15 October 2016

Enjoying a Break Before the Build-up

Hello! We are just back from a fun and refreshing break in the South of Ireland where we spent an enjoyable week with friends visiting Co. Cork. After a very wet start the weather improved and we did manage some blue sky and sunshine.

Our holiday home was in the village of Schull (pronounced skull), a coastal location on the Mizen Head peninsula, the most South-Westerly point in Ireland.

Bantry House, Co. Cork, Ireland
Bantry House seen from the rear garden
We drove up to Bantry on the first day and avoided much of the awful weather by visiting Bantry House, ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry. The house is set in extensive grounds with views over Bantry Bay but although some parts of the interior are impressive and rich in history (photography not allowed) the fabric is in need of much TLC - an unenviable task.

Kenmare Bay, Co.Kerry, Ireland
Kenmare Bay seen from the Boathouse Bistro, Dromquinna Manor
The next day was spent in the delightful village of Kenmare, part of the Ring of Kerry. The weather was kinder and we also enjoyed an excellent fishy lunch at The Boathouse Bistro, Dromquinna Manor, with views over Kenmare Bay.

Replica galleon mast on Kinsale waterfront
Replica galleon mast on Kinsale waterfront
The marina town of Kinsale was also on our list and provided us with another very tasty lunch and good day out. The streets are colourful with many independent shops. Loving history as I do, it was interesting to learn that part of a Spanish armada landed in Kinsale in 1601 and participated in the Battle of Kinsale, an event marked by a replica galleon mast on the seafront.

Bridge spanning the gorge at Mizen Head
A bridge spans the gorge at Mizen Head to the Signal Station
We saved the Mizen Head for our last day. The signal station and the Fastnet Rock lighthouse have a fascinating history which is well set out in the visitor centre. Despite being very blustery, it was an excellent day providing amazing views of the cliffs and ocean. Well worth a visit!

The gorge at Mizen Head
View of the gorge from the bridge, Mizen Head
After two relaxing days in Belfast, the weather for our return to Scotland was glorious, enabling a comfortably smooth ferry crossing.

Loch Ryan, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
Sun glinting on the surface of Loch Ryan, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
So now we begin the build-up to Christmas. Some new stock has already arrived this week and more is on the way. We're also looking forward to participating in the Small Business Saturday UK bus tour which stops in Edinburgh on 25 October. I'll be giving a gift wrapping demonstration - (I was going to say, "fingers crossed", but that would make the demo more difficult!). The actual Small Business Saturday falls on 3 December this year. More anon.

Small Business Saturday tour bus
The Small Business Saturday bus will tour UK ahead of the big day
Well, I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse of our trip to Ireland. We really had a good time and our batteries are now recharged as the festive season approaches. We do hope you'll call in to see the new stock arrivals or you can check out the Present Perfect online shop.

4 October 2016

Autumn, by any other name still as Glorious!

Autumn gift selection by Present Perfect, Melrose
Gifts with an autumnal glow!
Strange isn't it? Some say Autumn and some say Fall. Apparently, before the 16th century we all referred to this season as Harvest, a term that's still used by some of our European cousins with Herfst in Dutch or Herbst in German. The Scots word is Hairst.

Greetings card, Stag and Hare by Hannah Giffard
Stag and Hare by Hannah Giffard - a Green Pebble greetings card
As people moved off the land and began to work in towns and cities the term Harvest became associated just with the act of reaping and the season took on the new name, Fall, just as the leaves do.

Old World travel journal
Old World travel journal by Peter Pauper Press
In the 17th century, migration from Britain to the North American colonies was at its height and the travellers naturally took their language with them. So, as Fall gained greater usage in America its position happened to reverse in England and the word Autumn, long favoured in Latin-speaking countries, became the accepted word.

WoodWick candle and Falling Leaves giftwrap
WoodWick candle, Falling Leaves giftwrap and Feathers card by Dandylion Jack
But, whatever the name, the beautiful colours and (hopefully) mellow days help to compensate for cooler temperatures and longer nights. And there's nothing nicer than being warm and cosy inside, enjoying the welcoming glow of candlelight with a steaming hot drink or perhaps some other warming spirit!

Leaderfoot Viaduct in Autumn, Melrose
Leaderfoot Viaduct near Melrose
Being surrounded by beautiful countryside, Melrose looks even more attractive as the leaves turn and is well worth a late-season visit. Hopefully we'll see you soon!