Chandeliers, pink rooms & film props | Berlin, Day 2

Berlin, Day 2
On Day 2, I left the city to go to Potsdam, a town 45 minutes away from Berlin. The reason I wanted to go there was to visit the Sanssouci park which comprises of several grandiose palaces and buildings. Unfortunately, only the main Sanssouci Palace and the New Palace were open during the low season but I still took the combi-ticket as I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see as many rococo rooms as I could that day.
I did find it a bit puzzling that there was no Winter ticket as you only get to see 2 palaces out of the 5 buildings open in the full season for the same price. Tickets are not cheap and on top of that, you need to buy a photo permit, maps must be bought from machines, there’s a charge to the restrooms and some parts of the palaces open that day were going under some works. I don’t regret it as it was totally worth it, I had a magnificent day out and I can imagine that the maintenance of the whole park must cost a fortune but to be perfectly honest, I do feel that there should be some kind of gesture towards the low season tourists.
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
First up was the main Sanssouci Palace which was the summer residence of Frederick the Great. Forgive me if I’m not very historically accurate here, but taking pictures while holding the audio guide and keeping up with the group was a bit of a challenge. The guy was reacting against the squareness of his father who thought education was frivolous. He lived for arts and philosophy. He even asked Voltaire to come and live with him at Sanssouci. You can see the room where he stayed today, it’s a mad thing! Its yellow walls are covered with wooden parrots and flowers (I will show it to you in another post, I’ve way too many pictures to share). Frederick was as exuberant in his lifestyle as in his choice for home decor. He loved French baroque and his living space is an incredible display of the rococo trend. As a visitor, I marvelled at his taste and felt like fist-bumping the guy… Not sure I would have felt the same as a tax-payer at the time!

When the tour was done, I had some time to kill before the next one would start at the New Palace. I took that opportunity to walk in the gardens surrounding the palaces. They’re huge so it took me quite a long time to get to the New Palace and my 7 minute-late arrival caused the receptionist a panic but thankfully she let me grab an audioguide and join the group…
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
Berlin, Day 2
The atmosphere inside the New Palace offers an interesting contrast to Sanssouci. The windows had been blocked off, everything felt a bit dusty and sad. The rooms were freezing cold. But I think I liked it even better, it reminded me of the abandoned house Professor Emilius Browne squats in during the Blitz in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Rococo was out of fashion at the time Frederick the Great built this palace but he could not get enough of the chandeliers, the silk tapestries and the gilded frames. His love for rococo was so strong that a new form of the style was named after him ‘Frederician Rococo’. My kinda guy.
The New Palace had some of the most impressive rooms I had seen that day. The reception hall had a sea theme and was covered with seashells and another one with pink marble from floor to ceiling. My favourite room though was the hunters lodge, surprisingly it looked like it could have been Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir, what with its feminine blush tapestries and the wooden rosebuds carved on the ceilings.

I had a little bit of time left before the night would fall so I decided to stay a bit longer in Potsdam to check out the film museum. Unfortunately, cameras weren’t allowed inside so I’ve nothing to show to you bar my ticket.
Berlin, Day 2

Potsdam is an important spot in the history of cinema. There, you will find Babelsberg Studios, the first ever large-scale film studio, birthplace of masterpieces such as the iconic Metropolis. To my surprise, I found out that the studios are still in activity and produced quite a few international blockbusters in recent years like Inglorious Basterds, V for Vendetta or The Grand Budapest Hotel. The Film Museum displayed quite a few props used in the nearby studios, old machinery and vintage makeup. I especially liked looking closely at the editing consoles. It turns out that editing was historically a woman’s job because of their smaller fingers. It made me smile that women had such an important role behind every great story shot on the silver screen.

Read about my first day in Berlin here.

