January 19, 2021
On Sunday we moved from Kinsale to Cork. It's not very far distance wise, but the city is quite different from the seaside town. We spent yesterday exploring, and it's fun to have new things to discover.
The area we're in seems to be in the middle of a lot of schools (universities, colleges), and we're very close to the city center. We're behind the St. Fin Barre Cathedral and Elizabeth Fort, both historic sites in Cork, which I'm learning is actually a very old city. The river has great walking and biking paths along it. And there's a lot of street art--check out photos on our photo page. Also, in keeping with our food theme, there's an English Market here, which is a big indoor open air market that we visited yesterday. Amazing butchers, fish mongers, all sorts of cheeses, veggies, bakeries, chocolate...There's also a great natural food co-op right around the corner from our place. So we will continue with walking and cooking while we're here.
The news here has been dominated by the release of a government report on the tragedies of the mother and baby homes that were run by the Catholic Church for many years. Worth a read.
January 12, 2021
It's been difficult watching what's been going on in the US from here. It's maddening and also makes me very sad. At the same time, it's interesting to watch it through the media here (Irish news, the BBC, Irish Times and the Guardian have been my main sources). For instance, David and I watched the news last night. To give you a sense of where US news falls in importance, the newscaster gave a brief update on the introduction of the Articles of Impeachment in the US and then cut to a story of a pregnant dog who'd been stolen, but was happily reunited with its family. Unfortunately the puppies had already been delivered and sold...
My cohort has already written about our fun zoom dinner with Margie and Alana, so I'll share only that it was so great, we're repeating it this Saturday. And we're trying an online cooking class at the Ballymaloe Cookery School this evening. Potato Soup with Chorizo and Parsley Pesto, Cheddar Herb Scones, Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel are on the menu.
We're continuing our walks--yesterday we went to Old Head, which really does seem like it's at the edge of the earth. The wind was tough, but the. landscape gorgeous. At many points during the walk, we were the only people out, so it really did feel as though we were alone on an alien planet.
We move to our new house in Cork this weekend, so more places to explore (within the restrictions).
And so much reading. I've finished several mysteries (Tara French's The Searcher, Snow, by John Banville, and Even the Dead, Banville writing as Benjamin Black, The Little Drummer Girl, in honor of Le Carre's passing), Hamnet, How the Irish Saved Civilization. Our current family read is The Glorious Heresies, by Lisa Mcinerney, which I'm enjoying. Banville and McInerney are both Irish and use lots of great Irish vocabulary I have to look up. We finished our last family read, City of Bohane, which had great made up vocabulary. I'm also working through Ireland, The Autobiography, which is a collection of writings (letters, articles, advertisements, etc), which tells 100 years of Irish history through the perspective of those living it. It's a wonderful way to learn history, and slow going because I have to do a lot of research on what the writings are referencing. Actually really fun.
And Sara and I are working on our potato art project together. There are more than 20 different types of potatoes in Ireland, and that's just a tiny amount of all the types available worldwide. As a food source, it is the third most important (after rice and wheat) and actually more nutritious on its own than either of rice or wheat). We've made a maquette for our project and are beginning to figure out what the finished collection will share.
January 6, 2021
We got up and out much earlier today than normal--the farmer's market was in town, and we've learned that it's a great way to support the local farmers and small shops, so we wanted to go. We met Margie and Alana (who we've been doing Zoom things with as well as occasional outside events). It was nice--great bread, veggies, and a Black Pudding Burrito from Brendan's Burritos, a food stand there (see pictures). I was skeptical--those of you who know me well know I'm a bit of a Mexican food snob given my New Mexican roots, but it was good. Definitely not traditional, but very tasty.
Today I'm a bit on pins and needles, waiting to hear what happens in the US with the Georgia election and also the electoral college certification. If you're reading all the blogs, then you may have seen on David's that we're trying to read news here (meaning we let our NYTimes subscription go, and we're reading The Irish Times and The Guardian instead). It has been really interesting to see the US political situation through a different lens. We Americans don't always come out looking so good is all I will say on that...
Fingers crossed everyone makes it safely through today in DC and that the Georgia results get wrapped up!
And now for something completely different--
I'm starting a project on Irish potatoes. There are a bunch of different kinds--colors, shapes, what they're used for...I'm learning about how floury certain potatoes are, and why that's a good thing. Some potatoes are marketed as "balls of flour", meaning when you boil them (with skins on), the skins burst and the potatoes start to fluff up. Very different from waxy potatoes. So, I've started buying the different kinds and testing them out to learn about the taste, texture, etc.
