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No T.V.



 pbanjoWe get asked a lot of questions about our way of life. 

Sometimes, about living off grid;  not having electricity at the touch of a button. Where do we get the water that we drink?  

A compost toilet ! oh no we could'nt go back to living like that. Bathing daily in the river, we must be mad ! How do we cope without a washing machine, an iron, dishwasher, fridge etc.

"BUT" by far the most frequently asked question is :


 "What do you do in the Winter without   a Television ? "


 Where to begin ? 

Well, I suppose we talk " a lot " (especially me). We get involved in everything that the other does. We discuss everything from Valve Radio's to putting the right button onto the latest remodeled garment. The dark days are the perfect time to indulge ourselves in our much loved Indoor Hobbies.


Jimmy was involved with setting up  Pirate Radio Stations in Dublin in the 1980's and became very interested in all things Radio. He had an interest in Electronics from a young age but the opportunity to make a career in this area did'nt present itself, and he studied horticulture for four years which he also loved. He is self taught in electronics, plumbing, building, welding, etc. and believes that if you want to do something, then do it, (as black and white as that).oldradiosjimradio2

He fixed radio's for others, before he became a collector, and has been a collecter of "Antique Valve Wireless Radio's" since the 1980's. Sometimes he was given them, as people had no use or interest in them anymore.

Today the internet is a great place to find them, sometimes when people are clearing an attic after a collector has died, or they are just taking up valued space, and it's time to go.

At present he has about 20 Radio's, of different models, and made as far back as the 1930's, in good working order. Half of these were given new life this winter, normally he would just restore one per winter. This winter we were successful in finding a lot of suitable working valves from a collection in the attic. The satisfaction of hearing the first sounds from a Radio that has been lying dorment for possibly 50-70 years is thrilling. Even for me, and I have just been a bystander, so it is immense for Jimmy who has put hours, days and sometimes weeks of his time into giving new life to any one of them, and then improving on their sound quality.

Each one has a unique sound, so they practially become like members of the family. A new resting place will soon be acquired for each one to display and listen to them as the mood takes us, and not back up into the dark cold attic. 




 In between Radio's, he maintains, repairs, or generally enhances ways to improve our lifestyle. The wind turbine needs regular maintance both winter and summer, he engineers new ways to modify and automate it for an easier life. He has ideas for a new design completly, but that is a project for the longer days. The recent snow has pulled down our water collecting gutter, and is in need of repair.

The diesel generator needs some alterations to make it easier for the less mechanically minded one to work it if necessary.

A recent Christmas gift from a friend  of a weather station, is immensely helpful to keep us alerted to the outside weather conditions, which is vital when living off grid.


Sometimes it is necessary to shut down Charlie, (our wind turbine) if there is a storm coming, otherwise we could possibly find him, or bits of him in the next county.



Rosie our 39 year old mode of transport, a Series 3 Land Rover, also needs attention from time to time, and right now the four wheel drive is jammed. In the recent snowy conditions it was difficult to engage it, probably due to the lack of use.







jimrosiejsnow walking


 Now she is repaired and ready for whatever comes our way. On going vigilance  and the skills to do whatever is required is a must in the enjoyment of our self sufficient lifestyle. 

Sometimes electricity is very much appreciated. The laptop is our way to research when knowledge is to be gained. Otherwise we would need to make many trips to the local Library to access the Internet.




    Jimmy also likes to paint,  



but not just in Winter time. Whenever we travel he will take along some paints and a pad. His paintings are inspired by our lifestyle, Music and the Nature.



We recently re-located the Piano, so it needed tuning, he truely is a man of many talents.










Most of all  music is Jimmy's life's breath. Never a day goes by Winter or Summer without a tune, before, during or after breakfast, dinner, tea any time is the right time.

jimboxAnd any place, inside outside. When others ears are starved of a tune I am just privileged and spoiled to be able to sit and listen to his gentle way of playing. Tunes to relax to, tunes to cook dinner to, or tunes to dance to !

