Monday, 23 January 2012

Ballymaloe Day 0 - The Lay of the Land (and Sea)

Day Zero, awoken in my empty ancient cottage by the crow of the roosters. No cars, no noise, no bin men, no orange lodge band practicing round the corner. Too excited for a lie in I was up and out to take some photos of the Pink Cottage and surrounding houses and courtyard. I think they date from the 18th century. The night before I'd met a few of the early arrivals in the surrounding cottages, but the Pink Cottage was empty except for myself. My bedroom has a cute little balcony and good sized bathroom. It wasn't too creepy and the chickens nearby were up at 5am. The previous night one of the wee dogs that live here had snuck in while I was unloading the micra; I had to scoop him off the sofa and carry him outside. Its canine choas here, everyone in Ireland seems to have a dog!

Walked across the yard and out of the school, fabulous view of the countryside and the cows gambolling across the fields beyond. I walked down the lane only to bump into our headmistress Darina Allen tidying up rubbish from the hedgerow! Down in the village of Shanagarry the morning's church service was being held - the village was a hive of activity. Plenty of people up and about and lots and lots of dogs! I walked all the way down to the beach, Shanagarry Strand I think its called, and the tide was way out in the distance and the beach seemed to go on forever. A lighthouse is high up on an island in the bay. Just wanted to see a bit of the place by myself before everyone arrived and we were thrown into the full Ballymaloe experience. Was great to have the fresh sea air and just be away from the city once and for all, I was a million miles away.

When I got back to Ballymaloe everyone was arriving in the courtyard and cottages and the Pink Cottage began to fill up. It is a great wee house with an open plan kitchen living room and a wood burning stove. Myself, the new housemates and everyone went down to the school for a welcoming meal of pizza and wine and salad. There was a great pizza of Ballymaloe sausage and fennel aioli, and one of jerusalum artichoke and local gubeen cheese. Then everyone headed to the pub The Blackbird in Ballycotton, the village a few miles away on the hill overlooking the bay. I had a pint or two of Guinness, not bad, but not too much as day one proper began the next day!!

Me. This picture makes me think of that episode of Sex & The City where Carrie visits the country and freaks out over a squirrel, city girl goes back to nature!

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