Home from the Holidays :-(

 

It’s just one of those things in life, a bitter sweet day for most, your holiday (vacation) is over on you return home, you are leaving what has hopefully been a really great experience with family or friends and returning to the reality of life, while at the same time you quite often look forward to getting back to your own home, your own bed and more familiar surroundings for the little one. It’s a little bit of a struggle both ways…..we started the week with a pretty nice view and it was just a taste of what was to come, in a beautiful Apartment with lovely hosts, would definitely stay again.

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Bunlin Studio Apartment – Golan, Millford, Co. Donegal

 

For us, it’s been a really terrific week away, we have no covered two thirds of the Wild Atlantic Way around the Donegal area and just have one section to work out way though, and we’ve already started planning that, will then look at where else we can hit on the other sections around the coastline, there are so many places to check out it’s great. This time around we took some time up around the Fanad Peninsula across to Dunfnaghy and Falcarragh, which turned out to be a great base to travel around from, small town but lovely and quiet, only 16km to the stunning Glenveagh National Park and the same in a different direction to the very interesting Ards Forrest Park which contains parkland and beach in one location.

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Ards Forrest Park – Co. Donegal
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Bloody Foreland – Co. Donegal

There are just so many stunning viewing points around the hills and mountains in the areas, you are always a short drive away from one, so just take a look around and pick a route, some of the viewing points are a little more difficult to get to than others, the road up to and down from Horn Head for example can be a little hairy, but the view’s are hard to beat, it can get a little windy up there, so just don’t take any unnecessary risks taking photos or looking around. Or indeed Fanad Head Lighthouse which is another of the Great Irish Lighthouses around our rugged coastline.

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Fanad Head Lighthouse – Co. Donegal

 

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Horn Head – Co. Donegal

There are also a number of places to see animals of all shapes and sizes, parks, farms, a mini-zoo, lots of options. On this trip we discovered Oakfield Park in Raphoe a short distance outside of Letterkenny, have to say there’s still pieces of it being developed and added to, but it’s a really beautiful spot, with a lovely Train Ride that goes all the way around the lower part of the property.

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The Longsleeper at Oakfield Park

We always take in a trip to Tropical World in Letterkenny when in the area, the little guy takes in more as we go around each time we go, so that’s pretty cool and I always love a walk around the Butterfly Garden which is much busy with Butterflies this year. Staying so near to Glenveagh it would have been a crime not to get up there and sample the beauty of the area, the shot at the top of the page is from there, and it was another well spent day, the little guy even high fived the shuttle bus driver when we got back to the Visitor Center, not something he would have done had he not been in good form after a day of great views, lots of birdies (and a scone in the cafe of course).

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Common Chaffinch – Glenveagh National Park

 

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Great Mormon at Tropical World’s Butterfly Garden.

 

:Honestly these have been just a few of the many memories we created this week in the North West of Ireland, weather wise, bit of a mixed bag, but only really had to change our plans one day when we couldn’t bring the wee man out in howling wind and rain, but we were very lucky to have a few days of sun early in the season, lots more to come when I get a bit of time to go through the photos. On the downward side didn’t manage to get very much done this week, hoped to get some writing finished off, all that despite waking each morning between 5:30 and 6:15 – hard to force yourself when you are getting overtired, maybe that’s what this wise old owl would say 😉

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Snowy Owl at Tropical World in Letterkenny

It always comes down to time….

Doesn’t seem to matter what you are trying to do, work, home, hobbies it really does all come down to a matter of what time you have available to you and how you manage to split it up. As I type this I’m actually on a Family holiday, and for some bizarre reason I woke up on the dot of 5:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I’m watching a glorious sunny morning develop, working on some Photos from the HRH Blues 4 Festival a couple of weeks back (almost there) and posting a quick update here. Going to head out to the back garden of our base here in Donegal shortly and see if there are any Birdies up and about, have seen some Robbin’s and Coal Tits already through the windows so hopefully there will be.

