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.

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