He is also a composer, with about 70 tunes to date, and is greatly inspired by nature, his surroundings, and lifes experiences.

He is constantly learning new tunes. If he hears one that he likes he will learn it, including tunes from home and abroad. His repertoir is very varied.






There is always time too to make secret gifts for each other.

This is time spent apart especially approaching Christmas time. Usefull, wearable or just for fun gifts, occupy much of our time.


Over the years we find that our surprise fun gifts have a lot in common, the same only different, if you know what I mean. These boats and ducks are just an example.





 My interests since childhood have mainly been knitting and sewing. 


 So the dark days for me are spent creating gifts for myself and loved ones.

I now also enjoy weaving, as Jimmy made a small hand loom for one of my surprise gifts. I have woven belts, braclets, necklaces, and decorations. It is without exception the best present that I have ever received.

 This Christmas I wove a pair of braces for Jimmy's surprise, to wear with a recently made waistcoat.

This waistcoat was previously a women's tweed skirt with a nice red lining, which I picked up in a Charity Shop, this could'nt be a surprise as I needed a living manequine.



This year Jimmy restored an old wooden box for my surprise, which is now my most valued sewing and craft box.


If curtains need making or repairs are required on any clothes or furnisings then my trusty thimble is called into action.








Recently our compost toilet (bucket) got a makeover, nothing is safe.


This is a selection of new and remodeled garments, Jimmy is always a graceful greatful receipient. 






I also enjoy assisting with all the maintenance work and have become quite the all round apprentice. (and no sign of a p.45 yet)

The short dark days are also a time to hibernate and rest our physical bodies, and the long dark nights are a time to restore and re-energise for the coming of Spring, a lesson learned from nature. We take a daily dip in the river which seems to be our secret to staying healthy throughout the winter months. We like to take daily walks (weather permitting) to keep the joints from stiffening, sometimes as far as town, a 15km. round trip, usually on a good dry day, perhaps for fish or for something sweet like a bar of chocolate.  It's good for us... ( the walk that is ) and a little of what you fancy does you good... I've heard it said.  Joints need exercise all year, if you do'nt use it, you loose it !

On our return journey we usually stop off at a friends house for a cuppa and a chat, maybe some intelligence is to be gathered too, as he has a radio and a T.V.   



 As each new day dawns and the Sunrise beams its wonderous light across the bogs of Mayo creating a new blanket of colour, reds, browns, greens, purples. Another day, and yet it still amazes us to have the eyes to see and the vision to admire  this beauty. How fortunate we are to have been chosen to be the caretakers of this magical land of our birth . A land that has had its share of suffering over the years, but yet its beauty shines strongly. Our mission is to enhance and never to take from this natural state. Since moving here 8 years ago we have been living of grid, with respect for the land and the ancestors before us, who also lived off grid.

To us, "Off Grid Living"  is a way of life, not suited to many in these modern times. Most who know us, would see us as stepping back in time or opting out of life, but for us its about embracing life and sharing its natural state. jimdigtunnelHere, we have created a space where we can live as sustainably as possible, growing our food, generating the small amount of electricity we need and harvesting the most precious water. Using a composting toilet and living witout electrical appliances such as a fridge, washing machine or shower, we have no need of such things.

We walk down the path through the field to the Dubh Linn, our daily dipping place which we share with the river Trout, we pass the Giant's Chair, created for the wandering giant storyteller, from the western lands. giantchairHe's sleeping now so, shhh.. shhh...being careful not to wake him, we tip-toe past to let him dream up another magical story.



It may be breezey, with winds from the north, feels cool on the bank, but soon we immerse in  the awakening waters, the wind now not noticable as it passes overhead. The birds on the nearby wire announce the news of the day as we emerge into the sunshine. They have been up since the crack of dawn gathering all the gossip.






Our bodies now tingling from the cool water are warmed by the sunshine as we head back for the warm porridge within the Tigin Liath. It's all so simple,

"We live simply and not just simply live" 

It's time to choose todays menu from the still abundant winter garden and tunnel,

Mister Robin of course is close by and issuing  many instructions about where to dig.


