Welcome to my little corner of the internet named, The High Stool. Pull up a seat beside me, grab yourself a drink and relax. High stools in the figurative sense are currently out of the question, you don’t have to guess who to thank for that. But I have always loved finishing work, taking a seat at the bar and chatting to whoever would listen. Swap stories, rip open a packet of crisps and maybe some peanuts if I was feeling fancy. Oh, pre-covid times, how we miss you!
So this is what I’m hoping to do. Give a little slice of my life, tell a story, have a little fun, whatever! Just a little something light to end the week on. Of course, I would love to hear your suggestions for anything you would like to see and hear, relating to La Zenia and the surrounding areas. I know that there are so many of you longing to come on your holidays, or visit your second home. These times are not too far away, although right now it probably feels that way. I won’t ramble on for fear of sounding like those ads on the radio from home. We all know the craic.
I thought I would dedicate my first piece to my true home, my lovely Donegal. The truth is, before I moved to Spain I wasn’t all that pushed on it, hence my moving to Spain in the first place all those years ago. However, as time has gone on, subsequent trips home and the current times have meant I have done a full 180 and now love it. I am an advocate for Donegal. An ambassador. I bleed Football Special. I pray to Daniel O’Donnell.
As some of you may know, I returned home in the middle of March for seven weeks. With hospitality closed, I was out of a job. While waiting on help from the government, I figured it was probably best to return home for a while. So, myself and my then nine-month-old daughter Belle packed a suitcase and said “Hasta luego” to my partner Jonathan, who would be staying here in Spain. I thought to myself, “Sure things are the same all over the world – it’ll be the same in Ireland as here in Spain” – how wrong I was!
The first, most glaringly obvious factor was of course, the weather. My two weeks quarantine and I think the two weeks after that were almost all rain. Rain, rain go to Spain. Fellow Mammies out there know the struggle getting out of the house with a baby in tow. The internal checklist would be checked, I would tie my laces and grab my keys, then look out the window, put down my keys and untie my runners because out of nowhere, the skies would be open and it would be lashing rain. However, I’m glad to say, the heavens eventually closed. The sun took centre stage for the last week of my stay and, as we all know, nowhere beats Ireland when the sun is out! I counted my blessings we were in Donegal for Level 5 restrictions. We had our pick of such a vast county. I think we did more sightseeing (within the rules of course) in that last week than I did in a long, long time!
Of course, options were limited when it came to things to do at home. Non-essential retail was closed. Dunnes Stores has never excited me before now!
Although the libraries were closed, they are still operating online and on mobile. Audiobooks and E-books are available through the ‘Borrowbox’ app. If you don’t have a library card, you can sign up online and start reading or listening straightaway. I have worked my way through a good few audiobooks and what I loved about them was that they downloaded to the phone straight away and can be used on the go or offline. Perfect for the daily walk, or commute! Anyone I had mentioned this service to didn’t know about it, and it is free also.
Speaking of all things free, let’s talk about what Donegal is probably most known for – vast stretches of beautiful scenery and beaches. Our wee county has so much to offer. I visited Glenveagh National Park one Thursday afternoon – I am ashamed to say it was only my second time there. It was an overcast, fresh day but even the clouds couldn’t affect the stunning view on the walk. At the end, is the beautiful castle, grounds and gardens and a little coffee van to keep your strength up for the walk back. I can’t believe I have only been twice, it’s only a 20-minute drive from my house!
We also visited Rathmullan beach a few times. How could we not? It is a beautiful, 3km long, sandy beach. Over the other side of the horizon, you can see Buncrana. I counted two coffee vans, a fish and chip van and an ice cream van at the carpark so there was no fear of anybody going hungry either. I could spend the whole day there.
That brings me to another point. My God haven’t the coffee vans really taken off?! They are dotted on every road, on every corner, and it is great to see. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Donegal with a ‘cafe con leche’ in hand, something I would not have been able to do some years ago.
Another fabulous spot I hadn’t previously heard of, situated in Mountcharles, is called Salthill cabin. Right at the pier, it is a coffee shop with a little farm at the back, housing chickens, peacocks and guinea fowls to name but a few. They also had a family of goats! We loved it. Belle is just crazy about any type of animal so she was in her element! Although ashe conked out for the drive home, I was like one of those dogs with their head out the window, I couldn;t get enough of the scenery!
I was pleased to see some innovative ideas from local businesses. Tobins, a service station in Letterkenny, has ‘pods’ at the back of their premises. These are like little wooden huts, so you can get your coffee, something yummy from the deli, and, if you are like me, some chocolate for after, and chow down, sheltered and safe. These pods are a fabulous idea, and I used them a lot while I was home!
All in all, my 7 weeks at home were lovely. It just felt like a time to recharge the batteries, spend some lazy, quality time with family, and show Belle my wee part of the world. It always feels like a fresh start returning to Spain from home. My suitcase, as always, was bursting full of home comforts, this time I had a jar of rhubarb jam and a treacle loaf to take with me. It was one of my late Granny Garvey’s specialities and the spicy taste just transports me back to her bustling kitchen, on a Saturday afternoon. I hope you have enjoyed my first piece for what will hopefully be the first of many. Of course, I want to hear from you all, so any and all comments and interaction are welcome. I have no word count on here, and I love the sound of my own voice but unfortunately I’m going to have to leave it there. Have a fabulous weekend everybody, whatever you are all getting upto. Donegal Abu!