Busts, bread and beasts at Ballymaloe

After my lovely solo trip to Ireland I was enthused to return, and to bring my expanding family slash waistline with me. Like many people from across the globe Tim has a dash of Irish heritage and was keen to check the place out, and Addie has never met a potato she didn’t like, so Team Purler was all in. We arrived on Saturday evening, fumbled our way in a manual car on the (now) wrong side of the road to a mate’s house, where we spent a fabulous evening catching up, Tim getting into the spirit by trying some poitín and Adelaide earning her keep by picking raspberries the following morning (and promptly eating them all, undermining any help she may actually have been).

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We hit the road the next day to County Cork in the south of the country. For years, I have wanted to visit Ballymaloe House (I’m still not entirely sure why I didn’t when I lived in Ireland. I suspect it was due to the fact that all of my available dosh was spent on propping up the local bar) so we’d planned a night there to kick start our road trip. We arrived as the rains cleared, spying the lovely old house from the road and finding the gardens of the estate dotted with sculptures.

In keeping with the spirit of an organic farm, we let the girl go free-range to explore the surroundings.

And mimic the sculptures (although unlike my lass I don’t think the dude in question is actually smiling).

Following some hide and seek, sand angels and hill rolling…

…we made our way into the house for the famed feast. The spread was made from organic vegetables grown on site, meats and seafoods sourced either from the farm or locally and house made breads and condiments. It was every bit as amazing as I’d anticipated.

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Ballymaloe is famous for its cookery school, and the following morning Bread Boy had enrolled in a bread making class bright and early in the kitchen. He arose leaving us to dream of freshly baked goods while he slaved making Irish soda bread and spotted dog for the breakfast buffet (also revealing where his daughter gets her ‘smile face’ from).

The consumption of said bread was even better knowing there was a chance we’d get it again at home.

The farm is over 300 acres, and is home to the afore mentioned veggies as well as pigs, poultry, sheep and cows. Laides was offered a chance to go on tour with one of the farmers to muck in with the chores. Given there was bucketing rain, muddy ground covered in animal poop and left over food slops to feed the animals, I decided the best outfit for the lass to wear was white jeans and white shoes (which are now brown jeans and brown shoes). Addie had a ball. We fed a sow and her week-old piglets (the gestation of pigs is apparently 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, making this mama-to-be somewhat jealous….although not of the litter of 11 little ones), bravely touched hens (the most prehistoric of his animals, according to the farmer) and sorted still-warm eggs for the restaurant, which uses over 100 dozen each week.

Our keep earned, we said a fond goodbye to the lovely Ballymaloe, and hit the rainy road for the Cork and Kerry coast.

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