Saturday, 30 October 2010

Ballycotton was rocking last night as students celebrated the end of exam fever. No longer would herbs be identified with the enthusiasm of the great British public analysing the difference in profile between a Heinkel and a Dornier at 10,000 feet in 1939.

My own evening started quietly around 6 in the local pub where a group of the more mature students met to discuss the first half of the course in quiet and relaxed surroundings occasionally being served if the barman chose to recognise us as customers. In fairness this lack of attention applied equally to the local inhabitants sitting morosely at the bar.
As the Ulster Munster Magners League game got under way a few more drifted in to watch and the ending of the Children's Halloween party in the GAA ground next door saw a small trickle of fathers popping in for a pint, and a coke for the kids, but the atmosphere remained calm.

Time for a taxi to Ballycotton, party capital of Shanagarry Bay! As it was only eight we thought about eating before more beer but the closest restaurant was not open to the public as there was some kind of Lingerie Party inside ( a restaurant closed on a Friday night!), another had the chef on holiday though they had not bothered telling anyone, and the pub which does all day bar meals apparently ends the day around 6! This left only the local fast food place open (Friday through Sunday). We resolved to visit later and headed for the Blackbird.

On arrival it was quiet though all that would change as several taxi loads of students arrived. I managed to get a shot at the beginning of the evening

but then mercifully my camera battery expired saving you from the bacchanalian excesses which ensued. War stories were swapped and repeated as more new arrivals entered the bar and then repeated as more alcohol was consumed as the volume of noise increased and, the majority of customers being young ladies, the pitch of conversation also increased. Think aero engine warming up and you get the effect.

By 10 two of us could not stand the pace without food so we staggered the 200 metres to Skinny's, a fast food outlet perfectly in line with Kings first rule of restaurants - it had a laminated menu- where my double cheeseburger was apparently the meal of choice for Johnny Depp when filming in Ballycotton. The Garlic cheesy chips weren't bad either so, fortified by cholesterol and carbohydrates we headed back to the pub for another couple of hours. Eventually around 12:30 I decided that bed was probably the best policy and, blagging a seat in the minibus transporting the attendees of the aforementioned Lingerie Party I headed back.

Six weeks over, the halfway point. It's all down hill to the end except that from here on in the learning curve steepens, the techniques become increasingly complex and the standard expected is higher. Still, the school has run for 40 years and about 8,000 have passed through so it cannot be beyond our abilities to succeed.

So anyway, what happens on Saturday? Well it's off to Midleton Farmers Market, bit busier this week must be the Halloween thing and the need for organic Pumpkins. Make soup or pie not silly lanterns! A quick burst through the supermarket to buy the things that Farmers Markets don't supply - toothpaste, recycled organic toilet rolls etc. Next over to pick someone up and reunite her with her car sensibly abandoned before last night's trip to the Blackbird. Lunch, washing the whites and then just pure relaxation, good book coffee that sort of thing.
 Tea turned out to be burgers, but not just any burgers. These were organically reared Angus cattle, seasoned with a little Thyme and served with Dijon Mustard and Emmental cheese, and cooked rare.

An early night beckoned, a period of rest before the final push for another six weeks, would I be tempted by the Angels and Demons night in the Blackbird? I doubt it but I am looking forward to a night of sleep in which not every dream will have a herb and salad content or a fillet a round fish against the clock element. With the clocks going backward tonight I am cheered by the thought that I shall have an extra hour in which to do THE FILING.

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