I Gained the Gift of Eloquence…Apparently

After our hiking adventure we chose to spend the rest of our holiday being traditional tourists and visiting the sights that Cork had to offer.

We were staying at Sheila’s Hostel for a couple of nights to save ourselves a little bit of moolar. It wasn’t as fancy as the brochure makes it look but it did the job. It was in a good location, close to the centre of town and the staff there were friendly and really helpful. We again had a shared room but it ended up being just us two, which was lovely. The place is great for travellers but if you’re looking for somewhere to have a good nights sleep, this isn’t the place for you. The big heavy doors need some kind of mechanism on them to stop them slamming because that is all you hear through the entire building. The only other problem was that our room was windowless, which meant that it got very very warm in there. Oh well…for £15 each, a bed is a bed and we didn’t spend that much time in there anyway.

For our first full day in Cork we decided to catch a coach to Blarney Castle. Nick’s grandparents told us about this earlier on in the year and said it was a must see. It wasn’t too far on the coach, even though my feeties were more than happy for the journey to last longer. It was a glorious sunny day so this was perfect weather to do a bit of sight-seeing. The Blarney Castle was built around 600 years ago and is situated within the most beautiful gardens that you can wander round. As you follow the path up towards the castle, its structure just seems to appear from behind the trees and looks like a scene out of a movie. The path was lined with trees that were wrapped in knitted covers, which was super cute and added a little quirky colour to the surroundings.

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This castle is a partial ruin but you are still able to visit the various rooms which gives you a good idea of how large and grand this building must have been when people were living there. Now the main thing to do when you come to visit the Blarney Castle is kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it that if you kiss this stone you will be gifted with eloquence. Now I must confess that I had to google this afterwards as I didn’t have a clue what this word meant, but I went and kissed it anyway as the word sounded pretty positive to me. Did they put this stone at the bottom of the castle at an average person’s height? Noooo don’t be silly, they aren’t going to just give this eloquence away. This stone is placed at the top of the castle, but low enough that you have to lie on your back, hold on to two bars and lean yourself back down a hole and stretch your neck out to kiss this smooth rock. Now I’m not the greatest with heights. I’m not terrible, but you know when you get a little wobbly and butterflies in your stomach. I went first whilst Nick had his GoPro rolling. A guy who works there tells you what to do and holds on to you gently as you lean yourself over the edge. I stupidly looked down towards the ground waaaayyyy below me before I kissed the stone. I didn’t realise I would have to stretch so far for it. Now Nick’s turn, he passed me the GoPro and I pointed the camera towards him as he kissed the Blarney stone. Here is where I may have made a little bit of a mistake. I assumed that when Nick passed me the camera that it was still rolling from my stint. Errrr turns out it wasn’t! DOH!

"crap!"

“crap bags!”

I think I’ve done this before on our travels on one or two occasions and I felt so guilty that I decided to purchase the over priced touristy pictures that were taken. It was the least I could do for missing him in action. I’m pleased I got them though, how cool are they!!!

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For once we weren’t in a hurry to be anywhere or to reach a destination at a certain time so we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and went on a little stroll around the surrounding gardens.

I would definitely recommend a visit to the Blarney Castle if you are ever visiting Cork. I bet these grounds look breathtaking in Autumn when all the leaves have changed colours and the sky is clear.

Hope you enjoyed my little post.

-MooFace-


Links

Sheila’s Hostel – We had a 4 bed room (bunk beds) with an en suite and this cost us £15 each per night.

Blarney Castle – This cost us about £10 each for entry to the Castle and the grounds.

What’s That I Hear You Say? I’ve Been Back From Ireland For Ages and STILL Haven’t Finished These Blog Posts?! Yes I’m Rubbish!

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The Last Leg of The Wicklow Way

With our tents packed up we couldn’t quite believe that this would be our final day of hiking. By the evening we would have completed 100 miles, The Wicklow Way, in just 5 days! For two inexperienced hikers this would be a massive feat. I’m really glad we got to stay in this beautiful little town. It was so quaint with the bunting everywhere and the small local shops.

