WWOOFing

Breaking Ones Own Expectations

July of 2013, Welly Size 10

My Dear Readers,

I never expected for school to completely take over my life. Today I came upon my poor little blog and it needed some love. It’s literally been six months since my last post because I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I haven’t even been on WordPress! Well, I’m back baby, and better than ever!!!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an extremely cautious person. I hate being in trouble, so I always try to learn all the proper manners, laws, and other important tid bits that others may not think of. And I don’t like to make unsafe, chance-y decisions. So when I got into a car with a New Yorker and two South Africans and drove around the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher I was absolutely astounded at myself.

In America you don’t hitchhike if you can help it. Rather untrustworthy of others in general, we are self reliant on getting from place to place unless it’s public transportation. This isn’t the same in Ireland; staying on the farm, everyone who wasn’t American talked casually about hitchhiking to different sites, and seemed surprised at my reluctance. Being a young female, there is an instilled fear of traveling in America. I think it’s from watching too many crime dramas.

So when I met the lovely New Yorker named Elena who offered to let me tag along with her and two South Africans named Cameron and Cameron as they drove around The Burren, I never expected to take them up on the offer. So I left Galway and began a whole new experience with complete strangers and managed to have an adventure that can never be compared.

We got on the road and once more the gorgeous expanse of Ireland just took my breath away. If you’ve never seen just the average view of Ireland, then you are missing out. Even living in New England which is very green and gorgeous, there is no green like Ireland green.  I mean…..

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We made a few stops along the way…

Dungaire Castle

Dungaire Castle

Cameron and Cameron! And moi!!!

Cameron and Cameron! And moi!!!

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To snap some truly amazing pictures…

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We stopped at the beach!!! DSC02468DSC02480

I had no bathing suit… But that didn’t stop me.

The water was fantastic!

The water was fantastic!

Until we finally made it to the infamous Cliffs of Moher.

DSC02538Due to Ireland’s famously rainy weather, the fact that we made it to the Cliffs on an unbelievably gorgeous day was incredibly lucky. And I did not waste a single second. I’m only posting a few of the pictures I got to take, but believe me, I took at least a hundred.

DSC02541 DSC02545 DSC02553 DSC02576 DSC02579 DSC02591 DSC02593 DSC02614 DSC02621 DSC02625I even managed to face one of my most powerful fears: heights. I’ve never been a fan, especially of man-made heights. But the Cliffs definitely made me feel rather ill.  If you walk far enough you can reach an area of the Cliffs that doesn’t have suicide barriers  as you may have noticed in my previous pictures. Well, I managed to stick my head out over the sheer edge of the Cliff, and stayed there for several minutes. After rolling far enough away from the edge though, I promptly rolled up into a ball and had a panic attack. But afterwards I felt proud of what I had been able to do; I had faced one of my fears (though I still haven’t cracked it!). Believe me, if you want to give facing your fear of heights a go, the Cliffs of Moher is the place to do it.

Until my next adventure,

Viviana Ayre

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Categories: Europe, Fresh Prints, Ireland, Past Tides, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Not to Pack

June of 2013, Boot Size 10

My Dear Readers,

When a first time wwoofer, it can be kind of hard to know what to expect when getting there. When preparing for Ireland, I tried to cover all the bases, but now being here for a week, I’ve now discovered a few important things that I should have brought that I did not. With this in mind, here’s a small list of items that you might not have though to bring.

Towel– I won’t lie, I’ve been spoiled towel-wise. I’ve never had to worry about whether or not the place I was staying at would have towels. Well… I arrived in Ireland, and when it came time to take a shower (more about that later) I discovered there were no towels! I instead had to use a two foot by one foot little face cloth to dry myself before jumping into my pajamas. Trust me, it was not the greatest experience. I waited until we were able to pop into Shannon and purchase a massive towel for ten euro.

Wristwatch– I’ve never worried about a wristwatch. I haven’t even owned one for five years since I was in Japan (and I had two wristwatches at once even!). Nevertheless I’ve discovered that with your hands covered in dirt, it’s much easier to check the time on your wrist rather than digging into your pocket and coating you iPhone in mud and dirt just to check that only five minutes have passed since the first time you checked! So spend the twenty bucks and get a watch. It makes tracking the slow tick of time that much less messy.

Working/Gardening Gloves– Speaking of dirt covered hands, I didn’t expect for there to be no spare gloves! This one’s rather simple: if you have a set of gardening gloves that fit you well and that you like, bring them. Makes brushing up against nettles much less painful. I’ve already gotten several handfuls while having no protection from their little stingers. The knuckles are the worst. >__<

Extra long-sleeves of the light variety– So this week I managed to get massively sunburnt to the point where I was matching my Iron Man hoodie, despite being liberal with the sunscreen. Now for the rest of the week I’ve had to wear a long-sleeve shirt in order protect my already damaged back from even further incineration. This means working in 90 degree weather… In a long-sleeve. So here’s my advice for those who burn easily and manage to get their shoulders burnt to a crisp: bring a tube top and a button down cotton shirt. That way your shoulders aren’t rubbed by the straps of a tank top or bra, and your shoulders are protected without roasting you alive. And in general, light colored long-sleeves will help you immensely in protecting yourself from skin cancer.

