::ducks and daisies::
::perfectly perfect days::
::wildflowers of Inis Oirr::
::using the term ‘hup-suas’ as often as I can::
::the colour purple::
::living in this place::
Last Saturday I had to take an unplanned daytrip into Galway. The reason was that I needed passport photos to renew my driving licence, but alas living on an island that has no photo booth (seriously note to self – get photo booth, make a fortune) this warranted a trip to the mainland. Taking a daytrip into Galway on a Saturday from the island is not like nipping into town to do a bit of shopping if you happen to already live in a city! It involves planning.Babysitters, food plans, flight bookings or boat tickets, bus transfers, time constraints, bringing lots and lots of bags or better still a trolley, wearing good comfortable shoes, and having a well charged phone for important phonecalls about any impending incremental weather or how to cook the pasta for the children. You know, the important stuff! And sometimes, truth be known, its just a hassle. Seriously. All that for passport photos! So as I sat on the plane and then on the bus, I thought about all the things I could have been doing at home. But as I sat drinking my cappuchino in the Eyre Square shopping centre just after arriving, I came to the realisation that for the first time in FOREVER, I actually had nothing to actually DO in Galway. Apart from getting my mugshots, I had no other agenda. I didn’t have doctors appointments, I didn’t have to rush around trying to do a million things in the limited time I had. I also didn’t have a baby, either with me or in me for the first time in about 4 years. I had time, me time, and a good chunk of it. And let me tell you, if this is ever the case, then there is no better place to be than Galway!
From the buskers all along Shop Street, right down to the Saturday market which is truly a haven for foodies, Galway just explodes with experiences and emotions. The city has a life of its own. It is full of history. Its poetic. The old fashioned tea shops, the little antique corners, the old pubs, with even older faces sipping coffee and Guinness outside them, the artisan bakeries and the heady aromas from the many restaurants all lend themselves to making Shop Street a feast for the senses.
So I embraced it all. I stopped to listen to the music. I laughed at the entertainer, dressed like a dog lying on a box, that growled and woofed and howled as people passed. I spent time in the market, smelling all the organic herbs and touching vegetables whilst wondering if my garden would ever produce such goodness. I bought comfrey plants. I bought smelly cheese at Sheridans, the most amazing cheesemongers EVER. I drank some tea.I stocked up on all my health food.And not forgetting a few little presents for my babies. Browsing a charity shop I hit the jackpot – a double Foxford blanket with blue edging – for €10!!!! (I LOVE Foxford blankets. They remind me of bygone days! Simple days. Big heavy wool blankets for warmth.) Lunch at Milano’s pizza restaurant was much anticipated and I savoured every bite. A little glass of wine made it feel special, and a beautiful mint tea finished it off nicely. Funnily I never feel odd having a meal by myself in Milano’s. I feel almost cool! But thats what happens to you when you visit Galway, its makes you feel like you belong, like you’ve all the time in the world even when you don’t, and even though I hail from Dublin, I think there may be a bit of a Galway girl within me.
