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.

going sock-less

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Over the past few days spring has fully sprung in Dublin, the sun has been shining, the trees have been blooming and everything is waking up from the long winter sleep. With the temperatures rising I have decided to let the weather ‘knock my socks off’ (couldn’t resist this awful pun) and relegate my socks to the back of the drawer and go sock-less again. So over the last three days my feet have been bare in my shoes and I have enjoyed the freedom of unhindered wiggling of toes.

Now I only hope that my socklessness state can continue until much later this year and who knows, maybe by offering up an extra few patches of exposed skin to the sun my vitamin D intake will skyrocket. Additionally I won’t need to spend time sorting my socks – I like them in pairs – and I’ll even save some (even if only small) space in the washing machine.

So maybe I should look around and see what else I could dispel and discover what I may gain by doing so.

standing in a spot of sun

politics and coffee

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The Irish spring sun is showing off its rays today, and since I have some course to prepare for I have moved from my desk to the table by the window.

One of the classes I’m preparing for is all about Irish politics and how the media deals with it, so my nose is stuck in a thick academic book reading all about Ireland and the EU.  As I make slow progress over the tightly typed up pages I can’t help but feel the need for something to stop my mind from wandering off topic and out into the sunny world outside my window.

Luckily I passed a bakery on my way home from teaching today and I decided to treat myself to a rare indulgence – a sticky toffee donut – as a little pick me up for when that afternoon lull hits and steals away my concentration. So now, as I read the sometimes hard to compute academic essays on topics I need to understand a cup of hot coffee and a sugary treat helps me sweeten the time.

And who knew that coffee and politics can be a perfect combination?

sometimes the words of academia need a bit of sweetening

catching up on correspondence

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Ever since most of my bills went digital the clack on the letter flap on my front door is rarely heard. And I think my postman must be getting bored as he doesn’t seem to need to come quite as often as he use to. But when he does, the soft thud of letters falling to the floor make me smile.

With that in mind I decided to catching up on my correspondence and spent most of Sunday evening with a pen in my hand. There is something quite rewarding about writing down your thoughts knowing someone you care about will read them a few days later (sometimes a few days more depending on the speed of the postman). Delayed gratification in the day and age of instant demands.

On a shelf in my study sits an old wooden wine box filled with cards and envelopes I’ve collected, some over years, others only a few weeks old. And part of the joy of picking up my pen and writing to friends is selecting a card that I think they’ll like, one I can see them smile about, maybe even laugh or giggle, when they open up the envelope.

Now that the letters have been written, the envelopes sealed, addressed and stamped, all I need to do is drop them into a letterbox and wait to see if I’ll get a reply.

For some it may seem odd that I enjoy the old-fashioned way of correspondence when a simple click of a mouse can send an email that will be read within seconds of writing it, but for me the enjoyment of a physical letter is much larger than a few virtual lines on screen. After all who has ever stuck a funny email up on their fridge or reread a fb message years after it was sent?

And who knows, maybe my postman will no longer be bored and have a few letters in his bag for me too. I’ll just have to wait and listen for the clack of the flap on my door and the soft thud as letters land on my floor.

a few letters ready to be sent

a few letters ready to be sent

staying away and stepping back

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lighthouse

Trying to figure a few things out often means spending time away from what you usually do. By changing your routine you free up time and can tackle all those questions that swirl around in your mind. By stepping away you can step back and take a new look at what the issues are. But no matter how far away you step, eventually, you need to step back into your ‘normality’, whatever that may be.

And while it is sometime hard to step back into your routine, one step at a time seems to be the best way, even if the progress is slow at least it means you are moving forward. And if you set yourself some goals (or write long to do lists) they seem to guide you like the light of a lighthouse in the distance.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

Henry Miller

new year- old haunts

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It’s day two of the new year and it stretches out before me like a blank page, encouraging me to dream and plan, make changes and find a few new adventures. And while saying good-bye to 2016 was easy – it wasn’t a great year for me – I can’t help feel a little melancholy about the past.

This has possibly mainly to do with the fact that I spent the last days of the old year wandering around some old haunts of mine in Bamberg, a baroque town in Bavaria (Franconia) I lived in as a student.

It was a little odd to rediscover a place I once knew so well and reconnect with people I use to see nearly every day – odd, but good and a little sad. As I rambled through the tiny cobblestone alleys and clambered up the hills I couldn’t help but wonder about all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘could ofs’.

But since you can’t turn back time and I don’t even think I really want to now is the perfect time to close a chapter and begin a new one. So as I sit on the train and with those thoughts in my mind I think I will take one last look at the photos I took and begin planning the months that lie ahead of me. After all there is nothing more exciting than the unknown.

some bright berries coated with frost

some bright berries coated with frost

bamberg-garagedoors banberg-garden-ice-flower

garden still life

garden still life

bamberg-pinecones

nature and manmade

nature & man-made

bamberg-cold-plants

where I lived as a a student

where I lived as a a student

bamberg-ice-flower-white

some pears left out on the sill

some pears left out on the sill

too cold to sit

too cold to sit

stars

stars

bamberg-starlamps

I finished my Masters after a few detours

I finished my Masters after a few detours

bamberg-university-detail-door bamberg-gate-lion-university bamberg-university-oldbuilding bamberg-university-drinkingwater bamberg-window-university-arts

walked through this door countless times

walked through this door countless times

bamberg-university-arts-oldwindow bamberg-door-university-artsbuilding bamberg-amkranen-detail-lamp bamberg-amkranne-crane-detail bamberg-regnitz-amkranen-oldbarge

picturesque Regnitz

picturesque Regnitz

bamberg-window-roof bamberg-barock-dom-museum

water levels not too high

water levels not too high

bamberg-regnitz-amkranen bamberg-dom-sidedoor-detail

pillars at the Dom

pillars at the Dom

bamberg-dom-kreuzgang bamberg-dom-orgel

the main steeples are under restauration

the main steeples are under restauration

well worn steps

well worn steps

bamberg-domstarsse-museum bamberg-domstrasse-historicalmuseum bamberg-wall-domberg bamberg-stmichael-haus bamberg-stmichael-trees bamberg-stmichaels-view-garden

the sun came out to show off the view

the sun came out to show off the view

bamberg-domberg-stmichael bamberg-tor-domberg

a colourful ending as I walked back down

a colourful ending as I walked back down

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax

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It may be winter and it may be wet and cold and windy outside but when I think about relaxation I always think of the beach.

Just sitting on a bench or the sand, my bare feet tucked into the sand listing to the lapping of waves, tasting taste the sea salt on my lips,feeling the wind ruffle my hair and the sun on my face. Or maybe walking with my feet in the cold ocean my eyes on the horizon or looking for shells hidden in the sand.

But at this time of year my walks on the beach are brisk, my shoes water tight and my scarf is pulled up above my ears. So for now I will just smile at the knowledge that there will be warmer days again and look forward to my first day relaxing on the beach again.

benches

It’s not this time of the year without

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‘Tis the season to be jolly, but for me ’tis also the season of lights. So while the days grew shorter and the darkness settles in earlier and earlier lights light up the city and turns it into a magical place.

Dublin by night

Dublin by night, a rare wind still one at that