fields of green in Co. Cork

I was off work recently for a bit more than a week and I spent part of that time going back through photos taken this year.  as part of that I came across these pictures from a long weekend that we spent at Ballymaloe in Co. Cork.

First my travel guide synopsis:  We didn’t realize when we booked it, but Ballymaloe is home to Ireland’s version of Martha Stewart / Julia Child.  They host an admittedly expensive but pretty fantastic set-course meal as well as having a hotel in an old country house and grounds.  Nearby is the Ballymaloe cooking school which has a cookery shop as well as gardens etc.   It’s also close distance to Ballycotton and some unexpected and excellent cliff walks.  Photos from that likely to come shortly :).  If you’re looking for a nice weekend getaway and don’t mind or are actively looking for something a bit posh, Ballymaloe Country House is highly recommended.   Oh, and apparently it’s actually pronounced ‘ballymaloo’.

Onward to the photo!  I took this wandering around the grounds.  Coming from the road there’s a fairly large field in front of the house.  This is looking back across the field as rainclouds start to roll in.

Horses at the RDS

One of the nice things about being new to an area is you actually go do more things that are going on, whereas you probably wouldn’t if you were here for years on end.  A couple weeks ago the Dublin Horse Show was on in the RDS.  We took advantage of our continued good weather that we’ve been having this summer and wandered on over to take a look.  I highly recommend going next year when it’s back on if you missed it this year.  I you don’t live where it’s handy to go to this particular event, if you have something similar then give that a visit.   I’d never seen horse jumping in person before but it’s very cool.  You can tell the best of them are moving in sync between rider and horse and trusting each other’s lead.  Otherwise it just doesn’t work as well…

On to some photos and photography thoughts.  First is my realization of something I’d heard a while ago: if you want to shoot photos of something (be it sports, theatre, dance, concerts, whatever), you’re probably going to have a lot better access if you go to an amateur event or lower-rungs of pro rather than a top tier event.  In a side ring was amateur jumping and you could be right on the fences of the ring getting some great angles.   Not as good as being *in* the ring, but hey :).  The shots I got later of the main ring are much farther away and just not as compelling.

flowers!

There are a couple of posts in the hopper, but I’ve been delayed by a mix of travel, visiting, and busy times at work…  In the meanwhile, here are a few flower photos that I’ve taken lately that I particularly like…  The first one was taken last weekend at the botanical gardens in Copenhagen and the rest in Powerscourt Gardens earlier in the week.

 

And  a couple of floating flowers:

 

Iconic Seattle

I was looking back through the back-catalog and came across a couple of my version of ‘iconic Seattle’ that I’ve finally gotten around to putting online…  I’m covering the skyline (with Space Needle!) and Pike Place Market here, so need to find a different ‘shot of a ferry’ and a Mt. Rainier  shot to round out the main four Seattle icons.  I’ll have to get back out there 🙂

 

 

Headed to the North

Keeping on from the trip to Ireland, later in the week we headed up to Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland, photos today are going to be from the drive up and seeing things in Antrim.

Again, first the travel summary.  I’ll start off with something that wasn’t so great.  Our two days in the north were July 11th and July 12th, and frankly I wouldn’t recommend going up either of those days.  For those who, like me, weren’t aware of what the twelfth signifies and some of the history, relevant wikipedia entry here.  Side-stepping the politics and impact to normal people’s lives aspect, there are some pretty big impacts to a traveler.  First is that the restaurants and pubs are either closed those nights or are closing early.  Apparently the bus service is shut down early too.  Also, the twelth is a bank-holiday meaning that shops and whatnot are closed anyway that day. Talking with the bartender at our hotel, he mentioned it’s the only days that he actually worries and checks in on his friends to see if everyone made it home OK, since there are still some people who commit random acts of violence.  Definitely not great for those that live there and not so reassuring for a traveler either.  The other impact is traffic – the parades on the twelth generally are through the main street of the town or village, which is also the road that you’d be using to pass through.  Note the conflict there :).  On a less good note, if you’re driving through a strongly loyalist area where people are lining the streets for the parade and your car is a (southern) Ireland registered car, you’re going to get some very strange looks.  Not that I think anything necessarily was going to happen to us, but hey, people are crazy some times.  That said, I’d absolutely go back up to the North and to Belfast again to give it a proper visit.  The people we talked to were all very nice, Belfast has some cool old buildings, and the landscape in the North was absolutely beautiful.  I’d also like to go back to drive the coast road as it looked beautiful.  We started up it on our way to Antrim and turned around and changed routes when we realized the impact the parades were going to have.

