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.

Aisling

the windows in Galway

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Galway is one of those wonderfully colorful cities that attracts locals and tourists alike.  On my recent trip my gaze was often drawn upwards at the eclectic selection of windows that adorned the houses I walked passed. Like people, they seemed to have individual personalities and I enjoyed looking for them as I walked by.

In doing so I couldn’t help but think about how people say ‘that eyes are the windows to your soul’ and wondered if it then follows that windows are the eyes into a houses soul- if such a thing exists. And if so what would the windows of the houses I was photographing say about the home they hid behind their glass.

Still musing these thoughts on the train ride home my eyes caught glimpses of strangers lives lit up in the dark from within. And I remembered how, as I child, I often made up stories about the people I saw, imagining why they were doing what they did and what they would be doing afterwards.

Again my mind drifted, this time to one of my all time favourite fairy tales: The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen. I loved the way, with the strike of a match, the wall to the house she sat huddled up to would turn into a see-through veil and display a life that she so longed for and dreamt of.

So maybe windows aren’t just the eyes to the soul of a home, but maybe they can also be an aperture into a world of fantasy and dreams, one that inspires to create and imagine – even if only for one’s own enjoyment

mystery tour in miserable weather

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Come join us on a mystery tour – how could that not catch my eye. So yesterday morning I headed out – much earlier than I would have liked – to Heuston Station, my camera bag hanging from my shoulder and no idea where I was  going. Once there a gaggle of people was receiving bright green wristbands, so I joined the queue and followed some stranger wearing green jackets onto a waiting train.

I didn’t know anyone there, but I wasn’t the only one and I soon became part of a lovely – very lively – group of soon to be friends. After a long train ride, filled with laughs and lots of chats, we arrived in Galway – our mystery destination!

Sadly the weather hadn’t changed and we were greeted by gray skies and lots of drizzle. Not wanting the weather to dictate how the day would go we set off – ten groups in all – to invade the lovely city of Galway and discover a few hidden gems along the way. As we grew wetter and our memory cards fuller, hours passed by as the day waned.

After a long up hill hike we ended up in Ardilaun Hotel – a lovely place but a long walk away from were we started – especially in the rain. Never have I longed more for a hot cup of tea and was rewarded with a hot brew served in a lovely cup. As we waited for dinner to be served all eyes drifted towards their phones as everyone instegrammed, liked and hashtagged. Sadly the dinner was not very good (small portions, no flavour and too expensive for what we got – cheap rolls and stew that was more like watery soup) but at least the company was great and we all had fun, found friends and new followers and followees.

Back on the train the laughter continued and once we set foot back on Dublin ground everyone was tired and happy. So even if the weather was miserable, it was a wonderful day – a mystery tour with marvelous people – and all thanks to the ever expanding #jjcommunity,  Josh Johnson and Kevin Kuster.

arriving at Galway train station

a bright pink square distracting me from the miserable gray skies

ribbons on a bridge

vendor selling his wares at the Galway market

dripping umbrella

hatseller enjoying a few quite moments

dry underneath a sunny yellow umbrella

flower seller

colourful tarps

not so securely tightened

a new friends shoes

another bridge

red catching my eye

a few lit candles

Galway cathedral turned its dome green for the occasion

steps up to the alter

looks to me like across between a monkey and a fish

more friendly shoes

water everywhere

pigeongalway

even the pigeons looked for shelter on windowsills

changed meaning

some of the group

Paddy’s Day in my PJs

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In good old Irish tradition the skies are grey over Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, but at least it isn’t raining anymore. And while tourists and kids are craning their necks and getting their eyes poked out by umbrella spokes trying to catch a glimpse of the Paddy’s Day parade, I am at home lounging around in my PJs.

As a kid my parents took my sister and me down to O’Connell Street and I do vaguely remember wet days, marching bands, small floats and cold feet. But those were the pre-boom era parades, now they have gone a little bit over the top with samba-dancers turning blue while shaking their hips to samba beats in the Irish weather and international marching bands putting on a display.

Nowadays I like to stay home, enjoy a day off and enjoy just being home. But a pair of shamrock socks are my little nod to Saint Patrick.

St Paddy's Day socks

St Paddy’s Day socks

Weekly Photo Challenge: Atop

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As I child I loved climbing trees and rocks, I liked the feeling of being higher up, just looking down instead of up for a change.

When eleven or so I then discovered how much I enjoyed the solitude of being atop a tree, hidden between branches, tucked away with a book, reading my way into fantasy worlds. One tree in particular was my ‘go to’ perch, but sadly it didn’t last when the next door neighbors thought I was spying on their nudist activities and chased me away.

In my twenties I did some rock-climbing in the Pyrenees. On one of the days I remember clambering to the top, secured from below, and turning around to the view behind of a valley behind me. It was breathtaking, even more so than the effort it took to get atop.

And while I may no longer be the climbing type I can’t help but look up at the clouds and wonder what it would be like to be up there looking down.