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Category Archives: Education

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When we stand back to look at ourselves, our lives and the path we have carved it is quite easy to become complacent. Everyone is different, we all have special talents and different ways to look at things. Even the way we live, as similar human beings is completely different.

One big thing, I have learned and helps me to refocus and embrace change is that the seasons change and so do we! Our lives our outlook, the direction we take our lives is constantly evolving. Nothing stays the same. This for me is a great thing, and a wonderful way to take things in our stride and keep moving onwards and upwards.

There is always room for growth and change, just as it is in nature is truly a positive experience. All we have to do is look for the positive and get the help or assistance needed to make a change if it is needed. Growth is the best thing to come from change.


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I could not leave this monumental event in my life pass me by without a blog post. Proudly introducing Augusta, Demellza (I’m partial to Poledark), Molly and Polly. They are fabulous hybrids and settling in so well. Sending lots of thanks to the fab family who run FarmFowl in Wicklow, Ireland. We had a lovely experience buying the very lovely chicken coop and the hen’s from you all and your help was greatly appreciated.

For years and years I have been wishing and hoping for chickens, I grew up with hens and they evoke such lovely memories, and those delicious eggs! My husband needed a LOT of convincing, and he has come around at last. I appreciate that everyone in the household needs to be on the same page, as it is a team effort. The chickens are POL’s or point of lay. They will start to lay over the next week or so. Each chicken will lay one lovely egg per day and will continue to do so for up to 4 years! We are an egg loving family and it makes sense to have organic, free range eggs on demand.

My mini chicken farmer has taken to the job really well! It is so great to see a 5 year old full of self discipline and confidence that she can do the jobs needed to keep the chickens in tip top shape. I can’t wait to see the look on Eabha’s face when the eggs arrive!

So I am learning about chicken care and I love it. I have found some great tips and would welcome any advice from any other chicken keepers out there. Any questions please ask and I will gladly share anything I know!

Interesting fact: Did you know chickens are related to the T-Rex!! Read more here.


So I get that we all have to have fun. I get that kids and parents too like to have all the latest toys that are all the rage. But, what I don’t get is why nobody seems to care about the environmental impacts all these rubber bands are having and going to have on our planet. Shouldn’t we as parents be teaching a different message to our children?

Don’t get me wrong I am not blaming parents or not against having fun. I blame the people who come up with hair brained ideas that put more strain on the environment and use non renewable materials. I remember as a child using the leftovers of telephone wires to make friendship bracelets or wool, now we are leaning more and more towards rubber and plastics that do so much damage to the environment, animals and yes ourselves.

Take these points for example

  • Since the rise of the Loom Band this summer the demand has caused for new rubber plantations to be developed in East Asia. I think the people of East Asia and the world can do without more toxic rubber plantations. Causing loss of habitat for already endangered species, polluting rivers and water sources and creating more hazardous working conditions for people.
  • Children are waring loom bands too tight on limbs – needless to say what the problem is here!
  • Small pets and wild animals are ingesting the looms causing internal blockages etc etc.
  • The looms and all the itty bitty extras ARE NOT RECYCLABLE – in this era can’t we get manufactures to produce toys that are at least recyclable. So the 3million Looms sold worldwide will end up BEING INGESTED by our planet!!
  • What impact would ingesting these bands have on a child’s body? I guarantee babies and toddlers are eating these from floors all around the world.

I do love the excitement and enthusiasm these bands have created for an age group of children both male and female to the art of weaving. Weaving is essentially what it is. I could never see a 7/8year old boy starting to crochet a bracelet or even wear it. Wouldn’t it be amazing to teach children a craft form like knitting or crocheting using a renewable material, a skill for life?

I think we find ourselves in the crazy world of impressionism and consumerism. If we could only have a think about what we are being forced to buy, the impact it has on our planet and on our children. Some schools have banned them as poorer children feel totally alienated and vulnerable. I do have a loom band and ironically it is green, as green is my favourite colour. The irony lies in the fact that the loom band is so far removed from being eco friendly and all the things associated with being green!!


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Above: two rival male Robin’s have a little tete-a-tete and one holds onto a worm! Taken at the children’s play house located at the coffee shop on the grounds of Killruddery.

My husband thinks I am for the birds these days! He may be right but I don’t care – I have discovered that during the month of May the dawn chorus is insane! I recently took part in a down chorus walk on the Killruddery estate in Bray, Co Wicklow and I had forgotten how amazing the chorus is. Years ago when walking home from the night before, I didn’t appreciate the volume and intensity of tiny birds singing their song. On my 4:30am car journey to my destination I was giggling to myself at the numbers of young men walking home – alone!! I parked my car and was glad to see up to 20 other nature enthusiasts, you see I am not the only one for the birds!

But, just think about this for a minute – when we say that a person is “for the birds” we mean this in a negative way. WHY is this negative??? If someone is free and joyous why is this negative?? Birds are amazing creatures and the reason they sing at dawn and dusk I learned, was not only for the obvious reason of attracting a mate, but also to keep their territory and feeding ground in check. They are singing to tell all the other birds – hey its me and I made it safely through the night/day!

May is the best month for the dawn chorus because all of the birds have mated and they are more territorial and migratory birds are arriving back. I can only say getting up at 5am one morning during May is something to do in your life time – It will amaze you! The volume and intensity is something I was awe struck by.

