Friday, October 12, 2012

Ireland- Day 4- Strandhill, Easky & Coopershill

Today I ate all three meals by myself. Obviously traveling on my own, that’s bound to happen. But it felt more like a statement today because all three meals were in public where I was surrounded by people who were surrounded by their people. So I had to get very comfortable with myself and being in my own company.

It’s not something I do very well. I just don’t. It’s a big part of why I always work in Molly time when I’m on vacation. I think it’s good for me to learn to be on my own and be okay with it. Driving is more than fine. I’m fine being alone with my thoughts but that’s mostly because I’m distracted by so much beauty that surrounds me at every turn. But when I’m out and about in public at a restaurant, or in the case of two of my meals today, inside the grand dining room at the Coopershill House surrounded by three couples, it definitely stretches the bounds of what makes me comfortable.

At breakfast I would have opted to share a table with an older couple from Wexford, but Simon (he runs Coopershill) had already set up a table for me on my own. I eased the uneasiness of being solo by writing in my journal and trying not to focus on the conversations around me. At lunch, I ended up at this wonderful seaside café, Shells, in Strandhill. It’s a popular surf spot and the café came highly recommended. It was a crowded restaurant and there was plenty of people watching to keep me preoccupied. And then tonight, back in the dining room at Coopershill House, I brought my book (okay, my borrowed Kindle) as my dining companion. It did feel weird to be on my own. Weird and uncomfortable. And I found myself missing Steve a lot and wanting him to be my dining companion.

This place I’m staying at is described as “perfect for couples on a romantic break” so that should give you an idea of the atmosphere and the other couples who are here. They’re looking for romance, I’m looking for…relaxation.

Speaking of. I woke up after a comfortable, yet still not long enough, night of sleep and went straight outside to walk around the grounds. There’s a mile long road leading up the house with deer pastures and plenty of walking paths on the 500 acres that make up this Georgian mansion. It’s quiet and beautiful and peaceful.

Alice, the family dog, took off on a walk with me. Or I guess I should say, she walked me around the property. Not wanting to miss breakfast, I only walked around for maybe 20-30 minutes before it was time to eat. It was the perfect way to wake up and explore what this place has to offer. I was not disappointed.

After breakfast and playing catch-up online, I had a decision to make on where to spend the rest of my afternoon. When I realized that it was October 12th, the one year anniversary from when my sister-in-law was murdered in Seal Beach, CA, I knew exactly where I’d be headed to.

Simon and another member of the staff, Mary, recommended a wonderful café in Strandhill and I remembered seeing it during last year’s trip. It caught my eye because it was called Shells and I learned that’s what most of Michele’s family had called her all her life. It’s also in a great surfing spot called Strandhill, and not far from another famous surf spot in Ireland, Easky.

It was a busy and full few hours.

I took a lot of pictures.
Watched people play golf.
Caught the surfers in action.
Ate a wonderful meal at Shells.

And put a lot of energy at my family in Seal Beach while I was doing all of that.

I had an easy drive back to Coopershill and drew a bath, did some reading, organized my photos, spent a little bit of time online and then had dinner. The food was delicious and memorable.

Coopershill House and the 500 acres also houses a farm and the deer pastures I mentioned is one of the main courses you can typically find on the menu here. They try as much as possible to serve food directly from their farm- especially fruits, vegetables and herbs. A lot of food to fork going on here.

I really enjoyed the meal, even if it stretched me beyond my comfort zone in terms of being on my own surrounded by couples. But I was happy eating this beautiful meal and reading my book (The Paris Wife).

Tomorrow I head on out in the morning for Galway where I’ll meet up with Robin and have another adventure!


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