28 November 2014

'Tis the Season...

More Christmas windows popping up on Ballinrobe's Main St! Bill was saying it reminds him of when he was a kid and his grandmother used to take him into Boston. I grew up in suburbia--I remember malls, not Main Streets (and I much prefer Main Streets!). I am so enjoying walking around and seeing these fun and festive windows--brings a smile to my face!

I'm afraid I do not remember which businesses these first two windows are a part of, but I like the big guy and the teddy bear!

The blue decorations are in the window of a hair salon.

The snowman is in the window a a business that does clothing alterations.

This is the gift shop on the corner of Main and Glebe. They have really done a lot with their window over the last couple of weeks! This is, I think, the third holiday window they've had up and I think it's the best one!
Here is the left side of the window: Love the Santa and the simple tree with buttons!
This is one of Walkin's windows:
It's really well done. I love that silver tree branch. We are keeping our eyes open on our walks for a fallen branch that we can bring home, stick in a jar, and decorate. This is a slightly different angle:

This is from their other window. I love the little "NOEL" decoration!

This is from Murphy's clothing store on Main St--the ornaments look like they are made of felt--very cute!

These are from Biggin's clothing store, which is not on Main St, but on Church Lane:
She's all dressed up for the party in her sequins, but she'd better hope the sparkles don't attract the polar bear :-)

Wherever you are, I hope that you will consider supporting small, local businesses like these whenever possible--at Christmastime, yes, but throughout the year, too.

25 November 2014

Christmasy Windows!

Ballinrobe is dressing up for Christmas!

The first window displays we saw were in the home store down the street.
Curious about what kinds of Christmas decorations are popular here, we went in to take a look around. Turns out that most of what I see is different from what I used to see in the US. Lighted things are very popular--especially twigs and different kinds of trees.

The tree with yellow leaves has LED lights in the leaves, as does the round one next to it.

The store has a pretty big selection of these cherry blossom trees in various colours (white, pink, purple, blue) as well as the multi-coloured ones. They also have them in tabletop versions. They even had a really nice metal wall sculpture of a branch with cherry blossoms on it--it was quite lovely, though it didn't seem like a Christmas decoration to me, even though it was hanging with the rest.

Lots of windows around town are being gussied up.

This is the flower shop downstairs and around the corner from us. They also sell wooden toys and if you look in the right hand section of the window, you can see a little toy kitchen made of wood--complete with microwave and washing machine. It's a really cute and well done display.

The florist on Main St doesn't do the toys, so they had a more basic display of poinsettias and little trees--steamy in there!

This is a funky little store on Main called First Impressions. It is a small, narrow little space crammed full of a bunch of different kinds of things--not sure how on earth she fit the Christmas stuff in there.  You can buy gloves, underwear, kitchenware, giftware, school supplies, rugs, cleaning products and more besides. I found erasers and glue sticks there one day and a few weeks ago we were searching in vain for tea balls, so we went in there hoping to find a strainer (sieve, they're called here) to use to make tea from dried mint leaves. We actually found two tea balls--exactly what we were looking for! We bought them both. Anyway, this is a nice display--makes you smile!

There are a couple of shoe stores on Main St. Both went with the theme of snow. Vaughan's has the igloo and Tierney's has the hanging snowflakes.

We saw this last week and their display has been changed since then:
We got a smaller version of the little snow person. I'm going to make a hat and scarf for her  :-)

This was from a residence that we passed on our way home today:
It gets a bit more festive every day around here!


15 November 2014

As Time Goes By

It's been fascinating to walk along the river throughout the 7 months we've been here and to see how everything changes. There's a spot we always stop and look at when we walk--the little falls that are there. When we first arrived, there was water pouring over them. As the water grasses grew and the water level dropped, there was less and less going over the falls. Islands and rocks started to appear just beyond the falls.

In late July, we watched some ducks crossing the largest "island" to get to the other side before walking back into the water:

By September 1st, the water level had started to rise:

Same spot yesterday:
There's been no sign of the ducks!