Check out Birdwatch Ireland or your local birdwatch group for gatherings and events. Killruddery are doing another dawn chorus walk on Sunday May 18th at 5am. It is for members only so you will need to check it out here.

photo (65)On the subject of Killruddery and Birds – there are regular Falconry displays in the gardens in Killruddery and for children and adults with an interest it is well worth the visit. Above is a Lanner Falcon – check out more about this cool bird of prey here, but these birds helped fighter jets and Rolls Royce develop some interesting scientific things and solve some of their problems – they go that fast and have adapted some features (like their nostrils – when diving they don’t pass out from the g-force) features like this have been adapted for RR airplane engines. AMAZING birds.

 


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It is that time of the year again when the back yard compost bin produces the most lovely black compost fit for the most royal of my flowers and veggies. I was very lucky to receive a Green Johanna and Pet Pooh Loo from Great Green Systems as part of My Waste Free Home initiative where I am taking care of my own home’s waste on site.

My Waste Free Home means that I needed to find an environmentally friendly solution for all my house hold waste needs. Reducing my costs as I would be using my local recycling centers for the vast amount of items that can be recycled, so many more recyclable items can be recycled here that can go in your green waste collected by waste providers – saving stuff from landfills and reducing your house hold waste costs. At the moment I still have a bin for landfill but there is very little going in here. I hope to create a scheme where neighbours can share the cost and service of a bin for landfill as once you have your Waste Free Home implemented it runs very efficiently.

Food waste is a huge factor in everyone’s home, there is always stuff to throw out. For me the solution was to have a hot composter where everything from the kitchen could go and break down into my garden compost. Even meat and fish remains can safely be discarded – keeping your bins smell free!

The Green Johanna works amazingly well. I have mine since autumn last year (2013) and I put all of my food and garden waste into it throughout the winter. The result is some amazingly fresh smelling black compost that has been applied to my roses, rhubarb and worked into the soil. The compost must be turned regularly to keep it on track to break down more efficiently – something I need to do more of, it also give your body a good workout doing this!

It is a great feeling to be able to solve some of your own waste issues and the Green Johanna, in my opinion should be installed in every home. Having a composting system also helps children understand nature that little bit better, emptying the kitchen compost bin is also a great chore!

Happy composting everyone!! 🙂

 


richard mosse - the enclave

(Picture from www.richardmosse.com – The Enclave, production still, Trevor Tweeten (cinematographer) shooting Arriflex 16mm camera mounted on Steadicam in South Masisi, Nov 2012.)

Enclave by definition is a portion of territory surrounded by a larger territory whose inhabitants are culturally or ethnically distinct.

Art is all about expression and interpretation. Art can tell a story through many mediums. Sometimes those stories are evil, horrific and things that I can barely comprehend not to mention having to live through them. When Richard Mosse discovered the beauty that unfolded when a picture was taken using infrared film he wanted to use this to tell a story that would have gone unnoticed through any other form. (Infrared captures the chlorophyll in plants and turns anything green pink, it is not used anymore and was used for military purposes) The tormented history of the Congo is something that we all have heard about in our life, but the truth is, the tragedy and evilness does not stick to us. It fails to resonate, the suffering of a whole country full of people scared and killed on a daily basis, with no hope. Richard Mosse captures images that look pretty and inviting, you stand and look, the picture draws you in, you smile at the pink beauty – then you look closer and the evil appears!

I went to the Royal Hibernian Academy almost three weeks ago to see the exhibition, I have never taken so much from an exhibition. There is a short film as part of the exhibition, it is age sensitive. I could hear the film whilst looking but I was not able to see, my daughter who is four was with me. The sounds were of gun fire, helicopters, a little girl singing, screaming and other terror. The pictures were beautiful, breathtaking, swathed in fluorescent pink of landscapes and people. The sounds were chilling, confusing my mind. How can I look at beauty but hear terror. This is why Mosse has succeeded to tell a story that would have otherwise gone unheard. He photographs people both alive and dead and treats them all with the same respect. I want to know more about the Congo and if there is anything I can do to help these misfortune people ravaged by war.

There is a short vimeo film HERE that interviews Richard Mosse and explains more about The Enclave.

The Enclave is showing for its last day on – Wednesday, 12th of March. So if you can get to see this, it is well worth the visit.


January is the perfect month to try the LESS IS MORE CHALLENGE. With limited cash flow and an increase in fitness and healthy eating it’s a perfect detox from a hectic and expensive December.

All you got to do as part of the LESS IS MORE CHALLENGE is to do as many of the following:

  1. Pack a lunch for work.
  2. Use a reusable bottle for your water – Bobble Bottles are great for filtering as you go.
  3. Do not purchase Clothing for one day. But if you have to try to only purchase clothing that give back and make an effort to tackle environmental issues in the production of the product. I don’t think in one day you will in counter a fashion emergency!!
  4. Swap a Chemical Based home cleaning product for an ECO alternative, two of my favorite companies are Lilly’s Eco Clean & Ecover
  5. Recycle & discover TerraCycle and the ways you can help to “Eliminate the Idea of Waste”!
  6. Buy local organic produce or pre think your shop for the week to reduce food waste.
  7. Plant a Tree and/or a plant that native bee’s LIKE.
  8. Cycle to work or take public transport.
  9. Watch the film HOME & film Trashed.
  10. Just open your mind for one day to the little things you can do to instill change in our world globally starting with yourself!

If you would like to find out more check out The Less Is More Facebook page or sign up to my Claire Lewis Blog (bottom right of this page)