Farm interlude

A lovely surprise this morning. The answering machine was flashing when I got home from doing a few get-ready-for-Germany bits and pieces, and it turned out to be Derek, my great mate. When I phoned back he suggested that I come out to see him and Rita and let them take me out to lunch to mark next week's birthday. They've often spoken about The Farm, a favourite place of theirs, and I've mentioned a desire to try it some time. So they very thoughtfully picked today for this to happen.

It's a great spot, It's a real farm, with a restaurant that goes by the name of The Donkey Shed. D & R had gorgeous, generously filled 'sandwiches', while I had a really good pork pie. Afterwards we went to meet the farm animals. There are hens and ducks and geese (well, we only saw one goose). There are pigs and donkeys and cows. But the stars of the show are three hyper-active goats who sure aren't shy of humans.

All in all, we had a grand old time, but even then my treat wasn't over. Rather than have dessert and coffee at The farm, we went to Chez Emily's chocolate boutique on the main street in Ashbourne for gorgeous pastries and super coffee. Yummy, and a really nice cap-it-all experience for my birthday treat. Thanks a mill, D & R -- you're the best!

It was after 4:30 by the time I got home. I grabbed a bit of a nap and then headed for the National Concert Hall for tonight's all-French concert in the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland's season. Debussy, Poulenc and Ravel were on the menu, with the highlights Poulenc's gloriously light, frothy and witty Concerto for Two Pianos (soloists the husband-and-wife team of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Andrea Nemecz) and the Suite No. 2 for Ravel's Daphis et Chloé ballet. Guest conductor Pascal Rophé is clearly a favourite with the orchestra, who were on top form throughout. A terrific musical experience to end a super day.

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