Travel Tale: A Cottage In The Country
'Something changes in us when we travel. Through exposure to new cultures and foreign contexts, we often return home filled with fresh perspectives that can make everyday seem exotic.'
KINFOLK Magazine, Volume 20, The Travel Issue
Our host had agreed to meet us at the sign post signalling Tubber. We drove through a small, postcard Irish village and continued out the road were routed to. We drove and drove, eagerly anticipating a sign. With every passing minute, every mile, our eyes alert to each and every sign we passed; where was our sign?
Then there was a glimmer of hope: a car waiting at a junction. But there was no sign. And then we saw it. Behind draping trees, a small white arrow: Tubber. We had missed our turn.
We quickly turned back around and met our host, kindly waiting for us on the corner, as promised. We followed behind him, navigating our way down narrow country roads. Turn after turn. Field after field. Where the hell were we?
We approached a farm with a tractor dating back to the 80s guarding its entrance, we took a left turn and continued down an even narrower road, eventually coming upon the most beautiful thatched cottage, nestled deep within the Irish countryside.
It was idyllic. Quaint, thoughtfully decorated and the polar opposite to Dublin life. Just what I needed. As someone who's found it difficult to say where I'm from (after 15 houses; several counties and two countries) I knew within minutes of being in this spot that I was one hundred per cent from Dublin. There was an irrational fear lingering in the back of my mind about how far we were from everything. There wasn't a shop for miles. The space was silent other than the distant noise of farm yard animals. And if we left, how would we ever find our way back here?
My doubts were eased. A combination of the country air, the perfect setting, our helpful host. The garden in the cottage was like something out of an Enid Blyton book. There was an eclectic mix of flowers dispersed around the space. Pops of pink, purple and yellow drew my eye from one to the next.
In the very back of the garden behind the small, stone guest house stood the most beautiful horse. With a fairly minute garden space of my own, suddenly my Dublin girl mentality became apparent at the notion of having a horse in your back garden. But it dawned on me; this was just like what Enid Blyton's words would have depicted.
Inside the cottage, there was a cosy, tastefully decorated living room. As humid as the day was, the stone walls of the cottage kept it cool. A large stove stood in an alcove of one stone wall and our host had kindly built a fire for later that evening. Regardless of the heatwave were being treated to outside, the temperature dropped dramatically at night and the idea of a crackling fire was a massive novelty in my head. Definitely part of the story.
The cottage had three bedrooms, one large bedroom upstairs and two downstairs. A generous country kitchen and two bathrooms. While the weather was so nice we spent much of the evenings outside enjoying a barbecue and chilled prosecco. I had found some chive flower in the garden which we scattered over our salad, adding a soft, mauve pop against the earthy, green leaves.
The main purpose of our weekend away was to visit the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs were spectacular. We took the boat trip from Doolin Pier and sailed right up to them, taking hundreds of birds in their most picturesque habitat. We also saw dolphins jumping through the deep waters below us, which was pretty magical.
After some very fresh fish and chips in Doolin we walked the cliffs and took in the view from above which was equally spectacular. It was a gorgeous summer's evening and the sun was shimmering on the water ripples in the sea. The deep sea blue, turquoise shores and bright blue sky peaking through light strokes of clouds; it was heaven.
The quote at the beginning of this post was one I read in the most recent edition of Kinfolk magazine. The magazine takes a new topic each issue and this one was focused on travel. If you haven't come across it before, each issue is nothing short of a visual masterpiece: the photography is emotive, the articles thought-provoking and it shares knowledge, ideas and wisdom from some of the most interesting individuals across the globe.
A central theme that the Kinfolk community advocate is the idea of slow living. This trip reinforced the benefits of the slow lifestyle concept for me. Life will always be busy, regardless of whether you're in an urban or a rural area. Escaping from the demands of daily life can help the process, going from one extreme to the other certainly helped me to slow my thoughts and fully digest all that we did.
Even in this short trip, venturing not very far from home, I've been reminded of the value of indulging in a slow life. Experiences like travelling (however near or far), taking time for good food and pleasant company are all the better with a soft, leisurely approach: slowing down to fully be present in the moment, savouring the small details as well as the bigger picture and ultimately enjoying the process. It's something our brains do almost automatically when taken out of our daily environment of rituals and strains. We switch off. Set to slow mode. We take in our surroundings and process the experience. So really, is it any wonder travel seems so good for the soul?