We took a quick trip over to Scotland to see the daughter and headed into Glasgow for the Christmas markets. Have to say I love Glasgow. It’s one heck of a vibrant city but we didn’t have a lot of time in there on this trip. I was fascinated by this busker who dressed as Slash, played Slash tunes but only to the photo in the shop window! No wonder his guitar case was empty!
Slash playing to the crowds
The Christmas markets were a bit on the small side but mad busy!
Busy at the Glasgow Christmas Markets
Of course there was always time for some Social Media………
What a glorious day today! Temperatures better than during the summer, clear blue skies and no wind or rain. Having worked all weekend we decided to take a break today and head down the town for a walk. Of course the cameras had to come with it being such a nice day.
The Boyne in Autumn colour
A lot of people don’t like our Courthouse but I love it. The clean modern lines and materials contrast nicely with the Yellow Steeple.
Yellow Steeple and Courthouse
Of course the Yellow Steeple is stunning on it’s own, especially in the low autumn sunlight. (If you look closely you can see herself taking a photo of Trim Castle).
Speaking of Trim Castle, I don’t often get to shoot it as a silhouette but it works well against a plain sky with the steeple of St. Patrick’s making it’s presence felt.
Trim Castle in silhouette
Across from the castle heading towards the new bridge is a popular route for walking the dogs.
Nice day for walking the dogs
Heading along the Boyne towards Porchie the big trees and their fallen leaves offer a nice frame for another view of Trim Castle.
Trim Castle in autumn colour
The river walk along the Boyne eventually brings you to Newtown which agin looks fabulous in the Autumn sunlight.
Newtown Bridge Trim
Of course we now have the whole of Porchfield encircled with a proper walking path and once you follow it around you get to look back at Newtown Abbey which again is just beautiful this time of year.
So last Sunday saw myself and Lorraine head out into the wilds of Ballivor to go see the motor racing at the world famous Coolronan Raceway. Now I’m not a car racing fan, nor am I a petrol head but I have to say the craic was mighty! Our friend Stuart McCoy explained each race but TBH I still hadn’t a clue how it worked. I know first across the finish line won, but everyone started on different parts of the track (sometimes) and how they knew how many laps they’d done is beyond me especially the bangers! In some races there was no contact allowed whereas in others it was full on mayhem. Mad Max eat your heart out. Anyway, I’ll save those photos for another post.
Of course I took loads of car pics, some panning shots and some static shots. However they were boring as hell when looked at in the cold light of day. What interested me most was the drivers, so here’s a few shots of these guys. There were girls too but they mustn’t have crashed!
This weeks challenge is to take me back to my happy place which of course is on the river (or anywhere) with a rod in my hand. I’m blessed in that I live beside one of the best rivers in Ireland for fishing and I love my fishing. Be it with the fly rod on the river or from the kayak at sea, it’s hard to beat fishing to take you to your happy place. Of course being a photographer, I also enjoy shooting others while they fish as is this first photo. Pat O’Toole is a qualified fly casting instructor and here he is (in his happy place) practicing his double handed cast.
Double Handed Fly Rod Casting
As my wife Lorraine is also a photographer, she managed to grab a shot of me flaying around with my fly rod. I don’t have the same grace as pat above but I do manage to throw the odd fly that catches a fish. This is one of her shots.
Fly fishing on the River Boyne
Everyone should have a happy place and if you’re lucky enough to have one like mine then go enjoy it as often as you can.
Trim gets a Gold medal in the Entente Florale 2015
Didn’t we do well? 2015 and Trim wins a Gold medal in the Entente Florale and it was a well deserved win. The town looked fantastic all summer with flowers bursting with colour all over the place. Here’s a few pics from around the town taken in July when Trim looked spectacular.
Well hate is probably the wrong word but I certainly fear wasps. In fact I’m terrified of them because I’m allergic to the little buggers. If I get stung by a wasp, I swell up and do a pretty good imitation of the Elephant Man. I also have difficulty telling the difference between bees and wasps so when I spotted lots of bees feeding on our apples in the back garden, I thought that’s good. Bees are cool and do lots of cool stuff like not being able to fly when the laws of aerodynamics say it’s impossible for them to do so.
So I decided to grab my camera, borrow Lorraine’s Macro lens and get up close and personal with my “bees”. There’s a pile of apples on the ground under our trees and the “bees” have been happily munching away on them for the past while. Of course with the macro, shooting at f2.8 is a no no. When you’re up so close you need to be down around f11 or more and it’s pretty dark under our trees so the ISO has to go up to between 4000 and 8000. Hence these photos are not as clear as I’d like.
