Monday, January 30, 2017

In Dublin's Fair City.

Funny as I am writing the title of this post, I am reminded how random lines of song lyrics often pop into my head. When I was teaching, we had the daily spelling test, Each spelling was put into a sentence, to give context and meaning to the word, More often that not, I put it into a song lyric and sang the sentence. The children thought I was half mad or maybe even completely so.  One girl, more years ago than I care to remember, looked at me and told me I was "stone mad"  My title of cilgin kiz began long before I knew the Turkish term. My student did confess though that she would prefer me to remain stone mad than strive to be normal/

After that digression, I better get back to the story in hand. Once checked in I was looking forward to my brief hotel stay. My twin room was more than comfortable. There was just one major problem. There was no mini bar! Had the events of the past couple of days finally driven me to drink? Perish the thought! It was the bacon and cheese I was concerned about. With no mini bar, how would I keep them fresh? It was just as well I hadn't brought those couple of loaves of cranberry bread I had found in Tescos.

I packed my contraband into a hotel laundry bag and went down to reception. I explained my predicament to the the receptionist. She  offered to see if she could locate a small fridge for me. I replied that wouldn't be necessary if they would store my "laundry" in the hotel's fridge. I had put my room number and name on the bag. Job done.........I could now look forward to my mini break while hoping none of the staff had a craving for goat's cheese.

I arranged to meet my daughter in town for a meal the following evening. I set off in the early afternoon. My goodness it was donkey's years since I had used the city's buses. Everything is automated now and if you don't have a bus card. you need to have the exact change for the fare as there is no change given. I believe you can keep your receipts and when you have enough of them to make it worth your while, go to Dublin Bus and reclaim your overpayment.

After a quick tour of Debenhams, I crossed the Ha'penny Bridge into Temple Bar.

The Ha'penny Bridge, this was a toll bridge which replaced the river ferry. The toll did increase and the bridge was subsequently known as the Penny Ha'penny Bridge.

I was immediately struck by the amount of red buildings... red paint, red brick...  The theme for my photography homework was red. And the setting sun over the bridge was wonderful But of course I had left my camera back at the hotel, safely locked in the room safe.

Thank God for my phone.I am almost never without It.  I fitted right in with all the tourists, except I didn't take a single selfie. I wonder if smart phones had been around when I was younger, would I be a "selfiie taker" Is it just because  of my wrinkled face that I almost never turn the camera around? On reflection, I don't think so. I always used to tell people to get out of my way so I could take the photo and still find myself standing, waiting....not too patiently.....for people to get out of the way of my shot. I love the camera on my Samsung phone. Some of my better photos are taken with it. And it is lovely to look back at the Taj Mahal or the temples of Durbar Square and not have the view spoiled by my face looming in the foreground.

Yet again I have digressed.

With red in mind, I starting looking at the city through my lens.

One of the many pubs in Temple Bar.

Bloom's Hotel has got a Joycean facelift

Bewley's Cafe, a Dublin institutuon had been closed for some time for restoration. It is due to reopen later this year.

Red////jackets signs lights. Photograph is a bit blurred as I didn't have time to stop.

But the Irish rebel in me had to out and I couldn't help adding the photograph below to the set. Fish and chips anyone?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Delayed Again....

Monday morning arrived, I repacked my perishables, said my farewells and boarded the bus for the airport. This bus was not as crowded as the one I  usually take at  05.55, I had the seat all to myself The earlier bus is full of daily commuters. Imagine having to get up that early to go to work. It again made me appreciate how lucky I was. When I was working. I only had to roll out of bed and I could be in work in 10 minutes, if even that. How doubly lucky I am now, not to have to work at all. What time I rise is totally dependent on what I want to do, not what I have to do.

There is wifi on the bus. I found myself continually checking the status of my flight. It was still live. The cancelled flight yesterday had actually flown but had I taken the risk I would now be stuck in Istanbul as the Bodrum leg of my journey was now cancelled. Lucky, lucky me.
Checking my flight status was not enough I began to check the departures board in Istanbul to see if the incoming flight to Dublin had taken off. It was not good news, it hadn't departed yet but it was still not cancelled.

 I arrived at the airport, quickly piled my bags on to a trolley. I had weighed them at home and i was a couple of kilos overweight, If they complained at check in I was all set to moan abut cancelled flights, a cancelled hotel reservation in Istanbul....... Winter clothes take up so much more space, especially my walking boots, not to mention the bacon, cheese and a lot of coffee pods. I can't get decaffeinated coffee for my machine in Turkey and after the previous week's  caffeine overdose, decaff is a necessity not a choice.

I was still following the incoming flight which was now showing a three hour delay, it still  hadn't left Istanbul. It was not looking good. When I got to check in, I was  early but there was a still quite a few, who had also come early. Everyone was discussing the cancellations.  One guy was making his fourth attempt to get to Istanbul. Like me he was following the departure board in  Istanbul.

