Tag Archives: Photos

Magical Places of Dubh Linn: Sídheway gate on Bray Head


Doorways to Dubh Linn are everywhere. Sometimes they can be seen and sometimes not, but there’s always some sort of marker, something to identify them. While doing research for A Hollow in the Hills on Bray Head we came across this tree (or maybe these trees?) right in the middle of the path (I use the term loosely, it’s quite a scramble). I had to put it in.

Snapshots in a library

Thought I would share two pretty images I came across today – just small examples of the wonderful detials you can find in old books. The initials are illustrated with different animals (S=snake, P=Pig, C=Crane) but for the letter I the illustator added imaginary creatures – in these cases a multi-headed dragon and a griffin.

The imaginary has as much a place in our daily lives as anything else.  And since this book is from the 1630s, it has done for a very long time.

To my mind it always has and always will.

Since I’m working on my magical library book, I’m half expecting them to jump off the page and fly away. I’m very lucky to have such inspiration close at hand.

How I spent my summer holidays part 2 – Megalithic

Ok, so I’ve delayed posting this evening as I should have but I completely blame the brand new shiny shiny phone that arrived today. Did I mention it’s shiny???

Part 2 of the holiday theme was Megalithic. Brittany is of course awesome for all things megalithic. It has Carnac, to begin with. Actually Carnac pretty much trumps a lot of things, leaving aside the likes of Newgrange and Stonehenge. But anyway… it doesn’t just have Carnac.

I’m starting to form the opinion that the Bretons and their ancestors have something of an unspoken obsession with stones. With stones and the sea. The two seem to go hand in hand. All along the shore line at Point de la Torche, and on the rocky outcrops of Pointe de Raz in previous years, we found little towers of stones.  Everyone builds one. No one could offer us a reason why. Just because, I suppose. I wonder if there’s something in the air, something that makes one want to leave their own mark. I’m also starting to wonder if it’s something to do with Ankou, the Breton personification of Death, who leaves stones behind when he takes the dead away. (Ah yes, hello plotbunnies, there you are again).

I did mention there’s a Brittany book, didn’t I? 🙂

On the first day of our holiday we went to La Roche aux Fées (or the Fairy Rock) at Essé, a passage grave, uncovered for centuries, which looks like a giant table. Like Newgrange, the chamber is aligned with the rising sun of the winter solstice. I love the picture of the beech tree growing around the massive stones at the base. Nature always finds a way. And as we meandered through many tourists, took photos and gadded about in general, we found more piles of stones, balanced daintily on the gnarly trunk of the old beach tree by the entrance.

Carnac is a strangely peaceful place, especially considering the number of people it attracts. During the summer the alignments themselves are closed off, though you can see them clearly enough from behind the low, drystone walls (perfectly balanced and built by hand). The area becomes a wildflower and wildlife preserve. In winter one can book tours which allow you inside. There’s a reason to go back. The site is spread out over several areas, so we didn’t get to see it all. But there is an atmosphere to the place I really wasn’t expecting. It was lovely.

It also helped that near the Ménec alignments we found the most wonderful crêperie, Au Pressior, surrounded by a stone enclosure, where we had the best crêpes ever. No really. Mine had goat’s cheese, honey and nuts. They were perfect. It made our day.

The other thing about Carnac that the photos can’t capture are the colours — the stones themselves, the plants and flowers (purple, white and yellow like gold in the sunlight). The difference in the textures, the constant movement of butterflies and long grasses. And all so peaceful (except for my children playing Harry Potter and giving me story ideas, loudly!) We also found a stone at Carnac that appears to have a face of it’s own. (More plotbunnies – the kids helped with that one!)

Out to the far west, La Torche itself, the huge rock outcrop on the point in the shape of (you guessed it) a torch, is dramatic enough to feature in any number of stories. Believe me, I have ideas.

So anyway, here’s my slideshow of our visits to Megalithic Brittany, old and new!

How I spent my summer holidays part 1

The reason for the parts? Ah yes, well, there are many photos. So many in fact they fall into different categories. As did our holiday, in a sense. Medieval, Megalithic, Geographic, Folklorish, with the overriding theme of research. Strangely enough I didn’t get a lot of reading done. We did watch the series Pillars of Heaven which tied in with the first section – Medieval. Continue reading How I spent my summer holidays part 1

May Tree

It’s spring. Really really spring. Because the hawthorn in the field at home is in full bloom.

And it’s magic.

Well, of course it’s magic – it’s a hawthorn in bloom. It’s a May Tree (yes, in April), also called a faerie tree and it has many names – it’s the Thorn in “Oak, Ash and Thorn”, the buds in “the darling buds of May” and the May Queen’s tree. It features in my forthcoming YA fantasy May Queen (2012, Dial Books for Young Readers).

And because it was my birthday the other day, I got a new camera, and so there are pictures. (Many many pictures in fact, but here are a few).

Libraryland goes to Rome

Or what I did in the first week of January 2011.

Below is a slideshow of pictures from the trip to Rome for the library conference, although not many of the conference itself. Librarians talking… not too thrilling there. But lots of photos of our various walks and tours, our wanderings around, of Christmas trees, lights, fireworks (we were there for the Epiphany which is a huge holiday there), Churches, crypts, a titulus (3rd century church) underneath the crypt and libraries. Lots of photos of libraries. Including the Vatican library from the outside. Continue reading Libraryland goes to Rome