Monday, 30 September 2013

Lantern Making at Oakfield Glen

Join the Woodland Trust for a free family lantern making workshop then take your lantern down into Oakfield Glen to hear our storyteller! It takes place on Saturday 26 October. Workshop sessions start at 6pm and 6.45pm in Oakfield Community Centre and booking is essential as places are strictly limited. To book a place(s) please contact or phone 02891 275787. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear suitable outdoor clothing. No Chinese lanterns/naked flames permitted. Event Link:

Friday, 27 September 2013

Ashes to Ashes

Recommend listening to the Radio 4 documentary 'Ashes to Ashes'. A year on from the discovery of the fungus Adam Hart investigates how quickly Ash dieback has spread across the country. Scientists are now sequencing the genomes of Ash and Chalara fraxinea - the fungus that is causing Ash dieback - in an effort to find why some trees are not dying from the disease. He also learns of another threat to our Ash trees - the emerald ash borer - which is currently found west of Moscow and is heading towards us. He discovers this pest has already infested Ash in North America and has left a trail of destruction behind it. Link to BBC Listen Again iPlayer:

Carrickfergus Children’s Charter Launched

Young people from throughout Carrickfergus Borough celebrated the launch of the new Children’s Charter and the completion of a year long initiative - Green Kids in Outer Space. Green Kids offered young people from across the Borough an opportunity to tell Carrickfergus Borough Council and other organisations what stops them from being able to play and what would make play easier and better for those young people. Their views have been recorded and used to write the Children’s Charter for the Borough.

The celebration event is part of the Green Kids in Outer Space initiative which has been supported by the European Union's PEACE III Programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and delivered locally through the CAN PEACE III Partnership.

The young people also took part in a number of art workshops facilitated by artist Janet Crymble between January and April 2013 and submitted paintings and photographs that were used to create three collages of Carrickfergus, Greenisland and Whitehead. The collages will be placed at Marine Gardens Play Park next month.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Blooming Marvellous Borough

The results of the 2013 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition were announced on Tuesday (10th September) celebrating Northern Ireland’s finest horticultural talent. The Borough won five awards in total, the most in any year since the inception of the competition. Carrickfergus came first in the Large Town category with Whitehead coming second in the Small Town category. The efforts of the Brighter Whitehead Community paid off as it received the Community Rail Halt award for its work. Carrickfergus Rail & Bus Station was runner-up in the Best Station award. Finally, Carrickfergus Borough Council won an award for its innovative Biodiversity projects.

Mayor of Carrickfergus Borough, Alderman Billy Ashe, speaking following the announcements, is clearly delighted with the accolades:
"Translink Ulster in Bloom is a magnificent opportunity for our Borough to enhance its surroundings and create beautiful displays that are enjoyed by everybody. Our Borough is renowned for its floral displays which are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike.  The Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative also plays a critical role in bringing people and investment to the town. However, it is important to say that issues such as cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement are equally as important. In the Borough, the 'In Bloom' initiative is much more than bedding plants and making the Borough look good for one day; instead it is a 365 day a year initiative. Carrickfergus Borough Council along with our partners have done a wonderful job in broadening the appeal of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative and by getting people to work together, we have made our Borough much better.”

Alderman May Beattie said: “As Chairperson of the Parks and Countryside Sub Committee of Carrickfergus Borough Council, I am absolutely thrilled with the five awards achieved today.  The wins are all very well-deserved and I am delighted that this tops the number of awards achieved to date in any given year of the competition.  Our successes within Ulster in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses and local people throughout the Borough, as well as statutory bodies such as the Housing Executive and Department of Regional Development. I would like to personally thank all the staff at Carrickfergus Parks and Cleansing Sections whose hard work and imagination has been the backbone of our entry over the years and I congratulate everyone who took part this year."

Speaking at the results ceremony in The Mill, Downpatrick, John Trethowan, Chairman, Translink, said: “2013 continues to place Northern Ireland under the international spotlight with many high-profile events attracting thousands of visitors to cities, towns and villages. Beautiful plant and floral presentations play an important role in creating a lasting, positive and welcoming image of Northern Ireland, encouraging people to make return visits with friends and family.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Top Tips for Blackberry Picking

Take a container and search out brambles near you - try Bashfordsland Wood in Carrickfergus or Diamond Jubilee Wood or Beach Road Nature Reserve in Whitehead.

Try to pick blackberries that are away from the roadside (traffic fumes can impair the fruit) and avoid picking fruit from lower branches as they may have been visited by animails!

Blackberries don't keep for long so either eat them within 24 hours of picking or freeze them. If you are freezing them, lay them in a single layer on a baking tray in the freezer and then once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag

Remember to pick your blackberries by Michaelmas Day (29th September), by legend - the day the Devil spits on them, making them inedible.

Blackberry Recipes at the BBC

Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.