All Posts

Review: Gelert Wind Up Lamp


This is the Gelert wind up lamp. I bought it in Millets camping shop in Mary Street. Not costing over €20, that I remember [I’m open to correction on this…. I lost the receipt so couldn’t double check], it is a pretty genius piece of what I now call one of my camping essentials.

gelert wind up lampI have another LED type light that I’ll review later but, this wins top marks for a few reasons.

I love the two light level settings. Really important when camping and considering others inside and outside of your tent. More than that it’s light enough that doesn’t wake a one year old by being too bright.

The big reason I like it so much, is the fact that one always forgets the batteries or leaves the light on overnight. In this case it doesn’t matter. I also left this outside over night in the rain for the craic, something that always happens with torches. It was grand the next day. It’s also quite durable and light wieght.

For this Irish camper it scores 10/ 10.

This is the lamp demo during the day. Recorded July 4th.

This is the lamp at night time. Recorded June 12th.

All Posts

Jane Powers – The Living Garden


Listen to the original audio as it aired on The Sodshow April 1st 103.2 Dublin City Fm

And to my review of Jane’s book….

Before I begin my review of The Living Garden, I must admit that I know Jane Powers. Who doesn’t, this is after all Ireland you say and Jane has been writing gardens for The Irish Times since ’97.

As to my knowing her better, Jane is a regular guest and contributor on the SodShow, the garden radio programme I present.

It has been a long time since I reviewed any garden books. Like ’80’s music I got quite bored. A bit of the same old same old, you might say. But this review is not the place for more detail on that, although, it does pose relevance to the reason I like this book, a lot.

The first thing I noticed throughout Jane’s writing is that she refers constantly as I, the singular, her, the individual – the gardener of her own garden. And it is from there that I get a better insight into what, how and why Jane gardens as she does. I can disagree with her as I read. Or agree. With her. I have done both before and will most likely do again. My point is that this is not a cook book. It is not a series of menu’s. And neither is gardening. This is Janes way of gardening as she does it, for real and it is written and explained in that manner.

On a slight side note, I was in touch with Jane Publishers looking for some images, Fabio emailed back asking me to ensure that: author and publisher are clearly stated. I replied asking for some info on the photographer [?] so as to give credit to. I got this note:

All the photographs I sent through were in fact taken by Jane Powers herself, and are © Jane Powers 2011. Let me know if you need any further info.

Now we’re on the same wavelength. You see I know Janes garden. I also know after 4 years writing this blog you can’t set up nature for a great photo shoot. Sometimes you were just there. And Jane as versus any other photographer was. Greater than that, it backs up what is in text format.

I love the oddball yet relevant and logic elements of the book. Jane’s plea to save the clothes line, a note on avoiding the Leyland Cypress, a crash course in thinking about vegetables. There’s a title called things that slither in the night – slugs and the like – it comes with a sub plot called strategies. It speaks logically about hens, about them getting on in life and gets you, to think for yourself, before, during and whilst you garden. It doesn’t assume I and you have a degree in horticulture.

Not to sound so grand, but I have studied horticulture. I have plant dictionaries, albeit very useful to me they are the worlds most boring books.

Similarly, I have always analogised explaining gardening with being thought poetry in school. One can tell me what the poet is thinking, the theory and theme of the poem. Or one can read me poetry, allow me to enjoy or not the tune being read and allow me to think for myself. Rather than being able to recite, I want to first understand. We may all be gardeners. But we will never know it all.

Potential or expert, Balcony or Estate, The Living Garden – is – a bible for those who may wish to begin gardening and a problem solving, idea generating, creative mind stirring directory for those who have a garden. More than that it is a genius piece of reading for those who, like me, enjoy gardening.

Nice one Jane. I enjoyed that 😉

Here’s the opening paragraph from the press release. In this I refer you to its closing line:

In The Living Garden Jane Powers writes entertainingly and expertly on how we can manage our plots – big or small – in a way that is both welcoming to wildlife and good for the rest of the planet. By cutting out harmful chemicals and using the right plants for our climate and conditions, we can make a garden that has a life of its own, in which flora and fauna are intricately interwoven.  Jane describes, in her lyrical but commonsense writing, how to plan and plant for birds, bees and other creatures (including humans); and how to grow our own food, look after our soil, make compost and plant potions, sow and save seeds, propagate plants and carry out other essential tasks.  She is in favour of sustainable, eco-friendly methods, but is realistic about her limitations.

The book is priced at £25. I don’t know what that is in Ireland/ euros. And is all good book stores now.

Janes confirmed book signings are as follows

  • Newbridge Silverware, Newbridge, Co Kildare: 3pm, Friday April 1st.
  • Brown Thomas, Grafton Street, Dublin 2: 2pm, Saturday April 16th 2011
  • Launch of the West Cork Garden Trail, Glebe Gardens, Baltimore, West Cork: time and date (June) to be confirmed

Also worth a read is Jane’s blog – one bean row

You may also enjoy this interview I did with Jane from 2010:

All Posts

Science Gallery – Green Machines


Today I visited the Science Gallery for the launch of The Green Machines Exhibition.

