Monthly Archives: June 2013

Rosserk Abbey & St Mary’s Well, Co Mayo

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Last weekend hubby took me out for a mystery adventure. A mystery to me, as I had no idea where we were heading. Turned out to be here.

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This is Rosserk Abbey, or Friary, built about 1440. There is quite a lot of it left to explore.

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I had a friend come over my first year in Ireland, and she wanted to see castles. Well, not so many of those about. But there are lots and lots of religious buildings.

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Please ignore the immensely idiotic date stamp. I took this one with Hipstamatic, but had the wrong film set up. I can’t be arsed to remove the dumb-ass date.

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We got a tiny bit lost finding the place, but when we backtracked we were the only ones there. Not alone for long, soon we had Spanish and English tourists roaming about, too.

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The main tower, from below.

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The view from a tiny, tiny room only the two of us could fit into. I got uncomfortable waiting for himself to take the shot and asked him to move so I could escape. He wanted a pic of the fairy tree. That’s an older tradition/belief than what inspired the abbey to be built so long ago.

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Incredible stonework detail, holding fast despite being open to the wind and rain. You can still see every feather on those wings. A true marvel.

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The only other picture worth sharing that I took at the abbey. I didn’t have the fancy-pants camera, iDJ did, so I was restricted to what I could see with the iPhone.

Next. St Mary’s Well. Now, I expect there is more than one St Mary’s Well in Ireland. However, this was my first ever visit to such a place. I’m going to preface these photos with a reminder that I am not Catholic, and I have little understanding of the faith. That means I have no understanding of what I was about to see. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, exactly, but I was in for a shock.

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First, there was quite a long walk to get to the well. Walking access only. There’s the Abbey, across the field of yellow iris. So many iris!

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The well itself is inside the small stone building with the tree growing out of the roof. The walkway came in from the right, and you can see the tiny stream running from the building and off to the left, under the little bridge. The stones were numbered, in Roman numerals.

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Number V – looking back up toward the statue of Mary where the first picture was taken. I believe the idea is to walk the stones as if they are stations of the cross, or count the rosary. I didn’t think there were enough stones for either, but what do I know?

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Jesus, Joseph and Mary (and oooh, Mary looks very Irish, doesn’t she?) a small statue buried in weeds in front of the entrance to the well. Hubby had to tell me it was meant to be Joseph. Because he has a marble for a head. Oooohhhh-kkaaayyy… But that wasn’t what set the hair on the back of my neck to rising.

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The main entrance to the well. Clearly it is very small, and choked with offerings. I don’t understand this.

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Hair ties, barrettes, watches, coins, candles – antacids? It got weirder.

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The tree growing out of the roof is festooned in… stuff.

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The bushes up by the statue of Mary had a heavier load.

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Mary herself was decked out the most.

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It really, really surprised me to see the tokens left behind. Mostly, they were things that were close to hand and could be left behind. But what of the items clearly brought for the purpose? The photo of the baby – it breaks my heart. I can’t imagine the desperation of faith in bringing that photo all that way, to leave in the hands of a plaster saint, in the hopes that it can help in some way. I’m sure most visitors to the well came away feeling something quite different than I did. I was startled, dismayed, and it felt more like we’d visited Tibet and seen a tree bedecked in prayer flags. It was just that foreign, to me.

I am still fascinated how a place that used to be revered as an unusual and unexplained source of fresh water so close to a large salt-water body turned into a place where trolley-tokens and baby pacifiers are left as offerings.

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Supermoon

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I can’t take credit for these. While I was outside with him, it was iDJ manning the camera on its War of the Worlds tripod. We went down along the side of our neighbour’s house, on the right of way between more (empty since built) houses and a cow pasture (also empty – I think it is going to be used for silage this year).

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There was a lot of learning about the camera done that night. I love this photo.

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But eventually the cloud cover cleared, and he got ‘the shot.’

