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Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. On winter solstice we pause to take a breath and look forward to the next cycle of life. Please come to the garden tomorrow (Saturday 21 December) if you would like to join our midday ramble in nature.
Our annual Walk in the Woods with be on Sunday 29 December at 2.15pm, tea follows in The Tent. Please join us and bring family and friends. It's always a fun gathering of friends as we burn off a bit of the holiday grub and refresh ourselves for the New Year celebration to come.
The Tent is getting a bit more action these days. We've had a number of gatherings at Ballin Temple in the past year and hope to have more next. We ran two CPD courses for primary teachers, a weekly Saturday yoga session, two Open Mic's and, recently, a big picture conversation on the occasion of astraea's 20th birthday, during which we linked up with a global audience through webinar/livestream. (That was amazing since we did it with a regular laptop from The Tent!).
Pam's teaching has been thriving as Yoga is becoming a more valued practice among people from all walks of life. She's started new classes in Shadow yoga, workshops for stress release and designed a new meditative retreat for Lisnavagh House & Gardens where she launched Yoga & Sleep a decade ago. After years of hard work and gruelling practice Pam was authorised to teach Shadow yoga in Ireland - the only teacher at the moment! It is well deserved. Pam really cares about her students - understanding their physical background, catering to all abilities, and referring to specialists when appropriate. Her consistency and continuous reminders to breathe have profound physiological, cognitive and emotional benefits. (Pam's classes start on 6 January. She is offering a timely Yoga Immersion Workshop: The Conscious Path, February 7-9 at Teach Bhride, Tullow - limited places! Check out the schedule here and get in touch for private and customised sessions.)
The garden has been amazingly active this year, with lots of success and some "learning" (aka failures). The saddest event was the extermination of our new bee-hive colony, and, possibly, also the colonies in the roof. The principal exterminator was wasps. Lots of them. (There are reams of video on-line as we tried to find out what was happening.) The sequence of events is not certain, but the colony swarmed in early July and we watched the swarm relocate to the woods. That was good because presumably that colony will survive. But the remaining population did not. One day, soon after the swarming we noticed more wasps than normal attacking. For two weeks we tried to help: narrowing the entrance, installing wasp traps, even standing at the entrance swatting wasps ... But I failed. Tanguy, my mentor, identified a buckfast bee in one of the videos. Buckfast bees are a hybrid which can become aggressive after a couple of generations. It seems one got in to the hive and punctured all the cells. This released aroma and invited wasps, which came en masse. I am sad and ashamed that I could not help. There were few honey bees seen in the garden afterwards (ie August onwards). A sign of the implosion of nature and a harbinger of doom.
While we were fighting to defend the bees, I read Buzz The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hansen. It's a great story - engaging, informative and entertaining. But sad, because the bees are dying all over the world.
Although other wild life in the woods and fields around us is less obvious, Tymandra put together a really cool guide to help visitors. Check out Mammals of Ballin Temple. It's great having a zoologist in the house!
Other livestock had their ups and downs too. The poultry flock was added to, but then taken from when a stray we homed for a while , "Poppy", took a few ... Tymandra did an amazing job of training 6 year old Buzz and then sold him on to a sport training yard. Well done Tymandra! She's now training and caring for horses in a sport and livery year near Cork. We have no equines at the moment but that will change. And we welcome interest in liveries here, which Tymandra is accepting.
An unexpected benefit of offering holiday cottages is that we get visitors from abroad who give us a little insight in to other cultures, for example we've Romanians and Koreans at the moment! We also welcome Ireland's own returning home - there's been a big push from South Africa as parents worry about the future for their children. Although we're in the middle of nowhere we still meet people from around the world!
Beyond Ballin Temple the world seems a bit madder than usual these days. We're thankful for our fortune to be a part of such a wonderful community and thank all our friends, neighbours and visitors who help us and make life so much fun!
Enjoy the bounce in to the new solar cycle. Have a great 2020.
Tom and Pam xo