maandag 22 augustus 2011

A week Home...

Almost a week home now....but I still haven't landed 100%. Guess I don't want to land in real. Being at home means that the uncomplicated life we had in the little cottage changes to life we normally live.With all ups and downs and happy and scary moments. We already had a scary moment....
Last saturday after waking up Bram told me that he wasn't feeling well (pressure on his chest) and that I had to call the doctor and that he wanted to go to the hospital. Little panic with me (No, please..not again..I really don't want this to happen after all we had gone through) but after contacting the hospital we immediately went there. The pain in his chest had gone by the time we went, but he felt very uncertain with his body (overall he has the feeling that his body is letting him down. Checks were done, but nothing found and we went back with a recipe for a medicine. Luckily we have to go to the cardiologist on Friday and I am going to persuade him to have an MRI scan. Bram's energy level is so low and it is getting worser by the week. Something must be wrong I feel, because he has felt much better after coming home from the rehab centre. By the time we came home, I was sort of out of balance which took me a day to come over.
But I dont want it, that this accident overshadows our wonderful holiday which has done us both so good. My mind often travels back to the little cottage by the sea and I feel we are very lucky that we have found this place. To make it a little better the BBC has started Monty Halls program The Great Irish Escape which is filmed in Connemara. While watching it last Thursday we even saw some faces we know. Might buy the bood and DVD soon.

We left Ireland on a dark clouded Sunday-afternoon after staying in a hotel in Bray. While crossing the Irish sea the sun came out and by the time we arived in Holyhead the sun was out. I had a delightfull afternoon sitting on the terrace from the Boathouse hotel reading the great novel "Life of Pi" which is quite and exiting read. The kind of book you can't stop reading because you want to know what will happen at the end. So even in the room we had I continued (have a look at the ceiling...)
After dinner (Yes.... I took Lobster for a change)
we made a little trip over the Isle of Anglesey which is really a nice place to go. Beautiful little villages, and nice little inlets as this bay on the southside of the island.
Mondaymorning after breakfast we left. Because we had changed the plan and had to catch the ferry to Rotterdam (a whole day for 350 km) we made the plan to go in the morning to the seasidetown of Llandudno on the northcoast from Wales. I had read that Llandudno had an old Victorian pier which I really longed to see.

It wasn't a disappointment despite the fact that the pier was mostly used for "enterntaining" holiday makiers, which means a lot of gambling- machines.

But the pier itself: Splendid and real Victorian and I could imagine what has happened there in the past.

Big orchestra's playing in the big dome, and well dressed Victorians taking a stroll on the pier. A place to go back and maybe enjoy a real English sea-side holiday with a Hamper and deck-chairs on the beach.
The drive to Hull was a very hectic and busy experience , but all went well, and so was the crossing to Rotterdam.
When home on Tuesdaymorning it suddenly appeared that I still had 2,5 weeks holiday, so time for knititng and reading. I blocked some shawls for to give to dear friends

Very pleased with the result (yes, still very into lace..) and I am sure the friends who will get them will love them. Another one flew off the needles yesterday and is now drying after heavy blocking. Couldn't resist to cast on another lace one in red tweed yarn on 5,5 needles.

I have found out that lace not always needed to be knitted on very thin needles. Some patterns are great in a rustic yarn. While on the other hand I am also still knitting on my alpaca shawl on 3.75 needles.

About 50 rows to go before casting off..I have an idea who will get those..but can't tell yet..In the meantime I am thinking about starting to design myself...

zaterdag 13 augustus 2011


I said goodbye to "My Bay" yesterday- afternoon. The cows from Marty were on the beach staring at that strange man. Rain came, and after that suddenly Innishboffin became clear in sight. The sun did shine for a few minutes on the houses and green fields of that island. I picked up some nice yellow-orange shells to take home,so I can remember the days of calmness here which cleared my mind and cleansed my soul.

