Begorrathon – March, the month for the Irish

Greene's, Dublin's oldest bookstore

Greene’s, Dublin’s oldest bookstore

I saw something called Begorrathon, via Tranquil Dreams’ blog. They’re running a theme month for March, the month of St. Patrick’s Day for any bloggers to join in posting anything and all to do with Ireland. It can be books, movies, recipes, travels (yay!), and any aspect of Irish culture, really. There’s a Facebook page, as well. The rules are to post the badge in your blog sidebar, which I’ve done, and then any time you post something related to the topic, let them know. (You can see the posting rules on the blog link above, should you want to join in or just follow and read.)

So yes. I think I shall. I’ve already done a “Traveling through the movies” on Ireland (Leap Year) so I’ll send them that link come March.  I have been to Ireland twice, once on a weekend in Cobh and Dublin and one other time on a bus tour. I think i’ll dig out my old travelogue and post it in parts, uploading it throughout the month. I’ve also written a few other random posts on Ireland so they’ll work in with the theme as well.

Ireland is a beautiful country and I would certainly love to return there. My future husband has only been once, just for a wedding and couple of days in Cobh but he has some good friends living on the Ring of Kerry. We’d love to go to Ireland and do a road trip around the countryside some day.

Begorrathon starts March 1 and I’ll be posting through the month. The Irish literature focus is on 746 Books, and the film, tv and other miscellania will be on Raging Fluff.

A Word a Week – Frame

Framing a photo is one of the tricks of making a photo more interesting. It can give the photo perspective and draw the eye into it. You’ll often see photos with bits of lacy branches around the sites or top. I do that often. There are other ways to frame a photo, though. Even just a wall or hedge along the bottom works, as does a view through a window.

While looking through my photos, instead of the classic framing with trees, etc. I came across some photos from a visit to the restored and historic Fortress of Louisbourg in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Louisbourg was a French fort that passed hands back and forth with the English over a couple of centuries during various wars. The French finally ceded it to the English but it eventually fell into disrepair. In the mid 20th century, a project to restore it began and it’s a thriving concern now. They’re continuing to do work on it all the time. The fortress houses a small village and it’s set up much as it would have been in the 18th century. The people that work there all work in costume and can tell you about the historical aspects of the place and their “character”. We visited a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a lot of events that are put on through the summer, as well.

Here’s a few “framed” photos from that visit.

The main gate of the fortress

A view of the harbour

Soldier at the bastion

A Word A Week

More Louisbourg photos here.


WordPress Weekly: Symmetry

This week’s WordPress challenge is “symmetry”. This is one of my favourite photos, taken at the Royal Chelsea Hospital in London. The Royal Chelsea Hospital was founded by King Charles II to house war veterans. It is still a retirement home for veterans to this day. The vets must have no other family and they sleep in a very small chamber, just big enough for a single bed, small bedside table and clothes dresser. They are in fact a bit larger than when the hospital was built (late 17th century). There is this beautiful chapel on the grounds and there’s a large dining hall that’s equally lovely. The men and women, the Chelsea Royal Pensioners,  dress in navy blue uniforms if they are on the grounds but wear brilliant scarlet for “dress” which is what you usually see them wearing in photos.  This is still a working chapel and there is a regular congregation that worship here.  This was the late Margaret Thatcher’s normal Sunday church.

Cheslea Royal Hospital Chapel, London

Travel Theme: Detail

This week the travel theme from Where’s My Backpack is Detail. I visited the Tower of London last year and we spent most of our time in the Armoury museum. It’s more than just suits of armour for men and horses, there is a whole cache of weaponry as well. Some of the details on the armour and other items was extremely intricate and I always enjoy taking photos of details as well as overall photos.

Spanish helmet

Closeup on Henry Stuart’s armour

Dragon made of armour

German saddle

Low key and memorable moments

Taynuilt, Scotland

Taynuilt, Scotland

I have belonged to a travel mailing list/group called The Travelzine for many years. It’s an excellent resource if you want to find out about practically any location. Someone has probably been there or knows someone that has, and getting first hand recommendations for hotels, restaurants, shopping and everything else to do with traveling is there for the asking. It’s a Yahoo group and here’s how to join.

Anyway, in the last few days there’s been a discussion about low key moments you’ve experienced while traveling and I thought that would be a great blog post. The main thrust of the discussions and memories that people are posting have to do with little unexpected things that happen…not great disasters, not mishaps or adventures, just little things that you always remember for their simplicity. Aside from sunrises and sunsets, here’s a few from my journeys.

