20th April: the 3 volunteers visited a sustainable farm in Fermanagh

James, a friend of GEAI presented us his farm, a different farm, where you can find a ‘little’ wind turbine, a big wood boiler and plenty of solar panels.

He was one of the first people around to install a wood boiler.

Buying wood is very expensive, that’s why I burn only my own wood that I plant in my fields and sometimes I use wooden waste like pallets”, says James.

He was a lucky though because his family owns some hectares of forest land and the wood that he cut is estimated to last between 5-8 years. Before to be useful, trees should grow up during 20 years minimum, that is the perfect age when the size is enough to burn it but not too large to be difficult to cut. Next step, wood must be dried in a hangar and after to be cut in logs fit for the boiler.

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The boiler has a 40 kW capacity and in the 10 years of use he only replaced 4 small parts.

We were amazed how huge the boiler was but also his house is big.

The wind turbine

Near to his farm, James decided to construct a small windmill as part of his master degree project. In this place, the wind in sufficient to rotate the palm. Inside the windmill, the system is easy: the rotary movement moves the electric generator. A power cable leads the electricity produced to the James’ house. “I chose this place for my windmill because here is the windier field of my farm. There are no land forms or forest around and it is not so far to my house but not too close to hear it” explains James. The energy produced is controlled by an electricity meter. The turbine is mostly active at night time and he uses the energy to charge his electric car.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

His car has a 60 miles autonomy, is not much but is good to go to work and back!

But James is very proud of his solar panels. He installed them almost one year before – 16m2  of solar with a 44 kW power and in a sunny day they would produce 3.5 units.

For him are a very good option and even in winter he can get some electricity despite the weather.

We were impressed with all that we saw, but we also understand that you have to have a passion for tinkering to be able to manage and maintain all that, he really like what he does and he is always looking for new ideas. Is a lot of work involved, of course, but Ireland, because of the climate, is a place where you have to be very resourceful and take in consideration many options for heating and electricity if you want to be sustainable and to save some money.

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Solar panels

17th-20st March: St.Patrick and the road trip

Me and Lisandra had awesome craic for Paddy Weekend!

We are part of Samboeire, a drumming band in Sligo and we took part in a parade in Kiltimagh for St. Patrick’s day. We were very Irish, parading on the streets of the lovely town of Kiltimagh. It was our first experience in a parade and we are very proud we had this opportunity. We were been playing bells and being in the front line of the group was not easy! All eyes on us, people filming and taking photos, definitely being a star is not an easy job ;).

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The parade was very cheerful and inventive, I was impressed by people’s imagination. Most of the groups parading had the 1916 Rising theme, since this year is the centenary of the most important moment in Irish history. But we also had…Donald O’Trump! And the Pope…and dancing nuns!0168726867fbf2332e3746e0a1c4c7ec98b0d6966e

We ended up having a pint in the local pub and then we hit the road to…Galway!! Just after realising we lost the car keys but they were found and returned to us…a bit of adrenaline… 🙂 :D.

We planned a little road trip that made us appreciate even more the natural beauty of Ireland.

You can see on the map our route and most the pins have also photos from the places we’ve been.

Day 2 started in Galway with a morning walk in the city and then we went a famous part of Ireland: The Burren and Cliffs of Moher. As always, I am lucky having wonderful weather, not a trace of clouds in the sky!

Driving through the Burren taught us about the karstic landscape of county Clare, the name “Burren” comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place and it is indeed very much like that because of the exposed limestone. This same rock gave to the landscape the wonder of the Aillwee Cave, one of the oldest caves in Ireland, amazing formations and alongside the wall a surprise waterfall sprayed us!

At the Cliffs of Moher we had a long coastal walk with many stops for pictures, it was breathtaking and is very hard to comment about what was there! The dramatic cliffs in the sunshine are imposing and making their way to your heart and mind.

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Saturday was a day dedicated to the Wild Atlantic Way, going on the coast and enjoying the landscapes, having a picnic on a beach with turquoise waters and foraging for …limpets! Lisandra, told us about the limpets, called lapas in Portuguese that she would take from the rocks in the Azores and cook them. So, she felt at home managing to get the limpets and in the evening we cooked them with garlic and butter, it was awesome!!

We passed by Roundstone, and Clifden, a lovely coast town, Cleggan and ended up in the heart of Connemara – Letterfrack and enjoyed a sunset on a little peninsula, Tullycross.

