Monday, July 10, 2017

Meat-Eater Monday

Growing Carnivorous Plants Part 2: Feeding, Planting, and Summer and Winter Care



As discussed last week, carnivorous plants' most basic needs are sun, soil, and water, but for successful long-term care, other aspects must be examined.

1) Feeding your plant.

The whole point of having a carnivorous plant is for it to eat your bugs, right?

Think again.

Yes, carnivorous plants will eat bugs -- and plenty of them if grown outside as they should be -- however, you cannot expect to suddenly not have flies buzzing around your house anymore. Different types of carnivorous plants eat different types of bugs. Venus Flytraps will catch anything especially daddy-long-legs, spiders, and flies.  American pitcher plants may catch hundreds of flying insects especially wasps. Sundews can only hold onto smaller victims such as gnats and ants.

However, in order to trap and eat bugs, carnivorous plants must first attract them. So you may find that more bugs are around because of your pant than the number they can catch.

After all, it is rather unfair to expect one or two (or even 50+) plants to catch all of the millions of bugs around your home.

2) Summer Care

Most cold hardy carnivorous plants grow in bogs along the south-eastern coast of America -- they can handle the heat. Most growers in America (up the east coast, midwest, etc) should have no trouble when growing their plants outside in the summer.

However, in drier, more desert climates, I've heard that the plants tend to struggle a bit more. Any potted plant is more susceptible to those in the ground. To help your carnivorous plant to survive in a hot, dry summer, ensure that it has plenty of water ALWAYS. On very hot days, I've top watered my plants with cold water (remember distilled, or reverse osmosis only) or placed a distilled water ice cube near the base of the plant and let it gradually melt. It is important to keep the roots cool.

To help stabilize the temperature of the plant, always plant them in a big pot -- the bigger the better.

If it still seems too hot for your plant, you could bring it inside to a sunny windowsill during the afternoons. Try to leave it outside for the morning and evening if possible to allow it to soak up plenty of sun.

3) Winter Care

The same rules for summer care apply to winter care. The bigger the pot, the better. Cold hardy carnivorous plants are used to winter -- in fact, it is vital to them. However, care needs to be taken for their more exposed roots since the plants are in pots.

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

Carnivorous plants go "dormant" in the winter. This is a well-deserved rest period. Carnivorous plants will live for decades, ONLY if this step is observed every year. When the days shorten and it gets chilly, carnivorous plants stop growing. They do not catch bugs, and many leaves will turn brown and/or fall off.

If you live in an area where it rarely freezes for more than a few days and only snows a little, you shouldn't have to worry about your plants except on the coldest days.

However, if it gets really cold where you live (several 10+ day stretches of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less). You'll have to take special care. All my plants have survived for years in very frigid winters so I'll outline here the steps I use to keep them safe.

NOTE: The following instructions are ONLY for areas where it gets extremely cold. If you live in a place with mild winters, your plants will not need this, and it will only harm them. Just let your plants go dormant as normal.

1. In the fall, I leave them unprotected until at least 8 frosts have passed (at least 4 of those being hard and cold)  The leaves will be brown and flopping over and you will see no new growth. Most Sundews will have died back, loosing all their leaves and some species will form a tiny winter "bud"

2. I cut off all the leaves. ALL of them. I hate this part. All of the leaves on your American pitcher plants and sundews need cut off even if they look beautiful. Be ruthless. It will pay off next year. (Tip: you can make bouquets of the pretty ones, but they tend to smell pretty bad...)

(Warning: Do NOT cut off the leaves from your purple pitcher plants or parrot pitchers. These plants are so slow growing that cutting off the leaves will stunt their growth -- trust me. I've done it. Only cut off the black leaves on your Venus flytraps.)

The reason it is helpful to cut off all the leaves after your plants are dormant in the fall is to help your plants preserve water. By cutting them off, you'll help keep your plants from wasting energy and getting dehydrated.

3. Place your plants in an unheated garage or against your house. (This step if optional. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't.)

