Next Monday I start the 12 week certificate course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland.  I’ll be learning about different styles of food, menu planning, business, organic farming and many other things. I have been counting down the days until it starts but now that it’s finally here I am kind of nervous. The prospect of meeting so many new people, wielding sharp knives in a busy kitchen and taking exams for the first time in years, all while wearing a very unflattering outfit is scary!

I have always been interested in doing this course but never felt it was the right time. I was enjoying teaching and being abroad, and quite frankly the last thing I ever wanted was to come back to Ireland (no offence to the place!) But over time my priorities have changed. I used to be satisfied by where I was and less by what I was doing. I was intentionally aimless. Just going to places and seeing what happened. Not to say I regret anything, I actually do think this was a good game plan for my early twenties but moving forward I feel the need for clearer objectives.  Although I still enjoy teaching, I want a new challenge. I want a job where I can pursue my interests, and I think Ballymaloe is the way to get there. Doing this course meant I had to move back in to my childhood bedroom for a while to pay for it, but I was okay with that. Progress! Now I appreciate that Ireland is actually a very beautiful, special place with many opportunities, like Ballymaloe.

The cookery school was founded in 1983 by the OG’s of Irish cooking, Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell. I know that many people take a dim view of Irish cuisine but we really do have fantastic food here, thanks in no small part to this brother-sister duo and the rest of their family. I went down to visit last summer and was totally star struck when I saw Darina in her fabulous red glasses. It is located on a 100 acre organic farm in the beautiful, tiny town of Shanagarry. The picture above was taken from the local beach. I am looking forward to going for long cycles and walks in my free time, learning about sustainable food systems from experts and obviously, becoming a better cook. Hopefully I’ll even get to milk a cow!

I aim to post at the end of every week to share the highs and lows, what I’m learning and some pictures, so check back in for updates.