The magic of Tullynally castle

In Ireland, visiting a castle is not a big deal. It’s almost like everyone here has a castle or a medieval ruin in their back garden. And most of those castles come from the times of the Anglo-Norman invasions. In very few words, the invaders had to protect against the Irish rebels so they build castles and fortresses and so left a great heritage to modern Ireland. Well, it’s the least they could do.

Now, many of the castles that are still standing are privately owned but nevertheless, opened for the public to visit. Such a castle is Tullynally castle, in Castlepollard, County Westmeath, with its lovely gardens and Tearooms.

“The present owner of Tullynally, Thomas Pakenham inherited the estate in 1961 at the death of his uncle, the 6th Earl of Longford. Thomas, after producing three large history books (The Year of Liberty, The Boer War and The Scramble for Africa – all still in print) turned to writing about trees – starting with Meetings with Remarkable Trees in 1993 – and has become a passionate gardener. In recent years, he has brought back seeds from plant hunting trips to China, Tibet, and Sikkim in Northern India. Most of his planting has been in the Forest Walk, in the gardens of the castle. His most recently planting has been a collection of rare magnolias at the far end of the Upper Lake.”

Besides the magnolias and rare trees, in the wonderfully kept Tullynally gardens, there are also apple trees that stretch along the walls, greenhouses with weird looking flowers, llamas running in their own private yard, lakes and bridges and charming wooden houses.

And after a lovely stroll on the Forest walk and the Lake walk, you can visit as well the inside of the castle and have tea or a glass of wine, in the Tearooms.

But I will tell you more about all of this, in pictures:

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One of the entrances in the castle
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What used to be the stables of the castle is now turned into lovely designed tearooms!
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Hahahaa. Good advice.
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The Victorian washing room. Now the ladies back then really knew what hard work meant!
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“If in the Georgian era the kitchen used to be in the basement, in the Victorian epoque, the servants had this beautiful kitchen to work in, with a garden view”, the castle guide told us.
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Another part of the Tearooms.
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Outside the Tearooms, in the backyard of the castle, having Latte and Lemon Meringue pie.
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I found these carvings on trees very creative and great to capture kids’ imagination.
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The black sky over a building claimed by nature.
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A place to hide from the rain.
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How cool is this fountain covered in moss and surrounded by vegetation?
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Never have I seen an apple tree growing on a wall.
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Dalai Llama!
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Nicely build greenhouse.
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I don’t know what creatures those are but they look like smth I’d like to have as a home pet.
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A little Buddha, meditating in the forest.
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Big tree, small man, and house.
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Look at the shamrock shadow the sun makes on the wall!
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The grote and it’s beautiful interior architecture.
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A Tibetan inspired place.
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The biggest lilies I have ever seen!

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The railway kitchen

Everybody, I have a new #discoveringireland experience that I want to share with you!

It’s called The Railway kitchen and it’s in the town of Tuam, in County Galway. If ever visiting the surroundings do make sure to drop by, order an Irish breakfast or just a cup of tea and have a chat with the two lovely grannies that are holding the place together. They will tell you some nice stories about the Kitchen if you ask.

Apparently, this cozy little restaurant was opened 15 years ago, when the railway went out of order, but the building itself is from 1875!  The restaurant has a rural, charming allure and the Irish menu is nothing fancy, but nevertheless, heartwarming. A lot of locals, simple, working people, come here to eat and chat with the ladies that serve, giving the place that familiar feel of small communities.

I really enjoyed the old school drapes and lace at the windows and the flowery set up on tables reminded me of the grandma’s house. And a nice touch was the tables made to look like seats from an Orient Express train!

But here are some pics for you:

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Another beautiful example of not letting a place die but rather transforming it into something for the people to enjoy.

Why not try something like this in your home town too! 😉

 

 

The “Mediterranean” Ireland

Last weekend I arrived in Galway for the first time, for the International Arts&Music festival. I didn’t get to see much of the festival as we were keen on just walking around the town and taking in the energy and some pints of beer, while at it.

But the festival is not the subject of this post, the surprising surroundings of Galway are. First of all, for this two days journey, we decided to camp and we set up the tent in Salthill Caravan Bay, a lovely spot for camping, clean and peaceful, situated on the northern inner shore of Galway Bay. From there to Galway we had to walk for about 40 minutes on the Salthill Promenade, a very relaxing walk along the coast and the first hint that Ireland has nice spots for swimming and fun!

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View from Salthill Caravan Bay
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A swimming party we ran into, on the Salthill Promenade.

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After leaving Galway and Salthill we decided to discover some other beaches around and so we reached Dog’s Bay. Prepare to be amazed:

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Greece, Italy, Turkey? No, still Ireland!

Meet the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, a bit cold but still you can take a bath, especially on a lovely weather like we had in the weekend. Dog’s Bay didn’t have a beach bar but we can’t have it all, can we.

And finally, on our way to Dog’s Bay we passed by change, through Roundstone village, prepare to be amazed again:

 

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“The village of Roundstone lies on the western arm of Bertraghboy Bay in Connemara, Co. Galway, 48 miles (77km) north-west of Galway city. This Connemara village is beautifully set on one of the most spectacular coastal drives in Ireland overlooking the Atlantic at the foot of Errisbeg Mountain. ”

So this is my newest #discoveringireland experience, a face of Ireland that not only I never would have guessed but that has made me fall in love a bit more with this ever-surprising country.

