Monday, November 30, 2015

Ramble Around Ireland #4:
Dundrum Castle

Heading north from Newcastle, but following the coast, we stopped at Dundrum Castle, an Anglo-Norman castle which was built beginning in the 12th century. Dundrum was a modest ruin you can climb a small tower for spectacular views. The view illustrates how strategically located the castle is. It is worth noting that most of the ruined castles like Dundrum are usually looked after and well kept by a Heritage council and are free to the public. I love how generous the Irish are with their artifacts, their history, their culture. We also stopped at Tyrella Beach which had grand views of the Mourne Mountains. What a beautifully sunny view of the Irish Sea.

View from base of Dundrum Castle of Dundrum Bay

Mourne Mountains from Tyrella Beach

Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep down to the Sea

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mushroom Monday

As the days shorten and the air cools, I'm still spying forest fungi...

I think these are Turkey Tails

I'm unsure about these and the few below...They look like puffballs but never appeared white to me. So if they are puffballs they were already past their prime for edibility.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ramble Around Ireland #3: Tollymore Forest Park

I have an affinity for ancient trees, branches hung at impossible angles, carpets of moss, and green forest light. Tollymore Forest Park just outside Newcastle, County Down, Ireland is a place of my dreams. We arrived early in the crisp morning, entering through a neo-Gothic arched gate. The forest is full of follies. In architecture, a folly is an extravagant structure or building that is built primarily for ornamentation with no real purpose or look different than their real purpose.  Most of Tollymore's follies were built in the late 1700s by James Hamilton.

Just on of the many follies.

We took the trail that skirted the River Shimna and passed through The Hermitage. This seemingly ancient abode was built around 1770 by Hamilton as a stone shelter to be used while fishing.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage

The Hermitage
The forest, the follies, and more that fifteen bridges: an epic kids (and grown up kids) to explore. There is an air of myth and legend all about this forest - Robin Hood hiding in the Hermitage, trolls collecting tolls at bridges, fairy and elfin abodes hidden about. (And for fantasy fanatics, some Game of Thrones scenes were filmed here). We visited near the end of October so the trees had an autumnal glow to them and the paths were strewn with gold leaves. We spent the first half of the day here and could have easily lingered until the half light of dusk when we may have spied the mythical folk of the forest. 

Near the car park is an arboretum with amazing and exotic trees. I recall an ancient Yew, a Cork Tree, and some stunning, towering evergreens. There are public toilets at the car park (much appreciated). There are a few more follies upon exiting including a barn dressed up like a Gothic style church. I believe it cost 5 euros to use the car park, otherwise the forest is free. Possibly the best 5 euro spent on our trip. Tollymore was an immediate favorite of ours. An absolute must if you are anywhere near county Down, which is packed with a lot of other great sites.  

Ethereal morning light
Presumably a Gothic-arched door to Faerie

Stepping stones across the river. There were several sets of these.

The Mourne Mountains in the distance.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Traveling Tiny Traditions

I hate to fast forward a month or so but the holidays are fast approaching. With them come our yearly traditions, ones we've had for ages, others we create new. There are freshly made Traveling Tiny Journals in my shop now which make great gifts and stocking stuffers and can be worn on a necklace or fastened to a keychain. They are also a great way to begin a new tradition.

There are many things you may want to scroll in these tiny volumes:
          -we are thankful for ... (could be passed around at Thanksgiving)
          -gifts that were given & received
          -major milestones and events of the past year
          -a letter to Santa from wee child
          -a letter to a wee child from Santa or one of his Elves
          -a hope or prayer for the coming year
          -how your family celebrated the holiday season
          -wee photos of your loved ones from the past year
          -the dates and milestones of Baby's First Year

Each year you could add to the little volume or have a new one for each year. Also, they would be grand for Yule or the New Year or other annual celebrations such as birthdays. Visit Traveling Chariot's Shop to browse these and other gifts for the winter season.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Fall Friend

Can you spot the friendly Mantis posing in the Autumn sun?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ramble Around Ireland #2:
Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep down to the Sea

Here is an example of the serendipity of travel: What ended up as one of our favorite locales, the craggy beach just before Newcastle, Co. Down, was actually just a stopping place for us to stretch our legs and take a peek at the ocean view. Little did we know there was a coastal path where stunning boulders tumble down to the sea while the Mourne Mountains and Slieve Donard towered behind us. There is even a folk song about this area: The Mountains of Mourne. We clambered around the rocks for quite awhile, up onto precipices, down into hollows. Eventually we found a small stream gliding into the sea. Following it led us under a massive arch beneath the road which revealed another old bridge (Bloody Bridge - thus named because of a massacre during the Rebellion of 1641). I dunked my tired feet into the frigid water and relished the magic here where ancient stones and water convened to cast an unforgettable spell. We counted ourselves lucky to have been drawn to this place.

*See last picture for the information board at the trailhead. Just on the A2 south of Newcastle.

I was entranced by this stone which appeared to me to be a map.