Mill Little, Irish Thoughts, and a Bus Strike

I realize that we haven’t updated the blog since we basically​ arrived at Mill Little Farm in the west of Ireland, Country Cork, just west of a lovely town called Bantry. We’ve done so many things since getting here that I hope this post can cover it all. 

The farm we’re staying at is 60 acres, complete with three old goats, 8 chickens, four ducks, two polytunnels, many garden beds and a sweet and loving boxer named Lexi. Christine, our host, is an English woman whose been living in Ireland since the 80s when she purchased the property. She is vegetarian and cooks all the meals for us though there were a few nights where we cooked for each other. We are not the only wwoofers here either. Jerome and Arnoud are from France, Clementina is from Spain, and Christine’s personal friend Agi is from Switzerland. The two French guys are our age while Agi and Clementina are older like Christine. We’re a quiet bunch usually but once Agi gets started, it’s hard for her to stop.

Our typical day starts at 9:30 when Christine comes down from her house to the big blue house where we all stay to give us our chores for the morning. For me, it’s usually digging trenches and filling them with manure from her goats, I usually have either Reilly or Ashley helping with that too. Every morning around 11 or 11:30 we stop and have a coffee break and Christine checks up on our progress. If we’re finished, she gives us the next task. We work again until 1 or 1:30 when we break for lunch. Usually lunch is a soup and whatever leftovers there are from the previous night’s meal, after that the leftovers are given to the chickens. After lunch we go back out and work until we’ve completed our tasks or 4:30, whatever comes first. 

As I said, most of my time here has been in the garden beds preparing them for planting. What I do is dig a trench about a foot deep along the bed, fill it with goat shit, then cover it up with the dirt from the next trench. I work my way down the beds until I’ve reached the end. So when I’m done with a bed, it’s flat on top and the manure is worked into the soil- it’s ready to be planted. Other chores I’ve done is cleaning the polytunnel with a long brush because over the year moss and general dirt builds up on the walls. Polytunnels only work if they let in sunlight. One of the big tasks that took all three of us was mucking out the goat pen. Reilly was a boss and actually did the mucking while Ashley and I transported it via wheelbarrow to the compost pile. It was a dirty job, it smelled horrible, but it actually wasn’t that bad. Mostly it was tedious and just a part of life. The other thing that we’ve done a lot of is weeding. Since we’re here in the early spring most of our tasks were preparation for planting for the year to come. Still, it was a good time and Christine even said we’ve done a good job. 

Now, I know this post is long but I’ve got two more thoughts to get out. The first is about Ireland and the country landscape and the second is about getting to Dublin this weekend. 

Since coming to Ireland, I’ve been away from those great majestic rocks we call mountains. Like a spine they follow a line running north and south and the only reason most of us ever know which direction we’re facing is because we know the mountains are west. But the Irish hills they call mountains here surround you. The whole place is mountains. Instead, we’ve had to orient ourselves by the sea. We know the sea is west. But you can’t always see the ocean because of all the mountains! It has been strange adjusting to this, I feel direction-less, like a compass without a magnet. And just now that I’ve got my bearings here in Bantry, we are off again to Dublin. 

Which brings me to my second point. We just got word of a bus strike happening across Ireland at the moment. I don’t know the details of it (the why’s) but I do know that on Saturday we have to get to Dublin to meet up with our next host. The public bus system in Ireland is not good, buses only run to the big cities and not usually to the smaller ones and even if they did it doesn’t matter now since they’re on strike. But luckily this area around Bantry has an amazing taxi driver named Vincent who is, besides hilarious, a great guy. He has offered to take us to Cork, about two hours away, via taxi for only 20 euros each. That’s actually comparable to what we would have paid for the bus. Another lucky break we’ve had is by a private bus company called Aircoach which allows you to book online and is privately owned, therefore not on strike. Reilly just confirmed that we have tickets on an 11am bus from Cork to Dublin. So while the bus strike sucks for everyone, we are lucky that we were able to find another way to Cork. 

Here’s to hoping that our next host has better service or wifi. But I think all of us loved our time here at Mill Little. Hopefully some of you got to see our adventures in pubs and at the cliffs on Facebook. 

