I have been asked several times since I returned from Ballymaloe about what to take – so I thought I’d write a little post which may be of help to others.
Ballymaloe cookery school is set on a farm, a short way out of a small village, around 10 minutes drive from two small towns (Castlemartyr and Cloyne) and around 20 minutes drive from Middleton, a larger town. Therefore, if it is an option to bring a car, I would highly recommend it. Even just knowing you have a way of escaping briefly can be a godsend. It is not impossible to manage without, but you are really quite limited in terms of doing things and shopping.
You won’t need too much shopping while you were there, and there is a shop at the school, but it doesn’t sell everything you need, and some might find it quite pricey.
In terms of shopping, there is the school, which has a good range of store cupboard ingredients, eggs, meat and some prepared foods, but hardly anything in terms of vegetables and fruit in the winter – it may be different later in the year.
There is a petrol station in Shanagarry that has a shop – I never went there, but I think it has some essentials. There is a Centra shop in Castlemartyr, but again, I never went there. There is more choice in Midleton, with Tesco and Supervalu, but that is around 20 minutes drive to get there.
You won’t need much to eat, just something for breakfast if you fancy it, and perhaps a very light supper in the evening. You are able to take a few bits from the school here and there (mainly bread, which you will become sick of eating), and occasionally leftovers, but they are very hot on logging all food taken home in Kitchen two, so you need to ask first.
I’d suggest stocking up on toiletries and laundry products if you can. Apart from anything, they are really expensive in Ireland.
Also, stationery. You need loads! I needed an extra four lever arch folders, about 3 packs of plastic wallets and about 7 packs of subject dividers (extra wide) as there was so much filing to do. You are given stationery on arrival, but it wasn’t enough and it is hard to find whilst you are over there.
If you’re like me and are particular about bedding, take it. It is bulky, but nice to have your own – sheets plus duvets and pillows.
It is very cold in the winter and I took a little electric heater. I was very glad to have it in January.
Warm clothing. Oh my goodness, it was cold. Bring layers. And a coat with a hood, as it is almost always drizzling. Wellies and boots were essential.
I bought my own whites and I found three sets were essential. I had two and found myself constantly washing. I managed to get myself into a real mess every day. So three would be best if you don’t want to be in the laundry all the time.
Shoes – if you are bothered about how they look, then buy your own. The shoes the school can provide are hideous. It’s not a fashion parade, but you might want to take your own.
For girls, a headband or two is a good idea, if, like me a cap gets on your nerves.
Cash – do bring plenty. There are safes in the rooms, but I never worried about security. I took around £500 and that went very quickly – again, it’s a pain to find a cashpoint, even with a car.
And that’s about everything I can think of. I’m sure there will be more, and as and when, I will pop back and update this post. I hope it may be of some help.