Blarney Castle, Republic of Ireland

Blarney Castle sits north of Cork in the southern part of Ireland, its most famous for the Blarney stone which if kissed give you the gift of the gab! The castle is situated on an impressive estate where the entrance fee was part of our tour costs with Busabout / Shamrocker Adventures and we arrived early in order to beat the crowds (mainly tours with older clientele).

Blarney Castle, the Jewel of Southern Ireland Castles

There is a queue to enter the castle and kiss the blarney stone, to give an idea when we arrived it took 35 minutes for us to make our way (causally) through the castle up to the stone. However once we left I noted the line to kiss the stone extended well past a 2 hour mark, so early is essential to avoid a morning in queue and there is plenty of other things to see.

The main attraction… no not the sign!

The castle itself is quite a fascinating structure, while the walk up is enjoyable (yes lots of stairs and tight spaces) they have off shoots into the various rooms used by staff when it was a functional castle. Its a good idea if you can spare a few minutes to check out a few nooks and crannies as they are unique but also give you a bit of breathing room from the line of eager rock smootchers.

The Famous Blarney Stone – and protective rails and attendant.

Now if you don’t want to actually kiss the rock (I for instance did not) its still worth the climb for the amazing views of the grounds.

The poison gardens on the grounds is worth a wander around, if you are into botany or want to notch up your survivalist belt on which plants not to eat this is the place to do it.

A had a good giggle over how some of the plants were in tiny protected. Mandrake, Wolsbane, Nightshade… all deadly and in little cages; however, Cannabis (Marijuana) is kept in a playground sized bubble! Priorities…

Those yellow flowers looked so tasty!

On last glance back at the castle… through a rock… oh Ireland is the Emerald Island, but also the land of unique rocks.

Everyone has to get this photo… including me.

Dingle Peninsula, Republic of Ireland

Nearing the end of the All Ireland Rocker trip with Busabout / Shamrocker Adventures. Today we explore the Dingle Peninsula, a stretch of land jutting out to the sea that like most of Ireland is breath taking and green. It should be noted that the ring road around the peninsula while 2-way is generally taken only in one direction by the locals and tourists in the know, that is because for most of the journey its a cliff-side road without a lot of room for modern traffic to allow for casual passing.

First stop on the ring road was a farmer’s estate where for a few euros you can pay to explore the Beehive huts (Clochán), the old farmhouse and pet baby sheep. Expecting a bit of a tourist trap I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually pretty straight forward process. Pay to enter and explore at one’s leisure. The baby sheep where in one section and as long as you were gentle you could pick up one for a photo.

They don’t mince words… exactly as advertised… also historic Beehive Huts

But for a bit of culture I did manage to drag myself away from the cute baby sheep and check out the Beehive Huts that are another staple of the area history.

Next stop on the Dingle Peninsula is Coumeenoole Beach, first we stopped for another photo opportunity then headed down to the beach itself.

Overlooking Coumeenoole Beach

Its quite a trek down to the beach from the parking lot, I opted to grab some more photos and a awesome time-lapse using my iPhone and the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 which makes up my micro travel kit for photographers.

Next we headed out to the point of the peninsula, it got very craggy out there and the wind did start to pick up but was not unmanageable, again weather seemed to be on our side (fun note, the north side of the island was getting pelted by heavy rain so weather is highly variable on the emerald isle – I just got really lucky and I’m sure that luck with eventually run out… cough spoiler cough cough). The Devils Horn as the region is known is quite something, and looking out to the ocean you can see some islands which were used in a recent Star Wars movie.

At the start and subsequent end of our trip around Dingle is the small town of Dingle. Known for its dolphin Fungie that lives out in the bay I had to take a look and see if I could spot the elusive critter.

They even have a statue by the marina honoring their unexpected town mascot
Dingle Harbour / Marina
(J/K – Photoshop is my friend – But I fooled a bunch of people on the bus!)

We did stop for lunch in town, so several of us found a nice place called John Benny’s Pub to have some lunch at the recommendation of our tour guide Gemma. I had the fish of the day and chips, which came with peas as the veggies.

