Yes, I’m near a little town called Dunfanaghy, Ireland. Pronunciation is (dun FAN uh hee). It’s been a week since I last posted, and that’s not because I’m already forgetting to update this site, but because I just haven’t been able to get online. Let me tell you what’s been going on in the last week.
On March 5 I said I was heading to Glasgow the next day, and so I did. After having a leisurely breakfast and trying to call Rose, my Irish host’s half-sister, several times, I just got up and decided it was time to head to Glasgow. I’d figure it out when I got there. The train to Glasgow from Stirling was actually about the same price as the bus, and I hadn’t taken the train yet. I walked down the hill from the hostel and right to the train station. The ticket machines were confusing to me, so I went to a window and talked to a real person. She told me I could take any train that day. After getting through the turnstiles, the guard got a young man to carry my rolling bag up the stairs and over the tracks to the other side to my platform. Wow, such service!
The train ride was about 40 minutes, and quite uneventful. The train seats were purple! In Glasgow I went out the main doors and found myself right on George Square in the middle of the city centre. (And yes, I did use the toilet at both train stations, thankyouverymuch. You do know me!)
At George Square, I remembered there was a tourist info, and I found it, but it was closed because it was Sunday. I called Rose again, and this time she answered. She tried to tell me how to get a taxi or bus to her end of town and decided she’d just come get me. It took her about 20 minutes, and we became great friends on the way back to her house.
Rose and her husband Brian have been married for about 48 years. They have a lovely little council house (2 bedrooms/1 bath, nice back garden). They are on the bottom right of a four-house building. Their dog, Bonnie, is a 6-month old Lhasa Apso who is an inveterate thief. The first morning after I arrived, I went to the bathroom and while I was gone, she went into my room and swiped my Burt’s Bees lip balm! I hunted and hunted for it, thinking it had rolled under the bed, but couldn’t find it. I got dressed and went out to find tea. Bonnie came running to me, my lip balm dangling from her teeth! The lid was missing, and she’d somehow managed to screw the balm up a half inch (she had the other end in her mouth). I took it from her, and later Brian handed me the lid, a little the worse for wear, but serviceable.
For the next 3 days I was a guest in Rose and Brian’s home. On Tuesday, we drove to where I was to catch the bus, and I called the travel company to verify that I was to pay when I got on the bus.
On Wednesday, I awoke to snow blowing! Brian and I left at 6:30am to make sure I wouldn’t miss the 7:30am departure of the bus. It took us about 10 minutes with no traffic and by this time the snow had stopped.
The bus cost me 45 pounds, which I paid the driver. We stopped in a few places to pick up more passengers, and then I fell asleep for a couple of hours. When I awoke, we were at the coast and I could see the sea. Lovely!
When we got to the ferry, the driver took the bus on, then we all got off and went inside. I got a tea with milk in the restaurant, then sat right up front to watch the boat dip into the waves, the spray flying up onto the windows. After my tea and the ham rolls that Rose and Brian had fixed me that morning, I was quite seasick. Weaving my way aft (see, I’m using nautical terms now, although I definitely didn’t have my sea legs!), I found a video lounge. Watched the last half of some action movie with William Hurt as the president of the United States and Dennis Quaid as the Secret Service agent who just wouldn’t give up trying to find him when he was kidnapped by terrorists (in Spain, I’m thinking). Good chase scene, and great when Forrest Whitaker saved a little girl from the ambulance that Dennis Quaid was trying to stop.
Back on the bus, we exited the ferry then drove around the parking lot and were told to get off and onto another bus waiting. This bus was much nicer, so new it still had that ‘new car smell.’ It took another couple of hours to get to Letterkenny. I was told to get off there and into yet another vehicle, which this time was a large mini-bus. I was the only passenger driven by John McGinley (who coincidentally actually owned the bus company). It took another half hour to get to Dunfanaghy and past it a couple of miles to Corcreggan Mill, where Brendan Rohan, my host, was waiting for me.
Brendan grabbed my bags and threw them into the back of his Jeep Cherokee, and we went back into Dunfanaghy for errands and supplies. At the Green Man, a ‘wholefoods’ shop (read: health food store), he bought me some local dry-cured bacon, some soft, Brie-type cheese called St Killian’s, made locally, some organic milk, organic butter, fresh sourdough loaf, and Marmite.
