2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it … Continue reading

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0.66666666666 at The Discovery Zone

We’re getting busy. Really busy.


At this stage, if it was a house-build and not a business project, the site is sitting there ready, plans are drawn, planning permission granted, contractors researched, prices compared (a bit more study required here, but a general idea in place!)

There are brochures scattered around of finishes and furniture and  and and….; and your head is full of stuff. Buzzing.

But there is still no house.

That’s where we are at the moment. A lot of prep work done, but we still have to put our business project in place.

So, 4 weeks left (0.33333333333) and it’s time to rewrite the TO-DO list and put some shape on it.

Again using the analogy of a house, the contractors must be hired, the materials purchased, the machinery must break ground, and the schedule of works is put in place.

It’s time to spend! And do. And do some more.

Be it time, money or a combination of both, the real work must begin on construction.

And the thrill of seeing it come to life; And the fear like that of a parent for a newborn….


So it’s busy. Really busy.

at The Discovery Zone http://www.discoveryzone.gerrymoan.ie/

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so the journey has begun

2 weeks ago I started at the Discovery Zone.


I didn’t know what to anticipate, but even the introduction has proved to be way above my expectations.

In two weeks, I have met good people who will travel the journey with me, and already I know that some of these people, in fact, probably all of them, will be a big part of my future.

I feel more optimism and buzz about my business than I have in a long time.  Not the fleeting kind of motivation you get from hearing a motivational speaker at an event, but a deeper feeling of confidence and certainty that has been absent for quite a while.

I see opportunity for me, for my business, and for all of us starting this journey together.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat!

Team Building

L-R   Liam; Me (Pat); Brian and Anthony         

learning that you can always find more than one way to do something

I know the “work” will be intense, but a wise person once said:

“Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life” - Harvey MacKay

I am ready for this.

To use another adage  “The harder I work, the luckier I get”

And I do work hard, so I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to avail of this set of stepping stones to bring my business to the level both it and I deserve.

Looking forward to being in the Discovery Zone for the next 3 months.

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good company

The Blog Awards 2013

I’ve just uploaded my “nominated” badge to my blog. What a truly wonderful feeling.


Thank you so much for the nominations guys, and girls!

I am so proud to be nominated in the Eco/Green category, and also to be among such amazing company in this category which is sponsered by ESB ecars

An excerpt from their Facebook status earlier today:
ESB ecars is delighted to sponsor the Best Green/Eco blog award at the Blog Awards Ireland in 2013. We would like to wish all of the nominees the very best of luck and hope to see you all at the award show on October 12th. For more details see http://www.blogawardsireland.com/
Photo: ESB ecars is delighted to sponsor the Best Green/Eco blog award at the Blog Awards Ireland in 2013. We would like to wish all of the nominees the very best of luck and hope to see you all at the award show on October 12th. For more details see http://www.blogawardsireland.com/

Again pride swelled this morning when I saw this tweet by AnTaisce

Congrats for @BlogAwardsIE Eco/Green nominations to @_secretgarden_ @VOICE_Ireland @Smartheat @oliveobrien @DoneganGardens @giyireland

One of the nicest thing about the awards is the lists of great blog posts on every subject from sport and politics to beauty, health and food, and lots more.  Reading material for lots of hours ahead throughout the long winter evenings.

A fabulous read is the blog by my wonderful cousin Fionn.


12 year old boy with aspergers gives some views through his eyes…

I have also entered the Glenisk recipe competition with my post Glenisk and Me At little bit about my weight loss challenge, so I’m now looking forward to next month with bated breath to see if I am included in the Blog Awards short list and indeed the Glenisk finalists!

So until then I hope you will follow this blog, and say hello if you wish. I love feedback! Chat soon.


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Flying high

In 1932 Amelia Earhart completed the first female cross Atlantic solo flight, landing in Derry.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart#1932_transatlantic_solo_flight

On January 11, 1935, Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California.  

Fifty seven years later, on January 11th.  1992, I completed my first solo flight at Dublin Airport. It is a memory that will stay with me always.

I was lucky enough to train at IONA National Airways flight school, which meant that most of my flying throughout my training was from Dublin Airport, an experience in itself!