4. Cover your plants with weed cloth or fabric of some kind.

5. Bury your plants using straw, hay, wood chips, or mulch.

6. Check periodically for mold.

7. When the weather starts warming up in early spring uncover your plants, place them in clean water and let them grow.

4) Planting

In the spring, it is a good idea to re-pot your plants. This renews the acidic environment carnivorous plants enjoy and prevents the build up of fatal nutrients. I get best results when I do this in early spring before they start growing. All you do is mix up your peat moss and perlite(or sand) with distilled water until it drips water when you squeeze it. Place the mix in a pot and dig a hole to place your plant in it. Remove your plant from the old soil and gently remove the old soil until the roots are clear and mostly free from the old soil. Carnivorous plant roots tend to be rather short and sparse so be careful.

Place your plant in a bigger pot if it outgrew its previous one. American pitcher plants have rhizomes, which are kinda like massive roots stretching along the ground half on top and half in the soil. If big enough, this rhizome can be broken into pieces -- just be sure there are roots on each piece. These pieces can be planted in their own pots to get you identical but smaller plants.

If you chose to divide your rhizome like that make sure you do it very early in the year before your plant starts growing and cut off any flowers your plant produces.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Meat-Eater Mondays


  

Growing Carnivorous Plants Part 1: Sunlight, Soil, and Water


Carnivorous plants are like any other plants in how they grow. They need sunlight, water, and soil. However, you can't throw them in just any soil and water and expect them to grow well. 
If grown properly, carnivorous plants can be very easy to grow.  

To understand how to grow carnivorous plants properly you must consider where they live. I had the opportunity to visit Jackson Bog several years ago where carnivorous plants live in the wild.

 As a general rule, carnivorous plants live in muddy sphagnum moss bogs and fens. These areas are often so acidic and deprived of nitrogen, normal plants cannot grow there. Therefore, strong sunlight warms carnivorous plant leaves all day long. 

Cold hardy carnivorous plants do not live in humid jungles but can occur all over the world including the United States. Therefore these plants can survive winter. 

Due to their need of lots of sunlight, carnivorous plants are best grown outside.

1) Sunlight
Sunlight is the most important part of growing carnivorous plants. Because they must produce nectar to attract bugs, expend lots of energy trapping bugs, and must produce enough digestive acids to eat their prey, carnivorous plants need a TON of sunlight to meet the energy need their life demands. How much is a ton exactly? 8+ hours of FULL sunlight every day, preferably a full summer day of sunlight. There are exceptions, but most cold hardy plants will appreciate a generous amount of bright, unfiltered sunlight. 

2) Soil
Carnivorous plants grow in sphagnum peat moss. However, peat moss is often sold in forms that add fertilizers and nutrients that will kill your plants. The safest way to buy peat moss is in a bale, ensuring that the label clearly says sphagnum and that it is 100% pure.  Natural bogs have drain water constantly, therefore, the peat moss needs to be mixed with clean washed playground sand or perlite. This mixture should be about half and half. 

3) Water
Since their natural habit is a bog, Carnivorous plants need a constant source of water. The easiest way to ensure your plant has enough water is to plant it in a plastic pot with drainage holes in the bottom and place it in a slightly larger saucer or dish. (If you don't care about looks, Tupperware works great for this.) Keep that dish constantly filled with water

However, in most places you won't be able to water your plant straight from the tap.  Since carnivorous plants are used to living in an area where there are few if any nutrients, their water must be free of any nutrients or chemicals. Straight tap water that has too many chemicals and nutrients will kill your plants eventually.  This problem can be solved by using rainwater, distilled water, or reverse osmosis water. 

However, if faced with the problem of a thirsty plant and if you don't have any of the proper water to give it, use tap water for a short period until you can get more water. It is better to keep your plant wet than to let it dry out.

This is a brief introduction to growing carnivorous plants people argue over the best way to grow them and there is certainly merit in other growing methods, but I have found this method the simplest and it had great results. My plants have been thriving for over a decade by being grown like this. 

Here is a picture of my plants earlier this spring in their outdoor setup. 


Monday, June 26, 2017

Meat-Eater Monday


No. I'm not discussing steaks -- or cannibalism for that matter.

This blog may have seemed normal, and it will continue to be -- except on Mondays, at least for this summer. Mondays will be devoted to the discussion of carnivorous plants -- meat eaters (or more precisely, insect eaters.)

I really don't remember why I became fascinated with carnivorous plants. Or what made me want one.

All I know is once I got a Venus flytrap and a purple pitcher plant my fate was sealed. I was captured as surely as the flies in my plants.

