Thursday, May 10, 2012

Second Week at Crann Og

Tuesday I got back to work at crann og after a long weekend of exploring the local wilderness and closest sights. We did not do anything in the gardens MOnday since it was a bank holiday and it was raining throughout most of the day. Tuesday didn't look like it was going to be much better weather so Kirsten and I  started with planting and weeding out side in the raised beds before any rain arrived. We had about fourteen pea plants which had been started in empty toilet paper rolls which were to go into the edge of a bed that had been fed with compost weeks before. Once the plants were in the ground we build a tressil structure out of bamboo and long cut branches cut out of the nearby wood and bamboo garden. We then planted half a bed full of leeks taken from a small tray full of sprouts. Each small plant was forked out and placed in rows staggared a few inches apart throughout the freshly composted bed. We then joined the family for s bit of coffee and biscuits before moving onto jobs in the poly tunnels. We were to start by gathering seeds from a few different plants and putting them in labeled bags so they could be resowed elsewhere. Marion came out after a while and gethered us for lunch which was a fresh salad made from some rocket plants we had just cut back after seeding and a delicious omelet made from that days eggs. After lunch I worked to pull some giant mustard laf and broccoli that had started to flower and give it to the chickens for feed. I then moved a few wheel barrows of manure from the oldest pile and mixed it thurougly into the existing soil. I finished the day weeding in the small poly tunnel and watering the three rows of beds. The poly tunnels can be used through out the year with mild winters so many lettuces and brassicas thrive, oftern growing to unusually large and leafy plants. Two visitors that had wwoofed at Cran Og two years before we around to help prepare a dinner and share drinks with us after work. They had a ten month old baby with them which helped brighten the already high atomosphere. We had had a party over the weekend for friends and neighbors that where wanting to see them and meet the bab since they had worked here two years when they stayed a few yars back and got to know most of the community. Another wwoofer had also arrived on Tuesday from Germany which makes the labor even easier having more hands to share the work. Wednesday I started back with Kirsten collecting seeds and weeding in the poly tunnels before I got st up with the weed strimmer and got to cutting the orchards. It was an easy day of cutting and trimming the areas around serveral types of trees and fruit shrubs. We finnished just after four and headed in for afternoon tea and relaxing. I played with the dogs and went for a short hike in the woods. cool weather was moving in for the evening so the three wwoofers stayed in the cabin for a while around a fire haveing a few drinks and chotting before a great pizza dinner prepared b Julio and Eness who were visiting. We went to the pub for a few pints and rounds of billards with Flor and Julio before Julio had to head back to spain with his family in the early morning. It had been an exciting past few days and We all got to meet more members of the local community and saw a good amount of the area on bikes with our free time over the weekend. The first week flew by and I am looking forward to all the adventures I ill have over the next three to come.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

First Thursday/Friday at Cran Og

Thursday morning, after a good filling bowl of porage with raisins and honey Kirsten and I went out to the fields where the yurts and hogan were to rake some top soil over grass seed that Marion spread a bit earlier. The area had been torn up by an excavator a few weeks before when they dug a ditch around the edge of the field to help relieve moisture from the ground. The grass seed had been collected from a field on another organic field and sold at a primium price, mostly because of last years harsh weather which gave a poor yield. This area would ikely be used for campinh and fire circles when groups came to Cran-Og over the summer. They already have plans for two groups to come in the first week of June who will be having a whiskey drinking/cigar smoking gathering as well as a men's livelyhood group. We raked for an hour or so while Flor and Marion went down to the field where the horses are staying to move them to a new section of grass and prepare the fencing. We also raked up an area where the chicken were fenced in last so that seed could be spread there as well. I worked breaking up soil out of a large pile through a seive so we could spread a thin cover over the seed that afternoon. For lunch we had a large salad with breads and cheese of different varieties. The salad had a number of herbs and flowers that promote different nutrients and health benifits. Marion was headed out shortly after lunch to go to her daughters home to spend the night with her and her grand daughter so Kirsten and I were given instructions for cooking a meal for ourselves and Flor. I went back out and finished with the grass seed and joined Flor for the rest of the day to repair raised beds. The raised beds had been constructed out of the left over side pieces of oak logs from a nearby lumber yard and suppourted by mahogony steaks but from only window frames Flor had collected from old housing in Galway. To replace any broken or rotten pieces, the section of wood would be broken off with a nail bearer and the nails would be removed. Flor cut the new pieces to length and as I held it in place, he would hammer two large nails in to secure it. This way all the beds were formed out of mostly free and recycled materials. They didnt look the best presentation wise, but Worked well for food production which is what really matters in sustainability of a farm and family. We finished together around half past six, got showers and started dinner. We had a homemade spinnach pasta with sauce made from vegetables and herbs collected out of the gardens. After dinner the three of us went to the local pub for a few pints and some games of pool with a friend of Flors. Flor taught us some proper methods of shooting and getting the best accuracy with the cue, which me and Kirsten both tried our best to learn. We didnt stay out much past midnight because we were all very tired and wanted some good rest before the last day of work that week. We planned to spend the whole day fixing up beds so the job would be done and we could move on to planting and other jobs come Monday. It was another intersting and educational day with a few great conversations and new experiences. Although I was tired, I was still excited to start another day and get into more work the next morning. I slept well with the dream catchers that surround each bedroom to influence the balance of subconcious and allow each of us to wake energized and free of any negative feelings or energies. The peace of this place flows through every room and space, which any one could feel and apprieciate.