Walking back I realized how good this holiday has been for the both of us, here at the place we know so well. Days have gone by in a pleasant way. Coffee in Clifden, the Irish Times on hand, a little shopping for dinner, a swim and a walk and little trips by car, healthy dinners with a glass of wine, knitting in the evening with a cup of tea. A glass of whiskey at the end. Exitement in little things.

We had a nice evening last night with Anne, Pat and Tony, as we always have on the evening before we leave. Tea and cakes and gifts we got.

Now it is the last morning here. A little packing needs to be done before we set of. The travel to Bray won't take long and the hotel will be nice. Bray seems to be a nice place. And the rest of the trip is also part of the holiday.

But I will miss this little cottage, which is a good sign I suppose. If you miss something it means that it is very important to you. We said goodbye to Anne, Pat and Tony. Tears came up when I drove away.
"Home is where the Heart is", and our Hearts are here.

vrijdag 12 augustus 2011

Empty Houses.

For today they promised persistant rain coming from the West. Strong winds from the Atlantic.
And, yes it is raining already all morning. I made the fire and it is comfortable here. Warm tea and porridge.
But I often think about how it must have been here long ago. Living in a damp cottage all year round. Healthproblems would occur. Flu or even worse.

There are still many of these traditional houses all around in the landscape. Ruins they are. The roof has disappeared and all is left are stone walls. In the area where we are many can be found. Sometimes you can see holes were windows would have been. Reflections from the past they are.

But there is history in these houses. Personal history which links to the history and development of a country. Babies were born and grandparents passed away. Happines and sadnes. The ordinary daily life from going to bed when it was dark and waking up early. The first thing needed to be done was making fire to get the cold out. If you were lucky the fire was still on. And than a long workingday ahead. Life circles as they are everywhere.

It looks as it is dry outside, but we keep the fire going.


Today was a typical Irish summerday (just kidding). Fog, drizzle and rain, but not cold. In the afternoon it became dry and it stayed dry all evening.

After dinner I made a walk to Selerna bay. While walking I suddenly became aware of the silence around me and I could hear the silence in my head.
The first time I discovered this silence in my head was during a meditation session. I was so amazed with the awareness, that it was away the next second and that silence was also a bit overwhelming. Never had such a strong experience with silence.

Now I like to go back to that silence every now and than. Sit and breath is all it takes. This place offers me a lot of intense silence which is doing well for my often hectic mind. It comes sort of automatically when I make a walk. It might be one of the reasons why I like to be here.

woensdag 10 augustus 2011

Simple Pleasure 9.

Smell. When I am walking to the bay for my daily swim, I am surrounded by the smell of flowers. Sweet perfume from wild roses. A strong aroma from red klover. It is a little walk, but I enjoy it everytime.

The nearer I come to the sea,  the stronger one can smell the sea. Esspecially at low tide you get the pungent smell from seaweed in your nose. Stones, which are usually under water show their green covering and give their particular smell. The smell of the sea always makes me happy. Salt water and salt air.
The Irish poet John O'Donnell has written a poem which covers it all.

Salty nights: damp hair
and skin, ears still full of sand
listening to the beach.

I would love to live near the sea. Last year we visited our dear friend Penny who lives next to the sea. Just a street inbetween her house and the sea. I have never slept closer by the sea. Sleeping  with the window open and listening and smelling the sea was such a great experience for me.

Smell I guess, is the most difficult thing to describe. But I guess we all know the smell of the sea.

Doo Lough

There are very sad parts in the Irish History. The Great Famine is one of the many. 1849 it was. The potato crop was totally rotten. No food from the land meant no money for the tennants. No money meant that they couldn't pay the rent for their house to the landlord. They were forced to leave their house. The house than was taken down by the landlord so they couldn't stay. Whole families, young and old had to leave the place they lived. The harsh climate didn't help much to survive and many passed away during their flew to...yes, to where??
The lucky ones escaped to the New World, but only the ones who had the money for it. It is the same which still happens today. No work means no money and no money means no future.
Little has changed. There is still poverty in the world.