However, it took me about a year to learn how to grow these strange plants properly.  I started off without having a clue as to how to grow my meat eating plants, but thanks to the Savage Garden by Peter D'Amato and Sarracenia Northwest, I've successfully been growing carnivorous plants for nearly a decade and now have 40+ in my backyard. 

For today's post, I'm going to give an introduction to the world of carnivorous plants.

Carnivorous plants are simply plants with very specialized, modified leaves which attract, trap, and digest bugs.  There are thousands of species, but I will only be discussing the 3 "cold hardy" (able to survive winters) species which I have experience with.


1.) The North American Pitcher Plant

This is my favorite type of carnivorous plant. Their leaves trap bugs by luring them to the lip of a tube and the foolish bugs, greedy for nectar tumble in. They are unable to get out because of the slick sides of the pitcher. These pitcher plants come in many colors and sizes. They range from 6 inches to 4ft tall and can be any color green to pink. Although there are only 8 species, they can be crossed again and again to produce stunning hybrids exemplifying the best characteristics of all parents.


2.) The Venus Fly Trap

The Venus flytraps are the most famous of carnivorous plants and the most interesting to watch. It traps its prey by 3 trigger hairs on each side of its leaf. When an insect brushes up against them several times, the trap snaps shut in a split second!


3.) Sundews

If you were looking for a plant that murders insects, it would NOT be this one. It's leaves with tiny tentacles tipped with a glistening droplet glue, which is easily mistaken for dew. These innocent little plants look life nothing more than blades of grass covered in dew and glittering in the sunlight. However, if you look closely, the black exoskeletons of its gnat victims mark out a graveyard on its leaves.


I hope you've enjoyed this little intro. All pictures are of my own plants.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Clearing Away the Dust


Can you hear the crickets chirping?

Crickets and dust bunnies have filled this blog for far too long.

Today, I'm sweeping them out!

My apologies for my long absence from blogging. The end of the semester is never easy, and summer is never quite as calm as one would like. As it is, I intend to keep up at least some sporadic blogging.
I have plenty of interesting things this summer to talk about, and there are yet untold stories from Ireland and Wales sitting in my cupboard.

After not blogging for so long, it is difficult to know where to start. But basically, my first year of college was more than I ever could have hoped for. Fulfilling once again the verses the Lord pressed upon my heart these past few years. "Now to Him who is able to so immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

When I think of all that I've seen and done and all the amazing people I've met, I'm overwhelmed.

Perhaps, some of the most exciting news -- and that which is easiest to share -- is the fact that I'm now published.

No. Not a book more even and article or short story, but I currently have two book reviews published online through the Evangelical Church Library Association.

My amazing professor provided me with books to read. I then wrote a review of each book which was submitted to the publisher and eventually posted on ECLA's website.

My first review was a biblical fiction novel by Tessa Afshar called Land of Silence. Set in Jesus's time, it tells the story of the woman who suffered from bleeding for 12 years and was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus' garment. It is well worth a read. You can view my entire review here:
 (Book Review) Land of Silence

My second review was a completely different type of book, but it was just as wonderful. When I opened Crossing the Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields, I no idea what to expect. I'd never read a memoir before. But it also proved to be a thought-provoking combination of the days Jesus walked the earth and the modern commercial fishing industry in Alaska. My review was published on Saturday: (Book Review): Crossing the Waters

So there you have it. A tiny glimpse at what I've been up to the past few months. I thank you for your interest. If you're only reading for gorgeous pictures and stories of Ireland -- no worries those will continue to make appearances -- since they are not only forever tied into my life, but also the heartbeat of this blog.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Sound of Emeralds Birthday Blog Tour

Emeralds have always had a lot of meaning for me.  Their deep, ageless green has attracted me all my life.  Rachelle Rea Cobb's Steadfast Love Trilogy with Gwen's emerald-colored eyes and the brilliance of these books -- especially The Sound of Emeralds -- only deepened my love of these precious stones. When I spent three months studying abroad on the Emerald Isle last fall, that dark, rich green became the color of my heart. 

With all my adventures in Ireland, this blog has seen a lot of the color green and a lot of information about times gone by. That trend is continuing today, but rather than talking about Ireland, this blog post is dedicated to The Sound of Emeralds -- the third book of a historical romance trilogy set in the 16th century in England. 

