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Belfast Alainn~

Belfast is beautiful!

Like Dublin, Belfast has scores of fascinating, historic old pubs to crawl. One of the most famous is The Crown built in 1827. The art deco interior has ten snugs, which are private mahogany booths with doors, surrounded by stained glass and hand made tiles.

Belfast City Hall has an array of striking stained glass windows depicting important events in Irish history. This glass is dedicated to the two million souls who suffered and died in the Irish potato famine.

City Hall itself is an architectural gem. Built in 1898, it has a gorgeous grand staircase,

replete with a stunning interior dome and rotunda.

Belfast is a very fun city to explore, full of vibrant street art, interesting shops,

and, as cannot be emphasized enough, wonderful pubs! Kelly’s is another classic pub. It is the oldest licensed pub in Belfast, built in 1720.

Kelly’s is lovely inside and out, and full of some of your soon to be newest best friends!

Cheers to you from soulful Belfast~

Dublin’s Fair City~


Is really so pretty!

The historic old pubs are lovely,

and fun to explore,

on a good, old-fashioned Irish pub-crawl.

You are guaranteed to make friends because the people are warm, friendly, and often just a tad tipsy!

Dublin is a vibrant, colorful city,

justifiably proud,

of its artistic and literary history.

I am still home at The Holler, but it’s cheers to you from beautiful Dublin~

Witches Woods~


In Oban Scotland, The Dunollie Woodland Trail, will lead you into The Witches Woods.

The deeper you go into the forest, the older it becomes.

The trees in the forest were twisted over time into witch-like shapes by the actions of fierce coastal winds.

Some of the oaks are over 400 years old.

The Witches Woods surround Dunollie Castle,

which was once home to the most powerful clan in Western Scotland, the MacDougalls.

The remains of the castle and the old manor house can be toured.

I was first scheduled to visit Oban about 30 years ago, but The Queen was doing a walk about, so our plans were changed. I am happy to have finally visited this charming town and the gorgeous Hebrides.

We are home at The Holler now, but it is cheers and BOO to you from misty Oban’s Witches Woods~

Icelandic Birds~


Icelandic waters are teeming with over 300 species of fish, and many marine mammals, but they have only a handful of terrestrial wild animals including reindeer, mink and arctic fox, and 85 species of birds.

The Northern Fulmar is a pelagic bird, meaning they spend their lives at sea, and are capable of diving several meters in pursuit of prey.

They resemble albatross, and have tubular beaks for processing sea water like other pelagic birds, including albatross and petrels.

Very handsome Tufted Ducks are common breeders all over Iceland. This is a female.

Ocean swimming Greylag Geese breed in Iceland, Finland and Scandinavia, and winter in the British Isles.

The Northern Common Sea Eider is the producer of eider-down which is harvested in Iceland by special eider farmers.

Black Headed Gulls are common in Iceland.

This one is a juvenile.

Adaptable Starlings first settled in Iceland in the 1940’s, and now can be seen nesting in Akureyri and Reykjavik.

Cheers to you from beautiful Iceland and her very hardy birds~

Waterfall of the Gods~


Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods, originates deep in the Icelandic Highlands.

The first cascade falls 12 meters, over a span of 30 meters, and the cascades continue for quite a distance. There is an incredible volume of water moving here, and the sound, spray and color, are quite remarkable.

It is one of Iceland’s many spectacular waterfalls.

Godafoss can be accessed from the nearby town of Akureyri, which in turn is reachable by Iceland’s famed Ring Road.

Akureyri, like all Icelandic towns is charming, and boasts the northern-most botanical garden in the world,

where you can see many unusual and beautiful plants.

We are home at The Holler now, but it is still, cheers to you from stunning Iceland~

Iceland’s Whooper Swans~


Whooper Swans are the Eurasian cousin of North American Trumpeter swans.

They breed all over Iceland, and some overwinter in the thermally heated parts of Lake Myvatn. Interestingly, their North American Trumpeter Swan cousins do the same thing, spending winter in the thermally heated parts of the Yellowstone River.

These beauties are aptly named as they certainly seem to enjoy trumpeting!

Whooper Swans mate for life,

and their cygnets, and grown offspring, often overwinter with them.

Cheers to you from Iceland’s beautiful swans~

Living Under the Winter Ice~


Laufas is an old turf house in Northern Iceland. There are many of these partially underground historical sod houses in Iceland. The house was built between 1866-1870 and is very large and multi-level, with one floor completely underground. In this photo you can see the sod brick construction which has withstood the test of time and Iceland’s formidable winters.

Laufas house facades are made of wood which is quite scarce in Iceland.

There are underground passages,

and underground rooms.

These houses are snug,

but quite spacious,

and not at all claustrophobic inside.

20-30 people lived in Laufas House.

The houses give one a sense of communal underground living,

that was heat efficient during Iceland’s unforgiving winters.

Laufas House was a wealthy priest’s house, and some rooms are more polished and finished than others.

This was a working farm, on a gorgeous site, with a church that was originally built in 1698.

Cheers to you from Iceland’s fascinating turf houses~