Date: August 31st 2009

What a summer!  It's passed so quickly it almost seems as if it hasn't yet happened.  But in fact so much was going on, time just flew by. 

Having the children at home all the time changes the schedule.  Having the whole family at home is lovely though it can pose some scheduling challenges.  They did some special projects and camps - hurling, soccer, riding and ballet were the main ones.  It means that there is more driving around than I expected but it can usually be worked in with other chores.  All our children helped in the garden too.  Tym did the most, putting in a dozen hours a week for a month and a half,  but everyone else did a bit here and there from mowing to sowing to harvesting. 

The garden has been pretty busy.  We had to harvest potatoes a little earlier than hoped because of warm wet weather in July, but we got a pretty good harvest (over 200kg) and they should store OK.  Onion and garlic also came out.  Lots of berries have been turned to yummy jam by Pam-ka-jam.  We're now harvesting beans, chard, courgette and tomatoes.  A couple of hens produced chicks, some of which have survived.  And we've started building the Halloween bonfire which will grow rapidly as we get in to autumn. 

We had friends visit us from another lifetime - Hong Kong.  Since then they have also married and had four children of similar ages to our, so both tribes got on well with each other.  As a souvenir we now have a white wall covered in chalk drawings created by eight young artists.

There was also a family wedding in the UK, which gave us a good excuse to do a touring roadtrip over a long weekend.  We saw some family and friends on the way too.  During the trip we saw some wonderful gardens which put our efforts to shame.  I had to take solace from the rationale that we don't use chemical help and do it ourselves.  It was a treat to enjoy well managed pleasure gardens.

Our children also participated in the community games which resulted in a couple of trips to Athlone where Richard did gymnastics and Antonia did the 800m.  Their achievements gave me some motivation to try to run again.  I tried to help Antonia train for the 800m but I collapsed half way through the first lap so probably provided more amusement than motivation!  It was painful and a lesson in ageing and diet!  After the games in Athlone, Pam took the gang for a camping trip in Galway including the Arran Isles so that the children, especially Jaspar, could enjoy a vacation as well as a staycation.  They had a great time including a dip in the Atlantic.

Finally, last week we focussed a bit on family because it was the triennial Rally of the Butler Society with which we are involved.  The society has a genealogical and historical interest focussed on the family name.  The highlight is the Society Dinner which was held in the Great Hall of Kilkenny Castle - a very unusual place to dine!  The members, who have an amateur interest in genealogy, come from all over the world and from many different backgrounds which makes conversation interesting and diverse.  This year the Hubert Butler Memorial Lecture was given by Martin Manser, who covered a wide range of subjects from Irish culture and genealogical history to historical buildings and Hubert Butler.  He noted in his prologue that we are all related to each other sooner or later - by going back only 400 years we have over 500 grandparents!  This observation of interrelatedness was reiterated by DNA discussion later on when various people were presented with charts showing how they are related to celebrities like Barrack Obama and Winston Churchill.  These were colourful reminders that we are all cousins.

Now, the nights are beginning to draw in and it's back to school - a painful experience for us all.

Pam's yoga lessons will start in a couple of weeks so let her know if you want to join in.

Hope you have a gentle autumn.

Tom

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