Ireland in the summer is gorgeous. You can never guarantee the weather, and it rained at least a bit most days, but on the very big plus side, this means that every day is beautifully fresh, and the countryside is a perfect irridescent green. Most of the rainy bits were early in the morning, so by the time we were all up and about, it was warm enough to go to the beach, even if we had to take raincoats with us, just in case...
We were lucky enough to be staying in areas of outstanding natural beauty, first in Sligo where so much of the landscape is made famous by Yeats' poems, and then in the wild Burren of County Clare. The girls loved it, especially seeing all their cousins, and driving the tractor on their uncle PJ's farm.
Although I didn't really get to read my holiday books as I'd planned, I instead found inspiration of a different kind. We went to see a house, where every possible sustainable innovation had been designed in to the build. Rain was collected in special gutters and treated for drinking water, the house was warmed by geothermal energy and triple-glazed wondows, the water was heated by solar heaters, the waste water was treated in reed beds, and there was even a wind turbine was being erected. I was in serious eco-envy territory!
Then a few days later we went to visit my uncle who had been building a solar water system from a couple of old radiators! He'd been quoted a few thousand euro to install a professional system and instead he'd got the bits he needed from the reclaimers' yard and built it himself. I was very very impressed, especially as all the adverts I've seen for such systems have been prohibitively expensive.
It got me thinking. I'm sure we have an old radiator somewhere in the shed. Now all I need is some black paint. And a little bit of guidance.
Pictures: Rosses Point, Co Sligo; Uncle PJ's farm, Co Clare; Uncle Peter's solar water system.
*Céad míle Fáilte - "A Hundred Thousand Welcomes" in Irish