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We headed off in the direction of our final destination, Clonegal. Just 15 miles to go. The sun was shining and the path was mostly flat, which was lovely. However, even with such flat terrain, after 4 days of intense hiking our bodies were struggling. Every sign we passed we were counting down the miles and trying to predict how long we had left. After the first 5 miles we took cover from the midday sun and let our feet breathe. The thick socks and crazy heat had caused my feet to break out in heat rash. Grim! I let my feet enjoy the breeze and wriggle room for a while until the sun started its long decent. As much as I didn’t want to I had to put my poor feeties back in their boot cages ready for the next 10 miles. Just 10 miles to go!

We hit a long straight road, it was so long that we couldn’t even see where it would end. These past two road walking days were very different to the earlier days. Not only because of the terrain, but the effect that this terrain had on our motivation and our moods. The paths were easier on our bodies, but the views were not as breathtaking and distracting from the task of hiking. My feet were happy for the Tarmac below them, but my brain missed the valleys, the breeze whipping my hair across my face and the challenges of getting across to the next map marker.

About half way down this long old road a car passed us and pulled over just ahead. A very kind lady offered us a lift to the next town. We looked at each and then back at her, our heads slowly turned to the comfy empty seats that lay just behind her. It was so tempting but we had come too far to bail now. We thanked her but declined the offer. As she drove away we wondered whether we had made the right decision. I’m happy to say we did.

At the next junction we decided to have a little lunch break. Gas cooker, flavoured rice, water…done! I lay back on my bag, just listening to the sound of the world go by, staring at the sparse clouds that littered the sky. I was actually starting to enjoy this outdoor living. I kind of felt like I did when I was travelling round Asia. Nothing to worry about but getting to our next destination. I am really looking forward to planning our BIG travelling adventure. We still haven’t ironed out the details…but we will be very soon.

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After packing up our lunch things, we headed down the road and reached a cross roads. Were my eyes deceiving me?! Could it be? There was a sign for Clonegal and it actually said “1 mile to go”. If we could have sprinted there we would have. We did pick up the pace a little though…well as much as our legs would actually let us.

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Before we knew it, there it was “Welcome to Clonegal” We hugged the sign with such excitement! We’d only gone and bloody done it!! 100 miles in 5 days! We had completed The Wicklow Way!

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With no pubs open, what with it being in the middle of the afternoon in a tiny village we parked up on a bench next to this gorgeous river and admired our surroundings. Such a lovely little place to finish our hiking adventure in.

We were informed by some fellow Wicklow Way hikers that the only place where we would be able to catch a coach to Cork, was in a town 4 miles away! The thought of walking another 4 miles sent shivers through my body. The two hikers were staying over night in Clonegal and getting up early to head to Bunclody. We couldn’t face getting up super super early for another morning of walking and we just wanted to kind of get it out the way. So with our bags and boots back on we headed south. This time however we wouldn’t be turning down any lift offers and actually stuck our thumbs out to hitch a ride. I have never done this in my life and never thought I would!

After about 10 minutes of cars passing us by I gave up on the idea of this actually working. I kept sticking my thumb out though, just in case. As we struggled up a steep hill a small car passed us….and actually pulled over at the top. It had only gone and bloody worked. Irish people…you guys rock!!! This guy, probably around my age, was also heading to Bunclody and said he was happy to take us! YES! So we all got chatting…you know, the usual conversation questions. Where have you been? Names? Where have you come from? When I mentioned Essex he looked back at me in the review mirror:

“You don’t live near Bas Vegas do you?”

Now only people from Essex seem to know of and ever call Basildon Festival Leisure Park, Bas Vegas!

“Er…I actually don’t live that far from there. How do you know of Bas Vegas?”

It turns out he had lived in London and Kent for years and had often visited friends in Basildon. I mentioned I went to university in Kent and…small bloody world…we had both gone to the same art institute around the same time.

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He was a wicked guy and told us the best places to head to for dinner and areas to avoid when he dropped us off. Driver man, who ever you are, I thank you dearly!

