Auction-bed, internet.

The witch is floored !

Was it a draft in the tent at Castletown Summerfestival, or just a change of temperature as the doctor suggested? Either way I am in bed with a throat infection, a cold and an aching ear. Or as someone said: you have a bad dose!  11705526_862901803795050_3297110389273009465_o

Double-back for a moment: Demonstrating the craft of basket-making in Ballyglunin was great fun! Several people came up to ask questions, took my leaflets or had stories of fathers and grandfathers who used to make baskets.The highlight of the day was weaving ‘fishes’ with the kids. The concentration while they were making a fish and the pride in the finished product was endearing.  I also ran into people I hadn’t seen for years and hearing how I inspired someone (who in turn inspired others) to take up college as a mature student was just the cherry on the cake. My basket-making may inspire others again, who knows.

Back to the present day. Being sick can be very boring, there’s only so much sleeping you can do, but with no energy what else do you do? I had previously planned to go to a local Antiques Auction, which was now out of the question.

I have always loved antiques, was surrounded by them growing up. My mother had a dinky little shop, just across from the zoo in my native city, with antiques and curiosities. Some of the stuff meant for the shop would end up in our house. She also loved going to auctions. Though I don’t remember ever joining her at an auction, I seem to have inherited the ‘gra’.

I love the atmosphere of an auction room. In spite of being potential rivals, ‘regulars’ are sociable and greet one another.Then there’s the buzz of getting what you want, for the lowest possible price. I always set myself a limit, so overspending is not very likely. If anything, I am sometimes too hesitant and miss the opportunity. In hindsight I often regret not going one more bid! But still, I have acquired some lovely items and was very pleased with the prices I paid. After all, it’s just for fun. As one other regular said: we come here to spend money on things we don’t need at all! True.

So it is mostly a social event and I was disappointed I couldn’t go. This time there were a lot of items I was interested in, including several lots of…..baskets. I decided to send my bids by e-mail, but that means your maximum bid is known from the start and you will not have the pleasure of ‘winning’ it any cheaper. Or deciding to go higher in order to get it. And then I came upon the latest advanced technology: Live Internet Bidding. This local crowd have joined a British website, where you can join the auction live from your laptop and bid from home in real time. You can make a wish-list for yourself as you browse the catalogue and even place an ‘Auto-bid’. The auctioneer does not know your maximum bid, so you go up in increments, as if you were doing the bidding yourself. While you follow the auction, with sound and pictures, you can also join the bidding with a click! 

So, yesterday I made my wishlist, chose my maximum auto-bid for the stuff I really wanted, changed the maximum for some items several times (sic) and ended up with a list that would cost me around €300 if I got it all. Whoops. Ah, not to worry. After a rather sleepless night, not from anticipation, but from ear-ache, I woke up shortly before the start of the event. I could not have picked a better way to occupy myself today. It was raining buckets outside and I had no energy for anything. My first auto-bid was very successful: an oak chair, for €6 under my maximum. And that was the only success! Everything else went for more than I was willing to pay. (Sorry my friend, you are not getting the blue wine-glasses, they were too dear 😉 ) I did a few live-bids too, but lost out to others.

All this from the comfort of my bed. The monotone voice of the auctioneer was perfect to put me to sleep whenever there were long breaks between my wish-list items. No real concentration needed, plenty of opportunities to doze off to the voice in the background. So, in spite of spending most of the day in bed I have been active and had a good day. Now all I have to do is collect the chair in the next few days. I intend to use it as my basket-making chair.

Growing, killing and making.

Growing willow seemed easy. It started with a few rods that came with the apple-trees, to support them during transport. These have now grown into proper trees, inside the hen-compound. When I learned about coppicing, to grow rods for baskets and living structures, I cut them down to shoulder height. I use the top half and the hens eat the leaves off the low branches. It seems only fair to share. The rest of my Saili-patch is outside the hen-house and gets cut down to the ground every year.SDC15987 SDC15950

Last year I saw the first signs of infestation, only in one tree, slightly isolated from the others. It was a white sticky cover, around the top of the trunk, at the start of the branches. And then I noticed that it moved!!!  Hundreds,  maybe thousands little white critters. I think they are white-fly or white aphids? I sprayed them off with water and hoped for the best.

However, they are back with a vengeance. The other trees inside the hen-compound are totally infested. Yesterday I carefully examined the Saili-patch and….. unfortunately the white monsters have spread to some of the plants there too. It seems that some types of willow are un-affected! But this time I am better prepared. I have a weapon of mass-destruction: it is called Garlic Tonic. No harm to plants, hens and environment, but many pests hate it!

Recipe: Crush about 3 cloves of garlic into 2-3 spoons of olive oil. Shake and leave to infuse overnight. After 24 hrs strain this into 1 liter water and add a teaspoon of washing-up liquid (Ecover is best for environment). Strain into a spray and spray liberally on the offending creatures! Additions of cinnamon or chilli-pepper have been advised, to make it even more potent, these need to be dissolved in hot water first. I make two liters every day and repeat spraying. The roses also thrive with this and it can be used on any plants or vegetables.


Willow rods are soaking in the new troughs. To our delight, and admittedly a small bit of surprise, the troughs work perfectly, without any leakage to speak of! They fill up easily and it’s also easy to unscrew the cap on the drain-pipe to empty them. One of them is set up to be filled with rainwater, when the weather allows……. I took up the idea of a relative, to put a cover on top, so they can be used as seats also!


This idea was appreciated by the house-mates!

And it proves to be a handy work-bench also, with enough room to have tools and materials right beside you, where you need them. In the right weather it is the ideal place to make baskets!!!