It always feels a bit weird being back home after I’ve had a different life in a different place for a while.
I wake up in another bed, I wash my face in another bathroom, my towel is a different towel, the people I got used to seeing everyday are now suddenly “away”; I hear a different “miau”, I use bigger plates and smaller portions. The ceiling is taller, the weather is colder, I even wear different clothes. To some extent, I am different.
Leaving places is always hard for me because I always get attached to… well, everything, really. I missed being home but I also missed being home. No, that’s not a typo. Most of us have two homes: the one that we’ve called home forever and the one that became our home.
I was now home and everything seemed bigger. It felt like the kitchen was huge, the living-room - an open field! Oh and the smell - I couldn’t get over the smell! It was strange and familiar at the same time. You get so used to the smell of your house that you don’t even notice it after a while, but other people do; and so do you, after you’ve been away for a significant period of time.
I woke up in that first morning and I felt strange. It was cold and sort of empty. I got used to smaller spaces filled with people and now I have to deal with quite the opposite. I didn’t get to over analyze things too much, I had laundry to do and food to buy and friends to greet. My friend was coming to visit me and our other friend, Queen B. I mean, sure, since her career skyrocketed we haven’t been that close, but still. We were really hoping for a reunion!
The month of July can be broken down in two parts: Part 1 - The Fun and Part 2 - The Misery. I don’t usually begin with the fun, but this is how it chronologically happened and I’m sticking with it.
We decided to meet our friend in the city centre where the bus that comes aaaall the way from the airport stops. I know it sounds perfectly dull and logical, but bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this. So, there we were, in the right bus station at the right time - wheeen the bus drove right by with our friend in it. Our 2 perplexed faces saw her perplexed face fading away into the Dublin mist (mid-July, yes) and there was nothing we could do. Apparently the driver, and I quote “must’ve missed it”. He was quite calm and nonchalant about it which leads me to believe this is not the first time he’s done or said that. Thanks to the magic of the interwebs and Whatsapp, mi amiga managed to find her way back to us.
We went to a Japanese restaurant, talked our ears off and stuffed our faces! I had a big fat bowl of udon soup with tempura prawns to help me deal with the 17 degrees of this crazy Irish summer.
The following days we combined more Japanese food with falafels and spicy fries, carrot cake, my first attempt at a clafotis aaaand a vegan dessert (‘cause my friend is into that and I’ll try anything once). The vegan tart had an oatmeal and coconut oil base, topped with peanut butter filling and a chocolate ganache (made with coconut milk). I am the first one to call bullshit on all replacements and all “delicious recipes that taste just as good as the original” bla bla. The beauty about this recipe is it didn’t pretend to be anything else, it didn’t aspire to be anything more than what it was and it was really delicious and decadent. Take a look for yo’ self:
We baked, we ate and we watched some documentaries. It was kind of perfect.
When finally the day of the concert arrived, we gently blasted some “Lemonade”, put on our “hot sauce in my bag” t-shirts, tight jeans and daring lip-sticks. Well, two of us did. The Nuc skipped all of that. Except the tight jeans. His presence at the concert was powered by: confusing circumstances, laziness and the Universe’s sense of humor (read as that voice in trailers, use suspense and unnecessary drama).
We got there late, as in right on time, which in the world of concerts and Golden Circles means “really fucking late”. As a direct result, we were in a mediocre spot, surrounded by both midgets and giants. The midgets (us included) were at a clear disadvantage; the giants were uncomfortable and despised by many. There were, of course the “somewhere in the middle” people too. They’re not tall, they’re not short, they’re just annoying and will poke you in the boob repeatedly. Then, we have the classic “drunk’n’lorrvee” group. They’re boozed up, ratchet and take 5 selfies per minute to show the world how much fun they’re having. They think they’re fabulous and unique. I guess the world is full of special snowflakes. Then you have the people who spend half their concert time answering e-mails and telling their less fortunate friends how awesome this concert (that they’re currently missing because their eyes are plastered to their screens) IS! In the middle of all this - some girl’s bag kicking me in the ribs, some guy’s elbow poking me in the boob, gremlin lookin’ girl rubbin’ her butt on my female parts while making eye contact and smiling creepily - Queen B is rocking it! She sounds amazing and if only all these people would put their fucking phones down for a moment, I might actually see her looking amazing too! That concert made me feel thangs, man. Maybe it was Beyonce’s magical dragon breath that made us all look purty and feeeel purty. Except for the ugly people - they just felt purty. There was a sense of empowerment in the air. Beyonce was sending waves of confidence, sexiness and woman-nes all around and they are spreading like wildfire!
