Friday, May 26, 2023

Staying in Wicklow? Ireland’s oldest hotel at Woodenbridge. Or a well-situated one-room pad in Laragh.

Staying in Wicklow? 

Ireland’s oldest hotel at Woodenbridge.  

Or a well-situated one-room pad in Laragh.




Ireland’s oldest hotel? Not perhaps the Woodenbridge Hotel itself though there has been a hospitality licence (coach-house) here since 1608.


Now the family run two establishments. The hotel itself, on a rise over the bridge, and across the road and down by the river is the more modern, mostly summertime, facility called The Lodge, 29 rooms in the hotel and 40 in the lodge.



We were in the hotel and it does look pretty and oldish, but everything worked well here right up to and including the Wifi and they have 6 EV charging points. They also offer golf packages and one course was visible from our window.

Goats Cheese Salad


Took a short walk around after arrival and then paid a visit to the bar and was very happy to see that they had no less than three taps offering beer by the local Wicklow Brewery. Their Hopknut was our favourite for the night. Dinner was excellent also and music followed. Breakfast was buffet style.

Hake


What was striking here was how friendly and chatty everyone was, from the first bar person to the final goodbye at the reception, not just friendly but informative and efficient too. A lovely spot, if a bit expensive accommodations-wise. 

Strawberry Cheesecake


Could have taken a less expensive room over the bar but that came with a noise warning! Perhaps we should have taken that room and spent some of the savings on another pint or two and made some noise ourselves. Wise after the event!

Lamb shank


We spent one night at the Heatherhouse in Laragh. It was our second visit here and there have been changes. On the first occasion, there was a B&B deal where you could have your breakfast at the nearby Wicklow Heather. 

The Bistro, one of the dining options at Woodenbridge


The restaurant now has new owners and that arrangement no longer stands though Heatherhouse will still point you in that direction for both dinner and breakfast. Due to a large event, the restaurant was fully booked out and we didn’t get there this time but two people, both involved in hospitality, told us that the food there is still excellent and they also sell Wicklow Wolf beers!


The Heatherhouse accommodation units are excellent. You have your own “house” in a small terrace. Our “room” was rather large, neatly divided into a sitting area with sofa and TV; a corner with sink, fridge, kettle and espresso machine; and two sleeping semi-separate sections (one double, one single). 

Sitting area at Heatherhouse.

And, we also had a spacious bathroom with a toilet, sink, plus a separate bath and shower. Very comfortable all round. Everything is well maintained and in good working order (lights, heating, TV, WiFi). If you’re heading to Wicklow, the Heatherhouse, so close to beautiful Glendalough, is recommended. We paid one hundred and ten euro for the room.


Also on this trip to Wicklow:

Avondale's Beyond the Trees. Wicklow's Amazing New Attraction.

Two excellent pit-stops in the southeast for you. Hungry Bear in Gorey and Eamo & Ró at Kilmacthomas.

Places to stay in Wicklow: Woodenbridge and Heatherhouse.

Visiting Wicklow Wolf Brewery.

Wicklow. Two days in the Garden of Ireland May 2023


Previous trip: Powerscourt Hotel, Tulfarris

Magnificent gardens at Powerscourt


On a previous trip, with an (enhanced!) budget, we stayed at the Powerscourt Hotel. The estate, there is also a waterfall nearby, is just an hour or so from Dublin and now, with the improved motorways, it is just two and a half from Cork. Use M8, M7, M50, and M11 (to Wexford) and that will leave you with just a few miles of country road to reach your destination.


The relatively newly built Powerscourt Distillery is just a few hundred yards away and you can park outside the door. The tour is excellent and highly recommended. They have a café there also.


Entry to the gardens is free to hotel guests. Our room here was fabulous; indeed, the hotel itself is magnificent, and the lobby is imposing.



The main restaurant is the Sika and you can enjoy dinner and breakfast here with great views out towards the Sugar Loaf mountain.


Interested in golf? Then the Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort is worth a look. It is set against the spectacular backdrop of the Blessington Lakes and Wicklow Mountains. Stayed there a couple of years back and enjoyed the dinner (and the bar afterwards).  Aside from regular hotel accommodation, you can share a self-catering lodge or even hire the Manor House itself.

Breakfast view at Tulfarris


The dining room overlooks the spectacular golf course. Set across three peninsulas around the lake shores, the stunning 18-hole championship course is a golfer’s paradise and is definitely an exhilarating test for both amateur and pro golfers. 


