End of the WWOOFing road....for now

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November 15th 2012
Published: November 15th 2012
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So I’ve come to the end of my time WWOOFing in Ireland, my final day at Sunny Meadow has been and gone and in a few days I’ll be heading back home to England. I’d be lying if I said I won’t be sad to leave – I’ve been so happy here, met some very interesting people and made a few really good friends, plus I’ve learnt a huge amount, especially about farming, food and cooking. There are a lot of things I can take forward into my life at home and into the future.

Well, firstly, I need to mention the chutney! After spending around 3 hours on the stove we eventually judged it cooked! We could tell because the bottom of the pan was visible when we dragged a spoon through. So we put a few jars in the oven to sterilise and after a few minutes filled them with the chutney. The mix only ended up filling 8 jars but at first taste (it gets better over a month or two) it seems good =).

I went on a trip to Connemara for the weekend – Connemara is a beautiful area in the north-west of Ireland. I travelled up on Saturday morning, stopping off in a town called Clifden to walk along the Sky Road by the sea, before heading on to Letterfrack, a small village half an hour further north. There, at the end of a dark road, I chanced upon the hostel I had been looking for – The Monastery. As I stepped through the door I was greeted by a young French guy and piles of books. Apparently the manager wasn’t around, so I was directed towards the lounge, to sit by the fire until he appeared. The hostel was obviously very old and had accumulated a lovely homely feel. The bathrooms were lit with blue fairy lights and my dormitory had a huge yellow book of the works of Oscar Wilde. Above the stairs was a stuffed stoat.

It turned out there were three people staying at the hostel that night – myself, the French guy and a Belgian guy. We went to the local pub with the manager and spent our evening drinking Guinness!

We three guests headed up the Diamond Mountain on Sunday – we were treated to another segment of nice weather! The walk up was beautiful – the mountain was covered with brown grass, heather and gorse. We had a spectacular view all the way up, looking over the sea and a great view from the top, from where we could see the hills that stretched away from the sea and the Connemara Abbey at the bottom of the valley. At the top we met a lovely Italian girl, Julia, who came back to our hostel and who we fed with pasta and curry. We only had time to do another short walk round the woodland before three of us had to get the bus at 6 to Galway. At Galway I had to wait 2 hours for my bus to Portumna, but by chance I bumped into Tim, busking! However, by the time we’d taken his music things back to his hostel, we had to go and find the bus stop – which wasn’t as straight forward as we’d hoped, so Tim ended up getting a glass of wine from an Italian restaurant for us to drink while we waited! In Galway, it’s still legal to drink on the streets!

So, a new WWOOFer had arrived at Sunny Meadow on Sunday, but by the time I arrived back at the farm she was asleep. It was strange to wake up with someone else in the room who I hadn’t even met! But she turned out to be a very nice girl – Nora, from New York – and we got acquainted over breakfast. Our morning’s job was to clear gorse from the woodland – where 10,000 trees were planted three years ago, as part of a Government scheme. There is A LOT of gorse to clear, meaning for the next two mornings as well we (Maud, Nora and I) also cleared gorse, but probably got less than half done in that time. We also did some weeding and other such exciting jobs in the afternoons, and of course I made some more scones! On Tuesday evening Sophia, another new WWOOFer, arrived from Austria. It was great to that there was big group again and I felt sad to leave on Wednesday evening! Dermott gave me a lift into Galway (via the goats-cheese shop!) and I got settled into Snoozles hostel, right by the bus station. I met a lovely American girl from Kentucky and a guy from New York in my room and we got drinks together in town. We did a bit of sightseeing the next day but I sadly had to leave after lunch, to catch a bus to Dublin (4 hours – by mistake =S), to then get another to Belfast (2 further hours) to meet up with Emilia! It was a happy reunion! We had dinner at a Chinese nearby and played jenga at the hostel. We also booked a tour for Friday – and did the rope bridge, some castles and the Giant’s Causeway, which was awesome! We met up with Kat and Tim on Friday the evening, who took us to Kelly’s bar, apparently the oldest in Belfast! Definitely the local-est, anyway – it had a great atmosphere. We relaxed on Saturday – wandering round the city (and chancing across a Father Christmas parade!) and getting tea, cake and lunch at a nice café with live music and chalkboard tables =). My friend Mike met us there which was great!

So on Saturday evening we moved off to Dublin – we had an appointment with Annabel and Klaus, at Bellucci’s (Bluecheese??) Italian restaurant at 7, on the upperclass side of town. Luckily they paid for the wine! It was lovely to see them again and we promised to visit the art show the next day – which we did and which was completely wonderful. Before that we looked round town and spent a lot of time in an amazing thrift store. It was my last night, so we celebrated/commiserated in style – 30 Euros for a tasty 3-course meal at the Arlington Hotel, followed by a trad band/irish dancing show – spectacular! After a tasty brunch of quesadillas on Monday, I reluctantly got on the bus headed for home (well, Waterford, from where I caught a connecting Eurolines bus back to Reading). I arrived into Reading at 6:20 the next morning, only 41 Euros poorer!

So, I’m home! Back in Newbury. I feel rich in experiences from the past 7 weeks and am more than ever inspired to play more music, grow more food and visit more places! Plus I’ve met so so so many great, interesting, friendly people from all over the world. I’d highly recommend WWOOFing to anyone who’s got a few weeks to spare, whether you have a lot or a little money to spend, as long as you have an appetite for new experiences and learning to grow food. It’s honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to do it again!

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