Killiney Hill

Scruffy and Family spent the day exploring yet another beautiful park about a 10 minute drive from the house. Killiney Hill offers a fun day for the entire family, including some lovely hiking trails with spectacular views of the valley below.

IMG_0850

Chloe takes in the view.

IMG_0854

A friendly hiker passing by with her kids and dog stopped to give us a little history lesson. Evidently the granite carved out of the quarry below was transported by small rail carts to form the Dun Laoghaire pier.  Now it’s a popular rock climbing spot.

IMG_0868IMG_0871

 

 

 

Lough Boora Sculpture Walk

Scruffy’s people set out for the Lough Boora Discovery Park in County Offaly. Incidentally, County Offaly has been recently given the distinction of being the most Catholic county in Ireland. Lough Boora is an important Mesolithic site in Ireland and the bogs provided a source of heat for the Irish for centuries. In the twentieth century peat harvesting was mechanized and the peat powered Ireland’s industries and homes. Now Lough Boora is a wildlife sanctuary teeming with wildflowers and fun activities for kids, for example, a cute little fairy trail.

One of the many walks one can take is called the Sculpture Walk, which displays various rustic sculptures created using the landscape and remnants of peat harvesting equipment. We enjoyed some of the nature sculptures by Naomi Seki.  This is A Tree in a Sculpture

IMG_0787

and this one is called Boora Stacks.

IMG_0792

Inside and around these stacks are bushes of heather, which over time becomes peat as it partially decomposes under bog conditions. Peat can lead to bog fires, which are very difficult to contain. When it burns, it can burn deep underground, even under damp conditions.

IMG_0798

The dark soil here is actually peat:

IMG_0820

Another cool sculpture involved 3 triangles, but I should have taken the picture from a different angle to properly appreciate the effect. However, it was starting to rain at this point so we started quick-snapping on our way to seek shelter.

IMG_0799

Maybe we can hide from the rain in here? What, no roof?

IMG_0806

What is this? Is this the Loch Ness monster visiting Ireland?

IMG_0811

There, there, nice monster…

IMG_0812

No, actually, artist Julian Wild welded together pieces of scrap into a shape of a skimming stone to honor the industrial heritage of the site. This was my favorite sculpture by far.

IMG_0813

Upper Greystones Cliff Walk

Scruffy’s people took the DART (commuter train) to Bray to enjoy the Upper Greystones Walk. To do the Upper Greystones Walk, we had to first repeat the Bray Head Walk (see earlier posts) to get to the top.

Remember the cross from our Bray Head Walk last time?  See it off in the distance to the right?

IMG_0686.jpg

Continuing the walk involved climbing over fences for a trek through a rancher’s land. A sign warned us to Beware of Bull and Keep All Dogs Under Control. However, it said nothing about husbands.

IMG_0741.jpg

We saw lovely fascinating lichen and rocky terrain along the way.

 

We glanced down at all the lucky people who chose the Lower Greystones Walk and would enjoy a pint at the pub at the walk’s end very soon. If you look closely, you can see the train tracks – we could have even taken the DART all the way to the pub.

IMG_0712

Our destination, the pub, is down there in the town that juts out on the upper left:

IMG_0724 (1)

We encountered a young hiker from Germany who graciously took our picture for us before taking a shortcut back down the hill.

IMG_0727

We continued on our route, enjoying the vistas and colorful foliage along the way, including a beautiful rainbow over the Irish Sea below.

IMG_0719

IMG_0725 copy

IMG_0740

Eventually the pub felt as though it was getting farther and farther away, but we finally made it! Best Guiness ever!

IMG_0744

Switzerland Business Trip

Scruffy, Sis and Dad held down the fort whilst Mummy flew off to Switzerland for a business trip. A welcome change from Ireland – it was HOT!

Swiss swimming in the Rhine in Basel.

IMG_0596.jpg

After a full day in a conference room, I took the train back to Zurich, watching everyone else play and stay cool.

