Summer Ramblings, a bit of everything

Things have been busy here at Aran Brew recently.

A few weekends ago we went to Eddie and Riona's wedding which was great, congratulations guys! Read their travel blog, it's great but it does make me very jealous of all the cool places they went to see.

We were driving home after the wedding and stopped to take a look at Lough Derravarragh just outside Crooked Wood. There's a great view from above the lake and we stopped to take a look. There's a field there and as you can see in the photo there's alpaca in the field!

I got to wondering if the farmer ever sells the fleeces and then I noticed a post box. Oh dear. I got out a pen and a paper bag as I had no paper with me and wrote a note with my contact details to the farmer saying I was a spinner and asked if he ever sold the fleeces. I apologized in the note for bothering him if he thought I was mad. Which wasn't unlikely given the state of the paper and the request.

I forgot about it and presumed they had rightly dismissed me as a madwoman but yesterday I got an email from the farmer and he said he's shearing the alpaca next week. He says I can come along and buy some fleece. Real alpaca fleece in Ireland, complete result! Sometimes it pays to write random notes.

I've also been sewing a lot recently. My Mum and I made a skirt using a pattern we made up ourselves. It's really nice but I have no photos of it yet. It was harder to do than I thought but I learned loads. In the photo is the beginnings of the spring ruffle top. This is going well, I did the top of it in an afternoon. I just have to do the bottom and join them together now. Hopefully it will turn out ok. I also bought some more fabric in Ikea when I was in Belfast, it was really cheap and I might turn it into some funky stuff for the house.

I also racked my Raspberry Wheat Beer onto secondary. I sterilized the better bottle then just put the frozen fruit into the end of it and racked the beer on top of it. I used 400g of raspberries and 400g of mixed summer berries. I tasted a bit last night and I think it's ready to bottle now. It's an interesting beer, unlike anything I've ever had before. It's light and not hoppy and pretty fruity, there's also a lot of chamomile going on too, maybe too much. I'd love to dry hop this with cascade as I think it would be lovely but that would disqualify it from the ICB all grain challenge. It's a quandary as I want to enter the challenge but I also want the beer to taste the best it can.

Dave and I went away for the June bank holiday weekend and lo and behold the sun came out. At one point it was 26 degrees which is very hot for Ireland. It was the best weather we've had in two years and luckily we were camping at the seaside for it. We headed up the causeway coastal route on saturday morning having been at a barbecue in a friends house in Belfast on friday night. I can recommend the Torr Head cliff road for anyone who likes driving along tiny roads with huge drops beside them. The view of Scotland from the head is pretty cool too. I didn't realize it was that near.

We brought the dog camping with us and he seemed to love it. We stayed at a campsite between Portrush and Portstewart. I think I'd prefer Portstewart for an evening out or something to eat. Westley was even left off his lead for short bits in the campsite and he didn't run away. We brought him along to see the Giant's Causeway. We'd been told it wasn't great but we really enjoyed the weird hexagonal rocks.

The dog didn't love it when we dragged him into the sea for a swim though. We went to Downhill, it's an amazing long beach with no stones, you can park your car on the beach too which is handy. There are also decent waves to play around in. It's just a pity the dog didn't like the water more. We also discovered a good way to cool the dog down on the hot days, we gave him ice. He loved it.

I also found time to sit outside doing some crochet while sipping a lovely cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. We bought some beer up north as it's much cheaper up there. English ales are especially good value, in some shops there's a two ales for four pounds deal. Down south it's not unusual to pay 3.50 to 4.00 euro for an English ale.

It was a great weekend. Here's a photo taken near Carrick A Rede rope bridge. The sea was incredibly blue and clear with the sun beating down upon it. I've rarely seen the sea this colour in this country.

As we came home a friend of mine rang inviting me to go camping with her for a few days during the week. So I snuck off for sneaky mid week break. It was great to see her and her young son. He had great fun in the campsite which had a playground and a pets corner. We had a barbecue one of the nights and sat down and relaxed outside in our camping chairs. It was a week that really reminded me of what summer is all about.

Here's hoping for more hazy lazy days...

5 Responses to "Summer Ramblings, a bit of everything" (Leave A Comment)

Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle says
June 7, 2009 at 10:48 AM

Lough Derravarragh is not too far from me but I have never actually gone there.

Bionic Laura says
June 7, 2009 at 12:37 PM

You should go there and take a look, it's wonderful. I love the view of the lake from the Crooked Wood end. It's a mythical place, the Children of Lir are supposed to have done one of their stints on the lake.

Eddie says
June 8, 2009 at 3:37 AM

Alpaca jumpers = sweetness. I have one that I bought in Australia about four years ago and it's one of my most treasured possessions, so much so that I've actually been afraid to wash it. It hums like an Alpaca, but has done since day one, I love it :-)

PS - Thanks for the tickets, it's going to rock! Would you believe that we only got around to opening pressies last night!

Anonymous says
June 8, 2009 at 5:53 AM

That's a lovely picture of Westley.

The County Antrim basalts are on my "to see" list

Sinéad says
June 8, 2009 at 11:13 AM

You picked the perfect weekend to go away, wasn't the weather fab? Your photos are lovely. And how lucky finding an alpaca farm and a farmer who'll sell you one?? Result!