Spirit of Folk @ Dunderry Park

dunderry park - spirit of folk

The Spirit of Folk Festival takes place in the magnificient grounds of Dunderry Park in Co.Meath. I visited there with Brian Greene to record some audio for The SodShow and was so blown away by the grounds we decided to give them the entire SodShow for Friday 26th August.

The SodShow – A Spirit of Folk Special (mp3)

Within the audio there is talk of the festival but, for those who have never seen a cairn [for eg.] or maybe have never seen the grounds, I felt some pics and one or two video’s might make it that little bit easier to imagine the audio as you listen. Anything more and I’ll have told you too much. Tune in tomorrow and enjoy.

They say:

Dunderry Park is situated in the heart of historic County Meath, close to the ancient sacred sites of Tara, Newgrange and Loughcrew. The 200 year old completely restored Georgian residence, is surrounded by 25 acres of wooded parkland and a lake. It is located just a ten minute walk from the village of Dunderry halfway between Navan and Trim.

Dunderry Park is run by The Oaktree Charitable Trust a non-profit organization which was set up to help people cope with the stress of life. We fund courses for individuals and groups which have suffered from the effects of trauma and also maintain the house and grounds of Dunderry Park.

dunderry park - spirit of folk

Listen to The SodShow Live at 3pm:

  • Tune in: 103.2fm on your radio dial if you are in the Dublin area
  • Listen live online: every Friday 3pm via TuneIn.com – on your phone or desktop

Listen Later:

More Details on Spirit of Folk:

With very special thanks to Martin Duffy, Caroline duke and Natasha Duffy for being really nice people. It was an absolute honour.

Gelert Compact Camping Cooker

gelert compact camping cooker

Officially titled the Gelert Compact Double Burner with Grill, I was given this to road test by Millets Camping, Mary Street Dublin.

I did this video around the time I got it:

A real opportunity came about to test the compact cooker when I was camping with 6 others [total 4 adults 3 children] over the August bank holiday weekend and this was the only cooking stove between us. Also my camping buddies for the weekend had never been camping before.

What I had neglected to do before going was to attach the gas regulator to the rubber pipe – the other end of which attaches to the cooker. Below is how I do/ did it.


With some just boiled hot water at the ready, hold one end of the rubber hose in the boiled water for about 25 seconds and then ease over the gas regulator/ blue coiled end. Then dip the other end of the pipe back into the boiling water and do the same for the brass bit poping out the side of the cooker – tight to the top as you can for both.

Then allow about [I suggest] 3 minutes for the rubber to harden/ cool on both ends. To attach the gas cylinder simply hold the blue top in place and turn the gas cylinder whilst it is upside down.

To start cooking, simply turn the regulator on [turn the black knob on the blue connector] at the gas keg end, select the hob you wish to cook on and turn this to your chosen setting whilst clicking the red button on the cooker to get your flame to start.

The only problem I had was that this cooker is far more efficient than the old stalwart I have always used and the food cooked a lot quicker. Other than that, to say this coped quite easily for the possé is an understatement.

The grill [in the middle of the 1st image above] needs to be lit with a seperate flame [cigarette lighter] but it is handy if you like your toast. As with all cooking gas I only used it outside and [on this occasion] chose to rest it on two concrete blocks I found nearby just to keep it off the grass.

All in all the Gelert Compact Double Burner with Grill is a real smart piece of kit. More than that, it looks like a really smart piece of kit. Highly recommended.

Vital Stats:

  • Weight: 4.7Kg
  • Pack Size: 56 x 29 x 7cm

gelert compact camping cooker

Gelert Beyond Starview Four Tent

gelert beyond starview four

Note, Millets in Mary street gave me this tent to road test. To this review, you might say I threw it up first go and recorded the video straight after. A sort of this is how it may happen in real life, so it’s not perfectly presented in the video or images, as per a brochure lets say. As I use it I may add a few images….

However, one of the first questions I ask myself, from experience, when choosing any tent is always can I put it up on my own and how long will it take for me to do that.

I pitched the Starview Four the instructions of which are printed on waterproof material inside its carrier bag as a by the way, in about 20 minutes. In a world gone Irish weather, that’s kids inside and dry.

