Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The West

So, since the last blog entry we’ve really just been taking it easy and doing some tourism in the form of a whistle-stop tour of the South/South West of Ireland. We’ve been continuing to enjoy good weather, so fingers crossed that it continues for Electric Picnic this coming weekend!

We camped on the Dingle Peninsula, and enjoyed a day on the beach:

Took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher:

We camped at a very nice hostel in Doolin, in The Burren area west of Galway,
and spent a day visiting a few historic sights and a beach, and spent an evening enjoying the craic in one of Doolin’s pubs (as well as an ill-advised night-hike perilously near some cliffs)!

On to Connemara for the last few days, beautiful mountain scenery, the return of the MIDGE, a lovely walk today and a trip to Clifden:

Tomorrow its time to head back East towards Stradbally and the Electric Picnic!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Carraig Dulra

We have come to the end of our stay in Wicklow at Carraig Dulra http://www.dulra.org/ and its slightly odd to be adjusting back to life indoors with the civilised world of electricity, hot water and beds (though we are missing our sheepskin mattresses!). Part of our working day there was taken up with the simple activities of just living, eg. heating water to take a shower, foraging for food from the extensive vegetable garden and permaculture food forest on the site, chopping up firewood for fuel, and even collecting water from the spring and carting it up the hill when the pump was broken. It was a much slower pace of life, but an enjoyable one and it’s surprising how quickly we slotted into a completely different routine and way of life. Ending the routines that we usually live and adjusting to this new, more feral existence seemed to occur so naturally. The time went incredibly quickly, and yet to think back to the first few days we spent there it all seems such a long time ago. It was made even more enjoyable by the fantastic company of the other WWOOFers who were also working there.

The Kitchen!

Another candle-lit evening in the Yurt!

We have essentially been living in a mini WWOOFer community (7 WWOOFers max) on a slightly exposed hill surrounded by the Wicklow mountains with a yurt, outdoor kitchen and compost loo for company. It was a great experience and quite different to anything else we have encountered whilst WWOOFing, working with and getting to know people from lots of different nationalities (Israeli, French, American, Italian and German). We now have plenty of contacts for further travels in the future!

We have weeded, made jam, worked in a store, cooked beetroots in the fire, fed pigs, moved pigs, watered pigs, mulched trees, played “Dubito” (Italian cheat), drank lots of tea, cut grass, eaten honey straight from the hive,

showered out in the open with beautiful views, eaten very healthfully and well (especially when the Sicilians took over the kitchen!), taken odd trips to the lobby of the Grand Hotel, Wicklow for the use of their wifi, lounged in the beautiful sunshine on top of a hill, sat in front of the fire in the yurt, watched stars and sunsets, and had great conversations late into the evening, and pointed out several times that it is our English and not that of America that is correct! We can also recommend putting garam masala in porridge – a surprising taste sensation!

Tommaso building the ‘Sunshine Shower’

The basic camp set-up made the experience completely unique, and very rewarding – a totally tranquil place to be (most of the time!) and the evenings spent in the Yurt laughing and eating with the other WWOOFers and the host family (and their vision in creating this place), Mike, Suzie and children will be remembered very fondly indeed. There were a few odd ‘low’ points which starkly contrasted with the general calm feel of the place: for a few days at the beginning we had to collect eggs from the rather mangy and smelly “free range” chickens on a neighbouring farm;

people attending a weekend course, made us feel strangely as though they were invading our personal space despite the fact we had only been there a week and wild children making one particular mealtime during the course rather more stressful than was necessary; and we also had a long day of miserable rain where we were all cooped up inside the yurt with not a lot to do… These things really just highlight what a fine balance was struck at Carraig Dulra, and how the slightest outside input could unsteady the community even just momentarily whilst we re-adjusted then continued with living at our own pace. Overall it has been a fantastic experience and yet again on the whole we have been blessed with good weather!