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It’s funny, but I’ve never been able to see ‘the man in the moon.’ There just is not a face up there for me. It’s only craters and mares. I guess I won’t be seeing Jesus in my toast anytime soon.

Watering it all down a bit

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I’ve been trying out watercolours for the first time since my age was measured in single digits. I didn’t like it then, as I’m too much of a perfectionist and it annoyed me that watercolour paint didn’t stay where I put it.

But life itself is much more fluid these days. I thought perhaps I’d let loose of some of my control-freak nature and just see what happened.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share my work or not. Again, letting go of the control freak, I decided what the hell. But I still have to give an advance apology/explanation for my efforts. 1. I have NO training on how to paint with watercolours. 2. I’ve not tried to do this in over 30 years. 3. My brain isn’t working quite right.

So. I meant to find hubby’s pastels and play around, because I had some good clean cardboard I didn’t mind wasting. Instead I found his watercolour paints, from… high school era. Black, white, green, red, blue yellow. Not a lot to work with! Also the only proper watercolour paper I have was gifted to my by Socks, and is post-card sized. So I sat down and looked at what she’d sent me. Paintbrushes that hold water in the barrel. Big black pencils that, mysteriously (to me) said watercolour on their sides. Hmm. So I did a quick sketch of the first thing that came into my head, in black, and then filled it in with paint. Here’s the result.

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The eye is terrible – but that’s the first thing I drew and the rest didn’t quite follow along those Disney lines. Ah well.

So, next was to find something else to paint. I wanted to do the bell from my local church. While thinking it over, I realised something. I’ve had a small set of expensive Derwent coloured pencils since I was a teen. I recalled that the tin they live in says ‘watercolour’ on it. Holy shit, I’ve had a good set of watercolour pencils for decades and didn’t know what they were for.

So I drew the bell. The perspective is all wrong. I know. I refuse to care.

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I thought about it for days before I finally got the nerve up to wet it down.

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I actually made the perspective worse! But I learned a lot and it was fast and, dare I say, fun. I’ve another project in mind, way above my skill, but screw it, you have to start somewhere.

A very, very, late request.

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Today is the longest day of the year. I’d love to see your photos of sunset and sunrise, with the time the pic was taken! I’ll post them, if anyone cares to try it. It’s 11pm here and cloudy, but there is still a glimmer of light. Any takers? I don’t mind if it is tomorrow instead, as I’ve only just had this idea.

To be honest, I don’t know myself if I can be up at 4 or whenever the sky gets light these days!

Here’s a terrible iPad photo of my night sky, at 11:15 pm. I hope you appreciate its crappiness as I have two freezing cold wet feet from going outside to take this!

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Greenery and perhaps a Giggle

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Hi, howrya? Please read that in the Mayo accent in which I would say it. I must apologise to all the bloggers I follow: I can’t seem to be able to comprehend very much, my concentration is terrible, and my sense of humour has nearly deserted me (when is the last time I tagged something as humour/humor? It’s been yonks). I do read everyone’s blog, but I can’t seem to summon up much in the way of a response. Sorry, I hate being like this.

What seems to be working for me is visuals. So! More photos. I did a walk through town last time. I’ve taken more shots in town, but I think we’ll go back to purdy flors again. Please read that in the NW Florida/southern Alabama accent in which I would say it.

First photo is a crappy iPad one. But, it is my mystery plant, and the mystery is now solved! First I have to give a shout out to the fabulous website, Shoot, and its plant finder. It didn’t take much time at all to get to the eureka moment and find the answer to what I’ve been wondering for weeks.

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Please meet my Mimulus! There are about 150 species and I didn’t have the patience to figure out which one I have. Or is that which ones, as there are three different colour blooms? Common name is ‘monkey flower,’ but I have no idea why.