Of note: there’s no outer sheet to go over the supports, instead the supports run outside and the bedroom goes inside, after the tent is in place. Small other touches like the repair kit, a variation of doors and how they open and the curtains at the front roll down into pockets make it well thought. Also I love the pre bent poles. In short, it strikes me as the type of tent a camping enthusiast invented, for a camping enthusiast.

Some weeks ago I asked Aaron, store manager at Millets Mary Street about this and the Gelert Beyond Starview Four tent.

Gelert Beyond Starview 4 Tent (mp3)

The big thing for me to get used to will be that the bedrooms are side by side, which is much better for a family with a 1 year old daughter. The other is that we can actually stand up inside it and sit inside without the wind rushing through and water dripping into the tents reception. Also I’ve never owned a table as there was never room before. The carpet, simply adds to the quality.

All in all, the Starview Four is a cosy, well made, extremely well thought out piece of quality kit. More than that it is without question the best tent I have slept in to date.

update: first family usage at Lough Ramor over 4 days

Vital stats:

  • Fabric: Outer: Polyester with waterproof PU coating
  • Inner: Breathable Polyester
  • Groundsheet: Durable Matt finish Polyethylene
  • Dimensions: Outer:  L 480 x W 280 x H 200cm
  • Inner:  L 260 x W 220 x H 180cm 1 x bedroom
  • Poles:  3 x 12.7mm Fibreglass poles
  • Extension:  2 x 16mm Steel porch poles
  • Brow poles:  1 x 8.5mm Fibreglass pole
  • HH:  5000mm
  • Weight:  16.45Kg
  • Pack Size:  73 x 30 x 30cm
  • Colour:  Vibrant Blue/Steel Grey/Anthracite
  • Pitch:  Outer first
  • Taped Seams:  Yes

gelert beyond starview four tent

Gardening Doesn’t Have To Be Hard Landscaping

It was very recently when building a patio for a client that I realised my garden blog may just have proved of some worth to another. I’ll get to the patio in a little, but to begin with my usual sidetrack, I don’t particularly know why I started to write a gardening weblog being quite honest. I think it was more just a way to put my extra curricular thoughts, albeit still gardening, somewhere.

I see things in newspapers you see, I read them and I wonder what planet has this person come from ?

you see the hens will eat the weeds in between my plants and….

And I wonder have the author and the said omnivorous creature ever lived together. I’m almost tempted to ask their opinion on which come first. And before anyone queries the meat eating bit, I have allowed edible mollusc’s to be entered into the newly elected category named fodder.

There are a few things in my garden that I know are sacred. They are surprisingly, maybe, the things that require very little attention. The smart moves. The pat yourself on the back at some stage in the future moments when you realise, you just saved yourself a lot of hassle.

Being honest, anyone who believes that there is a maintenance free solution to the great outdoors has most likely lost the plot [see what I did there… ]. One may believe that tarmacadam or even concrete is a viable solution to the prevention of photosynthetic life in their great outdoors, but the opposing  argument nee conclusion is that so long as it is possible – and it is – for any plant to find a means of setting up its home in the chimney stack of a house that is taller than me and you, then plant life will find a way of defeating man made. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

The alternate as I noted in my article on camping last week is not to try to beat the elements. The reality is man will never win.

…one develops a feeling, almost an understanding, not of how all the elements work, more how to work in tandem with them.

Instead, I found it better from a very early age in gardening to admit that weeds will always grow, that the plant we love best will always have an aggressor, a potential successor and also that understanding their life cycle is so much better that trying to change it.

When for the aforementioned client I laid the last area of paving, this being the something that was read on my gardening blog, the request was to leave gaps in between the patio slabs.

But the options when laying paving are very limited. On the one hand one covers a surface area with a solid surface that will, whether intentionally or not, attempt to keep water from penetrating that particular space. This may appear to have zero holding over a client who owns a garden the size of a small farm, but in a new garden, where space is limited, the drainage is poor and the soil not so great, one is quite simply pushing the water onto the part of the garden that is already finding it difficult to cope with draining that amount of water away. The other option, I shall come to shortly.

En mass, hard landscaping [?] is having major repercussions to the point that, as reported by The BBC, the London Assembly environment committee is asking for legislation to be introduced to limit the number of gardens that can be turned into paved areas. That bad, you might ask ? Worse. In January The Guardian reported London is losing 7410 acres per annum as a result of driveways being concreted in.

