Posts from the “travel” Category

Get Lost

Posted on 13 May, 2014

I’ve read about the joys of getting lost, losing yourself, forgetting the maps and just wandering. Whoever wrote that didn’t have an almost 12 kg baby strapped to them in the rain!

This is how it started, a blurry selfie resting on the post of a gate.



Then off we went for a short adventure.

A friend had recommended this walk. I was lamenting the fact that only 10 of the 100 bluebells we planted in the garden actually flowered and he suggested this walk in Middleton for me to get my bluebell fix.

He was right the bluebells carpet the floor and it’s stunning.


IMG_1811We came to a few paths that were too slippy or too steep to attempt with a wee man stuck to my front so I diverted my path a little. After nearly sinking a few times I conceded that I was in the wrong shoes for this caper and we should go home.

Hmmm, now where is that gate? I walked up,down, around and around. Ewan was due a sleep and the more we walked the louder his protests got until he was in full blown crying mode. It starts to rain. I take off my cardigan and try and cover Ewan. I’m sweating so it’s no great act of chivalry. Crying, he kicks and flails to get the cardigan off him. His legs kick into my thighs and I think where the hell is this gate.

When I’ve been lost before I’ve ended up passing the same spot numerous times, here everything looked the same. I had no idea if I had just gone in a circle or if these were new trees and new bluebells. I couldn’t find any landmarks. There were no people around or else they gave the screaming baby a wide berth and went the other way.

I suppose walking in the rain early in the morning isn’t for everyone!


So on I waddled, Ewan still crying, me losing all sense of reason and thinking that a tree will fall on us and we’ll be lost forever. All I had told Steve was that we were going to look for bluebells, a cute description but not a lot for the Gardai to go on.

I thought about ringing Steve but then thought what could he actually do, I didn’t even know the name of the woods and my Nokia 3100c doesn’t exactly have GPS.

About 40 minutes passed. My face was the colour of a bright tomato and I was still sweating, Ewan had snot smeared across his face from the crying, and I was starting to panic.  I thought if I see one more bluebell I will actually scream!


Eventually, I came across a path that ran by the river. This must be the edge  I thought and the gate must be by the edge. I was debating whether to turn left or right when I came across a couple walking their dog. I was so excited and relieved to see other people I started to waddle towards them with a crying Ewan swinging in front of me.  They gave me a sympathetic but nervous smile and directions for the quickest way to the elusive gate. They jogged on and stopped every now and again turning back signaling what way to go.

At one point I started jogging after them, this must have been quiet the sight! “Excuse me, excuse me. I forgot to ask, Is it far?” ” Only about 5 or 8 minutes walk” .

After a total of an hour and a half walking this was the best news ever! My shoulders ached, Ewan must have had various leg cramps from being dangled in front of me for so long and I was done with nature.

I was dying to go to the bathroom and considered peeing by the car before we left. Luckily, I noticed a sign saying CCTV In Operation.

The last thing I needed was to end up on you tube as the crazed,sweating lady peeing in the woods so I decided to just get in the car and go home.

I’ve learnt many things after our “adventure”, always pee before you leave home, baby-wearing sucks, bluebells are pretty but I’ve had my fill and last but not least getting lost is definitely over rated.

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Out and About

Posted on 30 April, 2014




At the start of this week we saw some beautiful sunshine.  It felt like we skipped Spring and went straight to Summer. Although Irish people have a distinct fear of early good weather. I heard “Might as well enjoy, This will be our summer” more times this week than I can count. Well Enjoy it we did. We took to the beach, sun tan lotion shorts and all. It’s still April I hear you shout, where are your jackets! Well you’d be right and when the threatening clouds came by we hit the road again.

