We went to the Farmers Market this morning in the little town of Boyle which is about ten miles away from where we live...Boyle was the birthplace of Maureen O'Sullivan, the old movie star, and there is a plaque on the house...which is now empty and much the worse for wear and time...

It's also home to the Royal Hotel which is thought to be one of the oldest in Ireland...dates from the mid-1700's...but it's been closed for ages and looks awfully scruffy and down at heel now. It was where the mail coach stopped to pick up passengers and mail for Dublin...must have been a long and bumpy ride indeed.

The Farmers market was in full swing when we arrived...organic fruit and veg and plenty of plants and herbs and a gorgeous bakery stall selling all kinds of breads and Danish pastries...there were fresh free range duck and hen eggs and an organic rare breeds meat stall which had slabs of beef that actually looked like beef with marbled fat running through it and it was a proper dark red colour rather than that bright scarlet that supermarket beef is...I nearly became a carnivore!

I bought two decoupage pictures from a young woman who had such pretty bits and bobs for sale it was hard to choose what to buy...they weren't at all expensive...one is two pots of flowers and the other is a row of herbs in terraccota pots...and then I bought a whoemeal loaf of bread and two huge Danish pastries...we haven't eaten those yet...saving them for supper...but I had some of the bread for lunch and it was lovely...ought to get my breadmaker up and going again really.

Because the weather was so gorgeous everyone was cheerful and smiley and awful brown or burnt depending on their colouring...funny how fake tans never look quite as good as the real thing.

We go along the so called island road to get to Boyle town...it's a narrow laneway really with just enough room for one car to squeeze past another if neccesary...and it goes alongside the shore of Lower Lough Gara which is very pretty indeed...masses of reedbeds and tiny islands just big enough for a pair of swans to nest on. The water was like a millpond...all the trees and shrubs at the waters edge reflected back...there were dozens of swallows swooping low over the waters and swans with their bottoms in the air...and a few cows who'd decided to go for a paddle. The hedges are awash with honeysuckle and the hawthorn is glorious this year...so much frothy white blossom it looks as though it has snowed during the night.

It's considered terribly unlucky to bring the May blossom into the house because it is thought to carry the scent of death with it...it just makes me sneeze.

Some farmers have the first cut of hay and others are making silage...and the turf cutters are back on the bogs cutting and turning as fast as they can to take advantage of the beautiful weather. If you buy a cottage here in rural Ireland you usually get turbary rights...in other words you get a piece of bog which you can cut each year for fuel for your fires. If you don't fancy the hard work of cutting by hand then you can get the men and their big machines to do it for you for a small fee...you still have to turn and save and stack and bring it home though...

Our cottage did have a sizeable bog but it's been cut out...over the years it has been cut right down to the lowest level and is no good for fuel anymore...it's covered in shrub and small trees now and is virtually inaccessible being the other side of the main river with no viable means of reaching it without a boat.

We might go to the car boot tomorrow...haven't been there for months and months...think of the bargains I've missed!