Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh.

The challenge this week is to : “share a photo that expresses something fresh.”

Freshness is such a powerful concept, not only is it powerful but it is also something which holds a different meaning for each individual.  Freshness to you maybe about trying to fix something that´s broken, starting over or creating something better. To someone else it could be about the beauty of the morning air, the way the light dances through the trees at midday or the refreshing quality of nature in general. There´s no doubt that whatever your take on the theme may be, it will be beautiful and inspiring.

For me, freshness at its best is that first breath of morning air, the sound of the birds tweeting and the beauty that surrounds that moment. The Photo, or should I say photos, that I have chosen to convey this challenge are a mixture of the beauty of nature and a fresh look at the world around me.

I´m lucky to live in a country area where every morning brings with it a different breath of freshness, usually involving sunshine. This weekend, however, the weather was most certainly not conducive to the beautiful images of light and grace that I had envisaged when I first read this challenge.  In saying that, the stormy weather brought with it a new kind of light, an endearing one, one which sparked my creativity and forced me to re-evaluate my idea of freshness.

So, here are the end results of stepping outside my ideal of light and grace and challenging myself to take a fresh look at the area around me. I hope you like the results as much as I do!

So, there you have it, my humble entry into the weekly challenge this week. If you liked it, and would like to see some more,click here to be brought to the challenge page.

Bringing freshness to its source
Bringing freshness to its source

Just a quick little note before I go. I have managed to be featured on Expats Blog, a site which brings the expat community together, and I need your help.
My link is lacking some comments. If you have the time, and you enjoy my blog, please go to this site, vote for my blog and leave a little comment. It will only take a minute and I would really appreciate the support. Thanks very much.
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/6591/chasing-butterflies-sunshine-and-freedom

Hope you all are having a great day.

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

The challenge this week is: “to share an image of a wall that reveals a place, people, or you.”

As a child, I found myself continuously amused at the saying:

 “If only these walls could talk…the world would know just how hard it is to tell the truth in a story in which everyone’s a liar.”

It´s funny how some sayings stick with you. The minute I saw this challenge not only did this quote spring to mind but also, surprisingly, Tangier.

Tangier, for me at least, is a perfect example of this, particularly as you wandered through the Medina and its crumbling buildings. The Medina, filled with character, has a magical quality about it. Walking through it is like being in a different era. However, while the guides focus on selling the hustle and bustle of this wondrous place, highlighting its excitement and vitality, your gaze cannot help but be drawn to the tragic dilapidation of its buildings and their crumbling walls. Especially if you have just come from Tangier´s modern zone which is the epitome of wealth.

This stark contrast of poverty and wealth immediately stirs up a sense of curiosity, so much so that these crumbling walls begin to take on a new meaning. They begin to reveal the pain, struggle and suffering that they have witnessed and, if you are anything like me, you find yourself asking: just how many secrets are hiding behind this rubble. Oh, “if only these walls could talk…”

Weekly Challenge Wall4

So, there you have it, my humble entry into the weekly challenge this week. If you liked it, and would like to see some more,click here to be brought to the challenge page.

Just a quick little note before I go. I have managed to be featured on Expats Blog, a site which brings the expat community together, and I need your help.
My link is lacking some comments. If you have the time, and you enjoy my blog, please go to this site, vote for my blog and leave a little comment. It will only take a minute and I would really appreciate the support. Thanks very much.
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/6591/chasing-butterflies-sunshine-and-freedom

Hope you all are having a great day.

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

Rediscovering Ireland: Eagles Flying, Ballymote.

From graveyards to wildlife. My next post brings us to the beautiful Eagles Flying Centre, a sanctuary for Birds of Prey and Owls. The sanctuary, located amid the beautiful landscape of North-West Ireland, is one of the biggest centres for Birds of Prey and Owls in the country. The centre, which is run by Zoologist Lothar F. Muschketat, is very different from anything I had ever experienced before. Not only is the focus of the centre on educating people about these glorious species but, also, they have a hospital and rehabilitation centre where they dedicate their time to healing injured birds from around the country.

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Eagles flying is situated on 27 hectares of land. As you make your way around the grounds you really feel like you´re in another world. There are some donkeys, peacocks, hens, pigs, goats, rams, dogs, cats, and ferrets – to name but a few animals, roaming freely in their well-kept habitats. It´s so refreshing to see animals being allowed to wander freely; such a change to all the zoos that I have been to before. Somehow, whenever I go to a zoo, I instantly free sad. Seeing those beautiful animals caged up just feels wrong to me. However, the atmosphere here is completely different. The animals are lively, friendly and uninhibited by human contact. In fact, some of the animals, come running up to you as soon as they see you, which, in my mind anyway, shows just how well looked after they are when they are not afraid or threatened by humans.

How big is that pig?! Goose

The whole experience was a fun one. I was lucky enough to go with a friend and her godson. I say lucky because the staff are fantastic to young children. They were bubbly, full of chat and made the children feel so at ease around the birds and animals which, considering the size of some of the birds, is not an easy task. One of the staff members, who found out about my fear of mice through my friend, even tried to help me get over my fear. However, unlike with the children, he failed to put me at ease! But, hey, at least he tried, right? It´s not his fault I´m a lost cause!

