Camping Aillebrack Beach, Ballyconneely, Co Galway

Aillebrack Beach, Ballyconneely Peninsula

Last weekend we travelled to Aillebrack Beach, when we lived in Clifden this was my favourite beach to visit and swim at. I personally find it a magical place, with ever changing skies that blend and contrast with the horizon line, and of course the whole Atlantic Ocean lapping against its shoreline, next stop America, literally.

I loved coming here and just sitting in the grass for hours with our two dogs, so I was very tentative about returning, the last time we were there was just a month before we lost Daisy and I had actually planned the weekend she went in for her operation to visit and stay, but it was never to be.

One thing I do know, is I will never put off doing something again, lots of things can get in the way, work, family, financial stress, so last Saturday when faced with doing overtime for work or visiting the beach I knew there was no choice in it. Memories were needing to be made, even if it was just with our little Missy.

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I had always wanted to stay on the beach overnight, so we brought along our small 2 man tent (pop-up), snorkelling gear, kite, strangely enough there was very little wind, so that didn’t really work out, our stove and a small beach feast.

After this we sat in the tent and listened to the waves melodically caress the sand and the rocks as we drifted to sleep.

Pic: Sun setting as we sat on the rolling dunes and watched it disappearing beyond the tip of the peninsula.

The following morning – Breakfast of champions, coffee, porridge, peanut butter and maple syrup, looking out over the beach. Which was quickly followed with a visit by these two guys, the most curious young bullocks I have ever met, in fairness to them though we were two humans in a little tent and therefore deserved some attention.

Staring intently as they hugged close to each other, the brown one intermittently licking and then play head butting the cream one as he watched on. Talking to them only added to their curiosity before they gave up on what was obviously a demented human explaining to them she was a vegan, and therefore had nothing to worry about, at least from her.

They eventually rambled off, play fighting, on the look out for another curious event to explore. We packed and went for one final ramble on the beach in the early morning air, shrouded by shades of grey from the sea to the sky, making memory moments in time.

Random Constructs and Thoughts on Poo

Random Constructs and Thoughts on Poo

This year I made two pretty big changes to my life, one was to start walking up mountains (generally being outdoors more) and the second was changing to a vegan lifestyle –both of these things managed to centre around deconstructing pre-established ideas I held and funnily enough many, many thoughts on poo.

So back to the mountains and a vegan lifestyle, the picture I took at the top of this post is really what inspired this article.

This sign is at the entrance to the Glencar Waterfall in Co Leitrim, and yes it is completely outdoors, surrounded by trees and pouring down from a mountainside, the only thing man-made is the pathway up to it, and the sign. Followed closely by the thought process that inspired the sign to be put up – again man-made (human made, I don’t just want to be point the finger specifically at men).

Well what does this have to do with any of the above? It all pretty much comes down to the fact that I am a dog owner. Strange term as I do see her, Missy my nine year old Springer Spaniel, as being part of my family, but legally I am her owner.

As part of our family, we decided because we were going to be walking and outdoors we would bring her with us as we visited various sites around Ireland, until we tried to do precisely that.

More often than not we encountered signs not allowing dogs at all, not even well behaved ones on a lead, with well-behaved owners that did pick up their poo. See we do eventually get back to the poo.

I do understand that not all dog owners are as contentious, but an awful lot of them are, and seeing as in a recent survey it is estimated that 49% of households in Ireland have at least one dog, there does seem to be a lot of family dog members around.

So why are they randomly not allowed in various places that are outdoors?

That’s right, I’m not trying to bring her inside anywhere, I’m not wondering why can’t my dog sit in a coffee shop with me, or why I can’t bring her into a supermarket, no, not at all. I don’t expect to be able to.

But, when I am out walking I would like to know I could bring her, on a lead, with me without, the random idea I will be fined for just having her stand on a piece of grass/land or she may be shot. Yes, we have also encountered those signs! They absolutely shocked me when I first saw them!

In fairness here, they are relating to lands (public and private with access) where there are sheep roaming and there have been stories of the sheep being victims to dog packs.