My “bees” weren’t too impressed with me down on my hands and knees and getting to within a few inches of them. Couple of them took and and buzzed me number of times but i paid no heed. They’re too busy feeding to be worried about me. Anyway, I fired off a couple of shots to see what I could get. Thankfully I didn’t disturb them too much because it turns out that my “bees” weren’t bees at all but bloody wasps. It was only when I looked closely at the photos on the big screen that I realised they didn’t have any sacks of goodies on their legs to bring back to the hive. Quick search on Google confirmed it. Wasps! Feicin loads of them and me down on the ground in among them.
So here’s my first and last photos of wasps feeding in my garden.
Today I headed into town with my (or should I say Lorraine’s) Fuji X10 to take a few street shots. Now normally I don’t have a problem finding interesting things to shoot but today I saw nothing! Maybe I’m becoming too critical, but today I didn’t find one interesting scene to shoot. I hung around various advertising signs in the hope that something would present itself but it didn’t. I lurked around the GPO, mooched up Moore Street and patrolled Henry Street in the hope of seeing something vaguely interesting. But no, not a thing.
Usually when I’m in Howth I’m sitting on my kayak with a fishing rod in my had. This time however we were on a mission. Well not much of a mission but we’ve a wedding in a few weeks in the Church in Howth village so we went to check it out. Of course when you’re in Howth you have to have chips and take a stroll along the pier and that’s just what we did. We just happened to have our cameras too……
Set off for Tullagh Bay in Donegal last Friday evening around 7pm with the kayak on the roof rack. It’s the guts of a four hour drive so hit the beach around 11pm, just in time to say goodnight to Anthony Byrne who was going to bed in the back of his van and hello to Packy McMahon who had the fire going. Nothing for it only a few beers, talk some shite and eventually get some sleep in preparation for the next days fishing.
Woke up to a wicked windy morning and a few more kayakers started to arrive. Our host Graham Smith eventually joined us and handed out our competition cards which he’d kindly collected for us from our generous sponsor, Rod and Line in Derry. With a scheduled starting time of 12, we hit the water around 1pm to start fishing. (excuse the crappy photo, it’s from the phone) Oh and another thing, see that grey shingle beach at the foot of the cliffs across the bay on the right of the photo below? That features later…….
Kayaks at Tullagh Bay, Donegal
Some of the more hardy boys headed out on a 3km paddle to target the big fish, Tope, Skate, Sharks, Tuna, Killer Whales, Nuclear Submarines etc. The less adventurous, namely me, decided to stay closer to Tullagh Bay and try for some normal fish like Mackerel, Pollock and Ray. It wasn’t long before I picked up a couple of smallish mackerel on the feathers. They turned out to be the only macks I saw all day. I paddled out about 1km to 70′ of water, dropped my home made anchor which consisted of a brick in a net bag (I lost my proper anchor in Howth on Tuesday). Put some rag on a running ledger and it wasn’t long before the rod started twitching. What a pleasant surprise to see a nice Ballan Wrasse on the end of the line because it was one of the target species in our competition.
Ballan Wrasse from Donegal
Once he was photographed he was returned safely to the water. Then it was time for some pollock and it wasn’t long before I hit them. They took the feathers and the ragworm and they really are a strong fighting fish. If you don’t hit them before they get into the kelp you’ll struggle to get them up. I managed quite a few with he biggest hitting the 6lb mark.
Pollock from Donegal
Here’s a short video of the fishing….
