Dublin Zoo with Canon and The Sunday Club

IMG_5234Canon-Ireland in conjunction with The Sunday Club ( a unique club for Sunday Times readers) had a photography masterclass at Dublin Zoo this weekend. I was trying to win tickets but wasn’t lucky. Lucy got invited along though and I was her +1 so off we headed yesterday morning on the 7am train from Sligo – Dublin.

IMG_5218We got to Dublin Zoo and were greeted by friendly Canon staff. We were then shown the most amazing slide show of work by award-winning photographer Mike Brown, I’m totally in awe and would love to take images even half as good as he does. He gave us some really good tips and advice…I could tell you but I’d have to kill you ;) Ah no he was saying try to get to the same level as the animal or if you are taking a photo looking down make sure there is a good background. He also said backgrounds are almost as important as the photo itself, if you have a ‘busy’ background it will detract from the image itself. Another tip was try to get the animals doing something interesting like eating or yawning and try to get eye contact. Easier said than done…although I find it easier taking photos of animals sometimes rather than people…people have an awful habit of complaining….or saying ‘don’t take my photo’ as they brush their hair ready for a photo. You never get that with an animal ;)

She's not that into you

After our slide show and talk we got to wander around the zoo and were left to our own devices. The first thing we saw was this beautiful peacock, he was trying to impress his lady friend but she wasn’t interested in the slightest, he even wiggled his bum at her but she couldn’t care less.


Next stop was the elephants to see the new baby – the same idea as everyone else had. The baby was hiding under his mum so I didn’t get a good photo but he was very cute.


We had a lovely wander around the zoo. Mike was walking around offering advice to us as we snapped away, I’d love to see the shots he got. Lucy got some brilliant shots and when she does her blog post I’ll insert the link in so you can see her photos.

IMG_5368It’d be great to go back to the zoo again, I like some of the photos I took but I think I could do better. I’d also love to go to Fota Wildlife Park one day, I’ve never been to Cork and it’s one place I’d love to visit, I’ve been told Fota is a great place.

IMG_5405When we had finished taking photos we went back to the Canon centre and got to print some of our photos out on the Canon printers. We could just insert the card into the printer and see the shots on an LCD display – no need for a computer! They came out great and it was lovely to see the shots we had just taken.

IMG_5298Thanks so much to Canon, The Sunday Times Club, Mike Brown, Dublin Zoo (including the wonderful animals) and Lucy for a brilliant day out. I learned so much and I really hope they run another event again soon. The rest of my photos are here.




Blue Sligo

7275404396_41210e083b_oJust trying something different with a sunset photo. Let me know what you think. Yesterday was a bit of a stressful day when Lucy ended up in hospital. She’s done her own (hilarious) blog post about it so you can read about it here.

The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim

IMG_2169On July 13th I went to the Open Day at the Organic Centre, Rossinver. It’s one of those places I’ve wanted to visit for a long time but never actually got there. I’m one of those people who turn up early to everything…only this time I didn’t realise the Sligo Stages Rally was taking place in that area….so I kind of ended up in the rally!! I was very pleased when I ended up at the Organic Centre in one piece.

IMG_2066It really is a lovely place, full of hidden walkways, gardens and polytunnels. There is also a wonderful cafe and the food looks amazing, I didn’t try any  (no money as usual) but other people were enjoying it.

IMG_2075At the open day there were various demonstrations taking place and lots to see and do.

IMG_2350I got to hear some tips from Hans about gardening, he was explaining that watering in polytunnels should be done in the morning as the plants grow during the day and if it’s done at night it will encourage slugs, so that’s something I’ve changed with my greenhouse now as I was watering at night.

IMG_2276Gaby was explaining how to make Kombucha, I’ve never tried it before but it was very nice. To be honest the ‘SCOBY’  looks like most of the glasses I rescue from Lucy’s room, maybe she’s just trying her hand at fermenting.

IMG_2235There were all kinds of plants to see and I loved the sensory garden, I also loved the fences, what a great idea.

IMG_2137You can buy plants and seeds from the centre and they also run various courses. You can find out all about them here.


Kidding around at Beltra Country Market

IMG_3446I had a great morning yesterday at Beltra Country Market. Paul, who is a goat farmer or as his calls himself ‘The Goat Man’ came along with two lovely goats and told us all about them. I was very lucky as I got to have a try at milking one…I was useless it has to be said and Paul got most of the milk in his shoe!

IMG_3472Apologies to any goat experts out there because I got told off on Facebook for sitting the wrong side of the goat and not milking it with my two hands. In my defense I did what I was told to do…me not being a country person. Thanks to Maura for taking the photo!

IMG_3494After I took about ten minutes to get an inch of milk Paul showed us all how it was done and got a jug full in about two minutes!

IMG_3503The goats were very well-behaved and real sweethearts. I’d love a goat but I think it’d probably eat everything I’m trying to grow. These ladies were eating nettles, brambles, holly…the lot! Great if you needed to clear a field though.

IMG_3457When the goats were milked Maura showed us how to makes goats cheese, it seems quite easy…although in reality I’d probably make a bodge of it, it’s not something you can ‘bung in a blender’.

IMG_3516In true Blue Peter style Maura had some she’d made earlier so we all got to try some, it was lovely. What surprised me most was how nice goats milk was, I’d never tried it before and got some to bring home, I thought it was going to taste bitter but it’s not like that at all. Paul was telling me it’s much better for you as it only takes around 20 minutes to digest as opposed to over 3 hours it takes to digest cows milk.


