Today I stuck around Ballmoney, this lovely coast/country town in the southeast of Ireland. Woke up at 5:30 AM, did email/RSS, then read outside in the backyard of the house which looks out over endless green hills and a golf course. At first there was a chilly breeze but by 9 AM the sun came out, all clouds disappeared in the sky, and the start of a stunningly beautiful day here in Ireland began. I soon moved from my Adirondack chair to the grass yard, where I lay on my back and "read" (ie: soak in rays, close my eyes).
After a "fry up" brunch with my hosts (sausages, ham, some other Irish goodie I’ve never had before but was excellent), Frank dropped me off at the base of Tara Hill, a hill/mountain 20 minutes from the house. There are a variety of paths, varying in hiking difficulty. I took a moderate one and thanks to the map and local expertise of Frank, I made my way to the summit of the hill in about 25 minutes.
As I was walking along, a local working in his yard yelled out to me, "Hi! What a beautiful day!" The tourist books about Ireland have told me to never miss an opportunity to talk to somebody on the street. You don’t have much choice — everyone here is very outgoing and friendly. I wondered over to this guy’s fence to finish our greeting. When I told him I was going to up the hill, he talked enthusiastically, said something I couldn’t understand about Cromwell, and then pointed me on to the path. Great guy.
The panoramic views of the region and ocean were spectacular. Plus — there were NO tourists, and a few locals. I sat on a rock at the summit and stared out. There was a British family there, too, with two little kids. The Dad told his little kid, "This is a magic moment." "Why is it a magic moment?" the kid asked. "Because this is so beautiful, there are no worries, and we’re here together." "When else have there been magic moments?" the kid asked. "Well, that one time we had fish and chips at [inaudible]…" Indeed.
I hiked down the hill and made my way to the beach. It was a tad chilly to walk along, but stretched along for endless miles (er, kilometers) and reminded me of all those ads you see for Caribbean tourism with the empty beach and one sun chair set up….except we all know those beaches are super crowded. This beach was empty!
Then I finished the trek back to the house, thoroughly exhausted three hours later. Mary made me an excellent ham-esque sandwich in which the bread was closed on each end so it looked more like a folded crepe than sandwich. I love these little cultural / culinary / linguistic differences.
Written in Ballmoney, Ireland while listening to "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston, "Unfaithful" by Rihanna, and "When the lights go down on the City" by Journey