But instead of listening to me drone on and on about some historical nonsense, today there is free stuff to win! To celebrate The Sound of Emeralds' first birthday, Rachelle Rea Cobb is hosting a fabulous giveaway. 

Make sure you enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post to win signed copies of all three books!


So without further ado, the rest of this post is dedicated to information about Rachelle Rea Cobb's Steadfast Love Trilogy, The Sound of Emeralds, and a little about Rachelle herself. By the end, I hope you will come to love this trilogy as much as I have. 



ABOUT The Steadfast Love SERIES


In 16th-century Europe, the Reformation rages between Protestants and Catholics. Gwyneth, half-Dutch, flees from England to Holland to escape the man who murdered her parents. When he follows her there and insists he came to rescue her, will she trust this man called Dirk? When tragedy strikes, will their steadfast love erode?




ABOUT The Sound of Emeralds

What once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache?

With the help of an old friend with uncertain loyalties, Dirk inches ever closer to clearing his name. Gwyneth throws her faith into good tidings and the promise of a future as a family. But an old evil comes to call, just as tragedy rips apart a fledgling truce. Enemies from the past and grief for the future threaten to tear asunder what God had brought together…

As the date of Dirk’s trial approaches, his fate and his family hang in the balance. Will he be proven innocent of Gwyneth’s parents’ murders—or separated from her forever? How much pain does it take to erode a love steadfast?

 

Find The Sound of Emeralds on…

Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/F53u5R


Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/RguS9l

Books a Million: http://is.gd/NdMWGr




Why I Love The Sound of Emeralds


I can't believe it has been a year since I read The Sound of Emeralds. I'd pre-ordered the book and ran out to the mailbox the day it released, excited to see how my beloved Gwen and Dirk's story ended. I wasn't disappointed. I flipped pages so fast I'm lucky I didn't get paper cuts.  The story held me enthralled through laughs, tears, anger, and heartfelt joy as the heroine and hero who I'd come to love fought through this final struggle. I'd shove my glasses farther up my nose, just as the heroine, Gwen, was doing the same in the book -- it is nice having a heroine be severely nearsighted and need glasses. It deepened her character and made her immediately relatable to anyone who wears glasses.


But besides fascinating characters, a breathtaking plot, and heart-wrenching romance, one of the best things about The Sound of Emeralds and, indeed, the entire Steadfast Love Trilogy is how the name of each book ties in perfectly with the story. Each name is a curious thought. After all, what DO diamonds, silver, and emeralds sound like? But believe me, each has a sound specifically tied to the book -- you'll just have to read them to find out how each name relates to the story.



As a young writer and homeschool graduate myself, Rachelle Rea Cobb's writing story has fascinated me for the past few years.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Times gone by snatch Rachelle Rea Cobb close, so she reads and writes about years long ago--her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. Rachelle wrote the Steadfast Love series during college. Five months after she graduated, she signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher, WhiteFire. She's a homeschool grad, Oreo addict, and plots her novels while driving around her dream car, a pick-up truck. In June 2016, she married a man with the same name as her fictional hero, and they live happily ever after in Small Town, South. She is also the author of Write Well, a guide for writers, which released on March 4th!


Here are a few questions and answers which give more insight about Rachelle and her books.



1. When and where did you first get the idea for the Steadfast Love Series?



Rachelle: A song I was listening to on the radio inspired the title of the first book. So I wrote Diamonds, but when I finished it, I realized to my great frustration that the characters weren’t done with their story, even though I had been quite adamant that I would write a stand-alone novel. But the story wasn’t finished, so I kept writing.



2.  Readers often pick out favorite quotes from a novel. Do you have a favorite of your own from The Sound of Silver?


Rachelle: Yes! In fact, my friend Mindy, a calligrapher, even created a beautiful piece of art from one of my favorite quotes: “Within the pages of books one’s heart can be revealed.”

3.  Can you tell us what first drew you to writing Inspirational Historical Romance?

Rachelle: My first exposure to the genre came when I read Heartsong Presents novels when I was twelve. Those small books introduced me to how much I believe in the power of story, especially love stories set in times gone by.

4.  I saw on your website that you also write reviews, articles and offer editing services. What's one of your favorite things beyond writing novels that you enjoy?

