Posted in Travel sparks

There is no place like home. Except when there is.

So, here’s my last travellin’ post for a little while. A collection of some of the pics from my final days in Ireland – after a fortnight of mostly perfect weather, these last few days have been rainy and pretty chilly, so it’s a good time to head home to the sun. Always tough to leave here, but I have had a fantastic holiday and it has been great to be able to catch up with old friends and check out some of my old haunts. There’s a line in that John O’Donohue poem (‘For the Traveller’, which I posted a few weeks ago) about old friends making it seem like nothing has changed since you were last with them, and that is exactly how it’s been. Whether it’s five years or ten years since I’ve seen some of my Irish mates, they’re the kind of friends who fit like a glove. Some people don’t have any place that feels like home – I know I’m super lucky to have two. Waa waa waa – here are the photos!

Beautiful day for a run in Phoenix Park, Dublin. I tried to get a photo of the herd of deer that live in the park, but from this distance they looked sort of like a pile of logs, so I didn’t think you’d believe me anyway.
Phoenix Park – it’s one of the largest enclosed parks in Europe. Yes, I did double check that fact online.
About 30% of the Phoenix Park is covered by trees, which are mainly broadleaf parkland species such as oak, ash, lime, beech, sycamore and horsechestnut. Yes, that’s from the PhoenixPark.ie website too.
Now THAT’s a Banoffee pie. With about 10cm of cream on top, at Avoca cafe.
The first rule of Cake Club? Talk to everyone about Cake Club, I’d say.
Ah, modern pharmaceutical art. From an exhibition at a Wexford art gallery.
It’s a Jedward chocolate bar. A twin bar, to be precise. The side of the packet says, “FULL ON, CRAZY, JEADLEY!” Yes, really.
Some of the locals saying hello in Wexford.
One of the many pretty thatched houses in Kilmore, Wexford.
Kilmore, Wexford.
Great name.
Ah, country life. Stuck behind this big guy for around 20 mins as it made its way along the narrow roads to the farm.
It’s real and it’s in Dublin. I was too scared to go in, though, so I can’t tell you any more about it.
Posted in Sparks in the wild

Birds of a feather

Pigeons often get a hard time – whether you mock them as ‘rats with wings’, or snigger as they rummage through school rubbish bins to try and salvage some dinner, they’re not exactly the most admired in the bird world. Except for racing pigeons – those guys are just amazing and I don’t think I’ll ever understand how they ‘work’. Anyways, a recent pigeon post on designboom caught my eye and I thought I’d share it here.

In a nutshell, German artists Julian Charriere and Julius von Bismarck (how’s that for a great name?) came up with a project they called “Some pigeons are more equal than others” during this year’s Biennale in Venice. In a daring PR campaign to make the pigeons ‘less offensive’ and more attractive to visitors, they took some of the birds from the Venetian piazzas into specially created booths and spray-painted them in different colours. Birds of spray, if you will. (Sorry.)

It’s an interesting idea and it definitely changes the whole look of the birdies. But, like ladies dressed up and fake tanned for a day at the races, the bright packaging will fade and true colours will be revealed before too long. And pigeons will be pigeons. Here are some of the photos – see what you think.

You can check out the designboom post here, with lots more photos of the multi-coloured pigeons.

Posted in Travel sparks

Hello, my name is…

Here are some pics from our morning walk in Dun Laoghaire, back in Dublin. (You pronounce it Dun Leary, in case you’re ever in town and want to sound like a local.) Really though, no one could really blame the non-Irish for mis-pronouncing Irish words and names – things here are rarely as they seem, so I generally ask before I try to pronounce. For example, test yourself on these Irish girls’ names: Caoimhe, Cliona, Ailbhe (yes, that’s right: Quee-va, Clee-na, Al-va); and then there are these Irish boys’ names: Daithi and Feidhlim (yep, Dah-hee and Fail-im).  There’s also a boy’s name that sort of sounds like you’re clearing your throat – Cathal (sort of Co-hol). Sometimes I used to think that my Irish friends were making the names up just so they could giggle as I tried my best to sound authentic.

An overcast day at Dun Laoghaire.
Dun Laoghaire walk.
Sure, just more ancient ruins on an emerald island.

And although he isn’t part of the natural beauty around Dun Laoghaire, I couldn’t resist this pic of Crocs Man, in the window of one of the shops there. Unfortunately, he’s not for sale. Although he probably wouldn’t fit in my suitcase anyway, so I think it’s for the best.

Hello, Crocs Man.
Posted in Travel sparks

London colours

This is the last short post from London – just wanted to include some of the more colourful photos that I snapped as we wandered around.

Tights for sale at Notting Hill. Legs not for sale.
Notting Hill houses – some look like the result of a neighbourhood dare.
An old guy was out on the balcony of the bottom floor apartment here – love that he has brightened up the bland council housing with an amazing garden.
Van? What van? There’s nothing parked here, officer.
Wen-Bao, you are a peculiar looking baby, being sold by the mean book man at the Portobello Market.

And to finish, the world-famous EverydaySparks photo of bumble bees in Holland Park. Well, someone contacted me to ask if they could post it on the Holland Park Facebook page – technically, that makes it world-famous!

Buzzing around in Holland Park.
Posted in Travel sparks

Honey, I’m home

First of all, a big shout out to my virtual pal Emma of the fantastic blog Out of the Birdcage who first told me about this amazing shop in London via a post on her blog. Even the name suggested that I was going to like it immediately: Drink, Shop & Do. Located near Kings Cross Station, it’s a combination of shop, cafe, bar and craft workshop. And it’s incredible. I want to live there. Although, when I told the girl at the counter that, she just laughed nervously and glanced towards the door.

Started by two high school friends, it’s pretty much the place I would love to open if I had the courage and cash to open a place. Set in a large open space, with a shop selling funky designer crafty stuff and a range of sweets (painstakingly weighed out on an old fashioned scale). And then there’s the cool cafe/bar area – with an extra function room at the back, complete with some sort of tents and a giant disco ball. There’s a sky light and some colourful fiesta-style paper chain action on the ceiling. There are also colourful kites all over the walls. And some crazy furniture. I’m sure you’re getting the idea now. During the day, they offer a wide range of cakes as well as afternoon tea. And the staff are all very pretty too.

For breakfast, we chose a caramel macadamia cheesecake. As you do when you’re on holidays. We figured that with the calcium, protein and all-round energy provided by this breakfast treat, it was practically the same as a bowl of Special K with skim milk.

They also offer afternoon tea – and there’s even a special ‘manly’ afternoon tea, if scones and darjeeling just aren’t your thing. (It features beer and pork and some sort of pie, I think.)

For the ‘do’ part of the shop’s promise, they offer a range of activities including musical bingo, adults only scrabble, colouring competitions and other creative options. Most of them are based around cocktails, which sounds like a pretty clever idea.

I really could go on all day about this incredible place, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so will leave it at that. There are more photos and info on the Drink, Shop & Do website here. I highly recommend a visit (and the caramel macadamia cheesecake) if you’re in London.