Posted on 28 Comments

Settling in

Emma Cownie - Settling In
In my empty studio
In my empty studio

Someone told me that once we got to Ireland, “it will be like being on holiday everyday!” Hmmm,  I have had some pretty eventful holidays in the past. Funny how the disasters are more memorable that the sunny easy holidays. Let me see. Here are three that come to mind; we once got flooded in a campsite in Yorkshire, had a sleepless night holding on to the tent during a gale at a campsite in the South of France, and finally we drove a tempermental campervan around Ireland a decade ago. It only started some of the time. A helpful Polish guy got it started very early in the morning so we could catch the ferry in Wexford.

Knockfola, Donegal
Knockfola, Donegal

So far, this “holiday-everyday-life” is proving to be pretty good (that’s a English understatement, by the way). There were quite a few “bumps” to start with, however. A lot of things seem to go wrong at the same time.  At first we could not get into the studio, as the door lock was jammed, then one of our dogs, little Mitzy had a stroke (the vets was over an hour’s drive away), Bingo the cat got lost and finally the toilet flooded and we couldn’t use it for several days. 

The studio makers sent someone all the way from County Tyrone to replace the lock so we could get in! The vets kept Mitzy in over the weekend and thank to a pile of drugs and lots of basket-rest, she has recovered well. Her balance isn’t great and her head is at a permanent tilt but she chase after the ball again and is still telling us what to do. 

Mitzy (with Séamas and Biddy)
Mitzy (with Séamas and Biddy)

Ann Marie at Burtonport Animal Rescue put out a notice on their facebook page, asking people to look out for Bingo, and it was shared many times. She gave us useful advice and support too. 

They do great work and need donations to keep up that great work. You can donate via this link.

Thankfully, Bingo came home late at night, after the traffic had died down.  The flooding toilet issue is more complicated, has been solved for the time being but will need some more work in future.  Don’t ask me to explain it. 

This is my one and only summer drees

 We had a heatwave with unprecedent temperatures of 30 degrees celsius soon after we arrived. This was very unexpected and I had thrown out a lot of my clothes during the move and I only had one summer dress. Fortunately, I did have bathers so we could go for a swim in the sweathering heat. That was fantastic. The water was crystal clear and surprisingly warm (or not as cold as I thought it would be). 

Swimming at Cruit Island, Donegal
Swimming at Cruit Island, Donegal

As for painting. That was  bit more difficult. I was not able to paint for two months as I was either helping un/packing up the house,  paints were packed away  or I was just too exhausted to do anything. I knew it was going take a while to find my painting groove again as I needed to recover my energy levels and adjust to a new location.  I am very fussy about arranging my paints and the position of my easel and it took a while sort things out to my satisfaction. It took longer than I thought but I am getting there now.

Painting of Marameelan, Donegal
The Old House at Marameelan

What do I love about Donegal? The way it looks and sounds. Everytime we take a trip into the nearest town of Dungloe, to post a painting or to do our food shopping, I marvel at the views. At night, when I awake, I listen to the slience. I find it so relaxing. I had had enough of the noise of city life. Donegal is so beautiful too. There is so much abundant nature on our door step, quite literally under our feet. The length of the west coast of Ireland is called the Wild Atlantic Way,  and it really is wild in every sense.

A carpet of Flowers

A carpet of Flowers at Gweedore

Red deer, seen on ground 5 minutes walk from the cottage
Red deer, seen on land only 5 minutes walk from the cottage (photo by Séamas Johnston)

The weather is very mercurial. I thought I was used to rainy weather, living in Swansea in Wales, but this is something else. I may awake to thunder and downpours, but by lunchtime the sun is shining and the sky is full of fluffy clouds. Sometimes it may rain, the sun will come out and then it rains again, all in the space of ten minutes. Today, we are in the midst of a gale, that no one has seen fit to name, with 50 mile-per-hour winds. Standing outside in the buffeting winds is surprisingly envigorating.  I think its the negative ions.

Donegal Clouds
Donegal Clouds

It may be grey all all day or the sun might come out in a bit. Passing a window, I might be struck by the beauty of the clouds.  Sometimes I point them out to Seamas, or take a photo. Often just drink them in. I hope I never stop marvelling at them.

