Planting memories

Our adventure begins…

So here we are!  We have sold our house in Shaftesbury, waving goodbye with a car loaded to capacity with all the worldly goods we could carry, and so far with a couple of stops along the way, we have made it as far as the west coast of Ireland, County Cork.

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Lauragh, County Kerry, Ireland

On the day we departed, we hadn’t left Gillingham before I had lost and found the first twenty pounds of our travel budget.  Stopping to say goodbye to one of our much loved friends, I had swiped my phone out of my pocket to take a goodbye pic, and dropped  a twenty pound note into a gust of wind outside Waitrose.  Within 10 minutes my friend had cafe staff and her family entourage searching the banks and the bushes.   Just as we were about to give up, a passer by asked what we were doing.  I explained and she told us that we couldn’t give up now – she had lost twenty pounds only the week before and she simply couldn’t see it happen again.  Within another 10 minutes she had found it clinging to the side of a hedge and returned it.  Lunch was saved and I had avoided the sheepish conversation I was dreading with Mike (he was wondering where on earth we had got to and why our son was wandering around in his pants – although we’d made the toilet trip before the lost cash debacle, we still hadn’t quite made it in time!)  

As we drove away, I felt that the last twenty odd minutes had summed our experience of living in Dorset perfectly.  The consistent loving kindness, from friends and strangers alike, the ease of finding friends and the willingness from neighbours and passers by to lend a friendly ear or a helping hand.  We left feeling full of gratitude for the years that we have had there and for all the people that we would be taking with us in our hearts.

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The Woodland Retreat, Langtree, Devon

Our first stop was at The Woodland Retreat in Devon.  I had booked this little break to celebrate Monty’s first birthday last year, little did I know that it would also be marking a variety of other beginnings for our little tribe!  Our cabin was set in an absolutely idiliic spot.  We were amazed that the surrounding  space was also ours for our stay, which included a huge bell tent where the children could play – which was great insurance for any rainy days!  We were in fact blessed with the weather and we were able to thoroughly enjoy the camp fire and surrounding woodland, complete with hammocks in the trees and beautiful enclosed spots making the most of the gorgeous surroundings.

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The Woodland Retreat, Langtree, Devon

We didn’t venture too far afield during our stay, just a little trip into Greater Torrington to get essential supplies like marshmallows for the campfire.  We spent our days between the rustic outdoor kitchen and living areas of the cabin and exploring the camp and the woodland areas around.  The log burners kept us toasty warm in the evenings and at night.  We slept in the cosiest room in the centre of the cabin, with a double bed and bunk beds surrounding a log burner.  As our stay was in early May, it was necessary to top it up with logs throughout the night, but once it was burning, it was deliciously warm and cosy.  The beautiful patchwork quilts we all had to snuggle up in were the perfect finishing touch.  Connected to the cabin was a little path leading to a converted bus ‘The Dodge’ which also had additional beds and a log burner had our party been larger.  A firm favourite for our new-to-toilets pre schooler were the composting toilets – his toy animals still frequently queue up across the coffee table to ‘sprinkle their sawdust’ at each trip!  

We all had such a lovely time, and it felt like a real privilege to be able to ‘land’ in such a beautiful place after the craziness of our initial move.  A big thank you to Alex and Lydia who made us feel very welcome during our stay, and had organised a cream tea for the boys and some vegan treats for Mike and I on our arrival, just the perfect welcome!

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The Woodland Retreat, Langtree, Devon

We were sad to leave after our long weekend, we could have very easily stayed for a few weeks, or even for the summer!  Part of me was still very happy landing in that little woodland. 

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Its a sign!  The Severn Bridge, Chepstow, Wales

Our next stop was over the border in Pembrokeshire, Wales, staying just a short drive from beautiful Freshwater West Beach.  We spent the morning jumping waves and exploring rock pools  – and eating a delicious breakfast and lunch from Cafe Mor, a   boat shaped beach cafe, serving fresh seafood and seaweed delights – with a delicious black bean burger for the vegans among us.

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Freshwater West Beach, Pembrokeshire

After lunch it was onward to the afternoon ferry from Pembroke Dock to Rosslare, Ireland.  We were very fortunate with a smooth crossing, especially as the gentle rock  we experienced crossing into open sea was enough to leave me rooted to my seat, gazing at the horizon trying to combat much less gentle waves of seasickness.  Our two young sons thoroughly enjoyed themselves, intrepidly exploring one end of the ship to the other.  I can’t help hoping that in the short time we plan to stay in Ireland before our departure to Canada that aeroplanes could start to offer the same amount of space and entertainment, especially as I eye our particularly rambunctious one year old!

It’s  around a four and a half hour drive from Rosslare to Castletownbere, so we bundled our suitably sleepy babies into the car and chased the sunset ever further west.  

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The Irish Sea on our crossing from Pembroke Dock to Rosslare

Grandad and Grandma’s warm welcome has made the transition into sharing their home a very enjoyable one – at least for us!  Despite an anticipated outbreak of chicken pox in our youngest soon after our arrival, the boys have both settled well into their new surroundings.  Three weeks of sunshine (which I am assured is fairly rare without a break!) has done wonders in healing the spots and allowing us to be outside in all the  green and rugged coastal beauty that the west of Ireland has to offer.  

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Gleninchaquin Park, Kenmare, County Kerry

Potato and bean planting with Grandad has commenced and Ottis has taken great pride in showing us around his new garden and beaches.  He arrived a few weeks ago, and has shown us that sharing his retirement with Grandad and Grandma has been a great asset to his favourite hobbies, playing continuous fetch all day in the garden, followed by an early evening swim in the sea – it’s spaniel heaven.

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Dunboy Castle beach on the Beara Peninsula

During one of many dreamy evenings looking out into the twilight over the bay, we were admiring the work that Mike and his dad had been doing together in the garden.  Mike’s dad explained that with each plant and tree he wanted to sustain and grow memories that were significant for each, not just for himself but for generations to come.  There are trees for both myself, and Mike and each of the boys, planted on or around the time of each of our sons births.  There are other trees and plants, some from previous lives, previous gardens, some from our garden in Shaftesbury that now grow in amongst all the lush vegetation and rocks, so fitting with the rugged landscape.  There are layers of plants and trees, some that have taken years to flourish, some that were not intended for the spot they were in, but now look as if they could never be anywhere else. 

All the planning in the world could not have predicted exactly how this garden would look at this moment.  How the relationships between each piece would grow and compliment each other.  How every fragment influences and changes the other and makes something new, whether it was intended or not.  Being a part of it, for however long we are here now, and looking forward to whatever blooms in the future seems like a fitting way to spend our time while we wait for the next pieces of our adventure to come together.  Things may go close to the way we have planned them, and they may not, but I’m looking forward to seeing all the moss and the wild flowers that grow in between.

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Grandma and Grandads garden, Castletownbere, County Cork