Permaculture Gathering

Last weekend we went van camping again, this time to the All Ireland Permaculture Gathering which was hosted this year by wonderful farmers in Co Tipperary.

Wecome Gate at the Permaculture Gathering
Welcome woven into the land at the Permaculture Gathering



There was so much work done by members of the organising group before any of us arrived. Large tents  and marquees were set up for the many workshops that were going to happen over the weekend.

Toilets and hand washing facilities were organised and scrupulously managed for the entire gathering. The facilities were not only kept clean but incense was lit, fresh field flowers were placed there and safe night lights were managed at night.

Kitchen spaces both for serving, preparing salads and cooking over two large fires were build and sheltered eating spaces were arranged.

It is not necessary to be signed up member of any group to attend this event, whilst many of the attendees do know each other from Permaculture courses or from working together in previous years, others attend to learn about growing food or to learn about permaculture systems.

Attending the gathering is a great opportunity to learn something about permaculture as well as meet some really nice people, have fun camping in a family friendly environment, eat some really good veggies cooked outdoors on a fire, sing a song, learn a tune.

Beautiful Bell Tents at the Permaculture Gathering
Bell tents at the Permaculture Gathering

Although we do not currently grow food ourselves (unless you count the basil growing in a pot on the kitchen windowsill) we were welcomed warmly. We were also invited to run a workshop so we choose the subject of Off-Grid Living as a discussion topic and were delighted that so many people came along, we had a lively discussion and hope that we helped shed a little light on the subject.

Workshops were held on many different subjects, people simply decided what they wanted to discuss, to show or to teach and picked a time slot and a suitable venue from the workshop organising chart. We attended some fun workshops, I have still to finish the spoon that I started to carve at the Wooden Spoon Carving Workshop.

I picked up some wood carving tricks as I have never worked on such a small carving project before. I am accustomed to carving the wooden blades for domestic wind turbines so a spoon was a quite a difficult challenge for me and one which I relished. I learnt some good tricks for using and moving a small knife blade and had the opportunity to use a great variety of different carving knives which I really enjoyed.

Some workshops were very practical and others were lively discussions. Some titles that I remember were green building, living in a tiny house, cheese making, hugelbeds, regenerative agriculture and willow/rush weaving.

All the food was cooked on site using vegetables which were grown by the attendees so we were guaranteed that the veg was all fresh, organic and GMO free! The camp cook Sue had many able helpers throughout the weekend to help her with chopping and stirring as she oversaw the large task of feeding everyone on site. We have always asked Sue to cook for our own residential Wind Turbine Workshops and she delights in cooking for large hungry groups and absolutely loves cooking outdoors on the fire. Sue can cater for any event so if you would like to get in touch with her please leave a comment here and I will put you in contact with her. She is happy to cater for Paleo eaters too as she is familiar with no grain, no refined  or processed foods and usually eats low carb herself. Hopefully Sue will soon have a website up and running and when she does I will link it here.

Being Paleo meant that I had to take some responsibility for ensuring that I got my protein fix so I brought along some good quality Irish ham, rashers, eggs, goats cheese, cooked beetroot and tinned fish to supplement the wonderful vegetarian stews. Two nights before we were due to leave I placed two 1litre bottles of water in the freezer at the house I was visiting in for the week. When we were packing for our trip I wrapped each of the frozen water bottles in 2 sheets of newspaper and then placed each one in a plastic bag so that as they defrosted they wouldn’t wet anything. The bottles were placed in my cool bag and they remained partially frozen for two days helping to keep my protein fresh and healthy. The newspaper served the dual purpose of retaining the coolth (is that really a word?) and also to prevent freezer burn on my food.

We slept in a stubble field at the Permaculture Gathering
Our accommodation for the weekend at the Permaculture Gathering

The Gathering was such good fun that we hope to attend again next year. It was great to be surrounded by people who were all interested in doing things, not just talking about doing things as is so often the case.

This was a field full of do-ers which was a delight in itself. The event was drink and drug free and was family friendly. In the evening people sat chatting after dinner, making new friends and renewing old friendships.

There was a noise curfew for the camping/kitchen field and those of us were staying up past 10pm headed up to the large marquee for music, singing, poetry and story-telling with a little dancing thrown in.

