County Cavan, Ireland

While taking a bike ride earlier this week, I looked to my right to see green hedge lined rolling hills all the way to the horizon spotted with cows and cottages, and I looked up to see streaks of sunlight peaking out of the grey sky. This was the moment it finally sunk in that I was in Ireland and would be for the next little while.

So far, I am loving Ireland. It looks a bit like home with less mountains and more magic. They say something is “good crack” if it’s fun, and have tea time at 10 which also involves plenty of bread, scones, or fruit cake, and butter, my one true love.

dscn0638The past week has been filled with learning, new friends, good meals, and plenty of  time spent outside. My hosts, Ann and Phillip, are kind and their home is warm and cozy. They have a very small plot of land next to their house with three hoop houses, some apple trees, and a small green house. They also have several plots of land around the area where they keep black angus cattle, a rare breed of Irish Moiled cattle, chickens, and turkeys.

Phillip makes a fertilizer tea from comfrey, seaweed, and tomato leaves and places a comfrey leaf under his cabbage plants. He says another WWOOFer told him another farmer said it can provide a plant with all of its nutritional needs. I haven’t done research on this but plan on looking it up.

Ann and I have made sourdough bread together that turned out beautifully, and she’s definitely contributed to my baking desires once I return as she has made two apple pies, a half dozen loaves of bread, several fruit breads, and the most wonderful scones I’ve encountered since I’ve been here. We had pizza today all home grown and home made in the pizza oven right outside the house.

img_5167My first day in Ireland was a long one. It started in Chicago and didn’t end for about 26 hours or so. After my bus arrived late, one of my patient hosts picked me up in Cavan town, drove me through Ballinagh (the small village near here), and told me all about her family of 7 kids, the farm, and herself during our ride to Corduff. They fed me breakfast and tea, ushered me to my lovely room shared with another WWOOFer from Australia, and offered me time dscn0635to sleep. I declined and spent the day picking beets, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, and playing apple catcher as one of my hosts and the Aussie climbed apple trees tossing the fruit to me on the ground. I went to bed right after dinner and slept for the next 13 hours.

On the second day I woke wonderfully rested, ate breakfast, and packed the car with “veg” for the market. Then we checked the two pregnant heifers that should’ve had their calves by now. I’m still waiting and hoping I can see them give birth before I leave for Galway Thursday evening.

The third day was market day, and I went to a very small market with Ann. She was one of five vendors in Cavan. I took a walk around the small town then got a ride back to the house where I lazed about reading writing, and drawing until Monday.

Today is my fifth day in Ireland, and I spent most of it cutting and stacking wood. I really enjoyed it, and my little robin friend that followed me around yesterday continued to today but refused my potato offerings. I listened to Gravy, the Southern Food Alliance’s podcast while I worked, which seemed fitting. I’m hoping to find some guidance with my next steps in life over the span of this trip , and listening to this podcast has me even more excited to pursue a career as a chef when I return to the states.

I have two more days left here at Corduf, then I’m off to Galway to visit my friend Holden and hopefully have my first beer of this trip. I’ve only spent € 17 so far!

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TN-KY-Chicago-Dublin

The trip thus far has been wonderful and tiring, but I’m officially in the land of freckles and fairies. As I type this, I am sitting in a Dublin airport waiting on my bus. The air is a bit chilly and damp here, and people look at me funny when I say y’all.

Earlier today I saw Lake Michigan while on the bus in Chicago to get the train. When boarding that bus, I had $1 and a couple larger bills. The fair was $2.50, but when I went to insert a $10 bill, the driver said, “If you stick that in the machine, you’re paying towards my pension, girl.  Merry Christmas. Go take a seat.” My favorite Christmas present thus far.

On the 15th, I said goodbye to TN, and my mom and sister drove me to Berea, KY to visit my friends there. We had the best party I’ve experienced yet, and the next day my friend Matt drove me to Lexington after a brief stop at my new favorite pizza spot in Richmond, Apollo’s Pizza.  In Lexington, there was plenty of booze, some bad ass friends, and good food, a proper Kentucky send off. The next morning, I almost missed my bus, but a dear friend came to the rescue and drove me to the station.

After an eight hour bus ride, I landed in Chicago where my lovely host Harry picked me up and took me to a little hole in the wall restaurant in China town were we ate noodles in the best lamb broth I’ve had and an appetizer of lotus root in a light ginger sauce. The next morning, after a breakfast of fried eggs, and roasted tomatoes, I packed the pickled red onions that Harry gifted me for the trip, and met my bus driver friend shortly after.

In an hour, I hop on my bus to Cavan and my first WWOOF stay. I’m expecting the next couple months to be filled with a lot of green, grey, and hard work but also potatoes, beer, and pretty men (my three favorite things).

 

Going Irish

In March, a close friend of mine told me that he had been approved for a second study abroad experience and that he’d be spending the fall semester in Galway, Ireland. I was over joyed for him and suggested a visit. After splitting a very large pitcher of piña colada at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Richmond, Kentucky, I whipped out my credit card and bought my plane ticket right there.

A 77 day adventure!

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One of my favorite sections of 12 Oaks

That’s right! My pre-college graduation self  thought it’d be great to spend the summer working as a cook, living back home with my family, and not spending any money.

Well, there have been ups and downs the past few months. It’s been an adventure in of itself living with family again, and have definitely spent some money. As of today, I have about $1,000 saved with one and a half paychecks on their ways in the next month. I’m making a guess that I will have around $1,600 by the time the last of my money flows into my bank account.

Oh, and I also impulsively purchased a ticket to Morocco to visit another lovely friend of mine studying in Rabat. That’s two countries $1,600 ÷ 77 days = about $20 per day allowance. I also have that pesky credit card with a $1,500 limit I recently paid off as a backup/ emergency fund.

How I’m going to manage my massive budget?

I payed for an account with WWOOF, because my friend living in Ireland is living in a dorm. After a few weeks of searching, I now have farm stays for all but the last week of my trip in Ireland. These stays trade farm work of various sorts for food and a place to stay. I’ve never done it before, but a couple of my friends have had success. Morocco is up in the air, but right now, my plan is to get an air bnb, travel around a bit, and relax.

That’s all I know for now. 12 days until the start of adventure, and I can’t get Ramblin’ Fever by Merle Haggard out of my head.