This was the third time my solo flight had been scheduled, but due to adverse weather conditions, the previous two were cancelled, so it was finally happening today. On my way to the airport I sang loudly to a tape of Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” http://youtu.be/U57sLy77SE8

Weather conditions were right. I was ready. This was my day.

The 30 odd hours of flying lessons, where on more than occasion, I swore I would never again sit in a small plane; the night classes at Iona flight school, followed by long hours of studying where I learned how the engine worked; aviation law; navigation and meteorology had brought me to this point. This was what it was all about.

After logging my flight plan, I headed out to my trusty Cessna 152, EI-BRO, with my foam pillow. The seats of a Cessna are not so easily adjusted for the vertically challenged!


Runway 11/29, the shortest and one of the oldest runways, is now closed to allow overspill aircraft parking. This runway will disappear under the new parallel runway 10/28 in due course.

I completed my pre-flight checks, checked the weather and got my instructions from the control tower and took off from runway 29 and practiced a few circuits, taking off, approaching and landing again, with the chief flying instructor, Ollie O’Neill.

Then it was time. We taxied on to the apron, Ollie got out.

I was on my own!

So what was it like? Short and intense!

My one thought was had I the radio mike switched off when I screamed YESSSSSS at the top of my lungs after a successful take off! And then it was time to do my pre landing checks and make contact with the tower again (the speaker was OFF!) to get permission to go around again. Three more circuits and it was over.

first-solo-flightWhat was I feeling? I think there was no room for thoughts or feelings because my smile was bigger than me.

Words can’t describe it. Whatever it was, I had never felt it before. I had never experienced such a great accomplishment. 18 months after my first flight, I had finally soloed an airplane.

I could finally call myself a pilot.

I was now cleared to train solo at my leisure, with the next big challenge being the 5 hour cross country flight, (150nm flight with two intermediate full stop landings)

But my first Solo flight will always be the one that I remember most clearly, and days like today, the anniversary of my heroine’s big achievement, always bring me right back to my moment in time!

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there’s always tomorrow

blogger's block

Image courtesy of http://www.copyblogger.com

I have written many blog posts over the past 6 months…..all in my head, but never on paper, or to be accurate on my PC!  If any doctor needs a locum, my handwriting should certainly qualify me for the position! Although I am not a “writer”, I think I had writer’s block, or again for accuracy, “blogger’s block”

The problem was that some of the ramblings in my brain had nothing to do with my “living comfortably” blog. I asked the experts on #BlogChatIE, a twitter forum for bloggers.

unlock the block

The advice I got was keep blogging, but separate the posts into two categories, so here I am!

I found the key and I have unlocked me!

How often will I post? I don’t know, but when you see a new post you will know that I’m probably supposed to be doing something else! You see, I’ve got a great friend called procrastination, but I’ll tell you about that later!

In one sense this will also relate to my business, because after all, people buy from people, and this blog should give an insight into the complicated being that is me! On second thoughts this might be a disadvantage, but it’s a chance I will have to take!

So what’s today’s topic? New beginnings.


Cure for morning Grump

When I awoke this morning, I had my morning cuppa, brought to me, as always, by Gilbert, my beloved husband.

He doesn’t cook, so our deal is that he brings me coffee and toast to bed every morning, and I provide the rest of the meals. I feel I am getting the better end of the bargain, because I don’t like mornings.

But there’s method in his madness. This way he gets a “fairly” pleasant wife every day!

As usual I checked into Twitter, and someone tweeted:

“What a beautiful day to start the rest of your life”

And it was ….. A beautiful day; sun shining, blue sky and tulips and daffodils waving gaily in the gentle April breeze. I love my garden.

And it was…. The start of the rest of my life, so I made a resolution:

Every day I will try do at least 50% of the things I have to do, and at least 50% of the things  I want to do. Note the word “TRY”.  I also made a resolution in January not to do guilt anymore, so I try, and if I don’t get there, as my great friend procrastination always says, there is always tomorrow!

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2012 in review…. a reason to start blogging again!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Wellys and Wood in Wexford!

On Wednesday I attended the National Ploughing Championships in New Ross in Wexford. Wet gear, jeans, wellys, and a big smile on my face all I needed for the day.

