Life after two months in West Cork

Now we’ve been here for two months. Incredible!
We are doing good.. or actually, we’re doing great. Our life has improved so much, in so many ways. No country is perfect and Ireland isn’t either, but it offers a lot of good things, it’s a country that suits us perfectly, and so far I can live with the imperfections because we have a better life here.

These views… I can’t get enough of them.

Yes, we mostly love the Irish weather

First of all… the weather. Normally no snow, you can go for walks and enjoy it, even in February. I try to go down to the cove as often as possible. I have this fascination for the sea – perhaps because I didn’t grow up near the sea? It gives me a sense of mystique and danger – but it’s also incredibly beautiful and fascinating, and has a kind of soothing effect on me.

What about work?

Of course we work. My husband continues his work in system development but within our new Irish consulting business. I have quit nursing (or taken a break, to sound less dramatic), and I continue to do website maintenance and plan to learn more coding and more backend things. (sorry but I’ve only learned coding and platform setups as needed so I don’t know the more professional IT tech lingo) I may have some new clients actually.. but at the moment I’m also very busy with trying to pass an Italian course that I signed up for at Lund university. It’s an online course, and although I have a great passion for the Italian language and I’m decent at it, this is a big frustration.

The thing is, I planned to study Italian again to become more fluent, and after many ifs and buts, and universities that never responded to my questions, I found this course and it sounded like a good option. But it turned out that the course description on the website wasn’t correct when it comes to what level the course would be. In reality it’s way more advanced than what it sounded like in the description, and at least for the spoken Italian part you need to be near fluent already. I absolutely LOVE the grammar and writing part – I’ve always loved grammar, and writing is something I can do if I give it some time. I’m ok with attending a grammar course that is a wee bit too difficult, because it only means I’ll have a challenge and will learn more.

Speaking is different. In a class where I find the skill level too high for me, I tend to shut up and don’t develop anything really. I’ve learned lots about linguistic concepts, Italian language history and about the history of Italian cinema, which is very interesting of course, but I haven’t improved my spoken Italian one bit.. I may have learned some new words, and of course it helps to expose yourself to the language, but even if the course setup is a very nice idea (analysing the spoken language through Italian movies), it turned out to not suit me very well at least when it comes to my goal to become more fluent – at least not in this group of students.

However, I’m hanging in there and I’ll keep on working with it and see if I manage to pass the exams. If I don’t, I will at least have seen some classic Italian movies and I own some very interesting books that I can read in peace and quiet and study on my own later.

Social life

This is the area where our life has improved the most. When we lived in Sweden, we developed the bad habit of watching Netflix a bit too much, and since we worked a lot, and my husband needed to get up very early in the morning, we normally didn’t go anywhere after work since most of our social life usually took place somewhere else than in our hometown, and we would come home very late. We sometimes went to Göteborg to join their Irish music session, we attended the local whisky tastings in our town, went to see friends or family, and I went to church. But still, for many different reasons, we mostly did work related things and the fun stuff happened just randomly.

Sweden may be a very beautiful country, but with the long and dark winters that go on for almost 6 months, going out during that part of the year is not very enjoyable. Many love snow, but for me, going out in the winter is just inconvenient and unpleasant, so I preferred to stay home when I could. Honestly, I didn’t truly LIVE in the winter in Sweden.. I just waited for the spring to come.

So what about now? We go to play music with other people several times a week. In our area, there are trad sessions or other acoustic sessions going on almost every day of the week. There are also concerts here and there, and besides music, there is the local pub run by a lovely elderly lady, and this is a beautiful meeting place for the people in the village. We go there sometimes just to have a drink and chat with people, and we’ve made new friends there. We were actually invited to play a little gig in the community hall for a group of elderly. That was so much fun!!

It seems our music is appreciated by people in this village… when we go to the pub, people we’ve never met come and say hello and things like “I’ve heard about the two of you! Everybody talks about you”. Whether that is good or bad… ? It’s only been good so far, at least.

