back in Belfast


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A few weeks ago my mother came for a visit and we took a trip up to Belfast. Sadly the weather wasn’t great (wet and windy all day Saturday) and a little to cold for my mums liking. But all in all it was a lovely trip filled with interesting sights.

graphic door

a slender pub

inside City Hall, the decor was the inspiration for the Titanic

the wonderful St George Market

Queens University

Botanic Gardens in belfast

the Grand Opera is much smaller than the name lets one believe

waiting in Dublin


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Yesterday i spent the day waiting for things to happen – a phone call, a meeting, at an appointment, on the bus, and in the end on a friend, who never showed. Waiting in Dublin isn’t uncommon – after all we are a land of queuing – but yesterday my waiting just wasn’t really rewarded.

As I sat in the cafe, waiting for my friend to show, I sipped a double espresso and watched strangers arrive in groups of twos and threes, one eye on my book one one the door I couldn’t help but feel hopeful every-time the door pinged open.  After a few chapters my cup was empty and I decided it was time to go. I swung my bag over my shoulder and began the walk home.

Currently Dublin is one big building site, the roads are waiting for the Luas to be finally finished, empty plots lie in wait for workmen to build houses on them, old building hold up signs of notification waiting for renovations to begin. It feels  as if the whole city is waiting on the brink of some sort of new beginning.

So while I walked through a waiting Dublin I couldn’t help but smile and think how well I fit in.

while waiting for some coffee I took a trip around the world

an empty lot waiting for some workmen

a window waiting to be done up

a gentle gesture


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Late yesterday evening, when I arrived back home after lecturing, a wave of emotions rushed over me as soon as I passed through my own front door. It was a mixture of gratitude and grief for a couple of strangers I had met while walking to the bus on my way back from work.

It all began when, for reasons unknown to me, I decided to take a different route to the bus stop than I usually do. As I walked down Grafton street, just before ten at night, it dawned on me that I hadn’t been there it quite some time and the amount of homeless sleeping in doorways filled me with sadness.

Of course I have been reading the news and am aware of the problem of the increase of homeless people that Ireland, Dublin in particular, has been facing. And I know that the number of women and children sleeping rough has gone up dramatically over the last two years, but somehow the contrast of brightly lit shops and people lying on cardboard in the the doorways was something I just hadn’t seen in a while and it pained me.

Walking passed the sleeping figures I felt powerless and saddened, really not knowing what to do. As I approached the most expensive shop in Dublin, luxury brands and high-end design adorning its windows, things I sometimes covet but can never afford, I saw two figures huddled together in the doorway next to it. As I came closer I could see how a man had curled his body inwards, protectively around the sleeping woman beside him and in a moment of intimacy he lifted his hand to tenderly tuck her tightly in to her worn and tatty sleeping bag and stroked her cheek with such a gentle gesture that I felt I was invading a very private moment.

That gesture of love and caring hit me hard in the chest and I knew I couldn’t just walk by. Not wanting to disturb them too much I did the only thing I could and offered to buy them something warm to eat. His face lit up and he asked for a burger, she was deep in dreamland and he didn’t want to wake her.

Knowing that my gesture was only small I felt humbled by his gratitude and on the bus ride home his gentle gesture wouldn’t leave my thoughts. Once home I couldn’t but feel grateful for the four walls I live in, even though the rent has gone up putting financial strain on me. I felt thankful for the privacy my home provides me, that I have food in the fridge and a bed to sleep in. Closing my eyes that night I kept thinking of the couple sleeping huddled together in the doorway and hoped that at least their obvious love for each other could provide some comfort – until hopefully they too could find a home to feel safe in.

feeling grateful for my home

Easter auntie duties


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Easter isn’t too far off anymore so it’s time to put on my floppy ears and fluffy tail and hop along to my Easter auntie duties.

Living in a different country to my nieces and nephews means I can’t just hop around the corner and deliver chocolaty goodies by paw so I need to get down to the post office and hope they’ll deliver in time for Easter Sunday smiles.

But before I can do that I need to pack up those goodies, write a few cards and make sure I don’t get anything mixed up since the age differences between both my  nephews and nieces is more than ten years. Luckily I found some lovely little Easter bags that can help me divide up the treats and gifts to ensure the right gift goes to the right nephew or niece.

For a few weeks now I have been keeping my eyes open for small, inexpensive gifts as I don’t want to add to much chocolate to the Easter sugar over-excitement that is sure to incur.

A wonderful side effect of my Easter auntie duties is that it gets me into the Easter-spirt without even trying. So, while Easter is still a few weeks away I think it may be time to consider hanging some painted eggs into my window and maybe do some spring-cleaning while I’m at it. That means my weekend is planned!

Easter bags ready and waiting to be filled


sunny Sunday afternoon


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The arrival of summer time  was accompanied by a beautiful sunny day. The sky was blue, cloudless, and while it may have looked a little warmer from inside the house than the strong wind let it actually be, it was still a perfect spring day.

Because I didn’t want to waste it by staying indoors I got on my bike and went for a cycle to Clontarf. And I wasn’t the only one!

As I rode through Fairview park multitudes were playing football and even more were populating the playgrounds. Mums and Dads sat on benches and blankets, some with picnics others with bags of deliciously smelling chips.  On the promenade the picture didn’t change, it just got a little busier.