Kirsten and I left our hostel around half past nine with our belongings and headed towards the bus station across the Liffey in Dublin. It was raining and my heavy bag was weighing down on my shoulders, but we could not stop in fear that we might miss our bus leaving at ten. We luckily got to the station and got on the bus as it was ready to pull out and settled in for the five hour journey ahead of us. I realized after three hours we were not going to get to Galway in time for our next bus. Regardless we got there and made a few stops for supplies and got on the next bus headed to Gort where Flor, our new host was waiting. We met him and rode with him out to the farm which was about five or six miles outside of the town. There were several green open feilds full of horses, sheep, old irish houses, gardens and windmills along the road. Finally we came to an oragnd and red windmill at the entrance of a small gravel drive with a carved wooden Cran-Og sign by the gate. As we pulled in I got my first impression of the land I had been looking at on thier websight since last November. There we small gardens and shelters all around the red cabin house and a long side cabin nearby. They had a group of chickens, three horses, three dogs, two cats and a few pond animals within thier frog sancuary. We first went inside with Flor and another wwoofer that had been working here for the previous month for tea and introductions. Flor is an interesting Irish guy from Kerry whom has worked in England and Galway in his youth before opening a wood shop and starting the Cran-Og farm with Marion fourteen years ago. We chatted for about an hour until after Marion came in from working with the horses. I could tell within the first meeting that this was a very positive, welcoming, peacfull atmosphere with some great people. Kirsten and I were shown around by the other wwoofer and then unpacked out belongings before going back to the main house to join the rest for dinner. The first meal was organic shortgrain rice with spiced and cooked summer vegetables which had been frozen after harvest. We continued to chat and get to know each other for the next few hours with a bottle of wine that I had picked up to share with everyone for the first night and a few pots of tea. FLor's daughter Kate came by for a short while we chatted and introduced herself to us. Flor and Marion told us more about the land and the nature around the farm including a deep bog that had been grown over with vegetation which people who did not know the area would often fall into. Flor gave us a samll riddle about a structure in the garden which had been made from the dirt dug to make the crescent shaped pond within the frog sancuary. We were challanged to figure out what it was and what it did before we ate with them in the morning, claiming that a young boy had once figured it out in the same amount of time. We headed off around half past ten to get some sleep for the next day. The cabin we are staying in has two seperate bedrooms for us with several beds in each and a shared living space with sink, fire place, small couch and tabel. THe beds had very comfortable sheets wool blankets and nice comfortable pillows. The was a building next door which had showers which were heated by solar panneling and compost toilests. The small cabin was heated by plastic roofing which brought in more light during the day. We had tea and talked about how much we like the new host for a short while before saying goodnight and preparing for bed.
