10 memorable slow-travel moments in Ireland

Gumboots ready for WWOOFing on the farm

1. Exploring my ancestry in the huge red volumes at the Irish Life Centre. An afternoon spent researching led to a reunion with my Great Aunt and cousins the next day – Finding family in Dublin

2. Meeting Italian English-student, Valentina, who demonstrated her family recipe for kneading and rolling handmade Gnocchi. In exchange I taught her Aussie-English phrases such as “how are ya?” and “no worries” – Cooking in Cork

3. Volunteering on an eco-retreat and persevering with a compost toilet. Every scoop of sawdust and visit to the humanure compost heap was a lesson in sustainable living – WWOOFing in Dromahair

4. Appreciating traditional farming skills as I spent the day building and rebuilding a 200 year-old stone wall – Farming in Wexford

5. Stepping on many Irish toes while learning the reel, jig and polka – Set dancing in Bantry

6. Drinking at a trad seisiún of guitars, fiddles and flutes, violins, accordions and a bodhran – Listening to music in Ballydehob

7. Chatting about politics, religion and family with a local who’s Grandma made bombs for the IRA – Understanding history in Derry

8. Meditating by the Atlantic at the Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Temple – Practising mindfulness on the Beara Peninsula

9. Hitchhiking to Croagh Patrick and overcoming fog and fear to climb to the peak – Making a spiritual pilgrimage in Westport

10. Devouring eggs, bacon, fried chips, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding and endless cups of tea. Sharing stories, laughter and sleep-deprivation – Staying with family in Dublin

This post has been entered into the Grantourimo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 15 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 77 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 143mb. That’s about a picture per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 24th with 113 views. The most popular post that day was leaving London and the city behind.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were stumbleupon.com, digg.com, matadoru.com, twitter.com, and slashingtongue.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for kyoto, irish family, kinsella family tree, rebecca kinsella, and kyoto garden london.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


leaving London and the city behind April 2010


About Me December 2009


10 Travel Quotes I love July 2010


Photo Essay: Kyoto Garden, London May 2010


Writing February 2010

PocketCultures e-book Concept: Children’s Games

Over at PocketCultures we are producing an e-book on children’s games around the world.

We are in the concept-development phase and researching how potential readers would like the book to look.

If you’d like to help out, please complete this quick survey and share the link with anyone you think might be interested. More specifically, anyone who is a parent, teacher, language learner or involved in the literary world would be great.

This survey will stay open until 14th August and we’d love to have your input.


Thanks for your help! And check out PocketCultures to learn more about world cultures.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade, New York City

The parade marches down Fifth Avenue, NYC

Her curly blonde hair was clipped back with a shamrock, and she sat high above us on her Dad’s shoulders. Their home-made sign was covered in glitter pen, and it buckled in the breeze. But she didn’t care.

Across Fifth Avenue, the crowd wore Aran knitwear, peak caps and Celtic gear. Anything they’d collected on a trip to Ireland was now proudly displayed.

The hot dog stands were selling green fairy floss and shamrock-shaped cookies. And on the side streets, doughnuts with green sprinkles and fluro-green bagels coloured the shop windows.

On the street, high-school cheerleaders twirled batons, marching bands thrashed on drums and policemen paraded past. A couple of boy scouts ran from over to the metal barricades, and high-fived me in excitement as they ran by.  It was so American. Just like I’d thought it would be – and I loved it!

I celebrated among generations of Irish-Americans and hundreds who had made the pilgrimage to the biggest St. Paddy’s Day parade in the world.

At night the beer flowed green,  the Empire State building flickered green and a billboard at Times Square flashed green, asking “Who’s your Paddy?”.

It was the first St. Paddy’s I’d celebrated since researching my Irish ancestry and finding my relatives in Dublin.  And although I couldn’t be with them, or my own family in Australia, in New York I shared a sense of patriotism and belonging with others who’d come to call Ireland home.


This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.

10 Travel Quotes I love

1. “I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends
into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world
within.” – Lillian Smith

Inishmore, Aran Islands, Ireland

2. “When a man is tired of London he is tired of life.” – Samuel Johnson

Tower Bridge, London UK

3.“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Jungfrau, Switzerland

4. “When I die Dublin will be written in my heart.” – James Joyce

Glendalough, Ireland

5. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all
peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that
if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

Berlin Wall, Germany

6. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you
didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail
away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Brighton Beach, Brighton UK

7. “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

Backpacking Ireland

8. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost

Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

9. “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Night time views from the Empire State Building, NYC

10. “No matter how far or how wide I roam/I still call Australia home.” – Peter Allen

