So. The last 3 months. Where did they go?!
The last 3 months have been the most intense, best, most self affirming 3 months of my life. They have been full on – intensely so – emotional, exhausting.. I have eaten more softly whipped cream, bread (oh hello there brioche..) and butter than I ever thought myself capable of. OK, bread is a lie – I always knew I was capable of consuming ridiculous quantities of bread. My liver isn’t quite sure what hit it, my jeans are definitely on the snug side of fitted and I have completely forgotten how to apply make up. I have cried over marshmallows, gotten emotional about salad, eaten my body weight in brioche, made cheese, eaten so much wild garlic, gooseberries and rhubarb my insides surely now resemble them, nurtured and diligently fed a sourdough starter (more commitment than a baby I tell you), helped milk cows, started saying ‘grand,’ ‘thanks a million’ and ‘I can’t cope/deal’ (thanks Sheena)… And of course met the most wonderful, eclectic mix of people and made friends for life.
I have never felt happier nor more confident. This year has been a year of changes; in March I drastically altered the course I thought my life was on, pulling the rug out from under not only my own plans but also my ex boyfriends. I had no new plan for the future – no career path, still living with my folks…
I arrived at Ballymaloe feeling quietly discontent with life, stressing about everything and feeling generally a bit flat. I have left with a renewed sense of purpose, happiness and energy for life. Even my skin is happier – I arrived with irritable, eczema prone skin and have left with the clearest skin I’ve ever had (I’ve got to hand it to Darina, an organic diet and raw milk has worked miracles).
I am excited for the future; I have so many plans to travel, to work… I won’t go into too much daily detail about the course – there are other far better blogs which do that (check out Miriam at bakemystyle.com). But I will say this; if you get the chance to go to Ballymaloe, go. Don’t even hesitate. It is by far the best money I have ever spent. I have learned more than I can comprehend at this moment in time, from teachers whose knowledge, patience and sense of fun is second to none. I have eaten and worked with the best quality organic, local and free range produce and seen first hand the impact using such produce has on both your cooking and your own personal well being. I have left with so many ideas and plans for the future; not just dreams but actual real life plans.
Rory O’Connell (teacher at the school) sums up perfectly the whole ethos of everything I have learned in his book ‘Master It,’ writing: ”To cook well, it helps if you love and value food, as this is where it all starts. I cannot separate the cooking from what I am cooking. I feel bound to do well by the ingredients… By cooking them well I honour the soil, the waters, the air, the planet, the efforts of the farmers, fishermen, producers and purveyors – everyone who got the ingredients to my kitchen.” This is what the school is about and this, fundamentally, is what I have taken home with me; a renewed passion for food and its origins. Roll on whatever life throws at me next.
Granted I now need to sleep for at least a week, but Ballymaloe, you’ve been a blast – thanks a million.