Slieve League and Silver Strand

Co Donegal, Ireland- When I got news that my baby sister was headed to Ireland to kick off her Eurotrip Birthday Party… I had a panic attack.  Where will we go, what will we see, just how many ounces of Instagram gold will.she.mine.

I spoke with my brother who just welcomed his own baby girl into this magnificent world and he said, “you know you’re going to have to do everything she says, go everywhere she wants and be happy about it.”  I am glad he understands the female psyche.  As she runs on rad daydreams and DMs from her hometown squad I knew the pressure was on.

It was this big.

Catching up on GirlTalk

IMG_1443

She had fucking brilliant weather.  So I didn’t have to do what I normally do when people visit me in Ireland and it rains, which is, “Pssttt! you are in Ireland.” As far as viewing nature’s bounty, the possibilities are endless in one of Europe’s most beautiful countries, rain or shine.  My sister sent me “The Plan” in a Whatsapp a few weeks before her arrival and it goes as follows.  See the Donegal Mountains (easy from ma backyard bishes!!) No really, but we ventured up to Slieve League (Sliabh Liag) for a closer look.

IMG_1478

Number 2! Climb Benbulben.  I climbed the bad boy a few weeks before, in preparation of her demands with the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team.  Follow me! I know the way AND I know who to call when my lungs collapse due to a profuse cigarette smoking habit.  Nummer drie, Giant’s Causeway– holy shit, houses of the holy, hold my half-moon press, this had a lot of anticipation riding on it.  And, finally visit Enniskillen Castle aka McGuire’s Castle to reclaim our lands!

The Fiesta was loaded up.  My pack with peanuts and dark chocolate, a thermos of tea and dear sweet baby sister brought all of my CDs…from highschool.  Yes, Dave Matthews Band and Haley’s Mega Mix 3000 on repeat.  From the looks of it I had really mastered Napster and those songs took me right back…to listening to Neil Young and eating lunch alone while everyone else was (insert rude backstabbing comment.)  Those were the days!

Here we are at the highest sea cliffs in Europe.

IMG-20170816-WA0009.jpg

So happy though, seriously, that she came to visit the Northwest of Ireland which is truly astonishing, wild and perfect for two crazy sisters that couldn’t be more different (except that we both like the XX).


We stopped for a breather and a Smithwick’s at the Rusty Mackerel where the bartender promptly poo-pooed our next stop: Giant’s Causeway.  “It is underwhelming” he informed, go to Silver Strand.  We gulped the rest of our beer and started on an improptu adventure to…Hawaii.

IMG_1492

Seriously, no filter, just my awesome photog skiilz and again, the amazing weather.  Really, who would have guessed this was Ireland?  One hundred and seventy one steps down to the beach and three decades worth of anxiety blown away in this easy, breezy, fucking beautiful, my sister- the cover girl.

It was actually quite crowded for a typical stop along the Wild Atlantic Way.  We weren’t the only ones cashing in on the nice weather.

Cheers to Emily and Happy Birthday! I hope you cherish your last years in your 20s and see that your 30s might not be so bad.  That will be it for sunshine, until next year people! Ta!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Garden Guru Over Here! JK!

Co Sligo, Ireland- First timer (in Ireland that is)! But, leave it to nature and sha-zam! This mother will grow you some pretty sweet goods.  I started the season with all the fervor and excitement after being held captive by the bleak and blustery winter.  But once the sun came out, I wanted to do as much sightseeing as possible.

IMG_1539.JPG

Silver Strand, Malinbeg

Even with minimal effort sans the big digging extravaganza in the beginning, I have been eating fresh spinach, radish, snap peas, Swiss chard and kale for a good bit of the summer along with lots of Guinness because we all need balance right?

I sniffed the garlic and onions in the garden for weeks.  Finally, after 6 months, I have harvested them. Their sweet/pungent/armpitty fragrance slaps you right in the face once you enter the messy storage shed where they will dry out and I’ll eventually braid ’em up.

Once I harvest the rest of the potatoes for storage, I will put my beds to bed for winter and plan for next year.  I hope to share more of my sister’s visit for my next post as she brought with her a week’s worth of Florida sunshine and it was basically phenomenal.

IMG_1432.JPG

Isn’t she the sweetest- Tullan Strand

 

 

Big Mama Had Twins

Co Sligo, Ireland- The cows are calvin’ and the farmers are balin’ for July in Agharrow.  I have harvested the new potatoes and my neighbors described them as “little flour balls”  (the Irish love a floury potato) so this is a good sign.  I will definitely plant them in abundance next year.