The resort covers 220 acres and includes a luxury 4-star hotel, 18-hole championship golf course, clubhouse, conference centre, banqueting suites, a restaurant and bar and self-catering holiday homes. The 18th-century Manor House sits at the heart of the resort and has the classic design and elegant proportions of that time.




Thursday, May 25, 2023

10 years of Rock Farm Slane. From Bon Jovi to Harry Styles and an Environmental Award from the Irish Food Writers Guild

10 years of Rock Farm Slane. From Bon Jovi to Harry Styles and an Environmental Award from the Irish Food Writers Guild 

Alex and Carina Conyngham


Ten years ago, on 15th June 2013 Rock Farm Slane opened the glamping doors just in time for the Bon Jovi concert at Slane Castle across the River Boyne. A decade on, superstar Harry Styles will take to the same stage, marking the date almost to the day. Rock Farm were true pioneers in the area of glamping and ecotourism; in 2013 just one other glamping site existed – Tea Pot Lane in Leitrim.

 

“I remember it all so clearly, I can’t believe how quickly the years have passed,” says Carina Conyngham, an eco-minded entrepreneur who established the ecotourism destination with her husband Alex, Earl of Mountcharles, “Alex and I were cooking breakfast for the glampers while the helicopters whirred overhead. Our visitors were so busy trying to spot Jon Bon Jovi in the sky, they wouldn’t leave to go over to the gig.”

 

Rock Farm initially opened with a modest offering of yurts and shepherd huts in a welcoming woodland glade, along with a small strawbale eco-lodge evocatively named Swallow’s Nest. In 2015, just in time for the Foo Fighters concert, they launched Lime House, the six-bedroom strawbale self-catering house sleeping 22 people, and a collection of bell tents. Lime House was built using their own barley straw and local clay for plaster. The result is a unique collection of glamping and self-catering options ideal for big parties with different requirements. Lime House is generously designed so large groups can share it without feeling hemmed in. The yurts and huts offer glamping with a luxurious edge and the bell tents suit the more adventurous looking for a genuine camping experience. The entire site can now accommodate around 80 people.

 

The team at Rock Farm don’t rest on their laurels and upgrades and constantly work to improve the experience for visitors. “Recently we’ve replaced the original bell tents with Lotus Belle tents,” Carina Conyngham said, “These are lovely tents with an innovative design so there’s lots of head space and living space inside.” More additions are planned for later this year.


Rock Farm is a working organic enterprise on 90 acres using permaculture principles with rare breed cattle, pigs and poultry as well as a thriving vegetable section. They operate an agro-forestry system combining trees and livestock in the same area. Rock Farm grows several varieties of barley which are used for the whiskey made at Slane Distillery – ensuring top quality grain and keeping food miles to a minimum. Farm tours run regularly throughout the summer.

 

The parkland surrounding the glamping is a designated Natural Heritage Area and Special Area of Conservation teaming with wildlife including kingfishers, herons, cormorants, egrets and otters as well as a thriving population of Irish hares. A natural pool and integrated constructed wetland complete the picture. In terms of a sustainable approach to water, waste and energy on-site, there’s a grey water management plan, natural sewage systems and extensive composting practices in place. Eco-friendly products are used throughout, as well as a commitment to “Leave No Trace.”  




 

“Currently we have 19 hectares in a National Parks and Wildlife Service Wilding plan,” explains Carina Conyngham, “We are lowering the stocking density of livestock (pigs and cows) and creating a Wilding area near the river, running alongside the glamping to create a habitat for ground nesting birds and other species. Our plan is to have glamping in the middle of the Wilding so visitors can have a totally immersive experience of nature, less than an hour from the city centre.”

 

Local community life is central to the Rock Farm Slane story and they are active in Boyne Valley Flavours and Slane Food Circle, as well as being members of Sustainable Travel Ireland and Organic Trust. Rock Farm received an Environmental Award from the Irish Food Writers Guild in 2022.

Two Green Shoots Showcase Garden Of Re-Imagination For 2023 Summer Season. Tour. Dine. Stay. Glengarriff.

press release

Two Green Shoots Showcase Garden Of Re-Imagination For 2023 Summer Seasoê

Welcome to the garden: Kloë and Adam

 

Two Green Shoots are re-opening the gates to their beautiful and bountiful Garden of Re-imagination in Glengarriff, Co. Cork for the 2023 Summer season and showcasing their private plant-filled paradise to visitors by offering a range of immersive new Edible Experiences and Escapes.

Edible Experiences:

Throughout June, July, August, and early September, Designer, Forager & Upcycler, Kloë Wood Lyndorff, and her partner, RHS-trained Horticulturalist & Head Gardener, Adam Carveth, AKA Two Green Shoots, invite guests to explore the haven they’ve created at the foot of the beautiful Beara Peninsula. 