The rest of my pics are taken on the new fancy-pants camera. Did I mention that it requires you to look through the viewfinder? And actually turn the lens to focus? It has a lovely big screen, like a digital cam should, but since I have to put my eye up to the little hole, the screen is always smeared with nose grease. That’s when my schnozzola isn’t pressing the menu button and changing the settings. Oh! Here’s a picture of the camera itself. I took it for a walk a few weeks ago. No pictures, because the battery, unknown to me, was dead. So I took a pic with my iPhone of the heavy-ass camera I took for a walk, in a bag on my shoulder, like an expensive pampered chihuahua. I thought I should take a pic of it just to memorialise the first time I took it out, since it didn’t bloody well work and I had no other way to record the day’s events. Yes, I stuck it on a stone wall in a cow field. Damn thing.

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Okay NOW the rest of the pics are by the pretty Nikon.

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Phlox, Phlox, Phlox, Phlox! My other mystery solved. I don’t remember planting this stuff but I have oodles. Really, oodles. Must have been one of those late plantings where I shrugged and said, ‘ah, who gives a phlox?’ It smells heavenly, and every flower seems to be a different colour. Sadly the bees don’t seem to know what to do with it. I have no idea what happens next, as phlox is a biennial and I don’t have any other biennials in my garden. We will see! But if I have to plant again, I will certainly put in fewer seeds. I have this stuff everywhere now. Not that I mind, of course.

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My leggy irises. They are already starting to fade, boo. But I love that second bloom, it has white streaks on it when none of the others do. Have I created a mutant?

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The weed! I love it. Screw the neighbours and their store-bought plug plants. Weeds are pretty too, and free!

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This is a Houttuynia cordata ‘pied piper.’ We, um, kind of stole it from the church’s badly-cared-for gravel ‘landscaped’ parking lot. It’s in a pot and usually lives indoors – but I’ve seen a local garden where it has rather naturalised. I put it outside early this year and it is so very happy. I wish the colours were true to life – they aren’t, even after some tweaking using Perfectly Clear. That one leaf at bottom slightly to the left is amazingly bright! I couldn’t get fancy-pants camera to focus on just that leaf like I wanted it to. Maybe I should read the manual. Hahahah.

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Californian poppies! These are blooms on the plants that survived the winter here – I never thought that something with ‘Californian’ in the name could survive so well here. But they seem to be slug-proof and the seeds are numerous and very viable. I’ll have these for the rest of my life, I think!

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I’ll wrap up with my broad beans, I’ve never grown these before, and I’m astounded with how beautiful the flowers are. I had the most difficult time getting these photos. Nothing looked in focus, and I just couldn’t seem to capture that pale pink blush at the base of each flower. It shouted at me, that pink, when looking at the blooms. But it was so shy and didn’t want to be caught.

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The bees love them, too.

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Strollin’ through the town today

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Yesterday morn I took the dogeen for a walk, and I saw a lot of things that made me think about where I live as seen through a stranger’s eyes. It was a positive experience – but as walking the dog isn’t conducive to taking photos, I didn’t break out the iPhone.

So this morning, I took a walk without her – but I didn’t get to see all the same things as my walk was shorter. Sorry!

One of the very first places I come to is the church. They are painting it. Yesterday was what they could reach with a long roller, but today the heavy machinery was involved.

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After the church I hit the main drag. The sun was playing peek-a-boo.

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It looks so colourful like this. It’s a terrible shame that at least 1/3 of the buildings you see are empty. Some for the entire 8 years I’ve lived here, and longer.

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An example – a business that has come and gone again since I’ve lived here. They sold ink. The pile of unread post inside the door is astounding, and that terrible white-wash window covering didn’t last even a few months.

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Another empty business – but this one (unoccupied since well before I moved here) used to be rotting and quite the eyesore. This year they cleaned it up and put up fake window stickers to make it look like it is operational. Fair play to the for that (click and zoom in to see the fake rows of goods).

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We still have a phone booth! There used to be three, but a couple of years ago they took the other two out. I have no idea what it costs for a local call – I’m afraid that it smells of urine in there. Probably not, but some things you are better off not knowing.

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Another shot of Main Street, heading back home now. You could almost see the church again in the far distance on the left. Almost!