In Ireland some may believe that we don’t have issues of the Hydrogen Dioxide type. We may not, so long as the tap continues dripping and nobody complains. But as individuals when water metering does become statute, I see many Dads in sandals with socks, buying much aqua saving clap trap. And just as Johnny Cash kicks off on the wireless, the paraphernalia will be loaded onto the bandwagons and it is coming down the track. I have seen the future and that it the way it shall be.

So what the fork has this got to do with gardening….?

If you have been following my Tribesman articles you’d be aware I did a list for those that may wish to make changes to their gardens some weeks ago. A make a start sort of a wish list. But wishes aside we are at the cross roads were I may need to consider re-watching that Michael J Fox film from 1985.

I have planted trees to deal with the excess of weather stress testing to provide shade, to ease dehydration but also in places where the soil would water log. They are my gardens AirTex t-shirt, that splash of water on my face, my wind break and the thirstiest friend on a wet day. My grass is allowed to grow long in sections to attract wild flowers and my planting is loosely chosen but somehow includes flowering for almost every month of the year. My water butts mean my garden is disconnected from the mains and the fact that I use the word biodiversity as it suits me, at will and as an excuse for the non croquet parts means I don’t need to sprinkle my lawn.

Don’t get me wrong I made a built in barbecue. In my defence it was from recycled cobbles and although it used cement, it only used recycled rain water. As versus the 1880 invention by Thomas Campbell.

I may well just be the greenest man on earth as far as Galway is concerned but my garden is just that. The quest is to first strike a balance. And from there, together we shall proceed. This really does deserve a four page piece but alas I’m all out of words and I’ll hit more detail on this next week.

Halfords Urban Escape 4 Man Tent Pack

This is the Halfords Urban Escape 4 Man Tent [pack] retailing in Ireland at €229.99

This is what Halfords say:

The Urban Escape Four Person Tent Pack is a great four-man tent, with two separate bedrooms and a large bright living area.

A large bright living area it does have, in comparison to the Coleman Canyon 6 for example, but for me the tent compromises in achieving this on the sleeping area. This is really noticeable when, in the context of it being a 4 man tent, I’d be inclined to suggest 1 man [of my size anyway] each side. The bright  bit maybe depends a little, but I do like the large windows.

 halfords urban escape

The camping pack comes with the following:

  • Four deluxe mummy sleeping bags
  • Two double air beds
  • One 12v electric pump
  • One bright LED lantern
  • One bright LED camping light

I have always paid attention to 2 things when outdoors. Being waterproof and staying warm.

It is here I refer to the sleeping bags and just like any duvet/ blanket the thickness can vary. To give you an idea, my most recent sleeping bags cost €68 each, but I have slept extremely comfortably in temperatures a little under 3 Celsius. The feedback that has come to me is the ones that come with this pack may not be for a night that cold.

halfords tent (3)

NB: What is the Hydrostatic Head:

the pressure of water needed to penetrate a fabric. Heavy or wind-driven rain has a higher pressure than light rain. Fabric with a hydrostatic head rating of 1000 mm or less is best regarded as shower resistant, with 1500 mm being usually suitable for summer camping. Tents for year-round use generally have at least 2000 mm; expedition tents intended for extreme conditions are often rated at 3000 mm.

With a hydrostatic head of just 2,000 [the Gelert Beyond range is 5000 for example whilst the Halfords standard range have just 1500] and the fact that I prefer to camp in Ireland/ Irish weather, I would be personally hesitant to buy this tent on that fact alone.

In short I think you get what you pay for. The feedback that has come from more than 3 sources is that the tent is decent enough and so long as you are aware of just how waterproof it is.  The airbeds are considered good but the electric kit that comes with may not be of the greatest quality. It suggests it takes 30 minutes to put the tent up – once again a test run is highly recommended, before you travel.

These are the vital statistics

  • 2000mm hydrostatic head – the higher this figure the more waterproof the tent is
  • Canopy – Includes poles to convert the door into a canopy
  • Pitch size: 540cm x 235cm x 205cm (LxWxH)
  • Room size: 230cm x 160cm x 205cm (LxWxH)
  • Packed size: 86cm x 52cm x 43cm (LxWxH)
  • Packed weight of complete tent pack: 26.5kg
halfords urban escape tent