This past Sunday and Monday we had some great music inspiration. The former fiddler of the Bothy Band, Kevin Burke, performed at a pub in town, and of course we were there. It was a lovely evening. He’s a fabulous fiddler, with such nice soft clean playing, even in fast tunes. I love that and of course it was great inspiration for my husband who also plays the fiddle.

On the Monday, we went to a little place east of Cork, where they have a little venue for music and arts, and they often have bluegrass bands and similar there to play. We were invited there by local friends of ours, who also are interested in bluegrass and oldtime, as well as Irish trad, and they are both musicians. This was an incredible event! The thing is that I’ve become tired of playing bluegrass and the likes.. for reasons I should explain in a separate blog post because it will get too long otherwise. Anyway, the truth is I haven’t been to a decent bluegrass jam session for many years, and having some kind of social setting that is enjoyable always influences how much I like to play a certain music genre.

This event was a concert in that concert venue which is an old church they repurposed for this. The band – High Plains Tradition – was a good hardcore bluegrass band, and very good entertainers too.

They had a nice gig with lots of good songs and tunes, as well as stories and jokes. After the gig, everyone met in the pub at the other side of the street, and we had been told to bring instruments, so we had a lovely jam session with some of the folks from the band, and some other people too. This was so inspiring! I had totally forgotten how much fun playing bluegrass can be… and these bluegrass players, although famous and professional, were very encouraging and appreciative towards us and our playing. This really made me happy and inspired me so much. They were also very friendly and we had a great time together. We came home around 3 am… but it was so worth it. I came back with an increased inspiration to play the mandolin and to continue to work on my mandolin playing. My mandolin will be happy about this!

As for non-music activities, I go some Wednesdays to Cork to attend a language exchange event, where I can practice Italian with native speakers, there are some really nice Italians there and a very nice Japanese girl who’s also learning Italian.
Other than that, I’m slowly making more connections in the world of Irish whiskey, and I’m sure the future will be exciting! I’ve started writing my whiskey blog again, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead with that.
We plan to join a whiskey society in Cork that offers tastings now and then, and there’s also the concept “Cork whiskey walk” which is some kind of historical whiskey themed walk or something… I’ll have to explore that a bit further.

Buying a house

We are still renting a house, but we’ve finally decided about a house we want to buy. It’s small but since we have to buy with cash only, this is what we can get. It’s a lovely location and has fantastic views, and I’m sure we will transform it to something really nice. More details will come later…

Our rental house is decent but we’re very annoyed by the neighbour’s dogs that hang around here all the time and they give us all kinds of things they want us to use to play fetch. Sticks, golf balls, logs, ropes, or even the neighbour’s shoe.. (there’s a white shoe behind our house right now, I wonder if someone misses it?) They come with me many times when I go for walks.. so I hope when we move away, we will NOT have annoying dogs around!!

This is a very normal sight outside our door, although we don’t own any dogs.

These ladies, on the other hand, I don’t mind at all. They are nice and well behaved, and pass by our house most days.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

4 comments on “Life after two months in West Cork”

  • Kirsten

    Wow, your pictures are always so lovely. Try as I might mine never turn out that well. Ireland looks absolutely stunning and lush and green. It’s starting to get green here but we are still getting cooler temps (other than a day here or there) and mixed rain and snow. Nothing that accumulates but still not the weather I am longing for yet.

    I love your pictures of the sea! I feel the same way about it. I am fascinated by the sea and could spend hours on a beach or a cliff overlooking the sea. It’s a bit hard I find here because you can’t really get near it other than at certain places as it is all privately owned land. My parents live in a house with waterfront property and I enjoy a walk down to the water on their land. It’s the St. Mary’s Bay but it’s still beautiful. They have to do some work to be able to get down to the beach but I can’t wait for that. I want to do some beachcombing for shells and sea glass.

