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Friday Photo

We are complete again.  Normal business shall resume shortly.  Happy Camper :)

Replacement lens

Replacement lens

Friday Photo

Enjoying the evening sun…. and, no, she doesn’t move to allow you to pass by :)

Rua enjoying the evening sun

Rua enjoying the evening sun

I am speaking of my brother, Seamus O’Farrell.

Last year as it was a significant birthday year for him, rather than party or luxuriate in a nice hotel…. he decided to challenge himself.  He took on the cycle from Paris 2 Nice (yes, involves cycling practically the length of France), and in the process raised over €7,000 for Aware (a supporting light through depression).  

Paris2Nice 2013

Seamus is off again – being a glutton for punishment – he’s heading back to France in September to once again complete the Paris 2 Nice challenge.  This time he is raising funds for Make A Wish Foundation.  Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children living with life-threatening medical conditions, or as a friend of Seamus’ put it “If we can’t make the child’s life longer we can pack more life in”.

Back in the olden days I used to cycle a lot.  I cycled to school, even cycled to work at one point.  Then when that was no longer viable, I joined a cycle club and went on long cycles on a Sunday.  When we moved here we thought we could cycle here, but it’s not really feasible – bad narrow and broken side roads, and crazy busy main roads.  You’d be taking your life in your hands.

So in one sense I am envious of my brother, but also I’m in awe of him…. don’t think I’d have the stamina to undertake such a mammoth task.

I had a chat recently with Seamus about the whole experience.

Why you decided to take on such a mammoth task?

I had always wanted to do something like this.  Even on honeymoon in Vietnam I talked about some day cycling from Hanoi to Ho-chi-Minh!  Also as I was turning 50, I was looking for something to mark the occasion, I had thought about different sorts of parties (Stars in their Eyes etc) but nothing really grabbed me.  Trish (his wife) was also giving me a hard time about not being active enough!….and then a friend I was in Stanford with asked me if I was interested.  I remember reading the email on a Saturday morning and asking Trish if I could buy a (proper) bike and she said “Well you can if you use it!” – so that nailed it.
What was the biggest challenge last year?
The biggest physical challenge was obviously climbing Mont Ventoux.  It has the reputation in cycling circles as the toughest cycle.  It is 2,000 Metres climb and 21K long, constantly uphill, it starts at 8% then at about 10K in it goes to 13% for 3k or so, then goes back to 8% (which you’re now starting to think is easy), before going back to 12%.
Seamus at the top of Mont

Seamus at the top of Mont Ventoux

I thought that raising the €3K sponsorship was going to be hard but I was staggered by the generosity of people and in the end raised over €7K
What were the high points of 2013?
Both of the above.  Getting to top of Ventoux was positive elation.  Approaching the bottom of the mountain in the morning I was very nervous and had to make “an unscheduled stop”.  But once I reached the top it was an absolute elation to have achieved this thing that had been looming all year. 
I’ve also made lots of new friends – which you don’t expect to at 50! and I suppose that I’m still cycling and have lost 12Kg since starting cycling 18 months ago!
Were there any low points?
There were very few.  On the second morning we were in a town call Gien (?) and coming through the usual industrial estate hinterland that many French towns have – pretty dull and then it started bucketing down and was very cold, and then the group leader got a puncture.  So Sunday morning, standing in an empty French industrial estate, pouring rain, cold.  But I still thought “this is fun”.
The day after Ventoux, we cycled out of Aix-en-Provence, we hit a smallish hill and I could hardly cycle my legs ached from the effort of the day before.  But you just have to go on! 
Is the training gruelling?
One of the guys who did it last year commented that last year was the best year ever to take up cycling because of the weather we had.  To be honest I enjoyed the training – it is great “headspace” –  getting out for an hour or two after work really clears the head.  Also doing “sportives” like the Wicklow 100 and Leinster Loop and Sean Kelly, in particular you see countryside you wouldn’t normally get to see and seeing it on a bike is a great way to see it.  Doing the Wicklow 100 last year (the first time I’d try to do 100k in one go) I got to the top of the first and longest climb and got the elation rush – and started humming that Macklemore tune “Like the ceiling can’t hold us….!”
In July this year, me and 9,000 other cyclists did the Ring of Kerry (170k) absolutely gorgeous.
Cum-a-Ciste

