Electric Adventures in Wild West Donegal

If I've been a little behind on blogging recently, it's due to the two weeks holiday I went off for in Donegal, and so I suppose I'd better make up for it with this monster photo-post!

Now, 2012 so far has felt turbo-charged at the best of times, a series of one-off chance happenings and lucky breaks, starting with New Year's Eve in Scotland to interning in Dublin and now London, at times epic, at times exhausting. If anything, the last thing I needed was yet another voyage, but this was, in the theme of the year, too good to miss.

My mum's Irish and her dad did up a holiday home in Donegal back in the 1960s, a work in progress ever since. Without mais gas or electricity, a tap was only installed last year; it's turf fire and rainwater barrels all the way. My mum's 7 brothers and sisters, plus us kidz, all pulled together and organised a holiday and birthday party to celebrate her turning 60. It was a brilliant break from the pulls of modern life and the chance to spend time with the people who I really love.

I drove up from London with sister Sinéad and twin Niall and we met sister Fedelma at Belfast. Being an international jet setter with a heart of gold, Fedelma rolled us into the swanky Hilton at Belfast airport, a deluxe beginning for a holiday of the most Spartan kind. The next day we drove in convoy to Donegal with trance on the Irish language station.....

The cottage is a traditional one, and everything has to be done the old school way, including a daily clothes wash using mangle and line. Every morning we kicked off the old metabolism with a swim in the lake which was freeeeeezing but more refreshing than the most luxurious spa!

My trusty Juju wellies were my saving grace for the trip. Comfy but way stylish, I worked a kind of biker look, inevitably with multiple layers. My wooly hat, modelled below by Niall who turned purple after one jetty-jumping sesh, was super for keeping the body temperatures up after plunging into chilly depths, fresh and salty. I did borrow a wetsuit off my uncle, which came in super handy for jetty jumping, but bathing I braved it in a bikini!

The beach was the highlight. From "wind-bathing" on the cloudy days to volleyball and long walks, the beach was best. We even had a volcano kettle to make cups of builder's tea, a dreamy treat when you've been for a swim! My uncle Edmund brought his sailing boat, and although I never made it out on the waves, it was by far the highlight of my mum's holiday! They actually capsized when she was out and she was so proud to have overcome something like that. In all, the holiday was definitely about pushing your physical boundaries and embracing the moment!

In the evening, only a Guinness by the open turf fire would do, under the mantelpiece my grandfather hand carved "Warm Yourself" in Irish. Dodging the midgies when you went out to use the bathroom (at the other side of the field) was nae fun, the air was thick with them. On one count I had 14 bites on one elbow alone!

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