A carefully curated approach over the last six years has ensured that every flower and shrub the pair have painstakingly planted has an edible function. As a result, their 2.5 acre Garden of Re-imagination is now home to over 200 varieties of rare and unusual plants, providing the most magical of settings for guests to discover, dine, and delight in this summer.

Two Green Shoots’ 2023 Summer Edible Experiences include a new Guided Foraging Trail & Fireside Lunch Feast, a Breakfast Tour, an Afternoon Tea Tour, and a feast for all the senses - an immersive Garden Tour & Three Course Lunch Feast, freshly prepared by Kloë and Adam using seasonal botanicals from the gardens and surrounding landscape.

Edible Experiences


Guided Foraging Trail & Fireside Lunch Feast (Duration: 2.5 hours)

Available dates: 16th, 23rd, 30th June / 7th, 28th July / 4th, 18th August / 1st September

Taste the wild side of West Cork as you’re taken on a multi-sensory botanical adventure of flavours, aromas, sights, and sounds with Two Green Shoots’ immersive new Foraging & Fireside Lunch Feast. Led by Co-Founder & Forager, Kloë Wood Lyndorff, you’ll begin by being taken through temperate rainforest on an hour-long guided walk of the Garden of Re-imagination’s stunning new 300m long foraging trail. Guests will then gather around a crackling campfire on log seating for a demonstration from Kloë on how to prepare the wild botanicals gathered along the way into a delicious two-course foraged feast, before enjoying an al fresco picnic lunch together. 

Dishes on the day will likely include Nettle & Wild Garlic Soup with Bread Rolls freshly baked on the campfire and filled Wood Sorrel, Bramble Tip & Hawthorn Pesto, followed by Nettle & Honeysuckle Muffins topped with Woodland Blooms. A choice of Sparkling Spruce Tip Cooler, or a cleansing brew of Nettle & Water Mint Tea with Local Honey for refreshment will further enhance each diner’s connection with the surrounding landscape.

Two Green Shoots’  two and a half hour-long Guided Foraging Trail & Fireside Lunch Feast Experience takes place on selected Fridays weekly, from 11am to 1.30pm, between 16th June and 1st September 2023. Tickets are priced at €89.75 per person. Places can be booked online at www.twogreenshoots.com


Garden Tour & Three Course Lunch Feast (Duration: 2.5 hours)

Available dates: 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th June / 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th July / 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th August / 2nd September

The Garden Tour & Three Course Lunch Feast experience includes admission to, and an informative in-depth one hour tour of, the Garden of Re-imagination, led by Two Green Shoots’ RHS-trained Horticulturalist & Head Gardener, Adam Carveth. Guests will then take a seat to enjoy a nourishing three-course long table lunch feast, freshly prepared using rare and unusual seasonal botanicals from the gardens and surrounding landscape comprising a starter, hearty main course, pudding and accompanying drinks (one cold, one hot). 

To start, you’ll be served Smoked Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese & Nasturtium Potato Cakes topped with Buttered Wild Greens & Ramson Capers, followed by a Fuki Risotto with Caramelised Dahlia, and finish with a refreshing and palate cleansing Apple Mint & Sorrel Sorbet.

Two Green Shoots’ two and a half hour-long Garden Tour & Three Course Lunch Feast Experience takes place on Saturdays weekly, from 11am to 1.30pm, between 3rd June and 2nd September 2023. Tickets are priced at €89.75 per person, with a minimum of x4 persons required per booking. Places can be booked online at www.twogreenshoots.com



Breakfast Tour (Duration: 1.5 hours)

Available dates: 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th June / 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th July / 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th August / 2nd September

What better way to begin your day than with a mini 30 minute-long tour of Two Green Shoots’ Garden of Re-imagination led by RHS trained Horticulturalist & Head Gardener, Adam Carveth. 

Guests will then be served an al fresco Kitchen Garden Cooked Breakfast and a hot or cold drink celebrating the very best of fresh flavours, hand-picked less than half an hour before you eat and served under the comfort of a canopy as you sit back and take in the serene surroundings. 

Breakfast consists of your choice of Eggs from the garden’s own roaming free range hens served with a Mini Homemade Sourdough Loaf still crackling from the oven, Tomato Hummus, and a Salad of Freshly Picked Leaves and Edible Flowers with a Herbal Vinaigrette Dressing. 

Special dietary requirements can be accommodated as long as tickets are booked more than 24 hours in advance.