Yes, we have become very close to nature here. The pleasure we get from all these activites is immense. The seasons work is so worthwhile, and acknowledged as we taste the delights on our plate each day.


But there is always somebody or something waiting in the wings to scupper our plans of course.

Like the Cabbage White, Sawflys, Slugs, Ants, (you never know who you might turn up)  but usually there's enough for all.1bugsbcarrot



A little sharing goes a long way. Winter gardening in the polytunnel is pure luxury just ask Mr.Robin !





The daily tasks in Winter too are a pleasure, bringing in the fuel for the day, Feeding the Birds, choosing and preparing the meal.



 To keep warm and well fed is a privelidge that we don't take for granted, and we are aware that the family before us here 50 years ago may not have been as lucky. 


We store what we can indoors to preserve and keep them dry, like onions garlic, and chillies.




No need to milk it there Jimmy !

coa; heavy goingjudybirds

Keeping our Stanley Range lighting 24 hours a day during the winter months is a priority. It is the heart of the house, a lot gets accomplished in this warm little kitchen. Even the wind turbine was constructed on the kitchen table two years ago.

Other things too, need weekly attention, such as shredding the Local free Newspaper. After it has been read it becomes fodder for our compost toilet. In the past we have used sawdust and shredded straw.


Both proved successful, but we think that the newspaper will break down at a much faster rate, time will tell.This is a proper electrial shredder and gets used only when the wind is powerful enough.




Shampoo is stored indoors throughout the Winter. It is "Saponaria Officinalis"(Soapwort) which we grow in the garden, and use fresh in the growing season, then dry it and store enough for Winter. We don't use any chemical products on our bodies, even our daily dip is just a light rub to our bodies with our hands.




Evening time is Radio listening time by the  fireside if we are fortunate to have the power.

During the recent snow, a fresh fall at midnight urged us outside to enjoy it and build a snow person, as luck would have it, it was so mild that there was no need for gloves ! 



Time too for a homemade wine as we wind down once again and gaze into the flames, to discuss the days events and daydream for tomorrow.

We have been known to make 17 varieties of wine in any one year, from Rhubarb and Ginger - Dandelion, this one is Blackberry,

Slainte !

You name it, we've made it. Broad bean, being the only disaster.

Another day draws in and gentle sleep aproaches. 


A new corner of the garden has evolved in the Orchard ! known as Arti's corner. Arti is our resident mechanic. He is working on a   "Grey Ferguson 20" for quite a while now, maybe it is time to advertise for an appretice, as he seems to have lost his momentium and looks bored stiff.


Soon we intend to create a play area near Arti, hopefully he will enjoy a game of " Petanque " also known as "Boules" after his days work. We picked up a set in France on one of our adventures a few years ago. They are a set of hollow metal balls and the aim is to throw them as near as possible to a small wooden ball known as a jack. A flat, fairly solid surface is all that is required, so any day without rain is a good day to play.


                                                                       Winter or Summer 




We also like to celebrate the Earth's Fire Festival's outdoors as much as possible. Lighting a fire and being mindfull to show gratitude to Mother Earth for her continued abundant produce.

 We have created a space outside for celebrations.




 This is also a time to sleep outdoors, under the protective canopy of the trees, and listen to the magical mysterious sounds of the night, no matter what the season.

 Last Summer we walked from home to Dublin 169km as a celebration of the "Summer Solstice". Walking back roads and joining The Royal Canal at Tarmonbarry, and then had the idea to walk the Grand Canal for the     " Winter Sols tice"  click here if you have the time.


As our luck would have it the weather favoured us and our plan became a reality. 

 No  T.V.  can take us to places of adventure unimaginable.







We set out from Lucan Bridge in Dublin and arrived in Shannon Bridge four amazing days later.



Winter Music

Winter time is a time to share the music with others.

With other musicians we call to the homes of neighbours, some elderly, others immobile, to have a night of tunes. The pleasure that we get, from the warm welcome and appreciation for the tunes is immense.