January 1, 2021
We made it through 2020! Happy new year to all our friends and family, near and far.
This week we completed our shelter in place time here in Ireland, and now the whole country is in Level 5 lockdown. Yesterday was the last day non-essential shops were open, and gyms, hairdressers, museums, etc, are closed. All food stores are open, and restaurants are open for take-away. So we don't imagine it will be much different than what we've been doing, which has been great.
Yesterday we walked over to the Kinsale dock to visit Margie and Alana. Took the dogs for walk by James Fort, then sat outside and had tea, socially distanced. The weather has been unexpectedly sunny. Sometimes it's cold and windy, but still sunny, which makes getting out each day a pleasure.
Then we walked into town, visited the local butcher, the wine store and the bakery and got supplies for a great dinner--steak, potatoes, beet salad, followed by salted caramel profiteroles. The good eating continues...
Our family read is City of Bohane, a crazy book about gang fights in 2053 Ireland. The author has done a great job of creating a whole new slang vocabulary for the characters and his descriptions of the clothes each character is wearing are really excellent.
We also binge watched Bridgerton on Netflix. Like Downton Abbey, only sexier. Had to fast forward through some parts with Sara, but still fun.
And we've been playing loads of games--Scrabble, Downton Abbey Clue (!), Backgammon, Cribbage, Chinese Checkers, Double Solitaire.
Last night at dinner we talked about our intentions for 2021. I realized I'm so happy to get through 2020, I haven't really spent much time thinking about that.... so, more to come.
December 25, 2020
Happy Christmas! We went on our daily run through town today and its as incredibly quiet, as everyone seems to be settling in for the new Covid restrictions. Yesterday was the last day all shops were open and everyone was out, doing their last minute shopping. Last night we went back through town and down by the water when it was dark to look at all of the lights. We're continuing to settle in to a fairly quiet routine--get up late, have coffee and a snack, go for a run or a walk, come home, get dressed, have lunch, read, do art, play games...
We've been doing a family book club which has been really nice. We just finished John Banville's Snow, which was a pretty dark murder mystery set in 1950s Wexford, Ireland. Really good.
I've relished having the time to cook and experiment with so many new foods. Our friend Margie told us about an online food ordering site called NeighborFood, which allows us to buy from local farmers and shops, with a one stop pick up or delivery. We've been trying lots of different foods on the site, like Cooleeney Cheese, which is this amazing meltable cheese we had over roasted cauliflower, or Smoked Crown of Chicken, which we had with pasta and butternut squash one night and creamed over baked potatoes another. We made traditional Irish breakfast, with Black Pudding. We baked Monkfish with fresh kale and a Bergamot Lemon.
December 20, 2020
Today is winter solstice and it got light late and dark early. But in between it was a glorious day! Very little rain and blue skies. We took advantage of the weather and walked to Charles Fort along the Scilly Path (pronounced 'silly'). What a beautiful path and the water was amazing. The Fort was open. We had a picnic and watched a giant murder of crows flying all around. Apparently there were Jack Sparrows in the area which makes the cross go crazy (according the employee at the Fort).
Then we came home to do some paper marbling. We also made up a new recipe for Irish Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies. Sara will post the recipe soon. They are delicious!
December 18, 2020
The humidity here is amazing. My hands aren't chapped for the first time in months. I've taken to one cup of coffee in the morning and then tea all day. And I think I've figured out the unusual stove and oven. The cooktop is a Siemens Electric, which you can only put things on when you want to cook--putting anything on the surface sets off all sorts off dinging and requires you to press buttons.
The oven is an Electrolux Fan oven, with a grill option (it also defrosts?). I've had to read the manuals for both to figure out how to do anything...But I have plenty of time!
David made it yesterday. Yay!
December 15, 2020, from Kinsale, Ireland
The start to our time away took an unexpected turn when Jack Wexler, David's father, passed away Friday evening. Jack was a great man, and always up for adventure himself. In fact, he and Betty (David's mother) had come to Ireland with us about 15 years ago. He loved Kinsale.
David switched his flight to go to Florida while Sara and I traveled alone to Ireland. With Covid, the service will be very small. And thanks to Zoom, we will be able to join remotely this evening.
We had a moment at the Irish Passport Control where they wanted to know why we were traveling now, and then asked us to step out of the line... but it all worked out, and we made it to our new home last night.
Our friend Margie was just leaving when we arrived--she had come to turn on the lights and leave a lovely welcome package with flowers, wine, and things to do while we settle in for the mandated 14 day self-isolations.
So this this it--I have absolutely nothing I have to do for the first time in ???.
We're packing the house up in preparation to rent it while we're gone.