Overall, we left the concert feeling strong and sassy - but also, quite violent. I will never understand why people can’t enjoy an experience without filming it themselves, photographing it themselves, advertising the experience they are not really enjoying, themselves! I get doing it for a short memento but not 50%-90% of the time! It makes me angry and sad. They’re not really present anymore, they’re living their lives to prove shit on Facebook instead of really enjoying a fucking moment fully! They’re growing more and more pathetic. They must staaahp it! They’re giving the rest of us a bad name.
Another thing I’ve learned from this is that I am not a people person. Well, actually, I am not a crowd person. I need my personal space, badly. I wanted to be closer to the stage and all that, but at the end of the day I think I saw less and got annoyed more. It really affects an experience and nobody's doing anything about the “little” people that can’t see shit! You can’t enforce a “height rule” because as it turns out short people make friends and/or mate with tall people and vice versa. The hate is badly oriented, tall people have feelings too. The stage should be taller, the pavement they use to cover the stadion should do some miracle work and add some freakin’ inches. And don’t you dare suggest I wear high heels! You wear high heels!
I’m also afraid I’ll get trampled or worse, have to pee. Cause if I have to pee and I go alone, I am never finding my way back! I’ll get lost and nobody will be able to guide me back cause I’m not capable of following simple instructions in complicated settings. Welcome to my neurosis, the concert edition.
That being said, Beyonce is flawless and the concert was beautiful.
Two days later I was in the front seat of a rented car, blasting “Lemonade” and holding a box of donuts on my lap. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
We were happily heading towards the South of The Emerald Isle. We went from Wicklow & the East Coast to The South Coast - Ring of Kerry and on our way home, Blarney Castle.
Even though this started as a sunny day, the moment we got into the car it started to drizzle and drip. Ah, Irish weather, the ultimate practical joker. We picked up our people, talked strategy and got the show on the road. We waited for a green area with cows to make our first stop and eat our donuts. If you haven’t had donuts while watching cows, you are missing out. It is definitely one of my favorite ways to have donuts. I only wished I had some warm milk to dunk those babies with a splash. Oh, so close and yet so far away!
After lounging with the cows, a journey began. One that involved driving on the “wrong” side of the road for the first time, on extremely narrow and wavy roads, while stopping here and there for some kick-ass views.
Then we made a bigger stop at Glendalough, county Wicklow. Seen some medieval stuff and fell in love with a lake.
After visiting an abandoned old church, appropriately called “The Forgotten Church”, stepping on some graves and pushing our luck, we got back in the car and feasted our eyes on the pretty views the road had to offer. Eventually, we arrived at Courtown Harbour aka a city by the sea! After a moderate amount of frolicking we moved on, reached a town whose name I can’t remember, couldn't get seats at Tripadvisor-approved restaurants and settled for a Texas themed place. Food was OK and cheap, aaand I had me a beer with those chicken goujons and fries. On our way back to the car I stumbled upon a corgi! I have loved corgis for some time now but have never seen one face to nuzzle! I cuddled the shit out of it and declared this day an utter success. The sun was setting, a bed awaited somewhere.
Day one ended in a nice hotel, after a shower, in cosy pajamas, watching Family Guy in a big bed. Not too shabby.
Day two welcomed us with sunny skies, cold wind and decent nutella&banana waffles by the sea.
Goodbye, city whose name I can’t remember! I’d like to say you shall never be forgotten, but I try not make promises that I obviously can’t keep. Next, we stopped somewhere we could gaze at the world from above.
We sat like cowies in the grass. Some of us fell asleep, some of us started picking flowers, some felt like doing a bit of impromptu yoga in their jeans. We each scratched an itch and it felt good.
