Ancient skills preserved at Forest Show
Sometimes an invitation can be hard to refuse, especially when it involves spending a few days in a friend's house in sunny Spain.
In normal circumstances I would much rather visit some coastal destination in Ireland for a relaxing holiday but the lure of a spot of sunshine after all the cold and rain we have endured was just too enticing.
I flew to Girona, hired a car and found myself sitting in the shade outside a small cafe in the square of an old Spanish town receiving text messages from the IFA regarding suitable times for collecting grass from Dublin Airport for fodder. How bizarre is that?
Despite their wonderful weather, the Spanish people have many problems of their own, with a minimum wage of €640 per month and over 50pc youth unemployment. The average working wage there is €1,000 a month and families are now supporting each other by feeding and housing unemployed relatives.
One bonus is that agriculture is making a comeback and previously abandoned terraces are being cultivated for food production, presumably by those who cannot find jobs and need to eat cheaply. Good weather does somehow alter one's attitude to life and, around midday, everyone takes a three-hour nap or siesta, a splendid custom and one we could well use in Ireland if only we had the heat to justify it.
On my return home, I was brought quickly back to reality. It was cold and wet as I donned my rain gear and wellies before heading for Stradbally for the second day of the Forestry Show that was held in the beautiful Co Laois.
The Forestry Show was a major improvement on the previous event held two years ago in Birr. The layout of the stands was better, as was the quality and interest of much of the goods on offer.
The first tent I entered had only eight stands but it took me almost an hour to get around it for I became engrossed in discussing with Pat Lee the possibilities of fuelling a kiln using waste wood.