everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Choccywoccydoodah

No, I’m not jet-lagged. Choccywoccydoodah is the name of a very cool chocolate and cake shop in the UK and we visited its London store for afternoon tea. If you can imagine Willy Wonka and the Cake Boss joining forces and then increasing their over the top-ness by the power of 10, you’ve pretty much got the idea. It’s a bit crazy.

Here are some of the cakes that were on display. Yep, they’re all cakes.

And then there was the upstairs cafe, with another giant cake on display (the rose one in this picture) along with a huge range of amazing-looking cakes on sale by the slice. Pretty much enough to induce a sugar coma just by looking at them. Most of the cakes were made of several layers, with a whole heap of marshmallows or sweets on top for good measure.

Like this one. It was a chocolate, gingerbread, coconut cake. But you can’t really see it, because the huge slice appeared on a plate under chocolate drizzle and ice cream. We also ordered a chocolate flapjack, in case one piece of cake wasn’t enough. We hadn’t realised the one piece of cake would be as big as my head.

Needless to say, we rolled out of the shop after eating as much as we could. Which really wasn’t all that much.

You can have a look at the amazing work of Choccywoccydoodah here. And just a tip – if you’re going for cake, don’t have breakfast, lunch or dinner that day.

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Things wot I saw in London

Here are some more pics from London – this time, less of the touristy postcards & more of the EverydaySparks.

Firstly, Wimpy Bar. I thought the name was funny and there was a certain sense of irony that the wimpy bar had closed. Then a man sidled up to me while I was taking the photo and said that the Wimpy Bar used to be the McDonald’s of London, back in the day. (The day before McDonald’s, presumably.) He said there were still a few Wimpy Bars around the UK,  but most had closed as they couldn’t keep up with the bigger burger chains. I nodded and smiled at him, because in my experience it’s a fine line between a helpful stranger and a crazed lunatic. He must have sensed my disbelief as he grabbed his jumper where there was some sort of logo and said, “I’m a tourist guide with [somewhere]”. Oh, alrighty then, must be true – thanks Wimpy trivia man.

And here’s a great – if a little slow – way for your wedding party to get around London. The driver appeared to be a little underwhelmed by the festivities, but am sure he perked up when the tipsy guests started singing Land of Hope and Glory on their way home from the reception…

It was actually Fashion Week in London and we passed quite a few wacky looking outfits, but I’m not sure if they were fashionistas or just crazy loons. I think this lady with her incredibly bright pink hair was just a London local going about her business on a sunny day. You go, girl.

And just a tip – if you’re going to St Paul’s Cathedral, pay heed to the signs that warn you about the climb to the viewing spots. Even though I didn’t wear my trusty running shoes The Pinkies, I thought I’d be fine to climb up the stairs to reach the top…but it was hard going and we decided that 2/3 of the way to the top would be fine for this visit. Here’s a photo of the view from there – feel free to use it to show your friends and relatives to save yourself the climb.

And finally, if you’re in London and you see these machines, don’t believe them – they’re quite misleading.

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Allo allo allo

Short and sweet – here are some photos of our day walking around London. My feet tell me that we walked around a lot of London, but it was such a lovely day that it seemed a shame to spend it underground. Here’s the next instalment of my London travel diary – promise there are no more of that scary Mary, Queen of Scots.

Part of Buckingham Palace. (I think.)

Near St James Park. (I think.)

Something something building.

Big Ben. Sure about that one.

Nice day, thanks London.

Lots of people about. Lots and lots.

Everyone dressed up for the Olympics.

Guess it was an olympic sport – ping pong tables were all over town. Even the hipsters were at it.

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Mary Queen of Scots, my roomie

In London to visit my lovely friend Immy and I had booked a hotel online, which is always a bit of a gamble I guess. Turns out that it’s right across the road from the grounds (well, the back entrance) of Buckingham Palace, which is not a bad place to be. More photos of London wanders will follow, but this one is about my hotel room. On arrival, I was told that I’d been upgraded to a fancy ‘Royal Suite’…which, to be honest, was kind of wasted on me as I’m not a mad fan of the monarchy. But, whatevs, an upgrade is an upgrade and the promise of an exclusive VIP section, with swipe card access – “a hotel within a hotel” – sounded like I would finally be recognised as the Princess that I am inside.

That’s how I roll.

The Hallway was like something out of the Titanic. Contrasted nicely with my Converse and cargo pants, I think.

Passed by rooms for Queen Elizabeth 1, some Dukes and other peeps before arriving at Mary’s room.

Too much tartan is never enough, right?

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Our day in Galway

We’re over in Galway for a couple of days and here are some snaps from today. The county is in a bit of a state as they drew in the All-Ireland hurling finals last weekend and they have a re-match on next weekend. It’s a very big deal. We are staying at a fabulous hotel here in Galway – it was designed by famous Irish milliner Philip Treacy (you may know him as the guy who created Princess Beatrice’s hideous hat) and is very quirky.

Wandering around Galway…

Nothing says ‘welcome to the G Hotel’ like cupcakes. And they were delicious.

G Hotel’s reception hall & bar feels very Willy Wonka. Or Legally Blonde.

The strangest hotel hallway I ever did see. Pretty much pitch black, but for the little lights near the floor. (And this was taken during the day.)

And probably my favourite pic for the day is this slightly dusty looking politician who didn’t bother making too much of an effort for his campaign posters. I know ‘action speaks louder than words’, John, but so do photographs.

John’s the man. This sign was in a house window, along with a little kitten.

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