Once back in the car we drove forever to get to the city of Cork where good food and rain awaited. We ended up at ORSO Kitchen & Bar and I do not regret a thing. For starters, we shared this pair of samosa lookin’ mofo’s right here called Sfeehas - lebanese mini pies filled with spiced lamb with fennel and thyme cream on pearl cous-cous.
They were delicious, I could’ve had 4 of them on my own if I had to. “Had to” - who am I kidding?! If they would’ve been in front of me and I had to share them with someone I didn’t love, I would’ve slapped the pie out that unfortunate fucker’s hand in no time! Don’t take it personal, it’s just a basic impulse. In my defense, I really love pies and meat and pies with meat! Stepping away from this ugly side of myself now and walking into main course land. I had the Moroccan Spiced Seafood Stew with monkfish served with fennel and honey loaf. Whaaaaaat? Did anybody say honey loaf?! Honey, that was love in a bun. Warm, sweet love, perfect for dipping into a pool of creamy, spicy and hearty sauce. Yum! I mean, dunk me baby one more time-yum!
The Nuc had the Lamb Chops with warm salad of millet, roast fennel, red onion, green sun dried tomatoes and chaat yogurt.
Looking back, I remember how delicious they were but I also realize I had forgotten they were quite pricey. I mean, the stew was 20 euros and the lamb was 23. That feels excessive. That is excessive. At the time, I was blinded by hunger and deliciousness, so I also ordered dessert. Lemongrass and ginger creme brulee with lime and basil shortbread. That was 6,50 - pretty regular price for a dessert. I won’t lie, I can’t lie, I loved it. Those fresh and fragrant notes go wonderfully with the creamy wonder that is creme brulee. I’ve enjoyed every bite of it. The biscuit was a nice touch, I ate it even though I was full. That’s how you know.
From Cork we headed to Tralee (yes, that is a funny name for a town), where we were going to spend the next two nights at Finnegan’s Hostel and B&B accommodation - “Situated in the heart of Tralee, county Kerry, it is the ideal location for anyone visiting the south west of Ireland”. Well, obviously, I am not anyone. Piece of advice? Don’t believe everything you read. First night? No hot water. Lemme rephrase that: no warm water. I mean, I do have a mug that says “I like it a lot when it’s burning hot” but I would have happily settled for lukewarm that night. Went downstairs to ask why. Just why. Why my shower? Why me?! WHY GOD,WHY?! The woman acted as if this was the first time she’d ever heard this. Unfortunately for her, I can easily distinguish the bad acting from the good acting and this was superficial at best. She went as far as going to our room “to check it out”. She turned the shower on, cold water ran, she said “Yes, it is cold.” Thank you for that insightful observation. Yes, I know! That is why we are all gathered here today in this tiny bathroom, looking like fools! This is not a theme party, it’s real life. Then she said it must be that the boiler ran out of water because it is the same one that the restaurant downstairs is using. Well, color me baffled and blank-faced. I looked at her with a look of utter confusion and complete lack of understanding. My face was covered in “why”-s and “how come”-s and “are you shittin’ me with this”? The kind of look you’d have on your face if you’d see, say, a deer mating with a squirrel. At first, you wouldn't even know what you’re looking at. Then it would become clear, you would be intrigued and appalled and unable to look away. All the while the question would echo in your head: Why? Why?! Why. Disturbing analogy over, and long story short, I went to sleep dissatisfied but hopeful that the morning would bring with it a full boiler, or at least a bucket’s worth of warm water. Rise and shine, ya’ poor hopeful fool! Wake up to disappointment and build up your day from there! As you probably guessed there was still no warm water. I went down to express my feelings. The woman downstairs said I should talk to the owner, because there is nothing she can do and lo and behold, I had just missed her.
At the ground floor of the hostel they have Mary Anne’s Tearooms and I dare say that for me, that was the only good thing. Can you blame me? I happen to believe that warm water in a non-tropical country is not negotiable. Anyway, let’s move away from the darkness and into the light. The Tearooms - they have a mouth-watering display of fresh cakes, good eggs and scrumptious scones. Plus the whole place looks like a combo between Alice in Wonderland and a grandma’s house - a certain type of grandma, that is. The soundtrack was oddly enough (or not?) Italian opera. That made for a confusing atmosphere but it kept me on my toes, so I’ll give them that!