But, since she (Missy) is never out of my sight, let roam and is contentiously taken care off, because I know where she is all the time, I’m not quite sure why when I arrive to visit a place or look it up online, I am turned away or don’t go at all because of being faced with the No Dog Policy.

It’s not like the other wild animals, and farmed stock, are subjected to the same rules, and they most certainly don’t have someone walking around after them with a poo bag, (try walking up a mountain in Connemara and not stepping into some sheep poo) never mind having them on a lead.

Can you imagine a giant sign saying no sheep beyond this point, and what would we threaten them with? Eating them!!! (And so starts the vegan thoughts, which I will park right here, for another time and place).

Or if a family of wild rabbits turned up to Glencar Waterfall were greeted with a sign, No Rabbits! Fines apply!!!

The sigh could be replaced with a large structure around the area, making the outdoors/indoors, and then no animals could get in, therefore negating their need to be able to read signs. And, I wouldn’t have anything to complain about because it would all be indoors and I would have no expectations of being able to bring my dog in, say just like I wouldn’t in a supermarket.

And sure I don’t want to be in buildings anyway, I just want to be outside with my family, including my dog!!!

Malaga & Granada Vegan Restaurants

Malaga & Granada Vegan Restaurants

Since going vegan at the beginning of this year, when we are travelling planning is key to making sure we know where we are going to eat. Initially, being vegetarian was pretty easy as most places have a veggie option, not so much being vegan.

But in saying that websites like the Happy Cow are making it a lot easier.

In May we spent a week traveling around the South of Spain using both Malaga and Granada as our base to work out off. Also, because we use Airbnb as the main source for our accommodation, buying and cooking food to suit our diet is pretty straightforward while we are there.

But, of course we don’t want to be spending all of our holidays cooking. Having a list of vegan restaurants to visit helps us keep the cooking – eating out vegan food in balance.

Canadu Restaurant, Plaza Merced

Starting with Malaga our two main go to restaurants are actually located quite close together. I booked us into an Airbnb on Plaza Merced and right across from us, on the plaza is Canadu restaurant, serving both vegetarian and vegan dishes, it is open for lunch from 1.15 to 4.15 and for Dinner from 7.30 to 11.30.

They have a wide menu including vegan cheeses and deserts, all very yummy. My favourite dish is the Vegan Spaghetti followed closely by the organic brown rice with tofu, almonds, basil and curry. They also do a vegan Patatas Bravas, to see their full menu click here or Follow on Facebook

The second place in Malaga we visit is Vegetariano El Calafate, they offer a three-course meal for around ten euros, the lunchtime and dinner menu vary in price, but it is always listed on the signs outside and inside. They are located at Calle Andres Perez, 6 (at front of Terteria El Haren), approximately a 6/7 minutes walk from Plaza Merced. They open from 1pm for lunch to 11pm at night; note their hours can change slightly.

As it is a set choice three-course menu, on occasion it has been a bit too much food for me, so go when you are very hungry. Also they are primarily vegetarian, so there aren’t as many vegan choices as available in Canadu. Follow on Facebook.

Vegetariano El Calafate

Finally, when we arrived in Granada, the first vegan restaurant we visited was so good; we ended up going back there most of the time Hicuri Restaurante Vegan.

I had actually visited there many years ago when it was vegetarian, now with a full vegan menu, it had everything we needed from lunches to dinners and deserts.

They also stock a selection of vegan food to buy, an example being cheeses that are very good. They have a variety of menus, including a set menu and special daily menus.

They are open Monday to Friday 11 to 11 and on Saturdays 12 to 11, closed on Sundays. Their full menu is available to download from their website click here.

Definitely a must visit, and if you do get a chance a good friend of ours runs an Irish Bar just across the road called Paddy’s, do pop in and say hi. On an end note, I would recommend having at least a smattering of Spanish and being able to read the ingredients in Spanish is also a plus. Failing that, a good translation dictionary on your phone or a handy size English/Spanish dictionary kept nearby. There were other places, we didn’t manage to get to, or they were closed when we did, but plenty of time as we are heading back there very soon.

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