Gingers Beware: It's Summer in Ireland

About a year ago, I assumed that coastal Western France in the summer meant endless sunshine and beach time, and so I arranged to volunteer there for two months.

It was Brittany. The Brittany that typically receives the most rainfall of the year in June and July. Yes, that Brittany. It did not take many wet mornings for me to realize how very wrong I'd been.
Flashback to our volunteer days in Brittany and dear Marie-Therese heading off to be a boss
And so it was without very much surprise that I found I hadn't learned any lesson from that experience, because after arriving to Ireland, I was told that during our June and July sojourn here we could expect exactly the same type of weather.

(lesson=learned. Check temperatures and rainfall).

Now that we're well into summer, there is a small part of me (the selfish part) that for the first time in my life is secretly thankful for global warming. Ireland just may be receiving its best summer since 2006, and in fact has received its longest stretch of sunshine in 71 years beginning in June. Oh joy! I have been basking in the potato-scented glory of it all for weeks now.
thomastown ireland
What better place to bask than this blue-wheeled bench at the Watergarden Gardens in nearby Thomastown?
I've moved on from enjoying this weather coast-side and now am volunteering Durrow, a tiny town centerish Ireland, with a lovely Dublin-born couple and their two children. She's a pastry chef who has been in the business nearly all her life, starting with a shop for 15 years in Dublin, then downsizing to a tiny cafe in the nearby town of Abbeyleix. Her husband generally keeps his distance form the manic schedule of eight-to-ten-hour baking days, and contents himself playing chauffeur to us volunteers getting to-and-from the cafe and to his nine and eleven-year-old son and daughter.
The new digs—a renovated farmhome with a newly-styled wood attachment in the back of the house that links the original right and left buildings and leaves a little inner patio between the two. Our room is top left.
What this all means for me is that the work exchange I find myself in involves helping in the kitchen while learning how to make pastries, pies, tarts, etc. and/or working in their cafe.
The display at a farmer's market in Dublin: sausage rolls, duck confit pies with potatoes and cheddar, and potato rostis with red pepper, arugula, and goat cheese
Chocolate scenes from the Dublin farmer's market. These gluten free brownies have become my specialty and my day's record so far is four batches—made, not eaten.
This is good.

Irish translation: this is GRAND.
Due to our food excitement and a rather strong command of English, John and I also get to run farmer's markets every now and again. Here I'm being helped by Sarah & Patrick's son Artie at Fruitlawn Gardens in Abbeyleix. 
John, meanwhile, is happily working away on building yet another stone wall. He is also eating as many pastry-based foods as humanly possible. I mean it.
John's wall, still a couple layers short. "Brute" on the bin—coincidence?
Hard not to drool over all the pies and quiches, but luckily I'm gluten free and typically stop at drool.
We also have the unexpected treat of volunteering with several other travelers, so there's  the well-needed opportunity to socialize ourselves for a while (you try traveling for a year with just one other person).
A day trip to the nearby quaint town of Kilkenny with our newest French friend Anne. Uncle Sam's (which we didn't patronize) with it's wonderful America theme, also sold curry, fish & chips, and pizza. What culture!
John, Artie, and Flo enjoying some icy things
Teaching the other volunteers about roasting marshmallows
Despite sharing a space with a family of four, five to seven volunteers, and a dog, the atmosphere somehow always seems quiet and relaxing, so alone time is easy to find for a walk along the hills or a book in bed with the windows thrown open.
Did somebody say relaxation? (he didn't even wake up for the picture)
This is the new addition that links the old (as in centuries) house with what used to be one of it's barns. A+ for high ceilings and the inner patio
A view from the inner patio of the lovely stone work and one of the four apple trees growing there. And check out the vista, we're on an amazing hill.
What else is there time for, you wonder?

Recipes. Looooots of recipes.

Stay tuned!
A sunset from the window of our room. Can we stay?


  1. Britany is very beautiful. The weather is lovely as well. The pictures are splendid. I am looking forward for the recipes. Thank you for sharing.

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