IMG_1478 IMG_1471
Garyvoe beach Cork

Hanging on


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Feeling funny

Posted on 24 April, 2014

I will put my hands up and say I feel like I over did it in the photos of Ewan over the last few days. Some moments are family moments and it’s nice to keep them that way. Nothing bad happened, nobody said anything cruel, nobody re-used an image but I started to feel uncomfortable.
I think it can be tricky to blog about your life and not want to share EVERYTHING. But it’s not only my life, it’s Ewan’s too and he doesn’t get a say in what I post. Generally, I am happy with his level of appearance on the blog but I think for his first birthday I lost the run of myself and it became a blow by blow account of his every second. I have gone back and edited his birthday posts and I am much happier and more comfortable with the results.
I’m still finding my own balance for blogging and I’m trying to imagine what a future Ewan might be okay with too. It’s not clear cut and I think I’ll make the some mistakes along the way but for now I feel much happier to have edited it down a bit so that it’s not like a live-in documentary.
With a head full of ethical questions I’m going to use the internet for what it does best, some escapism.
It may only be a car ride a ferry and a hop, skip and a jump away but on this greying day Heir Island feels a million miles away.
So let’s pop back to when the sun shone
red shoes and daisies
…the seagulls cawed…
…the rocks were hairy..

green hairy rock

..the daisies were chained..
…the garden gave us rhubarb…
… the sea gave us scallops…
…and Heir Island was as stunningly beautiful as ever.
heir island, cork, ireland

heir island, cork, ireland I snuck in some thrift shopping on the way home and have a small few purchases to show you. I’m just waiting for a shaft or two of sunlight to photograph them.

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Berlin Flea Markets

Posted on 27 March, 2014

When Steve and I came back from New Zealand I slowly realised that other people tire about tales of being away a lot sooner than I do.

However I’ve decided not to learn from that lesson and I’m continuing to talk about Berlin!

So last Sunday I took in four flea markets.

The first was Mauerpark. I had read that this was very touristy, busy and by all accounts over priced. Nevertheless, it was hearing about the wonders of Mauerpark that drew me to Berlin in the first place so on I went.

flohmarkt am mauerpark

I arrived shortly after opening and I was glad I did. Stalls were still setting up, all was calm and some traders offered me “morning prices”.

Mum asked how the flea markets are different from car boot sales. I would say first of all it’s on solid ground, not a blade of grass in sight.

Secondly, their stalls have rain cover.

flohmarkt am mauerpark, berlin

Thirdly, everything is categorized and displayed together, enamel with enamel, coat hooks with coat hooks

flohmarkt am mauerpark, mauerpark flea market, berlin
…phones with phones, cameras with cameras!
flohmarkt am mauerpark, mauerpark flea market, berlin
This might seem like a small thing but it’s big when you are coming from car boot sales where everything is everywhere, sellers are trying to keep their things dry under a plastic sheet on the ground and cardboard boxes disintegrate.
Don’t get me wrong I love a car boot sale as much as the next thrifter but I did love an insight into how organised things can be.
Of course it’s easier to categorize things when you have huge quantities of items. Berlin has a population of 3.5 million and judging from the rate money was exchanging hands I’d guess a thriving thrift economy.
flohmarkt am mauerpark, mauerpark flea market, berlin

Fourthly I’d say flea markets are more expensive. They all were free entry but they definitely charge more than your average car boot trader.

As I left Mauerpark I was greeted by waves and waves of people coming towards the market and I was relieved I had done my shopping early.

Without a google map for this market I managed to ask three Germans who didn’t speak English for directions. But they were all kind enough to engage with me in hand gestures, I found it. It’s very very close to Mauerpark as long as you head in the right direction!
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
This flea market was my favourite. It was the smallest I went to but it had a lovely atmosphere. It’s held in a  park square and there’s a playground to the side so there were lots of families but also some serious hagglers. I had no idea what they were saying but they looked very happy with their purchases while the sellers looked on bemused!
As I arrived people were unpacking, this opens two hours later than Mauerpark. Parents were bickering with their children about who would get the next load from the van, women were telling their husbands to hang things higher and take things down, people were settling in on the couches they had brought with them with their thermos and coffee.
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
If I had a van this writing desk would have come with me and I would have picked up one of those industrial size E’s in the background too, but as good as my suitcase was a writing desk was beyond it’s limits.
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
 It was a nice relaxed market with plenty of retro finds, car boot sale type feeling about it.
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
arkonaplatz flea market, arkonaplatz flohmarkt, berlin
Next up was the Kunstmarkt Straße des 17. Juni. This is the oldest flea market in Berlin, it’s been running since 1973.
kunstmarkt strabe des 17 Juni, berlin, flea market
This market felt more geared towards antiques. A ceramic biscuit tin caught my eye and I asked the seller how much it was she said €160. I was informed as she took it from my hands that it was for collectors and is from the 1920’s. It was lovely but I was out of my depth.
kunstmarkt strabe des 17 Juni, berlin, flea market, oldest flea market in Berlin
In saying that it was here that I the enamel rack I love so much, so for that reason alone I would say it’s worth a trip!
Last but not least was Nowoelln Flowmarkt, which is a nice market lining the river. By the time I got here (about 4 o’clock) many people were closing up . After three flea markets, and trips over and back across East Berlin my main reason for picking this marker was the foodstalls. I had read that if you love street food you should go here. Luckily some of the food stalls were still open and so I ate my way through this market. I’m afraid I was too concentrated on getting some food to take any photographs but I snapped this tree on my walk back by the river.
It one last flick through say goodbye to my thrifting adventure:)