So after a couple of hours fishing my bag was full with not a lot of room for any more fish. I decided to head to a beach to fillet what fish I had and change my rigs to try target some of the other species on the competition list. I could see a nice shingle beach in front of me and I thought that would do nicely. It was only a 500m paddle and it looked fairly handy. As I got closer I could see the odd wave breaking but thought nothing of it. There was plenty of lulls between the waves to allow me land. Getting even closer I could see a clump of rocks about 30m to my right and these rocks seemed to be getting hit with some big swells and they were causing those swells to break. Again I thought nothing of it as there was plenty of room with no breakers for me to hit the beach in front of me. Once in to about 20m from the shore I realised it was one big reef of rocks about 6 inches under water all the way in between me and the beach. At this stage the swell behind me was getting bigger and the waves were coming more frequently. A couple of big swells pushed me closer to the shore and there was no way I could turn back so I went for it. Of course the swells now decided to start breaking behind me and with about 10m to go, one wave crashed down behind me turning the kayak sideways followed closely by another which tossed me and the kayak like a rag doll onto the rocks. It’s hard to imagine the power of the water until you’re caught up in it. Wave after wave came and threw me and the kayak up, down and sideways until eventually the kayak landed on it’s side stuck between two rocks and I clambered out of the water trying to grab as much of my gear as possible. Once I got my bearings I was able to wade out and drag the kayak to shore and try salvage what I could. After taking stock, I’d lost all my fish, my fish finder, anything that wasn’t tied down, broken one rod and damaged one of the rod holders on the kayak. Luckily all my cameras were intact and my tackle box was saved too. I did do some damage to my right hand but nothing too serious. Well I’m typing this so it can’t be all bad……
In nearly three years of kayak fishing, this was my first spill and it wasn’t very pleasant. It’s easy to underestimate the power of the sea and to overestimate your own capabilities. I got a fright and learned a valuable lesson. Thankfully I had the right equipment, a PFD, sharp knife (I had to cut fishing line which had wrapped around me), a VHF, (I was able to radio the lads for help and advice), and a drysuit so I stayed dry. Big thanks to Declan from Buncrana who had paddled over to me and oversaw my nervous launch back out through a gap in the breakers and supplied the first aid.
That headline is sure to arouse your attention but yes, I did have a close encounter with some LSD and a stripper last Tuesday. Read on for all the gory details….
Well the wind eased up at last so nothing for it other than load up the kayak and head for Howth. The plan was simple, feathers for some mackerel and a simple running ledger (baited with said mackerel) on the bottom in the hope of some flatties. The water was fairly calm so I did a slow paddle towards Balscadden dropping the feathers here and there when anything showed up on the fish finder. No luck with that so I stopped off to watch crazy teenagers jumping off massive high cliffs into the sea. One of them even asked me would jellyfish attack as there was one swimming round where they were jumping – I think they call it “Tombstoning”.
Out around the point at Howth Head can be a bit rough but today it was lovely and calm. Still jigging the feathers I managed a couple of small mackerel so that was the bait sorted. I anchored up about 50m out from the cliffs and dropped the running ledger baited with a fillet of mack. It was’t long before the rod started to twitch and I was into a fish. Hoping for a flattie I was disappointed to see it was a doggie. Oh it’s at this point that I disappoint my readers who were hoping for some tale of a hallucinogenic experience – LSD = Lesser Spotted Dogfish 🙂
Lesser Spotted Dogfish at Howth
This was the case for the next hour or so, doggie after doggie interspersed with the odd mackerel, so it was time to move on. Up anchor and off I set for the long paddle across to Ireland’s Eye.
Crossing from Howth Head to Ireland’s Eye
Once there it was time for a pit stop and a bit of grub. While paddling into the little beach I was greeted by a massive seal stretched out on the rocks. Well when I say greeted, he opened one eye, gave me the once over and duly went back to sleep. He was still there in the same position half an hour later when I headed back out.
Seal resting at Irelands Eye
Once around the back of the Island I tried the same tactics – running ledger on the bottom while I jigged the feathers with the second rod. The drift here was rather quick so I didn’t try the anchor. That didn’t help with the baited hook on the bottom. Meanwhile I was entertained by the local lobster fisherman doing his thing.
Lobster Fisherman at Ireland’s Eye
At one point I drifted a long way out from the Island and spotted what looked like a mini oil drilling platform. It’s drilling for something as I could see the waste water pouring out and hear the machinery working away.
Drilling Platform at Irelands Eye
Back in closer to Ireland’s Eye I hit a few mackerel. Nothing big and no great numbers.
Mackerel at Irelands Eye
At this stage my rig was down to two hooks having lost one earlier in the weeds. I hit another bite and this one felt quite heavy so I started to haul up. Couple of seconds later I feel a hard tug on the line and then it went slack. Reeled in only to find the feathers empty. At the same time the other rod on the bottom started to go mad. Reeled that it only to find the bait gone. Tried with the feathers again and the same thing. Had some fish on, harder knock on the way up and fish gone. This happened two or three more times until at last the culprit showed. A huge seal was stripping my line each time. I hadn’t seen him up until this point and the cheeky feicer bobbed up beside the kayak, not three metres away, waiting for me to catch some more for him. Oh and for those readers wondering about the stripper, here’s a photo 🙂
Seal waiting for more fish
At this point it was time to call it a day and head back to the launch point. I’d managed a bag of mackerel for the table so not a bad day’s fishing. The weather was gorgeous for the day which made the paddle enjoyable and I was treated to a lovely sunset on the trip back to port.