And so, the end.
This time I can’t agree with Dr Seuss when he says, “Don’t be sad it’s over, smile because it happened” What a load of tosh! I’m desolate it’s over. How could I not be sad that such an amazing, wonderful, immersive, joyous, frustrating and dare I say it… life changing event is now over.
The exams are done, the bubbles have been drunk, the recipes (Thank God) are filed, the Goodbyes are said, the cottages are packed up and our January 2016 Ballymaloe Bubble has popped; dispersing us back to the 4 corners of the world from whence we came.
Saturday morning after the final dinner we woke up to a whirlwind of final packing, sorting and goodbyes. It was a bit of a blur I have to say! (That’ll be called a hangover there Fi) We were out of the cottage by 10.30 and most of headed down to the school for final goodbyes, morning tea and some farewell words from Darina.
The morning’s hecticness was eased with coffee and fittingly (although perhaps not so much for my waistband) hot cross buns, scones and that fabulous softly whipped cream. And Darina, with a few final goodbyes and words of wisdom.
“You’re leaving this bubble, but you can go out there and create your own bubble, wherever you are.” Darina
So I can’t of course be sad for long. It would be impossible to! I’m coming back to London full of inspiration, excitement and enthusiasm for what’s come next. I can completely say these last 12 weeks have totally opened up my eyes, shifted my perspective and started me on a journey… Destination unknown, but somewhere exciting for sure. Somewhere featuring food, sustainability and Service Design in different guises.
Inevitably I will miss being in the Ballymaloe kitchens every day with the most amazing produce at our fingers tips. I will miss the teachers whipping us into shape. I will miss our Darina demonstrations. I will miss my short 2 minute walk down the lane from Mrs Walsh’s Cottage to the school (any other commute is going to have a tough time competing with this). I will miss our Wednesday lectures spent wine tasting with Colm. I will miss the bowlfuls of softly whipped cream which are so perfectly appropriate with every dessert. I miss Rachel’s great laugh and enthusiasm and Rory’s cool, calm and collected approach to cooking. I’ll miss after hours Sourdough Making Club in Kitchen 3. I’ll miss getting home to Mrs Walsh’s Cottage for a cup of tea and daily debrief with my lovely housemates. All this and more.
But – I hope to replace all of these wonderful things with more wonderful things. Because really, I fell am just at the very start of this journey. There is so much more to practise. So much more to learn. So many people to meet and food to eat. And I’ve got some amazing opportunities coming up.
I’m putting off going back to full time paid employment (for now anyway) and I’ve got a month of work experience coming up in April in 2 amazing foodie places in London. First up I’m off to do 2 weeks at the Violet Bakery in London. I’m then off to do 2 weeks at Ottolenghi’s – I know!! Food Hero alert. I’m really excited about both of these prospects. And then, well who knows! We’ll have to see. I’m planning to treat April like another month of my course, more learning, more experience but just in a different environment to the one I’ve been in for the last 12 weeks.
Before flying out of Ireland I spent a few days in Dublin, enjoying a weekend mini break to reflect on what was over the past 12 weeks and soaking up some of the City before I jumped on a plane back to London. A lovely bit of downtime between my Irish Life and London Life. (And a slow adjustment back into Urban living!)
Anyway, to wrap things up in a nice, consistent way; here is my (final!) summary of the week in numbers.
Regular cooking days in the kitchen – 1 (On Monday, seems like a lifetime ago now!)
Hours spent filing my recipes – too many
Hours spent lamenting the insane about of filing we have to do – ditto (Honestly, it is insane how many recipes we have!)
Time I was due to start cooking my practical exam – 12
Time I actually started cooking my practical exam – 12.40
Minutes over my allotted 3 hour time slot – about 55 (eek! Although that seems to be about standard)
Hours spent studying and revising lecture notes… not as many as I should have. (See notes on filing above)
Hours on the dance floor on Friday night – a solid 2
Bed time on the final night – after pumpkin hour I’m afraid
KG’s of luggage leaving after 12 weeks – many more than when I arrived!
KG’s of me leaving after 12 weeks – ditto. But hey, I didn’t come to cooking school to lose weight!
Days spent hanging out in Dublin after the course 3 – amazing to be there for the 1916 centenary
Sourdough starters packed in my suitcase – 1
Thanks for hanging in there folks. And here’s to the next adventure!