Monday, November 19, 2012

Rugby days - Aurelie's post on Sam's first day of Rugby matches

So Samuel now plays rugby. It's his choice, not mine (maybe a little influence from Stephen, but that's it). Of course when I chose his name (I did) I had in mind a little of Samuel Beckett, I mean it's the first name of an intellectual, or an artist, certainly not of a rugby player. On top of that he's way too handsome and rugby men are not (at least after playing for a while).

Anyway he likes it. Actually he loves it. He is playing at under 6 level, which mostly to get an idea of rules, teamwork and training. No scrums, no upper body tackles: I can still watch.
And yesterday after 4 weeks the day finally arrived: playing matches, not just training! There is local tournament where they play against several teams every month, each time in different places on the island.

Samuel was very excited about it, I mean he could finally prove he was the fastest, strongest, of all the other players. Personally I thought rugby was about putting the ball behind the opposing team, while passing it backward, but hey what do I know.

Our first tournament happened to be in St Benoit which is quite the opposite side of the island. This meant meeting at 8.00 at the club in town. This meant leaving the house at 7.30. This meant waking up at 6.20. On Sunday. Because obviously for the first match we were all going.
Thankfully we had no need for the alarm as Samuel woke up even before it went off asking “are we going now?”

We arrived at the meeting point early, trying to get some info as where we were going (there are 2 stadiums in St Benoit). After some confusion we got an answer and even a map, so we left Samuel going on the bus as we headed with little miss car sick on the long journey to St Benoit. The trip was fine, beside the fact that the map given was totally outdated and the stadium mentioned was wrong.  It was ok though, we still arrived before the bus. Who needs organisation anyway?

Getting ready

After so much expectation leading up to the big day drama had to happen and it came about the playing strip of the club as the Under 6s did not get them 'cos there were not enough of them to go around (they got the blue training strips. Huge disappointment, avery sad face and a few tears. It's tough but to be honest, blue is a lot better than black and yellow.

Obviously he ended up playing on the furthest side of the pitch away fromour “camp” so I went first on the pitch to watch him play and take pictures. They play 5 against 5 (or 4) and good thing it's simplified rules 'cos as I saw Samuel running with the ball I was afraid he was going the wrong direction when he was actually scoring his first point. Glad he did not hear me saying “no, the other way!”. I should probably refrain from shouting instruction.

Sam with the ball

Running to support his team mate

Anyway he had a great day. He played 4 matches (I think) though it gets confusing as they take kids from other teams when a team does not have enough players. He was just a bit disappointed that he did not play “real” matches, so we explained that he has to start like this to learn, and that trying to not pass the ball forward would be a good next step.  He was so tired from the matches (and getting up so early) that he slept in the car on the way back home.

Guess it was the first on many other rugby Sundays... as long as I can watch.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Carraig Dúlra

As I've mentioned previously here last year before we left Ireland I was lucky enough to get involved with a couple of week long permaculture courses which were run by Cultivate/Greenworks in Dublin.

The two courses were run by a fantastic teacher by the name of Suzie Cahn.  She and her husband Mike have an organic small-holding in Wicklow where among other things they run courses and they also have an OOOOBY (out of our own back yards) store nearby (

While I've always been a Green, taking part in structured courses really opened my eyes to the world of permaculture, sustainable living and hands on skills.  Besides the great fun and the learning on the courses (and the great people), there was an immensely empowering feeling of realising that it really is possible to build things and grow things on your own or with friends (while I was always aware that it was possible I just didn't really realise that it was possible for me too and I think a lot of people feel that way, one of the perils of modern living is that we forget these things).

The other thing that really struck me on visiting Carraig Dúlra was how incredibly productive relatively small areas of land can be if they are laid out and designed well.  As mentioned in a previous post I'd love to see more of our urban green areas planted with food gardens and orchards rather than ornamental species, I'd love for more people to feel that sense of empowerment.