In the morning Lirsten and I joined Marion Flor and the third wwoofer who was set to leave at quarter to nine for her next host down in cork for the next month. We all had some porriage with honey and jam from nearby farms and some tea before discussing plans for the day. First we got out thier small shredder and started mulching some willow for the gardens. Kirsten took over with that job as Flor showed me the compost boxes that had been built out of pallets and explained how the different compartments should be divied for best breaking down of the materials. But before I started working we went in for a pot of coffee and prepared for me and Marion to take the three horses down to Flor'd daughters place where they could eat down her grass lawns for a day or so. They used English saddles which I haven't used in many years and bitless bridals for the two horses Marion and I would be riding and a rope halter for the third. We trotted down the road to Kate's place and set the horses loos into her side yard. We set up an electric fence across any areas the could possibly excape over and held the gate sturdy with large stones. We got a lift back to Cran-Og from Flor when he came down to help clear the area anything the horses could harm or be harmed by. When we got back, I set off to start on the compost for a short while before lunch. After a good meal we headed back out and I worked for about an hour on turning the compost between four wooden bins. Kirsten and I finished up the day weeding a small bed near the parking area for another thirty minutes or so. There were a few dandilions, thistles, and groups of nettles which had to be dug by their roots. I got stung by the nettles as I often do and rubbed some burdock on the spots to help ease the stinging feeling. We were told to drop our tools and join a group of neighbors and friends that had come by to celebrate the birthday of another girl, Beshley who lived in another cabin at Cran-Og and had just returned from a trip to a suprise gathering. A few Irish guys that lived nearby and a friend of Beshleys stopped in with drinks and food. We had a few drinks and set up a barbeque for some fresh trout that had been caught in a local stream by one of the guys earlier that afternoon along with some home made organic potatoe cakes with salad and fruity wine. We ate out by the yurts and hogan on a beautiful picnic tabel with benches that had been made from the trunk of a tree that had fallen near by earlier this year. We all chatted more about our different interests and exoeriences with wwoofing until the coals were hot and the fresh fish wall grilled. The food was ofcourse amazing and very filling. We each went back for more until there wasn't a scrap of anything left around the tabel. We cleaned up and the crowd headed in for some cake and tea while Kirsten and I went for a walk around the back boarder of the property which looked out into the local woodlands and the western sky with a beautiful Irish sunset. We joined the rest for tea for a short while before visitors left and we cleaned up and headed to bed. I planned to get some good sleep again to be prepared for a harder day. The first day was simple and really more fun than work.Tomorrow we will be getting into planting new seeds and transplanting sprouts from the large glass house of thiers to the poly tunnels and plots where thier vegetabes were grown. They get most of thier food out of the garden through out the year and store many preserves, herbs, and vegetables from season to season. I am very excited to be at a truely sustainable place with more aspects of a working small farm than anything I have seen in my trip to Ireland so far. On top of that, Its peaceful, welcoming and full of positive energy with a wealth of information and eagerness to teach and share knowledge. I can hardly wait to start the next day and find out what other good things are in store.

Back to Dublin.

Moday morning was the time to leave Burtown and I was rearing to go. Everything had been organized and packed Sunday night before Me and Kirtsen joined James, Jo, and Lesley for one last night of drinks and a good meal. All I needed to do that morning was strip my bed and clean out my room then it was off to the bus station in Athy at ten. The bus ride was short into Dublin with cool light rain as we got off at O'Connel Street and headed North in search of the International Youth Hostel. The hostel accepted volunteers to work twenty hours a week in exchange for a bed and one meal a day. I got set up and schedueled to work over the weekend for a few days before I leave and given a bed in a dorm with seven other guys my age. Most of them are French or Portugese so conversation is pretty short. ONce I was settled Kirsten and I headed off in search of some cheap cafe food and some good sights. We found a small five tabel cafe with a good deal on soup and a sandwich which was pleanty tasty and filling considering I had missed a breakfast in the morning. We then Walked over to Dublin Castle and around the Catherdral area of the south side. As we walked back towards Grafton Street to find a museum we passed a small produce and health shop full of all types of fruits and organic vegetables. We got some fresh fruits and a bottle of Irish apple and berry cider for a snack in the nearby park. The park, St. Stephens green had a large lake and several different garden areas. We walked through each part stoping at each display to read a memorial plate of admire a statue. After having our fruits and laying out on the warm grass in the bright afternoon sun as many other groups were doing across the lawns we walked to the museum square to check times the would be open in the next few days. We made our way back to the hostel, stopping at a value grocery store to get some light food and made a simple pasta meal with a bottle of five euro wine. We walked out to the docks on the Liffey after dark and to a pub in temple bar where some late night live music was playing. We were both very happy to have succesfully got into Dublin and found a place to stay so easily and now had seven days ahead of us to enjoy all of the sights and excitement of Dublin.