14 November 2014

Late Autumn in Beautiful Ballinrobe

It was a beautiful morning for a walk--crisp air, a bit of a wind, cool temperatures, an interesting and ever-changing sky, and a lovely landscape! With the leaves mostly off the trees, there's more to look at--amazing what's been hidden from view for these many months.

This tree is down the street:
The ivy is crazy here and it just climbs up and around a lot of the trees. It's not so noticeable in the summer when the leaves are on the trees, but it's really visible now! A lot of the tree trunks are encased in green!

I am quite drawn to bare trees and there are a lot of interesting shapes here now:

This looked like it was about 12 or 13 inches from the bottom of the stem to the top of the center leaf:

Nice view across the field--we've seen cows here sometimes, but not today:

A few leaves hanging on:

We found some cows:

Note the standing water. It's rained a lot here over the last couple of days and the ground is saturated. Other parts of the country are having problems with flooding. We met a lot of people who were out and about this morning and many happy dogs. I think they were all happy to get outside. At one point, we passed the guy who goes around checking to make sure people have their "pay and display" ticket on their dashboards. He was standing there surveying his territory when we passed and I said "Good morning" to him. He replied with, "Mornin' Not a bad one!"  Later I overheard one woman greet another with, " How are ye? Are you feelin' the cold?" I am getting used to the many ways people have of greeting people with remarks about the weather :-)

13 November 2014

The Scene at the Green

Walked around The Green this afternoon and enjoyed a cool, cloudy, autumn day :-)

12 November 2014

Another installment of: Life in a Small Irish Town. I had to sign a document in front of a notary public, so we could send it back with some other related papers, to the US. Bill had looked for some info last week and found a guy--law office/notary. I remembered seeing his sign on Glebe St--the office is upstairs from an artist's studio and we frequently stop to look at the paintings in the window. Anyway, turns out the main office is in Claremorris and he is only in Ballinrobe on Tuesdays between 2:30 and 5:30, so off we went this afternoon. We had just left our apartment and crossed the street when a woman pulled up to us and started talking. I had no idea who on earth she was and I thought maybe she was going to ask for directions or something. Nope. She said someone had tried and failed to deliver a hard parcel this morning, so they'd left it at the flower shop for us to pick up there. She was just going there, so we could get it if we wanted. She drove on and we turned around. Even though I had no clue who she was, she obviously knew who we are.
We got to the law office and did what was required--"this is standard procedure, you understand." Scan the passport, fill out a form that he gave me, wait for him to go through the checklist, sign his form, and then sign my form in front of him and wait for him to add his seal. Not so fast! The seal is not in Ballinrobe. It is in the main office in Claremorris. Our options were explained to us--he would bring the form there and affix the seal. We could then choose to collect it in Claremorris, have him post it to Ballinrobe, or wait until next Tuesday and pick it up at the local office. We opted for the post. Then, just to make very, very sure that we understood, he repeated the whole thing at least 3 times more. He was talking so fast the entire time, and repeating things over and over. I felt my eyes widen and I just kept nodding. Bill was trying to pay him and the guy started going through options again, including paying him then, "if that's alright!"  Bill was already holding out the 50 euros when he told the guy, "Yeah sure." The guy wrote out a receipt, repeated once more that he would be in Ballinrobe every Tuesday between 2:30 and 5:30, (although the seal is in Claremorris), thanked us for coming, and gave us a card in case we ever need any more documents notarized. "The procedure, " he said, "would be the same."

07 November 2014

What a Difference a Month Makes!

Bill's ankle has been bothering him to a greater or lesser degree for the past month or so, which means we haven't been out walking as much. When we did start venturing out, we found that the sheep down the street were nowhere to be found and there were cows in a field where they had not been before. The blackberries are mostly gone, although we saw a few latecomers today.

We walked down to the river today and walked part of the Bower's Walk. The last time we were there, the river was still quite low and not moving very fast. A rainy month later and things were quite different.
A little further on, the light was catching the leaves of the chestnut trees and they hovered over the water.

A month ago, the falls were almost dry:
Not anymore!
On our way back, I saw these funky things--I like them!
It was lovely to take a walk by the river again. Other than our apartment, it's my favorite spot in town!