Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Last Post

So the three months at Ballymaloe were over. Exams done, house cleared, car packed, time to go.
But it wasn’t that simple. Three months in the bubble meant that the umbilical was still there, still strong. It had to be cut but in a gentle manner. My re-entry to the real world needed to be gradual not some sort of caesarean section.
I needed some sort of comfort blanket so a cunningly devised rehab was devised,
Some easing away from Orchard Gardens, and into Coed Eva.  A routine to prepare for reality. So, after Darina’s farewell it was off to the Farmers Market for one last time.
I wanted to take some good ingredients with me. Three months of cooking with the best meant that I would only accept the best at home.
That done where to spend the night? Obviously Ballymaloe House!

Checking in (with the student discount) was one step towards home. It also gave me the opportunity to show my newly acquired wine knowledge, successfully choosing a white by the Allegrini family and then pouring PX over the vanilla ice cream.
Which of these could you cook? asked Janet, perusing the menu. Actually all of them I was able to respond.

A lengthy, and for me, very alcoholic dinner later I slept the best sleep for three months. Not once did I dream of food. My order of work didn’t make me wake in a panic and a large bed afforded comfort which had been lacking in my small cell in Orchard Gardens.
On reflection the Ballymaloe existence had been almost monastic. Early rising followed by hard labour , lunch and exhortation to greater heights followed by contemplation and a little rest before repeating the experience.
Now I was free!!
A massive breakfast combining a small farmyard on a plate, half of the Irish oat production for 2010, flour in its bread, cake and croissant forms with a small tropical country’s worth of coffee set me up for my last day on Irish soil – for a while.

Shopping for ingredients in Supervalu and loading two cool boxes and several bags completed the morning and I headed d own the route taken by so many colleagues back to Rosslare.
Stops for a late lunch and an early dinner saw us at Europort watching lorries loading. I guess that Sunday nights in December are not the busiest and the terminal building was deserted, even the coffee stall was closed. It did eventually open, but I seemed to be the only customer.

Our Priority Loading status meant that we were first onto the ferry, though the other three cars in line had saved €18 and followed us on.
At 8:40 we cast off and the Ballymaloe adventure was over.
So why did it take 2 months to write it up ?
I was waiting for the exam results to round it off.
Eventually they arrived – and I passed!!

So this is the last of Bill’s Ballymaloe Blog. It was real fun to write, hopefully summed up the experience from a student’s point of view and entertained a little along the way.
Now for the new blog. All about local foods, mainly from Wales but in reality from wherever I happen to be, and find something good to write about. So over the next few weeks expect reports from Ireland, Italy and Spain, as I travel around a bit. And where to find my musings?