I got up at half past seven the next day and got a quick breakfast which was provided by the hostel and headed out for a morning walk. I had seen a park on my map that was only a few streets away which had some type of large water basin. It was an old resivior that was renovated into a public park with a small island and a flora garden which surrounded the pool. I circled the park a few times and headed back to the hostel to meet Kirsten and make plans for the day. Since it was a nice sunny day, we agreed to walk two kilometers North to the National Botanic Gardens. The Gardens are open to the public, but are also a facility for reasearch, breeding and teaching so there are restrictions against joggers, dogs, bikes, noise, or young children to maintain a peacful and natural atmosphere. There were two conservatories and several glass greenhouses between a variety of different types of garden features. I decided on a few areas I would enjoy the most that we could walk through since seeing the whole facility would take several hours and we wanted to see some other sights later on. we started in a green house full of Irish bred varieties of Primula. There were Primula of about any color you could think, including bright orange and iridescent green. We then went through the teaching greenhouse full of small experiment arrangments and variety trials. There was a native plant walk which led us to the vegetable gardens laid out into a circular arrangement of beds all planted with strong sprouts and low, sturdy netting. After wandring outside in the various topiary and annual displays we started into the conservatories. The first room was a cactus room with hot dry air, followed by the tropical display thick with humidity. The walkway led through a series of rooms, each a diffent temperature and varied condition for the species of plants. One section was all foriegn plants from around the world. Another was dedicated to several varieties of orchid and one full of parasitic and bog plants such as Drosera. After the COnservatories we walked through the woodland and stream areas full of several interesting trees, lillies, shrubs, early roses and a rock garden. There was a threatening storm, so we headed back at that point, stopped by the hostel and went off in search of a cheap lunch and the National Art Museum. We took a stroll around some shops and a few parks befroe going back to the hostel for dinner in which for the night was just going to be a large package of pita and some local humus. I looked through my photos from the day and looked up some more ideas of what wlse to do with my time here, then headed off to bed for an early night feeling very tired from walking so much all day. Nevertheless, I was a good day.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Thursday and Friday 4-12/13

Guests started arriving at Burtown early thursday morning while the two farm workers were still working in the patio and the outdoor bathroom. One groups of James friends that were travelling from London had told him they expected more and left without having tea or coffee or walking around the gardens much at all. I was set out to guide people around the gardens and answer as many questions as I could while handing out maps and information on Burtowns history. A few people asked where I was visiting from and decided they were better off on thier own once they new I was a hick American. By eleven I was tired of answering questions about the family and the age of the garden which I knew little about, So I went to work weeding instead. I was still feeling a bit sick from the last weekend and did not get much sleep because the kids were up most of the night running around and yelling so I did not want to be very sociable. Clara joined me in pulliing up a large section of celondine until luch with Lesley. We had a delicious meal of fish pie and potatoes with Lesleys mother, Wendy Walsh who is a very well know botanical artist and was the main atraction of the Burtown House and Gardens. We stayed longer than usual for lunch talking with Lesley about Wendy's life and career which was very interesting and made m wonder how well known she might be back home given the amount of horticulturists and garden enthusiests that wer stopping by to see her and her house. After lunch I moved onto planting a new row of peas and beans between the remaining rows of kale and brocolli. Lesley had insisted that each ridge be planted with two rows and that the plants be staggared six inches apart exactly. She told me how they would normally plant everything in seperate pots and start them in the greenhouse so when they get transplanted in the rows everything could be placed in perfect lines. when they were planted directly sometimes they would come up crooked and out of line and had to be moved. she gave me a six inch measuring stick to space out each seed as I planted and said to mae sure the were positioned upright so