Posh Irish Sheep

Dzogchen Beara faces the tail end of Bere Island, which looks like a bloodhound rising up out of the water under a green baize sheet, and was part of the view from our cottage window. So we went there one day, on the ferry (only takes 15 minutes), to have a look around.

I hadn’t quite anticipated how little there would be there, and was disturbed to find there were no public toilets on the island. As I’m definitely not a ‘do it in the bushes’ kind o’gal, I was extremely grateful to a very nice Chinese lady—one of the 200 people who live there—who let me use hers. We also noticed that the advertised cafe was shut, but as we hadn’t gone to drink tea (especially once we discovered the lack of facilities) we weren’t much bothered. It was the closest I’ll probably ever get to the kind of walking the Bhutanese engage in routinely, especially when travelling to the wilder, even less civilized east of their country. Or to Philip’s experience last year of hiking to Sengye Dzong with OT Rinpoche.

Naturally, we weren’t at all prepared for our hike. Or at least, I wasn’t. Number 1 priority should have been the acquisition of gum boots, which I’d thought about, but not acted upon (what’s new?). So I spent most of the walk trying to avoid the squelchy bits, which meant skirting the uniformly squishy trail and leaping like a mountain goat over the worst patches. (Andreas didn’t manage to capture this unlikely activity on camera, for which I am extremely grateful.) And of course, I had to keep my head down and concentrate, so from that point of view, it was not unlike my normal working day.

The point of this post, though, is to report on the sheep we met on our hike.

First, though, I must confess a guilty, nay, shameful secret. When I travel I usually buy a Hello! magazine to browse through on the plane. Sad, but true. I only mention it because on our flight over to Dublin, I’d read about Victoria Beckham, the pouting pop princess turned fashion designer, and her latest ‘collection.’ The breathlessly enthusiastic fashion reporter noted that the collection featured three colours, black, white and bright orange—this year, it seems, black is the new black, once again.

So, back to my tale. As we left the lighthouse, which had been our goal, to make our way back to the ferry landing across the hills (equally mushy, by the way, however high we climbed—I thought water obeyed gravity and flowed down to the sea, but not on Bere Island) we met some sheep. As I tried to capture decent images of them with my trusty camera (I’ve been known to photograph paint drying…), Victoria and her clothes popped into my mind. In the time it takes to wrinkle one’s brow, as most of us do when we try to make a connection or clarify a thought (not something you’ll see Victoria do much), I realized that the sheep weren’t as cut off from civilization as I’d assumed. Their faces and legs were black, their woolly coats white (well, sort of) and on them was emblazoned a single colour. Orange. Victoria’s cutting-edge fashion had even penetrated the wilds of south-east Ireland. Of course, it was only the sheep who seemed keen on Victoria’s vision, but nothing in life is ever truly perfect, is it.

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