Street art, Pastel Houses & David Bowie’s Flat | Berlin, Day 1

It’s been a few days since I’ve been back in Dublin and I’m not sure I’ve quite collected all my thoughts on Berlin yet but I thought I would show you day by day what I did in the German capital. Technically, this wasn’t my first day but my third one. On Day 1, I didn’t take any pictures but I roamed around where my Airbnb flat was located to get my bearings and Day 2 was spent unfortunately inside as I was sick. I was in good company though as my Airbnb host had left her cat in my care and it was so cosy to have a little purring friend by my side. It was my first time using Airbnb by the way and maybe I could dedicate a post to my experience if anyone’s curious on how the service works but to make it short here, I am a total convert, the whole thing was absolutely delightful!
The Fraternal KissSo let’s go back to my first day exploring Berlin. My flat was located in Berlin East, in the neighbourhood of Friedrichshain and on that morning, I decided to walk to my first port of call: The Berlin East Gallery. I don’t know about you but generally when I get to a new place, I feel like I need to walk everywhere and I avoid confined spaces for the first few days. Museums and public transport make me feel a bit claustrophobic up until I have a better grasp of the geography surrounding me.

It took me about 45 minutes to walk to the most famous segment of the wall covered with murals. The walk there was an atmospheric one, on the big boulevards of East Berlin, with their towering stalinist buildings. Few times during my trip, I felt like suffocating thinking of the past, this was one of them.

The walk along the Wall cheered me up. I was armed with patience to take a tourist-free picture of the infamous Fraternal Kiss (pictured above) which I heard was near to impossible. It turns out sightseeing at the crack of dawn is great, the whole gallery was empty. Too bad about that ugly fence though.

Nikolaiviertel
Nikolaiviertel
Berlin, Day 1From there, I had planned to walk along the river Spree to get to the city centre but I didn’t factor in the size of Berlin. I knew it was big, I think I read somewhere that it is 10 times bigger than Paris but I guess I thought I could deal with it… Well, I ate my hat and took the U-bahn, aka the Berlin tube to my next stop, Nikolaiviertel (not without a little breakfast stop to a kebab joint oops… One thing I love about Berlin is how falafel is so readily available, it’s literally everywhere so it was hard for me not to have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. (Hi my name is Nora and I’m a falafel addict).

The neighbourhood of Nikolaiviertel was high on my to-see list for the simple reason that it looks like it could have been the set of a scene in Grand Budapest Hotel. The houses are painted with pleasing shades of pastel and they boast of pretty ornaments like bows and garlands. The contrast is quite impressive actually when you step from a big boulevard that has a distinct seventies vibe to this quaint quarter that could belong to a city like Vienna.
Berlin, Day 1I jumped back on the U-bahn towards the South of the city as there was something I was adamant to do that day. Like the rest of the planet, I had a hard time coming to terms with the death of David Bowie. I woke up that morning thinking it was a nightmare. His music had such an impact on me as a young adult although I am not going to pretend here that I was the biggest fan, I sort of ignored anything he did after Diamond Dogs. So I found some comfort in being in Berlin when it happened and discovering how their fates were intertwined. I went to Haupstrasse where he was sharing a flat with Iggy Pop for a few years in the seventies. In front of his building door layed flowers, drawings, candles and poems. I stood there with a handful of people in silent disbelief.
Berlin, Day 1
Berlin, Day 1
Berlin, Day 1
Berlin, Day 1

I then made my way back to the centre to see the main sights. It was my first time in Berlin, actually I think it was my first time in Germany weirdly enough so I felt like I should cross them off my list.
Pictured above, you can see Checkpoint Charlie which was the Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Nowadays it serves as a picture opportunity for tourists where they can pose with actors dressed in fake army uniforms.

Next was the iconic Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building which sprung chilling image of World War II in my mind. Lastly, the day ended with a visit to the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of Social Nationalism and to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo | Venice

Palazzo MocenigoPalazzo Mocenigo

Back in January, when I went to Venice, one of the things that I was looking forward the most was to visit lots and lots of palazzi. Unfortunately, I only managed to fit two: this one and the Palazzo Fortuny. I was travelling on a budget and it turns out entrance fees to Venetians palaces are quite pricey. Venice on a budget is not a problem and indeed very enjoyable but I would love to go back under different circumstances and live the palazzo life for a different take on the city.

Anyways enough wishful thinking, let’s go back to the Palazzo Mocenigo. Rebuilt in the 17th century, this impressive gothic   palace was the home of the Mocenigo’s, one of the most important family in Venice. It is now the Museum of Textiles, Fabrics & Perfume. Needless to say, this was high on my list.