St KIlda Sunset, Melbourne Australia

All photos by author


this city and its people are breaking my spirit. work. no work. call back friday. sun. no sun. house. hostel. house. never my house. bed. couch.  air bed. interest. romance. disinterest. finding friends – and farewelling those friends. tube. delays. maintainance. failures. gut decisions. wrong decisions…every day is no-work-wednesday

Photo Essay: Kyoto Garden, London

This photo essay was completed as my final assignment for MatadorU and submitted to Photo Friday at Delicious Baby

leaving London and the city behind

The longest named station in Britain


Men in business suits reclaim their reserved tables, quickly locating power sockets for laptops and mobiles. Children instruct their parents where to sit, and an elderly couple shuffle hand in hand, in search of the buffet car. The other 200 passages are at the luggage rack. It’s jammed with a pram, backpacks and suitcases; a guitar case rests precariously on this tower of luggage. I shove my suitcase in the bottom rack, securing it with a kick. 

“Ah, fair play to yer” an Irishman nods approvingly. The train steadily speeds up over the railway tracks as we finally leave London and the city behind. 

I’m traveling by rail from London to the Welsh ferry port of Holyhead, and then on to Dublin by ferry. The railway was originally extended to establish a Royal Mail postal route between England and Ireland. The tracks run through the East Midlands of England, over green fields dotted with lazy sheep and hay bales. 

A couple of hours out of London, the doors open and the grassy smells of the Welsh countryside board the train. As I breathe in, the cool air it tickles the inside of my nose. I take a strong, deep breath. A breath not permitted in my usual inner-city living. The breeze whips strands of blonde hair around my face and I sit back and let it. The doors close and the train swishes on. 

At each stop, both my scenery and my company continue to change. Unlike London’s underground, people search out other faces. They make eye contact and smile. There’s no need to hide in my book or close my eyes to my iPod. I smile back. A young English mum takes the seat opposite me. She nods her head towards the scenery. “Lovely innit” she remarks. It is. 

I look to my right and see the medieval towers of Conwy Castle rush by.  The castle was built as a fortress by Edward I between 1283 and 1289. The walled town stretches over three-quarters of a mile long and is guarded by 22 towers. The carriage continues along the coast, by the shallow tides of the Menai Strait and over the Britannia Bridge into Anglesey. 

And then the trains arrives at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – the longest named station in Britain. The translation for this Welsh town is “the church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near to the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave”. First-time travelers on this route push towards the window, while regular travelers just glance over and smile. 

I search my handbag for my phone, instead finding old receipts, crumbs and too many lip balms. Finally I join the right had side of the carriage with noses and cameras pressed to the glass. Another photo for the trip, and I throw my phone back into my bag as the train rolls on towards the mountainous Snowdonia skyline. 

I relax into my seat and into my thoughts. 


This post has been entered into the Grantourismo-HomeAway travel writing competition  


WanderFood Wednesday: Kendal Mint Cake

Sugary Sweetness

Normally I’d argue that stationery supplies are the way to a girl’s heart, but the Easter break has reaffirmed that it is indeed chocolate.

And all things sweet.

After four relaxing days in the UK’s Lake District it was time to sample the local delicacy – Kendal Mint Cake.

Now like all great inventions, such as penicillin, legend has it that the bloke who discovered Kendal Mint Cake did so through sheer luck.

A Kendal confectioner was making glacier mints when his eye wandered off the task at hand (and probably over a Kendal lady). He noticed that the mixture in his pan had started to ‘grain’ and turned cloudy, instead of clear. When he poured it out he’d created Mint Cake – too easy!

Manufacturer’s stories vary but Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake credit Joseph Wiper, who started production at his Kendal factory in 1869. In the early days it was only sold to the locals but it was such a hit that it made a weekly trip via Kendal’s Railway Station to areas around North East England

It’s made by combining water, sugar and glucose, so while it may not meet your daily nutritional requirements, it’s a stick of sickly sweetness. Sugar headache anyone?

Foodie Fact: Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake journeyed to the summit of Mount Everest on 29th May 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary and Sirdar Tensing. The packaging quotes a member of the expedition revealing “we sat on the snow and looked at the country far below us…we nibbled Kendal Mint Cake”.

See WanderFood Wednesday for more foodie posts and travel tales.

Photo credit: Christabelle

Wanderlust for Tangoing Divas: 10 Publications for Female Travel-Writers

As a newbie to the world of travel-writing, the idea of pitching, polishing and publishing articles is somewhat terrifying!  And, with so many publications to choose from, where does a girl begin?

In addition to printing your work, many publications also offer mentoring and networking opportunities, competitions, tours and the chance to join an inspiring community of female travellers!  Following are 10 publications to get you started:

Road and Travel

Road and Travel is an online magazine, aiming to educate and inform women’s choices regarding their “automotive, travel, and personal safety needs”. Courtney Caldwell is the founder and editor-in-chief. Although the magazine is aimed at women, submissions should be written to appeal to both men and women interested in travel and automotive topics.

