I accidentally time travelled this weekend.
I haven’t been sniffing glue, bear with me, I’ll explain myself.
We had booked a short stay in Waterford for a getaway for my wife and my two best friends. This was as a replacement for a trip to London we were going to take that proved to just be too expensive to pull off in the time frame we wanted to do it in.
I’ve never felt serendipity with more force in my life. This evolved into an experience that I enjoyed more than I ever thought possible – certainly more enjoyable than a trip to London would have been.
I knew the cottage I was going to stay in was old, what I didn’t realise that almost everything we decided to do would have us placing one foot in the past.
I’m no history buff and if you told me mainlining heritage for four days would give me one of the best holidays I’ve ever had I’d have laughed in your face.
This is about part one – Where we stayed.
Our accommodation for the four days is easily the most beautiful place it’s ever been my pleasure to stay. Three bedroom Thatched roof cottage that had stood on the same location for one hundred and fifty years before Canada even became a country. Now a hundred and fifty years later than that it’s still there in a far flung corner of Ireland charming the pants clean off me.
To reach the cottage itself is like suddenly being transported to ye olden days. The lane that leads to the house existed before cars. Cows and carts, the original users of the lane aren’t as wide as modern vehicles so getting a car down a lane that at it’s narrowest is just 7 feet across is a little bit of a white knuckle ride, but the view from half way down is worth it for that that reason alone.
The gardens are just jaw dropping. Look I wouldn’t know Percy Thrower from a flame thrower and I couldn’t tell a Deciduous Azaela from Iggy Azalea but I know beauty & this had it in spades.
The back garden rises up over the cottage and the view of the river ( more of that in a minute ) with the cottage just below you was breathtaking. I sat there for the sunrise on two of the mornings of our stay and it’s a view I’m not soon going to forget.
The garden gives way via a gate that’s probably older than television to a path down through reed beds on either side that leads to a dock on the Black Water River.
There’s a wildlife hide that rises you up above the reed beds to spy on nature. I sat for two hours in it at sunrise one morning and I was stunned by the fact I managed to see not a single solitary creature. Not one. Not a sodding bird even and I know they were there because the little avian shitheads woke me up every morning with their singing. Didn’t stop me loving every second of it. It’s one of the most relaxing things I’ve done in years.
Look I had no idea River’s could go up and down with the tide.
The “River” near my house in the Housing Estate I grew up on I’m now pretty sure was an open sewer for carrying away rainwater so we didn’t literally become a sink estate. The only times the waters in it rose were when we lodged enough Super Market Trolleys in there to create a dam.
The Blackwater is like something out a fantasy novel to me. I half expected to see Badger, Ratty & Mr Frigging Toad punt past on a raft. Sitting on it’s dock it occurred to me like a bolt of lightening that I had never actually been in a River. At close to forty years old I found that pretty shameful.
I had a go with just my feet.
It was… It was… fucking freezing.
I’m still glad I did it. It’s that fast moving and just plain huge that I genuinely would be afraid to swim in it. But I can now say that both Bruce Springsteen and I have gone down to the River.
Places with history – at the risk of sounding like an old hippy can have a cold vibe to them. Sometimes they feel negative. I’m not talking Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Just the atmosphere of places sometimes doesn’t feel welcoming. Jack’s Cottage was the opposite of that. The second I crossed the threshold It felt like home.
The peat fire, the dressers, the window seat, the brass beds, weird impractical cupboards that you open to find all manner of antiques in… I’m getting misty eyed just thinking about it. This cottage has every single modern comfort- yet still made me feel like I was trespassing in the 1800’s. The low ceilings almost killed me. At 6ft I hit my head on the first night and continued to do so every day until I left. Every time I laughed and marveled at how beautiful it was and didn’t care that my bumps now had bumps on them.
I cooked non stop the entire time were away. I didn’t have to but I wanted to because I got to do it in such a wonderful environment. I’d brought all sorts of equipment, spices and ingredients. They were already in the cupboard. I’ll be honest Jack’s kitchen was better equipped than my one at home. I set the table for breakfast every morning like I worked in a hotel because it deserved it. Normally at home I’ve been known to pour milk directly into the cereal bag and just eat it out of the box. I wanted it to be as picture perfect as the surroundings we were eating in.
Bridie & Ben the cottages owners live on a property near by and they couldn’t be more welcoming. On arrival Bridie’s homemade wheaten bread that greeted us meant that I was already a little bit in love with her. Ben’s art is all over the cottage walls and I spent more time than I think I ever have appreciating art. His talent is only matched by his friendly demeanor & warm smile.
I’ve never been sadder leaving temporary accommodation than I was leaving Jack’s Cottage. I want to spend more time there. This place deserves not to be used as a base to explore from. Jack’s Cottage is the place you should be exploring.
Details on staying at Jack’s Cottage and availability can be found here via AIRBNB
My next blog post in my trip Back to the Future will take a look at Ballycotton Lighthouse.