It was a really great morning at the market and I look forward to their next event :)

Open your heart to a rescue animal

Rocket-dog I love animals, all kinds of animals. We always had cats in the house and when I was kid we had dogs. Four years ago Lucy asked for a dog, I have to admit I didn’t want one, I knew who would be the one walking it and left looking after it. She kept on and on and on though and eventually wore us down. Rocket-dog Arthur Biscuit was a rescue dog looking for a home, he’d been abused and looked sad….we had to bring him home. All those weeks I’d spent thinking of how much work a dog would be, in reality he has paid us back 100 times over. We now have five in the family, not four. He never complains and always brings a smile to my face. Adopting Rocket-dog was one of the best things I’ve ever done and I don’t know how my life was complete before he came into our home. The point of this post? To all of you out there considering a pet, please consider a rescue animal, there are so many that need good homes and you won’t regret it. Most rescue animals have lived in foster homes so they will be able to tell you about the animal and what sort of family they would be suitable for.


Last week I went to photograph the most beautiful puppies that are in the care of Sligo Animal Rescue at the moment. They are only four weeks old so not ready to leave their mum yet but they can be booked. If the thought of a puppy puts you off there are also various older dogs and cats needing homes (including Lucy the mother of the puppies). Lucy was surrendered to Sligo animal rescue and they weren’t told she was pregnant so her four male puppies were born in kennels.

Lucy and her puppiesLucy is only a young dog herself and she’s a real beauty. If you like to find out more about Lucy, her puppies or any of the animals in the care of Sligo Animal Rescue you can contact them here.

LucyIf you aren’t in a position to adopt an animal there are other ways you can help and there’s a fundraising day on Sunday at the Valet Depot in Sligo.


On Baile’s Strand

IMG_1925Yesterday was a brilliant day in Sligo. The Blue Raincoat Theatre Company performed Yeat’s On Baile’s Strand on Cummeen Strand, Strandhill. It was all very interesting right from the journey over to the play itself. I didn’t realise Cummeen Strand was so close to Coney Island and I have a really bad leg at the moment so I didn’t fancy walking all the way over (and Gilbert the car would have got stuck). So as I was walking along (and wasn’t 100% sure I was going to the right place), I met up with Dave Flynn (musician extraordinaire) and his friend Jane, we were contemplating how to get over to the play as there was fairly deep water on the way and none of us had suitable shoes on. Luck was on our side as a friendly farmer in a tractor stopped and offered us a lift.

IMG_0732Slight problem though as there was only one other seat in the tractor (apart from the drivers). As I was the oldest I got the seat, poor Jane was shoved up behind me and Dave didn’t know what to do so he ended up on my lap! You couldn’t make it up!! Just right that Dave is in the band Anything Goes…because anything did go.

Dave on my lapSo there we were wedged into a steaming up Massey Ferguson, listening to iRadio and going along the beach. The beach was very bumpy and every time the tractor went over a bump Dave hit his head, I’m pretty sure he had concussion by the time we arrived at the play. I’m just delighted that I didn’t get seasick (I can’t even look at google maps because it makes me feel ill so a trip in a bumpy tractor wasn’t ideal!)

IMG_1703So back to the play: ‘King Concobar, aware of Cuchullain’s bravery and his unruly temper, makes Cuchullain swear an oath of obedience, forcing the unaware Cuchulain to fight and kill his own son. When informed of the truth, Cuchullain, mad with despair, runs out to fight the sea.’

IMG_1545A crowd of around 200 people (and dogs and horses) came along to see the play. It was a real dark overcast day which added to the atmosphere and made it all very mystical.

IMG_1515There was haunting music provided by Joe and Simon Hunt and some of the audience joined in the chanting. The crowds were enthralled, once again I’m amazed by the talented people we have here in Sligo.

IMG_1627The rest of my photos are here. If you ever get the chance to see the Blue Raincoat Theatre company perform I’d really recommend it. I also loved the fact that it was outside, the beach was just the perfect setting.

IMG_1839My trip back to the mainland wasn’t as near as exciting as the trip out as my farmer was busy working on his farm. I did cadge a lift with a nice man from Clare and his family so my thanks to them….I didn’t have Dave sitting on my lap this time.


Sligo Shops – M. Cosgrove and Son Delicatessen

M. CosgroveIt’s a while since I’ve done a blog about a Sligo shop. This one is well worth waiting for, in fact if you’ve never been to Sligo it’s worth coming just to visit this wonderful shop.

IMG_3612Cosgrove’s is one of Sligo’s oldest shops and was first opened as a restaurant/shop in 1898 by Michael Cosgrove senior. His son Kevin took over the business and expanded the range of food and was in fact the first person to sell ice cream in Sligo. It’s now run by Kevin’s son Michael Cosgrove with the help of Pauline.

Michael CosgroveMichael and Pauline are both very helpful and you are guaranteed a warm welcome. Pauline is very camera-shy (hence why she isn’t in the photo).

Cosgrove DelicatessenStepping into the shop is like stepping back in time. You will find all kinds of everything in this wonderful treasure trove of a shop, in fact there is more choice than you would find in most leading supermarkets and of course you get the personal service and your goodies wrapped in a brown paper bag.

NutsApologies if this post makes you feel hungry!

IMG_3682You’ll find hams, cheeses, olives, salads, pasta, nuts, cereal and all kinds of gluten-free products here, along with the personal touch that money can’t buy.

IMG_3631My thanks to Michael and Pauline for letting me take photos.  The rest of my photos are here.