He had been rescheduled for the third time to fly on Sunday morning but like me had got a message to say the flight was cancelled. He and his wife had been having breakfast in the Carlton hotel, where Turkish Airlines put up their delayed passengers, when he saw the pilot. He spoke to him remarking that they were cancelled once again to which the  pilot replied" No, I am flying" The man mentioned his message but the pilot told him to follow him, he was definitely flying. However, by the time the guy collected his bags, checked out of his room and got to the airport, the flight, though still sitting on the runway, was closed for boarding  and reportedly took off with about 50 people on board. I assume this was because  they had a short window to land in Istanbul.

So, back to Monday's check in. We were waiting with bated breath, but everything seemed to be normal. The staff began roping off their area to create an orderly queue and took their positions at the check in desks.

Ping! My phone. The dreaded email.Your flight has been cancelled! I broke the news to my new friends.  A member of the check in staff was walking by.  I told her I had just got a message to say the flight was cancelled. She replied quite sharply that they hadn't received that information yet. We remained in the queue. 2 minutes later the staff left their seats. It was official. The guy I had been talking to and I headed straight for the lifts...we knew the drill. Get to the office as quickly as possible and rebook.

There, once again I realised how lucky I was. One couple were trying to get to Oman, where a team were waiting for them for work, But her husbands passport, I didn't catch his nationality didn't allow him to transit through certain countries, Another guy had a final exam in Ankara the next day. You might say it was his own fault for leaving it til the last minute but he too had been due to travel on Sunday. Buster was the only one waiting,for me and Mr. Man was taking good care of him.

The Turkish Airlines staff, Caroline in particular were amazing as they worked to reroute as many as possible. How she  knew so many different connection options was impressive. One couple who were on their way to South Africa for three months were rerouted that evening through Addis Ababa.

Me? I was re-booked for the Wednesday afternoon flight, put up in the Carlton Hotel for two nights with vouchers for breakfast, lunch and dinners. Life was telling me to slow down, giving me a chance to rest up between the mad rush of the last week and the resuming of my normal routine back in Bodrum...a mini break, The only pity was there was no spa in the hotel :-) I am joking of course.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


I had a somewhat eventful return journey to Bodrum.  To paraphrase John Denver, my bags were packed and I was ready to leave. But messages were pouring in from friends saying they hoped my flight was not cancelled. Istanbul was experiencing major snow storms.

On Saturday afternoon, I went back to Tomsollagh,  the family home. My daughter was to drop me to the bus at 05.45 the next morning. Holding my breath, I logged on to the Turkish airlines site to check in online. Several flights had been cancelled. But all went to plan. I chose my seat carefully.  If you don't want the pasta dinner you need to sit near the front or the rear. The food service starts there. Usually if you are in row 16 or 17, the chicken or meatballs have run out by the time they get to you. The pasta is the only dinner they serve that is not good, in my opinion.

The messages from friends continued. Should I be worried? They seemed anxious I should leave? I was I quick to reassure them. "No problem, I checked in an hour ago, all is good! When I am ever going to learn?  Complacency is my downfall!  6 pm and the dreaded message arrived, my flight was cancelled.  At least I wasn't stuck in the airport. It was Saturday evening and the Irish sales office was closed, but the message told me I could change my booking online. I tried that, I got a message on the website telling me I needed to ring the sales office.  I tried ringing the customer service number in Istanbul line. After 20 minutes holding I guessed the line was so  jammed there was not a hope of getting through and it would be cheaper to book a new flight than hold the line any longer.

Daughter informed, I decided to leave my suitcases in Tomsollagh  - there was no way I was hauling them back up the stairs to my bedsit -  and return to my "bijou residence.  I placed my contraband back in the fridge -My suitcase was full of cheese and bacon - and went back to Wexford. The internet is better there, I would have a better chance of re-booking my flight. Hard to believe in this day and age, but the internet speed in Tomsollagh often doesn't exceed 0.2m.

I am one of those people who ignores the health warnings not to bring your phones or iPads to the bedroom. And anyway my bedsit is only one room so there is no avoiding They say that even if you are sleeping the ping of a message or email coming through will disturb your sleep even if it doesn't wake you. Well, that night, unlike many others, the pinging woke me.

It started about 1 am.  Ping, ping, ping. Three emails  back to back and messages to my phone. The first a copy of my ticket, the next reminding me to check in an hour before my domestic flight. None of them said the flight was rescheduled and I was flying. What was going on? Were these just automated messages?  Was the flight actually rescheduled? What should I do? If I ignored them maybe the airline wouldn't honour it's promise to reschedule or refund my flight? Wide awake now, I checked with  the Turkish Airlines website again. No, my flight was still cancelled. But I was uneasy. I was definitely not going to get much sleep now. It was 5 am in Turkey, probably not to many people ringing customer service at this hour. I rang them from Skype  to avoid massive phone bills and after only a 5 minute wait I was through.

