, early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBy my feet, the Euphorbia flowers.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd indoors, on the dresser, reminders of Spring and Easter…

www.bealtainecottage.comHappy Easter to all!

PS: Next month will the my tenth anniversary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Today marks the 700th blog!

Small Spaces and Tiny Homes

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Tiny homes are becoming popular.

We are realizing the importance of space…the space we actually need to live comfortably.

If I had the opportunity to build another home, it would, undoubtedly, be much, much smaller than Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comLiving comfortably means a warm home, less opening and closing of doors, one big room where all comforts are to be found, much in the same way as the old cottages used to be here in Ireland.

www.bealtainecottage.comHere in this little Lodge, built onto the back of the cottage, constructed mostly from re-cycled materials, over-wintering is now embedded into my lifestyle.

www.bealtainecottage.comEnergy use is one-quarter of that needed for the cottage.

Small pieces of coppiced wood has fed the wood-burning stove, keeping all snug and cosy.

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This was a decision I made out of a challenge, to prove that it was possible to be warm and comfortable through winter…and it is more than possible, it is a new-found freedom!

Cheap energy!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is possible with a multi-faceted approach: one small, medium or even big living space; masses of insulation; small wood-burning stove; low energy lamps; a sofa bed, or, as in my case a bed that doubles as a sofa; woollen blankets and rugs; thick curtains and menu plan for cooking one-pot meals on the stove!

www.bealtainecottage.comA small clothes-rail doubles as a drying rail as the heat from the wood burner keeps the place toasty!

www.bealtainecottage.comI am a fan of the Tiny Home movement for many reasons, but, primarily because this way of living empowers one…absolutely! www.bealtainecottage.comThe more one can conserve and live minimally, the more power one actually has !

www.bealtainecottage.comPlanting lots of shelter-giving plants, shrubs and trees around it also helps the micro-climate inside and out.

www.bealtainecottage.comA place to sew and knit in comfort with the luxury of a kettle of ever-free-boiling water is magic!

www.bealtainecottage.comA door that opens onto the most sheltered part of the garden is a bonus.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd yes…that is an old table top up-cycled as a step!

Midwinter Cottage

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The air is still.
The storm has passed. 
Stillness and silence pervades the cottage.
Jack is in his bed, and the boys continue to doss away the morning in the Lodge.
A midwinter scene repeated all across the northern hemisphere.
midwinter cottage 006Someone remarked on the increasing silence they noticed in the world around them.
Midwinter is a silent time, suffused with echoes and occasional sounds from strange places.
Places that are more difficult to pinpoint on the landscape…it’s a trick played on us by Mother Nature as she paces the dormitories of sleep and hibernation.
midwinter cottage 014Candles illuminate the darkness, dispelling matt grey for moving shadows.
Jingles of Christmas on the radio, some lovely, most rapaciously dreadful, urging the listener to get out now and spend, spend, spend!
And so the radio is switched off and music switched on, low and evocative.
Midwinter enchants us all with memories of stillness and light, fires and food…times past, selected for our personal album of memories.
midwinter cottage 005I found this photograph recently.
It was taken around Midwinter, in a photo-booth in London, when I first ventured away from home and Ireland.
Scents were what I most missed.
The scents of home, like turf and coal smoke, wisping out of chimney pots on rows of terraced houses.
London was filled with new, more exotic scents, especially places like Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning, where Patchouli oil perfume lingered in the air.
midwinter cottage 004Working patchwork, brings me back to early days, in London and the sheer wealth of fabric shops and stalls, Laura Ashley and the love of William Morris retro!
midwinter cottage 007Colours, fabrics and textures continue to fascinate.
midwinter cottage 003Natural fabrics hold most memory…perhaps because they are from the natural world, where energy is hosted.
midwinter cottage 009Sackcloth and old lace cover a jam jar, filled with Honesty.
midwinter cottage 010Cotton gingham of various colours in the kitchen.
midwinter cottage 012Willow, wood and clay pottery, mugs and bowls.
midwinter cottage 015The morning, washed by soft midwinter light…not to be bought and packaged for Christmas, but absorbed by the celebratory soul.
midwinter cottage 013Blessings from this midwinter cottage…
 

The Haunting…

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With great longing for home and sadness of leaving, I made the journey back from Connemara today.

As I passed Kylemore Abbey, the clouds began a hasty descent, down over the mountains of the pass…

I longed for home, but was mesmerized by the play of light and mist that is a magical part of the landscape of the West of Ireland.

A landscape that haunts one forever…


Their cottage is surrounded by the most ethereal  play of light, being near the shoreline and surrounded by mountains.


I first met Terri and Lol when they visited Bealtaine Cottage to learn more about Permaculture and quickly bonded in a deep friendship.


I meet so many wonderful people here at Bealtaine and am often invited to visit with them, though rarely take the time to do so…

I’m glad I made this journey into the hauntingly beautiful land of Connemara…the images will inspire dreams for many nights ahead in Winter.

www.bealtainecottage.com 051The past three days in Connemara have inspired me in many ways.

I met some fine people and talked about wine making and permaculture.

www.bealtainecottage.com 060Connaught, the province of Ireland where Connemara lies, has, historically, been associated with immense poverty and harsh living conditions, though its beauty has kept it populated, albeit sparsely in parts.

Many Irish have emigrated from here, down through the centuries, especially so during the Great Famine.

 

www.bealtainecottage.com 014Yesterday morning, I walked in the gardens as the sun rose, and watched the mist slowly lift from the fields, that run down to the shoreline.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017Terri and Lol have planted lots of Willow, as a wind break and are developing a sustainable smallholding around their cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.com 029Living this close to the mighty Atlantic Ocean, the land is swept by salt-winds and gales, that roar in over thousands of miles of turbulent sea, making landfall, with all the power and destruction only those winds can carry.

The soil is scraped off rock and carried on the winds, to fill crevice and glen.

Even the cows have learned to forage and climb like mountain goats in search of food!

This beautiful creature stood atop the rocks watching the sun rise, as I walked in my dressing gown around the cottage gardens.

www.bealtainecottage.com 030In the distance, my little camera picked out the walls of ancient cottages, abandoned to the elements of sea, rain, wind and sun, casting imaginary sounds of past lives upon the mist that lifted heavenwards, in the warm morning air.

www.bealtainecottage.com 059As I drove towards home, leaving this magically, evocative landscape behind me, the sheer beauty of Connemara urged me to stop… and take one last image to share with you…

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Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is a mere 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

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You will then have access to the website and full blog as published twice each week.

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