they would grow straight. This was the most time Ive ever spent on planting two rows of beans and peas, but If it looks that much better then maybe its worthwhile. I then took a while to go around the two greenhouses and the garden to list eveything that has come up and count the numbers of plants for each crop. I took the rest of the day to germinate some more seeds of mostly everything since th Fennels had now decided they wanted to sell organic vegetables from the garden at the cafe. That evening I talked with James about what it would take for them to become organically certified, only to find out they simply could not because of the sprays they use elsewhere on the farm andhaving used so little organic seeds or compost. Even the manure they added to every garden was not acceptable because it was too fresh and needed much more time to decompose. James suggested they buy a fe different organic vegetable from a certified grower nearby and mix in theyer own so the customers might not realize the difference. I disagreed. I thought they should focus on thier own food production formost and aim to get organically certified in a few years. If they have excess vegetables they could be sold without the organic label, but with the aspect that thy had a goal for organic production which might entise the customers the same way. That night, Natasha, Kirsten, and I shared some wine and watched a film by the fire which definately settled some nerves. There was a group of artists coming by in the morning to paint in the gardens and we would all have to be careful not to be in the way. The artists were all from England and had very nice equiptment to use. About twenty spread out through the property looking over various landscapes. I started the morning off working to refurnish six large metal pots which had to be scraped clean of the old paint and then re painted with atleast two coats. The old paint did not com of easy and had to be chipped piece by piece with a small chisle. In three hours I had only gotten half of one clean when Lesley came to me and told me the task was useless. They needed to be dipped in a very strong paint remover or taken of with a drill bit. I went to the vegatable garden to weed, but kept having to change areas because of the artists. If I started to get in thier view I would distract them or obscure thier perception of the landscape and I would be scorned and told to move by some very rude english men and women. After lunch I was put to work polishing silver with Clara in the main house. All of the utensils bowls and decorations had to be done in each kitchen and dinning room. There were hundreds of pieces, to the point that they only had one set of eating ware that was not fine silver between the three houses, and that was in the wwoofer kitchen. After about two hours of wiping down each pice with brushes and cloths, Jo came by to check on us and was unsatisfied with how we were doing. We had gotten off the dark tarnish, but they were not shinning the way she said they expected them to be. We had to go back over everything again until there wasnt even a tiny blemish anywhere on each piece. It had been a beautiful day, and I really prefered to be out in the garden doing anything but this, but didn't have much of a choice between the high class artists and Jos insistance on having all the silver ready for thier next party. I was really looking forward to the weekend by the end of the day, desperate to get some time away enjoying myself. Clara, Kirsten and I had plans to leave saterday with another au pair, Carly, that worked for on of James' close friends. I didn't know the plans, but didn't care as long as it was away from Burtown for a day or so. We all stayed up that night chatting about the new wwoofers' first week, which was not what any of us would have expected. Natasha as starting to get sick as well, and had been lectured for not working hard enough to earn her place with the rest of us and was planning to leave by Monday to go back to her previous host. She said she had never felt so unwelcome or unfairly treated since she started volunteering and traveling eight years ago and advised the rest of us to consider wheather it was worth to stay longer because there are so many great wwoofing hosts in Ireland and any time we were not comfortable or happy we could easily find somewhere that we would be. This was the first week since I arrived that I was not feeling good about Burtown, so I was cautious about being too critical. Yet still, I had plans to leave as soon as possible and move on to the next stage and hopefully find a more sustainable and peaceful place. I had been welcomed to come back to my first host or go early to my next one, but I had trouble deciding when I would leave and how I would tell the Fennels I wanted to go. I didn't want to stress about it for the weekend, so I put it to the back of my mind and prepared for the relazing few days off. 

