Angela Jupe

Angela Jupe's Georgian home Bellefield House

In March the garden is full of daffodils and hellebores.

Wild woodland planting around the house

The stable yard stone out buildings have been transformed into rental properties

Even the potting shed is beautiful!

The gardens have some strong architectural features built around reclaimed and salvaged materials

Blue anemones follow me around these days!

And we got a sneak peek through the back door and into Angela's home, Bellefield House

I'd say for sure there isn't a square inch of Angela Jupe's life that isn't some expression of her inner creative spark. While I could write about her amazing garden and Georgian home at Bellefield in County Offaly, it is the woman herself as an artist whose work I feel deserves the appreciation and recognition here.

Now retired, she has illustrated her philosophy through 8 transformative personal projects- and the many other houses and gardens she has renovated and re-designed over her life time. As a landscape designer and architect, she is that rare commodity a female visual artist of the outdoors in Ireland. 

I had stored up in my rusting memory an article about Angela describing how catmint is a great substitute for lavender in an Irish garden. That was probably 20 years ago, so it was wonderful to chat to her about design, collecting art you love and experiencing first hand one of her projects.

While travelling in the Midlands this week on an organised blogger tour I was struck many times by the passion of individuals creating beautiful worlds through collaborating with nature. From our blogger organiser Margaret from Oldfarm, passionate about food, the workers at the Birr Theatre lovers of the arts, to the restorers of Fancroft Mill lovers of engineering and history, pure inspiration.

The Middle of Ireland has a soft tranquility about it. Off the beaten track, there is space and time here. There are many kinds of travellers and tourists. I'm the kind who tries to avoid crowds, queues, fast food and bikini opportunities. I'm looking for meandering paths, gentle unspoiled landscapes and local specialities-with maybe some of that elusive fairy dust thrown in.... 

For me Angela Jupe's influence on the treasures of the #magicalmidlands is one of the best examples I know of going through life and adding a fair sprinkling of fairy dust to everything you touch along the way......

More posts on the Magical Midlands Blogger Tour next week. Also thanks to Mid Ireland Tourism for sponsoring the tour and inviting me to participate. 


Heavenly anenomes

Can I just go totally over the top here for 5 minutes? Can I share with you the exuberant joy of lying in these woodland anenomes at Zwartbles farm in Kilkenny on a spring afternoon in dappled shade? Can you soak up the colour and the light and the magic of it with me?

If contemplative photography is about anything it is getting close to the essence of the life force. One minute we are having a cup of tea and the next we are stretched over these tiny blooms of blue, opening and turning towards the sun on bed of green. Quivering petals expressing their full potential. Layers of light and shadow, turning to blurry colour through the photographic process. 

Just myself, Eadaoin and that dog with his nose in an earthy hole. 

Bliss all round!

For more spring colour check out the Purple Hyacinth Gallery here


Welcome little Zwartbles lamb!

We met on Twitter. Many people find it hard to understand how Twitter even functions, but in our beginning, a short few years ago, a small group of bloggers in Ireland discovered each other there. All with individual interests and reasons for blogging, eventually, here in the South East we bonded offline, over cups of coffee, camera phones and Wordpress v Blogger. 

Today myself, Eadaoin (City of Blackbirds) and Susan (Vibrant Ireland and Travel) are at Suzanna's farm in Kilkenny where she breeds Zwartbles sheep and makes dark chocolatey blankets from their wool. Four nerdyish females in the photography heaven of Irish Spring sunshine!

Could it get any better? Well it did.

Straight after lunch Suzanna led us into the orchard where there was a ewe in labour. Here we witnessed the birth of the last lamb of the season. It was the first time I had seen this up close, an everyday event full of wonder. In the shadowy light under the trees, with the rhythmic circling of the ewe, the wet lamb stands up in seconds having being licked and nudged by her mother. 

Later we brought some new babes for a walk through the daffodils planted by Suzanna's Grandfather, we lay in the wood anenomes to photograph the dying light and fed lambs from bottles in the farmhouse kitchen. 

I'm left with the warmest glow of gratitude. Passionate women, cuddly lambs and sunny daffodils, a perfect kind of day..........


Mad as a March Hare

"The March Hare will be much the most interesting,
and perhaps as this is May it won't be raving mad
– at least not so mad as it was in March."  

thus spoke Alice, in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Last year he was a fluffy bundle. Now he has grown into young Master Hare.

In between nibbling and snoozing, he takes the odd stretch. Is he dreaming of Spring? Can we just get on with it now please, before I fall asleep again!!!

(The tag Mad as a March Hare refers to Spring mating behaviour when females sometimes engage in boxing matches with undesirable males.) 


Gems of amethyst and gold

Always in the same spot under this large tree. Who planted them or when?

In the morning light, their petals glow, sparkling gems of amethyst and gold. So climb over two strands of barbed wire. Get even closer. 

Any photographer would yearn for gritty urban street drama? 
But down in this dewy grass, in the sweet scent of crocuses flowering, that longing is a bit less......


Just one more time?

I had a lovely bunch of spring crocuses ready for this week's blog, then on Monday morning we woke up to snow.

We were on our way to the National Concert Hall. The Gloaming a group of musical wizards led by Martin Hayes, were about to play to a packed house. It's like Irish traditional music, jazz and trance blended into a new genre, uniquely theirs. 

When Martin, the King of the Faeries takes off with this wild fiddle playing, the rest of them follow, barely hanging onto his coat-tails.  And then the audience is swept away with them, until we are all circling the lofty hall soaring through these dramatic riffs, in the flow of the old stories from the time before time. 

Even their opening piece of about 15 minutes long, got a standing ovation.....

Then afterwards, fan that I am didn't I run into Martin standing beside the cloakroom just as I collected my coat, twas still sleeting and snowing a bit. He held out his hand and I told him about my favourite quote of his "knowing the wisdom of what's all around you and playing that" and how it relates to contemplative photography. (I now KNOW he has a set of gossamer wings hidden under those clothes) 

They play in Australia and New Zealand next week.  Never, ever pass up a chance to spend an evening with them.....



There was a smudge of navy blue painted onto a peachy sky. Nothing had changed but the eery manifestation of fading light, on a February evening. 

A unique set of moments. And WE were there. 

The camera captured the scene. But the sound of the moorhens cooing, and of our footsteps through the darkening meadow remain only as memories captured in our hearts, forever.