The person on the end of the line was wonderful. It must be hard to be patient when dealing with hundreds of delayed passengers and especially at that hour of the morning. She checked and told me it looked like the flight was going ahead. I told her again I had got a message to say it was cancelled. She re-checked and said I was right, the flight was cancelled. She proceeded to re-book me for Monday, but again said it looked liked Sunday's flight was going, maybe I should wait to cancel. Go to the airport and if the flight was cancelled, re-book then.

My mind was racing. My daughter had gone to a party and I am sure she had stayed out late, knowing she didn't have to be up before the crack of dawn. I would have to go and wake a household to get my suitcases and then ask someone to drop me to the bus, probably all for nothing. Way too much bother and it would mean I would get no sleep. I decided to re-book for Monday. It would still get me back to Bodrum in time for our photography workshop.

Done and dusted. The booking was made for Monday, the afternoon flight . I thanked the customer services rep and finally settled down to sleep. I could have a lazy Sunday, spend time with my mum and get the bus to the airport at a civilized hour the following morning. It worked out well for me. The only reason I hadn't originally booked this flight was it  had been over a €100 dearer than the Sunday flight  Result!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wexford at Night.

I belong to the H3A Photography Group in Bodrum. Our "homework" for the last fortnight was Celebrations. I was pleased with the theme. I would be in Ireland where the Christmas madness would be in full swing. No problem coming up with ideas. I had great plans. What followed showed I should never get complacent.

Plan No. 1: The Christmas Dinner

 I had visions of photographs of a wonderful plump turkey, glistening brown, fresh from the oven, the table set for Christmas dinner, the family gathered around. Christmas is always a wonderful celebration for us.

I forgot that when I would take the turkey out of the oven, I would also be dealing with several veg, making gravy and more than a few impatient mouths who did not have time to wait for their dinner while I played around with my camera. That plan was scotched. Not a single photograph!

Plan No 2: The Christmas Tree

I have seen wonderful photos of decorations on Christmas trees with the lights creating wonderful bokeh in the background.  This is something I wanted to try.  It  didn't work out as planned. I blame not having my tripod with me. It was nothing to do with me fiddling desperately with different camera settings, not having a clue what I was doing. Note to myself: Next year research the topic!

This is the one that came closest to what I wanted to achieve/
 Plan 3: Wexford by Night, The Christmas Lights.

I was getting desperate at  this stage. I had little to show for what should have been an easy topic. If only I could show my photos from Kew gardens last year,  We went on Sty Stephen"s night and the gardens were lit up like a Christmas tree...actually better than a Christmas tree. So it was time to put what I had learned about handholding my camera and taking night photographs because there was no way I had been dragging my tripod from Turkey.

Finally I had photographs which I was happy to share with the group, though we always share the good; the bad and the ugly. It is okay sharing the bad and the ugly when I have the good to counterbalance it. Oh vanity!!

I also took a  few taken near the temporary skating rink, Wexford on Ice. Not too many people around to celebrate though!

Funnily enough, it was the fountain I took at Johnstown Castle, which I felt in the end best represented the topic. This was the only one in the set which I didn't intend to represent celebration. I took this photograph experimenting with shutter speed, something I really haven't got to grips with yet. When editing I cropped into the photograph and the end result reminds me of an exploding bottle of champagne.

I wonder is it significant that there is not a single person in my celebration photographs? Even the ferris wheel is empty.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Johnstown Castle

Johnstown Castle is a place we regularly took our small children for a walk. The last few times I have been back in Ireland I have wanted to go back there for a visit and of course take my camera. But with the mad swirl of things to do, people to see, there never was time.
Beautiful grounds
Yesterday, I spent in torpor, a bad start one might think, but maybe a good start to the New Year, actually giving myself permission to be lazy. Today dawned bright and sunny and so I decided to make hay while the sun shines, as they say, and head off. It is just a short drive from Wexford town.
Not quite the 40 shades of green.

 Luckily, for once I checked my camera before heading out the door, no memory card. It was still in the laptop. I also changed the battery. I was all set to go.

It was evident as I turned into the driveway, it is still a popular destination with families, I heard more Polish voices than the familiar drawl of the  Wexford accent. The car park was full and I was lucky to get a space as another car pulled out. There were young families, the little ones bringing their bikes, the dog walkers  and there were some elderly couples

Enjoying the winter sunshine.
It was bright but it was cold. I had no gloves and by the end of the walk my hands were almost numb from holding the camera. In spite of the cold I don't think I have ever seen the place as busy.
The castle

One of the fountains at the castle
Playing with different shutter speeds on the fountain

Here, very season has it's own beauty. I especially love it when the rhododendrons bloom in May, or in the autumn when the ground is littered with the bright colours of the fallen leaves Today the winter trees were reflected in the lake.

