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Still not fully sure of Lily’s capabilities for long journeys we decided to break the back of the trip to Kerry by enjoying a night in The Apple Farm campsite near Cahir, Co. Tipperary.  We love natural looking campsites surrounded by trees with a good mix of informal and formal spaces and this is one of those sites – plus you are given a free bottle of fresh apple juice with every booking – you can’t go wrong!  Of course being a cider fan I had to try their new label – Con’s Cider.  It was perhaps a little too sweet for my liking – I am more of a dry cider fan but a treat all the same.  There were no shortage of vintage campervans at the Apple Farm and pretty soon a beautiful dark blue Volkswagen T25 pulled up along side us shortly followed by a beige Type 2 bay.  The couple in the T25 had their two children on tow and had travelled all the way from Austria in their van – now thats dedication!

 

Cahir Castle, Co. TipperaryCahir Castle & The Swiss Cottage

We pulled up at the Cahir Castle car park on what must have been one of the hottest days of the year.  We are generally not used of sleep inducing heat here in Ireland so a castle with its thick walled coolness was a welcome sight. Not far from Cahir Castle is the gorgeous Swiss Cottage – the pastoral cottage ‘orné’ for the owners of the castle.  The stunning house was recently rescued from ruin and now its undulating thatch and ornate interiors have been restored to a beautiful standard.  Access to the cottage is through the cave like underground servants entrance that was cut up through the rock, I love getting the feel of the upstairs, downstairs of the time.  I’d highly recommend the Swiss Cottage tour to anyone in the area.

 

Dinner by the sunset at Apple FarmDinner time at the Apple Farm

Back at the farm after a long day of exploration in the heat we joyfully popped the top and settled down to a gorgeous Mediterranean Vegetable Spaghetti from Deliciously Ella.  We use Kelkin spaghetti – it is easily the best gluten free pasta (although Marks and Spencers & Tesco do a pretty good job too).  Phil has mastered the art of the Gluten Free pasta so we now have al dente pasta that would make an Italian jealous.  Sitting in the blazing sunset through the mature trees, sipping Con’s Cider by citronella candle, we knew we had made the right decision with Lily and glimpsed the future of our time on the road – exhausting, exhilarating and utterly unforgettable.

 

Butterfly GardenEmly Community Gardens

Enroute home I spotted a sign for a community garden in a tiny village called Emly and had to stop.  I am not sure what made me want to stop but nothing prepared me for the stunning gardens that wound their way around the parish church.  Neither of us are religious but gardens and nature come as close to worship as I get.  Here we encountered The Butterfly Garden to the front of the church – a riot of bright and beautiful wildflowers to encourage butterflies and birds to feast.  Slightly behind that is a bird sanctuary, a tree enclosed space with insect and bird houses and feeders.  To the rear of the church are the stunning themed Four Seasons Gardens with flowers and statues representing each time of the year.

What a stunning use of a space that is normally just green grass with the single purpose of being constantly manicured and off limits.  This church’s grounds have been transformed into a welcoming, inspiring and nourishing community garden for everyone to enjoy.  I’ve never before encountered a village like Emly – if more villages followed in their footsteps, perhaps they could slow the rate of decline and revive the spirit of local community and celebration.

The rest of the road home was a little uninspiring as is so often the case when taking to the motorways but we need not have worried as my hometown of Ballybunion had put on a sunset light show for us.  Welcome home.

Sunset over Ballybunion Beach

 

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