We make time to get together with musican friends to Play tunes in each other's Houses . It is a time to celebrate music and song for the enjoyment of it, good food, a glass of wine, good company, a bed to rest as musicians have been known on occassion to forget all about time,

 There are so many tunes to be played and so little time !


Tuesday night is always Ted's Tuesday's. Video clip

Come rain or shine we have tunes in Ted's on Tuesday's winter and Summer.

Ted has had a music session in his pub The Roisin Dubh, in Gurteen, Co. Sligo for the last 42 years probably a world record for the same propierer to run a session. Musicians from all over Ireland and the World of music have come to play tunes here over the years.PC170138PC170197


The generousity shown by Ted and Jacqui is talked about by all who come and experience it.

A warm welcome and a warm fire, worth going out on a winter's night for.

 A song from Batty tops off any Tuesday, precious songs, about local places, recorded for posterity.




So no T.V. is an enhancement to our Winter night's.

We enjoy the moment

Not making plans that bind us, but when the moment arrises we go for it.

Take adventures Winter and Summer and discover magical uplifting experiences, you only need the eyes to see the Everyday Magic !

 "A lot of what you see depends on what you are looking for!







Adventures, In Nature,

 Doesn't cost money.

Maybe some diesel if travel is involved.

Picnic's and camping are much more exciting and enjoyable for us, than being confined to times or the house rules of accommodation. 




Ah, shor you'd never know where you might get the opportunity to watch your favourite T.V. programme in nature.


Who are we ?

Jimmy hails from Wexford from a family steeped in Irish traditional music. Musically influenced greatly by his Grandmother, he began to play the Melodeon at the age of 6yrs.


noctorbrospeace an





Both Jimmy and his brother Johnny children of the 50's Peace Man, have enjoyed a lifetime of tunes together.





Music that has taken them to beautiful places both home and abroad,

To Africa, America, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Brittany, Scotland,teds1





From The Cave in Buelle, Switzerland which was a monthly trip forJimmy and friends for a Winter season, - to the weekly session in Ted's, Gurteen, never the same twice.





As a teenager Jimmy found Nature to be his guiding force.

He worked outdoors in Horticulture until the time was right to leave the conventional lifestyle and dedicate himself to Nature's intended harmonising ways. 

I too, come from a farming background in north Co. Dublin, where my mother had the influencing role. My father died a young man. Myself and my sisters became independent and capable girls at a young age, with a younger brother to pamper. The Padraic Colum poem "The Old Woman of the Roads" made a great impression on me, and I still identify with it greatly each day.

Our backgrounds are of great value and importance to our way of life. As we both grew up on farms and are well used to the outdoor life. Getting our hands dirty is a pleasure not a barrier.

Our lives connected us ten years ago, and since then we have had the great pleasure to live in harmony, every moment getting closer with The Nature.




He who is richest is content with least, because contentment is the wealth of nature. (Socrates)








The Old Woman of the Roads 

O, to have a little house! 
To own the hearth and stool and all! 
The heaped up sods against the fire, 
The pile of turf against the wall! 
To have a clock with weights and chains 
And pendulum swinging up and down! 
A dresser filled with shining delph, 
Speckled and white and blue and brown! 
I could be busy all the day 
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor, 
And fixing on their shelf again 
My white and blue and speckled store! 
I could be quiet there at night 
Beside the fire and by myself, 
Sure of a bed and loth to leave 
The ticking clock and the shining delph! 
Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark, 
And roads where there's never a house nor bush, 
And tired I am of bog and road, 
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush! 
And I am praying to God on high, 
And I am praying Him night and day, 
For a little house - a house of my own 
Out of the wind's and the rain's way. 


                                                                                                     Padraig Colum

As the days are still a bitteen on the short side we are about to undertake a fairly sizeable project, this one will take more than one winter but we have all the time to offer that it needs. Who knows the magical adventures that await within, when She/He

" Jack The Lad" is back on the road.




 The Magic Lives On



 Got'a go the bright evenings are just around the corner..........