Monday morning we set off for a trip to Doo Lough. It was nice weather when we left. The more closer we came to Leenane, the more drizzle appeared. We followed the road among the Aasleagh waterfall, Delphi Lodge to Doo Lough. The rain became heavy.

At this valley in 1849 tennants had to leave their houses as told by the owner of Delphi Lodge. Many off them passed away while trying to get away. No food, no nothing, so you starve. It is hard to imagine what has happened here, but it must have been a horrible sight.
The valley is beautiful, but also there is a lot of sad history swirling in the air.

A little stone cross is placed as a memento for those who lost their lives here and elsewhere in the world. The text from Gandhi says it all:

"How can men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings".

After we left the valley the sun came out and we drove home through Maam Valley.

dinsdag 9 augustus 2011

Simple Pleasure 8

Shells...whenever I am on the beach I pick up some shells. Have done this since the first time I came here.  Picking up shells is a thing you learn as a child. I loved making things with the shells.
At home we had 1 rather exotic big shell and if you took it to your ear you could hear the sea. I really believed that story.

The shells on the beach are not very exotic. They are simple shells in all kind of colours. I am always picking up some. It almost goes without thinking. Perhaps it is somewhere in my genes
One day it can be that I only pick up the yellow ones and on other days I pick up all kinds. They always go into a pocket from my worn out black fleece jacket.

There is no reason for picking up shells. It is just nice to do.

Simple Pleasure 7

Next to the scones Anne also bakes once a week a great tasting sodabread for us.
Sodabread...I think it belongs to the Irish identity. It is an easy bread to make. It just takes flour and perhaps some oats. Sprinkke of salt. Some Baking Soda and milk or buttermilk. Mix it with a wooden spoon to a soft dough. Make it into a round shape. A cross with a knife on top to let the fairies out. Bake in the oven and out comes this soft and moist bread. Nothing tastes better than a slightly piece of "still a little warm" sodabread with butter. It doesn't need more.

Simple Pleasure 6

Sunsets. Love watching them. I can't remember from previous holidays here that we did see so many beautiful sunsets. I go in and out of the house to watch. Everyday they are different. Never a dull moment with a sunset....
Here are a few from last weeks.

Ballynahinch Castle.

It was a nice day today. I decided we should go for lunch to Ballynahinch castle. Well, it is not really a castle, more a manorhouse with castle elements and now turned into a nice hotel. We usually go there when we are here. For coffee or tea or a lunch. There is certainly a kind of romance in that place. Open fires, library, nice diningroom, a beautiful garden and the river which flows among. You can learn to flyfish with the help of a Gillie or make nice walks in the surroundings.

One of the previous owner was a Maharadja from India. You can read his full name on a plaquette, but overall he is known as: Ranji. He was the first Indian cricket-player who was in the English National team in the beginning of the previous century.
He happened to arrive one day in Connemara and fell in love with it and bought Ballynahinch castle.
He would arrive with his Indian staff at the railwaystation at Ballynahinch after a long travel by boat and train all the way from India. It must have been a very exotic scene there at the railwaystation. Out came women dresses in colourfull sari's and men wearing tulbands and nehru jackets. Maybe it was cold and windy, perhaps a little drizzle. And there they were greeted by the staff from the castle dressed in formal Irish clothes. Two sudge a different worlds meeting eachother. Must have been something for all involved. Some nieces from Ranji where placed at the boardingschool at Kylemore Abbey.
And he himself? He would change immediately his Indian clothes for a tweed outfit and would go fishing and hunting with the locals. When leaving before going backbto India he always would donate his car to the community.
Unfortunately he has only lived there for 6 years in the roaring twenties.

But this story crosses my mind everytime we visit Ballynahich Castle. I did read a beautiful biography about him years ago written by Anne Chamber.

So, the lunch was good and after that I took some pictures before going home. The sun came out and I had my "Birthday Dip" at my private bay in Rossadilisk. What better way of ending my birthday?