What can I say about the ploughing that hasn’t already been said or written?, except that every man woman and child in this country should be given a pair of wellys, a rain poncho and a ticket for a day at the ploughing championships. We would have an energised, happy proud nation of people ready for whatever comes our way!

The official reason for my visit was in my capacity of Chair of the  WFQA Oversight Committee, a title I carry with pride.

The occasion?

The Minister of State for Forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Shane McEntee, TD attended to present certificates to the latest wood fuel producers to secure membership of the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme for Ireland.

WFQA Presentation 2012

See Press Release from Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

So what is the WFQA?

Wood Fuel Quality Assurance scheme for Ireland

Wood Fuel Quality Assurance scheme for Ireland

The full title is the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme for Ireland.

Mainland Europe has never moved away from using wood fuel for heating, but here in Ireland we embraced the idea of automatic oil and gas central heating systems in the late 50’s /early 60’s. Wood was relegated to the open fire along with turf and coal.

However, early in the new millennium, with fears over the long term availability of oil and gas, using wood fuel for heating started to make a comeback, but in modernised, more automated systems, using wood chip and wood pellet.

And as is usual, when new technology hits the marketplace, it brings its fair share of “ne’er do wells!” The wood fuel sector was no exception to the rule!

Shoddy equipment appeared on the shelves, the cowboy army came marching through the land and some very dubious “Wood Fuels” made their way in to stoves and boilers.

During this time a great deal of damage was done to the reputation of wood fuel industry.

It is important moving forward that we base the growth of the wood fuel sector firmly on quality – this is what WFQA is all about. Our plan is to make our bright flame logo something that customers will increasingly look for when buying wood pellets, wood chip, wood briquettes or indeed firewood.

In 2011 the firewood market alone was worth over €30 million euro to our economy.

In January 2009, a voluntary working group was assembled to produce a quality assurance scheme for wood fuels. The group consisted of industry and consumer representatives and delegates from public bodies and associations such at WIT; SEAI; IrBEA; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and NSAI

WFQA Working Group

Over two years we met, we worked, considered, discarded, argued and agreed!  My role in the working group was to represent the consumer, the end-user of wood fuels. I got to know some great people, had the opportunity to work with some amazing minds, and the working group finally produced National Workshop Agreement (NWA4) Agreement, the fourth such agreement in place in this country.

The agreement forms the basis of a quality assurance scheme for wood fuels, using very strict criteria to ensure that wood fuel that carries the WFQA and NSAI labels are

  • Carbon Neutral
  • Sourced from Sustainably Managed  Forests
  • Compliant with relevant Irish and EU standards
  • Independently tested and certified in Ireland.

So what happens in this process?

There are various Irish and European standards in place for Wood Pellet, Wood Chip, Wood Briquettes, and indeed Firewood.

These standards mean little to the end user, who just wants to know that the wood fuel they are purchasing is suitable for the heating appliance.

The WFQA doesn’t set the standard that the fuels ascribe to, but rather test the fuel on a random basis to ensure that whatever standard the producer claims to have, is in fact correct. In other words: “That it does what it says on the tin!”

The fuel is collected from site, as per European Testing Standards, and tested in a state of the art test and research facility for wood fuels in Waterford Institute of Technology.

In the meantime the quality processes of the company are audited by NSAI inspectors. This includes tax,  insurance and safety compliance, felling licences, chain of custody documentation, delivery and storage procedures etc. to name but a few.

When all of this is in place the NSAI certifies the company to carry both the WFQA and the NSAI labels on their packaging and documentation.

It is quite a robust process, and reflects very positively on companies attaining certification under the scheme.

There are now 6 companies certified under the scheme, with several more in the pipeline, who will complete the certification process over the coming months.

Full details of the scheme are available at http://www.wfqa.org

So what’s next for the WFQA? The scheme is now known throughout the industry. It’s now the turn of you, the reader, the consumer, the end user to look for the label.

Ask your wood fuel retailer if they stock WFQA fuels. Ask your wood fuel supplier if they are certified by WFQA? Ask why not?

You deserve to have quality assured wood fuel to heat your home.