Gerry, the farmer had a big smile after I congratulated him on the birth of his twin calves!  A boy and a girl.  Walking the dogs down the lane is especially heartwarming as I spot the babes frolicking in the field.

IMG_0609.JPG

Life in rural Ireland moves much slower than what I am used to.  People are rarely in a rush, passing the time, enjoying the views.

IMG_0618

IMG_0851.JPG

I am still waiting for my nursing reg with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.  I had a slight delay when my employer’s reference never made it to Ireland.  In the meantime I am volunteering at a nursing home.  This week we welcomed a choir from Mansfield, Texas.  I will admit it was charming to see a hoard of All Americans!  The residents certainly enjoyed their uplifting song!

IMG_0774

I am getting pumped for more family to visit Sligo and to share the views with my sweet sister.  Fingers-crossed for clear skies!

 

 

 

First Point- Wild Atlantic Way

Co Donegal, Ireland- Malin Point, the most northerly point of the Ireland, marks the beginning of the Wild Atlantic Way.  In the northwest region of the country and rural Ireland in general it is extremely dark, unpolluted and perfect for star gazing on a clear night.  Officially launched in 2014, the Wild Atlantic Way is a 1700 mile (2750 km) stretch of interconnected roadways that is as distinct as it is transcendental.

IMG_0015If you find yourself traveling down the winding lanes of the Wild Atlantic Way do yourself a favor and turn off the GPS.  The route is well marked, besides, getting lost is a hallmark of any great adventure.

 

 

I walked along the marble pathways to marvel at the crashing waves along the jagged cliffs.  In the distance, the sandy beach of Five Finger Strand surrounded me and the green countryside was sprinkled with sheep.  Only a few people at this point, a less crowded vista know as Bamba’s Crown.

IMG_0017

Aurora sightings are most prevalent during the months of September/October and March/April.  You can follow @Aurora_ireland on twitter for up to date Aurora alerts, sightings and browse some sweet pics taken along the Wild Atlantic Way.

IMG_0001

I will continue to make my way along the Wild Atlantic Way.  Happy travels!

IMG_0008

 

Gaasperplas Park and Wild Camping

Amsterdan, Netherlands- Once we got our van legs (and officially became house-less) we started our journey into the unknown.  We had to part with some of our fav items.  To think everything I owned was going to fit in the van was quite freeing.  My materialistic nature was hit hard. But once I started living for the day instead of acquiring merch for my apartment, I was launched into a more self reliant, carefree state.

 

The first few nights we didn’t go far, but we did go wild!  Wild camping is simple…kinda. Find a place, park your van or pop your tent and sleep there.   Amsterdam is full of parks and green space that isn’t necessarily meant for wild camping but also not especially banning it…yet  Part of this experience was learning a bit of civil disobedience.  That night, hanging out in the same clothes I had worn the day before, I ate my veggies and for the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan.GaasperplasAfter a lifetime of being told what to do, where to go, how to be etc. by friends, family, the government and society as a whole, I began to manage myself. Sometimes we follow the rules so blindly, without questioning why or how they came to be or who is proclaiming them.   Although uncomfortable, putting myself in a position of unknown outcomes helped build my confidence and acquire new strategies for accepting the world as it is, while simultaneously striving for positive change and real freedom.

 

I discovered some awesome aspects of my life that I was too busy to notice before.  Being a good caretaker for Rolfie and providing him with more exercise and a better quality of life was something that gave me so much joy!  I rediscovered oil painting, crochet and writing.  I began to renegotiate the idea of waiting for “The Golden Years” to pursue interests.  Put off living a full life now so you live your dream when your arthritic episodes are almost as frequent as your hemorrhoid flares!

IMG_5366

Prior to this, my pursuit of happiness had devolved into the pursuit of cash, buying “experiences” or things and showing them off.  Sounds dumb, but even after 30 years, I had yet to realize this was happening to me apart from relating to song lyrics and being drawn to some shitty wall art I thought about buying from TJ Maxx.  IMG_6011

Shortly after noticing the odometer was in kilometers per hour and not miles, I  began to let go of the idea that having money equates to an ability to navigate life.  It is hard to describe the excitement and anxiety, isolation and connectedness I felt with each night’s new destination.  I was finally humbled by life, on the beach, with a beer and my best friend.