Palazzo MocenigoPalazzo MocenigoPalazzo MocenigoPalazzo MocenigoPalazzo Mocenigo

As you access the piano nobile, you first walk through period rooms. Living rooms, dining rooms, the lavish furniture is marble-topped and the walls are covered with gold-framed paintings celebrating the Mocenigo family’s glories.

Filling those rooms, faceless mannequins are arranged in eerie little scenes. They wear ancient garments and accessories, the fabrics are beautifully patterned, the lace and embroidery are testaments to true craftsmanship. They exhibit the unworldly elegance Venetians are so famous for. In the library, you’ll find the books covering the history of these costumes and fabrics, of the fashion of 18th century Venice.

Palazzo MocenigoPalazzo MocenigoPalazzo MocenigoPalazzo Mocenigo
Palazzo Mocenigo
Then starts the itinerary through the Venetian history of perfume, highlighting the key role the city played in the origins of this art. You’ll see the reconstruction of a 16th century perfumer’s lab, where weirdly shaped bottles pile up on the shelves and the raw materials are scattered on a table. There, you get closely acquainted with the processes of perfume-making. In the glass cabinet covering the walls, stand the most beautiful collection of vintage bottle you’ll ever see.

My favourite room was the ‘olfactory station’ where the ingredients of the different fragrance families fill jars and phials. Woody, floral, oriental and fresh, you’re free to sniff  those top, middle and base notes to your heart’s content.

Tip: Make sure you go to the Palazzo Mocenigo in Santa Croce as opposed to the other palazzi of the same name in San Marco. Okay, maybe not a tip as such but if I can help one person not to feel like a total fool like I did that Tuesday morning…

Palazzo Mocenigo

Practical Information

Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo – website
Santa Croce, 1992
30124 Venezia

Opening Hours
10am – 4pm (Nov-March)
10am – 5pm (Apr-Oct)
Closed on Mondays, December 25, January 1 & May 1

Admission
General €8 / Reduced €5.50

Vaporetto
San Stae stop (Line 1)

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

There’s been a distinctive lack of posts around here, I hope you won’t hold a grudge but I’ve been trying to keep my head above water with assignments and general anxiety, so the mood hasn’t been very conducive to writing blog posts. But yesterday I was out and about in town for a job and I thought I would take a few pictures to show you Dublin in all its Autumn splendour. It’s probably  the season when Dublin is at its prettiest (although I’ll probably say something similar come Spring). If you’re looking into visiting the Irish capital, I’d recommend you come at this time of the year as there are generally quite a few events and festivals knocking about and the weather is generally what you would expect, so no disappointment there to have (as opposed to our underwhelming Summers).

Yesterday started with a bit of Dublin Bus drama, I was on my way to town when a guy decided to hold the bus hostage because the driver allegedly overcharged him. Nothing abnormal for a weekday but a bit of a pain when you’re trying to get somewhere. So I squeezed past the angry shouting men and decided to walk the way to town. This turned out to be a bloody good thing as it meant I had to walk through Stephen’s green. The park is a true Autumn Wonderland at the moment. I slowly let go of the commute tension, breathed full lungs of the musty air and gleefully stepped on the dry colourful leaves.
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

My first port of call was the National Museum of Archeology. It was my first time visiting it and if I hadn’t had to for a job, I’d probably have never stepped inside. If you read me regurlarly you know I’m a sucker for period rooms but I can’t say that anything happening before that time captures my imagination. So while the exhibits left me a bit cold (bar the very thing I was coming to photograph, it left me a bit shivery that… I’ll probably talk about it later), I was completely enthralled with the building itself. The tiled floors are some of the best I’ve seen and the domed ceiling in the entrance is one pretty amazing sight.

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
I then walked around the beautiful squares of Georgian Dublin to look at the red ivy creeping on the bricks here and there. The temperature dropped so I stopped by Yogism to get a hot drink. I opted for a matcha with almond milk which I’ve been meaning to try for the longest time. It was actually quite nice, would go for it again! (sorry I destroyed the pretty latte art because you know, SUGAR).
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
I was also looking for some new stationery so I stopped by TK Maxx and Article in the beautiful Powerscourt Townhouse. I already waxed lyrical about Article here but I could have bought everything, this shop is curated to a T.
Later as I was passing by Dublin’s City Hall, I stepped in to admire another phenomenal domed ceiling. I would have never guessed that such a jewel of a design was there to be admired if it wasn’t for Emily’s blog. #thepowerofblogs
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

The day ended with a couple of pictures taken at St Audoen’s Church and a walk by the Liffey to catch my bus home. Doesn’t it look like the banks could belong to Paris the way the light hits the stone? 