    I don’t particularly enjoy the snow either. It pretty and sometimes I enjoy going outside and just being in it but cold dark snowy winters are rough. I find I do the same thing and sit around home waiting for the spring. I’m glad you’re enjoying the weather there. Does it rain a lot? The dogs would be annoying. I like dogs for the most part but only if they are my own. I wouldn’t want someone else’s dog running loose in my yard and following me around when I go for a walk.

    I am glad that you guys found a house that you are interested in buying. Small houses can be tough if you have a lot of stuff but at the same time, they can be nice and cozy. It’s nice that it has beautiful views and that you are enjoying your social life there and the music and whiskey scene. I sometimes wish we had more of that here. We are going to join the Lion’s club and see what else is around here that we can join to get out. I would like to join a hiking or walking type club or create one if there isn’t one.

    • Susanne

      Hi Kirsten and thanks so very much for the nice compliments on my photos! I’ve kind of come out of my photography habit but I try to get back to it. Living so close to the sea definitely helps!
      I thought there were some trad music culture where you are – don’t you live in Cape Breton? That’s a big area with its own tradition of Celtic style music. Loads of great musicians come from there – Nathalie MacMaster for example.

      For a while during the first half of February and the first half of March it rained a lot – and we had some nasty storms. Now it’s been quite dry for a while. Normally in Ireland it rains now and then – but only occasional showers and then it’s back to normal and it may rain after a few hours, but stilll for a little while. From what I’ve seen it’s not too common that it goes on with rains for days or weeks (like it happens a lot in Sweden). And as someone pointed out – if it wasn’t for the rain, Ireland wouldn’t be so green.

      Having a small house certainly is a bit of a stress factor for me, because I’m afraid my husband will want to keep too much stuff. But I know he has also expressed that he wants to keep the place uncluttered. I also see this as a very good opportunity to downsize even more, get rid of even more stuff (we already got rid of loads before leaving Sweden). I think the biggest challenge will be during the first part of summer when we’ll need to renovate a lot. But we’ll get through it.. I hope. At least I will have less to do work wise during the summer.

      What a shame that the general public can’t get near to the sea! Totally a shame.. Here some lighthouse areas are like that but there are loads of other places to enjoy the sea. West Cork is proud to have at least four peninsulas where you can access the sea, plus we have islands you can go to as well, there’s whale safaris etc… Actually we just discovered that they do whale safaris from Courtmacsherry which is very close to us. I hope we can go this summer!

      • Kirsten

        Your welcome. I’ve also done the same and hardly ever have my camera with me. I snap pictures on my phone but it’s just not the same. I need to start taking pictures more again. I actually live in the Southwestern part of Nova Scotia in Deep Brook, near Digby. So it is more Acadian French down here. I am about 5 hours from Cape Breton but yes in the northern parts of Nova Scotia there is a heavy Celtic influence

        Very true, it wouldn’t be so green without the rain. We get a lot of rain in the spring and sometimes in the autumn, really all year round, not as much snow as we used to. That being said we are supposed to get a snowstorm tomorrow.

        We moved to a small house that as far as square feet is about 2/3rds the size of the apartment we used to have. We had to put a lot of stuff in the shed and some things at my parents. We need to go through it but didn’t have much time before we moved as my husband had to be there for a job.

        There are public beaches and access points. We can get close to most of our lighthouses as most of them are government or organization owned and allow public access. We have lots of trails for ATVs/snowmobiles, walking and hiking or biking. But it’s there is a lot of forests too which blocks a lot of the view of the ocean. There are lots of open areas too but it just seems you have to drive a way to get access. Even though I can see the bay out my front window there is no easy access to it unless you own land fronting the water.

        We have a ton of islands and some you can go on but most are either privately owned or government but no access is allowed. We have a number of whale watching tours through which is great. I have not been on one yet but am hoping to this year. I hope you get to go out. I hear it is a lot of fun

  • Kim

    It’s good to hear you’re e njoying your move to Ireland so far. Although I’ve never visited the country, it is high up on my bucket lists. Especially the coastal towns. I always get a feeling of tranquillity when I’m by the sea.


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