Guidebook– I honestly didn’t think I should have brought a guidebook to Ireland. I’ve never found guidebooks to be great for anything other than the major sights. But as I’ve now been here for a week plus, and without great access to the internet, I find myself not knowing what to do this weekend with my free time. I intend to travel so I can finally use the camera I spent so much on, but now I have no idea where I want to go, and whether I want to spent four hours on a bus to get to Dublin and stay in a hostel or just hitch a ride up to Galway and try and get to see the Cliffs of Moor!

Shorts– Now this is not an items that I forgot, but that my wwoofing roommate Toni forgot. Despite the fact that you read that Ireland is going to be rainy, damp, and rather cool, bring a couple pairs of shorts anyways! Or at least one pair in order to anticipate that one 90 degree day that will knock you on your ass if you wear thick rain-worthy jeans inside of a boiling greenhouse.

Now with this short list in mind, now you have a slight idea as to what you should make sure to bring if you intend to go wwoofing, especially in Ireland. And if you’re going to another country, keep items like this in mind and shift it to your climate needs!

Until my Next Adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Fresh Prints, Ireland, On Traveling, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s finally here!!!!

9:00 June of 2013, Boot Size 10

My Dear Readers,

I’m here! In Ireland! It has actually happened!!!!

I would have posted sooner but I haven’t had a moment to sit down and really type out anything aside for contacting some loved ones. It’s my second night and I’m finally getting to sit down, relax, and really absorb what it’s like here.

John- the owner of the farm- didn’t waste a minute before putting me to work. I put my luggage down in my room and immediately one of the other wwoofers began showing me the morning routine. And it goes a little something like this!!

8:00 AM– Feed the animals. This involves not only feeding the animals but putting certain animals out, such as the goats. All of the goats get taken out every day to the field to graze on grass and the like.

9:00 AM (or whenever the animals are done)– We begin whatever task John sets out for us. My first day, it was transplanting pumpkins and cutting tomatoes. Today (or in this case yesterday as I’ll be posting this tomorrow) we were to prepare the field and plant basil. Lots and lots of basil. Tomorrow (today)? Who knows!!!

11:30 AM– Tea time!

12:00 PM– Back to work either finishing our project from before, or starting a new one.

2:00 PM– Communal lunch time, cooked by the Millanes.

3:00 PM– Back to work!

4:30 PM– Animal time. The goats go back in their pens, and are fed. That and the fowl, ponies, horses and such get fed again.

Once feeding is done– Time to milk the goats! About six goats need milking which we do, then strain, bottle, and date. We don’t sell the milk, but consume it for ourselves and use some to feed one of the baby goats who isn’t old enough to be weaned yet.

After milking– Free time! So far I’ve been to the pub and just hung around with other wwoofers getting to know them.

               Overall it’s a lot of work but I’m loving it. I’m learning a lot and getting a lot of good-for-me exercise. My legs are sore from crouching and standing constantly, and I’m getting a bit burnt from all the sun exposure. I’m absolutely loving it.

Definitely stay tuned for more stories the longer that I stay in Ireland and have new experiences!!!

Until my next adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Fresh Prints, Ireland, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s the Final Countdown

My Dear Readers,

So I have been pretty inactive on here due to a rise in absolute insanity as I get ready for the largest trip of my life. Between finishing off finals, transferring schools, and getting ready to move in with my partner of two years, I have managed to completely put off packing for Ireland!!

I’m leaving in nine days….. You think I would know better!

Nevertheless I’m frantically getting all my final preparations finished as the days steadily tick closer. My last day at work is Tuesday, and after that I will be packing and spending several days with Tom to make up for the extreme distance aand to celebrate our anniversary. I will also be making my first vlog video to keep track of the fantastic things that I’ll be seeing and experiancing. Which of course I will post links to here and on my Facebook page.

The main lesson of today’s post is don’t put off packing. It’s not a smart idea. In fact it’s pretty darn stressful.

Later this week I will talk more about packing for a month long trip. Stay tuned!!!

Until my Next Adventure!!

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Fresh Prints, Ireland, On Traveling, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Farm Exists!!!

December of 2012, Boot Size 10

My Dear Readers,

Well it’s time for a small update about the going-ons in my life and my upcoming Ireland trip!!! To get a little personal, December has been a kind of shitty month. A lot of horrible, personal things occurred within a very short amount of time, and I was getting really low. One of those items I can talk about is that my laptop is dead. D-E-D dead. Luckily I have a boyfriend who has lent me a better working laptop so I’m sorta back in the blogging business. But the laptop death was one of the tiny yucky things that were getting me down. Thankfully after so many bad things, one shining light did come through.

My dream farm contacted me looking for my help in Ireland!