I’m delighted that I went, thrilled with my Berlin finds and chuffed to be at home with my two men again!

Thrift Adventures in Berlin

Posted on 25 March, 2014

Oh where to start!

Berlin was busy, daunting, thrilling and fun.

If I was to going again I would definitely stay for longer (I arrived at midday on Saturday and I flew out Monday morning) and I would leave time for wandering.

As it was the only wandering was with a print out of a Google map and a thrift destination.

I had printed out 8 Google map routes (not very environmentally friendly but I didn’t want to have to pay mobile phone roaming charges!).

I always hate walking a large map. Maps are great to spread out on a kitchen table and get your bearings but fussing and folding a map in the rain in no fun. I also don’t like winging it and hoping I’ll find places.

This is what the map at the information points looks like!

So I felt much more confident with my sheet of paper telling me when to turn left, what direction U-Bahn (underground train) I wanted, what station was closest and what way to head once I left the station.

Once I landed I used my trusty print out map to get to the accommodation .

I rented this apartment through Air BnB. I loved it! It was close to the flea markets, a bakery, restaurants and  very handy for lots of U-Bahn stations.  It was also bright, spacious and so much more comfortable than a hostel or hotel.

I was so in awe of the beautiful ceiling height and wide floor boards that I spent much of my time there just staring around me. It made me want to go home, throw most of our things out and paint everything white!

Once I overcame my awe of the apartment I hit the thrift shops. The plan was visit two big thrift shops on the afternoon Saturday and the flea markets Sunday and leave Monday with a suitcase full of vintage home ware!

So first up was a thrift shop at Alexanderplatz this has textiles but no home ware as such. But I did pick up the cutest dungarees for Ewan (more on these later).

Plus it was on route to the LARGEST THRIFT SHOP in EUROPE ( emphasis added!).

I was so excited to get in and start sifting through the shelves that I forgot to take a picture of the outside but here is a photo of the Humana thrift shop from a journal. It gives you an idea of the size of it.

humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
In the clothes department there was everything you could imagine for men, women and children. Impressively, it is organised by decade, style, material and colour!
There was a great vintage shop in Waterford when I was growing up called Orange. This was like 100 Oranges in one! The majority of the 5 floors are devoted to vintage clothing from every decade with everything you could imagine.
I was focused on my home ware mission so I didn’t get elbow deep into clothes but here are a few pictures I snapped on route to the home ware.
I mistook this mannequin for a person, twice!
humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
These coloured knits made me smile.
humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
humana thrift shop, berlin, largest thrift shop in europe
( I just noticed now that I wasn’t the only person to photograph the stairs!)
In the home ware department it wasn’t as large as I had hoped. It was about eight book shelves worth and a separate textile section. There were some beautiful bedding and some big bright retro curtains but they were just too big to bring home.
That being said I did pick up a few small but lovely things. Here’s is a little sneak peek.
At this point I was worrying!
I was panicking a little thing that I would have traveled all the way to Berlin only to find a few small items.
I need not have worried because the next day I was about to have my eyes opened to the world of large flea markets.

For now it is dinner time so I’ll come back tomorrow and tell you all about the four flea markets I choose in Berlin and most importantly show you some vintage finds!!

I hope you have a lovely evening. See you tomorrow:)

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Most beautiful place ever!

Posted on 13 March, 2014

Tonight we are getting out the calendar and planning a trip to Heir Island and the title is no word of a lie. A broad statement I’ll admit but it’s pretty accurate. Heir Island is a tiny island off West Cork. When I say tiny the whole island is only 2.5 km long.