Whilst there I met with exhibitions manager and show designer Rob Warren. I spoke to Rob about just what, why and how you as visitor can get the most from kick starting the revolution.

Led by fellow team member Ian Brunswick I was walked through the exhibition and as mindful experiences go… this is up there with the very, very best.

It is mind blowing, engaging, mind challenging, eye opening and yet delightfully refreshing to see.

I absolutely loved it.

My advice. Do visit the coffee shop. Don’t be in a rush. The gift shop, if you could call it that – is an Aladdin’s Cave – so much so I’m going to cover that in a seperate post.  I absolutely loved every second of it. I will go there again.

I could have stayed there all day. I did 2 videos [see below]. Also I’m going to see if I can get the lads on the Sodcast Podcast next Thursday.

View my images of The Science Gallery – Green Machines Exhibition


I liked this:

really makes me wonder what green parties [?] are actually dreaming of…

I loved this:

It comes with the tagline ‘why are computers so hard to take apart…’

Thank you Science Gallery.

Eye opener is an understatement.

All Posts

Boyle, Co. Roscommon


St Patrick’s visit to the town in the year 435 was the first definite recording of Boyle’s existance. On this visit St Patrick noticed that there was very poor accommodation for travellers and he suggested to St Attracta, the abbess of Kilaraught, that she should provide a hostel. This she did and the town grew up around it. Boyle owes much to the fact that the great [Boyle] abbey was founded beside the town.

If ever there was a county in Ireland – nee – a town I would recommend one visit, Boyle is just that. My college head and nice guy from Kildalton Michael Conlon was from this town. I met his brother driving a Bus Eireann bus once. Long story. Nice guys. I can still hear Micks wry laugh when I told him. Not the reason I went there, but I think he’d be smiling knowing that I was visiting parks on my first ever summer holiday [albeit of 4 days only] as a horticuluralist. 😉

These are the posts I have done so far on the places I visited and can highly recommend:

What I wanted to get to [that I heard of but missed out on] and will return to see:

Necessary supplies and really kind people along my journey were found in:

  • W.J. Sloans [established 1863] hardware store on main street. You can literally find everything there. And I mean everything. I was camping – this shop is a mecca
  • Kellys Gala Express – vittles and culinary supplies. They do free range duck eggs here. The girl serving me on saturday had a smile and a laugh. I liked their window boxes too.
  • John Cryans Pub. erm… necessary supplies 😉 and an absolute gentleman. Also one of the nicest pints of guinness I have ever tasted.
  • Oliver & Peter of – they really did themselves proud and looked after this tourist. You can’t buy kindness and the stories Peter has in that brain are a million unwritten books combined. Go and say hello. Take a boat out. You’ll thank me for it.

That aside, the village and the peripherals are beautiful and well worth a visit. I’d reckon I spent a good four hours during the day, on each day, just pottering and wandering about and pondering the scenery.

The only thing I didn’t like…. the millenium water feature was turned off. Fix it lads. Doesn’t cost that much. Other than that 5* star rating. Love it. They say its the people that make a place. How very true. See you all again soon.

Anything I have missed out on or places I should visit…? leave a comment below and let me know.

Also, I loved the flowers in the town centre. There’s a chess players stone table and chairs right beside it. Next time I’m there, that’s were I’ll be seated. Happy days.


View some more random images of Boyle

All Posts

The Battle Of The Boyne Site


The Battle Of The Boyne Site was visited by The Garden Group yesterday Sunday 27th June.

For a group that is entirely run free gratis yesterday would not have been possible without the help of Aisling Mc Mahon of the OPW and her team who gave us a personal guided tour of the grounds and access to areas that are not as yet open to the public.

The place is absolutely brimmed with history. That aside, from a personal point of view, as having restored and designed 17th and 18th century landscapes, to see the before and then the end result after landscape restoration is simply amazing. I know I am not alone when I say I will return to this place.

There is so much more there than just history to see and do here. It’s also free as long as you don’t do the guided tour of the house. Which you should. The landscape is simply breath taking. Two displays were taking place while we were there. The coffee shop is a must…. the list goes on. Go. Visit. Enjoy. Wander in the long grass.

More Details at the Battle of The Boyne Website

View more of my Battle of The Boyne Images

Looking for more information:

I really enjoyed Sarah’s images of the Boyne Battle site trip – baffles me how she took this picture from the boyne site visit 😉 genius.

George has great [curious] images of the Boyne Site Trip.

John Williams as always, took these great shots of the boyne site tour. Keep an eye on his personal weblog. You wouldn’t know what boyne site gems he could pull out of the bag.

Check out these images of the Boyne Visit. Jennifer posted the rest of her [as always genius] images of the boyne day. Some bits in there a lot of us missed. Makes me wanna go back and stay longer 😉