It’s a Campervan! Well, sort of?!?

Ganzenhof, Amsterdam- When I first set out to live in the van,  I had to practice a bit first.  Well, driving for one.  Not really knowing how to drive a manual, I kept stalling out in 1st gear.  I texted my dad about the horrors.  He revealed a secret…start in 2nd.  I employed this new tactic I was quickly on my way to campervan freedom, well, “unassuming work van” freedom.  Secondly, how does one find a suitable place in the words of Harry the Cat, (my wild and recently deceased grandfather) to “shit, shower and shave?”  We had a lot of work to do on this baby.

While still paying rent and having a safe place to go back to in case something happened, which it did- we were able to “practice” our camping skillz both in the city and in the true gems of Holland (outside of Amsterdam).  We also wanted to try storing food, cooking and generally being in a van with a large dog for many hours.  Rolfie also had to learn some manners.  IMG_5267.JPG

We took the van for a spin.  “Let’s see how far we can go!” before I have a anxiety attack.  The first place we went was De Hoge Veluwe National Park.  We arrived and these people wanted €20 to enter.  First rule of living in a van, STOP.SPENDING.MONEY.  We didn’t really need to see the park, we just needed to feel detached from city life.   The Dutch are infamous for their BBQs!  BBQ in the park, BBQ in the street, BBQ on a boat.  So that is just what we did.

We drove out of the parking lot and down the road to a smaller lot with good scenery.  We started up the BBQ.  Being vegetarian or vegan was ideal for us because cooking meat is messy and storage can turn ugly if you don’t have the luxury of a fridge. We ate, drank a beer, smoked a jonje and walked down the many paths throughout the village.  I was also crocheting scoodies at the time so we had a photoshoot.

We made it back to Ganzenhof just in time to find some awesome van furniture in the “rest” or garbage as the Yanks say!  If you ever need fine 18th century bujairs or an antique, totally perfect, unbroken mirror just peruse the sidewalks of The Jordaan on Sunday night.  These people’s garbage is any normal person’s diamond in the fucking rough and it is perfectly err, normal to go garbage diving.  Now, living in Ireland, I dream of the day of my return to Amsterdam to load up the van with loot on a Sunday night!

IMG_6128

Maugherow and the Secret Beach

Co Sligo, Ireland- During the week we let the canines run on the somewhat uninhabited Lissadell Beach. And. they. LOVE IT.  Lately we have been wondering what is further along the way and today we took an expedition.  We found Maugherow Beach, and that’s not all!  Loads of people traveling there to play with their kids, BBQ, paint, camp and enjoy the abnormally sunny day in May.

IMG_8747Have you ever arrived in a new place, set out to explore, not really knowing where the hell you are?  We came to Maugherow Beach one day back in November after checking out the cottage by the sea that we now call home.  I had no idea it was the same place, not a “new” place at all.

With my wee caption you get a sense of just how enamored I was with this area when we first arrived. We were lost in exploration,  the winter fog totally clouded Benbulben Mountain and it was so muddy we barely made it back to Kiltyclogher for the night.   Now, a season later, I didn’t even recognize the place.  So cool and still enamored BTW!

IMG_8734

IMG_8701

The people here were an absolute delight.  As we walked through the grassy dunes, one artist with her palette and paints scattered, said to the other, “I am getting the horizon, plane and birdseye views.”  The other responded, “Yeah I can see, like, all the perspectives in one.”  If you can imagine.  I smiled with complete joy knowing that here, in this place, middle aged women were getting together to make art and not give a feck! (That’s Irish for fuck, for instance on the radio or in a professional setting).

 

Rolfe was able to play fetch with all the distractions- children, other mutts, hotdogs.  He is seven years old and still learning.  In this video my voice gets so high when he goes so far into the ocean.  I was so excited and scared! Such a nervous nancy I am!  Good craic, for sure!

We had such an awesome day and I am beginning to think the Irish rain is a myth.  It has been straight-up sunshine for a week.

IMG_8688

Note for travelers, I am just calling this Maugherow Beach, I’m just calling it that because it is otherwise unnamed by signposts. If you go through Carney Village, pass Lissadell on to Maugherow and take a left where a sign sits pointing right to Maugherow Church, you will arrive at this sweet spot.  There are also some old ruins that make a nice backdrop on an early winter morning!

IMG_8674

Hope you enjoyed my post! Until next time!