Hint: Visit the Travel Channel for categories of published articles

See submission guidelines or check out Road and Travel on Facebook and Twitter

Postcards from Millie

Postcards from Millie is an online, Australian travel community. Founder Victoria Ugarte, started the site from her experiences in the masculine business world where she witnessed women “compete rather than collaborate” missing out on the “nurturing, life-connecting side of being a woman”. Travel stories can be emailed to info@postcardsfrommillie.com.au. The site not only publishes travel writing, but provides seminars, organised trips, coaching and workshops.

Hint: The travel diaries of inspiring women are a great read!

See submission guidelines and check out Postcards from Millie on Facebook and Twitter

Women’s Running Magazine

Women’s Running Magazine is a print publication, issued six times a year. Topics include fitness, health, nutrition, active destinations and individual profiles. Breanne George is the editor-in-chief, and encourages email queries to editorial@womensrunningmag.com. Responses may take a minimum of 6 weeks.

Hint: Experienced travel writers may pitch a query for the “Active Getaway” department

See submission guidelines


Galavanting aims to provide “more than just the latest gear and reviews of ludicrously expensive resorts”. Editor-in-chief, Kim Mance, is also founder of the Travel Blog Exchange. Story pitches or completed articles from female writers can be emailed to submissions@gogalavanting.com with a short bio and links to previously published work.

Hint: Articles offering a female perspective on family travel or a couple’s trip are also welcome.

See submission guidelines and check out Galavanting on Facebook and Twitter

Wanderlust and Lipstick

Wanderlust and Lipstick, covers travel stories, tours, tips and recommended gear. Articles are sought from female writers, although work is not restricted to a female audience.  Founder and editor, Beth Whitman, accepts queries or finished pieces emailed to wanderlustandlipstick@gmail.com. Submissions from previously published writers will be given priority.

Hint: Wanderlust and Lipstick will include links to your website or book in your writer bio!

See submission guidelines and check out Wanderlust and Lipstick on Facebook

Journey Woman

Journey Woman publishes writing from a female perspective, although articles from men will be considered if they address the sites mandate to “inspire females to travel safely and well and to connect women travellers worldwide”. Submissions via email can be made to the publisher and editor, Evelyn Hannon at editor@journeywoman.com.

Hint: Check out the suggested article categories before submitting.

See submission guidelines and follow Journey Woman on Twitter

Tango Diva

As a global online community, Tango Diva empowers women to embark on solo travel. Founder Teresa Rodriguez Williamson, publishes articles covering a range of topics from style and wellness to destination reviews. View the Tango Diva checklist, editorial calendar and style notes before submitting your article to stories@tangodiva.com.

Hint: Submissions from first-time writers are welcomed and when you’ve published 5 pieces on Tango Diva, they will present you with a press pass, for press trips and tours.

See submission guidelines and check out Tango Diva on Facebook and Twitter

Women’s Adventure

Women’s Adventure is a print magazine published quarterly. It covers sports, travel, fitness and lifestyles of active women. The founder and editor-in-chief, Michelle Theall, welcomes queries via email to edit@staff.womensadventuremagazine.com. You can follow up by email if you haven’t heard back in 2-3 weeks.

Hint: Timely pitches with alternative story angles and suggestions for sidebars or web links, will grab the editor’s attention

See submission guidelines and check out Women’s Adventure on Facebook and Twitter

Wave journey

Co-founders Vivienne Chapleo and Jill Hoelting, started the North American-based Wave Journey in 2006. This online travel resource caters for women who “love to travel, cook, read or revel in outdoor activities”.  Feature articles on first-hand travel tales, recommendations and reviews are sought for the website and monthly newsletter. Article submissions copied into the body of an email can be sent to wjnewsletter@ymail.com.

Hint: A minimum of 1 photo (maximum of 12) submitted in JPEG format is required for articles to be featured on the homepage

See submission guidelines and check out Wave Journey on Facebook and Twitter

GoNOMAD Women’s Travel

GoNOMAD Women’s Travel is currently seeking more articles to increase its coverage of female travel. Published articles include reviews of female getaways, books, websites and advice such as Love the One You’re With: How to Travel Together Without Killing Each Other . Queries and submissions can be emailed to the editor Max Hartshorne at editorial@gonnomad.com .

Hint: Let them know if you’ve posted or blogged a link to their writer’s guidelines and they will bump you to the top of their list!

See submission guidelines or check out GoNOMAD on Facebook and Twitter

After reading a publication’s guidelines, familiarise yourself with back-issues of a print publication, or online articles if it’s a website.  This helps you to gain a feel for their style and also prevents you from pitching ideas that have previously been published.

Good Luck!

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