The weather outside was pretty frightful. Your classic grey clouds with a generous side of rain, sprinkled with gloominess and topped with a cold breeze. Worry not, for I have the power of the polka dot! My mighty parka: blue - to match my mood, dotted (with white spots) to highlight my wackiness and of course, waterproof to describe my resistant-to-change personality.
Ain’t no weather baaaad enough to keep me from gettin’ to you, babe! That was my way of sayin’ we got back in the car and on the road once more. As we moved away from Tralee, the roads got narrower and the winds stronger. First stop was Rossbeigh beach, where the sea was grey and the wind was a bitch. I can’t rhyme and I can’t preach but I sure use my freedom of speech. I’m beginning to feel like a leech craving a peach on the beach - aaaaand we’ve gone full circle! Enough of that now.
Then we went up, up to the end of the world and as they say in Ireland “It was grand”.
Time to mix it up and confuse your body with some tropical forest. What? You were cold and now you’re hot? I won’t believe it!
On that day, I also re-learned how to pee in the forest! Different forest, though. Somewhere near the Blackwater Bridge. If you’re ever there, remember I peed somewhere and so did other people. When in the woods, act like a bear. Roar.
Next stop: “Angry Sea and The Worst Wind Ever” Village. I call it that cause it’s true and cause I can’t for the life of me, remember its true name.
Here we stopped for food and Charlie Chaplin memorabilia. Weird combo, I know. Apparently it was The Charlie Chaplin Annual Festival. Why there, in the town whose name I’ve forgotten? Because he used to vacation here and that explains everything. Waterville! The name of the town was Waterville! After a simple lunch (in Waterville - wink wink) of vegetable soup and cheesy toast we moseyed along.
In chronological order: we met some horses at Looscaunagh Lough (well, one horse and one donkey posing as a horse), climbed on top of some rocks at Ladies' View in Killarney, climbed some more rocks at the Muckross Lake to get a good view of it and then took our time at the Killarney National Park where we saw a waterfall, climbed some more, wooo-ed and aaaaah-ed at some pretty awesome nature work and got a bit hungry, I ain’t gonna lie. What’s even better for working up an appetite, you ask? Visiting an old abandoned abbey (in our case the Muckross Abbey). Everything was so ancient and... well... dead. Really makes one feel happy to be alive, thus hungry.
We ended that day in Killarney. A vibrant town with plenty of food places to choose from. Hard to get a table, but not impossible. I decided to finish the day with steak, mashed potatoes and veggies. Classic comfort, hearty food. As we were going to the car, I heard the call of this ice cream place. It summoned me, so I went. I got the banana and the chocolate&chili.
The banana was good, nothing worth dropping your panties for. The chocolate, on the other hand, was panty-dropping but not in a good way. That thing was spicy! I mean, nasty spicy. It started off as chocolate and then out of nowhere it just punched you in the throat with fire. Could not, would not finish that. Turns out that voice that summoned me was evil. I really gotta learn how to distinguish right from wrong one of these days.
Got back to the hostel to find an empty fucking boiler, AGAIN! I went to my friends room and used their shower. They had slightly warmer water and anything warmer than ice cold is considered good news in such circumstances so that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I went to sleep that night with wet hair and one or two violent thoughts. Who’s counting, right?
Morning came ringing her bell and honking her horn. Surprise, surprise! We’re covered in red itchy spots all over! Oh, joy! My skin was rather boring-looking! All white and no dots! It’s like Finnegan's Hostel heard my prayers and decided to help. Thank you for your bed bugs, your cold water and your sad room. It was everything I’ve ever imagined it would be.
We wanted to thank the owner personally for the unique experience but of course, she was nowhere to be found. We even went as far as getting her phone number hoping that we could at least whisper sweet little “thank you” notes into her ear. She did not answer and she did not return any of our calls. Classy and professional. #rolemodel
On our way back to Dublin we planned to stop at the Blarney Castle and take our sweet time. We bought sandwiches on the way so we could have lunch al fresco with our ass in the grass and our eyes towards the sky.
