Wednesday 27 June 2018

4 Days in Ireland

This time last week I was preparing to go on my first holiday of the summer. Three of my friends and I went to the south coast of Ireland, on the edge of West Cork in the little village of Glandore for four days, where we stayed with one of my friend’s family (all of whom I am slightly in love with now). 
We first arrived on Thursday evening, having had our flight delayed by about a half hour, and stocked up on what was clearly way too much food than we needed. Thursday happened to be the summer solstice, so with a few ciders in tow, we headed to Drombeg Stone Circle for sunset. There was a steady flow of people and after a look around and laying a flower in the middle of the circle, we perched ourselves at the top of a hill, where we could look out to the sea on the horizon and the families and friends milling around about the stones. The sunset itself was a bit of a nonevent, but nevertheless it was a great night and perhaps the first time that I’d truly felt relaxed for a long time, definitely since the beginning of exam season. 

After the stone circle, we returned to the Glandore and towards the pub, the Glandore Inn. There, we tried a cider local to Kinsale and danced and laughed on the sleeping road surrounded by electric table candles whose reflections twinkled on the edge of the Atlantic.

We woke up mid-morning on Friday. I cooked my signature cinnamon toast with raspberries, strawberries and maple syrup for breakfast – the most I’d ever made of that particular dish – and it was met very well by my friends. Before the afternoon got fully underway, we were treated to a lovely lunch at a small restaurant called Hayes by my friend’s nan. They easily adapted their menu to be vegan in addition to their pre-existing vegan options.

To me, this day was defined by kayaks and the outdoors. Lugging a kayak each down from the house to the harbor, we took them out around the jagged cliffs, looking down to the seabed through the water which could almost have been glass until we reached a small rocky beach. Here, we met some very friendly dogs and sunbathed shortly before returning back for tea. 

That evening, we headed out to Lough Hyne, where we again took to kayaks, except this time in pairs. Originally, the intention was to see the bioluminescent bacteria that lived in Europe’s only saltwater lake, but the night was clear and bright so we could only see it faintly (we did see it briefly in a cave nearer the sea) so instead, we went through the rapids and out onto the mouth of the sea itself so that the horizon and water merged as one and it felt that we were about to tip off the side of the Earth at any moment. 

The next morning, we went to the town of Skibbereen, where a weekly market is held. This market really surprised me by its diversity and openness to the reduction of waste and anything vegan – incredible! – and we spent much longer milling about there than I think we intended to, but that was no issue at all! I bought quite a few items, everything from a second hand dress and necklace to a completely biodegradable toothbrush and whiskey marmalade. The vegan options were everywhere; we couldn’t believe it. There were at least 2 all vegan food stalls (and there were very few food stalls so I think we were actually in the majority) as well as an all vegan and refined-sugar-free chocolate stall. Our jaws actually dropped when we saw the chocolate. 

From there, we visited the secondhand bookshop, The Time Traveller, filled with all sorts of treasures from 2 battered copies of Mary Barton (which I bought) to 75-85 signed books by Kate Millet and Margaret Atwood and whole signed sections of Noam Chomsky’s personal library. We stayed there for a while, browsing and talking to the owner, a lovely man who clearly knew what he was talking about, and who gave us each a copy of their own independent magazine of the same name as their shop, which normally would have cost about 15 each. 

Later that evening, we all cooked a curry and had a nice proper sit down meal with my friend’s nan, and I am so glad that she liked the food (I’d provided the recipe for the sauce so I was slightly more concerned on that front). That night was pub night, we went to all of the three pubs in Glandore (ending our night at the Glandore Inn yet again). I have no more words really, I’m pretty sure you can work out for yourselves what happened. Let’s just say that Irish people do not go lightly on their booze and pub lock-ins are amazing.  In all honesty, that night is going to be one that sticks in my mind (I’m not really sure I can truly say it’s stuck in my memory) for the rest of my life. It was a special one. 

On our final day we woke up at 12:30. I do not regret anything. 

We packed up the rest of our food (which was quite a lot may I add), including hummus pesto pasta and a portion of the previous night’s curry, and carried it down to the beach we had visited on Friday afternoon. The heat seemed to have increased tenfold and I felt like I was actually – the best cure to which is obviously a paddle in the sea. 

I had such a great time in Cork. I felt so welcomed, and it felt great to have something to do without any academic pressures looming over my head the whole time. 

I want to dedicate this post to my three best friends. Charlotte, Eilish, Liz, I would be nothing without you – thank you for validating me even when I haven’t asked to be. I lav you guys. (I’m gonna go before it gets even more mushy)

If you liked this post you might like: 5 (1/2) Days in Berlin

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