Look for the label….WFQA Label

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Tidy Town Award 2012 Ireland

Pat Murphy:

Lovely post about Abbeyshrule #TidyTowns #Longford

Originally posted on Emeralds:

Abbeyshrule Village in Longford has been given the very highly coveted title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town . That’s no mean feat considering it battled it out with giants like Westport, Ennis, Sligo,  and another 850 cities, towns and villages across the nation.

I love this photograph of the Abbeyshrule Tidy Town Committe that is featured in The Irish Times article who are are reacting to the news that they won. The emotion on their faces is unreal. Huge congratulations to them and the village for their hard work.

The Tidy Town competition has been running since 1958 and was originally started by the the National Tourist board( known then as Bord Failte) to promote communities to improve their local environment and make their area a better place to live, work and visit.

In fact, the town of Glenties in Donegal was the FIRST ever winner of this award in 1958. For more…

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…to the burning question?

Scared by the rising cost of home heating oil? You are not alone.

More and more people are becoming concerned about the cost of heating their homes. And no wonder. The chart shows how the cost of heating oil has almost doubled in 3 years.

Cost of home heating oil

In fact I have receipts from 15/12/2001 (yes, I’m a hoarder!) showing the price of Kerosene at 35.65 cent per litre.

                 So, what’s the answer to the burning question?Burning question

 Where do we turn for heat?

 The answer is forward to the past………

We can heat our homes with wood, but using new technology to increase efficiency and take the hard work out of the process by using a wood gasification boiler.

I hear you ask? a what? a wood what? Well, here’s the science bit!

Wood gasification boilers provide a convenient, safe, and environmentally responsible way to heat your home and hot water. Wood gasification boiler owners are ensured of high heating efficiency, low heating costs, and use of an abundant, locally available, renewable fuel. The wood gasification combustion technology is the most efficient way to burn firewood.  Additionally, this high efficiency burn technology produces little or no creosote, virtually eliminating the risk of a chimney fire and greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In conventional wood fired boilers, after the initial burning of the fuel, a large amount of combustible gas is released.  This gas accounts for an amazing 50% of the wood fuel energy.
Unfortunately, due to inefficient combustion, conventional wood boilers fail to capitalize on this abundant fuel energy; in fact most of it is lost up the flue!

A Wood gasification boiler utilizes a combustion technology called ‘Gasification’ to capture, extract and transfer this energy that standard wood boilers simply waste.

The gasification process..Wood Gasification ProcessAs the wood is burned in the firebox, fresh air is blown through the logs.  As this hot smoke and air mixture is forced into the combustion chamber, it is mixed with a second jet of super-heated air.
This results in a torch like combustion of the retained gases, at spectacular temperatures exceeding 1800 degrees.

The result: almost all the gases are burned, with little residual soot or creosote, and the extra energy extracted is transferred to a full jacket heat exchanger. This extraordinary process allows wood gasification boilers to achieve overall thermal efficiencies of greater than 90%!

This translates quite simply into more hot water for heating and domestic use, almost complete fuel efficiency, and significant savings in your annual fuel bill.

The right choice of the accumulator (or buffer) tank plays an important role when heating with wood. Every heating system must be large enough to cope with the coldest days of the year. During most of the heating period, however, only part of the heat produced is required immediately. Accumulator tanks ensure that no valuable energy is lost by storing the excess heat and releasing it back into the heating system or the hot-water tank as required.

As a result, you can get through the day with fewer heating intervals, and will benefit from heating in the optimum operating condition for longer. Another advantage of using the buffer tank is the cozy warmth which is still there early in the morning, without having to re-stoke the boiler.

Wood gasification heating system

Wood gasification heating system

A wood gasification boiler can only operate with high efficiency and low emissions if your wood has the right moisture content. Properly seasoned firewood should have a moisture content of less than 20 per cent (maximum 25%)

Burning wet wood will result in poor performance and is one of the top barriers to pleasurable, efficient wood burning. It is also very important to split the wood to the proper size for your burner chamber, in order to stack it correctly for efficient combustion.

My post “wood …the natural answer”  has all the information on how to choose and season the wood fuel for your boiler.

And remember always look for the labelWood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme for Ireland

The Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme for Ireland provides a simple but reliable way for consumers to purchase quality wood fuels that are accurately described and meet the supplier’s stated product specifications.
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