 

Writing hasn’t been working at all the last week or so, but I think the fog may be clearing from my mind now, with some luck when the little guy has gone to bed this evening I’ll be able to get stuck into finish off the reviews tonight, and get somewhat back on track. Not going to touch any of the photos I take this week until we get home at the weekend, so I guess I’m already borrowing time from next week, it’s what a lot of us end up doing these days to try and fit things in. Too hard to catch up with things though and eventually something gives and in reality that will pretty much always be your hobbies, it’s easy enough for me to take a camera out in the garden and try to catch the birds flying around or feeding, but it’s another 30 minutes or an hour our of a day, then editing the photos is another hour, I think I just need to start organising time better.

 

Today, it’s all about getting out and enjoying the break, off to Glenveagh National Park, in Donegal, a beautiful spot no matter what the weather, but if it holds up as it is now it should be a terrific trip, wish us well, the little guy wasn’t crazy about the beach yesterday, a little too brights with the strong sun, but he had fun travelling around as he always does, we paid a visit to the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse yesterday,  Would love to head back there sometime, it’s a lovely spot. Once again we are taking in a piece of the stunning Wild Atlantic Way, do visit if you ever get a chance and plan a trip following part of the Irish Coastline.

 

Right, out into the sun (although it’s cold right now I’m sure) and we shall see what we manage to see out there………..enjoy your day where you are ………

After the snow….

Don’t know what it’s been like in your part of the world, but here in Ireland we’ve been hit by what is for us a very unusual weather event, we tend to get very small amounts of snowfall during the winter months, and even at that it grinds the country to a halt 😉   But from last Wednesday we got hit by a much bigger event, snow for a few days that was very heavy at times and blizzard like, the meeting of a storm and a blizzard decided to dump as much as it could on our little green island, and the havoc caused was crazy, from the near Black Friday frantic scenes as people scrambled to buy sliced pans of bread, literally stripping delivery cages bare before they even made it to the shelves, yes for bread and milk, it wasn’t like the conditions were due to last weeks, a day or two.

But with snow drifts up to 10 feet high it certainly was causing problems, no public transport of any kind, flights in and out of the country completely wiped out, and people told to stay in their homes and not venture out. Well this is Monday night and the reality is most of it is all gone, a thaw for a day and a half and that’s it panic over, the sliced pans are no longer on Ebay for €1,000 😉

The birds weren’t too bothered, they still came to the garden to get their treats from the feeders or try their luck with the frozen ground. It’s all back to normalish now, a couple of days stuck in the house and people were going stir crazy, the supermarkets are still bare shelved, their distribution centers trying frantically to restock. In fairness the snowfall was more than double the previous records, so for her, a place that doesn’t have a reason to invest heavily in infrastructure or equipment for such an event if it only happens every 30 or 50 years, it wouldn’t be that prudent, but maybe when they add up the total cost it might be worth doing more.

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Poor Blackbird scavenging around the garden in the snow.

 

But hey we are rolling into Spring now and it’s time to look forward to better weather, more trips, gigs and Festivals, it’s really lifting the spirits, which have honestly been a little low of late. We start this week with the HRH AOR Festival in Pwllheli, North Wales which I will be shooting at for the 4th year running, this year for my good friends at Rockposer.com and will look forward to photographing and seeing some terrific bands and of course catching up with some wonderful friends along the way. This years bill includes headliners Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen), Night Ranger and Skid Row. This is always a great weekend, and handy to be an indoor Festival at this time of year with lots of facilities on-site.

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Busy month of gigs ahead, still have Sepultura, Steven Wilson, Cannibal Corpse, Gary Numan, Maverick and Danny Vaughn & Dan Reed to come this month, and HRH Blues in April.the year is pretty full with some great and very varied stuff, going to try and get to shoot more shows.