Looking back towards the castle from the end of the lake,

The algae breaks the reflection

The building in this picture houses an agricultural museum and the tearooms.

I couldn't decide whether I preferred the colour or the sepia photograph. What do you think?
My girls were all home last week, but are now scattered again, As I walked around the lake in my mind  I heard again, their excited young voices as they fed the ducks and swans and raced their leaf boats in the stream that runs from the lake to a second lake hidden behind the trees.. It may have been over twenty years ago, but it seemed like yesterday.

This is where the girls raced their leaf boats, they went under the concrete "tunnel", First leaf out  the other side was the winner

The swans would not co-operate. I know you shouldn;t take pictures of "go away birds" but they just did not want to look at me....and I hadn;t my zoom lens.

Showing me a "clean pair of heels" though one is a reflection of the other.

If you look carefully, you'll see someone doesn't want to get their feet wet.

Most of all, I smiled as I remember the laughter around the table last week as No 1 daughter put the fear of God into Daughter No 3's boyfriend! Daughter No.3 was bringing him to visit the castle for the first time when the eldest slid it nicely into conversation that the castle is now a great wedding venue. I am not sure boyfriend is ready to plan a wedding yet.
But I can just see the family photos taken on these steps. Ssssssshhh don't tell D. Maybe when the rhodenderons are in bloom. :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Beginnings............ again.

Today is the first of January 2017. The weather is a mixed bag here in Wexford, a mixture of sunhine, wind and showers. As I am recovering from a bout of flu I decided not to risk getting wet but instead opened my window, stuck my head out like a dog does in a moving car, and got my breath of fresh air. I am now sitting at the kitchen table having decided to be a little retrospective.

 For many of my friends 2016 was a bad year, several lost loved ones. Many agree the world has gone crazy, the country where I live has undergone traumatic events, bombings, a coup and the devastation of its tourist industry. Many wondered how I could return to Bodrum after a visit back to Ireland last summer. Mum's birthday was July 16th and the only topic of conversation was what on earth was I doing going back to Turkey the following week.

 I explained it was like living in Ireland in the seventies. When foreigners asked about the war, we would look at them in puzzlement and wonder "What war? The penny would drop and we would say "Oh you mean the troubles?" In the south east of Ireland the problems in the North barely touched us. And so it is with life in Bodrum, for the vast majority life goes on as normal.  We still sit outside in the cafes and drink our coffee. I swam in the sea daily until the end of November.

2016 was a very mixed year for me, I spent the early part of it dealng with the frustration  of the broken arm I sustained in Vietnam and wrestled with some major life decisions. On the other hand, I travelled to the Maldives and  Iran and celebrated my Mum's 90th birthday, my daughter's wedding and also that of my nephew, with family and friends. So in many ways it was a year of joy. One friend said to me, she is so tired of the constant negativity expressed daily around her, we still belong to the privileged people, sometimes it is good to shift perspective and remember. This resonates with me. It is easy to become weighed down under the weight of our own and others problems. It is important to shift our perspective and hold onto the joy, the good things and the people who walk beside us and offer to share our load, to remember we are the lucky ones who have choices!

Over the past few days I have had the urge to write again. How long this will last I don't know. I have had this impulse before. and it has fizzled out. I logged onto my blog and found several draft posts from my earlier travels, going back to 2014 all awaiting the addition of photographs. My last post was in October 2015  as I started my travels to Vietnam and Cambodia before I fell and broke my arm.

It is not as if I have been sitting down doing nothing since then, the adventures never stop. I refuse to become an "Altin kiz- golden girl" though my hair and wrinkles belie this. I remain a cilgin kiz. When I did sit, it was to work on my hexipuff quilt, which is now complete...minus a few threads to be tidied up.

Therefore, I have a lot of fodder for my blog. I can't and won't promise what form it will take in 2017 or even if my refound desire to write will continue. However, I promise if it continues it will reflect me, it will probably it will be as disorganised and as messy as my mind.

Like my mind. it will probably wander backwards and forwards, There may be posts from past travels mixed with past and present photos and random musings, including my recent brief stint as a chicken minder, but always the adventures of a cilgin kiz.

After a brief thought that I should  change the title from  The Adventures of Cilgin Kiz. to the Adventures of Altin Kiz, I can tell you now it is not going to happen. While my friend decided instead of sitting in she would go out and dance in the New Year, I will stick my nose out into the wind and breathe in God's good air.

Through the open window, definitely light on the horizion.