Rachelle: Editing is such fun! I daresay I enjoy editing a page full of my own (or others’!) words just as much as I enjoy splashing words onto a blank page. I recently released my first nonfiction book, Write Well, which is a short ebook designed as a guide for writers!
 



AUTHOR LINKS


Website: http://RachelleReaCobb.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/RachelleReaCobb
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelleReaCobb
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/RachelleReaCobb/
Instagram: @RachelleReaCobb
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rachelle-Rea/e/B00RZHIL1Q
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8144149.Rachelle_Rea_Cobb


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Of course, I cannot forget what you all are here for... Rachelle Rea Cobb's delightful giveaway! Who wouldn't want to read her books?

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below to signed copies of ALL THREE of Rachelle’s novels. The whole series, signed!


International friends, this giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive all three e-books


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sneak Peak: Emeralds

I have a special surprise for you tomorrow!

A glimpse at one of my favorite things -- Emeralds, one of my favorite gems and representing my favorite color. But a Gemstone isn't the only thing I mean when I think about Emeralds. 

You'll have to check back tomorrow to find out what I mean.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The History of St. Patrick

   St. Patrick is known as Ireland's patron saint. Although he is given credit for bringing Christianity to Ireland, he was not the first "missionary." He did, however, have an incredible amount of influence on the Irish, possibly because of the way he went about spreading the Gospel.

St. Patrick's story is actually similar to Joseph's in the Bible.

Most think  St. Patrick was Irish, but he actually was Roman/Britain but he was captured by the Celts and sold as a slave in Ireland. He grew up among the Irish herding their livestock. He learned their customs, culture, and language. He knew what they believed and why they believed it.

During his time as a slave, he didn't preach to the Irish -- he learned their ways. He eventually returned to his home, completed his studies, and felt called to go back to Ireland as an old man. He taught the Irish the Good News, which they were incredibly receptive to.

Celtic Christianity has always been founded on relationships because that is the Irish culture.  St. Patrick was successful because he didn't try to force Roman or British culture on the Irish. He spoke to them in their own language and could use what he knew about their history, beliefs, and culture to speak to them in a way they understood. He merely told them the Good News of Christ which they could follow without completely setting aside their culture.

In fact, Ireland is said to be the only country in the world to be "converted" to Christianity without bloodshed.

These new Irish Christians founded monasteries which later basically educated Europe during the early middle ages. Their missionaries went throughout the world and are mostly responsible for bringing the Picts and Anglo-Saxons in Scotland and England to Christianity.

Of course, thousands of legends surround St. Patrick.

He is said to have used a clover or shamrock as an example for the Trinity. That may or may not be true, but if it is, it is an example of how he appealed to their culture and beliefs because the number "3" has always been important to the Irish.

One of the most famous legends, which is a myth, is that St. Patrick, climbed Croagh Patrick (Like I did) and chased the snakes out of Ireland. Although he likely did climb the mountain, -- all legends are founded in some grain of truth -- there were never any snakes in Ireland for him to chase out.

But whether some stories are true or myth, it doesn't really matter.  St. Patrick had an undeniable impact on the Irish culture, and as a result, on the world. But don't take it from me, here is a wonderful video which explains St. Patrick.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Green shamrocks, "Kiss me I'm Irish" knick knacks, and leprechauns prance around on St. Patrick's Day. Waves of green wash over both America and Ireland.

I'm sad to inform you, like all our holidays St. Patrick's day is incredibly commercialized, but there is real history there.

There are so many American myths thrown into this Irish holiday. I mean, the sea of green that overtakes the country isn't even appropriate, because Ireland's national color is blue, not green. My only explanation as to why green is used is because it is our attempt to cover our cold, snowy hills with the lush green of the Emerald Isle.  

Leprechaun jokes or references really aren't appreciated in Ireland. It shows the American lack of interest, knowledge, or respect of Ireland.

And unlike what everyone seems to think -- Not all Irish people are red-headed. In fact, I only saw a small handful while I was over there.

As for the luck of the Irish? I don't know why that is even a saying. If you know one ounce of Ireland's history, the first thing you will realize exactly how UNLUCKY the Irish were. They were ruled by the English for hundreds of years, and not for lack of trying. But all their numerous rebellions were repulsed by bad timing, miscommunication, and even the whims of the weather.