Then we met a woman named Ursula and had a chat, before running across the street to the grocery store, Centra. Brendan bought some bread for the German girl, Birke, and more milk for her, plus some other things he needed.
OK, now I’m having fun, running all these errands, with Brendan trying to get me up to speed on his place and its history. Next we needed to give his dog, Danu, a run. Danu is a Weimaraner bitch who’d been in the back of the Jeep this whole time. He stopped at the entrance to the golf course and let her out. She took off running! We drove to the entrance to the beach, and he let me out to go visit the sea while he drove up and down, getting the dog to run.
I, on the other hand, was delighted to get close to the water, and laughed as I practically ran across the beach, with the wind at my back pushing me. I told the sea I was back (this reminded me of the Highlands of Scotland ten years ago when I stayed near the coast for 3 months), and she came rushing to greet me, washing over my mocassins and the lower half of my legs! You have to understand that it’s freezing cold, wind whipping. I wrapped my pashmina around my head (you have to tie it, it won’t stay wrapped by itself) and slogged my way back to Brendan’s Jeep.
When we got back to the mill, he took my bags upstairs to my temporary room in the hostel (the Millhouse), and I immediately took off my shoes and changed my pants. Had to wash the sand off my bare feet in the shower (warm water feels so hot when your tootsies are frozen!).
Once changed, I went to the cottage where Brendan and his partner, Mirena, live, and the two of us had ‘tea.’ He had leftover soup, I had sourdough with the melting St. Killian’s cheese. Mirena was in her homeland of Lithuania and was due in around 3 the next morning.
There were three others upstairs in the hostel with me, all Germans. We shared the sitting room fire a while, then I went to bed. The room was freezing, so I slept in my jammies, socks, and my hooded jacket. Once under the duvet, of course, you get warm. Woe to you when you get up in the middle of the night to pee, however!
The next morning I had tea and more bread and cheese. It was around 10am or so when I went downstairs to explore. I walked all around the Millhouse, and on the way back to the front, met Mirena, who showed me the greenhouse, where they not only grow herbs and store the harvested potatoes and parsnips from the garden, but also hang the wet clothes when it’s raining out.
Back inside the hostel, we started in on the rooms just vacated, and Mirena showed me how she wanted the rooms made up. I did 4 loads of laundry, including mine and some of Birke’s, and hung them all up in the greenhouse. I even dropped one sheet and got the corner all dirty (thought I’d have to rewash it, but today Mirena said we’d tuck it in so no one could see it).
Birke and I were the only ones in the hostel last night. I made a pot of soup from veggies in the greenhouse and the garden, along with fresh herbs (potatoes, parsnip, swede, brussels sprouts, chives, thyme, sage, chickweed, and parsley) and some chopped bacon. I didn’t have much in the way of seasoning, so added a package of instant oxtail soup I found, along with some salt and what I think was cayenne pepper. Birke and I enjoyed it with some of her bread, toasted and buttered.
By this time I’d finally gotten online, and shared my computer with Birke while I took a long hot bath in the only tub in the hostel. Ahh, relief! Later, I called Claire on Skype. Couldn’t get the headphones to work right, so Birke got to listen to everything. Poor kid!
This morning I could hardly move I was so sore! Got my tea and some bread and cheese down, then started in on the laundry. I still needed to make up room 5. I brought in all the laundry from the greenhouse, but some of it was still damp. Mirena showed up and we got started. Once all the rooms were made up, including the ones Birke and I had been in, she set us to cleaning the main kitchen. Apparently there are to be 15 women coming tonight for a murder/mystery night, and everything had to be just perfect.
Now I’m ensconced in the annex, and Dennis, Mirena’s son, has come over and we’re both on our laptops. He’s been showing me Russian videos, both pop and traditional. It’s been a lot of fun. He was about to head up to his new attic space (he’s giving me the annex) to play games on his laptop, but ended up staying and showing me the pictures he took of the surrounding area, showing me more Russian rap vids. Fun. He just left to go up, and it’s now 12:25am.
My turn for bed. I’m off to my loft bed, and grateful there’s a space heater up there. Below are a few pictures of the last few days.