What’s your verdict of Dublin in the Autumn? Doesn’t it look glorious? 
As Halloween is fast-approaching, I thought I would set the mood on the blog next week so I hope you’re ready to get spooked x

Rococo, Finnish Trolls and More Pizza | London, Day 6

Shut the front door! Has it been really a month since my last post?! This is just a bit ridiculous, I’m not sure how that happened, time has slipped through my fingers….
Well today is the day I’m finally coming at you with the tale of the last hours I spent in London this Summer. This is how it went.

The Wallace Collection
THE WALLACE COLLECTION

First I headed towards the fancy area of Marylebone via the dreaded Oxford Circus. It wasn’t too bad actually, I’ve seen worst crowds (namely Oxford Circus on the 23rd of December 2007… never again). There, I came to visit The Wallace Collection. How to explain the Wallace Collection to you if you’ve never heard of it? Take a good dose of silk tapestries, all the colours of the rainbow, if available, add gold in large quantities and tons and tons of majestic paintings and there you have it, the stuff rococo dreams are made of. Needless to say, I pretty much had an eyegasm. There was so much stuff to look at, you can tell from the pictures I took that my senses were overloaded. Not one picture is straight. Oops. I will show you what I can salvage from them in a later post. This place certainly needs a whole post dedicated to it.

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN
http://www.wallacecollection.org/
Covent Garden
COVENT GARDEN MARKET

Then I walked to Covent Garden Market with one goal in mind. The Moomin Shop! Back in 2008, I went to Finland and as well as bringing back bringing brilliant memories, I bore one regret: not buying a Moomin mug. I was too worried it would break as I was backpacking, you see. So London was my chance to send back that regret to oblivion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so as I got out of the shop empty-handed. I just couldn’t justify the price, especially with the steep conversion rate. Dramatic Face. It was a damn cute shop tho!
Neal's Yard
NEAL’S YARD

I forgot all about my moomin mug misfortune and mooched around Covent Garden, gawking at all the pretty windows (Ladurée <3) and went to Neal's Yard for my final stop of the day… well, of the trip. I had never stepped foot in the colourful courtyard before. It's quite a surprising space to stumble upon right next to London's busiest streets. My stomach led me straight to Homeslice for I had heard only good things of their pizzas. I went for a slice of Margherita and I had a bit of shock when I was handed a portion pretty much the size of an actual pizza. It's definitely great value for money and it was SO delicious!

That’s it for my trip to London this Summer folks, I hope you enjoyed the account of the few days I spent there. I do have a few more Summer memories to tell you about but I think it’s time now to switch the blog on Autumn mode, don’t you think? x

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

A doomed poet, breathtaking views & grave stones | London, Day 5

For one of my last days in London, I decided to go to Hampstead, a green, and may I say, rather posh area in the North West of London. I’m not completely unfamiliar with this neighbourhood. Many moons ago I got lost walking up and down its hills, looking for Highgate Cemetery… without a map. Needless to say, I never found it but I liked what I saw, all of a sudden London felt like a village.
It was time to come back, this time armed with GPS, I wasn’t going to be defeated. Especially as I had accumulated a rather long list of places I wanted to check out in the area. Most of them stately homes, which you know by now my love for them. Unfortunately, my ‘holiday piggy bank’ was considerably depleted by then so I had to pick one and went for the most affordable one of the bunch.

Keats House
Keats House
KEATS HOUSE

I have to come clean with my ignorance, I really didn’t know much about John Keats. I vaguely knew he wrote poetry and that he went through a tragic love story, which is probably very common in the profession anyway. It probably explains why for so long, I kept confusing him with Dylan Thomas in my little ditzy head. Yep, poetry is really not my forte.
I’m glad I got to know him a bit better through pacing the floors of the house he once called his own. I will depict it and touch on his short life in an upcoming post.

