T-2 - The Arrival ...


So … I’ve been trying to write something on this blog for the last number of weeks … something about how I was feeling about the pending challenge … or something about what I was expecting out of the course … as time has seemed to have gotten away from me a little, I now find myself in Ballymaloe and waiting for the course to start! 

It’s Saturday night, 21st April 2018 and I have just spent the best part of the day in the “Rebel County”. I arrived In Ballymaloe around 11.30 a.m. unsure what would await me …

Firstly the welcome … I was met at reception by the lovely Adrienne (who I have dealt with over the last six months or so by email) and I seemed to meet a dozen (probably a half dozen really!) other people all were working hard to ensure the receipt of students is done as efficiently and seamlessly as possible, all delighted to say hello and share a few words of welcome! If I keep talking to locals this much ... there is a serious chance I will end up with a Cork accent!  

I managed to briefly meet the lady herself, Darina Allen, as she was rushing off to some engagement or other, first impressions ... very positive!

My lodgings for the next 12 weeks are in “Pennyworth” … a purpose built house, finished over the last 12 months or so! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived … would I have a single room … would I have an ensuite … first world problems !!! The answer for those of you dying to know ... is Yes & Yes 😉

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with what I found .. the house is fantastic … 7 bedrooms, each ensuite and single occupancy. So seven fellow students to share it with … the only shared areas are the reception, the library area (a small chill out area at top of the stairs), the kitchen / utility room and the living area !!! The kitchen is spacious and fully equipped (as you would expect from a cookery school!) with a huge dining table and plenty of room to sit around while someone is cooking, Yes ... it has an island! The living area has a charming wood burning stove and is tastefully decorated … with a smart TV … Netflix already logged in, not that I/we will get the chance to use it! 

Left in each room awaiting arrival are our aprons, hats, and a load of stationery to enable us to file the dozens of recipes we will receive each week !!! And of course ... our knife set (BIG SMILE) ... I also had an unexpected present and card waiting for me from someone special ... Thank you !!! 😉

If I’m honest … as it stands it seems like the house is set up for the "over 40 crew" (but only 3 of us have arrived so far … we will see) but maybe I am doing the house setup a disservice … even if it is … I have brought enough Luxembourgish white wine and Chilean rose with me for us to be more than occupied for quite a while :)

I spent the afternoon unpacking (that was a job and a half … I don’t do traveling light!) and took a little stroll around the grounds of the cookery school. The thing that strikes you when you arrive is the balance between peace and quiet and a combination of birdsong and the Cock crowing ! There is a sense of comfort and isolation but also of harmony and tranquility! A day spent just sitting around the grounds you would imagine would do wonders for the soul and indeed your stress levels. I intend to explore the grounds more on Sunday but it seems like a very impressive setup.

I also paid a quick visit down to the Garryvoe hotel and the seafront where a heavy mist limited views but didn’t seem to stop the kids playing in the sand or indeed me registering at the hotel gym! 

I had my first Saturday Pizza … every Saturday the cafe linked to the school does a range of wood fired pizza, it’s a very casual setup with a novel twist. When you order your pizza you get a playing card that will be called out when your pizza is ready. Would I be deemed cruel If I admitted to having had a little internal giggle watching a group of Italian guests running up and down to the counter to check the cards as they were called out …  it didn’t seem to translate into Italian ! Anyway the pizza itself was very tasty and I can see this becoming a regular habit! 

I managed to get down to the closest pub “the Goalpost” to see Leinster demolish Scarlets and to sample the quality of the local stout (and I don’t mean Beamish or Murphys!!!)

Around 6 p.m. most of the students who had already arrived gathered in one of the courtyard cottages to eat and get to know each other a little … so far there are around 16 students I have met and the diversity is something to behold (eat your heart out JPM :))  From what I can gather we have Irish, British, French, Dutch, American, Norwegian, Australian and American so far … with the youngest being 18 … and the oldest … well I’m not going to guess as I am sure the ladies wouldn’t appreciate it.  

I feel strange writing this blog ... almost unnatural ... hopefully I will get used to it over the next few days and I can write with a bit more fluidity and with out as many exclamation points and grammatical mistakes :)

Anyway T-2 finished … ready for T-1 and the arrival of approx another 50 students …