Cum-a-Ciste at the end of the Ring of Kerry

Having faced challenges in 2013, what’s the biggest challenge this year?
Fundraising!  Much harder than last year both in terms of charity fatigue and my own motivation to hassle people.
Is he amazing to take on all this?
If you can afford anything at all for the Make A Wish Foundation, I know Seamus (and all his family) appreciate it.  You can donate anything from €2 here on his charity page.
Thank you so much for your generosity.
We’ve offered a pig for spit-roasting or bbqing…. will keep you posted with what develops from there.
In the meantime, as they say…. every little helps! :)

Friday Photo

See how big they’ve got?  The baby chicks in their new home :)

Chicks

Being a BnB

It’s been just over a year since we started out on the AirBnB road.  It has been interesting.  It has been fun.  We’ve learnt lots along the way.

We’ve had people from all over the place …. from USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland and Germany.  My geography of both the USA and Canada is certainly improving!

We’ve met strangers who have left as friends.  We’ve met other AirBnB hosts.

We’ve shared many stories, many bottles of wine and lots of food.

We worried initially about informing our US guests that our rooster was called ‘Obama’ – he’s a rather handsome rooster.  We need not have worried…. they find it highly amusing :)

Obama - the rooster

Obama – the rooster

Our US guests do find it most unusual that we live on an ‘unnamed’ road (yes, folks that’s what it says on Google Maps!).  Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing I can do to rectify that.

There have been many discussions about the rain…. how do we know when it is going to rain?????  We’ve explained that our forty shades of green is the result of our forty different types of rain.  All guests arrive laden with rain coats, rain hats and umbrellas and are intrigued that I own none of the above!!!

We’ve had impromptu cookery lessons…. showing visitors how to make pancakes, poach eggs and make Irish soda bread.

ta da!  I've made Irish Soda Bread

ta da! I’ve made Irish Soda Bread

We’ve had lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help with the pigs.

Meeting the pigs

Meeting the pigs

We’ve received the most beautiful gifts from guests.

Painting by Celia Lauve

Painting by Celia Lauve

We always knew being a B&B would involve work, and it does.  Gosh, there’s an awful lot of housework.   It is a constant round of cleaning. I have perhaps become a little obsessed with the weather and trying to get bedlinen and towels washed and dried, and keep floors washed and clean.

Would we recommend doing the AirBnb thing?

Overall, our answer would be yes.

  • Doing it this way is definitely more secure – you have your guests verification before they arrive – and they too can check you out.
  • Be prepared for some early morning starts….. we’ve not had too many of those thankfully.
  • We offer the additional option of an evening meal which does I think add to the guests experience of Irish hospitality.  It also requires organisation and planning in the kitchen.
  • We’ve managed to entertain lactose intolerant, nut allergy folk and vegetarians.  Managing to convert two of the vegetarians to meat eaters has to have been a highlight :)
  • The various animals about the place seem to have taken to it too….. the dogs love all the attention and the pigs and hens have behaved mostly, so there’s been no mad dash to get them back to pens when we should be cooking dinner!

Have you used AirBnB?  Someday we will get the chance to get away and will try it for sure :)

And, wow!  Just had news that one of our B&B guests has bought a property 2 miles away following on from her stay with us.  How exciting is that?

Friday Photo

Another one from the archives… still without my lens :(

Alfie at Keem Bay

Alfie at Keem Bay

Lemon Posset

We’ve had a busy July of AirBnB visitors here at Oldfarm which has been wonderful and fun.  Some have asked me to share some of our recipes with them.

So here’s the first sharing – this one is for Lauren.

When Lauren and Josh stayed with us the hens were on a bit of a ‘go slow’ so I had to think up a dessert that did not involve eggs.  I hadn’t made this posset in years…. I think the original recipe came from an old book of my Mum’s.

Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset

Ingredients:

  • 450 ml cream
  • 125 gr. caster sugar
  • 1.5 lemons juiced.

Method:

Bring the cream and caster sugar slowly to the boil, stirring gently until sugar dissolves.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the lemon juice.

Allow to cool slightly before pouring into glasses.  Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours.

A great ‘make ahead’ dessert, and really refreshing.  This quantity made 5 portions in the glasses I was using.

Enjoy :)