I’m writing this from my room here at Ballymaloe listening to the fierce wind blowing a gale outside. It’s my first night in Ireland, and the fiercest storm in 30 years is predicted to hit tonight.
Frankly, I’m just pleased to have arrived. I’m pleased that I managed to get to Fishguard last night and that my ship sailed as so many have been cancelled. The ferry crossing last night from Fishguard to Rosslare was dire. I had booked a cabin as the crossing was at such an ungodly hour. The cabin was unspeakably awful, but that was the least of my worries. The crossing was absurdly rough. Our enormous ferry felt like a small fishing boat, lost in choppy waters. I didn’t manage a wink of sleep, as I clung onto my bunk throughout the crossing. Arriving more than a little red-eyed into Rosslare at around 6am, I had a three hour drive ahead of me down to Ballymaloe. Unable to find anywhere to buy coffee en route, I resorted to loud music to keep me from nodding off behind the wheel en route.
As grim as the journey was, I could not have received a warmer welcome at Ballymaloe once I arrived. Tim Allen met me and showed me to the White Cottage – my home for the next 12 weeks, and the Mulberry room, which was to be mine. I was thrilled with the room. It’s enormous, with two beds, a study area and an en suite bedroom, it’s much better than I could have imagined. The cottage itself is lovely, as are my four housemates, who are delightful. We seem to have lots in common, too.
As soon as I had settled in, Tim popped his head around the door and invited me to his home for coffee. I had a lovely breakfast with him, Darina and their friends at their kitchen table.
I then had a chance to sort out my room, take a much needed shower and head out for an explore. Ballycotton and Ballymaloe house were my destinations – just a couple of miles respectively from the school. Returning to the school, I had time to watch a film about Myrtle Allen in the demo room and take a walk around the gardens.
This evening, all students met for delicious wood-fired pizzas and delicious homemade ice creams at the school, which was a lovely opportunity to meet people. My housemates and I have just been to the pub, where I’ve had my first half of Guinness and now we’re sat in our sitting room, with the fire on, reading our schedules for the week.
Tomorrow starts with breakfast and introductory talks, plus a walk around the farm, weather permitting. So far, so good.
* I’ll add some more photos to this post soon. The internet is not working very well this evening.