February came and I wrapped up my time in Budapest and headed off to Ireland with a few life goals in hand I was hoping to accomplish while there. One was pretty much a given.. so I had firstly….
Life goal: Visit Ireland
Next was something I had made enquiries and tentative arrangements for before getting to Ireland.
Life goal: Work / Volunteer on an Organic farm.
I could have done this anywhere but was really hoping to experience this in a country with a climate completely unlike my own. Mine obviously being hot, humid and dry. Mission very much accomplished to say the least. The rainfall here – the extent and frequency was a surprise. Yes I know.. Ireland and the rain. shocker… but again let me say, the difference in knowing and understanding is in the experiencing.
The farm I chose is in the process of being turned into a retreat and alternative treatment and education centre. Something I’m thrilled to see more of in the world and happy to help with in any small way I can. It had been a family home allowing the family near total self sufficiency for many years and organic for nearly 30 years. It had become overrun in the last few when the family moved out and other people had been looking after it. We would be starting the process of bringing it back into order and hopefully in the not too distant future …. garden productivity.
I completely lucked out with this project let me say. The owner and 2 of her best friends I met and got to know, the 2 Croatian cousins starting a new life that I would actually be working with and a couple of French guys who came and helped for a bit… I say again some of the best parts of this adventure in the last 12 months have been the amazing people I have met. I was thrilled to be working on this farm and so happy to have met these people. There was a tonne of work to be done and nothing I could hope to see finished in my time there. Three tiers plus what remained of an old orchard area and all a complete mess. All the structures of this magnificent garden and much of what she had been just lay in slumber though, hidden under the brambles and nettles that it was my first experience of and the many other weeds and grasses we encountered and so I knick named it “The Secret Garden” after one of my favourite books. The name caught on and so “The Secret Garden” it was.
There was a lot of work besides the gardens but that’s mainly where my time was spent. Of a night we drank, we ate very well (my first experience of venison), we laughed and slept. We tried not to go stir crazy when all of us got stuck inside the smallish cabin due to rain for loooong stretches of time. The others laughed at my zero knowledge of building a fire and my amazement of the use of coal in it .I live in Australia normally and I use reverse cycle airconditioning in winter when needed … just saying! It was also the first time I’ve actually seen coal. We compared customs and countries, met new people. Lots of fun.
Life goal: Kiss the Blarney Stone.
Let me say straight up I have a fear of small spaces and heights. It’s a mental game. I know it. Most of the situations I find terrifying … there is nothing probably even remotely scary in for most folks. Things that another human would think nothing of and pose no real danger of any kind in real life … stop me in my tracks. If I want to something badly enough sometimes though I’ll attempt these things anyway. Sometimes but I don’t realise till I’m in the middle of it or it’s too late. For those reasons Blarney Castle and achieving this goal got real interesting there for a bit.
In Budapest I nearly stranded myself on a mountain at night in the middle of winter (we’re talking minus double digit temperatures) because I got up there and then realised seeing over the side I was going to have a problem getting back down. Blarney Castle, with it’s tiny high staircases and the actual Blarney Stone itself where you lay on your back hanging onto poles while a fabulous gentleman holds onto you so you don’t plunge to your death down the hole while suspended from the top level of the castle (exaggerated ! but that’s how it feels to someone with a fear of heights) posed some challenges. Let me say a big thank you to the photographer and the gentlemen who guides you to the Blarney Stone for their patience and kindness. It took me 15 minutes .. probably more … to work up the courage to do this as others came and kissed and went… all the while they chatted with me, encouraging me while I watched others have a go.. or not.
In the end I did achieve my goal spurred on by how many I saw who wouldn’t even attempt it, these 2 kind individuals and the fact that it was such a long way to go and then not accomplish what I had set out to do…. for bonus points I even got a hug from guiding gentleman afterwards. Bless! I’m sorry I didn’t ask your name. I was a little stressed and overwhelmed, this is my only defence. Photographer man was an ex merchant seamen who’d been to a million countries and also completely awesome. You rock!… sorry I didn’t ask your name either. Thank you to both of you for helping me achieve one of my life goals.
Having achieved this, I went and explored the rest of the Blarney Castle grounds. Wishing Stairs. Druids circles. Waterfalls. Fields of Daffodils. It’s well worth a few hours to visit and explore. I loved it. If it interests you head to Cork. Blarney Castle is only about 8km’s from there and you can catch a bus. After a great day exploring I headed back to the Secret Garden and a few more weeks of digging, uncovering, mulching etc in between the frequent work stopping rainfall. Generally it was grotty, hard, very wet work but a couple of weeks in we could just start to see some of the possibilities coming to the surface. It was a good incentive to keep everyone going as there was still many weeks of work ahead.
It was a huge month for getting to tick off life goals. I met some great people and got my hands back in the soil again after more than 12 months out of any gardens I could work in. My hands, gloves and nails were shredded. My too long stagnant gardening muscles let me know how displeased they were with such a mammoth re-entry into gardening and I sailed into March happy that the last parts of this adventure involved retreats in the making, secret gardens and good company.
Big love. E x