IMG_0605.jpg

Enjoyed killing time before my flight watching beautiful Swans in the Limmat River in Zurich near the main train station.

IMG_0609.jpgIMG_0611.jpg

Saw Swiss sparrows sunning.

IMG_0619.jpg

The water looked SOOO inviting…

IMG_0617.jpg

I confess that after a little exploring, I did dip my toes for a little while.  No picture since I’m way overdue for a mani-pedi.  But here’s an intriguing alleyway.

IMG_0665.jpg

Couldn’t resist getting this adorable swim suit for the grand baby.

IMG_0666.jpg

. OK, so we might have to wait a couple of years for her to model it.

IMG_0900.jpg

Blackrock Yarn Shop and Quilt Shop

Scruffy’s mum discovered her local yarn shop, Winnie’s Craft Café, located in Blackrock, Ireland.

IMG_0417

It’s a lovely little shop with a café in the back. Scruffy’s daddy likes to hang out here nibbling chocolate muffins while mummy shops.

IMG_0415

Marina, the owner, and her colleague Jackie are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. They have a good selection of yarn, as well as some cross stitch and other craft supplies.

IMG_0413

IMG_0414

Within walking distance of Winnie’s is a little quilt shop, Floppy Fabrics, operated out of a tiny room of the owner’s home. Like ScruffyQuilts, Floppy Fabrics is also named after the owner’s dog.  Lovely gardens to enjoy along the way.

IMG_0423

I lost my head a bit in both places – doing my part to support the Irish economy!

IMG_0424

Whipped up a little pad for the grand baby in no time!

IMG_0440

Cabinteely Park

Scruffy took his family to Cabinteely Park for the day. It’s a lovely place teeming with wildflowers and a peaceful pond.

IMG_1381

IMG_1382

There are several paths and fields to explore.

IMG_1402

There is even a dog park, which Chloe enjoyed immensely. But Scruffy disgraced himself so we had to leave.

IMG_1400

Bright red poppies and daisies seem to grow wild here. The sun was so bright that many of the iphone pictures were fuzzy – no, it wasn’t the photographer!

Here and there you will find metallic mosaic flower sculptures nestled within the foliage.

IMG_1403

Alongside of one of the paths is a large plaque commemorating the Irish declaration of independence from England.

IMG_1404

Afterward, the people stopped for coffee at their favorite haunt, the Urbun Café in Cabinteely Village.

IMG_1411

Malahide Castle

Scruffy snoozed at home while his family and guest struck out for Malahide Castle.  One of the oldest castles in Ireland, it was home to the Talbot family as far back as 1175.

In 1975,  the last of the Talbots, Rose, sold her home to the Irish state, partly to pay for inheritance taxes.  Rose is the little girl in the painting.  It was painted in the style in which her eyes follow you as you climb the winding staircase.

IMG_0067

In the beginning, the castle had no windows and as was the standard of the day, Mr. and Mrs. Talbot(s) slept apart in separate bedrooms and had their own bathrooms with their own chamber pots.  (I’m so glad I live in modern times)

IMG_0075

There were some quilts too see too.

The Talbot family collected gorgeous carved furniture and doors during their diplomatic travels throughout the years.

IMG_0060

IMG_0061

Leaving the castle, we proceeded to the visitor centre, fiercely guarded by Scruffy’s kin.

IMG_0122

To the left of this marvelous egg are the famous Avoca shops.

IMG_0123

To the right of the egg is the entrance to the magnificent gardens, featuring a resident peacock

IMG_0151

a butterfly habitat

IMG_0293IMG_0202IMG_0278IMG_0234IMG_0261IMG_0308

meandering paths and a greenhouse

IMG_0367

Beautiful flowers everywhere

Bumblebees, honey bees, wasps

IMG_0386IMG_0364IMG_0389

and wanna-bees

IMG_0395

After seeing the stinkbug, we decided it was time to head home.