Where was I this summer? All over the place, but I may as well start with one of my more recent trips since it will take me all winter to catch up on my blog posting (darkness and cold are much more conducive to sitting at my computer than the the long, overactive days of summer). Even though this September was only my second time visiting, Sherkin counts as one of my "special places" - mostly because of my lovely friends who always make me feel welcome there (they downright spoil me, really), but also because of its laid-back pace and natural beauty.
What makes Sherkin Island so special? For me it is a style of country life that I've never experienced anywhere else. Sherkin is 15 minutes by passenger-only ferry from the mainland, so there are only a few cars on the island, belonging to the locals. (There is also one taxi-van that does ferry pickups and emergency trips to the pub.) The extremely minimal car traffic is one of the island's immediate charms for me - I like the feeling that I will be going nowhere fast, and I love pleasant exhaustion that comes after a day of walking, especially when I get to curl up by the hearth at the end of the day with a glass of wine in my hand. The island has many resident cows, but despite being agrarian it also manages to feel very wild - cliffs, rocks and beaches are never out of sight. I have never been to the Cliffs of Moher, but I am prepared to claim that the cliffs of Sherkin are better - not least because you'll have them to yourself. Of course, Sherkin is special to me because I have a personal connection to it. Kathy and Mike really are the best hosts I know, and because they share a history with my parents, they feel like family too. Even better for the warm-fuzzy-connected feeling, this trip was a true mini family reunion, with my sister and brother-in-law making the trip from Boston. Feeling at home and relaxed in a beautiful place, in great company, eating great food...this is a place I know I'll come back to.
My friends are renovating their Sherkin property and turning it to a meeting location and guest house called Sherkin North Shore. Even though I like to think I get special "friend" treatment, it's probably not true...they are friendly and welcoming to everyone. It's a bit off the beaten path (part of its charm, of course), but if you're ever in southern Ireland, Sherkin is worth the detour. And if you do visit, tell me, I want to come meet you there too. :)
Back in October, Hannes was off conferencing in Italy and I decided to make a long-overdue visit to family friends who live out in county Cork, Ireland. They are like extended family to me, and also happen to be the best hosts ever - so in short, the best kind of friends to have. We spent the weekend taking long walks, cooking, eating, and sitting by the fire. Truly cozy and restorative - thanks Kathy and Mike!