The fire crackled from the damp wood, as flames danced into the cold Welsh air, warming myself from the scene more than the actual heat, I stared into the orange-blue flickers, praying for answers.
I had no job, was living in a caravan and had no money. I had been staying with my parents, luckily I had that opportunity, but they couldn't support a nearly forty-year-old child any longer. I stared into that fire and dreamed that there was something out there for me, a life where I could use all of my skills to help create a kinder world. After I changed and had put my dog into the boot of the jeep, I started the engine and heard a loud cracking sound, the back axle had just snapped, oh dear.
After sending out hundreds of CVs and emails and scouring the internet for jobs, I managed to get an interview in southern England for a job as a life skills tutor, but I had no transport to get there. My dad being my dad, took me to the local garage in a small town in North Wales, where they were based. He very kindly bought me a car for £400.00 so I could attend the interview. I felt like a failure, when he was my age, he had a wife, five kids and a house and a good job. I didn't get the job but did get another offer of an interview from a random site I had uploaded my CV, and luckily I managed to get the job. Two weeks later I moved to Ireland. That was thirteen years ago.
The job was managing a course in activity leadership but 100hr+ weeks took their toll, and my best friend Benbo, my border collie had to be put down due to illness and old age, and not wanting to share the same fate, I handed in my notice. A few months afterwards and still completely lost in life, I somehow found myself sitting on a hospital bed, reviewing my life, signing a waiver for a procedure to check if my heart was going to pack up, and wondering to myself if I would still be alive in a few hours. The official line was that I had contracted Myocarditis, perhaps from a water-borne disease (sure enough the tap water was gravity-fed straight from the nearby mountain and unfiltered), however, I believe it was more likely poor diet, too much alcohol and massive amounts of accumulated stress, built up over years.
Fast forward to the present day, and I'm sitting in my wine bar, it's a cold, wintery Tuesday afternoon, and I've just cycled in again because I can't afford to tax my car. I'm two months late on my rent for my business and have no idea how I'll make it through to the summer, that said I have a lot to be grateful for. My [rented] home is not being bombed, I have a good mind and I like to believe I am a kind person. I still want to do my part in making the world a kinder place, to enable people to become more self-sufficient and have more food security. This is part of my dream, and I'd like for you to help me build this dream.
My near-view focus is to get through to the summer, to earn enough to pay the money I owe to my suppliers, pay the backlog of rent and also keep the doors of The Gallery open, and, as my guests tell me, this really is a special place. It's a unique little café bar, where people relax and make friends and experience something that I believe is important in today's world, call it love if you will. I'd like your help and ask and invite you to join me and support me in building a dream.
Below are the before and after pictures of The Gallery, an unused building in a dead alleyway, that I transformed and breathed life into, and in the process helped change the face of natural wine in Ireland, promoting Irish products and supporting other small-scale Irish businesses in the process. For less than the price of a dinner for two, you get a signed copy of my first book and also a 1/5000 chance to win a week-long holiday in Northern Italy, in a house you will help to materialise.
Join Project 5k and let's see where it takes us.