Much love from Mill Little, Bantry, County Cork, Ireland ☘️

~A

Playing Catch-up

This post is very delayed because the host that we are currently staying with has WiFi in one spot and the house that we’re in is a dead zone. Nonetheless, I’ll try and get you up to speed.

We flew from Denver to Reykjavik, Iceland in a 7 and a half hour flight and arrived at Keflavik airport early in the morning on Saturday. Keflavik is a very small airport and by the end of our almost 24 hour layover there we had seen pretty much all of it. And let me tell you, I am content to never return there. A few notes about our stay there: 1. Everything closes in the airport around 7pm so we were left with literally nothing to do, we couldn’t even eat. 2. The airport is small so there was little to explore and after 8-9 hours of sleeping in a big waiting area, we were kicked out because it was closing. 3. Everything in Reykjavik is expensive because it’s an island, one sandwich cost me $15 roughly. So yeah, that was interesting. 

The next little leg of our journey was to be a painless less than 3 hour flight to Dublin. The plane gates opened on time and then we promptly delayed boarding by about ten minutes. The backpacks that we have chosen for this journey are amazing. They fit everything I need compactly but they are on the large side. We made sure that they could be taken as a carry-on for the large planes but overlooked the restrictions for the smaller plane. Of course they didn’t fit the carry-on size restraint. So we had to spend about $100 each to check our bags. We had a separate fund set aside just in case this would happen but let me tell you, when the airline attendant tells you that your total for three checked bags is going to be 90,988 Icelandic and then you check Google and Google tells you that it’s going to be $844, you have a heart attack. The good news is that we’re in Europe now which means for numbers a comma is a period and a period is a comma. Instead of 90,000 Icelandic units we were actually only paying for 90. Their money is weird. At least euros make sense. 

I slept through that whole flight. I saw the sun rise and then immediately fell asleep for the duration of the flight. 

Not much needs to be said for the Dublin airport, only one major event occured here before we boarded a bus headed for Cork City, and that was passport control. We were drilled. He wanted to know pretty much everything about our trip and by the end of the encounter I was sweating and my heart was pounding. But, thankfully Reilly is a boss and handled it flawlessly. That’s an event I will always remember but would like to forget. 

The first bus to Cork City was a three hour journey during which time both Ashley and Reilly fell dead asleep and I watched The Martian. Before the end of the movie though I could not keep my eyes open and I slept for the last half hour of the bus ride. I woke up feeling disoriented and incredibly tired. The next bus came an hour after we arrived in Cork and took us nearly two hours to the town of Bantry where our first host Christine picked us up and drove us about fifteen minutes to the farm. The next post will take off from here though I may just post a slew of pictures first. 

Cheers,

~A

A Small Thank You

Two days. Today and tomorrow. Then we depart. It feels a little surreal, like how big life events feel surreal. I can’t believe that this is happening, but at the same time I know what I have worked for and I am so ready. But this post is not about me. I am writing this post because no matter how hard I’ve worked to get here, there is one person who has worked harder. 

Reilly and I have been planning this trip for at least a year and thinking about doing it for much longer than that. As the time passed, we realized that we could make this happen. But Reilly stepped up and ensured that this would happen. Everything that will be posted on this blog, all of the plans that have been made, all of the hosts that we will be staying with, all the trains, planes, and buses we’ll be taking, every memory that we will be creating in the next five months have a single origin point: Reilly. 

I can’t tell you how much she means to me. I can’t tell you how much love I have for her. I simply can’t explain what our relationship is. But I can tell you that my life and this trip would be nothing without her. This trip would not be possible without Reilly. Not only would nothing be planned, but there is no one else on this planet that I could have done this with. From start to finish, Reilly is the only person to push me so far outside my comfort zone and assure me that she would be with me every step of the way. I have grown in love, compassion, empathy, and patience since I fell in love with her and this trip speaks volumes to how much Reilly does for me in my life. I am beyond grateful, I am beyond thankful, because Reilly has given me so much in her life. 

My love, my moon and stars, I cannot tell you how important you are to me. I cannot describe how deep my love runs for you. You have done so much for me in these past five years. I hope that I have done something similar for you. Thank you. For the trip, for our lives, for you. This small post does not reach the tip of my gratitude, but perhaps it will suffice to say that I love you.  

~A