Meeting a little four year old girl on a train from Liverpool to Manchester. She was intrigued watching me write in my travel notebook and wanted to write something, too. I let her draw me a picture in the back of it. There’s more about that here.

When you’re on a bus tour, there’s a lot of photo ops set up for the punters. On my first tour, back in 1993, we stopped at the border between Scotland and England and there was the inevitable Piper playing music for us tourists. While I was taking photos of the view, I heard the bagpipes burst out in Hava Nagila. I turned and saw a group of Israeli women from our bus dancing a traditional dance. By the time I got back, they’d finished so I missed that photo op but it sticks in my mind to this day.

Another of my favourite moments happened on the tiny island of Iona, again there’s no photographic evidence. I walked along a lane between a row of houses on one side and their gardens on the other side, facing the sea that separates Iona from the Isle of Mull. It was a cool April morning, a little chilly. As I passed one of the gardens, I saw a group of women sitting on the ground together, wearing warm coats and all huddled over hot mugs of tea, enjoying the early spring sunshine. They even had a tea set on the ground with them rather than just bring the tea or coffee from their own kitchens. They made an occasion of it! I was too shy to ask if i could take their photo but I’ll never forget it.

I remember lying in a hotel room in London, my very first visit. Visiting London was a lifelong dream for me. I was stressed and over tired and really jetlagged. I couldn’t sleep, I’d gone way past that point. Then I heard the sound of what I thought was the bell of Big Ben. Holy Crap!!!! I’m really in London!!!! (It probably wasn’t Big Ben, I was too far away but it might have been St. Paul’s Cathedral as that was too far from the hotel)

The quiet streets of Dublin at night, with the echoes of horse hooves as four of us toured around in one of those horse and buggies.

Workman singing Beatles tunes.

Workman singing Beatles tunes.

Sitting in a square behind Bath Abbey in the sun and listening to a work man who was pulling scaffolding apart and singing Beatles’ tunes at the top of his voice.  This time, I did get sneaky photographic evidence!

Watching my mom and boyfriend standing on a small strip of beach in Dover on a freezing cold and windy day singing about the Bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover, at the top of their voices. (I stayed warm in the bus!)

We were in a B&B near Wells, UK after a long, tiring day driving. We’d been relaxing in our nightwear and headed to bed. I got in first, he turned out the light and I realized that his tshirt design had glow in the dark stuff on it. He didn’t know it had and we both started to giggle and couldn’t stop! I’ll pull up the covers and see the shirt glowing under the duvet and we’d start to laugh all over again!

There are a lot of little moments, funny things that make memories, mini-disasters or frustrations, too. It’s all part of the ups and downs of travel and we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?

I’d love to hear some of your low key moments!

WordPress Challenge: Scale

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is Scale. For my example, I’ve gone with three photos  that show miniature scales of things. First, small versions of musical instruments that were/are owned by well known rock artists, seen in a window of a music store in London, on Tottenham Court Road.

Second, a miniature scale of the village of Coniston in the Lake District of England, seen outside the back of the Coniston museum.

And finally, Lilliput Lane is a company that produces miniature versions of real buildings, cottages, houses, even street scenes and cathedrals found around the United Kingdom mainly. We visited one of the places where they are made and saw the process from pouring the ceramic, to hand painting, shown here.


A Word a Week – Mural

While some people think graffiti is defacing a surface, and it certainly can be if it’s just random and pointless, others thing of it as a work of art and it certainly can be that as well. Graffiti is a way of expressing, usually, discontent with political slogans and warnings, territorial markings. Murals on public surfaces could be classed as graffiti but it’s also beautiful public art, street art as a rule. Some public murals are even commissioned. Some people do it to brighten up the neighbourhood, some to reflect the neighbourhood. Here’s a few I’ve seen on my travels:

First, two from London

Seen on Tottenham Court Road, London

Seen in SoHo, London

Two from Quebec City

Petit Champlain, Quebec City

The Cooperative Mural, Quebec City

Chinatown, Toronto

The next two are no longer. In the first, the building has been torn down, and in the second, renovations along the wall have removed the panel and mural.

This building was on Oldham Road, Manchester, UK

This was on a panel in the wall around and beneath the Grand Parade square in Halifax, along Barrington Street next to City Hall.

See more over at A Word in Your Ear.

WordPress Theme: Depth

This week WordPress wants to see depth. I had a little think and decided to go with an “under the sea” concept, photos from an aquarium in the Chester Zoo, England.

Cool Coral

Coral, with a few fish hiding. Is that Nemo?