10 Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR
website
Hampstead Heath
HAMPSTEAD HEATH

Keats house is handily located next to Hampstead Heath. I needed to cross this beautiful park to get to my next destination. I lingered on its paths, gushed at the cute dogs being walked and watched, bewildered, the locals paddling about in the murky ponds.
I climbed at the top of Parliament Hill, singing Kate Bush to myself to be stopped abruptly by the magnificent view that rolled at the top. I stood there for a while and admired the London skyline surrounded by Londoners, all of us equally oblivious to the rain that had started to pour. But it was time to start on the last stretch of my journey if I wanted to catch the Dead before the closing of the gates.
Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery
HIGHGATE CEMETERY

You will have guessed it by now, this time I had made it to Highgate Cemetery. I had longed to see its ivy-covered grave stones more than any other cemetery in the world. It was every bit as creepy and mysterious I had imagined and I finally got to see the tomb of one of my favourite writers. It was so teeny that I very nearly missed it. But that’s a story for another post!

Swain’s Lane, London N6 6PJ
http://highgatecemetery.org

And that’s it for my penultimate day in London. Hope you’re enjoying the series so far and that you found a place you’d like to visit. In case you missed any of the previous days, here is Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

Flower market, pizza slices & tower blocks | London, Day 4

Columbia Road Flower Market
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET

Sunday mornings are made for markets, right? One I had been meaning to check out for a long time is the Columbia Road Flower Market. That weekend, I finally managed the early rise necessary to enjoy the market before it gets too crowded.
I’m not a coffee drinker but that morning, I really needed a caffeine fix. I was on full Zombie mode. Luckily, Jane knew a great cafe stall, which was located in the courtyard of the pub The Royal Oak (on Columbia Road). The coffee there was so smooth, I swear, I didn’t even need to put sugar in it! Thank the Lord, I don’t live anywhere near that place, I would have started down the dangerous slope of caffeine addiction at full speed.
I enjoyed the market a lot, I walked back and forth several times to look at all the flowers and to get all the shots I wanted. The light was quite stark, the sun shone brightly on one side of the market while the other one was in the shadow. Switching from one side to the other, in between the people, was a great camera exercise. It forced me to remember the settings and not to rely on my screen anymore. I feel like I made some progress that day! I’ll show you the pictures in a later post where I’ll talk more about the market and the surrounding shops.

Columbia Road, London E2 E7RG
http://www.columbiaroad.info

The City of London Police Museum

After the market, I mooched around in Shoreditch. It’s such an energising area. So many incredible shops and eateries, one can easily lose track of time… and money. I took note of two beautifully curated shops on Calvert Avenue: O’Dell’s and Luna & Curious. My stomach reminded me of its presence and I went on a food mission. I ended up grabbing pizza slice in the snazzy Voodoo Rays. It was pretty good and it gave me the energy I needed to walk all the way to…

Barbican Centre
THE BARBICAN CENTRE

If you’ve never heard of the Barbican Centre, it’s a housing estate slash arts centre slash music and drama school slash conservatory… I probably forgot something but it’s an imposing structure and walking among its halls, I felt like I was on the set of a working-class film from the Sixties. Again, I’ll talk about it in more detail in a later post.

Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
http://www.barbican.org.uk/

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhal Market
LEADENHALL MARKET

The rest of the day was spent walking in the City of London, which is a district I’d never really explored before. I took my sweet time, nose in the air as usual, getting lost sometimes, but always inspired by London’s great architecture and its different variations. And speaking of astounding architecture, my last destination that day was Leadenhall Market. It’s one of the oldest covered markets in London. It dates back from the 14th century. If it looks slightly familiar to you, it is probably because you’ve seen it before in the first Harry Potter film. It is a bit magical, even in real life, even on a Sunday when the shops are closed and the galleries deserted.