Don't get me started on the Great Hunger which so many people inappropriately refer to as a "Famine." The Irish story is a tragic one.

So where your green and your shamrocks, celebrate Ireland! But don't go cracking jokes about misinformed moments in history. Instead of slamming your brain and senses full of green, inappropriate jokes, and ignorant assumptions. Check out and honor the untold history of Ireland. Respect the Irish people, their history, and the impact they've had on America.



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Chirk Castle: Part Two

 Although part of Chirk Castle was quite medieval, two wings were well furnished and lived in until a few years ago when it was handed over to the National Trust.

To discourage the fancy seats being sat on, nettles were placed on them. A very fine solution, indeed!

 As I said, there was some kind of kid's event going on. I'm assuming there was a scavenger hunt of sorts because these little-stuffed wolves were hidden in random places around the castle.

 All the rooms were extremely fine. It was as though you'd just stepped into Pemberley from Pride and Prejudice.


 Stunning ceiling!


 The bedroom of the late Lady of the house.

 A chair with 6 feet!
 Of course one of my favorite rooms was this library. There were not only beautiful old books but also pictures of the Castle's former masters through the ages on horseback.
 To prevent theft, there were thin wires on every bookshelf.
 Secret doors in Castles!
 There was a guy dressed up as a court jester entertaining the crowd.
 A sign warning us not to step on the grass.
After we had visited the castle for a few hours, we started on the long beautiful walk into Chirk town.

Come back next week to see pictures from that walk.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Chirk Castle: Part One

To us Chirk castle was Camelot.

Chirk castle was lived in by a local family up until about ten years ago. Therefore, parts of the castle are completely renovated and basically a mansion, however, part of the castle still maintains the medieval feel from the days it was built.

To visit the castle legally, we had to enter at the base of the hill at the stables. When we were there it was nearly Halloween, and they were having some kind of event for the kids. Therefore, there were a bunch of kids dressed up and painting pumpkins.

The stables were revamped to hold a nice little gift shop and a used bookstore, where I found a book by Brian Jacques for my sister.
 From there it was a good 15-minute walk up and around to the Castle.
 This was a building behind the castle.
 Chirk Castle! Everything you could hope for in a medieval castle!
 Welsh countryside.
 As I said, they had a big event going on, and there were a bunch of people dressed up as knights, and there was a jester entertaining the crowd.
 Double gates in this castle!
 The courtyard inside the castle.


 This is the chapel. It is the only "new" renovated part of the castle wich I'll be showing today.
 As we wound our way up the castle, many of the medieval style rooms had props and things like a museum.
 Guess what..... MORE circular staircases. This is probably one of the pictures I managed to get during the entire semester, representing a tiny bit of the difficulty of climbing medieval circular staircases.
 This is the dungeon. You see. It was a single room at the bottom of a circular staircase -- rather difficult to escape from.
 More medieval rooms
 Barrel- vaulted ceiling. The last time we'd seen this was at Donegal Castle.
 Another reasonable shot representing the tightness of these staircases.
Visit again next week to see the modern day renovated parts of the Castle. They were stunningly rich and elaborate.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

St. Mary's Church

 On the Saturday of our Spring Break, we rode in the morning then headed into Chirk to see the sights. Our first stop of the day was St. Mary's Church -- a medieval church on the edge of town. It was simple but beautiful. 

 The nice thing about most of the churches in Ireland, and wales and England too are open for visitors. Most have a section near the entrance for donations and also little knickknacks or jewelry you can buy to help fund the church's upkeep. 
 Beautiful stained glass windows...
 ... portrayed Biblical stories.
 These cross-stitched kneeling pads where beautiful and unique.
 WHile we were looking around a woman came in preparing for the service the next day. We talked to her for a bit and she told us a little about the church. There was also info pictures on the walls telling the church's history.

 And, of course, there was a pipe organ.
 The rafters had different animals carved and painted into them. So many tiny details in this church!
 Stone baptismal. Do you see how old these churchs are? 1662 is carved into it!
 The setting sun turned the bricks golden.

 Then we had lunch in this little tea room.
Our main destination was Chirk castle, which was stunning and more magnificent than any castle we'd seen in Ireland.

Although the locals called it a small castle, (and I suppose it was compared to others in the UK) but we were shocked by its size. It was several times the size any we'd seen previously!

Check back next week to see pictures of that!