During the summer of 2011 after I had completed the courses I managed to get back up to Carraig Dúlra a few times with Sam and Ela and some friends I had made on the courses (anyone up in the Louth direction should look up O'Callaghans Edible Garden which is run by some of the folk we went along with).  Getting our hands dirty with the planting and weeding was immensely satisfying and the company couldn't have been better.  At the time we were living in Dublin and while we had plenty of green around where we were living it couldn't compare with the countryside and it was great watching the kids (ours and others) play and explore by themselves.  Below are some photos of one of those visits taken by Marie our au pair at the time (she loved it there too!).

So if anyone is interested in permaculture or just getting in touch with the land and hands on skills look them up and get involved!  February is the begining of the planting season here for a lot of things so we have plans afoot to get planting and grow more of our own food next year.

The orchard with the yurt and sheds beyond

The herb and vegtable garden


Snack time for Ela

The gathering area with a outdoor pizza oven under construction! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A bounty of fruit

We live in a cul de sac, about 50 metres from the local main road, today, while walking Ela back from school, I was struck by the variety of fruit trees (and herbaceous plants) that we walked pass in that 50 metres. 

There was a coeur de beouf  or custard apple tree (we have one of these in the garden too, its a strange textured fruit, not bad, just strange Custard Apple) .

Cour de beouf/custard apple tree

Just across from our front gate our neighbours have planted pineapple plants which are just starting to fruit.  I don't know why but I had always sort of assumed that pineapples came from trees!

The view of pineapples from our front gate...
...and a cute little pineapple

And of course there are some coconut trees, they are ubiquitous around here, in every garden and lining the roads.

There were half a dozen or so lychee trees, really really tasty   We have a couple these in our garden too and in the next month or so they should be ripe.  They continue ripening for about six weeks so you get a continuous supply, of course we are heading to Ireland and France for a month in five weeks so we'll miss the most of the season this year!
(Note to potential burglars, we will be taking all of our valuable stuff with us so don't bother, one of the benefits of not having that much stuff).

Then there was a mango tree.  Until you see it it's hard to believe the amount of fruit mango trees produce.  In a couple of months the sides of the roads around here will be covered in mangos as  there seems to be too many to harvest.

Mango tree
And of course there are bananas.  There are lots of banana plants on the way to the road (there is a banana plantation at the end of the cul de sac) but only three or four have large bunches of bananas ripening on them right now.

And lastly there are a couple of large Ti Jacques trees Ti Jacques (which I forgot to take a photo of, I'll add that in tomorrow!).

The thing that struck me (besides how bountiful the island is) was why this doesn't happen everywhere.  All over the island there are fruit trees, banana plants etc. at the sides of the roads and in gardens and fields but you got to Ireland or most other places in Europe and you don't see that.  Why is that, why aren't there more fruit and nut trees in gardens and on road sides?  I can't imagine planting a garden and not including mostly food producing plants and trees, so why don't we do more of it?

Before leaving for Reunion I was lucky enough to do a few week long permaculture courses with Greenworks and Cultivate ( in Dublin and it really opened my eyes to a world of growing your own food and sustainability and how empowering that can be, but that is a post for later (and one I will get to!). 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween at our house

Halloween was one of the big four holidays growing up, along with Christmas, Easter and Paddy's day, it always felt a bit naughtier than the other three with bonfires and being out after dark trick or treating!
Here in Reunion they are just starting to celebrate Halloween with costumes and themed sweets starting to appear in the shops (its only in recent years that I've really realised that Halloween isn't an international holiday. By all accounts it started in Ireland (and possibly Scotland) and migrated from there to the US. Now, bit by bit, its spreading from the US across the world).  They still don't really have trick or treating (though I saw a few last night, a first for around here apparently), but in our house, wherever we are, Halloween is big, Aurelie being a particular fan.  So over the last couple of weeks costumes were put together and decorations bought and constructed in preperations for a little Halloween party in our house. 
Ela Witch

Darth Vader and the Witch
A few of Sam n' Ela's friends and parents came over after dark and there was trick or treating around a couple of the houses here followed by suger fueled mayham in the garden.  It was a really good night and we got to chat, eat pizza and drink a little wine with the other parents (my, do I have to practice my French) to the sound of excited shrieks from the garden.  As a bonus we managed to finish up at just the right time, all the kids were exhausted but before there were any tears!

Here's to many more Halloweens!