And that was it for the Dingle Penisula, a great day exploring a unique region of Ireland. Along the way we did drive by the famous “Rose Hotel” and stop in town for a rest break. I managed to find a rose bush and an old car to take pictures of… but otherwise short break.

Connemara Countryside – Republic of Ireland

The quintessential Irish landscape, endless rolling hills of green. It feels like we drove through the region for hours but with every new bend in the road was another breathtaking view. In a way it was good I was on a bus I didn’t control or I would of stopped over a dozen times in the first hour alone. But words can’t describe how beautiful this area in western Ireland is… and the photos barely do it service as well!

Its just so majestic, the landscape… not me 😛

Mid-way through our travels in Connemara we came across a small village nestled beside a shallow wide river. Here was our afternoon stop where we could try Irish Coffee or Hot Chocolate (both being mixed with Irish cream). I went with the coco and it was amazing.

Gaynor’s is our afternoon stop for a hot beverage!

The Gaynor’s field bar itself was pleasant nook which had a faint smell of smoke from the fire place and was full of locals in addition to the odd tourist that had stopped like us to grab a nip and use the facilities.

A final group image as we leave the Connemara Countryside, definitely making the “return” list.

Am I on the right track? :-)

Am I on the right track? 🙂

April 18, 2012 – The winds, that I discussed in an earlier post , have now headed east and the sky is blue, so off I go again to photograph the Magnolias at the Experimental Farm.

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The Haunted Walk – GH2 Low Light Test

The Haunted Walk – GH2 Low Light Test

I finally got my hands on the Lumix GH2 from Panasonic. I’m very excited with this camera due to its small form, light weight and with an adapter I can use all my Nikon Lens. All the shots are handheld, most unchanged (beyond size reduction) but a few have some minor changes in post to their raw files to JPEG (crop, sharpen, white balance).

The adapter had shown up last week so I was all set. Continue reading

Watts Creek Trail Revisited – May 21, 2011

The sky was blue again today ( a rare treat these days) so my wife and I headed out for a cycle along the Watts Creek Trail from Kanata over to Britannia Beach. No tulips along this trail but the trees in the apple orchard were in full bloom as were the individual apple trees along the trail. Every so often, we would pass by a nice clump of fragrant lilacs which added to the the aromas of the ride. Someone in the residential area along the trail had a great smelling meal cooking on their BBQ, too!

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Bavaro Princess, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Bavaro Princess, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Some days, wildlife isn’t the only thing that I photograph.

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Wakefield, Quebec and the Gatineau Hills

Every so often, when the sky is blue and the clouds are passing quickly overhead, I get an urge to hop in the car, travel across the Ottawa River, and spend some time wandering around the Gatineau Hills and along the shores of the Gatineau River. I usually end up at the Covered Bridge a bit upstream form Wakefield town center. This day was one such day.

Lac St. Pierre

Tent Caterpillars

Ruisseau St-Denis

One of the beaches at Meech Lake

Hay Rake

Wakefield Covered Bridge across the Gatineau River

Bridge Information: The Wakefield Covered Bridge was built in 1998 after a fire had destroyed the original Gendron Covered Bridge which had been at this site since 1915.  The construction of the replacement bridge was a community project utilizing 600 Douglas Fir boom logs salvaged from the Gatineau River when the logging practice of floating logs down the Gatineau River was discontinued. The bridge itself is 288 ft (87.8 m) long and 18 ft. (5.5m) wide and is 16 ft. (4.9m) above the normal river level.

I react to Poison Ivy so when I’m traveling on trails I have to always be watching that I don’t step in the stuff as I’m backing up to get the perfect shot. In a different language, the words might be different but the allergic reaction that I get is the same. This noxious weed knows no boundaries!

Another good day with no complications. Great to have nice weather.



Snow Snakes and other things, Kanata, Ontario

Corn Stubble at Dusk

Snow Snakes and other things, Kanata, Ontario

I hadn’t started the day out with any particular photographic goal, but as I was coming home, I noticed the sun shining off the dome of the Greek Orthodox Church and so grabbed my camera and, after one thing led to another, I found myself out after sunset with camera in hand.
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