Come and Visit

In my Viewing Gallery
In my Viewing Gallery

We are now in a position to receive visitors to our private gallery, at the rear of Meadow Cottage, on a appointment only basis. We ask that social distancing is observed and that masks are worn inside the gallery.

Please call either our mobile no.s +44 782757 4904 or

+353 87963 5699 or landline +353 74 959 1593 to book a viewing.

Séamas and I look forward to seeing you

28 thoughts on “Settling in

  1. Sounds like a bit of a baptism of fire but glad to hear that all is approaching well now. Not surprised it’s taken a while to find your painting groove after all of the kerfuffle. Looking forward to seeing your new work.

    And I love your yellow jacket. Ceri

    1. Thank you, Ceri. Yes the worst thing by far was Mitzy having a stroke. It really threw us off balance when we are all still so tired from the journey over.

    2. And I got the yellow jacket (it’s not really my colour) so as to be very visible in Donegal. It’s does the trick.

  2. Sounds like this is a glorious place to live. And I hope your cat does not go walkabout again. If I ever get to Ireland I will book a visit to you.

    1. Thank you, Leueen. That would be lovely to meet in person. I haven’t let Bingo out since he came home!

  3. glad you are settled into this beautiful place and have restored your desire to paint. I visited my friend’s family in donegal one summer and it was so lovely

    1. Thank you. That must have been great to visit with your friend’s family. I think you need to slow down to really appreciate Donegal.

      1. Yes, it was nice to spend time with locals and see the real view

  4. Oh, wouldn’t I love to visit, to see those amazing clouds and marvel at the rocky outcrops. And to see you paintings of course! I am glad you have begun to settle in, and I hope it continues to inspire you.

    1. Thank you, Anne. The skies are the best. Yet again the sun is out after a dreary and wet morning. It’s still very windy. It keeps you on your toes.

  5. Looks like you are gradually but surely settling in. Hope all goes well and you will be painting more from here on.

    1. Yes, we are slowly settling in Hien. I difficult to balance painting with wanting to rush off and visit places and domestic duties (I have to repaint the outside of the house soon as I can’t help with the vast wilderness in the garden – too unstable with my leg to risk it).

  6. Looks like both your life and your landscape is the sun after the storm. Happy for you on all counts. By the way, you might be interested in the Cloud Appreciation Society. It’s international and full of artists and photographers. They also have a monthly newsletter for membership. It’s 30€ per year. Or you can just browse their website every now and then for fun.

    1. Oh, I will take a look at the website. Thanks for that tip.

  7. Moving to a place where people vacation–or where you have–changes everything in my experience. I love Cornwall. I’m glad to live there. But it’s real life, not vacation.

    1. You are quite right, Ellen.

  8. Your art gallery looks like a wonderful place to visit. Congrats on the move and if you are feeling settled in already, that is something! It looks like the most beautiful place to live – away from massive amounts of people!

    1. Yes, I am enjoying the peace and quiet and the SPACE! It’s great. I forget about the pandemic at times too which is great.

  9. So glad the dog is doing good and the cat is back home! I was worried about the cat for a moment!
    Will there be a Bingo painting in the future?
    All in all it looks like you made the right “move” to move!
    All the best to you and your husband and the four legged kids!

    1. I have painted the other cat, Hattie (who is fluffy) a couple of times but so Bingo has only appeared on my gallery sign.

  10. What a lovely invitation! If I was anywhere near, I’d come for sure. I love both photos of you, especially the one with the red dress. I hope you paint it. Happy Ireland to you! It all looks it’s very much so already. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Manja. I hope we can all travel more easily next year!

  11. Totally looking forward to making an appointment to visit your studio next year when we visit. Unfortunately my brother has sold his summer home in Portsalon recently but we hope to book another house in Donegal for a month.

    1. That would be great to meet you in person, Peter.

  12. I’m glad Bingo came back and that Mitzy is doing well! Your settling in just fine as well Emma! These things take time for the dust to settle.

    1. Thank you, Wayne. It gets pretty “dusty” round here! lol!

  13. My goodness, what an eventful and stressful start. Thank goodness the pets are okay and you can get back to painting.

    1. Thank you, Peggy. It’s been very hard gettting back into a painting routine. I haven’t quite managed it yet, to be honest.

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