We did some things that I was comfortable with: like walking, visiting the garden and reading about Marijuana, talking to some cows, picking raspberries. You know, the usual.
We also did some things that made me very uncomfortable, like going up ALL the stairs, going up all the stairs surrounded by people, going up all the stairs in the tower where the space got narrower and darker and I felt stuck and terrified and forever lost. The thought that I was only going higher and higher did not help. Once I got to the bloody top I realized what they meant by “kissing the Blarney stone”. It was a part of the freaking wall, it wasn’t a stone you could just take in your hands and hide in your sleeves like a freakin’ adorable otter! At this point in the story you might be asking yourself “Why the fuck would I wanna kiss a stone that has the imprint of a thousands other lips on it?!” Well, dear reader, because you supposedly gain the gift of eloquence. I know, sounds shady.
In order to kiss it you had to lie on your back with your head hanging into pure nothingness while gripping to a bar for dear life. All of this while a stranger was paid to hold you and pictures were being taken. Needless to say, I found this unnecessary and scary as fuck, so I politely declined and shall remain devoid of eloquence forever and for always. Meah, who needs eloquence when you’ve got charm and curvy hips?! And that right there is one of the world’s biggest problems.
Here’s a link if you wanna know more about this: the ritual of my nightmares.
All in all, visiting a castle really made me realize that I wouldn’t wanna live in a castle - they are seriously not cosy and the lack of windows is disturbing. Yes, yes, I know the reasons, bla bla. I’m more afraid of living in the dark than being invaded. But hey, that’s just me. On the other hand, it must be great to own such land! Your forest, your lake, your big-ass garden, your witch’s lair in a cave under a mangled tree. That being said, we got into our rented car and went back to our rented home that comes with a rented back garden and lived happily ever after. For these are the days of our lives.
This 4-day trip had everything. I think it was the first time ever that I’ve been on such a packed journey. I mean, we went from lake to river, from sea to forest, from mountains to waterfalls, from hot and humid to cold and humid and then to windy and furious, from rain to sun and everything in between - in what seemed like moments!
Standing at the top of a mountain, looking down at the sea, hearing only the sounds of goats from the very remote houses that were around... boy, that was a great feeling. Far away from everything, like being at the end of the world where the wind and the sea are king and queen and you are a mere witness to their glory. It made me feel small, but in a good way. Made everything seem unimportant and passing. One thing I’m gonna try to remember: nature does me good. I’ve never felt better.
After about 3 days, when the damn bed bugs bites were almost fading away I got some red spots on my face, because I can’t catch a break! I traced it back to a cheese I ate for the first time, threw it away, swallowed some pills and played the waiting game. It eventually went away but so did my excitement for everything food. I was all of sudden very aware that everything I ate either made me sick, “because IBS is real and it affects the lives of 55 mil. people, mostly female” (like we don’t have enough bullshit to deal with) or fat or both.
Everything seemed out of control, I felt tired, overwhelmed and lost. I wanted to get back in the game (the wellness game) but I didn’t know where to begin.
After wallowing in some mandatory self pity, I re-started listening to Tim Ferris’s podcasts and they inspired me to get started once more. I took two decisions:
- To cook and eat what I like, what I crave in order to bring back the love, but with limits as to not upset my stomach and feel lousy.
- To write down everything I eat again with the clear purpose of finding out what makes me sick and in what way.
I then cleaned the house, scrubbed, re-organized, washed and polished. The chaos (in and out) was beginning to see the light of day. I started writing things down and cooking things that I craved. Take a look at the waaay too many pictures I took, to give you a visual.
The hardest thing I had to do in July was write about the month of June. Everytime I take a break, I doubt that I can write again. I keep expecting to “lose it”, to wake up and realize that it was a dream and that I actually can’t put two phrases together. That first post felt like I was in labour, giving birth to every word. Really put me off pregnancy and all that jazz.
This was the July episode - the one after the fall and before the rise. You’ll see what I mean...