London EC3V 1LT
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/eat-drink/leadenhall-market/Pages/default.aspx

And that’s day 4 over! Only two more days left of my trip to London to tell you all about! If you missed any of the previous days, here is a recap:
Day 1: Audrey Hepburn & Ice-Cream along the Thames | Day 2: Spicy falafel, Totoro, golden gates & confettis | Day 3: Canal walk & neon signs

Audrey Hepburn & Ice-cream along the Thames | London, Day 1

I’m just back from a long week in London and it was fantastic as per usual. I got to tick off so much from my ‘London Bucketlist’! I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it so I thought I would post everyday this week with snappy rundowns of each day spent in my favourite city. And in the hopefully not too distant future, i will write more in-depth posts about some of the places mentioned. That way, I’ll also be able to talk about places that would have never made the cut. I want to quickly add that everything here will be budget-friendly. The pound was incredibly strong compared to the Euro so money was flying through my pockets even more so than usual. I tried to be wise and eat at home most of the time thanks to my friend who was putting me up (if you’re reading, thank you again Jane) so I’m afraid the recommendations for eateries and restaurants will be few and far between. But without further ado, here’s day 1 of my stay in the Big Smoke.

National Portrait Gallery

AUDREY HEPBURN, PORTRAITS OF AN ICON @ THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

First port of call was the photographic exhibition on Audrey Hepburn. I used to be obsessed with her and whatever films she played in so when Jane mentioned it in an email, I knew it had to go on ‘the list’.
The exhibition recounts her life in pictures, from her mischievous smile as a child to her UNICEF work in Africa. Did you know she was born in Belgium by the way? #proudpatrioticmoment
In between, there’s quite a few publicity theatre and film shots, I was delighted to discover that a couple of her films escaped my Hepburn madness era. But there’s also incredible portraits by renowned photographers such as Cecil Beaton, Mark Shaw and the technicolor-wizard Norman Parkinson. I was so absorbed I didn’t even notice Gok Wan was in the same room, haha! The exhibition comprises of three rooms (and a half), it’s quite small but the pictures are full of interesting details. My favourite one was by Mark Shaw where you can see queen Audrey from three different angles in a mirrored dressing room.

Audrey is the most intringuingly childish, adult, feminine tomboy I’ve ever photographed. She’s many women wrapped in one.

Mark Shaw

PS: Photography wasn’t allowed inside, I even got shouted at for taking the picture of the entrance above -_-

2 July – 18 October 2015
St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/hepburn/home.php

South Bank

SOUTH BANK

After wandering on the different floors of the National Portrait Gallery (which is free by the way), it was time to head out and soak up that hazy London sun. Direction: South Bank! Even though it’s quite a popular destination for both Londoners and tourists, I had actually never visited the area. When I lived in London, I really liked the bit of the bank from Tower Bridge and Eastwards. I’m glad I finally remedied to that ‘London faux-pas’ because it was a really pleasant walk. I watched the skaters rolling around in the skate park, browsed through a second-hand book market, made a silly picture in front of the National theatre, looked at the leaflets to see what was up in the Southbank arts centre and ate a strawberry ice-cream while watching people and seagulls.

It was then time to go home to go grocery shopping and on my way to the bus stop, I got to cross the Millenium Bridge for the first time, the view on the beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral was insane! How can one ever get tired of London?

Hope you enjoyed Day 1! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Day 2 x

 

Lavender Harvest Sale | co. Wicklow

Lavender Harvest Party

Last month, I had quite a little exciting Saturday planned. I was heading to county Wicklow to see the lavender field in Kilmacanogue. I had been wanting to visit one again ever since going to the Wexford Lavender Farm last year. It was such a romantic experience!
I was also really excited to try out my new camera and lens. I had only been filming so far so I was really keen to see how I got on with it for taking pictures. And what better place to test a camera than a flower field! I bought a Canon 700d and a 24mm lens. I usually shoot with a 50mm which I still love dearly but the 24mm with its wider angle gives so much more space to work with, I’ve been loving the freedom of movement it allows. Let me know what you think of the pictures, hope you like them!

Lavender Harvest PartyLavender Harvest PartyLavender Harvest Party

Every month of July, Fragrances of Ireland organises a Lavender Harvest Party in Kilmacanogue… or is it Kilmacanog or Kilmacanoge? Even the locals can’t seem to agree, I saw the three different spellings in the space of a yard. And apparently, it is pronounced Kilmacanick I found out after embarrassing myself talking to a helpful bus driver. All of it is very confusing for little old Belgian me. The good thing is that the field was very easy to find, the less good thing is that it is next to a busy motorway. It kind of killed the Provence vibe unfortunately. On one side of the road, you can look at the lavender rows (a kind lady harvester let me in so I could take pictures but I don’t think you’re really meant to, the alleyways were quite brambly) and on the other side, there’s the harvest sale set in a cute little courtyard.
I think it’s one of those instances where having a car makes the experience more pleasant. It was easy enough going from the field to the courtyard by foot (there’s a bridge over the motorway for crossing it) but walking along cars can be a bit stressful, especially when the pathway disappears. If you ever go, I’d recommend as well you to visit during the first weekend of July so you can see the field in its full purple splendour before it gets gradually chopped.