This morning, like the last six mornings, I was awoken at crazy o’clock by my 10 month old. She’s normally a great sleeper, but between ‘summer’ colds (I joke, its still like a mild winter here) and some impending new teeth, she’s had some broken sleep of late which means I’ve had some broken sleep. And I don’t do well with broken sleep. So at 4.10am, and 4.20am and 4.33am and 4.55am I resettled her. Now what happens after a session like this is that I tend to fall back into a deep sleep, almost coma like, due to feeling overwhelmingly wrecked, so heavy a sleep that a herd of elephants could cha cha about the bedroom and I wouldn’t flinch. But that sleep is a faker. Its not a real sleep, it’s not a long sleep and its certainly not a nice sleep to wake up from. Which I’ve discovered. Every morning. For the last week. So this last week when my two boys, full of beans at 7 o’clock, came in for hugs, snuggles and indepth discussions about dreams and the like, I’ve been reluctant to wake up. Even though they addressed me at least a million times – ‘mammy, mammy, mammy, mammy’ you get the idea, I just didn’t want to move or talk or read Tractor Ted in the Springtime. I just wanted, needed, sleep! ‘Go on back into your room for a little longer and play ok’, ‘why don’t you read your book to your little sister for a bit’ or ‘no, its ok, you can jump on your beds, just this once’ and on and on and on. I’m aware I was just prolonging the agony and yet I stayed in bed just that little bit longer, and then I’d glance at the clock – 7.30am – and the baby was getting a little tetchy, and the boys were starting to annoy each other, so I’d send in a roar, or two, something along the lines of ‘you’re brothers, you should be friends not killing each other’, or ‘don’t upset your sister with all your shouting, I don’t care if you’re being dinosaurs…’ until finally at 7.47am I’d get up, as the mayhem from the next door room had escalated to a dangerous and noisy level. Then I’d herd them downstairs to begin the day. But unfortunately the rest of the day remained an uphill battle. Because I was then in a bad mood, worse than that actually, a bad mood riddled with guilt (for shouting at the children) and of course my moods are instantly picked up by said children, so they were cranky and acting up so I wasgetting frustrated which ended in more shouting. It has been a vicious cycle this last week, and I’ve just had to take myself outside the back door and breathe a bit and then start again. But the problem with mornings like these – rare as they are – is that not only do they start badly but I end up trying to catch up with the day, for the whole day, pretty much until I fall into my bed at night mentally and physically exhausted from all that chasing! But not this morning!Aha!
This morning, I met the day head on. This morning I got up at 5.30am. Instead of turning over, I decided I had to break the curse of the last few days. So up I got and down the stairs I went. The Quiet Man (my other half who we shall title TQM from hereon in) was having his porridge whilst looking at the weather on the laptop (he works on a boat, the weather is his social media), I whispered hello and went into the kitchen. Popping on the kettle, I headed back out to the front door and went outside. I stood there watching the sun come up amongst the pillows of grey and white clouds and I greeted it!
Then I took a picture, I came back inside, and I made a tray of scones!
Let me give you a little background on scones. I don’t think there is a family home on this island that doesn’t have their own way of making scones, and you can be assured with every cup of tea you are offered in whatever house you visit, you will also get a nice warm scone with butter and jam. And you just can’t beat a fresh out of the oven homemade scone. My recipe came from Mairead,(an aunt in TQM’s family and a native islander) as I didn’t have any recipes of my own (lets just say before I left Dublin, an omelette would have been the height of my culinary skills). My own aunt uses a recipe from my grandad’s cooking notebook, but i find that Mairead’s one, which I’m going to share with you, produces the most delicious scones.No secret ingredient but I do use our own duck eggs and they are amazing to cook with.
So by 6.30am the house was filled with the heavenly scent of cooking scones, while I had enough time to have some of my Yogi’s ‘Women’s Tea’ (something empowering about that don’t you think) and catch up on some reading in the wonderful dawn silence that encased my house, before my little bundles came looking for me for their hugs, and snuggles and to engage in indepth discussions about dreams! No shouting, no frustration AND there were scones for breakfast! Cycle broken! It would seem that greeting the sun is my way of staying ahead of the game.
1lb self raising flour
4oz dried fruit/raisins/sultanas
2 organic eggs (I favour duck)
and enough milk to form a dough.
In a basin,rub the butter into the flour with your fingertip until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add sugar and fruit and mix. Beat eggs and add to the basin(leaving a small amount of egg for brushing over scones before cooking). Then add milk a little at a time, mixing with a knife until the dough forms a ball (you can add a little extra flour if you’ve made the mixture too wet). Flatten dough onto worktop to your desired thickness. I use the rim of a pint glass to make the scones, so out of that recipe above I get about 10 or 11 fairly big scones but you can get more with a smaller cutter, do whatever you fancy. Some days you just need to make big scones!
So pop them on parchment paper on a baking tray and brush with the remaining beaten egg. Into the oven at 180c for 17 – 22 minutes. Judge cooking time based on your own oven as like children, every one is different! Make a cup of tea and enjoy!