Two Green Shoots’ one and a half hour-long Breakfast Tour Experience is available on Saturdays weekly, from 9am to 10.30am between 3rd June and 2nd September 2023. Tickets are priced at €42.50 per person, with a minimum of x 4 persons required per booking. Places can be booked online at www.twogreenshoots.com.


Afternoon Tour & Tea (Duration: 1 hour)

Available dates: 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th June / 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th July / 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th August / 2nd September

As part of the Afternoon Tour & Tea experience, visitors will spend half an hour exploring rare botanicals from bubblegum berries to Dahlia yams, and giant celery with a mini tour of the Garden of Re-imagination led by RHS-trained Horticulturalist & Head Gardener, Adam Carveth. Then, picture the scene as you sit down in the serenity of Two Green Shoots’ beautiful canopy covered outdoor dining space to enjoy afternoon tea and a generous slice of freshly baked homemade cake - think Japanese Quince & Sweet Cicely Drizzle Cake, topped with Calendula and Fuchsia petals washed down with a Linden & Whitethorn Blossom Tea  - showcasing freshly picked ingredients from that day’s harvest.

Two Green Shoots’ hour-long Afternoon Tour & Tea Experience is available on Saturdays weekly, from 4pm to 5pm, between 3rd June and 2nd September 2023. Tickets are priced at €24.75 per person. Places can be booked online at www.twogreenshoots.com. 

Attendees of all of the Edible Experiences can avail of a discount on their admission price as part of Two Green Shoots’ Ocean Plastics Project, in partnership with Clean Coasts, by simply collecting a beach clean kit from Two Green Shoots in Glengarriff and returning it filled for a 10% refund on their ticket. 

Those that don’t have time to beach clean themselves needn’t worry - 10% of all ticket sales generated by the various different Experiences will go towards funding a creative arts programme, working with a local artist to transform the ocean waste gathered by others into a piece of functional art for display in Two Green Shoots’ showcase gardens. 

This year's exhilarating new experiences see Two Green Shoots beginning to move beyond the garden, giving visitors the opportunity to connect with the wider landscape and taste flavours of the wild as well as learning bushcraft skills and natural navigation techniques. Founders, Kloë and Adam, plan to expand on these in the months and years ahead with lots of exciting plans in the pipeline.

The Botanical Tent


Private Paradise Escapes:

The highly creative couple are also giving guests the chance to make their haven your home this summer, offering luxurious Edible Escapes at their boujee botanically-themed B&B and a Botanical Bell Tent private glamping experience. Nestled in the unique edible paradise amongst delicious planting and stunning scenery, both gourmet getaway options include hearty signature morning feasts to start your day, with every morsel served homegrown and/or handmade.


The Botanical B&B

The Botanical B&B sits inside Two Green Shoots’ edible paradise, The Garden of Re-imagination, looking out towards Bantry Bay, with four beautiful botanically-themed rooms to choose from - Fern (Double), Willow (Double/Twin), Lichen (Single) and Silver Birch (Single) - each handcrafted with its own unique character. 

Guests savouring summer escapes here will have access to their own private entrance, a dining room, living room complete with tea making facilities, fridge and microwave, a wood burning stove with wood supplied, and use of the surrounding garden for the duration of their stay. And, to make your signature stay even more memorable, you’ll start each day with a morning feast showcasing freshly harvested botanicals from the surrounding gardens and landscape.

The Botanical B&B sleeps four to six people for stays of between three and ten nights priced at €328.00 per night including breakfast and can be booked online via Two Green Shoots’ listing on www.airbnb.ie.

The Botanical Bell Tent Private Glamping Experience

What could be more idyllic than drifting off to sleep in the luxury of Two Green Shoots’ Botanical Bell Tent with its warming wood burning stove creating a dancing light show inside, and the sounds of the trees rustling overhead? 

Sitting in a forest clearing along your own private woodland track, it comes beautifully furnished with a king-size bed, indoor and outdoor seating, feather cushions, wool blankets, cosy coir flooring, and decorated with handcrafted bunting and solar lights twinkling in the surrounding forest. Glamping guests also get their own private bathroom with a walk-in shower, an outside fire pit complete with wood, a welcome hamper of homemade and local treats, and awake to a freshly prepared signature feast each morning of their stay. Everything and more you could want from a summer escape and an experience like no other!


The Botanical Bell Tent sleeps two people for stays of between two and five nights priced at €169.00 per night per couple sharing including breakfast and can be booked online via Two Green Shoots’ listing on www.airbnb.ie.