Monday, July 2, 2007

From the bar at Oakwood Arms Hotel, Shannon.....

A pint of Bulmer's cider later, I'm feeling human again
after a day on the road. Actually, I've been feeling quite
grand all day. We prowled around the Burren, a 150 square
mile limestone landscape interspersed with farms, lakes,
lanes, churches, dolmens, ring forts, midieval ruins,
alpine and Mediterranean flora and fauna. We tried
in vain to local a Burren Bee Orchid. We were partway
up a "green track" (trail) when the rain came at us
fiercely; we hunkered under the few trees lining
the path while the wind ruffled the branches, sending
great wet gushes upon us. After much laughter
we gave in to failure, and muddied-down the trail
to the car, orchid-less and bereft. Not to be discouraged!
We discovered Penal Stations, an eerie marriage
of Catholicism and Druidism -- irregular stone stacks
in an even stonier field. Dotted with cranesbill and a raft
of flowers I couldn't identify. We hit the wildflower season
head on!

Last night we were the sole guests at Mt. Vernon lodge,
a five-bedroom private residence at Flaggy Shores
in County Clare, near Ballyvaughan. Our hosts were
lovely liberal Brit ex-pats, who used to run a small press
in London back in the day where they published
up-and-coming poets. We loved them! Ally, the hostess,
was a dead-ringer for Julie Christie in Far From the Madding
Crowd. Mark, the host, was a gently quiet-voiced man,
who gave us insider Burren information and was the
chef at dinner. We ate -- just the two of us --
in a formal dining room in a table grand enough
for a dozen guests. Surrounded by antiques
and paintings, we feasted on stuffed roasted pepper,
pan-roasted sole (tossed over the ocean-side of the road
from a fisherman in the morning, explicitly for us), zucchini,
and the ever-present mash. Apple cake adrift in cream
for dessert. Lovely, lovely.

No comments:

Post a Comment