It’s 7:01 am. I’m just near Ballinalee, which is near Longford, which is somewhere in the north-central part of Ireland. I’ve stopped here, with my colleague Heather, for a bed and the the use of a washing machine – the kind invitation of our driver for last week’s tour.
It feels like years since I left for London on September 10th. All that time and not one moment of a sufficiently free mind to write you. You are all on my mind.
The short version:
- London was surprisingly wonderful. Bustling, bright, beautiful and full of friendly people. A city I’ll get back to as soon as I’m able.
- Ten days with the group from Glenfiddich Wool in northern England. Yorkshire, Cumbria (in which the Lake District is situated), Northumberland and then over the border into southern Scotland. Fantastic group of ladies. Beautiful weather. Much laughter and learning. Felt like I’ve come into my own as a tour guide.
- Quick switch as I watched this group head home and then boarded a plane to fly from Edinburgh to Cork. Picked up at the airport by our driver in Ireland – Raymond, whose home and washing machine were so kindly shared with us last night – and I was off on another tour. This time the lead was Heather’s though, as I sat back and took a supporting and more observational role. Ten more days with a group – this time a mix of folks from all over and our first Rowan Tree Travel tour in Ireland.
- A couple of scouting days with Heather after the group left: Dublin, the countryside beyond, new contacts in the fiber/craft community. (Yes, that is a double spinning wheel, with which you spin flax using both hands at the same time. Remarkably complex! More on that later, I hope.)
And now, I’m just on the threshold of heading out on my own for a few days. Have car (manual, due to a scheduling snafu at the rental place so no automatics available), will travel.
I’m hoping to find some way to connect with Ireland. So far, gaining an a sense of the place has been elusive. And lots of things have caught me by surprise: my inability to garner restful sleep while here (extremely unusual!), a landscape dotted not with sheep but cows, difficulty understanding local accents, the strange role of being the assistant guide (neither fully responsible nor relaxed), the modest built environment. What has saved the day and spurred me on? Two traditional music sessions – one in a restaurant, one in a pub. Both brought me great joy and felt like a rare glimpse into the life of the local community. I suspect it’s easy to skim the surface as a visitor here in Ireland. But you cannot watch a group of longtime friends gather to play and not feel their deep love and enjoyment of the music, each other’s company, and the general atmosphere created.
More soon. I hope.