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Eclipse – HRH AOR 2015

Another plan this year is to try and get out and get some decent photographs of Butterflies, but natural homegrown ones and some more tropical ones at Butterfly Gardens around the country, will try my very best to get this done. And then onto our holiday in Donegal, more Wild Atlantic Way sights, a different part of Donegal, so we will get to see the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse  and area this time around.

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Black Swallowtal with blue wings.

So bring it all on, lets hope it’s a great few months for us all and brigher weather brings brighter moods, with a lot of friends struggling through various illnesses at the moment, thoughts and prayers are with them all for speedy and full recoveries, and we all need to live life to the fullest while we have it, have fun out there.

Still dizzy, but we march onwards.

So time for a little update, and have to be honest I’ve be struggling a little, the dizzy spells have not disappeared, thankfully they are definitely fewer, which I’m thankful for. And while typing this I should be on my way in to see one of my favourite bands, the always wonderful Pat McManus Band, but will have to wait until the HRH Blues Festival to catch him again, it just would not be a smart play to go in and risk getting worse. But the guys really are wonderful live, Pat is without any doubt one of the most talented guitarists around today, such a passionate player and loves what he does.

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PMB – Ramblin’ Man Fair – 2016

 

Having said that I’ve already been to 20% of the number of shows I managed to get to in the whole of 2017, and there a a couple of gigs on the cards for this week, so hopefully things will go to plan. WOW!!!! we are almost at the end of February then and rolling into the Festival Season, with HRH AOR VI first up, that’s going to be great. Particularly looking forward to seeing the brilliant Night Ranger again, absolutely blew me away last time at the same Festival back in 2015.

 

Lots of stuff going on the next few months, gigs, Festivals (shooting and reviewing a couple of those – yeah I know I said I wouldn’t do that much work anymore, but it’s not always easy to get Festival Reviewers, may be a bit lucky this year and have a friend taking some of the load). Then we have a family holiday, staying in the homeland, but can’t wait for that, and will finally get to pay a visit to the stunning Fanad Lighthouse in Co. Donegal. So I automatically think back to last year and getting to see another of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland at Loop Head, Co. Clare, will naturally bring the camera along again and see what we can get.

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Loop Head. Co. Clare

For the rest of the weekend, will continue to work on some shots of our feathered friends in the back garden if the weather stands up, have some Album Reviews to work on and grab some rest in between. But we have to keep going, march onwards (to a tune or two of course) and keep trying to learn a few things as we go along. After I think I’ve improved enough with static birds it’s time to get to work on Birds in flight again, and that will probably require a replacement tripod, the endless spend of money continues 😉

 

Bloody dizzy spells, but doesn’t affect the Birds ;-)

Went into the garden earlier to get some air and try and clear my head a bit, but still having dizzy spells, since Tuesday so will have to take a trip to the Doctors if they don’t disappear, so didn’t do much for the head, but there were a lot of Birds buzzing around the place, and quite happy today with some of my photos. Right food and see if I’m ok to go out later. If you’d like to see some of the photos just click on the link below or either of the Photos and they will take you to the page 😉
Blue Tits and Robin’s are the order of the day today –
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Robin – 11-02-2018

Lots of activity around today, which is really great to see, and a number of Robins just hanging around today, well until the Rescue Helicopter went flying overhead and everything scattered with the noise, the Thrush’s have yet to make an appearance today, nor the Collared Dove, but I’m sure they are around. Need to get a replacement Tripod quickly as handheld with the 70-200mm lens and the Extender weighs you down pretty quickly, but still pretty happy with the results, and know I can get a little clearer and better next time out.

Looking forward to our Family holiday back to Donegal in a few months, will get to check out the stunning Fanad Lighthouse and I’m sure there will be a lot of wildlife around both the bay where we are staying and the cliffs around the lighthouse itself. Assuming we are lucky with the weather of course. That aside, we are planning trips back to the Botanical Gardens and Dublin Zoo in the very near future, so lots coming up.

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Blue Tit – 11-02-2018