Shortly after we arrived the interactive flying show started. The show itself was overseen by the knowledgeable and humorous  Zoologist Lothar F. Muschketat. I have to say that I loved every minute of the show. The main stars of the show were Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Vultures and Owls. All of  the birds delighted in the act of swooping over your head or, in some cases, landing next to you to say hello. During the show each bird has a moment in the spot light. And, while the birds themselves focus their attention on wowing the audience with their grace and beauty, Lothar provides the audience with detailed information about each bird including their unique hunting and flying skills. One fact that I took away with me is that birds only fly for three reasons: the first one ( quite obvious) is to get from A to B, the second is when they want food and the third is when another bird is attempting to eat them. The rest of the time the birds remain happily perched on branches watching the world go by. While this is actually logical – common sense, really,  I had never taken the time to think about it.

After the show it was time to head to the petting zoo. Which, if I´m honest, was one of my favourite parts. Seeing how excited the children were as they got to play with rabbits, with mice, with sheep and have real piggy backs on the humongous pig was just priceless. At one point Lothar even brought out a snake for the children, and me (the biggest child),to play with. He was so patient with the children, teaching them how to stroke the snake, how to behave around the snake and telling them all about the dangers of being around snakes. He was fantastic. Even when one of the younger kids thought it would be a good idea to run and jump beside the snake Lothar remained calm and just explained the danger of the child´s actions. They did think I was a bit different though;having a fear of mice but yet being able to hold and play with a snake. However, once I quickly explained that any animal that eats mice is a friend of mine, they laughed and saw the funny side of my illogical fear.

All in all, it was a memorable experience. So many things stuck out for me while I wandered through the centre. It was great to see how at peace the animals and birds were in their home, how much freedom they had to roam about, how friendly the staff were and how much time and dedication they gave to each of the animals. It´s an experience I would most certainly repeat again. It´s something that I feel would provide you with a different experience each time you go because, as we all know only too well, animals and birds are spontaneous so each visit would be unique.

If you would like some more detailed information on the sanctuary then feel free to click here to be brought to their website.

That´s it for today´s post. I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure. Stay tuned for tomorrow´s post.

Just a quick little note before I go. I have just managed to be featured on Expats Blog, a site which brings the expat community together, and I need your help.
My link is lacking some comments. If you have the time, and you enjoy my blog, please go to this site, vote for my blog and leave a little comment. It will only take a minute and I would really appreciate the support. Thanks very much.
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/6591/chasing-butterflies-sunshine-and-freedom

Hope you all are having a great day.

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

Rediscovering Ireland: The Gleniff Horseshoe.

First port of call when I arrived in Ireland was, Sligo. I had been there before, on a family holiday about twenty-two years ago, but, due to my age at the time, did not have much recollection of the area. However, one thing that had left a lasting impression on me was Benbulben. I remember being blown away at the immensity of this mountain. Especially considering how small I was back then.  So; I was excited to be in the area again and at the prospect of seeing Big Benbulben again.

Benbulben
Benbulben

When I found out that the first stop on my Irish adventure was going to be the Gleniff Horseshoe I really  couldn’t contain myself. It´s funny that it´s referred to as a horseshoe, it´s not a horseshoe at all, in reality it´s an eight kilometer loop of single lane road. However, whatever it may be, it most certainly is impressive. As you drive along the loop you´re surrounded by stunning views of the Tieve Baun, Truskmore, King´s, Benbulben and Benwiskin mountains.

So; off we set, picnic in tow, on our little adventure. We chose to start the loop at Benbulben. However, you don´t have to start there, you can actually start the loop at whichever point you prefer. At first sight, I was rendered speechless. As the sun beamed down on Benbulben´s head all I could do was stand there and soak up the beauty I was seeing. Eventually, once I snapped out of my love struck comma, I managed to take some photos.

Benbulben
Benbulben

Not quite ready to leave Benbulben behind just yet; my friend and I decided to set up a picnic by a stream we had seen under Benbulben´s head. And, let´s face it, after seeing such rugged beauty, we needed to refuel!

After our lovely relaxing picnic it was time to continue the journey. We drove along, stopping here and there when something took our fancy, until we reached the remains of Bartye´s Mill. We parked up here and decided to explore the forest that has been developed through the land. To me, this forest was like a mini horseshoe within the Horseshoe itself. It really was something special. Such a mix of landscapes, textures and beauty.

 

Having completed the walk we found ourselves back in the car heading towards the Magic Hill and Diarmuid and Grainne´s cave. Amazing. I honestly thought nothing could compare to Benbulben but, I was wrong. As we continued uphill this mass of mountains appeared before us. It was like something out of The Lord of the Rings.

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At one point on our journey, the mountains were so imposing that it seemed as though they had shallowed the road and that our only option would be to drive through them.

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Then; the magic came into play. We had heard about this magic hill. A hill where, according to people in the area, a car can “magically” drive itself uphill. Crazy. Not being brave enough we didn´t try it. However, I´m starting to wish we had; just out of curiosity!

 

So; there you have it, the second post in my series: Rediscovering Ireland. Picnics, mountains, caves and magical hills. What more could you want from a drive? If you ever find yourself in Sligo then I highly recommend doing this drive.

That´s it for today´s post. I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure. Stay tuned for tomorrow´s post.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo