Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Chilling in Chianti

Posted by on Aug 08 2010 | Travel

Today has been (and will continue to be) a lazy one.

We’re relaxing in our little villa in Tuscany, surrounded by vineyards, enjoying the sun and the sound of crickets on the hills.

I’m knitting, and reading, and eating delicious food, and later I will drink more yummy local wine.

Exploring is for another day.

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On fears, and conquering them

Posted by on Aug 05 2010 | Travel

I have a small fear of crossing bridges, and driving through tunnels. It’s not usually an issue, and although crossing the Liffey on the M50 bridge makes me a little nervous, it’s over in a second so I don’t worry about it.

When we decided to drive to Italy for our honeymoon, my brain mentally erased the Alps. It’s not that I didn’t know they were there, just that whenever I thought about the route down, that part was, well, sort of fuzzy.

Yesterday we crossed the Alps. The road had been rising and rising, then without warning we hit a tunnel, which was a bit too long for my liking, and emerged into the mountains, on a huge bridge.


Many, many bridges and tunnels followed, including the 11km one underneath the spectacular Mont Blanc. I tried not to ponder the feat of engineering and the massive amount of rock above us as we passed under the mountain.

The scenery in the Alps was breathtaking. Really, really stunning, and I’m very happy that we drove through.

We reached the shores of Lake Garda last night, on a balmy summer’s evening, and woke up this morning to 18 degrees, grey sky, and pouring rain. I don’t care though. We’re on our honeymoon, we had a wonderful wedding, I’m relaxed, and very, very happy.

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A Holiday in Pictures

Posted by on Aug 10 2009 | Travel

This year we spent our summer holiday in the South of England, spending a couple of days driving down to where I grew up, and visiting lots of touristy things while we were there.

The Circle, Bath

Roman Baths, Bath


The Long Man of Wilmington

HMS Victory

For some reason I managed not to take photos of a lot of what we did – we spent a day up in London at the V&A and just wandering around, but I didn’t take any photos, and a day in Brighton, a night in Swanage, and an afternoon in Arundel, all undocumented. However, all will be much repeated, I don’t get tired of any of them. If you visit Brighton do pop in to the Pavilion – despite living just down the road I’d never been inside before, and it’s really something to see.

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Edinburgh for a day

Posted by on Dec 19 2008 | Books, Cultural Things, Delicious Things, Travel

A couple of months ago, Cheryl asks me: “Hey, fancy going to Edinburgh for the day?”

Well, there’s only one answer to that question, so I got up at 4am on Tuesday to make the 6.30 flight, and by 8am we were on the airport bus watching a beautiful sunrise over the city.

Our first stop, at an hour that really was too early to expect such wonderful hospitality, was with Karen from Cornflower. Karen welcomed us into her lovely home with tea and a delicious passionfruit cake that was light a creamy and sweet and mmmmmmm. (and some lovely Scottish angora yarn that’s deciding what it would like to be). I’ve been reading the Cornflower blog for a little while now, and I suspect that some of my reading material for 2009 will be based on recommendations from there. Thank you so much for having us to visit Karen, it was lovely to meet you.

Delicious treats chez Cornflower

Our next stop was a short bus ride across the city. Ok, It was walkable sort of, but we had bus tickets, and a long day planned, and the bus went right where we needed it to. So. Justification over. Our next stop: Fidra Books. Oh boy, am I glad I don’t live near here, I don’t think they’d ever get rid of me. Ostensibly a children’s bookshop, Fidra also has a small but extremely well selected (to my mind) choice of adult books books for adults too. The shop was welcoming and friendly, and Vanessa, Malcolm and Teaga all lovely. Teaga (the dog) is quite big, so I think they would have noticed if I’d tried to sneak her home with me, but I was very tempted.

Fidra also have a publishing arm, for classic children’s books. The editions are lovely, and if you’re a fan of classic children’s adventure stories or books about ponies do check them out. They also have the later books in the Trebizon series, that I didn’t know existed. I may need to see if my local library has the earlier ones, as I haven’t read them since I was a child.

