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

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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

Countdown: two weeks away!

Hello all!

Well let me tell you, trying to figure out bus connections and flight schedules and the best ways to get around foreign countries all without knowing the local routes and tricks is a bit tough. However, I feel rather confident and proud to say that it’s all finished!

Well, mostly. I have all of the buses, trains, and planes (oh my!) bookmarked, just need to confirm with the hosts that those places are acceptable to be taken to and picked up from before everything is purchased. But I can breathe just that much easier, knowing that all of this hard work and stress I’m putting into the trip now will pay off and make everything that much smoother.

Who’d have thought that we’d have made it to this point, ya know? Two years ago, the two of us thought that it’d be a nice goal to work towards, something that should happen, but you never know, right? Well here we are, T-minus 13 days until the now three of us get on a plane and don’t look back for 5 whole months. It’s kind of terrifying, if I’m honest. Although, you have to scare yourself in order to grow and experience the world to the fullest, right? I’m sure there’s some famous inspirational quote floating in there.

To everyone who has helped us so far, thank you. To everyone who will be reading this and keeping up with our adventure, thank you and welcome. I hope that we will be able to document every exciting, nervous, new part of our journey as adequately as you all deserve.

I’ll be sure to check in before we leave.

-R

It’s Real

Well fam, it’s official. I’ve bought our plane tickets.

I know, you’d probably think that since we’re leaving in two months, we’d have done this by now. But no, I’ve been putting it off for one reason or another, you know money issues, no current deals, gotta make sure everything is fine at work…

Now, it’s real. We can’t just fantasize about taking all of the money we’ve saved and running away under the pretense of going on some great adventure- we now are officially going on an adventure.

Also, since our last update, we now have had the addition of another member of our group- conveniently named Ashley as well! So now we’re going for 5 months with two Ashley’s in tow.

And all of this will be taking place on March 10th as our leaving date. I’m so nervous! We still have the house to pack up and put all of our belongings between all of our relatives for safe keeping for the next half year..

Speaking of going for our 5 months, we only have a couple of short weeks left to cover with hosts, and then we’ll have the entire trip planned exactly how it should be going and who we’ll be staying with. Again, one would think that we’ve had that covered but farms don’t start planning ahead for the next season too far in advance.

I’m terribly excited for this trip. Scared, nervous, but always first and foremost excited.

-r

We’re Still Going, I Promise!

Hello all!

It’s been quite a while since last updating, however we come with good news! Our trip is finally coming around and becoming a reality!

So part of the reason why there hasn’t been any kind of update is that quite honestly, we were and are both terrified. Telling people and fantasizing about a 7 month long trip, moving across countries with only a week’s worth of clothing and supplies, and living with people you have never met before sounds like something only people in movies do. So we were quite discouraged for a while, avoiding learning more and sending emails to hosts. However, we’ve hit the ground running and have re-evaluated our situation with funds that we’ve saved up, things that we want to see and do, and have decided on a loose game plan for living after we return from this trip. And we can confidently say, it is happening!

Since we were so discouraged for that length of time, we have decided on cutting out the end portion of our trip that we originally were saving for hostels in Belgium and Holland. Our original plan of 7 months has been shortened to 6 months, with us in the process of cutting out just about another month. We are now into about 5 months in total, which is based off of a law that we just learned about in the UK that directly impacts volunteers, and the hosts that we have received answers from.

As we have it currently, we will most likely be leaving within the second week of March 2017 to make it to our first host in the southern part of county Clare. After their farm, we’ll be moving up to right outside of Dublin for a longer stay on a newer farm, that might be looking into getting pigs as well! Wouldn’t that be a fun experience, helping a family learn how to take care of pigs. There are still a couple of weeks to fill with another host, however the final one that we have confirmed is taking care of us outside of Northern Ireland for the last weeks of May. From there, we take a ferry to Scotland to spend our month!

We’re still doing our best to get as many responses back from farms as soon as possible so we know what dates we can buy our tickets for, but it feels like we’re finally able to breathe easier, knowing that we have places to stay for sure.

-R

What Ifs

Well fam, not gonna lie- I feel a little bit unsure currently.

Ashley and I have briefly discussed the state of affairs of not only our country with the upcoming election, but also the recent news regarding terrorist attacks, closed borders, and tanking economies. Makes you really think about the world and how small it can all seem when things start breaking down.

This unfortunately, has then led us to discussing our pending trip.