 

 

I made pizza

So what, you might ask? Everybody cooks nowadays and they post it on the Internet too. But in my case it’s different, because I don’t necessarily want to show you my amazing looking pizza (cause it actually didn’t look that amazing) or give you the recipe (which I will, nevertheless) but I want to tell you for starters, that it was my first pizza dough and that I did it for me. I was in a bit of a bad mood so I started doing it maybe because there is something soothing in kneading dough, or maybe it warmed my heart to think of Italy and an Italian mama cooking a homemade meal, or maybe just because I’ve been thinking of ordering pizza for the last couple of days and I was hungry.

It doesn’t actually matter why, but I did it caring deeply for myself, not being selfish but just wanting to do smth nice for me, to be ok, you know?

Oh, and it really turned out great, no more pizza orders for me. From now on, I’m making my own irregular shaped pizza and I will go crazy and creative with all sorts of toppings, and yeah, life seems better.

So here it is, the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 150ml/5 fl oz lukewarm water
  • ½ tbsp dried yeast
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt

METHOD

In a bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast, sugar, and oil. Leave for 8‑10 minutes or so to froth up.Meanwhile, place the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix with your hands or a spoon until you have a sticky dough. Keep adding handfuls of flour or drops of water until you have a workable consistency.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for five minutes until stretchy and glossy. Return to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm for one hour.

Turn out again and knead for a few more minutes before rolling out on a floured surface, then transfer to a pizza stone or a hot tray to cook.

PS: And don’t be shy, put anything that you have in the fridge on it and let it bake for about 10 -15 minutes, it bakes fast, but you’ ll figure out when to take it out, from the lovely smell!

Be good to yourself and Bon Appetit!

A musical weekend

Reporting from County Longford, Ireland, this weekend was fun fun fun! We had Longford Summer festival lining up some pretty nice bands and The Midlands Busking festival in Edgeworthstown that got a lot of people smiling. First I am going to say a couple of things about the latter. Busking, for those who don’t know the meaning (I didn’t), is singing in the street and the festival in Edgeworthstown was just about that. Anybody who wanted a space on the street, to sing, just had to enroll on the festival’s site and pay 10 euros or 25 (for seniors), so you can imagine the diversity of music and people. There was a mother & daughter duet, two guys creating a great atmosphere for two lovely girls, another band of teens playing different instruments and more as such.

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We love short shorts” band

 

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I think small cities should organize more events like this one, it’s such a nice opportunity for people to manifest and as well enjoy free music and good vibes on their streets. Lovely!

About Longford Summer festival, I have to say, thanks to it,  I discovered one of the most exciting people in the industry of music: Jerry Fish! The show, the music, the character! It was magnificent.

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(Well, not my best photos ever but I forgot my camera at home so this is all I could get with my s***ty phone.)

Why was this guy so great? Besides the really good music, an interesting mix of punk, funk, latin, disco and circus themes, the man (Gerard Whelan by his real name) got us all in this bubble of love and fun. Everybody was engaged, he stepped off the stage, blending with the public, making everyone laugh and dance. Never have I seen such energy. For me (lately)  this is what music is about: bringing people together, making them happy, getting them dancing and enjoying life.

Anyway, more about what Jerry Fish does and where he’s playing this summer, here. I am going to try to go see him in Ballymaloe Malt & Music Festival this Friday, if you’re around, don’t miss out on his concert!

If you are curious about what else happened at the revived Longford summer festival you can browse the local newspaper Longford leader.

For now, I’m leaving you with one of Jerry’s goofy jazzy songs, right here.

Peace&love!

 

 

Middle age crisis?

I don’t know how else to call my recent obsession for the color red. First, it was a pair of high-heeled boots that I saw in a magazine:

Jeffrey Campbell
Jeffrey Campbell

Just picture those Americana style boots, with blue tight jeans and a t-shirt. God damn!

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And then came a certain desire to own a red truck, like this Ford F 150:

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Or this Chevy baby:

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And now as I am writing all this, I realize it’s all red but as well it’s all American stuff that I crave for … God help me not take my middle age crisis to McDonald’s!

Anyhow, I strongly think that people that find themselves in a middle age crisis should keep a journal of their little eccentricities. We are entitled, just like pregnant women (only that we carry the burden of time instead of babies) to have obsessions and desires and cravings.  And anyhow, I’m tired of all that millennials talk and what millennials want, what about the rest of us, the middle-aged, the older, the bolder, the average people with average problems like wanting to own an American red truck, or at least some red boots?

Oh Lord, won’ t you buy me a Mercedes Benz! Love to Janice.

 

PS: I actually think the journal idea isn’t that bad. I’ ll get back to you after asking some people what middle age crisis quilty pleasures they have.  😉

PSS: So far I got this: a 35 old guy, married with children says :” I want to retire, get a house in Greece and own a very small boat”- and another married with children 35er is growing a beard and long hair.  Apparently, the Lamborghinis and adultery are either out of fashion or appear later in the 40s.  Women refuse to answer my query as they can’t admit they are over 30.

What has this post turned into?! :-O