Summer has just left the building. We woke up this morning to an Autumnal air billowing about the bed and for the first time in a few months I had to close the bedroom window. This did not make me happy, as I like to leave it open for my bi-polar cat who likes to be inside, then outside, then inside, then outside. She has me trained well to leap out of bed a 4:30am to tend to her cries of being stuck either inside or outside, so the last few months of lovely warm weather has given me a break from her neediness.
But a bit of cooler weather, and hopefully a bit of rain, is much needed. I am in the final two weeks of Thesis writing (due August 15th) and incase y’all are thinking about going back to college take my advice. Get your work done and dusted before the kids get their summer holidays. Otherwise you are faced with the conundrum of ‘do I play with the kids’ or ‘do I do the laundry’ or ‘do I write the piece de resistance that is going to be the icing on my academic cake’ … these are dilemmas you don’t want to have because it is certain you will piss someone off with your decision making. But I digress …
First bit of news is about the orphan ducks. About a month ago, our (only) Indian Runner – Penelope – was eaten by the fox. She had nested outdoors, against our wishes but what can you do, and two days after she ‘went missing’, these four little urchins popped up under my bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning.
We tried to plop them in with one of our Muscovy Mums, as she was ready to have a batch of ducklings herself but she was having none of it and rejected them. A few days later, after her ducklings started to venture out, the babies all found each other in the garden and have been inseparable since. It appears that the younger ducklings loved having older (and very warm) siblings. Nature finds a way – every time.
Next up – what is this business with the Electric car then?
Earlier in the year, the folks at GIY Ireland let us know we were chosen to compete in a project known as operation #GIYNation and this year they have teamed up with Renault Ireland who provided 4 lucky people with electric vehicles for a few months. The idea is you drive the car, and report back on whether or not you like it, and might even possibly consider buying one. At the end of the 90 day test drive, one of the drivers will get to keep their car. (one in four chance is not too shabby!)
They gave us a Fluence ZE (2013 model) now discontinued, and it does not have a QC (Quick Charge cable) so the very first thing I have to report back on is RANGE ANXIETY. Those who drive an electric car will smile knowingly and nod along to the following and the rest of you will probably go back to dreaming about the latest gas guzzler on the market because you can get petrol everywhere you go, right?
Not so fast lads. The car is just a dream to drive. First point of dreaminess is that it costs just €2 to charge it fully and that gives you 80k – 110k depending on how fast you drive.
A few things we have seen thus far is that disappoint is:
(a) Not all charging stations work and
(b) we cannot use the fast charge outlets with the make/model of car we are test driving so a trip to Dublin would look like this …. full charge overnight in Galway at home, drive to Athlone (carefully as it is 90Km from home) and charge for THREE HOURS then drive to Enfield (86 km) then charge for THREE MORE HOURS before driving in to the city.
I think you can see what the issue is here. Aside from the fact that it would cost buttons to do the commute (as all public charging ports are FREE), time is money lads … and you’d be bored out of your tree playing that waiting game. A newer model (Renault Zoe) can go 220km on one charge – I hope the lads at Bradley Motors will let me have a test drive of that one next!
Due to my serious range anxiety the furthest we have ventured with the new car is 40km away. We have been to Rossaveal out west and then took a spin to Loughrea last night to visit a friend.
Aside from just commuting in and out of town, all other trips have started out like this:
Him: Let’s go to Dublin.
Me: Are you mad? I am in the middle of writing my Thesis and the last thing I have time for right now is to take on an extra 12 hours of sitting around waiting for a car to charge so you can drive up to Dublin. Take the train! (Admittedly, seeing this written in plain black and white, even I can comprehend that I might be a tad stressed right now, but I’m sure you understand. Five years in college trying to get myself an education is almost over.)
Him: I want to drive further than 40km.
Me: Ok, well lets plan a day trip where we have oodles of time to stop and charge in very interesting places and before we drive off into the unknown we will consult the forums and group on FB to make sure all charging points are fully operational. So we don’t get stranded … and need a tow.
Him: Honey – live a little. Take a risk. There is no need to be so anxious.
(Should be noted that whilst he still has his southern drawl which might be misconstrued for sexy at times, this tone was more of a ‘quit your whinging Woman’ in a pure thick Irish accent.)
Me: Red-faced and certain, even though we have only pulled out of the driveway, that we will for sure end up with a dead battery before we get close to his unknown destination.
Him: Threatening to turn the car around and leave me at home … agrees that we should stick within the 40 km radius until we are better organised and it is not 9:30pm on a Sunday night.
Range Anxiety put to bed, a few glasses of wine and a chin wag later with some friends (coffee for the driver) we head back home and lo-and-behold … he starts to freak out thinking we will not make it.
HA! I never thought I would see him so frazzled and it made me laugh like a lunatic so much so there was talk of the car being stopped and the passenger walking home.
There is a charging station in Loughrea town but even with a one and a half hour boost – we barely made it home last night with only 6km to spare.
The lesson here worth noting is clearly to never make fun of your wife’s range anxiety … duh.
The first one was a bit earlier in the year, with Strawberry plants. These were easy and we were delighted that they even produced a bit of fruit. The kids ate most of them but I managed to snag a few and have a recipe for you down below. Our Turkey, who is famous for photobombing many of my shots, now lives in the freezer. His time had come and we have turned him into a few different batches of Andouille and Italian sausages.
I’d be lying if I told you that the kids are jumping on the gardening bandwagon. Well, one of them is to be fair. Jack has a green thumb like his Dad.
He wants to grow everything, and remembers to water all the plants, and is the first to ask to eat it all.
While the others help, they are not always pleasant when doing so and although we have mastered the art of tuning them out when they whine … they still complain when asked to pull weeds but in fairness they know every herb, fruit and vegetable we have growing, and also know how to snip a few pieces for Ron when he sends them looking for something.
A few of their cousins are here visiting right now so we have sown a few more winter plants like Kale, sprouting broccoli, winter leeks and a few late squash plants.
There is something lovely about watching and listening to the kids telling each other what to do. Some of them know it all and the rest of them seem eager to learn. They all get very dirty so must be doing it right, right?
Ok – back to the Strawberries. Now, I know there are oodles of ways to eat them, and if you have a really big bounty you could even make jam, but we did not. We only had a tiny crop of very plump berries this year and I decided to make Strawberry Margaritas out of them. (I also made alcohol-free slushies for the kids).
2 oz Tequila
1 oz triple sec
Juice of 1/2 a lime
2 oz fresh strawberries
Lots of ice.
I like mine half frozen and half on the rocks. Throw everything in the blender and blitz until the ice is crushed. Rim the glass with a little sea salt then pour into over more ice – especially if a hot day on the island.
Ah summer … hope there are still a few weeks of sun left an they arrive right after August 15th so I can get out and have a bit of fun with the kids before they go back to school.
Thanks for having a read,