Lovely Fidra Books editions

Now, when we’d arrived in Edinburgh, the very helpful lady at the information desk told us about a German christmas market and a highland market that were on in the city. These were down by the Scott memorial, and also featured a ferris wheel. Hmmmm, is all I have to say about that.

The market was, well, small. A couple of stands, some hot wine or sausages, and that was the German market. The Highland market was pretty similar – tablet, fudge, or hats knit in Nepal with the Scottish flag on them. Oh, and crepes. Meh. It was raining at this point anyway, so we didn’t linger, and instead visited the National Gallery of Scotland for art and lunch. There are some fabulous pieces there. I especially liked the fact that their famous painting of the ice-skating preacher, The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, by Sir Henry Raeburn, might not have actually been painted by Raeburn, was probably painted ten years after they thought, and doesn’t seem to be of Duddingston Loch.

Anyway, refreshed from our lunch and culture, we ventured up many steps…

…and down more, to K1 Yarns, which is a lovely and friendly shop with a small but nice selection of yarns. I’d imagine it’s a lovely place to hang out and knit.

K1 Yarns

By this time it was about 3.30, and we were flagging a little. Coffee, shortbread and knitting were required, and we spent a very pleasant hour in Always Sunday, a bright and comfortable cafe on the Royal Mile.

Chocolate chip shortbread and a cappucino

A very small shop later, and a stroll along Princes Street, and we were ready for home.

A very quick photo of the castle in the dark

I fell in to bed back in Dublin at about 11.30pm, very tired, but very happy.

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A fortnight in France (and a bit extra)

Posted by on Sep 02 2008 | Travel

This is the year of many holidays for me. It began badly, admittedly, with a trip to London cancelled at the last minute, but after that I was flying. Sussex at Easter, a weekend in Wicklow (does that count?) Bulgaria for a couple of days, back to Sussex and Cornwall, Bulgaria again, and then 2 and a bit weeks in France.

We took the ferry over again this year, which meant we could pack as much as we liked in the car, so I was able to bring plenty of books and way more knitting than I could possibly need. Irish Ferries have been making much of their new ferry for the Ireland-France routes, and it was indeed much, much nicer than the old one. It wasn’t really new though. It was new to Viking Line in Finland in 1987. 21 years later it’s new to Irish Ferries. Lovely though, and I do like being able to bring whatever I like with me on board and just sleeping through the whole journey.

For our first night we headed to Fontainebleau, to see the Chateau. We didn’t make it inside but the gardens were stunning. I can totally understand the revolution though. The place was massive, and incredibly opulent.

Then it was off for a week in our first Gite, a little way outside of Dijon. Here’s the link – I really couldn’t recommend it more. It was wonderful. Huge, beautifully furnished, comfortable, clean, a great location. Close to wine country (ok, we were in France, pretty much everywhere is, so more specifically the Cote d’Or in Burgundy), close to national parks for walking, and close to a few interesting but not busy tourist sites.

Next we headed off to Limousin, for four nights in our second gite. No link for this one. This was a bit different. It was absolutely in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the most rural part of rural France, in a beautiful setting.

A converted hayloft in a watermill, with windows the full length of the room and a lovely art deco style to the furnishings, overlooking a weir on a small river, this should have been perfect. It needed a really good clean though. There were a few too many spiderwebs for my liking. Also, that a mouse had been living in a former hayloft neither surprised nor bothered me, but the droppings not being cleared up did. Grrr. So much potential. Didn’t stop us having a great time though.

For our last two nights we treated ourselves to the Hotel Villa Cap d’Ail in La Baule on the coast. This hotel was just perfect. Beautifully furnished, lovely service – I would definitely go back.

So, what did I actually do? Well, walked some walks, drank some wine, saw some sights, read some books, knit on some knitting, relaxed, slept, drank great coffee, ate delicious ice-cream, and generally had a fab time. Lovely.

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