As you make your way to Wood Smoke Cottage winding along the road, past stone walls and sweeping views of sea and mountain, you’ll find us tucked away in the hazel woods down a little tree-lined laneway. Depending on the time of year, you might be greeted by a sweep of wild flowers along the verge, or our local equine friend Gala peeking her head over the wall, or brambles bending over lush with blackberries. A little further along, you’ll spot our hens, the latest addition to our Wood Smoke family. Curving along the path, beneath hazel trees, you’ll arrive to the cottage. It is time now to stop and breathe.
We are so aware that our guests have carefully planned their holidays and worked hard to find the time and finance to take a little break away. We also know how difficult that can be especially in these precarious times. Many of our guests this past summer have had weddings cancelled, not seen family members in months, experienced the stress of trying to balance work and homeschooling or childcare and some tragically, have lost loved ones to the virus. This break with us was their little moment, their little escape from all of the chaos and the worry. A little breathing space.
So, we work harder and try as much as we can, to provide that moment. That exhale. That slice of normality. At this time of the year, that might be a fire burning gently in the stove. Candles lit on arrival.
Cosy blankets to curl on the sofas, board games, books, colouring books and pencils to while away a few hours. Vintage records to discover on the record player. Treats such as the luscious cheeses of Aillwee Cave, fresh baked seeded sourdough from Hazelwood Bakery or hand-made chocolate from Hazel Mountain chocolate. A s’mores kit for the fire pit. Our own hens’ eggs waiting for your breakfast. A nice bottle of wine from Burren Fine Food and Wine to sip while cuddling together looking out on the mossy crag. If it rains, there is nothing better than a short dash out to the hot tub set in stone ruins; you are wet anyway and laughter in the rain, while steaming in the tub, is such wonderful therapy. The sauna is heaven afterwards to lie quietly, softly breathing in scent of cedar wood.
Just outside our entrance gates, you can take a gentle stroll down the green road with lovely vistas of the sea and Burren opening up in front of you. Stop into the local Spar and ask for Liam’s fabulous mince pies or Jackie’s scrumptious fresh-that-morning scones. Pop into The Larder Deli for Shirley’s wonderful Cornish pasties and other deliciousness, grab yourself a cup of locally roasted Anam Coffee. As you sip and nibble on your goodies, take a stroll down to the pier, taking in the sweep of Galway Bay before turning home for the cottage again.
Life here in Ballyvaughan at the moment is slower than at other times of the year. In the winter, with all the greys and blues of the landscape, it is almost silent. There is a certain comfort in that. A short hibernation of sorts. Empty beaches and roads. Glimpses of Christmas lights and candles in windows. Cosy fires. Time to read. Breathing space.
Sometimes it is necessary to tune out the noise, to switch off from the constant talk of virus, vaccines and lock downs. It is quiet here, in our little tucked away slice of heaven. We can gently mind you, provide some comfort, a touch of luxury and offer a moment of well-deserved spoiling. So, if you can, come stay with us here at Wood Smoke Cottage, press the pause button a while, breathe in and exhale….