Positive things and sights: Giant’s Causeway is a pretty amazing sight, particularly if you get great weather like we had 🙂 and is a definite must-visit if you’re anywhere near it.   The new visitors center is very shiny and new, though it’s a bit annoying that you have to buy a ticket for the center to be able to talk to the tourist information people – that really felt like something that should have been available to everyone for free.  The rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede felt more like a made-up tourist attraction but still is worth doing if you have time and are in the area but if you have to cut something it’s definitely cutable.  It’s probably also a lot cooler if you go to it first and then the Giant’s Causeway, I felt a little underwhelmed seeing them in the reverse order.  I can’t really speak to the Bushmills Distillery in Bushmills town since it was closed by the time we tried to go, but I hear it’s very cool.

Photos!

As we drove back from Carrickfergus back to the inland route up to the Giant’s Causeway, I caught this shot of a woman enjoying the sunny-ish day and view as re driving by.

The rocks of the causeway make a great natural chair 🙂

Part of the Giant’s Causeway:

The same columns exist in the hill towards the back of the picture above.

Getting back up to the top of the hill

Shot towards a farmer’s fields border the trail at the top of the hill

Nice shadows coming off the rope-bridge

 

Tinahely Walks

Continuing on with some of the things seen and done on my recent trip to Ireland, today is from a walk near Tinahely.

Travel-guide summary first :).  Tinahely seems to have a strong walking club that’s put together some very well-marked and well maintained walking trails near the village.  They even have a walking festival in the Spring.  This day we did one of the Mangan’s Loop walk from the loop walks.  You start out with a wander up a lane until you get to the start of the trail.  There are three loop walks altogether and at times all of the walks are using the same trail until they fork off onto their own bit.  Mangan’s Loop is the shortest of them, but you could easily combine a bit of the longer Ballycumber Loop walk if you wanted to still hit the top of Garryhoe hill but wanted a longer walk.  Overall the path was in good shape and didn’t require any specific skill.  The weather the day we went alternated from cloudy and dry, misty and dry, and very light showers.  Even though visibility from the hieghts wasn’t great it was still a very nice walk – I’d recommend these if you’re looking for hill walks and prefer something better marked and maintained then just wandering through a farmer’s fields and hoping you know where you’re going :).

On to the pictures 🙂

I’ll start with my favorite non-people picture from the walk (and the trip, I think).  Just as we continued down from the top of the hill we came across two horses grazing on the side of the field.  I caught this after we’d moved past them and were looking back towards the hill.  I also got a couple with both horses but their bodies were weirdly cut off from the hill so never really looked right :(.

As we were heading down the path back to Tinahely, a nice view of another close-by village

 

Lastly, examples of how the trail is marked and how they help you along:

Johnstown Castle

I’m just back from a week in Ireland and managed to get around to see a few things while there – the pictures from this post are from our visit to Johnstown Castle in Wexford.   The next couple days and posts will cover some hill walks and some things and shots from up North as well as closing out the trip in Dublin.

First a bit of travel guide summary :).   Johnstown Castle is an 1800s era mansion built in Wexford that now operates as a tourist destination with gardens to wander and an agricultural museum on the grounds.  The museum also includes a pretty large and interesting section about the famine.  When we were there the castle/house wasn’t open to visit and I get the impression that unless you’re hosting a meeting there or having a wedding there, it’s generally not open.  If you really want to see the inside of this type of house you should go to Powerscourt in Wicklow instead.  If you’re further south or prefer also getting a feel of rural life and tools through the years, then Johnstown Castle is worth a drop-in.

On to the photography :).  It was kind of a grey and crappy day while we were there so I ended up shying away from landscape-y photos and started looking for textures and things that might be good desktop backgrounds.

Firstly, obligatory picture of the house:

 

We ducked under some trees in the walled garden to get out of a passing shower and noticed rusty nails coming out of the brick wall.  Below both with the color version (which I think I prefer) and in black and white.

 

Wander on the other side of the wall and a bit further down, it was starting to be overtaken with moss.  Second picture is a walled up entryway, but not sure where it went.

 

While talking about what kinds of trees were on the grounds, and realizing I know nothing about the types of trees :), I caught this shot I really like looking up through the canopy with the leaves backlight by the sky.

Pictures from a hill walk in Tinahely in the next post…