Herb Gardens is owned (I assume) by the gentleman John Millane. As their profile states:

Herb gardens is an organic farm on a 30 acre site that we make a living from.we keep cows,ponys, horse,goats and different types of fowl and cats and dogs .Our main occupation is growing herbs and vegetables for the markets(Galway) and restaurants.the work will be [quite] varied and hopefully enjoyable.
we use compost toilets and a hot shower room that is outside the living quarters..As we make a living off the farm,we need people that do not mind working 7hrs a day,the work is mainly in the garden

My thoughts when I read the email and skimmed their profile were “yes, yes, yes, oh my god yes!” My goal is to gain a lot of skills about many different aspects of working on a farm, and here, my first offer, is a farm that has a little bit of everything!

Naturally I responded with a yes of course.

We’ve traded a few emails, mainly because they follow a vegetarian diet while I am a meat eater who avoids soy like the plague (dear people, soy has an active hormone that causes breast cancer. STOP EATING SOY!!!). So I made sure to address my concerns in which they explained that only our lunches would be vegetarian and they will provide meat in the trailer/home I will be living in.

Now, about what I’ll be squeezing in on the side: travel. Herb Garden is located just outside of Shannon, meaning that I will be close to the cliffs while near all the pubs I could ever desire. I’m a short bus ride from Shannon itself, meaning that I’ll definitely be doing some research into what I can do in the area (when only able to travel by bus!). Considering I’ll be working seven hours a day with an unknown number of days off, I guess I’ll be getting to know the nightlife rather well. Luckily I don’t drink so I won’t have to worry about hangovers. May need to invest in a few items from my Christmas gift list.

Stuff I’ve already purchased in anticipation of Ireland? More boots! Because boots are amazing. More specifically I bought Wellies, soon to be pictured, but it’s dark and I want to post this today rather than tomorrow with that whole end of the world thing happening. Wellies are those giant rubber boots you see when dealing with a lot of mud, and since Ireland gets a lot of rain, my first goal was to get some Wellies. They are adorable, and I’m super stoked to wear them during my stay.

With these facts in mind, I’d love some input from you lovely readers who have been to the Shannon area of Ireland. I love new ideas as to where to go! Leave some comments below.

Until my next adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Fresh Prints, Ireland, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why You Should Always Try New Things

December of 2012, Boot Size 10

My Dear Readers,

I was recently watching a BBC show called “An Idiot Abroad”

. Essentially they take a middle aged “boring” man who had never left England (not even to go the rest of the UK!) and they send him around the world to do tasks that occur on most people’s bucket lists, mostly involving some sort of travel. The episode I watched was, of course, about him going to Japan.

 

The aforementioned Idiot is Karl in the middle.

The aforementioned Idiot is Karl in the middle.

The bucket list event was to climb Mt. Fuji. But along the way he did other tasks such as sumo wrestled, tried three year old fish (I won’t lie, I couldn’t do it considering my lack of fondness for fish), and play with robots. What baffled me about this man is that he hated pretty much every minute of it. Every minute! My dad got a laugh out of it because the entire episode I was yelling at the television screen to let me do it, because I would have had a blast!

I am always looking to try new activities. For example, just the other day my friend and I decided to wander into a shwarma shop because we had never had shwarma before and thanks to the movie Avengers we were intrigued and wanted to try it. But while we were in there, we found a ton of little food items that we’d never seen or tried before! So we decided to go all out. I, for the first time, tried Turkish Delight!

I don't know how you capture the flavor of rose... but it was so delicious!

I don’t know how you capture the flavor of rose… but it was so delicious!

It was delicious. Along with our shwarma wraps (filled with hummus, pickles, lettuce, and beets) we had two drinks we’d never tried. I picked out a blood orange pomegranate juice blend, and he tried a sour cherry nectar drink.

The right is beef, the left is chicken.

The right is beef, the left is chicken.

I want to drink this every DAY!

I want to drink this every DAY!

Sour Cherry

For desert we were intrigued by these little donut hole-looking delights called galub jamun…

Gulab

…We did not like it as much as the rest. Mainly because it was too sweet and gooey.

Nevertheless it got me thinking of that silly little BBC show I had watched and how much the “idiot” didn’t want to try new things.  As I said, the entire time the show was going on I was whimpering because I’d give an arm and a leg to do what that man got to do, and he fought against trying new things like his life depended on it. That astounds me even thinking about it now.

This is why I’m WWOOFing in Ireland, to get a really deep and cultural experience. I don’t just want to jump from monument to monument like some people. I want to get in there and live like the people live, and eat what they eat… Though maybe not organs. Haggis in one thing I will probably politely turn away, except have a single bite just to say I’ve had it. I oftentimes have regrets about the things I didn’t do on my first trip out of the country to the South Pacific because I was too scared to. I wish I’d tried more foods, and been more open to the people I’d met. I sought to change that for all the other countries I’ve been to, and I still strive to improve on myself to this day.

My main reason for writing this is to encourage all travelers to stray off the beaten path. Try different areas of new countries. Lots of people go to Paris, why not try the countryside? Have a unique story of your own, and inspire others to try new things. This is probably where I should do a Robert Frost reference, but I feel that clinched is a little overused when it comes to this subject.

Plus I live in New England. I heard his poems my whole life.

I hope my message has come across to you. And I hope those of you who enjoy stories of leaving the average adventure behind will join me as I share my experiences with you while working in Ireland.

Until My Next Adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Ireland, On Traveling, Past Tides, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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