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Someone’s well cool door knocker. I’m also looking for things to paint – so this one is hopefully a goer.

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The former bell at the church – hubby is quite happy to tell how he “helped” get it down, back in the day. It’s all programmed bong bong bongs now, which we can hear from our house quite easily. I want to try to paint this, too.

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Of course, I had a very, very, disappointed dog waiting for me when I got home. Funny now she looks like an orang-utan, isn’t it? And hey! There’s me taking the pic!

Anticipation

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Greetings and salutations.

My beloved sunshine is taking a holiday this week, so I’m stuck inside again. I don’t care for it, nosiree. All I can see inside is all the crap that needs done – dust and junk everywhere, paperwork needing filed, dishes to wash, blah blah blah. I do a bit when I can face it. It’s pretty overwhelming.

I fixed the sliding glass door as it kept sticking, but it is sticking again. I fixed hubby’s sneakers but they haven’t been tested for durability yet. Um. I’m sure I’ve done more but my powers of concentration are pretty weak. Someone gave me Kryptonite apparently. Or it could be the depression, or the happy pills trying desperately to work. We will see. I’ve been let off work until June 29. Wow. I didn’t think I was that bad. Doc thinks I am. And while I can’t get fired, I am only getting €84 a week for being out sick. That means I’m worth about €2.10 an hour, or about $2.80. With no tips on the horizon. Pretty much I’m running the household into the negative just by being alive. Ah, I’m all cheered up now.

So! My theme today is anticipation. Me getting better is something I’m still unable to see myself. So I’ll have to go with my garden and all the exciting things about to happen out there, in the slow, green, growing world. Good thing – that’s about the most excitement I can handle right now. I got the shakes just from a dentist appointment – and I’m a very good, non-terrified dental patient.

Anticipation of these babies from last year, whatever they are. iDJ’s uncle knows but I’ve forgotten.

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Sorry, I forgot these first pics were taken on our new superduper camera, a Nikon D3100. I can barely use it, so these pics are probably friggin’ enormous.

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Smaller, I hope. They all are the same size on my iPad! My blueberries are all a bloom and attract so many bees. Bumblebees, but I’ll take what I can get.

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New raspberry plants are just starting to bloom.

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…and we just had a small nuke go off in the house, because I broke my only, and 99.8% full, bottle of rum. It went everywhere, as liquid and broken glass are wont to do. Sigh. Won’t be anticipating another rum and Pepsi, I guess. Back to plants. Something’s got to cheer me up. How about a rosebud?

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Or a teeny-tiny baby carrot?

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My daisy-like weed about to bloom, backed by the mystery plant which now has red blooms to go with the cream and bright yellow?

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The orange lilies are getting so close – they are in a big pot and live outside all year around.

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The black lilies and whatever else I put in here are growing like mad – up to mid-thigh on me now! We are back to iPhone pics now, as I was getting frustrated with the fancy-pants camera (it was set to shoot raw, by the way. So accidentally I took really sophisticated pics of not-blooming plants).

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My California poppies – I swear two days ago there were no flower stalks. Now they are nearly ready to go!

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My last photo is not anticipatory. My iris have, boom bam wow, bloomed overnight. And I’ve never seen them so tall!

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A diary type of post

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Let’s see. Today, for me, started at midnight when I had a very late dinner of hot chicken wings, and then decided I would sleep in the hammock. I put out two blankets, one on top and one underneath, and my pillow. I also wore a long sleeved shirt, sweatpants, and socks just in case it got cold or there were midges aprowl.

I passed out quite quickly, as I normally do. This time it was without the help of a book or my ipad, as I didn’t want any settling dew to ruin either. I woke up all the way just once during the night, and looked up to see the Big Dipper overhead. I cuddled into my blankets happily and went right back to sleep.

About 5 am the sun was coming up, and it seemed that the dew point had finally been reached as I felt distinctly damp. I was also resting most of my arse and back on the ground. I guess the cotton of the hammock stretches more when damp, or it had finally given up on holding my substantial self off the ground. I brought my covers and pillow inside, and found hubby still asleep on the couch. I chased him off by talking utter nonsense, he told me later, and I didn’t wake up until 10am. Yikes: I’m normally up at 7, 7:30.