Disregarding our backpacks, we haven’t made any major purchases for our trip. We’ve been saving up, as I’m sure is understood if not known, but in order for us to still be able to go to the countries we’ve been dreaming of and spending the entire length of time that we’ve been planning on, that money might not stretch as well as we’d hoped. Brexit, to start, has been a major player in this. Additionally, France’s recent attacks and closure of borders has also created a bit of a scare for us. That’s not to say that we are merely concerned for these countries because we’re hoping to visit; no, we are very much concerned for anyone that may be living there or who has family and friends in those situations.

However this brings up the question of- what if we’re not able to travel like we hope?

This has been our dream trip and experience for such a long time, and we’ve been working towards it for just as long. Our plans have been laid out and our lease in addition to our belongings have been cut. However what if it can’t happen?

So the real question is- where should we visit instead? Potentially for less time? Ireland is still on our must-go lists for the trip, and it doesn’t seem to be as bad off as some of the other places that we have been planning on. However, that’s about as far as we’ve gotten. We were thinking next of going up north, to Denmark, Norway, Iceland, etc. Please, we’d love any ideas and opinions on what to do with the current state of affairs. Message us some ideas!

-R

Pre-trip Trip

Good morning!

So for our little splurge for the summer, we’re able to do a little bit of a vacation to visit one of my besties in San Francisco. We thought this was a great opportunity to try out our travel backpacks! 

This was my general pile of stuff to pack up- enough clothes for 5 days, 4 nights, and an extra change of clothes just in case. I also packed two pairs of shoes, swimsuit, towel, and little accessories, so as to better mimic the kinds of things we’ll be packing for the Europe trip. 


Ashley had a meticulous and different way to pack than I did- she tried the straight military-esque folding, whereas I rolled everything. She had the same amount of stuff as I did. 


All packed up!

When we got the airport this morning (345am, geezus), check in and TSA were a breeze. Since our bags are carry-on size, no checked bags or fees associated with us. We had our gallon bags with our liquids all ready, too, so other than my backpack getting stuck on the security belt (oops!), there were no hold ups. 

They don’t weigh too much, and with the straps buckled across the hips, the weight isn’t even noticeable, so walking around the airport is pretty manageable! 

On the airplane, the bags fit both long and short-ways in the overhead bins, but to save space we put them in short-ways (like a hot dog, I guess). 

Overall, super easy to travel with! Definitely going to work out like a dream for our long trip!

-R

Securing Lodging

Hi again!

So for the past couple of days, I’ve been re-researching the farms in France that Ashley and I are trying to set up for us to work and stay at in France. We both ended up changing our minds about one that we had originally picked, and instead traded it out for a smaller farm, closer to Paris. He has a small orchard, veggie garden, and some chickens to take care of, which is a good starting point for our first stay in France.

I sent an email, explaining who we are and why we were interested in helping out with that farm in particular, and the very next day, I had a reply- we’ve secured our first part of our France stay! 

It’s all becoming so real- I’ve officially contacted and effectively communicated with our first host (in French!). We’re still more than a year out from this part of our adventure, but my excitement keeps on ramping up. I’ve sent an email to the next (hopefully) host and am waiting for the reply. This one keeps bees, chickens, and pigs- two of which I mostly know how to handle. 

Here’s hoping for a quick reply!

-R

Travel Logistics

Hello again! Been a while since the last update, but I mean, we’re still 11 months out from our initial arrival in Dublin. Speaking of. 

So we’ve officially nailed down our departure/arrival/WWOOFing dates for the whole trip. We will be leaving from the US and arriving in Dublin on March 1st, 2017. We will then conclude our trip on September 26th, 2017 by leaving from Amsterdam. 

We will be spending two solid months touring the island of Ireland, followed by about two months between Scotland and London. As of now, we’ll mostly be staying around that main city, but we might take some day trips around since it’s not a terribly huge country.  

At the start of July, we’ll head to France. We’ll be spending the majority of our time in the south of France, right on the beaches during the end of July and all of August. I’m so excited for this part. 

We finally made up our minds about the last 3ish weeks of our trip, and we’ll be spending them between Belgium and Holland. These last few weeks will be the most financially stressing, however they’ll be a wonderful ending to the whole excursion. 

While Ashley and I were researching where we are going to be staying, we bought our joint subscription to WWOOF France in order to give ourselves plenty of time to work on our written French in order to contact our (hopefully!) hosts. In doing so, I tried to compare the best prices for train vs bus travel- let me tell you, buses are so much cheaper. One major caveat though- the bus ride from Nice, France to Brussels, Belgium will take an estimated 14 hours! 

… So we might just suck it up and buy train tickets for the long rides. We’ll see. 

-R