Month: May 2019

Emerald Isle – part 2

There’s nothing quite like a traditional Irish pub scene, especially when you are an Australian looking for a Guiness beef pie, lager and sweet Celtic music. When in Dublin the popular first place to visit is the Temple Bar, a busy riverside neighbourhood spread out over cobbled lanes. What attracted me to this place was the red buildings and men standing around having a chat. On Talbot street there are more pubs, Seans’ Bar, Moloneys, and Crosskeys Inn, Molloys. Not only is the food decent, it’s the lively conversation and friendliness that is so attractive. Pull up a stool and order a pint. One gentleman with his wife who I spoke to was having his 10th pint!

While in Galway, Bill and I found ourselves immersed in listening to contemporary guitar music with great rhythms and vibes. People eat, talk, sing and drink. You would be surprised that someone else in the room also has travelled from suburbs in Brisbane that you may know. It’s a small world.

Dingle offered a unique experience when our Backroads group ended up at 9pm in the Dingle Pub listening and watching world class Irish dancer David Geaney toe tapping and jumping on his wooden board. Lively. Fantastic! Brilliant. Such entertainment and for little cost. And David’s danced on Broadway. There are haunted pubs like Grace Neills, McCarthy’s in Tipperary, Dick Mack’s in Dingle, The Brazen Head in Dublin, The Filthy Quarter in Belfast, Kelly’s Cellar also in Belfast offers traditional music. Some pubs are named after poets like John Hewitt. Pub crawls and Guiness are popular. Fiddled trad tunes hang in the air.


IMG_2389 copy


Moving on from the pub scene is the sheep dog trials. Our Backroads group were so fortunate to watch a brilliant trainer and his 3 gorgeous, well tuned border collies, Rose, Lyn and Leigh in action. Swiftly they raced across the fields to round up their sheep to the command of the whistle and voice. The temperament of the dog must be right when training them. We watched as the man gave the orders. Obedience, control and praise are in order for these intelligent dogs.



Apart from sheep and pubs, a fascinating place we visited was the Ulster Folk Museum in Omagh, in Northern Ireland. It tells the story of three centuries of Irish emigration. We wandered through the thatched cottages, the blacksmith, school house and gardens on this historical site. It takes about 2 hours to explore. Not to be missed is the Dockside galley, American Street, West Pennsylvanian Log House, and shop/ cafe. Adult prices are 9 pounds.

Also, the Doagh Famine Village allows visitors to explore one man’s lifetime of models, displays and hands on exhibitions through time. The Isle of Dough is a small peninsula in the north of Inishowen on the north coast of County Donegal in Ulster. This village takes you on a journey through Irish life from the great famine in the 1840’s. There are original dwellings, the Orange hall, Hedge school, and a Republican Safe House. Of interest to us was the Irish Wake room, a traditional send off for the dead. Most of the Village is under cover. Children, families are encouraged to visit.




There’s so much to share about Ireland and our time there. It lingers in your mind and soul long after you leave. So to wrap up, I’ll post a few more pictures to whet your appetite for a perfect holiday in the Emerald Isle. Enjoy.





Children’s Books in London


Celebrating 250 years of bookselling is the fabulous Hodges Figgis both in Dublin and London. Founded in 1768, it is given a passing mention in James Joyce’s modernist novel Ulysees. Excited to step into any book store, I am particularly curious and in a hurry to see the children’s sections. Up the spiral staircases are treasures in Picadilly with Peppa Pig visits London, Winnie the Pooh classics, Gruffalo, Paddington Bear, Quentin Blake and poetry to send you crazy. It’s a world I love – the magic, imagination and creativity of story tellers.

Everything in Waterstones is well set out with display titles on each table. Clear headings. Easy walking space. Roomy atmosphere and children browsing the shelves. I spoke to one father who brought his 11 year old son in for his birthday book party with three friends who could buy 2 books for a gift. What a treat for them. No washing up or cleaning later. A fun thing to do and the kids choose what they like.

I happened to be there for the surprise visit of the Hungry Caterpillar. I couldn’t miss that experience!




Daunt Books for Travellers is superb. It’s “the most beautiful book shop in London – designed for travellers who like reading.” ( Daily Telegraph) Opened Monday to Saturday 9.00am – 7.30pm and Sunday 11.00am -6.00pm. It’s located in the Marylebone High Street.

The heart of the Daunt book shop is an original Edwardian book shop with long oak galleries and graceful skylights. Its soul is the unique arrangement of books by country – where guides, novels and non-fiction of all kinds will interest traveller and browser alike.

Upstairs the climb to the children’s section is worth it. Natural light filters through the windows. There are categories easily detected – ages 5-7 years, teens, poetry, atlases etc.



Above book is by Italian illustrator Beatrice Alemagna who I saw at the Bologna Book Fair. The picture books were exquisite and prices similar to Australia.



Who cannot resist reading to a child The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr or the Mog the cat series. The Moomins and the Great Flood was the original Moomin story, published in Finland in 1945.

Waterstones is spread out over three floors in Trafalgar, with book signings, views of the famous Square and everything from Cookery, gardening, politics, popular sciences to children’s. Hatchards in Piccadilly was beautifully designed and excellent customer service.



A trip to London is finding Foyles Book store. It’s an award winning independent book store with millions of titles. There’s a chain of 7 stores in England.

From Madeline in London, The Railway Children, Goodnight Mister Tom, The Ice Monster, Dickens, to Bloomsbury Publishing and Walker book titles, there’s something to suit everyone. At Hatchards, the young man I spoke to said, “it’s the uncles, aunts and grandparents who buy the books. So upstairs it’s fairly tidy.”


I do admit to buying a few books and sending them home. I am now the proud owner of  The Moon Spun Round – W.B Yeats poems for children, Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson, The President’s Glasses and The President’s Cats by Peter Donnelly and Michael Rosen’s Centrally Heated Knickers ( poems)

Long live books!