After dinner the guy behind the bar told us of a park that we could camp in that wouldn’t be any trouble. This was my least favourite wild camp of them all. It wasn’t like a foresty park, it was a football/rugby park where a lot of people walked their dogs and carried out their evening jogs. I didn’t feel sheltered from prying eyes and felt very uneasy as I got into my tent. Nick kindly gave me some weapons to help me feel safer. A mini shovel and a swiss army knife that looked like it had come out of a Christmas cracker, I think it did actually come out of a cracker last year. It would have to do! I fell asleep hugging my defensive weapons of choice.

I felt much better in the morning once all my stuff was packed up and my wild camping days had come to an end. The next part of our holiday was much more traditional in the way of a city break. A coach to Cork to take in the sights, the food and the local booze!

Hiking mission – DONE!

-MooFace-

Meet Lily

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So this adorable, people stopping, cheeky little dog is the lovely Lily. She is a 6-year-old shih tzu and belongs to my fella’s parents. She lives in the countryside with two other gorgeous boisterous boy dogs. Get ready for some out loud “awwwwww”s people because she is a cutie.

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She doesn’t look 6 does she?! As you can see from the picture below, when his Dad first brought her home she was just this teeny tiny ball of fluff that you could fit in your hand. OH MY GOD I can’t stop pulling gooey girly faces when ever I look at this picture. In the voice of Agnes from Despicable Me “She’s so fluffy!”

She has slightly skewiffy eyes, but this just makes me love her even more.

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As it was bank holiday weekend, and we both didn’t have to work, we took the opportunity to bring her up to London to stay with us for the long weekend. We treated it as a little holiday for her, she would have our undivided attention and would be pampered and fussed over. I even gave up my new beanbag for her to sleep on…ok she kind of just took it over but who am I to chuck her off it.

We were so lucky to have glorious sunshine for the first two days, so taking her for long walks around the common was fun. We let her off the lead once she was away from any roads and she loved it. She would look around and when we were ahead she would gallop, literally bound along, to catch us up and then steam ahead. She wouldn’t go far before she would stop and wait for us to carry on past her. This cycle continued for most of the walks.

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At her home she would often take great pleasure in running up to crows and pigeons and scaring the bejeebers out of them. As we crossed the common she spotted a crowd of crows just lounging mid field. She was off! Ears flapping in the wind, tongue hanging out of her mouth, she took forth towards the huddle. Now London crows aren’t quite the same as country crows. Tolerant after being chased many times by children and other dogs, these hardy crows did not even flinch when she came near. As she approached the usual scaring boundary, she froze! She looked around to us as if to say “why are they not flying away?” The crows just stared at her, giving her the “come at me!” eyes. Lily retreated and bounded back to the safety of us. No bird scaring for Lily this weekend.

I was testing out a new potential lens (50mm prime lens) for my Canon 550D and she was the perfect model as you can see.

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We showed these pictures to my fella’s parents when we returned her and they were shocked to see her running about like a puppy. Lily likes to play the ‘small old dog’ card and often plods along on her walks to his mum’s frustration. Lily does make me laugh.

Apart from the walks, Lily was happy to relax in the comfort of the bean bag or snooze in the sun on our terrace. Enjoying the peace and quiet and a nice fuss every so often. I found it hard to do other things with this cutie pie plodding around the flat.

These two have definitely missed each other.

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I miss having pets around. My ginger tom Milo lives with my Mum as he is a proper outdoors cat and I wouldn’t feel good about him roaming around the London streets near busy roads. I think my Mum would miss him too much as well now. Hopefully when I have a house to call my own and a job that doesn’t require me to be out for nearly 12 hours minimum everyday, we’ll have a little dog or cat…or both!

For now, having Lily visit on long weekends and going home to see Milo is enough to keep me dosed up on animal cuteness. Oh just to push you over the adorableness edge, here is a picture of Lily taken last Christmas. Man, just look at that face. You can just tell she is loving that outfit! hehe.

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-MooFace-

Snap Happy

Me, my fella and a group of our good friends decided to brave the chill of a Sunday afternoon and venture to the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition down at Somerset House. Yep back to Somerset house again, which is always a pleasure.