Wednesday April 11

Wednesday I was finally back to work in the garden planting root vegetable with Clara on a clear warm day which we were both happy about. We got new packages of parsnips, carrots, beet root, raddishes, and spring onions to put into an area where leeks had just been harvested. I tilled the soil and leveled out the area while clara picked out any remaining leeks and weeds. We divided the area into four rows and started raking the ridges for planting. I started with two rows of carrot seed along with the transplats out of the greenhouse. Clara got to work planting onion seeds in the last row, and we saved the middle row to be split between raddished and beet root. These were all the crops that James had said do very poorly every year because they plant too early or too late and was really depending on us to get them right this year. The early planting of parsnips, beetroot, raddishes, and shallots had all been hit by a heavy frost and never came up so we were crossing our fingers this time would have better luck. once everything was in the ground, Clara was called up to the house to help with the kids and try to explain to the new au pair, Kirsten how to 'handle' them. Kirsten was having initial trouble getting the girls to listen or stop misbehaving without any type of disipline when they started throwing fits. She had tried giving them a 'time out' or short priod with out being able to have their toys, which James and Jo were against. I continued working in the garden, trying my best to ignore the girls running around trowing dirt and tearing up plants as Clara ran after trying to stop them. I started moving tomatoes and brassicas from the kitchen window to James' office in the stable yard. I then helped gather greens for lunch and putting a salad together since everyone was buisy with various tasks and taking care of the kids. It was just us four wwoofers and the kids for lunch, which did not go very smoothly as the two girls kept running away from the table and causing touble making it hard for anyone to sit and eat. James and Jo were both buisy with planning for the next day when the Cafe would be open and had asked to be left in peace for the afternoon upstairs. After lunch Natasha had to spend a while going around the gardens and picking up dog filth while I was asked to trim all the grass edges around the flower gardens. This took the whole afternoon, since there is so  much area that had to be gone over and all the trimmings picked up. The next day was a big day for the gardens and cafe because they had invited several groups of friends to stop in for coffee and free tours. We were all asked to do a clean up of the house and patio area after we finished working in the garden. James was understandably stressed over the cafe not being everything he had expected at this time and nerves were shot so everyone headed to bed after a quick soup dinner. The next day was atleast supposed to be clear and warm again, so I looked forward to being in the garden working again with Clara and Natasha. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

First week of April and James Birthday

THe first week of April was mostly spent getting ready for James Birthday party. On Tuesday a friend of James who worked as a carpender came by to construct a bar for the cafe. He arrived at eight in the morning to talk with them and determine what materials he would need. I spent the morning weeding gardens closest to the house where people would be gathering during the party. I was mostly digging clusters of celondine and dandilion sprouts. I kept leaving my task to help carry furniture and materials to the gallery as things were delivered. After lunch I helped arrange cabinets and shelves around the bar that had already been completed. I was asked to start scraping spots of dirt and paint off the stone floor that had been dropped as the walls and windows were painted. It wasn't an easy job and I couldnt get most of the spots up without heavy work with a wire brush. I spent the rest of the day doing this, but I didn't get far. There was still scafolding in the gallery so I felt like any progress I had made would be wasted when it was moved after the ceiling was finished. Yet the next morning I went back to the same thing scraping with a razor blade, wire brush and steel wool. Clara and I moved outside that afternoon luckily to trim the edges of the lawn and rake out some more of the lawn behing Wendys house. Thursday was the same routine, but with painting. We were to paint just about everything in the gallery including windows walls shelves, bar, and furniture. Four of us including James and a friend named Shane that would be sharing the birthday party. It again was not hard work, just monotonous and simple. As we finished the bar, Kegs arrived for the new gas tap which would be used for pints. James had ordered two kegs of Guiness and two of Carlsburg which would be expected to disappear by the second night. Clara and I offered to help some more that evening since there was still a lot of remaining work and the party was to start the next afternoon. ovr a hundred and fifty people we meaning to stop in for the party so naturally the idea of anything going wrong terrified James. That evening family arrived and everyone joined for whiskey and wine in the main kitchen. We all stayed up chatting and listening to music as James caught up with his sisters and in laws and shared stories about travel with Shane who had just arrived back from trips so several different countries. The next day was hectic ofcourse as James began to think of all the jobs that needed done sending me and Clara off on new tasks before we could properly finish the previous. Some of the jobs felt pointless, such as wiping down the fences and signs around the garden and raking the gravel paths out smooth so you couldn't see and indentions from walking. I made a quick run around the garden and green houses to water everything since I had not been doing anything out there at all since monday due to party preparations. Tension had been building up over the week, and nerves were shot from the fast paced multitasking and tidying up of evry part of the property. Then the crowd began to arrive and pints started going around. within an hour music was up, people were immersed in loud conversation and empty glasses were bulking up by the twenties. Almost all of the guests had travelled from LOndon or Spain and were obviously very high class. Many came in with fur coats and very fancy suits, talking with a very arrogant and