Now we are being tourists, planning on exploring the south west (headed for Dingle) and west for the next week or so. We are currently treating ourselves to a few nights B and B on a sheep farm near Limerick, had a great Full Irish for breakfast and even managed to learn a bit about sheep shearing too – we can’t get away from farms at the moment it seems!

In other exciting news we have just found out that we will be stewarding in the body and soul ‘festival-within-a-festival’ http://www.electricpicnic.ie/body-soul-line-up-announced/ at the Electric Picnic festival http://www.electricpicnic.ie/ next weekend – it’s Ireland’s version of Glastonbury, so we can’t wait for that. Fingers crossed that our shifts don’t clash with too many of the bands we want to see!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Photo update!

Some photos from Howth:

Some photos from Valerie and Paul's:

We are enjoying our latest WWOOF. A few photos of where we are based, and some ideas of what we have been up to!:

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Just a very quick entry today and no photos, but maybe we'll post some soon if we can!

We had a great time in Howth cutting hedges in the baking sunshine, enjoying the stunning views across Dublin bay, eating very well and having a touristy day in Dublin - meeting Kim and Wes for lunch at 'The Farm'!

Have just spent the weekend with my (Matt) Dad's cousin Valerie and husband Paul, exploring their farm and the surrounding countryside and eating their home-grown produce (they are practically self-sufficient).

On our way to our next WWOOF host now, back to basics and back to the land, lets hope the hot weather continues...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Back to the WWOOFing

Our trip to Ireland has started well for us, it has been good to be back WWOOFing after our enforced break, and Laura’s ankle is holding up very well to being back at work.

Since last Tuesday we have been on a smallholding right on the banks of Cork harbour, near a small village called Carrigtwohill. Our hosts, Peter and Carragh have been great and we’ve really felt very welcomed. It’s been different to be staying with hosts of a similar age to ourselves, and good to meet other ‘younger’ people interested in living a more self sufficient lifestyle. It is a very family orientated life here with various siblings and other relations living close by and dropping in at regular intervals. We had an interesting evening chatting to Peter’s granddad, and have come to realise how amazingly poor our grasp of what is essentially fairly recent British/Irish history is. I’m sure we were taught nothing of how Ireland came to be controlled by the British at school, and equally little of the uprisings and civil war here, the creation of the Irish free state and eventually the foundation of the Republic in the first part of the 20th century. Why was that?

As for the work we spent our first two days working in an orchard within the walled garden that they have here. We were clearing and mowing the overgrown ground of weeds and long grass ready for when the apples are ready to harvest in the autumn – they turn all the apples into delicious apple juice (we tried some of last years – delicious!).

We’ve also done a few other odd jobs including babysitting Peter and Carragh’s children, harvesting some onions, planting a few lettuces, moving a fence, watering the greenhouse and feeding the pigs – which is quite a funny spectacle to watch as they try to get the feed off me as I carry it over to the far corner of their field where the trough is!

On Saturday we worked in the morning finishing the last bit of clearing in the walled garden then had the afternoon to go and explore. We went to the Ballymaloe cookery school http://www.cookingisfun.ie/ (which is nearby and is owned and run by Carragh’s family) and ate delicious pizzas, before going for a lovely walk in the baking hot sunshine along the cliffs at Ballycotton and stopping for the first Guinness of our trip! Today we went down to Kinsale which is a lovely seaside town near Cork where we had some lunch, then in the afternoon explored the coast for a while before heading back along to the cliffs near Ballycotton. This time walking along from the other direction and stopping in a small cove where we went swimming – it was bracing! And then we warmed up sunbathing and reading for an hour or two on the shore.

In a change to our previously advertised itinerary we are headed up to Dublin tomorrow and will be staying on Howth, an island overlooking Dublin Bay for the rest of this week. We have been given the opportunity by a friend of Carragh’s to stay in a house there for a few days in exchange for some gardening – and it’s an offer we couldn’t refuse!