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Day 4 started with a hike in the Connemara National Park. We made it to the top of Diamond Hill and the view was extremely rewarding. After, we drove around Ireland’s only Fjord, Killary not being able to talk, astonished and overwhelmed of it all. Sunday’s picnic was on the sides of the Ashleigh Waterfall and we continued to the “lost beach” of Mayo, Silver Strand. We wanted to see the sunset but it was cloudy…good weather coming to an end at the same time with as our trip. But instead of watching the sunset we found more limpets and ended up home, cooking them and ending properly our amazing days.

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Ireland is an amazing country, I knew it before coming here and before going on this road trip but those days were as beautiful as only I could have imagined. Both me and Lisandra love being close to the water, we have a special relation with the sea/ocean and being on the Wild Atlantic Way meant a lot.

Many thanks to our amazing friend, Del that drove us this week end to the best places!

Alice

9th March: On-Arrival Training

My experience of the EVS On-Arrival Training

For five days in Dublin, I joined 15 European Volunteers from Belgium, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Russia and Spain at a training organised by Léargas.

On Wednesday, after the introduction, we had the session “River of learning”, were we reflect about important learning moments and became aware of what and how we learn.

It was great to look back over my life and think about times or events where I really felt I learnt something.

Thursday, we had:

  • An expectations walk – we discussed with a random person what we wanted to get from the training, and what we don’t wanted to get from the training;
  • Poster making – we introduced our organization, share its locality, the target group, the main activities, the goal of the project and our role on the organization.
  • A mindfulness body scan
  • The workshop “Pay it Forward” – all volunteers were challenged to be a part of the competition organized by The Léargas team, to celebrate 20 years of existence of the European Voluntary Service programme (EVS).

On the following day, Friday, we had the workshop “Mind Mapping – Rights & Responsibilities of volunteers”, and the “Dublin Challenge” where we had to go to different sites and ask questions to people that we don’t know.

Saturday we did an “Empathy Walk”, which as a great opportunity to know more about each other, and a “Theatre Workshop Looking at Power and Change”. Furthermore, we had the sessions “Understanding Culture” and “Multiple Intelligence”.

On Sunday there was the opportunity to know more about Youthpass, to share our personal EVS goals, identifying the projects that we would like to develop in our organizations, why they are important for us and how to achieve them. Lastly we had a change to Network with each other, including “Places to Visit in Ireland”, “Freebies and Deals” and “Interesting/useful websites and/or events”.

It was a great opportunity to meet new people, with different backgrounds and realities and share our experiences. I found fascinating persons with very similar core values, life experiences, ambitions and dreams.

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1st March: Goodbye Irakli!

“-Irakli,  what do you want to drink?

Guinness! A pint of Guinness! ”

“-Irakli,  are you having porridge again?”

“Yes.”

“But you had porridge already this morning!”

“I know, I know…”

There are some things that me and my colleagues will always remember about Irakli.  I say that because now he’s back home in Georgia. His EVS time with us ended and we said goodbye with a little party at the Chinese restaurant near us.  We relished exotic food and Irish stout remembering moments together and telling stories.

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We had a nice and interesting time together learning from each other. For sure Irakli taught us to be more patient and that it is worthwhile to be kind and good.

He was always curious about the culture and to find out how people think.

A big fan of Guinness, he was always in the mood for going to the pub.

Among his favorite stuff was the traditional Irish black pudding and also the porridge! Maybe sometimes together…well…we all have our weirdnesses in the house and he was no exception.

We now know more about Georgia, we know that Katchapuri needs special cheese to do it properly and we recognise the good quality of Georgian wines.

We are happy that we had time together but also that he went back home happy and full of hope.  Now Irakli is settling back home and we keep in touch, eager to hear about his future plans.

 

 

15th of February: My Birthday in Ireland

Recently was my birthday (Alice) and as I always do, I went visiting a new place but leaving my colleagues with the promise that we will cook and celebrate together when I am back.

Yes…we all like cooking!

But as I would be used from my home country on my birthday I would do something for my guests but on Monday morning I saw that people are acting a bit weird at the office….then some movements…Olga buying garlic bread…then going in and out the office…something is happening, they are plotting!!

And a smell is coming from the kitchen…

Lunch time arrived and there was it: Veggie lasagna! And garlic bread!

So I found out that in Ireland people do prepare something for the birthday person, in my case this adorable lunch, the lasagna was so delicious that I had to have seconds. They should have warn me there is more to come…Cédric made an apple cake, one of my favourite desserts!

Very nice feeling to see genuine care from my colleagues and felt a bit overwhelmed with attention.

So…next day I rewarded them with one of my best recipes: Tiramisú!

And the next day Cédric cooked quiche and Lisandra Queijada de leite …

It’s a never-ending story…should we open a restaurant??

Alice

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Thank you!

 

 

 

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