Bikes, prams, in-liners, scooters, tricycles and pedestrians – with and without dogs of all shapes and sizes – made their way along the seafront, chatter and laughter, some shouts and barks filling the air with life.

I had thought I’d find a spot in one of the beachfront cafes to enjoy the sun and a cup of coffee while I read but if the promenade was busy the eateries were bursting. So instead of stopping and sitting for a while I decided to make my way back home and sit outside my own front door. Enjoying the wind in my back and the sun on my face I took a quick pit-stop in a local shop (some yogurt, bread and milk for my breakfast was required) and bought myself a small pastry for less than half what it would have cost at a cafe.

Once perched on my bench, a book in my hand I couldn’t help but think that I had made the right decision. After all sometimes you find happiness right on your doorstep!

my Sunday treat: a freshly brewed double espresso and an apple pastry

lost hour


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At one o’clock this morning summer time arrived and made us all skip an hour to make the evenings longer and brighter. And while this may sound like a great idea as someone who tends to be always ten minutes late losing an hour can cause all sorts of havoc with my timekeeping.

Of course I wake up much later as my body clock has no idea that summer has come and just as I finish breakfast I realise lunch isn’t too far off – which means I’ll skip it.  So as I sit and correct the sun outside my door beckons me out and I know I won’t be able to resist, meaning I won’t get everything done today – the lost hour at night claiming time during the day.

I know of course in a day or two things will be back to normal and the lost hour will disappear until we regain it again in October, that one hour of extra sleep we all enjoy so much when the days grow darker and colder. But until then I play catch up on myself and  abandon my desk to enjoy a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.

summer time tells me it’s one hour later than yesterday

Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s easy being green


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Ireland is, as most of you will already know, the Emerald Isle. The fields are lush and green as they enjoy fresh rain and a mild climate.

What many may not necessarily know is that these are also the reasons for the varied plant-life that inhabits Ireland, many of which are even tropical. Palm trees grow really well, fuchsias turn into trees and monkey puzzle trees delight the children in the parks.

This means for Ireland it truly is ‘easy being green’ but what the island now needs is the willingness of its people to keep it that way. Sadly recycling still isn’t as big a deal as it should be on our shores and the lack of good cycling paths,and a varied public transport system that allows for easy access across the city and country  means people still rely to much on their cars.

So the Emerald Isle needs a little more support from the people it houses and maybe, just maybe, it will be able to stay as beautifully green as it should.

a weird looking green plant

correction time


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With the end of the semester creeping up on tip toes my pile of corrections is slowly growing, an unpleasant parallel to the plants on my windowsills. This means my weekend plans have already been made and anyone who wants to see me will find me with a pen in hand marking up my students words.

While correcting may not be my favorite task the one thing I truly enjoy about it is discovering what my students have lernt in the time we have spent together: sometimes surprising  other times just plain satisfying.

The only down side to my weekend plans is the fact that the weather is looking up again and the sun seems to want to come out and play again. So maybe, if I can get a lot done today , I will venture down to the community garden tomorrow afternoon and get my hands a little bit mucky to mask some of  red ink staining the finders on my right hand.

an old picture but the same intent

weather talks


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After more than 24 hours of rain, wet socks, frizzy hair, and damp clothes it’s great to see a little bit of blue poking out between the clouds. Especially since the last two nights have been long and sleepless as the tattoo of heavy rain beating against my window has kept me awake for most of the night.

But no matter how miserable the weather proves to be the thing I enjoy most is the amount of strangers who strike up conversations by stating this obvious fact. On both bus rides to and fro from work – I declined to walk as the weather was just too wet – my seat companion told me in no uncertain terms that we were having  ‘shocking weather’ while their umbrellas dripped puddles onto my already wet shoes. Knowing the rules of the game I, of course,  answered the only way one can: with a pinched smile, a nod, a sigh, and a ‘I know, isn’t awful!’

Our shared commiseration about something we cannot change opened up the floodgates (couldn’t resist the pun) to stories of a few strangers lives. I heard all about the disasters of the paper shopping bags Pennys uses ‘sure they just rip, now me shopping is drowned’  and the splashing cars, bikes and buses soaking ‘me legs’.

While I nodded along to the lamentations I remembered a statistic I read a good while ago. It it it said that Irish people, on average, talk about the weather at least twice a day and 25% of the population even go so far as to talk about the sun and rain four times daily.

I suppose this means that with the ever changing of weather in Ireland at least no one will ever be stumped for conversation and weather talks will stay an easy way to connect.

leaf puddle in my backyard


challenging portrait


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Meeting new people and connecting through creativity is one of the #jjcommunitys aims, to help with that they offer support and advice in how to perfect your Instagram and use the tools available to you.

So on Saturday, on the mystery tour, we lernt about some of the challenges a street photographer has: light, movement, unknown territory, spotting the moment before it passes and sometimes, with the help of a smile, asking for a strangers permission to photograph them.

The CEO of #jjcommunity Kevin Kuster led the group I was in through the drizzle of Galway and gave us a few challenges along the way. One challenge was to approach a stranger and take their portrait.

Never one to shy away from the unknown I took the challenge on and began to look for someone a little bit special. I saw a stunning woman across the road and drawn in by her colourful clothes and true Irish complexion I stopped her in her tracks. She was in a bit of a hurry but agreed to my proposal and I was rewarded with theses lovely portraits on a beautiful woman from Galway – Aisling: a full-time nurse and part-time model.