From the couch I can’t really see if the sun is out; can’t see if it will be a good day. I got up, had some water, drank the last of my iced tea, went outside for about 10 minutes and realised it was too hot, already – so I went back inside and watched a truly terrible episode of Stargate SG1. Just when I started to fall asleep I made myself get up and go back outside.

It was actually, truly, HOT today. By 5:30 it was 31.7 out – or 89 in American money (as hubby likes to say). I spent most of my day in shorts and a bikini top, and even then I had to move out of the sun quite often. I went to the shop once, for smokes, and took a shower (dammit, I’m peeling – I really did get some sunshine). After 3 I walked to the doctor and found out I get another week off work.

Hubby is doing a BBQ tonight – he goes a bit mad and tonight we have three kinds of sausages, chicken wings, pork chops, and maybe some corn (just for me). No, we don’t have company over. He just really likes to cook. He brought me a sampling of wings and a sausage a few minutes ago, as I sat out front getting the last rays. What a lovely thing to do. I feel terrible that I’m out front and he’s out back.

Oh, I should show you my tan. It’s especially funny compared to hubby’s Irish complexion:

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Is that not bloody amazing? I love how he only has freckles up to where a short-sleeved shirt ends, and then he’s alabaster white above that line. Me? Even the paler underside of my arms, or my palms, aren’t as white as he is. He truly is the whitest man I know. Who loves hip-hop. Go figure.

Sun has cooked my brain

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Randomness will abound. Forewarned is forearmed!

I have a hammock now.

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Actually, I’ve had it for nigh on 10 years. Now I have a stand to hang it from. And even that took 3.5 hours of fiddling, giving up, and having some fabulous local welder a make me a longer centre pole so the massive hammock would fit.

My arse still hits the ground when I sit up, but it’s lovely. I’m desperate to sleep in it overnight. Maybe tonight?

I’ve been off work, because my brain finally had a big crash and now I’m on happy pills. About time I admitted I needed help. Coincidentally, the weather has been amazing and just what I needed. I’m actually peeling from a sunburn – I don’t think that’s happened to me since I moved here. I got so hot today I had to go inside to cool off with a damp towel. Woot!

I also went swimming today, but I didn’t bring my iPhone as it was scary enough leaving the car keys on shore while I snorkelled about. It was cold! But I had a good time. Here’s the view from where I parked.

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Well, that’s a crappy photo. But I didn’t want to take a pic of the two little boys in their underwear (knickers, they kept saying – thought only girls wore knickers?). Don’t you just love that warning sign?

I’m out front – and getting chewed up by midges so I don’t know how long I will last. I was out here last week (before the midges hatched), and the sunset was pretty interesting.

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I washed the car yesterday so I bet the reflections tonight would be clearer if the sunset was cooperating.

I still don’t know what this is. Help?

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It apparently comes in more than one colour.

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Okay my face is on fire from bug bites and I’ve retreated indoors. Little noseeum bastards. Like I’m not itchy enough on a normal day? Perhaps sleeping outside isn’t such a good idea. A bird pooped on my hammock today, anyway.

A bird with better aim pooped somewhere else this afternoon.

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That’s my iced tea, in the cup holder of my favourite camp chair. I was sitting and reading and suddenly – splash! tea all over my right bicep. I look in my cup, expecting a chunk of moss from the roof. No. It’s a perfectly aimed bird shit. Right in my cup. Thanks, avian friend. The tea was all warm and nasty from the sun, anyway.

Now, some say that having a bird crap on you is good luck (why o why). Immediately after this happened, I checked the lottery ticket my mother in law bought for me last week, and I’d won €12. But it was purchased May 31 and I only thought to look at it because someone said bird poo was good luck. Ooooo, spooky, eh? Hehehehe.