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All of us have been trying to use our DSLRs a lot more and thought this would help spark the imagination on future themes. I do love a good photography exhibition. I studied photography during my Art Foundation using an old school manual SLR, which we had to develop ourselves in a dark room. Definitely something I’d recommend trying at least once if you love taking photos! However, I haven’t quite mastered the digital kind yet.

The weak area of my pictures that I need to work on is definitely the composition side of things. At this exhibition it gave me a good opportunity to see how other people use composition in their work. Each used differently to help portray their messages through their photos. Each area had a theme with 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners. This was my favourite piece from this part of the exhibition:

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This was a series called ‘Wet Dog’ by Sophie Gamand. She captured these cute pooches during bath time as they wiggled, shook and dripped out of the groomer’s wet grasp. I love how she has caught them looking so vulnerable in their wet states. Each one looking disheveled and slightly confused by the situation. The breeds’ identities seen to have been removed now that their distinctive manes have been drenched.

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This one was my favourite out of the series as it reminded me of my fella’s dog Lily who lives with his parents. She come and stays with us sometimes and she makes an awesome photography model. Im sure to blog about her soon. The look on this dog’s face just cracks me up.

The second half of the exhibition was on the other side of Somerset house. I preferred this side as the worked was laid out a lot nicer. It seemed to flow a lot more than the first half, which made viewing more pleasurable. Amazingly this part of exhibition is open to all amateur photographers and I think that is also part of the reason why I enjoyed this stuff more. It was more relate able, a chance that it could have been your work up there. As me and my friends have been doing monthly photo competitions between us ( see my Motion Photography post) we decided to make the future themes ones that are in the competition. This would give us all a chance of producing work that we could enter. How amazing it would be to get your work displayed in an actual gallery for everyone to view! That would be one thing ticked off the old bucket list.

I think we all thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition and I would highly recommend it for a quiet Sunday afternoon. It’s sadly finished now but hopefully it will be returning early next year. The tickets were only £7.50 and I think that’s a bargain with the amount of work to view.

In the evening we all gathered at our friend’s flat, got our other friend on Skype (she is from Toronto) and we all cast our votes for the winner of that month’s photography category: ‘motion’. As me and the fella didn’t get any votes between us last month, we worked extra hard and managed to come 1st as 2nd!!! Yay!!!!

And the winner was…my fella 😀

A well deserved win. All the photos were awesome this month, it was hard to choose! Next month: self portrait. Ooo I have so many ideas. This should be interesting because this is a theme where you don’t have to rely on nature or objects, you are in control of the subject…yourself. I have just purchased a wireless remote for my canon 550D so that should come in handy.

For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.

– Henri Cartier-Bresson

Until next time

-MooFace-

 

Motion Photography

After visiting the National Geographic Photography Exhibition last year, me and a group of friends were so inspired that we decided to create our own monthly competition. We felt that having the pressure of friendly rivalry and monthly deadlines would push us to really think about our own photography and force us to find new ways to utilise our cameras. At the end of the first month’s competition: Animals, it was a tie between Luke and Ellie. With their beautiful entries they were entitled to pick April’s theme. They chose motion.

Me and the man decided to wait until mid night to venture out to the massive common next to our flat. Sparklers, cameras and glow sticks in hand, we were armed and ready for some creative work. The man chose to use the idea of light and sparklers to capture some impressive work. Long exposures of spun sparklers and cautious running round a large tree trunk. All while being careful not to draw too much drunken attention to ourselves.

I attempted to do a few glow stick long exposures in a children’s playground but after my head had a run in with a roofed slide I took myself, my man and my growing head bump back to the flat to continue.

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So this is my entry for this month’s competition. I call this “Cloaked Figures”

 

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Oooo I hope I win!!

This was another one I produced, which was a close contender. I love the simplicity of the lines as they stand out from the darkness.

 

The Lines

 

We will definitely be trying again with these materials for some long exposures. We have some more ideas in mind! That’s whats so great about these monthly competitions, they just inspire you to do more.

– MooFace –

 

© Steph Whitmarsh and TheFaceofMoo, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steph Whitmarsh and TheFaceofMoo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.