Thursday, February 24, 2011

When The Boat Comes In....

Every Wednesday hubby and I head into Castletownbere, West Cork to stock up on groceries and order our mid-week take-away dinner of haddock and chips for me and pizza for hubby.

During the time we spend waiting for our dinners to be cooked we usually take a long walk along the quayside where the fishing trawlers are docked. (Even though I grew up in the fishing village of Ringsend, Dublin, my knowledge of sea faring terminology is zilch, so apologies to any fishermen reading this!

Each time I'm close to these great monsters I think of the brave men aboard them who brave the wild seas every day to bring to our tables our favourite sea foods. When I'm not in sight of them I suppose, like a lot of people, I take it for granted that the fish just arrive in the chip shops and on the butchers' and supermarkets' shelves and never give much thought either to the risk to life involved with each catch.

The fishing paraphernalia, on the right, brings back memories of my days on the slip-way in Ringsend. Rowing boats, fishing nets and those cages that I guess shell fish are caught in would all be lined up along the slip wall but it's the combined smells of fish and seaweed that will always hold the greatest memories of my early life by the sea.


Monday, February 21, 2011

There's A Grand Stretch In The Evenings....

Hotel Isaacs, 48 MacCurtain Street, Cork.

Hubby and I have returned once more to our favourite spot in West Cork, namely Allihies. This time we decided rather than make the five plus hours straight journey we'd stop overnight in Cork City so chose the Hotel Isaacs as our place of rest. An excellent choice as our room was absolutely huge, more like an apartment, separate bedroom, living/kitchen and massive bathroom, and above all for me, it was a Victorian building!

Cork English Market, Cork City. Image via:

As we didn't have to check out until 12.00pm we headed into Patrick Street to do a bit of window shopping and came upon a food market, the likes I'd never seen before. It's known as Cork English Market and is just off Patrick Street. We must have spent a half an hour walking around it and even at that we didn't see all of it. The mixed aromas of herbs and spices and baked breads were a real feast for the old schnozzle!

Speaking of breads, I was able to buy a lovely brown bread which was yeast-free, dairy-free and sugar-free only unfortunately to discover after three days of eating it that my chest became clogged up after years of being gunge-free! It was the wheat that did it so I'm now back on my boring old rice cakes.

View from our living room, Allihies.

So, at around 4.00pm last Monday we arrived at our holiday home in Allihies. As soon as I walked into the house I felt I had entered our second home, everywhere had a wonderful familiarity about it. The landscape is just as we left it at the end of last year. Back in Dublin pre-recession times another apartment block would have sprouted in that short time space.

Twilight over Allihies.

We've arrived at a lovely time of year when you can clearly notice the longer stretch in the evenings, twilight now not decending over the countryside until well after 6.30pm as the image above shows. I'm looking forward to living in this beautiful part of Ireland through all four seasons this time and experiencing their every change of colour, smell and sound. Well, three of my five senses will be in Heaven!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Window Of Light In Darkest Winter

The above image I came across one Christmas several years ago in a Sunday newspaper. Its dipiction of terraced houses on a winter's night, their windows bathed in bright orange light, brought me straight back to my childhood in our avenue in Ringsend. The photo had such an effect on me that I cut it out and framed it. It's been on my dressing table ever since.

There's something about the combination of the coldness of the snow and the warmth coming through the window panes that triggers the memory of me walking home as a teenager from school and work on dark winter evenings.

The last ten minutes of my journey would take me past a long row of terraced cottages some with their curtains not yet drawn. It was the glow from the windows that would attract my gaze just as a moth is compelled to seek the light. Walking past I would look in, the room appearing so cosy in contrast to the misery of the cruel weather conditions outside. I would comfort myself with the thought that I would soon be entering my own warm abode, our tele too would be broadcasting the evening news and I would soon be sitting down to a warm dinner of Irish stew.

The final leg of my journey would take me up our avenue where maybe a hall door might be open. Again, the illuminated hall shone like a beacon through the darkness of the street. Winter for me has some memorable contrasting themes - warmth and coldness, light and darkness.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Note To Self: Must Write Frequent Blog Posts

Image source -

Sometimes it's so difficult to sit down and write. It's either a case of, I'm overwhelmed with so many ideas that are all bursting to jump out onto the page together only to find that at that particular moment something more urgent is demanding my time so I don't get to give birth to my words or, I suddenly find myself with endless time on my hands and decide now would be a good time to hit the keyboard only then to discover the old creative juices have completely run dry. What's a blogger to do? Just write, I guess!