The start of any journey through the Kilkenny countryside should be our shop by the River Nore, 7km south of the city. Visit our ‘how we make it’ room, stop in our café, shop a little (we ship worldwide), admire the river and then forge on ahead to the fascinating places surrounding us.
What triggers your ‘summertime is here!’ epiphany? For me, it’s when something in the air gives me the sudden inspiration to add slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint to an icy drink. The first sip brings an instant feeling of relaxation and release. Summer in a brimful jug. Last year’s epically hot summer may not be enough of a good weather reference to allow Ireland to shake off its rainy reputation, but I imagine more folks will stay put or choose to holiday on the island. So, with this in mind, we’ve taken a break from the busyness of the mill to steer you on a mini historical and mixological tour of our neighbourhood. Sightseeing can be thirsty work.
So, in the coming weeks I hope everyone manages to take the chance to stop for a bit and relax, take time – that rare commodity – but also to feel refreshed and inspired by new experiences and sights. It’s well known that we are less efficient if we don’t take breaks throughout the day as well as throughout the year. There’s your excuse to pause if you were struggling to find one. Time for a Mint and Apple Iced Tea? Or, depending on the time of day that you’re reading this a Cucumber and Jalapeño Margarita? Recipes for all the drinks mentioned (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are at the foot of this blog.
HOLIDAYS FOR ACTIVITY OR INACTIVITY?
As life is generally pretty energetic my inclination on holiday is to be minimally active, reading preferably, or, fractionally more lively, getting to my studio and having time to paint. You may feel the reverse and ‘holiday!’ may scream of great physical feats: a swimming holiday where your bags are conveniently transported by boat from one Greek Island to another, or one side of the River Nore to the other?!; a pilgrimage or hike, religious or otherwise, along a coastal path or from one round tower to another. Ireland, where nowhere if very far, is a good place for orienteering between places of any subject be it historical, literary, gastronomic, sporty… After a long day joining many dots of interest you’ll need a slaking jug-full of refreshingly spicy but sweet Ginger and Pineapple Punch.
THE HOLIDAY OF DAILY LIFE
Making every day home life feel more like a holiday is a useful shortcut if you can’t get away or take off much time. Disrupt the routine just enough to find it refreshing whilst keeping the flow. We have family friends in London who spend a week camping at their local campsite (yes, there is a campsite in semi-central London!). They continue to go to work and the kids to school in the daytimes during the week but return to the haven of their tree-lined field, the odd siren is heard in the distance, but detached through a natural buffer of trees and birdsong. It seems a pretty good work/life balance, if you enjoy the way camping pairs life down to essentials so you appreciate the small things. You may, however, feel that holidays are all about treating yourself and having extra things you don’t usually allow yourself to have. Hence our focus on jug-sized drinks - let’s not do things by halves this summer.
At Jerpoint Abbey a good deal of the building structure and some very fine relief carvings survive so you can imagine the place in its original glory. Perhaps the monks would have enjoyed a pitcher of mead cocktail in the grounds.
LEFT TO YOUR OWN DEVICES
Whether holidaying at home or away I’m finding it increasingly important to have a holiday from technology - specifically my smart phone - and to be left to my own devices rather than dictated to by my device. Even though there are many corners of my house and garden that are without mobile reception and the wi-fi is unreliable, I still need a rest from the many pings and notifications that call my attention. Whether travelling by plane or not, my current ploy is keep my phone on flight mode for the duration of a holiday. I can still use it to tell the time, not that time is so important on holiday. Holidays are for us to attend to ourselves, our family and friends that are immediately with us, and, to attend to that pitcher of rum punch.
Whatever you do this summer, whether it raises your heartbeat or not, let’s raise a glass (from our pitcher of Mint and Apple Ice Tea) to it raising your spirits!
Mint and Apple Iced Tea
- Put two tea bags into a jug, pour in 300ml boiling water and steep for 1 minute.
- Remove the tea bags and stir in 1tbsp of golden caster sugar and two cored and chopped apples.
- Cover and leave to cool.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Strain the tea, discarding the apples.
- Stir in an optional 2 tbsp of brandy.
- Pour into glasses and add handfuls of mint, some ice before topping up with a touch of soda water.
Cucumber and Jalapeño Margarita
- Drop a chopped jalapeño into 300ml of tequila for 30-45 minutes or until you can taste the heat of the chilli.
- In the meantime, whizz a whole cucumber before passing it through a sieve to extract the juice. Press the pulp into the sieve to push through as much juice as possible.
- Half fill a large jug with ice and pour in the cucumber juice along with 100ml of Cointreau and 100ml of freshly squeezed lime juice and mix.
- Serve in glasses with salt rims, to which you can add a sprinkle of mild chilli powder for extra oomph.
Ginger and Pineapple Punch
- Pour 1l of chilled ginger ale and 1l of chilled pineapple juice into a jug.
- Thinly slice an orange and a 5cm piece of fresh ginger and add to the jug.
- Garnish with a small handful of basil leaves.
- Fill a jug three quarters full with ice.
- Add 300ml of rum, golden or dark, 100ml freshly squeezed lime juice, a dash of Angostura Bitters, 200ml of orange juice and 200ml of pineapple juice.
- Add 200ml of grenadine syrup and stir well before serving. Susan Mosse