The weather outside is absolutely freezing… it has been for some time now and today the snow fell in Ballyboughal heavy enough to concern me. With that in mind I had reckoned I should do a post on some things frost[y] related.
In what I can only describe as a sincerely very welcome press release [and I get a lot…] …it’s especially for you guys and it’s all about birds. Got an apartment, balcony, a billion acres of garden or not then read on.
As you can gather the weather is causing havoc for a lot of of our wild birds such as the sparrow, the thrush and the Goldfinch and BirdWatch Ireland [I had mentioned the Bird Watch boys previously] are on a mission to encourage people to put out food for the birds that visit their gardens. According to Oran O Sullivan [this is the press realease bit…. 😉 ]
Cooked household scraps as well as peanuts and mixed seed all provide a vital source of energy for garden birds, particularly important as daylight hours are short and frozen ground affects garden birds ability to hunt for prey items. Remember to keep feeding regularly through the winter months, putting out food in early morning. It is also important to provide fresh water as many normal water sources are frozen over.
I myself like to buy a big bag of feed [both types] nuts and seed. The seed is so the little ‘uns get something [the bigger birds cant get their beaks through the gauze].
When I was growing up we always left out some stale bread and water milk for them… but then I have two dogs and four hens…. not really enough waste to around I guess 😉
Anyhow… it’s good fun and depending on what you put outside for them… it’s also free.
They say the gardening team were a special bunch. I’m unsure whether some meant that with a touch of humour…. 😉 But the truth is we were are. The reality is though that that humour is so necessary. When I think to one of last years highlights, that of Gerry taking the tv remote to work rather than his mobile phone… the milage 70 odd adults got out of that. Child like, maybe, but necessary.
With that in mind, it also summises the one thing you must bring with you on your trip and equally as important the one thing you must leave as home…
This year some of us agreed to lay amongst the random dappled paving *ahem approximately 3 metres of just pink and the white…. the laugh it got and I still smile when I see Adrian break out laughing followed by Betty asking who is that man…? as she nods toward head foreman Dermot. It lasted us the entire week…
If you were thinking of travelling across and you were on your own… you’re not. Everyone rooms in with someone. It was my room mate Padraic’s first trip. I never saw him until the Thursday 😆
On the gardeners first night that everyone was in Cape Town dinner was organised for us by one of our pink [t-shirt] ladies Rosetta. On the third night a karaoke inter team showdown was organised…. which the gardeners [jointly] won! It really is very much a case of as long as you have a name badge on you are not alone.
After hearing some of the school children sing happy birthday followed by It’s a long way to Tipperary to Anne Marie for her birthday… the highlight of the week for the gardeners[in my opinion] has to be Sluggers annual awards ceremony [the bit in the vid where we’re all in the school desks]. There were awards for best builders bum, legs, crappest workmanship, best excuse…. the list goes on. I won one of my two medals [yet again] for best chat up line… I have to thank [?!!] Niamh for this one 😉 It was just after 6am… or at least thats my excuse… 😆
Jees you’ve got lovely hair Elvis
The day starts generally with breakfast at about 6.15 – 7am depending. From there a coach brought us on a 20 minute jouney to the township from our hotel. Everyone is scanned in from the name badge. All t-shirts are colour coded. We had a morning break at about 10am and the lunch at about 1pm. From there is was straight through less a 3pm cuppa until 5, sometimes later. The coach then returned us to our hotels.
During the day, people were brought on a visit to a shack. I did this in year one. One meets a family who may be getting a house. One meets their family… gets an insight. If ever you doubted why you were there… that moment disappears within seconds of this. It is such an important part.
The work is hard. It is tough. I make no bones about that. Physically and mentally. One is away from home. One misses their loved ones, naturally. But what everyone takes from this is life changing and worth every sacrafice second of it. There are medics assigned to each team and believe me no stone in the preparation is left unturned. That said if you only came out to rub sun cream on builders legs, hand out bottles of salted water or plant one tree you have made a difference.
I remember on our final night. The rap party as it is called. Niall told the story of a man who went to the beach every day and threw a washed up starfish back into the sea. After some days of doing this every day, a man approached and asked why he bothers to do this…. after all they just keep on getting washed back up. What difference would it make? The man replied that to that one starfish, it makes a difference. That story is told by a man who every year I have gone has welcomed every single volunteer, individually off the plane from Ireland to thank them for coming.
To those of you who helped me out along the way… either by donation or just a helping hand while I was gone. To those of you who I had the honour of meeting while I was there and to those who are not mentioned here…. thank you, thank you and thank you so very much. I hope this goes a little to show my appreciation. You did make a difference.
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