As part of the weekend away, my husband and I had wanted to go kayaking in the Dingle Bay or Ventry Bay. There is an adventure shop that runs different levels of kayaking trips in Dingle and we called them up to find out when they were open and if there were spots available in one of the easy level trips. Unfortunately, the forecast for the whole weekend was gale force winds and the kayaking company doesn’t do the trips in those conditions or with the possibility of that kind of weather. It makes sense because the ocean would become choppy and more dangerous with a mighty wind howling around you. Safety first, but a bit of a bummer. Luckily though, they suggested a few indoor activities that were available: archery and rock climbing. Even though ever since a child I have yearned to have the archery capabilities of both Robin Hood and Legolas combined, any time I have attempted it, I have utterly failed. I certainly didn’t feel like flopping and I don’t think my husband had much interest, rock climbing it was!
The night before my husband had mentioned that he had never tried Eggs Benedict or Hollandaise sauce. I adore that dish and decided that the next morning that was what we would have for breakfast. I remember the first time I had that dish. It was with my mother in a B&B in Tacoma, WA while visiting my older brother at college. The owner made it for one of the breakfasts and despite my initial hesitation at some strange sauce covering an egg cooked in a before-then unknown way, I took my first bite and was in love. I may have even requested to have it again!
So sure enough, I woke up and took my first crack at Eggs Benedict ala Keelarih and Hollandaise. We didn’t have English Muffins (strumpets here) or Canadian Bacon (rashers here). Instead I made due with a piece of toast and a lightly warmed slice of lunch meat ham. The Hollandaise wasn’t hard, but just something I’d never done before. Later I felt that it was a bit early in the morning to be using something as complex as a double boiler (just a lot of constant whisking and making sure the temperature wasn’t to high so that the egg yolk didn’t scramble). Turned out lovely spread all over the poached egg on ham and toast. I was pleased and my husband enjoyed it as breakfast the next day as well!
After breakfast, my husbands Nan began to worry a bit about the timing for the homemade ragu and lasagna. So I set to it. It was simple enough recipe, one can of tomatoes supplemented with chopped real ones , vegetables, ground beef (mince here) and wine. First I finely chopped carrots, celery, red and green pepper and an onion and some garlic. I sweated the onion and garlic for a bit before removing and then browned all of the ground beef. After the beef was mostly cooked it was time to sweat the vegetables. I needed a lot of oil to keep those from sticking! After some time I combined everything together in a large pot, added the canned and chopped tomatoes and a half to full glass of red wine. Brought that to a simmer and let it bubble away for an hour.
In that time, we went to check out the rock climbing gym. It was in a small industrial park outside of Dingle and as we walked in, it was full of a school group. One of the two people who worked there fitted us with harnesses and helmets and gave us the low down on the level of the walls and how their pulley/ belaying system worked. They had four routes that had automatic belayers and that was really strange to get used to, but really handy because my husband and I could both then climb at the same time. Otherwise one of us would belay and the other would climb. The automatic belayers meant that once you had made it to the top, you had to trust the pulley would know how much slack to give as you leaned your FULL weight away from the wall into the nothingness below….ok, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but the first go down wasn’t that easy!
The school group, surprisingly, didn’t hinder our ability to find routes to climb. We climbed fairly consistently for a full hour (unless one of us was belaying the other). It was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. Our grip strength was really tested! All of those pull ups and squats at the gym paid off as well. There were some routes where the hold where your hand was would in the next movement need to become the new place for your foot. My knees were often up by my ears! I would love to do it again and I can see why it is a sport people become so passionate about.
After we started to reach the failing point, we popped into Dingle for some pub grub. I ordered what they called a “Chili Burger”. I was ecstatic when the waitress asked how I wanted the burger cooked (normally it’s well done and only well done). My husband ordered salmon and spuds. My burger came out a lovely medium and covered in a tomato sauce that was mildly spicy. Tasty enough and satisfied my hunger! A load of American teenagers came in at one point and filled the bar with their prominent accents…it is so funny to me how much American accents annoy me when I am abroad. I always think “Do I sound that way? Am I that load and obnoxious sounding? Am I that nasal sounding?” I would assume it bothers me so much because it makes me wonder how much I stick out with my accent. But it is what it is and it ain’t gonna change!
Our journey back from the gym was the journey where we became stuck behind to different sets of farmers. If you want to read about that little adventure check out “Only in West Kerry”.
We finally made it back to the village where the ragu had filled the house with a lovely aroma. The afternoon was spent in conversation, sipping tea and reading books. It’s always so relaxing there. For some unknown reason, I decided to wander up Mt. Eagle to the mystical lake while it was lashing rain. I figured the weather wasn’t going to change and I wanted a walk and to see the lake. The wind was against me most of the walk whether it was up or down the hill. I didn’t get to the shores of the lake because the wind was pushing me away and I didn’t feel like navigating the boggy, muddy pasture. Despite that, I watched the normal placid lake being whipped into a frenzy from afar. That small, spring fed lake nestled in the crevice of a small peak really has such a magical feel to it. That sense is only reinforced by the “fairy” ruins around its perimeter (probably old shepherds huts).
After I dried off and warmed up after my soaking walk (of course a few minutes after I got back the clouds cleared and the rain stopped) I set about making the béchamel sauce and constructing the lasagna. I ended up needing to make one big and one small lasagna to use up all of the ragu and noodles. Then everything sat for a bit until we started to feel peckish again! Once we popped the lasagna in the oven, I made a salad for us.
Sometime that afternoon some American distant relatives or relatives of a different local family stopped by to visit with my husband’s nan and uncle. They were invited out to dinner and couldn’t or didn’t want to get out of it (a visit is always nice). Nan would just have to wait to have the lasagna she had been craving until the next day!
Overall it was a lovely, relaxing and fun day. We left the following day, but before we went and visited the newest member of the extended family- 6 month old Caroline. Such a sweet girl full of belly laughs. Always a grew time and can’t wait to get back for another visit!