There was an outdoor fire circle for those who wanted to sit outside and because Sat evening had such a heavy downpour of rain following the afternoon thunderstorm some people were indeed happy to be outside on a dry night. Keep an eye on the Irish Permaculture website for details of next years Gathering, you will not be disappointed if you go.

Camping at the all Ireland Permaculture Gathering
The Permaculture Gathering

Camping in the Summer

We try to go camping as much as we can every summer, especially near the sea when we can as we love snorkeling and free-diving. This year we have not been to the sea as often as previously however we have still had some great camping experiences.

PaleoIrish camping
PaleoIrish 20yr old tent



Last month I went to the International Taoist Tai Chi workshop in Foxford, Co Mayo and I dusted down my old tent to go solo camping. I really enjoyed sleeping on the ground and listening to the sound of the rain on the flysheet. The fact that the rain stayed on the outside of my tent added greatly to my enjoyment. My newest tent is almost 20yrs old so I wasn’t sure that it would still be weather-proof however buying good gear has always paid off especially when it comes to hiking and camping. I store the tent in a large home-made breathable bag which also helps it to age gracefully.

Nobo Vegan Paleo Ice cream
Nobo Vegan Paleo Ice cream

Last weekend we did some van camping which is our usual habit. We went to Crann Og, a lovely organic farm near Gort, in Co Galway for a small community event “The Lunaghsa Fair.” We arrived along with some others on Friday evening to help with the set-up of the structures for the weekend and the main event was on Sunday.

We brought  a treat with us for our hosts, an Irish vegan paleo ice cream called Nobó which was really yummy. Of course we had to try it out in the rainy car park outside the shop to ensure that it was edible and there was still enough left for six of us to enjoy when we arrived at Crann Og. I love the name of this ice cream, bó is the Irish word for cow so it means “no cow”.

About two hundred people came on Sunday to enjoy the Fair, we had many different workshops on offer ranging from massage and cranial sacral therapy to wood carving with draw knives. There were games galore for both young and old and great food all day with the home made pizza oven and barbecue getting fired up in the afternoon. The event finished with a fiery flourish – a great display of story telling with fiery effects. For the full effect check out Crann Og’s facebook page.

 

Do You Have a Weighting Scales?

How often do you weigh yourself? Do you only weigh yourself only when you are trying to loose weight or do you weigh yourself regularly even when you are happy with your weight?

LilySlim Weight loss tickers

I have weighed myself only four times since I started on this healthier eating journey last October, in fact I don’t even possess a weighting scales! I don’t want to become too focused on how much weight I am loosing or spend my days worrying about whether I lost a pound or a few ounces today.

One of the reasons that I switched to eating Primal or Paleo style food was to loose weight and I am succeeding at a pace that I am happy with. Weight loss was not the only reason that I made some changes to my eating habits, I also changed because it was obvious for quite some time that I had a big problem with sugar. A few years ago I stopped eating biscuits (cookies) and I stayed off them since then, however that didn’t stop me from eating cheesecakes or fruit trifles, mince pies with brandy butter etc – you get the general picture.

There is some history of diabetes in my family, also heart attack and stroke so as I got older I also became more aware of the health impacts of being overweight and having unhealthy eating habits. I only ate sweet treats once or twice a week, most of the time I ate what I thought was really healthy food – organic oat porridge for breakfast made with organic soya milk, rice most evenings with vegetables, sometimes accompanied with meat or fish and I often had a big salad with brown soda bread (traditional Irish brown wholemeal bread) for lunch. I rarely ate processed or junk food and still the weight piled on and I could not seem to shift it until I stopped eating grains and sugar.

This weekend I visited a weighting scales again and found that I have lost more weight. I have also dropped 2 pant sizes since last October, I am now wearing a size 16 jeans and will soon be donating my old size 20 to the charity shop. I am not going on a shopping spree yet, I will lose more weight and so I can wait for another while before I buy lots of clothes. For now I am happy to be wearing a pair of my old linen pants that have been hanging in the wardrobe for over four years because they didn’t fit me – and now they do!

As the weather improves I will be getting more active outdoors and expect my body shape to change even more. I am hoping to enjoy the outdoors even more this summer and will be delighted to wear an old (discarded because it was too small) wetsuit when I go snorkeling this summer.

If you know anyone who needs a large pair of jeans let me know – I will happily post them 🙂