annoying accent. Not many of the guests carried on much conversation with me or Clara often turning away after saying were we had travelled from. Anyone that did care to chat would have something to boast to us about like a two million dollar home in Barcelona or theyer own next big event that would be all of the best things to see. I met screen writers and artists from London as well as well known musicians, producers and a number of Lords and Ladies. I spoke to the manager of Slane Castle as well as a few other high class venues which accepted Woofers. The music went on through the night even with a couple amps being blown by spilled beer, thy were quickly replaced by another by James. James kept asking me to tend to fires and help people find drinks when ever needed while Clara and Lindsay were asked to walk around with two bottles of wine available for any one looking for some. Lindsay went around being curdious and obedient to James request pouring glasses for anyone that motioned. CLara and I didn't pay much attention to the idea of serving since most of the crowd had become very pompous and rude about want more drinks and more fun. Any time the music would stop of the keg would need changed guests would start wanting to leave claiming the party wasnt good enough. People passed out in chairs and hallways for short periods and then jumping back into the crowd with a fresh pint from the bar. A fifteen year old boy was in charge of bartending until ten in the morning, only getting a break from me of Clara who didn't know enough about tending to hold of the pushy crowd asking for all typs of cocktails and continuous pints. At ten the next morning when the bar shut down and people started to thin I headed for a bed and slept for a few hours before being awoken for more cocktails on the patio with everyone that stayed over. We drank through the day, with little to eat and got together agian that evening for whiskey and music in the main kitchen with the extended family. The next day I was starting to feel ill which I assumed was a rough hangover, but lasted the entire day together with weakness and being sick. Clara felt the same way and was sick as well, so we became suspicious that we might have gotten some sort of bug.Lindsay left that morning, over a month earlier than she had planned. She told me before she set off that I should reconsider my own plans and move on before I began to see the home the way she had. The same morning, the maid of the house who came in a few days a week waled out and quit, saying that cleaning up after the out of control party was the last straw and it was no longer worth the payment. Two new wwoofers arrived that night, but I was not up for being too social. James and the family kept hounding Clara and I to join them for a fifth keg and music with the new guests as a way to kill the hangover, but we both passed it up. The next day it became obvious we had gotten some type of stomach virus. We both had fevers and could not hold down any food. Luckily it was a bank holiday and we did not have to work. James had the two new girls clean galsses, organize the kitchen and clean the floors for a few hours which me and Clara saw as taking advantage of them. Natasha, a thirty year old experienced wwoofer from New Zeland was unhappy with the way she had been welcomed because James had appearently sat around drinking while he gave her cleaning tasks around the house and everyone else was resting. I could tell James and Jo both talked to her and treated her less curtiously than me or Clara for some reason, which was bothersom to us all. The other new wwoofer is an eighteen year old from Germany named Kirsten who was looking for experience with the English language and sustainable lifestyles. She was assigned to take care of the three children rather than Natasha who had experience as a nanny and more confidence with kids. Ofcourse the two girls were very unhappy with having a new au pair and began to throw tantrums and making messes which she had little ability to control. At one point during lunch one of the girls threw a plate of food because she had been asked to eat something she didn't like and when Kirsten asked why she did such a thing she replied in a loud voice "Because I can and you can't stop me" and ran away. After a rough first few hours as an Au pair, Clara was told to help out and explain how to handle the children. There was little difference in the behavior as they ran around screaming and making messes for the rest of the day. James was aggrivated with them both for not having more control while guests were still around. I don't understand myself how someone could do the job of looking after the children with James and Jos rules about no discipline or punishment for any bad behavior. We were told that we can tell them "No" as firmly as we could, but to never raise our voices, and if they disobeyed and did something wrong anyway, we were not to do anything but explain it was wrong and clean up after them. They did not want any of the children to be put in a time out, have things taken away or yelled at in any way for misbehaviors. The au pairs were to only offer rewards to the kids if they would listen and behave. So naturally, the kids became very hard to take care of and would only behave or listen when they wanted candy or rewards, otherwise they would ignor the rules and the wwoofers watching them often causing stress for everyone around. The tantrums lasted through the eveningand the next morning when the Gardens opened to the public. All three girls were eventually assigned to handle the three kids while James left for a holiday in Dublin and Jo managed the Garden walks and Gallery Cafe. Tuesday evening the four of us sat together and discussed the situation. We all agreed we each had plans to leave soon as the environment was getting very tense and stressful. Natasha was feeling unwelcome in the home and had also picked up a bug which was making it hard for her to keep up with James buisy work. Clara and I were fighting a virus and were taking turns resting or being sick while the other was working in the garden. I had decided to leave with the others within a week or so, but had no plans or idea how to go about it. I wrote my previous host, and my next host looking for new arrangements and started to get my bags together and ready for a quick departure when the time came. The weekend parties and opening of the Gardens had brought a lot of stress and completely changed the calm and peacful environment we had enjoyed for the past few weeks.