Lavender Harvest PartyLavender Harvest PartyLavender Harvest PartyLavender Harvest PartyLavender Harvest Party

At the harvest sale, you’ll find all the lavender by-products you can expect: fresh pots of lavender, dried lavender, essential oils, perfumes and soaps. You can also buy them online on the Fragrances of Ireland website (along with other ranges). It is an Irish independent perfume house managed by friendly owners. I just love how they set up their courtyard with buntings and pretty stalls for the occasion. They even put a cute purple bow on their dog to go with the theme!

If you’re ever in the area in July, it does make for a pleasant Summer afternoon. Especially as the harvest sale is located next to the Avoca‘s flagship store where you can have a bite and a little nosey around their shelves stocked with gorgeous crockery and beautifully-packaged cosmetics.

Lavender Harvest Party

Practical Information

Fragrances of Ireland – website
Jameson’s Corner
Kilmacanogue
Co. Wicklow

Opening Times
11am – 4pm (Sat-Sun during the month of July)

Admission
Free

How to get there (from Dublin)
Take the Dart to Bray then the bus 45a (the stop is just outside the station), get off at the last stop

Killruddery Gardens | co. Wicklow

Killruddery GardensKillruddery Gardens
I was just writing my Irish Summer Checklist when I realised I had not shown you the beautiful Killruddery Gardens in Bray yet. I visited them 3 years ago and since then, every time the weather warms up, I’ve been meaning to come back to visit the house.
Last time, the weather was so gorgeous that it felt kind of wrong to spend any time indoors. Also I remember thinking back then that I really should start watching The Tudors since it’s one of the filming locations for the series and somehow, I haven’t watched one episode either. I don’t know who I am anymore. So once again, ‘Killruddery House’ finds its way onto my list of places to visit during the Summer, I’ve got a strong feeling it will happen this time but in the meantime, let’s have a look at the gardens, shall we?
Killruddery GardensKillruddery Gardens
Killruddery Gardens
Killruddery Gardens
There’s quite a bit to explore in Killruddery Gardens: formal gardens, maze-like topiary where you can hide, a mini forest , canals, a walled garden with vegetables and a farm. It’s just the perfect setting to wander aimlessly.
The day I was in, people were rushing around to get an evening banquet ready. Next to the long table, a whole hog was spinning on a giant skewer. I had only seen those in Asterix comics before so it was a bit of a shock! After I stopped my stomach from turning (hello I’m a wimpy vegetarian!), I had to admit that the whole thing fitted so well the spirit of the gardens, the oldest in Ireland that survived in its authentic 17th century form.
Killruddery GardensKillruddery Gardens
Killruddery GardensKillruddery Gardens
Killruddery Gardens
Killruddery Gardens

Did you know?

Killruddery was the film location for The Tudors, My Left Foot, Far and Away, Angela’s Ashes and Camelot

Are you in Ireland this Summer and wish to visit some gardens? Here are a few more I wrote about: Powerscourt Gardens | Altamont Gardens | Dublin’s Botanic Gardens

Killruddery Gardens
Practical Information

Killruddery House & Gardens – website
Southern Cross, Bray

Co. Wicklow

Opening Hours
9.30am – 6pm, every day (May – September)
9.30am – 6pm, weekends only (April & October)

Admission
Adults €6.50 / Concession €5.50 /Children under 12 €2 / Children under 4 Free (Gardens Only)
Adults €11 / Concession €9 / Children under 12 €3 / Children under 4 Free (Gardens + House*)

*Guided tours of the house start at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm (July-Sep)

The farm market is on every Saturday, from 10am to 4pm

How to get there (from Dublin)
Take the Dart to Bray then the bus 84 or 184 outside the Dart station