I have made many attempts to write about it but they all sound so cliche. Phrases like “edge of the world”, “a world apart” sound trite.

I have been looking back over the pictures and even some of them seem overly quaint with little white cottages and farm animals.

But there is nothing that can be done. The place is just too picturesque. It brings out phrases like “there is the sense that the everyday world is a country we have left behind” (Irish Examiner)  but they are right, you do get that sense! 

Rather than embarrass myself with hyperbolic paragraphs I’ll simply share my holiday photos over the last few years. 

Unfortunately for a few years now I have been obsessed with Instagram filters. Heir Island doesn’t need them but for a time I could not stop myself adding a Lo-Fi, Earlybird or the occasional Sutro filter. Luckily it’s under control now and hopefully our next trip will yield more natural photographs.  I have routed out some pre-instagram pictures too to hopefully balance things out.


heir island, west cork, ireland

Not only is every view in every direction stunning but the best thing ever is you call in your shopping list and the ferry delivers it all tied up with string.

I can’t wait to go again this year!

I wish it was now!

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The day we caught the train…

Posted on 5 March, 2014

Today is my last official day of work. It is strangely anti-climatic leaving when I have been on maternity leave since March 2013. It feels a bit like I’m sneaking out the back door.

So I decided to indulge in that feeling and used today to slip away on the train.

I don’t often get the train for fun. It was generally linked to long days at conferences in Dublin but today I decided I would take the train for fun.

I discovered that children under 4 go free and that Cobh is only 24 minutes away by train. My thinking was if he hates the train and screams all the way at least it can only last 24 minutes!

So without much planning I packed some things for Ewan and after a quick dash to the train station I arrived feeling frazzled but on time…

red brick and old railway sign,cobh railway station
and so we were off.
Much to my relief Ewan loved it. Maybe loved is too strong, but he was definitely in awe. He was the perfect passenger and sat on my lap for the full journey. 24 minutes of him not squirming to crawl away was delightful!
Once we got there we were greeted by red brick. My most loved brick of all:)
red brick,cobh railway station
cobh railway station
I have an impression of Cobh being a bit depressing and drab. I am not sure why. I think as I was growing up it was always a bit run down and looked unloved. Also when you come from Cork you can’t help but  know that Cobh was the last port of call for the Titanic. Which while noteworthy isn’t exactly cheery.
But recently it is looking full of colour even on a grey day like today.
cobh, multi coloured terraced houses,painted terraced houses
Plus it has an old world feel about that gives it a certain worn charm.
cobh, white railings
When we came off the train Ewan went to sleep almost instantly. Sensing an opportunity for eating a full meal uninterrupted I went to Gilbert’s Restaurant. A place that was recommended to me and partly my reason for picking Cobh. The decor definitely has elements of “my kind of thing” with pretty chairs..
gilberts restaurant, cobh, cork
gilberts restaurant, cobh, cork
nice tiles..
gilberts restaurant, cobh, cork
and fish and chips on special offer.
gilberts restaurant, cobh, cork

Ewan slept through my meal and stayed snoring while I had a cup of tea and read the paper.

In times gone by I might have been self conscious eating on my own while my lunch date snored, not anymore!

Once we were both re-fueled, we were ready for some thrifting. Well at least I was and Ewan is too young to voice an objection.

After having a look at the charity shop but coming up empty handed I found this lovely little second hand shop called Cobh Re-Store. I had wanted more time to explore fully but in my brief trip about the shop I saw a beautiful old radio, a few lovely suitcases, pretty trays and I had just enough time to snap up a very simple but pretty jug that I’ll show you very soon!
All too quickly it was time to hop back on the train and wave goodbye to the pretty red brick.

But at least the train home inspired some awe and hopefully more big sleeps:)

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Home sweet home

Posted on 4 December, 2013

I’ve just arrived home after a small break at a friends house in County Clare. It is was so nice to catch up with her, see her lovely family and walk the legs of ourselves. I have been reliably informed I walked five miles today.

County Clare is stunning and on a windy day there is nothing like a walk on the beach and a good chat to blow the cobwebs away!

Here are some photos from the trip. I forgot my big camera but was snap happy with my phone. My friend was incredibly patient while I photographed almost everything we passed.

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After the little trip I’m ready to get my fix of second hand shopping again tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll return with some treasures to share.


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