West Cork is undoubtedly a fantastic place to spend time in even if, as happened to us on last week’s communal honeymoon, it pours for most of the time. We were lucky enough to be staying in a wonderful cottage on Ardagh Castle Goat Farm but, with eight of the Husband’s family nearby in Baltimore and another half-dozen English Engineers staying out on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, there wasn’t much time to properly appreciate the beautifully restored cottage! We did, however, get a chance to feast on the owner’s crumbly, Wensleydale-style Ardagh Castle Goat’s Cheese. A picnic hamper of Norfolk food specialities from two of the English Engineers yielded up a tube of Letheringsett Watermill Spelt Biscuits which had enough sweetness to marry happily with the cheese. Ardagh Castle Goat’s Cheese is only available locally around Baltimore and at the Saturday farmer’s market in Skibbereen but I’ve managed to export a large chunk of it to North Cork.
A week is a short time, especially when it only stretches from Monday to Saturday so we didn’t manage to get round to visit all the places which I had hoped to or, unfortunately, any of the great suggestions from Jenny at Where’s the Salt. Although I drove past The Good Things Café several times en route to visit the English Engineers, it wasn’t open at the time, although I did take a peek inside at the newly-painted café premises! With so many people around, a dinner at Heir Island Cottage had to be abandoned this time round, although it does give us an excuse for another trip down to that area of the country.
Of the things that we did get round to doing, The Glebe Gardens, on the road into Baltimore, were well worth a visit. We were particularly taken by the potager garden, flowers and vegetables growing in fruitful profusion side-by-side and the Husband loved their polytunnels – especially when the heavens opened and we needed shelter. Their café was also being refurbished (and should be open again for business soon) but we didn’t really need afternoon refreshment, after having a long, leisurely and very good lunch at Rolf’s Country House, just above the town. Of the pubs in the area, we enjoyed a night at the Tin Pub in Ahakista and a window seat at Bushe’s Bar in Baltimore proved to be a comfortable place to watch the rain teaming down.
A trip to Friday’s Bantry Market showed just how easy it is to eat locally in West Cork. We stocked up on Gubbeen salami, chorizo and smoked bacon (read more about the Fergusons of Gubbeen here), grabbed some pesto, sundried tomatoes and butter bean salad from the olive stall, some old-fashioned, bone-handled cutlery to eat with, a slice of pâté from Frank Krawczyk of West Cork Salami, and the pièce de résistance, a set of four asparagus plants for a new asparagus bed that the Husband (still getting used to that new name!) kindly rabbit-proofed last weekend. I also caught him browsing through information on polytunnels while at the market – wonder how much longer we’ll be without one?!
Weather aside, there’s plenty to look at, do and eat in West Cork. For us it was the perfect place to honeymoon, communally or not. Now, to get used to normal life as a married couple…