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Country Living

Unloved February brings its many shoots of hope

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One of the many signs of the change in season.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It was only last week that a colleague of mine asked me if it was correct to refer to February’s first day as the beginning of Spring, reminding me of one the great little whimsical debates that has raged on down through the years.

All our meteorological friends will point to the first day of March as the start of Spring based on the empirical data of December, January and February, being the three coldest months in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, if we go back to our Celtic calendar and roots, the first day of Spring or Earrach is always February 1st, or St. Brigid’s Day, as many of us remember it as, in an era when saints seemed to be a lot more important than they are nowadays.

We were taught from our first days at school – ‘low infants’ was our official classification – that the crows would start building their nests on the first morning of February, as if our feathered friends had a calendar penned up on the nearest tree.

There are also of course the stargazers who base their seasons of change on the arrival of our solstices and equinoxes. For them, Spring begins with the equinox of March 21 (approximately); Summer starts on the day of the solstice (June 21); Autumn rolls in with the September 21 equinox; while Winter starts with the December 21 solstice.

Given that our Winter gone by (or at least most of it, again depending on which calendar you give allegiance to) has largely been a fairly benign one temperature wise, it was no great surprise to see a little spurt of growth on the lawns. Well, maybe not a spurt, but still a noticeable seam of greenness.

While the evidence on temperatures of our learned friends in the Met. Office is incontrovertible, I’m always inclined to go with the traditional view that Spring begins on February’s first day, when at last the first little signs are beginning to emerge that light is beginning to bite back at the season of darkness that has enveloped us for the past two to three months.

Like Paddy Kavanagh’s unloved dandelions on the headlands, February has often tended to be an unappreciated time of year, but it does provide many shoots of hope in terms of brighter days lying ahead.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Country Living

A stout defence of the humble sausage and its coat of ketchup

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Alas, I’m of an age to remember when such things as ‘shop ham’, tomato ketchup, Chef sauce and flagons of Bulmers (cidona, I hasten to add) were all considered great treats on the few occasions during the year when they arrived in the storage cupboards of the colder rooms in the house . . . kind of DIY fridges that didn’t require any electricity.

A few weeks back, as I was extolling my lifelong love for ketchup and my refusal to ever eat chips without a consistent lathering of the red stuff (vinegar is also another essential) when I was gently chided by a colleague about my rather crass dietary leanings.

She told me that she would never let a container of ketchup inside her sauces receptacle, whether it be a glass bottle (always preferable) or one of those more girthy plastic containers. The basis for her antipathy was, that ketchup when applied to food, tended to wipe out all other tastes – her point being that it really was a case of ‘what you were having with your ketchup’.

Admittedly, I was initially rocked back a bit at being chastised for my love of ketchup and from somewhere – and in keeping with the current mood of the nation – the words of the Garth Brooks anthem, kept filtering into my head of: “I’ve got friends in low places.” At that point, I felt that I dare not mention such things as sausage sandwiches on white bread, greasy streaky rashers, tins of spaghetti or canned fruit.

There’s scarcely a day that I pick up a paper or magazine where I don’t read about some food that we shouldn’t eat anymore or another product that was supposed to be very bad for us but has now been discovered to have enzymes and bacteria that will keep my heart ticking for longer; maintain my brain at its most perceptive; and keep such horrible things as ulcers and dodgy gall bladders out of the pain arena.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Country Living

‘For better or worse’ it’s a case of ‘til death do us part

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

It doesn’t happen too often but every now and again when I leave the mobile phone behind me on the desk after leaving for home or realise that a change of jacket or pants has robbed me of this link with the good and bad of the planet, I wonder how did we ever manage without them.

I was a reluctance inductee into the ranks of the mobile believing at first, they were a serious sign of someone believing that they had risen above their station. Even on the farm, there was always merit in having a good knife in your pocket (for practical purposes of course such as cutting the twine off a square bale), but mobiles in their early days did not have a macho ring to them.

They still annoy me greatly at times such as when suddenly awakens from a little doze on the armchair and the resultant escape from the chair sends the mobile flying across the floor but thank God for an otter cover which has proven to be much indestructible.

There are the times when the mobile needs to be retrieved from a trouser pocket in the middle of a car journey and in the end a large dose of patience is required to stop the vehicle and stretch out before rescuing the device from its ridiculous location in the first place.

When it rings 15 minutes into an early night of sleep, it’s hard not to utter a few expletives before grudgingly pressing the answer button and I’ve never quite forgiven the device for wakening one Friday night, just at the time of the Late Late Show quiz result, when I thought I had landed the jackpot.

Alas, it turned out to be a familiar voice on the phone asking me if I had heard the news that some elderly acquaintance had moved on to more heavenly pastures. But at least for about 20 seconds in that world between sleep and awakening, I had imagined hearing the voice of Ryan Tubridy asking me how I intended to spend the €20,000 cash prize.

Then there’s the scam callers that I seemed to get a rash of a couple of weeks back telling me to ring social protection as a matter of urgency or informing that I had won some international lotto which required a phone call back to verify.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Country Living

Never fun when one animal is isolated from rest of the herd

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No man (or woman either!) is an island.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

A few weeks back one of the heifers strayed from the herd and made an opportunist visit into a neighbour’s field. She wouldn’t have been known for her rambling ways, but a gap in the wall compliments of a windy night, presented the opportunity of a visit and the red heifer couldn’t resist the temptation.

All year, she had been a very reserved member of the small herd with pretty close to impeccable behaviour . . . well that is by the standards of any athletic Limousin.

The day of reckoning came when she had to be brought home after her wanderings and, in the process, isolated in a pen before being loaded onto a trailer.

Isolation did not suit this beast. From being a perfectly settled member of the herd (whether it be her own or the neighbour’s), she transformed into something of a raging bull when isolated on her own.

Only for the solidity – and height – of the neighbour’s pen, she definitely would have made her escape but when she was returned to her own gang, civility was restored, and she barely raised her head the next evening when the daily count and inspection was made.

It made me wonder about social interaction not only in the bovine world but in the space us humans occupy as well.

I don’t know how many times over the past few months I’ve remarked that, ‘I haven’t seen such-a-one for ages’, but of course there have been ‘such-a-ones’ all over the place for the best part of the last two years.

Admittedly, our escapes from Covid ‘house arrest’ have gradually evolved into more prolonged and less restricted   interactions with other humans (I hope I’m not tempting fate!) but still, a face that hasn’t been seen for a year or two, seems strangely unfamiliar.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

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